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quarta-feira, 28 de outubro de 2015

NASA WEB · NASA's Cassini spacecraft has made its deepest dive yet through the plume emanating from the south pole of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has made its deepest dive yet through the plume emanating from the south pole of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus.

Cassini flew low through the Saturn moon Enceladus' icy plume today (Oct. 28) at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), zooming within a mere 30 miles (50 kilometers)…


terça-feira, 27 de outubro de 2015

NASA WEB ·A huge asteroid flying toward Earth. Fly within the orbit of the Moon

A huge asteroid flying toward Earth. Fly within the orbit of the Moon

mc
 
26/10/2015 20:34
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The approaching asteroid to Earth is 32 times greater than that in 2013 broke up in Earth's atmosphere in and around the Russian Chelyabinsk. Then, thousands of buildings were destroyed and 1,500 people were injured.
Asteroid
Asteroid (Fig. NASA)
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A massive asteroid 2015 TB145 affectionately called "Spooky" ("terrible") has been recognized by researchers from the University of Hawaii on 10 October. Earth will pass on October 31 - on Halloween. We should not fear spooky is over 400 meters in diameter and runs at a speed of 125,000 km / h. Fly around the planet at a distance much greater than that which separates us from the moon. Paul Chodas of the Centre for Research on near-Earth objects NASA reassures that they do not threaten us with her ​​hand in any danger. - Trajectory TB145 is well known. At the time of closest approach will be about 480 thousand. km away from us - he says. The best time to observe the asteroid will be Friday night (30 October). You should then direct the gaze towards the constellation of Orion. - Despite the relatively short distance from the Earth (on a cosmic scale) to see her, you will need although a small telescope - can Chodas.

segunda-feira, 26 de outubro de 2015

NASA WEB ·ISRO-Scanning Sky Monitor(SSM) Payload onboard ASTROSAT made Operational on October-12-2015

Scanning Sky Monitor(SSM) Payload onboard ASTROSAT made Operational on October-12-2015

The Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) will monitor the transient X-ray sky to detect and locate X-ray sources in its large Field Of View (FOV).  It comprises three almost identical detector units each with a 1D coded-mask and the respective electronics. All the three modules of SSM are mounted on a single platform capable of rotation.  A photograph of the SSM payload on is shown here below in figure 1. The Processing Electronics and the Platform motor drive electronics are placed inside the spacecraft body.  
Figure 1: SSM with three cameras and associated front end electronics.
SSM platform deployment was done on the day of launch after spacecraft injection into the intended orbit, soon after solar panel deployment.
On Day 2 and Day 3 (September 29 & September 30, 2015) operations related to SSM platform rotation were carried out successfully, as planned.  All the modes of rotation were checked and the parameters were verified.
Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) onboard ASTROSAT has been operational since October 12th 2015, on the 15th day after the successful launch of ASTROSAT on 28th September 2015.
The temperatures of all the packages of the payload have been within the expected limits.  Spacecraft was oriented in such a way that the well-known X-ray source “Crab” was positioned at the centre of Field Of View (FOV) of two of the SSM units, SSM1 and SSM2, which have a crossed FOV. 
SSM1 was powered ON first and all the health parameters of the unit were monitored and found satisfactory. High Voltage (HV) to the anodes was increased step by step to the required value with constant monitoring of telemetry parameter.  Once the required HV step was attained in the SSM1 unit, the counts detected by the unit were indicated in the telemetry.  It was exciting to observe the expected count rates in the telemetry as soon as the HV was raised to the required step. 
The data from SSM1 unit was played back in the subsequent orbit and analysed for the light curves and spectra from all anodes in that unit. 
The SAA entry and exit operations to lower the HV of the unit for safe operations were handled with macros on-board.  The prompt execution of these macros during the non-visibility period during the passage through SAA region can be seen in the later part of the light curve.
Following the successful power ON of SSM1 unit the other two units – SSM2 and SSM3 were also powered ON, two orbits later during the visibility period. All the health checks were found satisfactory.  The units were powered ON one after the other.  The data play back was done in the subsequent orbits.  Performances of these two units were also as expected.  

