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  • richardmitnick 6:17 pm on August 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Semiconductor Manufacturing Techniques Employed for New Gamma-ray Detector", AstroPix, NASA astrophysicists and engineers are adapting detectors used by earthbound supercolliders., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Semiconductor Manufacturing Techniques Employed for New Gamma-ray Detector” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Aug. 3, 2020

    By Theresa Johnson and Lori Keesey
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

    NASA astrophysicists and engineers are adapting detectors used by earthbound supercolliders and creating them the same way electronics companies produce all modern consumer devices, including cell phones and laptops.

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    Postbaccalaureate researcher Isabella Brewer is a member of the team creating a next-generation gamma-ray detector called AstroPix. Credits: NASA/Theresa Johnson.

    The new pixel-based silicon detector technology could be used on next-generation gamma-ray observatories to detect highly energetic photons emanating from the most powerful events in the universe, including colliding galaxies and black holes. The new detectors would sense these photons much like a digital camera and use far less power than current space-based detectors.

    Underground supercolliders, which have experiments employing the same silicon pixel-type detectors, accelerate protons and ions to near the speed of light in opposite directions at very high energies. Their collisions are designed to recreate the conditions that governed the universe after the Big Bang. Although highly efficient, current silicon pixel technology requires a lot of power, which would be a challenge if used in space where power is normally derived from solar panels.

    Enter AstroPix

    “The challenge is finding the best way to reduce the amount of power the pixel needs to use since instruments on the ground have access to all the power they want,” said Regina Caputo, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a fellow with NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship program. She is the principal investigator of Goddard’s detector-development effort called AstroPix.

    Caputo and her team, which includes Goddard astrophysicist Jeremy Perkins and postbaccalaureate researcher Isabella Brewer, initially began their work with support from Goddard’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program. The team has since secured technology-development support from NASA’s Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) program.

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    This is a breadboard of a gamma-ray detector system that Principal Investigator Regina Caputo and her team assembled to test pixel-based silicon detector technology. The actual detector, provided by Argonne National Laboratory, is the rectangular piece positioned on the vertical board. The final design will be custom made and simpler. Credits: NASA/Theresa Johnson.

    Like the particle physics community, Caputo is experimenting with a manufacturing process called complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, which NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory finessed for spaceflight applications. The semiconductor industry uses this technique to make modern electronic devices. “This process allows us to not only collect energy from particles that enter the detector, but also to amplify their signals all in the same detector material. This makes these detectors less expensive and noisy,” Caputo said.

    With the APRA award, Caputo and her team are designing new pixel detectors optimized for potential use in space. They have sent their first version of AstroPix to a semiconductor foundry — the same facilities that manufacture computer chips — for fabrication.

    “We hope to get AstroPix back this summer for testing,” she said. “This is progress.”

    Detector Advantages

    AstroPix’s advantage is best illustrated by comparing it with detectors flying on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi also uses silicon-based detectors, but its sensors are comprised of silicon strips that are assembled in layers. These layers cross one another perpendicularly to create a grid that pinpoints the locations of high-energy particles created when a gamma ray hits a detector.

    With AstroPix, however, particles would be recorded once they contacted a single pixel instead of silicon strip layers, giving the detector the ability to create a map of the particles’ paths with fewer layers.

    “Previous silicon strip-detecting technology went through a series of processes to convert charges to digital signals, while the new pixel-based technology can do all of them at once since the readout is integrated with each pixel, Caputo said. In this way, the pixel detector would reduce its power needs to function the best in space.

    The team is testing the pixel detector in the astrophysics lab at Goddard using radioactive sources, such as cadmium, for the pixelated silicon to detect. The tests help determine whether the energy resolution of the pixel detector is the same or better than the silicon strip detectors. “These sources can partially reproduce the types of radiation found in space, although at a much lower dose,” Brewer said.

    If Proven, Future Missions May Benefit

    The AstroPiX team must prove the effectiveness of these silicon pixel detectors before the technology could be incorporated into a future gamma-ray mission, Perkins said. In fact, in addition to improved position sensitivity, energy resolution, and lower power consumption, the pixel detector technology would easily be the best choice for any particle-detecting mission because they are easy to produce and inexpensive, especially compared with silicon strip detectors.

