Space Never Fails to Blow My Mind, 2nd Edition

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Bruce Wayne, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Emma

    Emma Hey
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    From reddit

    A short animation I assembled from 345 Cassini images taken in 2008 May 02. The contrast has been stretched to better show the multiple bands of the rings, as well as the spokes.

    Spokes (the strange black stuff moving around the rings) are a phenomenon first observed in Saturn's rings by the Voyager probes. The mechanism behind their formation is still not known, but the most accepted theory behind their composition is that they're microscopic dust particles, suspended off of the rings by electrostatic repulsion.

    The orientation of the gif is such that the top part is closest to the viewer, with Cassini moving south to north with respect to Saturn. About 4 seconds into the animation, the small moon Pan can be seen very quickly moving through the Encke Gap, near the bottom of the screen.

    Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / Gustavo BC
  2. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    Just watched the SpaceX launch their Falcon9 from the bar at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Booster already nailed its reentry landing
  3. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Get there already!

    New evidence for water plumes on Jupiter's moon, Europa
    May 14, 2018
    A view of Europa created from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

    Scientists presented further evidence Monday for water plumes on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, raising hopes of probing the jets for signs of life around the second planet from Earth.

    Europa's frozen surface has long been thought to cover a salty ocean about twice the size of our planet's.

    Given the suspected abundance of warm, liquid water under its kilometres-thick ice shell, the moon is considered a "top candidate" by NASA for life on a Solar System body other than Earth.

    But sending a robot craft to land on Europa and drill through its surface would be a much more costly and complicated endeavour than, say, flying through a plume of water ejected from the moon's innards, and measuring its composition.

    Twice before has NASA reported evidence, from its Hubble Space Telescope, for the existence of water plumes on Europa, though this interpretation has caused much debate.

    The new data, reported in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy, comes from measurements made from much closer up during a flyby of NASA's now-expired Galileo spacecraft.

    The data was captured on Galileo's closest encounter with the moon on December 16, 1997, and has now been re-examined for evidence that a blip in the data it captured was caused when it crossed a water plume.

    The spacecraft, launched in 1989 to examine the fifth planet from the Sun with its dozens of moons, became the first in 1995 to enter the orbit of a gas giant planet.

    Before ending its mission in 2003 with a planned crash into Jupiter's atmosphere, Galileo reported the first data suggestive of a liquid water ocean under Europa's surface.

    For the new study, experts measured variations in the moon's magnetic field and plasma waves as measured during Galileo's close flyby, and found they were "consistent" with the spacecraft crossing a plume.

    "These results provide strong independent evidence of the presence of plumes at Europa," they wrote.

    The team reconstructed the spacecraft's path to pinpoint the plume's location on the moon's surface.

    "These findings will help plan future missions to Europa, such as NASA's Europa Clipper and ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer spacecraft, both of which are expected to arrive at Jupiter between the late 2020s and early 2030s," said a Nature summary.

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  4. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Image: Our galaxy's heart
    May 14, 2018, European Space Agency
    Credit: SO/ATLASGAL consortium; ESA/Planck

    At first glance, this image may resemble red ink filtering through water or a crackling stream of electricity, but it is actually a unique view of our cosmic home. It reveals the central plane of the Milky Way as seen by ESA's Planck satellite and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), which is located at an altitude of around 5100m in the Chilean Andes and operated by the European Southern Observatory.

    This image was released in 2016 as the final product of an APEX survey mapping the galactic plane visible from the southern hemisphere at submillimetre wavelengths (between infrared and radio on the electromagnetic spectrum). It complements previous data from ESA's Planck and Herschel space observatories.

    Planck and APEX are an ideal pairing. APEX is best at viewing small patches of sky in great detail while Planck data is ideal for studying areas of sky at the largest scales. It covers the entire sky – no mean feat. The two work together well, and offer a unique perspective on the sky.

    This image reveals numerous objects within our galaxy. The bright pockets scattered along the Milky Way's plane in this view are compact sources of submillimetre radiation: very cold, clumpy, dusty regions that may shed light on myriad topics all the way from how individual stars form to how the entire Universe is structured.

    From right to left, notable sources include NGC 6334 (the rightmost bright patch), NGC 6357 (just to the left of NGC 6334), the galactic core itself (the central, most extended, and brightest patch in this image), M8 (the bright lane branching from the plane to the bottom left), and M20 (visible to the upper left of M8).

    Planck was launched on 14 May 2009 and concluded its mission in October 2013. The telescope returned a wealth of information about the cosmos; its main aim was to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the relic radiation from the Big Bang. Among other milestones, Planck produced an all-sky map of the CMB at incredible sensitivity and precision, and took the 'magnetic fingerprint' of the Milky Way by exploring the behaviour of certain light emitted by dust within our galaxy.

    Its observations are helping scientists to explore and understand how the Universe formed, its composition and contents, and how it has evolved from its birth to present day.
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  5. Spike 80DF

    Spike 80DF Too Much Bama In Me
    Alabama Crimson Tide

    For the hype that SpaceX gets I guess it's easy to overlook the stuff that NASA is up to.

    On May 5th they launched the Mars InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) probe and a pair of cube sats on an Atlas V from California. It was the first ever launch from the West Coast and the first Mars surface craft to launch since Curiosity in 2011. It should touch down on November 26, 2018 and will begin to explore the composition, temperature, and seismic activity of Mars's surface. It has a lot of really advanced instruments on board.
    #2405 Spike 80DF, May 15, 2018
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  6. shawnoc

    shawnoc My president is black, my logos are red...
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  7. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
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    "The Expanse" vfx crew put in the latest images of Jupiter's south pole from the Juno Probe into the show. Thought that was pretty cool, even though I think those are false color images. The pole probably doesn't really look like that.

  8. BP

    BP Bout to Regulate.
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  9. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Getting closer.

    NASA finds ancient organic material, mysterious methane on Mars
    June 7, 2018 by Sean Potter, NASA
    This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    NASA's Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface.

    The new findings – "tough" organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

    Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

    "With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. "I'm confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet."

    "Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules," said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. "Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes."

    Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by C.R. Webster at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and colleagues was titled, "Background levels of methane in Mars' atmosphere show strong seasonal variations." Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech" style="color: rgb(49, 61, 87); outline: none 0px; cursor: zoom-in; font-weight: 700;">[​IMG]
    This illustration shows the ways in which methane from the subsurface might find its way to thesurface where its uptake and release could produce a large seasonal variation in the atmosphereas observed by Curiosity. Potential methane …more
    Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

    "The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter," said Eigenbrode. "Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper."

    Seasonal Methane Releases

    In the second paper, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This variation was detected by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

    Curiosity has discovered ancient organic molecules in Gale Crater using its SAM instrument. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
    Water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins. Methane previously had been detected in Mars' atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes. This new result shows that low levels of methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, summer months and drop in the winter every year.

    "This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it," said Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of the second paper. "This is all possible because of Curiosity's longevity. The long duration has allowed us to see the patterns in this seasonal 'breathing.'"

    Finding Organic Molecules

    To identify organic material in the Martian soil, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks known as mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater. This mudstone gradually formed billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock.

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    The small hydrocarbons discovered on Mars are thought to be part of larger macromolecules. Credit: NASA
    SAM measured small organic molecules that came off the mudstone sample – fragments of larger organic molecules that don't vaporize easily. Some of these fragments contain sulfur, which could have helped preserve them in the same way sulfur is used to make car tires more durable, according to Eigenbrode.

    The results also indicate organic carbon concentrations on the order of 10 parts per million or more. This is close to the amount observed in Martian meteorites and about 100 times greater than prior detections of organic carbon on Mars' surface. Some of the molecules identified include thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains, such as propane or butene.

    In 2013, SAM detected some organic molecules containing chlorine in rocks at the deepest point in the crater. This new discovery builds on the inventory of molecules detected in the ancient lake sediments on Mars and helps explains why they were preserved.

    Finding methane in the atmosphere and ancient carbon preserved on the surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and ESA's (European Space Agency's) ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.

