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Author Topic: NASA Announcements  (Read 7142 times)

Offline zorgon

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NASA Announcements
« on: August 09, 2011, 04:40:33 PM »
NOTICE

This thread is locked as I will be using it to add new announcements from NASA (and adding some older ones that I find relevant) If you wish to discuss any of these items feel free to create a thread on them, but I needed one area to catalog the latest and best discoveries from NASA that won't get buried

If you find an item you feel needs to be added, even an older one, just drop me a PM and I will add it to the list, thanks

« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 04:57:05 PM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2011, 04:52:51 PM »
NASA: DNA Found on Meteorites Indicates Life May Have Originated in Space


Meteorites contain a large variety of nucleobases, an essential building block of DNA. (Artist concept credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

Quote
August 9, 2011 12:51 PM EDT

NASA researchers have found the building blocks for life in meteorites, indicating that the components for life on Earth may have originated in outer space.

Researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., report evidence that ready-made DNA parts could have crashed to the surface on objects like meteorites, and then assembled under Earth's early conditions to create the first DNA.

The discovery was made using samples from 12 carbon-rich meteorites, nine of them from Antarctica. The team extracted small fragments of the meteorite and ran them through a process to determine their structure. What they found was adenine and guanine. These are two of the nucleobases needed to make the rungs of DNA's spiral ladder (in addition to thymine and cytosine, which were not present in the sample).

Quote
The team also found hypoxathine and xanthine, which are not part of DNA but are used in various biological processes.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/195073/20110809/nasa-dna-meteorites-building-blocks-life-on-earth-from-space.htm

NASA Press Release
NASA Research Shows DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space


Quote
Aug. 8, 2011

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington                                         
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Nancy Neal-Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-0039
nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov
RELEASE: 11-263

NASA RESEARCH SHOWS DNA BUILDING BLOCKS CAN BE MADE IN SPACE

WASHINGTON -- NASA-funded researchers have found more evidence meteorites can carry DNA components created in space.

Scientists have detected the building blocks of DNA in meteorites since the 1960s, but were unsure whether they were created in space or resulted from contamination by terrestrial life. The latest research indicates certain nucleobases -- the building blocks of our genetic material -- reach the Earth on meteorites in greater diversity and quantity than previously thought.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that the chemistry inside asteroids and comets is capable of making building blocks of essential biological molecules. Previously, scientists found amino acids in samples of comet Wild 2 from NASA's Stardust mission and in various carbon-rich meteorites. Amino acids are used to make proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. Proteins are used in everything from structures such as hair to enzymes, which are the catalysts that speed up or regulate chemical reactions.

The findings will be published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the new work, scientists analyzed samples of 12 carbon-rich meteorites, nine of which were recovered from Antarctica. The team found adenine and guanine, which are components of DNA nucleobases.

Also, in two of the meteorites, the team discovered for the first time trace amounts of three molecules related to nucleobases that almost never are used in biology. These nucleobase-related molecules, called nucleobase analogs, provide the first evidence that the compounds in the meteorites came from space and not terrestrial contamination.

"You would not expect to see these nucleobase analogs if contamination from terrestrial life was the source, because they're not used in biology," said Michael Callahan, astrobiologist and lead author of the paper from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "However, if asteroids are behaving like chemical 'factories' cranking out prebiotic material, you would expect them to produce many variants of nucleobases, not just the biological ones, because of the wide variety of ingredients and conditions in each asteroid."

Additional evidence came from research to further rule out the possibility of terrestrial contamination as a source of these
molecules. The team analyzed an eight-kilogram (21.4-pound) sample of ice from Antarctica, where most of the meteorites in the study were found. The amounts of nucleobases found in the ice were much lower than in the meteorites. More significantly, none of the nucleobase analogs were detected in the ice sample. The team also analyzed a soil sample collected near one of the non-Antarctic meteorite's fall site. As with the ice sample, the soil sample had none of the nucleobase analog molecules present in the meteorite.

Launched in Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust flew past an asteroid and traveled halfway to Jupiter to collect particle samples from the comet Wild 2. The spacecraft returned to Earth's vicinity to drop off a sample-return capsule on January 15, 2006.

The research was funded by NASA's Astrobiology Institute at the agency's Ames Research Laboratory in Moffett Field Calif., and the Goddard Center for Astrobiology in Greenbelt, Md.; the NASA Astrobiology Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program and the NASA Postdoctoral Program at the agency's Headquarters in Washington.

