A NASA video showing views from the Int. Space Station of tropical storms in the Pacific and the Atlantic:
A NASA video showing views from the Int. Space Station of tropical storms in the Pacific and the Atlantic:
TMRO.tv has posted a video of its latest live program: NASA’s Lunar Flashlight – TMRO
Dr. Barbara Cohen leads the planetary science group at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Currently, Dr. Cohen is a Principal Investigator on multiple NASA Science Mission Directorate projects and is a Co-Investigator on several spacecraft and instrument proposal teams, including the Mars Exploration Rovers (Opportunity) and Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity). She is the Principal Investigator for the Lunar Flashlight mission, which will send a cubesat to the Moon in 2018 to search for water ice frost.
News topics discussed:
* Ariane 5 launches Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36
* Exoplanet Discovered Around Nearest Star, But It’s A Terrible Place For Life To Be
* SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth from ISS
* NASA Hears From Lost Spacecraft After 2 Years
* Astronauts install new docking adapter
* Juno To Make Closest Approach to Jupiter Today
TMRO is viewer supported:
TMRO:Space is a crowd funded shows. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
1. Monday, August 29, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back KERI KUKRAL for Raw Science TV updates.
2. Tuesday, August 30, 2016: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT) We welcome back DR. DORIT DONOVIEL to discuss the Vision Impairment and Intracranial Pressure issue (VIIP).
3. Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016: 9:30-10:30 AM PDT (12:30-1:30 PM EDT,): We welcome back DR. PAT HYNES to discuss the upcoming ISPCS 2016 (Int. Symposium on Personal and Commercial Spaceflight) in Las Cruces, NM.
5. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): NO SHOW TODAY DUE TO LABOR DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
The electronic music group STS9 has a new album out called The Universe Inside, which was prompted by two special gold records : Stream: STS9’s new album The Universe Inside, plus read a Q&A with the band – Consequence of Sound
They were inspired by the twin Golden Records included on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes, on which were the sounds that defined what it meant to be human. As such, The Universe Inside “is an album about human identity and the magical truth of who we are, where we’re going, and our place in the Universe,” as a press release puts it.
Here is a video of one of the tracks on the album:
Here is the latest Space to Ground report from NASA on recent activities related to the ISS:
Today the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft returned from the Int. Space Station, where it had been berthed since July, for a safe landing in the Pacific: SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples – NASA
This video shows the departure of the Dragon from the ISS early this morning:
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program held its annual NIAC Symposium this week in Raleigh, North Carolina. Videos of the presentations are now available on Livestream. (See also postings for previous NIAC symposiums.)
Here is a sampling of the sessions:
More about Stephanie Thomas’s presentation at NIAC Pluto mission talk now available online – Princeton Satellite Systems.
This ESO (European Southern Observatory) report has had probably the most violated embargo of any ESO news. Great to see the full report finally made available to everyone:
Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star
Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri
Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016.
Just over four light-years from the Solar System lies a red dwarf star that has been named Proxima Centauri as it is the closest star to Earth apart from the Sun. This cool star in the constellation of Centaurus is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye and lies near to the much brighter pair of stars known as Alpha Centauri AB.
During the first half of 2016 Proxima Centauri was regularly observed with the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile and simultaneously monitored by other telescopes around the world . This was the Pale Red Dot campaign, in which a team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from Queen Mary University of London, was looking for the tiny back and forth wobble of the star that would be caused by the gravitational pull of a possible orbiting planet .
As this was a topic with very wide public interest, the progress of the campaign between mid-January and April 2016 was shared publicly as it happened on the Pale Red Dot website and via social media. The reports were accompanied by numerous outreach articles written by specialists around the world.
Guillem Anglada-Escudé explains the background to this unique search:
“The first hints of a possible planet were spotted back in 2013, but the detection was not convincing. Since then we have worked hard to get further observations off the ground with help from ESO and others. The recent Pale Red Dot campaign has been about two years in the planning.”
The Pale Red Dot data, when combined with earlier observations made at ESO observatories and elsewhere, revealed the clear signal of a truly exciting result. At times Proxima Centauri is approaching Earth at about 5 kilometres per hour — normal human walking pace — and at times receding at the same speed. This regular pattern of changing radial velocities repeats with a period of 11.2 days. Careful analysis of the resulting tiny Doppler shifts showed that they indicated the presence of a planet with a mass at least 1.3 times that of the Earth, orbiting about 7 million kilometres from Proxima Centauri — only 5% of the Earth-Sun distance .
Guillem Anglada-Escudé comments on the excitement of the last few months:
“I kept checking the consistency of the signal every single day during the 60 nights of the Pale Red Dot campaign. The first 10 were promising, the first 20 were consistent with expectations, and at 30 days the result was pretty much definitive, so we started drafting the paper!”
Red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri are active stars and can vary in ways that would mimic the presence of a planet. To exclude this possibility the team also monitored the changing brightness of the star very carefully during the campaign using the ASH2 telescope at the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations Observatory in Chile and the Las Cumbres Observatory telescope network. Radial velocity data taken when the star was flaring were excluded from the final analysis.
Although Proxima b orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun in the Solar System, the star itself is far fainter than the Sun. As a result Proxima b lies well within the habitable zone around the star and has an estimated surface temperature that would allow the presence of liquid water. Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and X-ray flares from the star — far more intense than the Earth experiences from the Sun .
