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  • richardmitnick 1:32 pm on September 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Provides Laser for LISA Mission", , , LISA: Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “NASA Provides Laser for LISA Mission” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    By Karl B. Hille
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    Media contact:
    Claire Andreoli
    claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
    (301) 286-1940

    Finding the biggest collisions in the universe takes time, patience, and super steady lasers.

    In May, NASA specialists working with industry partners delivered the first prototype laser for the The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)-led Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, mission.

    1
    The first prototype of a laser sits on a testbed at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), headquartered in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. CSEM will test and characterize the laser, which will be used to conduct gravitational wave experiments in space for the LISA mission.Credits: European Space Agency/CSEM

    This unique laser instrument is designed to detect the telltale ripples in gravitational fields caused by the mergers of neutron stars, black holes, and supermassive black holes in space.

    Anthony Yu at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, leads the laser transmitter development for LISA.

    “We’re developing a highly stable and robust laser for the LISA observatory,” Yu said. “We’ve leveraged lessons learned from previous missions and the latest technologies in photonics packaging and reliability engineering. Now, to meet the challenging LISA requirements, NASA has developed a system that produces a laser transmitter by using a low-power laser enhanced by a fiber-optic amplifier.”

    The team is building upon the laser technology used in NASA’s GRACE mission. “We developed a more compact version as a master oscillator,” Yu said. “It has much smaller size, weight, and power consumption to allow for a fully redundant master oscillator for long-duration lifetime requirements.”

    The LISA laser prototype is a 2-watt laser operating in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. “Our laser is about 400 times more powerful than the typical laser pointer that puts out about 5 milliwatts or less,” Yu said. “The laser module size, not including the electronics, is about half the volume of a typical shoe box.”

    The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), headquartered in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, confirmed receipt of the lasers and will begin testing them for stability.

    LISA will consist of three spacecraft following Earth in its orbit around the Sun and flying in a precision formation, with 1.5 million miles (2.5 million kilometers) separating each one. Each spacecraft will continuously point two lasers at its counterparts. The laser receiver must be sensitive to a few hundreds of picowatts of signal strength, as the laser beam will spread to about 12 miles (20 kilometers) by the time it reaches its target spacecraft. A time-code signal embedded in the beams allows LISA to measure the slightest interference in these transmissions.

    Ripples in the fabric of space-time as small as a picometer – 50 times smaller than a hydrogen atom – will produce a detectable change in the distances between the spacecraft. Measuring these changes will give scientists the general scale of what collided to produce these ripples and an idea of where in the sky to aim other observatories looking for secondary effects.

    These gravitational wave fluctuations are so small they would be obscured by external forces such as dust impacts and the radiation pressure of sunlight on the spacecraft. To mitigate this, the drag-free control concept – demonstrated on the LISA Pathfinder mission in 2015 – uses free-floating test masses sheltered inside each spacecraft as reference points for the measurement.

    LISA expands on work by the National Science Foundation’s (US)3 Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which captured its first recording of gravitational waves in 2015.

    Since then, the pair of ground-based observatories in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, have captured four dozen mergers.

    Thomas Hams, program scientist for LISA at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said the precision laser measurements will allow us to zoom in on the gravitational wave signatures of these mergers and enable other observatories to focus on the right part of the sky to capture these events in the electromagnetic spectrum.

    NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up the first such multimessenger observation just seconds after LIGO detected a merger of two neutron stars through gravitational waves.

    “With LISA, the hope is you will be able to see these things develop before the merger actually happens,” Hams said. “There will be an indicator that something is coming.”

    Industry Partnership

    To achieve the required stability, the team brought Fibertek Inc. in Herndon, Virginia, and Avo Photonics Inc. in Horsham, Pennsylvania, to develop the laser, oscillator, and power amplifier, and an independent optical engineer in San Jose, California.

    Avo Photonics built the laser for the observatory.

    “Here you have the challenges of spaceborne ruggedness needs, on top of submicron-level optical alignment tolerance requirements. These really push your optical, thermal, and mechanical design chops,” Avo Photonics President Joseph L. Dallas said. “In addition, the narrow linewidth, low noise, and overall stability needed for this mission is unprecedented.”

    Photonics pioneer Tom Kane invented the monolithic laser oscillator technology that Goddard used to stabilize the frequency of the laser light. “Your average laser can be very messy,” Kane said. “They can wander all around their target frequency. You need a ‘quiet’ laser that’s exactly one wavelength and a perfect beam out to 15 decimal places of accuracy.”

    His oscillator technology uses feedback loops to keep the laser burning at such precision. “The wavelength ends up becoming the ruler for these incredible distances,” Kane said.

    The high-power, low-noise amplifier came from Fibertek.

    Fibertek also contributed to NASA’s Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) 2 and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), which has been operating a laser pointed at Earth for 15 years.

    Including time for testing on the ground and potential mission extensions, LISA’s lasers must operate without skipping a hertz for up to 16 years, Goddard’s Yu said.

    “Once launched, they will need to be in 24/7 operation for five years for the initial mission, with a possible six to seven years of extended mission after that,” Yu explained. “We need them to be stable and quiet.”

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on September 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Rerun of Supernova Blast Expected to Appear in 2037", HUBBLESITE and NASA/ESA Hubble (US), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) and Hubblesite: “Rerun of Supernova Blast Expected to Appear in 2037” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    and

    Hubblesite

    Sep 13, 2021

    Claire Andreoli
    claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    Donna Weaver
    Space Telescope Science Institute (US), Baltimore, Maryland

    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland

    Science Contacts:

    Steven A. Rodney
    University of South Carolina (US)

    Gabriel Brammer
    Niels Bohr Institute [Niels Bohr Institutet] (DK)/Cosmic Dawn Center– University of Copenhagen [Københavns Universitet](DK)

    It’s challenging to make predictions, especially in astronomy. There are however, a few forecasts astronomers can depend on, such as the timing of upcoming lunar and solar eclipses and the clockwork return of some comets.

    Now, looking far beyond the solar system, astronomers have added a solid prediction of an event happening deep in intergalactic space: an image of an exploding star, dubbed Supernova Requiem, which will appear around the year 2037. Although this rebroadcast will not be visible to the naked eye, some future telescopes should be able to spot it.

    1
    Now you see them, now you don’t. Three views of the same supernova appear in the 2016 image on the left, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. But they’re gone in the 2019 image. The distant supernova, named Requiem, is embedded in the giant galaxy cluster MACS J0138. The cluster is so massive that its powerful gravity bends and magnifies the light from the supernova, located in a galaxy far behind it. Called gravitational lensing, this phenomenon also splits the supernova’s light into multiple mirror images, highlighted by the white circles in the 2016 image. The multiply imaged supernova disappears in the 2019 image of the same cluster, at right. The snapshot, taken in 2019, helped astronomers confirm the object’s pedigree. Supernovae explode and fade away over time. Researchers predict that a rerun of the same supernova will make an appearance in 2037. The predicted location of that fourth image is highlighted by the yellow circle at top left. The light from Supernova Requiem needed an estimated 10 billion years for its journey, based on the distance of its host galaxy. The light that Hubble captured from the cluster, MACS J0138.0-2155, took about four billion years to reach Earth. The images were taken in near-infrared light by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.
    Credits: IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

    Summary

    Giant Galaxy Cluster Magnifies the Light from a Distant Supernova and Splits It into Multiple Images

    People over the centuries haven’t been shy about making predictions about the future. But some of them should have kept their forecasts to themselves. The president of the Michigan Savings Bank, for example, predicted in 1903 that the horse would prevail as the standard mode of transportation. The car was just a fad, he said. Inventor Thomas Edison believed that all home furnishings in the 21st Century would be made of steel, including a baby’s cradle. And in 1946, movie producer Darryl Zanuck declared that the fledgling television medium wouldn’t last because no one wants to look at pictures in a wooden box.

    Those forecasts may have fizzled, but there’s one prediction you can mark on your calendars. Around 2037 a replay of Supernova Requiem’s demise will appear in deep space.

    The rebroadcast is courtesy of a giant galaxy cluster that resides in front of the faraway supernova, whose light travelled for 10 billion years across space to reach Earth. The massive cluster’s powerful gravity acts like an oversized celestial zoom lens, magnifying and distorting the light from the supernova and splitting it into multiple copies. Three mirror images of Supernova Requiem were spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope scattered in an arc-like pattern across the cluster. Each image is a snapshot of the supernova’s light at different times after the explosive event.

    The new discovery is the third example of a multiply imaged supernova for which astronomers can actually measure the delay in arrival times.

    If they’re patient, they’ll uncover a fourth copy of the exploded star about 16 years from now.

    It turns out that this future appearance will be the fourth-known view of the same supernova, magnified, brightened, and split into separate images by a massive foreground cluster of galaxies acting like a cosmic zoom lens. Three images of the supernova were first found from archival data taken in 2016 by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

    The multiple images are produced by the monster galaxy cluster’s powerful gravity, which distorts and magnifies the light from the supernova far behind it, an effect called gravitational lensing. First predicted by Albert Einstein, this effect is similar to a glass lens bending light to magnify the image of a distant object.

    The three lensed supernova images, seen as tiny dots captured in a single Hubble snapshot, represent light from the explosive aftermath. The dots vary in brightness and color, which signify three different phases of the fading blast as it cooled over time.

    “This new discovery is the third example of a multiply imaged supernova for which we can actually measure the delay in arrival times,” explained lead researcher Steve Rodney of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “It is the most distant of the three, and the predicted delay is extraordinarily long. We will be able to come back and see the final arrival, which we predict will be in 2037, plus or minus a couple of years.”

    The light that Hubble captured from the cluster, MACS J0138.0-2155, took about four billion years to reach Earth. The light from Supernova Requiem needed an estimated 10 billion years for its journey, based on the distance of its host galaxy.

    The team’s prediction of the supernova’s return appearance is based on computer models of the cluster, which describe the various paths the supernova light is taking through the maze of clumpy dark matter in the galactic grouping. Dark matter is an invisible material that comprises the bulk of the universe’s matter and is the scaffolding upon which galaxies and galaxy clusters are built.

    Each magnified image takes a different route through the cluster and arrives at Earth at a different time, due, in part, to differences in the length of the pathways the supernova light followed.

    “Whenever some light passes near a very massive object, like a galaxy or galaxy cluster, the warping of space-time that Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us is present for any mass, delays the travel of light around that mass,” Rodney said.

    He compares the supernova’s various light paths to several trains that leave a station at the same time, all traveling at the same speed and bound for the same location. Each train, however, takes a different route, and the distance for each route is not the same. Because the trains travel over different track lengths across different terrain, they do not arrive at their destination at the same time.

    In addition, the lensed supernova image predicted to appear in 2037 lags behind the other images of the same supernova because its light travels directly through the middle of the cluster, where the densest amount of dark matter resides. The immense mass of the cluster bends the light, producing the longer time delay. “This is the last one to arrive because it’s like the train that has to go deep down into a valley and climb back out again. That’s the slowest kind of trip for light,” Rodney explained.

    The lensed supernova images were discovered in 2019 by Gabe Brammer, a study co-author at the Cosmic Dawn Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in Denmark. Brammer spotted the mirrored supernova images while analyzing distant galaxies magnified by massive foreground galaxy clusters as part of an ongoing Hubble program called REsolved QUIEscent Magnified Galaxies (REQUIEM).

    He was comparing new REQUIEM data from 2019 with archival images taken in 2016 from a different Hubble science program. A tiny red object in the 2016 data caught his eye, which he initially thought was a far-flung galaxy. But it had disappeared in the 2019 images.

    “But then, on further inspection of the 2016 data, I noticed there were actually three magnified objects, two red and a purple,” he explained. “Each of the three objects was paired with a lensed image of a distant massive galaxy. Immediately it suggested to me that it was not a distant galaxy but actually a transient source in this system that had faded from view in the 2019 images like a light bulb that had been flicked off.”

    Brammer teamed up with Rodney to conduct a further analysis of the system. The lensed supernova images are arranged in an arc around the cluster’s core. They appear as small dots near the smeared orange features that are thought to be the magnified snapshots of the supernova’s host galaxy.

    Study co-author Johan Richard of The University of Lyon [Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1] (FR) produced a map of the amount of dark matter in the cluster, inferred from the lensing it produces. The map shows the predicted locations of lensed objects. This supernova is predicted to appear again in 2042, but it will be so faint that the research team thinks it will not be visible.

    Catching the rerun of the explosive event will help astronomers measure the time delays between all four supernova images, which will offer clues to the type of warped-space terrain the exploded star’s light had to cover. Armed with those measurements, researchers can fine-tune the models that map out the cluster’s mass. Developing precise dark-matter maps of massive galaxy clusters is another way for astronomers to measure the universe’s expansion rate and investigate the nature of dark energy, a mysterious form of energy that works against gravity and causes the cosmos to expand at a faster rate.

    This time-delay method is valuable because it’s a more direct way of measuring the universe’s expansion rate, Rodney explained. “These long time delays are particularly valuable because you can get a good, precise measurement of that time delay if you are just patient and wait years, in this case more than a decade, for the final image to return,” he said. “It is a completely independent path to calculate the universe’s expansion rate. The real value in the future will be using a larger sample of these to improve the precision.”

    Spotting lensed images of supernovae will become increasingly common in the next 20 years with the launch of NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the start of operations at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Both telescopes will observe large swaths of the sky, which will allow them to spot dozens more multiply imaged supernovae.

    Future telescopes such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope also could detect light from supernova Requiem at other epochs of the blast.

