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  • richardmitnick 11:29 pm on April 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "SOFIA Upgrading One-of-a-kind Camera", DLR German Aerospace [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.](DE), , National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US), Universities Space Research Association (US)   

    From Universities Space Research Association (US) : “SOFIA Upgrading One-of-a-kind Camera” 

    usra-bloc

    From Universities Space Research Association (US)

    April 23, 2021

    Suraiya Farukhi, Ph.D.
    Director, External Communications
    sfarukhi@usra.edu
    443-812-6945

    After making numerous discoveries of how magnetic fields shape our universe, an instrument flying on board the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is about to get even faster at gathering data.

    1
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/DLR German Aerospace(DE) SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera awaits installation.on SOFIA. The aircraft is in the background. Image credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US).

    SOFIA is upgrading the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus, or HAWC+ with four new detectors that will allow it to study magnetic fields in distant galaxies four times faster than its current rate.

    “We want to speed up the pace of scientific discovery, and we can do that by making HAWC+ even better,” said Dr. Margaret Meixner, Director of Science Mission Operations at Universities Space Research Association. “This upgrade is part of a number of initiatives we’re implementing to take SOFIA into the future.”

    The HAWC+ upgrade is expected to be completed by 2023 and is the first step in the proposed outline for future instrumentation of SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. Based on feedback from a scientifically diverse group of astronomers, two additional instruments are envisioned that will enhance SOFIA’s ability to make new discoveries.

    HAWC+ is the only currently operating instrument in the world in an observatory that uses far-infrared light and has a polarimeter, a device that measures polarized light from celestial dust grains, to infer the shape and direction of magnetic fields.

    Scientists are eager to learn more about the role magnetic fields play in shaping galaxies and the formation of stars,and observations like those SOFIA provides, using far infrared light, are critical to getting a clearer picture.

    Flying at 40,000 feet and above the interfering layers of the atmosphere, SOFIA offers a one-of-a-kind platform for observing the infrared universe. Because it returns to the ground after each flight, its instruments can easily be exchanged, serviced or upgraded to harness new technologies that may one day be optimized to fly in space.

    According to the roadmap published earlier, two new instruments envisioned for SOFIA include a highly sensitive spectrometer and a terahertz mapper. The highly sensitive sperctometer improves SOFIA’s ability to measure faint signals by a factor of 10. With this spectometer, SOFIA could, for the first time, measure the mass of gas, water vapor and ice in the earliest phases of planet formation enabling astronomers to learn how planetary systems form. The new terahertz mapper would build on the success of another of SOFIA’s current flagship instruments, the German Receiver at Terahertz Frequencies, or GREAT, by using similar technology with100 pixels–an increase from GREAT’s 14 pixels. This will allow the new instrument to make observations 14 times faster.

    SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US) and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (US) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute [Deütsches SOFIA Institut] at the University of Stuttgart[Universität Stuttgart] (DE). The aircraft is maintained and operated from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Hangar 703, in Palmdale, California.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.

    SIGNIFICANCE & PURPOSE

    USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of space would require an established research base to develop novel concepts and innovative technologies. Together, they worked to create USRA to satisfy not only the ongoing need for innovation in space, but also the need to involve society more broadly so the benefits of space activities would be realized.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on March 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The solar wind explained", , How was the solar wind discovered?, In 1859 a giant solar eruption known as the Carrington Event shut down telegraph and electrical systems for days., National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US), Pioneering physicist Eugene Parker, Richard Carrington, The corona is so hot that the sun’s gravity can’t hold it so particles are flung off into space and travel throughout the solar system in every direction., These particles-mostly protons and electrons-are traveling about a million miles per hour as they pass Earth., This flow of particles called the “solar wind” has an enormous impact on our lives., , What is NASA’s Parker Probe?, What is the solar wind?, What mysteries remain about the solar wind?   

    From University of Chicago: “The solar wind explained” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    Mar 10, 2021
    Louise Lerner

    1
    Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US).

    The solar wind is a flow of particles that comes off the sun at about one million miles per hour and travels throughout the entire solar system. First proposed in the 1950s by University of Chicago physicist Eugene Parker, the solar wind is visible in the halo around the sun during an eclipse and sometimes when the particles hit the Earth’s atmosphere—as the aurora borealis, or northern lights.

    While the solar wind protects Earth from other harmful particles coming from space, storms can also threaten our satellite and communications networks.

    What is the solar wind?

    The surface of the sun is blisteringly hot at 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere, called the corona, is more than a thousand times hotter. It is also incredibly active; those flares and loops are the halo you see around the sun when there’s an eclipse.

    1
    Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US).

    The corona is so hot that the sun’s gravity can’t hold it so particles are flung off into space and travel throughout the solar system in every direction. As the sun spins, burns and burps, it creates complex swirls and eddies of particles. These particles-mostly protons and electrons-are traveling about a million miles per hour as they pass Earth.

