Tag Archives: nasa

Solar Dynamics Observatory Releases Highlights From Year Four

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is designed to monitor the entire disc of the sun, 24 hours a day. It is capable of detecting 10 different wavelengths in order capture all of the sun’s activity in order to learn more about the generation and structure of the magnetic field and how the magnetic energy manifests into the solar activity that causes different kinds of space weather, such as solar wind.

SDO was launched from Cape Canaveral on the morning of February 11, 2010. In honor of its fourth year in space, the scientists working at the Goddard Space Flight Center have made a compilation of some of the biggest sunspots and the most massive explosions from the solar surface over the past year. One of the sunspots featured was imaged just about a month ago and is one of the largest in the past decade. 

If you would like to know more about each of the clips used in the video, Goddard has released a helpful viewing guide so you can learn more.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/solar-dynamics-observatory-releases-highlights-year-four

Why NASA Redesigned Its Website

Nasawebsite

The new NASA.gov has a light blue color palette, one you may not immediately associate with deep space. The agency rolled out a website redesign over the weekend, which included tossing out the black background that shadowed NASA‘s website for years.

“The common complaint about our design was that there was too much going on,” NASA Internet Services Manager Brian Dunbar told Mashable via email. “The lighter color palette seemed to open things up without us having to remove too much content. So far the reaction has been mixed, as is often the case.”

Heavy text and a column of navigational buttons made NASA.gov — which had not been updated since 2007 — feel cluttered. Dunbar fixed this by grouping all those icons into one drop-down menu.

Before

NASA.gov Website 2012
NASA.gov homepage on May 13, 2012.

After

NASA Website July 2013
NASA.gov homepage on July 1, 2013.

NASA also asked the public what they wanted in a redesign, and one of the top responses was a dedicated area on the homepage for live events.

“We were able to increase the emphasis on live events on the homepage. We did an Ideascale implementation late last year to solicit input on changes to the site, and people told us more than anything they wanted to know more about what’s happening ‘right now’ at NASA,” Dunbar said. “We had it on the site, but apparently it wasn’t that visible to a lot of users.”

While the aesthetic switches may be the most obvious change to NASA’s website, the design team completely overhauled NASA.gov’s infrastructure. According to Dunbar, NASA switched from an old proprietary CMS to a customized Drupal implementation and replaced NASA’s commercial on-demand video service with a YouTube-based approach.

The most impressive figure of the redesign, however, is hidden from the eye. The redesign only took 13 weeks to complete — a highly efficient timeline for a government agency.

“We started that whole effort in earnest in late March,” Dunbar said. “We had been experimenting with the graphical changes for a few weeks before that.”

The short timeline had a catch-22, though. The team wasn’t able to optimize the website for discovering and sharing content on social media, which took a backseat in this initial rollout.

“Those considerations will be part of the upcoming redesign,” Dunbar said. “We want to be able to share our content across platforms, but we’ve also got user data that clearly shows we have a web audience that doesn’t really use social media and is distinct from our social media audience.”

As with most trickle-down redesigns, NASA.gov — which logs about 12 million visits per month — still has a long way to go. Expect to see a few 404 errors while browsing around as the team makes piecemeal changes through September.

Dunbar noted that this first transition is only a small part the massive changes to NASA.gov coming early next year. “When we’re done, we expect to have a vastly improved site, both for users and editors,” he said.

NASA.gov in 1997

NASA Website 1997
NASA.gov homepage on Jan. 5, 1997.

In 1999

NASA Website 1999
NASA.gov homepage on April 17, 1999.

In 2007

NASA Website 2007
NASA.gov homepage on Jan. 3, 2007.

Mashable composite; images courtesy of NASA/JPL

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/07/01/nasa-website-redesign/

Space Shuttle Enterprise Damaged by Superstorm Sandy

Space-shuttle-enterprise-damaged-by-superstorm-sandy-pics--dc1ca48500

Superstorm Sandy, the storm that continues to wreck havoc across the American northeast on Tuesday, caused intense flooding and wind damage across the tri-state area, leaving several people dead. Among its apparent victims: The Space Shuttle Enterprise.

The Enterprise has been housed under a protective structure at New York’s Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum since July. That structure appears to have gone completely missing in the storm’s aftermath, leaving the Enterprise exposed to the elements.

Image Credit: John de Guzman

Image Credit: Denise Chow

Oddly, the Intrepid Museum’s own “live webcam” shows the structure still intact. Most likely, the camera stopped updating as the storm was rolling in.

Despite the loss of the protective structure, the Enterprise looks to be mostly fine, save some possible damage to the vertical stabilizer. Mashable has several messages out to the museum about the status of the Enterprise, and we’ll update this post with any response.

