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  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , COSMIC-2 satellite, , NOAA to launch six weather satellites later this month, Spaceflight Insider, Taiwan National Space Organization, The small satellites will be operated from Taiwan   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “NOAA to launch six weather satellites later this month” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    June 18th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

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    Artist’s depiction of the COSMIC-2 satellite on orbit. Image Credit: NOAA

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to launch six remote-sensing micro-satellites next week, which will monitor weather in space and on Earth beginning approximately seven months after launch.

    A joint endeavor among NOAA, the Taiwan National Space Organization (NSPO), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), the project is named the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate or COSMIC-2. It is the successor to COSMIC, a system of weather-monitoring satellites launched in 2006.

    Known as FORMOSAT-7 in Taiwan, the mission will feature six satellites in orbits near Earth’s equator. Approximately the size of a kitchen oven, each satellite will be equipped with three science instruments, which will study temperature and humidity in the tropics and sub-tropics, the regions on Earth with the most moisture. This distinguishes them from the satellites used in the first COSMIC mission, which orbited near the planet’s poles.

    The science instruments will measure the density, temperature, pressure, and moisture in Earth’s atmosphere as well as electron density and space weather conditions in the ionosphere, the ionized region of Earth’s upper atmosphere, which extends 50 to 600 miles (80 to 1,000 km) above the planet’s surface.

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    Artist’s Rendering demonstration Radio Occultation Technique. Image Credit: The NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

    Data collected by the science instruments will be used in NOAA computer models to predict weather conditions around the world as well as solar storms.

    “This latest generation of COSMIC satellites will continue to build on the successes of the program. The COSMIC satellites keep scientists and forecasters informed of minute changes in the atmosphere and space, with this latest batch of satellites ensuring that this critical data is collected from the poles to the tropics,” emphasized Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. NOAA is a project of the US Department of Commerce.

    Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator, noted, “COSMIC-2, in concert with the infrared and microwave sounding instruments carried on polar-orbiting satellites operated by NOAA and its US and international partners, will help provide a complete set of global data for use in NOAA‘s operational weather prediction models.”

    COSMIC-2 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on June 24 at the earliest. Following launch, the small satellites will be operated from Taiwan and will undergo a variety of tests expected to take approximately seven months before they begin collecting data.

    Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA‘s National Weather Service (NWS), explained, “COSMIC-2 will gather information about the vertical temperature and humidity of the atmosphere in the tropics, which hold most of the moisture that drives global weather patterns. The high quality and large number of observations from the COSMIC-2 data stream will improve the accuracy of our weather forecast model outputs for our national and global areas of responsibility.”

    The six satellites will use a new technique known as radio occultation to measure the bending of signals from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) as those signals pass through Earth’s atmosphere. Studying bent signals provides scientists with important information about the atmosphere’s pressure, temperature, and moisture level, which will lead to better weather forecasting.


    Video courtesy of NOAA SciJinks

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:58 am on May 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Data shows Jupiter’s magnetic field changes over time", , , , , Spaceflight Insider   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Data shows Jupiter’s magnetic field changes over time” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    May 21st, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

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    An illustration of Jupiter’s magnetic field at a single moment in time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.

    Jupiter’s internal magnetic field undergoes changes over time, NASA’s Juno orbiter confirmed after recent science flybys of the giant planet.

    NASA/Juno

    The discovery is the first ever detection of internal magnetic field changes in a planet, known as secular variation, beyond Earth. According to NASA, Juno mission scientists arrived at their conclusion by studying 40 years of Jupiter data collected by several missions, including Pioneers 10 and 11, Voyager 1, Ulysses, and Juno.

    NASA Pioneer 10


    NASA Pioneer 11


    NASA/Voyager 1


    NASA/ESA Ulysses

    Magnetic fields must be studied and measured from a close vantage point. Equipped with a magnetometer, which can map a magnetic field in three dimensions, Juno accomplished this in its first eight science flybys of the giant planet, yielding data that helped scientists produce a new model of Jupiter’s magnetic field.

    “Secular variation has been on the wish list of planetary scientists for decades,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, in a NASA news release. “This discovery could only take place due to Juno’s extremely accurate science instruments and the unique nature of Juno’s orbit, which carries it low over the planet as it travels from pole to pole.”

    By studying data collected during the various missions to Jupiter, beginning with the Pioneers, scientists discovered that small magnetic field changes occurred over time, likely caused by the planet’s atmospheric winds, which penetrate as far as 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers) into the planet’s interior, where gases are transformed into very conductive liquid metal, cutting through and stretching the magnetic field.

    The biggest magnetic field changes occurred in a powerful magnetic area near Jupiter’s equator, known as the Great Blue Spot. Unlike the planet’s well-known Great Red Spot, the Great Blue Spot cannot be seen with the naked eye. Juno scientist Kimee Moore of Harvard University suspects this one magnetic “hot spot” could be responsible for all magnetic field changes within the planet.

    “It is incredible that one narrow magnetic hot spot, the Great Blue Spot, could be responsible for almost all of Jupiter’s secular variation, but the numbers bear it out,” Moore said, adding future science flybys would focus on creating a planet-wide map of these changes.

    The findings of the study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, are expected to help scientists better understand not only Jupiter’s interior structure and atmospheric dynamics, but also those of Earth.