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    Intake valves on the side of Curiosity allow SAM to ingest Martian air for analysis. Credit: NASA
    These results also inform scientists' decisions as they work to find answers to questions concerning the possibility of life on Mars.

    "Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. "We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track."

    This work was funded by NASA's Mars Exploration Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. Goddard provided the SAM instrument. JPL built the rover and manages the project for SMD.

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    THE GUBBS fuck off

  11. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Q and A with the author of the nasa report.

    Geobiologist Roger Summons on finding organic matter on Mars
    June 8, 2018 by Jennifer Chu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover snaps a self-portrait on Vera Rubin Ridge. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence of complex organic matter preserved in the topmost layers of the Martian surface, scientists report today in the journal Science.

    While the new results are far from a confirmation of life on Mars, scientists believe they support earlier hypotheses that the Red Planet was once clement and habitable for microbial life. However, whether such life ever existed on Mars remains the big unknown.

    Since Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012, the rover has been exploring Gale Crater, a massive impact crater roughly the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island, for geological and chemical evidence of the chemical elements and other conditions necessary to sustain life. Almost exactly a year ago, NASA reported the discovery of such evidence in the form of an ancient lake that would have been suitable for microbial life to not only survive but flourish.

    Now, scientists have found signs of complex, macromolecular organic matter in samples of the crater's 3-billion-year-old mudstones—layers of mud and clay that are typically deposited on the floors of ancient lakes. Curiosity sampled mudstone in the top 5 centimeters from the Mojave and Confidence Hills localities within Gale Crater. The rover's onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument analyzed the samples by heating then in an oven under a flow of helium. Gases released from the samples at temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius were carried by the helium flow directly into a mass spectrometer. Based on the masses of the detected gases, the scientists could determine that the complex organic matter consisted of aromatic and aliphatic components including sulfur-containing species such as thiophenes.

    MIT News checked in with SAM team member Roger Summons, the Schlumberger Professor of Geobiology at MIT, and a co-author on the Science paper, about what the team's findings might mean for the possibility of life on Mars.

    Q: What organic molecules did you find, and how do they compare with anything that is found or produced on Earth?

    A: The new Curiosity study is different from the previous reports that identified small molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine. Instead, SAM detected fragments of much larger molecules that had been broken up during the high-temperature heating experiment. Thus, SAM has detected "macromolecular organic matter" otherwise known as kerogen. Kerogen is a name given to organic material that is present in rocks and in carbonaceous meteorites. It is generally present as small particles that are chemically complex with no easily identified chemical entities. One analogy I use is that it is something like finding very finely powdered coal-like material distributed through a rock. Except that there were no trees on Mars, so it is not coal. Just coal-like.

    The problem with comparing it to anything on Earth is that Curiosity does not have the highly sophisticated tools we have in our labs that would allow a deeper evaluation of the chemical structure. All we can say from the data is that there is complex organic matter similar to what is found in many equivalent aged rocks on the Earth.

    Q: What could be the possible sources for these organic molecules, biological or otherwise?

    A: We cannot say anything about its origin. The significance of the finding, however, is that the results show organic matter can be preserved in Mars surface sediments. Previously, some scientists have said it would be destroyed by the oxidation processes that are active at Mars' surface. It is also significant because it validates plans to return samples from Mars to Earth for further study.

    Q: The Curiosity rover found the first definitive evidence of organic matter on Mars in 2014. Now with these new results, what does this all say about the possibility that there is, or was life on Mars?

    A: Yes, previously, Curiosity found small organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine. Again, without having a Mars rock in a laboratory on Earth for more detailed study, we cannot say what processes formed these molecules and whether they formed on Mars or somewhere in the interstellar medium and were transported in the form of carbonaceous meteorites. Unfortunately, the new findings do not allow us to say anything about the presence or absence of life on Mars now or in the past. On the other hand, the finding that complex organic matter can be preserved there for more than 3 billion years is a very encouraging sign for future exploration. "Preservation" is the key word, here. It means that, one day, there is potential for more sophisticated instrumentation to detect a wider range of compounds in Mars samples, including the sorts of molecules made by living organisms, such as lipids, amino acids, sugars, or even nucleobases.

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  12. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Cool video explanation in the link.

    NASA Satellites Make Magnetic Discovery in Turbulent Space Near Earth
    By Samantha Mathewson, Contributor | June 8, 2018 02:25pm ET

    NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft has detected magnetic activity occurring in a new and surprising way in the environment of near-Earth space.

    Earth is surrounded by charged particles known as plasma. Most of these high-energy particles are deflected by the magnetosphere, which is the protective magnetic field that surrounds the planet. As Earth's magnetic-field lines absorb this energy, they stretch and eventually snap, releasing powerful bursts of particles toward Earth, which, in turn, can endanger satellites, spacecraft and astronauts in space.

    This process, known as magnetic reconnection, is commonly observed in Earth's magnetosphere, generally under calm conditions. However, new data from NASA's MMS has shown for the first time that this process also occurs in the extremely turbulent near-Earth environment known as the magnetosheath, according to a statement from NASA. [NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission in Pictures]

    Researchers used NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft to find a new type of magnetic environment in the near-Earth environment.
    Credit: Joy Ng/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
    "In the plasma universe, there are two important phenomena: magnetic reconnection and turbulence," Tai Phan, lead author of the study and a senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, said in the statement. "This discovery bridges these two processes."

    The magnetosheath is the boundary between the magnetosphere and the solar wind, the charged particles that stream from the sun. It is made up of turbulent plasma and is one of the most chaotic regions in near-Earth space, NASA officials said in a video announcing the discovery.

    In fact, due to the turbulence in this environment, before this latest study, researchers were not sure if magnetic reconnection could even occur in the magnetosheath, according to the statement.

    NASA's MMS, which launched in 2015, consists of a group of four identical satellites that orbit near Earth in a pyramid formation. The satellites are designed to capture a much more detailed view of magnetic reconnection than earlier spacecraft could provide.

    The new 3D observations captured by MMS show that magnetic reconnection behaves differently in the magnetosheath, according to the study, published May 9 in the journal Nature.

    "Compared to standard reconnection that occurs over tens of thousands of miles, this new magnetic reconnection spans only a couple of miles within turbulent plasma," NASA officials said in the video. Thus, these smaller reactions accelerate particles 40 times faster than standard reconnection observed in the magnetosphere.

    "The more we understand how those particles are accelerated, the better we can protect our spacecraft and astronauts as we explore deeper into the solar system," NASA officials added.

    However, MMS instruments cannot capture turbulent reconnection in action, because the particles move too fast along narrow field lines measuring only a couple miles wide. Instead, using one of the MMS instruments — the Fast Plasma Investigation — the researchers developed a new technique to gather extra data points from the magnetosheath, providing a better understanding of how turbulent magnetic fields dissipate energy.

    "The smoking gun evidence is to measure oppositely directed electron jets at the same time, and the four MMS spacecraft were lucky to corner the reconnection site and detect both jets," Jonathan Eastwood, co-author of the study and a lecturer at Imperial College London, said in the statement.
  13. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    What if they aren't black holes but instead wormholes? :blowup:

    And a experimental observation that could prove it.

    Speculative wormhole echoes could revolutionize astrophysics
    June 12, 2018, Plataforma SINC
    Instant of a simulation in which two black holes merge. The collision of two rotating wormholes would trigger a similar deformation of space-time, leaving 'echoes' in the signal. Credit: LIGO LabCaltech

    The scientific collaborations LIGO and Virgo have detected gravitational waves from the fusion of two black holes, inaugurating a new era in the study of the cosmos. But what if those ripples of space-time were not produced by black holes, but by other exotic objects? A team of European physicists suggest an alternative—wormholes that can be traversed to appear in another universe.

    Scientists have deduced the existence of black holes from a multitude of experiments, theoretical models and indirect observations such as the recent LIGO detections, which are believed to originate from the collision of two of these dark gravitational monsters.