NASA WEB ·-NASA’s Space Launch System Passes Critical Design Review, Drops Saturn V Color Motif The SLS, America’s first human-rated heavy lift rocket intended to carry astronauts to deep space destinations since NASA’s Apollo moon landing era Saturn V,…

The SLS, America’s first human-rated heavy lift rocket intended to carry astronauts to deep space destinations since NASA’s Apollo moon landing era Saturn V, has passed a key design milestone known as the critical design review (CDR), clearing the path to full scale fabrication. NASA also confirmed they have dropped the Saturn V white color motif of the mammoth rocket in favor of orange to reflect the natural color of the SLS boosters first stage core. [ 1028 more words. ]

The SLS, America’s first human-rated heavy lift rocket intended to carry astronauts to deep space destinations since NASA’s Apollo moon landing era Saturn V,…


NASA WEB ·NASA Spots the 'Great Pumpkin ': Halloween Asteroid a Treat for Radar Astronomers

This is a graphic depicting the orbit of asteroid 2015 TB145. The asteroid will safely fly past Earth slightly farther out than the moon's orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:05 a.m. Pacific (1:05 p.m. EDT and 17:05 UTC). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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NASA scientists are tracking the upcoming Halloween flyby of asteroid 2015 TB145 with several optical observatories and the radar capabilities of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California. The asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon's orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT (1:05 p.m. EDT). Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on "spacecraft Earth" to scan it during the close pass.
Asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered on Oct. 10, 2015, by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) on Haleakala, Maui, part of the NASA-funded Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program. According to the catalog of near-Earth objects (NEOs) kept by the Minor Planet Center, this is the closest currently known approach by an object this large until asteroid 1999 AN10, at about 2,600 feet (800 meters) in size, approaches at about 1 lunar distance (238,000 miles from Earth) in August 2027.
"The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood," said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "At the point of closest approach, it will be no closer than about 300,000 miles -- 480,000 kilometers or 1.3 lunar distances. Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it."
The gravitational influence of the asteroid is so small it will have no detectable effect on the moon or anything here on Earth, including our planet's tides or tectonic plates.
The Center for NEO Studies at JPL is a central node for NEO data analysis in NASA's Near-Earth Object Observation Program and a key group involved with the international collaboration of astronomers and scientists who keep watch on the sky with their telescopes, looking for asteroids that could be a hazard to impact our planet and predicting their paths through space for the foreseeable future.
"The close approach of 2015 TB145 at about 1.3 times the distance of the moon's orbit, coupled with its size, suggests it will be one of the best asteroids for radar imaging we'll see for several years," said Lance Benner, of JPL, who leads NASA's asteroid radar research program. "We plan to test a new capability to obtain radar images with two-meter resolution for the first time and hope to see unprecedented levels of detail."
During tracking, scientists will use the 34-meter (110-foot) DSS 13 antenna at Goldstone to bounce radio waves off the asteroid. Radar echoes will in turn be collected by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia, and the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center's Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico. NASA scientists hope to obtain radar images of the asteroid as fine as about 7 feet (2 meters) per pixel. This should reveal a wealth of detail about the object's surface features, shape, dimensions and other physical properties.
"The asteroid's orbit is very oblong with a high inclination to below the plane of the solar system," said Benner. "Such a unique orbit, along with its high encounter velocity -- about 35 kilometers or 22 miles per second -- raises the question of whether it may be some type of comet. If so, then this would be the first time that the Goldstone radar has imaged a comet from such a close distance."
NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing within 30 million miles of Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The NEOO Program, sometimes called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes the physical nature of a subset of them, and predicts their paths to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. There are no known credible impact threats to date -- only the ongoing and harmless in-fall of meteoroids, tiny asteroids that burn up in the atmosphere.
JPL hosts the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies for NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program within the agency's Science Mission Directorate. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at:

NASA WEB · NASA's K2 Finds Dead Star Vaporizing a Mini 'Planet'




