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  • richardmitnick 4:10 pm on May 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Mission-Saving NASA Instrument Secures New Flight Opportunity; Slated for Significant Upgrade", A miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer gets and upgrade and new assignment in Brazil, , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Mission-Saving NASA Instrument Secures New Flight Opportunity; Slated for Significant Upgrade” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    May 14, 2019
    Lori Keesey
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    1
    Principal Investigator Todd Bonalsky developed a miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer, which debuted on the Dellingr mission and is slated to fly aboard a Brazilian CubeSat. He is now upgrading instrument so that it can self-calibrate. Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk

    A miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer that helped stop NASA’s Dellingr spacecraft from a potentially mission-ending spin has secured a flight aboard a Brazilian CubeSat mission — NASA’s first with the South American nation — and is now undergoing a significant upgrade that would benefit both space- and ground-based data collection.

    The miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer, developed by instrument engineer Todd Bonalsky at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, proved that scientists could reduce the size of these powerful instruments and gather scientifically useful magnetic-field measurements from small platforms sometimes no larger than a shoebox.

    The instrument made its debut as one of two magnetometers aboard the Dellingr mission, created at Goddard to improve the reliability and resiliency of CubeSat platforms.

    Shortly after its launch in 2017, the Dellingr spacecraft began to spin, crippling communication and preventing one of the mission’s miniaturized mass spectrometers from collecting usable data. To slow down the tumbling, mission controllers wrote and uploaded new software and used Bonalsky’s miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer as an attitude sensor to provide the data needed to activate Dellingr’s torquers and help stabilize the spinning. Dellingr is now collecting useful data.

    The same instrument has also flown on a couple sounding rocket missions and will gather data on Brazil’s Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task, or SPORT, mission expected to launch in 2020. The objective of this joint NASA partnership with the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research is understanding the conditions in Earth’s ionosphere that lead to scintillation, which can compromise GPS and other transmissions from low-Earth orbit.

    New and Improved Version

    Perhaps more exciting, though, are efforts to develop a self-calibrating, miniaturized magnetometer, which could fly on CubeSats and sounding rockets, but also as a ground-based instrument for NASA’s first-ever effort to use high-voltage power lines as a super-scale antenna for gathering measurements about geomagnetically induced currents.

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    The prototype hybrid magnetometer may fly on a sounding-rocket mission, called VISIONS-2, next year.
    Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk

    4
    This graphic shows the high-voltage power transmission system in the U.S. Principal Investigator Antti Pulkkinen wants to take advantage of this existing “antenna” to measure a phenomenon that has led to widespread power outages in the past. Image Credit: Wikipedia

    “A self-calibrating fluxgate magnetometer would be very valuable to us,” said Antti Pulkkinen, the Goddard scientist spearheading the power-grid study. “We could put them in the ground and literally walk away without worrying about whether they are properly calibrated. They would do it themselves,” Bonalsky added. “Such a technology would be highly beneficial to further improve our GIC observations — I want to put them in the field!”

    With funding from Goddard’s FY19 IRAD program, Bonalsky is continuing an effort he began two years ago to combine the flight-proven miniaturized fluxgate magnetometer with an optically pumped atomic magnetometer.

    The need for an all-in-one instrument lies in the inherent advantages and disadvantages of both magnetometer types, Bonalsky said. “Our miniaturized fluxgate system, which has been so successful on Dellingr and other flight programs, is prone to drift over long periods of time due to wide and repeated temperature variations.”

    That’s why Bonalsky wants to add an atomic magnetometer, which operates under different principles. These types aren’t prone to drift and can be used to maintain the fluxgate’s calibration. However, they’re no panacea, either. While not susceptible to drifting, atomic magnetometers can only measure the magnetic field’s magnitude, not its direction.

    Bonalsky said he’s making good progress marrying the two types to create a first-ever miniaturized hybrid, which he believes he could fly as early as next year on a suborbital mission. “If it weren’t for IRAD, we would have never achieved this level of miniaturization and all these flight opportunities,” he said.

    For more Goddard technology news, go to: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/spring_2019_final_web_version.pdf

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:47 pm on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "And the Blobs Just Keep on Coming", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, , , Two German-NASA Helios spacecraft which launched in 1974 and 1976 to study the Sun   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “And the Blobs Just Keep on Coming” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    April 4, 2019

    Lina Tran
    lina.tran@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    When Simone Di Matteo first saw the patterns in his data, it seemed too good to be true. “It’s too perfect!” Di Matteo, a space physics Ph.D. student at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, recalled thinking. “It can’t be real.” And it wasn’t, he’d soon find out.

    Di Matteo was looking for long trains of massive blobs — like a lava lamp’s otherworldly bubbles, but anywhere from 50 to 500 times the size of Earth — in the solar wind. The solar wind, whose origins aren’t yet fully understood, is the stream of charged particles that blows constantly from the Sun. Earth’s magnetic field, called the magnetosphere, shields our planet from the brunt of its radiation. But when giant blobs of solar wind collide with the magnetosphere, they can trigger disturbances there that interfere with satellites and everyday communications signals.

    In his search, Di Matteo was re-examining archival data from the two German-NASA Helios spacecraft, which launched in 1974 and 1976 to study the Sun.

