tagged w/ NASA
Asteroid 2012 DA14 makes its closest approach to Earth at 2:25 p.m. ET Friday, and the world’s astronomers have been on the lookout for it. Take a look at this sequence of images, sent by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the Faulkes Telescope South, in Siding Springs, Australia.
These pictures were taken when the asteroid was still about 465,000 miles away from us. Most of the dots in these very enlarged images are stars in the distant background; the asteroid stands out because it is moving in front of them. NASA says the animation was created by astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy.
The asteroid is on a gently curving path that will take it from south to north, best seen Friday from Asia, Australia and parts of Europe. It will conveniently be passing over the night side of Earth (the Eastern hemisphere; the U.S. will be in daylight) when it’s closest.
Bob Berman, an astronomer who writes a column for Astronomy magazine and also works with Slooh.com, a space website, said the asteroid will still be a dot, slightly too dim to be seen with the naked eye, when it comes closest — about 17,220 miles away — on Friday. Like most scientists, he’s not worried about this one, though it’s a useful reminder that the Earth does get hit by asteroids every now and then.
By Ned Potter | Feb 14, 2013 3:33pmAsteroid 2012 DA14 makes its closest approach to Earth at 2:25 p.m. ET Friday, and the... more
Author believes the real reason for asteroid mining is to develop the skills, so that Earth can avoid collisions with asteroids.Author believes the real reason for asteroid mining is to develop the skills, so that... more
Camera's images could help to explain why the Sun's corona is so hot.
Geoff Brumfiel | 23 January 2013
(HD full screen enabled)
A rocket-borne camera has provided some of the sharpest images yet of the Sun's corona, the hot layer of gas that extends more than a million kilometres above the solar surface. The corona is millions of degrees hotter than the layer of gas beneath it, but nobody knows precisely why.
"It's counter-intuitive for us here on Earth because as you go up in altitude, the temperature decreases," says Jonathan Cirtain, an astrophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
For decades, researchers have suspected that powerful magnetic fields are heating the corona. "The Sun's atmosphere is just jam-packed full of magnetic field," says Cirtain.
As the lines of those fields cross and twirl, the theory went, they push and pull the charged gas in the corona, giving it the energy that heats it up.
A closer look
The problem is that nobody has been able to see the magnetic fields in close-up until now. Cirtain and his team have developed the High-resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C), a camera capable of taking pictures of the Sun's corona in fine detail. The imager was placed on board a research rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and flown to the edge of space. It took several minutes to fall to Earth, during which time it took a series of pictures of the Sun (see video).
A team member started analysing the data on the drive back from the missile range, and immediately saw evidence of braids in the twists of coronal gas. "We slammed on the breaks and swerved off to the side of the road," says Cirtain. "We knew immediately that we had discovered something fantastic." The team publishes its results today in Nature.
The group now hopes to put the Hi-C on a next-generation spacecraft that will monitor the Sun for longer periods of time.
Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2013.12273Camera's images could help to explain why the Sun's corona is so hot.... more
Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news.
Researchers studying thunderstorms have made a surprising discovery: The lightning we see with our eyes has a dark competitor that discharges storm clouds and flings antimatter into space. Astrophysicists and meteorologists are scrambling to understand "dark lightning."Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news.
Researchers studying... more
NASA: Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth’s atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.
The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth’s night lights.
HD full screen enabledNASA: Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can... more
The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972, which showed a super clear image of the Earth illuminated by the Sun in a view that was never seen before. For the past 40 years this image of Earth has been one of a few images that we have, but it has now finally been complimented with The Black Marble, stunning hi-res images of Earth at night.
According to NASA, images of Earth were taken at night using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, which shows the natural glow of Earth and our man-made lights across the planet. On the NASA Flikr page, they describe just how NASA was able to capture these new Black Marble night images:
“Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth’s atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.
“The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth’s night lights.”The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in... more
In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage.
The concepts for Sugar Volt (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research) report massive improvements in both operational and environmental performance which are due mainly to the inclusion of a propulsion system run on an electric battery gas turbine. This technology can reduce the total amount of fuel burnt by more than 75% and total energy used by 55%. Hybrid electric propulsion can also lessen the distance required for takeoff and decrease noise pollution. In addition the emissions of nitrous oxide and CO2 will be cut down considerably.
