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  • richardmitnick 11:44 am on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA Deep Space Network, ,   

    From JHU HUB: “The fastest, hottest mission under the sun” Parker Solar Probe 

    Johns Hopkins

    From JHU HUB

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker.

    The Parker Solar Probe shatters records as it prepares for its first solar encounter.

    Geoff Brown

    The Parker Solar Probe, designed, built, and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, now holds two operational records for a spacecraft and will continue to set new records during its seven-year mission to the sun.

    The Parker Solar Probe is now the closest spacecraft to the sun—it passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the sun’s surface at 1:04 p.m. on Monday, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team. As the mission progresses, the spacecraft will make a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the sun’s surface, expected in 2024.

    Also on Monday, Parker Solar Probe surpassed a speed of 153,454 miles per hour at 10:54 p.m., making it the fastest human-made object relative to the sun. The spacecraft will also accelerate over the course of the mission, achieving a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour in 2024.

    The previous records for closest solar approach and speed were set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.

    “It’s been just 78 days since Parker Solar Probe launched, and we’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” said project manager Andy Driesman of APL’s Space Exploration Sector. “It’s a proud moment for the team, though we remain focused on our first solar encounter, which begins [today].”

    The Parker Solar Probe team periodically measures the spacecraft’s precise speed and position using NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN. The DSN sends a signal to the spacecraft, which then retransmits it back, allowing the team to determine the spacecraft’s speed and position based on the timing and characteristics of the signal. The Parker Solar Probe’s speed and position were calculated using DSN measurements made up to Oct. 24, and the team used that information along with known orbital forces to calculate the spacecraft’s speed and position from that point on.

    NASA Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network dish, Goldstone, CA, USA

    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    The Parker Solar Probe will begin its first solar encounter today, continuing to fly closer and closer to the sun’s surface until it reaches its first perihelion—the name for the point where it is closest to the sun—at approximately 10:28 p.m. on Nov. 5, at a distance of about 15 million miles from the sun.

    The spacecraft will face brutal heat and radiation while providing unprecedented, close-up observations of a star and helping us understand phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades. These observations will add key knowledge to our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other planets.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    About the Hub

    We’ve been doing some thinking — quite a bit, actually — about all the things that go on at Johns Hopkins. Discovering the glue that holds the universe together, for example. Or unraveling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease. Or studying butterflies in flight to fine-tune the construction of aerial surveillance robots. Heady stuff, and a lot of it.

    In fact, Johns Hopkins does so much, in so many places, that it’s hard to wrap your brain around it all. It’s too big, too disparate, too far-flung.

    We created the Hub to be the news center for all this diverse, decentralized activity, a place where you can see what’s new, what’s important, what Johns Hopkins is up to that’s worth sharing. It’s where smart people (like you) can learn about all the smart stuff going on here.

    At the Hub, you might read about cutting-edge cancer research or deep-trench diving vehicles or bionic arms. About the psychology of hoarders or the delicate work of restoring ancient manuscripts or the mad motor-skills brilliance of a guy who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under eight seconds.

    There’s no telling what you’ll find here because there’s no way of knowing what Johns Hopkins will do next. But when it happens, this is where you’ll find it.

    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

  • richardmitnick 2:34 pm on January 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Deep Space Network, PSR J1119-6127, The Case of the 'Missing Link' Neutron Star   

    From JPL-Caltech: “The Case of the ‘Missing Link’ Neutron Star” 

    NASA JPL Banner


    January 6, 2017
    Elizabeth Landau
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    This artist’s concept shows a pulsar, which is like a lighthouse, as its light appears in regular pulses as it rotates. Pulsars are dense remnants of exploded stars, and are part of a class of objects called neutron stars.

    Magnetars are different kinds of neutron stars — they have violent, high-energy outbursts of X-ray and gamma ray light. A mysterious object called PSR J1119-6127 has been seen behaving as both a pulsar and a magnetar, suggesting that it could be a “missing link” between these objects.

    Like anthropologists piecing together the human family tree, astronomers have found that a misfit “skeleton” of a star may link two different kinds of stellar remains. The mysterious object, called PSR J1119-6127, has been caught behaving like two distinct objects — a radio pulsar and a magnetar — and could be important to understanding their evolution.

    A radio pulsar is type of a neutron star — the extremely dense remnant of an exploded star — that emits radio waves in predictable pulses due to its fast rotation. Magnetars, by contrast, are rabble rousers: They have violent, high-energy outbursts of X-ray and gamma ray light, and their magnetic fields are the strongest known in the universe.

    “This neutron star wears two different hats,” said Walid Majid, astrophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “Sometimes it’s a pulsar. Sometimes it’s a magnetar. This object may tell us something about the underlying mechanism of pulsars in general.”

    Since the 1970s, scientists have treated pulsars and magnetars as two distinct populations of objects. But in the last decade, evidence has emerged that these could be stages in the evolution of a single object. Majid’s new study, combined with other observations of the object, suggests that J1119 could be in a never-before-seen transition state between radio pulsar and magnetar. The study was published in the Jan. 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, and was presented this week at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

    “This is the final missing link in the chain that connects pulsars and magnetars,” said Victoria Kaspi, astrophysicist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “It seems like there’s a smooth transition between these two kinds of neutron star behaviors.”