    But there is a problem with black holes—they present an edge, called an event horizon, from which nothing can escape. This is in conflict with quantum mechanics, whose postulates ensure that information is always preserved, not lost.

    One of the theoretical ways to deal with this conflict is to explore the possibility that the alleged black holes we 'observe' in nature are no such thing, but rather some type of exotic compact objects (ECOs), such as wormholes, which do not have an event horizon.

    "The final part of the gravitational signal detected by these two detectors – what is known as ringdown – corresponds to the last stage of the collision of two black holes, and has the property of completely extinguishing after a short period of time due to the presence of the event horizon," explain the Spanish researchers Pablo Bueno and Pablo A. Cano from KU Leuven University (Belgium).

    "However, if there were no horizon, those oscillations would not disappear completely; instead, after a certain time, they would produce a series of 'echoes,' similar to what happens with sound in a well. Interestingly, if instead of black holes, we had an ECO, the ringdown could be similar, so we need to determine the presence or absence of the echoes to distinguish the two types of objects."

    This possibility has been explored theoretically by several groups and tentative experimental analyses using the original LIGO data have been already performed, but the verdict is inconclusive.

    Rotating wormholes

    The team of the KU Leuven University, in which Professor Thomas Hertog also participated, has presented a model that predicts how gravitational waves caused by the collision of two rotating wormholes would be detected.

    The gravitational wave signals observed so far are completely extinguished after a few moments as a consequence of the presence of the event horizon. But if this did not exist, these oscillations would not disappear altogether; rather, after some time, there would be echoes in the signal, which may have gone unnoticed until now due to a lack of models or theoretical references with which to compare.

    "Wormholes do not have an event horizon, but act as a space-time shortcut that can be traversed, a kind of very long throat that takes us to another universe," Bueno explains, "and the fact that they also have rotation changes the gravitational waves they produce."

    According to the study, published by Physical Review D, the graphs obtained with the new model do not differ much from those recorded so far, except for the echoes, which act as a clear differentiating element.

    "The confirmation of echoes in the LIGO or Virgo signals would be a practically irrefutable proof that astrophysical black holes don't exist," Bueno says, adding, "Time will tell if these echoes exist or not. If the result were positive, it would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics."

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  14. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Aevum's New Rocket-Drone Airplane Duo Could Launch Satellites Every 3 Hours
    By Charles Q. Choi, Contributor | June 18, 2018 06:45am ET

    Artist's illustration showing Aevum's Ravn air-launch system in action. If all goes according to plan, Ravn could begin launching small satellites to Earth orbit in late 2019.
    Credit: Aevum
    A space launch every 3 hours may soon be possible using rockets carried on a fully autonomous unmanned airplane, a new startup company suggests.

    Alabama-based startup Aevum aims to per mission, using an air-launch system called Ravn.

    "Ravn is designed to launch every 180 minutes," Jay Skylus, Aevum's CEO and chief launch architect, told "Other launch vehicles fly only a handful of times a year with an average of 18 months of lead time." [Rocket Launches: The Latest Liftoffs, Photos & Videos]

    "The typical turn time, from landing to takeoff, for a commercial aircraft can range from 30 to 80 minutes," said Skylus, an aerospace engineer who worked at NASA and Boeing. "Ravn operates just like a commercial aircraft would."

    Ravn could launch satellites as frequently as once every 3 hours, Aevum representatives say.
    Credit: Aevum
    Aevum is focused on launching multitudes of tiny satellites into space. Such constellations of satellites could enable advances such as "wireless internet everywhere," Skylus said.

    The key to Ravn's planned launch rate is its unmanned nature, which "simplif[ies] ground operations considerably," Skylus said. "Ravn takes off and lands horizontally on any standard runway. Ravn is engineered to be autonomous from the moment it leaves the hangar from taxi, takeoff, launch, landing and taxi return to the hangar."

    As such, Ravn may need a ground crew of as few as six people, Skylus said. "Compared to the ground- crew needs of other launch systems, Ravn requires at least an order of magnitude less ground-crew personnel," he said.

    Aevum isn't the first company to develop an air-launch system. Northrop Grumman's Pegasus rocket has lofted dozens of satellites, and Stratolaunch Systems and Virgin Orbit are both working on rocket-carrier plane duos of their own. But these other systems all employ piloted aircraft.

    The first stage of Ravn consists of a reusable, fully autonomous unmanned aircraft system designed for atmospheric flight. "The overall aerodynamic design of the vehicle has been optimized for the rocket separation," Skylus said. "The maximum speed of the Ravn first stage is Mach 2.85 [2,186 mph, or 3,519 km/h]."

    This aircraft carries an expendable two-stage rocket engineered for spaceflight. The first stage of this rocket uses a proprietary fuel approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, while the second stage relies on liquid oxygen. "The rocket engines have already been hot-fire demonstrated," Skylus said.

    Skylus was inspired to ramp up the rate of satellite launches when he came across a story of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005.

    "With my own brother serving in the U.S. Army and away from home during that time, the news felt personal to me," Skylus said. "Upon research, I gained insight that communication failure was partly responsible for the losses we suffered in Afghanistan. I recall being furious that, while I could instant-message readily, people who were fighting to protect our country struggled with communication challenges."

    "Determined to figure out exactly why, I dug into communication technologies and found out that, in locations where geography is the limiting factor, the communication technologies were not necessarily faulty. We just needed better satellite-revisit times and positioning — more satellites," Skylus said. "However, the cost of deploying those satellite assets was stifling progress."

    In flight simulations, "Minnie, Aevum's autonomous flight software, has already completed nearly 640 flights," Skylus said. This work included the successful simulated launch "of a 30-satellite constellation in less than 3 hours," he added.

    Aevum has designed, built and tested both its aerodynamic components and a prototype unmanned aircraft system. "Aevum's currently building a proto-flight Ravn vehicle and aims to complete the ground qualification of the entire proto-flight Ravn vehicle this year," Skylus said.

    Aevum's customers can use the company's web app or call or email to deliver their cargo. In this sense, Aevum wants to be "the UPS or FedEx of space," Skylus said. "We take care of all the logistics and offer mission design at no cost to you, and you can book launches and track your satellite through our app."

    Aevum is working toward beginning flight testing in 2019. If the entire flight test campaign goes according to plan, Aevum has three launches planned for the fourth quarter of 2019, Skylus said. "We're always seeking to connect with more customers — there's still some capacity on these three launches," he said.

    "Ravn is unlike any other launch system known today," Skylus said. "Aevum's focused on providing a delivery service that will directly enable the solutions that address global challenges that cause pain every day, which include communication and connectivity."

    Skylus described Aevum's work on June 2 at the Dawn of Private Space Science symposium in New York.
  15. BP

    BP Bout to Regulate.
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  16. BP

    BP Bout to Regulate.
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  17. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Finally a dark matter theory test that makes sense and may be provable. Even if it's years out.

    A galactic test to clarify the existence of dark matter
    June 26, 2018, University of Bonn
    The distribution of dark matter (above) and stars (below). Credit: © E. Garaldi, C. Porciani, E. Romano-Díaz/University of Bonn for the ZOMG Kollaboration

    Researchers at the University of Bonn and the University of California at Irvine used sophisticated computer simulations to devise a test that could answer a burning question in astrophysics: does dark matter actually exist? Or does Newton's gravitational law need to be modified? The new study, now published in the Physical Review Letters, shows that the answer is hidden in the motion of the stars within small satellite galaxies swirling around the Milky Way.

    Using one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, the scientists have simulated the matter distribution of the so-called satellite "dwarf" galaxies. These are small galaxies that orbit larger galaxies like the Milky Way or Andromeda.

    The researchers focused on a relationship called radial acceleration relation (RAR). In disk galaxies, stars move in circular orbits around the galactic center. The acceleration that forces them to change direction is caused by the attraction of matter in the galaxy. The RAR describes the relationship between this acceleration and the one caused by the visible matter only. It provides an insight into the structure of galaxies and their matter distribution.