 

Additional information and images are available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/dna-meteorites.html
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 05:43:08 PM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2011, 05:33:11 PM »
PAMELA Spacecraft Finds a Belt of Antimatter Around the Earth



Quote
Astronomers have long thought these collisions must produce antiprotons just as they do in the lab, but thus far no one has been able to prove definitively what happens to these antiprotons as they’re difficult to seek out and measure, especially from the ground. Theoretically it made sense that they should be trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field, yet no antiproton cloud was empirically evident.

Enter PAMELA, a low Earth orbiting spacecraft launched in 2006 to seek out antiprotons in cosmic rays. Each day PAMELA makes a pass through the South Atlantic Anomaly, the part of the Van Allen Belts that come closest to the Earth and a sort of tide pool for energetic particles. If the antiprotons are collecting anywhere, they ought to be here.

And now, after analyzing 850 days of data, it turns out they are. PAMELA tracked down exactly 28 of them, which is actually way more than one might expect to find blowing in the solar wind. In other words, antiprotons are being captured and stored there. Solid scientific theory (and high-tech orbiting hardware) wins again.

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-08/theres-belt-antiprotons-around-earth

Papers:

EXTRACTION OF ANTIPARTICLES CONCENTRATED IN PLANETARY MAGNETIC FIELDS 2006
http://www.niac.usra.edu/files/studies/final_report/1071Bickford.pdf

The discovery of geomagnetically trapped cosmic ray anti protons
http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.4882
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.4882v1.pdf

Very odd though that I cannot fine a mission page for the Pamela Spacecraft

Edit to Update:

Okay... couldn't find this one at NASA because it is an Italian/Russian mission

The Space Mission Pamela



Quote
The Space Mission Pamela represents a state-of-the-art of the investigation of the cosmic radiation, addressing the most compelling issues facing astrophysics and cosmology: the Resurs DK-1nature of the dark matter that pervades the universe, the apparent absence of cosmological antimatter, the origin and evolution of matter in the galaxy. Pamela Pamela, a powerful particle identifier using a permanent magnet spectrometer with a variety of specialized detectors, is an instrument of extraordinary scientific potential that is measuring with unprecedented precision and sensitivity the abundance and energy spectra of cosmic rays electrons, positrons, antiprotons and light nuclei over a very large range of energy from 50 MeV to hundreds GeV, depending on the species. These measurements, together with the complementary electromagnetic radiation observation that will be carried out by AGILE and GLAST space missions, will help to unravel the mysteries of the most energetic processes known in the Universe.

SOURCE:
http://pamela.roma2.infn.it/index.php

PAMELA is onboard the Russian ResursDK 1 Satelite

PAMELA has been put in an elliptical orbit at an altitude between 350 and 610 Km, onboard of the Resurs-DK1 Russian satellite by a rocket Soyuz, on the 15th of June 2006.

Real time satellite tracking;
http://www.n2yo.com/?s=29228


Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring (NTS OMZ).
http://eng.ntsomz.ru/spacecraft/resurs_dk

Resurs DK
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurs_DK



Paper from RosKosmos

RESURS- DK1 from RosKosmos
http://www.geospatialworld.net/images/pdf/mme07_Michael.pdf


So while this is NOT a NASA mission, I think I will leave it here for the time being until I have time to make a foreign mission thread
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 06:44:28 PM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2011, 05:55:20 PM »
PRESS RELEASE
07.22.2011
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Gale Crater




Quote
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's next Mars rover will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet’s Gale Crater.

The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale.

"Mars is firmly in our sights," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Curiosity not only will return a wealth of important science data, but it will serve as a precursor mission for human exploration to the Red Planet."

During a prime mission lasting one Martian year -- nearly two Earth years -- researchers will use the rover's tools to study whether the landing region had favorable environmental conditions for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life ever existed.

"Scientists identified Gale as their top choice to pursue the ambitious goals of this new rover mission," said Jim Green, director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The site offers a visually dramatic landscape and also great potential for significant science findings."

In 2006, more than 100 scientists began to consider about 30 potential landing sites during worldwide workshops. Four candidates were selected in 2008. An abundance of targeted images enabled thorough analysis of the safety concerns and scientific attractions of each site. A team of senior NASA science officials then conducted a detailed review and unanimously agreed to move forward with the MSL Science Team's recommendation. The team is comprised of a host of principal and co-investigators on the project.

