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  • richardmitnick 1:35 pm on June 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Young Giant Planet Offers Clues to Formation of Exotic Worlds", HIP 67522 b, NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Young Giant Planet Offers Clues to Formation of Exotic Worlds” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    06.22.20

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

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope. No longer in service

    1
    HIP 67522 b

    Jupiter-size planets orbiting close to their stars have upended ideas about how giant planets form. Finding young members of this planet class could help answer key questions.

    For most of human history our understanding of how planets form and evolve was based on the eight (or nine) planets in our solar system. But over the last 25 years, the discovery of more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, changed all that.

    Among the most intriguing of these distant worlds is a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiters. Similar in size to Jupiter, these gas-dominated planets orbit extremely close to their parent stars, circling them in as few as 18 hours. We have nothing like this in our own solar system, where the closest planets to the Sun are rocky and orbiting much farther away. The questions about hot Jupiters are as big as the planets themselves: Do they form close to their stars or farther away before migrating inward? And if these giants do migrate, what would that reveal about the history of the planets in our own solar system?

    To answer those questions, scientists will need to observe many of these hot giants very early in their formation. Now, a new study in the Astronomical Journal reports on the detection of the exoplanet HIP 67522 b, which appears to be the youngest hot Jupiter ever found. It orbits a well-studied star that is about 17 million years old, meaning the hot Jupiter is likely only a few million years younger, whereas most known hot Jupiters are more than a billion years old. The planet takes about seven days to orbit its star, which has a mass similar to the Sun’s. Located only about 490 light-years from Earth, HIP 67522 b is about 10 times the diameter of Earth, or close to that of Jupiter. Its size strongly indicates that it is a gas-dominated planet.

    HIP 67522 b was identified as a planet candidate by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which detects planets via the transit method: Scientists look for small dips in the brightness of a star, indicating that an orbiting planet has passed between the observer and the star.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames.

    But young stars tend to have a lot of dark splotches on their surfaces — starspots, also called sunspots when they appear on the Sun — that can look similar to transiting planets. So scientists used data from NASA’s recently retired infrared observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope, to confirm that the transit signal was from a planet and not a starspot. (Other methods of exoplanet detection have yielded hints at the presence of even younger hot Jupiters, but none have been confirmed.)

    Radial Velocity Method-Las Cumbres Observatory

    Direct imaging-This false-color composite image traces the motion of the planet Fomalhaut b, a world captured by direct imaging.

    Gravitational microlensing, S. Liebes, Physical Review B, 133 (1964): 835

    The discovery offers hope for finding more young hot Jupiters and learning more about how planets form throughout the universe — even right here at home.

    “We can learn a lot about our solar system and its history by studying the planets and other things orbiting the Sun,” said Aaron Rizzutto, an exoplanet scientist at the University of Texas at Austin who led the study. “But we will never know how unique or how common our solar system is unless we’re out there looking for exoplanets. Exoplanet scientists are finding out how our solar system fits in the bigger picture of planet formation in the universe.”

    Migrating Giants?

    There are three main hypotheses for how hot Jupiters get so close to their parent stars. One is that they simply form there and stay put. But it’s hard to imagine planets forming in such an intense environment. Not only would the scorching heat vaporize most materials, but young stars frequently erupt with massive explosions and stellar winds, potentially dispersing any newly emerging planets.

    It seems more likely that gas giants develop farther from their parent star, past a boundary called the snow line, where it’s cool enough for ice and other solid materials to form. Jupiter-like planets are composed almost entirely of gas, but they contain solid cores. It would be easier for those cores to form past the snow line, where frozen materials could cling together like a growing snowball.

    The other two hypotheses assume this is the case, and that hot Jupiters then wander toward closer to their stars. But what would be the cause and timing of the migration?

    One idea posits that hot Jupiters begin their journey early in the planetary system’s history while the star is still surrounded by the disk of gas and dust from which both it and the planet formed. In this scenario, the gravity of the disk interacting with the mass of the planet could interrupt the gas giant’s orbit and cause it to migrate inward.

    The third hypothesis maintains that hot Jupiters get close to their star later, when the gravity of other planets around the star can drive the migration. The fact that HIP 67522 b is already so close to its star so early after its formation indicates that this third hypothesis probably doesn’t apply in this case. But one young hot Jupiter isn’t enough to settle the debate on how they all form.

    “Scientists would like to know if there is a dominant mechanism that forms most hot Jupiters,” said Yasuhiro Hasegawa, an astrophysicist specializing in planet formation at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who was not involved in the study. “In the community right now there is no clear consensus about which formation hypothesis is most important for reproducing the population we have observed. The discovery of this young hot Jupiter is exciting, but it’s only a hint at the answer. To solve the mystery, we will need more.”

    TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

    NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was retired on Jan. 30, 2020. Science data continues to be analyzed by the science community via the Spitzer data archive located at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL managed Spitzer mission operations for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at IPAC at Caltech. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    See the full article here .


