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  • richardmitnick 1:48 pm on December 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Black hole seeds, , NASA, NASA Telescopes Find Clues For How Giant Black Holes Formed So Quickly,   

    From NASA: “NASA Telescopes Find Clues For How Giant Black Holes Formed So Quickly” 

    NASA image
    NASA

    May 24, 2016 [Picked up for year end.]
    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Sean Potter
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1536
    sean.potter@nasa.gov

    1
    This illustration represents the best evidence to date that the direct collapse of a gas cloud produced supermassive black holes in the early Universe. Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer telescopes to make this discovery. Credits: NASA/CXC/STScI

    NASA/Chandra Telescope
    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer Telescope

    Using data from NASA’s Great Observatories, astronomers have found the best evidence yet for cosmic seeds in the early universe that should grow into supermassive black holes.

    Researchers combined data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope to identify these possible black hole seeds. They discuss their findings in a paper that will appear in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    “Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born,” said Fabio Pacucci of Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in Pisa, Italy, who led the study. “We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps.”

    Scientists believe a supermassive black hole lies in the center of nearly all large galaxies, including our own Milky Way. They have found that some of these supermassive black holes, which contain millions or even billions of times the mass of the sun, formed less than a billion years after the start of the universe in the Big Bang.

    One theory suggests black hole seeds were built up by pulling in gas from their surroundings and by mergers of smaller black holes, a process that should take much longer than found for these quickly forming black holes.

    These new findings suggest instead that some of the first black holes formed directly when a cloud of gas collapsed, bypassing any other intermediate phases, such as the formation and subsequent destruction of a massive star.

    “There is a lot of controversy over which path these black holes take,” said co-author Andrea Ferrara, also of SNS. “Our work suggests we are narrowing in on an answer, where the black holes start big and grow at the normal rate, rather than starting small and growing at a very fast rate.”

    The researchers used computer models of black hole seeds combined with a new method to select candidates for these objects from long-exposure images from Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer.

    The team found two strong candidates for black hole seeds. Both of these matched the theoretical profile in the infrared data, including being very red objects, and also emit X-rays detected with Chandra. Estimates of their distance suggest they may have been formed when the universe was less than a billion years old

    “Black hole seeds are extremely hard to find and confirming their detection is very difficult,” said Andrea Grazian, a co-author from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy. “However, we think our research has uncovered the two best candidates to date.”

    The team plans to obtain further observations in X-rays and the infrared to check whether these objects have more of the properties expected for black hole seeds. Upcoming observatories, such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope will aid in future studies by detecting the light from more distant and smaller black holes. Scientists currently are building the theoretical framework needed to interpret the upcoming data, with the aim of finding the first black holes in the universe.

    “As scientists, we cannot say at this point that our model is ‘the one’,” said Pacucci. “What we really believe is that our model is able to reproduce the observations without requiring unreasonable assumptions.”

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program while the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission, whose science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado.

    For more on NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/chandra

    For more on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

    For more on NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 4:32 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BIG Idea Challenge, In-space Spacecraft Assembly, NASA   

    From NASA: “BIG Idea Challenge Finalists Devise Crafty Concepts for In-space Spacecraft Assembly” 

    NASA image
    NASA

    Dec. 15, 2016
    Joe Atkinson
    NASA’s Langley Research Center

    Shelley Spears
    National Institute of Aerospace

    1
    NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace have selected five university teams to develop their concepts for in-space spacecraft assembly. Credits: Analytical Mechanics Associates

    2
    No image caption. Mo image credit.

    It’s a complex and daunting thing, dreaming up ways to assemble spacecraft in space.

    But don’t tell that to a few whip-smart college students — they’re up for the challenge.

    In fact, five university teams will soon get the chance to make the case for their in-space spacecraft assembly concepts as part of the 2017 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge.

    This year’s challenge asked teams to propose innovative concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft – particularly tugs – propelled by solar electric propulsion that transfer payloads from low-Earth orbit, to an orbit around the moon, or to a lunar distant retrograde orbit.

    After a competitive proposal review and selection process, a panel of judges selected five teams to continue with their designs. Finalists include, Tulane University, the University of Colorado Boulder, a multi-university team consisting of students from Georgia Tech, the University of Texas at Austin and New York University, as well as two teams from the University of Maryland.

    “These teams brought forth innovative approaches and impressive technical analysis for the design of modular solar electric propulsion orbit-transfer vehicles,” added Keith Belvin, principal technologist for structures, materials and nanotechnology in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and a judge for the challenge. “NASA plans to work with the students and their faculty advisors in development of their concepts to support space exploration beyond low Earth orbit.”