Curiosity is about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as any previous Mars rover. Its 10 science instruments include two for ingesting and analyzing samples of powdered rock that the rover's robotic arm collects. A radioisotope power source will provide heat and electric power to the rover. A rocket-powered sky crane suspending Curiosity on tethers will lower the rover directly to the Martian surface.

The portion of the crater where Curiosity will land has an alluvial fan likely formed by water-carried sediments. The layers at the base of the mountain contain clays and sulfates, both known to form in water.

"One fascination with Gale is that it's a huge crater sitting in a very low-elevation position on Mars, and we all know that water runs downhill," said John Grotzinger, the mission's project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "In terms of the total vertical profile exposed and the low elevation, Gale offers attractions similar to Mars' famous Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system."

Curiosity will go beyond the "follow-the-water" strategy of recent Mars exploration. The rover's science payload can identify other ingredients of life, such as the carbon-based building blocks of biology called organic compounds. Long-term preservation of organic compounds requires special conditions. Certain minerals, including some Curiosity may find in the clay and sulfate-rich layers near the bottom of Gale's mountain, are good at latching onto organic compounds and protecting them from oxidation.

"Gale gives us attractive possibilities for finding organics, but that is still a long shot," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at agency headquarters. "What adds to Gale's appeal is that, organics or not, the site holds a diversity of features and layers for investigating changing environmental conditions, some of which could inform a broader understanding of habitability on ancient Mars."

The rover and other spacecraft components are being assembled and are undergoing final testing. The mission is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of Caltech.

SOURCE:
http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1141

To view the landing site and for more information about the mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/


Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2011, 06:24:53 PM »
ANTS: Autonomous NanoTechnology Swarm

PAM: PROSPECTING ASTEROID MISSION



So now we have Nano Satellite Swarms... :o

Quote
An ANTS application for survey of large dynamic populations. 1000 spacecraft swarm travel to asteroid belt (1)
10 types of ‘specialists’ with common spacecraft bus (2)
10 subswarms, ~100 spacecraft each, ~10 each specialist
Asteroids not preselcted but ‘targets of opportunity’ (3)
Solar sail propulsion system requiring no expendables
Small nuclear batteries meet 100’s mWatt power requirement
Designs applicable to low G environments less than 3.5 AU
Primary objective is the exploration of the asteroid belt in search of resources and material with astrobiologically relevant origins and signatures (4)
ANTS Application: PAM, Prospecting Asteroid Mission
Time Frame:    2020-2025, MEMS-NEMS
Environment:    Space, Low G, Low density dynamic population
Power:    100 mWatt Battery Energy Source
Material:    1kg, 100 m2/kg
Locomotion:    Solar Sail
Challenges:    Rapid reconfiguability of sails and subsystems attitude control required for science operations for 10 dynamic objects simultaneously
Attitude Control: Using Sail or Surface Self-Configuration

Sail achieves dynamic attitude control through capability for dynamic change in its morphology, thus changes the effective area and distribution of solar reflectivity to change its acceleration and momentum vectors to achieve required orbit and orientation.

SOURCE:
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/pam.html

Papers:

PAM: Biologically Inspired Engineering.
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/documents/IAC2004%20q5%20paper%200815small.doc

The ANTS Mission Architecture and its Application to the PAM Mission Concept
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/CD-PAM/RASC-PAM-FINAL-DRAFT.ppt

The ANTS Mission Architecture and PAM Mission Concept
A Briefing on Current Status for the RASC Project
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/CD-PAM/RASC_ANTS_PAM_m.ppt

ANTS for the Human Exploration and Development of Space12
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/documents.d/ieeeac03%20paper1248.pdf

USE OF SWARM INTELLIGENCE IN SPACECRAFT CONSTELLATIONS FOR THE RESOURCE EXPLORATION OF THE ASTEROID BELT
http://ants.gsfc.nasa.gov/presentations/sac-pisa-03-poster.pdf






Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2011, 06:52:30 PM »
NASA Press Release
NASA Selects Seven Firms To Provide Near-Space Flight Services


August 09, 2011

David E. Steitz
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1730
david.steitz@nasa.gov

Leslie Williams
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
661-276-3893
leslie.a.williams@nasa.gov   


RELEASE: 11-258

NASA SELECTS SEVEN FIRMS TO PROVIDE NEAR-SPACE FLIGHT SERVICES

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space.

