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Featured B "Space and Stuff"

  1. Aug 21, 2016 #21
    "On Saturday, Aug. 27, skywatchers will get a chance to see Venus and
    Jupiter paired in an extremely close configuration. For viewers in parts of the
    United States and Canada, the two planets will almost appear to touch,
    caught passing each other like two ships in the twilight."
    What am I missing here ? From, http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2016/hubble-investigates-stellar-shrapnel
    Several thousand years ago, a star some 160,000 light-years away from us exploded, scattering
    stellar shrapnel across the sky. The aftermath of this energetic detonation is shown here in this
    striking image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3.
    Shouldn't the light from a star 160,000 light years away take more than several thousand years to reach us ?o_O

    From, http://www.space.com/33795-cosmic-voids-fill-in-blanks-universe-mysteries.html

    By analyzing the giant voids of the cosmos, scientists now have more precise
    maps of matter in the universe, a new study finds.

    This strategy of looking at what's not there (as opposed to what's actually
    present) might help solve cosmic mysteries such as the nature of dark matter
    and dark energy, and whether or not extra forces of the universe exist,
    scientists added.

    Astronomy mostly focuses on what telescopes can see - everything from
    stars to planets to moons to asteroids and comets. However, previous
    research discovered that the universe is mostly composed of large, relatively
    empty domains known as cosmic voids, while galaxies are mostly scattered
    across the boundaries of these voids, forming a vast cosmic web.

    This sounds very cool.
    From, http://www.satellitetoday.com/nexts...l-reality-camera-satellite-locks-2017-launch/

    SpaceVR aims to give subscribers the opportunity to experience the universe through virtual reality.
    Its debut satellite will use 4K sensors to capture high-resolution, fully immersive, 360-degree video
    of Earth, and the content will be viewable on any virtual reality device, including smartphones,
    Oculus Rift, and extreme resolution devices such as the StarVR.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  2. Aug 21, 2016 #22
    Well the term 'several thousand' is vague alright, but I suppose 160k years does qualify as such.
    The image we are seeing is of course the state of things somewhat later in time than the original detonation itself
  3. Aug 22, 2016 #23
    They really don't want to get hacked? :)
  4. Aug 22, 2016 #24
    Highest angular resolution image ever from space?


    Combining for the first time ground-based radio telescopes with the space radio telescope of the RadioAstron mission, operating at its maximum resolution, has allowed our team to imitate an antenna with a size of eight times the Earth’s diameter, corresponding to about twenty microarcseconds

    I've read this is only good enough to resolve a half-dollar coin on the surface of the Moon... doesn't sound very impressive for someone who dreams of being able to see exoplanets in their full glory. Our resolutions will remain appallingly poor until we come up with some kind of orbital interferometer.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  5. Aug 22, 2016 #25
    Hi Hoophy, I'm thinking the quantum comsats are another "brick in the wall" of the militarization of the "ultimate high ground". getting your system hacked could only be useful if one wished to disseminate disinformation or otherwise confuse an opponent, Its been a sad fact for much of history that technology and a lot of scientific development in general have been driven by military goals and quantum communication is just another example. As an example take a look at http://www.space.com/33800-air-force-surveillance-satellites-launch-afspc-6.html and let me know your thoughts on that missions ultimate purpose, In the event of a major conflict I have a feeling its going to be "Open season" on ComSats and related infrastructure.
  6. Aug 22, 2016 #26
    This is a very impressive project, thanks for post. The virtual VLBI system is intriguing to say the least and I'm curious to see just how far this technology can be pushed, I would also like to say thanks for the link to the site, it was new to me and you can be sure its in my bookmark folder now. :thumbup:
    After reading the article I naturally have a lot of new questions and will likely be returning to comment your post in the near future as I get to look into the subject a little more thoroughly, for example the term "Active galactic nuclei" is new to me and the first thought that comes to mind is, is this a new name for a Quasar or what ?
    If missions proceed as planned I believe the next 20 to 30 years of next generation space based telescopes along with the projects in the Atacama as well LISA etc. are going to give us resolution to spare, as well as a challenging amount of data to process.
  7. Aug 22, 2016 #27
    It's just the center of an active galaxy. Quasars are the most powerful AGNs.