    NASA/DLR Helios spacecraft

    1
    Engineers inspect the Helios 2 spacecraft.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    But this was 45-year-old data he’d never worked with before. The flawless, wave-like patterns he initially found hinted that something was leading him astray.

    It wasn’t until uncovering and removing those false patterns that Di Matteo found exactly what he was looking for: dotted trails of blobs that oozed from the Sun every 90 minutes or so. The scientists published their findings in JGR Space Physics on Feb. 21, 2019. They think the blobs could shed light on the solar wind’s beginnings. Whatever process sends the solar wind out from the Sun must leave signatures on the blobs themselves.

    Making Way for New Science

    Di Matteo’s research was the start of a project NASA scientists undertook in anticipation of the first data from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission, which launched in 2018.

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

    Over the next seven years, Parker will fly through unexplored territory, soaring as close as 4 million miles from the Sun. Before Parker, the Helios 2 satellite held the record for the closest approach to the Sun at 27 million miles, and scientists thought it might give them an idea of what to expect. “When a mission like Parker is going to see things no one has seen before, just a hint of what could be observed is really helpful,” Di Matteo said.

    The problem with studying the solar wind from Earth is distance. In the time it takes the solar wind to race across the 93 million miles between us and the Sun, important clues to the wind’s origins — like temperature and density — fade. “You’re constantly asking yourself, ‘How much of what I’m seeing here is because of evolution over four days in transit, and how much came straight from the Sun?’” said solar scientist Nicholeen Viall, who advised Di Matteo during his research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Helios data — some of which was collected at just one-third the distance between the Sun and Earth — could help them begin to answer these questions.

    Modeling Blobs

    The first step was tracing Helios’ measurements of the blobs to their source on the Sun. “You can look at spacecraft data all you want, but if you can connect it back to where it came from on the Sun, it tells a more complete story,” said Samantha Wallace, one of the study collaborators and a physics Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

    Wallace used an advanced solar wind model to link magnetic maps of the solar surface to Helios’ observations, a tricky task since computer languages and data conventions have changed greatly since Helios’ days. Now, the researchers could see what sorts of regions on the Sun were likely to bud into blobs of solar wind.


    In the days before Parker Solar Probe, the record-breaking spacecraft for speed and closest approach to the Sun were the two Helios probes, launched in the mid-1970s. This visualization shows the orbits of Helios 1 and Helios 2, from an oblique view above the ecliptic plane.
    Credits: Tom Bridgman/NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

    Sifting the Evidence

    Then, Di Matteo searched the data for specific wave patterns. They expected conditions to alternate — hot and dense, then cold and tenuous — as individual blobs engulfed the spacecraft and moved on, in a long line.

    The picture-perfect patterns Di Matteo first found worried him. “That was a red flag,” Viall said. “The actual solar wind doesn’t have such precise, clean periodicities. Usually when you get such a precise frequency, it means some instrument effect is going on.” Maybe there was some element of the instrument design they weren’t considering, and it was imparting effects that had to be separated from true solar wind patterns.

    Di Matteo needed more information on the Helios instruments. But most researchers who worked on the mission have long since retired. He did what anyone else would do, and turned to the internet.

    Many Google searches and a weekend of online translators later, Di Matteo unearthed a German instruction manual that describes the instruments dedicated to the mission’s solar wind experiment. Decades ago, when Helios was merely a blueprint and before anyone ever launched a spacecraft to the Sun, scientists didn’t know how best to measure the solar wind. To prepare themselves for different scenarios, Di Matteo learned, they equipped the probes with two different instruments that would each measure certain solar wind properties in their own way. This was the culprit responsible for Di Matteo’s perfect waves: the spacecraft itself, as it alternated between two instruments.

    After they removed segments of data taken during routine instrument-switching, the researchers looked again for the blobs. This time, they found them. The team describes five instances that Helios happened to catch trains of blobs. While scientists have spotted these blobs from Earth before, this is the first time they’ve studied them this close to the Sun, and with this level of detail. They outline the first conclusive evidence that the blobs are hotter and denser than the typical solar wind.

    The Return of the Blobs

    Whether blob trains bubble in 90-minute intervals continuously or in spurts, and how much they vary between themselves, is still a mystery. “This is one of those studies that brought up more questions than we answered, but that’s perfect for Parker Solar Probe,” Viall said.

    Parker Solar Probe aims to study the Sun up close, seeking answers to basic questions about the solar wind. “This is going to be very helpful,” said Aleida Higginson, the mission’s deputy project scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “If you want to even begin to understand things you’ve never seen before, you need to know what we’ve measured before and have a solid scientific interpretation for it.”

    Parker Solar Probe performs its second solar flyby on April 4, which brings it 15 million miles from the Sun — already cutting Helios 2’s record distance in half. The researchers are eager to see if blobs show up in Parker’s observations. Eventually, the spacecraft will get so close it could catch blobs right after they’ve formed, fresh out of the Sun.

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:00 pm on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Coronal rain, , Emily Mason, Helmet streamers, , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, , ,   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: Women in STEM “Unexpected Rain on Sun Links Two Solar Mysteries” Emily Mason 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    April 5, 2019

    Miles Hatfield
    miles.s.hatfield@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    For five months in mid 2017, Emily Mason did the same thing every day. Arriving to her office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, she sat at her desk, opened up her computer, and stared at images of the Sun — all day, every day. “I probably looked through three or five years’ worth of data,” Mason estimated. Then, in October 2017, she stopped. She realized she had been looking at the wrong thing all along.