    For more news about Goddard technology, go to: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/summer_2020_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 2:19 pm on August 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble peeks at stellar treats", , , , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, , The star cluster NGC 2203   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via phys.org: “Hubble peeks at stellar treats” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    via


    phys.org

    August 3, 2020
    Rob Garner, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    1
    Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Girardi

    Looking its best ever is the star cluster NGC 2203, here imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Aside from its dazzling good looks, this cluster of stars contains lots of astronomical treats that have helped astronomers puzzle together the lifetimes of stars.

    A main-sequence star is a star in the longest period of its life, when it burns fuel steadily like the sun. Our sun’s fuel will run out in approximately 6 billion years, and it will then move on to the next stage of its life when it becomes a red giant. Astronomers studying NGC 2203, which contains stars that are roughly twice as massive as our sun, found that rotation rates might be a factor as to why some of the stars stay longer than usual in this main-sequence phase of their life.

    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 4:25 pm on June 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Are Planets with Oceans Common in the Galaxy? It’s Likely NASA Scientists Find", Another route is through tectonics., “If we find chemical signatures of life we can try to look for similar signs at interstellar distances.”, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, One exit route for heat is through volcanoes or cryovolcanoes., Plumes of water erupt from Europa and Enceladus so we can tell that these bodies have subsurface oceans beneath their ice shells ..."   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Are Planets with Oceans Common in the Galaxy? It’s Likely, NASA Scientists Find” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    June 18, 2020
    Lonnie Shekhtman
    lonnie.shekhtman@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Several years ago, planetary scientist Lynnae Quick began to wonder whether any of the more than 4,000 known exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, might resemble some of the watery moons around Jupiter and Saturn. Though some of these moons don’t have atmospheres and are covered in ice, they are still among the top targets in NASA’s search for life beyond Earth. Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa, which scientists classify as “ocean worlds,” are good examples.

    “Plumes of water erupt from Europa and Enceladus, so we can tell that these bodies have subsurface oceans beneath their ice shells, and they have energy that drives the plumes, which are two requirements for life as we know it,” says Quick, a NASA planetary scientist who specializes in volcanism and ocean worlds. “So if we’re thinking about these places as being possibly habitable, maybe bigger versions of them in other planetary systems are habitable too.”

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    This illustration shows NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flying through plumes on Enceladus in October 2015.
    Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Quick, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, decided to explore whether — hypothetically — there are planets similar to Europa and Enceladus in the Milky Way galaxy. And, could they, too, be geologically active enough to shoot plumes through their surfaces that could one day be detected by telescopes.

    Through a mathematical analysis of several dozen exoplanets, including planets in the nearby TRAPPIST-1 system, Quick and her colleagues learned something significant: More than a quarter of the exoplanets they studied could be ocean worlds, with a majority possibly harboring oceans beneath layers of surface ice, similar to Europa and Enceladus. Additionally, many of these planets could be releasing more energy than Europa and Enceladus.

    A size comparison of the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, 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

    Scientists may one day be able to test Quick’s predictions by measuring the heat emitted from an exoplanet or by detecting volcanic or cryovolcanic (liquid or vapor instead of molten rock) eruptions in the wavelengths of light emitted by molecules in a planet’s atmosphere. For now, scientists cannot see many exoplanets in any detail. Alas, they are too far away and too drowned out by the light of their stars. But by considering the only information available — exoplanet sizes, masses and distances from their stars — scientists like Quick and her colleagues can tap mathematical models and our understanding of the solar system to try to imagine the conditions that could be shaping exoplanets into livable worlds or not.

    While the assumptions that go into these mathematical models are educated guesses, they can help scientists narrow the list of promising exoplanets to search for conditions favorable to life so that NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope or other space missions can follow up.

    “Future missions to look for signs of life beyond the solar system are focused on planets like ours that have a global biosphere that’s so abundant it’s changing the chemistry of the whole atmosphere,” says Aki Roberge, a NASA Goddard astrophysicist who collaborated with Quick on this analysis. “But in the solar system, icy moons with oceans, which are far from the heat of the Sun, still have shown that they have the features we think are required for life.”

