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Archive for June 7, 2012

Wide-Field Cameras In The High Arctic


Located within 10 degrees of the North Pole, northern Ellesmere Island in the High Canadian Arctic offers continuous darkness in the winter months. The lack of a day/night cycle greatly enhances the detection efficiency of planetary transit surveys and other time domain astronomy programs.

We deployed two wide-field cameras at 80 degrees N, near Eureka, Nunavut, for an observing campaign in February 2012. The camera systems were based on commercial f/1.2 lenses with 85mm and 50mm focal lengths, and they continuously imaged 504 and 1,295 square degrees respectively. Together, the cameras took over 44,000 images and produced precision light curves for approximately 70,000 stars.

Full Story: http://di.utoronto.ca/~law/arctic_cameras/

Images of MIRI


Three engineers from the European Space Agency wearing blue hoods, stand by to check out the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) that recently arrived at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s clean room in Greenbelt, Md. The silver thermal blanket around the MIRI will help keep the instrument protected and dust-free. The MIRI sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. MIRI has both a camera and a spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths that are longer than our eyes see.

Image: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/images_miri18.html

James Webb Space Telescope’s Mirrors Get ‘Shrouded’


Earlier this year, NASA completed deep-freeze tests on the James Webb Space Telescope mirrors in a “shroud” at the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility (XRCF) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

All of the Webb’s 18 main mirror segments were tested under conditions that they will experience when operating in space to verify they will work as expected. Tested in batches of six, the mirrors were transferred to the cryogenic testing chamber where they were plunged to a chilly -414 degrees Fahrenheit (-248 C).

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/webb-shroud.html

Cook’s View Of The Transit Of Venus


Exactly 243 years ago, Captain James Cook made the sketch you see above. On June 5–6, 2012, you could make your own drawing of such a rare celestial event (provided you have the right eye-protecting equipment). But don’t miss the chance, as you won’t get another one for 115 years.

Cook’s drawing shows the Transit of Venus as it appeared on June 3, 1769, from Tahiti. During first voyage around the world, Cook, astronomer Charles Green, and the crew of the HMS Endeavour set up observing equipment on what is now known as Point Venus. In fact, the Transit was one of the motivations for the expedition, as it would provide valuable information for determining the size of our solar system. The explorers made many measurements of the event, and Green added his own sketch (see the downloadable large image).

Full Story: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78158&src=eoa-iotd

SDO’s Ultra-High Definition View Of 2012 Venus Transit


On June 5 2012, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) collected images of the rarest predictable solar event — the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event lasted approximately 6 hours and happens in pairs eight years apart, which are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117.

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9rM8ChTjY
SVS (Broadcast quality): http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010900/a010996/index.html

NASA Partner Sierra Nevada Completes Preliminary Design Review Of Dream Chaser Vehicle To Transport Astronauts


Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems has successfully completed a preliminary design review (PDR) of the design, architecture and performance of its Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. This marks a new milestone in the company’s effort to develop transportation for astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

SNC is one of several companies working to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The goal is to help spur innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from the commercial industry to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective capabilities to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit and the space station. The Dream Chaser is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space. It is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that uses wings and is designed to land on a conventional runway.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jun/HQ_12-186_Sierra_Nevada_Dream_Chaser.html