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  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on August 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Space Agency's Euclid telescope, , , , , , , NASA's Lucy mission, NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope, Parker Solar Probe Plus, Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “Here Are NASA’s Wild Plans to Explore Time And Space For The Next 10 Years” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    21 AUG 2019
    MORGAN MCFALL-JOHNSEN

    1
    NASA hopes to reach a dead planet called Psyche. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

    NASA’s 10-year plan involves billions of dollars and spans millions of miles. And much like the universe, it’s only expanding.

    Last year, the agency announced that it’s planning to send astronauts back to the Moon and eventually build a base there, with a Mars-bound mission to follow in the years after that.

    In June, the agency introduced a mission that aims to fly a nuclear-powered helicopter over the surface of Titan, an icy Moon of Saturn’s, to scan for alien life. NASA wants to looking for life in other places too, like the ocean below the icy surface of Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Other future missions will try to photograph our entire cosmic history and map the dark matter and dark energy that govern our Universe.

    Here are some of NASA’s biggest and most ambitious plans for the coming decade.
    1. Several ground-breaking NASA missions are already in progress, including the Parker Solar Probe, which will will rocket past the Sun a total of 24 times.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    Launched: August 12, 2018

    Arrived: November 5, 2018

    The probe is travelling closer to the Sun than anything from Earth before it. The mission aims to investigate the forces behind solar wind, which could inform efforts to protect technology on Earth from the Sun’s flare-ups.

    Parker slingshots around the Sun at record speeds of up to 213,200 mph (343,000 km/h); it’s currently approaching its third close encounter. A powerful heat shield keeps the spacecraft’s equipment cool.

    The Parker Solar Probe will get closer to the sun than any other probe before it. (NASA Goddard/Youtube)

    2. Far from the Sun, New Horizons is exploring the Kuiper Belt, a region of millions of chunks of ice left over from the Solar System’s birth.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Launched: January 19, 2006

    Arrived at Ultima Thule: January 1, 2019

    The New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto and the ice dwarfs surrounding it in 2015. In January, the spacecraft reached the farthest object anything human-made has ever visited: a snowman-shaped space rock called 2014 MU69 (or Ultima Thule).

    It sent back the following video of Ultima Thule, though it will likely take until late 2020 for scientists to receive and download all the data from New Horizons’ flyby.

    So far, we’ve learned that the primordial object contains methanol, water ice, and organic molecules.

    3. On the surface of Mars, the InSight lander is listening for quakes.

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    Launched: May 5, 2018

    Arrived: November 26, 2018

    Since the InSight lander touched down on the surface of the red planet, it has detected dozens of Mars quakes. The early data is giving scientists new insight into the planet’s internal structure.

    4
    Illustration of the InSight lander on Mars. (NASA/JPL-CaltechAn)

    4. A new Mars rover will join InSight next year. NASA is currently building the vehicle in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    5
    Members of NASA’s Mars 2020 project after attaching the rover’s mast. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    5. Researchers hope a future mission to Mars could return the Martian rock samples that the Mars 2020 rover collects back to Earth.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    Until NASA sends another robot to Mars that could launch the stored samples to Earth, the 2020 rover will store the samples in its belly and search for a place on Mars where it can stash them for pickup.

    6
    Proposed Mars Sample Return mission launching samples towards Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Planned launch: July 2020

    Anticipated arrival: February 2021

    The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of ancient microbial alien life on the red planet, collect and stash rock samples, and test out technology that could pave the way for humans to walk the Martian surface one day.

    You can tune in to NASA’s live broadcast of the Mars 2020 rover’s construction anytime to watch the US$2.1 billion mission take shape.

    6. NASA eventually hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars. But before that, the agency plans to return astronauts to the Moon and built a lunar base there.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: 2024

    NASA wants to send humans to the Moon again by 2024. Those would be the first boots on the lunar surface since the Apollo program ended over 45 years ago. This time, however, NASA wants to build a Moon-orbiting space station with a reusable lunar-landing system.

    The idea is that the lunar base could allow for more in-depth scientific research of the Moon, and potentially even enable us to mine resources there that could be converted to fuel for further space travel.

    7. From the lunar surface, astronauts may springboard to Mars.

    Planned launch: 2030s

    Anticipated arrival: 2030s

    The next Moon mission will test deep-space exploration systems that NASA hopes will carry humans on to Mars.

    Astronauts travelling to Mars would have to spend about three years away from Earth. In order to explore of the red planet, human travellers would have to be able to use the materials available on the lunar and Martian surfaces.

    NASA is already designing future astronauts’ gear. They’re sending spacesuit material on the Mars 2020 rover to test how it holds up in the planet’s harsh atmosphere. A deep-space habitat competition this year yielded a 3D-printable pod that could be constructed using materials found on Mars.

    6
    Concept illustration of Martian habitats. (JPL/NASA)

    8. NASA also plans to investigate our Solar System’s past by launching a mission to an asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter.

    Planned launch: October 2021

    Anticipated arrival: 2027

    A mysterious swarm of Trojan asteroids – the term for space rocks that follow planets – trail Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. NASA’s Lucy mission plans to visit six of them.

    “We know very little about these objects,” Jim Green, the leader of NASA’s planetary science program, said in a NASA video. “They may be captured asteroids, comets, or even Kuiper Belt objects.”

    What we do know is that the objects are as old as the Sun, so they can serve as a kind of fossil record of the Solar System.

    9. Relatively nearby, a spacecraft will scan for alien life in the saltwater ocean on Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Planned launch: 2020s

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    When Galileo Galilei first looked at Jupiter through his homemade telescope in 1610, he spotted four Moons circling the planet. Nearly 400 years later, NASA’s Galileo mission found evidence that one of those Moons, Europa, conceals a vast ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust.