    To look for possible ocean worlds, Quick’s team selected 53 exoplanets with sizes most similar to Earth, though they could have up to eight times more mass. Scientists assume planets of this size are more solid than gaseous and, thus, more likely to support liquid water on or below their surfaces. At least 30 more planets that fit these parameters have been discovered since Quick and her colleagues began their study in 2017, but they were not included in the analysis, which was published on June 18 in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

    With their Earth-size planets identified, Quick and her team sought to determine how much energy each one could be generating and releasing as heat. The team considered two primary sources of heat. The first, radiogenic heat, is generated over billions of years by the slow decay of radioactive materials in a planet’s mantle and crust. That rate of decay depends on a planet’s age and the mass of its mantle. Other scientists already had determined these relationships for Earth-size planets. So, Quick and her team applied the decay rate to their list of 53 planets, assuming each one is the same age as its star and that its mantle takes up the same proportion of the planet’s volume as Earth’s mantle does.

    Next, the researchers calculated heat produced by something else: tidal force, which is energy generated from the gravitational tugging when one object orbits another. Planets in stretched out, or elliptical, orbits shift the distance between themselves and their stars as they circle them. This leads to changes in the gravitational force between the two objects and causes the planet to stretch, thereby generating heat. Eventually, the heat is lost to space through the surface.

    One exit route for the heat is through volcanoes or cryovolcanoes. Another route is through tectonics, which is a geological process responsible for the movement of the outermost rocky or icy layer of a planet or moon. Whichever way the heat is discharged, knowing how much of it a planet pushes out is important because it could make or break habitability.

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    For instance, too much volcanic activity can turn a livable world into a molten nightmare. But too little activity can shut down the release of gases that make up an atmosphere, leaving a cold, barren surface. Just the right amount supports a livable, wet planet like Earth, or a possibly livable moon like Europa.

    In the next decade, NASA’s Europa Clipper will explore the surface and subsurface of Europa and provide insights about the environment beneath the surface.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated

    The more scientists can learn about Europa and other potentially habitable moons of our solar system, the better they’ll be able to understand similar worlds around other stars — which may be plentiful, according to today’s findings.

    “Forthcoming missions will give us a chance to see whether ocean moons in our solar system could support life,” says Quick, who is a science team member on both the Clipper mission and the Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

    NASA The Dragonfly mission to Titan

    “If we find chemical signatures of life, we can try to look for similar signs at interstellar distances.”

    When Webb launches, scientists will try to detect chemical signatures in the atmospheres of some of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, which is 39 light years away in the constellation Aquarius. In 2017, astronomers announced that this system has seven Earth-size planets. Some have suggested that some of these planets could be watery, and Quick’s estimates support this idea. According to her team’s calculations, TRAPPIST-1 e, f, g and h could be ocean worlds, which would put them among the 14 ocean worlds the scientists identified in this study.

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    This animated graph shows levels of predicted geologic activity among exoplanets, with and without oceans, compared to known geologic activity among solar system bodies, with and without oceans.
    Credits: Lynnae Quick & James Tralie/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    The researchers predicted that these exoplanets have oceans by considering the surface temperatures of each one. This information is revealed by the amount of stellar radiation each planet reflects into space. Quick’s team also took into account each planet’s density and the estimated amount of internal heating it generates compared to Earth.

    “If we see that a planet’s density is lower than Earth’s, that’s an indication that there might be more water there and not as much rock and iron,” Quick says. And if the planet’s temperature allows for liquid water, you’ve got an ocean world.

    “But if a planet’s surface temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), where water is frozen,” Quick says, “then we have an icy ocean world, and the densities for those planets are even lower.”

    Other scientists who participated in this analysis with Quick and Roberge are Amy Barr Mlinar from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and Matthew M. Hedman from the University of Idaho in Moscow.

    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 9:11 pm on January 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “New Mission Will Take 1st Peek at Sun’s Poles” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter depiction

    Jan. 27, 2020

    By Miles Hatfield
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    A new spacecraft is journeying to the Sun to snap the first pictures of the Sun’s north and south poles.

    Solar Orbiter, a collaboration between the European Space Agency, or ESA, and NASA, will have its first opportunity to launch from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 7, 2020, at 11:15 p.m. EST. Launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft will use Venus’s and Earth’s gravity to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane — the swath of space, roughly aligned with the Sun’s equator, where all planets orbit. From there, Solar Orbiter’s bird’s eye view will give it the first-ever look at the Sun’s poles.