    "We have now simulated, for the first time, the RAR of dwarf galaxies on the assumption that dark matter exists," explains Prof. Dr. Cristiano Porciani of the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn. "It turned out that they behave as scaled-down versions of larger galaxies." But what if there is no dark matter and instead gravity works differently than Newton thought? "In this case, the RAR of dwarf galaxies depends strongly on the distance to their parent galaxy, while this does not happen if dark matter exists," explains researcher Emilio Romano-Díaz.

    This difference makes the satellites a powerful probe for testing whether dark matter really exists. The Gaia spacecraft, which was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2013, could provide an answer. It was designed to study the stars in the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies in unprecedented detail and has collected a large amount of data.

    However, it will probably take years to analyze the data. "Individual measurements are not enough to test the small differences we have found in our simulations," explains doctoral student Enrico Garaldi. "But repeatedly examining the same stars improves the measurements every time. Sooner or later, it should be possible to determine whether the dwarf galaxies behave as in a universe with dark matter—or not."

    The cement that holds galaxies together

    This question is one of the most pressing issues in cosmology today. The existence of dark matter was suggested more than 80 years ago by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky. He realized that galaxies move so fast within galaxy clusters that they should actually drift apart. He therefore postulated the presence of invisible matter which, due to its mass, exerts sufficient gravity to keep galaxies on their observed orbits. In the 1970s, his U.S. colleague Vera Rubin discovered a similar phenomenon in spiral galaxies like the Milky Way—they rotate so quickly that the centrifugal force should tear them apart if only visible matter was present.

    Today, most physicists are convinced that dark matter makes up about 80 percent of the mass in the universe. Since it does not interact with light, it is invisible to telescopes. Yet, assuming its existence provides an excellent fit to a number of other observations—such as the distribution of background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang. Dark matter also provides a good explanation for the arrangement and formation rate of galaxies in the universe. However, despite numerous experimental efforts, there is no direct proof that dark matter exists. This led astronomers to the hypothesis that the gravitational force itself might behave differently than previously thought. According to the theory called modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND), the attraction between two masses obeys Newton's laws only up to a certain point. At very small accelerations, such as those prevailing in galaxies, gravity becomes considerably stronger. Therefore, galaxies do not tear apart due to their rotational speed and the MOND theory can dispense with dark matter.

    The new study opens up the possibility for astronomers to test these two hypotheses in an unprecedented regime.

    Read more at:
  18. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
    Alabama Crimson TideAtlanta BravesLos Angeles LakersChelsea

    Very cool.
    angus likes this.
  19. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    We need these moon missions asap please.

    Scientists find evidence of complex organic molecules from Enceladus
    June 27, 2018, Southwest Research Institute
    Saturn's moon Enceladus. Credit: NASA

    Using mass spectrometry data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists found that large, carbon-rich organic molecules are ejected from cracks in the icy surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Southwest Research Institute scientists think chemical reactions between the moon's rocky core and warm water from its subsurface ocean are linked to these complex molecules.

    "We are, yet again, blown away by Enceladus. Previously we'd only identified the simplest organic molecules containing a few carbon atoms, but even that was very intriguing," said SwRI's Dr. Christopher Glein, a space scientist specializing in extraterrestrial chemical oceanography. He is coauthor of a paper in Natureoutlining this discovery. "Now we've found organic molecules with masses above 200 atomic mass units. That's over ten times heavier than methane. With complex organic molecules emanating from its liquid water ocean, this moon is the only body besides Earth known to simultaneously satisfy all of the basic requirements for life as we know it."

    Prior to its deorbit in September of 2017, Cassini sampled the plume of material emerging from the subsurface of Enceladus. The Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) and the SwRI-led Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) made measurements both within the plume and Saturn's E-ring, which is formed by plume ice grains escaping Enceladus' gravity.

    "Even after its end, the Cassini spacecraft continues to teach us about the potential of Enceladus to advance the field of astrobiology in an ocean world," Glein said. "This paper demonstrates the value of teamwork in planetary science. The INMS and CDA teams collaborated to reach a deeper understanding of the organic chemistry of Enceladus' subsurface ocean than would be possible with only one data set."

    During Cassini's close flyby of Enceladus on Oct. 28, 2015, INMS detected molecular hydrogen as the spacecraft flew through the plume. Previous flybys provided evidence for a global subsurface ocean residing above a rocky core. Molecular hydrogen in the plume is thought to form by the geochemical interaction between water and rocks in hydrothermal environments.

    "Hydrogen provides a source of chemical energy supporting microbes that live in the Earth's oceans near hydrothermal vents," said SwRI's Dr. Hunter Waite, INMS principal investigator who also was a coauthor of the new paper. "Once you have identified a potential food source for microbes, the next question to ask is 'what is the nature of the complex organics in the ocean?' This paper represents the first step in that understanding—complexity in the organic chemistry beyond our expectations!"

    "The paper's findings also have great significance for the next generation of exploration," Glein said. "A future spacecraft could fly through the plume of Enceladus, and analyze those complex organic molecules using a high-resolution mass spectrometer to help us determine how they were made. We must be cautious, but it is exciting to ponder that this finding indicates that the biological synthesis of organic molecules on Enceladus is possible."

    Read more at:
  20. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Fucky fuck.

  21. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
    Alabama Crimson TideAtlanta BravesLos Angeles LakersChelsea

    On May 30, 2021:

    "The Webb space telescope will not launch until George R.R Martin publishes the Winds of Winter"
  22. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Image: Asteroid 162173 Ryugu
    June 28, 2018, European Space Agency
    Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST
    After a 42-month journey, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu, 300 million km from Earth, on 27 June at 02:35 CEST (00:35 GMT).

    This remarkable achievement was confirmed when the spacecraft closed to just 20 km from the 1 km-diameter asteroid's surface, having entered a critical phase of this ambitious mission.

    This image was taken on 24 June, as the craft nosed up to the asteroid, from a distance of about 40 km.

    Hayabusa2 aims to study Ryugu in detail, deposit a European and a series of Japanese landers on the surface and return a sample of ancient rock to Earth in 2020.

    "Together with all of you, we have become the first eyewitnesses to see asteroid Ryugu. I feel this amazing honour as we proceed with the mission operations," said Yuichi Tsuda, project manager from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

    In 2014-17, during Hayabua2's cruise phase from Earth toward the asteroid, ESA's deep-space ground station at Malargüe, Argentina − part of the Agency's worldwide Estrack network − provided crucial communication support to the mission.

    In July this year, Malargüe will resume support, providing one communication contact session per week together with ESA's Cebreros station in Spain. Malargüe station will also support the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission, due for launch in the autumn.

    Read more at:
  23. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    More clues that Earth-like exoplanets are indeed Earth-like
    June 28, 2018 by Jason Maderer, Georgia Institute of Technology
    The artist's depiction of Kepler-186f. Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

    A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology provides new clues indicating that an exoplanet 500 light-years away is much like Earth.

    Kepler-186f is the first identified Earth-sized planet outside the solar system orbiting a star in the habitable zone. This means it's the proper distance from its host star for liquid water to pool on the surface.

    The Georgia Tech study used simulations to analyze and identify the exoplanet's spin axis dynamics. Those dynamics determine how much a planet tilts on its axis and how that tilt angle evolves over time. Axial tilt contributes to seasons and climate because it affects how sunlight strikes the planet's surface.

    The researchers suggest that Kepler-186f's axial tilt is very stable, much like the Earth, making it likely that it has regular seasons and a stable climate. The Georgia Tech team thinks the same is true for Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-sized planet orbiting around a star about 1,200 light-years away from us.

    How important is axial tilt for climate? Large variability in axial tilt could be a key reason why Mars transformed from a watery landscape billions of years ago to today's barren desert.

    "Mars is in the habitable zone in our solar system, but its axial tilt has been very unstable—varying from zero to 60 degrees," said Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Gongjie Li, who led the study together with graduate student Yutong Shan from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "That instability probably contributed to the decay of the Martian atmosphere and the evaporation of surface water."

    As a comparison, Earth's axial tilt oscillates more mildly—between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees, going from one extreme to the other every 10,000 or so years.