    Launched in June 2005, Juno traveled 1.74 billion miles (2.8 billion kilometers) before entering into a polar orbit around Jupiter in July 2016. The initial plan was for the spacecraft to move from a 53-day orbit to a closer one of 14 days, but that was scrapped after a problem with helium valves sent it into safe mode in October of that year.

    According to the revised mission, Juno was to conduct 12 close science flybys before the end of its prime mission in July 2018. One month before that deadline, NASA extended the mission to July 2021, increasing the number of flybys.

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    Juno arrived in orbit above Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Since that time, the spacecraft has revolutionized humanity’s knowledge of the gas giant. Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider.

    The polar orbit science flybys were planned to protect Juno from the giant planet’s radiation, which could destroy its electronic instruments and solar panels. After speeding around the planet and getting to a “perijove” (the closest part of an orbit around Jupiter) of only about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers), the spacecraft’s trajectory takes it out to an “apojove” (the farthest part of an orbit around Jupiter) of roughly 5 million miles (8.1 million kilometers).

    The first spacecraft to make repeated close flybys of Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops, Juno captured stunning images of storms and cloud swirls in the planet’s atmosphere using its color JunoCam camera. One of its first findings was that the giant planet’s poles are covered by dense storms the size of the Earth. Another was that the planet’s iconic belts and zones, especially the one closest to Jupiter’s equator, penetrate far into the planet.

    Juno flew directly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in July 2017, where it imaged tangled masses of clouds weaving around one another and found that the storm penetrates approximately 200 miles (300 kilometers) into the planet’s atmosphere. Analysis of JunoCam’s photos of the Great Red Spot will help scientists better understand the phenomenon’s evolution over time.

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    Enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot as seen by Juno. This image was produced by Jason Major, a “citizen scientist” who used data from the JunoCam instrument on the spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Jason Major

    Using its ultraviolet spectrograph and energetic-particle detector instruments, Juno observed powerful auroras over the planet’s poles. While the auroras are aligned with Jupiter’s magnetic field and are between 10 and 30 times more powerful than auroras on Earth, they are not always visible. Furthermore, the mechanism that powers Jupiter’s auroras is significantly different from that which powers auroras on Earth, a phenomenon that continues to puzzle scientists.

    With data collected by Juno’s Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), mission scientists created a 3D infrared movie depicting the powerful cyclones and anti-cyclones over the poles, which power the planet’s magnetic field. JIRAM detected infrared light originating within the planet and successfully studied the weather as far as 45 miles (70 kilometers) beneath the cloud tops.

    Juno also detected powerful lighting in Jupiter’s highly-charged atmosphere. While lightning on Earth is most common near the equator, on Jupiter, it occurs mostly at the poles.

    The three-year mission extension is expected to enable the probe to provide answers to questions generated by its initial discoveries, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said last year.

    “With every additional orbit, both scientists and citizen scientists will help unveil new surprises about this distant world,” Zurbuchen said.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:03 pm on May 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Spaceflight Insider, The case of Pluto   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Scientists debate planet definition, status of Pluto” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    May 5th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

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    Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet when the International Astronomical Union adopted a dynamical definition of a planet in 2006. Image Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

    Scientists Ron Ekers and Alan Stern debated the planet definition and the status of Pluto in an event sponsored by the Philosophical Society of Washington.

    Following the debate, which was livestreamed April 29, 2019, audience members and those watching online voted on their definition preference: either the International Astronomical Union (IAU) dynamical definition or an alternative geophysical definition. The latter won by a vote of 130-30.

    Two central points dominated the debate—the question of a dynamical versus a geophysical definition and that of who gets to make the decision on the definition used.

    Ekers of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, specializes in radio astronomy.

    He was president of the IAU when the controversial vote that adopted the dynamical planet definition was conducted in 2006.

    Stern is a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

    Ekers discussed the history and role of the IAU, which is celebrating its centennial this year, noting the organization was founded after World War I to standardize categorization of celestial objects so astronomers could better communicate with one another. This process is not science but an issue of naming objects, he said.

    When Eris was discovered in 2005, it was erroneously thought to be larger than Pluto. The IAU’s 2006 vote was conducted to determine which organization committee should be responsible for naming it—the committee that oversees the naming of planets or the one that oversees the naming of small solar system objects.

    The definition adopted by the IAU that year has three components. It requires a planet to orbit the Sun; be rounded by its own gravity, a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium; and clear the neighborhood of its orbit.

    That third criterion, which has been at the center of the controversy for over 12 years, means an object must gravitationally dominate its orbit, sweeping out smaller objects in its path. Because it focuses on the effect a celestial object has on other objects, the IAU definition is a dynamical one.

    In contrast, Stern and many like-minded planetary scientists reject the requirement of gravitational dominance and favor a geophysical definition that centers on an object’s intrinsic properties. According to this definition, a planet is a substellar object that has never undergone nuclear fusion and is rounded by its own gravity, regardless of its orbital parameters.

    Stern argued the IAU definition was adopted by the wrong group of astronomers, as most of those who voted were not planetary scientists but astronomers with other specialties. He discussed what he views as the weaknesses of the IAU definition, one of which is the further a planet is from its parent star, the larger an orbit it has to “clear.”