As part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency's research and technology needs.

"Through this catalog approach, NASA is moving toward the goal of making frequent, low-cost access to near-space available to a wide range of engineers, scientists and technologists," said NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The government's ability to open the suborbital research frontier to a broad community of innovators will enable maturation of the new technologies and capabilities needed for NASA's future missions in space."

The selected companies are:
-- Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas
-- Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore.
-- Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif.
-- Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.
-- Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif.
-- Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif.
-- XCOR, Mojave, Calif.

NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist is charged with maturing crosscutting technologies to flight readiness status for future space
missions. Through these indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, NASA intends to provide frequent flight opportunities for payloads on suborbital platforms.

The Flight Opportunities Program is managed at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. For more information on the program, visit:

http://flightopportunities.nasa.gov

For more information about NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/oct   
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 10:11:54 AM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2011, 09:51:42 AM »
NASA press Release
NASA's Spitzer Detects Comet Storm In Nearby Solar System


RELEASE: 11-354

NASA'S SPITZER DETECTS COMET STORM IN NEARBY SOLAR SYSTEM

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected signs of icy bodies raining down in an alien solar system. The downpour resembles our own solar system several billion years ago during a period known as the "Late Heavy Bombardment," which may have brought water and other life-forming ingredients to Earth.

During this epoch, comets and other frosty objects flung from the outer solar system pummeled the inner planets. The barrage scarred our moon and produced large amounts of dust.

Now Spitzer has spotted a band of dust around a nearby bright star in the northern sky called Eta Corvi that strongly matches the contents of an obliterated giant comet. This dust is located close enough to Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision took place between a planet and one or more comets. The Eta Corvi system is approximately one billion years old, which researchers think is about the right age for such a hailstorm.

"We believe we have direct evidence for an ongoing Late Heavy Bombardment in the nearby star system Eta Corvi, occurring about the same time as in our solar system," said Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and lead author of a paper detailing the findings. The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. Lisse presented the results at the Signposts of Planets meeting at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Oct. 19.

Astronomers used Spitzer's infrared detectors to analyze the light coming from the dust around Eta Corvi. Certain chemical fingerprints were observed, including water ice, organics, and rock, which indicate a giant comet source.

The light signature emitted by the dust around Eta Corvi also resembles the Almahata Sitta meteorite, which fell to Earth in fragments across Sudan in 2008. The similarities between the meteorite and the object obliterated in Eta Corvi imply a common birthplace in their respective solar systems.

A second, more massive ring of colder dust located at the far edge of the Eta Corvi system seems like the proper environment for a reservoir of cometary bodies. This bright ring, discovered in 2005, looms at about 150 times the distance from Eta Corvi as the Earth is from the sun. Our solar system has a similar region, known as the Kuiper Belt, where icy and rocky leftovers from planet formation linger. The new Spitzer data suggest that the Almahata Sitta meteorite may have originated in our own Kuiper Belt.

The Kuiper Belt was home to a vastly greater number of these frozen bodies, collectively dubbed Kuiper Belt objects. About 4 billion years ago, some 600 million years after our solar system formed, scientists think the Kuiper Belt was disturbed by a migration of the gas-giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. This jarring shift in the solar system's gravitational balance scattered the icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt, flinging the vast majority into interstellar space and producing cold dust in the belt. Some Kuiper Belt objects, however, were set on paths that crossed the orbits of the inner planets.

The resulting bombardment of comets lasted until 3.8 billion years ago. After comets impacted the side of the moon that faces Earth, magma seeped out of the lunar crust, eventually cooling into dark "seas," or maria. When viewed against the lighter surrounding areas of the lunar surface, those seas form the distinctive "Man in the Moon" visage. Comets also struck Earth or incinerated in the atmosphere, and are thought to have deposited water and carbon on our planet. This period of impacts might have helped life form by delivering its crucial ingredients.

"We think the Eta Corvi system should be studied in detail to learn more about the rain of impacting comets and other objects that may have started life on our own planet," Lisse said.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Spitzer, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

-end-

It's Raining Comets



This artist's conception illustrates a storm of comets around a star near our own, called Eta Corvi. Evidence for this barrage comes from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, whose infrared detectors picked up indications that one or more comets was recently torn to shreds after colliding with a rocky body. In this artist's conception, one such giant comet is shown smashing into a rocky planet, flinging ice- and carbon-rich dust into space, while also smashing water and organics into the surface of the planet. A glowing red flash captures the moment of impact on the planet. Yellow-white Eta Corvi is shown to the left, with still more comets streaming toward it.

