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  • richardmitnick 11:28 am on February 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Telescope Spots Highest-Energy Light Ever Detected From Jupiter", NASA JPL-Caltech (US), National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/Technical University of Denmark [Danmarks Tekniske Universite](DK)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) NuSTAR X-ray telescope,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US): “NASA Telescope Spots Highest-Energy Light Ever Detected From Jupiter” 

    Feb. 10, 2022

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

    1
    Jupiter’s southern hemisphere is shown in this image from NASA’s Juno mission.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(USA) Juno at Jupiter.

    New observations by NASA’s NuSTAR reveal that auroras near both the planet’s poles emit high-energy X-rays, which are produced when accelerated particles collide with Jupiter’s atmosphere.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Technical University of Denmark [Danmarks Tekniske Universite](DK)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) NuSTAR X-ray telescope.

    Credit: Enhanced image by Kevin M. Gill (CC-BY) based on images provided courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/The Southwest Research Institute (US)/Malin Space Science Systems(US).

    2
    Jupiter’s northern aurora. Credit: J. Nichols/The University of Leicester (UK)/(NASA/ The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    The planet’s auroras are known to produce low-energy X-ray light. A new study finally reveals higher-frequency X-rays and explains why they eluded another mission 30 years ago.

    Scientists have been studying Jupiter up close since the 1970s, but the gas giant is still full of mysteries. New observations by NASA’s NuSTAR space observatory have revealed the highest-energy light ever detected from Jupiter. The light, in the form of X-rays that NuSTAR can detect, is also the highest-energy light ever detected from a solar system planet other than Earth. A paper in the journal Nature Astronomy reports the finding and solves a decades-old mystery: Why the Ulysses mission saw no X-rays when it flew past Jupiter in 1992.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Agency(US)/The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Ulysses.

    X-rays are a form of light, but with much higher energies and shorter wavelengths than the visible light human eyes can see. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ESA (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton observatory have both studied low-energy X-rays from Jupiter’s auroras – light shows near the planet’s north and south poles that are produced when volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io shower the planet with ions (atoms stripped of their electrons). Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field accelerates these particles and funnels them toward the planet’s poles, where they collide with its atmosphere and release energy in the form of light.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Chandra X-ray telescope(US).

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea][Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) XMM Newton X-ray Telescope.

    Electrons from Io are also accelerated by the planet’s magnetic field, according to observations by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter in 2016. Researchers suspected that those particles should produce even higher-energy X-rays than what Chandra and XMM-Newton observed, and NuSTAR (short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) is the first observatory to confirm that hypothesis.

    2
    NuSTAR detected high-energy X-rays from the auroras near Jupiter’s north and south poles. NuSTAR cannot locate the source of the light with high precision, but can only find that the light is coming from somewhere in the purple-colored regions. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    “It’s quite challenging for planets to generate X-rays in the range that NuSTAR detects,” said Kaya Mori, an astrophysicist at Columbia University and lead author of the new study. “But Jupiter has an enormous magnetic field, and it’s spinning very quickly. Those two characteristics mean that the planet’s magnetosphere acts like a giant particle accelerator, and that’s what makes these higher-energy emissions possible.”

    Researchers faced multiple hurdles to make the NuSTAR detection: For example, the higher-energy emissions are significantly fainter than the lower-energy ones. But none of the challenges could explain the nondetection by Ulysses, a joint mission between NASA and ESA that was capable of sensing higher-energy X-rays than NuSTAR. The Ulysses spacecraft launched in 1990 and, after multiple mission extensions, operated until 2009.

    The solution to that puzzle, according to the new study, lies in the mechanism that produces the high-energy X-rays. The light comes from the energetic electrons that Juno can detect with its Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) and Jupiter Energetic-particle Detector Instrument (JEDI), but there are multiple mechanisms that can cause particles to produce light. Without a direct observation of the light that the particles emit, it’s almost impossible to know which mechanism is responsible.

    In this case, the culprit is something called bremsstrahlung emission. When the fast-moving electrons encounter charged atoms in Jupiter’s atmosphere, they are attracted to the atoms like magnets. This causes the electrons to rapidly decelerate and lose energy in the form of high-energy X-rays. It’s like how a fast-moving car would transfer energy to its braking system to slow down; in fact, bremsstrahlung means “braking radiation” in German. (The ions that produce the lower-energy X-rays emit light through a process called atomic line emission.)

    Each light-emission mechanism produces a slightly different light profile. Using established studies of bremsstrahlung light profiles, the researchers showed that the X-rays should get significantly fainter at higher energies, including in Ulysses’ detection range.

    “If you did a simple extrapolation of the NuSTAR data, it would show you that Ulysses should have been able to detect X-rays at Jupiter,” said Shifra Mandel, a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at Columbia University and a co-author of the new study. “But we built a model that includes bremsstrahlung emission, and that model not only matches the NuSTAR observations, it shows us that at even higher energies, the X-rays would have been too faint for Ulysses to detect.”

    The conclusions of the paper relied on simultaneous observations of Jupiter by NuSTAR, Juno, and XMM-Newton.

    New Chapters

    On Earth, scientists have detected X-rays in Earth’s auroras with even higher energies than what NuSTAR saw at Jupiter. But those emissions are extremely faint – much fainter than Jupiter’s – and can only be spotted by small satellites or high-altitude balloons that get extremely close to the locations in the atmosphere that generate those X-rays. Similarly, observing these emissions in Jupiter’s atmosphere would require an X-ray instrument close to the planet with greater sensitivity than those carried by Ulysses in the 1990s.