    “Clearing the orbit was made up by the dynamicist planetary community, as a simple description where the giant planets throw things out completely,” Ekers said. “These objects which Alan showed you (dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt) are in resonant orbits with the big planets. They have no free will; they have no independence, and that’s the real intention of clearing the orbit.”

    A 2015 theoretical paper published by scientist Jean Luc Margot of UCLA shows the IAU definition is sound, he added. Stern responded by illustrating a graph from the Margot paper showing how, according to the IAU definition, identical objects are classified differently solely based on their locations.

    Because the IAU definition requires an object to orbit the Sun rather than a star, the question of exoplanets has been left unresolved. Ekers emphasized the IAU definition was intended only for our solar system and that exoplanets would be addressed in the future when more is known about them. Stern said there should be a single definition for both our solar system and others.

    Ekers said he favors distinguishing dwarf planets from full planets, adding that Kuiper Belt dwarf planets have much more in common with their smaller, Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) counterparts than with the eight gravitationally dominant planets. Stern contested this, noting the 2015 New Horizons flyby revealed Pluto to have the same complex geology as the larger planets.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:10 pm on April 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble Kuiper Belt survey to focus on binary systems", , , , , , , Spaceflight Insider   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Hubble Kuiper Belt survey to focus on binary systems” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    April 8th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

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    The Hubble Space Telescope as seen by the crew of Atlantis on STS-125 in April of 2009. Photo Credit: NASA

    The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is set to use the Hubble Space Telescope to conduct the largest ever survey of the Kuiper Belt, focusing specifically on binary systems in which two objects of similar masses orbit one another as they circle the Sun.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Kuiper Belt binary systems are believed to be among the oldest objects in the solar system, having formed from collapsing groups of pebbles four billion years ago. According to one hypothesis, the objects in these systems initially formed alone via an accretion process and subsequently merged with companions to form binaries. Under this scenario, objects in binaries should have colors and size distributions notably different from individual Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).

    A competing hypothesis proposes the objects in binaries, along with individual KBOs, formed directly through a rapid collapse process. This would result in both the individual objects and binaries having similar colors and size distributions.

    Scientists hope this survey will yield a definitive answer regarding binary KBOs’ formation processes.

    “We will use Hubble to test the theory that many planetesimals formed as binary systems from the get-go, and that today’s Kuiper Belt binaries did not come from mergers of initially solitary objects,” said study leader Alex Parker of SwRI.

    The survey, funded by a grant from NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), will be the largest ever solar system study conducted by Hubble.

    A total of 206 Hubble orbits have been assigned to the project, which will measure the colors and binary characteristics of more than 200 KBOs.

    Hubble orbits the Earth every 97 minutes at an altitude of 350 miles (560 kilometers). Most of its studies look well beyond the solar system at phenomena in interstellar space. It is the only telescope capable of measuring distant, tiny KBOs.

    Because the Kuiper Belt is filled with ancient objects dating back to the dawn of the solar system, the survey is titled the Solar System Origins Legacy Survey (SSOLS). It builds upon previous outer solar system studies, including the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS) and the Canada-France Ecliptic Plane Survey (CFEPS).



    CFHT Telescope, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Data from these earlier surveys, the largest ever done of the Kuiper Belt to date, will be used to select specific KBOs to study.

    “The Kuiper Belt is a unique remnant of the solar system’s primordial planetesimal disk,” Parker said. “This cold, calm region has preserved an extraordinarily large population of binary objects, particularly those where the two objects have similar mass. These binary systems are powerful tracers of the processes that built the planets.”

    Members of the study team include scientists from the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. STScI, which is administering the SSOLS project, focuses on studying the universe using the most advanced space telescopes and is run by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), based in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The survey will not search for a third flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons mission, according to mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern, also of SwRI.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    Images and updates on the survey will be posted regularly by the study team on the SSOLS website.

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    Laurel Kornfeld is an amateur astronomer and freelance writer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program.



    Her writings have been published online in The Atlantic, Astronomy magazine’s guest blog section, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of various astronomy clubs. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:45 pm on March 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: According to Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser is expected to make its first test flight in spring 2021 and conduct at least six orbital flights to and from the International Space Station, Critically it could also return cargo to an airport runway., It was the selection by NASA of a cargo variant of the design called the Dream Chaser Cargo System that ultimately breathed new life into the program in January 2016., Overall the design is planned to deliver up to 12100 pounds (5500 kilograms) of pressurized and unpressurized cargo., Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, Spaceflight Insider, The spacecraft is being designed to be able to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket or an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket., The third commercial cargo freighter for the International Space Station, Ultimately it is hoped each space plane could be used 15 or more times with a future crewed variant to fly at least 25 times.   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Dream Chaser passes latest NASA development milestone” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    March 24th, 2019
    Derek Richardson

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    An artist’s rendering of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser above the International Space Station. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

    Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser cargo space plane recently passed another milestone in its development to be the third commercial cargo freighter for the International Space Station.

    According to the Nevada-based company, Dream Chaser, which has been in development in one form or another for more than a decade, passed NASA’s Integrated Review Milestone 5 (IR5), which is essentially a status check on the performance of a number of ground and flight operations in advance of the spacecraft’s first resupply mission under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract.

    “This milestone is a great accomplishment for the team focused on operations development and demonstration,” John Curry, CRS-2 program director within SNC’s Space Systems business area, said in a March 21, 2019, company news release. “It shows we can operate the Dream Chaser from the ground, including getting critical science in and out of the vehicle.”