    The team’s results will appear on September 13 in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    The multiple images are produced by the monster galaxy cluster’s powerful gravity, which distorts and magnifies the light from the supernova far behind it, an effect called gravitational lensing. First predicted by Albert Einstein, this effect is similar to a glass lens bending light to magnify the image of a distant object.

    The light that Hubble captured from the cluster, MACS J0138.0-2155, took about 4 billion years to reach Earth. The light from Supernova Requiem needed an estimated 10 billion years for its journey, based on the distance of its host galaxy.

    The team’s prediction of the supernova’s return appearance is based on computer models of the cluster, which describe the various paths the supernova light is taking through the maze of clumpy dark matter in the galactic grouping. Dark matter is an invisible material that comprises the bulk of the universe’s matter and is the scaffolding upon which galaxies and galaxy clusters are built.

    Each magnified image takes a different route through the cluster and arrives at Earth at a different time, due, in part, to differences in the length of the pathways the supernova light followed.

    “Whenever some light passes near a very massive object, like a galaxy or galaxy cluster, the warping of space-time that Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us is present for any mass, delays the travel of light around that mass,” Rodney said.

    He compares the supernova’s various light paths to several trains that leave a station at the same time, all traveling at the same speed and bound for the same location. Each train, however, takes a different route, and the distance for each route is not the same. Because the trains travel over different track lengths across different terrain, they do not arrive at their destination at the same time.

    In addition, the lensed supernova image predicted to appear in 2037 lags behind the other images of the same supernova because its light travels directly through the middle of the cluster, where the densest amount of dark matter resides. The immense mass of the cluster bends the light, producing the longer time delay. “This is the last one to arrive because it’s like the train that has to go deep down into a valley and climb back out again. That’s the slowest kind of trip for light,” Rodney explained.

    The lensed supernova images were discovered in 2019 by Gabe Brammer, a study co-author at the Cosmic Dawn Center (DAWN) at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in Denmark. Brammer spotted the mirrored supernova images while analyzing distant galaxies magnified by massive foreground galaxy clusters as part of an ongoing Hubble program called REsolved QUIEscent Magnified Galaxies (REQUIEM).

    He was comparing new REQUIEM data from 2019 with archival images taken in 2016 from a different Hubble science program. A tiny red object in the 2016 data caught his eye, which he initially thought was a far-flung galaxy. But it had disappeared in the 2019 images.

    “But then, on further inspection of the 2016 data, I noticed there were actually three magnified objects, two red and a purple,” he explained. “Each of the three objects was paired with a lensed image of a distant massive galaxy. Immediately it suggested to me that it was not a distant galaxy but actually a transient source in this system that had faded from view in the 2019 images like a light bulb that had been flicked off.”

    Brammer teamed up with Rodney to conduct a further analysis of the system. The lensed supernova images are arranged in an arc around the cluster’s core. They appear as small dots near the smeared orange features that are thought to be the magnified snapshots of the supernova’s host galaxy.

    Study co-author Johan Richard of the University of Lyon in France produced a map of the amount of dark matter in the cluster, inferred from the lensing it produces. The map shows the predicted locations of lensed objects. This supernova is predicted to appear again in 2042, but it will be so faint that the research team thinks it will not be visible.

    Catching the rerun of the explosive event will help astronomers measure the time delays between all four supernova images, which will offer clues to the type of warped-space terrain the exploded star’s light had to cover. Armed with those measurements, researchers can fine-tune the models that map out the cluster’s mass. Developing precise dark-matter maps of massive galaxy clusters is another way for astronomers to measure the universe’s expansion rate and investigate the nature of dark energy, a mysterious form of energy that works against gravity and causes the cosmos to expand at a faster rate.

    See the full articles from Hubblesite here and from Goddard here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:32 pm on September 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Small Satellite-Big Questions-CuPID CubeSat Will Get New Perspective on Sun-Earth Boundary", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Small Satellite-Big Questions-CuPID CubeSat Will Get New Perspective on Sun-Earth Boundary” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Sep 10, 2021

    Alison Gold
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    In April 2021, Connor O’Brien and Emil Atz complete “vibration testing” of CuPID to ensure it can withstand the space environment. Credits: Brian Walsh.

    When you help build a satellite the size of a shoebox, you learn pretty much everything about it, says Emil Atz, a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University (US). You learn how to write a proposal to fund it, how to place the screws that hold it together, how to test each instrument to ensure it functions properly.

    And then you learn how to say goodbye.

    “It’s a scary feeling, working on a piece of hardware full-time for four years, and then putting it into the rocket deployer to never see it again,” Atz said. “I didn’t want to close the door.”

    This September, a rocket will launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, bringing with it Landsat 9, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The rocket will also carry four CubeSats – compact, box-shaped satellites used for space research projects.

    Compared to standard satellites, CubeSats are inexpensive to launch. Just like when friends split a cab fare, tiny satellites can hitch a ride on rockets carrying several other missions, bringing down the cost for each.

    One of the CubeSats launching with Landsat 9 is the Cusp Plasma Imaging Detector, or CuPID. No larger than a loaf of bread nor heavier than a watermelon, CuPID has a big job. From orbit about 340 miles (550 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, little CuPID will image the boundary where Earth’s magnetic field interacts with the Sun’s.

    Atz is part of a team of collaborators from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Boston University, Drexel University (US), Johns Hopkins University (US), Merrimack College (US), Aerospace Corporation, and University of Alaska-Fairbanks (US) who made CuPID possible.

    2
    Emil Atz and Kenneth M Simms, engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, wiring elements of the CuPID spacecraft — short for Cusp Plasma Imaging Detector — in January 2020 at Goddard. Credits: Brian Walsh.

    On a mission

    Produced by Earth’s magnetic field, the magnetosphere is a protective bubble surrounding our planet.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.

    “Most of the time, we’re shielded pretty well from the Sun’s activity, as energy and particles from the Sun go around the Earth,” said Brian Walsh, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Boston University and CuPID’s principal investigator.

    But when the Sun is active enough, its magnetic field can fuse with the Earth’s in a process called magnetic reconnection.

    Earth’s magnetosphere changes shape and solar radiation comes trickling toward us, potentially putting satellites and astronauts in harm’s way.

    “With CuPID, we want to know what the boundary of Earth’s magnetic field looks like, and understand how and why energy sometimes gets in,” Walsh said.

    While missions like NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale or MMS mission fly through magnetic reconnection events to see them at a micro scale, CuPID seeks a macro view.

    Using a wide field-of-view soft X-ray camera, CuPID observes lower-energy, or “soft,” X-rays emitted when solar particles collide with Earth’s magnetosphere.

    Building that camera wasn’t easy. X-rays don’t bend as easily as visible light, so they’re much harder to focus. Plus, imaging Earth’s magnetic boundary while orbiting Earth is like sitting in the front row of a movie theater – so close, it’s difficult to see the full picture. A suitable camera needs to be specially built to capture a wide field of view from relatively close.

