The latest on activities aboard the Int. Space Station in this episode of NASA’s Space to Ground:
The latest on activities aboard the Int. Space Station in this episode of NASA’s Space to Ground:
Below is a video of Sarah Ballard of MIT giving a recent SETI Institute talk titled, Exoplanets: Under a Microscope, and Through a Wide-field Lens –
The Solar System furnishes the most familiar planetary architecture: many planets, orbiting nearly coplanar to one another. We can examine the composition and atmospheres of the Solar System planets in detail, even occasionally in situ. Studies of planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets), in contrast, only begin to approach the precision of humanity’s knowledge of Earth five hundred years ago. I will describe a two-pronged approach to the study of exoplanets.
One approach involves time-intensive investigations of individual planets to eke out bulk density or single molecules in the planetary atmosphere.
Another involves studies of the ensemble properties of planetary systems, and addresses the question of a “typical” planetary system in the Milky Way. In an era with thousands of exoplanet discoveries in hand and thousands more to follow in short order, a judicious combination of these approaches is emerging.
I’ll showcase some of my own detailed findings of other worlds (placing Earth in context), in addition to wider-field studies of typical planet occurrence and formation.
I’ll close with an opportunity, using an existing data set, to make inroads into the singular question driving much of exoplanetary science: the detectability of signatures of life.
ESO (European Southern Observatory) released this report today about an unusual star system first observed by a group of amateur astronomers:
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, along with other telescopes on the ground and in space, have discovered a new type of exotic binary star. In the system AR Scorpii a rapidly spinning white dwarf star powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star, and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio. The research will be published in the journal Nature on 28 July 2016.
In May 2015, a group of amateur astronomers from Germany, Belgium and the UK came across a star system that was exhibiting behaviour unlike anything they had ever encountered. Follow-up observations led by the University of Warwick and using a multitude of telescopes on the ground and in space , have now revealed the true nature of this previously misidentified system.
The star system AR Scorpii, or AR Sco for short, lies in the constellation of Scorpius, 380 light-years from Earth. It comprises a rapidly spinning white dwarf , the size of Earth but containing 200 000 times more mass, and a cool red dwarf companion one third the mass of the Sun , orbiting one another every 3.6 hours in a cosmic dance as regular as clockwork.
This artist’s impression video shows the strange object AR Scorpii. In this unique double star a rapidly spinning white dwarf star powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/University of Warwick
In a unique twist, this binary star system is exhibiting some brutal behaviour. Highly magnetic and spinning rapidly, AR Sco’s white dwarf accelerates electrons up to almost the speed of light. As these high energy particles whip through space, they release radiation in a lighthouse-like beam which lashes across the face of the cool red dwarf star, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically every 1.97 minutes. These powerful pulses include radiation at radio frequencies, which has never been detected before from a white dwarf system.
Lead researcher Tom Marsh of the University of Warwick’s Astrophysics Group commented:
“AR Scorpii was discovered over 40 years ago, but its true nature was not suspected until we started observing it in 2015. We realised we were seeing something extraordinary within minutes of starting the observations.”
The observed properties of AR Sco are unique. They are also mysterious. The radiation across a broad range of frequencies is indicative of emission from electrons accelerated in magnetic fields, which can be explained by AR Sco’s spinning white dwarf. The source of the electrons themselves, however, is a major mystery — it is not clear whether it is associated with the white dwarf itself, or its cooler companion.
AR Scorpii was first observed in the early 1970s and regular fluctuations in brightness every 3.6 hours led it to be incorrectly classified as a lone variable star . The true source of AR Scorpii’s varying luminosity was revealed thanks to the combined efforts of amateur and professional astronomers. Similar pulsing behaviour has been observed before, but from neutron stars — some of the densest celestial objects known in the Universe — rather than white dwarfs.