For reference, here’s what the Enterprise looked like under the protective shell:

Juno Spacecraft Passes By Earth And Moon

Juno Spacecraft Passes By Earth And Moon

The space age may be in its infancy, but it’s still here. 

NASA‘s Juno spacecraft is traveling to Jupiter, and is set to reach the gassy planet by July of 2016. The craft is outfitted with a slew of special equipment to track, test, and observe space. 

One sensor is a special camera “optimized to track faint stars” which recently had a very unique view of the Earth and our moon.

From 600,000 miles away, Juno captured one frame at a time and sent the footage back to Earth to be processed into this very special video. 

Already, the clip has amassed over half a million views!

 

Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2013/12/12/juno-spacecraft-passes-by-earth-and-moon/

Hubble Spies Huge Explosion on Faraway Star

T-pyxidis-sept-2011

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has given astronomers a rare look at an enormous stellar eruption, allowing them to map out the aftermath of such blasts in unprecedented detail.

Hubble photographed an April 2011 explosion in the double-star system T Pyxidis (T Pyx for short), which goes off every 12 to 50 years. The new images reveal that material ejected by previous T Pyx outbursts did not escape into space, instead sticking around to form a debris disk about 1 light-year wide around the system.

This information came as a surprise to the research team.

“We fully expected this to be a spherical shell,” study co-author Arlin Crotts of Columbia University said in a statement. “This observation shows it is a disk, and it is populated with fast-moving ejecta from previous outbursts.”

The erupting T Pyx star is a white dwarf, the burned-out core of a star much like our own sun. White dwarfs are small but incredibly dense, often packing the mass of the sun into a volume the size of Earth.

T Pyx’s white dwarf has a companion star, from which it siphons off hydrogen fuel. When enough of this hydrogen builds up on the white dwarf’s surface, it detonates like a gigantic hydrogen bomb, increasing the white dwarf’s brightness by a factor of 10,000 over a single day or so.

This happens again and again. T Pyx is known to have erupted in 1890, 1902, 1920, 1944, and 1966, in addition to the 2011 event.

Such recurrent outbursts are known as nova explosions. (Nova is Latin for “new,” referring to how suddenly novas appear in the sky.) Novas are distinct from supernovas, even more dramatic blasts that involve the destruction of an entire star.

The new study clarifies just what happens to the material ejected by such outbursts.

“We’ve all seen how light from fireworks shells during the grand finale will light up the smoke and soot from shells earlier in the show,” co-author Stephen Lawrence of Hofstra University said in a statement. “In an analogous way, we’re using light from T Pyx’s latest outburst and its propagation at the speed of light to dissect its fireworks displays from decades past.”

The study represents the first time the area around an erupting star has been mapped in three dimensions, researchers said.

The new Hubble Space Telescope observations also help refine the distance to T Pyx, pegging it at 15,600 light-years from Earth. (Past estimates have ranged between 6,500 and 16,000 light-years.)

The team presented its results on June 4 at the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Indianapolis. The study will also be published in the June 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, A. Crotts, J. Sokoloski, and H. Uthas (Columbia University) and S. Lawrence (Hofstra University)

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/05/hubble-star-explosion/

Radiation Exposure Won’t Stop a Manned Mission to Mars

Rover1

The risk of radiation exposure is not a show-stopper for a long-term manned mission to Mars, new results from NASA’s Curiosity rover suggest.

A mission consisting of a 180-day cruise to Mars, a 500-day stay on the Red Planet and a 180-day return flight to Earth would expose astronauts to a cumulative radiation dose of about 1.01 sieverts, measurements by Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument indicate.

To put that in perspective: The European Space Agency generally limits its astronauts to a total career radiation dose of 1 sievert, which is associated with a 5% increase in lifetime fatal cancer risk.

“It’s certainly a manageable number,” said RAD principal investigator Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a study that reports the results Monday in the journal Science.

A 1-sievert dose from radiation on Mars would violate NASA’s current standards, which cap astronauts’ excess-cancer risk at 3 percent. But those guidelines were drawn up with missions to low-Earth orbit in mind, and adjustments to accommodate trips farther afield may be in the offing, Hassler said.

“NASA is working with the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine to evaluate what appropriate limits would be for a deep-space mission, such as a mission to Mars,” Hassler told SPACE.com. “So that’s an exciting activity.”

The new results represent the most complete picture yet of the radiation environment en route to Mars and on the Red Planet’s surface. They incorporate data that RAD gathered during Curiosity’s eight-month cruise through space and the rover’s first 300 days on Mars, where it touched down in August 2012.

The RAD measurements cover two different types of energetic-particle radiation — galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which are accelerated to incredible speeds by far-off supernova explosions, and solar energetic particles (SEPs), which are blasted into space by storms on our own sun.

RAD’s data show that astronauts exploring the Martian surface would accumulate about 0.64 millisieverts of radiation per day. The dose rate is nearly three times greater during the journey to Mars, at 1.84 millisieverts per day.

