Tagged: NASA JPL-Caltech (US) Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:42 pm on September 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA’s Deep Space Network Looks to the Future", NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “NASA’s Deep Space Network Looks to the Future” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Sep 01, 2021

    News Media Contact

    Ian J. O’Neill
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-2649
    ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Laurance Fauconnet

    NASA’s Deep Space Network (US)

    NASA Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network Madrid Spain

    NASA Deep Space Network Station 56 Madrid Spain added in early 2021

    NASA Deep Space Network dish, Goldstone, CA, USA

    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    NASA Deep Space Network Station 14 (DSS-14) at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California

    The DSN is being upgraded to communicate with more spacecraft than ever before and to accommodate evolving mission needs.

    When NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet, the agency’s Deep Space Network (DSN) was there, enabling the mission to send and receive the data that helped make the event possible.

    When OSIRIS-REx took samples of asteroid Bennu this past year, the DSN played a crucial role, not just in sending the command sequence to the probe, but also in transmitting its stunning photos back to Earth.

    The network has been the backbone of NASA’s deep space communications since 1963, supporting 39 missions regularly, with more than 30 NASA missions in development. The team behind it is now working hard to increase capacity, making a number of improvements to the network that will help advance future space exploration.

    Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the Space Communications and Navigation Program, based at NASA Headquarters within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, the DSN is what enables missions to track, send commands to, and receive scientific data from faraway spacecraft.

    The network consists of tracking antennas across three complexes evenly spaced around the world at the Goldstone complex near Barstow, California; in Madrid, Spain; and in Canberra, Australia. In addition to supporting missions, the antennas are regularly used to conduct radio science – studying planets, black holes, and tracking near-Earth objects.

    “Capacity is a big pressure, and our antenna-enhancement program is going to help that out. This includes the building of two new antennas, increasing our number from 12 to 14,” said JPL’s Michael Levesque, deputy director of the DSN.


    Explore NASA’s massive 70-meter (330-foot) DSS-14 antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in Barstow, California, in this 360-degree video. Along with communicating with spacecraft throughout the solar system, DSS-14 and other DSN antennas can also be used to conduct radio science. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (US).

    Network Upgrades

    In January 2021, the DSN welcomed its 13th dish to the family. Named Deep Space Station 56 (DSS-56), this new 34-meter-wide (112-foot-wide) dish in Madrid is an “all-in-one” antenna. Previously constructed antennas are limited in the frequency bands they can receive and transmit, often restricting them to communicating with specific spacecraft. DSS-56 was the first to use the DSN’s full range of communication frequencies as soon as it went online and can communicate with all the missions that the DSN supports.

    Soon after bringing DSS-56 online, the DSN team completed 11 months of critical upgrades to Deep Space Station 43 (DSS-43), the massive 70-meter (230-foot) antenna in Canberra. DSS-43 is the only dish in the Southern Hemisphere with a transmitter powerful enough, and that broadcasts the right frequency, to send commands to the distant Voyager 2 spacecraft, which is now in interstellar space. With rebuilt transmitters and upgraded facilities equipment, DSS-43 will serve the network for decades to come.

    “The refresh of DSS-43 was a huge accomplishment, and we’re on our way to take care of the next two 70-meter antennas in Goldstone and Madrid. And we’ve continued to deliver new antennas to address growing demand – all during COVID-19,” said JPL’s Brad Arnold, manager of the DSN.

    The improvements are part of a project to meet not just the heightened demand, but also evolving mission needs.

    Missions increasingly generate more data than in the past. The data rate from deep space spacecraft has grown by more than 10 times since the first lunar missions in the 1960s. As NASA looks toward sending humans to Mars, this need for higher data volumes will only increase further.

    Optical communications is one tool that can help meet this demand for higher data volumes by using lasers to enable higher-bandwidth communication. Over the next few years, NASA has several missions planned to demonstrate laser communications that will enhance the agency’s ability to explore farther into space.

    New Approaches

    The network is also focusing on new approaches to how it goes about its work. For instance, for most of the DSN’s history, each complex was operated locally. Now, with a protocol called “Follow the Sun,” each complex takes turns running the entire network during their day shift and then hands off control to the next complex at the end of the day in that region – essentially, a global relay race that takes place every 24 hours.

    4
    Three eye-catching posters featuring the larger 70-meter (230-foot) antennas located at the three Deep Space Network complexes around the world. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    The resulting cost savings have been fed into antenna enhancements, and the effort has also strengthened the international cooperation between the complexes. “Each site works with the other sites, not just during handover periods, but also on maintenance and how antennas are performing on any given day. We’ve really turned into a globally operating network,” said Levesque.

    The network has also implemented new approaches to managing deep space communications. For instance, in the past, if multiple spacecraft circling Mars needed to be serviced at the same time, the network would have to point one antenna per spacecraft at Mars, potentially using all the antennas at a given complex. With a new protocol, the DSN can receive multiple signals from a single antenna and split them in the digital receiver. “We adapted this from commercial telecommunication implementations to the benefit of our network efficiency,” said Arnold.

    An additional new protocol allows operators to oversee multiple activities simultaneously. Traditionally, each spacecraft activity had a single dedicated operator. Now, the DSN uses an approach that leverages automation to allow each operator to oversee multiple spacecraft links simultaneously. For the first time, the DSN can now fully automate the sequencing and execution of tracking passes, and the effort will continue to be enhanced over time.

    “The future of the DSN is going to follow the spirit and the drive of science missions that are flying out there. It’s our responsibility to enable them. And we do that through communications,” said Arnold.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus

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

     
  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on September 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An Accidental Discovery Hints at a Hidden Population of Cosmic Objects", "The Accident" might be 10 billion to 13 billion years old., A peculiar cosmic object called WISEA J153429.75-104303.3 – nicknamed “The Accident”, , , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US),   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “An Accidental Discovery Hints at a Hidden Population of Cosmic Objects” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Aug 31, 2021

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

    1
    This mosaic shows the entire sky imaged by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) [below]. Infrared light refers to wavelengths that are longer than those visible to the human eye. Many cosmic objects radiate infrared, including gas and dust clouds where stars form, and brown dwarfs. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/The University of California-Los Angeles (US).

    Brown dwarfs aren’t quite stars and aren’t quite planets, and a new study suggests there might be more of them lurking in our galaxy than scientists previously thought.

    A new study [below] offers a tantalizing explanation for how a peculiar cosmic object called WISEA J153429.75-104303.3 – nicknamed “The Accident” – came to be. “The Accident” is a brown dwarf. Though they form like stars, these objects don’t have enough mass to kickstart nuclear fusion, the process that causes stars to shine. And while brown dwarfs sometimes defy characterization, astronomers have a good grasp on their general characteristics.