Boris Gänsicke, co-author of the new study, also at the University of Warwick, concludes:
“We’ve known pulsing neutron stars for nearly fifty years, and some theories predicted white dwarfs could show similar behaviour. It’s very exciting that we have discovered such a system, and it has been a fantastic example of amateur astronomers and academics working together.“
 The observations underlying this research were carried out on: ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) located at Cerro Paranal, Chile; the William Herschel and Isaac Newton Telescopes of the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes sited on the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canaries; the Australia Telescope Compact Array at the Paul Wild Observatory, Narrabri, Australia; the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; and NASA’s Swift satellite.
 White dwarfs form late in the life cycles of stars with masses up to about eight times that of our Sun. After hydrogen fusion in a star’s core is exhausted, the internal changes are reflected in a dramatic expansion into a red giant, followed by a contraction accompanied by the star’s outer layers being blown off in great clouds of dust and gas. Left behind is a white dwarf, Earth-sized but 200 000 times more dense. A single spoonful of the matter making up a white dwarf would weigh about as much as an elephant here on Earth.
 This red dwarf is an M type star. M type stars are the most common class in the Harvard classification system, which uses single letters to group stars according their spectral characteristics. The famously awkward to remember sequence of classes runs: OBAFGKM, and is often remembered using the mnemonic Oh Be A Fine Girl/Guy, Kiss Me.
 A variable star is one whose brightness fluctuates as seen from Earth. The fluctuations may be due to the intrinsic properties of the star itself changing. For instance some stars noticeably expand and contract. It could also be due to another object regularly eclipsing the star. AR Scorpii was mistaken for a single variable star as the orbiting of two stars also results in regular fluctuations in observed brightness.
The Dawn probe orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt has returned detailed imagery of the surface. So small features can now be studied but one mystery that has arisen is the absence of large craters. Somehow such craters have disappeared due to “Ceres’ peculiar composition and internal evolution”:
A new study in the journal Nature Communications explores this puzzle of Ceres’ missing large craters, using data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015.
“We concluded that a significant population of large craters on Ceres has been obliterated beyond recognition over geological time scales, which is likely the result of Ceres’ peculiar composition and internal evolution,” said lead investigator Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Marchi and colleagues modeled collisions of other bodies with Ceres since the dwarf planet formed, and predicted the number of large craters that should have been present on its surface. These models predicted Ceres should have up to 10 to 15 craters larger than 250 miles (400 kilometers) in diameter, and at least 40 craters larger than 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide. However, Dawn has shown that Ceres has only 16 craters larger than 60 miles, and none larger than 175 miles (280 kilometers) across.
One idea about Ceres’ origins holds that it formed farther out in the solar system, perhaps in the vicinity of Neptune, but migrated in to its present location. However, scientists determined that even if Ceres migrated into the main asteroid belt relatively late in solar system history, it should still have a significant number of large craters.
“Whatever the process or processes were, this obliteration of large craters must have occurred over several hundred millions of years,” Marchi said.
Dawn’s images of Ceres reveal that the dwarf planet has at least three large-scale depressions called “planitiae” that are up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) wide. These planitiae have craters in them that formed in more recent times, but the larger depressions could be left over from bigger impacts. One of them, called Vendimia Planitia, is a sprawling area just north of Kerwan crater, Ceres’ largest well-defined impact basin. Vendimia Planitia must have formed much earlier than Kerwan.
One reason for the lack of large craters could be related the interior structure of Ceres. There is evidence from Dawn that the upper layers of Ceres contain ice. Because ice is less dense than rock, the topography could “relax,” or smooth out, more quickly if ice or another lower-density material, such as salt, dominates the subsurface composition. Recent analysis of the center of Ceres’ Occator Crater suggests that the salts found there could be remnants of a frozen ocean under the surface, and that liquid water could have been present in Ceres’ interior.
Past hydrothermal activity, which may have influenced the salts rising to the surface at Occator, could also have something to do with the erasure of craters. If Ceres had widespread cryovolcanic activity in the past — the eruption of volatiles such as water — these cryogenic materials also could have flowed across the surface, possibly burying pre-existing large craters. Smaller impacts would have then created new craters on the resurfaced area.
“Somehow Ceres has healed its largest impact scars and renewed old, cratered surfaces,” Marchi said.