    An artist's depiction of Kepler-62f. Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle
    The orientation angle of a planet's orbit around its host star can be made to oscillate by gravitational interaction with other planets in the same system. If the orbit were to oscillate at the same speed as the precession of the planet's spin axis (akin to the circular motion exhibited by the rotation axis of a top or gyroscope), the spin axis would also wobble back and forth, sometimes dramatically.

    Mars and Earth interact strongly with each other, as well as with Mercury and Venus. As a result, by themselves, their spin axes would precess with the same rate as the orbital oscillation, which may cause large variations in their axial tilt. Fortunately, the moon keeps Earth's variations in check. The moon increases our planet's spin axis precession rate and makes it differ from the orbital oscillation rate. Mars, on the other hand, doesn't have a large enough satellite to stabilize its axial tilt. "It appears that both exoplanets are very different from Mars and the Earth because they have a weaker connection with their sibling planets," said Li, a faculty member in the School of Physics. "We don't know whether they possess moons, but our calculations show that even without satellites, the spin axes of Kepler-186f and 62f would have remained constant over tens of millions of years."

    Kepler-186f is less than 10 percent larger in radius than Earth, but its mass, composition and density remain a mystery. It orbits its host star every 130 days. According to NASA, the brightness of that star at high noon, while standing on 186f, would appear as bright as the sun just before sunset here on Earth. Kepler-186f is located in the constellation Cygnus as part of a five-planet star system.

    Kepler-62f was the most Earth-like exoplanet until scientists noticed 186f in 2014. It's about 40 percent larger than our planet and is likely a terrestrial or ocean-covered world. It's in the constellation Lyra and is the outermost planet among five exoplanets orbiting a single star.

    That's not to say either exoplanet has water, let alone life. But both are relatively good candidates.

    "Our study is among the first to investigate climate stability of exoplanets and adds to the growing understanding of these potentially habitable nearby worlds," said Li.

    "I don't think we understand enough about the origin of life to rule out the possibility of their presence on planetswith irregular seasons," added Shan. "Even on Earth, life is remarkably diverse and has shown incredible resilience in extraordinarily hostile environments.

    "But a climatically stable planet might be a more comfortable place to start."

    The paper, "Obliquity Variations of Habitable Zone Planets Kepler 62-f and Kepler 186-f," is published online in The Astronomical Journal.

    Read more at:
  24. Spike 80DF

    Spike 80DF Too Much Bama In Me
    Alabama Crimson Tide

    With its stubby nose and matte-black fins, SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spaceship for astronauts looks like something out of science fiction. But this privately built space capsule is no figment. It's going through some final testing for a scheduled uncrewed launch debut this summer.

    A new SpaceX photo shows just what kind of tests SpaceX's Crew Dragon is undergoing. The space capsule appears here at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, where the agency's In-Space Propulsion Facility is testing the craft. The facility, overseen by NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, boasts a massive thermal vacuum chamber that is "the world's only facility capable of testing full-scale upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated high-altitude conditions," NASA officials said in an image description.

    An earlier SpaceX photo of Crew Dragon showed the spaceship at another test site — NASA's anechoic chamber at the Kennedy Space Center — during electromagnetic interference testing on May 20.

    SpaceX's Crew Dragon, a crewed version of the company's robotic Dragon cargo ship, is one of two commercial space taxis that NASA will use to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is the other. Both spacecraft are designed to carry up to seven astronauts. Crew Dragon will launch on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, while Starliner will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance.

    The first uncrewed Crew Dragon and Starliner test flights are expected to launch in August from different pads at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA officials have said. (Spaceflight Now has Boeing's Starliner test flight pegged for Aug. 27 but no date yet for Crew Dragon.)

    If all goes well, Crew Dragon could make its first crewed launch in December, with Boeing's first crewed Starliner flight scheduled for a month earlier, in November.

    The commercial spaceships will be the first to launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil since NASA's space shuttle fleet retired in July 2011. Since then, NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets and spaceships to fly U.S. astronauts in space.

    The Crew Dragon tests are vital for SpaceX to ensure the spacecraft can survive the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space, NASA added. [The Evolution of SpaceX's Rockets in Pictures]

    "Once complete, Crew Dragon will travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of its first flight," SpaceX representatives wrote in an image post last week.


  25. broken internet

    broken internet Everything I touch turns to gold.
    Kansas City RoyalsCincinnati RedsCincinnati BengalsWichita State Shockers

    "The Webb space telescope will launch on the release date of Half Life 3."
    Spike 80DF and Popovio like this.
  26. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Method of making oxygen from water in zero gravity raises hope for long-distance space travel
    July 11, 2018 by Charles W. Dunnill, The Conversation
    Artist’s rendering of a Mars artificial gravity transfer vehicle. Credit: NASA

    Space agencies and private companies already have advanced plans to send humans to Mars in the next few years – ultimately colonising it. And with a growing number of discoveries of Earth-like planets around nearby stars, long-distance space travel has never seemed more exciting.

    However, it isn't easy for humans to survive in space for sustained periods of time. One of the main challenges with long-distance space flight is transporting enough oxygen for astronauts to breathe and enough fuel to power complex electronics. Sadly, there's only little oxygen available in space and the great distances make it hard to do quick refills.

    But now a new study, published in Nature Communications, shows that it is possible to produce hydrogen (for fuel) and oxygen (for life) from water alone using a semiconductor material and sunlight (or star light) in zero gravity – making sustained space travel a real possibility.

    Using the unbounded resource of the sun to power our everyday life is one of the biggest challenges on Earth. As we are slowly moving away from oil towards renewable sources of energy, researchers are interested in the possibility of using hydrogen as fuel. The best way to do this would be by splitting water (H2O) into its constituents: hydrogen and oxygen. This is possible using a process known as electrolysis, which involves running a current through a water sample containing some soluble electrolyte. This breaks down the water into oxygen and hydrogen, which are released separately at the two electrodes.

    While this method is technically possible, it has yet to become readily available on Earth as we need more hydrogen related infrastructure, such as hydrogen refilling stations, to scale it up.

    NASA astronaut Kate Rubins works with a Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System tank aboard the International Space Station. The tanks are designed to be plugged into the station’s existing air supply network to refill the crew’s breathable air supply. Credit: NASA
    Sun power

    Hydrogen and oxygen produced in this way from water could also be used as fuel on a spacecraft. Launching a rocket with water would in fact be a lot safer than launching it with additional rocket fuel and oxygen on board, which can be explosive. Once in space, special technology could split the water into hydrogen and oxygen which in turn could be used to sustain life or to power electronics via fuel cells.

    There are two options for doing this. One involves electrolysis as we do on Earth, using electrolytes and solar cellsto capture sunlight and convert this into a current.

    The alternative is to use "photo catalysts", which work by absorbing light particles – photons – into a semiconductor material inserted into the water. The energy of a photon gets absorbed by an electron in the material which then jumps, leaving behind a hole. The free electron can react with protons (which make up the atomic nucleus along with neutrons) in water to form hydrogen. Meanwhile, the hole can absorb electrons from water to form protons and oxygen.

    The process can also be reversed. Hydrogen and oxygen can be brought together or "recombined" using a fuel cell returning the solar energy taken in by the "photocatalysis" – energy which can be used to power electronics. Recombination forms only water as a product – meaning the water can also be recycled. This is key to long-distance space travel.

    The process using photo catalysts is the best option for space travel as the equipment weighs much less than the one needed for electrolysis. In theory, it should work easily. This is partly because the intensity of the sunlight is far higher without the Earth's atmosphere absorbing large amounts on its way through to the surface.

    Photo catalyst producing hydrogen gas from water. Credit: O. Usher (UCL MAPS)/Flickr, CC BY-SA
    Bubble management

    In the new study, the researchers dropped the full experimental set up for photocatalysis down a 120m drop tower, creating an environment similar to microgravity. As objects accelerate towards Earth in free fall, the effect of gravity diminishes as forces exerted by gravity are cancelled out by equal and opposite forces due to the acceleration. This is opposite to the G forces experienced by astronauts and fighter pilots as they accelerate in their aircraft.

