Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pluto in color

Enough data was returned to start making true color photo!

Monday, December 7, 2015

One of the closest-ever views of Pluto

Going where no other spacecraft has gone before, New Horizons has sent back some pretty stunning images of Pluto--from endearing heart-shaped features to giant ice mountains. And the images just keep getting better.
On Friday, NASA released the first batch of the sharpest-ever images of the former planet. The view above shows the region where the flat Sputnik Planum meets the al-Idrisi mountains. It has a resolution of 250-280 miles per pixel, "revealing features less than half the size of a city block!
 The new details revealed here, particularly the crumpled ridges in the rubbly material surrounding several of the mountains, reinforce our earlier impression that the mountains are huge ice blocks that have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations
 More stuff ! Yes More!
A Japanese spacecraft should be orbiting Venus now, if all went according to plan Sunday (Dec. 6).
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Akatsuki probe fired its small attitude-control thrusters for 20 minutes Sunday evening in a second and final attempt to enter Venus orbit. Akatsuki's first try — which came exactly five years earlier, on Dec. 6, 2010 — failed when the probe's main engine conked out during the orbit-insertion burn, sending the spacecraft sailing off into deep space.
It's too early to know if Akatsuki is indeed  circling the second planet from the sun, the spacecraft's handlers said.
"The orbiter is now in good shape," Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) officials wrote in a mission update Sunday. "We are currently measuring and calculating its orbit after the operation. It will take a few days to estimate the orbit; thus we will announce the operation result once it is determined."
The $300 million Akatsuki mission, whose name means "Dawn" in Japanese, launched in May 2010 to study the clouds, weather and atmosphere of Venus, with the aim of helping scientists understand how the planet ended up so much hotter and less life-friendly than Earth. (Surface temperatures on Venus are hot enough to melt lead.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Force from Empty Space: The Casimir Effect

This tiny ball provides evidence that the universe will expand forever. Measuring slightly over one tenth of a millimeter, the ball moves toward a smooth plate in response to energy fluctuations in the vacuum of empty space. The attraction is known as the Casimir Effect, named for its discoverer, who, 55 years ago, was trying to understand why fluids like mayonnaise move so slowly. Today, evidence indicates that most of the energy density in the universe is in an unknown form dubbed dark energy. The form and genesis of dark energy is almost completely unknown, but postulated as related to vacuum fluctuations similar to the Casimir Effect but generated somehow by space itself. This vast and mysterious dark energy appears to gravitationally repel all matter and hence will likely cause the universe to expand forever. Understanding vacuum energy is on the forefront of research not only to better understand our universe but also for stopping micro-mechanical machine parts from sticking together.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars

This moon is doomed. Mars, the red planet named for the Roman god of war, has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, whose names are derived from the Greek for Fear and Panic. These martian moons may well be captured asteroids originating in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter or perhaps from even more distant reaches of the Solar System. The larger moon, Phobos, is indeed seen to be a cratered, asteroid-like object in this stunning color image from the robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, recorded at a resolution of about seven meters per pixel. But Phobos orbits so close to Mars - about 5,800 kilometers above the surface compared to 400,000 kilometers for our Moon - that gravitational tidal forces are dragging it down. A recent analysis of the long grooves indicates that they may result from global stretching caused by tides -- the differing force of Mars' gravity on different sides of Phobos. These grooves may then be an early phase in the disintegration of Phobos into a ring of debris around Mars.

Mars will look like this within  30 million years (-/+) My guess they would be dark,some people put bright Saturn type of ring but they are made out of ice.Mars ring system would be made out of rocks.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dark Sand Cascades on Mars

They might look like trees on Mars, but they're not. Groups of dark brown streaks have been photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on melting pinkish sand dunes covered with light frost. The above image was taken in 2008 April near the North Pole of Mars. At that time, dark sand on the interior of Martian sand dunes became more and more visible as the spring Sun melted the lighter carbon dioxide ice. When occurring near the top of a dune, dark sand may cascade down the dune leaving dark surface streaks -- streaks that might appear at first to be trees standing in front of the lighter regions, but cast no shadows. Objects about 25 centimeters across are resolved on this image spanning about one kilometer. Close ups of some parts of this image show billowing plumes indicating that the sand slides were occurring even while the image was being taken.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A 212-Hour Exposure of Orion

The constellation of Orion is much more than three stars in a row. It is a direction in space that is rich with impressive nebulas. To better appreciate this well-known swath of sky, an extremely long exposure was taken over many clear nights in 2013 and 2014. After 212 hours of camera time and an additional year of processing, the featured 1400-exposure collage spanning over 40 times the angular diameter of the Moon emerged. Of the many interesting details that have become visible, one that particularly draws the eye is Barnard's Loop, the bright red circular filament arcing down from the middle. The Rosette Nebula is not the giant red nebula near the top of the image -- that is a larger but lesser known nebula known as Lambda Orionis. The Rosette Nebula is visible, though: it is the red and white nebula on the upper left. The bright orange star just above the frame center is Betelgeuse, while the bright blue star on the lower right is Rigel. Other famous nebulas visible include the Witch Head Nebula, the Flame Nebula, the Fox Fur Nebula, and, if you know just where to look, the comparatively small Horsehead Nebula. About those famous three stars that cross the belt of Orion the Hunter -- in this busy frame they can be hard to locate, but a discerning eye will find them just below and to the right of the image center.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Just some pics and info

Centaurus A 
  That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A's fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy's center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A.
 The Pelican Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars 
  The Pelican Nebula is slowly being transformed. IC 5070, the official designation, is divided from the larger North America Nebula by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust. The Pelican, however, receives much study because it is a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The featured picture was produced in three specific colors -- light emitted by sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen -- that can help us to better understand these interactions. The light from young energetic stars is slowly transforming the cold gas to hot gas, with the advancing boundary between the two, known as an ionization front, visible in bright orange on the right. Particularly dense tentacles of cold gas remain. Millions of years from now this nebula might no longer be known as the Pelican , as the balance and placement of stars and gas will surely leave something that appears completely different.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

 Captured by New Horizons, the scene is found just south of the southern tip Sputnik Planum, the informally named smooth, bright heart region of Pluto. Centered is a feature provisionally known as Wright Mons, a broad, tall mountain, about 150 kilometers across and 4 kilometers high, with a 56 kilometer wide, deep summit depression. Of course, broad mountains with central craters are found elsewhere in the Solar System, like Mauna Loa on planet Earth and Olympus Mons on Mars. In fact, New Horizons scientists announced the striking similarity of Pluto's Wright Mons, and nearby Piccard Mons, to large shield volcanoes strongly suggests the two could be giant cryovolcanoes that once erupted molten ice from the interior of the cold, distant world.
Something I had said on other space out section about volcano being on Pluto before the flyby.Yahoo I was right....

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sure, you've seen Pluto. But have you seen Pluto ... on principal component analysis?
That's the statistical technique used by NASA to highlight differences in the color of the dwarf planet's surface that might not be obvious to the naked eye. Think of it like turning the contrast way up, but scientifically. The image was taken from about 22,000 miles away on July 14 by the New Horizons probe, which is now well on its way to the rocky Kuiper Belt.
 By making these slight differences in color extra-obvious (even more than the enhanced color photo), patterns emerge that otherwise may seem to be just noise or random features. Compare the colorful version above with the true-color version below and see how patterns jump out at you.
 New Horizons may be millions of miles past Pluto, but it's still beaming information to scientists at NASA, where planetologists and astronomers are busy picking it apart for juicy new insights. Expect more interesting imagery and discoveries to keep showing up for quite a while

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Icy Volcanoes May Erupt on Pluto

Humm maybe I was right,I posted some thought about Pluto and one of these is that Pluto would have volcano to shot out water and ice..I might had been right!
A possible ice volcano on Pluto (visible at center) is seen in this NASA image, captured by the New Horizons spacecraft, released on Nov. 9, 2015. The feature, called Wright Mons, is a strange feature 100 miles wide and 13,000 feet high with a summit depression at its center. New Horizons scientists suspect Wright Mons and another mountain may be signs of cryovolcanic eruptions on Pluto.  
Images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft have identified two peaks that tower nearly 4 miles (6 kilometers) high over the surface of the dwarf planet, and scientists say the peaks' physical features suggest they might be volcanoes.

 A tiny, icy world at the edge of the solar system, Pluto remained largely invisible to scientists until July 2015, when the New Horizons space probe flew past it, giving humanity its first good look at the dwarf planet's surface. Before the New Horizons flyby, most scientists thought Pluto would prove to be too small to maintain the internal heat needed to power geological processes such as glacier flows and volcanism, according to scientists at the news conference. But the fast-moving spacecraft revealed a far younger surface than scientists had expected, suggesting that geological processes are taking place on Pluto, and that something must be keeping things warm beneath the surface. 
Two enormous mountains, spanning hundreds of miles across, sit at the southern edge of the heart-shaped region on the surface of Pluto. The mountains have been informally named Wright Mons and Picard Mons, and at their crests, each peak hosts a central crater, reminiscent of peaks called "shield volcanoes" on Earth.
"Whatever they are, they're definitely weird" — 'volcanoes' is the least weird hypothesis at the moment," White said at the news conference.
Although the features bear a strong similarity to volcanoes, New Horizons researcher Jeff Moore, of NASA Ames Research Field, said in an earlier session that they were not yet ready to conclusively pronounce that there is evidence for cryovolcanism on Pluto.
"These look suspicious, and we're looking very closely," Moore said.
Scientists don't yet know what could be generating the heat inside Pluto necessary to create a volcano on the surface. One possibility, also presented at the conference, is that an ammonia-water slurry mantle lies beneath the surface, according to a statement from AAS. The research, performed by graduate student Alex Trowbridge and professor Jay Melosh, of Purdue University in Indiana, suggests that, as cooler material sinks through the subsurface layers, hot material might rise, leading to geological activity that could include cryovolcanism.
Another possibility, which White focused on, has to do with a gradually cooling rocky core, originally heated during the dwarf planet's formation. The heat required to melt ices would be significantly lower than those required to release rock, allowing the gradual mobilization of material that could, in theory, erupt through a volcano.