    Mason, a graduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was searching for coronal rain: giant globs of plasma, or electrified gas, that drip from the Sun’s outer atmosphere back to its surface. But she expected to find it in helmet streamers, the million-mile tall magnetic loops — named for their resemblance to a knight’s pointy helmet — that can be seen protruding from the Sun during a solar eclipse. Computer simulations predicted the coronal rain could be found there. Observations of the solar wind, the gas escaping from the Sun and out into space, hinted that the rain might be happening. And if she could just find it, the underlying rain-making physics would have major implications for the 70-year-old mystery of why the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona, is so much hotter than its surface. But after nearly half a year of searching, Mason just couldn’t find it. “It was a lot of looking,” Mason said, “for something that never ultimately happened.”

    1
    Mason searched for coronal rain in helmet streamers like the one that appears on the left side of this image, taken during the 1994 eclipse as viewed from South America. A smaller pseudostreamer appears on the western limb (right side of image). Named for their resemblance to a knight’s pointy helmet, helmet streamers extend far into the Sun’s faint corona and are most readily seen when the light from the Sun’s bright surface is occluded. Credits: © 1994 Úpice observatory and Vojtech Rušin, © 2007 Miloslav Druckmüller

    The problem, it turned out, wasn’t what she was looking for, but where. In a paper published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Mason and her coauthors describe the first observations of coronal rain in a smaller, previously overlooked kind of magnetic loop on the Sun. After a long, winding search in the wrong direction, the findings forge a new link between the anomalous heating of the corona and the source of the slow solar wind — two of the biggest mysteries facing solar science today.

    How It Rains on the Sun

    Observed through the high-resolution telescopes mounted on NASA’s SDO spacecraft, the Sun – a hot ball of plasma, teeming with magnetic field lines traced by giant, fiery loops — seems to have few physical similarities with Earth.

    NASA/SDO

    But our home planet provides a few useful guides in parsing the Sun’s chaotic tumult: among them, rain.

    On Earth, rain is just one part of the larger water cycle, an endless tug-of-war between the push of heat and pull of gravity. It begins when liquid water, pooled on the planet’s surface in oceans, lakes, or streams, is heated by the Sun. Some of it evaporates and rises into the atmosphere, where it cools and condenses into clouds. Eventually, those clouds become heavy enough that gravity’s pull becomes irresistible and the water falls back to Earth as rain, before the process starts anew.

    On the Sun, Mason said, coronal rain works similarly, “but instead of 60-degree water you’re dealing with a million-degree plasma.” Plasma, an electrically-charged gas, doesn’t pool like water, but instead traces the magnetic loops that emerge from the Sun’s surface like a rollercoaster on tracks.

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    Coronal rain, like that shown in this movie from NASA’s SDO in 2012, is sometimes observed after solar eruptions, when the intense heating associated with a solar flare abruptly cuts off after the eruption and the remaining plasma cools and falls back to the solar surface. Mason was searching for coronal rain not associated with eruptions, but instead caused by a cyclical process of heating and cooling similar to the water cycle on Earth.
    Credits: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory/Scientific Visualization Studio/Tom Bridgman, Lead Animator

    At the loop’s foot points, where it attaches to the Sun’s surface, the plasma is superheated from a few thousand to over 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. It then expands up the loop and gathers at its peak, far from the heat source. As the plasma cools, it condenses and gravity lures it down the loop’s legs as coronal rain.

    Mason was looking for coronal rain in helmet streamers, but her motivation for looking there had more to do with this underlying heating and cooling cycle than the rain itself. Since at least the mid-1990s, scientists have known that helmet streamers are one source of the slow solar wind, a comparatively slow, dense stream of gas that escapes the Sun separately from its fast-moving counterpart. But measurements of the slow solar wind gas revealed that it had once been heated to an extreme degree before cooling and escaping the Sun. The cyclical process of heating and cooling behind coronal rain, if it was happening inside the helmet streamers, would be one piece of the puzzle.

    The other reason connects to the coronal heating problem — the mystery of how and why the Sun’s outer atmosphere is some 300 times hotter than its surface. Strikingly, simulations have shown that coronal rain only forms when heat is applied to the very bottom of the loop. “If a loop has coronal rain on it, that means that the bottom 10% of it, or less, is where coronal heating is happening,” said Mason. Raining loops provide a measuring rod, a cutoff point to determine where the corona gets heated. Starting their search in the largest loops they could find — giant helmet streamers — seemed like a modest goal, and one that would maximize their chances of success.

    She had the best data for the job: Images taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, a spacecraft that has photographed the Sun every twelve seconds since its launch in 2010. But nearly half a year into the search, Mason still hadn’t observed a single drop of rain in a helmet streamer. She had, however, noticed a slew of tiny magnetic structures, ones she wasn’t familiar with. “They were really bright and they kept drawing my eye,” said Mason. “When I finally took a look at them, sure enough they had tens of hours of rain at a time.”

    At first, Mason was so focused on her helmet streamer quest that she made nothing of the observations. “She came to group meeting and said, ‘I never found it — I see it all the time in these other structures, but they’re not helmet streamers,’” said Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at Goddard, and a coauthor of the paper. “And I said, ‘Wait…hold on. Where do you see it? I don’t think anybody’s ever seen that before!’”