    “The discovery of these emissions does not close the case; it’s opening a new chapter,” said William Dunn, a researcher at the University College London and a co-author of the paper. “We still have so many questions about these emissions and their sources. We know that rotating magnetic fields can accelerate particles, but we don’t fully understand how they reach such high speeds at Jupiter. What fundamental processes naturally produce such energetic particles?”

    Scientists also hope that studying Jupiter’s X-ray emissions can help them understand even more extreme objects in our universe. NuSTAR typically studies objects outside our solar system, such as exploding stars and disks of hot gas accelerated by the gravity of massive black holes.

    The new study is the first example of scientists being able to compare NuSTAR observations with data taken at the source of the X-rays (by Juno). This enabled researchers to directly test their ideas about what creates these high-energy X-rays. Jupiter also shares a number of physical similarities with other magnetic objects in the universe – magnetars, neutron stars, and white dwarfs – but researchers don’t fully understand how particles are accelerated in these objects’ magnetospheres and emit high-energy radiation. By studying Jupiter, researchers may unveil details of distant sources we cannot yet visit.

    More About the Missions

    NuSTAR launched on June 13, 2012. A Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate 3in Washington, it was developed in partnership with The Technical University of Denmark [Danmarks Tekniske Universitet](DK) and The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. – [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT). The telescope optics were built by Columbia University; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and DTU. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Virginia. NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at The University of California-Berkeley, and the official data archive is at NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. ASI provides the mission’s ground station and a mirror data archive. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on NuSTAR, go to:

    http://www.nasa.gov/nustar

    and

    http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/

    JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton of The Southwest Research Institute . Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

    Follow the Juno mission on Facebook and Twitter, and get more information about Juno online at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/juno

    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

    NASA JPL-Caltech (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 (US) 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.

    NASA Deep Space Network. Credit: NASA.

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

    NASA Deep Space Network Station 14 at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California
    NASA Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, AU, Deep Space Network. Credit: NASA

    NASA Deep Space Network Madrid Spain. Credit: NASA.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:20 pm on December 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA to Launch 4 Earth Science Missions in 2022", , , EMIT, JPSS-2, NASA JPL-Caltech (US), SWOT, TROPICS   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US): “NASA to Launch 4 Earth Science Missions in 2022” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    Dec. 13, 2021
    Written by Alison Gold, NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    News Media Contacts

    Jane J. Lee
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307
    jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov

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

    The missions, including two led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will help monitor our changing planet. Scientists will discuss them at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting.

    NASA will launch four Earth science missions in 2022 to provide scientists with more information about fundamental climate systems and processes including extreme storms, surface water and oceans, and atmospheric dust. Scientists will discuss the upcoming missions at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) 2021 Fall Meeting, hosted in New Orleans between Dec. 13 and 17.

    NASA has a unique view of our planet from space. NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites provide high-quality data on Earth’s interconnected environment, from air quality to sea ice.

    These four missions will enhance the ability to monitor our changing planet:

    1
    The National Oceanic and Amtospheric Administration(US)’s JPSS-2 will help scientists predict extreme weather conditions, including floods, wildfires, volcanoes, and more.

    2
    TROPICS will use six small satellites to provide improved and rapid measurements of tropical cyclones.

    3
    EMIT will trace the origin and composition of mineral dust that can affect climate, ecosystems, air quality, and human health with an imaging spectrometer aboard the International Space Station.

    4
    SWOT will evaluate the world’s oceans and their role in climate change, as well as monitor lakes, rivers, and other surface waters.

    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

    NASA JPL-Caltech (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 (US) 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.

    NASA Deep Space Network. Credit: NASA.

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

    NASA Deep Space Network Station 14 at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California
    NASA Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, AU, Deep Space Network. Credit: NASA

    NASA Deep Space Network Madrid Spain. Credit: NASA.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:49 pm on December 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Discovery Alert-172 Possible Planets? A New Roadmap to Distant Worlds", In another system some 3500 light-years distant-EPIC 249731291-a star not unlike our Sun hosts two gas giants-a bit smaller than Saturn-orbiting their star very closely., In one system (EPIC 249559552) about 650 light-years away-two “sub-Neptunes”– smaller versions of our own Neptune-orbit a yellow-white Sun-like star., Kepler’s first mission focused on a single patch of sky above the galactic plane ­– the narrow disk-like region where a greater abundance of stars orbits the center of the galaxy., NASA JPL-Caltech (US), , The second mission-K2-was confined to the ecliptic plane where the planets in our system orbit the Sun but was able to observe a series of sections around the plane instead of a single patch.   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US): “Discovery Alert-172 Possible Planets? A New Roadmap to Distant Worlds” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech (US)

    November 30, 2021
    Pat Brennan, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (US)

    1
    Artist’s rendering of two Saturn-sized planets orbiting a Sun-like star called EPIC 249731291, in orbits so tight their atmospheres are perpetual infernos. Image credit: R. Hurt (The Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US)) JPL/Caltech-NASA(US)

    The discovery: A new catalog of exoplanets – planets around other stars – includes 172 previously unknown planet candidates, as well as 18 possible multi-planet systems that also are newly identified. A fully automated exoplanet-detection system sifted through years of data from NASA’s retired Kepler Space Telescope, yielding a torrent of discoveries; scientists will use the resulting catalog to reveal secrets of exoplanet formation and to sharpen our picture of their many varieties.