In this artist's conception, a tiny rocky object vaporizes as it orbits a white dwarf star. Astronomers have detected the first planetary object transiting a white dwarf using data from the K2 mission. Slowly the object will disintegrate, leaving a dusting of metals on the surface of the star. Credit: CfA/Mark A. Garlick
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Scientists using NASA's repurposed Kepler space telescope, known as the K2 mission, have uncovered strong evidence of a tiny, rocky object being torn apart as it spirals around a white dwarf star. This discovery validates a long-held theory that white dwarfs are capable of cannibalizing possible remnant planets that have survived within its solar system.
"We are for the first time witnessing a miniature "planet" ripped apart by intense gravity, being vaporized by starlight and raining rocky material onto its star," said Andrew Vanderburg, graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the paper published in Nature.
As stars like our sun age, they puff up into red giants and then gradually lose about half their mass, shrinking down to 1/100th of their original size to roughly the size of Earth. This dead, dense star remnant is called a white dwarf.
The devastated planetesimal, or cosmic object formed from dust, rock, and other materials, is estimated to be the size of a large asteroid, and is the first planetary object to be confirmed transiting a white dwarf. It orbits its white dwarf, WD 1145+017, once every 4.5 hours. This orbital period places it extremely close to the white dwarf and its searing heat and shearing gravitational force.
During its first observing campaign from May 30 to Aug. 21, 2014, K2 trained its gaze on a patch of sky in the constellation Virgo, measuring the minuscule change in brightness of the distant white dwarf. When an object transits, or passes in front of a star from the vantage point of the space telescope, a dip in starlight is recorded. The periodic dimming of starlight indicates the presence of an object in orbit about the star.
A research team led by Vanderburg found an unusual, but vaguely familiar pattern in the data. While there was a prominent dip in brightness occurring every 4.5 hours, blocking up to 40 percent of the white dwarf's light, the transit signal of the tiny planet did not exhibit the typical symmetric U-shaped pattern. It showed an asymmetric elongated slope pattern that would indicate the presence of a comet-like tail. Together these features indicated a ring of dusty debris circling the white dwarf, and what could be the signature of a small planet being vaporized.
"The eureka moment of discovery came on the last night of observation with a sudden realization of what was going around the white dwarf. The shape and changing depth of the transit were undeniable signatures," said Vanderburg.
In addition to the strangely shaped transits, Vanderburg and his team found signs of heavier elements polluting the atmosphere of WD 1145+017, as predicted by theory.
Due to intense gravity, white dwarfs are expected to have chemically pure surfaces, covered only with light elements of helium and hydrogen. For years, researchers have found evidence that some white dwarf atmospheres are polluted with traces of heavier elements such as calcium, silicon, magnesium and iron. Scientists have long suspected that the source of this pollution was an asteroid or a small planet being torn apart by the white dwarf's intense gravity.
Analysis of the star's atmospheric composition was conducted using observations made by the University of Arizona's MMT Observatory near Tucson.
"For the last decade we've suspected that white dwarf stars were feeding on the remains of rocky objects, and this result may be the smoking gun we're looking for," said Fergal Mullally, staff scientist of K2 at SETI and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "However, there's still a lot more work to be done figuring out the history of this system."
"This discovery highlights the power and serendipitous nature of K2. The science community has full access to K2 observations and is using these data to make a wide range of unique discoveries across the full range of astrophysics phenomena," said Steve Howell, K2 project scientist at Ames.
Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
For more information about the Kepler and K2 missions, visit:

quarta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2015

NASA WEB ·Teaching the Science of Earth's Rising Seas

    Animation showing sea level rise since January 1993

    This animation made with data from NASA Earth satellites shows how sea level has changed across the globe over the last 23 years. The red areas represent the highest sea levels while the blue areas represent the lowest sea levels. Globally, sea levels have gone up by about 6 centimeters since 1993. Credit: TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2  
    “Sea level rise” – we hear that phrase, but what does it mean, really? How does it affect us? Do I have to be concerned about it in my lifetime? These are all great questions!
    Sea level rise is the increasing of the average global sea level. It doesn’t mean that seas are higher by the same amount everywhere. In fact, in some areas, such as the west coast of the US, sea level has actually dropped slightly … for now. But before we get into that, let’s understand the main contributors to sea level rise: 
    1. Melting mountain glaciers - Glaciers are bodies of ice on land that are constantly moving, carving paths through mountains and rock. As glaciers melt, the runoff flows into the oceans, raising their levels.
    2. Melting polar ice caps - Think of our north and south polar regions. At both locations, we have ice on land (“land ice”) and ice floating in the ocean (“sea ice”). Melting sea ice, much like ice cubes melting in a drink, does not affect the level of the oceans. Melting land ice, however, contributes to about one third of sea level rise.
    3. Thermal expansion of water - Consider that our oceans absorb over 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gasses in Earth’s atmosphere. When water heats up, its molecules become more energetic, causing the water to expand and take up more room, so that accounts for about a third of sea level rise.
    Let’s take a closer look at global sea levels. Sea level is not constant everywhere. This is because it can be affected by ocean currents and natural cycles, such as thePacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, a 20- to 30-year cyclical fluctuation in the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperature. Because of the PDO, right now the Eastern Pacific has higher sea levels than usual, while the Western Pacific has lower sea levels than usual. However, the global average of 3 millimeters of sea level rise per year is increasing and the rate that it’s increasing is speeding up. That means that sea level is rising, and it’s rising faster and faster. Take a look at this video for some great visuals and further explanation of how phenomena such as the Gulf Stream affect local sea level heights.