    The researchers managed to show that it is indeed possible to split water in this environment. However, as water is split to create gas, bubbles form. Getting rid of bubbles from the the catalyst material once formed is important – bubbles hinder the process of creating gas. On Earth, gravity makes the bubbles automatically float to the surface (the water near the surface is denser than the bubbles, which makes them buyonant) – freeing the space on the catalyst for the next bubble to be produced.

    In zero gravity this is not possible and the bubble will remain on or near the catalyst. However, the scientists adjusted the shape of nanoscale features in the catalyst by creating pyramid-shaped zones where the bubble could easily disengage from the tip and float off into the medium.

    But one problem remains. In the absence of gravity, the bubbles will remain in the liquid – even though they have been forced away from the catalyst itself. Gravity allows for the gases to easily escape from the liquid, which is critical for using the pure hydrogen and oxygen. Without the presence of gravity, no gas bubbles float to the surface and separate from the mixture – instead all the gas remains to create a foam.

    This reduces the efficiency of the process dramatically by blocking the catalysts or electrodes. Engineering solutions around this problem will be key to successfully implementing technology in space – with one possibility being using centrifugal forces from rotation of a spacecraft to separate the gases from the solution.

    Nevertheless, thanks to this new study we are a step closer to long-duration human spaceflight.

    Read more at:
  27. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
    Chicago CubsChicago BullsChicago BearsChicago BlackhawksIllinois Fightin' IlliniLiverpool

    Scientists discover way to make something that is rare in outer space with something that is just as rare. Great job guys.
  28. pearl

    pearl Fan of: White wimmens feet
    Donor TMB OG
    Southern Mississippi Golden EaglesLos Angeles ChargersAvengersSneakers

    angus likes this.
  29. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Supersharp images from new VLT adaptive optics
    July 18, 2018, ESO
    This image of the planet Neptune was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE/GALACSI instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The corrected image is sharper than a comparable image from the NASA/ESA …more

    ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has achieved first light with a new adaptive optics mode called laser tomography—and has captured remarkably sharp test images of the planet Neptune and other objects. The MUSE instrument working with the GALACSI adaptive optics module, can now use this new technique to correct for turbulence at different altitudes in the atmosphere. It is now possible to capture images from the ground at visible wavelengths that are sharper than those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

    The MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) works with an adaptive optics unit called GALACSI. This makes use of the Laser Guide Star Facility, 4LGSF, a subsystem of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF). The AOF provides adaptive optics for instruments on the VLTs Unit Telescope 4 (UT4). MUSE was the first instrument to benefit from this new facility and it now has two adaptive optics modes—the Wide Field Mode and the Narrow Field Mode.

    The MUSE Wide Field Mode coupled to GALACSI in ground-layer mode corrects for the effects of atmospheric turbulence up to one kilometre above the telescope over a comparatively wide field of view. But the new Narrow Field Mode using laser tomography corrects for almost all of the atmospheric turbulence above the telescope to create much sharper images, but over a smaller region of the sky.

    With this new capability, the 8-metre UT4 reaches the theoretical limit of image sharpness and is no longer limited by atmospheric blur. This is extremely difficult to attain in the visible and gives images comparable in sharpness to those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It will enable astronomers to study in unprecedented detail fascinating objects such as supermassive black holes at the centres of distant galaxies, jets from young stars, globular clusters, supernovae, planets and their satellites in the Solar System and much more.

    Adaptive optics is a technique to compensate for the blurring effect of the Earth's atmosphere, also known as astronomical seeing, which is a big problem faced by all ground-based telescopes. The same turbulence in the atmosphere that causes stars to twinkle to the naked eye results in blurred images of the Universe for large telescopes. Light from stars and galaxies becomes distorted as it passes through our atmosphere, and astronomers must use clever technology to improve image quality artificially.

    To achieve this four brilliant lasers are fixed to UT4 that project columns of intense orange light 30 centimetres in diameter into the sky, stimulating sodium atoms high in the atmosphere and creating artificial Laser Guide Stars. Adaptive optics systems use the light from these "stars" to determine the turbulence in the atmosphere and calculate corrections one thousand times per second, commanding the thin, deformable secondary mirror of UT4 to constantly alter its shape, correcting for the distorted light.

    MUSE is not the only instrument to benefit from the Adaptive Optics Facility. Another adaptive optics system, GRAAL, is already in use with the infrared camera HAWK-I. This will be followed in a few years by the powerful new instrument ERIS. Together these major developments in adaptive optics are enhancing the already powerful fleet of ESO telescopes, bringing the Universe into focus.

    This new mode also constitutes a major step forward for the ESO's Extremely Large Telescope, which will need Laser Tomography to reach its science goals. These results on UT4 with the AOF will help to bring ELT's engineers and scientists closer to implementing similar adaptive optics technology on the 39-metre gian

    Read more at:
  30. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Dazzling Views Show Saturn Moon Titan's Surface Like Never Before
    By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | July 19, 2018 01:42pm ET
    These mosaics of the Saturn moon Titan's surface were constructed using data gathered over 13 years by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer instrument aboard NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Nantes/University of Arizona
    The mysterious surface of Saturn's huge moon Titan comes into gloriously sharp focus in newly released photos captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

    Cassini team members created the six-image set using data collected over 13 years by the Saturn-orbiting probe's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). As its name suggests, VIMS deals in long-wavelength infrared light, allowing the instrument to see through the thick Titanic haze that obscures visible-light views of the moon's frigid surface.

    Cassini scientists have created VIMS mosaics before, but those previous efforts generally had prominent seams, NASA officials said. Such seams naturally result from the stitching together of images snapped during different Titan encounters, which featured different lighting conditions and flyby angles. [Amazing Photos: Titan, Saturn's Largest Moon]

    But the new mosaics are pretty much seamless — a breakthrough made possible by a reanalysis of the VIMS data and laborious hand processing of the resulting mosaics, mission team members said.

    "With the seams now gone, this new collection of images is by far the best representation of how the globe of Titan might appear to the casual observer if it weren't for the moon's hazy atmosphere, and it likely will not be superseded for some time to come," NASA officials wrote in a statement Wednesday (July 18).

    Indeed, the photos give viewers a new appreciation for Titan's complex and varied surface, which boasts dunes of carbon-containing organic compounds, icy deposits and vast seas of liquid hydrocarbons. (Titan is the only extraterrestrial object known to harbor stable bodies of liquid on its surface.)

    In visible-light images captured from above Titan's thick, nitrogen-dominated atmosphere, none of this diversity comes through; the 3,200-mile-wide (5,150 kilometers) moon looks like a fuzzy, orange-brown ball.
    Titan as it appears from space in visible light. NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view in January 2013, when it was about 895,000 miles (1.44 million kilometers) from the big moon.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
    Scientists might get some sharp, up-close looks at the Titan landscape in the not-too-distant future, however: A mission called Dragonfly would explore the huge moon's surface, and assess its potential to host life, using a robotic minihelicopter. Dragonfly is one of two finalists, along with a comet sample-return effort, for NASA's next New Frontiers mission slot. The agency aims to announce a winner in 2019 and launch the mission by 2025.

    The $3.2 billion Cassini mission — a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency — launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in the summer of 2004. Cassini zoomed through the gas-giant system for more than 13 years, gathering a wealth of data about the planet, its iconic rings and its many moons. The Cassini mother ship also carried a lander called Huygens, which touched down on Titan in January 2005.

    The groundbreaking mission came to an end in September 2017 with an intentional death dive into Saturn — a move designed to ensure that Cassini would not contaminate Titan or the fellow potentially life-supporting satellite Enceladus with microbes from Earth.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldw
  31. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
    Alabama Crimson TideAtlanta BravesLos Angeles LakersChelsea

    The minor dust storm that started on Mars back in May has evolved into a massive dust storm that has engulfed the entire planet. These kinds of planet wide storms happen every 6-8 years, and scientists have no idea how one storm in a section of the planet can trigger the snowball effect that leads to the entire planet being engulfed.