    Or they did, until they found this one.

    “The Accident” got its name after being discovered by sheer luck. It slipped past normal searches because it doesn’t resemble any of the just over 2,000 brown dwarfs that have been found in our galaxy so far.

    2
    Can you see the dark spot moving in the bottom left corner of the screen? It’s a brown dwarf nicknamed “The Accident,” which was discovered by citizen scientist Dan Caselden. It had slipped past typical searches because it doesn’t look like any other known brown dwarfs. Credit: Dan Caselden/ NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    As brown dwarfs age, they cool off, and their brightness in different wavelengths of light changes. It’s not unlike how some metals, when heated, go from bright white to deep red as they cool. The Accident confused scientists because it was faint in some key wavelengths, suggesting it was very cold (and old), but bright in others, indicating a higher temperature.

    “This object defied all our expectations,” said Davy Kirkpatrick, an astrophysicist at Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US) in Pasadena, California. He and his co-authors posit in their new study, appearing in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, that “The Accident” might be 10 billion to 13 billion years old – at least double the median age of other known brown dwarfs. That means it would have formed when our galaxy was much younger and had a different chemical makeup. If that’s the case, there are likely many more of these ancient brown dwarfs lurking in our galactic neighborhood.

    A Peculiar Profile

    “The Accident” was first spotted by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), launched in 2009 under the moniker WISE and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

    Because brown dwarfs are relatively cool objects, they radiate mostly infrared light, or wavelengths longer than what the human eye can see.

    3
    Brown dwarfs share certain characteristics with both stars and planets. Generally, they are less massive than stars and more massive than planets. A brown dwarf becomes a star if its core pressure gets high enough to start nuclear fusion, the process that causes stars to shine. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    To figure out how “The Accident” could have such seemingly contradictory properties – some suggesting it is very cold, others indicating it is much warmer – the scientists needed more information. So they observed it in additional infrared wavelengths with a ground-based telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

    But the brown dwarf appeared so faint in those wavelengths, they couldn’t detect it at all, apparently confirming their suggestion that it was very cold.

    They next set out to determine if the dimness resulted from “The Accident” being farther than expected from Earth. But that wasn’t the case, according to precise distance measurements by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes.

    Having determined the object’s distance – about 50 light-years from Earth – the team realized that it is moving fast – about half a million miles per hour (800,000 kph). That’s much faster than all other brown dwarfs known to be at this distance from Earth, which means it has probably been careening around the galaxy for a long time, encountering massive objects that accelerate it with their gravity.

    With a mound of evidence suggesting “The Accident” is extremely old, the researchers propose that its strange properties aren’t strange at all and that they may be a clue to its age.

    When the Milky Way formed about 13.6 billion years ago, it was composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Other elements, like carbon, formed inside stars; when the most massive stars exploded as supernovae, they scattered the elements throughout the galaxy.

    Methane, composed of hydrogen and carbon, is common in most brown dwarfs that have a temperature similar to “The Accident”. But “The Accident’s” light profile suggests it contains very little methane. Like all molecules, methane absorbs specific wavelengths of light, so a methane-rich brown dwarf would be dim in those wavelengths. The Accident, by contrast, is bright in those wavelengths, which could indicate low levels of methane.

    Thus, the light profile of “The Accident” could match that of a very old brown dwarf that formed when the galaxy was still carbon poor; very little carbon at formation means very little methane in its atmosphere today.

    “It’s not a surprise to find a brown dwarf this old, but it is a surprise to find one in our backyard,” said Federico Marocco, an astrophysicist at IPAC at Caltech who led the new observations using the Keck and Hubble telescopes. “We expected that brown dwarfs this old exist, but we also expected them to be incredibly rare. The chance of finding one so close to the solar system could be a lucky coincidence, or it tells us that they’re more common than we thought.”

    A Lucky Accident

    To find more ancient brown dwarfs like “The Accident” – if they’re out there – researchers might have to change how they search for these objects.

    “The Accident” was discovered by citizen scientist Dan Caselden, who was using an online program he built to find brown dwarfs in NEOWISE data. The sky is full of objects that radiate infrared light; by and large, these objects appear to remain fixed in the sky, due to their great distance from Earth. But because brown dwarfs are so faint, they are visible only when they’re relatively close to Earth, and that means scientists can observe them moving across the sky over months or years. (NEOWISE maps the entire sky about once every six months.)

    Caselden’s program attempted to remove the stationary infrared objects (like distant stars) from the NEOWISE maps and highlight moving objects that had similar characteristics to known brown dwarfs. He was looking at one such brown dwarf candidate when he spotted another, much fainter object moving quickly across the screen. This would turn out to be WISEA J153429.75-104303.3, which hadn’t been highlighted because it did not match the program’s profile of a brown dwarf. Caselden caught it by accident.

    “This discovery is telling us that there’s more variety in brown dwarf compositions than we’ve seen so far,” said Kirkpatrick. “There are likely more weird ones out there, and we need to think about how to look for them.”

    More About the Missions

    Launched in 2009, the WISE spacecraft was placed into hibernation in 2011 after completing its primary mission. In September 2013, NASA reactivated the spacecraft with the primary goal of scanning for near-Earth objects, or NEOs, and the mission and spacecraft were renamed NEOWISE. JPL, a division of Caltech, managed and operated WISE for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The mission was selected competitively under NASA’s Explorers Program (US) managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NEOWISE is a project of JPL, a division of Caltech, and The University of Arizona (US), supported by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (US).

    For more information about WISE, go to:

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

    JPL managed Spitzer mission operations for NASA’s SMD until the spacecraft was retired in 2020. Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center (US) at IPAC at Caltech. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. The Spitzer data archive is housed at the Infrared Science Archive at IPAC at Caltech.

    For more information about NASA’s Spitzer mission, go to:

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

    https://www.ipac.caltech.edu/project/spitzer

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)(US) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the AURA-Assocation of Universities for Research in Astronomy (US) in Washington.

    For more information about NASA’s Hubble, go to:

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

    For more opportunities to participate in NASA Citizen Science Projects, go to:

    https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 1:30 pm on August 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers Find a ‘Break’ in One of the Milky Way’s Spiral Arms", , , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “Astronomers Find a ‘Break’ in One of the Milky Way’s Spiral Arms” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Aug 17, 2021

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

    1
    An illustration of the large-scale structure of the Milky Way. (Image credit: R Hurt/ NASA/JPL-Caltech).

    2
    A group of young stars and gas clouds in our Milky Way galaxy, seen in the inset of this NASA graphic, is jutting out like a broken arm 3,000 light-years long, a new study has found. The region is home to the Eagle, Omega, Trifid and Lagoon nebulas. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.)