    A Measuring Rod for Heating

    These structures differed from helmet streamers in several ways. But the most striking thing about them was their size.

    “These loops were much smaller than what we were looking for,” said Spiro Antiochos, who is also a solar physicist at Goddard and a coauthor of the paper. “So that tells you that the heating of the corona is much more localized than we were thinking.”

    3
    Mason’s article analyzed three observations of Raining Null-Point Topologies, or RNTPs, a previously overlooked magnetic structure shown here in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. The coronal rain observed in these comparatively small magnetic loops suggests that the corona may be heated within a far more restricted region than previously expected. Credits: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory/Emily Mason

    While the findings don’t say exactly how the corona is heated, “they do push down the floor of where coronal heating could happen,” said Mason. She had found raining loops that were some 30,000 miles high, a mere two percent the height of some of the helmet streamers she was originally looking for. And the rain condenses the region where the key coronal heating can be happening. “We still don’t know exactly what’s heating the corona, but we know it has to happen in this layer,” said Mason.

    A New Source for the Slow Solar Wind

    But one part of the observations didn’t jibe with previous theories. According to the current understanding, coronal rain only forms on closed loops, where the plasma can gather and cool without any means of escape. But as Mason sifted through the data, she found cases where rain was forming on open magnetic field lines. Anchored to the Sun at only one end, the other end of these open field lines fed out into space, and plasma there could escape into the solar wind. To explain the anomaly, Mason and the team developed an alternative explanation — one that connected rain on these tiny magnetic structures to the origins of the slow solar wind.

    In the new explanation, the raining plasma begins its journey on a closed loop, but switches — through a process known as magnetic reconnection — to an open one. The phenomenon happens frequently on the Sun, when a closed loop bumps into an open field line and the system rewires itself. Suddenly, the superheated plasma on the closed loop finds itself on an open field line, like a train that has switched tracks. Some of that plasma will rapidly expand, cool down, and fall back to the Sun as coronal rain. But other parts of it will escape – forming, they suspect, one part of the slow solar wind.

    Mason is currently working on a computer simulation of the new explanation, but she also hopes that soon-to-come observational evidence may confirm it. Now that Parker Solar Probe, launched in 2018, is traveling closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before it, it can fly through bursts of slow solar wind that can be traced back to the Sun — potentially, to one of Mason’s coronal rain events.

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

    After observing coronal rain on an open field line, the outgoing plasma, escaping to the solar wind, would normally be lost to posterity. But no longer. “Potentially we can make that connection with Parker Solar Probe and say, that was it,” said Viall.

    Digging Through the Data

    As for finding coronal rain in helmet streamers? The search continues. The simulations are clear: the rain should be there. “Maybe it’s so small you can’t see it?” said Antiochos. “We really don’t know.”

    But then again, if Mason had found what she was looking for she might not have made the discovery — or have spent all that time learning the ins and outs of solar data.

    “It sounds like a slog, but honestly it’s my favorite thing,” said Mason. “I mean that’s why we built something that takes that many images of the Sun: So we can look at them and figure it out.”

    Related:

    IRIS Spots Plasma Rain on Sun’s Surface

    NASA IRIS spacecraft, a spacecraft that takes spectra in three passbands, allowing us to probe different layers of the solar atmosphere


    And the Blobs Just Keep on Coming

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on March 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , K stars "'Goldilocks' Stars May Be 'Just Right' for Finding Habitable Worlds", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “‘Goldilocks’ Stars May Be ‘Just Right’ for Finding Habitable Worlds” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    March 7, 2019
    Bill Steigerwald
    william.a.steigerwald@nasa.gov
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Scientists looking for signs of life beyond our solar system face major challenges, one of which is that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone to consider. To narrow the search, they must figure out: What kinds of stars are most likely to host habitable planets?

    3
    The Morgan-Keenan star classification system. Our sun is a yellow G star. Image via Las Cumbres Observatory.

    LCOGT Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Haleakala Hawaii, USA, Elevation 10,023 ft (3,055 m)

    A new study finds a particular class of stars called K stars, which are dimmer than the Sun but brighter than the faintest stars, may be particularly promising targets for searching for signs of life.

    1
    The artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Kepler mission’s smallest habitable zone planet. Seen in the foreground is Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Kepler-62f orbits it’s host star every 267 days and is roughly 40 percent larger than Earth in size. The size of Kepler-62f is known, but its mass and composition are not. However, based on previous exoplanet discoveries of similar size that are rocky, scientists are able to determine its mass by association. Much like our solar system, Kepler-62 is home to two habitable zone worlds. The small shining object seen to the right of Kepler-62f is Kepler-62e. Orbiting on the inner edge of the habitable zone, Kepler-62e is roughly 60 percent larger than Earth. Image credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/Tim Pyle

    Why? First, K stars live a very long time — 17 billion to 70 billion years, compared to 10 billion years for the Sun — giving plenty of time for life to evolve. Also, K stars have less extreme activity in their youth than the universe’s dimmest stars, called M stars or “red dwarfs.”

    M stars do offer some advantages for in the search for habitable planets. They are the most common star type in the galaxy, comprising about 75 percent of all the stars in the universe. They are also frugal with their fuel, and could shine on for over a trillion years. One example of an M star, TRAPPIST-1, is known to host seven Earth-size rocky planets.