    You may be asking yourself, how do we know sea levels are rising? Well, a couple of ways. First, for the past 23 years we have been using data from several NASA satellites to constantly measure sea surface height around the globe. Data from these ocean altimeters is integrated to refine and calibrate measurements. Additionally, we have tide gauges on Earth to ground-truth (locally validate) our satellite measurements. As for historical data, we use sediment cores -- drillings into Earth that yield the oldest layers on the bottom and the youngest layers on top -- to examine where oceans once reached thousands of years ago.
    Locally, folks are making observations – and already seeing the impacts of sea level rise on their communities. Places such as Miami are now experiencing regular flooding in downtown city streets at high tide. The South Pacific island nation of Kiribati saw a 2.6 millimeter rise in sea level between 1992 and 2010. That may not seem like much, but when you consider that the land only sits about 2 meters above sea level, that’s a big deal; some villages have already had to relocate to escape the rising tides. Residents of China's Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise of more than 25 centimeters (9 inches) a year. Even NASA is concerned about some of its facilities that are located in low-lying areas
    Besides wiping out dry land, encroaching salt water can pollute our fresh water supplies and damage fresh-water dependent ecosystems. It’s not just fresh water rivers and lakes that are at risk – our aquifers, or natural underground water storage, are at risk of filling with salt water as the ocean encroaches on the land above them.
    Clearly, sea level rise is something that is already affecting people and will continue to do so. All three contributors to sea level rise can be attributed to the warming of the Earth system. Warming temperatures cause mountain glaciers and polar ice caps to melt, thereby increasing the volume of water in the oceans. At the same time, our oceans are getting warmer and expanding in volume as a result of this heat (thermal expansion). Since 1880, global sea level has risen 20 centimeters (8 inches); by 2100, it is projected to rise another 30 to 122 centimeters (1 to 4 feet). Watch this video for some illustrations of these facts:

