Satellite News

Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

Former NASA astronaut and space shuttle leader Alan "Dex" Poindexter passed away while on holiday with his family September 1 in Pensacola, Fla. An expert of two spaceflights, Poindexter invested a complete of 28 times in space. Poindxter was a U.S. Navy captain and he handled the STS-131 space shuttle to the International Space Station in 2010, providing more than 12,000 pounds of components and equipment. He was the head for space shuttles' STS-122 objective that provided and installed the Western Space Company's Columbus laboratory on the place in 2008.

"Alan and I registered up with the astronaut corps in 1998 and went together on STS-122, which was truly an amazing encounter," said NASA Affiliate Manager for Knowledge and former astronaut Leland Melvin "He was a enthusiastic, looking after and non selfish personal who will be skipped by all." "We in the astronaut household have missing not only a special companion, but also a patriot of the Combined States" said Peggy Whitson, primary of the Astronaut Workplace at NASA's Jackson Area Middle in Houston."He happily provided his country for 26 decades as a martial artist head, test head, astronaut and leader of space shuttle. I am extremely pleased to have both traveled in area and proved helpful with him for so many decades. Dex will be greatly skipped by those of us at Jackson and the entire NASA family.
Poindexter with his friends
Poindexter gained an undergrad level with maximum awards from the Atlanda Institution of Technology and a graduate student level from the Naval Postgrad School in Monterey, Calif.He was chosen as an astronaut selection in May 1998 and provided in the Astronaut Office, space Functions Division at Jackson as the cause assistance astronaut for NASA's Kennedy Space Middle in Florida
Poindexter in space
He also worked as a spacecraft communicator, or CAPCOM for a lot missions.

When scientists discovered two great swaths of radiation encircling Earth in the 1950s, it spawned over-the-top fears about "killer electrons" and space radiation effects on Earthlings. The fears were soon quieted: the radiation doesn't reach Earth, though it can affect satellites and humans moving through the belts. Nevertheless, many mysteries about the belts – now known as the Van Allen Radiation belts – remain to this day.

Filled with electrons and energetic charged particles, the radiation belts swell and shrink in response to incoming solar energy, but no one is quite sure how. Indeed, what appears to be the same type of incoming energy has been known to cause entirely different responses on different occasions, causing increased particles in one case and particle loss in another. Theories on just what causes the belts to swell or shrink abound, with little hard evidence to distinguish between them. One big question has simply been to determine if, when the belts shrink, particles escape up and out into interplanetary space or down toward Earth. Now, a new study using multiple spacecraft simultaneously has tracked the particles and determined the escape direction for at least one event: up.

"For a long time, it was thought particles would precipitate downward out of the belts," says Drew Turner, a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and first author on a paper on these results appearing onine in Nature Physics on January 29, 2012 date. "But more recently, researchers theorized that maybe particles could sweep outward. Our results for this event are clear: we saw no increase in downward precipitation."

While it may sound like a simple detail, such knowledge is not just esoteric. Indeed, the study of particle losses in the belts has so far provided more mystery and potential theories than concrete information. But understanding the radiation belts – and how they change as particles and energy come in or go out -- is a crucial part of protecting satellites that fly through the region.

The Van Allen belts fit into a larger system that stretches from the sun to Earth. The sun sends out a constant stream of solar wind, not to mention occasional much larger bursts – such as explosions from the sun's atmosphere called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) or shock fronts caused by fast solar winds overtaking slower winds called corotating interaction regions (CIRs).
When these bursts of energy move toward Earth, they can disturb Earth's own magnetic environment, known as the magnetosphere, and create a geomagnetic storm. Sometimes these storms can cause a sudden drop in the radiation belt particles, seemingly emptying the belt in only a few hours. This "drop out" can last for days. What causes the drop out, why it lasts so long, and just how the particles even leave remain unanswered questions.