    A size comparison of the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, found by the ESO Belgian robotic Trappist-South National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, lined up in order of increasing distance from their host star. The planetary surfaces are portrayed with an artist’s impression of their potential surface features, including water, ice, and atmospheres. NASA


    The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultracool dwarf, is orbited by seven Earth-size planets (NASA).


    ESO Belgian robotic Trappist National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile


    ESO Belgian robotic Trappist-South National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    But the turbulent youth of M stars presents problems for potential life. Stellar flares – explosive releases of magnetic energy – are much more frequent and energetic from young M stars than young Sun-like stars. M stars are also much brighter when they are young, for up to a billion years after they form, with energy that could boil off oceans on any planets that might someday be in the habitable zone.

    “I like to think that K stars are in a ‘sweet spot’ between Sun-analog stars and M stars,” said Giada Arney of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    Arney wanted to find out what biosignatures, or signs of life, might look like on a hypothetical planet orbiting a K star. Her analysis is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Scientists consider the simultaneous presence of oxygen and methane in a planet’s atmosphere to be a strong biosignature because these gases like to react with each other, destroying each other. So, if you see them present in an atmosphere together, that implies something is producing them both quickly, quite possibly life, according to Arney.

    However, because planets around other stars (exoplanets) are so remote, there needs to be significant amounts of oxygen and methane in an exoplanet’s atmosphere for it to be seen by observatories at Earth. Arney’s analysis found that the oxygen-methane biosignature is likely to be stronger around a K star than a Sun-like star.

    Arney used a computer model that simulates the chemistry and temperature of a planetary atmosphere, and how that atmosphere responds to different host stars. These synthetic atmospheres were then run through a model that simulates the planet’s spectrum to show what it might look like to future telescopes.

    “When you put the planet around a K star, the oxygen does not destroy the methane as rapidly, so more of it can build up in the atmosphere,” said Arney. “This is because the K star’s ultraviolet light does not generate highly reactive oxygen gases that destroy methane as readily as a Sun-like star.”

    This stronger oxygen-methane signal has also been predicted for planets around M stars, but their high activity levels might make M stars unable to host habitable worlds. K stars can offer the advantage of a higher probability of simultaneous oxygen-methane detection compared to Sun-like stars without the disadvantages that come along with an M star host.

    Additionally, exoplanets around K stars will be easier to see than those around Sun-like stars simply because K stars are dimmer. “The Sun is 10 billion times brighter than an Earthlike planet around it, so that’s a lot of light you have to suppress if you want to see an orbiting planet. A K star might be ‘only’ a billion times brighter than an Earth around it,” said Arney.

    Arney’s research also includes discussion of which of the nearby K stars may be the best targets for future observations. Since we don’t have the ability to travel to planets around other stars due to their enormous distances from us, we are limited to analyzing the light from these planets to search for a signal that life might be present. By separating this light into its component colors, or spectrum, scientists can identify the constituents of a planet’s atmosphere, since different compounds emit and absorb distinct colors of light.

    “I find that certain nearby K stars like 61 Cyg A/B, Epsilon Indi, Groombridge 1618, and HD 156026 may be particularly good targets for future biosignature searches,” said Arney.

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on March 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What Scientists Found After Sifting Through Dust in the Solar System", A study from NASA identifies the likely source of the dust ring at Venus’ orbit., , , , , Dust rings trace the orbits of planets whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun as they drift by on its way to the center of the solar system., NASA data outlines evidence for a dust ring around the Sun at Mercury’s orbit., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Several dust rings circle the Sun., So far no evidence has been found of dust-free space.   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “What Scientists Found After Sifting Through Dust in the Solar System” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    March 12, 2019

    Lina Tran
    lina.tran@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it’s often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.

    The dust consists of crushed-up remains from the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago — rubble from asteroid collisions or crumbs from blazing comets. Dust is dispersed throughout the entire solar system, but it collects at grainy rings overlying the orbits of Earth and Venus, rings that can be seen with telescopes on Earth. By studying this dust — what it’s made of, where it comes from, and how it moves through space — scientists seek clues to understanding the birth of planets and the composition of all that we see in the solar system.

    Two recent studies report new discoveries of dust rings in the inner solar system. One study uses NASA data to outline evidence for a dust ring around the Sun at Mercury’s orbit. A second study from NASA identifies the likely source of the dust ring at Venus’ orbit: a group of never-before-detected asteroids co-orbiting with the planet.

    “It’s not every day you get to discover something new in the inner solar system,” said Marc Kuchner, an author on the Venus study and astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This is right in our neighborhood.”

    1
    In this illustration, several dust rings circle the Sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the Sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

    Another Ring Around the Sun

    Guillermo Stenborg and Russell Howard, both solar scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., did not set out to find a dust ring. “We found it by chance,” Stenborg said, laughing. The scientists summarized their findings in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal on Nov. 21, 2018.

    They describe evidence of a fine haze of cosmic dust over Mercury’s orbit, forming a ring some 9.3 million miles wide. Mercury — 3,030 miles wide, just big enough for the continental United States to stretch across — wades through this vast dust trail as it circles the Sun.