Ceres differs from Dawn’s previous destination, protoplanet Vesta, in terms of cratering. Although Vesta is only half the size of Ceres, it has a well-preserved 300-mile- (500-kilometer) -wide crater called Rheasilvia, where an impacting asteroid knocked out a huge chunk of the body. This and other large craters suggest that Vesta has not had processes at work to smooth its surface, perhaps because it is thought to have much less ice. Dawn visited Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012.
“The ability to compare these two very different worlds in the asteroid belt — Vesta and Ceres — is one of the great strengths of the Dawn mission,” Marchi said.
Dawn’s mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit: dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission
More information about Dawn is available at the following sites:
On Sunday, interns at United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Ball Aerospace in Colorado flew a 50 foot (15.24 m) rocket that they built this summer. The “Future Heavy” rocket carried 16 payloads developed by interns and students as well.
Here is a press release about the launch: United Launch Alliance and Ball Aerospace Interns, Colorado Students Participate in Record-setting – ULA –
1. Monday, July25 , 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. RISHABH MAHARAJA to the program to discuss the Hermes Project.
3. Friday, July 29, 2016: 2016; 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT) We welcome back DR. ERIK SEEDHOUSE with some of his students for a special Space Show program.
4. Sunday, July 31, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. First time callers are welcome. All topics regarding space and STEM issues are welcome.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Yesterday Copenhagen Suborbitals launched their rocket Nexø I, their most advanced vehicle yet, from a floating platform in the Baltic Sea. (See earlier posting). The good news is that the rocket lifted off successfully with its liquid-fueled engine (Ethanol and Liquid Oxygen) and active guidance system and was successfully recovered. The bad news is that it failed to reach its planned altitude and the parachute system failed to open: The Nexø I rocket launched – Copenhagen Suborbitals –
It was a beautiful launch with a not so great landing. The rocket flew to about 1514 meters before a catastrophic failure occurred.
Even though it didn’t go completely as planed we still see it as a partially success. A lot of sub systems actually work as they should.
We managed to recover the rocket. We will therefore have a good chance of finding the root cause of the failure.
We will post more about the launch and crash after we have had a closer look at the rocket and telemetry data.
Here is a video of the webcast. The countdown to liftoff starts at the 3 hr 20 min 8 sec mark:
Today there is some preliminary analysis: Preliminary impressions from Nexø I flight event. – Copenhagen Suborbitals
We have not yet had opportunity to examine data, parts or footage.
A tentative speculation on root cause would be simple LOX [Liquid Oxygen] overload. In other words a problem with measuring the correct amount of LOX in the tank, which we have encountered previously, and worked on solving via several methods. We will look into this.
Too much LOX will result in a too small gas pocket in the tank – which equals too little gas propellant energy and a premature loss of tank pressure in the LOX tank, again resulting in an increasing O/F-ratio mismatch. The engine subsequently extinguished.
The GNC didn’t detect acceleration below minimum, as this detection was removed from the algorithm prior to the mission, based on the fact that the acceleration, through the use of pressure blow-down at relatively low altitude, would be very low before the occurrence of MECO.
The GNC instead used the chamber pressure. This was low at an unusually early time. The GNC treated this as a sensor failure, and instead an estimated pressure, based on a table generated from earlier tests, was used.
Thus the GNC didn’t signal the deployment of the parachute, as it was under the (false) impression that the engine was still operating as expected.
Here is a video for the Science Fiction/Future Now panel at Comic-Con:
Science fiction has ever been the muse of real-world advances, but now ideas can be achieved almost as soon as they are thought up. So how do writers, out-dream the dream makers? How do writers handle the truth of real science and the fiction that is needed for writing their stories? Is it a crisis for the writer’s imagination? Or does it serve to inspire?
The panelists include:
Over the years I’ve posted several times about the Martin Jetpack in development in New Zealand. The vehicle is now going into production and the company is hoping to find markets in a number of different areas. Bubba Watson’s suggestion of a Jet Pack golf cart is tongue-in-cheek but it does inspire thoughts of unusual applications that might actually be practical: Bubba Watson’s crazy jetpack golf cart takes clubs to new heights – CNET –
This video presents somewhat more realistic applications:
The Jetpack deploys a parachute in case of engine failure. Here is a video about tests of the fast deployment mechanism:
Bonhams in New York City held a “Space History” auction on Wednesday: The space auction where a Sputnik model goes for $269,000 – The Verge (lots of pictures included)
More than 280 items were for sale at Bonhams; all told, they racked up a combined total of $1,315,063. Among the most expensive items was a set of 15 gold-colored plaster casts of the right hand of 15 NASA astronauts, including those of Neil Armstrong and the ubiquitous Buzz Aldrin. The casts, which sold for $155,000, were used to make perfectly fitting space suit gloves in 1967. A flown space suit worn in 2003 by Don Pettit aboard the Soyuz TMA-1, following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, sold for $62,500.—
This article discusses not just the Bonham auction but space memorabilia collecting in general: Buying Space Memorabilia Can Be Cheaper Than You’d Think – WIRED
Still, [Robert Pearlman of collectSpace.com] says, it doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. “You don’t need to be able to afford anything more than a stamp,” he says, to send NASA a request for an astronaut autograph. “Bonhams represents a very specific audience. Their bid amounts and their valuations are high—not unheard of and not unwarranted for what they’re auctioning. But for under $100, you could build a very respectable collection.”
The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum is currently displaying a collection of Apollo 11 related artifacts: Smithsonian debuts Neil Armstrong gloves on display, reveals Apollo 11 3D model – collectSPACE.
Check out the new interactive 3D model of the Apollo 11 capsule here. This video is about the making of the digital model of the capsule:
NASA’s weekly Space to Ground reviews a busy week for the Int. Space Station:
NOAA’s DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) spacecraft has a clear view of the hemisphere of the Earth facing the Sun. This can give it a great view of the Moon and Earth together. In the video below, I concantenated three videos produced by the EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Camera) on DSCOVR, two of which show the Moon crossing the face of the Earth and one showing the Earth eclipsing the Moon.
The reason that the DSCOVR spacecraft can obtain such views is because it sits a million miles away from Earth on the L1 Lagrange point (see diagram below). L1 is one of five Lagrange spots where an object can remain fixed relative to the earth due to the counterbalancing pulls of the Sun and Earth’s gravitational forces and the inertia of the object.
Diagram of DSCOVR at the L1 point. (Credits NOAA).
Here is a new video that shows a time lapse of one year of DSCOVR images of Earth:
A new report from the Hubble space observatory:
Fifty years ago Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise began their journey into space — the final frontier. Now, as the newest Star Trek film hits cinemas, the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope is also exploring new frontiers, observing distant galaxies in the galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as part of the Frontier Fields programme.
Space… the final frontier. These are the stories of the Hubble Space Telescope. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds and to boldly look where no telescope has looked before.
The newest target of Hubble’s mission is the distant galaxy cluster Abell S1063, potentially home to billions of strange new worlds.
This video begins with a view of the night sky from the ground, before zooming in on the distant galaxy cluster Abell S1063 as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope sees it. The cluster was observed as part of the Frontier Fields programme. Credit: Fuji/DSS/Hubble. Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com)
This view of the cluster, which can be seen in the centre of the image, shows it as it was four billion years ago. But Abell S1063 allows us to explore a time even earlier than this, where no telescope has really looked before. The huge mass of the cluster distorts and magnifies the light from galaxies that lie behind it due to an effect called gravitational lensing. This allows Hubble to see galaxies that would otherwise be too faint to observe and makes it possible to search for, and study, the very first generation of galaxies in the Universe. “Fascinating”, as a famous Vulcan might say.
The first results from the data on Abell S1063 promise some remarkable new discoveries. Already, a galaxy has been found that is observed as it was just a billion years after the Big Bang.