    When this mysterious object was discovered in 2000, it appeared to be a radio pulsar. It was mostly quiet and predictable until July 2016, when NASA’s Fermi and Swift space observatories observed two X-ray bursts and 10 additional bursts of light at lower energies coming from the object, as reported in a study in the Astrophysical Journal Letters led by Ersin Gogus. An additional 2016 study in the same journal, led by Robert Archibald, also looked at the two X-ray bursts, incorporating observations from NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) telescope.


    This study also suggested that the pulsar was behaving rebelliously — like a magnetar.

    When the outbursts happened, Kaspi excitedly emailed astrophysicist Tom Prince at JPL/Caltech in Pasadena, telling him this would be a good object to study from the southern hemisphere. Prince, Majid and colleagues used the NASA Deep Space Network 70-meter radio telescope in Canberra, Australia — the largest dish in the southern hemisphere — to see what was going on.

    NASA Deep Space Network 70-meter radio telescope in Canberra, Australia

    “We think these X-ray bursts happened because the object’s enormous magnetic field got twisted as the object was spinning,” Majid said.

    The stress of a twisting magnetic field is so great that it causes the outer crust of the neutron star to break — analogous to tectonic plates on Earth causing earthquakes. This causes an abrupt change in rotation, called a “glitch,” which has been measured by NuSTAR.

    Neutron stars are so dense that one teaspoon weighs as much as a mountain. The star’s crust, roughly 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) thick, with higher pressure and density at greater depths, is a neutron-rich lattice. This particular neutron star is thought to have one of the strongest magnetic fields among the population of known pulsars: a few trillion times stronger than the magnetic field of the sun.

    Two weeks after the X-ray outburst, Majid and colleagues tracked the object’s emissions at radio frequencies, which are much lower in energy than X-rays. The radio emissions had sharp increases and decreases in intensity, allowing scientists to quantify how the emission evolved. Researchers used an instrument, which they informally call a “pulsar machine,” that was recently installed at the same DSN dish in Australia.

    “Within 10 days, something completely changed in the pulsar,” Majid said. “It had started behaving like a normal radio pulsar again.”

    The question remains: Which came first, the pulsar or the magnetar? Some scientists argue that objects like J1119 begin as magnetars and gradually stop outbursting X-rays and gamma rays over time. But others propose the opposite theory: that the radio pulsar comes first and, over time, its magnetic field emerges from the supernova’s rubble, and then the magnetar-like outbursts begin. But, just as babies grow to be adults and not vice versa, there is likely a single path for these objects to take.

    To help solve this mystery, much as anthropologists study the remains of human ancestors at different stages of evolutionary history, astronomers want to find more “missing link” objects like J1119. This particular object was likely formed following a supernova 1,600 years ago. Monitoring similar objects may shed light on whether this phenomenon is specific to J1119, or whether this behavior is common in this class of objects.

    Astronomers continue to monitor J1119 as well. Majid and colleagues observed in December a marked brightening of emissions at radio wavelengths, in a pattern consistent with other magnetars.

    “Our recent observations show that this object contains a bit of the ‘astrophysical DNA’ of two different families of neutron stars,” Prince said. “We are looking forward to finding other examples of this type of transitional object.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo

    NASA image

  • richardmitnick 5:07 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Deep Space Network,   

    From CSIRO: “A new antenna for old friends: celebrating 55 years of AUS-US space communication” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    February 26, 2015
    Nicholas Kachel

    NEW VISTAS: Deep Space Station 35 will operate for many decades. We can only begin to imagine what future discoveries it might make. Credit: Adam McGrath

    It’s been a momentous couple of days in the history of Australian space exploration. Just yesterday, the newest antenna in NASA’s Deep Space Network was officially commissioned at our Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, five years to the day from its original ground breaking ceremony.

    DAY OR NIGHT: Deep Space Station 35 will be operating 24/7 to help make discoveries in deep space.

    The new dish, Deep Space Station 35, incorporates the latest in Beam Waveguide technology: increasing its sensitivity and capacity for tracking, commanding and receiving data from spacecraft located billions of kilometres away across the Solar System.

    The Canberra Complex is one of three Deep Space Network stations capable of providing two-way radio contact with robotic deep space missions. The Complex’s sister stations are located in California and Spain. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with over 35 spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. You may remember this technology being utilised recently for the Rosetta and Philae comet landing; and for communicating with the ever so far-flung New Horizons spacecraft on its journey past Pluto.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft
    NASA/New Horizons

    “Does it get Channel Two?”

    As a vital communication station for these types of missions, the new antenna will make deep space communication for spacecraft and their Earth-bound support staff even easier.

    But don’t put away the space candles just yet. For today marks the 55 anniversary of the signing of the original space communication and tracking agreement signed between Australia and the United States, way back on the 26th February 1960.

    It is a partnership that has that has led to many historic firsts and breakthrough discoveries – the first flybys of Mercury and Venus, the vital communication link and television coverage of the first Moonwalk, robotic rover landings on (and amazing views from) the surface of Mars, the first ‘close-ups’ of the giant outer planets and first-time encounters with worlds such as Pluto.

    The first ever Moon landing: a momentous occasion, broadcast around the world thanks to the Australian-US partnership.

    o, we say welcome to the newest addition to the Deep Space Network and happy birthday to our space-relationship with the US. Here’s to another fifty five years of success!

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

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