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...
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...
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...
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....
Archive for September 2010
For more about NASA's Mars exploration program, see http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov .
The one-year option increases the existing NASA Shared Services Center support contract by more than $38 million and provides services through Sept. 30, 2011.
The center is a partnership among NASA, CSC, and the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. The center performs selected business activities for all 10 NASA centers.
The briefing participants are:
- Arik Posner, IBEX program scientist, Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Nathan Schwadron, IBEX science operations lead and associate professor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham
- David McComas, IBEX principal investigator and assistant vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio
- Merav Opher, associate professor, George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Cassini's combined infrared spectrometer instrument will be probing Titan's stratosphere to study more about its vertical structure as the seasons change. Equinox, when the sun shone directly over the equator, occurred in Aug 2009, and the northern hemisphere is now in spring.
Visual instrument and infrared mapping spectrometer, will be mapping an equatorial region known as Belet at a resolution of 5 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel. This mosaic will complement the mosaics that were obtained in earlier Titan flybys in January and April. This spectrometer will also look for clouds at northern mid-latitudes and near the poles.
Cassini's visible-light imaging cameras will also be taking images of Titan's trailing hemisphere, or the side that faces backward as Titan orbits around Saturn. If Titan cooperates and has a cloudy day, scientists plan to analyze the images for cloud patterns.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a supportive project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
Rodriguez is presenting the results and new images at the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome on Sept. 22. Though Titan's surface is far colder and lacks liquid water, this moon is a kind of "sister world" to Earth because it has a surface covered with organic material and an atmosphere whose chemical composition harkens back to an early Earth. Titan has a hydrological cycle similar to Earth's, though Titan's cycle depends on methane and ethane rather than water.
A season on Titan lasts about seven Earth years. Rodriguez and colleagues observed significant atmospheric changes between July 2004 (early summer in Titan's southern hemisphere) and April 2010 (the very start of northern spring). The images showed that cloud activity has recently decreased near both of Titan's poles. These regions had been heavily overcast during the late southern summer until 2008, a few months before the equinox.
Over the past six years, the scientists found that clouds clustered in three distinct latitude regions of Titan: large clouds at the North Pole, patchy clouds at the South Pole and a narrow belt around 40 degrees south. "However, we are now seeing evidence of a seasonal circulation turnover on Titan – the clouds at the south pole completely disappeared just before the equinox and the clouds in the north are thinning out," Rodriguez said. "This agrees with predictions from models and we are expecting to see cloud activity reverse from one hemisphere to another in the coming decade as southern winter approaches."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Firefly satellite in orbit video from the animation.
The small satellite, with a big mission, is appropriately named "Firefly." Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the pint-sized satellite will study the most powerful natural particle accelerator on Earth - lightning - when it launches from the Marshall Islands aboard an Air Force Falcon 1E rocket vehicle next year. In particular, Firefly will focus on Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes, a little understood phenomenon first discovered by NASA's Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory in the early 1990s.
All six crew members spent some time Friday discussing handover of responsibilities in the event of an emergency before crew departure. The ceremonial Change-of-Command from Skvortsov to Wheelock takes place Wednesday.
Three new station crew members prepared for their October launch with a news conference in Star City, Russia. They then traveled to Moscow for traditional pre-launch activities at the Kremlin Wall. Flight Engineers Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka will join Expedition 25 when they dock in the new Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft.
Hurricane activity this week captured the crew’s attention as they videotaped storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Hurricane Julia was videotaped following Hurricane Igor in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Karl was videotaped in the Pacific Ocean as it reached the western coast of Mexico near Veracruz. The crew also performed eye exams, transferred cargo from the new ISS Progress 39 resupply ship and stowed gear from the MARES, or Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System.
The SERVIR initiative integrates satellite observations, ground-based data and forecast models to monitor and forecast environmental changes and to improve response to natural disasters. SERVIR enables scientists, educators, project managers and policy implementers to better respond to a range of issues including disaster management, agricultural development, biodiversity conservation and climate change.
Endorsed by governments of Central America and Africa and principally supported by NASA and the US Agency of International Development, a strong emphasis is placed on partnerships to fortify the availability of searchable and viewable earth observations, measurements, animations, and analysis. A SERVIR coordination office and rapid prototyping facility is located at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Regional SERVIR nodes are located at the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama and the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development based in Kenya.
The crew is in the fixed-base simulator today at their training home at NASA's Johnson Space Center rehearse rendezvous and docking procedures and the installation of ELC-4 that will follow hatch opening on Flight Day 3 of the mission.
NASA's Ikhana, an unmanned Predator B modified for non-military missions, carries instruments for environmental Earth science studies and is used for advanced aircraft systems research and technology development. The Global Hawk unmanned aircraft has been very busy this hurricane season, flown by Herman and another pilot into and above hurricanes to collect data.
For more details:http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/uas_pilot_chat.html
ARTEMIS-P1 is the first spacecraft to navigate to and perform station keeping operations around the Earth-Moon L1 and L2 Lagrangian points. There are five Lagrangian points associated with the Earth-Moon system. The two points nearest the moon are of great interest for lunar exploration.
These points are called L1 (located between the Earth and Moon) and L2 (located on the far side of the Moon from Earth), each about 61,300 km (38,100 miles) above the lunar surface. It takes about 14 to 15 days to complete one revolution about either the L1 or L2 point. These distinctive kidney-shaped orbits are dynamically unstable and require weekly monitoring from ground personnel. Orbit corrections to maintain stability are regularly performed using onboard thrusters.
The ARTEMIS mission implementation and operation represents a joint effort between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Calif., and the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory.
STS-133 mission to the International Space Station is the final scheduled flight for Discovery before it is retired.
Live coverage of Discovery's rollout will air on NASA Television beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. NASA TV’s Video File will broadcast highlights of the move.
Discovery's first motion out of the VAB to the pad is scheduled for 8 p.m. The shuttle's 3.4- mile journey atop a giant crawler-transporter is expected to take approximately six hours. Activities include an 8 p.m. photo opportunity of the move followed by an interview availability at 8:30 p.m. with Discovery Flow Director Stephanie Stilson. Media must arrive at Kennedy's news center by 7:30 p.m. for the rollout photo opportunity.
NASA's SSPP focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions, preventing pollution, increasing water use efficiency and constructing and maintaining high performance, sustainable buildings. The plan follows President Obama's executive order to increase federal effectiveness in pursuing these "green" goals and includes guidance for evaluating effectiveness and providing updates and review.
"NASA is committed to a policy of sustainability that will be part of the work practices and mindset of the entire agency," said Olga Dominguez, assistant administrator for the Office of Strategic Infrastructure at NASA Headquarters in Washington.NASA submitted its plan to the Council on Environmental Quality.
Professional astronomers at NASA and other institutions followed up on the discovery and gathered detailed information on the objects, which produced bright spots on Jupiter. The object that caused the June 3 fireball was estimated to be 30 to 40 feet in diameter - comparable in size to asteroid 2010 RF12 that flew by Earth on Sept. 8.
The June 3 fireball released five to 10 times less energy than the 1908 Tunguska meteoroid, which exploded 4-6 miles above Earth’s surface with a powerful burst that knocked down millions of trees in a remote part of Russia. Scientists continue to analyze the Aug. 20 fireball, but think it was comparable to the June 3 object.
“Jupiter is a big gravitational vacuum cleaner,” said Glenn Orton, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., and co-author of a paper that will appear online Thursday in Astrophysical Journal Letters. “It is clear now that relatively small objects that are remnants from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago still hit Jupiter frequently. Scientists are trying to figure out just how frequently.”
“That series of flights alone really helped us achieve a great goal, which is to observe rapid intensification,” said GRIP mission scientist Scott Braun from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Earl had surprised scientists earlier in the week when they saw that it was surrounded by dry air. Hurricanes often derive strength from moist air and weaken when dry air infiltrates the cyclone.
Now that the Global Hawk has successfully flown over an Atlantic hurricane all the way from its base in southern California, the GRIP team is hoping for more opportunities to put the groundbreaking aircraft in the field. Because of the drone’s 30-hour flight range, it can remain directly over a storm to make high-quality measurements far longer than a manned plane or a satellite.
A media day for the tests will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to allow reporters to observe the activities. Interested news media should contact Brandi Dean at 281-483-5111 by Thursday, Sept. 9. Access to the test site is restricted, so media must be pre-registered. NASA also requires a letter of assignment on company letterhead for credentials.
The desert tests offer a chance for a NASA-led team of engineers, astronauts and scientists from across the country to test concepts for future missions. The location offers a good test area for future destinations of exploration missions.
NASA will demonstrate a variety of hardware during this year's test, including:
- Space Exploration Vehicles: two rovers astronauts could live in for seven days at a time.
- Habitat Demonstration Unit/Pressurized Excursion Module: a simulated habitat where the rovers can dock to allow the crew room to perform experiments or deal with medical issues.
- All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorers: two heavy-lift rover platforms that allow the habitat, or other large items, to go where the action is.
- Portable Communications Terminal: a rapidly deployable communications station.
- Centaur 2: a possible four-wheeled transportation method for NASA Robonaut 2.
- Portable Utility Pallets: mobile charging stations for equipment.
- A suite of new geology sample collection tools, including a self-contained GeoLab glove box for conducting in-field analysis of various collected rock samples.
Deadlines also have been set for journalists who want to cover the shuttle's move from its processing facility to the launch pad and practice countdown. Reporters must apply for credentials to attend the launch or cover the mission from other NASA centers. To be accredited, reporters must work for verifiable news-gathering organizations. No substitutions of credentials are allowed at any NASA facility.
The 11-day mission will be the 35th flight to the station and the 39th and final scheduled flight for Discovery. The mission will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment, and critical spare components for the station. Discovery also will deliver Robonaut 2, or R2, to become a permanent resident of the station as the first human-like robot in space.
NASA's Office of Protective Services recently made changes to the policy for foreign national processing. All journalists who are lawful permanent residents, have dual or multiple U.S. citizenship, or are U.S. citizens representing international media outlets will have their credential applications processed in the same way as U.S. citizens who represent domestic media.
Additional time may be required to process accreditation requests by journalists from certain designated countries. Designated countries include those with which the United States has no diplomatic relations, countries on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, those under U.S. sanction or embargo, and countries associated with proliferation concerns.