    The newly discovered feature offers insight into the large-scale structure of our galaxy, which is difficult to study from Earth’s position inside it.

    Scientists have spotted a previously unrecognized feature of our Milky Way galaxy: A contingent of young stars and star-forming gas clouds is sticking out of one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms like a splinter poking out from a plank of wood. Stretching some 3,000 light-years, this is the first major structure identified with an orientation so dramatically different than the arm’s.

    Astronomers have a rough idea of the size and shape of the Milky Way’s arms, but much remains unknown: They can’t see the full structure of our home galaxy because Earth is inside it. It’s akin to standing in the middle of Times Square and trying to draw a map of the island of Manhattan. Could you measure distances precisely enough to know if two buildings were on the same block or a few streets apart? And how could you hope to see all the way to the tip of the island with so many things in your way?

    To learn more, the authors of the new study [Astronomy & Astrophysics] focused on a nearby portion of one of the galaxy’s arms, called the Sagittarius Arm. Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope prior to its retirement in January 2020, they sought out newborn stars, nestled in the gas and dust clouds (called nebulae) where they form.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope no longer in service. Launched in 2003 and retired on 30 January 2020.

    Spitzer detected infrared light that can penetrate those clouds, while visible light (the kind human eyes can see) is blocked.

    Young stars and nebulae are thought to align closely with the shape of the arms they reside in. To get a 3D view of the arm segment, the scientists used the latest data release from the ESA (European Space Agency) Gaia mission to measure the precise distances to the stars.

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) GAIA satellite

    The combined data revealed that the long, thin structure associated with the Sagittarius Arm is made of young stars moving at nearly the same velocity and in the same direction through space.

    “A key property of spiral arms is how tightly they wind around a galaxy,” said Michael Kuhn, an astrophysicist at Caltech and lead author of the new paper. This characteristic is measured by the arm’s pitch angle. A circle has a pitch angle of 0 degrees, and as the spiral becomes more open, the pitch angle increases. “Most models of the Milky Way suggest that the Sagittarius Arm forms a spiral that has a pitch angle of about 12 degrees, but the structure we examined really stands out at an angle of nearly 60 degrees.”

    Similar structures – sometimes called spurs or feathers – are commonly found jutting off the arms of other spiral galaxies. For decades scientists have wondered whether our Milky Way’s spiral arms are also dotted with these structures or if they are relatively smooth.

    Measuring the Milky Way

    The newly discovered feature contains four nebulae known for their breathtaking beauty: the Eagle Nebula (which contains the Pillars of Creation), the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. In the 1950s, a team of astronomers made rough distance measurements to some of the stars in these nebulae and were able to infer the existence of the Sagittarius Arm. Their work provided some of the first evidence of our galaxy’s spiral structure.

    Four Famous Nebulae

    3

    These four nebulae (star-forming clouds of gas and dust) are known for their breathtaking beauty: the Eagle Nebula (which contains the Pillars of Creation), the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. In the 1950s, a team of astronomers made rough distance measurements to some of the stars in these nebulae and were able to infer the existence of the Sagittarius Arm. Their work provided some of the first evidence of our galaxy’s spiral structure. In a new study, astronomers have shown that these nebulae are part of a substructure within the arm that is angled differently from the rest of the arm.

    A key property of spiral arms is how tightly they wind around a galaxy. This characteristic is measured by the arm’s pitch angle. A circle has a pitch angle of 0 degrees, and as the spiral becomes more open, the pitch angle increases. Most models of the Milky Way suggest that the Sagittarius Arm forms a spiral that has a pitch angle of about 12 degrees, but the protruding structure has a pitch angle of nearly 60 degrees.

    Similar structures – sometimes called spurs or feathers – are commonly found jutting out of the arms of other spiral galaxies. For decades scientists have wondered whether our Milky Way’s spiral arms are also dotted with these structures or if they are relatively smooth.

    “Distances are among the most difficult things to measure in astronomy,” said co-author Alberto Krone-Martins, an astrophysicist and lecturer in informatics at the University of California-Irvine (US) and a member of the ESA DPAC Consortium – Gaia – Cosmos [Data Processing and Analysis Consortium] (EU). “It is only the recent, direct distance measurements from Gaia that make the geometry of this new structure so apparent.”

    In the new study, researchers also relied on a catalog of more than a hundred thousand newborn stars discovered by Spitzer in a survey of the galaxy called the NASA GLIMPSE the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (US).

    “When we put the Gaia and Spitzer data together and finally see this detailed, three-dimensional map, we can see that there’s quite a bit of complexity in this region that just hasn’t been apparent before,” said Kuhn.

    Astronomers don’t yet fully understand what causes spiral arms to form in galaxies like ours. Even though we can’t see the Milky Way’s full structure, the ability to measure the motion of individual stars is useful for understanding this phenomenon: The stars in the newly discovered structure likely formed around the same time, in the same general area, and were uniquely influenced by the forces acting within the galaxy, including gravity and shear due to the galaxy’s rotation.

    “Ultimately, this is a reminder that there are many uncertainties about the large-scale structure of the Milky Way, and we need to look at the details if we want to understand that bigger picture,” said one the paper’s co-authors, Robert Benjamin, an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a principal investigator on the GLIMPSE survey. “This structure is a small piece of the Milky Way, but it could tell us something significant about the Galaxy as a whole.”

    More About the Mission

    The Gaia spacecraft operations team works from the ESA European Space Operations Center [ESOC] (DE), while the science operations are performed at the ESA – European Space Astronomy Centre [ESAC] (ES). A consortium of more than 400 scientists and engineers are responsible for the processing of the data.

    More information on the Gaia Data Releases can be found here:

    https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/release

    For more information about Gaia, visit:

    https://sci.esa.int/web/gaia

    https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia

    https://archives.esac.esa.int/gaia

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, managed Spitzer mission operations for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at IPAC at Caltech. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. The Spitzer data archive is housed at the Infrared Science Archive at IPAC at Caltech in Pasadena, California.

    For more information about NASA’s Spitzer mission, go to:

    https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/spitzer-space-telescope

    https://www.ipac.caltech.edu/project/spitzer

    For more information about the Gaia mission, go to:

    https://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia

    https://archives.esac.esa.int/gaia

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 10:17 pm on August 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fizzing Sodium Could Explain Asteroid Phaethon’s Cometlike Activity", , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “Fizzing Sodium Could Explain Asteroid Phaethon’s Cometlike Activity” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    Aug 16, 2021

    Ian J. O’Neill
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-2649
    ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

    Josh Handal
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1600
    joshua.a.handal@nasa.gov

    Karen Fox
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    301-286-6284
    karen.c.fox@nasa.gov

    1
    This illustration depicts asteroid Phaethon being heated by the Sun. The asteroid’s surface gets so hot that sodium inside Phaethon’s rock may vaporize and vent into space, causing it to brighten like a comet and dislodge small pieces of rocky debris. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US).

