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  • richardmitnick 5:58 am on June 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Planetary defense exercise uses Apophis as hazardous asteroid stand-in", , , , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From The University of Arizona and NASA JPL-Caltech: “Planetary defense exercise uses Apophis as hazardous asteroid stand-in” 

    From The University of Arizona

    and

    NASA JPL-Caltech

    5.31.22

    Media contact
    Mikayla Mace Kelley
    Science Writer, University Communications
    mikaylamace@arizona.edu
    520-621-1878

    Researcher contact(s)
    Vishnu Reddy
    Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
    reddy@lpl.arizona.edu
    808-342-8932

    Amy Mainzer
    Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
    amainzer@email.arizona.edu
    520-621-4676

    Over 100 participants from 18 countries – including UArizona scientists and NASA’s UArizona-led NEOWISE mission – took part in the international exercise.

    1
    This image shows the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are the many human-made satellites that orbit our planet, and the pink represents the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Watching the skies for large asteroids that could pose a hazard to the Earth is a global endeavor. So, to test their operational readiness, the international planetary defense community will sometimes use a real asteroid’s close approach as a mock encounter with a “new” potentially hazardous asteroid. The lessons learned could limit, or even prevent, global devastation should the scenario play out for real in the future.

    To that end, more than 100 astronomers from around the world, including scientists at the University of Arizona, participated in an exercise last year in which a large, known, and potentially hazardous asteroid was essentially removed from the planetary defense-monitoring database to see whether it could be properly detected anew. Not only was the object “discovered” during the exercise, its chances of hitting Earth were continually reassessed as it was tracked, and the possibility of impact was ruled out.

    Coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, the exercise confirmed that, from initial detection to follow-up characterization, the international planetary defense community can act swiftly to identify and assess the hazard posed by a new near-Earth asteroid discovery. The results of the exercise are detailed in a study published Tuesday in the Planetary Science Journal.

    The exercise focused on the real asteroid Apophis.

    1
    Apophis depiction. Credit: Universe Today.

    For a short while after its discovery in 2004, Apophis was assessed to have a significant chance of impacting Earth in 2029 or later. But based on tracking measurements taken during several close approaches since the asteroid’s discovery, astronomers have refined Apophis’ orbit and now know that it poses no impact hazard whatsoever for 100 years or more. Scientific observations of Apophis’ most recent close approach, which occurred between December 2020 and March 2021, were used by the planetary defense community for this exercise.

    “This real-world scientific input stress-tested the entire planetary defense response chain, from initial detection to orbit determination to measuring the asteroid’s physical characteristics, and even determining if, and where, it might hit Earth,” said Vishnu Reddy, associate professor in the UArizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who led the campaign.

    Tracking a ‘new’ target

    Astronomers knew Apophis would approach Earth in early December 2020. But to make the exercise more realistic, the Minor Planet Center – the internationally recognized clearinghouse for the position measurements of small celestial bodies – pretended that it was an unknown asteroid by preventing the new observations of Apophis from being connected with previous observations of it. When the asteroid approached, astronomical surveys had no prior record of Apophis.

    On Dec. 4, 2020, as the asteroid started to brighten, the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, based at UArizona, made the first detection and reported the object’s astrometry – its position in the sky – to the Minor Planet Center.

    Because there was no prior record of Apophis for the purpose of this exercise, the asteroid was logged as a brand-new detection. Other detections followed from the Hawaii-based, NASA-funded Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System and Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System.

    As Apophis drifted into the field of view of NASA’s UArizona-led Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE, mission, the Minor Planet Center linked its observations with those made by ground-based survey telescopes to show the asteroid’s motion through the sky. On Dec. 23, the Minor Planet Center announced the discovery of a “new” near-Earth asteroid. Exercise participants quickly gathered additional measurements to assess its orbit and whether it could impact Earth.

    “Even though we knew that, in reality, Apophis was not impacting Earth in 2029, starting from square one – with only a few days of astrometric data from survey telescopes – there were large uncertainties in the object’s orbit that theoretically allowed an impact that year,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, who led the orbital determination calculations for JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies.

    During the asteroid’s March 2021 close approach, JPL astronomers used NASA’s 230-foot Goldstone Solar System Radar in California [below] to image and precisely measure the asteroid’s velocity and distance. These observations, combined with measurements from other observatories, allowed astronomers to refine Apophis’ orbit and rule out a 2029 impact for the purpose of the exercise. Beyond the exercise, they also were able to rule out any chance of impact for 100 years or more.
    ===
    NEOWISE homes in

    Orbiting far above Earth’s atmosphere, NEOWISE provided infrared observations of Apophis that would be not possible from the ground because moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs light at these wavelengths.

    “The independent infrared data collected from space greatly benefited the results from this exercise,” said Akash Satpathy, a UArizona graduate student who led a second paper [The Planetary Science Journal], with NEOWISE Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer, a UArizona professor of planetary sciences, describing the results with inclusion of their data in the exercise. “NEOWISE was able to confirm Apophis’ rediscovery while also rapidly gathering valuable information that could be used in planetary defense assessments, such as its size, shape and even clues as to its composition and surface properties.”

    By better understanding the asteroid’s size, participating scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, could also estimate the impact energy that an asteroid like Apophis would deliver. And the participants simulated a swath of realistic impact locations on Earth’s surface that, in a real situation, would help disaster agencies with possible evacuation efforts.

    “Seeing the planetary defense community come together during the latest close approach of Apophis was impressive,” said Michael Kelley, a program scientist with the Planetary Defense Coordination Office in NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., who provided guidance to the exercise participants. “Even during a pandemic, when many of the exercise participants were forced to work remotely, we were able to detect, track and learn more about a potential hazard with great efficiency. The exercise was a resounding success.”

    Additional key planetary defense exercise working group leads included Jessie Dotson at NASA Ames; Nicholas Erasmus at the South African Astronomical Observatory; David Polishook at the Weizmann Institute in Israel; Joseph Masiero at Caltech-IPAC in Pasadena, California; and Lance Benner at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, a division of Caltech.

    NEOWISE’s successor, the next-generation NEO Surveyor, also led by Mainzer, is scheduled to launch no earlier than 2026 and will greatly expand the knowledge NEOWISE has amassed about the near-Earth asteroids that populate our solar system.

    More information about the Center for Near Earth Object, asteroids and near-Earth objects can be found on the JPL website. For asteroid and comet news and updates, follow @AsteroidWatch on Twitter.

    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 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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    As of 2019, the The University of Arizona enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association . The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by the time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.

    Research

    The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally.