Spitzer detected spectral signatures of water ice, organics and rock around Eta Corvi -- key ingredients of comets. This is the first time that evidence for such a comet storm has been seen around another star. Eta Corvi is just about the right age, about one billion years old, to be experiencing a bombardment of comets akin to what occurred in our own solar system at 600 to 800 millions years of age, termed the Late Heavy Bombardment.

Scientists say the Late Heavy Bombardment was triggered in our solar system by the migration of our outer planets, which jostled icy comets about, sending some of them flying inward. The incoming comets scarred our moon and pummeled our inner planets. They may have even brought materials to Earth that helped kick start life.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 10:02:01 AM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2011, 10:12:55 AM »
Bit older story that I came across..

Massive Black Hole Implicated in Stellar Destruction
01.04.10



NGC 1399, an elliptical galaxy about 65 million light years from Earth. Composite image of a so-called ultraluminous X-ray source, or ULX. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J. Irwin et al. Optical: NASA/STScI Credit: NASA, Chandra

New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes suggest that a dense stellar remnant has been ripped apart by a black hole a thousand times as massive as the Sun. If confirmed, this discovery would be a cosmic double play: it would be strong evidence for an intermediate mass black hole, which has been a hotly debated topic, and would mark the first time such a black hole has been caught tearing a star apart.

This scenario is based on Chandra observations, which revealed an unusually luminous source of X-rays in a dense cluster of old stars, and optical observations that showed a peculiar mix of elements associated with the X-ray emission. Taken together, a case can be made that the X-ray emission is produced by debris from a disrupted white dwarf star that is heated as it falls towards a massive black hole. The optical emission comes from debris further out that is illuminated by these X-rays.

The intensity of the X-ray emission places the source in the "ultraluminous X-ray source" or ULX category, meaning that it is more luminous than any known stellar X-ray source, but less luminous than the bright X-ray sources (active galactic nuclei) associated with supermassive black holes in the nuclei of galaxies. The nature of ULXs is a mystery, but one suggestion is that some ULXs are black holes with masses between about a hundred and several thousand times that of the Sun, a range intermediate between stellar-mass black holes and supermassive black holes located in the nuclei of galaxies.

This ULX is in a globular cluster, a very old and crowded conglomeration of stars. Astronomers have suspected that globular clusters could contain intermediate-mass black holes, but conclusive evidence for this has been elusive.

"Astronomers have made cases for stars being torn apart by supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies before, but this is the first good evidence for such an event in a globular cluster," said Jimmy Irwin of the University of Alabama who led the study.

Irwin and his colleagues obtained optical spectra of the object using the Magellan I and II telescopes in Las Campanas, Chile. These data reveal emission from gas rich in oxygen and nitrogen but no hydrogen, a rare set of signals from globular clusters. The physical conditions deduced from the spectra suggest that the gas is orbiting a black hole of at least 1,000 solar masses. The abundant amount of oxygen and absence of hydrogen indicate that the destroyed star was a white dwarf, the end phase of a solar-type star that has burned its hydrogen leaving a high concentration of oxygen. The nitrogen seen in the optical spectrum remains an enigma.

"We think these unusual signatures can be explained by a white dwarf that strayed too close to a black hole and was torn apart by the extreme tidal forces," said coauthor Joel Bregman of the University of Michigan.

Theoretical work suggests that the tidal disruption-induced X-ray emission could stay bright for more than a century, but it should fade with time. So far, the team has observed there has been a 35 percent in X-ray emission from 2000 to 2008.

The ULX in this study is located in NGC 1399, an elliptical galaxy about 65 million light years from Earth.

Irwin presented these results at the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

More information, including images and other multimedia, can be found at:

http://chandra.harvard.edu

Janet Anderson, 256-544-6162
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Janet.L.Anderson@nasa.gov

Megan Watzke 617-496-7998
Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.
m.watzke@cfa.harvard.edu

SOURCE: NASA - Massive Black Hole Implicated in Stellar Destruction

Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 06:41:14 PM by zorgon »

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2012, 12:05:15 AM »
Near miss: ISS narrowly escapes debris disaster
Published: 24 March, 2012, 10:44 by Russia Today



A view from the International Space Station ISS (AFP Photo / NASA)

Quote
A fragment of Russian satellite Cosmos-2251 has passed at a dangerous distance from the ISS. For security reasons the crew was told to get ready for evacuation and take their seats in Soyuz spacecraft.