    Ironically, the two scientists stumbled upon the dust ring while searching for evidence of a dust-free region close to the Sun. At some distance from the Sun, according to a decades-old prediction, the star’s mighty heat should vaporize dust, sweeping clean an entire stretch of space. Knowing where this boundary is can tell scientists about the composition of the dust itself, and hint at how planets formed in the young solar system.

    So far, no evidence has been found of dust-free space, but that’s partly because it would be difficult to detect from Earth. No matter how scientists look from Earth, all the dust in between us and the Sun gets in the way, tricking them into thinking perhaps space near the Sun is dustier than it really is.

    Stenborg and Howard figured they could work around this problem by building a model based on pictures of interplanetary space from NASA’s STEREO satellite — short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory.

    NASA/STEREO spacecraft

    Ultimately, the two wanted to test their new model in preparation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which is currently flying a highly elliptic orbit around the Sun, swinging closer and closer to the star over the next seven years.

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

    They wanted to apply their technique to the images Parker will send back to Earth and see how dust near the Sun behaves.

    Scientists have never worked with data collected in this unexplored territory, so close to the Sun. Models like Stenborg and Howard’s provide crucial context for understanding Parker Solar Probe’s observations, as well as hinting at what kind of space environment the spacecraft will find itself in — sooty or sparkling clean.

    Two kinds of light show up in STEREO images: light from the Sun’s blazing outer atmosphere — called the corona — and light reflected off all the dust floating through space. The sunlight reflected off this dust, which slowly orbits the Sun, is about 100 times brighter than coronal light.

    “We’re not really dust people,” said Howard, who is also the lead scientist for the cameras on STEREO and Parker Solar Probe that take pictures of the corona. “The dust close to the Sun just shows up in our observations, and generally, we have thrown it away.” Solar scientists like Howard — who study solar activity for purposes such as forecasting imminent space weather, including giant explosions of solar material that the Sun can sometimes send our way — have spent years developing techniques to remove the effect of this dust. Only after removing light contamination from dust can they clearly see what the corona is doing.

    The two scientists built their model as a tool for others to get rid of the pesky dust in STEREO — and eventually Parker Solar Probe — images, but the prediction of dust-free space lingered in the back of their minds. If they could devise a way of separating the two kinds of light and isolate the dust-shine, they could figure out how much dust was really there. Finding that all the light in an image came from the corona alone, for example, could indicate they’d found dust-free space at last.

    Mercury’s dust ring was a lucky find, a side discovery Stenborg and Howard made while they were working on their model. When they used their new technique on the STEREO images, they noticed a pattern of enhanced brightness along Mercury’s orbit — more dust, that is — in the light they’d otherwise planned to discard.

    “It wasn’t an isolated thing,” Howard said. “All around the Sun, regardless of the spacecraft’s position, we could see the same five percent increase in dust brightness, or density. That said something was there, and it’s something that extends all around the Sun.”

    Scientists never considered that a ring might exist along Mercury’s orbit, which is maybe why it’s gone undetected until now, Stenborg said. “People thought that Mercury, unlike Earth or Venus, is too small and too close to the Sun to capture a dust ring,” he said. “They expected that the solar wind and magnetic forces from the Sun would blow any excess dust at Mercury’s orbit away.”

    With an unexpected discovery and sensitive new tool under their belt, the researchers are still interested in the dust-free zone. As Parker Solar Probe continues its exploration of the corona, their model can help others reveal any other dust bunnies lurking near the Sun.

    Asteroids Hiding in Venus’ Orbit

    This isn’t the first time scientists have found a dust ring in the inner solar system. Twenty-five years ago, scientists discovered that Earth orbits the Sun within a giant ring of dust. Others uncovered a similar ring near Venus’ orbit, first using archival data from the German-American Helios space probes in 2007, and then confirming it in 2013, with STEREO [above] data.

    NASA/DLR Helios spacecraft

    Since then, scientists determined the dust ring in Earth’s orbit comes largely from the asteroid belt, the vast, doughnut-shaped region between Mars and Jupiter where most of the solar system’s asteroids live. These rocky asteroids constantly crash against each other, sloughing dust that drifts deeper into the Sun’s gravity, unless Earth’s gravity pulls the dust aside, into our planet’s orbit.

    At first, it seemed likely that Venus’ dust ring formed like Earth’s, from dust produced elsewhere in the solar system. But when Goddard astrophysicist Petr Pokorny modeled dust spiraling toward the Sun from the asteroid belt, his simulations produced a ring that matched observations of Earth’s ring — but not Venus’.

    This discrepancy made him wonder if not the asteroid belt, where else does the dust in Venus’ orbit come from? After a series of simulations, Pokorny and his research partner Marc Kuchner hypothesized it comes from a group of never-before-detected asteroids that orbit the Sun alongside Venus. They published their work in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on March 12, 2019.


    This visualization displays a simulation of the dust ring at Venus’ orbit around the Sun. Scientists hypothesize a group of never-before-detected asteroids orbiting the Sun with Venus are responsible for supplying Venus’ dust ring. Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Tom Bridgman

    “I think the most exciting thing about this result is it suggests a new population of asteroids that probably holds clues to how the solar system formed,” Kuchner said. If Pokorny and Kuchner can observe them, this family of asteroids could shed light on Earth and Venus’ early histories. Viewed with the right tools, the asteroids could also unlock clues to the chemical diversity of the solar system.