NASA WEB ·Cassini Begins Series of Flybys with Close-up of Saturn Moon Enceladus

Artist's concept of Cassini's flyby

Enceladus
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will get its best-ever look at the northernmost reaches of the Saturnian moon Enceladus on Oct. 14. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 
› Full image and caption
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will wrap up its time in the region of Saturn's large, icy moons with a series of three close encounters with Enceladus starting Wednesday, Oct. 14. Images are expected to begin arriving one to two days after the flyby, which will provide the first opportunity for a close-up look at the north polar region of Enceladus.
Wednesday's flyby is considered a moderately close approach for Cassini, which will pass at an altitude of 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Closest approach to Enceladus will occur at 3:41 a.m. PDT (6:41 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft's final two approaches will take place in late October and mid-December.
During Cassini's early-mission encounters with the moon, the northern terrain of Enceladus was masked by wintry darkness. Now that the summer sun is shining on the high northern latitudes, scientists will be looking for signs of ancient geological activity similar to the geyser-spouting, tiger-stripe fractures in the moon's south polar region. Features observed during the flyby could help them understand whether the north also was geologically active at some time in the past.
"We've been following a trail of clues on Enceladus for 10 years now," said Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini science team member and icy moons expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The amount of activity on and beneath this moon's surface has been a huge surprise to us. We're still trying to figure out what its history has been, and how it came to be this way."
Since Cassini's 2005 discovery of continually-erupting fountains of icy material on Enceladus, the Saturn moon has become one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for present-day habitable environments. Mission scientists announced evidence in March that hydrothermal activity may be occurring on the seafloor of the moon's underground ocean. In September they broke news that its ocean -- previously thought to be only a regional sea -- was, in fact, global.
"The global nature of Enceladus' ocean and the inference that hydrothermal systems might exist at the ocean's base strengthen the case that this small moon of Saturn may have environments similar to those at the bottom of our own ocean," said Jonathan Lunine, an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "It is therefore very tempting to imagine that life could exist in such a habitable realm, a billion miles from our home."
The Oct. 14 encounter will serve as a prelude to the main event, a flyby of Enceladus on Wednesday, Oct. 28, during which Cassini will come dizzyingly close to the icy moon, passing a mere 30 miles (49 kilometers) above the moon's south polar region. During this encounter, Cassini will make its deepest-ever dive through the moon's plume of icy spray, collecting images and valuable data about what's going on beneath the frozen surface. Cassini scientists are hopeful data from that flyby will provide evidence of how much hydrothermal activity is occurring in the moon's ocean, and how the amount of activity impacts the habitability of Enceladus' ocean.
Cassini's final close flyby on Dec. 19 will examine how much heat is coming from the moon's interior from an altitude of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers).
An online toolkit for all three final Enceladus flybys is available at:
Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004 and still has about two years left on its mission. Beginning in November, mission controllers will begin to slowly raise Cassini's orbit out of the space around the Saturn's equator, where flybys of the large moons are more common. Coming up are a number of closest-ever brushes with the small moons that huddle near the planet's rings.
"We'll continue observing Enceladus and its remarkable activity for the remainder of our precious time at Saturn," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL. "But these three encounters will be our last chance to see this fascinating world up close for many years to come."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

NASA WEB · Hubble’s planetary portrait captures changes in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Hubble’s planetary portrait captures changes in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

13 October 2015
Scientists using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have produced new maps of Jupiter that show the continuing changes in its famous Great Red Spot. The images also reveal a rare wave structure in the planet’s atmosphere that has not been seen for decades. The new image is the first in a series of annual portraits of the Solar System’s outer planets, which will give us new glimpses of these remote worlds, and help scientists to study how they change over time.
In this new image of Jupiter a broad range of features has been captured, including winds, clouds and storms. The scientists behind the new images took pictures of Jupiter using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 over a ten-hour period and have produced two maps of the entire planet from the observations. These maps make it possible to determine the speeds of Jupiter’s winds, to identify different phenomena in its atmosphere and to track changes in its most famous features.
The new images confirm that the huge storm, which has raged on Jupiter’s surface for at least three hundred years, continues to shrink, but that it may not go out without a fight. The storm, known as the Great Red Spot, is seen here swirling at the centre of the image of the planet. It has been decreasing in size at a noticeably faster rate from year to year for some time. But now, the rate of shrinkage seems to be slowing again, even though the spot is still about 240 kilometres smaller than it was in 2014.
The spot’s size is not the only change that has been captured by Hubble. At the centre of the spot, which is less intense in colour than it once was, an unusual wispy filament can be seen spanning almost the entire width of the vortex. This filamentary streamer rotates and twists throughout the ten-hour span of the Great Red Spot image sequence, distorted by winds that are blowing at 540 kilometres per hour.
There is another feature of interest in this new view of our giant neighbour. Just north of the planet’s equator, researchers have found a rare wave structure, of a type that has been spotted on the planet only once before, decades ago by the Voyager 2 mission, which was launched in 1977. In the Voyager 2 images the wave was barely visible and astronomers began to think its appearance was a fluke, as nothing like it has been seen since, until now.
The current wave was found in a region dotted with cyclones and anticyclones. Similar waves — calledbaroclinic waves — sometimes appear in the Earth’s atmosphere where cyclones are forming. The wave may originate in a clear layer beneath the clouds, only becoming visible when it propagates up into the cloud deck, according to the researchers.
The observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme, which will allow Hubble to dedicate time each year to observing the outer planets. In addition to Jupiter, Neptune andUranus have already been observed as part of the programme and maps of these planets will be placed in the public archive. Saturn will be added to the series later. The collection of maps that will be built up over time will help scientists not only to understand the atmospheres of giant planets in the Solar System, but also the atmospheres of our own planet and of the planets that are being discovered around other stars.