­The wreckage passed the station at a speed of 26,1690 km/h at approximately 07:25 GMT. The distance to the object was about 14 kilometers, but a precautionary measure was considered prudent.

The current ISS crew consists of six people. NASA astronaut commander Daniel Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin were assigned to move to Soyuz TMA-22, while cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, US astronaut Don Pettit, European astronaut André Kuipers took seats in Soyuz TMA-03M.

Both ships are now docked with the Russian segment of the ISS.

Russian satellite Cosmos-2251 (type Strela-2M) was launched on June 16, 1993 from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. On February 10, 2009, the satellite collided with America’s Iridium-33 at the height of 790 kilometers. Both satellites were completely destroyed.

The incident became the first of its kind in space exploration history.

Satellite Cosmos-2251 split into some 600 fragments larger than five centimeters, and thousands more smaller pieces.

The space rubbish was only observed on Friday, so the launch control center has had no time to correct the orbit of the ISS. This is the third incident of this nature in the 12 years of ISS’s work in orbit.

http://rt.com/news/iss-wreckage-hazard-evacuation-359/

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2012, 12:11:16 AM »
World's biggest Earth-observing satellite remains 'dead in space' -
 and other spacecraft are enlisted in last-ditch attempt to revive 8-tonne orbiter
By Rob Waugh - Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 12:12 EST, 12 April 2012



'After 10 years of service, Envisat has stopped sending data to Earth. ESA's mission control is working to re-establish contact with the satellite,' says the European Space Agency

Quote
'We continue to try to re-establish contact with the satellite, and to collect more information on the satellite's status by ground radar images, from optical images, from telescopes, but also from other spacecraft,' said Professor Volker Liebig of ESA.

The satellite failed to radio to its controllers on April 8 - and a team of engineers, scientists and mission operators are now attempting to restore contact with the satellite.

"On Sunday, will try to program the satellite Pleiades to see if they can image Envisat, to give us more detailed knowledge on whether there is damage on the outside,' he said.

'After 10 years of service, Envisat has stopped sending data to Earth. ESA's mission control is working to re-establish contact with the satellite,' says the European Space Agency.

World's biggest civilian earth-observing satellite falls silent

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2012, 12:18:05 AM »
Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs)

HIAD: Changing the Way We Explore Other Worlds

A giant cone of inner tubes assembled sort of like a child's stacking ring toy may some day help cargo, or even people, land on another planet, return to Earth or any destination with an atmosphere.

NASA calls the inflatable spacecraft technology Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator or HIAD, for short.

The HIAD could give NASA more options for future planetary missions, because it could allow spacecraft to carry larger, heavier scientific instruments and other tools for exploration.




The Big Picture
 
NASA has studied how to land spacecraft on planetary bodies since the 1950s -- and as engineers know it's not easy. The first atmospheric entry tests used ballistic missiles that featured long nosecones with narrow tips. That shape cut through the air easily -- but high speeds and low drag led to overheating and the melting of the rockets' surfaces.


Mercury capsule model in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel, January 1959. Credit: NASA

So NASA researchers began testing blunt-nose reentry vehicles. They found that a blunt body with its greater drag transferred far less heat to the spacecraft than the traditional shapes did. That's why the first astronauts flew in space capsules, such as Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Blunt body designs work well with an atmosphere -- but how do they perform some place, such as Mars, where there's very little atmosphere and little drag to slow a spacecraft to a safe landing?

Past Mars missions traveling at speeds as high as 17,000 miles an hour (27,359 kilometers per hour) have used technologies such as parachutes, retro rockets, and even air bags to help spacecraft touch down.

But engineers and scientists, led by a team at NASA's Langley Research Center, have what they think is an even more versatile idea -- a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator or HIAD. The inflatable spacecraft technology looks like a giant cone of inner tubes assembled sort of like a child's stacking ring toy. A HIAD may some day help cargo, or even people, land on another planet or return to Earth -- any destination with an atmosphere.