    Models and lab tests suggest the asteroid could be venting sodium vapor as it orbits close to the Sun, explaining its increase in brightness.

    As a comet zooms through the inner solar system, the Sun heats it, causing ices below the surface to vaporize into space. The venting vapor dislodges dust and rock, and the gas creates a bright tail that can extend millions of miles from the nucleus like an ethereal veil.

    Whereas comets contain lots of different ices, asteroids are mainly rock and not known for producing such majestic displays. But a new study examines how near-Earth asteroid Phaethon may in fact exhibit cometlike activity, despite lacking significant quantities of ice.

    Known to be the source of the annual Geminid meteor shower, the 3.6-mile-wide (5.8 kilometer-wide) asteroid brightens as it gets close to the Sun. Comets typically behave like this: When they heat up, their icy surfaces vaporize, causing them to become more active and brighten as the venting gases and dust scatter more sunlight. But what is causing Phaethon to brighten if not vaporizing ices?

    The culprit could be sodium. As the new study’s authors explain, Phaethon’s elongated, 524-day orbit takes the object well within the orbit of Mercury, during which time the Sun heats the asteroid’s surface up to about 1,390 degrees Fahrenheit (750 degrees Celsius). With such a warm orbit, any water, carbon dioxide, or carbon monoxide ice near the asteroid’s surface would have been baked off long ago. But at that temperature, sodium may be fizzing from the asteroid’s rock and into space.

    “Phaethon is a curious object that gets active as it approaches the Sun,” said study lead Joseph Masiero, a scientist at IPAC, a research organization at Caltech. “We know it’s an asteroid and the source of the Geminids. But it contains little to no ice, so we were intrigued by the possibility that sodium, which is relatively plentiful in asteroids, could be the element driving this activity.”

    Asteroid-Meteor Connection

    Masiero and his team were inspired by observations of the Geminids. When meteoroids – small pieces of rocky debris from space – streak through Earth’s atmosphere as meteors, they disintegrate. But before they do, friction with the atmosphere causes the air surrounding the meteoroids to reach thousands of degrees, generating light. The color of this light represents the elements they contain. Sodium, for example, creates an orange tinge. The Geminids are known to be low in sodium.

    Until now, it was assumed that these small pieces of rock somehow lost their sodium after leaving the asteroid. This new study suggests that the sodium may actually play a key role in ejecting the Geminid meteoroids from Phaethon’s surface.

    The researchers think that as the asteroid approaches the Sun, its sodium heats up and vaporizes. This process would have depleted the surface of sodium long ago, but sodium within the asteroid still heats up, vaporizes, and fizzes into space through cracks and fissures in Phaethon’s outermost crust. These jets would provide enough oomph to eject the rocky debris off its surface. So the fizzing sodium could explain not only the asteroid’s cometlike brightening, but also how the Geminid meteoroids would be ejected from the asteroid and why they contain little sodium.

    “Asteroids like Phaethon have very weak gravity, so it doesn’t take a lot of force to kick debris from the surface or dislodge rock from a fracture,” said Björn Davidsson, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and a co-author of the study. “Our models suggest that very small quantities of sodium are all that’s needed to do this – nothing explosive, like the erupting vapor from an icy comet’s surface; it’s more of a steady fizz.”

    Lab Tests Required

    To find out if sodium turns to vapor and vents from an asteroid’s rock, the researchers tested samples of the Allende meteorite, which fell over Mexico in 1969, in a lab at JPL. The meteorite may have come from an asteroid comparable to Phaethon and belongs to a class of meteorites, called carbonaceous chondrites, that formed during the earliest days of the solar system. The researchers then heated chips of the meteorite to the highest temperature Phaethon would experience as it approaches the Sun.

    “This temperature happens to be around the point that sodium escapes from its rocky components,” said Yang Liu, a scientist at JPL and a study co-author. “So we simulated this heating effect over the course of a ‘day’ on Phaethon – its three-hour rotation period – and, on comparing the samples’ minerals before and after our lab tests, the sodium was lost, while the other elements were left behind. This suggests that the same may be happening on Phaethon and seems to agree with the results of our models.”

    The new study supports a growing body of evidence that categorizing small objects in our solar system as “asteroids” and “comets” is oversimplified, depending not only on how much ice they contain, but also what elements vaporize at higher temperatures.

    “Our latest finding is that if the conditions are right, sodium may explain the nature of some active asteroids, making the spectrum between asteroids and comets even more complex than we previously realized,” said Masiero.

    The study was published in The Planetary Science Journal on Aug. 16, 2021.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

     
  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on August 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command", , Configurations were simulated in a computer., NASA JPL-Caltech (US), Potential applications: a smart fabric for exoskeletons; an adaptive cast that adjusts its stiffness as an injury heals; a deployable bridge that could be unrolled and stiffened., The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals., These fabrics have potential applications in smart wearable equipment.   

    From California Institute of Technology (US) and NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command” 

    Caltech Logo

    From California Institute of Technology (US)

    and

    NASA JPL Banner

    NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    August 11, 2021

    Contact
    Emily Velasco
    (626) 372‑0067
    evelasco@caltech.edu

    Written by
    Robert Perkins

    1
    Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command. Credit: Caltech.

    Engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material inspired by chain mail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure.

    The material has potential applications as a smart fabric for exoskeletons, or as an adaptive cast that adjusts its stiffness as an injury heals, or even as a deployable bridge that could be unrolled and stiffened, according to Chiara Daraio, Caltech’s G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics and corresponding author of a study describing the material that was published in Nature on August 11.

    “We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command,” Daraio says. “We’d like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way.” An example from popular culture would be Batman’s cape from the 2005 movie Batman Begins, which is generally flexible but can be made rigid at will when the Caped Crusader needs it as a gliding surface.

    Materials that change properties in similar ways already exist all around us, Daraio notes. “Think about coffee in a vacuum-sealed bag. When still packed, it is solid, via a process we call ‘jamming.’ But as soon as you open the package, the coffee grounds are no longer jammed against each other and you can pour them as though they were a fluid,” she says.

    Individual coffee grounds and sand particles have complex but disconnected shapes, and can only jam when compressed. Sheets of linked rings, however, can jam together under both compression and tension (when pushed together or pulled apart). “That’s the key,” Daraio says. “We tested a number of particles to see which ones offered both flexibility and tunable stiffness, and the ones that only jam under one type of stress tended to perform poorly.”

