Thursday, June 22, 2017

NASA's Webb Telescope Gets Freezing Summertime Lodging in Houston



June 22, 2017: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was placed in Johnson Space Center’s historic Chamber A on June 20, 2017, to prepare for its final three months of testing in a cryogenic vacuum that mimics temperatures in space.

Engineers will perform the test to prove that the telescope can operate in space at these temperatures. Chamber A will simulate an environment where the telescope will experience extreme cold -- around 37 Kelvin (minus 236 degrees Celsius or minus 393 degrees Fahrenheit).

In space, the telescope must be kept extremely cold, in order to be able to detect the infrared light from very faint, distant objects. To protect the telescope from external sources of light and heat (like the sun, Earth, and moon), as well as from heat emitted by the observatory, a five-layer, tennis court-sized sunshield acts like a parasol that provides shade. The sunshield separates the observatory into a warm, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures close to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and a cold side (185 degrees below zero). The sunshield blocks sunlight from interfering with the sensitive telescope instruments.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information about Chamber A, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/nasas-apollo-era-test-chamber-now-james-webb-space-telescope-ready

For more information about the Webb telescope visit: www.jwst.nasa.gov or www.nasa.gov/webb

Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
Image Date: June 21, 2017
Release Date: June 22, 2017

#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Telescope #JWST #JamesWebb #Galaxies #Stars #Exoplanets #Planets #Enceladus #Europa #SolarSystem #Astrophysics #Cosmos #Universe #ESA #CSA #Goddard #GSFC #JSC #Testing #UnitedStates #STScI #STEM #Education

The Glow of the Indus River Basin in Pakistan | NASA Earth Observatory



June 22, 2017: Like the Nile River Valley, the Indus River Basin in Pakistan is an ancient seat of civilization. People have lived and farmed in the river’s fertile floodplain for millennia, in spite of the arid conditions that make it difficult to grow food in the rest of the region.

In modern times, the sinuous shape of the Indus River emerges even in nighttime satellite imagery. Though the river itself is only barely visible, the dark crops and vegetation growing along its banks help reveal the general shape of the river. The brighter, more reflective land beyond the dark band of farmed land is desert.

The image is based on data collected in 2016 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. It is part of a global composite that was made by selecting the best cloud-free nights in each month over each landmass on Earth. VIIRS includes a special “day/night band,” a low-light sensor that measures light emissions and reflections, allowing researchers to distinguish the intensity, types, and sources of night lights and to observe how they change over time.

Many of the largest cities and towns in Pakistan are clustered along the Indus. Karachi, a city of 9.3 million people, lies along the southernmost stretch of the river, near where it empties into the Arabian Sea at the Indus River Delta. Other bright cities along the river include Hyderabad (1.1 million people), Larkana (270,000 people), and Sukkur (300,000 people).

The border between Pakistan and India stands out among the night lights of this region. For security purposes, India has installed thousands of kilometers of floodlights along it, a feature bright enough to be seen from the International Space Station. According to news reports, Indian authorities are in the process of transitioning to LED floodlights.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA GSFC
Article Credit: Adam Voiland
Instrument(s): Suomi NPP - VIIRS
Image Date: 2016
Release Date: June 22, 2017


#NASA #Earth #Science #Space #Satellite #Indus #River #Night #Pakistan #Karachi #Hyderabad #Larkana #Sukkur #India #Bhārat #Gaṇarājya #Agriculture #ArabianSea #Asia #SouthAsia #SuomiNPP #VIIRS #EarthObservation #LightPollution #STEM #Education #پاکستان

NASA Internships


If you never apply, you will never know!
Take one giant leap and apply for a NASA internship today at: http://intern.nasa.gov 💫

NASA's One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) for Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships: intern.nasa.gov