    Because it’s dispersed over a larger orbit, Venus’ dust ring is much larger than the newly detected ring at Mercury’s. About 16 million miles from top to bottom and 6 million miles wide, the ring is littered with dust whose largest grains are roughly the size of those in coarse sandpaper. It’s about 10 percent denser with dust than surrounding space. Still, it’s diffuse — pack all the dust in the ring together, and all you’d get is an asteroid two miles across.

    Using a dozen different modeling tools to simulate how dust moves around the solar system, Pokorny modeled all the dust sources he could think of, looking for a simulated Venus ring that matched the observations. The list of all the sources he tried sounds like a roll call of all the rocky objects in the solar system: Main Belt asteroids, Oort Cloud comets, Halley-type comets, Jupiter-family comets, recent collisions in the asteroid belt.

    “But none of them worked,” Kuchner said. “So, we started making up our own sources of dust.”

    Perhaps, the two scientists thought, the dust came from asteroids much closer to Venus than the asteroid belt. There could be a group of asteroids co-orbiting the Sun with Venus — meaning they share Venus’ orbit, but stay far away from the planet, often on the other side of the Sun. Pokorny and Kuchner reasoned a group of asteroids in Venus’ orbit could have gone undetected until now because it’s difficult to point earthbound telescopes in that direction, so close to the Sun, without light interference from the Sun.

    Co-orbiting asteroids are an example of what’s called a resonance, an orbital pattern that locks different orbits together, depending on how their gravitational influences meet. Pokorny and Kuchner modeled many potential resonances: asteroids that circle the Sun twice for every three of Venus’ orbits, for example, or nine times for Venus’ ten, and one for one. Of all the possibilities, one group alone produced a realistic simulation of the Venus dust ring: a pack of asteroids that occupies Venus’ orbit, matching Venus’ trips around the Sun one for one.

    But the scientists couldn’t just call it a day after finding a hypothetical solution that worked. “We thought we’d discovered this population of asteroids, but then had to prove it and show it works,” Pokorny said. “We got excited, but then you realize, ‘Oh, there’s so much work to do.’”

    They needed to show that the very existence of the asteroids makes sense in the solar system. It would be unlikely, they realized, that asteroids in these special, circular orbits near Venus arrived there from somewhere else like the asteroid belt. Their hypothesis would make more sense if the asteroids had been there since the very beginning of the solar system.

    The scientists built another model, this time starting with a throng of 10,000 asteroids neighboring Venus. They let the simulation fast forward through 4.5 billion years of solar system history, incorporating all the gravitational effects from each of the planets. When the model reached present-day, about 800 of their test asteroids survived the test of time.

    Pokorny considers this an optimistic survival rate. It indicates that asteroids could have formed near Venus’ orbit in the chaos of the early solar system, and some could remain there today, feeding the dust ring nearby.

    The next step is actually pinning down and observing the elusive asteroids. “If there’s something there, we should be able to find it,” Pokorny said. Their existence could be verified with space-based telescopes like Hubble, or perhaps interplanetary space-imagers similar to STEREO’s. Then, the scientists will have more questions to answer: How many of them are there, and how big are they? Are they continuously shedding dust, or was there just one break-up event?

    3
    In this illustration, an asteroid breaks apart under the powerful gravity of LSPM J0207+3331, a white dwarf star located around 145 light-years away. Scientists think crumbling asteroids supply the dust rings surrounding this old star. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger

    The dust rings that Mercury and Venus shepherd are just a planet or two away, but scientists have spotted many other dust rings in distant star systems. Vast dust rings can be easier to spot than exoplanets, and could be used to infer the existence of otherwise hidden planets, and even their orbital properties.

    But interpreting extrasolar dust rings isn’t straightforward. “In order to model and accurately read the dust rings around other stars, we first have to understand the physics of the dust in our own backyard,” Kuchner said. By studying neighboring dust rings at Mercury, Venus and Earth, where dust traces out the enduring effects of gravity in the solar system, scientists can develop techniques for reading between the dust rings both near and far.

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:55 am on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Discovering Bonus Science With NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft", As they flew through the solar wind the spacecraft were instead arranged in what scientists call a “string of pearls.”, , , “We would like to make a lot of these mini-campaigns in the future if this one is successful which it’s already shaping up to be” said Bob Ergun, , , Flying perpendicular to the wind the spacecraft followed one after another each offset at distances of 25 to 100 kilometers (about 15.5 to 62 miles) from their neighbor, , MMS is equipped with some of the most precise instruments ever flown in space but in order to use them to study the solar wind some adjustments first need to be made, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Normally MMS flies in a pyramid-shaped formation called a tetrahedron which allows all four spacecraft to be equally separated, Studying the solar wind is nothing like studying magnetic reconnection but can be done with the same instruments that measure magnetic and electric fields., The data MMS gathered in this campaign will be some of the most accurate measurements of turbulence in the solar wind ever made., The research will also complement the work being done by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, This allows scientists to see how much the solar wind varies over different distances.   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Discovering Bonus Science With NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    3
    Illustration of MMS spacecraft. Credit: NASA

    March 7, 2019

    Mara Johnson-Groh
    mara.johnson-groh@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    NASA/MMS prior to launch


    NASA MMS satellites in space. Credit: NASA

    The four Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft are flying out of their element. The spacecraft have just completed a short detour from their routine science — looking at processes within Earth’s magnetic environment — and instead ventured outside it, studying something they were not originally designed for.