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    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 8:04 am on June 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Saturn's Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought", , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Saturn’s Moon Titan Drifting Away Faster Than Previously Thought” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    June 8, 2020

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

    Grey Hautaluoma
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0668
    grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov

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

    1

    The new research by scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency has implications for the entire Saturn system as well as other planets and moons.

    A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, measures 3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers, across and is larger than the planet Mercury. Cassini scientists have been watching the moon’s south pole since a vortex appeared in its atmosphere in 2012. See PIA14919 and PIA14920 to learn more about this mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon.

    As the seasons have changed in the Saturnian system, and spring has come to the north and autumn to the south, the azure blue in the northern Saturnian hemisphere that greeted Cassini upon its arrival in 2004 is now fading. The southern hemisphere, in its approach to winter, is taking on a bluish hue. This change is likely due to the reduced intensity of ultraviolet light and the haze it produces in the hemisphere approaching winter, and the increasing intensity of ultraviolet light and haze production in the hemisphere approaching summer. (The presence of the ring shadow in the winter hemisphere enhances this effect.) The reduction of haze and the consequent clearing of the atmosphere makes for a bluish hue: the increased opportunity for direct scattering of sunlight by the molecules in the air makes the sky blue, as on Earth. The presence of methane, which generally absorbs in the red part of the spectrum, in a now clearer atmosphere also enhances the blue.

    This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane.

    This mosaic combines six images — two each of red, green and blue spectral filters — to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012, at a distance of approximately 483,000 miles (778,000 kilometers) from Titan. Image scale is 29 miles (46 kilometers) per pixel on Titan.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

    For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

    ____________________________________________

    Just as our own Moon floats away from Earth a tiny bit more each year, other moons are doing the same with their host planets. As a moon orbits, its gravity pulls on the planet, causing a temporary bulge in the planet as it passes.

    Over time, the energy created by the bulging and subsiding transfers from the planet to the moon, nudging it farther and farther out. Our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year.

    Scientists thought they knew the rate at which the giant moon Titan is moving away from Saturn, but they recently made a surprising discovery: Using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, they found Titan drifting a hundred times faster than previously understood – about 4 inches (11 centimeters) per year.

    The findings may help address an age-old question. While scientists know that Saturn formed 4.6 billion years ago in the early days of the solar system, there’s more uncertainty about when the planet’s rings and its system of more than 80 moons formed. Titan is currently 759,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn. The revised rate of its drift suggests that the moon started out much closer to Saturn, which would mean the whole system expanded more quickly than previously believed.

    “This result brings an important new piece of the puzzle for the highly debated question of the age of the Saturn system and how its moons formed,” said Valery Lainey, lead author of the work published June 8 in Nature Astronomy. He conducted the research as a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California before joining the Paris Observatory at PSL University.

    Making Sense of Moon Migration

    The findings on Titan’s rate of drift also provide important confirmation of a new theory that explains and predicts how planets affect their moons’ orbits.

    For the last 50 years, scientists have applied the same formulas to estimate how fast a moon drifts from its planet, a rate that can also be used to determine a moon’s age. Those formulas and the classical theories on which they’re based were applied to moons large and small all over the solar system. The theories assumed that in systems such as Saturn’s, with dozens of moons, the outer moons like Titan migrated outward more slowly than moons closer in because they are farther from their host planet’s gravity.

    Four years ago, theoretical astrophysicist Jim Fuller, now of Caltech, published research that upended those theories. Fuller’s theory predicted that outer moons can migrate outward at a similar rate to inner moons because they become locked in a different kind of orbit pattern that links to the particular wobble of a planet and slings them outward.

    “The new measurements imply that these kind of planet-moon interactions can be more prominent than prior expectations and that they can apply to many systems, such as other planetary moon systems, exoplanets – those outside our solar system – and even binary star systems, where stars orbit each other,” said Fuller, a coauthor of the new paper.

    To reach their results, the authors mapped stars in the background of Cassini images and tracked Titan’s position. To confirm their findings, they compared them with an independent dataset: radio science data collected by Cassini. During ten close flybys between 2006 and 2016, the spacecraft sent radio waves to Earth. Scientists studied how the signal’s frequency was changed by their interactions with their surroundings to estimate how Titan’s orbit evolved.

    “By using two completely different datasets, we obtained results that are in full agreement, and also in agreement with Jim Fuller’s theory, which predicted a much faster migration of Titan,” said coauthor Paolo Tortora, of Italy’s University of Bologna. Tortora is a member of the Cassini Radio Science team and worked on the research with the support of the Italian Space Agency.

    Managed by JPL, Cassini was an orbiter that observed Saturn for more than 13 years before exhausting its fuel supply. The mission plunged it into the planet’s atmosphere in September 2017, in part to protect its moon Enceladus, which Cassini discovered might hold conditions suitable for 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.