#NASA #Education #Science #Internships #Internship #Student #Students #Scholarships #Fellowships #STEM #Technology #Engineering #Math #Career #Professional #HumanResources #Opportunity #Future #UnitedStates #America #Astronomy #Planets #Exoplanets #JourneyToMars #Mars #SLS #Orion #DeepSpace #Exploration #SolarSystem #Cosmos #Universe

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017: NASA Supports Unique Opportunity for Science in Shadow



Image: The total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, stretches across the U.S. from coast to coast, providing scientists with a unique opportunity to study the eclipse from different vantage points.
June 21, 2017: The first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in nearly 40 years takes place on Aug. 21, 2017. Beyond providing a brilliant sight in the daytime sky, total solar eclipses provide a rare chance for scientists to collect data only available during eclipses. NASA is funding 11 scientific studies that will take advantage of this opportunity.

“When the moon blocks out the sun during a total eclipse, those regions of Earth that are in the direct path of totality become dark as night for almost three minutes,” said Steve Clarke, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This will be one of the best-observed eclipses to date, and we plan to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn as much as we can about the sun and its effects on Earth.”

The August 2017 total solar eclipse will provide a unique opportunity to study Earth, the sun, and their interaction because of the eclipse’s long path over land. The path of the total eclipse crosses the U.S. from coast to coast, so scientists will be able to take ground-based observations over a period of more than an hour to complement the wealth of data provided by NASA satellites.

The 11 NASA-funded studies across a range of disciplines, using the total solar eclipse to observe our sun and Earth, test new instruments, and even leverage the skills of citizen scientists to expand our understanding of the sun-Earth system. The studies are listed below, followed by the name of the principal investigator and their home institution.

Studying the sun

During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks out the sun’s overwhelmingly bright face, revealing the relatively faint solar atmosphere, called the corona. Scientists can also use an instrument called a coronagraph—which uses a disk to block out the light of the sun—to create an artificial eclipse. However, a phenomenon called diffraction blurs the light near the disk in a coronagraph, making it difficult to get clear pictures of the inner parts of the corona, so total solar eclipses remain the only opportunity to study these regions in clear detail in visible light. In many ways, these inner regions of the corona are the missing link in understanding the sources of space weather—so total solar eclipses are truly invaluable in our quest to understand the sun-Earth connection.

The sun-focused studies are:

Exploring the Physics of the Coronal Plasma through Imaging Spectroscopy during the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (Shadia Habbal, University of Hawaii)
Testing a Polarization Sensor for Measuring Temperature and Flow Speed in the Solar Corona during the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21 (Nat Gopalswamy, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)
Chasing the 2017 Eclipse: Interdisciplinary Airborne Science from NASA's WB-57 (Amir Caspi, Southwest Research Institute)
Measuring the Infrared Solar Corona During the 2017 Eclipse (Paul Bryans, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)
Citizen Science Approach to Measuring the Polarization of Solar Corona During Eclipse 2017 (Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, Space Science Institute)
Rosetta-stone experiments at infrared and visible wavelengths during the August 21 2017 Eclipse (Philip Judge, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

Studying Earth

Total solar eclipses are also an opportunity to study Earth under uncommon conditions. The sudden blocking of the sun during an eclipse reduces the light and temperature on the ground, and these quick-changing conditions can affect weather, vegetation and animal behavior.

The Earth-focused studies are:

Solar eclipse-induced changes in the ionosphere over the continental US (Philip Erickson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Quantifying the contributions of ionization sources on the formation of the D-region ionosphere during the 2017 solar eclipse (Robert Marshall, University of Colorado Boulder)
Empirically-Guided Solar Eclipse Modeling Study (Gregory Earle, Virginia Tech)
Using the 2017 Eclipse viewed by DSCOVR/EPIC & NISTAR from above and spectral radiance and broadband irradiance instruments from below to perform a 3-D radiative transfer closure experiment (Guoyong Wen, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)
Land and Atmospheric Responses to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (Bohumil Svoma, University of Missouri)

Article Credit: NASA Goddard
Image Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
Release Date: June 21, 2017