    Key facts: The Kepler Space Telescope, which was shut down in 2018 after running dry of fuel, explored the galaxy for nine years and found thousands of exoplanets.

    NASA Kepler Space Telescope (US).

    More than 2,800 have been confirmed; and more than 3,250 candidate planets await confirmation, including the latest batch of 172 candidates. Hundreds of these candidates were detected during Kepler’s second mission, known as K2, after mechanical failure ended the first mission and sharply limited observing capability for the second. Even with those limits, Kepler continued to rack up exoplanet discoveries.

    Details: The new catalog, drawn from Kepler’s K2 observations, includes some truly bizarre planets and planetary systems. In one system (EPIC 249559552) about 650 light-years away-two “sub-Neptunes”– smaller versions of our own Neptune-orbit a yellow-white Sun-like star. The planets are locked in a kind of gravitational dance, known as orbital resonance, with the inner planet making five orbits for every two by the outer planet.

    In another system some 3500 light-years distant-EPIC 249731291-a star not unlike our Sun hosts two gas giants-a bit smaller than Saturn-orbiting their star so closely that their atmospheres are perpetual infernos. Placed in our solar system, these two giants would be inside the orbit of Mercury, the closest planet to our Sun. Two giant planets in such a tight orbit around their star could reveal important clues about how planets form, and possibly how they migrate from one orbit to another during the long lives of planetary systems.

    Fun facts: The new catalog, which includes a total of 747 planet candidates and 57 possible multi-planet systems, will allow scientists to conduct “demographic” studies ­– identifying populations of exoplanets with shared characteristics, how frequently they occur in the galaxy, and the relations of these many planet types to one other. Such an exoplanet “census” could reveal patterns in how planetary systems form, and how they change over time, including giant gas planets migrating from distant orbits into closer orbits around their stars. Some planet types might be found more frequently around certain types of stars, such as red-dwarfs, or yellow stars like our Sun.

    The new catalog also might reveal formation patterns for the galaxy as a whole. Kepler’s first mission focused on a single patch of sky above the galactic plane ­– the narrow disk-like region where a greater abundance of stars orbits the center of the galaxy. The second mission-K2-was confined to the ecliptic plane where the planets in our system orbit the Sun but was able to observe a series of sections around the plane instead of a single patch. Does the distribution of planets look different above the galactic plane than in a different direction? That could tell us whether certain planet types, say small, rocky worlds like our own, are more plentiful or more rare in different parts of the galaxy.

    The discoverers: The new exoplanet catalog was compiled by a team of astronomers led by Jon K. Zink of The University of California-Los Angeles (US) and including Kevin K. Hardegree-Ullman, Jessie L. Christiansen, and Sakhee Bhure of the Caltech/IPAC-NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (US). The other co-authors were Britt Duffy Adkins of The University of Southern California (US), Erik A. Petigura of UCLA, Courtney D. Dressing of The University of California- Berkeley (US), Ian J. M. Crossfield of The University of Kansas (US), and Joshua E. Schlieder of The Goddard Space Flight Center-NASA (US).

    See the full article here .

    See the related Caltech 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) (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.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:33 pm on November 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Are Water Plumes Spraying From Europa? NASA’s Europa Clipper Is on the Case", Because it’s much closer to Jupiter than Enceladus is to Saturn more heat is generated at Europa from friction produced as it circles its host planet., Europa Clipper is not a life-detection mission., Europa is expected to have more extensive geology than Enceladus., Evidence suggests Europa has a much deeper saltwater ocean than Enceladus., Finding plumes at Europa is an exciting prospect but scientists warn it’ll be tricky even from up close., In 2005 images of a brilliant watery plume erupting from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus captivated the world., Like Enceladus Europa is geologically dynamic- generating heat inside as their solid layers stretch and flex from the gravity of their host planets and neighboring moons., Missions such as Europa Clipper contribute to the field of Astrobiology., NASA JPL-Caltech (US), Plumes offer scientists easier access to Europa’s interior., Scheduled to launch in 2024 NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will study the moon from its deep interior to its surface to determine whether it has ingredients that make it a viable home for life., Scientists say there also could be large pockets of melted water in Europa’s ice shell., The gravitationally produced heat may also help produce or circulate life’s chemical building blocks at their seafloors including carbon; hydrogen; oxygen; nitrogen; phosphorus and sulfur., The magic of Europa-an archetype for a potentially habitable world-is hidden from view deep within the moon., The spacecraft begins exploring Europa in 2031., We’re still in the space where there’s really intriguing evidence but none of it is a slam dunk.   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Are Water Plumes Spraying From Europa? NASA’s Europa Clipper Is on the Case” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    Nov 30, 2021

    Gretchen McCartney
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-6215
    gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

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

    Alana Johnson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1501
    alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

    Written by Lonnie Shekhtman
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    NASA Europa Clipper depiction.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated.

    1
    On the left is a view of Jupiter’s moon Europa taken on March 2, 1979, by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(US) Voyager 1.

    In the middle is a color image of Europa taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft during its close encounter on July 9, 1979.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)Voyager 2.

    On the right is a view of Europa made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) Galileo Spacecraft 1989-2003.

    Finding plumes at Europa is an exciting prospect but scientists warn it’ll be tricky even from up close.

    In 2005 images of a brilliant watery plume erupting from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus captivated the world. The giant column of vapor, ice particles, and organic molecules spraying from the moon’s south polar region suggested that there’s a liquid water ocean below Enceladus’ ice shell and confirmed the moon is geologically active. The plume also thrust Enceladus and other worlds in the outer solar system, with no atmospheres and far from the heat of the Sun, toward the top of NASA’s list of places to search for signs of life.

    Scientists now are preparing for a mission to another ice-covered ocean world with possible plumes: Jupiter’s moon Europa. Scheduled to launch in 2024 NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft [depiction and annotation above] will study the moon from its deep interior to its surface to determine whether it has ingredients that make it a viable home for life.

    3
    This composite image shows suspected plumes of water vapor erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa. The image of the plume was made from data collected by NASA’s Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in 2014. The image of Europa itself is made from data from NASA’s Galileo and Voyager missions. Credit: W. Sparks (The Space Telescope Science Institute (US)) NASA/The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

    Like Enceladus Europa is geologically dynamic-meaning both ice-covered moons generate heat inside as their solid layers stretch and flex from the gravitational tug-of-war with their host planets and neighboring moons. This, instead of heat from the Sun, keeps subsurface water from freezing. The heat may also help produce or circulate life’s chemical building blocks at their seafloors, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

    But that’s where the similarities end.

    “A lot of people think Europa is going to be Enceladus 2.0, with plumes constantly spraying from the surface,” said Lynnae Quick, a member of the science team behind Clipper’s Europa Imaging System (EIS) cameras. “But we can’t look at it that way; Europa is a totally different beast,” said Quick, who’s based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    Evidence suggests Europa may vent water from its subsurface just like Enceladus. For example, scientists using NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, NASA’s Hubble Telescope, and large Earth-based telescopes have reported detections of faint water plumes or their chemical components at Europa.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Hubble Space Telescope

    W.M. Keck Observatory two ten meter telescopes operated by California Institute of Technology(US) and The University of California(US), at Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii USA, altitude 4,207 m (13,802 ft). Credit: Caltech.

    But no one is certain. “We’re still in the space where there’s really intriguing evidence but none of it is a slam dunk,” said Matthew McKay Hedman, a member of Europa Clipper’s Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE) science team and associate professor in the Department of Physics at The University of Idaho (US).

    4
    This image of the water jets at Saturn’s moon Enceladus was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 27, 2005. Enceladus is backlit by the Sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    Scientists are drawn to plumes for a couple of reasons. First, they’re undeniably cool: “We’re scientists, but we’re also human,” said Shawn Brooks, who is working with Europa Clipper’s Europa Ultraviolet Spectrograph (Europa-UVS) science team and is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

    But more practically, Brooks said, plumes offer scientists easier access to Europa’s interior. “It all comes down to whether Europa is habitable, and that comes down to having some understanding of what is happening below the surface, which we can’t reach yet,” he said.

    In other words, the magic of Europa-an archetype for a potentially habitable world-is hidden from view deep within the moon. Compared to Enceladus, which is the size of Texas, Europa is about a quarter of Earth’s size, or a bit smaller than Earth’s moon. And evidence suggests Europa has a much deeper saltwater ocean than Enceladus, possibly 40 to 100 miles (about 60 to 160 kilometers) deep, which means it could contain about twice as much water as Earth’s oceans. Some scientists hypothesize that Europa’s ocean could be reacting with superheated rocks below its seafloor, possibly through hydrothermal vents. On Earth, such areas are hotbeds of chemical activity that nourishes innumerable creatures.

    Scientists say there also could be large pockets of melted water in Europa’s ice shell, which are more likely than the ocean to be the source of plumes. These pockets could produce cozy habitats for organisms as well.

    Because it’s much closer to Jupiter than Enceladus is to Saturn more heat is generated at Europa from friction produced as it circles its host planet. Given that internal heat stimulates geological activity on rocky worlds, Europa is expected to have more extensive geology than Enceladus. Some scientists predict that Europa has plate tectonics that shift and recycle the icy blocks making up the moon’s surface. If so, Europa could be circulating nutrients produced on the surface by radiation from Jupiter, such as oxygen, to pockets of liquid in the ice shell or perhaps to the ocean itself. Through Europa Clipper, scientists will have a chance to test some of their predictions by analyzing the chemical makeup of plumes or the traces they may leave on the surface.

    Scientists warn that Europan plumes, even if they’re there, could be hard to detect even from close-up. They may be sporadic, and they may be small and thin, given that Europa’s gravity, which is much stronger than Enceladus’, likely would keep these water plumes close to the surface. That’s a drastic departure from Enceladus’ spectacular vapor column: It’s always on and bigger than the moon itself, spraying icy particles hundreds of miles above the surface. “Even if they’re there, Europa’s plumes may not be that photogenic,” Hedman said.

    Though Europa Clipper scientists are devising a variety of creative strategies to find active plumes when the spacecraft begins exploring Europa in 2031, they’re not relying on them to understand what’s going on inside the moon. “We don’t have to catch one for a successful mission,” Quick said.