    Teams will present their final concepts to a panel of NASA experts during the 2017 BIG Idea Forum, scheduled for Feb. 15-16 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

    The BIG Idea Challenge is sponsored by NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development Program.

    “The BIG Idea Challenge provides a great opportunity to engage undergraduates and get them involved in solving real problems that NASA scientists and engineers encounter when developing technology for NASA needs,” said Game Changing Development Program Executive and BIG Idea judge LaNetra Tate. “The response to this year’s challenge was awesome, and the submissions show the technical sophistication of our next generation’s scientists and engineers.”

    NASA’s goal for in-space assembly of modular spacecraft is to reduce launch mass and to enable the construction of larger structures in space in a way that reduces costs associated with deep space exploration. Use of solar electric propulsion spacecraft could provide an efficient and cost-effective solution for delivering essential payloads needed for expansion beyond Earth’s boundaries.

    Each of the final five teams proposed unique system designs that provide the potential ability to construct large solar propulsion tugs in space. Some of their concepts employed new approaches for packaging modules that minimized launch loads, while others focused on modular solar arrays and ion engines, or robust robotic assembly of the modules that form the actual solar propulsion tug.

    During their design review at the BIG Idea Forum, the five finalists will compete to persuade the NASA judging panel that their concepts are not only revolutionary, but feasible as well. The team with the most promising concept will be offered an internship opportunity to continue working on its concept side-by-side with engineers and members of the Game Changing Development Program at NASA Langley during the summer of 2017.

    For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission directorate, go to:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    For more information about the 2017 Big Idea Challenge, please visit:

    http://bigidea.nianet.org/

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 8:54 am on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NASA, , Trump, Trump Adds Six More to NASA Transition Team   

    From SPACE.com: “Trump Adds Six More to NASA Transition Team” 

    space-dot-com logo

    SPACE.com

    December 11, 2016
    Brian Berger
    Jeff Foust

    1
    Steve Cook, left, and Aerojet Rocketyne’s Julie Van Kleeck brief reporters on the AR-1 engine at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in April. Credit: SpaceNews/Brian Berger

    The transition team for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump added six more people to the NASA landing team Friday, representing a range of viewpoints on topics such as commercial spaceflight and development of heavy-lift launch vehicles.

    Among the new landing team members is Steve Cook, who was in charge of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 rocket programs at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, until leaving the agency in 2009 for Huntsville-based Dynetics. The Ares program was canceled under President Barack Obama, but elements of both rockets were folded into NASA’s design for the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket the agency is building to launch the Orion crew vehicle on deep space missions.

    As a Dynetics corporate vice president, Cook has been closely involved in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s development of the AR-1 engine — a candidate to replace the Russian RD-180 on United Launch Alliance’s next-generation rocket.

    Offering a different perspective on those issues is Greg Autry, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California. Autry has written extensively in support of commercial spaceflight despite setbacks like the Falcon 9 pad explosion in September.

    Autry, in an October op-ed that outlines space policy recommendations for the next administration, took a harder line on the SLS. “We will discontinue spending on Space Launch System (SLS), a giant government rocket, lacking both innovation and a mission,” he wrote. “While SLS has consumed the largest single piece of NASA’s budget for years, private sector operators like SpaceX and Blue Origin have leapfrogged it with more efficient, reusable boosters.”

    A third new landing team member, Jack Burns, is a professor at the University of Colorado and senior vice president of the American Astronomical Society. He has been an advocate for lunar exploration, serving as director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR), a network of universities and NASA centers that studied the use of the moon to support space science research. He was also the chair of the NASA Advisory Council’s science committee in 2009 and 2010.

    The other members announced Friday are:

    Rodney Liesveld, a former senior policy adviser at NASA
    Sandy Magnus, a former NASA astronaut who flew on three missions, including a 4.5-month stay on the International Space Station, and has been executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 2012
    Jeff Waksman, a former research fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives

    The NASA landing team is led by Chris Shank, who worked for House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) until last week. Shank worked for NASA from 2005 to 2009, during the tenure of administrator Mike Griffin.

    Shank, formally named to the landing team Nov. 29, has already been meeting with NASA officials about transition issues. “We’ve had a great couple of days with Chris,” said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot at a Dec. 9 Space Transportation Association luncheon here. “He’s just starting the meetings with us, mostly at this point catching up on where we are on items. He’s asking a lot of questions and we’re working with him pretty well.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 12:59 pm on November 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R), NASA,   

    From NASA: “GOES-R” 

    NASA image
    NASA

    Undated
    No writer credit

    1
    Artist’s rendering of GOES-R. Credits: NASA

    The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is the next generation of geostationary weather satellites, planned for launch in 2016. The advanced spacecraft and instrument technology used on the GOES-R series will result in more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings. It will improve support for the detection and observations of meteorological phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property, and ultimately, economic health and development.

    The GOES-R series is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. The GOES-R satellite, the first of the series, will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring.

    The GOES-R spacecraft is designed for 10 years of on-orbit operation preceded by up to five years of on-orbit storage. The satellite will be able to operate through periodic station-keeping and momentum adjust maneuvers, which will allow for near-continuous instrument observations.

    2
    GOES-R with Earth in the background. Credits: NASA

    The GOES-R instrument suite consists of Earth sensing, solar imaging, and space environment measurement payloads. There are six primary instruments: the Advanced Baseline Imager; the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors, which includes an Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor, X-Ray Sensor, EUVS/XRS Electrical Box, and Sun Positioning Sensor; the Geostationary Lightning Mapper; the Magnetometer; the Space Environment In-Situ Suite, which includes an Energetic Heavy Ion Sensor, Magnetospheric Particle Sensor – Low Energy Range, Magnetospheric Particle Sensor – High Energy Range, Solar and Galactic Proton Sensor, and Data Processing Unit; and the Solar Ultraviolet Imager.

    The Launch Vehicle that will place GOES-R into geosynchronous orbit will be an Atlas V 541 expendable launch vehicle out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

    GOES-R will help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, flash floods, and other severe weather. In addition, GOES-R will monitor hazards such as aerosols, dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires and will also be used for space weather, oceanography, climate monitoring, in-situ data collection, and for search and rescue.

    The GOES system currently consists of GOES-13 operating as GOES-East in the eastern part of the constellation and GOES-15, operating as GOES-West. The GOES-R series will maintain the 2-satellite system implemented by the current GOES series. The GOES-R Series operational lifetime extends through December 2036.

    Learn more at http://www.goes-r.gov
    Related Links for GOES-R

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on October 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA, Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute (S3VI)   

    From NASA: “NASA Establishes the Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute” 

    NASA image
    NASA

    Oct. 21, 2016
    Loura Hall

    1
    No image caption. No image credit.

    NASA announces the addition of its newest virtual institute to advance the field of small spacecraft systems. The Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute (S3VI), hosted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will leverage the growing small spacecraft community, promote innovation, identify emerging technology opportunities, and provide an efficient channel for communication about small spacecraft systems with industry, academia, and other government agencies.

    “NASA sees enormous benefits from investing in research and technology development in small spacecraft systems, such as propulsion, that will be essential in advancing the commercial space sector,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “Over the past several years, NASA has increased the generation of new, innovative applications of small spacecraft, with several mission directorates using small spacecraft to meet their goals.”

    STMD established the Small Spacecraft Technology Program in 2011 to develop and demonstrate the unique capabilities of small spacecraft to support science, exploration and space operations. The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) each are using small spacecraft for a range of activities: earth and space science measurements to help understand our environment; investigations of microgravity effects on organisms to enable the safe exploration of space; and robotic precursors to maximize the productive use of space.

    The S3VI will coordinate with key activities such as STMD’s Cube Quest Challenge and HEOMD’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CLSI). These efforts will continue to offer opportunities for university students and industry to fly small spacecraft as auxiliary payloads on NASA launches.

    “The S3VI will provide the first one-stop shop for technical knowledge in the rapidly burgeoning small spacecraft technology fields,” said Jay Bookbinder, director of programs and projects at Ames. “This will result in more efficient development efforts, and enable smaller vendors to compete more effectively in this market.”

    Depending on the mission objective, a small spacecraft can range in size from a postage-stamp (under an ounce) up to the size of a refrigerator (about 400 pounds). Many recently launched NASA small spacecraft conform to the CubeSat standards – established by academia – in which a single cube (called a one-unit, or 1U) measures about 4 inches on each side, has an approximate volume of one quart, and weighs less than three pounds. The variety of sizes offers spacecraft capabilities tailored to specific science instruments, exploration sensors, or technology demonstrations.