But Mars’ radiation environment is dynamic, so Curiosity’s measurements thus far should not be viewed as the final word, Hassler stressed. For example, RAD’s data have been gathered near the peak of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle, a time when the GCR flux is relatively low (because solar plasma tends to scatter galactic cosmic rays).

Curiosity’s radiation measurements should help NASA plan out a manned mission to Mars, which the space agency hopes to pull off by the mid-2030s, Hassler said. And they should also inform the search for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet — another top NASA priority.

For example, the new RAD results suggest that microbial life is unlikely to exist right at the Martian surface, Hassler said. But future missions may not have to drill too deeply underground to find pockets of Mars life, if it ever existed.

“These measurements do tell us that we think it could be viable to find signs of possible extant or past life as shallow as 1 meter deep,” Hassler said.

The new study is one of six papers published in Science Monday that report new results from Curiosity. Most of the other studies present evidence that the rover has found an ancient freshwater lake that could have supported microbial life for tens of thousands, and perhaps millions, of years.

Image: Euclid vanderkroew

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/12/09/radiation-mars-curiosity-rover/

Canyon Of Fire On The Sun Is Glorious

Canyon Of Fire On The Sun Is Glorious

The official NASA YouTube channel published this awe-inspiring video of a solar eruption last month. 

A 200,000 mile long magnetic filament exploded from the sun’s atmosphere, leaving behind an apparent canyon of fire. The new video is going viral with over 150,000 views so far.

 

Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2013/10/25/canyon-of-fire-on-the-sun-is-glorious/

Rebooted NASA Spacecraft Begins a New Mission 36 Years After Launch

Isee-3-moon

Artist’s concept image of ISEE-3 (ICE) spacecraft.
Image: NASA

A 36-year-old NASA spacecraft began a new interplanetary science mission on Sunday when it made a close pass by the moon.

The privately controlled International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 spacecraft, also called ISEE-3, flew by the moon at approximately 2:16 p.m. EDT.

The ISEE-3 spacecraft is under the control of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, a private team of engineers who took control of the probe earlier this year under an agreement with NASA. The team initially hoped to move the NASA probe into a stable orbit near the Earth. But attempts failed when the team discovered that the spacecraft, which NASA launched in 1978, was out of the nitrogen pressurant needed to get the job done.

Now, ISEE-3 Reboot Project engineers are focusing their efforts on an interplanetary science mission, since at least some of the probe’s 13 instruments are still working. By using a network of individual radio dishes across the world, the team will listen to the ISEE-3 spacecraft for most of its orbit around the sun.

Officials announced this week that they would collaborate with Google to offer live spacecraft data at the site SpacecraftForAll.com. Financial terms were not disclosed. Chris Lintott, of the BBC’s “The Sky at Night,” moderated a Google Hangout on ISEE-3.

“The main feature of this is a new website developed by Google Creative Lab in collaboration with the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team that features a history of the ISEE-3 mission as well as a presentation of data currently being received from ISEE-3,” co-founder Keith Cowing said in a statement.

The spacecraft was originally launched in 1978 to study the sun, and was retasked for other science missions such as looking at comets. NASA put ISEE-3 into hibernation in 1998, where it remained until the private group reactivated it this year under a Space Act Agreement.

Members raised about $160,000 through crowdfunding, most of which is gone due to the need to rent dish time at NASA’s Deep Space Network to listen in, and to fly team members to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico for communications.

To learn more about the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, visit: http://spacecollege.org/.

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/08/11/isee-3-buzzes-moon/

Hubble Takes A Celebratory Snap Of Mars As It Nears Its Closest Approach

NASA has released a celebratory portrait of Mars in anticipation of its close approach to us later this month.

TheHubble Space Telescope snapped this particularly cool image of the Martian marble just last week, on May 12. Mars has been one of the favorite subjects ofHubblesince it launched in 1990, but thisimage was captured at a particularlyinteresting time, when it was a mere 80 million kilometers (50 million miles) away from Earth.

Mars is going to make its closest approach to Earth in over a decade on May 30, when it will be 75.3 million kilometers (46.8 million miles) from Earth. Pretty amazing stuff, considering it canbe as distant as 401 million kilometers (249 million miles) away. Unfortunately though, it wont make the Red Planet much more visible to the naked eye.

As you can see (below), the image details Mars’clouds (seen in blue around its edges), its multiple craters and basins, along with its iconic rusty landscape. The imaging techniques, which pick up on multiple wavelengths of light, reveal details as small as 32 kilometers (20 miles) across.

Check out an annotated version of the image below and click here to read more about Mars’ ensuing closest approach.

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute)

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/hubble-take-celebratory-snap-mars-it-nears-its-closest-approach