    I'm no expert; I just scavenge stuff from Wikipedia.
  8. Aug 22, 2016 #28
    Cool, that's pretty much my situation also.
  9. Aug 22, 2016 #29
    This is an excellent example of the "out of box" thinking going on in Aerospace currently. If it
    can be done practically the benefits are obviously going to change the way we look at long term
    missions in general.
    The Ixion Team proposes demonstrating this low-cost concept via the conversion of a Centaur
    rocket upper stage, which will be attached to the International Space Station (ISS). The Ixion Team
    will leverage the habitat as a proving ground for a variety of private-sector activities.

    This is a big improvement in solar power generation from the people who supplied Juno with its solar cells.
    From, http://www.satellitetoday.com/publi...es-new-high-efficiency-spacecraft-solar-cell/
    [Via Satellite 08-02-2016] Boeing
    subsidiary Spectrolab has created a new
    space solar cell achieving an energy
    efficiency of 30.7 percent. This efficiency-
    the metric for how much sunlight a cell
    can convert into usable energy - is higher
    than any other comparable model
    currently available, according to the

    Spectrolab has started manufacturing the
    solar cell, known as XTJ Prime, with first
    delivery expected later this year. The cells
    are designed to benefit aerospace
    customers seeking to produce lower mass
    and lower cost satellites.

    It appears the market for small satellite launching is about to hit a growth spurt.
    From, http://interactive.satellitetoday.c...timistic-about-micro-launchers-possibilities/
  10. Aug 23, 2016 #30
    A "lost and found" story.

    December 11, 2015
    On Oct. 1, 2014, NASA mission operations lost communication with one of
    the two spacecraft of the Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory,
    or STEREO, mission, just as the spacecraft was about to orbit around
    the other side of the sun. Though they haven’t heard from the Behind
    spacecraft, also known as STEREO-B, in over a year, the spacecraft has
    finally emerged into a region where it can once again receive radio
    signals. Scientists have a plan to get it back-and their chances
    only get better with time...

    Fast forward

    From, http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/nasa-establishes-contact-with-stereo-mission

    On Aug. 21, 2016, contact was reestablished with
    one of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations
    Observatories, known as the STEREO-B spacecraft,
    after communications were lost on Oct. 1, 2014. Over
    22 months, the STEREO team has worked to attempt
    contact with the spacecraft. Most recently, they have
    attempted a monthly recovery operation using
    NASA's Deep Space Network, or DSN, which tracks
    and communicates with missions throughout space.

    The DSN established a lock on the STEREO-B
    downlink carrier at 6:27 p.m. EDT. The downlink
    signal was monitored by the Mission Operations team
    over several hours to characterize the attitude of the
    spacecraft and then transmitter high voltage was
    powered down to save battery power. The STEREO
    Missions Operations team plans further recovery
    processes to assess observatory health, re-establish
    attitude control, and evaluate all subsystems and

    Communications with STEREO-B were lost during a test
    of the spacecraft’s command loss timer, a hard reset
    that is triggered after the spacecraft goes without
    communications from Earth for 72 hours. The STEREO team
    was testing this function in preparation for something
    known as solar conjunction, when STEREO-B’s line of
    sight to Earth-and therefore all communication -
    was blocked by the sun.

    STEREO-A continues to work normally.

  11. Aug 23, 2016 #31

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    That image shows the remnants of a type IA supernova, several thousand years after the supernova occurred. Another way to put it: The light from the supernova itself reached the Earth several thousand years ago.
  12. Aug 23, 2016 #32
    Thanks, my education continues. :smile:
  13. Aug 23, 2016 #33
    A little info on the upcoming OSIRIS mission Due for launch on 9/8/16
    From, http://spaceflight101.com/osiris-rex/

    The study of an asteroid and the return of sample material was deemed a critical goal for space
    exploration because asteroids can be considered time capsules from the birth and early formation
    of the Solar System. The ancient Carbon-containing material on Bennu and other early bodies of
    the solar system was a key in the formation of organic molecules delivered to Earth by
    bombardment of meteorites.

    The acronym OSIRIS references the Egyptian mythological god Osiris,
    the lord of the dead roaming the underworld. This name was chosen
    for the mission as asteroid Bennu is a potential Earth-impactor
    capable of bringing vast destruction and death. Rex is the Latin
    word for king.

    The prime goal of the mission is the collection of a sample by making
    contact with the asteroid and acquiring anywhere between 60 grams and
    2 kilos of material to be returned to Earth in a Sample Return Capsule.
    Prior to sample collection, OSIRIS-REx is tasked with a remote sensing
    campaign lasting over a year during which the remaining objectives of
    the mission will be assessed.

    I though I'd throw this in also. :smile:
    How does one degauss a spacecraft in orbit?

    A probe swinging around Earth through the Van Allen radiation belts was able
    to pick out near-light-speed electrons following a powerful geomagnetic
    storm, providing a rare look into the interaction between the belts and the
    space weather event. A new NASA video explores the shocking phenomenon.

    The probe witnessed the aftermath of what NASA called "the greatest
    geomagnetic storm of the preceding decade," when the sun expelled a burst
    of charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection, toward Earth in 2015.
    The interplanetary zap hit Earth's radiation belts right when a NASA probe
    was passing through, offering a rare glimpse of the event's impact.

    The spacecraft observed a pulse of electrons energized to near-light speed
    as the coronal mass ejection slammed into the Earth's magnetic field. The
    initial energy event lasted only a few minutes, but while both probes found an
    increased population of high-energy electrons in the belts days later, only one
    caught the initial effects of the solar storm.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  14. Aug 23, 2016 #34
    Eyes on ESO's press conference tomorrow. There's been a lot of talk about a potentially exciting discovery. Hopefully it's true.
  15. Aug 24, 2016 #35
    Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star


    "Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System."

    Might be tidally locked, though. Breakthrough Starshot may get a new boost, nonetheless.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  16. Aug 26, 2016 #36
    Another "Space veteran" gets a mission extension, It appears as if Spitzer wil try and "hang in there" until JWST is in the commission phase. :smile:

    Please pardon the shameless cut and paste approach, it's just that I'm not able to "one up" the quality of writing in the article so I don't try and improve it. :sorry:
    From, http://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/spitzer-space-telescope-begins-beyond-phase
    "Spitzer is operating well beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of the mission,"
    said Michael Werner, the project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
    Pasadena, California. "We never envisioned operating 13 years after launch, and scientists are
    making discoveries in areas of science we never imagined exploring with the spacecraft."

    NASA recently granted the spacecraft a two-and-a-half-year mission extension. This Beyond
    phase of the Spitzer mission will explore a wide range of topics in astronomy and cosmology, as
    well as planetary bodies in and out of our solar system.

    Because of Spitzer's orbit and age, the Beyond phase presents a variety of new engineering
    challenges. Spitzer trails Earth in its journey around the sun, but because the spacecraft
    travels slower than Earth, the distance between Spitzer and Earth has widened over time. As
    Spitzer gets farther away, its antenna must be pointed at higher angles toward the sun to
    communicate with Earth, which means that parts of the spacecraft will experience more and
    more heat. At the same time, Spitzer's solar panels point away from the sun and will receive
    less sunlight, so the batteries will be under greater stress. To enable this riskier mode of
    operations, the mission team will have to override some autonomous safety systems.

    Spitzer, which launched on Aug. 25, 2003, has consistently adapted to new
    scientific and engineering challenges during its mission, and the team expects
    it will continue to do so during the "Beyond" phase, which begins Oct. 1.
    The selected research proposals for the Beyond phase, also known as
    Cycle 13, include a variety of objects that Spitzer wasn't originally planned
    to address such as galaxies in the early universe, the black hole at the center of
    Milky Way and exoplanets.

    "We never even considered using Spitzer for studying exoplanets when it launched,"
    Carey of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. "It would have seemed
    ludicrous back then, but now it's an important part of what Spitzer does."

    Spitzer’s exoplanet exploration

    Spitzer has many qualities that make it a valuable asset in exoplanet science,
    including an extremely accurate star-targeting system and the ability to control
    unwanted changes in temperature. Its stable environment and ability to observe
    stars for long periods of time led to the first detection of light from known Lensing
    Experiment (OGLE) were used together to find one of the most distant
    exoplanets in 2005. More recently, Spitzer’s Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) has
    been used for finding exoplanets using the "transit" method -- looking for a dip
    in a star's brightness that corresponds to a planet passing in front of it. This
    brightness that corresponds to a planet passing in front of it. This brightness
    change needs to be measured with exquisite accuracy to detect exoplanets.
    IRAC scientists have created a special type of observation to make such measurements,
    using single pixels within the camera.

    Another planet-finding technique that Spitzer uses, but was not designed for, is called
    microlensing. When a star passes in front of another star, the gravity of the first star can
    act as a lens, making the light from the more distant star appear brighter. Scientists are
    using microlensing to look for a blip in that brightening, which could mean that the foreground
    star has a planet orbiting it. Spitzer and the ground-based Polish Optical Gravitational
    Lensing Experiment (OGLE) were used together to find one of the most distant planets known
    outside the solar system, as reported in 2015. This type of investigation is made possible
    by Spitzer’s increasing distance from Earth, and could not have been done early in the mission.

    Peering into the early universe

    Understanding the early universe is another area where Spitzer has broken ground. IRAC was
    designed to detect remote galaxies roughly 12 billion light-years away -- so distant that their
    light has been traveling for roughly 88 percent of the history of the universe. But now, thanks to
    collaborations between Spitzer and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, scientists can peer even
    further into the past. The farthest galaxy ever seen, GN-z11, was characterized in a 2016 study
    using data from these telescopes. GN-z11 is about 13.4 billion light-years away, meaning its
    light has been traveling since 400 million years after the big bang.

    "When we designed the IRAC instrument, we didn't know those more distant galaxies existed,"
    said Giovanni Fazio, principal investigator of IRAC, based at the Harvard Smithsonian Center
    for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The combination of the Hubble Space
    Telescope and Spitzer has been fantastic, with the telescopes working together to determine
    their distance, stellar mass and age."

    Closer to home, Spitzer advanced astronomers' understanding of Saturn when scientists using
    the observatory discovered the planet's largest ring in 2009. Most of the material in this ring --
    consisting of ice and dust -- begins 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Saturn and
    extends about 7.4 million miles (12 million kilometers) beyond that. Though the ring doesn't
    reflect much visible light, making it difficult for Earth-based telescopes to see, Spitzer could
    detect the infrared glow from the cool dust.

    The multiple phases of Spitzer

    Spitzer reinvented itself in May 2009 with its warm mission, after the depletion of the liquid
    helium coolant that was chilling its instruments since August 2003. At the conclusion of the
    "cold mission," Spitzer’s Infrared Spectrograph and Multiband Imaging Photometer stopped
    working, but two of the four cameras in IRAC persisted. Since then, the spacecraft has made
    numerous discoveries despite operating in warmer conditions (which, at about minus 405
    Fahrenheit or 30 Kelvin, is still cold by Earthly standards)

    "With the IRAC team and the Spitzer Science Center team working together, we've really
    learned how to operate the IRAC instrument better than we thought we could," Fazio said.
    "The telescope is also very stable and in an excellent orbit for observing a large part
    of the sky."