    Over the next year, the S3VI will establish both a physical and virtual presence within NASA and the small spacecraft community at large. Strategic direction and tactical focus for the Institute will result from a series of community activities and workshops. The S3VI will engage with the small spacecraft communities, including academia, industry, and other government agencies to:

    Establish the Institute as the common portal into NASA for all small spacecraft activities. The Institute will capture information on small spacecraft activities and lessons learned; identify small spacecraft collaborative opportunities; and identify NASA points of contact for a variety of small spacecraft activities across the centers.

    Engage subject matter experts from across the small spacecraft communities to define the technical scope, policy issues and direction for the Institute.

    Host the Small Spacecraft Body of Knowledge (SSBK) as an online resource. This includes STMD’s Small Spacecraft Technology State of the Art report, a small spacecraft lessons learned library, a systems test data repository, reliability practices, etc.

    The S3VI portal will go live in early 2017, and is jointly sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Science Mission Directorate. The S3VI is hosted at and managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

    For more information about the Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    For more information about the Science Mission Directorate, visit:

    https://science.nasa.gov

    For more information about small satellites, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/smallsats

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 8:41 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DSCOVR, NASA,   

    From INVERSE: “Here’s what you should know about DSCOVR, this little-known but totally essential tool” 

    INVERSE

    INVERSE

    July 27, 2016
    Neel V. Patel

    1

    2
    https://directory.eoportal.org/web/eoportal/satellite-missions/d/dscovr

    3
    NISTAR on DSCOVR
    http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/noaas-dscovr-nistar-instrument-watches-earths-budget/#.V5oKGILCvRs

    4
    Credit: NOAA artist’s concept

    “Space weather impacts all those kinds of things,” says Douglas A. Biesecker, the chief program scientist for DSCOVR, based at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. “These are systems you and I don’t necessarily use on a day-to-day basis,” he tells Inverse, but they are critical for keeping our world spinning (figuratively speaking).

    DSCOVR resides in the very distant Lissajous orbit (about 930,000 miles away). It’s not the most well-known spacecraft orbiting the Earth, but it plays a critical role in helping scientists on Earth monitor space weather.

    As stated, the biggest concern about solar winds relates to power grids. Space weather could damage critical transformers that move power across large distances at very, very high voltages, and scale that power down to something suitable for our home. If an aberrant space weather event were to knock out those transformers, “it could take years to replace them all,” Biesecker says.

    “We consider it critical to provide customers with the best quality forecasts in the mornings.” DSCOVR can see an event from the sun — which produces energetic phenomena traveling at about one to four million miles per hour — and warns us humans to make preparations to protect essential tools, instruments, and infrastructure.

    The biggest advantage to DSCOVR over ACE is “the continuity of observations,” he says. “The quality of [ACE’s] data suffers frequently, explains Biesecker. NOAA issues space weather forecast alerts on a scale of 1 to 5. The “noise generated by the ACE data will, by default, add 1 to the scale. An alert under ACE turns out to be nothing as observed by DSCOVR. Its really been remarkable to see how much of a difference that makes to our models,” he says. “The data is unprecedented.”

    DSCOVR’s role as the world’s space weather meteorologist is all thanks to its Plasma-Magnetometer (PlasMag) instrument. “PlasMag provides us with data on the solar winds,” says Biesecker. “The magnetic field and its direction, and the solar winds’ speed, density, and temperature.” This is the information that helps inform NOAA what kind of warnings to send out to the public, as well as drive the models that illustrate how the planet is responding to these constant winds.

    In addition, Biesecker and other researchers are hoping to use DSCOVR for more ambitious forms of solar wind research. We’re delving so fast into new “atomic- scale physics”, like sampling shockwaves caused by coronal mass ejections “in very high detail,” he says.

    Besides that, however, DSCOVR has a couple other tricks up its sleeves. Two of its instruments, operated by NASA, have to do with observing Earth from such a far distance and providing a broader view of the planet and its activity. The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) takes photos of the full hemisphere of the sunlit side of Earth. “It’s why Al Gore was so interested in the mission,” says Biesecker. EPIC takes 12 “blue marble” images of the Earth every day. Blue Marble refers to an iconic photo taken during Apollo 17. It’s not just an inspiring view of the little rock we call home, but scientists can use these images to track weather patterns without having to stitch individual images together. A dozen different filters allow researchers to observe trends and movement in dust particles or pollution across the globe.

    The last instrument is the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR), which measures the energy being reflected by the sunlit side of the sun at any given moment. Scientists use this data to track how much radiation enters and exits the Earth’s climate system — an increasingly important data point in the face of climate change.