    2
    A material made from linked octahedrons.

    To explore what materials would work best, Daraio, together with former Caltech postdoctoral researcher Yifan Wang and former Caltech graduate student Liuchi Li (PhD ’19) as co-lead authors of the Nature paper, designed a number of configurations of linked particles, from linking rings to linking cubes to linking octahedrons (which resemble two pyramids connected at the base). The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals, with help from Douglas Hofmann, principal scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. These configurations were then simulated in a computer with a model from the group of José E. Andrade, the George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Caltech’s resident expert in the modeling of granular materials.

    “Granular materials are a beautiful example of complex systems, where simple interactions at a grain scale can lead to complex behavior structurally. In this chain mail application, the ability to carry tensile loads at the grain scale is game changer. It’s like having a string that can carry compressive loads. The ability to simulate such complex behavior opens the door to extraordinary structural design and performance,” says Andrade.

    The engineers applied an outside stress, compressing the fabrics using a vacuum chamber or by dropping a weight to control the jamming of the material. In one experiment, a vacuum-locked chain mail fabric was able to support a load of 1.5 kilograms, more than 50 times the fabrics’ own weight. The fabrics that showed the largest variations in mechanical properties (from flexible to stiff) were those with larger average number of contacts between particles, such as linked rings and squares, akin to medieval chain mail.

    3
    Testing the impact resistance of the material when unjammed (soft).

    4
    Testing the impact resistance of the material when jammed (rigid).

    “These fabrics have potential applications in smart wearable equipment: when unjammed, they are lightweight, compliant, and comfortable to wear; after the jamming transition, they become a supportive and protective layer on the wearer’s body,” says Wang, now an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

    In the example of a bridge that could be unrolled and then driven across, Daraio envisions running cables through the material that then tighten to jam the particles. “Think of these cables like the drawstrings on a hoodie,” she says, noting that she is now exploring this cable scheme and other possibilities.

    5
    When stiffened, the material has the potential to act as a sturdy bridge.

    In parallel work on so-called smart surfaces, which are surfaces can change shapes to specific configurations at will, Daraio, together with postdoctoral scholar Ke Liu and visiting student Felix Hacker, recently demonstrated a method for controlling the shape of a surface by embedding networks of heat-responsive liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs), thin strips of polymer that shrink when heated. These LCEs contain stretchable heating coils that can be charged with electrical current, which heats them up and causes them to contract. As the LCEs contracted, they tugged at the flexible material into which they were embedded and compressed it into a predesigned solid shape.

    That work, which was published on April 7 in the journal Science Robotics, could be useful for remote collaboration where a physical component of the collaboration is necessary, medical devices, and haptics (which use technology to simulate physical sensation for virtual reality). Next, the team plans to miniaturize and optimize the design of both structured fabrics and smart systems to get them closer to practical applications.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (US) and the Army Research Office (US).

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

    Caltech campus

    The California Institute of Technology (US) is a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering, and is one among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.

    Caltech was founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891 and began attracting influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910 and the college assumed its present name in 1920. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán.

    Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphasis on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. First-year students are required to live on campus, and 95% of undergraduates remain in the on-campus House System at Caltech. Although Caltech has a strong tradition of practical jokes and pranks, student life is governed by an honor code which allows faculty to assign take-home examinations. The Caltech Beavers compete in 13 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division III’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).

    As of October 2020, there are 76 Nobel laureates who have been affiliated with Caltech, including 40 alumni and faculty members (41 prizes, with chemist Linus Pauling being the only individual in history to win two unshared prizes). In addition, 4 Fields Medalists and 6 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with Caltech. There are 8 Crafoord Laureates and 56 non-emeritus faculty members (as well as many emeritus faculty members) who have been elected to one of the United States National Academies. Four Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force and 71 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. Numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute(US) as well as National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US). According to a 2015 Pomona College(US) study, Caltech ranked number one in the U.S. for the percentage of its graduates who go on to earn a PhD.

    Research

    Caltech is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”. Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934 and remains a research university with “very high” research activity, primarily in STEM fields. The largest federal agencies contributing to research are National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US); National Science Foundation(US); Department of Health and Human Services(US); Department of Defense(US), and Department of Energy(US).

    In 2005, Caltech had 739,000 square feet (68,700 m^2) dedicated to research: 330,000 square feet (30,700 m^2) to physical sciences, 163,000 square feet (15,100 m^2) to engineering, and 160,000 square feet (14,900 m^2) to biological sciences.

    In addition to managing JPL, Caltech also operates the Caltech Palomar Observatory(US); the Owens Valley Radio Observatory(US);the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory(US); the W. M. Keck Observatory at the Mauna Kea Observatory(US); the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at Livingston, Louisiana and Richland, Washington; and Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory(US) in Corona del Mar, California. The Institute launched the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech in 2006; the Keck Institute for Space Studies in 2008; and is also the current home for the Einstein Papers Project. The Spitzer Science Center(US), part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center(US) located on the Caltech campus, is the data analysis and community support center for NASA’s Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope [no longer in service].

    Caltech partnered with University of California at Los Angeles(US) to establish a Joint Center for Translational Medicine (UCLA-Caltech JCTM), which conducts experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer.

    Caltech operates several Total Carbon Column Observing Network(US) stations as part of an international collaborative effort of measuring greenhouse gases globally. One station is on campus.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:35 pm on August 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stars Are Exploding in Dusty Galaxies. We Just Can’t Always See Them", , , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US), ,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “Stars Are Exploding in Dusty Galaxies. We Just Can’t Always See Them” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Aug 04, 2021
    News Media Contact

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

    by Adam Hadhazy

    1
    Hidden Supernova Spotted by NASA Spitzer Infared Space Telescope
    The image shows galaxy Arp 148, captured by NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble telescopes. Specially processed Spitzer data is shown inside the white circle, revealing infrared light from a supernova hidden by dust.
    Credit: National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/JPL-Caltech (US).

    Inside the white circle is specially-processed Spitzer data, which reveals infrared light from a supernova that is hidden by dust. Supernovae are massive stars that have exploded after running out of fuel. They radiate most brightly in visible light (the kind the human eye can detect), but these wavelengths are obscured by dust. Infrared light, however, can pass through dust.

    The analysis of Arp 148 was part of an effort to find hidden supernovae in 40 dust-choked galaxies that also emit high levels of infrared light. These galaxies are known as luminous and ultra-luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs and ULIRGs, respectively). The dust in LIRGs and ULIRGs absorbs optical light from objects like supernovae but allows infrared light from these same objects to pass through unobstructed for telescopes like Spitzer to detect.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (US), Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology (US), also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU). The Space Telescope Science Institute (US) conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (US), Washington, D.C.

    Exploding stars generate dramatic light shows. Infrared telescopes like Spitzer can see through the haze and to give a better idea of how often these explosions occur.