    NASA is planning to visit that ocean with the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will fly by the Moon 45 times, getting as close at 16 miles above the Moon’s surface.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated

    Clipper will fly through water vapour plumes that shoot out from Europa’s surface (as seen in the NASA visual above) to analyse what might be in the ocean. Radar tools will also measure the thickness of the ice and scan for subsurface water.

    10. That investigation could help scientists prepare to land a future spacecraft on Europa’s surface and punch through the ice.

    6
    NASA’s Lucy mission visiting asteroids near Jupiter. (Southwest Research Institute)

    Anticipated launch and arrival: Unknown

    The future lander would search for signs of life in the ocean, digging 4 inches below the surface to extract samples for analysis in a mini, on-the-go laboratory.

    11. A nuclear-powered helicopter called Dragonfly will take the search for alien life one planet further, to Saturn’s largest Moon, Titan.

    10
    Dragonfly visiting sampling location on Titan. (NASA)

    Planned launch: 2026

    Anticipated arrival: 2034

    Titan is a world with ice, liquid methane pools, and a thick nitrogen atmosphere. It somewhat resembles early Earth, since it has carbon-rich organic materials like methane and ethane. Scientists suspect that an ocean of liquid water might lurk 60 miles below the ice.

    All that makes Titan a contender for alien life.

    But getting to the distant, cold Moon is not easy – Saturn only gets about 1 percent of the sunlight that bathes Earth, so a spacecraft can’t rely on solar energy. Instead, Dragonfly will propel itself using the heat of decaying plutonium.

    12. Another NASA team is developing a spacecraft to probe the metal core of a dead planet called Psyche.

    Planned launch: 2022

    Anticipated arrival: 2026

    Most of the asteroids in our Solar System are made of rock or ice, but Psyche is composed of iron and nickel. That’s similar to the makeup of Earth’s core, so scientists think Psyche could be a remnant of an early planet that was decimated by violent collisions billions of years ago.

    NASA is sending a probe to find out.

    “This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” Linda Elkins-Tanton, who’s leading the mission, said in a press release. “This is the only way humans will ever visit a core.”

    If Psyche really is the exposed core of a dead planet, it could reveal clues about the Solar System’s early years.

    The probe NASA plans to send to Psyche would be the first spacecraft to use light, rather than radio waves, to transmit information back to Earth. The agency gave the team the green light to start the final design and early assembly process in June.

    13. NASA also has 176 missions in the works that use CubeSats: 4-by-4-inch cube-shaped nanotechnology satellites.

    11
    Three CubeSats ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory. (NASA)

    NASA is partnering with 93 organisations across the US on these CubeSat projects. Such satellites have already been built and sent to space by an elementary school, a high school, and the Salish Kootenai College of the Flathead Reservation in Montana.

    The first CubeSats sent to deep space trailed behind the InSight Mars lander last year. They successfully sent data from the InSight lander back to Earth as it landed on the Martian surface.

    One planned mission using the nanotechnology will use lasers to search for ice on the Moon’s shadowy south pole. It’s expected to launch in November 2020.

    Another CubeSat mission, also set to launch in 2020, will fly past an asteroid near Earth and send back data. It will be the first exploration of an asteroid less than 100 meters in diameter.

    That data will help scientists plan for future human missions to asteroids, where astronauts might mine resources as they explore deep space.

    14. Closer to home, the European Space Agency’s Euclid telescope will study dark matter and dark energy.

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    Planned launch and arrival: 2022

    Dark matter makes up 85 percent of the universe, but nobody is sure what it is. Part of the problem is that we can’t see it because it doesn’t interact with light.

    Dark matter’s gravity holds the entire universe together, while an unknown force called dark energy pushes everything apart. Dark energy is winning, and that’s why the universe is expanding.

    As Euclid orbits Earth, the space telescope will measure the universe’s expansion and attempt to map the mysterious geometry of dark matter and energy.

    NASA is working with the ESA on imaging and infrared equipment for the telescope.

    15. The James Webb Space Telescope, which has a massive, 18-panel mirror, will scan the universe for life-hosting planets and attempt to look back in time to photograph the Big Bang.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Planned launch and arrival: 2021

    It’s been almost 30 years since the Hubble Space Telescope launched. The James Webb Space Telescope is its planned replacement, and it packs new infrared technology to detect light beyond what the human eye can see.

    The telescope’s goal is to study every phase of the universe’s history in order to learn about how the first stars and galaxies formed, how planets are born, and where there might be life in the universe.

    A 21-foot-wide folding beryllium mirror will help the telescope observe faraway galaxies in detail. A five-layer, tennis court-size shield protects it from the Sun’s heat and blocks sunlight that could interfere with the images.

    16. The James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of capturing extremely faint signals. The farther it looks out into space, the more it will look back in time, so the telescope could even detect the first glows of the Big Bang.

    The telescope will also observe distant, young galaxies in detail we’ve never seen before.

    12
    The expanding universe. (NASA)

    17. The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is expected to detect thousands of new planets and test theories of general relativity and dark energy.

    NASA/WFIRST

    Planned launch and arrival: mid-2020s

    WFIRST’s field of view will be 100 times greater than Hubble’s. Over its five-year lifetime, the space telescope will measure light from a billion galaxies and survey the inner Milky Way with the hope of finding about 2,600 exoplanets.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:29 am on August 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This Superconductor Could Be Key to a Whole Different Type of Quantum Computer", Introducing the compound uranium ditelluride (UTe2) which a new study says could be used to build logic circuits with qubits., , Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “This Superconductor Could Be Key to a Whole Different Type of Quantum Computer” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    17 AUG 2019
    DAVID NIELD

    1
    (c1a1p1c1o1m1/iStock)

    For quantum computing to become fully realised, we’re going to have to make a few huge scientific leaps along the way – including finding a superconductor that can act in the same way as silicon does in today’s computing. A team of researchers thinks that search might now be over.