    Sixteen years ago, a team of scientists, engineers, technicians and students at Goddard and Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia began work on a prototype. Instead of bending the light, their camera reflected or “bounced” the X-rays into focus, passing them through a grid of tightly-packed channels arranged to give it a wide-field view.

    In 2012, Dr. Michael R. Collier, who led the Goddard contribution to CuPID, and Goddard colleagues Dr. David G. Sibeck and Dr. F. Scott Porter, tested the camera in space for the first time aboard the DXL sounding rocket.

    “It was so successful that we immediately started working on ways to miniaturize it and put it into a CubeSat,” Collier said.

    In 2015, a predecessor of CuPID flew on a second sounding rocket flight. Soon after, the project was selected by NASA to bring the full satellite with avionics to fruition. Students and scientists have been working on CuPID ever since.

    3
    NASA scientists Michael Collier, David Sibeck, and Scott Porter teamed to develop and demonstrate the first wide-field X-ray camera for studying a poorly understood phenomenon called “charge exchange.” Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn.

    High risk, high reward

    Until The California Polytechnic State University (US) developed the first CubeSat in 1999, most satellites were the size of cars or buses and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and launch, said Walsh. Those high costs deterred risk-taking. If a new, experimental tool failed, large sums of money would be lost.

    4
    A photo of CuPID in December 2019, when the chassis, or base frame of the device, met the avionics.
    Credits: Emil Atz.

    “The original goal of CubeSats was to be lower cost, allowing the democratization of space,” said Collier. Lower costs mean more room for experimentation and innovation.

    “They’re higher risk, but also higher reward,” Walsh said.

    The proliferation of small, experimental satellite missions has created more opportunities for students to get involved in hands-on engineering projects.

    In her first year as a mechanical engineering student at Boston University, Jacqueline Bachrach, a self-described “space kid,” enrolled in Walsh’s Introduction to Rocketry course. Soon after, she joined his lab and has since taken on an important role in the CuPID mission.

    “I’ve learned a lot of important skills, which I may eventually apply to other missions,” said Bachrach, now a junior. “Everyone on the project has so much knowledge that they’re willing to share. It’s been an incredibly valuable experience, especially for an undergrad.”

    The journey ahead

    The team is already preparing for CuPID’s insights into the mysteries of magnetic reconnection.

    Atz says he is eager to make first contact with the satellite once it’s in space and to start transferring data. Students will be involved with that, too. He and Walsh have begun training several undergraduate students, including Bachrach, to track the satellite’s health and interpret its data from orbit.

    “With a big mission, you don’t get a lot of opportunities for students to have a heavy hand in contributing,” Atz said. “With CuPID, students have been involved almost every step of the way.”

    For the many students and scientists involved in CuPID’s more than 15 years of development, the most exciting part is yet to come.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:47 am on August 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Observatories Assemble- NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Joins Japan’s Hisaki Satellite and W. M. Keck Observatory to Solve 'Energy Crisis' on Jupiter", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US), , ,   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Observatories Assemble- NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Joins Japan’s Hisaki Satellite and W. M. Keck Observatory to Solve ‘Energy Crisis’ on Jupiter” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Aug 4, 2021

    Bill Steigerwald
    William.A.Steigerwald@nasa.gov
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

    Sitting more than five times the distance from the Sun as Earth, Jupiter is not expected to be particularly warm. Based on the amount of sunlight received, the average temperature in the planet’s upper atmosphere should be about minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit or a chilly minus 73 Celsius. Instead, the measured value soars to around 800 degrees Fahrenheit or 426 Celsius. The source of this extra heat has remained elusive for 50 years, causing scientists to refer to the discrepancy as an “energy crisis” for the planet.

    Recently an international team assembled observations from a trio of observatories — NASA’s Juno spacecraft, the Hisaki satellite from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi. — to discover the likely source of Jupiter’s thermal boost.

    1
    JAXA Hisaki satellite.

    “We found that Jupiter’s intense aurora, the most powerful in the solar system, is responsible for heating the entire planet’s upper atmosphere to surprisingly high temperatures,” said James O’Donoghue of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Sagamihara, Japan. O’Donoghue began the research while at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and is lead author of a paper about this research appearing in Nature August 4.


    Jupiter Auroral Heating.
    Jupiter is first shown in visible light for context before an artistic impression of the Jovian upper atmosphere’s infrared glow is overlain. The brightness of this upper atmosphere layer corresponds to temperatures, from hot to cold, in this order: white, yellow, bright red and lastly, dark red. The aurorae are the hottest regions and the animation shows how heat may be carried by winds away from the aurora and cause planet-wide heating. At the end, real data is added with a temperature scale, indicating the observed global temperatures measured in the study. Credits: J. O’Donoghue (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [ (国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構](JP) )/A. Simon/J. Schmidt Hubble/National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    Auroras occur when electrically charged particles are caught in a planet’s magnetic field. These spiral along invisible lines of force in the magnetic field towards the planet’s magnetic poles, striking atoms and molecules in the atmosphere to release light and energy. On Earth, this leads to the colorful light show that forms the aurora Borealis and Australis, also known as the northern and southern lights. At Jupiter, material erupting from its volcanic moon, Io, leads to the most powerful aurora in the Solar System and enormous heating in upper atmosphere over the polar regions of the planet.

    3
    Jupiter is shown in visible light for context underneath an artistic impression of the Jovian upper atmosphere’s infrared glow. The brightness of this upper atmosphere layer corresponds to temperatures, from hot to cold, in this order: white, yellow, bright red and lastly, dark red. The aurorae are the hottest regions and the image shows how heat may be carried by winds away from the aurora and cause planet-wide heating. Credits: J. O’Donoghue (JAXA)/A. Simon/J. Schmidt/Hubble/NASA/ESA.

    The idea that the aurora could be the source of Jupiter’s mysterious energy had been proposed previously but observations have been unable to confirm or deny this until now.

    Global models of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere suggested that winds heated by the aurora and headed to the equator would be overwhelmed and redirected by westward winds driven by the planet’s rapid rotation. This would prevent the auroral energy from escaping the polar regions and heating the whole atmosphere. However, this new observational result suggests that such trapping is not occurring, and that the westward winds may be relatively weaker than expected compared with equatorward winds.

    High-resolution temperature maps from Keck II, combined with magnetic field data from Hisaki and Juno, allowed the team to catch the aurora in the act of sending what appears to be a pulse of heat toward Jupiter’s equator.

    The team observed Jupiter with the Keck II telescope for five hours on two separate nights in April 2016 and January 2017. Using the Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSPEC) on Keck II, heat from electrically charged hydrogen molecules (H3+ ions) in Jupiter’s atmosphere was traced from the planet’s poles down to the equator.

    Previous maps of the upper atmospheric temperature were formed using images consisting of only several pixels. That’s not enough resolution to see how the temperature might be changing across the planet, providing few clues as to the origin of the extra heat. To improve the situation, the team utilized the power of Keck II to take many more temperature measurements across the face of the planet and only included measurements with uncertainty in the recorded value of less than five percent. This took years of careful work and yielded temperature maps with over ten thousand individual data points, the highest resolution to date.