    Overall, DSCOVR is perhaps the most underrated essential space instrument used by NASA and NOAA. It’s a multitasking boss that gives us a heads up when the sun is getting a little violent, and provides us with no shortage of lunar photobombs. It’s precisely the type of thing experts and space-newbies alike can get behind.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 2:32 pm on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Milky Way Galaxy’s 'Halo', NASA   

    From NASA: “Astronomers Discover Dizzying Spin of the Milky Way Galaxy’s ‘Halo’ “ 

    NASA image

    NASA

    July 25, 2016
    Felicia Chou
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

    Astronomers at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) discovered for the first time that the hot gas in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy is spinning in the same direction and at comparable speed as the galaxy’s disk, which contains our stars, planets, gas, and dust. This new knowledge sheds light on how individual atoms have assembled into stars, planets, and galaxies like our own, and what the future holds for these galaxies.

    1
    Our Milky Way galaxy and its small companions are surrounded by a giant halo of million-degree gas (seen in blue in this artists’ rendition) that is only visible to X-ray telescopes in space. University of Michigan astronomers discovered that this massive hot halo spins in the same direction as the Milky Way disk and at a comparable speed. Credits: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss/Ohio State/A Gupta et al, 2012

    “This flies in the face of expectations,” says Edmund Hodges-Kluck, assistant research scientist. “People just assumed that the disk of the Milky Way spins while this enormous reservoir of hot gas is stationary – but that is wrong. This hot gas reservoir is rotating as well, just not quite as fast as the disk.”

    The new NASA-funded research using the archival data obtained by XMM-Newton, a European Space Agency telescope, was recently published [Published 2016 April 27] in the Astrophysical Journal. The study focuses on our galaxy’s hot gaseous halo, which is several times larger than the Milky Way disk and composed of ionized plasma.

    Because motion produces a shift in the wavelength of light, the U-M researchers measured such shifts around the sky using lines of very hot oxygen. What they found was groundbreaking: The line shifts measured by the researchers show that the galaxy’s halo spins in the same direction as the disk of the Milky Way and at a similar speed—about 400,000 mph for the halo versus 540,000 mph for the disk.

    “The rotation of the hot halo is an incredible clue to how the Milky Way formed,” said Hodges Kluck. “It tells us that this hot atmosphere is the original source of a lot of the matter in the disk.”

    Scientists have long puzzled over why almost all galaxies, including the Milky Way, seem to lack most of the matter that they otherwise would expect to find. Astronomers believe that about 80% of the matter in the universe is the mysterious “dark matter” that, so far, can only be detected by its gravitational pull. But even most of the remaining 20% of “normal” matter is missing from galaxy disks. More recently, some of the “missing” matter has been discovered in the halo. The U-M researchers say that learning about the direction and speed of the spinning halo can help us learn both how the material got there in the first place, and the rate at which we expect the matter to settle into the galaxy.

    “Now that we know about the rotation, theorists will begin to use this to learn how our Milky Way galaxy formed – and its eventual destiny,” says Joel Bregman, a U-M LSA professor of astronomy.

    “We can use this discovery to learn so much more – the rotation of this hot halo will be a big topic of future X-ray spectrographs,” Bregman says.

    For more information, please visit:

    http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xmm/xmmgof.html

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 10:15 pm on July 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, , NASA   

    From CSIRO: “Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    We manage and operate one of NASA’s three tracking stations that provide continuous, two-way radio contact with spacecraft exploring our Solar System and beyond.

    Located at Tidbinbilla, just outside Australia’s capital city, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is one of three Deep Space Network stations around the world. The Complex’s sister stations are located at Goldstone in California, and near Madrid in Spain. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with more than 40 spacecraft, including missions to study Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, comets, the Moon and the Sun.

    There are currently four antennas operating at the Canberra station: one 70-metre and three 34-metre radio dishes that receive data from, and transmit commands to, spacecraft on deep space missions. One further 34-metre antenna is under construction.

    1

    Tracking spacecraft with Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

    In 2015 the Canberra station celebrates 50 years of operation. In 1965 it helped to receive the first close-up pictures of the surface of Mars, taken by the Mariner 4 spacecraft. Since then, it has been involved in hundreds of missions, including the Apollo missions to the Moon, the Skylab space station, and the early flights of the Space Shuttle. In August 2012 it carried the signals confirming the landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars, and in 2015 it will have another starring role – receiving some of the first images of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft.