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    Graphic rendering of Dream Chaser spacecraft on orbit. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

    Dream Chaser is a space plane based, in part, of the design of NASA’s HL-20 lifting body concept that was studied as a crew transport vehicle to Space Station Freedom, a 1980s space station design that evolved into the International Space Station. It was to be about 30 feet (9 meters) long and sport stubby wings.

    In Sierra Nevada Corporation’s version of the vehicle, it was initially envisioned to carry up to seven people to the ISS when it was competing under the NASA’s commercial crew development programs. However in 2014, the design was ultimately not chosen primarily because of “lack of maturity,” according to Aviation Week at the time. The space agency instead selected SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, which are expected to make their first crewed flights as early as the second half of 2019.

    Sierra Nevada Corporation at the time was beginning drop tests of the spacecraft prototype. The first glide, which took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California, performed well, save for a stuck landing gear at the end of the flight, which caused the test article to flip over upon landing.

    The company said the test was a success despite the landing gear issue, which not the design that would be used for the space-rated version as it was taken from a military jet.

    Following the NASA non-selection, the company continued development, looking for supporters and organizations that might use the crewed version, including a European company and the United Nations.

    3
    Graphic rendering of Dream Chaser spacecraft on the space station. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

    However, it was the selection by NASA of a cargo variant of the design, called the Dream Chaser Cargo System, that ultimately breathed new life into the program in January 2016.

    The cargo variant is essentially the lifting body spacecraft, with foldable wings to fit in a rocket with a 16.5-foot (5-meter) payload fairing, and a small disposable module at the back of the vehicle that could carry pressurized and unpressurized cargo.

    That cargo module would also hold solar arrays to increase flight time in space and support powered payloads, Sierra Nevada Corporation said.

    Overall, the design is planned to deliver up to 12,100 pounds (5,500 kilograms) of pressurized and unpressurized cargo.

    Critically, it could also return cargo to an airport runway. The cargo module would be disposed with any unneeded equipment before re-entry.

    The spacecraft is being designed to be able to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket or an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket. However, it is likely that ULA’s Vulcan rocket, which is being designed to replace the Atlas V, would be able to support Dream Chaser flights as well.

    Ultimately, it is hoped each space plane could be used 15 or more times, with a future crewed variant to fly at least 25 times.

    For IR5, the company said NASA’s review included the development of the spacecraft’s flight computers and software, its mission simulator and mission control center, and demonstrations using high-fidelity mockups of the vehicle and unpressurized cargo module.

    The review took place at Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Louisville, Colorado-facility and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Data was also used from the 2017 free-flight test, also at Edwards Air Force Base. The landing gear worked as designed for that landing.

    “Our Dream Chaser team continues to successfully execute milestones as we move closer to getting this spacecraft into space,” Fatih Ozmen, SNC’s owner and CEO, said in a March 21, 2019 company statement. “The orbital spacecraft is being built and this milestone demonstrates the vehicle keeps passing key reviews and is making great strides.”

    According to Sierra Nevada Corporation, Dream Chaser is expected to make its first test flight in spring 2021 and conduct at least six orbital flights to and from the International Space Station to deliver and return supplies and experiments.

    Under the CRS-2 contract, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft and Dream Chaser are expected to fly a minimum of six launches each with a maximum potential value overall being $14 billion.

    CRS-2 is a followup to the CRS-1 contract, which had its first operational flight by SpaceX in October 2012. The first operational flight using Cygnus was in January 2014.

    The first CRS-2 flights by Northrop Grumman and SpaceX are expected in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The contract is expected to run through at least 2024.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:31 pm on March 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "We are excited that Canada will be a vital ally in this lunar journey as they become the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost with their 24-year commitment to deep space explorat, “Canada’s historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians- keep our astronaut program running and our aerospace industry strong and growing while opening up a new realm of possibilities fo, Canada joins NASA’s Lunar Gateway project, Canadarm 1 and 2 and 3, Canadarm was used in the initial phase of construction for the International Space Station, Canadarm2 was launched aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-100 mission in 2001. It would later be joined by the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator called Dextre as a sort of “robotic hand” t, Canadarm3 would take these capabilities to the next level by integrating autonomy and artificial intelligence into the design, Eight Canadians have flown in space 17 times, Eventually it would be used as a base camp to send astronauts to the lunar surface, In nearly every iconic photo from that era the arm with the Canadian flag is present, Over the years Canadarm2 and Dextre have serviced the International Space Station by assisting astronauts during spacewalks and moved modules captured visiting vehicles and berthed them also deployed , Spaceflight Insider, The Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian government has committed over $2 billion over 24 years to develop and operate a next-generation robotic arm called Canadarm3 to service the Gateway, The original Canadarm design flew on all of NASA’s Space Shuttles, The task of moving massive modules around in space however would be moved to a newer more capable manipulator system called Canadarm2, This “space station” would be much smaller than the International Space Station and support crews for up to several months at a time   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Canada joins NASA’s Lunar Gateway project” 

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    From Spaceflight Insider

    March 1st, 2019
    Derek Richardson

    1
    An artist’s rendering of “Canadarm3” at the proposed Lunar Gateway. The Canadian Space Agency has committed to joining NASA on this lunar outpost project. Image Credit: missing

    Having been involved with the United States in its space endeavors for decades with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs, Canada has committed to continuing that partnership and join the NASA-led Lunar Gateway project.