    Spitzer's Beyond mission phase will last until the commissioning phase of NASA's James Webb
    Space Telescope, currently planned to launch in October 2018. Spitzer is set to identify targets
    that Webb can later observe more intensely.
  17. Aug 26, 2016 #37
    I was thinking about the the Breakthrough Starshot program when I heard of this also! I am very excited to see if this recent development will help bring more funding and faster development to the Starshot initiative. Does anybody have any idea how long it is expected to take before the lasers And everything is 'ready to go'? This has certainly made my day! (And maybe distracted me from school just a bit.) :D
  18. Aug 26, 2016 #38
    I don't know when or if the project will be realized, but sure hope it will.
  19. Aug 27, 2016 #39
    A breakthrough for Breakthrough Starshot, that's the only way to look at it. Proxima B is turning out to be great for PR on the subject, everywhere I look they are talking about exo-planets. As for when the project is going to launch, a quick Wiki check mentions some of the tech hurdles that need to be addressed, the one Gigawatt laser being somewhat of an issue etc. I would bet the bank that this mission will take place as soon as the tech is available, It's one of the best chances we will have for studying an alien planetary system in the foreseeable future and there's no way mankind will sit on its hands and wonder why we didn't give it a try.
    ( I couldn't help but wonder what C. Sagan would think of the overall mission and recent discovery of Proxima B)


    Here is a little more relative media on the subject. :cool:

    As the search for life on distant planets heats up, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey
    Satellite (TESS) is bringing this hunt closer to home. Launching in 2017-2018, TESS will
    identify planets orbiting the brightest stars just outside our solar system using what’s
    known as the transit method.

    TESS will be able to learn the sizes of the planets it sees and how long it takes them to
    complete an orbit. These two pieces of information are critical to understanding whether a
    planet is capable of supporting life. Nearly all other planet classifications will come from
    follow up observations, by both TESS team ground telescopes as well as ground- and
    space-based observations, including NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2018.

    Compared to the Kepler mission, which has searched for exoplanets thousands to tens of
    thousands of light-years away from Earth towards the constellation Cygnus, TESS will
    search for exoplanets hundreds of light-years or less in all directions surrounding our solar

    Among the stars TESS will observe, small bright dwarf stars are ideal for planet
    identification, explained Joshua Pepper, co-chair of the TESS Target Selection Working
    Group. One of the TESS science goals is to find Earth- and super-Earth-sized planets.
    These are difficult to discover because of their small size compared to their host stars, but
    focusing TESS on smaller stars makes finding these small planets much easier. This is
    because the fraction of the host star's light that a planet blocks is proportional to the
    planet’s size.

    Scientists expect TESS to observe at least 200,000 stars during the two years of its
    spaceflight mission, resulting in the discovery of thousands of new exoplanets.

    While the search for transiting exoplanets is the primary goal of the mission, TESS will
    also make observations of other astrophysical objects through the Guest Investigator (GI)
    Program. Because TESS is conducting a near all-sky survey, it has the capability to
    perform interesting studies on many different types of astronomical target.

    "The goal of the GI Program is to maximize the amount of science that comes out of
    TESS," said Padi Boyd, director of the Guest Investigator Program Office at NASA’s
    Goddard Space Flight Center. "Although TESS was designed to be capable of detecting
    planets transiting in front of stars, its unique mission characteristics mean that the
    potential science TESS can do includes far more than just exoplanets." According to
    Boyd, the broad range of objects TESS could detect as part of the GI Program include
    flaring young stars, binary pairs of stars, supernovae in nearby galaxies, and even
    supermassive black holes in distant active galaxies. "We hope the broader science
    community will come up with many unique science ideas for TESS, and we hope to
    encourage broad participation from the larger community," she said.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  20. Aug 27, 2016 #40
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