Subscribe: Tom's Astronomy Blog
http://tomsastroblog.com/?feed=atom
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
april  data  earth  esa  great  launch  mercury  mission  nasa  planet  satellite  science  space  spacecraft  tess  years 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Tom's Astronomy Blog

Astronomy News



Tom's Astronomy Blog



Updated: 2018-04-24T04:31:34Z

 



BepiColumbo Plasma Sim

2018-04-23T21:31:53Z

BepiColumbo is going to use electric propulsion thrusters to create an ion beam to travel to Mercury.  What sci-fi fan cannot love that? Wow, science fiction comes to life again.  BepiColumbo is going to be a great mission! Here’s the caption with the animation links intact from ESA: When the Mercury Transfer Module of the […] BepiColumbo is going to use electric propulsion thrusters to create an ion beam to travel to Mercury.  What sci-fi fan cannot love that? Wow, science fiction comes to life again.  BepiColumbo is going to be a great mission! Here’s the caption with the animation links intact from ESA: When the Mercury Transfer Module of the BepiColombo mission fires its electric propulsion thrusters an ion beam is extracted. This is created through the ionization of xenon propellant, generating the charged particles that can be accelerated further using an electric field. Together with gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury, the thrust from the ion beam provides the means to travel to the innermost planet. After escaping the pull of Earth’s gravity with the Ariane 5 launcher, the spacecraft is on an orbit around the Sun. The transfer module then has to use its thrusters to brake against the mighty pull of the Sun’s gravity. It also has to tune the shape of its orbit in order to make a series of nine gravity assist flybys at the planets before finally delivering the mission’s two science spacecraft into Mercury orbit. This image is an excerpt from a supercomputer simulation that models the flow of plasma around the spacecraft just after the high energy ion beam is switched on. An outline of the composite spacecraft with its extended solar arrays is included for reference. The simulation tracks the particles in the beam as well as those that diffuse around the spacecraft, which are created by the interaction of the high energy beam ions with the neutral xenon atoms that also flow out of the thruster.  It shows the density of the plasma flowing around the spacecraft and its evolution: red represents high density, blue is low density (see animation for detailed scale). Although the animation is several seconds long it has been slowed down, representing a mere eight milliseconds of real time – the time necessary for the plasma to reach a steady state. The simulation was performed to demonstrate that the plasma produced by the thruster is not damaging to the spacecraft: its materials, including solar arrays or instruments, for example, or to the electric propulsion system itself. The simulations also confirmed there are no spurious or dangerous charging events. Inflight measurements will verify the simulation results and help improve ways in which the generated plasma, spacecraft and space environment interactions can be better modelled. BepiColombo is a joint endeavour between ESA and JAXA. After their seven-year interplanetary journey, the two science orbiters – the Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – will start their main mission to provide the most in-depth study of mysterious Mercury to date. The spacecraft begin transferring to Europe’s spaceport in Kourou this week, where an intensive period of preparations will ready the mission for launch later this year. The simulations were performed by Félicien Filleul as part of ESA’s Young Graduate Trainee programme. Copyright:   ESA/Félicien Filleul     [...]



The Great Red Spot

2018-04-22T20:54:54Z

Beautiful work! Check this and other great submissions to the JunoCam site, not to mention the original images from Juno for anybody who wants to try their hands at processing. Original caption: This image of Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot and surrounding turbulent zones was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The color-enhanced image is a […]

(image)

Beautiful work! Check this and other great submissions to the JunoCam site, not to mention the original images from Juno for anybody who wants to try their hands at processing.

Original caption:

This image of Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot and surrounding turbulent zones was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

The color-enhanced image is a combination of three separate images taken on April 1 between 3:09 a.m. PDT (6:09 a.m. EDT) and 3:24 a.m. PDT (6:24 a.m. EDT), as Juno performed its 12th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was 15,379 miles (24,749 kilometers) to 30,633 miles (49,299 kilometers) from the tops of the clouds of the planet at a southern latitude spanning 43.2 to 62.1 degrees.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager.

JunoCam’s raw images are available at www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam for the public to peruse and process into image products.

Image credit and a hearty well-done to: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran




VividX2 Makes History

2018-04-22T12:48:59Z

The VividX2 makes history as the world’s first commercial satellite able to provide full-colour video of life on Earth. It is capable of taking ultra-high definition images of any location on Earth and can take two minutes of video at the same time. The satellite is only about the size of a typical cloths-washing machine […]

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OBxJSroyTcI?rel=0" width="625" height="352" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen">

The VividX2 makes history as the world’s first commercial satellite able to provide full-colour video of life on Earth.

It is capable of taking ultra-high definition images of any location on Earth and can take two minutes of video at the same time.

The satellite is only about the size of a typical cloths-washing machine (a cubic meter) and weighs just 100 kg.

See more at www.earthi.space




Four Years of NEOWISE

2018-04-22T12:41:44Z

Impressive four years of NEOWISE operation: Asteroids detected or observed 29,000 Near Earth Objects: 788 About the video (NASA): The orbits of Mercury, Venus and Mars are shown in blue. Earth’s orbit is in teal. Green dots represent near-Earth objects. Gray dots represent all other asteroids which are mainly in the main asteroid belt between […]

width="625" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1zpXL6fYafE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>

Impressive four years of NEOWISE operation:

Asteroids detected or observed 29,000
Near Earth Objects: 788

About the video (NASA): The orbits of Mercury, Venus and Mars are shown in blue. Earth’s orbit is in teal.

Green dots represent near-Earth objects. Gray dots represent all other asteroids which are mainly in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Yellow squares represent comets.

Upcoming this week:

22 April 2018: Earth Day

25 April 2018 (Wednesday): ESA’s Sentinel 3B Satellite launches atop a Russian Rokot. I believe launch time is 17:57 UTC.

Also Mercury is heading towards maximum Western elongation (29 April @ 27 degrees), we might get a look at it just before sun up in the Eastern sky. If you do go looking for Mercury as always be very-very careful. The Sun isn’t far away and you could be badly injured if you look at the sun, especially if you are using any magnifying devices.




Waiting For Gaia

2018-04-20T16:35:52Z

Every now and then you will read my lamenting how we need better distance measurements. You might think we know the distances to distant stars, after all we reference distances. The trouble is those measures are only accurate in the broadest sense – we really do need more accuracy. Gaia aims to change all that! […]

width="625" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FPQ4HZITk5A?rel=0" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>

Every now and then you will read my lamenting how we need better distance measurements. You might think we know the distances to distant stars, after all we reference distances. The trouble is those measures are only accurate in the broadest sense – we really do need more accuracy.

Gaia aims to change all that! ESA just posted this excellent overview of the Gaia mission.




28 Years of Hubble

2018-04-19T21:24:29Z

I like the Lagoon Nebula, I can see it from here when it is visible and it does make a nice telescope target. My best looks are usually from August, due south, not too late (22:00 on) and warm weather. Click the image for a larger view here and the links from NASA’s Image of […]

(image)

I like the Lagoon Nebula, I can see it from here when it is visible and it does make a nice telescope target. My best looks are usually from August, due south, not too late (22:00 on) and warm weather.

Click the image for a larger view here and the links from NASA’s Image of the Day caption from yesterday contains more links to both the image and about Hubble. 28 years, I feel old (lol) – what a great machine Hubble is! Congratulations to the Hubble team both current and past for a mission that started out a bit rocky but ended up being an icon. The team’s resilience and dedication to the project seems to get lost sometimes but without them the mission never would have never amounted to anything near what it has, so my hat is off to you folks!

From the NASA’s Image of the Day (yesterday):

This colorful image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, celebrates the Earth-orbiting observatory’s 28th anniversary of viewing the heavens, giving us a window seat to the universe’s extraordinary stellar tapestry of birth and destruction. At the center of this image is a monster young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun that is blasting powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds, carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust.

This mayhem is all happening at the heart of the Lagoon Nebula, a vast stellar nursery located 4,000 light-years away, visible in binoculars as merely a smudge of light with a bright core.

The giant star, called Herschel 36, is bursting out of its natal cocoon of material, unleashing blistering radiation and torrential stellar winds, which are streams of subatomic particles, that push dust away in curtain-like sheets. This action resembles the Sun bursting through the clouds at the end of an afternoon thunderstorm.

Herschel 36’s violent activity has blasted holes in the bubble-shaped cloud, allowing astronomers to study this action-packed stellar breeding ground. The hefty star is 32 times more massive and 40,000 times hotter than our Sun, and is nearly nine times our Sun’s diameter. Herschel 36 is still very active because it is young by a star’s standards, only 1 million years old. Based on its mass, it will live for another 5 million years. In comparison, our smaller Sun is 5 billion years old and will live another 5 billion years.

The image shows a region of the nebula measuring about 4 light-years across.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI




SENTINEL-3B – Deja Vu?

2018-04-18T22:23:18Z

If you have a feeling of deja vu at the Sentinel-3B above don’t worry this is a twin. The first was launched in 2016 and this one is scheduled to be launched on 25 April 2018. This great image is from ESA – S. Corvaja. ESA’s caption — The Copernicus Sentinel-3B satellite being mated with […]

(image)

If you have a feeling of deja vu at the Sentinel-3B above don’t worry this is a twin. The first was launched in 2016 and this one is scheduled to be launched on 25 April 2018.

This great image is from ESA – S. Corvaja.

ESA’s caption — The Copernicus Sentinel-3B satellite being mated with the Rockot adapter at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The satellite is being prepared for liftoff, scheduled for 25 April 2018. Its identical twin, Sentinel-3A, has been in orbit since February 2016. The two-satellite constellation offers optimum global coverage and data delivery for Europe’s Copernicus environment programme.




NASA Launches TESS – REPLAY

2018-04-19T09:33:51Z

Really nice launch and EXCELLENT video from Stage 1 just hitting the mark perfectly on the return. Here’s a replay from SpaceX. This is from the same URL as the live feed, I just took out the leader. Great launch and landing! —————————————————————————————————— Launch coverage begins about 15 minutes prior to launch. Mission: Transiting Exoplanet […]

width="625" height="352" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aY-0uBIYYKk?start=409" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>

Really nice launch and EXCELLENT video from Stage 1 just hitting the mark perfectly on the return.