Astronomers have also identified sixteen background galaxies whose light has been distorted by the cluster, causing multiple images of them to appear on the sky. This will help astronomers to improve their models of the distribution of both ordinary and dark matter in the galaxy cluster, as it is the gravity from these that causes the distorting effects. These models are key to understanding the mysterious nature of dark matter.
This video pans over NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations of the galaxy cluster Abell S1063, which were made as part of the Frontier Fields programme. The many galaxies within the cluster become clearly visible, as well as the background galaxies, enlarged by gravitational lensing. Credit: ESA/Hubble. Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com)
Abell S1063 is not alone in its ability to bend light from background galaxies, nor is it the only one of these huge cosmic lenses to be studied using Hubble. Three other clusters have already been observed as part of the Frontier Fields programme, and two more will be observed over the next few years, giving astronomers a remarkable picture of how they work and what lies both within and beyond them .
Data gathered from the previous galaxy clusters were studied by teams all over the world, enabling them to make important discoveries, among them galaxies that existed only hundreds of million years after the Big Bang (heic1523) and the first predicted appearance of a gravitationally lensed supernova (heic1525).
Such an extensive international collaboration would have made Gene Roddenberry, the father of Star Trek, proud. In the fictional world Roddenberry created, a diverse crew work together to peacefully explore the Universe. This dream is partially achieved by the Hubble programme in which the European Space Agency (ESA), supported by 22 member states, and NASA collaborate to operate one of the most sophisticated scientific instruments in the world. Not to mention the scores of other international science teams that cross state, country and continental borders to achieve their scientific aims.
 The Hubble Frontier Fields is a three-year, 840-orbit programme which will yield the deepest views of the Universe to date, combining the power of Hubble with the gravitational amplification of light around six different galaxy clusters to explore more distant regions of space than could otherwise be seen.
SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon Cargo vehicle on a Falcon 9 rocket late Sunday night. The Dragon reached the Int. Space Station this morning and berthed to it. The first stage of the Falcon 9 returned for a landing a few minutes after liftoff. Below are videos of the F9 launch, the booster landing, and the Dragon rendezvous and berthing.
And two videos of the first stage booster landing:
The Dragon approaches the ISS:
And astronauts on the station reach out and grab the Dragon with the station’s robotic arm and bring it in for attachment to a port:
Today is the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. There will be a new documentary debuting today – Go: The Great Race – Moon Landing Special on ‘Through the Decades’ – Decades TV Network – July 20, 2016 – but there are many older ones available on line, e.g.:
Today on The Space Show (7-8:30 pm PDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT, 9-10:30 pm CDT) Rand Simberg and Bill Simon will discuss the Evoloterra ceremony. See my report here on Our Evoloterra evening from a few years ago.
Today is also the 40th anniversary of the landing of the first Viking spacecraft on Mars:
This Saturday Copenhagen Suborbitals will attempt to launch its most ambitious rocket. The Nexø I uses a liquid propellant engine and an active guidance system. Find updates and webcast info at The Nexø I Mission.
Here is the press release:
Danish amateur rocket builders launch their most advanced rocket yet.This summer, Copenhagen Suborbitals are launching the Nexø I rocket, as the next step towards their goal of flying an amateur astronaut into space. The rocket is the first of the Nexø Class to fly, named after the city of Nexø on the Bornholm island that hosts the Danish spaceport. Standing 5,6 m tall, Nexø I is the first, fully guided and liquid fuelled rocket built by the group. Launched from the Mobile launch platform Sputnik on the Baltic Sea east of Denmark, it can fly up to 6-10 km before landing back in the ocean by parachute.
“These days everyone is working around the clock to make the mission happen” says Kristian Elof Sørensen, Chairman of Copenhagen Suborbitals. “Nexø I is the most advanced rocket we have ever built, and a successful mission this year is important for our effort to build a rocket big enough to put a man in space.”
Copenhagen Suborbitals have built and launched rockets from Denmark since 2011, when their HEAT-1X made headlines as the biggest, amateur rocket ever flown. The group is the world’s only manned, amateur space programme, with 55 volunteers building rockets and space capsules in a central copenhagen workshop, all completely crowdfunded.
“Nexø I will not fly into space, but the technologies we are testing are the same needed to build our manned rocket, Spica” says Kristian Elof Sørensen. “The Spica rocket is so big that it makes sense to build smaller rockets first to test the subsystems on a smaller scale.”The flight will happen between July 23rd and September 1st, with the actual date depending on weather conditions. The first possible launch window is Saturday july 23rd. “The rocket is ready, so we are now following the weather forecasts very closely. We need a calm day and waves under 0.5 meters in the Baltic sea for the launch” says Kristian Elof Sørensen
Read more – and see the launch live at: copsub.com
Here is a video about Final adjustments of the ballute and parachute before launch of the Nexø 1 rocket:
The Kepler space telescope continues to find more planets around other stars:
An international team of astronomers has discovered and confirmed a treasure trove of new worlds using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission. Among the findings tallying 197 initial planet candidates, scientists have confirmed 104 planets outside our solar system. Among the confirmed is a planetary system comprising four promising planets that could be rocky.The planets, all between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth by diameter, are orbiting the M dwarf star K2-72, found 181 light years away in the direction of the Aquarius constellation. The host star is less than half the size of the sun and less bright. The planets’ orbital periods range from five and a half to 24 days, and two of them may experience irradiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits — closer than Mercury’s orbit around the sun — the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to lead author Crossfield, a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
The researchers achieved this extraordinary “roundup” of exoplanets by combining data with follow-up observations by earth-based telescopes including the North Gemini telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the Automated Planet Finder of the University of California Observatories, and the Large Binocular Telescope operated by the University of Arizona. The discoveries are published online in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Both Kepler and its K2 mission discover new planets by measuring the subtle dip in a star’s brightness caused by a planet passing in front of its star. In its initial mission, Kepler surveyed just one patch of sky in the northern hemisphere, determining the frequency of planets whose size and temperature might be similar to Earth orbiting stars similar to our sun. In the spacecraft’s extended mission in 2013, it lost its ability to precisely stare at its original target area, but a brilliant fix created a second life for the telescope that is proving scientifically fruitful.
After the fix, Kepler started its K2 mission, which has provided an ecliptic field of view with greater opportunities for Earth-based observatories in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Additionally, the K2 mission is entirely community-driven with all targets proposed by the scientific community.
Because it covers more of the sky, the K2 mission is capable of observing a larger fraction of cooler, smaller, red-dwarf type stars, and because such stars are much more common in the Milky Way than sun-like stars, nearby stars will predominantly be red dwarfs.
“An analogy would be to say that Kepler performed a demographic study, while the K2 mission focuses on the bright and nearby stars with different types of planets,” said Ian Crossfield. “The K2 mission allows us to increase the number of small, red stars by a factor of 20, significantly increasing the number of astronomical ‘movie stars’ that make the best systems for further study.”
To validate candidate planets identified by K2, the researchers obtained high-resolution images of the planet-hosting stars as well as high-resolution optical spectroscopy. By dispersing the starlight as through a prism, the spectrographs allowed the researchers to infer the physical properties of a star — such as mass, radius and temperature — from which the properties of any planets orbiting it can be inferred.
“This bountiful list of validated exoplanets from the K2 mission highlights the fact that the targeted examination of bright stars and nearby stars along the ecliptic is providing many interesting new planets,” said Steve Howell, project scientist for the K2 mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “These targets allow the astronomical community ease of follow-up and characterization, providing a few gems for first study by the James Webb Space Telescope, which could perhaps tell us about the planets’ atmospheres.”
This work was performed in part under contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) funded by NASA through the Sagan Fellowship Program executed by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute.
NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
For more information on the Kepler and the K2 mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/kepler
For more information about exoplanets, visit: exoplanets.nasa.gov/
1. Monday, July18 , 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): No show as am at conference.
2. Tuesday, July 19, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) No show as am at conference.
5. Sunday, July 24, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): Dr. Jeff Bell is back with us for more interesting perspective about commercial space and space development.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.