#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Solar #Eclipse #Eclipse2017 #Sun #Moon #Corona #Atmosphere #SolarEclipse #Heliophysics #Coronagraph #NorthAmerica #Canada #UnitedStates #Mexico #Totality #STEM #Education

Visualization of August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse | NASA



Still image showing the Earth, moon, and sun aligned during solar eclipse | June 21, 2017: On August 21, 2017, the Earth will cross the shadow of the moon, creating a total solar eclipse. Eclipses happen about every six months, but this one is special. For the first time in almost 40 years, the path of the moon's shadow passes through the continental United States. This visualization shows the Earth, moon, and sun at 17:05:40 UTC during the eclipse.

In the animation from which this still was taken, the Earth, moon, sun, and shadow cones are viewed through a telescopic lens on a virtual camera located far behind the Earth. Long focal lengths like the one used here appear to compress the distance between near and far objects. Despite appearances, the geometry of the scene is correct. The moon's umbra cone is roughly 30 Earth diameters long, barely enough to reach the Earth, while the sun is almost 400 times farther away.

Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
Release Date: June 21, 2017


#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Solar #Eclipse #Eclipse2017 #Sun #Moon #Corona #Atmosphere #SolarEclipse #NorthAmerica #Canada #UnitedStates #Mexico #Totality #STEM #Education #Visualization 

Saturn & Tethys | NASA Cassini Mission


Assembled using calibrated red, green, and violet filtered images taken by the Cassini spacecraft on May 27, 2015.

Tethys (or Saturn III) is a mid-sized moon of Saturn about 1,060 km (660 mi) across. It was discovered by G. D. Cassini in 1684 and is named after the titan Tethys of Greek mythology.

Tethys has a low density of 0.98 g/cm3, the lowest of all the major moons in the Solar System, indicating that it is made of water ice with just a small fraction of rock. This is confirmed by the spectroscopy of its surface, which identified water ice as the dominant surface material. A small amount of an unidentified dark material is present as well. The surface of Tethys is very bright, being the second-brightest of the moons of Saturn after Enceladus, and neutral in color.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill
Image Date: May 27, 2015
Release Date: June 20, 2017


#NASA #ESA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Saturn #Planet #Rings #Moon #Tethys #SolarSystem #Exploration #Cassini #Spacecraft #JPL #Pasadena #California #UnitedStates #ASI #STEM #Education

NASA's Mars Orbiter Views Curiosity Rover Climbing Mount Sharp | JPL


Image: The feature that appears bright blue at the center of this scene is NASA's Curiosity Mars rover amid tan rocks and dark sand on Mount Sharp, as viewed by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 5, 2017. 

June 20, 2017: Using the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a view of the Curiosity rover this month amid rocky mountainside terrain.

The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in the enhanced-color image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The exaggerated color, showing differences in Mars surface materials, makes Curiosity appear bluer than it really looks.

The image was taken on June 5, 2017, two months before the fifth anniversary of Curiosity's landing near Mount Sharp on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6, 2017, EDT and Universal Time).

When the image was taken, Curiosity was part way between its investigation of active sand dunes lower on Mount Sharp, and "Vera Rubin Ridge," a destination uphill where the rover team intends to examine outcrops where hematite has been identified from Mars orbit.

HiRISE obtains images of Curiosity a few times each year. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

For more information about NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:
https://mars.nasa.gov/mro/

For more information about NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project and Curiosity, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Release Date: June 20, 2017

Deployable Wing for International Space Station



The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) was deployed from the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday, June 18 outside the International Space Station. ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar array that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs.