Solving such a mystery requires numerous spacecraft measuring changes at several points in space to determine whether an event in one place affects an event elsewhere. The Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), scheduled to launch in August 2012, are specifically geared for such observations, but in the meantime, a team of scientists have brought together two disparate sets of a spacecraft to get an early multipoint view of the radiation belts during an event when the belts experienced a sudden loss of particles.

"We are entering an era where multi-spacecraft are key," says Vassilis Angelopoulos, a space scientist at UCLA, and the principal investigator for THEMIS and a coauthor on the paper. "Being able to unite a fleet of available resources into one study is becoming more of a necessity to turn a corner in our understanding of Earth's environment."

 In this case, the team observed a small geomagnetic storm on January 6, 2011 using the three NASA THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) spacecraft, two GOES (Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite), operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and six POES (Polar Operational Environmental Satellite), run jointly by NOAA, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) spacecraft.

The THEMIS and GOES spacecraft orbit around Earth's equatorial region, while the POES spacecraft orbit at lower altitude near the poles and travel through the radiation belts several times per day. All are equipped to study the energetic particles in the region. The observations provided an unprecedented view of a geomagnetic storm from numerous viewpoints simultaneously – and the team found unequivocally that particles escaped the radiation belts by streaming out into space, not by raining down toward Earth.

During this storm, electrons moving near the speed of light dropped out for over six hours. In that time period POES saw no increase in electrons escaping downward from the belts. On the other hand, the spacecraft did monitor a low-density patch of the belt that first appeared at the outer edges of the belts and then moved inward. This sequence is consistent with the notion that particles were streaming outward, just as the low density region of cars leaving from the front of a traffic jam moves backward over time as more and more cars are able to move forward and escape.

"This was a very simple storm," says Turner. "It's not an extreme case, so we think it's probably pretty typical of what happens in general and ongoing results from concurrent statistical studies support this."

If, indeed, electrons usually escape the radiation belts by streaming outward, it seems likely that some kind of waves aid and abet their outward motion, enabling them to reach the outer escape boundary. Hammering out this escape mechanism will be one of the jobs for RBSP, says David Sibeck at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is NASA's mission scientist for RBSP and project scientist for THEMIS.

"This kind of research is a key to understanding, and eventually predicting, hazardous events in the Earth’s radiation belts," says Sibeck. "It's a great comprehensive example of what we can expect to see throughout the forthcoming RBSP mission."

NASA’s Research and Technology Studies (RATS) team will conduct its 2012 testing events in two phases. The first phase is further separated into two, three-day parts, conducted at Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Building 9.

The first part of phase 1 took place Dec. 13-15, 2011; the second part of phase 1 began Jan. 18, 2012, and will also last three days. This phase will focus on determining functionality and habitability of the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV). The MMSEV has a flexible architecture, allowing it to rove on a planetary surface atop a wheeled chassis, or fly in space using advanced in-space propulsion systems.

For three days and two nights during the Dec. and Jan. simulations, the two-person crews will live, work, eat, sleep, and exercise in the MMSEV cabin, housed in JSC Building 9. Throughout the day, they will trade responsibilities as EVA (extravehicular activity) and IV (intra-vehicular) crewmembers. During the EVAs, the crews will perform a variety of simulations that future crews could potentially conduct on a mission to a near-Earth asteroid, using the suitports on the aft end of the MMSEV to exit the vehicle.

By executing Phase 1 at JSC, the RATS team is able to use a medley of tools and simulators that would be difficult to transport to a field test location. The Air Bearing Floor, for instance, is a key technology that will allow the crew to test the MMSEV in the “flying” configuration on an air sled, rather than as a rover on wheels. A virtual reality lab will provide an immersive environment for the EVA crewmembers, integrating real-time graphics with crewmember motions and kinesthetic sensations of large objects – an asteroid in this case. The Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS), a crane-based, reduced-gravity system, will allow crews to conduct activities in simulated microgravity. And the air chair will allow the crew to perform simulated EVAs on a jet pack.

Here are some insights provided by Mr. Jeff Adams, a leading real estate expert who is highly experienced in the real estate industry and who has made quite a reputation for making few of the popular real estate deals in the past.