    For three weeks, MMS studied the solar wind — the stream of supersonic charged particles flung around the solar system by the Sun — to better understand what’s known as turbulence in plasmas, the heated, electrified gases that make up 99 percent of ordinary matter in the universe. Turbulence is the chaotic motion of a fluid. It shows up in daily life everywhere from eddies in a river to smoke from a chimney, but it is incredibly hard to study because it’s so unpredictable and it remains one of the least well understood disciplines in all of physics. The mini-campaign will provide scientists with an up close and in-situ view to push the frontiers of the field.

    But to take these groundbreaking measurements, MMS had to operate in an entirely new way — and MMS scientists and engineers designed a clever way to allow the spacecraft to study the solar wind with unprecedented accuracy, testing the limits and versatilities of MMS’ capabilities.

    Opening New Doors

    The Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, MMS, was launched in 2015 to study magnetic reconnection — the explosive snapping and forging of magnetic field lines, which flings high-energy particles around Earth.

    NASA Magnetic reconnection, Credit: M. Aschwanden et al. (LMSAL), TRACE, NASA

    NASA TRACE spacecraft (1998-2010)

    MMS was built with state-of-the-art instruments that take measurements with nearly 100 times better resolution than previous instruments. After two years of studying magnetic reconnection in Earth’s magnetic environment — the magnetosphere — on the dayside, MMS elongated its orbit to begin looking at reconnection behind Earth, away from the Sun, where it’s thought to spark the auroras.

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

    Since MMS has completed its original mission goals, it’s now taking time in its extended mission to tackle some new science objectives. Understanding turbulence, which is one of NASA’s prime science objectives, is the first mini-campaign MMS plans to undertake.

    “We would like to make a lot of these mini-campaigns in the future if this one is successful, which it’s already shaping up to be,” said Bob Ergun, researcher at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado, who heads the new campaign. “MMS is a very, very powerful observatory with incredibly sensitive instruments on it and we’re trying to maximize their use to study these other priority sciences.”

    Thinking Outside of the Magnetosphere

    Studying the solar wind is best done from in the solar wind, but most of the time, the four MMS spacecraft orbit within or on the edge of Earth’s magnetosphere — where the magnetic field creates a buffer that protects the spacecraft from the solar wind.

    Occasionally, however, routine orbital adjustments, used to maintain MMS’ elongated orbit, take it well outside. This year, a boost to the spacecraft orbit is taking MMS entirely out of Earth’s magnetic environment and past the bow shock — a region where the supersonic solar wind slams into Earth’s magnetosphere.

    ESA Earth’s Bow shock

    At such a distance, MMS passes through the solar wind itself, which allows a window of time to study the region’s turbulence.

    Studying the solar wind is nothing like studying magnetic reconnection, but can be done with the same instruments that measure magnetic and electric fields. MMS is equipped with some of the most precise instruments ever flown in space, but in order to use them to study the solar wind, some adjustments first need to be made.

    2
    This infographic compares the four MMS spacecraft’s normal orientation and formation to the orientation and formation for the mission’s first mini-campaign to study turbulence in the solar wind. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

    Normally MMS flies in a pyramid-shaped formation called a tetrahedron, which allows all four spacecraft to be equally separated. As they flew through the solar wind, the spacecraft were instead arranged in what scientists call a “string of pearls.” Flying perpendicular to the wind, the spacecraft followed one after another, each offset at distances of 25 to 100 kilometers (about 15.5 to 62 miles) from their neighbor. This allows scientists to see how much the solar wind varies over different distances.

    However, as the spacecraft travel through the supersonic solar wind they create a wake behind them, just like a boat. This wake is not a natural feature in the solar wind, so the MMS scientists want to avoid having their instruments, which spin at the end of long booms, dragged through it. To make precise measurements unencumbered by the wake, the spacecraft were each tilted up 15 degrees. The tilt lifts the spinning booms up from travelling behind the spacecraft through the wake.

    This angle allows scientists to get better data, but it comes with a cost. As a result of the tilt, the solar array doesn’t get as much light, meaning the spacecraft’s power is reduced by a few watts each. The tilt also puts thermal stress on the spacecraft, since the top of each gets hotter than the bottom. For a short campaign however, these effects won’t permanently affect the spacecraft.

    Old Spacecraft, New Tricks

    The data MMS gathered in this campaign will be some of the most accurate measurements of turbulence in the solar wind ever made. The research will also complement the work being done by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which flies through the Sun’s atmosphere studying the origins of the solar wind. While Parker Solar Probe measures the initial turbulence in the solar wind, MMS measured the aftermath when it reaches Earth.

    “Almost all of the astrophysical plasmas we look at around the Sun, stars, black holes, accretion disks, jets, are all extremely turbulent, so by understanding it around Earth we understand it elsewhere,” Ergun said.

    Ultimately this mini-campaign will also serve as a test case for what MMS is capable of doing in the future. Learning the nuances of MMS’ formations and tilt angles will allow the scientists to better understand MMS’s range of abilities, which may open the door up for other types of scientific campaigns as well.

    Related Links

    Learn more about NASA’s MMS Mission
    NASA’s MMS Breaks Guinness World Record

    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’s Goddard Space Flight Center 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.


    NASA/Goddard Campus

     
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