Learn more about this new U.S. technology at:
Deployable Space Systems, Inc. (DSS)
http://www.dss-space.com

Image Credit: Deployable Space Systems
Release Date: June 20, 2017

#NASA #Science #Space #ISS #Technology #Solar #SolarArray #ROSA #DSS #Testing #Experiment #Renewable #Energy #Power #Engineering #Canadarm2 #Robotic #Arm #Robotics #CSA #JSC #UnitedStates #Satellite #Aerospace #SpaceX #Dragon #Spacecraft #STEM #Education

Deployment of Space Station's Roll Out Solar Array Experiment | NASA


The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) was deployed from the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday, June 18 outside the International Space Station. ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar array that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs.

Learn more about this new U.S. technology at:
Deployable Space Systems, Inc. (DSS)
http://www.dss-space.com

Credits: NASA Johnson
Release Date: June 20, 2017


#NASA #Science #Space #ISS #Technology #Solar #SolarArray #ROSA #Testing #Experiment #Renewable #Energy #Power #Engineering #Canadarm2 #Robotic #Arm #Robotics #CSA #JSC #UnitedStates #Satellite #Aerospace #SpaceX #Dragon #Spacecraft #STEM #Education #Animation #GIF

Deployment of Space Station's Roll Out Solar Array Experiment | NASA


Image: Solar array unrolled with Earth visible below and end of Canadarm at right | June 20, 2017: Over the weekend of June 17-18, 2017, engineers on the ground remotely operated the International Space Station's robotic Canadarm2 to extract the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) experiment from the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. The experiment will remain attached to the Canadarm2 over seven days to test the effectiveness of ROSA, an advanced, flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure.

Traditional solar panels used to power satellites can be bulky with heavy panels folded together using mechanical hinges. This new solar array's design rolls up to form a compact cylinder for launch with significantly less mass and volume, potentially offering substantial cost savings as well as an increase in power for satellites.

ROSA was developed as part of the Solar Electric Propulsion project sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on Earth several years ago, and this is its first test in space. This solar array technology was developed to power large spacecraft using highly-efficient electric propulsion on missions to deep space including Mars and the moon.

Credit: NASA
Release Date: June 20, 2017


#NASA #Science #Space #ISS #Technology #Solar #SolarArray #ROSA #Testing #Experiment #Renewable #Energy #Power #Engineering #Canadarm2 #Robotic #Arm #Robotics #CSA #JSC #UnitedStates #Satellite #Aerospace #SpaceX #Dragon #Spacecraft #STEM #Education

NEEMO 22 Crew | NASA


The crew taking part in NEEMO 22, the 22nd NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations mission, consists of astronauts, technicians and scientists who are now on board the Aquarius underwater habitat off the coast of Florida.

The habitat acts as a makeshift ‘space base’ for the aquanauts to make regular ‘waterwalks’ in full scuba gear and, by adjusting their buoyancy, they can simulate the gravity levels found on the Moon, Mars or asteroids.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren will be commander for this mission that will focus on exploration spacewalks as well as tasks based on the International Space Station. He is joined by ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, planetary scientist Trevor Gradd and research scientist Dom D’Agostino, along with two support technicians.

An international crew "splashed down" to the undersea Aquarius laboratory on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean on June 18, 2017, to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NEEMO 22 expedition. NEEMO 22 will focus on both exploration spacewalks and objectives related to the International Space Station and deep space missions.

What is NEEMO?
NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) is a NASA mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, the world's only undersea research station, for up to three weeks at a time. The Aquarius habitat and its surroundings provide a convincing analog for space exploration. On a mission, the NEEMO crew and professional habitat technicians live 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat 6.2 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

For more information about NEEMO, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo

Credit: NASA/Kjell Lindgren
Release Date: June 19, 2017


#NASA #ESA #NEEMO22 #Aquanauts #Astronauts #KjellLindgren #PedroDuque #Scientists #TrevorGradd #DomDAgostino #NEEMO #Aquarius #Underwater #Research #Station #Environment #Analog #Simulation #Science #Mars #JourneyToMars #ISS #Technology #Engineering #Human #Exploration #Physiology #Health #Experiments #International #Florida #USA #UnitedStates #Europe #Spacewalk #EVA #SolarSystem

NEEMO 22 Crew | NASA


The crew taking part in NEEMO 22, the 22nd NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations mission, consists of astronauts, technicians and scientists who are now on board the Aquarius underwater habitat off the coast of Florida.

The habitat acts as a makeshift ‘space base’ for the aquanauts to make regular ‘waterwalks’ in full scuba gear and, by adjusting their buoyancy, they can simulate the gravity levels found on the Moon, Mars or asteroids.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren will be commander for this mission that will focus on exploration spacewalks as well as tasks based on the International Space Station. He is joined by ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, planetary scientist Trevor Gradd and research scientist Dom D’Agostino, along with two support technicians.

An international crew "splashed down" to the undersea Aquarius laboratory on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean on June 18, 2017, to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NEEMO 22 expedition. NEEMO 22 will focus on both exploration spacewalks and objectives related to the International Space Station and deep space missions.

What is NEEMO?
NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) is a NASA mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, the world's only undersea research station, for up to three weeks at a time. The Aquarius habitat and its surroundings provide a convincing analog for space exploration. On a mission, the NEEMO crew and professional habitat technicians live 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat 6.2 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

For more information about NEEMO, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo

Credit: NASA
Release Date: June 19, 2017


#NASA #ESA #NEEMO22 #Aquanauts #Astronauts #KjellLindgren #PedroDuque #Scientists #TrevorGradd #DomDAgostino #NEEMO #Aquarius #Underwater #Research #Station #Environment #Analog #Simulation #Science #Mars #JourneyToMars #ISS #Technology #Engineering #Human #Exploration #Physiology #Health #Experiments #International #Florida #USA #UnitedStates #Europe #Spacewalk #EVA #SolarSystem

NEEMO 22 Dive | NASA



The crew taking part in NEEMO 22, the 22nd NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations mission, consists of astronauts, technicians and scientists who are now on board the Aquarius underwater habitat off the coast of Florida.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren will be commander for this mission that will focus on exploration spacewalks as well as tasks based on the International Space Station. He is joined by ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, planetary scientist Trevor Gradd and research scientist Dom D’Agostino.

An international crew "splashed down" to the undersea Aquarius laboratory on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean on June 18, 2017, to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NEEMO 22 expedition. NEEMO 22 will focus on both exploration spacewalks and objectives related to the International Space Station and deep space missions.

What is NEEMO?
NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) is a NASA mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, the world's only undersea research station, for up to three weeks at a time. The Aquarius habitat and its surroundings provide a convincing analog for space exploration. On a mission, the NEEMO crew and professional habitat technicians live 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat 6.2 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

For more information about NEEMO, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo

Credit: NASA
Release Date: June 19, 2017


#NASA #ESA #NEEMO22 #Aquanauts #Astronauts #KjellLindgren #PedroDuque #Scientists #TrevorGradd #DomDAgostino #NEEMO #Aquarius #Underwater #Research #Station #Environment #Analog #Simulation #Science #Mars #JourneyToMars #ISS #Technology #Engineering #Human #Exploration #Physiology #Health #Experiments #International #Florida #USA #UnitedStates #Europe #Spacewalk #EVA #SolarSystem

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

European Space Agency Pavilion | 2017 Paris Air and Space Show



ESA Pavilion at the 2017 Paris Air and Space Show on June 20, 2017.

More about ESA at Le Bourget:
http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Exhibitions/Le_Bourget_2017

Paris Air and Space Show
https://www.siae.fr/en/

Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image Date: June 20, 2017


#NASA #ESA #ISS #Earth #Space #Science #LeBourget #PAS2017 #Paris #France #CNES #Europe #Human #Spaceflight #Aerospace #Satellite #Technology #Engineering #JSC #STEM #Education

Paris Air and Space Show: Day 1 Roundup | ESA


Roundup of activities at the European Space Agency's space pavilion on the opening day of the 52nd Paris Air and Space Show, including a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, June 19, 2017.

More about ESA at Le Bourget:
http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Exhibitions/Le_Bourget_2017

Paris Air and Space Show
https://www.siae.fr/en/

Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Duration: 5 minutes
Release Date: June 20, 2017


#NASA #ESA #ISS #Earth #Space #Science #President #EmmanuelMacron #Astronaut #ThomasPesquet #Proxima #Mission #JanWoerner #LeBourget #Paris #France #CNES #Europe #Human #Spaceflight #Expedition50 #Expedition51 #Aerospace #JSC #STEM #Education #HD #Video

Monday, June 19, 2017

NASA Webb Telescope: Testing in Space Simulation Chamber



Image: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope sits in front of the door to Chamber A, a giant thermal vacuum chamber located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The telescope will soon be moved into the chamber, where it will spend a hot Houston summer undergoing tests at sub-freezing cryogenic temperatures. The telescope will operate at an extremely cold 39 K (-234° C or -389° F) in space, so NASA is simulating those conditions on the ground, ensuring the optics and instruments will perform perfectly after launch.

In space, the telescope itself must be kept extremely cold, in order to be able to detect the infrared light from faint and very distant objects. To protect the telescope from external sources of light and heat (like the sun, Earth, and moon) as well as from heat emitted by the observatory itself, a five-layer, tennis court-sized sunshield acts like a parasol providing shade. The sunshield separates the observatory into a warm, sun-facing side (reaching temperatures close to 400 degrees Fahrenheit), and a cold side (185 degrees below zero) where the sunlight is blocked from interfering with the sensitive telescope instruments.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information about the Webb telescope visit: www.jwst.nasa.gov or www.nasa.gov/webb

Credit: NASA/Desiree Stover
Image Date: May 25, 2017


#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Telescope #JWST #JamesWebb #Galaxies #Stars #Exoplanets #Planets #Enceladus #Europa #SolarSystem #Astrophysics #Cosmos #Universe #ESA #CSA #Goddard #GSFC #JSC #Testing #UnitedStates #STScI #STEM #Education

NASA, French Space Agency Express Commitment to Joint Exploration


Image: NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of France's space agency CNES | June 19, 2017: NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of France's space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, conclude the signing of a cooperative agreement with a handshake June 19, 2017, at the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and French President Emmanuel Macron participated in the event to reaffirm the agencies’ desire to explore opportunities for collaboration to advance science and to enable robotic and human exploration of the solar system.

France and the United States have a long history of cooperation in space, combining their talents over the years to advance science and launch exploration missions whose results have been instrumental in creating entirely new fields of research.

The leaders of the two space agencies, Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, reaffirmed the agencies’ mutual desire to explore opportunities for collaboration to advance science and to enable robotic and human exploration of the solar system during a meeting Monday, June 19, at the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

In particular, they discussed Mars exploration and Earth oceanography as well as the important work of International Space Station crew members, including French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who returned to Earth earlier this month following his six-month mission on the orbiting laboratory.

CNES is providing a critical instrument for InSight, the next Mars exploration mission that will study the planet’s deep interior. France is supplying the SEIS seismometer (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures) that will measure tectonic activity on Mars to help probe its interior structure. During the meeting, Le Gall informed Lightfoot that SEIS will be delivered this summer, in readiness for mission launch in May 2018. He also indicated that the SuperCam instrument for the Mars 2020 rover mission will be delivered to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the autumn of 2018 for integration with the rover.

The agencies are also jointly developing a new space mission to make the first global survey of Earth's surface water, observe the fine details of the ocean's surface topography, and measure how water bodies change over time. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is targeted for launch in 2021. The mission scientists are meeting later this month to plan science activities, and the radio frequency unit of the wide-swath radar interferometer, which will be capable of acquiring high-resolution elevation measurements of large bodies of water, has been delivered as planned to JPL.