    This flow of particles called the “solar wind” has an enormous impact on our lives. It protects us from stray cosmic rays coming from elsewhere in the galaxy—but the effects of storms on the sun’s surface can also affect our telecommunications networks. The wind would also pose a threat to astronauts traveling through space, so NASA wants to get a better understanding of its properties.

    The science behind what is happening on the sun’s surface is enormously complex; read more about it at NASA.

    How was the solar wind discovered?

    In 1957, Eugene Parker was an assistant professor at the University of Chicago when he began looking into an open question in astrophysics: Are particles coming off of the sun? Such a phenomenon seemed unlikely; Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t flow out into space, and many experts presumed the same would be true for the sun. But scientists had noticed an odd phenomenon: The tails of comets, no matter which direction they traveled, always pointed away from the sun—almost as though something was blowing them away.

    Parker began to do the math. He calculated that if the sun’s corona was a million degrees, there had to be a flow of particles expanding away from its surface, eventually becoming extremely fast—faster than the speed of sound. He would later name the phenomenon the “solar wind.”

    “And that’s the end of the story, except it isn’t, because people immediately said, ‘I don’t believe it,’” Parker said.

    3
    Prof. Eugene Parker in his office, circa 1977. Credit: Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center.

    He wrote a paper and submitted it to The Astrophysical Journal; the response from scientific reviewers was swift and scathing.

    “You must understand how unbelievable this sounded when he proposed it,” said Fausto Cattaneo, a UChicago professor of astronomy and astrophysics. “That this wind not only exists, but is traveling at supersonic speed! It is extraordinarily difficult to accelerate anything to supersonic speeds in the laboratory, and there is no means of propulsion.”

    Luckily, the editor of the journal at the time was eminent astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Parker’s colleague at the University of Chicago. Chandrasekhar didn’t like the idea either, but the future Nobel laureate couldn’t find anything wrong with Parker’s math, so he overruled the reviewers and published the paper.

    Only three years later, when a NASA spacecraft called Mariner II took readings on its journey to Venus in 1962, the results were unambiguous.

    NASA Mariner 2 spacecraft.

    “There was the solar wind, blowing 24/7,” Parker said.

    How does the solar wind effect us?

    The breakthrough discovery reshaped our picture of space and the solar system. Scientists came to understand that the solar wind not only flows past Earth, but throughout the solar system and beyond. It also both protects and threatens us.

    “The solar wind magnetically blankets the solar system, protecting life on Earth from even higher-energy particles coming from elsewhere in the galaxy,” explained UChicago astrophysicist Angela Olinto. “But it also affects the sophisticated satellite communications we have today. So understanding the precise structure and dynamics and evolution of the solar wind is crucial for civilization as a whole.”

    3
    An artist’s rendering of the solar wind particles coming towards Earth. Credit: NASA.

    Normally, Earth’s magnetic field shields us from most of these particles.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.

    But sometimes, the sun “burps,” throwing a billion tons of material into space flying at several thousand kilometers per second. These are called coronal mass ejections—and if a big one happened to hit Earth, the shockwave could cause chaos and damage to our communication systems. “It can cause the magnetic field that surrounds Earth to ring like a struck bell,” said Prof. Justin Kasper, a UChicago alum now a physicist at the University of Michigan(US). Such a scenario would generate all kinds of disturbances: Aircraft would lose radio communication, GPS would be thrown off by up to miles, and banking, communications and electronic systems could be knocked out.

    This has actually happened before: In 1859 a giant solar eruption known as the Carrington Event shut down telegraph and electrical systems for days.

    4
    The 1859 Carrington Event. Credit: Dan Maloney
    Like many Victorian gentlemen of means, Richard Carrington did not need to sully himself with labor; instead, he turned his energies to the study of natural philosophy. It was the field of astronomy to which Carrington would apply himself, but unlike other gentlemen of similar inclination, he began his studies not as the sun set, but as it rose. Our star held great interest for Carrington, and what he saw on its face the morning of September 1, 1859, would astonish him. On that morning, as he sketched an unusual cluster of sunspots, the area erupted in a bright flash as an unfathomable amount of energy stored in the twisted ropes of the Sun’s magnetic field was released, propelling billions of tons of star-stuff on a collision course with Earth.

    Carrington had witnessed a solar flare, and the consequent coronal mass ejection that would hit Earth just 17 hours later would result in a geomagnetic storm of such strength that it would be worldwide news the next day, and would bear his name into the future. The Carrington Event of 1859 was a glimpse of what our star is capable of under the right circumstances, the implications of which are sobering indeed given the web of delicate connections we’ve woven around and above the planet.

    The aurora borealis was so strong that people reported being able to read a newspaper by its light even at 1 o’clock in the morning. “There was a ghastly splendor over the horizon of the North, from which fantastic spires of light shot up, and a rosy glow extended, like a vapor tinged with fire, to the zenith,” wrote the Cincinnati Daily Commercial.

    But in 1859, we weren’t as reliant on electronics as we are today. A 2013 study by Lloyd’s of London estimated that a similar storm hitting Earth today could cause up to $2.6 trillion in damages to the United States alone, and would trigger widespread blackouts and damages to electrical grids.

