Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Voyager 1 has “left our solar system

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Source – NASA / JPL:

You Are Here, Voyager: This artist’s concept puts huge solar system distances in perspective. The scale bar is measured in astronomical units (AU), with each set distance beyond 1 AU representing 10 times the previous distance. Each AU is equal to the distance from the sun to the Earth. It took from 1977 to 2013 for Voyager 1 to reach the edge of interstellar space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Informally, the term “solar system” is often used to mean the space out to the last planet. Scientific consensus, however, says the solar system goes out to the Oort Cloud, the source of the comets that swing by our sun on long time scales. Beyond the outer edge of the Oort Cloud, the gravity of other stars begins to dominate that of the sun.

The inner edge of the main part of the Oort Cloud could be as close as 1,000 AU from our sun. The outer edge is estimated to be around 100,000 AU.

NASA’s Voyager 1, humankind’s most distant spacecraft, is around 125 AU. Scientists believe it entered interstellar space, or the space between stars, on Aug. 25, 2012. Much of interstellar space is actually inside our solar system. It will take about 300 years for Voyager 1 to reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud and possibly about 30,000 years to fly beyond it.

Alpha Centauri is currently the closest star to our solar system. But, in 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will be closer to the star AC +79 3888 than to our own sun. AC +79 3888 is actually traveling faster toward Voyager 1 than the spacecraft is traveling toward it.

The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The Voyager missions are a part of NASA’s Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

What’s up for July 2013

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Source – NASA Multimedia:

Saturn is well-placed for viewing this month, revealing its northern hemisphere and a ring tilt open to 17 degrees. And July is a great month to spot Saturn’s third-largest moon Iapetus.

NASA | IBEX Provides First View of the Solar System’s Tail

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Source – NASA Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission :

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission science objective is to discover the nature of the interactions between the solar wind and the interstellar medium at the edge of our solar system.
IBEX is Roughly the size of a card table, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer is the latest in NASA’s series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers

It has long been assumed that our solar system, like a comet, has a tail. Just as any object moving through another medium – for example, a meteor traveling through Earth’s atmosphere – causes the particles to form a stream trailing off behind it. But the tail of our solar bubble, called the heliosphere, has never actually been observed, until now.

Meteorite hits Russian Urals: Fireball explosion wreaks havoc.

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This morning in central Russia they awoke to a meteorite, that injured several people and damage to property.
The following youtube video is a collection of videos from several perspectives some videos include breaking glass from sonic booms, and falling debris from the meteorite.
Since the video is from Russia, I’am not sure what anyone is saying.

What’s Up for February 2013?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Source – NASA /JPL Solar System Exploration:

On February 15 a small asteroid named 2012 DA-14 will whiz by, 17,200 miles from Earth. It doesn’t pose any threat to us, but it is sure to create a buzz around the world.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Source – NASA /JPL Asteroid and Comet Watch:

Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news. On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.


Diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Larger view

Sir Patrick Moore famed self-taught amateur astronomer, and creator of the Caldwell Catalog & author of several books Passed Away December 9, 2012

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Source – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE, FRS, FRAS (4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012)[1] was an English amateur astronomer who attained prominent status in that field as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter.[2][3][4]

Moore was a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, the BBC’s The Sky at Night. As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist in Moon observation and for creating the Caldwell catalogue. Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television.

Moore was also a self-taught xylophone player and pianist, as well as an accomplished composer. He was a former amateur cricketer, golfer and chess player. In addition to many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II; his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war and he never married.

NASA to Provide Commentary as Grail Moon Mission Ends

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Source – NASA Grail Mission:

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA will provide live commentary of the scheduled lunar surface impacts of its twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft beginning at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) Monday, Dec. 17. The event will be broadcast on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website.

The two probes will hit a mountain near the lunar north pole at approximately 2:28 p.m. PST Monday, bringing their successful prime and extended science missions to an end.