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

    The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    U Arizona NASA Mars Reconnaisance HiRISE Camera.

    NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    3
    NASA – GRAIL Flying in Formation (Artist’s Concept). Credit: NASA.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Juno at Jupiter.

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    NASA/Mars MAVEN

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wise/NEOWISE Telescope.

    The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy , a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside Tucson.

    National Science Foundation NOIRLab National Optical Astronomy Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope (CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory , a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory , operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    University of Arizona Radio Observatory at NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory, AZ USA, U Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona in the Quinlan Mountains of the Tohono O’odham Nation, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why The University of Arizona is a university unlike any other.

    University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:12 pm on May 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Engineers Investigating NASA’s Voyager 1 Telemetry Data", , , , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Engineers Investigating NASA’s Voyager 1 Telemetry Data” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    May 18, 2022

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

    The engineering team with NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is trying to solve a mystery: The interstellar explorer is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, along with gathering and returning science data. But readouts from the probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard.

    The AACS controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation. Among other tasks, it keeps Voyager 1’s high-gain antenna pointed precisely at Earth, enabling it to send data home. All signs suggest the AACS is still working, but the telemetry data it’s returning is invalid. For instance, the data may appear to be randomly generated, or does not reflect any possible state the AACS could be in.

    The issue hasn’t triggered any onboard fault protection systems, which are designed to put the spacecraft into “safe mode” – a state where only essential operations are carried out, giving engineers time to diagnose an issue. Voyager 1’s signal hasn’t weakened, either, which suggests the high-gain antenna remains in its prescribed orientation with Earth.

    The team will continue to monitor the signal closely as they continue to determine whether the invalid data is coming directly from the AACS or another system involved in producing and sending telemetry data. Until the nature of the issue is better understood, the team cannot anticipate whether this might affect how long the spacecraft can collect and transmit science data.

    Voyager 1 is currently 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion kilometers) from Earth, and it takes light 20 hours and 33 minutes to travel that difference. That means it takes roughly two days to send a message to Voyager 1 and get a response – a delay the mission team is well accustomed to.

    “A mystery like this is sort of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager 1 and 2 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “The spacecraft are both almost 45 years old, which is far beyond what the mission planners anticipated. We’re also in interstellar space – a high-radiation environment that no spacecraft have flown in before. So there are some big challenges for the engineering team. But I think if there’s a way to solve this issue with the AACS, our team will find it.”

    It’s possible the team may not find the source of the anomaly and will instead adapt to it, Dodd said. If they do find the source, they may be able to solve the issue through software changes or potentially by using one of the spacecraft’s redundant hardware systems.

    It wouldn’t be the first time the Voyager team has relied on backup hardware: In 2017, Voyager 1’s primary thrusters showed signs of degradation, so engineers switched to another set of thrusters that had originally been used during the spacecraft’s planetary encounters. Those thrusters worked, despite having been unused for 37 years.

    Voyager 1’s twin, Voyager 2 (currently 12.1 billion miles, or 19.5 billion kilometers, from Earth), continues to operate normally.

    Launched in 1977, both Voyagers have operated far longer than mission planners expected, and are the only spacecraft to collect data in interstellar space.

    The information they provide from this region has helped drive a deeper understanding of the heliosphere, the diffuse barrier the Sun creates around the planets in our solar system.

    Each spacecraft produces about 4 fewer watts of electrical power a year, limiting the number of systems the craft can run. The mission engineering team has switched off various subsystems and heaters in order to reserve power for science instruments and critical systems. No science instruments have been turned off yet as a result of the diminishing power, and the Voyager team is working to keep the two spacecraft operating and returning unique science beyond 2025.

    While the engineers continue to work at solving the mystery that Voyager 1 has presented them, the mission’s scientists will continue to make the most of the data coming down from the More About the Mission

    The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/voyagerspacecraft’s unique vantage point.

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:00 pm on May 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "From weather forecasting to climate change NASA's AIRS builds a legacy", , AIRS' two decades of consistent and multifaceted measurements provide a satellite record of global warming that is second to none., , NASA JPL - Caltech, Now AIRS also helps researchers calculate the role climate change plays in these extreme weather events., Researchers recently used AIRS data to detect atmospheric waves from the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano., The AIRS instrument is a spectrometer that breaks radiation into wavelengths just as a prism does., The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder [AIRS] helps researchers predict weather; analyze air pollution; monitor volcanoes and track a changing climate., Understanding what happened in the first couple of decades of the 21st century is critical to understanding climate change and there is no better record than AIRS to study that.   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech via phys.org: “From weather forecasting to climate change NASA’s AIRS builds a legacy” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    via

    phys.org

    May 6, 2022
    Carol Rasmussen

    1
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder helps researchers predict weather, analyze air pollution, monitor volcanoes, and track a changing climate. And there’s more.

    On April 13, a blizzard dropped 4 feet of snow on Minot, North Dakota, as a drought-fueled wildfire burned in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and severe storms spawned eight tornadoes in Kentucky. NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) helped weather forecasters predict these events, as it’s been doing since it was launched in 2002.

    1
    NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument.

    But now AIRS also helps researchers calculate the role climate change plays in these extreme weather events. It has become indispensable in other ways that couldn’t be foreseen when the weather instrument launched aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite in May 2002.

    “Understanding what happened in the first couple of decades of the 21st century is critical to understanding climate change, and there’s no better record than AIRS to study that,” said Joao Teixeira, AIRS science team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “I see us as guardians of this precious dataset that will be our legacy for future generations.”

    AIRS measures infrared—heat—radiation from the air below the satellite to create three-dimensional maps of atmospheric temperature and water vapor, the main ingredients for any kind of weather. The instrument proved to be an almost immediate success: Within three years after AIRS’ launch, assessments of forecasts made by professional meteorologists showed that incorporating AIRS data in weather forecasting models produced a significant increase in accuracy.

    Looking beyond weather

    The AIRS instrument is a spectrometer that breaks radiation into wavelengths just as a prism does. But where earlier spectrometers in space had 15 or 20 detectors that each observed broad bands of infrared wavelengths, AIRS has 2,378 detectors that each senses a specific wavelength, and every detector makes close to 3 million measurements a day. This enormous advance in data quality and quantity not only succeeded in improving weather forecasting, but inspired a new generation of similar spaceborne instruments from space agencies around the world.

    In 2002, getting this technology ready to launch required an innovative design and skillful construction to accommodate the thousands of detectors. The instrument’s creators eventually arranged the detectors in 17 long lines, each of them two detectors wide (for redundancy in case one failed) by about 150 detectors long, and packaged them onto a single focal plane assembly. “When I first saw it, I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me,'” said Tom Pagano, AIRS’ project manager at JPL. “It was a major engineering achievement for the time.” Other advances, like the development of a frictionless cryocooler to cool AIRS’ detectors, led to an instrument that has lasted an extremely long time and is extraordinarily stable.

    “Due to the amazing engineering, the data we have now is almost the same quality as it was 20 years ago, when the instrument was new,” Teixeira said.

    Stability is essential for scientists to pinpoint the small but persistent signals of climate change from out of the noise of year-to-year variations in weather. As the global temperature creeps upward toward 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial times, AIRS’ two decades of consistent and multifaceted measurements provide a satellite record of global warming that is second to none. There are other satellite records of individual greenhouse gases or of surface temperature, for example, but no other global data record matches the time span and wide range of wavelengths in the AIRS dataset.


    AIRS: NASA Advances Our Understanding of Earth’s Climate.

    Legacy building

    When AIRS launched, the mission team aspired to collect data for 15 years, said Pagano. “We put an unimaginable amount of effort into making an instrument that wouldn’t fail in orbit. It was the philosophy of how we built these instruments on the Aqua satellite.”

    And as the data has kept coming, researchers have found more and more uses for it. Researchers recently used AIRS data to detect atmospheric waves from the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Earlier this year, researchers also used AIRS data to quantify the link between humidity and influenza outbreaks. In addition, AIRS data is used to track clouds, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and other gases and pollutants whose spectral signatures fall within the range of infrared wavelengths AIRS detects.

    The AIRS team and other researchers are still looking into even more applications of the dataset. “There’s more to mine from this instrument,” Pagano said. “It has such rich information content.”

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:26 pm on April 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "California Field Campaign Helping Scientists Protect Diverse Ecosystems", , , , NASA JPL - Caltech, The Nature Conservancy, University of California-Santa Barbara   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech and The University of California-Santa Barbara: “California Field Campaign Helping Scientists Protect Diverse Ecosystems” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    and

    UC Santa Barbara Name bloc

    The University of California-Santa Barbara

    April 18, 2022

    Andrew Wang
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-379-6874
    andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov

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

    Juvenio Guerra
    The Nature Conservancy
    310-755-0590
    juvenio.guerra@tnc.org

    Shelly Leachman
    University of California-Santa Barbara
    805-893-8726
    shelly.leachman@ucsb.edu

    1
    JPL scientist Dana Chadwick, center, advises a field team working on the SHIFT campaign on locations for collection and analysis of vegetation samples at Central California’s Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in March 2022. Image Credit: Piper Lovegreen/University of California-Santa Barbara.

    2
    University of California, Santa Barbara student Piper Lovegreen measures chlorophyl content of plants at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in Santa Barbara County in March.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Above Santa Barbara County, the Surface Biology and Geology High-Frequency Time Series, or SHIFT, campaign collects data to understand land and aquatic ecosystems.

    With a plane crisscrossing the sky and researchers working on land and sea, the Surface Biology and Geology High-Frequency Time Series campaign (SHIFT) combines the ability of airborne science instruments to gather data over widespread areas with the more concentrated observations scientists conduct in the field to study natural environments.

    SHIFT is jointly led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Nature Conservancy, and the University of California-Santa Barbara, and one of its primary goals is to generate the most precise, high-time-frequency data on plant and aquatic communities ever collected over such a vast region. The 640-square-mile (1,656-square-kilometer) study area, which stretches from Los Padres National Forest in the east to the Central California coast and into the coastal ocean in the west, includes some of the most dynamic ecosystems in the world.

    The data, collected on a weekly basis from late February until the end of May, measures changes in the characteristics of vegetation across the landscape and tracks critical plant species as they emerge from winter dormancy. It will also provide clues about the health and resilience of ecosystems as California’s climate grows drier. For The Nature Conservancy and UCSB, both of which maintain nature preserves in the study area, the information collected will inform strategies to protect natural environments in the face of human-created pressures.

    “This landscape has gradually changed over time, and now with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, change is happening much more rapidly,” said Mark Reynolds, a SHIFT co-investigator and director of the Point Conception Institute at The Nature Conservancy’s Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. “This is what it’s about for us: to understand the change that’s happening, anticipate the change to come, and to influence the trajectory of conservation, now and for future generations.”

    3
    A research plane collecting spectral imaging data of vegetation on land and in the ocean as part of the SHIFT campaign flies just off the Central Coast of California near Point Conception and the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in February. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    4
    The SHIFT campaign uses a research plane carrying the AVIRIS-NG instrument to collect data on the function, health, and resilience of plant communities in the 640-square-mile (1,656-square-kilometer) area of Santa Barbara County. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Studying Properties of Light

    SHIFT employs an imaging spectrometer called AVIRIS-NG (Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer-Next Generation) that was designed at JPL in Southern California. An aircraft carrying the instrument has been flying above Santa Barbara County weekly during the study period.

    The spectrometer works by collecting subtle characteristics of the light reflected from 16-by-16-foot (5-by-5-meter) squares of the surface, which can tell researchers about traits of tree leaves, blades of grass, shrubs, and other plants. Successive scans can detect variations in the color of the light and its reflectance at different wavelengths, revealing changes in how plants are functioning.

    For example, scientists hope to learn about the health and resilience of Southern California oak species by studying the thousands of acres of oak woodlands in the Dangermond Preserve and UCSB’s Sedgwick Reserve. Oaks occupy a crucial niche in their ecosystems: In addition to their leaves taking in carbon dioxide, their acorns provide food for many species, and their trunks and branches serve as habitats for birds and other animals. The SHIFT data can show the nitrogen and phosphorus content of oak leaves, revealing the health of oak communities. It can also show canopy density, which can offer clues about whether oaks are adapting to progressively drier conditions or dying off.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Barbara Seal

    The University of California-Santa Barbara is a public land-grant research university in Santa Barbara, California, and one of the ten campuses of the University of California system. Tracing its roots back to 1891 as an independent teachers’ college, The University of California-Santa Barbara joined the University of California system in 1944, and is the third-oldest undergraduate campus in the system.

    The university is a comprehensive doctoral university and is organized into five colleges and schools offering 87 undergraduate degrees and 55 graduate degrees. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, The University of California-Santa Barbara spent $235 million on research and development in fiscal year 2018, ranking it 100th in the nation. In his 2001 book The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities, author Howard Greene labeled The University of California-Santa Barbara a “Public Ivy”.

    The University of California-Santa Barbara is a research university with 10 national research centers, including the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Center for Control, Dynamical-Systems and Computation. Current University of California-Santa Barbara faculty includes six Nobel Prize laureates; one Fields Medalist; 39 members of the National Academy of Sciences; 27 members of the National Academy of Engineering; and 34 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The University of California-Santa Barbara was the No. 3 host on the ARPANET and was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1995. The faculty also includes two Academy and Emmy Award winners and recipients of a Millennium Technology Prize; an IEEE Medal of Honor; a National Medal of Technology and Innovation; and a Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
    The University of California-Santa Barbara Gauchos compete in the Big West Conference of the NCAA Division I. The Gauchos have won NCAA national championships in men’s soccer and men’s water polo.

    History

    The University of California-Santa Barbara traces its origins back to the Anna Blake School, which was founded in 1891, and offered training in home economics and industrial arts. The Anna Blake School was taken over by the state in 1909 and became the Santa Barbara State Normal School which then became the Santa Barbara State College in 1921.

    In 1944, intense lobbying by an interest group in the City of Santa Barbara led by Thomas Storke and Pearl Chase persuaded the State Legislature, Gov. Earl Warren, and the Regents of the University of California to move the State College over to the more research-oriented University of California system. The State College system sued to stop the takeover but the governor did not support the suit. A state constitutional amendment was passed in 1946 to stop subsequent conversions of State Colleges to University of California campuses.

    From 1944 to 1958, the school was known as Santa Barbara College of the University of California, before taking on its current name. When the vacated Marine Corps training station in Goleta was purchased for the rapidly growing college Santa Barbara City College moved into the vacated State College buildings.

    Originally the regents envisioned a small several thousand–student liberal arts college a so-called “Williams College of the West”, at Santa Barbara. Chronologically, The University of California-Santa Barbara is the third general-education campus of the University of California, after The University of California-Berkeley and The University of California-Los Angeles (the only other state campus to have been acquired by the University of California system). The original campus the regents acquired in Santa Barbara was located on only 100 acres (40 ha) of largely unusable land on a seaside mesa. The availability of a 400-acre (160 ha) portion of the land used as Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara until 1946 on another seaside mesa in Goleta, which the regents could acquire for free from the federal government, led to that site becoming the Santa Barbara campus in 1949.

    Originally only 3000–3500 students were anticipated but the post-WWII baby boom led to the designation of general campus in 1958 along with a name change from “Santa Barbara College” to “University of California-Santa Barbara,” and the discontinuation of the industrial arts program for which the state college was famous. A chancellor- Samuel B. Gould- was appointed in 1959.

    In 1959 The University of California-Santa Barbara professor Douwe Stuurman hosted the English writer Aldous Huxley as the university’s first visiting professor. Huxley delivered a lectures series called The Human Situation.

    In the late ’60s and early ’70s The University of California-Santa Barbara became nationally known as a hotbed of anti–Vietnam War activity. A bombing at the school’s faculty club in 1969 killed the caretaker Dover Sharp. In the spring of 1970 multiple occasions of arson occurred including a burning of the Bank of America branch building in the student community of Isla Vista during which time one male student Kevin Moran was shot and killed by police. The University of California-Santa Barbara ‘s anti-Vietnam activity impelled then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to impose a curfew and order the National Guard to enforce it. Armed guardsmen were a common sight on campus and in Isla Vista during this time.

    In 1995 The University of California-Santa Barbara was elected to the Association of American Universities– an organization of leading research universities with a membership consisting of 59 universities in the United States (both public and private) and two universities in Canada.

    On May 23, 2014 a killing spree occurred in Isla Vista, California, a community in close proximity to the campus. All six people killed during the rampage were students at The University of California-Santa Barbara. The murderer was a former Santa Barbara City College student who lived in Isla Vista.

    Research activity

    According to the National Science Foundation, The University of California-Santa Barbara spent $236.5 million on research and development in fiscal 2013, ranking it 87th in the nation.

    From 2005 to 2009 UCSB was ranked fourth in terms of relative citation impact in the U.S. (behind Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, and Princeton University) according to Thomson Reuters.

    The University of California-Santa Barbara hosts 12 National Research Centers, including the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, the Southern California Earthquake Center, the UCSB Center for Spatial Studies, an affiliate of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, and the California Nanosystems Institute. Eight of these centers are supported by The National Science Foundation. UCSB is also home to Microsoft Station Q, a research group working on topological quantum computing where American mathematician and Fields Medalist Michael Freedman is the director.

    Research impact rankings

    The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked The University of California-Santa Barbara 48th worldwide for 2016–17, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2016 ranked https://www.nsf.gov/ 42nd in the world; 28th in the nation; and in 2015 tied for 17th worldwide in engineering.

    In the United States National Research Council rankings of graduate programs, 10 University of California-Santa Barbara departments were ranked in the top ten in the country: Materials; Chemical Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Marine Science Institute; Geography; History; and Theater and Dance. Among U.S. university Materials Science and Engineering programs, The University of California-Santa Barbara was ranked first in each measure of a study by the National Research Council of the NAS.

    The Centre for Science and Technologies Studies at Leiden University [Universiteit Leiden](NL) ranked UCSB as the seventh-best research university in the world based on mean normalized citation score, and as the second best in the world based on the proportion of the publications to the top 10% most frequently cited.

    The Global Research Report: United States published by Thomson Reuters in November 2010 rated The University of California-Santa Barbara ‘s research fourth nationally in citation impact.

    Among U.S. university economics programs, in 2010 The University of California-Santa Barbara was ranked sixth for experimental economics; third for environmental economics; and 12th for cognitive and behavioral economics by RePEc.

    Washington Monthly named The University of California-Santa Barbara as the 20th best national university in 2020 based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus

    NASA JPL-Caltech
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:25 am on April 8, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Finds New Way to Monitor Underground Water Loss", NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA Finds New Way to Monitor Underground Water Loss” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    April 5, 2022

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

    Written by Carol Rasmussen

    1
    Groundwater irrigation enables farmers to grow lush crops in California’s Central Valley, but the underground water resource is dwindling. A NASA study offers a new tool for managing groundwater. Credit: Dale Kolke/ California Department of Water Resources.

    Researchers have untangled puzzling patterns of sinking and rising land to pin down the underground locations where water is being pumped for irrigation.

    Scientists have produced a new method that holds the promise of improving groundwater management – critical to both life and agriculture in dry regions. The method sorts out how much underground water loss comes from aquifers confined in clay, which can be drained so dry that they will not recover, and how much comes from soil that’s not confined in an aquifer, which can be replenished by a few years of normal rains.

    The research team studied California’s Tulare Basin, part of the Central Valley. The team found that the key to distinguishing between these underground sources of water relates to patterns of sinking and rising ground levels in this heavily irrigated agricultural region.

    The Central Valley makes up only 1% of U.S. farmland, yet it grows an amazing 40% of the nation’s table fruits, vegetables, and nuts annually. Productivity like that is only possible because farmers augment the valley’s 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of annual rainfall with extensive groundwater pumping. In drought years, more than 80% of irrigation water comes from underground.

    After decades of pumping, underground water resources are dwindling. Wells in the Tulare Basin now must be drilled as much as 3,500 feet (over 1,000 meters) deep to find adequate water. There’s no way to measure exactly how much water remains underground, but managers need to make the wisest use of whatever there is. That involves monitoring whether water is being drawn from aquifers or from loose soil, known as the water table. In this large region with tens of thousands of unmetered wells, the only practical way to do that is by using satellite data.

    A research team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory set out to create a method that would do exactly that. They attacked the problem by combining data on water loss from U.S.-European Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE Follow-On satellites with data on ground-level changes from a ESA (European Space Agency) Sentinel-1 satellite.

    Ground-level changes in this region are often related to water loss because when ground is drained of water, it eventually slumps together and sinks into the spaces where water used to be – a process called subsidence.

    2
    This map shows changes in the mass of water, both above ground and underground, in California from 2003 to 2013, as measured by NASA’s GRACE satellite. The darkest red indicates the greatest water loss. The Central Valley is outlined in yellow; the Tulare Basin covers about the southern third. Extreme groundwater depletion has continued to the present. Credit: NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center/SVS.

    The Tulare Basin is subsiding drastically: The current rate is about one foot (0.3 meters) of sinkage per year. But from one month to the next, the ground may drop, rise or stay the same. What’s more, these changes don’t always line up with expected causes. For example, after a heavy rainfall, the water table rises. It seems obvious that this would cause the ground level to rise, too, but it sometimes sinks instead.

    The researchers thought these mysterious short-term variations might hold the key to determining the sources of pumped water. “The main question was, how do we interpret the change that’s happening on these shorter time scales: Is it just a blip, or is it important?” said Kyra Kim, a postdoctoral fellow at JPL and coauthor of the paper, which appeared in Scientific Reports.

    Clay vs. Sand

    Kim and her colleagues believed the changes were related to the different kinds of soils in the basin. Aquifers are confined by layers of stiff, impermeable clay, whereas unconfined soil is looser. When water is pumped from an aquifer, the clay takes a while to compress in response to the weight of land mass pressing down from above. Unconfined soil, on the other hand, rises or falls more quickly in response to rain or pumping.

    The researchers created a simple numerical model of these two layers of soils in the Tulare Basin. By removing the long-term subsidence trend from the ground-level-change data, they produced a dataset of only the month-to-month variations. Their model revealed that on this time scale, virtually all of the ground-level change can be explained by changes in aquifers, not in the water table.
    ===
    For example, in spring, there’s little rainfall in the Central Valley, so the water table is usually sinking. But runoff from snow in the Sierra Nevada is recharging the aquifers, and that causes the ground level to rise. When rainfall is causing the water table to rise, if the aquifers are compressing at the same time from being pumped during the preceding dry season, the ground level will fall. The model correctly reproduced the effects of weather events like heavy rainfalls in the winter of 2016-17. It also matched the small amount of available data from wells and GPS.

    Kim pointed out that the new model can be repurposed to represent other agricultural regions where groundwater use needs to be better monitored. With a planned launch in 2023, the NASA-ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission will measure changes in ground level at even higher resolution than Sentinel-1.

    2
    NASA-ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) spacecraft depiction.

    Researchers will be able to combine NISAR’s dataset with data from GRACE Follow-On in this model for the benefit of agriculture around the globe. “We’re heading toward a really beautiful marriage between remote sensing and numerical models to bring everything together,” Kim said.

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:19 am on April 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Today in science- Comet Hale-Bopp", , , Hale-Bopp is officially labeled C/1995 O1., NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech via EarthSky: “Today in science- Comet Hale-Bopp” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    April 1, 2022
    Daniela Breitman

    1
    Comet Hale-Bopp with its prominent dust (white) and plasma (blue) tails. Photo via E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes Kepler Observatory/ Wikimedia Commons.

    Remember Comet Hale-Bopp?

    Twenty five years ago today – on April 1, 1997 – Comet Hale-Bopp reached its perihelion or closest point to the sun. It was slightly less than Earth’s distance from the sun at 0.9 astronomical units (Earth-sun units). And it was bright, for a comet. Its brightness – though dispersed across a wider area than stars – exceeded that of any star in the sky except for Sirius, the sky’s brightest star.

    Hale-Bopp is officially labeled C/1995 O1. It was one of the most-viewed comets in human history.

    As seen from the Northern Hemisphere, Hale-Bopp was the brightest comet since Comet West, sometimes called the Great Comet of 1976. Hale-Bopp stayed visible with the unaided eye for a record of 18 months, twice as long as the previous record holder: the Great Comet of 1811. Some called Hale-Bopp the Great Comet of 1997 (although others disagreed that it met the criteria for a Great Comet).

    One of the most-viewed comets ever

    There are over 5,000 images of this comet available via a webpage maintained by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    It attracted so many people not only because of its rarity and beauty, but also because it enabled people to jump – in their minds – back in time. Some 4,200 years ago, when Hale-Bopp last passed the Earth and sun, the Egyptian pyramids were newly being polished by sand, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, considered the first great work of Western literature, was not yet written.

    2
    Comet Hale-Bopp above the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, in 1997, accompanied by the saturated moon and stars of Taurus with the Pleiades and Perseus. Image via John Goldsmith/ The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    Comet Hale-Bopp discovery

    Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered on July 23, 1995, by two independently observing amateur astronomers: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. At that time, the comet was a whopping 7.2 AU from the sun, which made it the most distant comet to ever be discovered by amateurs up until that time.

    What made that discovery possible was that Hale-Bopp was so bright. It was literally a thousand times brighter than Comet Halley had been at that same distance; Halley, one of the most famous comets, had visited the inner solar system a decade earlier. It was clear that Hale-Bopp was a very special comet, because comets typically don’t shine so brightly when they are beyond Jupiter’s orbit.

    There were a few reasons explaining the comet’s unusual brightness. The main one is the enormous size of its nucleus, or core. Most cometary nuclei are thought to be no more than about 10 miles (16 km) across. The nucleus of Hale-Bopp had a diameter estimated to be between 25 and 40 miles across (40-60 km).

    3
    Comet Hale-Bopp near Pazin, Croatia, during near perihelion. The Andromeda Galaxy is faintly visible to the lower right of the comet. Image via Philipp Salzgeber/ Wikimedia Commons.

    The orbit of Comet Hale-Bopp

    Giant Jupiter is thought to have affected this comet’s orbit. It’s been calculated that Hale-Bopp was last seen in Earth’s skies around 4,200 years ago. Now, though, the comet’s orbit is shorter. Astronomers think that – on what might’ve been its first voyage around the sun thousands of years ago – the comet almost collided with Jupiter. It passed very close to Jupiter again in April 1996, shortening its orbital period still more. The comet’s current orbital period is around 2,530 Earth years.

    No records have been found of the comet’s passage 4,200 years ago, but that does not mean that no records were made. It most likely means that none survived. Around 2213 B.C., when the comet last was visible, civilizations had been using the sky to track seasonal changes and other phenomena for a long time. They could not have missed Hale-Bopp.

    Thus, in a way, Hale-Bopp is like a clock that measures time in millennia. It reminds us of the progress humankind has made since its last visit. Imagine what the world will look like when Comet Hale-Bopp next crosses our skies, sometime around the year 4380.

    Where is the comet now?

    Comet Hale-Bopp is in the constellation Octans with an estimated magnitude of +25.6. The comet is over 4,266,045,046 miles (6,865,534,000 kilometers) distant from the sun. This is roughly the same distance from the sun as Pluto. Check the current location at theskylive.com.

    4
    A night under the stars and Comet Hale-Bopp. It remained visible to the unaided eye for 18 months. Photo via Jerry Lodriguss/http://www.astropix.com. Used with permission.

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:07 pm on March 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "International Sea Level Satellite Takes Over From Predecessor", , , ESA/NASA Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft, , NASA JPL - Caltech, Sea level measurements   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “International Sea Level Satellite Takes Over From Predecessor” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 22, 2022

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

    Andrew Wang
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-379-6874
    andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Meltwater from Greenland glaciers like the one pictured can contribute significantly to sea level rise. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich monitors the height of Earth’s oceans so that researchers can better understand the amount and rate of sea level rise. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory using Landsat data from USGS.

    Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the newest addition to a long line of ocean-monitoring satellites, becomes the reference satellite for sea level measurements.

    On March 22, the newest U.S.-European sea level satellite, named Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, became the official reference satellite for global sea level measurements. This means that sea surface height data collected by other satellites will be compared to the information produced by Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich to ensure their accuracy.

    Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in November 2020, the satellite is continuing a nearly 30-year legacy started by the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite, which began its mission to measure sea surface height in the early 1990s. A series of successor satellites have carried on the effort since then, with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich being the most recent. Its twin, Sentinel-6B, is slated to launch in 2025.

    “These missions, of which Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is the latest, are the gold standard when it comes to sea level measurements, which are critical for understanding and monitoring climate change,” said Josh Willis, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

    Long-term records of sea level height are key to monitoring how much, and how fast, the oceans are rising in a warming climate. “We can’t lose track of how much sea level has gone up because if we do, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in the decades to come,” Willis added.
    ===
    “The unprecedented accuracy of the sea level measurements provided by this mission ensures not only the continuity of a 30-year data record, but allows improving our understanding of climate change and the impact of rising seas on coastal areas and communities,” said Julia Figa Saldana, ocean altimetry program manager at the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

    After Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launched, it settled into orbit flying 30 seconds behind its predecessor, Jason-3.

    3
    Artist’s impression of the Jason-3 satellite. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Science and engineering teams have spent the time since launch making sure Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich was collecting the intended data and that the information was accurate. Some of the initial data was made available last year for use in tasks like weather forecasting. And after further validation, the scientists agreed that Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich should become the reference satellite for sea level measurements.

    Later this year, teams will move Jason-3 into what’s called an interleaved orbit. From that new position, the ground track – or the strip of Earth that Jason-3’s instruments see as the satellite travels around the planet – will run in between the ground tracks of successive orbits for Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich. Jason-3 will keep measuring sea level height from the interleaved orbit, although it will no longer serve as the official reference sea level satellite. But by continuing to collect sea level data, Jason-3 will essentially double the number of measurements seen by each pass of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, helping to greatly increase the spatial resolution of sea level measurements provided by both satellites.

    More About the Mission

    Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, named after former NASA Earth Science Division Director Michael Freilich, is one of two satellites that compose the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission.

    Sentinel-6/Jason-CS was jointly developed by ESA (European Space Agency), EUMETSAT, NASA, and NOAA, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support on performance from CNES (France’s National Centre for Space Studies). Spacecraft monitoring and control, as well as the processing of all the altimeter science data, is carried out by EUMETSAT on behalf of the EU’s Copernicus programme, with the support of all partner agencies.

    JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, contributed three science instruments for each Sentinel-6 satellite: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA also contributed launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the U.S. members of the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

    For more about Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6

    To access data from Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, visit:

    https://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/Sentinel-6?sections=data

    https://search.earthdata.nasa.gov/search?q=sentinel-6

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:01 am on March 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Star-sized debris cloud from distant collision spotted by NASA telescope", A 10-million-year-old tar called HD 166191, NASA JPL - Caltech, ,   

    From The University of Arizona and NASA JPL-Caltech: “Star-sized debris cloud from distant collision spotted by NASA telescope” 

    From The University of Arizona

    and

    NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 18, 2022

    Daniel Stolte
    Science Writer, University Communications
    stolte@arizona.edu
    520-626-4402

    Researcher contact(s)
    Kate Su
    Research Professor, Steward Observatory
    ksu@arizona.edu
    520-621-3445

    Everett Schlawin
    Assistant Research Professor, Steward Observatory
    eas342@arizona.edu
    520-621-3444

    George Rieke
    Steward Observatory
    grieke@as.arizona.edu
    520-621-2832

    Major smashups between rocky bodies shaped our solar system. Observations of a similar crash give clues about how frequently these events occur around other stars.

    1
    The collision of two large, asteroid-like bodies orbiting a star created a star-size dark cloud that blocks that star light detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    Most of the rocky bodies in our solar system, including Earth and the moon, were formed or shaped by massive collisions early in the solar system’s history. By smashing together, the bodies might accumulate more material, increasing in size and potentially forming planets. The bodies might also lose material, but in the process, satellites like the moon could form.

    Astronomers using NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope have found evidence of these types of collisions in the past around young stars where rocky planets are forming. But those observations provided few details about the smashups, such as the direct estimate of the size of the debris cloud generated in such a giant collision.

    In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, a group of astronomers led by Kate Su, a research professor in the University of Arizona Steward Observatory [below], report the first observations of a debris cloud from one of these collisions as it passed in front of its star and briefly blocked the starlight. Astronomers call this a transit.

    Coupled with knowledge about the size and brightness of the star, this allowed researchers to directly determine the size of the cloud shortly after impact, estimate the size of the objects that collided, and watch the speed with which the cloud dispersed.

    Beginning in 2015, Su’s team started making routine observations of a 10-million-year-old star called HD 166191. Around this time in a star’s life, dust leftover from its formation has clumped together to form rocky bodies called planetesimals. Asteroids are leftover planetesimals from the formation of our own solar system, and around other stars they are the seeds of future planets. Once the gas that previously filled the space between those objects has dispersed, catastrophic collisions between them become common.

    Anticipating they might see evidence of one of these collisions around HD 166191, the team conducted more than 100 observations of the system between 2015 and 2019 with Spitzer. While the objects would be too small and distant to resolve by telescope, their smashups produce large amounts of dust. Spitzer detected infrared light – wavelengths slightly longer than what human eyes can see; it’s an ideal range for detecting dust, including the debris created by protoplanet collisions.

    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
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the[JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

    As of 2019, the The University of Arizona enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association . The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

    Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

    After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by they time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

    With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.

    Research

    The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally.

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

    The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    U Arizona NASA Mars Reconnaisance HiRISE Camera.

    NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

    3
    NASA – GRAIL Flying in Formation (Artist’s Concept). Credit: NASA.
    National Aeronautics Space Agency Juno at Jupiter.

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    NASA/Mars MAVEN

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration Wise/NEOWISE Telescope.

    The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

    The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy , a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory just outside Tucson.

    National Science Foundation NOIRLab National Optical Astronomy Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

    Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope (CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

    GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s NOIRLab NOAO Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

    The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

    Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory , a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

    University of Arizona Radio Observatory at NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory, AZ USA, U Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    U Arizona Steward Observatory at NSF’s NOIRLab NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona in the Quinlan Mountains of the Tohono O’odham Nation, altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

    In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

    U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

    University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why The University of Arizona is a university unlike any other.

    University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:54 pm on March 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , A system called SMC X-1 which consists of a neutron star orbiting a living star in one of two small galaxies orbiting the Milky Way., , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech and NASA NuSTAR X-ray Telescope via Manu Garcia-a friend from IAC-Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries[Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias](ES) : “NASA’s NuSTAR Makes Illuminating Discoveries With ‘Nuisance’ Light” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    and

    NASA NuSTAR

    NASA NuSTAR X-ray Telescope

    via


    From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC-Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias](ES).

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    March 1, 2022
    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    626-808-2469
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA’s NuSTAR Makes Illuminating Discoveries With ‘Nuisance’ Light.

    A design quirk in the X-ray observatory has made it possible for astronomers to use previously unwanted light to study even more cosmic objects than before.

    For almost 10 years, NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) X-ray space observatory has been studying some of the highest-energy objects in the universe, such as colliding dead stars and enormous black holes feasting on hot gas. During that time, scientists have had to deal with stray light leaking in through the sides of the observatory, which can interfere with observations much like external noise can drown out a phone call.

    But now team members have figured out how to use that stray X-ray light to learn about objects in NuSTAR’s peripheral vision while also performing normal targeted observations. This development has the potential to multiply the insights that NuSTAR provides. A new science paper in The Astrophysical Journal describes the first use of NuSTAR’s stray light observations to learn about a cosmic object – in this case, a neutron star.

    Nuggets of material left over after a star collapses, neutron stars are some of the densest objects in the universe, second only to black holes. Their powerful magnetic fields trap gas particles and funnel them toward the neutron star’s surface. As the particles are accelerated and energized, they release high-energy X-rays that NuSTAR can detect.

    The new study describes a system called SMC X-1 which consists of a neutron star orbiting a living star in one of two small galaxies orbiting the Milky Way (Earth’s home galaxy). The brightness of SMC X-1’s X-ray output appears to vary wildly when viewed by telescopes, but decades of direct observations by NuSTAR and other telescopes have revealed a pattern to the fluctuations. Scientists have pinpointed several reasons why SMC X-1 changes in brightness when studied by X-ray telescopes. For example, the X-rays’ brightness dims as the neutron star dips behind the living star with each orbit. According to the paper, the stray light data was sensitive enough to pick up on some of those well-documented changes.

    “I think this paper shows that this stray light approach is reliable, because we observed brightness fluctuations in the neutron star in SMC X-1 that we have already confirmed through direct observations,” said McKinley Brumback, an astrophysicist at The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and lead author of the new study. “Going forward, it would be great if we could use the stray light data to look at objects when we don’t already know if they’re regularly changing in brightness and potentially use this approach to detect changes.”

    Form and Function

    The new approach is possible because of NuSTAR’s shape, which is similar to dumbbell or dog bone: It has two bulky components at either end of a narrow, 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) structure called a deployable mast, or boom. Typically, researchers point one of the bulky ends – which contains the optics, or the hardware that collects X-rays – at the object they want to study. The light travels along the boom to the detectors, located at the other end of the spacecraft. The distance between the two is necessary to focus the light.

    But stray light also reaches the detectors by entering through the sides of the boom, bypassing the optics. It appears in NuSTAR’s field of view along with light from whatever object the telescope directly observes, and is often fairly easy to identify by eye: It forms a circle of faint light emerging from the sides of the image. (Unsurprisingly, stray light is a problem for many other space- and ground-based telescopes.)

    A group of NuSTAR team members has spent the last few years separating the stray light from various NuSTAR observations. After identifying bright, known X-ray sources in the periphery of each observation, they used computer models to predict how much stray light should appear based on which bright object was nearby. They also looked at almost every NuSTAR observation to confirm the telltale sign of stray light. The team created a catalog of about 80 objects for which NuSTAR had collected stray light observations, naming the collection “StrayCats.”

    “Imagine sitting in a quiet movie theater, watching a drama, and hearing the explosions in the action movie playing next door,” said Brian Grefenstette, senior research scientist at Caltech and the NuSTAR team member leading the StrayCats work. “In the past, that’s what the stray light was like – a distraction from what we were trying to focus on. Now we have the tools to turn that extra noise into useful data, opening an entire new way of using NuSTAR to study the universe.”

    Of course, the stray light data can’t replace direct observations by NuSTAR. Aside from stray light being unfocused, many objects that NuSTAR can observe directly are too faint to appear in the stray light catalog. But Grefenstette said multiple Caltech students have combed through the data and found instances of rapid brightening from peripheral objects, which might be any number of dramatic events, such as thermonuclear explosions on the surfaces of neutron stars. Observing the frequency and intensity of a neutron star’s changes in brightness can help scientists decipher what’s happening to those objects.

    “If you’re trying to look for a pattern in the long-term behavior or brightness of an X-ray source, the stray light observations could be a great way to check in more often and establish a baseline,” said Renee Ludlam, a NASA Hubble Fellowship Program Einstein fellow at Caltech and member of the StrayCats team. “They could also let us catch odd behaviors in these objects when we don’t expect them or when we wouldn’t normally be able to point NuSTAR directly at them. The stray light observations don’t replace direct observations, but more data is always good.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s NuSTAR X-ray Telescope is a Small Explorer mission led by California Institute of Technology and managed by NASA’s JPL-Caltech for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NuSTAR launched on June 13, 2012. NuSTAR was developed in partnership with the Technical University of Denmark[Danmarks Tekniske Universitet](DK) and the ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT). The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia (now part of Northrop Grumman). NuSTAR’s mission operations center is at 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 archive.

    For more information on NuSTAR, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/nustar

    and

    http://www.nustar.caltech.edu

    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus

    NASA JPL-Caltech
    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 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.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 pm on March 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Cosmic Milestone: NASA Confirms 5000 Exoplanets", , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Cosmic Milestone: NASA Confirms 5000 Exoplanets” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 21, 2022

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

    Written by Pat Brennan

    1
    What do planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, look like? A variety of possibilities are shown in this illustration. Scientists discovered the first exoplanets in the 1990s. As of 2022, the tally stands at just over 5,000 confirmed exoplanets.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    The count of confirmed exoplanets just ticked past the 5,000 mark, representing a 30-year journey of discovery led by NASA space telescopes.

    Not so long ago, we lived in a universe with only a small number of known planets, all of them orbiting our Sun. But a new raft of discoveries marks a scientific high point: More than 5,000 planets are now confirmed to exist beyond our solar system.

    The planetary odometer turned on March 21, with the latest batch of 65 exoplanets – planets outside our immediate solar family – added to the NASA Exoplanet Archive. The archive records exoplanet discoveries that appear in peer-reviewed, scientific papers, and that have been confirmed using multiple detection methods or by analytical techniques.

    The 5,000-plus planets found so far include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and “hot Jupiters” in scorchingly close orbits around their stars. There are “super-Earths,” which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and “mini-Neptunes,” smaller versions of our system’s Neptune. Add to the mix planets orbiting two stars at once and planets stubbornly orbiting the collapsed remnants of dead stars.


    Astronomers have now confirmed more than 5,000 exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system. That’s just a fraction of the likely hundreds of billions in our galaxy. The cones of exoplanet discovery radiate out from planet Earth, like spokes on a wheel. Many more discoveries await. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    “It’s not just a number,” said Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena. “Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet. I get excited about every one because we don’t know anything about them.”

    We do know this: Our galaxy likely holds hundreds of billions of such planets. The steady drumbeat of discovery began in 1992 with strange new worlds orbiting an even stranger star. It was a type of neutron star known as a pulsar, a rapidly spinning stellar corpse that pulses with millisecond bursts of searing radiation. Measuring slight changes in the timing of the pulses allowed scientists to reveal planets in orbit around the pulsar.

    Finding just three planets around this spinning star essentially opened the floodgates, said Alexander Wolszczan, the lead author on the paper that, 30 years ago, unveiled the first planets to be confirmed outside our solar system.

    “If you can find planets around a neutron star, planets have to be basically everywhere,” Wolszczan said. “The planet production process has to be very robust.”

    Wolszczan, who still searches for exoplanets as a professor at Penn State, says we’re opening an era of discovery that will go beyond simply adding new planets to the list. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in 2018, continues to make new exoplanet discoveries.

    But soon powerful next-generation telescopes and their highly sensitive instruments, starting with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope, will capture light from the atmospheres of exoplanets, reading which gases are present to potentially identify tell-tale signs of habitable conditions.

    The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2027, will make new exoplanet discoveries using a variety of methods. The ESA (European Space Agency) mission ARIEL, launching in 2029, will observe exoplanet atmospheres; a piece of NASA technology aboard, called CASE, will help zero in on exoplanet clouds and hazes.

    “To my thinking, it is inevitable that we’ll find some kind of life somewhere – most likely of some primitive kind,” Wolszczan said. The close connection between the chemistry of life on Earth and chemistry found throughout the universe, as well as the detection of widespread organic molecules, suggests detection of life itself is only a matter of time, he added.


    In this animation, exoplanets are represented by musical notes played across decades of discovery. Circles show location and size of orbit, while their color indicates the detection method. Lower notes mean longer orbits, higher notes shorter orbits.
    Credit: M. Russo and A. Santaguida/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SYSTEM Sounds.

    How to Find Other Worlds

    The picture didn’t always look so bright. The first planet detected around a Sun-like star, in 1995, turned out to be a hot Jupiter: a gas giant about half the mass of our own Jupiter in an extremely close, four-day orbit around its star. A year on this planet, in other words, lasts only four days.

    More such planets appeared in the data from ground-based telescopes once astronomers learned to recognize them – first dozens, then hundreds. They were found using the “wobble” method: tracking slight back-and-forth motions of a star, caused by gravitational tugs from orbiting planets. But still, nothing looked likely to be habitable.

    Finding small, rocky worlds more like our own required the next big leap in exoplanet-hunting technology: the “transit” method. Astronomer William Borucki came up with the idea of attaching extremely sensitive light detectors to a telescope, then launching it into space. The telescope would stare for years at a field of more than 170,000 stars, searching for tiny dips in starlight when a planet crossed a star’s face.

    That idea was realized in the Kepler Space Telescope.

    Borucki, principal investigator of the now-retired Kepler mission, says its launch in 2009 opened a new window on the universe.

    “I get a real feeling of satisfaction, and really of awe at what’s out there,” he said. “None of us expected this enormous variety of planetary systems and stars. It’s just amazing.”

    1
    The more than 5,000 exoplanets confirmed in our galaxy so far include a variety of types – some that are similar to planets in our solar system, others vastly different. Among these are a mysterious variety known as “super-Earths” because they are larger than our world and possibly rocky. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/

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    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus

    NASA JPL-Caltech
    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 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.

     
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