    Caltech Logo

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on April 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What Makes Saturn's Upper Atmosphere So Hot", NASA JPL - Caltech, ,   

    From University of Arizona: “What Makes Saturn’s Upper Atmosphere So Hot” 

    From University of Arizona

    1
    Saturn and it’s aurora. (Image: NASA)

    New mapping of the giant planet’s upper atmosphere reveals a likely reason why it’s so hot.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University Communications
    April 6, 2020

    The upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants – Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune – are hot, just like Earth’s. But unlike Earth, the sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures. Their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science.

    New analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft finds a viable explanation for what’s keeping the upper layers of Saturn, and possibly the other gas giants, so hot: auroras at the planet’s north and south poles. Electric currents, triggered by interactions between solar winds and charged particles from Saturn’s moons, spark the auroras and heat the upper atmosphere. As with Earth’s northern lights, studying auroras tells scientists what’s going on in the planet’s atmosphere.

    The work, published today in Nature Astronomy, is the most complete mapping yet of both temperature and density of a Saturn’s upper atmosphere – a region that has been poorly understood.

    “Understanding the dynamics really requires a global view. This dataset is the first time we’ve been able to look at the upper atmosphere from pole to pole while also seeing how temperature changes with depth,” said Zarah Brown, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

    By building a complete picture of how heat circulates in the atmosphere, scientists are better able to understand how auroral electric currents heat the upper layers of Saturn’s atmosphere and drive winds. The global wind system can distribute this energy, which is initially deposited near the poles toward the equatorial regions, heating them to twice the temperatures expected from the sun’s heating alone.

    “The results are vital to our general understanding of planetary upper atmospheres and are an important part of Cassini’s legacy,” said study co-author Tommi Koskinen, a member of Cassini’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectograph team. “They help address the question of why the uppermost part of the atmosphere is so hot, while the rest of the atmosphere – due to the large distance from the sun – is cold.”

    Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Cassini was an orbiter that observed Saturn for more than 13 years before exhausting its fuel supply.

    NASA JPL

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    The mission plunged it into the planet’s atmosphere in September 2017, in part to protect its moon Enceladus, which Cassini discovered might hold conditions suitable for life. But before its plunge, Cassini performed 22 ultra-close orbits of Saturn, a final tour called the Grand Finale.

    It was during the Grand Finale that the key data was collected for the new temperature map of Saturn’s atmosphere. For six weeks, Cassini targeted several bright stars in the constellations of Orion and Canis Major as they passed behind Saturn. As the spacecraft observed the stars rise and set behind the giant planet, scientists analyzed how the starlight changed as it passed through the atmosphere.

    Measuring the density of the atmosphere gave scientists the information they needed to find the temperatures. Density decreases with altitude, and the rate of decrease depends on temperature. They found that temperatures peak near the auroras, indicating that auroral electric currents heat the upper atmosphere.

    Density and temperature measurements together helped scientists figure out wind speeds. Understanding Saturn’s upper atmosphere, where planet meets space, is key to understanding space weather and its impact on other planets in our solar system and exoplanets around other stars.

    “Even though thousands of exoplanets have been found, only the planets in our solar system can be studied in this kind of detail. Thanks to Cassini, we have a more detailed picture of Saturn’s upper atmosphere right now than any other giant planet in the universe,” Brown said.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

    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 University of Arizona (UA) is a place without limits-where teaching, research, service and innovation merge to improve lives in Arizona and beyond. We aren’t afraid to ask big questions, and find even better answers.

    In 1885, establishing Arizona’s first university in the middle of the Sonoran Desert was a bold move. But our founders were fearless, and we have never lost that spirit. To this day, we’re revolutionizing the fields of space sciences, optics, biosciences, medicine, arts and humanities, business, technology transfer and many others. Since it was founded, the UA has grown to cover more than 380 acres in central Tucson, a rich breeding ground for discovery.

    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 UA is a university unlike any other.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on April 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Earth-Size, , , , , Habitable-Zone Planet Found Hidden in Early NASA Kepler Data", , NASA JPL - Caltech, The planet is the closest to Earth in size and temperature found yet in data from the Kepler space telescope.   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planet Found Hidden in Early NASA Kepler Data” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    April 15, 2020

    Felicia Chou
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Alison Hawkes
    Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, Calif.
    650-604-4789
    alison.hawkes@nasa.gov

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

    1
    This artist’s concept shows what exoplanet Kepler-1649c could look like on its surface. The planet is the closest to Earth in size and temperature found yet in data from the Kepler space telescope. Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter

    2
    This artist’s concept shows exoplanet Kepler-1649c orbiting around its host red dwarf star. This exoplanet is in its star’s habitable zone (the distance where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface) and is the closest to Earth in size and temperature found yet in Kepler’s data. Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter

    3
    This graphic compares the size of Earth and Kepler-1649c, an exoplanet only 1.06 times larger than Earth by radius. Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter

    A team of transatlantic scientists, using reanalyzed data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, has discovered an Earth-size exoplanet orbiting in its star’s habitable zone, the area around a star where a rocky planet could support liquid water.