Another highly encouraging development occurred outside of the N+3 initiative and this was The Solar Impulse project. In June this year the team completed its first intercontinental flight in the fully solar powered plane. The aircraft itself is an impressive bit of sustainable engineering. Its massive wingspan is constructed out of ultra-lightweight materials and can takeoff in silence as it's propelled by four electric motors which drastically reduce noise pollution and eradicate any carbon emissions. Although the Solar Impulse plane cannot yet carry commercial passengers it certainly does carry a promising message — that 100% environmental air travel is possible.
It seems that environmental concerns are perforating every area of the aviation industry of late, even companies who charter private jets are working to improve the eco credentials of their day-to-day operations and of their brand as a whole. Fuel expenditure takes up the largest portion of every airline's annual budget so making their planes more fuel efficient is an important goal both ecologically and economically.
With the private sector embracing sustainable aviation, NASA investing millions of dollars into research as well as significant developments occurring in solar-powered flight and electric aircraft, commercially viable planes that don't leave a huge black carbon footprint could soon be seen on the horizon.
See more at CleanTechies.In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive... more
" Two NASA moon probes are slated to slam into the rim of a lunar crater today (Dec. 17), and the space agency will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the dramatic action.
"The twin Grail spacecraft, known as Ebb and Flow, will crash intentionally near the moon's north pole at 5:28 p.m. EST (2228 GMT) today, bringing their gravity-mapping mission to a spectacular close. The event will be broadcast on NASA TV and streamed live on the agency's website, beginning at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT).
" The coverage should last about 35 minutes and will include interviews with Grail team members. The impact site will be in shadow at the time of the crash, so no video of Ebb and Flow's violent demise is expected, NASA officials said.
"You can follow along at NASA TV's website (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html), or watch the feed here at SPACE.com."
More at link, including video model" Two NASA moon probes are slated to slam into the rim of a lunar crater today... more
A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein's law of relativity. We contacted White at NASA and asked him to explain how this real life warp drive could actually work.
(The above image of a Vulcan command ship features a warp engine similar to an Alcubierre Drive. Image courtesy CBS.)
The Alcubierre Drive
The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, "The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity," Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be "warped" both in front of and behind a spacecraft.
(more at link)A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he... more
New Assange book says Internet may enslave us-Start Me Up! Rock legends Rolling Stones-Building that plays music whenever the heavens open becomes tourist attraction-With Ban on Drilling Practice, Town Lands in Thick of Dispute-Alleged Ga. shoplifter Beaten to death by three Walmart employees.New Assange book says Internet may enslave us-Start Me Up! Rock legends Rolling... more
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery "for the history books," but we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.
The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported Tuesday. SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.
SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity's huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently.
"This data is gonna be one for the history books," Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told NPR. "It's looking really good."
Grotzinger said the rover team won't be ready to announce just what SAM found for several weeks yet, NPR reported. The scientists want to check and double-check the results, to make sure they're for real.
The $2.5 billion Curiosity rover landed inside Mars' huge Gale Crater on Aug. 5, kicking off a two-year mission to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life. The car-size robot carries 10 different instruments to aid in its quest, but SAM is the rover's heart, taking up more than half of its science payload by weight.
In addition to analyzing soil samples, SAM also takes the measure of Red Planet air. Many scientists are keen to see if Curiosity detects any methane, which is produced by many lifeforms here on Earth.
A SAM analysis of Curiosity's first few sniffs found no definitive trace of the gas in the Martian atmosphere, but the rover will keep looking.
Curiosity began driving again Friday after spending six weeks testing its soil-scooping gear at a site called "Rocknest." The rover will soon try out its rock-boring drill for the first time on the Red Planet, scientists have said.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49904984/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.UKx1pYdu7nhNASA's Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery "for the history... more
Scientists say they have found a planet seven times more massive than Earth orbiting in a star's habitable zone 42 million light-years away. It could have seas, and perhaps just as important, it could have an Earth-like climate because it has a day-night cycle.
By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / November 8, 2012
Astronomers have uncovered evidence for a super Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star 42 light-years away in the southern-hemisphere constellation Pictor.
If the data truly signal a planet, the object could host liquid water on its surface, the team estimates. Liquid water is seen as a key ingredient for organic life.
So far, astronomers have detected more than 840 planets orbiting other stars. A handful of those are super Earths that fall within their stars' habitable zones. But only two – including this newly announced planet candidate – are far enough away from their stars to allow for a day-night cycle. The others orbit so close to their stars that they've become tidally locked, presenting the same face to their stars as they swing about their orbits.
A day-night cycle on the new planet "improves its chances of hosting an Earth-like climate," the team wrote in the formal report of their discovery, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The host star, tagged as HD 40307, has about 77 percent of the sun's mass and is a sun-like 4.5 billion years old. Researchers previously had detected three super Earths orbiting the star. The potentially habitable planet is one of three additional planet-candidates the team is reporting around HD 40307.
It's a uniquely crafted system. Five of the six planets orbit within a scant 23 million miles of the star. HD 40307g, the outermost of the six, orbits another 33 million miles out. That brings all six orbits well within the radius of Mercury's orbit around the sun.
Mercury is the innermost planet in our solar system, orbiting the sun at an average distance of 58 million miles – close enough to broil the sun-facing hemisphere of this slowly turning planet to a toasty 801 degrees Fahrenheit.
But HD 40307g's host star is faint enough that the planet, with a year some 200 days long, falls well within the star's habitable zone.
The six planets exhibit minimum masses ranging from 3.5 Earth masses to 9.5 times the Earth's mass. The potentially habitable super Earth comes in at about seven Earth masses.
Based on calculations involving a similar, habitable-zone super Earth discovered by NASA's Kepler mission, Kepler 22b (which is also the other super Earth with a day-night cycle), the team posits that the planet could be a mini-Neptune, with a rocky core and thick atmosphere.
Other astronomers have been trying to confirm the existence of the initial three planets by hunting for the slight dimming a planet imparts to its star's light as it swings in front of the star during its orbit – and event known as a "transit." But no one has spotted anything yet.
Given that it is easier to spot transits for close-in planets than for more-distant planets, the chances of catching a transit for HD 40307g as well would seem remote.
Astronomers are interested in such detections because a transit would not only provide confirmation of the planet's existence, but also allow astronomers to infer a great deal about the planet, including its density.
Confirmation will be a challenge without space-based telescopes designed to image planets directly, the team acknowledges. HD 40307g could be the first planet spotted by any such future observatories. Because it is so far from its host star, HD 40307g's reflected light is less likely to be swamped by the light from its star.
Yet even without the prospect of immediate confirmation, the team is confident it has picked up signatures from bona fide planets.
With the team's confirmation of the star's inner three planets and the discovery of three more candidates, "I see no reason to doubt the existence of these planets," says Mikko Tuomi, a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain and a team leader. The system wouldn't exist if the planets' true masses weren't close to those the team calculates as minimums, he explains. Otherwise the system would have been unstable.
The discovery of these three additional planets highlights the often unsung roll data-analysis software plays in the planet-detection business, astronomers say.
The team, led by Dr. Tuomi and Guillem Anglada-Escude of Göttingen University in Germany, pulled the raw data from public archives of the European Southern Observatory.
Other astronomers had taken spectra of HD 40307 using an exquisitely sensitive spectrometer bolted to the back of a 3.5 meter telescope the observatory operates high in the Chilean desert. In 2008 they announced the discovery of the inner three planets.
They detected the planets by the wobble they impart to the host star as they orbit. This wobble shows up in a back and forth shift in the spectra from the star.
But based on what astronomers have been learning about planetary systems outside the solar system, where there were three, there were likely to be more.
Armed with a newly crafted software package, Toumi and colleagues went back and reanalyzed the data. They not only detected the original three, but they added spotted three more – and by an odd technique: by throwing data out.
Typically, Toumi explains, the intensity of the wobble in a star's spectrum as planets orbit appears up and down the various colors, or wavelengths of light. But natural changes to a star's surface on time scales ranging from days to years can inject faux wobbles as well.
If the planets are close in, their signatures will be stronger than those of the faux wobbles. If a planet is farther out, however, its signature is weaker because its gravitational influence on the star is weaker. At some point the faux wobbles can be as large or larger than those imparted by a distance planet.
Fortunately, those faux wobbles tend to manifest themselves toward the blue end of the spectrum, Toumi says. So the team focused its analysis on the red end. That, plus a fresh approach to other aspects of the analysis, pulled the newest planets out of the data.
"Rather counterintuitively, throwing some data away led to an increased precision," which yielded the detections, Toumi writes in an e-mail.Scientists say they have found a planet seven times more massive than Earth orbiting... more
An epic battle between paintballs and a giant asteroid could one day save the Earth from an apocalyptic space rock impact.
The novel asteroid-deflecting scheme proposes that a cloud of paintballs shot into space could knock a dangerous asteroid off a collision course with Earth.
Sung Wook Paek, an MIT graduate student, says a spacecraft could fire two rounds of pellets full of white paint powder at an asteroid to cover as much of the rock's surface as possible. The strategy, unveiled Friday (Oct. 26), won the 2012 Move an Asteroid Technical Paper Competition, sponsored by the United Nations' Space Generation Advisory Council.
The initial force from the paintballs would nudge the asteroid slightly off course, Paek says. And the pale paint job resulting from the splattered pellets would more than double the space rock's sunlight reflectivity. More photons bouncing off the asteroid's surface would enhance solar radiation pressure and bump it further off course.
The asteroid Apophis was used as a theoretical test case in Paek's proposal. The 900-foot-wide (270-meter) asteroid is perhaps the most often cited as a potential candidate for impacting Earth sometime in the next few decades. Observations suggest it may come close to Earth in 2029, and then again in 2036.
Five tons of paint would be required to cover Apophis, according to Paek's calculations. He also estimated that it would take up to 20 years for enough solar radiation pressure to successfully pull it off its Earth-bound trajectory.
Paek, who is studying aeronautics and astronautics, says his strategy could be used to shoot other substances besides paint at a space rock.
The pellets could be packed with aerosols that would "impart air drag on the incoming asteroid to slow it down," he said in a statement. "Or you could just paint the asteroid so you can track it more easily with telescopes on Earth. So there are other uses for this method."
Researchers have been dreaming up ways to drag asteroids off their orbits in case we're ever facing an "Armageddon"-like situation. Other plans that have been proposed involve gravity tractors, laser beams, impactors and even nuclear bombs.
Paek's work builds on last year's winning proposal, which involved deflecting an asteroid with a cloud of solid pellets.
Lindley Johnson, program manager for NASA’s Near Earth Objects Observation Program, described Paek's proposal as "an innovative variation" on techniques used to take advantage of solar radiation pressure. NASA's Messenger spacecraft, for example, uses solar sails to control its trajectory around Mercury.
"It is very important that we develop and test a few deflection techniques sufficiently so that we know we have a viable 'toolbox' of deflection capabilities to implement when we inevitably discover an asteroid on an impact trajectory," Johnson said in a statement.An epic battle between paintballs and a giant asteroid could one day save the Earth... more
The newspaper of the 4th largest city in the US endorses Mitt Romney for president. They endorsed Barack Obama back in 2008.
The Chronicle’s backing of Barack Obama in 2008 broke a 44-year string of endorsing Republican candidates for president. Like so many others, we were captivated by the Illinois senator’s soaring rhetoric and energized by his promise to move American politics beyond partisan gridlock and into an era of hope and change.
It hasn’t happened. Four years later, President Obama’s deeds have failed to match his words, much less his specific vows to cut the national debt by half and bring the nation’s unemployment rate to 6 percent. As Texans, it is a particular vexation that this president’s attitude toward the interests of our state has occasionally bordered on contempt, particularly in decisions relating to the NASA budget and the energy sector. The hurtful symbol of this attitude of insensitivity to Texans’ feelings was the administration’s choice to deny Space City’s bid to become home to one of the retired space shuttles.
We do not believe four more years on the same plodding course toward economic recovery is the best path forward for Texas or the nation. And so we endorse the Republican team, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, in the belief that they can do better by Texas and the nation.The newspaper of the 4th largest city in the US endorses Mitt Romney for president.... more
NASA's Ironman-Like Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts, Paraplegics Improved Mobility and Strength
ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2012) — Marvel Comic's fictional superhero, Ironman, uses a powered armor suit that allows him superhuman strength. While NASA's X1 robotic exoskeleton can't do what you see in the movies, the latest robotic, space technology, spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project may someday help astronauts stay healthier in space with the added benefit of assisting paraplegics in walking here on Earth.
NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.
In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time.
"Robotics is playing a key role aboard the International Space Station and will continue to be critical as we move toward human exploration of deep space," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program. "What's extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth. It's exciting to see a NASA-developed technology that might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time. That's the sort of return on investment NASA is proud to give back to America and the world."
Worn over the legs with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, X1 has 10 degrees of freedom, or joints -- four motorized joints at the hips and the knees, and six passive joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot. There also are multiple adjustment points, allowing the X1 to be used in many different ways.
X1 currently is in a research and development phase, where the primary focus is design, evaluation and improvement of the technology. NASA is examining the potential for the X1 as an exercise device to improve crew health both aboard the space station and during future long-duration missions to an asteroid or Mars. Without taking up valuable space or weight during missions, X1 could replicate common crew exercises, which are vital to keeping astronauts healthy in microgravity. In addition, the device has the ability to measure, record and stream back, in real-time, data to flight controllers on Earth, giving doctors better feedback on the impact of the crew's exercise regimen.
As the technology matures, X1 also could provide a robotic power boost to astronauts as they work on the surface of distant planetary bodies. Coupled with a spacesuit, X1 could provide additional force when needed during surface exploration, improving the ability to walk in a reduced gravity environment, providing even more bang for its small bulk.
Here on Earth, IHMC is interested in developing and using X1 as an assistive walking device. By combining NASA technology and walking algorithms developed at IHMC, X1 has the potential to produce high torques to allow for assisted walking over varied terrain, as well as stair climbing. Preliminary studies using X1 for this purpose have already started at IHMC.
"We greatly value our collaboration with NASA," said Ken Ford, IHMC's director and CEO. "The X1's high-performance capabilities will enable IHMC to continue performing cutting-edge research in mobility assistance while expanding into the field of rehabilitation."
The potential of X1 extends to other applications, including rehabilitation, gait modification and offloading large amounts of weight from the wearer. Preliminary studies by IHMC have shown X1 to be more comfortable, easier to adjust, and easier to put on than previous exoskeleton devices. Researchers plan on improving on the X1 design, adding more active joints to areas such as the ankle and hip, which will, in turn, increase the potential uses for the device.
Designed in only a few years, X1 came from technology developed for Robonaut 2 and IHMC's Mina exoskeleton.NASA's Ironman-Like Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts, Paraplegics Improved... more
The delicate sounds echo like a mixture of birdsong and deep-sea creatures. But they are neither. The ghostly notes come from our own Mother Earth.
A NASA spacecraft has sent back the first-ever recordings of Mother Earth singing to the universe, and the sound is awe-inspiring. It’s called “chorus,” an “electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in Earth’s radiation belts,” as NASA described it in a release. Although the music is known to ham-radio operators, who have listened to it from far away, this is the first time they’ve been recorded at the source, NASA said.
The signals were picked up by NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes as they studied the radiation belts, which are regions of energized particles, mostly protons and electrons, that are trapped in Earth’s magnetosphere, about 4,000 miles from the planet’s surface, according to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
The song is not generated by acoustic waves, NASA explained in a release. The probes’ receivers, which are configured specifically to study these belts, took the radio waves and translated them into 16-bit auditory sounds, just as on a CD. Indeed, the agency intends to prevent Mother Earth from being a one-hit wonder and record more of her music—in stereo next time.
Click here to listen to an audio version of our Mother’s sweet siren song.
If you want to learn about the science behind the sound, watch the video below.
Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/10/01/listen-to-mother-earths-siren-song-recorded-by-nasa-137067The delicate sounds echo like a mixture of birdsong and deep-sea creatures. But they... more