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Student Commands Mars Rover

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, physics doctoral student had the rare opportunity to control one of the science instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. Tate is working with Jeffrey Moersch, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

As a “payload uplink lead,” Tate assembled and verified the instrument command sequence for his science team’s instrument, a neutron detector. Overnight, his commands were sent to the rover, sitting millions of miles away on the Martian surface. They instructed the rover’s neutron detector to power up, take data for a couple hours, save it all and send it back to Earth.

“It blows my mind to think that I told a robot on another planet 150 million miles away to do something and it happened,” said Tate, of Woodberry, Tennessee.

Full Story: http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2012/08/21/student-commands-mars-rover/

NASA Radiation Belt Storm Probes To Launch, UNH Components Aboard

August 21, 2012 1 comment

At 4:07 a.m. Friday, August 24, NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes are scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a two-year mission to investigate Earth’s hazardous radiation belt environment as never before. On board both spacecraft will be a host of scientific hardware and software from teams at the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center (SSC).

Harlan Spence, director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, is lead scientist or “principal investigator” of the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma (ECT) instrument suite on the twin spacecraft, and Roy Torbert, director of the SSC, is a co-investigator on the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) experiment.

Collectively, the mission’s five instrument suites will make the most precise measurements to date of the high-energy particles and magnetic and electric fields and waves in this near-Earth region of space where “space weather” occurs and hundreds of spacecraft operate.

Full Story: http://www.eos.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1332

Intense Bursts Of Star Formation Drive Fierce Galactic Winds

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Credit: Smithsonian Institution/Chandra X-ray Observatory

Fierce galactic winds powered by an intense burst of star formation may blow gas right out of massive galaxies, shutting down their ability to make new stars.

Sifting through images and data from three telescopes, a team of astronomers found 29 objects with outflowing winds measuring up to 2,500 kilometers per second, an order of magnitude faster than most observed galactic winds.

“They’re nearly blowing themselves apart,” said Aleksandar Diamond-Stanic, a fellow at the University of California’s Southern California Center for Galaxy Evolution, who led the study. “Most galactic winds are more like fountains; the outflowing gas will fall back onto the galaxies. With the high-velocity winds we’ve observed the outflowing gas will escape the galaxy and never return.” Diamond-Stanic and colleagues published their findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Full Story: http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/intense_bursts_of_star_formation_drive_fierce_galactic_winds#.UDO_JI65NSo

NASA Announces Curiosity Rover Media Events Schedule

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA will host two media events this week to provide Curiosity rover mission updates. The first event is a media teleconference at 1p.m. EDT, today. The second event is televised briefing at 2:30 p.m. EDT, Aug. 22.

For Links For Audio And Teleconference: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/aug/HQ_M12-155_Curiosity_Briefings.html

WiggleZ Confirms The Big Picture Of The Universe

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

We know that stars group together to form galaxies, galaxies clump to make clusters and clusters gather to create structures known as superclusters. At what scale though, if at all, does this Russian doll-like structure stop? Scientists have been debating this very question for decades because clustering on large scales would be in conflict with our ‘standard model’ of cosmology.

The current model is based on Einstein’s equations assuming everything is smooth on the largest scales. If matter were instead clumpy on very large scales, then the entire model would need to be rethought.

Using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, Ms Morag Scrimgeour has found that on distance scales larger than 350 million light years, matter is distributed extremely evenly, with little sign of fractal-like patterns.

“We used a survey called WiggleZ which contains more than 200,000 galaxies, and probes a cosmic volume of about 3 billion light years, cubed,” Ms Scrimgeour explains “This makes it the largest survey ever used for this type of measurement of the large scale Universe.”

This finding is extremely significant for cosmologists as it confirms that the tools being used to describe the Universe are the right tools for the job after all.

Full Story: http://www.icrar.org/news/news_items/media-releases/wigglez-confirms-the-big-picture-of-the-universe

Digging deep: New Mars Mission To Take First Look At What’s Going On Deep Inside The Red Planet

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Artist rendition of the formation of rocky bodies in the solar system.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A UK Space Agency-funded instrument, designed to investigate the interior structure and processes of Mars, has been selected to travel to the Red Planet on NASA’s newly announced InSight mission.

The UK-funded SEIS-SP is a Seismometer that will listen for “marsquakes” and use this information to map the boundaries between the rock layers inside Earth’s neighbour. This will help determine if the planet has a liquid or solid core, and provide some clues as to why its surface is not divided up into tectonic plates as on Earth. Detailed knowledge of the interior of Mars in comparison to Earth will help scientists understand better how terrestrial planets form and evolve. The SEIS-SP will be provided by space scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford.

Dr David Williams, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said, “Placing the first seismometer on Mars has long been a goal of international scientists, and this is a great example of the pioneering, world-class science and technology supported by the UK Space Agency.”

Full Story: http://www.bis.gov.uk/ukspaceagency/news-and-events/2012/Aug/new-mars-mission-to-take-first-look-at-whats-going-on-deep-inside-the-red-planet

New Insight On Mars Expected From New NASA Mission

August 21, 2012 1 comment

This artist’s rendition illustrates the formation of rocky bodies in the solar system – how they form and differentiate and evolve into terrestrial planets. Image credit: JPL/NASA-Caltech

On Aug. 20, NASA announced the selection of InSight, a new Discovery-class mission that will probe Mars at new depths by looking into the deep interior of Mars.

Drilling underneath the red Martian topsoil will be courtesy of InSight’s HP3, or Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package – one of the four instruments the Mars lander will carry. Made by the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, HP3 will get below Mars’ skin by literally pounding it into submission with a 14-inch (35-centimeter), hollowed-out, electromechanically-festooned stake called the Tractor Mole.

The German-built mole will descend up to 16 feet (five meters) below the surface, where its temperature sensors will record how much heat is coming from Mars’ interior, which reveals the planet’s thermal history.

“Getting well below the surface gets us away from the sun’s influence and allows us to measure heat coming from the interior,” said Smrekar.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-252