    Introducing the compound uranium ditelluride (UTe2), which a new study says could be used to build logic circuits with qubits – those super-powerful quantum bits that can be in two states at once.

    One of the major problems quantum physicists are currently coming up against is keeping those qubits operational and stable for long enough to do some actual computing with them. It’s a thorny issue known as quantum decoherence.

    What makes UTe2 stand out as a superconductor is its strong resistance to magnetic fields – resistance to the errors that could otherwise creep into quantum calculations.

    “This is potentially the silicon of the quantum information age,” says physicist Nick Butch, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). “You could use uranium ditelluride to build the qubits of an efficient quantum computer.”

    Butch and his colleagues stumbled on the quantum-friendly properties of UTe2 while investigating a variety of uranium-based magnets. The initial thinking was that UTe2 might become magnetic at low temperatures – and while that didn’t happen, the compound did become a superconductor.

    Technically, uranium ditelluride is a spin triplet, rather than a spin singlet, like most other superconductors are. This means that its Cooper pairs – electrons bound together at low temperatures – can be orientated differently.

    The physics can get very complex very quickly, but the important point is that these properties mean the Cooper pairs can be aligned in parallel rather than in opposition, and that in turn suggests UTe2 should retain its superconductivity in the face of external disturbances (threats to quantum coherence).

    “These parallel spin pairs could help the computer remain functional,” says Butch. “It can’t spontaneously crash because of quantum fluctuations.”

    One of the reasons why quantum computing can be a head-spinner is that there are several possible approaches to it, and scientists aren’t yet sure which one is going to work best (or at all).

    Using UTe2 in this way would take the topological quantum computing approach, an approach that hasn’t been explored as much as other options so far: essentially, it aims to encode qubits in a type of quasiparticle that may not actually exist.

    Much of topological quantum computing is still hypothetical, but its big advantage – if indeed it works – is that it wouldn’t require the same level of quantum error correction just to remain coherent and stable.

    That could give us logical qubits that work without the need for a lot of other qubits just for error correction. Topological quantum computing has challenges of its own, and we’re still a long way from a general purpose quantum computer, but it’s a step in the right direction – like many other exciting advancements we’re seeing.

    And the team thinks uranium ditelluride has a few more secrets to give up yet, both in regards to quantum computing and superconductors in general.

    “Exploring it further might give us insight into what stabilises these parallel-spin superconductors,” says Butch.

    “A major goal of superconductor research is to be able to understand superconductivity well enough that we know where to look for undiscovered superconductor materials.”

    “Right now we can’t do that. What about them is essential? We are hoping this material will tell us more.”

    The research has been published in Science.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Early Reports Indicate We May Have Detected a Black Hole And Neutron Star Collision", , , , , , If it really is a collision between a neutron star and a black hole it will be the first time such a binary system has ever been seen., , Merger event S190814bv, Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “Early Reports Indicate We May Have Detected a Black Hole And Neutron Star Collision” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    1
    This distant galaxy is the target of our telescopes. (UCSC Transients)

    It looks like we’ve bagged another win for gravitational wave astronomy. A new gravitational wave detection is the best candidate yet for a type of cosmic collision never seen – the elusive merger between a black hole and a neutron star.

    The event, called S190814bv, was detected by the LIGO and Virgo interferometers at 11 minutes past 9 pm UTC on 14 August. And, based on initial analysis, there’s a 99 percent chance that it’s a neutron star-black hole kaboom.

    MIT /Caltech Advanced aLigo


    Advanced Virgo

    Even as you read this, scientists are poring over data and staring hard at the sky, looking for the light that may have been left behind by the neutron star as it is absorbed into the black hole.

    “It’s like the night before Christmas,” astronomer Ryan Foley of the University of California, Santa Cruz told ScienceAlert. “I’m just waiting to see what’s under the tree.”

    Since that amazing first gravitational wave detection – a collision between two stellar mass black holes – was announced in February 2016, the field has been only growing stronger. The technology is so sophisticated it can detect collisions between two neutron stars – objects much less massive than black holes.

    Both neutron stars and black holes are the ultradense remains of a dead star, but we’ve never seen a black hole smaller than 5 times the mass of the Sun, or a neutron star larger than around 2.5 times the mass of the Sun.

    But a collision between a black hole and a neutron star has evaded us. One detection looked like it might have been such an event, earlier this year, but the odds were just 13 percent. And the signal to noise ratio was so low, astronomers didn’t follow it up.

    That’s not the case with S190814bv. The signal is really strong, and astronomers are excited – if it really is a collision between a neutron star and a black hole, it will be the first time such a binary system has ever been seen.

    This would mean that such binary systems, hypothetical until now, are indeed possible. We could even get clues as to their formation – did they form as a binary, living, growing and dying together? Or did the black hole capture a passing neutron star into its orbit?

    Believe it or not, we can learn that from the gravitational wave signal – ripples in spacetime caused by a massive collision, like a rock dropped in a pond – if it’s strong enough. Clues to the formation of the binary are encoded in the waveform, along with the masses of the individual objects, their velocity and acceleration.

    “From the gravitational wave signal, one can get information about the spins of the individual objects and their orientation compared with the axis to the orbit,” physicist Peter Veitch from the University of Adelaide in Australia and OzGrav (the Australian branch of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) told ScienceAlert.

    “[We’re] looking to see whether the rotational spin of the individual objects are aligned with each other, which might suggest that they were initially in a binary system. Whereas if one compact object was captured by another as galaxies merged, for example, then you might expect these objects have different spins pointing in different directions.”