Though the term "cryovolcanism" has been applied to other objects in the solar system, White stressed that the features on Pluto are unique. Saturn's frozen moon Enceladus is known for spewing material from its southern pole, but the source comes from fissures in the ground rather than mountainous features. And while cryovolcanism has been hypothesized to exist on Titan, another Saturn moon, White pointed out that those cryovolcanoes were identified by radar and are still under debate. Pluto's features, by contrast, are clearly visible and bear stark similarities to Earth's volcanoes.
"This is the first time where we see what seem to be tall volcanic edifices," White said.
The two slopes are lightly cratered, White told, which suggests that they are younger than the northern terrains of Pluto, though not nearly as young as the "heart" of Pluto, Sputnik Planum. Scientists aren't certain of the mountains' composition, though White suggested it could be nitrogen ice. The thin atmosphere would likely allow for the fluidization of the material across the surface.
The two mountains lay along the day-night line of Pluto when they were imaged by New Horizons. Picard Mons, the larger of the two features, lies in the twilight region, so it may not be possible to understand its composition with current data. But White expressed hope that upcoming data may reveal secrets about the composition of the more brightly lit Wright Mons.
Even more exciting is the possibility that the two might be part of a larger field of volcanoes. White said that the close proximity of the two features might indicate that even more cryovolcanoes exist beyond the spacecraft's field of view. However, there is no way to spot them using data from the New Horizons flyby.
"We'll have to go back in a hundred years and see," White said.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pluto's Geology Is Unlike Any Other
Take a pinch of Mars, a sprinkle of Saturn’s moon Iapetus and a dash of Neptune’s moon Triton—and the recipe will yield something like Pluto.
The first published scientific findings from NASA’s New Horizons mission, which flew past Pluto in July, confirm that the dwarf planet does not resemble any other single world in the Solar System. Instead, its wildly varying terrain is a crazy quilt of geological patterns and textures—copied, pasted and tweaked from other planets and moons.
Like Mars, Pluto has volatile compounds that cycle between freezing onto the ground and sublimating back into the atmosphere. Like Iapetus, it has stunningly bright terrain juxtaposed with dark areas. And like Triton, it seems to have streaks made by wind marring its icy surface.
Pluto’s geological activity is driven both by heat leaking from radioactive elements in its interior—a remnant of its birth more than 4 billion years ago—and by the volatile compounds that flit between its surface and its atmosphere. As Pluto moves away from the Sun in its 248-year elliptical orbit, temperatures plummet and these compounds freeze out of the atmosphere and fall onto the surface as frost. When Pluto warms up again, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and other chemicals transform directly from ice on the surface into atmospheric gases.But I also think something else is going on to generate the heat from below because some had suggested that Pluto inner core would have run out radioactive compounds long ago!!
High-resolution pictures from New Horizons’ cameras show the effects of this seasonal process. The broad, bright plains known as Sputnik Planum seem to be covered by nitrogen glaciers; these flow gloppily, and quickly erase craters made by crashing asteroids. “Punching a hole in jello springs to mind,”. “Everything suggests this ice is exceptionally soft”—making it unique in the Solar System.
Next to the light-coloured Sputnik Planum lies the dark, cratered, ancient-looking Cthulhu region. The craters may be up to 4 billion years old, from a time when asteroids were heavily bombarding the early Solar System.
The dark coating may be methane that has gone through chemical processing in the atmosphere, says Jeff Moore, a team member and planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Winds could transport it towards the equator, where it would settle out, much as dusty winds blowing across Mars deposit sand seas.
Other areas on Pluto seem to be a mishmash of material that is neither bright like Sputnik Planum nor dark like Cthulhu. “There’s a lot of stuff on Pluto that doesn’t look a whole lot like anything else we’ve ever seen,”. That includes ‘snakeskin’ terrain that may have been sharpened into bladelike ridges over time as material froze and then sublimated away.
Many of the general themes of Pluto discoveries have already been revealed in New Horizons press briefings, but today’s paper, published in Science, is the first formal record of the mission’s scientific results. It includes details as seemingly mundane as Pluto’s size—2,374 kilometres across, plus or minus 8 kilometres—that other scientists can use to refine their understanding of properties such as heat flow within the dwarf planet.
Mission scientists also found that Pluto is as close to perfectly spherical as New Horizons’ instruments could possibly measure. This suggests that during its early development, the dwarf planet was warm, squishy and mouldable enough to avoid locking into a deformed shape.

Although much of the data from New Horizons still remains to be radioed back, “everything is coming together”,. “We have a much better set of hypotheses for many places on Pluto than we had two months ago.”
Pluto like said above is going into wintertime this when the "air" will freeze on to its surface.I would have love to see Pluto during its summertime.Maybe one day they will have a probe ready to orbit it during this summertime!

Planetary scientists have suspected for months the presence of water on Pluto in the form of towering ice mountains.
But it wasn't until recently that they had solid proof, and the discovery is raising intriguing questions about the color and location of the water ice.
The latest images of Pluto, released on Thursday, are the first to reveal patches of frozen water on its surface. And adding to the growing list of Pluto mysteries, neither the color nor location of water ice on Pluto is what the scientists were expecting.
The most recent photo, shown below, offers an especially intriguing view of both the oldest and newest surfaces on Pluto: To the left of the close-up shot is the most heavily cratered region on Pluto, which scientists suspect is extremely old.

To the far right, however, you can see the dividing outline of Pluto's iconic heart-shaped region, informally named Tombaugh Regio — the water ice is identified in falsely colored blue:
The false colors in the image above help scientists differentiate between the water ice on Pluto and the other ices, such as nitrogen, methane, and carbon-dioxide ice.
In reality, the water ice on Pluto is red, not blue like in the photo or clear like it is here on Earth. And scientists are dumbfounded as to why.
They don't yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto's surface.The "tholin colorants" that Protopapa is referring to are a type of molecule that are generally red in color and form when organic compounds — which have nothing to do with life in this case — are blasted with ultraviolet light from the sun. Pluto's atmosphere is rich with tholins, but whether the red-tinted water ice on Pluto's surface contains any of them remains an unanswered question.
Another mystery concerning water ice on Pluto is its location.

When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto on July 14, it focused on this intriguing part of the dwarf planet that has since mystified scientists as to how geologically diverse it is — with four mountain ranges, a vast expanse of craters, and smooth plateaus, Pluto is one of the most geologically diverse places in the solar system. Which is amazing when you conside Pluto small size!!
When scientists first saw the mountains on Pluto, their immediate conclusion was that the mountains must be made of water ice because that's the only kind of ice strong enough to support mountains over 10,000 feet tall.

Now, they can give themselves a pat on the back because this latest image reveals a large amount of water ice in one of the mountain.

There appears to be a vast expanse of ice in the mysterious crack featured on the far left and in the heavily cratered patch, called Viking Terra, to the north.

"Large expanses of Pluto don't show exposed water ice, because it's apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet.
Since its closest approach to Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft has traveled an additional 500 million miles and is now 3.1 billion miles from Earth.
NASA Eyeing Venus, Asteroids for Next Low-Cost Robotic Mission
NASA is zeroing in on Venus and asteroids as potential targets for its next low-cost robotic exploration mission or missions, which will launch by the end of 2021.

The space agency has chosen five finalists for the next launch opportunity in its Discovery Program, which funds highly focused missions to destinations throughout the solar system. Two of the selected concepts would visit Venus, while asteroids are the objects of interest for the other three.

"The selected investigations have the potential to reveal much about the formation of our solar system and its dynamic processes," former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement Wednesday (Sept. 30)

Dynamic and exciting missions like these hold promise to unravel the mysteries of our solar system and inspire future generations of explorers," Grunsfeld added. "It's an incredible time for science, and NASA is leading the way."

The teams behind the five proposals will receive $3 million each to perform design studies and analyses over the next year. NASA will then make its final selection in September 2016, choosing one or two of the concepts to proceed to launch in 2020 or 2021.

Any mission that is ultimately selected will cost about $500 million, not including launch costs or the costs of post-launch operations, NASA officials said.

The five finalists are:
VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy)
This orbiter would return high-resolution topographic data and photos of the entire surface of Venus, allowing mission team members to generate maps of the planet's deformation and surface composition. The principal investigator (PI) is Suzanne Smrekar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California; JPL would manage the mission.
DAVINCI (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging)
DAVINCI is an atmospheric probe that would study the composition of Venus' thick air during an hourlong descent. DAVINCI would help scientists determine if Venus possesses active volcanoes and shed light on how the planet's surface and atmosphere interact, NASA officials said. Lori Glaze of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the PI; Goddard would manage the mission. No pic for this one!

This mission would send a spacecraft out to the asteroid belt to study the metallic asteroid Psyche, one of the strangest objects in the solar system. Scientists think the 155-mile-wide (250 km) Psyche is the core of a protoplanet that was exposed after a violent hit-and-run collision in the ancient past. Linda Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State is the PI of the mission, which would be managed by JPL.

NEOCam (Near Earth Object Camera)
Photo to big for the site!
NEOCam is an infrared space telescope that would launch to the Earth-sun Lagrange Point 1 — a gravitationally stable spot about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth — to hunt for potentially hazardous asteroids.

The mission would discover about 10 times more near-Earth objects than have been found to date, NASA officials said. Amy Mainzer of JPL is the PI, and JPL would manage the mission.

This mission would study Trojan asteroids, which circle the sun on the same path as Jupiter. These space rocks were likely captured into their current orbits long ago, during the planet-formation period, and could therefore hold clues about the solar system's early days, NASA officials said. Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado is the PI; NASA Goddard would manage the mission.
The Discovery Program asked researchers to submit proposals in November 2014 for the next launch opportunity, and 27 teams threw their hats into the ring. The submissions that didn't make it to the final round include a life-hunting mission to Saturn's ocean-harboring moon Enceladus, a mission to Jupiter's volcanic moon Io, and several projects that would have explored Mars' two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos.

The Discovery Program, which was created in 1992, has developed a dozen missions to date, including the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) probe and Dawn, which is currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres.

Mars InSIGHT (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will be the next Discovery mission to reach space; the lander is scheduled to launch in September 2016, on a mission to probe the Red Planet's interior.
I find a pic enlarge it when you open it

Addition info about VERITAS (spacecraft)
The primary mission goals, accomplished by seven objectives, require two instruments and a gravity science investigation over a 2-year orbital mission.

VEM (Venus Emissivity Mapper) maps surface emissivity using six spectral bands in five atmospheric windows that see through the clouds. It would be provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR)[

VISAR (Venus Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) generates a DEM (digital elevation model) with an accuracy of 250 m horizontal by 5 m height.

Gravity science is carried out using the spacecraft's telecom system. The mission design also enables the opportunity to send a nanosat probe into the atmosphere of Venus, carrying a mass spectrometer to sample the noble gases and their isotopes.
NASA is look at a space probe to Uranus or Neptune-Flyby or Orbiter,each one has its good and bad point.A flyby will be the cheaper and fastest way to get to the planet and than after flyby Neptune it could be redirect to a number of KBO object. They pick Neptune because of it has a Pluto size moon with air Triton(more Pluto like) plus the planet itself is very active.
The orbiter would take lots of time to get there maybe 8 years this is because of weight plus a probe to land on Triton with a probe.The interest in going to the these 2 planets is the fact Kepler discover a great number of the exo planet system,plus they are more ice and rock than Jupiter and Saturn are made out of gas.But one thing is stop this cash! Until they get other mission done there is no cash to do this plus the launch rocket isn't done let.Plus the james webb telescope space telescope is take money from other program this is because Congress try to short hand NASA by not giving them the right amount of cash to do it right the first time.One time they did give NASA the cash but they cancel a few mission by not giving the money for the projects,One was a project between the USA and ESA,this left the ESA to regroup and find fund todo it.
Maybe after they get the JWT and the Mars Rover done with.
I would pick a orbiter because the other orbiter has made some great discovery for Jupiter,Saturn,Mars,the moon,asteroid. Cassini spend 11 years around Saturn making discovery after discovery.A orbiter can just stay and pick up details that a flyby miss.
They decide to pick Uranus but to save cash they will used model from past mission,in this case it may look like New Horizon(flyby Pluto). Maybe if approve and funded so far it just study between ESA and NASA.

Or they might do a space probe design just for this mission

This depend on One Thing Cash.This is just for info,no funding.
New Horizon is all set up to make another flyby of a KBO called 2014 MU69, which lies more than 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.

A artist Viewpoint!
The probe will study 2014 MU69 up close in January 2019, if NASA approves an extended mission.They had to set the flyby up before asking for funding.The New Horizons team plans to submit a mission-extension application to NASA early next year. If the agency gives the go-ahead, New Horizons will zoom by 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019, coming even closer to that body than the probe got to Pluto (7,750 miles,) this past July 14. Both objects lie in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune's orbit.
New Horizons is healthy and now on course to make the first exploration of a building block of small planets like Pluto, and we're excited to propose its exploration to NASA,"

New Horizons is currently about 3.2 billion miles (5.1 billion km) from Earth and 895 million miles (1.44 billion km) from 2014 MU69, NASA officials said. The spacecraft continues to beam home data from the Pluto flyby. All of this information should be on the ground by next September or so, mission team members have said.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More stuff about Pluto

This synthetic perspective view of Pluto, based on the latest high-resolution images to be downlinked from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, shows what you would see if you were approximately 1,100 miles  above Pluto’s equatorial area, looking northeast over the dark, cratered, informally named Cthulhu Regio toward the bright, smooth, expanse of icy plains informally called Sputnik Planum. The entire expanse of terrain seen in this image is 1,100 miles  across. The images were taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles.
 New close-up images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveal a bewildering variety of surface features that have scientists reeling because of their range and complexity.
 Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we’ve seen in the solar system,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. “If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that’s what is actually there.”
 New Horizons began its yearlong download of new images and other data over the Labor Day weekend. Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto’s surface seen at resolutions as good as (440 yards) per pixel. They reveal new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto’s surface. They also show large regions that display chaotically jumbled mountains reminiscent of disrupted terrains on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. 
The surface of Pluto is every bit as complex as that of Mars,”  “The randomly jumbled mountains might be huge blocks of hard water ice floating within a vast, denser, softer deposit of frozen nitrogen within the region informally named Sputnik Planum.” 
New images also show the most heavily cratered -- and thus oldest -- terrain yet seen by New Horizons on Pluto next to the youngest, most crater-free icy plains. There might even be a field of dark wind-blown dunes, among other possibilities.
“Seeing dunes on Pluto -- if that is what they are -- would be completely wild, because Pluto’s atmosphere today is so thin,” So “Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven’t figured out is at work. It’s a head-scratcher.”
 Discoveries being made from the new imagery are not limited to Pluto’s surface. Better images of Pluto’s moons Charon, Nix, and Hydra will be released Friday at the raw images site for New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), revealing that each moon is unique and that big moon Charon’s geological past was a tortured one. 
Images returned in the past days have also revealed that Pluto’s global atmospheric haze has many more layers than scientists realized, and that the haze actually creates a twilight effect that softly illuminates nightside terrain near sunset, making them visible to the cameras aboard New Horizons.
 Mosaic of high-resolution images of Pluto, sent back from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft from Sept. 5 to 7, 2015. The image is dominated by the informally-named icy plain Sputnik Planum, the smooth, bright region across the center. This image also features a tremendous variety of other landscapes surrounding Sputnik. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles in size, and the mosaic covers a region roughly 1,000 miles wide. The image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles .

 This 220-mile (350-kilometer) wide view of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft illustrates the incredible diversity of surface reflectivities and geological landforms on the dwarf planet. The image includes dark, ancient heavily cratered terrain; bright, smooth geologically young terrain; assembled masses of mountains; and an enigmatic field of dark, aligned ridges that resemble dunes; its origin is under debate. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).
 This image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft 10 hours before its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 290,000 miles  is a recently downlinked, much higher quality version of a Charon image released on July 15. Charon, which is 750 miles  in diameter, displays a surprisingly complex geological history, including tectonic fracturing; relatively smooth, fractured plains in the lower right; several enigmatic mountains surrounded by sunken terrain features on the right side; and heavily cratered regions in the center and upper left portion of the disk. There are also complex reflectivity patterns on Charon’s surface, including bright and dark crater rays, and the conspicuous dark north polar region at the top of the image. The smallest visible features are 2.9 miles in size.
 Two different versions of an image of Pluto’s haze layers, taken by New Horizons as it looked back at Pluto's dark side nearly 16 hours after close approach, from a distance of 480,000 miles (770,000 kilometers), at a phase angle of 166 degrees. Pluto's north is at the top, and the sun illuminates Pluto from the upper right. These images are much higher quality than the digitally compressed images of Pluto’s haze downlinked and released shortly after the July 14 encounter, and allow many new details to be seen. The left version has had only minor processing, while the right version has been specially processed to reveal a large number of discrete haze layers in the atmosphere. In the left version, faint surface details on the narrow sunlit crescent are seen through the haze in the upper right of Pluto’s disk, and subtle parallel streaks in the haze may be crepuscular rays- shadows cast on the haze by topography such as mountain ranges on Pluto, similar to the rays sometimes seen in the sky after the sun sets behind mountains on Earth.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tiny Cubesat Will Hunt for Water Ice on the Moon

A spacecraft the size of a cereal box will soon be hunting for water on the moon.
NASA has given the go-ahead to a mission called Lunar IceCube, a public-private partnership that will send a tiny cubesat to do water-ice prospecting from an elliptical orbit around the moon. The spacecraft's observations could aid future robotic and human exploration of Earth's nearest neighbor!Lunar IceCube is a key pathfinder experiment for future small-scale planetary missions!
 Lunar IceCube is a 6U ("6 unit") cubesat being developed by Morehead State University in Kentucky, with help from NASA Goddard and the Massachusetts-based Busek Company. One "unit" is a cube measuring 4 inches (10 centimeters) on a side; Lunar IceCube strings six of these cubesat building blocks together.
 Lunar IceCube will probably end up launching with a number of other deep-space cubesats on the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which is currently scheduled for 2018.

Three cubesats — Lunar Flashlight, BioSentinel and NEA (near-Earth asteroid) Scout — are firmly on the manifest for that flight, and Lunar IceCube is widely expected to share the rocket ride when all is said and done. (There is room for 11 6U cubesats on the maiden SLS mission, whose primary purpose is sending NASA's Orion capsule on an uncrewed test flight around the moon.)
If Lunar IceCube does indeed blast off on the 2018 SLS flight, the tiny spacecraft will deploy from the megarocket and embark on a three-month trek to the moon that features several loops around Earth.
This circuitous route — which takes advantage of "gravity assists" from the moon and Earth — was chosen because the cubesat employs low-thrust miniature electric thrusters.
 Once it arrives at the moon, Lunar IceCube will use its lone instrument — called the Broadband InfraRed Compact High Resolution Explorer Spectrometer (BIRCHES) — to hunt for and characterize deposits of water ice during a six-month mission.
Lunar Flashlight will do similar work, but that cubesat will peer into permanently shadowed craters using its solar sail as a sunlight-reflecting mirror. Lunar IceCube, on the other hand, will search broader areas and attempt to measure water ice distribution as a function of latitude, time of day and regolith characteristics.
 Lunar IceCube, Lunar Flashlight, BioSentinel and NEA Scout are part of a growing movement to outfit cost-effective cubesats for deep-space exploration.
For example, NASA also plans to launch two 6U cubesats along with its Mars InSight lander mission next year, to help relay communications back to Earth during the larger spacecraft's entry, descent and landing operations.
Researchers at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California have also built two identical 3U cubesats for the Interplanetary NanoSpacecraft Pathfinder In Relevant Environment (INSPIRE) mission, which will study the structure of the solar wind about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth. The INSPIRE duo is ready to go but still awaits assignment to a rocket.
 It should be noted that these small wouldn't replace the space probe we send into space.But they are great for to send it up to test out and instrument or like for the Mars mission.Remember these are very small,so only 1 instrument would be in the small space probe.Also these wouldn't be possible without spend the money on research into build instrument for example that on the New Horizon space probe to Pluto where all the instrument weight about 30 pounds and work with only about 30 watt of power just 10 years ago just one instrument on Cassini weight that much.NASA has always wanted to save weight.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New info about Pluto we didn't know until New Horizon flyby

New info about Pluto we didn't know until New Horizon flyby
1)Pluto is larger than we thought Pluto’s diameter is larger than expected about two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon, giving Pluto a surface area comparable to Russia. The finding is significant because it means the world is less dense than previously thought, indicating that it was composed of more ice and less rock.
2)Parts of Pluto are devoid of craters The distinctive heart-shaped region, named Tombaugh Regio, contains smooth plains without craters. Ancient surfaces in the solar system, such as those on the Moon, are peppered with craters which date from when the planets were formed 4.6 billion years ago. Pluto’s surface was thought to be ancient too but Tombaugh Regio can only be about 100 million years in age, which is young in geological terms.
3)Pluto’s internal heat source is a mystery To smooth away the craters, Pluto needs internal heat to soften or melt the surface. Where this heat comes from is a mystery. Pluto is thought to be too small to generate much radioactive heat, nor is it squeezed by a larger world to generate tidal energy, such as happens between Jupiter and its moons Io and Europa. Yet something is making it geologically active. This is the biggest mystery of the flyby. Resolving it promises to tell us something totally unexpected about planetary geology.Humm I thought I wrote something about this before the flyby,yes I did!!!Just was thinking outside of the box.Just my crazy mind coming up with something.
4)Pluto’s atmosphere is disappearing Radio waves beamed from Earth passed through Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere and were detected by New Horizons. They show that the pressure is just 1/100-thousandths that of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. This is much lower than expected and could show that the atmosphere is rapidly freezing to the surface as Pluto moves away from the Sun.Plus they think Pluto has lost over 14 feet of its surface during its lifetime.Remember Pluto low gravity and during summertime Pluto's atmosphere is ticker than it was during the flyby.In some ways Pluto behaves like a comet,the comet can lose more than 1/3 of there surface ice during its close approach to the Sun.I bet during summertime on Pluto if you had a space probe nearby you could see the gas coming from Pluto atmosphere
5)Scientists still name things after Lord of the Rings Remember the good ol’days when all main-frame computers were named Gandalf and users were given Tolkeinesque names by the system administrator (who almost certainly looked like Gandalf)? NASA does. As soon as they saw the dark region near the pole of Pluto’s moon Charon, they started calling it Mordor..
6)Pluto has mountains 3.5km high To the south of Tombaugh Regio are mountains that have been termed Norgay Montes, after Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953. Pluto’s mountains are likely not made of rock but of rock-solid water ice. It is presently unknown what geological forces pushed up these jagged peaks, which are comparable to the Rocky Mountains on Earth. A second, lower mountain range on Pluto has been identified and named after Hilary.
7)Pluto’s surface looks like boiling milk The smooth plains of Tombaugh Regio have been called Sputnik Planum, after the first Russian satellite, launched in 1957. Much of these plains are separated into blocks, each about 12 miles wide. They resemble the pattern of convection cells seen in steadily boiling milk. Perhaps they are where heat escaped from the interior of Pluto and temporarily melted the surface before freezing over again, immortalizing the pattern.
8)Pluto’s red color comes from ‘molecular rain’ Images of Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere show haze layers where methane molecules have been broken apart by the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Recombining in various ways to form larger, more complicated molecules, these eventually become solid particles called tholins. They fall from the atmosphere onto Pluto’s surface. Being tar-like, the tholins give the surface a reddish-brown color.
9)A little more of my Pluto is like a comet!Pluto has a tail a bit like a comet Pluto is losing an estimated 500 tonnes of nitrogen every hour into space. In comparison, Mars is losing just 1 tonne of gas an hour into space. New Horizons flew through the dwarf planet’s nitrogen tail, which extends for 109,000 kilometers away from Pluto. The tail is sculpted by electrically charged particles from the Sun flowing past Pluto.
10)There will be more surprises to come from Pluto Data is trickling back at a rate that makes even rural broadband look fast. At more than five billion kilometres away, the New Horizons data rate just a few kilobits a second. On Earth, fiberoptic broadband can supply up to 150,000 kilobits per second. The result is that all the data from the flyby will take up to 16 months to download. So prepare for a steady stream of Pluto images and revelations in the months to come.Just think of this the radio power is only 10 watts and they pick up this weak radio wave from 2 billion miles away.That is like try to see a candle from New York and you in LA!Just think of its a xmas gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, July 27, 2015

More Pluto stuff

Stunning new images of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show flowing ices, a complicated surface covered in mountain ranges and a surprisingly far-reaching atmosphere.
At a news conference today (July 24), members of the New Horizons team spoke about the incredible new science being pulled from data collected by the probe, which performed history's first flyby of Pluto on July 14. Among other findings, scientists announced big surprises in the study of Pluto's atmosphere, as well as the discovery of what appear to be flowing fields of ice in Pluto's "heart."Pluto has a very complicated story to tell,There is a lot of work that we need to do to understand this very complicated place.
 Photo show how Pluto looks like if we was there looking at it.
One of the new images released today is a gorgeous global view showing half of Pluto's surface, lit by sunlight, with the heart-shaped region informally known as Tombaugh Regio in the lower-left quadrant. The new image shows features on the surface as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers), or twice the resolution of a similar image released on July 13.
The image shows Pluto's surface in "true color," or as it would appear to the human eye. It combines data from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and Ralph instruments.

Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, appear together in a new, "true color" portrait that highlights the reddish hue of Pluto compared to Charon's gray tone. Scientists think Pluto's red color is the result of particles created in its atmosphere, through methane's interaction with UV light. The particles stick together, growing heavier, and eventually rain down on the surface.
On the other hand, new observations of Charon suggest that it has much less atmosphere than Pluto, if any, The probe will send back more data on Charon's atmosphere in September.
For now, all that we can say is, it's a much more rarefied atmosphere [than Pluto's]," Stern said. "It may be that there's a thin nitrogen layer in the atmosphere, or methane, or some other constituent. But it must be very tenuous compared to Pluto — again, emphasizing just how different these two objects are despite their close association in space."

In a stunning image taken from beyond the far side of Pluto, in which the dwarf planet eclipses the sun, scientists can see a haze in the Plutonian atmosphere.
"This is one of our first images of Pluto's atmosphere. [It] stunned the encounter team," said Michael Summers, a New Horizons co-investigator based at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, at today's news conference. "For 25 years, we've known that Pluto has an atmosphere. But it's been known by numbers. This is our first picture. This is the first time we've really seen it. This was the image that almost brought tears to the eyes of the atmospheric scientists on our team."

The haze is created by the particles that scientists think eventually fall to the surface and give Pluto its reddish hue. The haze extends at least 100 miles (160 km) above the surface of Pluto, or five times higher than models predicted, according to Summers, who called the discovery "a big surprise." Scientists previously thought the upper layers of the atmosphere would be too warm for hazes to form, he said.
"We're going to need some new ideas to figure out what's going on

In another set of new images, scientists revealed what appears to be a wide field of glaciers flowing across Pluto's surface. The flowing ice field is easily spotted in images of the dwarf planet: It's the smooth, light-colored upper-left lobe of the heart-shaped region — an area unofficially known as Sputnik Planum.

Scientists think that, unlike glaciers on Earth, the ice in Sputnik Planum is made of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane. At the frigid temperature of about minus 390 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 Celsius), water ice "won't move anywhere," because it is too rigid and brittle to flow,
But even at such low temperatures, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane ices are "geologically soft and malleable," McKinnon said. At the news conference, McKinnon showed regions near the heart-shaped region's upper-left edge where the ice could be seen creeping around other geologic barriers and filling in craters. The images, he said, show "conclusive evidence" of ice flow that may still be happening on Pluto's surface today. 
 To see evidence of recent geological activity is amazing and I(Albert0) expect this,since the moon of Neptune Triton show some active on it surface. The appearance of this terrain, the utter lack of impact craters on Sputnik Planum, tells us that this is really a active world.
 Another interesting finding that has surfaced from the New Horizons data: Pluto is very close to being perfectly spherical.We actually can't detect any obliqueness or out-of-roundness in the body," McKinnon said. Many other bodies in the solar system have distortions to their roundness, which "tells you about their history," he said.
"Pluto was probably spinning very, very fast after what we believe to be a giant impact that led to the formation of [Charon]," McKinnon added, noting that the gravitational pull of the two bodies on each other would have, over time, slowed down Pluto's rapid rotation.
The New Horizons space probe made its closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The entire data set that it collected during its flyby of the dwarf planet will take 16 months to download back to Earth. The wide variety of features on Pluto's surface poses many questions that will keep scientists busy for years to come, mission team members have said.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Pluto photos

NASA's New Horizons space probe obtained this image of the frozen plains of Pluto, released during a press briefing held on July 17, 2015
 New Horizons’ Ralph instrument revealed evidence of carbon monoxide ice on Pluto, in the western part of the region known presently as Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), the highly visible "heart of Pluto." The contours overlain on the image show that the concentration of frozen carbon monoxide increases towards the center of the “bull’s eye.” Data was acquired by the spacecraft on July 14, 2015, and transmitted to Earth on July 16.
 This diagram depicts the interaction of the solar wind (the supersonic outflow of electrically charged particles from the sun) with Pluto’s mainly nitrogen atmosphere. Some of the atmosphere's molecules possess enough energy to overcome Pluto’s weak gravity and escape into space. Image released July 17, 2015
 NASA's New Horizons space probe found a strange feature on Pluto's moon, Charon, a depression with a peak in the middle. The image was taken on July 14, 2015 at a range of 49,000 mile.
 New Horizons space probe provides the highest resolution image of Pluto ever seen as presented in a NASA press conference on July 15, 2015, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland. This region near Pluto’s equator surprisingly contains a range of youthful mountains rising to heights of 11,000 feet (3,500 m) above the surface.
 New Horizons provides unprecedented details of Pluto's moon, Charon! July 2015
New Horizons' Ralph instrument using the LEISA spectrometer obtained info about the distribution of methane on Pluto, as presented in a NASA press conference on July 15, 2015,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Pluto facts

Pluto has mountains made of ice that are as high as those in the Rockies, images from the New Horizons probe reveal.
They also show signs of geological activity on Pluto and its moon Charon.
On Wednesday, scientists presented the first pictures acquired by the New Horizons probe during its historic flyby of the dwarf planet.
The team has also named the prominent heart-shaped region on Pluto after the world's discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.
The spacecraft sped past the dwarf planet on Tuesday, getting as close as 12,500km and grabbing a huge volume of data.
 Mission scientist John Spencer told journalists that the first close-up image of Pluto's surface showed a terrain that had been resurfaced by some geological process - such as volcanism - within the last 100 million years.
 Not found is a single impact crater on this image. This means it must be a very young surface!!!
 This active geology needs some source of heat. Previously, such activity has only been seen on icy moons, where it can be explained by "tidal heating" caused by gravitational interactions with a large host planet.
 You do not need tidal heating to power geological activity on icy worlds. That's a really important discovery we just made this morning!! I still think most of the power come from under Pluto surface.
We now have an isolated, small planet that's showing activity after 4.5 billion years!
 This same image shows mountains at the edge of the heart-like region that are up to 11,000ft (3,300m) high and which team members compared to North America's Rocky Mountains.
T he relatively thin coating of methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen ice on Pluto's surface was not strong enough to form mountains, so they were probably composed of Pluto's water-ice bedrock.
 Water-ice at Pluto temperatures is strong enough to hold up big mountains,remember at the temp at Pluto the water Ice is very hard!!!!!!
The thin frosting of nitrogen and other volatiles on top of water-ice bedrock was intriguing, because Pluto's tenuous, mainly nitrogen atmosphere was constantly being lost to space.
 Canyons on Charon A new image of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. The moon has a dark patch, informally called Mordor, at its north pole. The image was taken from a distance of 289,000 miles.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A new photo of Pluto.

Remember the main flyby is in few day this July 14!!!!!
The dark spots appear on the hemisphere that always faces the moon Charon—the same side that will be invisible when New Horizons makes its closest approach on July 14th. Each one is now estimated to be roughly 300 miles across, and we haven’t a darn clue what they are. But, when this image is combined with composition and color data New Horizons hasn’t yet sent back, the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team is hopeful it’ll be able to solve the mystery.