    Scientists discovered this planet, called Kepler-1649c, when looking through old observations from Kepler, which the agency retired in 2018. While previous searches with a computer algorithm misidentified it, researchers reviewing Kepler data took a second look at the signature and recognized it as a planet. Out of all the exoplanets found by Kepler, this distant world – located 300 light-years from Earth – is most similar to Earth in size and estimated temperature.

    This newly revealed world is only 1.06 times larger than our own planet. Also, the amount of starlight it receives from its host star is 75% of the amount of light Earth receives from our Sun – meaning the exoplanet’s temperature may be similar to our planet’s as well. But unlike Earth, it orbits a red dwarf. Though none have been observed in this system, this type of star is known for stellar flare-ups that may make a planet’s environment challenging for any potential life.

    “This intriguing, distant world gives us even greater hope that a second Earth lies among the stars, waiting to be found,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The data gathered by missions like Kepler and our Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite [TESS] will continue to yield amazing discoveries as the science community refines its abilities to look for promising planets year after year.”

    There is still much that is unknown about Kepler-1649c, including its atmosphere, which could affect the planet’s temperature. Current calculations of the planet’s size have significant margins of error, as do all values in astronomy when studying objects so far away. But based on what is known, Kepler-1649c is especially intriguing for scientists looking for worlds with potentially habitable conditions.

    There are other exoplanets estimated to be closer to Earth in size, such as TRAPPIST-1f and, by some calculations, Teegarden c. Others may be closer to Earth in temperature, such as TRAPPIST-1d and TOI 700d. But there is no other exoplanet that is considered to be closer to Earth in both of these values that also lies in the habitable zone of its system.

    “Out of all the mislabeled planets we’ve recovered, this one’s particularly exciting – not just because it’s in the habitable zone and Earth-size, but because of how it might interact with this neighboring planet,” said Andrew Vanderburg, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and first author on the paper released today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “If we hadn’t looked over the algorithm’s work by hand, we would have missed it.”

    Kepler-1649c orbits its small red dwarf star so closely that a year on Kepler-1649c is equivalent to only 19.5 Earth days. The system has another rocky planet of about the same size, but it orbits the star at about half the distance of Kepler-1649c, similar to how Venus orbits our Sun at about half the distance that Earth does. Red dwarf stars are among the most common in the galaxy, meaning planets like this one could be more common than we previously thought.

    Looking for False Positives

    Previously, scientists on the Kepler mission developed an algorithm called Robovetter to help sort through the massive amounts of data produced by the Kepler spacecraft, managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Kepler searched for planets using the transit method, staring at stars, looking for dips in brightness as planets passed in front of their host stars.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames.

    Most of the time, those dips come from phenomena other than planets – ranging from natural changes in a star’s brightness to other cosmic objects passing by – making it look like a planet is there when it’s not. Robovetter’s job was to distinguish the 12% of dips that were real planets from the rest. Those signatures Robovetter determined to be from other sources were labeled “false positives,” the term for a test result mistakenly classified as positive.

    With an enormous number of tricky signals, astronomers knew the algorithm would make mistakes and would need to be double-checked – a perfect job for the Kepler False Positive Working Group. That team reviews Robovetter’s work, going through each false positive to ensure they are truly errors and not exoplanets, ensuring fewer potential discoveries are overlooked. As it turns out, Robovetter had mislabeled Kepler-1649c.

    Even as scientists work to further automate analysis processes to get the most science as possible out of any given dataset, this discovery shows the value of double-checking automated work. Even six years after Kepler stopped collecting data from the original Kepler field – a patch of sky it stared at from 2009 to 2013, before going on to study many more regions – this rigorous analysis uncovered one of the most unique Earth analogs discovered yet.

    A Possible Third Planet

    Kepler-1649c not only is one of the best matches to Earth in terms of size and energy received from its star, but it provides an entirely new look at its home system. For every nine times the outer planet in the system orbits the host star, the inner planet orbits almost exactly four times. The fact that their orbits match up in such a stable ratio indicates the system itself is extremely stable and likely to survive for a long time.

    Nearly perfect period ratios are often caused by a phenomenon called orbital resonance, but a nine-to-four ratio is relatively unique among planetary systems. Usually resonances take the form of ratios such as two-to-one or three-to-two. Though unconfirmed, the rarity of this ratio could hint to the presence of a middle planet with which both the inner and outer planets revolve in synchronicity, creating a pair of three-to-two resonances.

    The team looked for evidence of such a mystery third planet, with no results. However, that could be because the planet is too small to see or at an orbital tilt that makes it impossible to find using Kepler’s transit method.

    Either way, this system provides yet another example of an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. These small and dim stars require planets to orbit extremely close to be within that zone – not too warm and not too cold – for life as we know it to potentially exist. Though this single example is only one among many, there is increasing evidence that such planets are common around red dwarfs.

    “The more data we get, the more signs we see pointing to the notion that potentially habitable and Earth-size exoplanets are common around these kinds of stars,” said Vanderburg. “With red dwarfs almost everywhere around our galaxy, and these small, potentially habitable and rocky planets around them, the chance one of them isn’t too different than our Earth looks a bit brighter.”

