Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pluto and Charon Starting to Come into Focus (Photo)

Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, posed for a solemn portrait taken by NASA's New Horizon's probe, which is only two weeks away from its close encounter with the dwarf planet.
The newest snapshot of Pluto and Charon shows two icy gray circles hovering in a pitch-black void. In previous images, the two objects often looked like highly pixelated smudges of color — barely distinguishable as spheres. But with New Horizons only about 10 million miles (16 million kilometers) away from Pluto (and closing that distance by more than 30,000 miles, or 48,000 km, every hour), the view of these unexplored worlds is getting clearer every day.

New Horizons launched in January of 2006 and has spent the last nine-plus years making its way toward Pluto and the region of icy bodies beyond Neptune, known as the Kuiper Belt. Although four other human-made probes have ventured past the orbit of Neptune, none have done a close study of Pluto and its moons. Even the Hubble Space Telescope's images of this small, dim dwarf planet are highly pixelated and blurry. New Horizons hopes to reveal a detailed look at the surface of Pluto,  study its atmosphere and much more.
The new portrait of Pluto and Charon was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) instrument onboard New Horizons. These images are not only for scientific and aesthetic purposes, but also for navigational ones.
With nearly 3 billion miles (4.8 billion km) between them, it takes about 4.5 hours to send a signal from the Maryland control center to New Horizons, Bowman said. As a result, team members have to tell the probe what to do (such as which instruments to point at Pluto) long before the probe actually does it. When the probe makes its close flyby of Pluto on July 14, the team will not be able to make any last-minute adjustments. Instead, New Horizons runs prewritten command sequences, most of which were written years before they were executed.
 The command sequences must also indicate where Pluto is located relative to the probe, and thus where New Horizons should point its instruments. The New Horizons team has been constantly updating that navigational information as the probe moves closer and can obtain more precise information about Pluto's location. Earlier this month, the team executed a course correction to ensure the spacecraft didn't arrive at its close encounter point too early; that kind of miscalculation could cause the probe to take photos of empty space instead of the dwarf planet!!!!!!!

In the next few days, the New Horizons team will be uploading the command sequence that will guide the probe through its historic flyby. There's also a possibility that the team will execute another course correction.

An Unusual Mountain on Asteroid Ceres

What created this large mountain on asteroid Ceres? No one is yet sure. As if in anticipation of today being Asteroid Day on Earth, the robotic spacecraft Dawn in orbit around Ceres took the best yet image of an unusually tall mountain on the Asteroid Belt's largest asteroid. Visible at the top of the featured image, the exceptional mountain rises about five kilometers up from an area that otherwise appears pretty level. The image was taken about two weeks ago from about 4,400 kilometers away. Although origin hypotheses for the mountain include volcanism, impacts, and plate tectonics, clear evidence backing any of these is currently lacking. Also visible across Ceres' surface are some enigmatic light areas: bright spots whose origin and composition that also remain an active topic of investigation. Even though Dawn is expected to continue to orbit Ceres, officially dubbed a dwarf planet, for millions of years, the hydrazine fuel used to point Dawn's communications antenna toward Earth is expected to run out sometime next year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble
Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major).That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured in the expansive image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. This is what happen at the end of our Sun lifetime. But these stars Wolf-Rayet star do it when they are young.These massive star life bright and active lives and die young. These stars have lifespans of just of just few billion years compare to our Sun about 9 billion and red dwarf stars might last until the end of the universe.They would be the last stars to die and the universe is full of these low mass red stars.With solar wind that are fly off at great speed they mayn't be any earth size planet with atmosphere and the Jupiter size planet might look like a comet with some of its atmosphere being blow away but with the size of Jupiter it could hold up to 90% of its atmosphere.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Philae Rises! What's Next for Rosetta's Comet Lander?

Perched on the surface of a comet, the revived Philae lander should soon be able to resume — and possibly expand — an unprecedented examination of organic material believed to date back to the beginning of the solar system.
Released by the Rosetta mothership, Philae floated down to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov 12, but its anchoring harpoons failed and the 220-pound probe shot back into space. It landed a second time, bounced and finally came to rest about a half-mile away with two of its three legs on the ground and wedged next to a cliff wall.
 Nevertheless, Philae ran through a 64-hour, pre-programmed series of experiments before its batteries died. The lander was supposed to set down in an area nearly always illuminated by the sun to recharge its batteries. Instead it ended up in shadow and fell silent.

Spacecraft controllers continued to use the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft to hunt for a signal from Philae while they waited for the comet to move closer to the sun, hoping the lander would recharge itself.
Over the weekend, Philae finally phoned home — twice — rekindling scientists' hopes that the mission could resume.
 First, though, flight controllers need to figure out when Philae will be in regular position to communicate with Rosetta, which is used to relay the lander's signals to Earth.

Managers plan to reposition Rosetta a bit closer to the comet, which is becoming more active as it races toward the sun. The closest approach will be on Aug. 13. The comet is in a 6.5-year orbit around the sun that comes as close as between Earth and Mars and as far as beyond Jupiter.
Moving Rosetta is a bit risky because gas, dust and ice jetting from the comet can confuse the spacecraft's navigational cameras.

"Imagine taking your car through a snowstorm — you don't see very much. It's not very safe," Montagnon said.
However, the potential for more science from Philae, particularly as the comet undergoes dramatic changes from heating, makes the risk worthwhile, project managers said.

Its almost time for the Flyby of Pluto

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A European probe that made a bouncy landing on a comet last year, and then slipped into a silent hibernation, is alive again and phoning home.
The European Space Agency's Philae comet lander, which dropped onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the Rosetta spacecraft last November, beamed an 85-second wake-up message to Earth via Rosetta yesterday (June 13), ESA officials announced today. It was the first signal from Philae in seven months since the probe fell silent on Nov. 15 after its historic comet landing.

"Philae is doing very well," Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), said in a statement. "The lander is ready for operations."

 According to Ulamec, Philae is currently experience temperatures of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 35 degrees Celsius) and has about 24 watts of power available. During its wake-up call to Earth, Philae beamed 300 data packets home and was most likely active before the first signal reached Earth on Saturday, ESA officials said.

Philae is a solar-powered probe about the size of a washing machine that landed on Comet 67P on Nov. 12, 2014. It dropped to the surface from its mothership Rosetta, but bounced twice when its anchor-like harpoon system failed to secure it to the surface. The probe ultimately ended up in the shadow of a cliff face on the comet. After about 60 hours the probe's batteries ran out and it went into hibernation on Nov. 15.
Over the last seven months, Rosetta and Philae mission scientists in Europe have hoped that once Comet 67P approached closer to the sun, Philae might receive enough sunlight to wake itself up from its forced slumber. Those hopes, it seems, have finally been realized.

ESA officials said Philae has more details about Comet 67P to share with scientists on Earth.
"Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact," ESA officials wrote in a statement. "There are still more than 8,000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko."
The Rosetta comet mission launched toward Comet 67P in 2004 and traveled 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) over 10 years to reach its destination. Rosetta arrived at the comet in August 2014 and is expected to continue studying 67P through December.

Complex Terrain Of Pluto Gets Clearer In New Horizons' Pics

The surface of Pluto is coming into focus as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft gets closer to its flyby next month.
A series of new pics snapped by the probe’s onboard Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at the end of May and start of June show that Pluto’s has a complex terrain, with very bright and very dark areas as well as grades in between.

Even though the latest images were made from more than 30 million miles away, they show an increasingly complex surface with clear evidence of discrete equatorial bright and dark regions—some that may also have variations in brightness,
We can also see that every face of Pluto is different and that Pluto’s northern hemisphere displays substantial dark terrains, though both Pluto’s darkest and its brightest known terrain units are just south of, or on, its equator. Why this is so is an emerging puzzle.
 New Horizons sends back raw, unprocessed images to the team’s scientists, who use a technique called deconvolution to sharpen up the pictures. In these latest images, the team has also upped the contrast to try to bring out as much detail as possible about the dwarf planet.

The spacecraft will be the first to get close to the dwarf planet at the edge of our Solar System and is scheduled to make its closest flyby of Pluto on July 14.
New Horizons only gets one shot at the flyby, after which it will continue rocketing out towards the rest of the Kuiper Belt surrounding our neighbourhood planets.
Remember Pluto is 5.5 light hours away!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New stuff about Pluto

The images were taken from just under 50 million miles (77 million kilometers) away, using the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons. Because New Horizons was approximately 20 million miles closer to Pluto in mid-May than in mid-April, the new images contain about twice as many pixels on the object as images made in mid-April.

A technique called image deconvolution sharpens the raw, unprocessed pictures beamed back to Earth. In the April images, New Horizons scientists determined that Pluto has broad surface markings – some bright, some dark – including a bright area at one pole that may be a polar cap. The newer imagery released here shows finer details. Deconvolution can occasionally produce spurious details, so the finest details in these images will need confirmation from images to be made from closer range in coming weeks.

"As New Horizons closes in on Pluto, it's transforming from a point of light to a planetary object of intense interest," said NASA's Director of Planetary Science Jim Green. "We're in for an exciting ride for the next seven weeks."

“These new images show us that Pluto’s differing faces are each distinct; likely hinting at what may be very complex surface geology or variations in surface composition from place to place,” added New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These images also continue to support the hypothesis that Pluto has a polar cap whose extent varies with longitude; we’ll be able to make a definitive determination of the polar bright region’s iciness when we get compositional spectroscopy of that region in July.”

The images New Horizons returns will dramatically improve in coming weeks as the spacecraft speeds closer to its July 14 encounter with the Pluto system, covering about 750,000 miles per day.

“By late June the image resolution will be four times better than the images made May 8-12, and by the time of closest approach, we expect to obtain images with more than 5,000 times the current resolution,” said Hal Weaver, the mission’s project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

Following a January 2006 launch, New Horizons is currently about 2.95 billion miles from home; the spacecraft is healthy and all systems are operating normally.
APL designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. SwRI leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Just some Astronomy photos and Info

This interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Known as the Bubble Nebula, the cosmic circle is formed from the wind of a massive star.

This spectactular photo was taken by astrophotographer Jaspal Chadha from London. Chadha used a Altair Astro RC 250TT Scope.

Approximately 6 light-years wide, NGC 7635 is located roughly 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Intense radiation and stellar winds from a nearby star created this delicate-looking bubble, surrounded by red, hot gas.
 Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured this image of planetary nebula Abell 33.
 The hand might look like an X-ray from the doctor's office, but it is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded. NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft has imaged the structure in high-energy X-rays for the first time, shown in blue. Lower-energy X-ray light previously detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is shown in green and red.
 This picture of the nebula around a rare yellow hypergiant star called IRAS 17163-3907 is the best ever taken of a star in this class and shows for the first time a huge dusty double shell surrounding the central hypergiant. The star and its shells resemble an egg white around a yolky centre, leading astronomers to nickname the object the Fried Egg Nebula.

Huble 25 years plus and still working

I didn't even said anything about Hubble Space Telescope 25 years of being in space and making so many discoveries.Well here are some!
1)The telescope's observations of a special kind of supernova type 1a were crucial to the discovery that the universe was dominated by a mysterious factor known as dark energy, which appears to be behind the accelerating expansion of the universe. The discoverers won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2011. Well they count all the mass of the universe or they though they did when they obverse the most distance galaxies they expect them to begin their slow down and start moving inward but surprise they was moving ever faster!!!!
2)Hubble set records for its far-seeing views of the cosmos. Those views showed that galaxies started forming earlier in the universe's history than scientists expected, and that they look very different from the galaxies that are closer to us in time and space.
3)Studies of how the universe has changed over time, made possible by Hubble and other space observatories, helped physicists narrow down their estimates of the observable universe's age to 13.8 billion years.This was one of the reason they build the HST.
4)Hubble's detailed observations of gravitational interactions in distant galaxies led scientists to conclude that there are supermassive black holes at the centers of virtually all large galaxies — including our own.
5)Hubble provided amazing shots of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, charted new moons and rings around Uranus, and spotted four previously unknown moons of Pluto. Its observations of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's crash into Jupiter was a wake-up call about cosmic impacts.Plus they used Hubble after the impacts to look deeper into JUpiter clouds.
6)The telescope and its team also helped get the ball rolling for the study of planetary systems beyond our own. Last year, scientists used Hubble's observations to produce the best weather map ever created for an extrasolar planet.
They hope if Hubble last long past its 2030 when Hubble orbit will make it hit deeper into Earth atmosphere when it does this soon it will force to burn up,but there are group that want to save when the new manned space ship and rocket are ready.They said NASA shouldn't just allow it to burn up.They are also talking about replacing it but with NASA budget the way its is this mightn't happen.It would need a very good repair mission almost everyting would need to be replace plus a higher orbit as well.Only time will tell how we treat such highlly working telescope that made so many discovery!
But the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), would be in space let just hope they test out the mirror unlike the HST they launch it and its mirror was screwup with the JWST it orbit would be a million miles away.I just said they should test it out and not let history repeat. LOL While the Hubble view of the universe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra.JWST mainly a primarily an infrared instrument, its coverage extends down to 600 nm wavelength light, or roughly orange in the visible spectrum. A typical human eye can see to about 750 nm wavelength light, so there is some overlap with the longest visible wavelength bands, including orange and red light. So the pics would look different...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

NASA Chief Wants to Cut Mars Travel Time in Half

CANOGA PARK, Calif. — Getting astronauts to Mars will take all the spacefaring expertise the United States can muster, including advanced propulsion technologies such as solar-electric engines and perhaps even nuclear rockets, according to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
In statements made during a visit to the Aerojet Rocketdyne plant here last Thursday (May 28), Bolden stressed that he'd like to slash the travel time required to send astronauts to Mars.
"Right now it's about an eight-month mission; we'd like to cut that in half," Bolden told reporters after speaking to Aerojet Rocketdyne workers for 30 minutes or so.

Superfast propulsion tech would help limit astronauts' radiation exposure during the trek to Mars and reduce the amount of water, food and other "consumables" such a mission would require, NASA officials have said.
Bolden was flanked by Aerojet Rocketdyne's CEO and president Scott Seymour and Julie Van Kleeck, the company's Vice President of Advanced Space & Launch Systems, during the news conference. The trio discussed the advanced solar-electric propulsion systems (SEP) the company has been working on.
"We're now trying to get to higher power levels; that's the next step," Seymour said, referring to the 5-kilowatt (kW) engines Aerojet Rocketdyne is currently building for NASA robotic missions. "Fifteen kilowatts would be the next step, and then to cluster them together ... then, in the long term, 50 to 100 kilowatts."
"The limiting power of this type of propulsion has been the power to drive it," Bolden said. "Aerojet Rocketdyne has partnered with different entities around the country in looking [at] how to get more energy density onto a solar cell. The more power we can get, the larger we can make the engine and its capability.
"The advantage of using that kind of propulsion, pound for pound, is that it can fly nearly forever as opposed to chemical engines," Bolden added, in reference to the traditional liquid-fueled rocket engines that propel the vast majority of NASA's spacecraft.
But these SEP units — which generate thrust by accelerating charged atoms and molecules out the back of a spacecraft — are limited in what they can accomplish. Discussing more advanced in-space propulsion, Van Kleeck referred back to nuclear rockets, such as the NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Performance) system studied by NASA decades ago.
"This country did a lot of work on that back in the 1960s and 1970s, and there is some technology being looked at regarding the fuels aspects of that, to make it lower cost and safer for the future," Van Kleeck said. (NERVA was scrapped in 1972, despite successful ground-firing tests and promising performance.)
"We don't build rocket engines; we depend on our industry partners. " Bolden said. "My job is to try and keep things stable for them, to let them know that we are committed to in-space propulsion."
Bolden said that he wanted to put more money into these advanced space-only systems, which could potentially be "game changers" — and not just for delivering cargo to Mars.
"You've got to be specific," Bolden said. "If I say I want game-changing in-space propulsion, everyone will go back to [the idea of] moving cargo. I want industry to focus on getting peopleto move really fast. I think we can do far better than we are doing today, but we've got to show our commitment by putting some money into it."
Right Now the only power source is solar cell which don't have the muscle to increase the speed to get them there within 3 month or so! Atomic power does!!!