    Instead of high temperatures only in the polar regions near the aurora, which would be expected if the heat was trapped there, these detailed maps showed that the heat in the upper atmosphere was more widely distributed, with a gradual decrease in temperature closer to the equator.

    “We also revealed a strange localized region of heating well away from the aurora – a long bar of heating unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Tom Stallard, a co-author of the paper at the University of Leicester (UK). “Though we can’t be sure what this feature is, I am convinced it’s a rolling wave of heat flowing equatorward from the aurora.”

    Additionally, observations from JAXA’s Hisaki satellite showed that conditions at the time of the Keck II temperature observations could generate a strong aurora on Jupiter. From orbit around Earth, Hisaki has observed the aurora-generating magnetic field around Jupiter since the mission’s launch in 2013. This long-term monitoring has revealed that Jupiter’s magnetic field is strongly influenced by the solar wind; a stream of high-energy particles that emanates from the Sun. The solar wind carries its own magnetic field and when this meets Jupiter’s planetary field, the latter is compressed. At the time of the Keck II observations, Hisaki showed that pressure from the solar wind was particularly high at Jupiter and the field compression is likely to have created an enhanced aurora.

    5
    Jupiter is shown in visible light for context with an artistic impression of the Jovian upper atmosphere’s infrared glow overlain, along with magnetic field lines (blue lines). The aurorae are the hottest regions and the image shows how heat may be carried by winds away from the aurora and cause planet-wide heating. Credits: J. O’Donoghue (JAXA)/A. Simon/J. Schmidt/Hubble/NASA/ESA.

    Finally, observations from Juno in orbit around Jupiter provided the precise location of the aurora on the planet. “Juno’s magnetic field data provided us with a ‘ground truth’ as to where the aurora was: this information isn’t readily available from heat maps, as heat leaks away in many directions,” said O’Donoghue. “Picture this like a beach: if the hot atmosphere is water, the magnetic field mapped by Juno is shoreline, and the aurora is ocean, we found that water left the ocean and flooded the land, and Juno revealed where that shoreline was to help us understand the degree of flooding.”

    “It was pure luck that we captured this potential heat-shedding event,” adds O’Donoghue. “If we’d observed Jupiter on a different night, when the solar wind pressure had not recently been high, we would have missed it!”

    More about the observatories and partners:

    The research was funded by NASA through the Solar System Observations Program and the Solar System Workings Program as well as JAXA’s International Top Young Fellowship program. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of California Institute of Technology (US) in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute (US), San Antonio, Texas. NASA Goddard built and runs Juno’s magnetometer instrument. The W. M. Keck Observatory is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California (US) and NASA. The Observatory was made possible by the financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community; the authors are fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.

    See the full article here.
    See also the article from W. M. Keck Observatory here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:13 pm on August 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Model Describes Nearby Star which Resembles Ours in its Youth", At 4.65 billion years old our Sun is a middle-aged star., , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US),   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “NASA Model Describes Nearby Star which Resembles Ours in its Youth” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Aug 3, 2021
    By Alison Gold
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    A view of the Sun from the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. Credits: European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    New research [The Astrophysical Journal] led by NASA provides a closer look at a nearby star thought to resemble our young Sun. The work allows scientists to better understand what our Sun may have been like when it was young, and how it may have shaped the atmosphere of our planet and the development of life on Earth.

    Many people dream of meeting with a younger version of themselves to exchange advice, identify the origins of their defining traits, and share hopes for the future. At 4.65 billion years old our Sun is a middle-aged star. Scientists are often curious to learn exactly what properties enabled our Sun, in its younger years, to support life on nearby Earth.

    2
    Illustration of what the Sun may have been like 4 billion years ago, around the time life developed on Earth.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab.

    Without a time machine to transport scientists back billions of years, retracing our star’s early activity may seem an impossible feat. Luckily, in the Milky Way galaxy – the glimmering, spiraling segment of the universe where our solar system is located – there are more than 100 billion stars. One in ten share characteristics with our Sun, and many are in the early stages of development.

    “Imagine I want to reproduce a baby picture of an adult when they were one or two years old, and all of their pictures were erased or lost. I would look at a photo of them now, and their close relatives’ photos from around that age, and from there, reconstruct their baby photos,” said Vladimir Airapetian, senior astrophysicist in the Heliophysics Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and first author on the new study. “That’s the sort of process we are following here – looking at characteristics of a young star similar to ours, to better understand what our own star was like in its youth, and what allowed it to foster life on one of its nearby planets.”

    Kappa 1 Ceti is one such solar analogue. The star is located about 30 light-years away (in space terms, that’s like a neighbor who lives on the next street over) and is estimated to be between 600 to 750 million years old, around the same age our Sun was when life developed on Earth. It also has a similar mass and surface temperature to our Sun, said the study’s second author, Meng Jin, a heliophysicist with the SETI Institute (US) and the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in California. All of those factors make Kappa 1 Ceti a “twin” of our young Sun at the time when life arose on Earth, and an important target for study.

    Airapetian, Jin, and several colleagues have adapted an existing solar model to predict some of Kappa 1 Ceti’s most important, yet difficult to measure, characteristics. The model relies on data input from a variety of space missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and NICER missions, and ESA’s XMM-Newton. The team published their study today in The Astrophysical Journal [above].

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS

    Star Power

    Like human toddlers, toddler stars are known for their high bursts of energy and activity. For stars, one way this pent-up energy is released is in the form of a stellar wind.

    Stellar winds, like stars themselves, are mostly made up of a superhot gas known as plasma, created when particles in a gas have split into positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. The most energetic plasma, with the help of a star’s magnetic field, can shoot off away from the outermost and hottest part of a star’s atmosphere, the corona, in an eruption, or stream more steadily toward nearby planets as stellar wind. “Stellar wind is continuously flowing out from a star toward its nearby planets, influencing those planets’ environments,” Jin said.

    Younger stars tend to generate hotter, more vigorous stellar winds and more powerful plasma eruptions than older stars do. Such outbursts can affect the atmosphere and chemistry of planets nearby, and possibly even catalyze the development of organic material – the building blocks for life – on those planets.

    Stellar wind can have a significant impact on planets at any stage of life. But the strong, highly dense stellar winds of young stars can compress the protective magnetic shields of surrounding planets, making them even more susceptible to the effects of the charged particles.

    3
    An artist concept of a coronal mass ejection hitting young Earth’s weak magnetosphere.
    Credits: NASA/GSFC/CIL.

    Our Sun is a perfect example. Compared to now, in its toddlerhood, our Sun likely rotated three times faster, had a stronger magnetic field, and shot out more intense high-energy radiation and particles. These days, for lucky spectators, the impact of these particles is sometimes visible near the planet’s poles as aurora, or the Northern and Southern Lights. Airapetian says 4 billion years ago, considering the impact of our Sun’s wind at that time, these tremendous lights were likely often visible from many more places around the globe.