    Part of NASA’s efforts to return humans to the Moon include building an outpost circling in a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon. This “space station” would be much smaller than the International Space Station and support crews for up to several months at a time. Eventually, it would be used as a base camp to send astronauts to the lunar surface.

    2
    An illustration of NASA’s Lunar Gateway with the Orion spacecraft and a commercial logistics module docked with the deep space outpost. Canada has committed to building a next-generation robotic arm to be part of the architecture. Image Credit: NASA

    “We are excited that Canada will be a vital ally in this lunar journey as they become the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost with their 24-year commitment to deep space exploration and collaboration,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in an agency statement:

    NASA is going back to the Moon to stay. It’s part of a bold directive from the President for the U.S. to lead a worldwide endeavor to open a new era of space exploration in a measured, sustainable way. This work is going to take collaboration with international partners, industry, and other stakeholders, and I’m delighted by Canada’s commitment today to join us in our work to go forward to the Moon and Mars.

    We are excited that Canada will be a vital ally in this lunar journey as they become the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost with their 24 year commitment to deep space exploration and collaboration.

    Canada’s friendship throughout the Space Age, and our longstanding partnership aboard the International Space Station have brought our two nations many benefits. From astronauts like David Saint-Jacques, currently aboard the station, to the invaluable Canadarm-2 that helps us perform many tasks on the station, everything from critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope to the construction of the International Space Station. Canada’s technical expertise and human resources have been an incredible component of our achievements on orbit and across the spectrum of our work. It was my great pleasure to visit Canada recently and see this innovation firsthand.

    Going forward to the Moon, we’re making progress on a Gateway lunar outpost where astronauts can live and work in orbit and from which we can go to the lunar surface, again and again. We’ve begun the process for industry partners to deliver the first science instruments and tech demonstrations to the Moon’s surface, and we’re going to keep up that drumbeat until we’ve built human landers to get us back to the Moon by 2028.

    For its part, the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian government has committed over $2 billion over 24 years to develop and operate a next-generation robotic arm called Canadarm3 to service the Gateway.

    “Canada’s historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians, keep our astronaut program running and our aerospace industry strong and growing, while opening up a new realm of possibilities for Canadian research and innovation,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press conference announcing Canada’s commitment. “With the Lunar Gateway, Canada will play a major role in one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. Together, with our partners from around the world, we’ll continue to push the boundaries of human ambition, and inspire generations of kids—and adults—to always aim higher and aspire to something greater.”

    Possibly the most visible part of Canada’s space partnership with the United States is its robotics contributions. The original Canadarm design flew on all of NASA’s Space Shuttles. In nearly every iconic photo from that era, the arm with the Canadian flag is present, including in the deployment of iconic spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Today, in addition to their incredible 24-year commitment, Canada is going to build a next generation Canadarm for the Gateway lunar outpost and support our work with industry to return to the surface of the moon, among other efforts. Canada’s technologic achievement as part of Gateway lunar outpost will be a part of creating the vital backbone for commercial and other international partnerships to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars. We are thrilled to work with Canada on the next generation of its robotics to help carry out incredible missions at the Gateway lunar outpost and to collaborate in our future on the lunar surface and deep space.

    I thank Prime Minister Trudeau for his vote of confidence in the Canadian Space Agency and the many innovations that its president Sylvain Laporte and the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development are pursuing for the Canadian people and the world. Our work in space improves life for people everywhere on this planet. We look forward to our deepening partnership with Canada, and the support of the many other nations I am confident will join us and help strengthen our progress on the challenging goals we’ve set in space.

    3
    Hubble was deployed from Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 using Canadarm. Photo Credit: NASA

    Additionally, Canadarm was used in the initial phase of construction for the International Space Station. The task of moving massive modules around in space, however, would be moved to a newer, more capable manipulator system called Canadarm2.

    Canadarm2 was launched aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-100 mission in 2001. It would later be joined by the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, called Dextre, as a sort of “robotic hand” to go with Canadarm2.

    4
    Canadarm2 was used to attached the commercial BEAM module to the International Space Station in 2016. Photo Credit: Tim Kopra / NASA

    Over the years, Canadarm2 and Dextre have serviced the International Space Station by assisting astronauts during spacewalks, moved modules, captured visiting vehicles and berthed them, deployed CubeSats, performed experiments and more.

    The proposed Canadarm3 would take these capabilities to the next level by integrating autonomy and artificial intelligence into the design.

    Unlike the International Space Station, the Lunar Gateway is not planned to be permanently crewed. It will host astronauts for up to several months at a time as they conduct their mission, be it orbital (as is planned initially) or as a staging point for surface sorties using reusable commercial landing systems.

    As such, Canadarm3 would need to be able to execute tasks with minimal human input in an environment much tougher than low-Earth orbit.

    “Canada’s technologic achievement as part of Gateway lunar outpost will be a part of creating the vital backbone for commercial and other international partnerships to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars,” Bridenstine said. “We are thrilled to work with Canada on the next generation of its robotics to help carry out incredible missions at the Gateway lunar outpost and to collaborate in our future on the lunar surface and deep space.”