    For more information about Kepler and its discoveries, go to:

    https://www.nasa.gov/kepler

    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 9:17 am on April 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (LCRT)-Lunar Crater Radio Telescope, NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From Science Alert: “NASA Reveals Wild Project For Turning a Moon Crater Into a Radio Telescope” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    1
    (Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

    9 APRIL 2020
    DAVID NIELD

    NASA just gave out a new round of grants for its favourite up and coming innovative space projects – one of which is a plan to fit a 1 kilometre (3,281 foot) radio telescope inside a crater on the far side of the Moon.

    The Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) would be able to measure wavelengths and frequencies that can’t be detected from Earth, working unobstructed by the ionosphere or the various other bits of radio noise surrounding our planet.

    Should the plans for the LCRT become a reality – and the new grant money could get it closer to that – it would be the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the Solar System.

    2
    How the LCRT might look. (Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

    “LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10–50m wavelength band (6–30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans to date,” writes robotics technologist Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in his project outline.

    As per the plans, Moon rovers would pull out a wire mesh some 1 kilometre across, inside a lunar crater than could be up to 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) in diameter. A suspended receiver in the centre of the crater would complete the system.

    Everything could be automated without any human operators, which would in turn mean a lighter and less expensive payload for the project to literally get off the ground.

    This is still at the very early stage of planning, and it’s not clear yet exactly which crater would be used for the job, but it’s an intriguing concept that we’ll be keeping an eye on in the years ahead.

    The biggest radio telescope here on Earth is the Five-hundred metre Aperture Spherical Telescope or FAST, which has a 500 metre (1,640 foot) diameter.

    FAST [Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope] radio telescope, with phased arrays from CSIRO engineers Australia [located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, south China

    Should the LCRT eventually get put together, it would be twice as wide.

    4
    The LCRT would be installed by rovers. (Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

    FAST is already proving its worth, having already picked up mysterious fast radio bursts or FRBs from the depths of space. The LCRT proposed here has the potential to pick up many more phenomena.

    There’s now such an abundance of low Earth orbit satellites, listening to the cosmos from the surface of our planet is becoming increasingly difficult.

    Working at low frequencies in the 6 to 30MHz frequency band, the lunar crater telescope could perhaps tell us more about the earliest days of the Universe.

    China and the Netherlands have already set up a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon, albeit a much smaller one. This telescope uses satellites to relay data back to Earth, like the LCRT will have to, if we pull it off.

    The team behind the concept now has nine months and up to US$125,000 of NASA money to see if they can develop it further. Let’s hope they’re successful.

    “Building the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the Solar System on the far-side of the Moon is bound to create a lot of public excitement,” Bandyopadhyay and his colleagues write in a 2018 paper on the idea.

    “We envisage that this concept would unlock the potential for ground-breaking scientific discoveries in radio astronomy in wavelengths that are hitherto poorly explored by humans so far.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on March 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "GRACE, But we also observe a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of East Antarctica caused by an uptick in snowfall., During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019 Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice., GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles", Greenland and Antarctica are melting - but how quickly and which areas are most affected? Nearly 20 years of satellite data provide key insights into these questions., In Antarctica the mass loss in the west proceeds unabated which will lead to an even further increase in sea level rise., NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 18, 2020

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

    Brian Bell
    University of California, Irvine
    949-824-8249
    bpbell@uci.edu

    Written by Brian Bell, UCI, and Esprit Smith, NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    NASA/ German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) Grace-FO satellites

    1
    Crevasses in southern Greenland are visible from a 2017 Operation IceBridge airborne survey of the region. Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge.

    2
    Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier, with the midmorning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge.

    Greenland and Antarctica are melting – but how quickly and which areas are most affected? Nearly 20 years of satellite data provide key insights into these questions.

    During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.

    Led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine, the study also concludes that Antarctica continues to lose mass, particularly in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Antarctic Peninsula on the western part of the continent; however, those losses have been partially offset by gains from increased snowfall in the northeast.

    “We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet,” said lead author Isabella Velicogna, senior project scientist at JPL and a professor at UCI. “But the numbers really are enormous.”

    For context, last summer’s losses are more than double Greenland’s 2002-2019 yearly average.

    “In Antarctica, the mass loss in the west proceeds unabated, which will lead to an even further increase in sea level rise,” Velicogna said. “But we also observe a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of East Antarctica caused by an uptick in snowfall, which helps mitigate the enormous increase in mass loss that we have seen in the last two decades on other parts of the continent.”

    She and her colleagues came to these conclusions in the process of establishing data continuity between the recently decommissioned Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission and its successor, GRACE Follow-On.

    As mission partnerships between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, and NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences, respectively, the GRACE and GRACE-FO satellites were designed to measure changes to Earth’s gravitational pull that result from changes in mass, including water. As water moves around the planet – flowing ocean currents, melting ice, falling rain and so on – it changes the gravitational pull ever so slightly. Scientists use the precise measurements of these variations to monitor Earth’s water reserves, including polar ice, global sea levels and groundwater availability.