Inflatable technology could give NASA more options for future planetary missions, because it would allow spacecraft to carry larger, heavier scientific instruments and other tools for exploration. The technology could also be used to return payloads to Earth from the International Space Station or other low Earth orbit locations.

Why would an inflatable heat shield make a difference? It offers reduced weight and increased size, both crucial in space travel.

HIAD - changing the way we explore other worlds.


Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs)

Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator

[youtube]tw7_QIw5Btw[/youtube]

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2012, 04:16:28 PM »
The Radiation Belt Storm Probes

August 30, 2012: Since the dawn of the Space Age, mission planners have tried to follow one simple but important rule: Stay out of the van Allen Belts. The two doughnut-shaped regions around Earth are filled with “killer electrons,” plasma waves, and electrical currents dangerous to human space travelers and their spacecraft. Lingering is not a good idea.

So much for the old rules.  NASA has launched two spacecraft directly into the radiation belts--and this time they plan to stay a while.




[youtube]P5KKHzWafDg[/youtube]

NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes blasted off from Cape Canaveral on August 30th, 2012. Bristling with sensors, the heavily-shielded spacecraft are on a 2-year mission to discover what makes the radiation belts so dangerous and so devilishly unpredictable.

"We've known about the Van Allen Belts for decades yet they continue to surprise us with unexpected storms of 'killer electrons' and other phenomena," says mission scientist David Sibeck, "The Storm Probes will help us understand what's going on out there."



Each of the two Storm Probes is bristling with sensors to count energetic particles, measure plasma waves, and detect electromagnetic radiation.

Spacecraft Instruments

When the radiation belts were discovered in 1958, they upended orthodox ideas.  Most people assumed the space around Earth was empty. America's first satellite, Explorer 1, proved otherwise.  The tiny spacecraft was equipped with a Geiger tube for counting energetic protons and electrons.  Circling Earth, Explorer 1 found so many charged particles that the counter registered off-scale most of the time.

Back in the 1950s the radiation belts had little effect on ordinary people. Today they are crucial to our high-tech society.  Hundreds of satellites used for everything from weather prediction to GPS to television routinely skim the belts, subjecting themselves to energetic particles that can damage solar panels and short-circuit sensitive electronics.  During geomagnetic storms when the belts are swollen by solar activity, whole fleets of satellites can be engulfed, imperiling the technological underpinnings of daily life on the planet below.

"The Radiation Belt Storm Probes directly address these down-to-Earth problems," says Lika Guhathakurta, the lead program scientist of NASA's Living with a Star Program, which manages the mission. "RBSP is a unique mix of pure science and practical application."

One of the biggest mysteries of the radiation belts is the crazy way they react to solar storms. "Almost anything can happen," says Sibeck.

When a storm cloud from the sun hits the radiation belts, they often respond in counterintuitive ways.  One possible outcome is that the radiation belts fill with energetic particles such as the potent "killer electrons" that worry mission planners.  However, just as often the opposite happens.  A solar storm can cause the belts to lose their killer particles, temporarily making them a safer place.  And sometimes nothing happens!  The belts remain completely unchanged.



This plot shows how energetic electrons in the radiation belts can react to solar storms. Sometimes they increase, sometimes they decrease, sometimes they don't change at all. The unpredictability is one of the biggest mysteries of the Van Allen Belts.

Quote
"The problem is, there is no unified idea of what phenomena are most important inside the belts," says Sibeck. He describes attending scientific conferences on the subject:  "If there are 100 people at a meeting, there will be 100 different answers for every question. How are killer electrons energized?  Some say plasma waves do it; others point to solar wind shocks; others favor diffusion. The list goes on and on."

Researchers hope RBSP will narrow the possibilities.  During storms, the probes can sample electric and magnetic fields, count the number of energetic particles, and detect plasma waves of many frequencies.  The inner workings of the Van Allen Belts will be an open book to the two spacecraft, providing data for predictive models that tell forecasters when it’s safe to enter the belts, perform spacewalks, and operate sensitive electronics.

“The Van Allen Belts are part of our home in space,” adds Guhathakurta.  “RBSP will help us learn how to live there.”

So much for the old rules, indeed.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips| Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

The Radiation Belt Storm Probes

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 04:19:45 PM »
RELEASE: 12-289
NASA LAUNCHES RADIATION BELT STORM PROBES MISSION
Aug. 30, 2012


Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington                                   
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
321-867-2468
george.h.diller@nasa.gov

Geoffrey Brown
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-5618 or 443-778-5618
geoffrey.brown@jhuapl.edu


WASHINGTON -- NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), the first twin-spacecraft mission designed to explore our planet's radiation belts, launched into the predawn skies at 4:05a.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

"Scientists will learn in unprecedented detail how the radiation belts are populated with charged particles, what causes them to change and how these processes affect the upper reaches of the atmosphere around Earth," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. "The information collected from these probes will benefit the public by allowing us to better protect our satellites and understand how space weather affects communications and technology on Earth."

The two satellites, each weighing just less than 1,500 pounds, comprise the first dual-spacecraft mission specifically created to investigate this hazardous regions of near-Earth space, known as the radiation belts. These two belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts are affected by solar storms and coronal mass ejections and sometimes swell dramatically. When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications, GPS satellites and human spaceflight.

"We have never before sent such comprehensive and high-quality instruments to study high radiation regions of space," said Barry Mauk, RBSP project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. "RBSP was crafted to help us learn more about, and ultimately predict, the response of the radiation belts to solar inputs."

The hardy RBSP satellites will spend the next 2 years looping through every part of both Van Allen belts. By having two spacecraft in different regions of the belts at the same time, scientists finally will be able to gather data from within the belts themselves, learning how they change over space and time. Designers fortified RBSP with special protective plating and rugged electronics to operate and survive within this punishing region of space that other spacecraft avoid. In addition, a space weather broadcast will transmit selected data from those instruments around the clock, giving researchers a check on current conditions near Earth.

"The excitement of seeing the spacecraft in orbit and beginning to perform science measurements is like no other thrill," said Richard Fitzgerald, RBSP project manager at APL. "The entire RBSP team, from across every organization, worked together to produce an amazing pair of spacecraft."

RBSP was lifted into orbit aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex-41, as the rocket's plume lit the dark skies over the Florida coast. The first RBSP spacecraft is scheduled to separate from the Atlas rocket's Centaur booster 1 hour, 18 minutes, 52 seconds after launch. The second RBSP spacecraft is set to follow 12 minutes, 14 seconds later. Mission controllers using APL's 60-foot satellite dish will establish radio contact with each probe immediately after separation.

During the next 60 days, operators will power up all flight systems and science instruments and deploy long antenna booms, two of which are more than 54 yards long. Data about the particles that swirl through the belts, and the fields and waves that transport them, will be gathered by five instrument suites designed and operated by teams at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark; the University of Iowa in Iowa City; University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; and the University of New Hampshire in Durham; and the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, Va. The data will be analyzed by scientists across the nation almost immediately.

RBSP is the second mission in NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) program to explore aspects of the connected sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. LWS is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. APL built the RBSP spacecraft and will manage the mission for NASA. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance provided the Atlas V launch service.

For more information about NASA's RBSP mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/rbsp

-end-

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2013, 04:48:54 PM »


Colors of the Innermost Planet

This colorful view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER's primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up Mercury's surface.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_2455.html

Offline zorgon

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Re: NASA Announcements
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 03:22:02 PM »
Feb. 25, 2013

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

MEDIA ADVISORY: M13-036

NASA ANNOUNCES MEDIA BRIEFING ON NEW VAN ALLEN PROBES RESULTS


WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST,
Thursday, Feb. 28, to discuss new observations from NASA's twin Van
Allen Probes, which are studying Earth's radiation belts. The
briefing will be held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics
Laboratory, Kossiakoff Center, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd., in Laurel,
Md.

The new observations have been embargoed by the journal Science until
the start of the news conference, which will air live on NASA
Television and the agency's website.


The briefing panelists are:

-- Mona Kessel, Van Allen Probes program scientist, NASA Headquarters,
Washington
-- Dan Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space
Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder
-- Nicola Fox, Van Allen Probes deputy project scientist, the Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
-- Joe Kunches, space scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, Boulder, Colo.

Journalists unable to attend in-person can ask questions via Twitter
after 2 p.m. Feb. 28 using the hashtag #askNASA. To participate by
phone, reporters must contact Geoff Brown at 240-228-5618 or
Geoffrey.Brown@jhuapl.edu with their media affiliation no later than
10 a.m., Feb. 28.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about NASA's Van Allen Probes mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/vanallenprobes

   
-end-

 


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