    Quick added that every instrument aboard Clipper can contribute evidence of habitable conditions below the surface, regardless of active plumes.

    A few examples of how the science team will search for potential plumes include Europa Clipper’s camera suite, EIS. It will scout for plumes near Europa’s surface partly by looking for their silhouettes at Europa’s limb, or edge, when the moon is illuminated by the light of Jupiter as it passes in front of the planet. EIS will snap photos of plumes should they appear, as well as plume deposits that might be visible on the surface. The Europa-UVS will also strive to detect plumes in ultraviolet light, including at the edge of the moon when Europa passes in front of nearby stars, and can measure the chemical makeup of such plumes. A thermal camera, the Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS), will look for hotspots on the surface that may be evidence of active or recent eruptions.

    The Europa Clipper team is set to succeed whether or not researchers find plumes at Europa, though many scientists hope for a spectacular water show to enrich the mission and our understanding of Europa. “I do suspect Europa is active and letting some material escape,” Hedman said. “But I expect that when we actually get to understand how it’s doing that, it’s not going to be what anyone expected.”

    More About the Mission

    Missions such as Europa Clipper contribute to the field of astrobiology, the interdisciplinary research on the variables and conditions of distant worlds that could harbor life as we know it. While Europa Clipper is not a life-detection mission, it will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Europa and investigate whether the icy moon, with its subsurface ocean, has the capability to support life. Understanding Europa’s habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential for finding life beyond our planet.

    Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (US) in Laurel, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (US) in Washington. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (US) in Huntsville, Alabama, executes program management of the Europa Clipper mission.

    More information about Europa can be found here:

    http://www.europa.nasa.gov

    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, 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 9:48 am on November 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Revealing hidden alien oceans with chemistry", , , , , NASA JPL-Caltech (US), Thermochemical equilibrium (chemical equilibrium)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech via EarthSky : “Revealing hidden alien oceans with chemistry” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    November 5, 2021
    Paul Scott Anderson

    1
    Sub-Neptunes are planets that are smaller than Neptune but larger than Earth. They are typically between 1.7 and 3.5 times the diameter of Earth. A new NASA study says that astronomers can detect oceans on some of these worlds by analyzing the chemistry of their atmospheres. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech (US).

    Our planet Earth is the only world in our solar system with liquid water on its surface. In this solar system, Earth’s oceans are unique. But scientists think there are many more ocean worlds elsewhere in our Milky Way galaxy. In late October 2021, NASA released a new study suggesting that scientists can find hidden alien oceans on distant exoplanets via the use of chemistry. The study showed that, on worlds that have oceans, the chemical makeup of the atmosphere is distinctly different, as compared to worlds lacking oceans on their surfaces.

    The new peer-reviewed research paper was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Using chemistry to find hidden alien oceans

    The new study proposes that astronomers could detect oceans on exoplanets by analyzing the chemistry of their atmospheres. Generally, this could apply to Earth-sized worlds, super-Earths or even some sub-Neptunes (any planet with a radius smaller than Neptune but larger than Earth). The paper focuses on planets that are between 1.7 and 3.5 times the diameter of Earth. Telescopes with spectrometers, including the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), can identify the chemical makeup of the atmospheres of some of these planets. They can find gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide or methane, which could be hints of life.

    That’s exciting, but such chemical analyses can reveal other things about these planets, too. It could find evidence for oceans, which also has big implications for habitability, of course.


    Exoplanet Types: Worlds Beyond Our Solar System.

    Too hot for liquid water or just right?

    At least in some cases, those telescopes can help determine whether there is liquid water on the surface of any of these planets. More specifically, by analyzing the chemicals in the atmosphere, scientists can estimate whether the surface temperature is too hot for liquid water.

    So which chemicals might be indicative of an ocean beneath the clouds? One finding would be carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the atmosphere, where the nitrogen molecules consist of two nitrogen atoms. Why is that significant? It would be evidence that the planet’s atmosphere is cooler and thinner, ie. more like those on terrestrial planets like Earth. It would indicate that thermochemical equilibrium (chemical equilibrium) has not occurred on that planet.

    In thermochemical equilibrium, the chemistry of the atmosphere is altered. This happens when the planet’s atmosphere is composed primarily of hydrogen, which is common for sub-Neptune worlds. In those cases, the carbon and nitrogen are in the form of methane and ammonia, and the atmosphere is significantly thicker.

    In those scenarios, the thick atmosphere, like the ones on the gas and ice giants in our solar system, traps heat. Thermochemical equilibrium will occur when the temperature reaches 1,430 degrees F (770 degrees C). That’s too hot to support liquid-water oceans.

    Missing ammonia

    Another key indicator for possible oceans is that something is missing in the atmosphere: ammonia. Because ammonia is highly soluble in water, it would be nearly non-existent on ocean planets. So planets with massive oceans should have virtually no ammonia in their atmospheres. The pH (acidity) level of the ocean, however, would also affect how much ammonia were still present, if any.

    Also, there should be more carbon dioxide than carbon monoxide on ocean worlds. If there were both a lack of ammonia and an excess of carbon dioxide in a planet’s atmosphere, this would be compelling evidence for an ocean world. As Renyu Hu at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who led the new study, stated:

    “If we see the signatures of thermochemical equilibrium, we would conclude that the planet is too hot to be habitable. Vice versa, if we do not see the signature of thermochemical equilibrium and also see signatures of gas dissolved in a liquid-water ocean, we would take those as a strong indication of habitability.”