Invest in real estate to make some extra money
Our world is severally hampered by Global recession as many have lost their jobs and income on a large scale. Millions of people have been looking forward for new and different methods for making profitable income to endure their lives. Surprisingly, real estate is one among the few industries that has not been affected by this recession as investments in this field gives you high returns for a very low risk of failure. An average person could make handsome profits by even working as a part time investor. However, one needs substantial market knowledge to make the right calls and decisions which is essentially for successful investments. 
Beginner in real estate investing
As a fresher in this industry, you have two kinds of openings or avenue. You can either choose to rent your property after making an investment on it, earn by monthly remittances, or you could choose to purchase a house at below market price, increase its value and make a quick sale to attain substantial profits. Depending upon these two factors you need to move forward and hence it is highly crucial for you to make a judgment call among them and then proceed forward with your investment. 

Attempts to make profitable investments
Mr. Jeff Adams also states that if you choose to opt for the latter route mentioned above, you’ll have to look for desperate sellers as an initial attempt to make profitable investments. These desperate sellers or property owners usually tend to need money urgently to overcome their own issues or personal problems including business contingencies. There have been cases in the past where several home owners have two mortgages on two properties and unable to meet the brunt of double payment liability, they have become desperate sellers. 

How to find these desperate sellers
Finding desperate sellers is always a complicated and overhead task. There are no readymade lists or central place where you can find them all together. Considering the size of our world population, it becomes all the more difficult as everyone aspires to purchase homes or sells them and you need to find the desperate ones among them. Desperate home owners have several financial constraints which has brought them down to this level. They would not advertise their property as well as lest their circle of social contacts will come to know about their dire need.

Print flyers and business cards for advertising
Every product that needs to be sold requires proper marketing and advertising and this holds true for real estate properties as well. One way to make a start for a successful real estate resale or finding desperate sellers is by printing flyers and business cards stating “Local Investor will buy your house, fast!” and distribute them on a wide basis. You should be in a way able to reach everyone around the world. Another good idea would be to advertise the same motto or ad in local newspapers. This helps you to build potential buyers as well as find potential desperate sellers. Real estate is a booming industry and even if you invest a huge financial figure, all the initial expenses would be paid and you will be left with sizable profit if you make a successful and valid deal. 

To study the market trends
Mr. Jeff Adams also clearly emphasizes that without studying the market trend and understanding the current situation it is very difficult to make profitable investments in real estate industry. The locality of the property is highly significant in deciding the resale value of the property and you cannot expect to reap huge profits even after buying from a desperate seller when the property is in poor locality. 

Way to make quick profits
Flipping property is one among the popular strategies employed by millions of home owners to make quick and sizable profits. It is the best strategy for making quick money in real estate investing. As, expected, the more money you put in increases the risk factor and so does the flipping strategy. But the rewards one could reap out of employing this strategy are also equally attractive and quite high if things go as planned and smoothly.

Good method of investing for beginners
Jeff Adams also suggests that purchasing commercial properties is the best method of real estate investing for a beginner. It is comparatively more secure and safer than residential investments. Of course, the only down fall or issue pertaining to such an idea is the initial investment you might have to put in. You’ll need surplus to start with commercial real estate investment. However, this investment is stable as most companies that lease from you seek for a long term deal.

Real estate investing is not the hardest thing
Real estate is the easiest way to make some quick money that is considerably quite huge. It is certainly not the hardest thing in the world if you are able to get the logistics as well as the nuances behind it. However, you need some kind of fore knowledge about how the system works, the present market status and useful contacts to make the right kind of investments which can reap several benefits for you. As a beginner, your head will simply swirl as there is so much to learn or know about Real Estate industry. However, once you get a clear understanding of the common methods or strategies to be successful in this industry, survival becomes all the more easier as complicated things about the industry will be easier to comprehend and handle owing to your own experience. 

Mr. Jeff Adams closes his presentation with a mind blowing statement that stated “ I also started from where you are at present and reaching my stature is not all that difficult or time consuming once you know the field inside out”.

The end of the space shuttle program does not mean the end of NASA, or even of NASA sending humans into space. NASA has a robust program of exploration, technology development and scientific research that will last for years to come. Here is what's next for NASA:

Exploration
NASA is designing and building the capabilities to send humans to explore the solar system, working toward a goal of landing humans on Mars. We will build the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, based on the design for the Orion capsule, with a capacity to take four astronauts on 21-day missions.

NASA is also moving forward with the development of the Space Launch System -- an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. The SLS rocket will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include shuttle engines for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage.

We are developing the technologies we will need for human exploration of the solar system, including solar electric propulsion, refueling depots in orbit, radiation protection and high-reliability life support systems.

International Space Station
The International Space Station is the centerpiece of our human spaceflight activities in low Earth orbit. The ISS is fully staffed with a crew of six, and American astronauts will continue to live and work there in space 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Part of the U.S. portion of the station has been designated as a national laboratory, and NASA is committed to using this unique resource for scientific research.

The ISS is a test bed for exploration technologies such as autonomous refueling of spacecraft, advanced life support systems and human/robotic interfaces. Commercial companies are well on their way to providing cargo and crew flights to the ISS, allowing NASA to focus its attention on the next steps into our solar system.

Aeronautics
NASA is researching ways to design and build aircraft that are safer, more fuel-efficient, quieter, and environmentally responsible. We are also working to create traffic management systems that are safer, more efficient and more flexible. We are developing technologies that improve routing during flights and enable aircraft to climb to and descend from their cruising altitude without interruption.

We believe it is possible to build an aircraft that uses less fuel, gives off fewer emissions, and is quieter, and we are working on the technologies to create that aircraft. NASA is also part of the government team that is working to develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, to be in place by the year 2025. We will continue to validate new, complex aircraft and air traffic control systems to ensure that they meet extremely high safety levels.

Science
NASA is conducting an unprecedented array of missions that will seek new knowledge and understanding of Earth, the solar system and the universe. NASA has observatories in Earth orbit and deep space, spacecraft visiting the moon and other planetary bodies, and robotic landers, rovers, and sample return missions. NASA's science vision encompasses questions as practical as hurricane formation, as enticing as the prospect of lunar resources, and as profound as the origin of the Universe.

Jeff Adams an ex-fire fighter mastered the art of Real Estate investment and now he is a popular and most successful real estate investor in United States. He started investing in real estate to earn extra income and Jeff established himself in the field. Jeff Adams followed few steps as a beginner and was very successful. He did not stop with that , he introduced REO Riches formula an exceptional program to assist the real estate investors to see the potentials of the current market.

This Formula helped beginners to succeed in investing. Few people tried to hinder his progress by posting negative scam reports about his REO riches formula. But Jeff withstood those hard periods and has become a successful real estate investor in United States.

NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is in final preparations for a launch from Florida's Space Coast at 10:25 a.m. EST (7:25 a.m. PST) on Nov. 25.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission will carry Curiosity, a rover with more scientific capability than any ever sent to another planet. The rover is now sitting atop an Atlas V rocket awaiting liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"Preparations are on track for launching at our first opportunity," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "If weather or other factors prevent launching then, we have more opportunities through Dec. 18."

Scheduled to land on the Red Planet in August 2012, the one-ton rover will examine Gale Crater during a nearly two-year prime mission. Curiosity will land near the base of a layered mountain 3 miles (5 kilometers) high inside the crater. The rover will investigate whether environmental conditions ever have been favorable for development of microbial life and preserved evidence of those conditions.

"Gale gives us a superb opportunity to test multiple potentially habitable environments and the context to understand a very long record of early environmental evolution of the planet," said John Grotzinger, project scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The portion of the crater where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments. Layers at the base of the mountain contain clays and sulfates, both known to form in water."

Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as earlier Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. The rover will carry a set of 10 science instruments weighing 15 times as much as its predecessors' science payloads.

A mast extending to 7 feet (2.1 meters) above ground provides height for cameras and a laser-firing instrument to study targets from a distance. Instruments on a 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm will study targets up close. Analytical instruments inside the rover will determine the composition of rock and soil samples acquired with the arm's powdering drill and scoop. Other instruments will characterize the environment, including the weather and natural radiation that will affect future human missions.

"Mars Science Laboratory builds upon the improved understanding about Mars gained from current and recent missions," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This mission advances technologies and science that will move us toward missions to return samples from, and eventually send humans to, Mars."

The mission is challenging and risky. Because Curiosity is too heavy to use an air-bag cushioned touchdown, the mission will use a new landing method, with a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the rover on a tether like a kind of sky-crane.

The mission will pioneer precision landing methods during the spacecraft's crucial dive through Mars' atmosphere next August to place the rover onto a smaller landing target than any previously for a Mars mission. The target inside Gale Crater is 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) by 15.5 miles (25 kilometers). Rough terrain just outside that area would have disqualified the landing site without the improved precision.

No mission to Mars since the Viking landers in the 1970s has sought a direct answer to the question of whether life has existed on Mars. Curiosity is not designed to answer that question by itself, but its investigations for evidence about prerequisites for life will steer potential future missions toward answers.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Curiosity was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA's Space Network, managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide space communications services for the rocket. NASA's international Deep Space Network will provide MSL spacecraft acquisition and communication throughout the mission.

An instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity can check for any water that might be bound into shallow underground minerals along the rover's path.

"If we conclude that there is something unusual in the subsurface at a particular spot, we could suggest more analysis of the spot using the capabilities of other instruments," said this instrument's principal investigator, Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute, Russia.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission will use 10 instruments on Curiosity to investigate whether the area selected for the mission has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for life and favorable for preserving evidence about life.

"The strength of Mars Science Laboratory is the combination of all the instruments together," Mitrofanov added.

The Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument, or DAN, will scout for underground clues to a depth of about 20 inches (50 centimeters). The Russian Federal Space Agency contributed it to NASA as part of a broad collaboration between the United States and Russia in the exploration of space. Sergey Saveliev, deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, emphasized that the cooperation on this project serves as a continuation of the joint activities associated with the study of Mars to enhance the scientific return to the international community in the areas of Mars exploration and Mars knowledge. The accommodation and integration of the Russian DAN in the U.S. Mars Science Laboratory flight and mission systems give evidence of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in space endeavors.

DAN will bring to the surface of Mars an enhancement of nuclear technology that has already detected Martian water from orbit. "Albedo" in the instrument's name means reflectance -- in this case, how original high-energy neutrons injected into the ground bounce off atomic nuclei in the ground. Neutrons that collide with hydrogen atoms bounce off with a characteristic decrease in energy, similar to how one billiard ball slows after colliding with another. By measuring the energies of the neutrons leaking from the ground, DAN can detect the fraction that was slowed in these collisions, and therefore the amount of hydrogen.

Oil prospectors use this technology in instruments lowered down exploration holes to detect the hydrogen in petroleum. Space explorers have adapted it for missions to the moon and Mars, where most hydrogen is in water ice or in water-derived hydroxyl ions.

Mitrofanov is the principal investigator for a Russian instrument on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, the high-energy neutron detector (HEND), which measures high energy of neutrons coming from Mars. In 2002, it and companion instruments on Odyssey detected hydrogen interpreted as abundant underground water ice close to the surface at high latitudes. That discovery led to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander going to far northern Mars in 2008 and confirming the presence of water ice.

"You can think of DAN as a reconnaissance instrument," Mitrofanov said. Just as Phoenix investigated what Odyssey detected, Curiosity can use various tools to investigate what DAN detects. The rover has a soil scoop and can also dig with its wheels. Its robotic arm can put samples into instruments inside the rover for thorough analyses of ingredients. Rock formations that Curiosity's cameras view at the surface can be traced underground with DAN, enhancing the ability of scientists to understand the geology.