  32. MK 3rds

    MK 3rds Dork

    Matt Damon is so dead.
  33. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
    Alabama Crimson TideAtlanta BravesLos Angeles LakersChelsea

  34. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    The last paragraph is why this is in the space thread.

    A century-old model for life's origin gets significant substantiation
    July 25, 2018, Weizmann Institute of Science
    A 'walk' in composition space for a lipid world molecular assembly, shown in simplified 3 dimensions. A point on the line signifies a specific composition along the time axis, whereby the three coordinates are amounts of the three different …more

    In 1924, Russian biochemist Alexander Oparin claimed that life on Earth developed through gradual chemical changes of organic molecules, in the "primordial soup" which likely existed on Earth four billion years ago. In his view, the complex combination of lifeless molecules, joining forces within small oily droplets, could assume life faculties—self-replication, selection and evolution. These ideas were received with considerable doubt, still pertaining today.

    Thirty years later, when DNA structure was deciphered, it was realized that this molecule is capable of self-replication, seemingly solving the enigma of life's origin without resort to Oparin's droplets. But critics argued that life requires not only replicators, but also enzyme catalysts to control metabolism. Another 30 years passed before the discovery that RNA, key component in information transfer from DNA to proteins, can also be an enzyme. This is how the concept of "RNA World" was born, whereby life began when the primordial soup gave birth to a ribozyme, which can both replicate and control metabolism.

    Despite this doubts lingered, because a replicating ribosome is a highly complex molecule, with negligible probability of spontaneous appearance in the soup. This led to an alternative concept—mutually catalytic networks, affording the copying of entire molecular ensembles. This idea echoes Oparin's evolving complex combination of simple molecules, each with high likelihood of appearance in the soup. What remained was to generate a detailed chemical model that will help support such a narrative.

    Prof. Doron Lancet and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Dept. of Molecular Genetics came up with such a model. First, it was necessary to identify the appropriate type of molecules, that can accrete together and effectively form networks of mutual interactions, in line with Oparin's droplets. Lancet proposed lipids, oily compounds that spontaneously form the aggregated membranes enclosing all living cells. Lipid bubbles (vesicles) can grow and split much like living cells. This is how Lancet generated the concept "Lipid World" two decades ago.

    To analyze the invoked molecular networks, they have used tools of systems biology and computational chemistry, that allow instilling rigor into the somewhat ephemeral concept of mutually catalytic networks.

    They first address in detail the nagging question of how lipid assemblies can store and transmit information from one growth-split generation to another. They come up with a hitherto rarely explored notion that what gets propagated is compositional information, and show by detailed computer simulations how this happens. Furthermore, they indicate a profound similarity of such composition copying to the way by which growing and proliferating living cells preserve their epigenetic information, that which is independent of DNA replication.

    In an article just appeared in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Lancet and colleagues report an extensive literature survey, showing that lipids can exert enzyme-like catalysis, similar to ribozymes. This s a property crucial for forming the mutual interaction networks. Subsequently, the authors show, using the tools of systems biology and computational chemistry, that the oily droplets can accumulate and store compositional information, and when undergoing fission, transmit the information to progeny.

    Based on the computer model they developed, the scientists demonstrated that specific lipid compositions, called "composomes", can undergo compositional mutations, be subject to natural selection in response to environmental changes, and even undergo Darwinian selection. Prof. Lancet comments that such an information system, which is based on compositions and not on the sequence of chemical "letters" as in DNA, is reminiscent of the realm of epigenetics, where traits are inherited independent of the DNA sequence. This lends credence to the scientists' assumption that life could emerge before the advent of DNA and RNA. In their article they in fact delineate a chemical path that lead to the appearance of genetic material in the framework of the oily droplets.

    Lancet's "Lipid World" concept is contingent upon the question of whether there were sufficient oil-like "water hating" molecules in the primordial soup. Here too, the scientists describe a comprehensive literature search, according to which there is a high probability for such molecules to be present on early Earth. This conclusion was reinforced by a very recent study showing that Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, has a sub-glacial ocean (primordial ocean) replete with "water hating" compounds, some of which could form Lipid World-type droplets. Prof. Lancet contends that these findings, along with innovative model-based computations, show that the probability of life's emergence is relatively high, including the exciting possibility that Enceladus presently harbors some early lipid-based life forms.

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  35. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Mars' South Pole May Hide a Large Underground Lake
    By Meghan Bartels, Senior Writer | July 24, 2018 10:00am ET

    The Red Planet just got quite a bit bluer, with scientists announcing the discovery of what they believe is a lake that's about 12 miles across and hidden below a mile (1.6 kilometers) of ice at the south pole of Mars.

    Scientists have previously offered much weaker evidence for such reservoirs, as well as strong evidence for smaller amounts of water on the planet. But the new findings are still sure to make a splash.

    "It's always exciting when you talk about liquid water on present-day Mars," Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at NASA for the Curiosity mission, told However, he declined to say how confident he is in the study's claims, because he isn't an expert in the kind of radar imagery the team used. "It's exciting because of any implications it might have for the habitability of Mars." [Geometry Helps Solve the Mystery of Mars' Water]

    And it's too early to say what precisely those implications may be. Scientists still need to confirm the discovery itself and understand precisely what characteristics that water may have, which will require missions that have yet to be designed, much less launched.


    An artist's depiction of the Mars Express spacecraft orbiting Mars.
    Credit: ESA
    Water below the ice?
    The new research builds on more than three decades of theorizing by scientists about the chances that water lurks below Mars' polar caps, just as it does here on Earth.

    That idea was first proposed by Steve Clifford, now a planetary scientist specializing in water on Mars at the Planetary Science Institute based in Arizona, who was not involved in the new research. He was inspired by scientists' studies of lakes below the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets here on Earth, he told Those lakes are created when heat from within the planet melts the glaciers in patches. He thought a similar scenario could be happening below the ice caps on Mars — we just didn't have any way to see below the ice.

    The new research attempted to do just that using radar data gathered by an instrument called MARSIS, which uses pulses of radar to study the planet's ionosphere and interior structure. It has been orbiting the planet aboard Mars Express, a European spacecraft, since 2003.


    An artist's depiction of Mars Express in orbit with the spacecraft's radar data on the left. The blue patch represents the team's evidence for subsurface liquid water.
    Credit: ESA, INAF. Graphic rendering by Davide Coero Borga, Media INAF
    The radar signals that MARSIS produces bounce back to Mars Express in different ways depending on what material they hit. And the team behind the new research said the signals MARSIS picked up over the south pole of Mars can be explained only by a large underground pool of liquid water.

    "We discovered water on Mars," lead author Roberto Orosei, the co-investigator on MARSIS and a scientist at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy, said in a video released with the paper. "MARSIS was able to detect echoes from beneath the southern polar cap of Mars that were stronger than surface echoes. This condition on Earth happens only when you observe subglacial water like in Antarctica over places like Lake Vostok." And while the team only has evidence for the one location, they suspect it isn't the only such subglacial lake (Antarctica hides about 400 such features).

    According to the radar echoes, the lake is no more than 12.5 miles (20 km) across and is buried about a mile below the surface of the ice cap. The scientists can't figure out precisely how deep the lake is, but they have confirmed that it is at least 3 feet (1 meter) deep. It must be rather salty, because the ice above it is quite clear and therefore quite cold — if there were pure water below that sort of ice, it would be frozen, the researchers said.

    The team used data spanning three and a half years to make sure that their analysis included multiple passes over the same region. They also considered a couple other scenarios that might have explained the data they saw, including a layer of carbon dioxide ice hiding below the water ice. But the researchers said they came away unsatisfied with those explanations.

    Other scientists may not agree. "I think it's a very, very persuasive argument, but it's not a conclusive or definitive argument," Clifford said. "There's always the possibility that conditions that we haven't foreseen exist at the base of the cap and are responsible for this bright reflection."

    The research is described in a paper published July 25 in the journal Science.