    5
    NASA astronaut Steve Robinson rides Canadarm2 to a work area in a spacewalk during the STS-114 mission to the International Space Station in 2005. Photo Credit: NASA

    Partnering with NASA as it moves beyond low-Earth orbit would enable Canada to continue its space endeavors. According to a press release issued by the Canadian Space Agency, the country’s space sector employs 10,000 highly-skilled workers and generated $2.3 billion for its economy in 2017, exporting over $2.1 billion in sales.

    Canada has also committed to continuing its participation with the United States on the International Space Station program and is expected to remain a vital partner for the foreseeable future.

    6
    Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques works to replace a part on the Combustion Integration Rack. Photo Credit: NASA

    The first modules for the ISS were launched in 1998 and astronauts have been living aboard the low-Earth orbit outpost since 2000. During that time, three Canadian astronauts have lived aboard it in long-duration missions. The most recent, David Saint-Jacques, has been at the station since December 2018 and is expected to return to Earth in June 2019.

    Between the ISS and Space Shuttle programs, eight Canadians have flown in space 17 times. Three of those missions were long-duration flights aboard ISS (including Saint-Jacques ongoing Expedition 58/59 mission).

    Currently, the U.S. government is slated to end its funding commitment to the ISS in 2024, however, there are efforts by the U.S. Congress to extend that commitment to 2028 or even 2030 in order to give commercial industry more time to build a sustained presence in low-Earth orbit either by taking over parts of the now-20-year-old outpost or launching smaller, more purpose-driven orbital platforms.

    “Going forward to the Moon, we’re making progress on a Gateway lunar outpost where astronauts can live and work in orbit and from which we can go to the lunar surface, again and again,” Bridenstine said. “We’ve begun the process for industry partners to deliver the first science instruments and tech demonstrations to the Moon’s surface, and we’re going to keep up that drumbeat until we’ve built human landers to get us back to the Moon by 2028.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:05 pm on January 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Boeing-CST-100 Starliner, new era? Commercial Crew Program poised for first flights, New year, Spaceflight Insider, SpaceX-Crew Dragon spacecraft, The new year could see NASA edge closer to regaining what it lost nearly eight years ago — the ability to launch its own astronauts (with the help of private companies) from U.S. soil   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “New year, new era? Commercial Crew Program poised for first flights” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    1
    The first crews to will fly under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program were announced Aug. 3 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. From left-to-right: Sunita Williams, John Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover. Photo Credit: NASA

    With 2018 in the history books and 2019 beginning, the new year could see NASA edge closer to regaining what it lost nearly eight years ago — the ability to launch its own astronauts (with the help of private companies) from U.S. soil.

    NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was envisioned as a means to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil. The companies that have been contracted to do so are Boeing and SpaceX. The former is developing the CST-100 Starliner capsule under this agreement, while SpaceX is producing its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

    2
    A rendering of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, top and Boeing’s Starliner, right, docked to the International Space Station. NASA hopes the Commercial Crew Program will allow the agency to send astronauts to the outpost in 2019 and free the agency from its dependence on Russia. Image Credit: Nathan Koga / SpaceFlight Insider

    On Dec. 11, 2018, the final piece of hardware for the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket tapped for Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) arrived at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The critical components for this flight are expected to be moved to the Vertical Integration Facility where they are set to be assembled and moved to the launch platform for a planned March flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

    Boeing has also been busy a few miles down the road at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility where production is wrapping for three Starliner capsules. Two of these spacecraft are designed to be flown up to 10 times. The other will be used for a pad abort test, currently scheduled sometime between OFT, and the crewed flight test planned for August 2019.

    The Starliner capsule that will be used for the first crewed flight test is currently undergoing pressurized testing at Boeing’s Space System and Satellite facility in El Segundo, California.

    Starliner launches are slated to occur atop an Atlas V in a “N22” configuration. The “N22” means the rocket will feature no payload fairing, two solid rocket boosters and a dual-engine Centaur upper stage, which will finish Starliner’s trek into orbit.

    The three astronauts tapped to fly on the August 2019 flight are Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Mann. Both Ferguson and Boe flew on NASA Space Shuttles with Ferguson commanding the final Space Shuttle mission, STS-135.

    Meanwhile, at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is being prepped for its first demonstration flight (DM-1), which is currently scheduled to take place as early as the end of January 2019.

    Crew Dragon’s role will be almost identical to that of Starliner’s — delivering astronauts to the International Space Station. Crew Dragon will utilize Falcon 9 Block 5 for its ride into orbit.

    On Dec. 18, the company’s Instagram page showed a picture of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket in the hangar at LC-39A, awaiting final assembly and testing for DM-1.

    SpaceX is planning an in-flight abort test sometime after the capsule’s first uncrewed test flight. Pending the successful outcome of DM-1, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are expected to fly aboard Crew Dragon for the first time in June 2019. Depending on scheduling, this could mark the first time Americans launched into space from the Kennedy Space Center since July 2011.