The neutron detectors on Odyssey rely on galactic cosmic rays hitting Mars as a source of neutrons. DAN can work in a passive mode relying on cosmic rays, but it also has its own pulsing neutron generator for an active mode of shooting high-energy neutrons into the ground. In active mode, it is sensitive enough to detect water content as low as one-tenth of one percent in the ground beneath the rover.

The neutron generator is mounted on Curiosity's right hip. A module with two neutron detectors is mounted on the left hip. With pulses lasting about one microsecond and repeated as frequently as 10 times per second, key measurements by the detectors are the flux rate and delay time of moderated neutrons with different energy levels returning from the ground. The generator will be able to emit a total of about 10 million pulses during the mission, with about 10 million neutrons at each pulse.

"We have a fixed number of about 10 million shots, so one major challenge is to determine our strategy for how we will use them," said Maxim Litvak, leading scientist of the DAN investigation from the Space Research Institute.

Operational planning anticipates using DAN during short pauses in drives and while the rover is parked. It will check for any changes or trends in subsurface hydrogen content, from place to place along the traverse. Because there is a low possibility for underground water ice at Curiosity's Gale crater landing site, the most likely form of hydrogen in the ground of the landing area is hydrated minerals. These are minerals with water molecules or hydroxyl ions bound into the crystalline structure of the mineral. They can tenaciously retain water from a wetter past when all free water has gone.

"We want a better understanding of where the water has gone," said Alberto Behar, DAN investigation scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "DAN fits right into the follow-the-water strategy for studying Mars."

Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said, "DAN will provide the ability to detect hydrated minerals or water ice in the shallow subsurface, which provides immediate clues as to how the geology of the subsurface might guide exploration of the surface. In addition, DAN can tell us how the shallow subsurface may differ from what the rover sees at the surface. None of our other instruments have the ability to do this. DAN measurements will tell us about the habitability potential of subsurface rocks and soils -- whether they contain water -- and as we drive along, DAN may help us understand what kinds of rocks are under the soils we drive across."

Information from DAN will also provide a ground-truth calibration for the measurements that the gamma-ray and neutron detectors on Odyssey have made and continue to make, all around the planet, enhancing the value of that global data set. The team leader of Odyssey's gamma-ray spectrometer suite, William Boynton of the University of Arizona in Tucson, is a co-investigator on the DAN investigation, with the major responsibility to provide DAN data products to NASA's Planetary Data System for usage by scientists everywhere.

The distorted shapes in the cluster are distant galaxies from which the light is bent by the gravitational pull of an invisible material called dark matter within the cluster of galaxies. This cluster is an early target in a survey that will allow astronomers to construct the most detailed dark matter maps of more galaxy clusters than ever before.

These maps are being used to test previous, but surprising, results that suggest that dark matter is more densely packed inside clusters than some models predict. This might mean that galaxy cluster assembly began earlier than commonly thought.
The multi-wavelength survey, called the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH), probes, with unparalleled precision, the distribution of dark matter in 25 massive clusters of galaxies. So far, the CLASH team has observed six of the 25 clusters.

Dark matter makes up the bulk of the universe’s mass, yet it can only be detected by measuring how its gravity tugs on visible matter and warps space like a fun house mirror so that the light from distant objects is distorted.

Galaxy clusters like MACS 1206 are perfect laboratories for studying dark matter’s gravitational effects because they are the most massive structures in the universe. Because of their heft, the clusters act like giant cosmic lenses, magnifying, distorting and bending any light that passes through them – an effect known as gravitational lensing.

Lensing effects can also produce multiple images of the same distant object, as evident in this Hubble picture. In particular, the apparent numbers and shapes of distant galaxies far beyond a galaxy cluster become distorted as the light passes through, yielding a visible measurement of how much mass is in the intervening cluster, and how it is distributed. The substantial lensing distortions seen are proof that the dominant component of clusters is dark matter. The distortions would be far weaker if the clusters’ gravity came only from the visible galaxies in the clusters.