    Hu continued:

    “We don’t have direct observational evidence to tell us what the common physical characteristics for sub-Neptunes are. Many of them may have massive hydrogen atmospheres, but quite a few could still be ‘ocean planets’. I hope this paper will motivate many more observations in the near future to find out.”

    Future observations

    NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), due to launch on December 18, will have a spectrometer capable of analyzing the atmospheres of some of these worlds.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(USA)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ Canadian Space Agency [Agence Spatiale Canadienne](CA) Webb Infrared Space Telescope(US) James Webb Space Telescope annotated. Scheduled for launch in October 2021 delayed to December 2021.

    As noted in the paper:

    “These gases lead to distinctive features in the planet’s transmission spectrum, and a moderate number of repeated transit observations with the James Webb Space Telescope should tell apart a small atmosphere vs. a massive one on planets like K2-18 b. This method thus provides a way to use near-term facilities to constrain the atmospheric mass and habitability of temperate sub-Neptune exoplanets.”

    In other words, JWST will be able to identify signs in the atmospheres that can reveal ocean-supporting planets. It will be exciting to see what JWST finds in the months and years ahead!

    See the full article here .


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


    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.orgin 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

    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 9:07 pm on October 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Science of Psyche: Unique Asteroid Holds Clues to Early Solar System", NASA JPL-Caltech (US)   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech and The Arizona State University (US) : “Science of Psyche: Unique Asteroid Holds Clues to Early Solar System” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    and

    The Arizona State University (US)

    Oct 04, 2021
    Gretchen McCartney
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-6215
    gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

    Karin Valentine
    ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration, Tempe, AZ
    480-965-9345
    karin.valentine@asu.edu

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

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

    1
    Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California integrate the gamma ray and neutron spectrometer instrument into the agency’s Psyche spacecraft on Aug. 23, 2021.

    2
    Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California integrate the magnetometer instrument into the agency’s Psyche spacecraft on June 28, 2021.

    3
    This photo shows Psyche’s multispectral imager, in the process of assembly and testing on Sept. 13, 2021, at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California.

    Set to launch next year, NASA’s Psyche mission marks the first time the agency has set out to explore an asteroid richer in metal than rock or ice.

    More than 150 years have passed since novelist Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, but reality has yet to catch up with that science fiction adventure. While humans can’t bore a path to our planet’s metallic core, NASA has its sights set on visiting a giant asteroid that may be the frozen remains of the molten core of a bygone world.

    Called Psyche, this asteroid orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Using data gathered from Earth-based radar and optical telescopes, scientists believe that Psyche is made largely of metal. It could be part or all of the iron-rich interior of an early planetary building block that was stripped of its outer rocky shell as it repeatedly collided with other large bodies during the early formation of the solar system.

    The asteroid, which is about 173 miles (280 kilometers) at its widest point, could also be something else. It could be the leftover piece of a completely different kind of iron-rich body that formed from metal-rich material somewhere in the solar system.

    NASA’s Psyche mission hopes to find out. Set for an August 2022 launch, the spacecraft will for two years orbit the asteroid it was named after, taking pictures, mapping the surface, and looking for evidence of an ancient magnetic field. Psyche also will study the neutrons and gamma rays coming from the asteroid’s surface to help determine its elemental composition.

    5
    At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, an engineer inspects the gamma ray and neutron spectrometer as it is integrated into the agency’s Psyche spacecraft. The instrument will help determine the elements that make up its target. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    The first mission to explore an asteroid with a surface that contains substantial amounts of metal rather than rock or ice, Psyche seeks to better understand iron cores, an unexplored building block of planet formation. The mission also potentially provides the first opportunity to directly examine the inside of a rocky planet by offering a look at the interior of a previously layered planetary body that otherwise could never be seen. What scientists learn could shed additional light on how Earth and other rocky planets formed.

    “There are a lot of basic questions about Psyche that are unanswered,” said the mission’s principal investigator, Lindy Elkins-Tanton of The Arizona State University (US). “And with every detail that gets added from data we can collect from Earth, it just becomes harder to make a sensible story. We really don’t know what we’re going to see until we visit, and we’re going to be surprised.”

    For instance, previous ground-based observations led scientists to believe that the asteroid was as much as 90% metal. Recent research led by Elkins-Tanton used updated density measurements to estimate that the asteroid is more likely between 30% and 60% metal.

    And scientists are puzzled why Psyche appears to be low in iron oxides, which are chemical compounds made of iron and oxygen. Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Earth all have them. “So if we’re correct that Psyche is a mixture of metal and rock, and the rock has very little iron oxide, then there’s got to be a strange story about how it was created – because it doesn’t fit the standard stories of planetary creations,” Elkins-Tanton said.

    Mystery of Psyche

    Scientists also don’t know where Psyche formed. It might have originated inside the main asteroid belt, but it’s also possible that it was born in the same zone as the inner planets like Earth – or in outer solar system, where giant planets like Jupiter now reside. Neither origin story follows a simple path to where Psyche lives now, 280 million miles (450 million kilometers) from the Sun.

    Asteroids in general can offer insight into planet formation and how the early solar system worked 4.6 billion years ago. But Psyche is particularly interesting to scientists because of how unusual it is, with its metal content, high density, and low concentration of iron oxides.

