Archive for August 19, 2011

New Images of Solar Wind As It Impacts Earth

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

CME Impacting WIND Spacecraft

Courtesy SwRI/NASA

Using data collected by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft, researchers at Southwest Research Institute and the National Solar Observatory have developed the first detailed images of solar wind structures as plasma and other particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) traveled 93 million miles and impacted Earth.

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New Method Detects Emerging Sunspots Inside the Sun

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

New Method Detects Emerging Sunspots Inside the Sun

A full disk image of the Sun showing the sunspot group in AR11158 after emergence, observed by SDO/HMI. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the HMI science teams.

The first clear detection of emerging sunspot regions prior to any indication of the region in magnetograms was published in Science on 19 August 2011.

Sunspots, dark features in the solar photosphere with strong magnetic field, have been observed for more than 400 years. They are the most visible components of regions where solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occur, and these eruptive events may cause power outages and interruptions of telecommunication and navigation services on the Earth. Although it is widely believed that sunspot regions are generated in the deep solar interior, the detection of these regions before they emerge from the convection zone into the photosphere has remained undetected until now.

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Webb Telescope Instrument Completes Cryogenic Testing

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Webb Instrument Undergoes Alignment Testing

Image credit: NASA/RAL

A pioneering camera and spectrometer that will fly aboard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has completed cryogenic testing designed to mimic the harsh conditions it will experience in space.

The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) underwent testing inside the thermal space test chamber at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space in Oxfordshire, U.K. The sophisticated instrument is designed to examine the first light in the universe and the formation of planets around other stars.

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Cassini Significant Events 08/10/11 – 08/16/11

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired on August 16 from the Deep Space Network tracking complex at Goldstone, California. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and all subsystems are operating normally. Information on the present position and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the “Present Position” page at:


Wednesday, Aug. 10 (DOY 222)


This week in science was dominated by observations of Saturn by the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), and the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) while the spacecraft was near apoapsis in its orbit. The observations were designed to track wind speeds and study atmospheric composition. The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) also performed an observation to study the upper atmosphere of Saturn, and ISS and VIMS observed Titan twice (1.5 hr each) as part of the cloud monitoring campaign. ISS made a 14-hour observation of the small irregular outer moon Tarqeq to study its light curve.


Thursday, Aug. 11 (DOY 223)


In the last week, 771 ISS images and 43 VIMS cubes were generated and distributed.


Monday, Aug. 15 (DOY 227)


The Navigation Team delivered an orbit determination (OD) solution today in support of an unplanned Saturn/Hyperion live Inertial Vector Propagator (IVP) update, tentatively scheduled for uplink on DOY 230. The need for this live IVP update was not predicted at the start of S69, but pointing offsets were discovered resulting from small execution errors at OTM-287 that propagated as trajectory dispersions over the nearly two months since OTM-287.


Tuesday, Aug. 16 (DOY 228)


Commands were uplinked to the spacecraft today over Goldstone’s DSS-15 station in support of S69 for the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) parameter update due to execute on DOY 234. This parameter adjustment is done to avoid saturating one of the instrument’s detectors.


The Spacecraft Operations (SCO) team delivered the Cassini Operations Reference Encyclopedia (CORE) V6.1 software today. This is the command and flight rules dictionary. Analysts are given the opportunity to view command and flight rule information associated with a particular sequence through formatted Oracle queries. CORE was updated to remove unused telemetry channel hyperlinks in displayed commands and printed reports.


A kickoff meeting was held today for the S72 Sequence Implementation Process. Port 1 for the first set of input files from the teams occurs August 31.