    3
    SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to be used on the Demo-1 mission sits in the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A. Photo Credit: SpaceX

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insiderreports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:24 pm on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A single mission could orbit Pluto and explore the Kuiper Belt, , , , , , Spaceflight Insider   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “A single mission could orbit Pluto and explore the Kuiper Belt” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    October 30th, 2018
    Laurel Kornfeld

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft

    By using multiple gravity assists and electric propulsion, a single mission could orbit Pluto and its moons, then continue on to conduct closeup studies of other dwarf planets and small Kuiper Belt Objects, according to a Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) study presented at a workshop of the 50th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) in Knoxville, TN.

    Led by New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of SwRI, the study was funded by research grants aimed at exploring a return mission to Pluto, this time with an orbiter. While New Horizons sent back stunning images and a wealth of data about the Pluto system, its quick flyby allowed it time to image only one side of the planet in high resolution. The other side was photographed in low resolution on the spacecraft’s approach.

    1
    The next target for the New Horizons spacecraft is the distant Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule. Image Credit: NASA

    3
    Image presented of Ultima Thule

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Data returned by the spacecraft raised a host of new questions about the Pluto system and quickly led scientists to consider a return mission with an orbiter.

    Other scientists who took part in the groundbreaking study, all at SwRI include spaceflight engineer Mark Tapley, planetary scientist Amanda Zangari, project manager John Scherrer, and software lead Tiffany Finley.

    A key provision of the new proposal is using gravity assists as a fuel-saving measure. New Horizons used one gravity assist from Jupiter to shorten its journey to Pluto. Similarly, an orbiter could use gravity assists from Pluto’s large moon Charon to change its orientation, allowing it to study different parts of Pluto’s surface, its atmosphere, each of its four small moons, and interactions between the system and the solar wind.

    Once it arrives at Pluto, the spacecraft could enter orbit using electric propulsion, the same technology that powered NASA’s Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres.

    NASA Dawn Spacescraft

    These methods would save fuel, enabling the orbiter to study the Pluto system for several years. After accomplishing its science objectives, the orbiter could escape the Pluto system entirely via a Charon gravity assist and head further out into the Kuiper Belt without using fuel, once again relying on electric propulsion.

    According to Tapley, this technology could enable the spacecraft to enter orbit around a second, more distant dwarf planet after Pluto.

    “This is groundbreaking. Previously, NASA and the planetary science community thought the next step in Kuiper Belt exploration would be to choose between ‘going deep’ in the study of Pluto and its moons or ‘going broad’ by examining smaller Kuiper Belt Objects and another dwarf planet for comparison to Pluto. The planetary science community debated which was the right next step. Our studies show you can do both in a single mission: it’s a game changer,” Stern emphasized.

    Finley actually designed a hypothetical mission, relying on numerous gravity assists from Charon. “This tour is far from optimized, yet it is capable of making four or five more flybys each of Pluto’s four small moons, while examining Pluto’s polar and equatorial regions using plane changes,” she explained. “The plan also allows for an extensive close-up encounter with Charon one last time to escape into the Kuiper Belt for new assignments.”

    In a separate but related study, Zangari researched potential missions to the 45 largest known Kuiper Belt Objects, including many dwarf planets, that could be done between 2025 and 2040 via gravity assists from one or more of the solar system’s gas giant planets.

    Over the next several months, the SwRI team plan to explore the ideal spacecraft for a combined Pluto orbiter-Kuiper Belt exploration mission and expect to regularly publish their findings.

    “Who would have thought that a single mission using already available electric propulsion engines could do all this? Now that our team has shown that the planetary science community doesn’t have to choose between a Pluto orbiter or flybys of other bodies in the Kuiper Belt but can have both, I call this combined mission the ‘gold standard’ for future Pluto and Kuiper Belt exploration,” Stern said.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insiderreports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:00 pm on October 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Spaceflight Insider, ,   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “New Horizons team previews Ultima Thule flyby” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    October 27th, 2018
    Laurel Kornfeld

    1
    An artist’s illustration of New Horizons flying by the Kuiper Belt Object Ultima Thule. Image Credit NASA / JPL / JHUAPL

    In an Oct. 24 online press conference broadcast from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) 50th Annual Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, four members of NASA’s New Horizons team presented a preview of the spacecraft’s Jan. 1, 2019, flyby of Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule, now just 10 weeks away.

    The presenting speakers included principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), science team collaborator Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), project scientist Hal Weaver, also of JHUAPL, and co-investigator Kelsi Singer, also of SwRI.

    1
    Because Ultima Thule is so far away, details cannot yet be resolved and are not expected to be until about a day before the closest approach. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

    Stern said this flyby will be more challenging than New Horizons’ Pluto flyby in July 2015 because Ultima Thule is located a billion miles beyond Pluto and much about it remains unknown. Mission scientists are still uncertain about its exact position and the presence of any potentially hazardous rings or moons. The spacecraft is older than it was at Pluto and has less battery power now while light levels are lower at such a great distance from the Sun.

    Additionally, communication between Earth and the spacecraft takes six hours one way, as opposed to four-and-a-half hours to Pluto.

    “New Horizons is going to have the capacity, in the space of one week, the first week of January 2019, to confirm or refute the very models [of solar system formation] presented here at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting,” Stern said.

    Ultima Thule is estimated to be about 23 miles (37 kilometers) wide, much smaller than Pluto, which has a diameter of 1,477 miles (2,377 kilometers). For this reason, pre-flyby images 10 weeks before closest approach reveal just a dot rather than the increasing level of detail seen on Pluto during the same time frame. Details on the KBO will not be resolved until about one day before closest approach, Stern said.

    In addition to being the most distant object ever explored by a spacecraft, Ultima Thule, which is about ten times as wide and 1,000 times as massive as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which was orbited by the Rosetta spacecraft, is set to be the most primitive object studied by a spacecraft.

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft


    ESA Rosetta Philae Lander

    To preview what the KBO’s surface might look like, Lisse presented images of Comet Wild 2, Saturn’s moon Phoebe, Saturn’s moon Hyperion, and Comet 67P.

    All seven instruments aboard New Horizons will study Ultima Thule. Between now and the flyby, mission scientists will prepare by monitoring changes in the KBO’s brightness to determine its size, shape, and rotation speed, search for moons and other potential hazards to the spacecraft, and refine navigation if hazards are found, Weaver explained.

    Diversion from the optimal closest approach of 2,170 miles (3,500 kilometers) can be made as late as Dec. 16 if hazards are discovered. An alternate, safer approach would bring New Horizons within 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) of Ultima Thule. Image resolution will be better than that obtained at Pluto because of the closer approach.

    2
    Possible Shapes of Ultima Thule. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

    Singer outlined the mission’s goals as mapping the KBO’s geology and morphology and mapping its color and composition. Specifically, scientists will look for craters and grooves and various ices, including ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and water ice. They will also determine whether Ultima Thule is a binary or contact binary object or a double-lobed object like Comet 67P.

    Because KBOs are composed of pristine materials left over from the formation of the solar system, studying Ultima Thule’s ices will give scientists insight into the materials from which Earth and the solar system’s other planets were built.

    Mission scientists also hope to find answers as to why Ultima Thule, a very dark object, is slightly brighter than expected. They do not expect to find active geology or an atmosphere on such a small object.

    “This will be our first ground truth, our first close look at what makes these [Kuiper Belt] objects dark and red,” Singer said.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    As done at Pluto, New Horizons will return a final image of Ultima Thule just before closest approach, then remain out of contact with Earth, instead focusing on data collection. Between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. EST (15:00-15:30 GMT) Jan. 1, a signal from the probe is expected to arrive, confirming it survived the flyby.

    New Horizons will continue to study the KBO and its environment for a short time after closest approach. Return of the data collected will continue through late 2020.

    3
    Ultima Thule Timeline Overview. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

    Laurel Kornfeld is an amateur astronomer and freelance writer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science.

    HPHS Owls

    She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science from Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program.

    Her writings have been published online in The Atlantic, Astronomy magazine’s guest blog section, the UK Space Conference, the 2009 IAU General Assembly newspaper, The Space Reporter, and newsletters of various astronomy clubs. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.

    [Sorry folks, I could not resist the references to my home town and my university]

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insiderreports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:14 pm on October 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Derived from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle which launched supplies to the International Space Station, European Service Module (ESM), NASA’s Exploration Mission 1 Orion spacecraft, Spaceflight Insider   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Orion’s European Service Module makes its debut at Kennedy Space Center” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    Joe Latrell
    October 27th, 2018

    1
    NASA’s Exploration Mission 1 Orion spacecraft will utilize a Service Module provided by the European Space Agency Photo Credit: ESA / A. Conigli

    On Friday, Nov. 16 NASA will mark the arrival of the European Service Module to Kennedy Space Center. The agency plans to honor this historic event at 9 a.m. EST (12:00 GMT) with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Wörner and other officials slated to make remarks. Both Bridenstine and Wörner expected to speak at the event.

    The European Service Module (ESM) is the first major component of a NASA vehicle ever constructed outside of the U.S. The 34,085 lbs (15,461 kg) ESM is designed to provide air, water, thermal control and propulsion to the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) crew that will fly on Orion. For comparison, the Apollo Service Module weighed in at about 54,057 lbs (24,520 kg).

    The ESM is constructed from more than 20,000 parts that are precision fit into the 12 foot (4 meter) long unpressurized component. The main body of the service module is 6 feet (2 meters) high and contains the fuel tanks as well as oxygen, nitrogen and water for the crew.

    Additionally, the ESM houses vital heat exchangers designed to moderate the climate inside the crew capsule. The remaining length consists of the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) Engine. The OMS is an AJ10-190 engine that was originally built for NASA’s Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System. This engine, which is housed inside the spacecraft adapter during launch, provides an estimated 5,778 pounds of thrust.

    The Service module is derived from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle which launched supplies to the International Space Station. A total of five ATVs were built and launched between March of 2008 and July of 2014. The knowledge gained from producing those vehicles helped influence the design of the ESM.

    The ESM provides power to the Orion systems using 4 solar “wings.” Each wing consists of 3 panel blocks that are 6 feet (2 meters) square. These wings contain more than 15,000 solar cells that produce enough electricity to power a three bedroom house. When fully extended, the solar wings bring the ESM to a width of about 62 feet (19 meters). The ESM measures 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) across before the wings are unfurled.

    Over 11 countries in the European Union are responsible for building the components used on the ESM. The list includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

    Once the ESM has been inspected, it will be integrated with the Orion spacecraft and the rest of the Space Launch System in preparation for EM-1. The EM-1 flight is designed to send humans further into space than they have ever traveled before with the spacecraft soaring 37,000 miles (59,545 kilometers) above the surface of the Moon.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
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