    “Up until Solar Orbiter, all solar imaging instruments have been within the ecliptic plane or very close to it,” said Russell Howard, space scientist at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. and principal investigator for one of Solar Orbiter’s ten instruments. “Now, we’ll be able to look down on the Sun from above.”

    “It will be terra incognita,” said Daniel Müller, ESA project scientist for the mission at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands. “This is really exploratory science.”

    The Sun plays a central role in shaping space around us. Its massive magnetic field stretches far beyond Pluto, paving a superhighway for charged solar particles known as the solar wind. When bursts of solar wind hit Earth, they can spark space weather storms that interfere with our GPS and communications satellites — at their worst, they can even threaten astronauts.

    To prepare for arriving solar storms, scientists monitor the Sun’s magnetic field. But their techniques work best with a straight-on view; the steeper the viewing angle, the noisier the data. The sidelong glimpse we get of the Sun’s poles from within the ecliptic plane leaves major gaps in the data.

    “The poles are particularly important for us to be able to model more accurately,” said Holly Gilbert, NASA project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “For forecasting space weather events, we need a pretty accurate model of the global magnetic field of the Sun.”

    The Sun’s poles may also explain centuries-old observations. In 1843, German astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe discovered that the number of sunspots — dark blotches on the Sun’s surface marking strong magnetic fields — waxes and wanes in a repeating pattern. Today, we know it as the approximately-11-year solar cycle in which the Sun transitions between solar maximum, when sunspots proliferate and the Sun is active and turbulent, and solar minimum, when they’re fewer and it’s calmer. “But we don’t understand why it’s 11 years, or why some solar maximums are stronger than others,” Gilbert said. Observing the changing magnetic fields of the poles could offer an answer.

    The only prior spacecraft to fly over the Sun’s poles was also a joint ESA/NASA venture. Launched in 1990, the Ulysses spacecraft made three passes around our star before it was decommissioned in 2009.

    NASA/ESA Ulysses

    But Ulysses never got closer than Earth-distance to the Sun, and only carried what’s known as in situ instruments — like the sense of touch, they measure the space environment immediately around the spacecraft. Solar Orbiter, on the other hand, will pass inside the orbit of Mercury carrying four in situ instruments and six remote-sensing imagers, which see the Sun from afar. “We are going to be able to map what we ‘touch’ with the in situ instruments and what we ‘see’ with remote sensing,” said Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla, NASA deputy project scientist for the mission.

    After years of technology development, it will be the closest any Sun-facing cameras have ever gotten to the Sun. “You can’t really get much closer than Solar Orbiter is going and still look at the Sun,” Müller said.


    Overview of the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng

    Over the mission’s seven year lifetime, Solar Orbiter will reach an inclination of 24 degrees above the Sun’s equator, increasing to 33 degrees with an additional three years of extended mission operations. At closest approach the spacecraft will pass within 26 million miles of the Sun.

    To beat the heat, Solar Orbiter has a custom-designed titanium heat shield with a calcium phosphate coating that withstands temperatures over 900 degrees Fahrenheit — thirteen times the solar heating faced by spacecraft in Earth orbit. Five of the remote-sensing instruments look at the Sun through peepholes in that heat shield; one observes the solar wind out to the side.

    Solar Orbiter will be NASA’s second major mission to the inner solar system in recent years, following on August 2018’s launch of Parker Solar Probe. Parker has completed four close solar passes and will fly within four million miles of the Sun at closest approach.

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

    The two spacecraft will work together: As Parker samples solar particles up close, Solar Orbiter will capture imagery from farther away, contextualizing the observations. The two spacecraft will also occasionally align to measure the same magnetic field lines or streams of solar wind at different times.

    “We are learning a lot with Parker, and adding Solar Orbiter to the equation will only bring even more knowledge,” said Nieves-Chinchilla.

    Solar Orbiter is an international cooperative mission between the European Space Agency and NASA. ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands manages the development effort. The European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Germany will operate Solar Orbiter after launch. Solar Orbiter was built by Airbus Defense and Space, and contains 10 instruments: nine provided by ESA member states and ESA. NASA provided one instrument suite, SoloHI and provided detectors and hardware for three other instruments.

    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 1:43 pm on January 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Landsat 9: The Pieces Come Together", , , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Landsat 9: The Pieces Come Together” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Jan. 9, 2020

    Laura Rocchio
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    Landsat 9’s two science instruments are now attached to the spacecraft, bringing the mission one step closer to launch. In late December, the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) were both mechanically integrated on to the spacecraft bus at Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona.

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    Engineers work on the newly integrated Landsat 9 satellite in a cleanroom at the Northrop Grumman facility in Gilbert, Arizona. In December, the team attached Landsat 9’s two instruments: OLI-2 (left) and TIRS-2 (right) to the spacecraft bus at the bottom of the image. The two instruments are covered to protect them from contaminants. Credits: Northrop Grumman

    The Landsat 9 mission continues the nearly 50-year Landsat data record, providing actionable information to resource managers and policymakers around the world. Landsat 9 will record the condition of Earth’s ever-changing land surface, enabling scientists and others to monitor crops and algal blooms, to assess deforestation trends and urban growth, and to aid disaster management.

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    In December, engineers attached the two Landsat 9 instruments – OLI-2 and TIRS-2 – to the spacecraft.
    Credits: Northrop Grumman

    Landsat is a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. NASA oversees the design, build, and launch; USGS operates the satellites on orbit, and manages the expanding data archive.

    Engineers will next work on the electrical integration of the instruments, which includes getting power to the instruments and incorporating the satellite’s data-handling hardware.

    The OLI-2 instrument makes measurements of Earth’s reflectance in the visible, near infrared, and shortwave infrared; the TIRS-2 instrument extends measurements made by Landsat 9 into the thermal infrared, providing information about the surface temperature. Water managers across the American West, as well as arid regions across the globe, rely on the highly calibrated measurements made by Landsat 8’s Thermal Infrared Sensor to monitor irrigation and water usage and they are eager to have the record continued by Landsat 9’s TIRS-2. Reflected light measurements by the OLI-2 instrument are in turn used to map global land cover, ecosystem health, water quality, glacier flow, and other critical Earth surface properties.

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    Credits: Northrop Grumman

    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 12:57 pm on September 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “NASA Visualization Shows a Black Hole’s Warped World” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Sept. 25, 2019
    Francis Reddy
    francis.j.reddy@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    Seen nearly edgewise, the turbulent disk of gas churning around a black hole takes on a crazy double-humped appearance. The black hole’s extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disk, producing the warped image. The black hole’s extreme gravitational field redirects and distorts light coming from different parts of the disk, but exactly what we see depends on our viewing angle. The greatest distortion occurs when viewing the system nearly edgewise.
    This image highlights and explains various aspects of the black hole visualization. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman

    Viewed from the side, the disk looks brighter on the left than it does on the right. Glowing gas on the left side of the disk moves toward us so fast that the effects of Einstein’s relativity give it a boost in brightness; the opposite happens on the right side, where gas moving away us becomes slightly dimmer. This asymmetry disappears when we see the disk exactly face on because, from that perspective, none of the material is moving along our line of sight.

    Closest to the black hole, the gravitational light-bending becomes so excessive that we can see the underside of the disk as a bright ring of light seemingly outlining the black hole. This so-called “photon ring” is composed of multiple rings, which grow progressively fainter and thinner, from light that has circled the black hole two, three, or even more times before escaping to reach our eyes. Because the black hole modeled in this visualization is spherical, the photon ring looks nearly circular and identical from any viewing angle. Inside the photon ring is the black hole’s shadow, an area roughly twice the size of the event horizon — its point of no return.

    “Simulations and movies like these really help us visualize what Einstein meant when he said that gravity warps the fabric of space and time,” explains Jeremy Schnittman, who generated these gorgeous images using custom software at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Until very recently, these visualizations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought that it would be possible to see a real black hole.” Yet on April 10, the Event Horizon Telescope team released the first-ever image of a black hole’s shadow using radio observations of the heart of the galaxy Messier 87.