NASA and CNES have a shared interest in exploring opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation in support of the robotic and human exploration of Mars. Both space agencies affirm the scientific and technical achievements made aboard the space station and its pivotal role in preparing for human expeditions beyond low-Earth orbit into deep space. A joint NASA-CNES physics mini-laboratory, the Device for the study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization, or DECLIC, is continuing to operate aboard the space station after its relaunch in October 2016 aboard the sixth Orbital ATK commercial resupply mission.

Credit: ESA/Philippe Sebirot
Release Date: June 19, 2017


#NASA #ESA #ISS #Earth #Science #President #EmmanuelMacron #JanWoerner #Astronaut #ThomasPesquet #Proxima #Mission #Paris #France #CNES #Europe #Human #Spaceflight #Expedition50 #Expedition51 #JSC #International #Cooperation #Mars2020 #Rover #InSight #Spacecraft #Mars #JourneyToMars #SolarSystem #Exploration #Human #Spaceflight #Robotics #STEM #Education

NASA's Kepler Reveals Potential New Worlds


June 19, 2017: Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope is our first mission capable of identifying Earth-size planets around other stars. On Monday, June 19, 2017, scientists announced the results from the final Kepler candidate catalog of the mission at a press conference at NASA's Ames Research Center.

To learn more about NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, visit www.nasa.gov/kepler.

NASA's Ames Research Center is located in California's Silicon Valley.

Credit: NASA's Ames Research Center
Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds
Release Date: June 19, 2017

#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Exoplanets #Planets #Stars #Cosmos #Universe #Kepler #Telescope #Goddard #GSFC #Ames #California #USA #UnitedStates #STEM #Education #HD #Video

NASA Releases Kepler Survey Catalog with Hundreds of New Planet Candidates


June 19, 2017: NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates that introduces 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star's habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler’s first four years of data. It’s also the final catalog from the spacecraft’s view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.

Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life. The final Kepler catalog will serve as the foundation for more study to determine the prevalence and demographics of planets in the galaxy, while the discovery of the two distinct planetary populations shows that about half the planets we know of in the galaxy either have no surface, or lie beneath a deep, crushing atmosphere—an environment unlikely to host life.

The findings were presented at a news conference Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs—planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” said Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist in the Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.”

The Kepler space telescope hunts for planets by detecting the minuscule drop in a star’s brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, called a transit.

This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler’s observations during the first four years of its primary mission. This data will enable scientists to determine what planetary populations—from rocky bodies the size of Earth, to gas giants the size of Jupiter—make up the galaxy’s planetary demographics.

To ensure a lot of planets weren't missed, the team introduced their own simulated planet transit signals into the data set and determined how many were correctly identified as planets. Then, they added data that appear to come from a planet, but were actually false signals, and checked how often the analysis mistook these for planet candidates. This work told them which types of planets were overcounted and which were undercounted by the Kepler team’s data processing methods.

“This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions—how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?” said Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and lead author of the catalog study.

One research group took advantage of the Kepler data to make precise measurements of thousands of planets, revealing two distinct groups of small planets. The team found a clean division in the sizes of rocky, Earth-size planets and gaseous planets smaller than Neptune. Few planets were found between those groupings.

Using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the group measured the sizes of 1,300 stars in the Kepler field of view to determine the radii of 2,000 Kepler planets with exquisite precision.

“We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals,” said Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and lead author of the second study. “Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree.”

It seems that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75 percent bigger than Earth. For reasons scientists don't yet understand, about half of those planets take on a small amount of hydrogen and helium that dramatically swells their size, allowing them to "jump the gap" and join the population closer to Neptune’s size.

The Kepler spacecraft continues to make observations in new patches of sky in its extended mission, searching for planets and studying a variety of interesting astronomical objects, from distant star clusters to objects such as the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven Earth-size planets, closer to home.