    “The fact that it’s so unusual is telling us a new story that we haven’t seen before about how asteroids evolved,” said Bill Bottke, Psyche mission scientist of The Southwest Research Institute (US) in Boulder, Colorado. “That’s a piece of the story we don’t have right now. By getting that piece together with all the others we have, we continue to refine our story of how the solar system formed and evolved early on.”

    Tools of the Trade

    To help figure out the asteroid’s origins, the mission’s science investigation will rely on a magnetometer, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a multispectral imager. Scientists know that the asteroid doesn’t generate a magnetic field the way Earth does, but if Psyche had a magnetic field in the past, it could still be recorded in the asteroid’s material today. With sensors mounted onto a 6-foot (2-meter) boom, the magnetometer can determine whether Psyche is still magnetized. If so, that would confirm that the asteroid is part of the core of an early planetesimal, the building block of an early planet.

    The orbiter’s gamma ray and neutron spectrometer instrument will help scientists determine the asteroid’s chemical elements. As cosmic rays and high-energy particles impact Psyche’s surface, the elements that make up the surface material absorb the energy. The neutrons and gamma rays they emit in response can be detected by the spectrometer, allowing scientists to match their properties to those emitted by known elements to determine what Psyche is made of.

    Meanwhile, a pair of color cameras make up the multispectral imager. The imager is sensitive to light just beyond what humans can see, using filters in the ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths. The light reflected in these filters could help determine the mineralogy of any rocky material that may exist on Psyche’s surface.

    The spacecraft’s telecommunications system will help with the science as well. The X-band radio system is primarily used to send commands to the spacecraft and receive engineering and science data from it. But scientists can also analyze subtle changes in these radio waves to measure the body’s rotation, wobble, mass, and gravity field, providing additional clues about the composition and structure of Psyche’s interior.

    Eyes on Psyche

    But before any of this science analysis gets underway, there will be pictures. By late 2025, three years after launch, Psyche will be within sight of the asteroid, and the imager team will be on high alert.

    “Even before we get into orbit, we’ll start getting much better pictures than we can from telescopes on Earth. We’ll start to resolve features, see big craters, crater basins – maybe mountain ranges. Who knows what we’ll see?” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, deputy principal investigator of Psyche and imager team lead. “All we know is that the reality of Psyche is going to be even weirder and more beautiful than we can imagine.”

    More About the Mission

    ASU leads the Psyche mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. The mission phase known as assembly, test and launch operations is currently underway at JPL. By next spring, Psyche will be fully assembled and ready to ship to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

    JPL also is providing a technology demonstration instrument called Deep Space Optical Communications that will also fly on Psyche, which will test high-data-rate laser communications that could be used by future NASA missions.

    For more information about NASA’s Psyche mission go to:

    http://www.nasa.gov/psyche

    https://psyche.asu.edu/

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Arizona State University (US) is a public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, Arizona State University is one of the largest public universities by enrollment in the U.S.

    One of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University is a member of the Universities Research Association (US) and classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” Arizona State University has nearly 150,000 students attending classes, with more than 38,000 students attending online, and 90,000 undergraduates and more nearly 20,000 postgraduates across its five campuses and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona. Arizona State University offers 350 degree options from its 17 colleges and more than 170 cross-discipline centers and institutes for undergraduates students, as well as more than 400 graduate degree and certificate programs. The Arizona State Sun Devils compete in 26 varsity-level sports in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference and is home to over 1,100 registered student organizations.

    Arizona State University’s charter, approved by the board of regents in 2014, is based on the New American University model created by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow upon his appointment as the institution’s 16th president in 2002. It defines Arizona State University as “a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” The model is widely credited with boosting Arizona State University’s acceptance rate and increasing class size.

    The university’s faculty of more than 4,700 scholars has included 5 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 19 National Academy of Sciences members. Additionally, among the faculty are 180 Fulbright Program American Scholars, 72 National Endowment for the Humanities fellows, 38 American Council of Learned Societies fellows, 36 members of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 21 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of National Academy of Inventors, 9 National Academy of Engineering members and 3 National Academy of Medicine members. The National Academies has bestowed “highly prestigious” recognition on 227 ASU faculty members.

    History

    Arizona State University was established as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe on March 12, 1885, when the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature passed an act to create a normal school to train teachers for the Arizona Territory. The campus consisted of a single, four-room schoolhouse on a 20-acre plot largely donated by Tempe residents George and Martha Wilson. Classes began with 33 students on February 8, 1886. The curriculum evolved over the years and the name was changed several times; the institution was also known as Tempe Normal School of Arizona (1889–1903), Tempe Normal School (1903–1925), Tempe State Teachers College (1925–1929), Arizona State Teachers College (1929–1945), Arizona State College (1945–1958) and, by a 2–1 margin of the state’s voters, Arizona State University in 1958.

    In 1923, the school stopped offering high school courses and added a high school diploma to the admissions requirements. In 1925, the school became the Tempe State Teachers College and offered four-year Bachelor of Education degrees as well as two-year teaching certificates. In 1929, the 9th Arizona State Legislature authorized Bachelor of Arts in Education degrees as well, and the school was renamed the Arizona State Teachers College. Under the 30-year tenure of president Arthur John Matthews (1900–1930), the school was given all-college student status. The first dormitories built in the state were constructed under his supervision in 1902. Of the 18 buildings constructed while Matthews was president, six are still in use. Matthews envisioned an “evergreen campus,” with many shrubs brought to the campus, and implemented the planting of 110 Mexican Fan Palms on what is now known as Palm Walk, a century-old landmark of the Tempe campus.