    Messier 87 supermassive black hole from the EHT

    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 12:57 pm on July 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Delivers Hardware for ESA Dark Energy Mission", , , , , , , , NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, , Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument, Thales Alenia Space   

    From European Space Agency and From NASA : “NASA Delivers Hardware for ESA Dark Energy Mission” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    and

    NASA image
    NASA

    July 23, 2019

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    The cryogenic (cold) portion of the Euclid space telescope’s Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument. NASA led the procurement and delivery of the detectors for the NISP instrument. The gold-coated hardware is the 16 sensor-chip electronics integrated with the infrared sensors.
    Credits: NASA/JPL-CaltechEuclid Consortium/CPPM/LAM

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    2
    Technicians with the manufacturer Thales Alenia Space work with the structural and thermal model of the Euclid telescope at their facility in Cannes, France.
    Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech ESA/Thales Alenia Space/Airbus Defence and Space
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    4

    The European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, set to launch in 2022, will investigate two of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy: dark matter and dark energy. A team of NASA engineers recently delivered critical hardware for one of the instruments that will fly on Euclid and probe these cosmic puzzles.

    Based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the engineers designed, fabricated and tested 20 pieces of sensor-chip electronics (SCEs) hardware for Euclid (16 for the flight instrument and four backups).



    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus



    NASA Goddard Campus



    5
    Airbus Defence and Space

    These parts, which operate at minus 213 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 136 degrees Celsius), are responsible for precisely amplifying and digitizing the tiny signals from the light detectors in Euclid’s Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument. The Euclid observatory will also carry a visible-light imaging instrument.

    The image, taken in May 2019, above shows the detectors and sensor-chip electronics on a flight model of the NISP instrument in the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Marseille in France. Eighteen SCEs have been delivered to the European Space Agency (ESA), and two more will soon be on their way. The detector system will undergo extensive testing ahead of launch.

    “Even under the best of circumstances, it is extremely challenging to design and build very sensitive and complex electronics that function reliably at very cold operating temperatures,” said Moshe Pniel, the U.S. project manager for Euclid at JPL, who led the team that delivered the sensor-chip electronics. “This truly remarkable team, spread across two NASA centers, accomplished this task under intense schedule pressure and international attention.”

    Euclid will conduct a survey of billions of distant galaxies, which are moving away from us at a faster and faster rate as the expansion of space itself accelerates. Scientists don’t know what causes this accelerating expansion but have named the source of this phenomenon dark energy. By observing the effect of dark energy on the distribution of a large population of galaxies, scientists will try to narrow down what could possibly be driving this mysterious phenomenon.

    In addition, Euclid will provide insights into the mystery of dark matter. While we can’t see dark matter, it’s five times more prevalent in the universe than the “regular” matter that makes up planets, stars and everything else we can see in the universe.

    To detect dark matter, scientists look for the effects of its gravity. Euclid’s census of distant galaxies will reveal how the large-scale structure of the universe is shaped by the interplay of regular matter, dark matter and dark energy. This in turn will allow scientists to learn more about the properties and effects of both dark matter and dark energy in the universe, and to get closer to understanding their fundamental nature.

    The NISP instrument is led by the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Marseille, with contributions from 15 countries, including the United States, through an agreement between ESA and NASA.

    Three NASA-supported science groups contribute to the Euclid mission. In addition to designing and fabricating the NISP sensor-chip electronics, JPL led the procurement and delivery of the NISP detectors. Those detectors were tested at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI), at Caltech, will support U.S.-based investigations using Euclid data.

    For more information about Euclid go to:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/euclid/main/index.html

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on June 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Eyes GPS at the Moon for Artemis Missions", NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “NASA Eyes GPS at the Moon for Artemis Missions” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    June 28, 2019

    Lori Keesey
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    GPS, a satellite-based navigation system used by an estimated four billion people worldwide to figure out where they are on Earth at any moment, could be used to pilot in and around lunar orbit during future Artemis missions.

    NASA ARTEMIS

    A team at NASA is developing a special receiver that would be able to pick up location signals provided by the 24 to 32 operational Global Positioning System satellites, better known as GPS. GPS is operated by the U.S. military about 12,550 miles above Earth’s surface, and is open to anyone with a GPS receiver. These same GPS signals provide location data used in vehicle navigation systems, interactive maps, and tracking devices of all types, among many other applications.

    1
    This artist’s concept of NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission consists of four identically equipped observatories. They rely on Navigator GPS to maintain an exacting orbit that is at its highest point nearly half-way to the Moon. Navigator’s developers are now developing a lunar GPS receiver, an evolution of MMS’s Navigator.
    Credits: NASA

    Such a capability could soon also provide navigational solutions to astronauts and ground controllers operating the Orion spacecraft, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and lunar surface missions.

    NASA/Orion Spacecraft

    GPS is a system made up of three parts: satellites, ground stations, and receivers. The ground stations monitor the satellites, and a receiver, like those found in a phone or car, is constantly listening for a signal from those satellites. The receiver calculates its distance from four or more satellites to pinpoint a location. Instead of navigating streets on Earth, a spacecraft equipped with an advanced GPS receiver may soon be paired with precise mapping data to help astronauts track their locations in the vast ocean of space between the shores of Earth and the Moon, or across the craterous lunar surface.

    Navigation services near the Moon have historically been provided by NASA’s communications networks. The GPS network, which has more satellites and can better accommodate additional users, could help ease the load on NASA’s networks, thereby freeing up that bandwidth for other data transmission.

    “What we’re trying to do is use existing infrastructure for navigational purposes, instead of building new infrastructure around the Moon,” said engineer and Principal Investigator Munther Hassouneh at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    2
    NavCube, which will be tested aboard the International Space Station later this year, is being used as a baseline for a lunar GPS receiver. Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk

    NASA has been working to extend GPS-based navigation to high altitudes, above the orbit of the GPS satellites, for more than a decade and now believes its use at the Moon, which is about 250,000 miles from Earth, can be done.

    “We’re using infrastructure that was built for surface navigation on Earth for applications beyond Earth,” said Jason Mitchell, chief technologist for Goddard’s Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis Division. “Its use for higher-altitude navigation has now been firmly established with the success of missions like Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). In fact, with MMS, we’re already nearly half way to the Moon.”

    The lunar GPS receiver is based on the Goddard-developed Navigator GPS, which engineers began developing in the early 2000s specifically for NASA’s MMS mission, the first-ever mission to study how the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect. The goal was to build a spacecraft-based receiver and associated algorithms that could quickly acquire and track GPS radiowaves even in weak-signal areas. Navigator is now considered an enabling technology for MMS.

    Without Navigator GPS, the four identically equipped MMS spacecraft couldn’t fly in their tight formation in an orbit that reaches as far as 115,000 miles from Earth’s center — far above the GPS constellation and about halfway to the Moon.

    “NASA has been pushing high-altitude GPS technology for years,” said Luke Winternitz, the MMS Navigator receiver system architect. “GPS around the Moon is the next frontier.”

    3
    The team developing a GPS receiver for use in and around lunar orbit are from (left to right): Jason Mitchell, Luke Winternitz, Luke Thomas, Munther Hassouneh, and Sam Price. Credits: NASA/T. Mickal

    Technology Enhancements Required

    Extending the use of GPS to the Moon will require some enhancements over MMS’s onboard GPS system, including a high-gain antenna, an enhanced clock, and updated electronics.

    The team is addressing those challenges — thanks to Goddard’s years-long investment in important enabling technologies, particularly in the area of miniaturization.

    “Goddard’s IRAD (Internal Research and Development) program has positioned us to solve some of the problems associated with using GPS in and around the Moon,” Mitchell said, adding that a smaller, more robust GPS receiver could also support the navigational needs of SmallSats, including a new SmallSat platform Goddard engineers are now developing.

    The team’s current lunar GPS receiver concept is based on NavCube, a new capability developed from the merger of MMS’s Navigator GPS and SpaceCube, a reconfigurable, very fast flight computer platform. The more powerful NavCube, developed with IRAD support, was recently launched to the International Space Station where it is expected to employ its enhanced ability to process GPS signals as part of a demonstration of X-ray communications in space.

    The GPS processing power of NavCube combined with a receiver for lunar distances should provide the capabilities needed to use GPS at the Moon. Earlier this year, the team simulated the performance of the lunar GPS receiver and found promising results. By the end of this year, the team plans to complete the lunar NavCube hardware prototype and explore options for a flight demonstration.

    “NASA and our partners are returning to the Moon for good,” Mitchell said. “NASA will need navigation capabilities such as this for a sustainable presence at the Moon, and we’re developing enabling technologies to make it happen.”

    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 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.

    2
    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

     
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