    You’d think that supernovae – the death throes of massive stars and among the brightest, most powerful explosions in the universe – would be hard to miss. Yet the number of these blasts observed in the distant parts of the universe falls way short of astrophysicists’ predictions.

    A new study [MNRAS] using data from NASA’s recently retired Spitzer Space Telescope reports the detection of five supernovae that, going undetected in optical light, had never been seen before. Spitzer saw the universe in infrared light, which pierces through dust clouds that block optical light – the kind of light our eyes see and that unobscured supernovae radiate most brightly.

    To search for hidden supernovae, the researchers looked at Spitzer observations of 40 dusty galaxies. (In space, dust refers to grain-like particles with a consistency similar to smoke.) Based on the number they found in these galaxies, the study confirms that supernovae do indeed occur as frequently as scientists expect them to. This expectation is based on scientists’ current understanding of how stars evolve. Studies like this are necessary to improve that understanding, by either reinforcing or challenging certain aspects of it.

    “These results with Spitzer show that the optical surveys we’ve long relied on for detecting supernovae miss up to half of the stellar explosions happening out there in the universe,” said Ori Fox, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and lead author of the new study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society [above]. “It’s very good news that the number of supernovae we’re seeing with Spitzer is statistically consistent with theoretical predictions.”

    The “supernova discrepancy” – that is, the inconsistency between the number of predicted supernovae and the number observed by optical telescopes – is not an issue in the nearby universe. There, galaxies have slowed their pace of star formation and are generally less dusty. In the more distant reaches of the universe, though, galaxies appear younger, produce stars at higher rates, and tend to have higher amounts of dust. This dust absorbs and scatters optical and ultraviolet light, preventing it from reaching telescopes. So researchers have long reasoned that the missing supernovae must exist and are just unseen.

    “Because the local universe has calmed down a bit since its early years of star-making, we see the expected numbers of supernovae with typical optical searches,” said Fox. “The observed supernova-detection percentage goes down, however, as you get farther away and back to cosmic epochs where dustier galaxies dominated.”

    Detecting supernovae at these far distances can be challenging. To perform a search for supernovae shrouded within murkier galactic realms but at less extreme distances, Fox’s team selected a local set of 40 dust-choked galaxies, known as luminous and ultra-luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs and ULIRGs, respectively). The dust in LIRGs and ULIRGs absorbs optical light from objects like supernovae but allows infrared light from these same objects to pass through unobstructed for telescopes like Spitzer to detect.

    The researchers’ hunch proved correct when the five never-before-seen supernovae came to (infrared) light. “It’s a testament to Spitzer’s discovery potential that the telescope was able to pick up the signal of hidden supernovae from these dusty galaxies,” said Fox.

    “It was especially fun for several of our undergraduate students to meaningfully contribute to this exciting research,” added study co-author Alex Filippenko, a professor of astronomy at the University of California- Berkeley (US). “They helped answer the question, ‘Where have all the supernovae gone?’”

    The types of supernovae detected by Spitzer are known as “core-collapse supernovae,” involving giant stars with at least eight times the mass of the Sun. As they grow old and their cores fill with iron, the big stars can no longer produce enough energy to withstand their own gravity, and their cores collapse, suddenly and catastrophically.

    The intense pressures and temperatures produced during the rapid cave-in forms new chemical elements via nuclear fusion. The collapsing stars ultimately rebound off their ultra-dense cores, blowing themselves to smithereens and scattering those elements throughout space. Supernovae produce “heavy” elements, such as most metals. Those elements are necessary for building up rocky planets, like Earth, as well as biological beings. Overall, supernova rates serve as an important check on models of star formation and the creation of heavy elements in the universe.

    “If you have a handle on how many stars are forming, then you can predict how many stars will explode,” said Fox. “Or, vice versa, if you have a handle on how many stars are exploding, you can predict how many stars are forming. Understanding that relationship is critical for many areas of study in astrophysics.”

    Next-generation telescopes, including NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, will detect infrared light, like Spitzer.

    “Our study has shown that star formation models are more consistent with supernova rates than previously thought,” said Fox. “And by revealing these hidden supernovae, Spitzer has set the stage for new kinds of discoveries with the Webb and Roman space telescopes.”

    More About the Mission

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California conducted mission operations and managed the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space (US) in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US). Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    More information about Spitzer is available at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/spitzer/main

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 10:03 am on July 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Deep Space Atomic Clock sets record in 1st test run", , NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) via EarthSky : “Deep Space Atomic Clock sets record in 1st test run” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    via

    1

    EarthSky


    How NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock Could Be the Next Space GPS

    1
    NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock could revolutionize deep space navigation. One key requirement for the technology demonstration was a compact design. The complete hardware package is shown here and is only about 10 inches (25 centimeters) on each side.For more information about the Deep Space Atomic Clock project, please see https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/deep-space-atomic-clock-dsac

    An atomic clock designed to change the way we navigate in space has succeeded in its first space-based test run. Researchers described the test and its results in a new paper published online this week (June 30, 2021) in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. Here on Earth, GPS satellites carry atomic clocks to help us navigate to our destinations without, for example, calling back home for instructions on which roads to take. Likewise, the Deep Space Atomic Clock will give robotic space probes and future human travelers more autonomy – more self-governance – when navigating at distances beyond Earth’s moon.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is managing the project. As NASA explained in a statement:

    “… Spacecraft that venture beyond our moon rely on communication with ground stations on Earth to figure out where they are and where they’re going….”

    But space-based atomic clocks will change that, once researchers work out all the bugs. One major issue has been space-based atomic clocks’ ability to measure time consistently over long periods. NASA said:

    “Known as ‘stability,’ this feature also impacts the operation of GPS satellites that help people navigate on Earth …

    And NASA said:

    “‘Stability’ refers to how consistently a clock measures a unit of time. Its measurement of the length of a second, for example, needs to be the same (to better than a billionth of a second) over days and weeks.”

    In the new study, researchers report that the Deep Space Atomic Clock has been operating aboard General Atomic’s Orbital Test Bed spacecraft since June 2019. NASA said:

    “The new study reports that the mission team has set a new record for long-term atomic clock stability in space, reaching more than 10 times the stability of current space-based atomic clocks, including those on GPS satellites.”

    How do we navigate in space?

    At present, spacecraft controllers help a craft navigate by sending a signal to the craft, which bounces the signal back. Refrigerator-sized atomic clocks on the ground measure precisely how long the signal took to travel back and forth. Since the signals travel at a known speed – the speed of light – scientists can then calculate precisely how far the spacecraft has traveled. You might have learned this formula in school. Distance = speed x time?

    But space – even the space inside our own solar system – is vast. NASA said:

    “… for robots on Mars or more distant destinations, waiting for the signals to make the trip can quickly add up to tens of minutes or even hours….”

    Now imagine if a spacecraft were carrying its own atomic clock. In that case, the spacecraft could receive a signal from Earth and quickly calculate its own current positions and direction of travel. So you might see that NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock will give future robotic and human explorers more autonomy. Future craft carrying these clocks will be able to navigate on their own.

    That’s where stability comes in

    NASA explained that:

    ” … the clocks would have to be highly stable. GPS satellites carry atomic clocks to help us get to our destinations on Earth, but those clocks require updates several times a day to maintain the necessary level of stability. Deep space missions would require more stable space-based clocks….”

    NASA explained that all atomic clocks have some degree of instability. This leads to an offset in the clock’s time versus the actual time. If not corrected, NASA said:

    “… the offset, while miniscule, increases rapidly, and with spacecraft navigation, even a tiny offset could have drastic effects….”

    One of the key goals of the Deep Space Atomic Clock mission was to measure the clock’s stability over longer and longer periods, to see how it changes with time. In the new paper, the team reports a level of stability that leads to a time deviation of less than four nanoseconds after more than 20 days of operation.

    That’s reliable enough for use in future missions. Eric Burt, an atomic clock physicist for the mission at JPL and co-author of the new paper, added:

    As a general rule, an uncertainty of one nanosecond in time corresponds to a distance uncertainty of about one foot [one-third m]. Some GPS clocks must be updated several times a day to maintain this level of stability, and that means GPS is highly dependent on communication with the ground. The Deep Space Atomic Clock pushes this out to a week or more, thus potentially giving an application like GPS much more autonomy.

    The mission continues

    JPL in Southern California has managed the Deep Space Atomic Clock project since 2019. The Deep Space Atomic Clock has been working onboard the General Atomics Orbital Test Bed in orbit around Earth. According to NASA-JPL, the progress of this mission doesn’t represent an improvement of the clock itself but an improvement in its ability to measure time and space. And proponents of the project believe additional data can further improve it.

    The project will conclude in August of this year, but will be followed by the Deep Space Atomic Clock-2. That will serve as an advanced version of the timekeeper and will fly on the VERITAS mission to Venus.

    2
    VERITAS mission to Venus. Credit: NASA.

    This demonstration may potentially impact GPS satellite operations like the ones essential for our day-to-day navigation on Earth. Even self-driving spaceships could be made possible, as soon as the mid-2020s. Most of us live a life so accustomed to technology that we easily forget what feats make everyday tools like a GPS app so accessible. To some, this project is an exciting reminder.

    Robert Tjoelker, co-investigator for the Deep Space Atomic Clock at JPL, said:

    “In the long run, this technology might be revolutionary. Just getting our clock into space and operating well is a big first step. Further refinements towards even longer life and higher stability are already in the works.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 4:37 pm on June 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Balloon Detects California Earthquake – Next Stop Venus?", , , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “NASA Balloon Detects California Earthquake – Next Stop Venus?” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Jun 21, 2021

    Ian J. O’Neill
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-2649
    ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

    Robert Perkins
    626-395-1862
    rperkins@caltech.edu

    1
    Baloons near Ridgecrest, California after a series of earthquakes JULY 2019. Caltech and JPL attached barometers hoping to detect the sound of one or more aftershocks. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    The technique is being developed to detect “venusquakes”. A new study details how, in 2019, it made the first balloon-borne detection of a quake much closer to home.

    Between July 4 and July 6, 2019, a sequence of powerful earthquakes rumbled near Ridgecrest, California, triggering more than 10,000 aftershocks over a six-week period. Seeing an opportunity, researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech flew instruments attached to high-altitude balloons over the region in hopes of making the first balloon-borne detection of a naturally occurring earthquake. Their goal: to test the technology for future applications at Venus, where balloons equipped with science instruments could float above the planet’s exceedingly inhospitable surface.

    And they succeeded. On July 22, highly sensitive barometers (instruments that measure changes in air pressure) on one of the balloons detected the low-frequency sound waves caused by an aftershock on the ground.

    In their new study, published on June 20 in Geophysical Research Letters, the team behind the balloons describes how a similar technique could help reveal the innermost mysteries of Venus, where surface temperatures are hot enough to melt lead and atmospheric pressures are high enough to crush a submarine.

    Planetary Rumbles

    Approximately the size of Earth, Venus is thought to have once been more hospitable before evolving into a place that is remarkably different from our habitable world. Scientists aren’t sure why that happened.

    One key way to understand how a rocky planet evolved is to study what’s inside, and one of the best ways to do that is to measure the seismic waves that bounce around below its surface. On Earth, different materials and structures refract these subsurface waves in different ways. By studying the strength and speed of waves produced by an earthquake or explosion, seismologists can determine the character of rocky layers beneath the surface and even pinpoint reservoirs of liquid, such as oil or water. These measurements can also be used to detect volcanic and tectonic activity.

    2
    One of the “heliotrope” balloons is being prepared for flight soon after the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence. The balloons were launched from California’s Mojave Desert and allowed to drift over the region.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    “Much of our understanding about Earth’s interior – how it cools and its relationship to the surface, where life resides – comes from the analysis of seismic waves that traverse regions as deep as Earth’s inner core,” said Jennifer M. Jackson, the William E. Leonhard Professor of Mineral Physics at Caltech’s Seismological Laboratory and a study co-author. “Tens of thousands of ground-based seismometers populate spatially-dense or permanent networks, enabling this possibility on Earth.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network project is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015
    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network
    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.
    After almost eight years at Stanford University (US), and a year at California Institute of Technology (US), the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California (US) Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.
    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    QuakeAlertUSA

    1

    About Early Warning Labs, LLC

    Early Warning Labs, LLC (EWL) is an Earthquake Early Warning technology developer and integrator located in Santa Monica, CA. EWL is partnered with industry leading GIS provider ESRI, Inc. and is collaborating with the US Government and university partners.

    EWL is investing millions of dollars over the next 36 months to complete the final integration and delivery of Earthquake Early Warning to individual consumers, government entities, and commercial users.

    EWL’s mission is to improve, expand, and lower the costs of the existing earthquake early warning systems.

    EWL is developing a robust cloud server environment to handle low-cost mass distribution of these warnings. In addition, Early Warning Labs is researching and developing automated response standards
    and systems that allow public and private users to take pre-defined automated actions to protect lives and assets.

    EWL has an existing beta R&D test system installed at one of the largest studios in Southern California. The goal of this system is to stress test EWL’s hardware, software, and alert signals while improving latency and reliability.

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

    Earthquake Early Warning Introduction

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with state agencies, university partners, and private industry, is developing an earthquake early warning system (EEW) for the West Coast of the United States called ShakeAlert. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program aims to mitigate earthquake losses in the United States. Citizens, first responders, and engineers rely on the USGS for accurate and timely information about where earthquakes occur, the ground shaking intensity in different locations, and the likelihood is of future significant ground shaking.

    The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System recently entered its first phase of operations. The USGS working in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is now allowing for the testing of public alerting via apps, Wireless Emergency Alerts, and by other means throughout California.

    ShakeAlert partners in Oregon and Washington are working with the USGS to test public alerting in those states sometime in 2020.

    ShakeAlert has demonstrated the feasibility of earthquake early warning, from event detection to producing USGS issued ShakeAlerts ® and will continue to undergo testing and will improve over time. In particular, robust and reliable alert delivery pathways for automated actions are currently being developed and implemented by private industry partners for use in California, Oregon, and Washington.

    Earthquake Early Warning Background

    The objective of an earthquake early warning system is to rapidly detect the initiation of an earthquake, estimate the level of ground shaking intensity to be expected, and issue a warning before significant ground shaking starts. A network of seismic sensors detects the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, and the location and the magnitude of the earthquake is rapidly determined. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated. The system can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, which brings the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage. Warnings will be distributed to local and state public emergency response officials, critical infrastructure, private businesses, and the public. EEW systems have been successfully implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and other nations with varying degrees of sophistication and coverage.

    Earthquake early warning can provide enough time to:
    Instruct students and employees to take a protective action such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On
    Initiate mass notification procedures
    Open fire-house doors and notify local first responders
    Slow and stop trains and taxiing planes
    Install measures to prevent/limit additional cars from going on bridges, entering tunnels, and being on freeway overpasses before the shaking starts
    Move people away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments
    Shut down gas lines, water treatment plants, or nuclear reactors
    Automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems

    However, earthquake warning notifications must be transmitted without requiring human review and response action must be automated, as the total warning times are short depending on geographic distance and varying soil densities from the epicenter.

    GNSS-Global Navigational Satellite System

    1
    GNSS station | Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array, Central Washington University (US)
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    We don’t have this luxury on other planetary bodies, particularly on Venus. Observations of seismic activity there would strengthen our understanding of rocky planets, but Venus’ extreme environment requires us to investigate novel detection techniques.”

    JPL and Caltech have been developing this balloon-based seismology technique since 2016. Because seismic waves produce sound waves, information is translated from the subsurface and into the atmosphere. Valuable science can then be gathered by studying sound waves from the air in a similar way that seismologists would study seismic waves from the ground.

    If this could be achieved at Venus, scientists will have found a way to study the planet’s enigmatic interior without having to land any hardware on its extreme surface.

    The Ridgecrest Quakes

    During the aftershocks following the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence, JPL’s Attila Komjathy and his colleagues led the campaign by releasing two “heliotrope” balloons.

    1
    Highway 178 SW of Trona. Taken early in the morning July 6, 2019 after the M7.1 earthquake which struck eastern California, southwest of Searles Valley, near Ridgecrest, CA. (Ben Brooks, USGS)

    4
    All earthquakes magnitude 2.5 and greater in the Ridgecrest sequence area July 4 to August 15 are shown as black dots. The M6.4 earthquake on July 4 and the M7.1 mainshock on July 5 are shown as red stars. The major nearby fault zones are labeled (Public domain.)

    Based on a design developed by study co-author Daniel Bowman of DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the balloons rise to altitudes of about 11 to 15 miles (18 to 24 kilometers) when heated by the Sun and return to the ground at dusk. As the balloons drifted, barometers they carried measured changes in air pressure over the region while the faint acoustic vibrations of the aftershocks traveled through the air.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on June 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Psyche", A journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter., NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US) : “Psyche” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    2
    This artist’s concept depicts the asteroid Psyche, the target of NASA’s Psyche mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

    About the mission

    The Psyche mission is a journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. What makes the asteroid Psyche unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system.

    Deep within rocky, terrestrial planets – including Earth – scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.

    The mission is led by Arizona State University (US). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for mission management, operations and navigation. The spacecraft’s solar-electric propulsion chassis will be built by Maxar (formerly SSL) with a payload that includes an imager, magnetometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer.

    Science Goals

    -Understand a previously unexplored building block of planet formation: iron cores.
    -Look inside terrestrial planets, including Earth, by directly examining the interior of a differentiated body, which otherwise could not be seen.
    -Explore a new type of world. For the first time, examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal.

    Science Objectives

    -Determine whether Psyche is a core, or if it is unmelted material.
    -Determine the relative ages of regions of Psyche’s surface.
    -Determine whether small metal bodies incorporate the same light elements as are expected in the Earth’s high-pressure core.
    -Determine whether Psyche was formed under conditions more oxidizing or more reducing than Earth’s core.
    -Characterize Psyche’s topography.

    Scientific Instruments and Investigations

    -Multispectral Imager
    -Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer
    -Magnetometer
    -X-band Gravity Science Investigation

    Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC)

    The Psyche mission will test a sophisticated new laser communication technology that encodes data in photons (rather than radio waves) to communicate between a probe in deep space and Earth. Using light instead of radio allows the spacecraft to communicate more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC team is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    Mission Timeline

    -Launch: 2022
    -Solar electric cruise: 3.5 years
    -Arrival at (16) Psyche: 2026
    -Observation Period: 21 months in orbit, mapping and studying Psyche’s properties

    Mission Events

    -2022 – Launch of Psyche spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    -2023 – Mars Flyby of Psyche spacecraft
    -2026 – Psyche spacecraft arrives in asteroid’s orbit
    -2026-2027 – Psyche spacecraft orbits the Psyche asteroid

    Partners

    Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) (US)
    Arizona State University (ASU) (US)
    DLR German Aerospace Center [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.](DE)
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (US)
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (US)
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (US)
    Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) (US)
    Maxar Technologies
    Observatory of the Côte d’Azur [Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur sciences de l’univers] (FR)
    Planetary Science Institute (US)
    Smithsonian Institution (US)
    Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) (US)
    SpaceX (US)
    Technical University of Denmark [Danmarks Tekniske Universitet](DK)
    University of Arizona (US)
    University of California-Los Angeles (US)
    Yale University (US)

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

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

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

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    and

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert (AU)

    7 JUNE 2021
    GAIL ILES

    1
    Credit:National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

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

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

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

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

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

    Conditions for life

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The DAVINCI+ probe

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

    -Atmospheric origin and evolution

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

    -Atmospheric composition and surface interaction

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

    -Surface properties

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VERITAS

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

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

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

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

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

    Key insight into conditions on Venus

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

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

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

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

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

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo


    NASA/Goddard Campus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

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

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

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: