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

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

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    and

    NASA image
    NASA

    July 23, 2019

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

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

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

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

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

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



    NASA JPL-Caltech Campus



    NASA Goddard Campus



    5
    Airbus Defence and Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information about Euclid go to:

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

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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  • richardmitnick 7:59 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "For Climbing Robots, A tiny climbing robot rolls up a wall gripping with fishhooks - technology adapted from LEMUR's gripping feet., Ice Worm moves by scrunching and extending its joints like an inchworm., NASA JPL - Caltech, RoboSimian can walk on four legs crawl move like an inchworm and slide on its belly., , The climbing robot LEMUR, the Sky's the Limit"   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “For Climbing Robots, the Sky’s the Limit” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    July 10, 2019

    Arielle Samuelson
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307
    arielle.a.samuelson@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    The climbing robot LEMUR rests after scaling a cliff in Death Valley, California. The robot uses special gripping technology that has helped lead to a series of new, off-roading robots that can explore other worlds.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    A tiny climbing robot rolls up a wall, gripping with fishhooks – technology adapted from LEMUR’s gripping feet.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    3
    RoboSimian can walk on four legs, crawl, move like an inchworm and slide on its belly. In this photo it stands on the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley, California, for field testing with engineer Brendan Chamberlain-Simon.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    4
    For Climbing Robots, the Sky’s the Limit
    Ice Worm climbs an icy wall like an inchworm, an adaptation of LEMUR’s design.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Robots can drive on the plains and craters of Mars, but what if we could explore cliffs, polar caps and other hard-to-reach places on the Red Planet and beyond? Designed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles. In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff while scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area.

    LEMUR was originally conceived as a repair robot for the International Space Station. Although the project has since concluded, it helped lead to a new generation of walking, climbing and crawling robots. In future missions to Mars or icy moons, robots with AI and climbing technology derived from LEMUR could aid in the search for similar signs of life. Those robots are being developed now, honing technology that may one day be part of future missions to distant worlds.

    A Mechanical Worm for Icy Worlds

    How does a robot navigate a slippery, icy surface? For Ice Worm, the answer is one inch at a time. Adapted from a single limb of LEMUR, Ice Worm moves by scrunching and extending its joints like an inchworm. The robot climbs ice walls by drilling one end at a time into the hard surface. It can use the same technique to stabilize itself while taking scientific samples, even on a precipice. The robot also has LEMUR’s AI, enabling it to navigate by learning from past mistakes. To hone its technical skills, JPL project lead Aaron Parness tests Ice Worm on glaciers in Antarctica and ice caves on Mount St. Helens so that it can one day contribute to science on Earth and more distant worlds: Ice Worm is part of a generation of projects being developed to explore the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter, which may have oceans under their frozen crusts.


    Robots can land on the Moon and drive on Mars, but what about the places they can’t reach? Designed by engineers as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence to find its way around obstacles. In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff, scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area.

    A Robotic Ape on the Tundra

    Ice Worm isn’t the only approach being developed for icy worlds like Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where geysers at the south pole blast liquid into space. A rover in this unpredictable world would need to be able to move on ice and silty, crumbling ground. RoboSimian is being developed to meet that challenge.

    Originally built as a disaster-relief robot for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), it has been modified to move in icy environments. Nicknamed “King Louie” after the character in “The Jungle Book,” RoboSimian can walk on four legs, crawl, move like an inchworm and slide on its belly like a penguin. It has the same four limbs as LEMUR, but JPL engineers replaced its gripping feet with springy wheels made from music wire (the kind of wire found in a piano). Flexible wheels help King Louie roll over uneven ground, which would be essential in a place like Enceladus.

    Tiny Climbers

    Micro-climbers are wheeled vehicles small enough to fit in a coat pocket but strong enough to scale walls and survive falls up to 9 feet (3 meters). Developed by JPL for the military, some micro-climbers use LEMUR’s fishhook grippers to cling to rough surfaces, like boulders and cave walls. Others can scale smooth surfaces, using technology inspired by a gecko’s sticky feet. The gecko adhesive, like the lizard it’s named for, relies on microscopic angled hairs that generate van der Waals forces – atomic forces that cause “stickiness” if both objects are in close proximity.

    Enhancing this gecko-like stickiness, the robots’ hybrid wheels also use an electrical charge to cling to walls (the same phenomenon makes your hair stick to a balloon after you rub it on your head). JPL engineers created the gecko adhesive for the first generation of LEMUR, using van der Waals forces to help it cling to metal walls, even in zero gravity. Micro-climbers with this adhesive or gripping technology could repair future spacecraft or explore hard-to-reach spots on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

    Ocean to Asteroid Grippers

    Just as astronauts train underwater for spacewalks, technology built for ocean exploration can be a good prototype for missions to places with nearly zero gravity. The Underwater Gripper is one of the gripping hands from LEMUR, with the same 16 fingers and 250 fishhooks for grasping irregular surfaces. It could one day be sent for operations on an asteroid or other small body in the solar system. For now, it’s attached to the underwater research vessel Nautilus operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust off the coast of Hawaii, where it helps take deep ocean samples from more than a mile below the surface.

    A Cliff-Climbing Mini-Helicopter

    The small, solar-powered helicopter accompanying NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will fly in short bursts as a technology demonstration, paving the way for future flying missions at the Red Planet. But JPL engineer Arash Kalantari isn’t content to simply fly; he’s developing a concept for a gripper that could allow a flying robot to cling to Martian cliffsides. The perching mechanism is adapted from LEMUR’s design: It has clawed feet with embedded fishhooks that grip rock much like a bird clings to a branch. While there, the robot would recharge its batteries via solar panels, giving it the freedom to roam and search for evidence of life.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 12:03 pm on July 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Method Can Spot Failing Infrastructure from Space", NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL-Caltech: “New Method Can Spot Failing Infrastructure from Space” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    July 9, 2019
    Esprit Smith
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-4269
    esprit.smith@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    A satellite view of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, prior to its August 2018 collapse. The numbers identify key bridge components. Numbers 4 through 8 correspond to the bridge’s V-shaped piers (from West to East). Numbers 9 through 11 correspond to three independent balance systems on the bridge. In the annotated version, the black arrows identify areas of change based on data from the Cosmo-SkyMed satellite constellation. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Google

    We rely on bridges to connect us to other places, and we trust that they’re safe. While many governments invest heavily in inspection and maintenance programs, the number of bridges that are coming to the end of their design lives or that have significant structural damage can outpace the resources available to repair them. But infrastructure managers may soon have a new way to identify the structures most at risk of failure.

    Scientists, led by Pietro Milillo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have developed a new technique for analyzing satellite data that can reveal subtle structural changes that may indicate a bridge is deteriorating – changes so subtle that they are not visible to the naked eye.

    In August 2018, the Morandi Bridge, near Genoa, Italy, collapsed, killing dozens of people. A team of scientists from NASA, the University of Bath in England and the Italian Space Agency used synthetic aperture radar (SAR) measurements from several different satellites and reference points to map relative displacement – or structural changes to the bridge – from 2003 to the time of its collapse. Using a new process, they were able to detect millimeter-size changes to the bridge over time that would not have been detected by the standard processing approaches applied to spaceborne synthetic aperture radar observations.

    They found that the deck next to the bridge’s collapsed pier showed subtle signs of change as early as 2015; they also noted that several parts of the bridge showed a more significant increase in structural changes between March 2017 and August 2018 – a hidden indication that at least part of the bridge may have become structurally unsound.

    “This is about developing a new technique that can assist in the characterization of the health of bridges and other infrastructure,” Millilo said. “We couldn’t have forecasted this particular collapse because standard assessment techniques available at the time couldn’t detect what we can see now. But going forward, this technique, combined with techniques already in use, has the potential to do a lot of good.”

    The technique is limited to areas that have consistent synthetic aperture radar-equipped satellite coverage. In early 2022, NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plan to launch the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), which will greatly expand that coverage. Designed to enable scientists to observe and measure global environmental changes and hazards, NISAR will collect imagery that will enable engineers and scientists to investigate the stability of structures like bridges nearly anywhere in the world about every week.

    “We can’t solve the entire problem of structural safety, but we can add a new tool to the standard procedures to better support maintenance considerations,” said Milillo.

    The majority of the SAR data for this study was acquired by the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-Skymed constellation and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Sentinel-1a and -1b satellites. The research team also used historical data sets from ESA’s Envisat satellite. The study was recently published in the journal Remote Sensing.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:17 am on July 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: California earthquake maps, JAXA ALOS-2 satellite aka DAICHI-2, NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA Maps Surface Changes From California Quakes” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    July 9, 2019

    Esprit Smith
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818.354.4269
    esprit.smith@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    NASA’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team created this co-seismic Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) map, which shows surface displacement caused by the recent major earthquakes in Southern California, including the magnitude 6.4 and the magnitude 7.1 events on July 4 and July 5, 2019, respectively. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Damage from two strong earthquakes that rattled Southern California on July 4 and July 5 – a magnitude 6.4 and a magnitude 7.1, respectively – can be seen from space. The epicenter of the quakes was near the city of Ridgecrest, about 150 miles (241 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 7.1 quake was one of the largest to hit the region in some 40 years.

    The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the ALOS-2 satellite to produce a map showing surface displacement from the earthquakes. The post-quake imagery was acquired on July 8, 2019, and compared with April 8, 2018, data from the same region.

    JAXA ALOS-2 satellite aka DAICHI-2

    Each color cycle represents 4.8 inches (12 centimeters) of ground displacement either toward or away from the satellite. The linear features that cut the color fringes in the southeast indicate likely locations of surface rupture caused by the earthquakes, and the “noisy” areas in the northwest may indicate locations where the ground surface was disturbed by them.

    The USGS reported over 1,000 aftershocks in the region following the July 5 earthquake. State and federal scientists, including those from the California Geological Survey and USGS, are using this surface deformation map in the field for assessing the damages and mapping the faults that broke during the two major earthquakes as well as the thousands of aftershocks.

    In the aftermath of the earthquakes, NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program is in communication with the California Earthquake Clearinghouse, which is coordinating response efforts with the California Air National Guard, the USGS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. NASA analysts are using data from satellites to produce visualizations of land deformation and potential landslides, among other earthquake impacts, and are making them available to response agencies. NASA’s Disasters Program promotes the use of satellite observations in predicting, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters around the world.

    The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) provided the ALOS-2 data for the production of the map. The ARIA team’s analysis was funded by NASA’s Disasters Program.

    For more information about ARIA, visit:

    http://aria.jpl.nasa.gov

    For more information about NASA’s Disasters Program, visit:

    http://disasters.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

    Caltech Logo

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on July 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A New Plan for Keeping NASA's Oldest Explorers Going", , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech, NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft   

    From NASA JP-Caltech: “A New Plan for Keeping NASA’s Oldest Explorers Going” 

    From NASA JP-Caltech

    July 8, 2019

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

    1
    This artist’s concept depicts one of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Both Voyagers launched with operating CRS instruments. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    With careful planning and dashes of creativity, engineers have been able to keep NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flying for nearly 42 years – longer than any other spacecraft in history.

    NASA/Voyager 1

    NASA/Voyager 2

    To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.

    One key issue is that both Voyagers, launched in 1977, have less and less power available over time to run their science instruments and the heaters that keep them warm in the coldness of deep space. Engineers have had to decide what parts get power and what parts have to be turned off on both spacecraft. But those decisions must be made sooner for Voyager 2 than Voyager 1 because Voyager 2 has one more science instrument collecting data – and drawing power – than its sibling.

    After extensive discussions with the science team, mission managers recently turned off a heater for the cosmic ray subsystem instrument (CRS) on Voyager 2 as part of the new power management plan. The cosmic ray instrument played a crucial role last November in determining that Voyager 2 had exited the heliosphere, the protective bubble created by a constant outflow (or wind) of ionized particles from the Sun.

    3
    This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Voyager 1 exited the heliosphere in August 2012. Voyager 2 exited at a different location in November 2018. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Ever since, the two Voyagers have been sending back details of how our heliosphere interacts with the wind flowing in interstellar space, the space between stars.

    › Unannotated version

    With careful planning and dashes of creativity, engineers have been able to keep NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flying for nearly 42 years – longer than any other spacecraft in history. To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.

    One key issue is that both Voyagers, launched in 1977, have less and less power available over time to run their science instruments and the heaters that keep them warm in the coldness of deep space. Engineers have had to decide what parts get power and what parts have to be turned off on both spacecraft. But those decisions must be made sooner for Voyager 2 than Voyager 1 because Voyager 2 has one more science instrument collecting data – and drawing power – than its sibling.

    After extensive discussions with the science team, mission managers recently turned off a heater for the cosmic ray subsystem instrument (CRS) on Voyager 2 as part of the new power management plan. The cosmic ray instrument played a crucial role last November in determining that Voyager 2 had exited the heliosphere, the protective bubble created by a constant outflow (or wind) of ionized particles from the Sun. Ever since, the two Voyagers have been sending back details of how our heliosphere interacts with the wind flowing in interstellar space, the space between stars.

    Not only are Voyager mission findings providing humanity with observations of truly uncharted territory, but they help us understand the very nature of energy and radiation in space – key information for protecting NASA’s missions and astronauts even when closer to home.

    Mission team members can now preliminarily confirm that Voyager 2’s cosmic ray instrument is still returning data, despite dropping to a chilly minus 74 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 59 degrees Celsius). This is lower than the temperatures at which CRS was tested more than 42 years ago (down to minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 45 degrees Celsius). Another Voyager instrument also continued to function for years after it dropped below temperatures at which it was tested.

    “It’s incredible that Voyagers’ instruments have proved so hardy,” said Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd, who is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We’re proud they’ve withstood the test of time. The long lifetimes of the spacecraft mean we’re dealing with scenarios we never thought we’d encounter. We will continue to explore every option we have in order to keep the Voyagers doing the best science possible.”

    Voyager 2 continues to return data from five instruments as it travels through interstellar space. In addition to the cosmic ray instrument, which detects fast-moving particles that can originate from the Sun or from sources outside our solar system, the spacecraft is operating two instruments dedicated to studying plasma (a gas in which atoms have been ionized and electrons float freely) and a magnetometer (which measures magnetic fields) for understanding the sparse clouds of material in interstellar space.

    Taking data from a range of directions, the low-energy charged particle instrument is particularly useful for studying the probe’s transition away from our heliosphere. Because CRS can look only in certain fixed directions, the Voyager science team decided to turn off CRS’s heater first.

    Voyager 1, which crossed into interstellar space in August 2012, continues to collect data from its cosmic ray instrument as well, plus from one plasma instrument, the magnetometer and the low-energy charged particle instrument.

    Why Turn Off Heaters?

    Launched separately in 1977, the two Voyagers are now over 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the Sun and far from its warmth. Engineers have to carefully control temperature on both spacecraft to keep them operating. For instance, if fuel lines powering the thrusters that keep the spacecraft oriented were to freeze, the Voyagers’ antennae could stop pointing at Earth. That would prevent engineers from sending commands to the spacecraft or receiving scientific data. So the spacecraft were designed to heat themselves.

    But running heaters – and instruments – requires power, which is constantly diminishing on both Voyagers.

    Each of the probes is powered by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, which produce heat via the natural decay of plutonium-238 radioisotopes and convert that heat into electrical power. Because the heat energy of the plutonium in the RTGs declines and their internal efficiency decreases over time, each spacecraft is producing about 4 fewer watts of electrical power each year. That means the generators produce about 40% less than what they did at launch nearly 42 years ago, limiting the number of systems that can run on the spacecraft.

    The mission’s new power management plan explores multiple options for dealing with the diminishing power supply on both spacecraft, including shutting off additional instrument heaters over the next few years.

    Revving Up Old Jet Packs

    Another challenge that engineers have faced is managing the degradation of some of the spacecraft thrusters, which fire in tiny pulses, or puffs, to subtly rotate the spacecraft. This became an issue in 2017, when mission controllers noticed that a set of thrusters on Voyager 1 needed to give off more puffs to keep the spacecraft’s antenna pointed at Earth. To make sure the spacecraft could continue to maintain proper orientation, the team fired up another set of thrusters on Voyager 1 that hadn’t been used in 37 years.

    Voyager 2’s current thrusters have started to degrade, too. Mission managers have decided to make the same thruster switch on that probe this month. Voyager 2 last used these thrusters (known as trajectory correction maneuver thrusters) during its encounter with Neptune in 1989.

    Many Miles to Go Before They Sleep

    The engineers’ plan to manage power and aging parts should ensure that Voyager 1 and 2 can continue to collect data from interstellar space for several years to come. Data from the Voyagers continue to provide scientists with never-before-seen observations of our boundary with interstellar space, complementing NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a mission that is remotely sensing that boundary. NASA is also preparing the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), due to launch in 2024,to capitalize on the Voyagers’ observations.

    “Both Voyager probes are exploring regions never before visited, so every day is a day of discovery,” said Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone, who is based at Caltech. “Voyager is going to keep surprising us with new insights about deep space.”

    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/voyager

    https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on June 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Whirlpool 'Warhol' from NASA's Spitzer Telescope", , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “A Whirlpool ‘Warhol’ from NASA’s Spitzer Telescope” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 26, 2019

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

    1
    This multipanel image show how different wavelengths of light can reveal different features of a cosmic object. On the left is a visible light image of the Whirlpool galaxy. The next image combines visible and infrared light, while the two on the right show different wavelengths of infrared light. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Unlike Andy Warhol’s famous silkscreen grids of repeating images rendered in different colors, the varying hues of this galaxy represent how its appearance changes in different wavelengths of light – from visible light to the infrared light seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

    The Whirlpool galaxy, also known as Messier 51 and NGC 5194/5195, is actually a pair of galaxies that are tugging and distorting each other through their mutual gravitational attraction. Located approximately 23 million light-years away, it resides in the constellation Canes Venatici.

    The leftmost panel (a) shows the Whirlpool in visible light, much as our eye might see it through a powerful telescope. In fact, this image comes from the Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1-meter (6.8-foot) telescope. The spiraling arms are laced with dark threads of dust that radiate little visible light and obscure stars positioned within or behind them.

    Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1-meter telescope interior

    Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1 Meter Telescope Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    The second panel from the left (b) includes two visible-light wavelengths (in blue and green) from Kitt Peak but adds Spitzer’s infrared data in red. This emphasizes how the dark dust veins that block our view in visible light begin to light up at these longer, infrared wavelengths.

    Spitzer’s full infrared view can be seen in the right two panels, which cover slightly different ranges of infrared light.

    In the middle-right panel (c), we see three wavelengths of infrared light: 3.6 microns (shown in blue), 4.5 microns (green) and 8 microns (red). The blended light from the billions of stars in the Whirlpool is brightest at the shorter infrared wavelengths and is seen here as a blue haze. The individual blue dots across the image are mostly nearby stars and a few distant galaxies. Red features show us dust composed mostly of carbon that is lit up by the stars in the galaxy.

    This glowing dust helps astronomers see where the densest areas of gas pile up in the spaces between the stars. Dense gas clouds are difficult to see in visible or infrared light, but they will always be present where there is dust.

    The far-right panel (d) expands our infrared view to include light at a wavelength of 24 microns (in red), which is particularly good for highlighting areas where the dust is especially hot. The bright reddish-white spots trace regions where new stars are forming and, in the process, heating their surroundings.

    The infrared views of the Whirlpool galaxy also show how dramatically different its two component parts are: The smaller companion galaxy at the top of the image has been stripped nearly clean of dust features that stand out so brilliantly in the lower spiral galaxy. The faint bluish haze seen around the upper galaxy is likely the blended light from stars thrown out of the galaxies as these two objects pull at each other during their close approach.

    The Kitt Peak visible-light image (a) shows light at 0.4 and 0.7 microns (blue and red). The rightmost two images (c and d) are from Spitzer with red, green and blue corresponding to wavelengths of 3.6, 4.5 and 8.0 microns (middle right) and 3.6, 8.0 and 24 microns (far right). The middle-left (b) image blends visible wavelengths (blue/green) and infrared (yellow/red). All of the data shown here were released as part of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS) project, captured during Spitzer’s cryogenic and warm missions.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    For more information on Spitzer, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 12:40 pm on June 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Technology Missions Launch on SpaceX Falcon Heavy", , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA Technology Missions Launch on SpaceX Falcon Heavy” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 25, 2019

    Arielle Samuelson
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307
    arielle.a.samuelson@jpl.nasa.gov

    Clare Skelly
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-4273
    clare.a.skelly@nasa.gov

    Karen Fox
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
    301-286-6284
    karen.c.fox@nasa.gov

    1
    A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for launch on the pad at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 24, 2019. SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch two dozen satellites to space, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program-2, managed by the U.S. Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

    NASA technology demonstrations, which one day could help the agency get astronauts to Mars, and science missions, which will look at the space environment around Earth and how it affects us, have launched into space on a Falcon Heavy rocket.

    The NASA missions – including the Deep Space Atomic Clock and two instruments from NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – lifted off at 11:30 p.m. PDT (2:30 a.m. EDT) Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) launch.

    “This launch was a true partnership across government and industry, and it marked an incredible first for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “The NASA missions aboard the Falcon Heavy also benefited from strong collaborations with industry, academia and other government organizations.”

    The missions, each with a unique set of objectives, will aid in smarter spacecraft design and benefit the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration plans by providing greater insight into the effects of radiation in space and testing an atomic clock that could change how spacecraft navigate.

    With launch and deployments complete, the missions will start to power on, communicate with Earth and collect data. They each will operate for about a year, providing enough time to mature the technologies and collect valuable science data. Below is more information about each mission, including notional timelines for key milestones.

    Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment

    Two NASA CubeSats making up the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) deployed at 12:08 and 12:13 a.m. PDT (3:08 and 3:13 a.m. EDT). Working in tandem with NOAA’s COSMIC-2 mission – six satellites that each carry a radio occultation (GPS) receiver developed at JPL – E-TBEx will explore bubbles in the electrically-charged layers of Earth’s upper atmosphere, which can disrupt communications and GPS signals that we rely on every day. The CubeSats will send signals in several frequencies down to receiving stations on Earth. Scientists will measure any disruptions in these signals to determine how they’re being affected by the upper atmosphere.

    One to three weeks after launch: E-TBEx operators “check out” the CubeSats to make sure power, navigation/guidance and data systems are working in space as expected.
    Approximately three weeks after launch: Science beacons that send signals to antennas on Earth power up and begin transmitting to ground stations.
    About one year after launch: The E-TBEx mission ends.

    Deep Space Atomic Clock

    NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock is a toaster oven-size instrument traveling aboard a commercial satellite that was released into low-Earth orbit at 12: 54 a.m. PDT (3:54 a.m. EDT). The unique atomic clock will test a new way for spacecraft to navigate in deep space. The technology could make GPS-like navigation possible at the Moon and Mars.

    NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock

    Two to four weeks after launch: The ultra-stable oscillator, part of the Deep Space Atomic Clock that keeps precise time, powers on to warm up in space.
    Four to seven weeks after launch: The full Deep Space Atomic Clock powers on.
    Three to four months after launch: Preliminary clock performance results are expected.
    One year after full power on: The Deep Space Atomic Clock mission ends, final data analysis begins.

    Green Propellant Infusion Mission

    The Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) deployed at 12:57 a.m. PDT (3:57 a.m. EDT) and immediately began to power on. GPIM will test a new propulsion system that runs on a high-performance and non-toxic spacecraft fuel. This technology could help propel constellations of small satellites in and beyond low-Earth orbit.

    Within a day of launch: Mission operators check out the small spacecraft.
    One to three weeks after launch: Mission operators ensure the propulsion system heaters and thrusters are operating as expected.
    During the first three months after launch: To demonstrate the performance of the spacecraft’s thrusters, GPIM performs three lowering burns that place it in an elliptical orbit; each time GPIM gets closer to Earth at one particular point in its orbit.
    Throughout the mission: Secondary instruments aboard GPIM measure space weather and test a system that continuously reports the spacecraft’s position and velocity.
    About 12 months after launch: Mission operators command a final thruster burn to deplete the fuel tank, a technical requirement for the end of mission.
    About 13 months after launch: The GPIM mission ends.

    Space Environment Testbeds

    The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) was the last spacecraft to be released from STP-2 at 3:04 a.m. PDT (6:04 a.m. EDT) Onboard is an instrument designed by JPL to measure spacecraft vibrations, and four NASA experiments that make up the Space Environment Testbeds (SET). SET will study how to better protect satellites from space radiation by analyzing the harsh environment of space near Earth and testing various strategies to mitigate the impacts. This information can be used to improve spacecraft design, engineering and operations in order to protect spacecraft from harmful radiation driven by the Sun.

    Three weeks after launch: SET turns on for check out and testing of all four experiments.
    Eight weeks after launch: Anticipated start of science data collection.
    About 12 months after check-out: The SET mission ends.

    n all, STP-2 delivered about two dozen satellites into three separate orbits around Earth. Kennedy Space Center engineers mentored Florida high school students who developed and built a CubeSat that also launched on STP-2.

    “It was gratifying to see 24 satellites launch as one,” said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “The space weather instruments and science CubeSats will teach us how to better protect our valuable hardware and astronauts in space, insights useful for the upcoming Artemis program and more.”

    GPIM and the Deep Space Atomic Clock are both part of the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Space Communications and Navigation program within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate also provided funding for the atomic clock. SET and E-TBEx were both funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

    Learn more about NASA technology:

    https://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    Find out how NASA is sending astronaut back to the Moon and on to Mars at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on June 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Curiosity Detects Unusually High Methane Levels on Mars, NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Curiosity Detects Unusually High Methane Levels” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 23, 2019
    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

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

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover

    2
    This image was taken by the left Navcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. It shows part of “Teal Ridge,” which the rover has been studying within a region called the “clay-bearing unit.” Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    This week, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover found a surprising result: the largest amount of methane ever measured during the mission — about 21 parts per billion units by volume (ppbv). One ppbv means that if you take a volume of air on Mars, one billionth of the volume of air is methane.

    The finding came from the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer. It’s exciting because microbial life is an important source of methane on Earth, but methane can also be created through interactions between rocks and water.

    Curiosity doesn’t have instruments that can definitively say what the source of the methane is, or even if it’s coming from a local source within Gale Crater or elsewhere on the planet.

    “With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The Curiosity team has detected methane many times over the course of the mission. Previous papers have documented how background levels of the gas seem to rise and fall seasonally. They’ve also noted sudden spikes of methane, but the science team knows very little about how long these transient plumes last or why they’re different from the seasonal patterns.

    The SAM team organized a different experiment for this weekend to gather more information on what might be a transient plume. Whatever they find — even if it’s an absence of methane — will add context to the recent measurement.

    Curiosity’s scientists need time to analyze these clues and conduct many more methane observations. They also need time to collaborate with other science teams, including those with the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been in its science orbit for a little over a year without detecting any methane. Combining observations from the surface and from orbit could help scientists locate sources of the gas on the planet and understand how long it lasts in the Martian atmosphere. That might explain why the Trace Gas Orbiter’s and Curiosity’s methane observations have been so different.

    For more information about Curiosity, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

    https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 10:49 am on June 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Deep Space Atomic Clocks, NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL-Caltech: “What Is an Atomic Clock?” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    June 19, 2019

    Arielle Samuelson
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307
    arielle.a.samuelson@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Three free posters from NASA celebrate the Deep Space Atomic Clock, a toaster-size device that could change the way spacecraft navigate around distant locations like Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    The clock is ticking: A technology demonstration that could transform the way humans explore space is nearing its target launch date of June 24, 2019. Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the Deep Space Atomic Clock is a serious upgrade to the satellite-based atomic clocks that, for example, enable the GPS on your phone.

    3

    Ultimately, this new technology could make spacecraft navigation to distant locations like Mars more autonomous. But what is an atomic clock? How are they used in space navigation, and what makes the Deep Space Atomic Clock different? Read on to get all the answers.

    Why do we use clocks to navigate in space?

    To determine a spacecraft’s distance from Earth, navigators send a signal to the spacecraft, which then returns it to Earth. The time the signal requires to make that two-way journey reveals the spacecraft’s distance from Earth, because the signal travels at a known speed (the speed of light).

    While it may sound complicated, most of us use this concept every day. The grocery store might be a 30-minute walk from your house. If you know you can walk about a mile in 20 minutes, then you can calculate the distance to the store.

    By sending multiple signals and taking many measurements over time, navigators can calculate a spacecraft’s trajectory: where it is and where it’s headed.

    Most modern clocks, from wristwatches to those used on satellites, keep time using a quartz crystal oscillator. These devices take advantage of the fact that quartz crystals vibrate at a precise frequency when voltage is applied to them. The vibrations of the crystal act like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, ticking off how much time has passed.

    To know the spacecraft’s position within a meter, navigators need clocks with precision time resolution – clocks that can measure billionths of a second.

    Navigators also need clocks that are extremely stable. “Stability” refers to how consistently a clock measures a unit of time; its measurement of the length of a second, for example, needs to be the same (to better than a billionth of a second) over days and weeks.

    What do atoms have to do with clocks?

    By space navigation standards, quartz crystal clocks aren’t very stable. After only an hour, even the best-performing quartz oscillators can be off by a nanosecond (one billionth of a second). After six weeks, they may be off by a full millisecond (one thousandth of a second), or a distance error of 185 miles (300 kilometers). That would have a huge impact on measuring the position of a fast-moving spacecraft.

    Atomic clocks combine a quartz crystal oscillator with an ensemble of atoms to achieve greater stability. NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock will be off by less than a nanosecond after four days and less than a microsecond (one millionth of a second) after 10 years. This is equivalent to being off by only one second every 10 million years.

    Atoms are composed of a nucleus (consisting of protons and neutrons) surrounded by electrons. Each element on the periodic table represents an atom with a certain number of protons in its nucleus. The number of electrons swarming around the nucleus can vary, but they must occupy discreet energy levels, or orbits.

    A jolt of energy – in the form of microwaves – can cause an electron to rise to a higher orbit around the nucleus. The electron must receive exactly the right amount of energy – meaning the microwaves must have a very specific frequency – in order to make this jump.

    The energy required to make electrons change orbits is unique in each element and consistent throughout the universe for all atoms of a given element. For instance, the frequency necessary to make electrons in a carbon atom change energy levels is the same for every carbon atom in the universe. The Deep Space Atomic Clock uses mercury atoms; a different frequency is necessary to make those electrons change levels, and that frequency will be consistent for all mercury atoms.

    “The fact that the energy difference between these orbits is such a precise and stable value is really the key ingredient for atomic clocks,” said Eric Burt, an atomic clock physicist at JPL. “It’s the reason atomic clocks can reach a performance level beyond mechanical clocks.”

    Being able to measure this unchangeable frequency in a particular atom offers science a universal, standardized measurement of time. (“Frequency” refers to the number of waves that pass a particular point in space in a given unit of time. So, by counting waves, it’s possible to measure time.) In fact, the official measurement of the length of a second is determined by the frequency needed to make electrons jump between two specific energy levels in a cesium atom.

    In an atomic clock, the frequency of the quartz oscillator is transformed into a frequency that is applied to a collection of atoms. If the derived frequency is correct, it will cause many electrons in the atoms to change energy levels. If the frequency is incorrect, far fewer electrons will jump. This will determine if the quartz oscillator is off-frequency and by how much. A “correction” determined by the atoms can then be applied to the quartz oscillator to steer it back to the correct frequency. This type of correction is calculated and applied to the quartz oscillator every few seconds in the Deep Space Atomic Clock.

    What’s unique about the Deep Space Atomic Clock?

    Atomic clocks are used onboard GPS satellites that orbit the Earth, but even they must be sent updates two times per day to correct the clocks’ natural drift. Those updates come from more stable atomic clocks on the ground that are large (often the size of a refrigerator) and not designed to survive the physical demands of going to space.

    Up to 50 times more stable than the atomic clocks on GPS satellites, NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock is intended to be the most stable atomic clock ever flown in space. It achieves this stability by using mercury ions.

    Ions are atoms that have a net electric charge, rather than being electrically neutral. In any atomic clock, the atoms are contained in a vacuum chamber, and in some of those clocks, atoms interact with the vacuum chamber walls. Environmental changes such as temperature will then cause similar changes in the atoms and lead to frequency errors. Many atomic clocks use neutral atoms, but because the mercury ions have an electric charge, they can be contained in an electromagnetic “trap” to prevent this interaction from happening, allowing the Deep Space Atomic Clock to achieve a new level of precision.

    For missions going to distant destinations like Mars or other planets, such precision makes autonomous navigation possible with minimal communication to and from Earth – a huge improvement in how spacecraft are currently navigated.

    The Deep Space Atomic Clock is hosted on a spacecraft provided by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems of Englewood, Colorado. It is sponsored by the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigations program within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. JPL manages the project.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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

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  • richardmitnick 11:38 am on June 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asteroid Psyche is one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt, , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech, Psyche mission, Scientists think Psyche is composed mostly of iron and nickel similar to Earth's core, The Psyche spacecraft will arrive at Asteroid Psyche on Jan. 31 2026 after flying by Mars in 2023   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Psyche Mission Has a Metal World in Its Sights” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    1
    This artist’s-concept illustration depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. The artwork was created in May 2017 to show the five-panel solar arrays planned for the spacecraft. Image credit: SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech

    D.C. Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

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

    JoAnna Wendel
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1003
    joanna.r.wendel@nasa.gov

    Designed to explore a metal asteroid that could be the heart of a planet, the Psyche mission is readying for a 2022 launch. After extensive review, NASA Headquarters in Washington has approved the mission to begin the final design and fabrication phase, otherwise known as Phase C. This is when the Psyche team finalizes the system design, develops detailed plans and procedures for the spacecraft and science mission, and completes both assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its subsystems.

    “The Psyche team is not only elated that we have the go-ahead for Phase C, more importantly we are ready,” said Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe. “With the transition into this new mission phase, we are one big step closer to uncovering the secrets of Psyche, a giant mysterious metallic asteroid, and that means the world to us.”

    The mission still has three more phases to clear. Phase D, which will begin sometime in early 2021, includes final spacecraft assembly and testing, along with the August 2022 launch. Phase E, which begins soon after Psyche hits the vacuum of space, covers the mission’s deep-space operations and science collection. Finally, Phase F occurs after the mission has completed its science operations; it includes both decommissioning the spacecraft and archiving engineering and science data.

    The Psyche spacecraft will arrive at Asteroid Psyche on Jan. 31, 2026, after flying by Mars in 2023.

    Asteroid Psyche is one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt. While most asteroids are rocky or icy bodies, scientists think Psyche is composed mostly of iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core. They wonder whether Psyche could be the nickel-iron heart, or exposed core, of an early planet maybe as large as Mars that lost its rocky outer layers through violent collisions billions of years ago. If so, it would provide a unique look into the solar system’s distant past, when the kind of high-speed protoplanet encounters that created Earth and the other terrestrial planets were common.

    The Psyche mission aims to understand the building blocks of planet formation by exploring firsthand a wholly new and uncharted type of world. Along with determining whether Psyche is the core of an early planet, the team wants to determine how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to Earth’s core and what its surface is like.

    The spacecraft’s instrument payload includes three science instruments. The mission’s magnetometer is designed to detect and measure the remnant magnetic field of the asteroid. The multispectral imager will provide high-resolution images using filters to discriminate between Psyche’s metallic and silicate constituents. Its gamma ray and neutron spectrometer will detect, measure and map Psyche’s elemental composition. The mission also will test a sophisticated new laser communications technology, called Deep Space Optical Communications.

    The Psyche mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, a series of lower-cost, highly focused robotic space missions. Psyche Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. Other ASU researchers on the Psyche mission team include Jim Bell, deputy principal investigator and co-investigator; David Williams, co-investigator; and Catherine Bowman, co-investigator and student-collaborations lead.

    ASU leads the mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Maxar Space Solutions, formerly Space Systems Loral, in Palo Alto, California, is providing a high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.

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

    http://www.nasa.gov/psyche

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

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


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