    During the Great Depression, Ralph Waldo Swetman was hired to succeed President Matthews, coming to Arizona State Teachers College in 1930 from Humboldt State Teachers College where he had served as president. He served a three-year term, during which he focused on improving teacher-training programs. During his tenure, enrollment at the college doubled, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time. Matthews also conceived of a self-supported summer session at the school at Arizona State Teachers College, a first for the school.

    1930–1989

    In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, beginning a tenure that would last for nearly 28 years, second only to Swetman’s 30 years at the college’s helm. Like President Arthur John Matthews before him, Gammage oversaw the construction of several buildings on the Tempe campus. He also guided the development of the university’s graduate programs; the first Master of Arts in Education was awarded in 1938, the first Doctor of Education degree in 1954 and 10 non-teaching master’s degrees were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1956. During his presidency, the school’s name was changed to Arizona State College in 1945, and finally to Arizona State University in 1958. At the time, two other names were considered: Tempe University and State University at Tempe. Among Gammage’s greatest achievements in Tempe was the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed construction of what is Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium/ASU Gammage. One of the university’s hallmark buildings, Arizona State University Gammage was completed in 1964, five years after the president’s (and Wright’s) death.

    Gammage was succeeded by Harold D. Richardson, who had served the school earlier in a variety of roles beginning in 1939, including director of graduate studies, college registrar, dean of instruction, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president. Although filling the role of acting president of the university for just nine months (Dec. 1959 to Sept. 1960), Richardson laid the groundwork for the future recruitment and appointment of well-credentialed research science faculty.

    By the 1960s, under G. Homer Durham, the university’s 11th president, Arizona State University began to expand its curriculum by establishing several new colleges and, in 1961, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized doctoral degree programs in six fields, including Doctor of Philosophy. By the end of his nine-year tenure, Arizona State University had more than doubled enrollment, reporting 23,000 in 1969.

    The next three presidents—Harry K. Newburn (1969–71), John W. Schwada (1971–81) and J. Russell Nelson (1981–89), including and Interim President Richard Peck (1989), led the university to increased academic stature, the establishment of the Arizona State University West campus in 1984 and its subsequent construction in 1986, a focus on computer-assisted learning and research, and rising enrollment.

    1990–present

    Under the leadership of Lattie F. Coor, president from 1990 to 2002, Arizona State University grew through the creation of the Polytechnic campus and extended education sites. Increased commitment to diversity, quality in undergraduate education, research, and economic development occurred over his 12-year tenure. Part of Coor’s legacy to the university was a successful fundraising campaign: through private donations, more than $500 million was invested in areas that would significantly impact the future of ASU. Among the campaign’s achievements were the naming and endowing of Barrett, The Honors College, and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the creation of many new endowed faculty positions; and hundreds of new scholarships and fellowships.

    In 2002, Michael M. Crow became the university’s 16th president. At his inauguration, he outlined his vision for transforming Arizona State University into a “New American University”—one that would be open and inclusive, and set a goal for the university to meet Association of American Universities (US) criteria and to become a member. Crow initiated the idea of transforming Arizona State University into “One university in many places”—a single institution comprising several campuses, sharing students, faculty, staff and accreditation. Subsequent reorganizations combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced staff and administration as the university expanded its West and Polytechnic campuses. Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus was also expanded, with several colleges and schools relocating there. The university established learning centers throughout the state, including the Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu City and programs in Thatcher, Yuma, and Tucson. Students at these centers can choose from several Arizona State University degree and certificate programs.

    During Crow’s tenure, and aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, Arizona State University began a years-long research facility capital building effort that led to the establishment of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and several large interdisciplinary research buildings. Along with the research facilities, the university faculty was expanded, including the addition of five Nobel Laureates. Since 2002, the university’s research expenditures have tripled and more than 1.5 million square feet of space has been added to the university’s research facilities.

    The economic downturn that began in 2008 took a particularly hard toll on Arizona, resulting in large cuts to Arizona State University’s budget. In response to these cuts, Arizona State University capped enrollment, closed some four dozen academic programs, combined academic departments, consolidated colleges and schools, and reduced university faculty, staff and administrators; however, with an economic recovery underway in 2011, the university continued its campaign to expand the West and Polytechnic Campuses, and establish a low-cost, teaching-focused extension campus in Lake Havasu City.

    As of 2011, an article in Slate reported that, “the bottom line looks good,” noting that:

    “Since Crow’s arrival, Arizona State University’s research funding has almost tripled to nearly $350 million. Degree production has increased by 45 percent. And thanks to an ambitious aid program, enrollment of students from Arizona families below poverty is up 647 percent.”

    In 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management became the fifth Arizona State University campus, as the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Partnerships for education and research with Mayo Clinic established collaborative degree programs in health care and law, and shared administrator positions, laboratories and classes at the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus.

    The Beus Center for Law and Society, the new home of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, opened in fall 2016 on the Downtown Phoenix campus, relocating faculty and students from the Tempe campus to the state capital.

    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 9:42 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.

     
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