MACS 1206 lies 4 billion light-years from Earth. Hubble’s keen vision helped CLASH astronomers uncover 47 multiple images of 12 newly identified faraway galaxies. Finding so many multiple images in a cluster is a unique capability of Hubble, and the CLASH survey is optimized to find them. The new observations build on earlier work by Hubble and ground-based telescopes.

Taking advantage of two of Hubble’s powerful cameras, the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3, the CLASH survey covers a broad wavelength range, from ultraviolet to near infrared. Astronomers need the diverse colors to estimate the distances to lensed galaxies and study them in more detail. Hubble’s unique capabilities allow astronomers to estimate distances to galaxies that are four times fainter than ground-based telescopes can see.

The era when the first clusters formed is not precisely known, but is estimated to be at least 9 billion years ago and possibly as far back as 12 billion years ago. If most of the clusters in the CLASH survey are found to have excessively high accumulations of dark matter in their central cores, then it may yield new clues to the early stages in the origin of structure in the universe.

Future telescopes like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a space-based infrared observatory now being built, will be able to study the fainter lensed galaxies in clusters like MACS 1206 in greater detail. The Webb will be powerful enough to the spectra of some of the magnified galaxies to study their early chemical composition.

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

A fleet of spacecraft including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered unprecedented details in the surroundings of a supermassive black hole. Observations reveal huge bullets of gas being driven away from the gravitational monster and a corona of very hot gas hovering above the disk of matter that is falling into the black hole.

A team led by Jelle Kaastra of SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research made use of data from ESA's XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL spacecraft (which study X-rays and gamma rays, respectively), the Hubble Space Telescope (for ultraviolet observations with the COS instrument), and NASA's Chandra (X-ray) Observatory and Swift (gamma-ray) satellites.

The black hole that the team chose to study lies at the heart of the galaxy Markarian 509 (Mrk 509), nearly 500 million light-years away. This black hole is colossal, containing 300 million times the mass of the Sun, and is growing more massive every day as it continues to feed on surrounding matter, which glows brightly as it forms a rotating disk around the black hole. Mrk 509 was chosen because it is known to vary in brightness, which indicates that the flow of matter is turbulent.

The above image of Mrk 509 was taken in April 2007 with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. But using a large number of telescopes that are sensitive to different wavelengths of light gave astronomers unprecedented coverage running from the infrared, through the visible, ultraviolet, X-rays, and into the gamma-ray band.

Observations from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission indicate the family of asteroids some believed was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs is not likely the culprit, keeping open the case on one of Earth's greatest mysteries.

While scientists are confident a large asteroid crashed into Earth approximately 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs and some other life forms on our planet, they do not know exactly where the asteroid came from or how it made its way to Earth. A 2007 study using visible-light data from ground-based telescopes first suggested the remnant of a huge asteroid, known as Baptistina, as a possible suspect.

According to that theory, Baptistina crashed into another asteroid in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter about 160 million years ago. The collision sent shattered pieces as big as mountains flying. One of those pieces was believed to have impacted Earth, causing the dinosaurs' extinction.

Since this scenario was first proposed, evidence developed that the so-called Baptistina family of asteroids was not the responsible party. With the new infrared observations from WISE, astronomers say Baptistina may finally be ruled out.

"As a result of the WISE science team's investigation, the demise of the dinosaurs remains in the cold case files," said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The original calculations with visible light estimated the size and reflectivity of the Baptistina family members, leading to estimates of their age, but we now know those estimates were off. With infrared light, WISE was able to get a more accurate estimate, which throws the timing of the Baptistina theory into question."

WISE surveyed the entire celestial sky twice in infrared light from January 2010 to February 2011. The asteroid-hunting portion of the mission, called NEOWISE, used the data to catalogue more than 157,000 asteroids in the main belt and discovered more than 33,000 new ones.