    That high level of activity in our Sun’s nascence may have pushed back Earth’s protective magnetosphere, and provided the planet – not close enough to be torched like Venus, nor distant enough to be neglected like Mars – with the right atmospheric chemistry for the formation of biological molecules.

    Similar processes could be unfolding in stellar systems across our galaxy and universe.

    “It’s my dream to find a rocky exoplanet in the stage that our planet was in more than 4 billion years ago, being shaped by its young, active star and nearly ready to host life,” Airapetian said. “Understanding what our Sun was like just as life was beginning to develop on Earth will help us to refine our search for stars with exoplanets that may eventually host life.”

    A Solar Twin

    Though solar analogues can help solve one of the challenges of peeking into the Sun’s past, time isn’t the only complicating factor in studying our young Sun. There’s also distance.

    We have instruments capable of accurately measuring the stellar wind from our own Sun, called the solar wind. However, it’s not yet possible to directly observe the stellar wind of other stars in our galaxy, like Kappa 1 Ceti, because they are too far away.

    When scientists wish to study an event or phenomenon that they cannot directly observe, scientific modeling can help fill in the gaps. Models are representations or predictions of an object of study, built on existing scientific data. While scientists have previously modeled the stellar wind from this star, Airapetian said, they used more simplified assumptions.

    The basis for the new model of Kappa 1 Ceti by Airapetian, Jin, and colleagues is the Alfvén Wave Solar Model, which is within the Space Weather Modeling Framework developed by the University of Michigan. The model works by inputting known information about a star, including its magnetic field and ultraviolet emission line data, to predict stellar wind activity. When the model has been tested on our Sun, it has been validated and checked against observed data to verify that its predictions are accurate.

    “It’s capable of modeling our star’s winds and corona with high fidelity,” Jin said. “And it’s a model we can use on other stars, too, to predict their stellar wind and thereby investigate habitability. That’s what we did here.”

    Previous studies have drawn on data gathered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to identify Kappa 1 Ceti as a young solar proxy, and to gather the necessary inputs for the model, such as magnetic field and ultraviolet emission line data.


    The hot stellar corona, the outermost layer in a star’s atmosphere, expands into the stellar wind, driven by heating from the star’s magnetic field and magnetic waves. The researchers modeled the stellar magnetic corona of Kappa 1 Ceti in 3D, based on data from 2012 and 2013. Credit: NASA.

    “Every model needs input to get output,” Airapetian said. “To get useful, accurate output, the input needs to be solid data, ideally from multiple sources across time. We have all that data from Kappa 1 Ceti, but we really synthesized it in this predictive model to move past previous purely observational studies of the star.”

    Airapetian likens his team’s model to a doctor’s report. To get a full picture of how a patient is doing, a doctor is likely to talk to the patient, gather markers like heart rate and temperature, and if needed, conduct several more specialized tests, like a blood test or ultrasound. They are likely to formulate an accurate assessment of patient well-being with a combination of these metrics, not just one.

    Similarly, by using many pieces of information about Kappa 1 Ceti gathered from different space missions, scientists are better able to predict its corona and the stellar wind. Because stellar wind can affect a nearby planet’s magnetic shield, it plays an important role in habitability. The team is also working on another project, looking more closely at the particles that may have emerged from early solar flares, as well as prebiotic chemistry on Earth.

    Our Sun’s Past, Written in the Stars

    The researchers hope to use their model to map the environments of other Sun-like stars at various life stages.

    Specifically, they have eyes on the infant star EK Dra – 111 light-years away and only 100 million years old – which is likely rotating three times faster and shooting off more flares and plasma than Kappa 1 Ceti. Documenting how these similar stars of various ages differ from one another will help characterize the typical trajectory of a star’s life.

    Their work, Airapetian said, is all about “looking at our own Sun, its past and its possible future, through the lens of other stars.”

    To learn more about our Sun’s stormy youth, watch this video and see how energy from our young Sun — 4 billion years ago — aided in creating molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to warm up enough to incubate life.


    The Faint Young Star Paradox: Solar Storms May Have Been Key to Life on Earth.
    Our sun’s adolescence was stormy—and new evidence shows that these tempests may have been just the key to seeding life as we know it on Earth. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Genna Duberstein.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:10 pm on June 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Total Solar Eclipses Shine a Light on the Solar Wind with Help from NASA’s ACE Mission", , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US), , Special filters enable scientists to measure different temperatures in the corona during total solar eclipses., The researchers used light emitted by two common types of charged iron particles in the corona to determine the temperature of the material there.   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Total Solar Eclipses Shine a Light on the Solar Wind with Help from NASA’s ACE Mission” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Jun 15, 2021

    Mara Johnson-Groh
    mjohnson-groh@sesda.com
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    Special filters enable scientists to measure different temperatures in the corona during total solar eclipses, such as this one seen in Mitchell, Oregon, on August 21, 2017. The red light is emitted by charged iron particles at 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit and the green are those at 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit.
    Credits: Image produced by M. Druckmuller and published in Habbal et al. 2021.

    More Than Just Pretty Pictures

    Scientists have used total solar eclipses for over a century to learn more about our universe, including deciphering the Sun’s structure and explosive events, finding evidence for the theory of general relativity, and even discovering a new element – helium. While instruments called coronagraphs are able to mimic eclipses, they’re not good enough to access the full extent of the corona that is revealed during a total solar eclipse. Instead, astronomers must travel to far-flung regions of the Earth to observe the corona during eclipses, which occur about every 12 to 18 months and only last a few minutes.

    Through travels to Australia, Libya, Mongolia, Oregon, and beyond, the team gathered 14 years of high-resolution total solar eclipse images from around the world. They captured the eclipses using cameras equipped with specialized filters to help them measure the temperatures of the particles from the innermost part of the corona, the sources of the solar wind.

    The researchers used light emitted by two common types of charged iron particles in the corona to determine the temperature of the material there. The results unexpectedly showed that the amount of the cooler particles – which were more abundant and found to contribute most of the solar wind material – were surprisingly consistent at different times during the solar cycle. The sparse hotter material varied much more with the solar cycle while the solar wind speed varied from 185 to 435 miles per second.

    “That means that whatever is heating the majority of the corona and solar wind is not very dependent on the Sun’s activity cycle,” said Benjamin Boe, a solar researcher at the University of Hawai’i (US) involved in the new research.

    The finding is surprising as it suggests that while the majority of solar wind is originating from sources that have a roughly constant temperature, it may have wildly different speeds. “So now the question is, what processes keep the temperature of the sources of the solar wind at a constant value?” Habbal said.

    The Dynamic Sun

    The team also compared the eclipse data with measurements taken from NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer, or ACE, spacecraft, which sits in space 1 million miles away from Earth in the direction of the Sun and was also essential in revealing the properties of the dynamic component of the solar wind.

    The variable speeds of the dynamic wind were distinguished by the variability of the iron charge states associated with them. The spacecraft data showed that the speeds of the particles seen in the variable solar wind changed in relationship to the iron charge states associated with them. The high temperature sheaths around events called prominences, discovered from eclipse observations, were found to be responsible for the dynamic wind and the occasional coronal mass ejection – a large cloud of solar plasma and embedded magnetic fields released into space after a solar eruption.

    While the team doesn’t know why the sources of the solar wind are at the same temperature, they think the speeds vary depending on the density of the region they originated from, which itself is determined by the underlying magnetic field. Fast-flying particles come from low-density regions, and slower ones from high-density regions. This is likely because the energy is distributed between all the particles in a region. So in areas where there are fewer particles, there’s more energy for each individual particle. This is similar to splitting a birthday cake – if there are fewer people, there’s more cake for each person.

    The new findings provide new insights into the properties of the solar wind, which is a key component of space weather that can impact space-based communication satellites and astronomical observing platforms. The team plans to continue traveling the globe to observe total solar eclipses. They hope their efforts may eventually shed a new light on the longstanding solar mystery: how the corona reaches a temperature of a million degrees, far hotter than the solar surface.

    Science paper:
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:06 pm on June 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Citizen Scientists Discover Two Gaseous Planets around a Bright Sun-like Star", , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US), Two gaseous planets orbit the bright star HD 152843.   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Citizen Scientists Discover Two Gaseous Planets around a Bright Sun-like Star” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Jun 10, 2021

    Elizabeth Landau
    elandau@nasa.gov
    NASA Headquarters

    Media Contact
    Claire Andreoli
    claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
    (301) 286-1940

    At night, seven-year-old Miguel likes talking to his father Cesar Rubio about planets and stars. “I try to nurture that,” says Rubio, a machinist in Pomona, California, who makes parts for mining and power generation equipment.

    1
    In this artist’s rendering, two gaseous planets orbit the bright star HD 152843. These planets were discovered through the citizen science project Planet Hunters TESS, in collaboration with professional scientists.
    Credits: NASA/Scott Wiessinger.

    Now, the boy’s father can claim he helped discover planets, too. He is one of thousands of volunteers participating in Planet Hunters TESS, a NASA-funded citizen science project that looks for evidence of planets beyond our solar system, or exoplanets. Citizen science is a way for members of the public to collaborate with scientists. More than 29,000 people worldwide have joined the Planet Hunters TESS effort to help scientists find exoplanets.

    2
    Cesar Rubio and his son Miguel enjoy talking about space together.
    Credits: Cesar Rubio

    Planet Hunters TESS has now announced the discovery of two exoplanets in a study published online in MNRAS, listing Rubio and more than a dozen other citizen scientists as co-authors.

    These exotic worlds orbit a star called HD 152843, located about 352 light-years away. This star is about the same mass as the Sun, but almost 1.5 times bigger and slightly brighter.

    Planet b, about the size of Neptune, is about 3.4 times bigger than Earth, and completes an orbit around its star in about 12 days. Planet c, the outer planet, is about 5.8 times bigger than Earth, making it a “sub-Saturn,” and its orbital period is somewhere between 19 and 35 days. In our own solar system, both of these planets would be well within the orbit of Mercury, which is about 88 days.

    “Studying them together, both of them at the same time, is really interesting to constrain theories of how planets both form and evolve over time,” said Nora Eisner, a doctoral student in astrophysics at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and lead author of the study.

    TESS stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a NASA spacecraft that launched in April 2018. The TESS team has used data from the observatory to identify more than 100 exoplanets and over 2,600 candidates that await confirmation.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS

    Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Center for Astrophysics – Harvard and Smithsonian; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; and the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute (US) in Baltimore.

    Planet Hunters TESS, operated through the Zooniverse website, began in December 2018, shortly after the first TESS data became publicly available. Volunteers look at graphs showing the brightness of different stars over time. They note which of those plots show a brief dip in the star’s brightness and then an upward swing to the original level. This can happen when a planet crosses the face of its star, blocking out a tiny bit of light — an event called a “transit.”

    The Planet Hunters project shares each brightness plot, called a “light curve,” with 15 volunteers. In the background of the website, an algorithm collects all of the volunteers’ submissions and picks out light curves that multiple volunteers have flagged. Eisner and colleagues then look at the highest-ranked light curves and determine which ones would be good for scientific follow-up.

    Even in an era of sophisticated computing techniques like machine learning, having a large group of volunteers looking through telescope data is a big help to researchers. Since researchers can’t perfectly train computers to identify the signatures of potential planets, the human eye is still valuable. “That’s why a lot of exoplanet candidates are missed, and why citizen science is great,” Eisner said.

    In the case of HD 152843, citizen scientists looked at a plot showing its brightness during one month of TESS observations. The light curve showed three distinct dips, meaning at least one planet could be orbiting the star. All 15 citizen scientists who looked at this light curve flagged at least two transits, and some flagged the light curve on the Planet Hunters TESS online discussion forum.

    Then, scientists took a closer look. By comparing the data to their models, they estimated that two transits came from the inner planet and the other came from a second, outer planet.

    To make sure the transit signals came from planets and not some other source, such as stars that eclipse each other, passing asteroids, or the movements of TESS itself, scientists needed to look at the star with a different method. They used an instrument called HARPS-N (the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher for the Northern hemisphere) at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in La Palma, Spain, as well as EXPRES (the Extreme Precision Spectrometer), an instrument at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

    Both HARPS and EXPRES look for the presence of planets by examining whether starlight is “wobbling” due to planets orbiting their star. This technique, called the radial velocity method, allows scientists to estimate the mass of a distant planet, too.

    While scientists could not get a signal clear enough to pinpoint the planets’ masses, they got enough radial velocity data to make mass estimates — about 12 times the mass of Earth for planet b and about 28 times the mass of Earth for planet c. Their measurements validate that signals that indicate the presence of planets; more data are needed for confirmation of their masses. Scientists continue to observe the planetary system with HARPS-N and hope to have more information about the planets soon.

    Researchers may soon have high-tech tools to see if these planets have atmospheres and what gases are present in them. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, launching later this year, will be able to look at what kinds of molecules make up the atmospheres of planets like those in this system, especially the larger outer planet.

    The HD 152843 planets are far too hot and gaseous to support life as we know it, but they are valuable to study as scientists learn about the range of possible planets in our galaxy.

    “We’re taking baby steps towards the direction of finding an Earth-like planet and studying its atmosphere, and continue to push the boundaries of what we can see,” Eisner said.

    The citizen scientists who classified the HD 152843 light curve as a possible source of transiting planets, in addition to three Planet Hunters discussion forum moderators, were invited to have their names listed as co-authors on the study announcing the discovery of these planets.

