European space officials say they’re investigating whether the inaccurate deployment of two satellites will complicate their efforts to develop a new Galileo satellite navigation system that would rival America’s GPS network.
The European Space Agency and launch company Arianespace say the satellites ended up in off-target orbits after being launched Friday from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a Soyuz rocket.
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking. This find could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon’s frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this “breakdown weathering” process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon’s polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system’s past, may be more active than previously thought.
NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager’s historic footage of Triton has been “restored” and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon. The video may be watched here. The map, produced by Paul Schenk, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, has also been used to make a movie recreating that historic Voyager encounter, which took place 25 years ago, on August 25, 1989.
The new Triton map has a resolution of 1,970 feet (600 meters) per pixel. The colors have been enhanced to bring out contrast but are a close approximation to Triton’s natural colors. Voyager’s “eyes” saw in colors slightly different from human eyes, and this map was produced using orange, green and blue filter images.
Toothpaste Ingredient May Have Formed in Dying Stars
The fluorine that is found in products such as toothpaste was likely formed billions of years ago in now dead stars of the same type as our sun. This has been shown by astronomers at Lund Univ. in Sweden, together with colleagues from Ireland and the U.S.
Fluorine can be found in everyday products such as toothpaste and fluorine chewing gum. However, the origins of the chemical element have been somewhat of a mystery. There have been three main theories about where it was created. The findings now presented support the theory that fluorine is formed in stars similar to the sun but heavier, towards the end of their existence. The sun and the planets in our solar system have then been formed out of material from these dead stars.
There is nothing like a head cold to make us feel a little dazed. We get things like colds and the flu because of changes in our immune system. Researchers have a good idea what causes immune system changes on Earth — things like stress, inadequate sleep and improper nutrition. But the results of two NASA collaborative investigations — Validation of Procedures for Monitoring Crewmember Immune Function (Integrated Immune) and Clinical Nutrition Assessment of ISS Astronauts, SMO-016E (Clinical Nutrition Assessment) — recently published in the Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research suggest that spaceflight may temporarily alter the immune system of crew members flying long duration missions aboard the International Space Station. This is of concern as NASA looks ahead to six-month and multiple-year missions to asteroids, the moon and Mars because something as simple as a cold or the flu can be risky business in space.
Image of the Week: Astronauts Release Tiny Satellite
Spacewalking astronauts launched a tiny Peruvian research satellite Monday, setting it loose on a mission to observe Earth.
Russian Oleg Artemiev cast the four-inch box off with his gloved right hand as the International Space Station sailed 260 miles above the cloud-flecked planet. The nanosatellite gently tumbled as it cleared the vicinity of the orbiting complex, precisely as planned.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Expedition 40 flight engineer, has installed Capillary Channel Flow (CCF) experiment hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) located in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. CCF is a versatile experiment for studying a critical variety of inertial-capillary dominated flows key to spacecraft systems that cannot be studied on the ground.
An international team of sky scholars, including a key researcher from Johns Hopkins, has produced new maps of the material located between the stars in the Milky Way. The results should move astronomers closer to cracking a stardust puzzle that has vexed them for nearly a century.
The maps and an accompanying journal article appear in today’s issue of the journal Science. The researchers say their work demonstrates a new way of uncovering the location and eventually the composition of the interstellar medium — the material found in the vast expanse between star systems within a galaxy.
Scientists say seven microscopic particles collected by NASA’s comet-chasing spacecraft, Stardust, appear to have originated outside our solar system. If confirmed, this would be the world’s first sampling of contemporary interstellar dust.
"They are very precious particles," the team leader, physicist Andrew Westphal of UC Berkeley, said in a statement.
A Purdue Univ. student team has designed, built and tested a critical part of a new a rocket engine as part of a NASA project to develop spacecraft technologies needed to land on the moon, Mars and other cosmic venues.
The students are making a central part of the new engine - called the thrust chamber or combustor — as part of NASA’s Project Morpheus. The project aims to develop a prototype vehicle capable of vertical takeoff and landing using an autonomous system.
Researchers at the Univ. of Tennessee Knoxville have made a novel discovery that may potentially protect the world from future collisions with asteroids.
The team studied near-Earth asteroid 1950 DA and discovered that the body, which rotates so quickly it defies gravity, is held together by cohesive forces, called van der Waals, never before detected on an asteroid.
Engineer Jack Marshall held his breath. The “heart” of the James Webb Space Telescope hung from a cable 30 feet in the air as it was lowered slowly into the massive thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
This “heart” of Webb is called the ISIM or Integrated Science Instrument Module, which along with its thermal vacuum test frame and supporting hardware, weighs about as much as an elephant. Within this test frame, ISIM sits inside a big-mirrored cube of cryo-panels and blankets. This process can be seen in a video by a Goddard videographer.
All the superlatives associated with Orion’s first mission this year – farthest a spacecraft for humans has gone in 40 years, largest heat shield, safest vehicle ever built – can be dazzling, no doubt. But the reason engineers are chomping at the bit for Orion’s first mission is the promise of crucial flight test data that can be applied to the design for future missions. Orion only has two flight test opportunities before astronauts climb aboard for the first crewed mission in 2021 – so gleaning the maximum information possible from Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 in December (and later, Exploration Mission-1 in 2017) is of the highest priority.
Water is thought to be embedded in the moon’s rocks or, if cold enough, “stuck” on their surfaces. It’s predominantly found at the poles. But scientists probably won’t find it intact on the sunlit side.
New research at the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that ultraviolet photons emitted by the sun likely cause H2O molecules to either quickly desorb or break apart. The fragments of water may remain on the lunar surface, but the presence of useful amounts of water on the sunward side is not likely.