    There are some precautions we could take if we had advance notice, which is why engineers want to know when a solar storm is incoming. Luckily, several spacecraft orbiting the sun take pictures and send them back to Earth so that NASA can monitor for eruptions. (You can see current space weather conditions here.) But analyzing these images still requires an eruption to first show up on the sun’s surface, which only provides minutes or hours of warning. As of now, there still isn’t way to predict such eruptions before they happen.

    A better understanding of the solar wind also factors into another human venture: space travel. Some solar wind particles are extremely energetic, and could poke tiny holes through important spacecraft equipment—not to mention human bodies. In order to protect astronauts, NASA needs to understand the components, characteristics, and frequencies of such particles, as well as how to forecast space weather in advance for safe journeys.

    What mysteries remain about the solar wind?

    One of the biggest problems facing space weather forecasters is that we still don’t know why the atmosphere of the sun is so much hotter than the surface.

    4
    This combination of three wavelengths of light from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory led to a series of slow coronal puffs on Jan. 17, 2013. Credit: NASA.

    NASA/SDO.

    In everyday life, you’d expect the temperature to decrease steadily as you get further away from a heat source, like moving your hand away from a fire. But that’s not what happens on the sun. In this case, the heat comes from fusion happening in the sun’s core, which gradually cools to 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface—then shoots up again to millions of degrees in the corona.

    Many theories have been proposed. Scientists know that the entire surface of the sun is constantly churning and erupting; perhaps there are smaller “nanoflares” (each still packing the energy of a 10-megaton hydrogen bomb) constantly erupting all over the sun’s surface that carry heat to the atmosphere. There are also magnetic fields interacting at the sun’s surface; it’s possible these magnetic fields are hitting each other with explosive force billions of times per second—“canceling” each other out, but heating the atmosphere in the process.

    Questions that scientists would like to answer include:

    Why is the corona so much hotter than the surface of the sun? How does the solar wind accelerate away from the sun?
    How fast are the particles moving, and how hot are they getting?
    Are magnetic fields heating the particles, or are there mechanical waves coming from the surface of the sun? (or both?)

    A deeper understanding of these processes could help forecast space weather that affects life on Earth, reveal more about the conditions that astronauts in orbit above our world and journeying for long distances would face, and even provide clues about what kinds of star activity might favor habitability on distant planets.

    But to get answers, we need to get close to the sun itself.

    What is NASA’s Parker Probe?

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering physicist Eugene Parker.

    Scientists have been eager for a mission to the sun since space travel first became possible. Not only is the sun vital to life on Earth, it is also by far the closest star we can study. But the extreme temperatures meant that scientists needed to wait for the development of technology that could shield the spacecraft from the intense heat and radiation of the sun.

    In 2018, this dream finally came true. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe—named for Eugene Parker in honor of his pioneering research—began a seven-year journey to the blisteringly hot corona of the sun on Aug. 12, 2018. The probe is the fastest-moving object built by humans, traveling at more than 150,000 miles per hour. It’s so fast that it’s already made several trips around the sun.

    5
    A year after the launch of Parker Solar Probe, NASA scientist Nicola Fox sits down with the mission’s namesake, Prof. Emeritus Eugene Parker, to discuss their findings so far. Credit U Chicago.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts. The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus is located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. It enrolled 16,445 students in Fall 2019, including 6,286 undergraduates and 10,159 graduate students. The University of Chicago is ranked among the top universities in the world by major education publications, and it is among the most selective in the United States.

    The university is composed of one undergraduate college and five graduate research divisions, which contain all of the university’s graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees. Chicago has eight professional schools: the Law School, the Booth School of Business, the Pritzker School of Medicine, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Divinity School, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. The university has additional campuses and centers in London, Paris, Beijing, Delhi, and Hong Kong, as well as in downtown Chicago.

    University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including economics, law, literary criticism, mathematics, religion, sociology, and the behavioralism school of political science, establishing the Chicago schools in various fields. Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory produced the world’s first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction in Chicago Pile-1 beneath the viewing stands of the university’s Stagg Field. Advances in chemistry led to the “radiocarbon revolution” in the carbon-14 dating of ancient life and objects. The university research efforts include administration of DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory(US) and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory(US), as well as the U Chicago Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts (MBL)(US). The university is also home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States. The Barack Obama Presidential Center is expected to be housed at the university and will include both the Obama presidential library and offices of the Obama Foundation.

    The University of Chicago’s students, faculty, and staff have included 100 Nobel laureates as of 2020, giving it the fourth-most affiliated Nobel laureates of any university in the world. The university’s faculty members and alumni also include 10 Fields Medalists, 4 Turing Award winners, 52 MacArthur Fellows, 26 Marshall Scholars, 27 Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 National Humanities Medalists, 29 living billionaire graduates, and have won eight Olympic medals.

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics; establishing revolutionary theories of economics; and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

     
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