    An artist's depiction of Mars Express over a patch of Planum Australe, with data from the study area superimposed on the planet's surface.
    Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center, Arizona State University, ESA, INAF. Graphic rendering by Davide Coero Borga, Media INAF
    Life means water, but water doesn't mean life
    If future studies confirm that the mysterious layer below the ice is indeed water, scientists will have a host of further questions to tackle about the reservoir before they can make any predictions about what the discovery means for the possibility of life on Mars. [Curiosity Rover Finds Ancient 'Building Blocks for Life' on Mars]

    "If you do have liquid water and you consider its relevance to life, then you also have to go beyond just the fact that it's liquid and ask the temperature that it's at and whether it's able to be used by life," Vasavada said. "Not all liquid water is equal in terms of life's ability to use it." In particular, he pointed to the high salt content that would be needed to keep water liquid at such low temperatures. This level might overwhelm even the most salt-loving life-forms, he suggested.

    Scientists on Earth have drilled through glaciers to sample the water hiding below them and have found microbial life. So if there has ever been life on Mars, that life could theoretically have survived, hidden in this or similar lakes, Clifford suggested.

    "There's no reason to expect that it wouldn't continue to the present day," he said of any ancient microbial life on Mars. "The subsurface is a very, very stable environment compared to the surface of a planet. It's protected from impacts. It's protected from climate change."
  36. southlick

    southlick Better Than You
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  37. angus

    angus Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Elon Musk, but it's now clear that colonising Mars is unlikely – and a bad idea
    August 2, 2018 by Andrew Coates, The Conversation
    Pie in the sky? Mars Ice Home concept. Credit: NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch

    Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk has a vision for colonising Mars, based on a big rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there. This was seen as highly ambitious but technically challenging in several ways. Planetary protection rules and the difficulties of terraforming (making the planet hospitable by, for example, warming it up) and dealing with the harsh radiation were quoted as severe obstacles.

    Undeterred, Musk took a first step towards his aim in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster car into an orbit travelling beyond Mars on the first Falcon Heavy rocket. This dramatically illustrated the increasing launch capability for future missions made available by partnerships between commercial and government agencies.

    But six months later, the plans have started to look more like fantasy. We have since learned that there could be life beneath Mars' surface and that it may be impossible to terraform its surface.

    The possibility that there currently could be life on the red planet was raised last week as scientists reported the discovery of a salt water lake beneath Mars' surface. The lake would be 1.5km below the south polar cap and at least 20km in diameter. This was found from analysis of subsurface radar data from the Mars Express spacecraft. The water is thought to be briny, with the likely magnesium, calcium, and sodium perchlorate salts acting as an antifreeze down to temperatures of perhaps 200K (-73.15°C).

    This is exciting as it is the first definitive detection of liquid water on Mars, and it is possible that there may be further deep lakes elsewhere on the planet. This means there is a real possibility of current life on Mars.

    We already knew life could have existed on Mars in the past. There are several pieces of evidence indicating that Mars was habitable 3.8-4 billion years ago. Data from recent missions – including Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey, Opportunity, Curiosity and Mars Express – have provided mounting evidence that water was present on the surface in streams and lakes with reasonable acidity and that the right chemistry for life to evolve existed there around the time that life was evolving on Earth.

    Mars’ south polar cap, hiding the lake. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
    But Mars lost its magnetic field, which would have protected life from harsh radiation from space, 3.8 billion years ago. This also meant its atmosphere started leaking into space, making it increasingly inhospitable. So living organisms may not have survived.

    But while the new discovery may fuel aspiring colonisers' dreams that the water in the subsurface lake might be usable to sustain a human presence, the reality is very different.

    The risk of contamination means we shouldn't send humans there until we know for sure whether there is naturally evolved life – something that could take years to decades. We will need to drill under the surface and to analyse samples, either in-situ or from material returned to Earth, and find suitable biomarkers to be sure.

    Terraforming plans crushed?

    Perhaps even more damning, the long-suggested idea of terraforming Mars is now firmly locked in the realm of science fiction. Musk has previously indicated that he wants to terraform the planet to make it more Earth-like, so you can "eventually walk around outside without anything on." This would most easily be done by producing an atmosphere made of heat-trapping greenhouse gases locked in the planet's ice in order to raise its temperature and pressure. Musk has suggested that we could drop thermonuclear bombs on the ice at its poles in order to heat it up to release the carbon dioxide.

    But according to a new study, published in Nature Astronomy, Mars has lost so much of its potential greenhouse gases to space over billions of years that there is now no possibility of transforming the remaining atmosphere into a breathable one with available technology.

    An Earth-like Mars? Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr, CC BY-SA
    The study is based on measurements of the recent escape rate of gases to space measured over the last 15 years by Mars Express and the last four years by MAVEN. This can tell us how much effective greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and water are available at Mars. The measurements, combined with knowledge of the inventories of carbon dioxide and water on Mars from recent space missions, show that greenhouses gases locked in the ice caps are not enough to provide the necessary heating.

    More may be available deep within the planet but extracting that is well beyond today's technology. Also, the atmosphere is still being lost due to the lack of a magnetic field, so that would need to be somehow slowed to maintain any changes achieved by terraforming. This means that potential explorers would need to use heavy, airtight walls, roofs or buildings to provide the right atmosphere and the required screening from cosmic radiation.

    While Musk may be disappointed by these new results, most Mars scientists are breathing a sigh of relief. There may be present or past life on Mars, and we can now focus on finding it.

    We will be searching for signs of life with the ESA-Russian ExoMars 2020 rover, and the NASA Mars 2020 missionwill gather samples for eventual return to Earthbound laboratories by around 2030. The results of all this may tell us if there was, is or could be life elsewhere. In our solar system, the best targets are Mars, Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moons Europa and Titan. And these just hint of the potential for life on the many planets beyond our own solar system.

    Mars is bright in our skies this week, the brightest since 2003. The red planet is never far from our thoughts, whether as a potential cradle for life beyond Earth or as a target for humans in the future. We live in exciting times when it comes to space exploration. So let's not spoil one of the largest and most fundamental experiments for humankind by letting dreams of colonisation go too far – at least until we know whether there is life.

    Read more at:
  38. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
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    Happy Birthday to Curiosity.

    oldberg, Bankz, CoastalOrange and 2 others like this.
  39. Soup

    Soup Legend in the making
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    We should probably stop looking for other planets/moons to live and take care of the one we have because it’s unique and likely the only plàce human kind will ever habitat.
  40. Soup

    Soup Legend in the making
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    How the fuck my “a” get that mark above it?
  41. Popovio

    Popovio The poster formerly known as "MouseCop"
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    Clearly you are an elitist, get that fancy shit out of here.
  42. Soup

    Soup Legend in the making
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    You’ve heard my drunk voicemails. That I am clearly not.
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  43. MORBO!

    MORBO! Hello, Tiny Man. I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!!
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    We can walk and chew bubble gum as a society.
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  44. Soup

    Soup Legend in the making
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    You sure about that?
  45. MORBO!

    MORBO! Hello, Tiny Man. I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!!
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  46. lazy bum

    lazy bum active consumer
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    a significant percentage of us can. Problems arise when that percentage is yelled down and unable to drag everyone else forward with them.
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  47. Soup

    Soup Legend in the making
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    Oh you work for NASA? That’s cool.
  48. BP

    BP Bout to Regulate.
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    A few months old but still
  49. Mr Bulldops

    Mr Bulldops Jet fuel cant melt dank memes
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    Delta IV heavy launch at 3:30am this morning from my driveway. I'll never get tired of seeing these

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg
    #2449 Mr Bulldops, Aug 12, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
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  50. Mr Bulldops

    Mr Bulldops Jet fuel cant melt dank memes
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    The coolest part about these launch’s being at 3 in the morning is no one else is around. No cars are driving by, no animals are making noise, it’s just dead silent out. I’m like 45 miles away from the coast, so it takes the sound like 5 minutes to make it that far. So after 5 minutes, when you really can’t even see the rocket anymore all of a sudden it sounds like a freight train is coming down the street for like 2 min