Commentary will originate from the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Coverage will last about 35 minutes and include live interviews with GRAIL team members. GRAIL’s final resting place on the moon will be in shadow at the time of impact, so no video documentation of the impacts is expected.

Data from the GRAIL twins are allowing scientists to learn about the moon’s internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail. The two probes are being sent purposely into the moon because they do not have enough altitude or fuel to continue science operations.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . The coverage will also be streamed live on Ustream at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .

Join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #GRAIL. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect .

For the mission’s press kit and other information about GRAIL, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/grail . You can follow JPL News on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/nasajpl and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/nasajpl .

DC Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Sarah McDonnell 617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
s_mcd@mit.edu

2012-398b

Signs Changing Fast for Voyager at Solar System Edge

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Source – NASA/JPL:

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

August 03, 2012

Two of three key signs of changes expected to occur at the boundary of interstellar space have changed faster than at any other time in the last seven years, according to new data from NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft.

For the last seven years, Voyager 1 has been exploring the outer layer of the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. In one day, on July 28, data from Voyager 1’s cosmic ray instrument showed the level of high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our solar system jumped by five percent. During the last half of that same day, the level of lower-energy particles originating from inside our solar system dropped by half. However, in three days, the levels had recovered to near their previous levels.

A third key sign is the direction of the magnetic field, and scientists are eagerly analyzing the data to see whether that has, indeed, changed direction. Scientists expect that all three of these signs will have changed when Voyager 1 has crossed into interstellar space. A preliminary analysis of the latest magnetic field data is expected to be available in the next month.

“These are thrilling times for the Voyager team as we try to understand the quickening pace of changes as Voyager 1 approaches the edge of interstellar space,” said Edward Stone, the Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “We are certainly in a new region at the edge of the solar system where things are changing rapidly. But we are not yet able to say that Voyager 1 has entered interstellar space.”

The levels of high-energy cosmic ray particles have been increasing for years, but more slowly than they are now. The last jump — of five percent — took one week in May. The levels of lower-energy particles from inside our solar system have been slowly decreasing for the last two years. Scientists expect that the lower-energy particles will drop close to zero when Voyager 1 finally crosses into interstellar space.

“The increase and the decrease are sharper than we’ve seen before, but that’s also what we said about the May data,” Stone said. “The data are changing in ways that we didn’t expect, but Voyager has always surprised us with new discoveries.”

Voyager 1, which launched on Sept. 5, 1977, is 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun. Voyager 2, which launched on Aug. 20, 1977, is close behind, at 9.3 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) from the sun.

“Our two veteran Voyager spacecraft are hale and healthy as they near the 35th anniversary of their launch,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. “We know they will cross into interstellar space. It’s just a question of when.”

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/voyager .

Mars Rover Begins Driving at Bradbury Landing

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Source – NASA/JPL Mars Science Laboratory:

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity’s drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team’s choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

“This was not a difficult choice for the science team,” said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. “Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.”

Today’s drive confirmed the health of Curiosity’s mobility system and produced the rover’s first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the mission’s lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

“We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead,” Heverly said.

Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast.

“Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care,” said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. “Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress.”

The science team has begun pointing instruments on the rover’s mast for investigating specific targets of interest near and far. The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument used a laser and spectrometers this week to examine the composition of rocks exposed when the spacecraft’s landing engines blew away several inches of overlying material.

The instrument’s principal investigator, Roger Weins of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, reported that measurements made on the rocks in this scoured-out feature called Goulburn suggest a basaltic composition. “These may be pieces of basalt within a sedimentary deposit,” Weins said.

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered the car-size rover to its landing target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

In a career spanning more than 70 years, Ray Bradbury inspired generations of readers to dream, think and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

His groundbreaking works include “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man,” “Dandelion Wine,” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” He wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s classic film adaptation of “Moby Dick,” and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted 65 of his stories for television’s The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of “The Halloween Tree.”

JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about Curiosity is online at:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at:
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

Guy Webster/D.C. Agle 818-354-6278/818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov