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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

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Kepler Discovers

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Pulverized Planet

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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....

Archive for January 2012

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:

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.

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.

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.