Here’s a replay from SpaceX. This is from the same URL as the live feed, I just took out the leader.

Great launch and landing!

——————————————————————————————————

Launch coverage begins about 15 minutes prior to launch.

Mission: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

Launch time: 22:51 UT / 18:51 ET.

Launch Window Duration: 30 seconds (?!)

Alternate Launch Date/Time: Not yet specified.

Launch site: Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

First Stage Landing Attempt? Yes aboard the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You

Fairing Recovery Attempt? Not specified.

About TESS (via SpaceX): The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is NASA’s next planet finder, led out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. TESS will discover new potential planets orbiting bright host stars relatively close to Earth. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will search for tell-tale dips in the brightness of stars that indicate an orbiting planet regularly transiting across the face of its star. The satellite is expected to catalog thousands of exoplanet candidates around a wide range of star types, including hundreds of planets that are less than twice the size of Earth. The TESS mission is expected to find planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to gas giants.

Go TESS!




Launch Reminder

2018-04-17T20:10:35Z

First a reminder the TESS Mission will (maybe) launch later today. Liftoff scheduled for 22:51 UTC today that’s 18:51 ET. Coverage to begin 15 minutes prior to launch. So the image above is another instrument which will make its way to the International Space Station this summer. ECOSTRESS is one of those experiments that is […]

(image)

First a reminder the TESS Mission will (maybe) launch later today.

Liftoff scheduled for 22:51 UTC today that’s 18:51 ET. Coverage to begin 15 minutes prior to launch.

So the image above is another instrument which will make its way to the International Space Station this summer. ECOSTRESS is one of those experiments that is none too soon considering longer termed space travel is not far away.

NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) arrives at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for launch to the space station this summer.

ECOSTRESS, a new instrument that will provide a unique, space-based measurement of how plants respond to changes in water availability has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin final preparations for launch to the International Space Station this summer aboard a cargo resupply mission.

ECOSTRESS left NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on April 6, 2018 by ground transport and arrived at Kennedy Space Center on April 9. 2018.

JPL built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for NASA’s Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. ECOSTRESS is sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program, managed by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.




The TESS Data Pipeline

2018-04-17T12:57:29Z

While we wait for the launch tomorrow of TESS, delayed “to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis”, let’s look at how the data getting from the spacecraft back to researchers. We are not talking about a little data, the data rate could reach 27 gigabytes per day! A quick word about the delay, everybody […] While we wait for the launch tomorrow of TESS, delayed “to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis”, let’s look at how the data getting from the spacecraft back to researchers. We are not talking about a little data, the data rate could reach 27 gigabytes per day! A quick word about the delay, everybody is doing their best to be sure that everything is perfect for the launch. I am unaware of what appears to be a last-minute decision; it could be just for reassurance or it could be something was not quite right. Double check the fairing while you are there. Anyway, being a ham radio operator I enjoy these bits of communications news. NASA — A Science Pipeline to New Planet Discoveries NASA’s ongoing search for life in the universe produces a lot of data. The agency’s new planet-hunting mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will collect 27 gigabytes per day in its all-sky search for undiscovered planets orbiting 200,000 of the brightest and closest stars in our solar neighborhood. That’s the equivalent of about 6,500 song files beaming down to Earth every two weeks. The music of the stars, however, is not as polished for human ears as the latest Taylor Swift album. To get ready for scientific discovery, the data needs a bit of fine tuning. One of the first steps in the data’s journey from deep space to a scientist’s laptop is the Science Processing Operations Center, called SPOC, at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, the design of which is based on the Kepler mission’s Science Operations Center, called the SOC, also at Ames. The SOC has been chugging along for more than a decade, spitting out tens of thousands of possible planet signals from the Kepler space telescope, NASA’s groundbreaking planet-finding mission that’s revolutionized our view of the heavens as a place chock-full of other worlds where life could exist. Among Kepler’s many gifts to TESS is its science data pipeline, which will provide the public’s “data of record” for the mission. About 75 percent of the Kepler pipeline, which took over 150 person-years to develop, remains the same for TESS, giving this new mission a leg up on discoveries. A data pipeline is like an assembly line where computer algorithms act in stages to refine data and extract types of information — in this case, the possible signals of planets. TESS’s cameras observe the slight dip in the brightness of a star as a planet crosses, or transits, in front of the star. Over time, a pattern emerges as the dips line up across multiple transits, revealing the signal of an orbiting planet. It’s a simple concept with a history of successful science, but the raw data, appearing as two-minute digital counts of brightness on each pixel, is contaminated with signals from the telescope and the sky when it first arrives here on Earth. SPOC’s science data pipeline does a cleanup job, and paves the way for the mission’s science office branch at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pick out the most promising planet candidates. From there, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University coordinates follow-up observations to determine which candidates are bona fide planets. NASA Ames’ Pleiades supercomputer, one of the most powerful systems in the world, has the power to process TESS’s biweekly data deluge of almost 10 billion pixels in three to five days, a cadence [...]