    Foley and his colleagues are currently using the Keck Observatory to study a galaxy around 900 million light-years away.

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    That’s where they think the signal might have originated. They’re looking for electromagnetic radiation that might result from the collision involving a neutron star.

    And, of course, there’s the burning question: what do neutron star guts look like?

    “We would love to observe a black hole ripping a neutron star apart as they come together,” says theoretical physicist Susan Scott of the Australian National University and OzGrav.

    “This would give us vital information about the material which makes up the densest stars in the Universe – neutron stars – which remains a very big open question in the field.”

    If there’s no electromagnetic radiation detected, that could mean astronomers are simply looking in the wrong place. Or it could mean that the electromagnetic radiation is too weak to be detected.

    It could also mean a neutron star isn’t involved – which would be very interesting, because the signal suggests that the smaller object is less than three times the mass of the Sun. If it’s not a neutron star, it might instead be the smallest black hole we’ve ever detected.

    Or it could mean that the dynamics between a neutron star and a black hole as they smoosh together into a slightly bigger black hole are even weirder than we knew.

    “My favourite way to think about it (for the moment) is that if a black hole is much more massive than a neutron star, then when they merge, the neutron star will be torn apart inside the event horizon of the black hole! In that case, even if there’s plenty of light generated, none will escape the black hole for us to see,” Foley told ScienceAlert.

    “That is about as close to science fiction as you get.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:36 am on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Jupiter May Have Absorbed a Whole Other Planet Early On, , , , , Science Alert, Study Suggests"   

    From Science Alert: “Jupiter May Have Absorbed a Whole Other Planet Early On, Study Suggests” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    15 AUG 2019
    DAN ROBITZSKI

    1
    Jupiter. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill.

    Jupiter’s core is a bizarre mix of solid rocks mixed with a diffuse bubble of hydrogen gas. And the story of how it got that way has long eluded explanation.

    3
    An artist’s impression of a collision between a young Jupiter and a massive still-forming protoplanet in the early solar system. (Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan)

    6
    A rendering shows the effect of a major impact on the core of a young Jupiter. Researchers say the collision about 4.5 billion years ago could explain surprising readings from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (Credit: Shang-Fei Liu/Sun Yat-sen U.)
    But now scientists think they’re on to something, suggesting that the gas giant absorbed another protoplanet during a head-on collision some 4.5 billion years ago when our Solar System was forming, according to Science News.

    The hypothesis could finally explain why the planet’s core is so diffuse and fragmented – and also shed light on the Solar System’s earliest days.

    A team of astronomers from Japan, China, Switzerland, and the US used data from NASA’s Juno space probe to investigate Jupiter’s structure and composition, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

    They tested other possible explanations for how the inner core of Jupiter became so diffuse, such as gradual erosion caused by high-speed winds or the possibility that the core contained gas from the start.

    But the ancient impact, the scientists found, is not only a plausible explanation, but may be the one that best matches observational data.

    “Models of such a scenario lead to an internal structure that is consistent with a diluted core, persisting over billions of years,” the team writes in the study.

    If they’re right, it means our Solar System was a violent place colossal protoplanets could crash into one another and even merge.

    “We suggest that collisions were common in the young Solar System and that a similar event may have also occurred for Saturn, contributing to the structural differences between Jupiter and Saturn.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:19 am on August 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Science Alert   

    From Johns Hopkins University via Science Alert: “Fascinating New Study Claims Dark Matter May Be Older Than The Big Bang” 

    Johns Hopkins
    From Johns Hopkins University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    8 AUG 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    A simulated map of dark matter. (Tom Abel & Ralf Kaehler/KIPAC/SLAC/AMNH)

    Dark matter might well be the biggest mystery in the Universe. We know there’s something out there making things move faster than they should. But we don’t know what it is, and we sure as heck don’t know where it came from.

    According to a new paper [below], the origins of dark matter may be more peculiar than we know. Perhaps, they were particles that appeared in a very brief period of time, just fractions of fractions of a second, before the Big Bang.

    This doesn’t just suggest a new connection between particle physics and astronomy; if this hypothesis holds, it could indicate a new way to search for the mysterious stuff.

    “If dark matter consists of new particles that were born before the Big Bang, they affect the way galaxies are distributed in the sky in a unique way,” said astronomer and physicist Tommi Tenkanen of Johns Hopkins University.

    “This connection may be used to reveal their identity and make conclusions about the times before the Big Bang too.”

    It’s all tangled up with the order of events at the beginning of the Universe, which in itself is a pretty murky period of time.

    We think there was something called the Big Bang – although precisely what that entailed is still being debated. And we think there was something called cosmic inflation, a very brief period of time – a fraction of a second so small we don’t have a name for it – in which the Universe blew up like a balloon.

    Inflation

    4
    Alan Guth, from Highland Park High School and M.I.T., who first proposed cosmic inflation

    HPHS Owls

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex MittelmannColdcreation

    Alan Guth’s notes:

    Alan Guth’s original notes on inflation

    3
    (Drbogdan/Yinweichen/Wikimedia Commons)

    It seems more generally accepted that this occurred between around 10^-36 and 10^-32 seconds after the Big Bang. That model of inflation looks like the image above.

    But some scientists think it happened just before the Big Bang, in which case the Big Bang is the name given to the conditions in the Universe right at the end of inflation.

    At this stage we just have no way of knowing. As Harvard-Smithsonian theoretical physicist Avi Loeb said earlier this year, “the current situation for inflation is that it’s such a flexible idea, it cannot be falsified experimentally.” He was talking about whether or not cosmic inflation actually happened (also a matter of debate), but the statement works for the timing of the whoompf, too.

    Dark matter – which, according to our calculations, makes up around 80 percent of the matter in the Universe – is sometimes considered to be a product of the Big Bang.

    But “if dark matter were truly a remnant of the Big Bang, then in many cases researchers should have seen a direct signal of dark matter in different particle physics experiments already,” Tenkanen states.

    Instead, his mathematical modelling suggests that dark matter could have been a product of cosmic inflation. It’s not the first time this idea has been proposed, but Tenkanen has provided the maths that support it.

    And, if cosmic inflation occurred before the Big Bang, dark matter could have been around before the rest of the stuff in the primordial Universe Soup.

    This suggests that scalar particles could lead us to dark matter. These are particles with a spin of zero, and the inflaton theory – whereby a scalar field drove cosmic inflation – suggests that they were produced in abundance during this eyeblink of time.

    So far, we’ve only ever detected one scalar particle, the Higgs boson.

    Peter Higgs


    CERN CMS Higgs Event


    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    But that wouldn’t be able to tell us much about dark matter in and of itself anyway.

    “While this type of dark matter is too elusive to be found in particle experiments, it can reveal its presence in astronomical observations,” Tenkanen said.

    “We will soon learn more about the origin of dark matter when the Euclid satellite is launched in 2022.

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    It’s going to be very exciting to see what it will reveal about dark matter and if its findings can be used to peak into the times before the Big Bang.”

    It’s all highly theoretical stuff, but it’s about as good a lead as any on the mysterious matter that’s playing a key role in shaping our Universe. It’ll be fascinating to see how the search for dark matter plays out in the coming decade.

    The research has been published in Physical Review Letters.

    See the full article here .

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    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:16 am on August 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Science Alert   

    From Science Alert: “Astronomers Just Found an Absolutely Gargantuan Black Hole The Mass of 40 Billion Suns” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    6 AUG 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Abell 85. (NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Vikhlinin et al./SDSS)

    Black holes can get pretty big, but there’s a special class that is the biggest of the big, absolute yawning monster black holes. And astronomers seem to have found an absolute specimen, clocking in at 40 billion times the mass of the Sun.

    It’s at the centre of a galaxy called Holmberg 15A, a supergiant elliptical galaxy around 700 million light-years away, which in turn sits at the centre of the Abell 85 galaxy cluster.

    The object is one of the biggest black holes ever found, and the biggest found by tracking the movement of the stars around it.

    Previous calculations based on the dynamics of the galaxy and the cluster had resulted in Holm 15A* mass estimates of up to 310 billion times the mass of the Sun. However, these were all indirect measurements of the black hole. This new research marks the first direct measurement; the paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, and awaits peer review.

    “We use orbit-based, axisymmetric Schwarzschild models to analyse the stellar kinematics of Holm 15A from new high-resolution, wide-field spectral observations obtained with MUSE at the VLT.

    ESO MUSE on the VLT on Yepun (UT4)

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    We find a supermassive black hole (SMBH) with a mass of (4.0 ± 0.80) × 10^10 solar masses at the center of Holm 15A,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

    “This is the most massive black hole with a direct dynamical detection in the local Universe.”

    Now, it’s not the most massive black hole ever detected – that would be the quasar TON 618, which apparently has a black hole clocking in at 66 billion times the mass of the Sun, based on indirect measurements.

    But Holm 15A* is up there. At 40 billion solar masses, the black hole’s event horizon (also known as the Schwarzschild radius) would be huge, engulfing the orbits of all the planets in the Solar System, and then some.

    Quite a lot of some. Pluto is, on average, 39.5 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. The heliopause – where the solar wind is no longer strong enough to push against interstellar space – is thought to be around 123 AU.

    At the mass of Holm 15A* as determined by the new paper, its Schwarzschild radius would be around 790 AU.

    Try to imagine something that size. The mind reels.

    In fact, it’s even bigger than other measurements taken by the researchers have suggested – which may explain why Holm 15A*’s mass has been difficult to pin down via indirect methods.

    “The SMBH of Holm 15A is not only the most massive one to date, it is also four to nine times larger than expected given the galaxy’s bulge stellar mass and the galaxy’s stellar velocity dispersion,” the researchers wrote.

    However, it fits the model of a collision between two early-type galaxies with depleted cores. That’s when there are not many stars in the core, based on what is expected from the number of stars in the outer regions of the galaxy.

    “We find that black hole masses in cored galaxies, including Holm 15A, scale inversely with the central stellar surface brightness and mass density, respectively,” the researchers wrote.

    They intend to continue studying the breathtaking beast, conducting more complex and detailed modelling and comparing their results against their observations, to try to figure out exactly how the black hole formed.

    In turn, that can help figure out how often such a merger takes place – and therefore how many such ultramassive black holes are yet to be discovered.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on August 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A New Type of Strange Pulsing Star., , , , , Science Alert, UC Santa Barbara's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics   

    From UC Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics via Science Alert: “It’s 2019, And Astronomers Just Discovered a New Type of Strange, Pulsing Star” 

    KavliFoundation

    From The UC Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    2 AUG 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Artist’s impression of a subdwarf B star. (Cambridge University)

    A star with an interrupted death sequence could be the progenitor of a type of star that’s totally new to science. Astronomers have just discovered type of very small, very hot star that brightens and dims every few minutes as its outer layers try to maintain equilibrium.

    The stars have been named hot subdwarf pulsators, and they could be related to another type of rare and mysterious recently discovered star: the blue large-amplitude pulsator.

    So what’s so weird about these strange, pulsating stars?

    “Many stars pulsate, even our Sun does on a very small scale,” said physicist Thomas Kupfer of UC Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

    “Those with the largest brightness changes are usually radial pulsators, ‘breathing’ in and out as the entire star changes size.”

    But even though our Sun pulsates, its cycle is 11 years, and it only varies in brightness by 0.1 percent over that timeframe, so it wouldn’t be considered a pulsator.

    The brightness of pulsators can vary by up to a huge 10 percent due to changes in size and temperature.

    The four new stars the team identified in data from the Zwicky Transient Facility survey pulsate on timescales between every 200 and 475 seconds, varying in brightness by around 5 percent.

    Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) instrument installed on the 1.2m diameter Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Courtesy Caltech Optical Observatories

    Such a change in brightness can be produced by eclipsing binaries, so this needed to be ruled out before they could be classed as a new type. Once the research team had done that, they realised they could be looking at a new class of subdwarf B stars.

    Subdwarf B stars are interesting. They are pretty tiny, size-wise – maybe 10 percent of the size of the Sun. But they are pretty dense, too. Into that small diameter, they squeeze between 20 and 50 percent of the Sun’s mass.

    They burn very hot, towards the blue end of the spectrum, between 20,000 and 40,000 Kelvin. So they’re also very, very bright. It’s thought that they form along the evolutionary path of a star up to eight times the mass of the Sun as it dies.

    When these stars run out of hydrogen to fuse in their cores, they start fusing helium, ballooning out into a red giant. A subdwarf B star is what happens when the outer hydrogen layers of a red giant are stripped away before helium fusion begins – possibly by a binary companion, but the exact mechanisms are unknown.

    So there you have a tiny, hot, dense blue star. And some of them do pulsate.

    The V361 Hya class have a pressure oscillation mode, which means their pulsations are produced by internal pressure fluctuations in the star. The V1093 Her class are gravity-mode pulsators, produced by gravity waves (not to be confused with gravitational waves).

    The researchers are still looking into the exact mechanism behind the oscillations of hot subdwarf pulsators, but believe it may be unstable radial modes produced by something called the iron kappa mechanism, whereby a buildup of iron in the star produces an energy layer that results in a pulsation.

    They also believe another difference could be what’s happening in their cores. Subdwarf B stars are generally considered to be fusing helium, either in their core, or a shell around the core. But the researchers believe that hot subdwarf pulsators lost their outer material before the helium was hot and dense enough for fusion.

    “We were able to understand the rapid pulsations by matching them to theoretical models with low mass cores made of relatively cold helium,” explained physicist Evan Bauer of UC Santa Barbara.

    The researchers also found that the pulsation resembles that of blue large-amplitude pulsators, a type of star just discovered in 2017. That means that the two types of stars could be related.

    The next step will be to further characterise what’s actually happening inside these stars to produce the pulsations, and figure out precisely where the stars fit into models of stellar evolution.

    The research has been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics is the first and foremost scientific research facility where theorists in physics and allied fields congregate, for sustained periods of time, to work together intensely on a broad range of questions arising from investigations at the leading edges of science.

    Those questions are addressed in an array of concurrently running programs, ranging in length from a few weeks to several months. The programs, which attract select groups of participants from institutions worldwide, are designed to enhance interaction and collaboration among participants in order to stimulate the vibrant, creative thinking that leads to insight and significant scientific progress.

    Most programs include one-week conferences particularly attractive to experimentalists preferring short trips away from their laboratories.

    The number of participants in KITP programs and conferences averages 1,000 a year. That simple body count does not convey how well the KITP does in attracting scientists to engage in the sustained interactions that foster productive collaborations. A better metric for that assessment is the total number of days invested by visiting scientists, which currently averages 23,500 visitor days per year. (That number is equivalent to 230 visits of 100 days each or 2,300 visits of 10 days each.) The average length of visit to a KITP program is 36 days.

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on July 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Tectonic Plate Under Oregon Is Being Slowly Ripped Apart", , , , Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, Science Alert, ,   

    From UC Berkeley via Science Alert: “A Tectonic Plate Under Oregon Is Being Slowly Ripped Apart” 

    From UC Berkeley

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    31 JUL 2019
    DAVID NIELD

    Spare a thought for the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, not long for this world (in tectonic plate terms) as it slowly slides under the continent of North America.

    3
    Map of the Juan de Fuca Plate. No image credit. Wikipedia.

    Geologists are hoping it can help solve one of the biggest mysteries in their field – how tectonic plates die.

    The Juan de Fuca plate is the last remnant of the much bigger Farallon plate, which has been disappearing under North America for tens of millions of years. It’s the perfect opportunity to study how plates eventually get swallowed up, and how that might cause seismic and volcanic activity on the surface.

    In particular, researchers William Hawley and Richard Allen, from the University of California, Berkeley, are interested in a gap that’s appearing in the Juan de Fuca plate – which may in fact represent a tearing of the plate way down below the surface.

    “The tearing not only causes volcanism on North America but also causes deformation of the not‐yet‐subducted sections of the oceanic plate offshore,” write the researchers in their newly published paper [Geophysical Letters Research].

    “This tearing may eventually cause the plate to fragment, and what is left of the small pieces of the plate will attach to other plates nearby.”

    All the rock that gets buried as a plate is subsumed has to go somewhere, and the large-scale deformations and breaks that can occur aren’t easy for scientists to predict or map.

    Using data from 217 earthquakes and more than 30,000 seismic waves, Hawley and Allen have been able to put together a detailed 3D picture of this particular part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

    2
    Cascadia subduction zone. USGS.

    Specifically, they identified which parts of the rock were from the Juan de Fuca plate.

    They found what looks like a tear more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) deep, and it matches a previously identified area of weakness on the Juan de Fuca plate at the surface, known as a propagator wake.

    The researchers suggest that as the Juan de Fuca plate turns and twists, parts of it are being pulled off and separated, creating the gap that experts have observed. Some of it might even live on as part of another plate.

    More evidence is needed to be sure of what is happening here, but the hypothesis matches seismic activity around southern Oregon and northern California, as well as unusual patterns of volcanism in the region.

    Those unusual patterns are the volcanoes known as the High Lava Plains in southern Oregon, where the newest eruptions are at the wrong end of the series from where geologists would expect them to be, based on the direction of drift of the North American tectonic plate.

    Fresh volcanic activity caused by the propagator wake and deeper weakness in the Juan de Fuca could perhaps explain this anomaly, the researchers suggest.

    As Juan de Fuca disappears, further research – as well as readings from the EarthScope project and the Cascadia Initiative, which were used in this study – should shed more light on how tectonic plates die, and how they’ve formed the world we live on.

    “In many ways, when we’re looking at these things, we’re looking back in time,” seismologist Lara Wagner from the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn’t involved in the study, told National Geographic.

    “If we don’t understand how those processes work[ed] in the past, where we can see the whole story and study it, then our chances of seeing what’s happening today and understanding how that might evolve in the future are zero.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 8:59 am on July 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A team of physicists at University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hamburg have taken a different approach., Entangled Majorana quasiparticles produced by splitting an electron into two halves are surprisingly stable., , , Majorana quasiparticles, , , Quantum superposition, , , Science Alert, They remember how they've been moved around a property that could be exploited for storing information., They've started with a rhenium superconductor a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance when supercooled to around 6 Kelvin (–267°C; 449°F)., , U Hamburg,   

    From University of Illinois and U Hamburg, via Science Alert: “An Elusive Particle That Acts as Its Own Antiparticle Has Just Been Imaged” 

    U Illinois bloc

    From University of Illinois Chicago

    and

    2
    U Hamburg

    via

    30 JULY 2019
    MICHELLE STARR

    3
    (Palacio-Morales et al. Science Advances, 2019)

    New images of the Majorana fermion have brought physicists a step closer to harnessing the mysterious objects for quantum computing.

    These strange objects – particles that acts as their own antiparticles – have a vast as-yet untapped potential to act as qubits, the quantum bits that are the basic units of information in a quantum computer.

    IBM iconic image of Quantum computer

    They’re equivalent to binary bits in a traditional computer. But, where regular bits can represent a 1 or a 0, qubits can be either 1, 0 or both at the same time, a state known as quantum superposition. Quantum superposition is actually pretty hard to maintain, although we’re getting better at it.

    This is where Majorana quasiparticles come in. These are excitations in the collective behaviour of electrons that act like Majorana fermions, and they have a number of properties that make them an attractive candidate for qubits.

    Normally, a particle and an antiparticle will annihilate each other, but entangled Majorana quasiparticles produced by splitting an electron into two halves are surprisingly stable. In addition, they remember how they’ve been moved around, a property that could be exploited for storing information.

    But the quasiparticles have to remain separated by a sufficient distance. This can be done with a special nanowire, but a team of physicists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hamburg in Germany have taken a different approach.

    They’ve started with a rhenium superconductor, a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance when supercooled to around 6 Kelvin (–267°C; 449°F).

    On top of these superconductors, the researchers deposited nanoscale islands of single layers of magnetic iron atoms. This creates what is known as a topological superconductor – that is, a superconductor that contains a topological knot.

    “This topological knot is similar to the hole in a donut,” explained physicist Dirk Morr of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    “You can deform the donut into a coffee mug without losing the hole, but if you want to destroy the hole, you have to do something pretty dramatic, such as eating the donut.”

    When electrons flow through the superconductor, the team predicted that Majorana fermions would appear in a one-dimensional mode at the edges of the iron islands – around the so-called donut hole. And that by using a scanning tunneling microscope – an instrument used for imaging surfaces at the atomic level – they would see this visualised as a bright line.

    Sure enough, a bright line showed up.

    It’s not the first time Majorana fermions have been imaged, but it does represent a step forward. And just last month, a different team of researchers revealed that they had been able to turn Majorana quasiparticles on and off.

    But being able to visualise these particles, the researchers said, brings us closer to using them as qubits.

    “The next step will be to figure out how we can quantum engineer these Majorana qubits on quantum chips and manipulate them to obtain an exponential increase in our computing power,” Morr said.

    The research has been published in Science Advances.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    4

    The University

    Universität Hamburg is the largest institution for research and education in northern Germany. As one of the country’s largest universities, we offer a diverse range of degree programs and excellent research opportunities. The University boasts numerous interdisciplinary projects in a broad range of fields and an extensive partner network of leading regional, national, and international higher education and research institutions.
    Sustainable science and scholarship

    Universität Hamburg is committed to sustainability. All our faculties have taken great strides towards sustainability in both research and teaching.
    Excellent research

    As part of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments, Universität Hamburg has been granted clusters of excellence for 4 core research areas: Advanced Imaging of Matter (photon and nanosciences), Climate, Climatic Change, and Society (CliCCS) (climate research), Understanding Written Artefacts (manuscript research) and Quantum Universe (mathematics, particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology).

    An equally important core research area is Infection Research, in which researchers investigate the structure, dynamics, and mechanisms of infection processes to promote the development of new treatment methods and therapies.
    Outstanding variety: over 170 degree programs

    Universität Hamburg offers approximately 170 degree programs within its eight faculties:

    Faculty of Law
    Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences
    Faculty of Medicine
    Faculty of Education
    Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences
    Faculty of Psychology and Human Movement Science
    Faculty of Business Administration (Hamburg Business School).

    Universität Hamburg is also home to several museums and collections, such as the Zoological Museum, the Herbarium Hamburgense, the Geological-Paleontological Museum, the Loki Schmidt Garden, and the Hamburg Observatory.
    History

    Universität Hamburg was founded in 1919 by local citizens. Important founding figures include Senator Werner von Melle and the merchant Edmund Siemers. Nobel Prize winners such as the physicists Otto Stern, Wolfgang Pauli, and Isidor Rabi taught and researched at the University. Many other distinguished scholars, such as Ernst Cassirer, Erwin Panofsky, Aby Warburg, William Stern, Agathe Lasch, Magdalene Schoch, Emil Artin, Ralf Dahrendorf, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, also worked here.
    Subnavigation

    U Illinois campus

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community of students, scholars, and alumni is changing the world.

    With our land-grant heritage as a foundation, we pioneer innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Our transformative learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant, societal impact.

    The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, adjacent to the Chicago Loop. The second campus established under the University of Illinois system, UIC is also the largest university in the Chicago area, having approximately 30,000 students[9] enrolled in 15 colleges.

    UIC operates the largest medical school in the United States with research expenditures exceeding $412 million and consistently ranks in the top 50 U.S. institutions for research expenditures.[10][11][12] In the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of colleges and universities, UIC ranked as the 129th best in the “national universities” category.[13] The 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UIC as the 18th best in the world among universities less than 50 years old.[14]

    UIC competes in NCAA Division I Horizon League as the UIC Flames in sports. The Credit Union 1 Arena (formerly UIC Pavilion) is the Flames’ venue for home games.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:26 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , LightSail 2, Planetary Society, Science Alert   

    From The Planetary Society via : “LightSail 2 Just Gifted Us Stunning New Pictures of Our Little Blue Marble From Space “ 

    1

    From The Planetary Society

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    22 JUL 2019
    EVAN GOUGH

    LightSail 2, the brainchild of The Planetary Society, has gifted us two new gorgeous images of Earth. The small spacecraft is currently in orbit at about 720 km, and the LightSail 2 mission team is putting it through its paces in preparation for solar sail deployment sometime on or after Sunday, July 21st.

    LightSail 2 is a modular CubeSat that measures 10 × 10 × 30 cm. The solar sails, once deployed, will measure 32 square meters (340 sq ft).

    3

    The spacecraft was designed to test a solar sail’s ability to both raise a satellite’s orbit and lower its orbit. Right now the spacecraft is being tested and analyzed in advance of deploying its sails.

    4

    Flight controllers recently uploaded a software patch related to LightSail 2’s stability system. According to The Planetary Society, the patch “refined the operation of the spacecraft’s electromagnetic torque rods, which are responsible for keeping LightSail 2 stable as it circles the Earth.”

    6
    The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft is almost ready to go solar sailing.

    Mission officials today cleared the spacecraft for a possible sail deployment attempt on Tuesday, 23 July 2019, during a ground station pass that starts at roughly 11:22 PDT (18:22 UTC). A backup pass is available the following orbit starting at 13:07 PDT (20:07 UTC). These times may change slightly as new orbit predictions become available.

    Live sail deployment coverage will be available at planetary.org/live. A video and audio stream from mission control, located at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, will be available during ground station passes. Rolling updates will also be posted on the page for context.

    We also have two new images from LightSail 2. As the satellite passed over ground stations, it used excess bandwidth to transmit the high-resolution images.

    7
    LightSail 2 captured this image of Mexico on July 12th, 2019. The image is looking east across Mexico. The tip of the Baja Peninsula is on the left, and on the far right is Tropical Storm Barry.

    8
    LightSail 2 captured this image of Earth on July 7th. It’s looking at the Caribbean Sea towards Central America, with north roughly at the top. The blue-green color of the ocean around the Bahamas can be seen at the picture’s 1:00 position. A lens flare is visible in the lower right.

    It’s so far, so good for LightSail 2. The Planetary Society says the satellite is healthy and is stable in its orbit. Before they deploy the solar sail system, operators want to be confident that the attitude control system is operating correctly. That’s because atmospheric drag on the deployed sail limits the period in which LightSail 2’s orbit can be raised.

    LightSail 2 is a composite spacecraft made of three nanosatellites. Two of them handle the solar sails, and one handles the electronics. The sail system has four triangular sails that deploy into a square. It was launched on 25 June 2019.

    LightSail 2 is the successor to LightSail 1. They were both crowd-funded by The Planetary Society, the non-profit group known for their innovative approach to advancing space technologies. Overall, the entire LightSail project cost US$7 million. That includes both LightSail spacecraft, and their predecessor Cosmos 1.

    9
    LightSail 2 captured this picture of Earth’s limb on 6 July 2019 at 04:41 UTC from a camera mounted on its dual-sided solar panels.

    he society boasts well-known members like Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Experienced professional scientist populate the Board and Advisory Council, and it shows in the society’s results.

    The Planetary Society does important, tangible work in space. Their vision is to “Know the cosmos and our place within it.” Their mission statement is “Empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration.”

    If that sounds good to you, you can learn more about the Society, or join the ranks of supporters, here.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    3

    In 1980, Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray founded The Planetary Society. They saw that there was enormous public interest in space, but that this was not reflected in government, as NASA’s budget was cut again and again.

    Today, The Planetary Society continues this work, under the leadership of CEO Bill Nye, as the world’s largest and most influential non-profit space organization. The organization is supported by over 50,000 members in over 100 countries, and by hundreds of volunteers around the world.

    Our mission is to empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. We advocate for space and planetary science funding in government, inspire and educate people around the world, and develop and fund groundbreaking space science and technology.

    We introduce people to the wonders of the cosmos, bridging the gap between the scientific community and the general public to inspire and educate people from all walks of life.

    We give every citizen of the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard in government and effect real change in support of space exploration.

    And we bring ordinary people directly to the frontier of exploration as we crowdfund innovative and exciting space technologies.

     
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