    The first GRACE mission was launched in 2002 and decommissioned in October 2017. GRACE-FO, based on similar technology and designed to continue the data record of its predecessor, launched in May 2018. Because of this brief gap, the study team used independent data to test and confirm that the GRACE and GRACE-FO data over Greenland and Antarctica were consistent. Velicogna was pleased with the results.

    “It is great to see how well the data line up in Greenland and Antarctica, even at the regional level,” she said. “It is a tribute to the great effort by the project, engineering and science teams to make the mission successful.”

    The study, titled “Continuity of Ice Sheet Mass Loss in Greenland and Antarctica From the GRACE and GRACE Follow-On Missions,” was published March 18 in Geophysical Research Letters. In addition to scientists from JPL and UCI, the GRACE and GRACE-FO data continuity project involved researchers from University of Grenoble in France, University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the Polar Ice Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.

    JPL managed the GRACE mission and manages the GRACE-FO mission for NASA’s Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

    More information on GRACE and GRACE-FO can be found here:

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

    https://gracefo.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/overview/

    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 10:02 am on March 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Small Robots Practice Scouting Skills for Future Moon Mission", A-PUFFER: Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot, , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Small Robots Practice Scouting Skills for Future Moon Mission” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 10, 2020
    Ian J. O’Neill
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-2649
    ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

    Hillary Smith
    NASA Langley Research Center
    757-633-7426
    hillary.smith@nasa.gov

    1
    A shoebox-sized wheeled robot explores the rugged terrain on the surface of the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during recent tests of the Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (A-PUFFER) project. Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech.

    ____________________________________
    The upgraded Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot, or A-PUFFER, is on a roll. The technology could find itself on a commercial lunar lander in the next few years.
    ____________________________________

    The newest edition of NASA’s small, foldable robots recently practiced their scouting skills and successfully traversed rugged terrain in the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

    JPL developed the Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (A-PUFFER) to scout regions on the Moon and gain intel about locations that may be difficult for astronauts to investigate on foot, like hard-to-reach craters and narrow caves. This iteration of A-PUFFER includes several modifications to the previous design. In addition to larger wheels, each robot has an upgraded onboard computer with a wireless radio for communication and a stereo camera for sensing the environment in front of it.

    In February 2020, engineers began testing the upgraded A-PUFFER robots and their new capabilities. Because each A-PUFFER is small enough to fit in a shoebox, multiple robots can be deployed to work together and collaborate on their task. The team of three successfully trekked the sandy and rocky terrain of JPL’s Mars Yard while simultaneously mapping the environment using sensors. Their maps were shared with a base station and merged into an integrated map of the Mars Yard. Together, this system demonstrates a capability that could robustly map parts of the Moon that haven’t been mapped before.

    2
    Project manager Jean-Pierre de la Croix works on an Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (A-PUFFER) during recent trials in the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    “Collaborative, multi-rover autonomy has the promise to unlock new missions that are either too risky for a single rover or simply require more than one rover to achieve,” said Jean-Pierre de la Croix, the A-PUFFER project manager at JPL.

    NASA will continue to test the robots and their autonomous capabilities. A-PUFFER technology could make its way to the Moon on a commercial lunar lander in the next few years.

    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 8:36 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA's Deep Space Antenna Upgrades to Affect Voyager Communications", (DSN)-The NASA Deep Space Network, , , , DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide radio antenna at the Deep Space Network's Canberra facility in Australia., NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Deep Space Antenna Upgrades to Affect Voyager Communications” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    March 4, 2020
    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-1821
    calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Canberra facility in Australia. It is the only antenna that can send commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft.Credit: NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    ____________________________________________________

    The antenna enhancements will improve future spacecraft communications, but during the upgrades, Voyager 2 will not be able to receive new commands from Earth.
    ____________________________________________________

    Starting in early March, NASA’s Voyager 2 will quietly coast through interstellar space without receiving commands from Earth.

    NASA/Voyager 2

    That’s because the Voyager’s primary means of communication, the Deep Space Network’s 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia, will be undergoing critical upgrades for about 11 months. During this time, the Voyager team will still be able to receive science data from Voyager 2 on its mission to explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain and beyond.

    About the size of a 20-story office building, the dish has been in service for 48 years. Some parts of the 70-meter antenna, including the transmitters that send commands to various spacecraft, are 40 years old and increasingly unreliable. The Deep Space Network (DSN) upgrades are planned to start now that Voyager 2 has returned to normal operations, after accidentally overdrawing its power supply and automatically turning off its science instruments in January.

    The network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is spread over three sites around the world, in California, Spain and Australia.

    NASA Deep Space Network Madrid Spain

    NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia, radio telescopes on watch.

    This allows navigators to communicate with spacecraft at the Moon and beyond at all times during Earth’s rotation. Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, is currently more than 11 billion miles (17 billion kilometers) from Earth. It is flying in a downward direction relative to Earth’s orbital plane, where it can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and thus can communicate only with the Australian site.

    Moreover, a special S-band transmitter is required to send commands to Voyager 2 – one both powerful enough to reach interstellar space and on a frequency that can communicate with Voyager’s dated technology. The Canberra 70-meter antenna (called “DSS43”) is the only such antenna in the southern hemisphere. As the equipment in the antenna ages, the risk of unplanned outages will increase, which adds more risk to the Voyager mission. The planned upgrades will not only reduce that risk, but will also add state-of-the art technology upgrades that will benefit future missions.

    “Obviously, the 11 months of repairs puts more constraints on the other DSN sites,” said Jeff Berner, Deep Space Network’s chief engineer. “But the advantage is that when we come back, the Canberra antenna will be much more reliable.”

    The repairs will benefit far more than Voyager 2, including future missions like the Mars 2020 rover and Moon to Mars exploration efforts.

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover schematic, officially named “Perseverence”

    Depiction of NASA Mars 2020 Rover officially named “Perseverence”

    The network will play a critical role in ensuring communication and navigation support for both the precursor Moon and Mars missions and the crewed Artemis missions.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction

    “The maintenance is needed to support the missions that NASA is developing and launching in the future, as well as supporting the missions that are operating right now,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager and JPL Director for the Interplanetary Network.

    The three Canberra 34-meter (111-foot) antennas can be configured to listen to Voyager 2’s signal; they just won’t be able to transmit commands. In the meantime, said Dodd, the Voyager team will put the spacecraft into a quiescent state, which will still allow it to send back science data during the 11-month downtime.

    “We put the spacecraft back into a state where it will be just fine, assuming that everything goes normally with it during the time that the antenna is down,” said Dodd. “If things don’t go normally – which is always a possibility, especially with an aging spacecraft – then the onboard fault protection that’s there can handle the situation.”

    Berner says the work on the 70-meter antenna is like bringing an old car into the shop: There’s never a good time to do it, but it will make the car much more dependable if you do.

    The work on the Canberra DSN station is expected to be completed by January 2021. The DSN is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations’ Space Communication and Navigation program.

    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 5:18 pm on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots", , , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    February 13, 2020
    Jane Lee
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307

    Written by Esprit Smith, NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    1
    The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    ___________________________________________
    Knowing where emissions are happening and what’s causing them brings us a step closer to being able to forecast the region’s impact on global climate.
    ___________________________________________

    The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins to thaw, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These methane emissions can accelerate future warming – but to understand to what extent, we need to know how much methane may be emitted, when and what environmental factors may influence its release.

    That’s a tricky feat. The Arctic spans thousands of miles, many of them inaccessible to humans. This inaccessibility has limited most ground-based observations to places with existing infrastructure – a mere fraction of the vast and varied Arctic terrain. Moreover, satellite observations are not detailed enough for scientists to identify key patterns and smaller-scale environmental influences on methane concentrations.

    In a new study, scientists with NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), found a way to bridge that gap. In 2017, they used planes equipped with the Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer – Next Generation (AVIRIS – NG), a highly specialized instrument, to fly over some 20,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) of the Arctic landscape in the hope of detecting methane hotspots. The instrument did not disappoint.

    “We consider hotspots to be areas showing an excess of 3,000 parts per million of methane between the airborne sensor and the ground,” said lead author Clayton Elder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “And we detected 2 million of these hotspots over the land that we covered.”

    The paper, titled “Airborne Mapping Reveals Emergent Power Law of Arctic Methane Emissions,” was published Feb. 10 in Geophysical Research Letters.

    Within the dataset, the team also discovered a pattern: On average, the methane hotspots were mostly concentrated within about 44 yards (40 meters) of standing bodies of water, like lakes and streams. After the 44-yard mark, the presence of hotspots gradually became sparser, and at about 330 yards (300 meters) from the water source, they dropped off almost completely.

    The scientists working on this study don’t have a complete answer as to why 44 yards is the “magic number” for the whole survey region yet, but additional studies they’ve conducted on the ground provide some insight.

    “After two years of ground field studies that began in 2018 at an Alaskan lake site with a methane hotspot, we found abrupt thawing of the permafrost right underneath the hotspot,” said Elder. “It’s that additional contribution of permafrost carbon – carbon that’s been frozen for thousands of years – that’s essentially contributing food for the microbes to chew up and turn into methane as the permafrost continues to thaw.”

    Scientists are just scratching the surface of what is possible with the new data, but their first observations are valuable. Being able to identify the likely causes of the distribution of methane hotspots, for example, will help them to more accurately calculate this greenhouse gas’s emissions across areas where we don’t have observations. This new knowledge will improve how Arctic land models represent methane dynamics and therefore our ability to forecast the region’s impact on global climate and global climate change impacts on the Arctic.

    Elder says the study is also a technological breakthrough.

    “AVIRIS-NG has been used in previous methane surveys, but those surveys focused on human-caused emissions in populated areas and areas with major infrastructure known to produce emissions,” he said. “Our study marks the first time the instrument has been used to find hotspots where the locations of possible permafrost-related emissions are far less understood.”