Visible light reflects off an asteroid. Without knowing how reflective the surface of the asteroid is, it's hard to accurately establish size. Infrared observations allow a more accurate size estimate. They detect infrared light coming from the asteroid itself, which is related to the body's temperature and size. Once the size is known, the object's reflectivity can be re-calculated by combining infrared with visible-light data.

The NEOWISE team measured the reflectivity and the size of about 120,000 asteroids in the main belt, including 1,056 members of the Baptistina family. The scientists calculated the original parent Baptistina asteroid actually broke up closer to 80 million years ago, half as long as originally proposed.

This calculation was possible because the size and reflectivity of the asteroid family members indicate how much time would have been required to reach their current locations -- larger asteroids would not disperse in their orbits as fast as smaller ones. The results revealed a chunk of the original Baptistina asteroid needed to hit Earth in less time than previously believed, in just about 15 million years, to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs.

"This doesn't give the remnants from the collision very much time to move into a resonance spot, and get flung down to Earth 65 million years ago," said Amy Mainzer, a co-author of a new study appearing in the Astrophysical Journal and the principal investigator of NEOWISE at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. Calif. "This process is thought to normally take many tens of millions of years." Resonances are areas in the main belt where gravity nudges from Jupiter and Saturn can act like a pinball machine to fling asteroids out of the main belt and into the region near Earth.

The asteroid family that produced the dinosaur-killing asteroid remains at large. Evidence that a 10-kilometer (about 6.2-mile) asteroid impacted Earth 65 million years ago includes a huge, crater-shaped structure in the Gulf of Mexico and rare minerals in the fossil record, which are common in meteorites but seldom found in Earth's crust. In addition to the Baptistina results, the NEOWISE study shows various main belt asteroid families have similar reflective properties. The team hopes to use NEOWISE data to disentangle families that overlap and trace their histories.

"We are working on creating an asteroid family tree of sorts," said Joseph Masiero, the lead author of the study. "We are starting to refine our picture of how the asteroids in the main belt smashed together and mixed up."

NASA has selected two game-changing space technology projects for development. The selections are part of the agency's efforts to pursue revolutionary technology required for future missions, while proving the capabilities and lowering the cost of government and commercial space activities.

"NASA's Game Changing Technology Development program uses a rolling selection process to mature new, potentially transformative technologies from low to moderate technology readiness levels -- from the edge of reality to a test article ready for the rigors of the lab," said Space Technology Director Michael Gazarik at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These two new projects are just the beginning. Space Technology is making investments in critical technology areas that will enable NASA's future missions, while benefiting the American aerospace community."

The "Ride the Light" concept seeks to provide external power on demand for aerospace vehicles and other applications. The concept uses beamed power and propulsion produced by commercially available power sources such as lasers and microwave energy. The project will attempt to develop a low-cost, modular power beaming capability and explore multiple technologies to function as receiving elements of the beamed power.

This combination of technologies could be applied to space propulsion, performance and endurance of unpiloted aerial vehicles or ground-to-ground power beaming applications. Development of such capabilities fulfills NASA's strategic goal of developing high payoff technology and enabling missions otherwise unachievable with today's technology.

NASA has awarded approximately $3 million for concept studies to multiple companies during this first phase of the Ride the Light project. Systems engineering and analysis during this first phase of the Ride the Light project will be done by Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Ala.; Aerojet in Redmond, Wash.; ATK in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Teledyne Scientific, Boeing, and the Aerospace Corp., all located in Los Angeles. Following these studies, NASA expects to make an implementation decision in 2013.


NASA also has selected Amprius Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif., to pursue development of a prototype battery that could be used for future agency missions. Amprius is teaming with JPL and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland on the project, with an estimated value of $710,000 for one year of development.

The Amprius project will focus on the material optimization of silicon anodes and electrolyte formulation to meet the agency's low-temperature energy requirements. Amprius developed a unique ultra-high capacity silicon anode for lithium ion batteries that will enable NASA to dramatically improve the specific energy of mission critical rechargeable batteries. NASA requirements are unique because of the extremely low temperatures encountered in space.