Ames manages the Kepler missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Release Date: June 19, 2017


#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #Exoplanets #Planets #Earth #SuperEarths #RockyEarths #MiniNeptunes #GiantPlanets #Stars #Transit #Cosmos #Universe #Kepler #Telescope #Goddard #GSFC #Ames #California #USA #UnitedStates #Artist #Illustration #STEM #Education

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Highlights from Three-In-One Nebula Image | ESO


This compilation shows a few of the many highlights in an enormous three gigapixel image from ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) that includes the faint, glowing cloud of gas called Sharpless 2-54, the iconic Eagle Nebula and the Omega Nebula.

Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Release Date: June 14, 2017


#ESO #Astronomy #Science #Space #Nebula #Sharpless254 #Eagle #Omega #Nebula #Nebulae #Star #Clusters #NGC6604 #Serpens #Sagittarius #MilkyWay #Galaxy #Cosmos #Universe #VLT #Telescope #Paranal #Observatory #Chile #Atacama #Desert #Europe #STEM #Education

A Nebula Three-In-One | ESO



June 14 , 2017: Two of the sky’s more famous residents share the stage with a lesser-known neighbor in this enormous new three gigapixel image from ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST). On the right lies the faint, glowing cloud of gas called Sharpless 2-54, the iconic Eagle Nebula is in the centre, and the Omega Nebula to the left. This cosmic trio makes up just a portion of a vast complex of gas and dust within which new stars are springing to life and illuminating their surroundings.

Sharpless 2-54 and the Eagle and Omega Nebulae are located roughly 7000 light-years away—the first two fall within the constellation of Serpens (The Serpent), while the latter lies within Sagittarius (The Archer). This region of the Milky Way houses a huge cloud of star-making material. The three nebulae indicate where regions of this cloud have clumped together and collapsed to form new stars; the energetic light from these stellar newborns has caused ambient gas to emit light of its own, which takes on the pinkish hue characteristic of areas rich in hydrogen.

Two of the objects in this image were discovered in a similar way. Astronomers first spotted bright star clusters in both Sharpless 2-54 and the Eagle Nebula, later identifying the vast, comparatively faint gas clouds swaddling the clusters. In the case of Sharpless 2-54, British astronomer William Herschel initially noticed its beaming star cluster in 1784. That cluster, catalogued as NGC 6604, appears in this image on the object’s left side. The associated very dim gas cloud remained unknown until the 1950s, when American astronomer Stewart Sharpless spotted it on photographs from the National Geographic Society–Palomar Observatory Sky Survey.

The Eagle Nebula did not have to wait so long for its full glory to be appreciated. Swiss astronomer Philippe Loys de Chéseaux first discovered its bright star cluster, NGC 6611, in 1745 or 1746. A couple of decades later, French astronomer Charles Messier observed this patch of sky and also documented the nebulosity present there, recording the object as Messier 16 in his influential catalogue.

As for the Omega Nebula, de Chéseaux did manage to observe its more prominent glow and duly noted it as a nebula in 1745. However, because the Swiss astronomer’s catalogue never achieved wider renown, Messier’s re-discovery of the Omega Nebula in 1764 led to its becoming Messier 17, the seventeenth object in the Frenchman’s popular compendium.

The observations from which this image was created were taken with ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The huge final colour image was created by mosaicing dozens of pictures—each of 256 megapixels—from the telescope’s large-format OmegaCAM camera. The final result, which needed lengthy processing, totals 3.3 gigapixels, one of the largest images ever released by ESO.

More information
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious program focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

You can download the full image here: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1719a/

Credit: European Southern Observatory
Release Date: June 14, 2017


#ESO #Astronomy #Science #Space #Nebula #Sharpless254 #Eagle #Omega #Nebula #Nebulae #Star #Clusters #NGC6604 #Serpens #Sagittarius #MilkyWay #Galaxy #Cosmos #Universe #VLT #Telescope #Paranal #Observatory #Chile #Atacama #Desert #Europe #STEM #Education