    More information on ABoVE can be found here:

    https://above.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 12:36 pm on February 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Prepares for Moon and Mars With New Addition to Its Deep Space Network", NASA JPL - Caltech, New Deep Space Station-23 at Goldstone   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA Prepares for Moon and Mars With New Addition to Its Deep Space Network” 

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    February 11, 2020
    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    Kathryn Hambleton
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1100
    kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov

    1
    On Feb. 11, 2020, NASA, JPL, military and local officials broke ground in Goldstone, California, for a new antenna in the agency’s Deep Space Network, which communicates with all its deep space missions.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    2
    This artist’s concept shows what Deep Space Station-23, a new antenna dish capable of supporting both radio wave and laser communications, will look like when completed at the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone, California, complex.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    3
    Antenna dishes at NASA’s Deep Space Network complex in Goldstone, California, photographed on Feb. 11, 2020.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    ________________________________________

    Robotic spacecraft will be able to communicate with the dish using radio waves and lasers.
    ________________________________________

    Surrounded by California desert, NASA officials broke ground Tuesday, Feb. 11, on a new antenna for communicating with the agency’s farthest-flung robotic spacecraft. Part of the Deep Space Network (DSN), the 112-foot-wide (34-meter-wide) antenna dish being built represents a future in which more missions will require advanced technology, such as lasers capable of transmitting vast amounts of data from astronauts on the Martian surface. As part of its Artemis program NASA will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, applying lessons learned there to send astronauts to Mars.

    Using massive antenna dishes, the agency talks to more than 30 deep space missions on any given day, including many international missions. As more missions have launched and with more in the works, NASA is looking to strengthen the network. When completed in 2½ years, the new dish will be christened Deep Space Station-23 (DSS-23), bringing the DSN’s number of operational antennas to 13.

    “Since the 1960s, when the world first watched live pictures of humans in space and on the Moon, to revealing imagery and scientific data from the surface of Mars and vast, distant galaxies, the Deep Space Network has connected humankind with our solar system and beyond,” said Badri Younes, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation, or SCaN, which oversees NASA’s networks. “This new antenna, the fifth of six currently planned, is another example of NASA’s determination to enable science and space exploration through the use of the latest technology.”

    Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the world’s largest and busiest deep space network is clustered in three locations – Goldstone, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra , Australia – that are positioned approximately 120 degrees apart around the globe to enable continual contact with spacecraft as the Earth rotates. (This live tool lets viewers see which DSN dishes are sending up commands or receiving data at any given time.)

    NASA DSCC Goldstone Antenna California in the Mojave Desert, USA

    The Cebreros station (Deep Space Antenna 2), is located 77 kms west of Madrid, Spain. It hosts a 35-metre antenna. It provides routine support to deep-space missions including Mars Express, Gaia, and Rosetta

    NASA Deep Space Network Madrid Spain

    NASA Canberra, AU, Deep Space Network

    The first addition to Goldstone since 2003, the new dish is being built at the complex’s Apollo site, so named because its DSS-16 antenna supported NASA’s human missions to the Moon. Similar antennas have been built in recent years in Canberra, while two are under construction in Madrid.

    “The DSN is Earth’s one phone line to our two Voyager spacecraft – both in interstellar space – all our Mars missions and the New Horizons spacecraft that is now far past Pluto,” said JPL Deputy Director Larry James. “The more we explore, the more antennas we need to talk to all our missions.”

    NASA/Voyager 1

    NASA/Voyager 2

    ESA Mars Express

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    NASA Mars Reconnaisence Orbiter

    NASA/Mars Spirit Rover

    NASA/Mars Curiosity Rover

    NASA Mars Global Surveyor

    NASA Mars MAVEN

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    While DSS-23 will function as a radio antenna, it will also be equipped with mirrors and a special receiver for lasers beamed from distant spacecraft. This technology is critical for sending astronauts to places like Mars. Humans there will need to communicate with Earth more than NASA’s robotic explorers do, and a Mars base, with its life support systems and equipment, would buzz with data that needs to be monitored.

    “Lasers can increase your data rate from Mars by about 10 times what you get from radio,” said Suzanne Dodd, director of the Interplanetary Network, the organization that manages the DSN. “Our hope is that providing a platform for optical communications will encourage other space explorers to experiment with lasers on future missions.”

    While clouds can disrupt lasers, Goldstone’s clear desert skies make it an ideal location to serve as a laser receiver about 60% of the time. A demonstration of DSS-23’s capabilities is around the corner: When NASA launches an orbiter called Psyche to a metallic asteroid in a few years, it will carry an experimental laser communications terminal developed by JPL.

    NASA Psyche spacecraft depiction

    Called the Deep Space Optical Communications project, this equipment will send data and images to an observatory at Southern California’s Palomar Mountain. But Psyche will also be able to communicate with the new Goldstone antenna, paving the way for higher data rates in deep space.

    For more information:

    https://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/

    https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/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

    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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