    One of these citizen scientists is Alexander Hubert, a college student concentrating in mathematics and Latin in Würzburg, Germany, with plans to become a secondary school teacher. So far, he has classified more than 10,000 light curves through Planet Hunters TESS.

    “I regret sometimes that in our times, we have to constrain ourselves to one, maybe two subjects, like for me, Latin and mathematics,” Hubert said. “I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity on Zooniverse to participate in something different.”

    Elisabeth Baeten of Leuven, Belgium, another co-author, works in the administration of reinsurance, and says classifying light curves on Planet Hunters TESS is “relaxing.” Interested in astronomy since childhood, she was one of the original volunteers of Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project that started in 2007. Galaxy Zoo invited participants to classify the shapes of distant galaxies.

    While Baeten has been part of more than a dozen published studies through Zooniverse projects, the new study is Rubio’s first scientific publication. Astronomy has been a life-long interest, and something he can now share with his son. The two sometimes look at the Planet Hunters TESS website together.

    “I feel that I’m contributing, even if it’s only like a small part,” Rubio said. “Especially scientific research, it’s satisfying for me.”

    NASA has a wide variety of citizen science collaborations across topics ranging from Earth science to the Sun to the wider universe. Anyone in the world can participate. Check out the latest opportunities at http://www.science.nasa.gov/citizenscience.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:11 am on June 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Could NASA Really Find Life on Venus? Here's The Most Likely Place to Look", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US), , ,   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and From NASA JPL-Caltech via Science Alert (AU) : “Could NASA Really Find Life on Venus? Here’s The Most Likely Place to Look” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    and

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (AU)

    7 JUNE 2021
    GAIL ILES

    1
    Credit:National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    NASA has selected two missions, dubbed DAVINCI+ and VERITAS, to study the “lost habitable” world of Venus. Each mission will receive approximately US$500 million for development and both are expected to launch between 2028 and 2030.

    1
    Artist’s conception of DAVINCI probe descent stages. Credit:NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US).

    3
    Artist’s concept of the Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy (Veritas) spacecraft, a proposed mission for NASA’s Discovery program. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (US)

    It had long been thought there was no life on Venus, due to its extremely high temperatures. But late last year, scientists studying the planet’s atmosphere announced the surprising (and somewhat controversial) discovery of phosphine. On Earth, this chemical is produced primarily by living organisms.

    The news sparked renewed interest in Earth’s “twin”, prompting NASA to plan state-of-the-art missions to look more closely at the planetary environment of Venus – which could hint at life-bearing conditions.

    Conditions for life

    Ever since the Hubble Space Telescope revealed the sheer number of nearby galaxies, astronomers have become obsessed with searching for exoplanets in other star systems, particularly ones that appear habitable.

    But there are certain criteria for a planet to be considered habitable. It must have a suitable temperature, atmospheric pressure similar to Earth’s and available water.

    In this regard, Venus probably wouldn’t have attracted much attention if it were outside our Solar System. Its skies are filled with thick clouds of sulfuric acid (which is dangerous for humans), the land is a desolate backdrop of extinct volcanoes and 90 percent of the surface is covered in red hot lava flows.

    Despite this, NASA will search the planet for environmental conditions that may have once supported life. In particular, any evidence that Venus may have once had an ocean would change all our existing models of the planet.

    And interestingly, conditions on Venus are far less harsh at a height of about 50 km (30 miles) above the surface. In fact, the pressure at these higher altitudes eases so much that conditions become much more Earth-like, with breathable air and balmy temperatures.

    If life (in the form of microbes) does exist on Venus, this is probably where it would be found.

    The DAVINCI+ probe

    NASA’s DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) mission has several science goals, relating to:

    -Atmospheric origin and evolution

    It will aim to understand the atmospheric origins on Venus, focusing on how it first formed, how it evolved and how (and why) it is different from the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.

    -Atmospheric composition and surface interaction

    This will involve understanding the history of water on Venus and the chemical processes at work in its lower atmosphere. It will also try to determine whether Venus ever had an ocean. Since life on Earth started in our oceans, this would become the starting point in any search for life.

    -Surface properties

    This aspect of the mission will provide insights into geographically complex tessera regions on Venus (which have highly deformed terrain), and will investigate their origins and tectonic, volcanic and weathering history.

    These findings could shed light on how Venus and Earth began similarly and then diverged in their evolution.

    The DAVINCI+ spacecraft, upon arrival at Venus, will drop a spherical probe full of sensitive instruments through the planet’s atmosphere. During its descent, the probe will sample the air, constantly measuring the atmosphere as it falls and returning the measurements back to the orbiting spacecraft.

    The probe will carry a mass spectrometer, which can measure the mass of different molecules in a sample. This will be used to detect any noble gases or other trace gases in Venus’s atmosphere.

    In-flight sensors will also help measure the dynamics of the atmosphere, and a camera will take high-contrast images during the probe’s descent. Only four spacecraft have ever returned images from the surface of Venus, and the last such photo was taken in 1982.

    3
    The highest shield volcano on Venus, Maat Mons. (NASA)

    VERITAS

    Meanwhile, the VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) mission will map surface features to determine the planet’s geologic history and further understand why it developed so differently to Earth.

    Historical geology provides important information about ancient changes in climate, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. This data can be used to anticipate the possible size and frequency of future events.

    The mission will also seek to understand the internal geodynamics that shaped the planet. In other words, we may be able to build a picture of Venus’s continental plate movements and compare it with Earth’s.

    In parallel with DAVINCI+, VERITAS will take planet-wide, high-resolution topographic images of Venus’s surface, mapping surface features including mountains and valleys.

    At the same time, the Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM) instrument on board the orbiting VERITAS spacecraft will map emissions of gas from the surface, with such accuracy that it will be able to detect near-surface water vapor. Its sensors are so powerful they will be able to see through the thick clouds of sulfuric acid.

    Key insight into conditions on Venus

    The most exciting thing about these two missions is the orbit-to-surface probe. In the 1980s, four landers made it to the surface of Venus, but could only operate for two days due to crushing pressure. The pressure there is 93 bar, which is the same as being 900 m below sea level on Earth.

    Then there’s the lava. Many lava flows on Venus stretch for several hundred kilometers. And this lava’s mobility may be enhanced by the planet’s average surface temperature of about 470°C.

    Meanwhile, “shield” volcanoes on Venus are an impressive 700 km (435 miles) wide at the base, but only about 5.5 km high on average. The largest shield volcano on Earth, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, is only 120 km wide at the base.

    There are only three bodies in our Solar System with confirmed active fire volcanoes: Earth, Mars and Jupiter’s Io moon. But recent research has proposed Idunn Mons (pictured), a volcanic peak on Venus, may still be active

    The information obtained from DAVINCI+ and VERITAS will provide crucial insight into not only how Venus formed, but how any rocky, life-giving planet forms. Ideally, this will equip us with valuable markers to look for when searching for habitable worlds outside our Solar System.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (US)) 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, 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/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
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