    The Complex is currently supporting missions, including:

    Cassini spacecraft at Saturn
    Mars missions – including the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers
    Messenger spacecraft currently orbiting Mercury
    New Horizons spacecraft travelling to Pluto, and
    Voyager 1 and 2, which have been in space for over 37 years.

    Not all these missions are NASA’s. From time to time the Complex also supports the missions of other space organisations.

    Research with Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

    The Complex is also involved in radio astronomy research. NASA makes available approximately five per cent of time on the 70-m antenna for research programs, which includes detection of objects such as black holes and pulsars, radio-frequency cataloguing, and linking with other telescopes for high-resolution imaging using a technique called very long baseline interferometry.

    Fast facts about Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

    The Complex is a NASA facility managed by CSIRO on behalf of the Australian Government; it operates through a government-to-government, treaty-level agreement.
    Activities of the Deep Space Network are coordinated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

    NASA JPL Icon

    The Canberra station was officially opened on 19 March 1965; it was then known as the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Instrument Facility.
    Tidbinbilla was chosen as the location for the Australian facility because it is close to the capital, Canberra, and hills shield the site from radio-frequency interference.
    The Complex’s antennas operate at frequencies from 1660 MHz to 32 GHz.
    Each day the antennas receive hundreds of gigabytes of data, including thousands of images, from dozens of spacecraft.
    Approximately 90 staff support the 24-hour operation of the Complex.
    The 26-metre antenna that was originally located at Honeysuckle Creek and returned the first images of the Apollo 11 Moon walk in 1969 has been retired and relocated to the station at Tidbinbilla.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:03 pm on July 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA   

    From NASA: “Looking Up at New Work Platforms in the Vehicle Assembly Building” Quite an Image 

    NASA image

    NASA

    July 13, 2016
    Editor: Sarah Loff

    In this view looking up from the floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, four levels of new work platforms are now installed on the north and south sides of High Bay 3. The G-level work platforms were most recently installed, at about the 14th floor level. Below them are the H, J and K level platforms.

    The G-level work platforms are the fourth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.

    1
    Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

    [There is not much of a story here; but I could not let the image go by.]

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
  • richardmitnick 11:33 am on July 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA, SLS   

    From NASA: “A Peek Inside SLS: Fuel Tank For World’s Largest Rocket Nears Completion” 

    NASA image

    NASA

    July 8, 2016
    Jennifer Harbaugh

    1
    Image Credit: NASA/Michoud/Steven Seipel

    While this may look like a futuristic tunnel to another world, it is really looking up inside a nearly complete fuel tank for NASA’s powerful, new rocket—the Space Launch System—that will take humans to destinations never explored by people before.

    At over 300-feet tall and 5.75 million pounds at liftoff, SLS needs plenty of fuel to leave Earth. Once a final dome is added to the liquid hydrogen rocket fuel tank, shown here, it will come in at 27.5-feet in diameter and over 130-feet long, making it the largest major part of the SLS core stage.

    The core stage forms the rocket’s backbone and has five major parts, all of which are being manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Core stage tanks carry all the cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen combusted in four RS-25 engines to produce two million pounds of thrust.

    The tank holds 537,000 gallons of chilled liquid hydrogen that is completely combusted in the engines in the short 8.5 minutes it takes to send the SLS and Orion crew vehicle into orbit. The blue section, shown here, is part of the world’s largest robotic weld tool in the Vehicle Assembly Center at Michoud. Inside the tool, five barrels and one dome were welded to make the tank, shown here in silver; engineers will cap it with one more dome to complete tank welding.

    While the tank is smooth on the outside, the inside appears to have ridges because the cylindrical barrels that form the tank are manufactured with square patterns created by stiffening ribs machined into them to make the walls light but uniformly strong in every direction. When it is finished, a barge will carry this tank to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. While this qualification tank won’t actually fly, it will be tested at Marshall in a stand that simulates launch and ascent forces.

    Traveling to deep space requires a large vehicle that can carry huge payloads, and SLS will have the power and payload capacity needed to carry crew and cargo needed for exploration missions to deep space, including Mars. For the first flight of the SLS rocket, the Block I configuration can lift 70-metric-tons (77 tons).

    The next planned upgrade of SLS, known as Block 1B, will use a more powerful exploration upper stage for more ambitious missions with a 105-metric-ton (115-ton) lift capacity. For both configurations, SLS will use the same core stage and four RS-25 engines. The Boeing Co., headquartered in Chicago, is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, including avionics, and Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California, is the prime contractor for the RS-25 engines.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

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

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

     
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