Two separate papers discuss the habitability of Proxima b and its climate. They find that the existence of liquid water on the planet today cannot be ruled out and, in such case, it may be present over the surface of the planet only in the sunniest regions, either in an area in the hemisphere of the planet facing the star (synchronous rotation) or in a tropical belt (3:2 resonance rotation). Proxima b’s rotation, the strong radiation from its star and the formation history of the planet makes its climate quite different from that of the Earth, and it is unlikely that Proxima b has seasons.
This video takes the viewer from Earth to the closest star, Proxima Centauri. Here we can see the planet Proxima b, which orbits its red dwarf star every 11.2 days. This planet orbits within the habitable zone, shown in green, which means that liquid water could exist on its surface. Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo, ESO. Music by Lyford Rome
This discovery will be the beginning of extensive further observations, both with current instruments  and with the next generation of giant telescopes such as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Proxima b will be a prime target for the hunt for evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe. Indeed, the Alpha Centauri system is also the target of humankind’s first attempt to travel to another star system, the StarShot project.
A numerical simulation of possible surface temperatures on Proxima b performed with the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique’s Planetary Global Climate Model. Here it is hypothesised that the planet possesses an Earth-like atmosphere and that it is covered by an ocean (the dashed line is the frontier between the liquid and icy oceanic surface). Two models exist for the planet’s rotation. Here the planet is in synchronous rotation (like the Moon around the Earth), and is seen as a distant observer would do during one full orbit. Another model is that it is trapped in a so-called 3:2 resonance (a natural frequency for the orbit).
Two additional papers about Proxima b’s possibility for habitability are described at proximacentauri.info. Credit: M. Turbet/I. Ribas/ESO
Guillem Anglada-Escudé concludes:
“Many exoplanets have been found and many more will be found, but searching for the closest potential Earth-analogue and succeeding has been the experience of a lifetime for all of us. Many people’s stories and efforts have converged on this discovery. The result is also a tribute to all of them. The search for life on Proxima b comes next…”
 Besides data from the recent Pale Red Dot campaign, the paper incorporates contributions from scientists who have been observing Proxima Centauri for many years. These include members of the original UVES/ESO M-dwarf programme (Martin Kürster and Michael Endl), and exoplanet search pioneers such as R. Paul Butler. Public observations from the HARPS/Geneva team obtained over many years were also included.
 The detection reported today has been technically possible for the last 10 years. In fact, signals with smaller amplitudes have been detected previously. However, stars are not smooth balls of gas and Proxima Centauri is an active star. The robust detection of Proxima b has only been possible after reaching a detailed understanding of how the star changes on timescales from minutes to a decade, and monitoring its brightness with photometric telescopes.
 The actual suitability of this kind of planet to support water and Earth-like life is a matter of intense but mostly theoretical debate. Major concerns that count against the presence of life are related to the closeness of the star. For example gravitational forces probably lock the same side of the planet in perpetual daylight, while the other side is in perpetual night. The planet’s atmosphere might also slowly be evaporating or have more complex chemistry than Earth’s due to stronger ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, especially during the first billion years of the star’s life. However, none of the arguments has been proven conclusively and they are unlikely to be settled without direct observational evidence and characterisation of the planet’s atmosphere. Similar factors apply to the planets recently found around TRAPPIST-1.
 Some methods to study a planet’s atmosphere depend on it passing in front of its star and the starlight passing through the atmosphere on its way to Earth. Currently there is no evidence that Proxima b transits across the disc of its parent star, and the chances of this happening seem small, but further observations to check this possibility are in progress.
And here is the orbital Pixar Luxo Jr. animation released on August 17, 1986:
Deep Space Industries is an asteroid mining company, changing the economics of the space industry by providing the technical resources, capabilities and system integration required to prospect for, harvest, process, manufacture and market in-space resources. These resources, found on easily accessible near Earth asteroids, will provide unlimited energy and supplies for a growing space economy. We are joined by DSI CEO Daniel Faber to talk about the new space economy and how mining asteroids can change the way we explore the cosmos.
TMRO:Space is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
Explore this Mars panorama by moving the view with your mouse or mobile device. This 360-degree panorama was acquired on Aug. 5, 2016, by the Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover as the rover neared features called “Murray Buttes” on lower Mount Sharp. The dark, flat-topped mesa seen to the left of the rover’s arm is about 50 feet (about 15 meters) high and, near the top, about 200 feet (about 60 meters) wide.
If you can’t move the view:
Important note: Not all browsers support viewing 360 videos/images. YouTube supports uploading and playback of 360 degree videos/images on computers using Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera browsers.
If your browser does not support 360, a static view of this same panorama image is available at:
Download raw images used to make this 360-degree mosaic from:
From the press release that accompanied this image:
Eroded mesas and buttes reminiscent of the U.S. Southwest shape part of the horizon in the latest 360-degree color panorama from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.
The sweeping view that marks Curiosity’s arrival at “Murray Buttes” on lower Mount Sharp is online at:
The rover used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) to capture dozens of component images of this scene on Aug. 5, 2016, four years after Curiosity’s landing inside Gale Crater.
The visual drama of Murray Buttes along Curiosity’s planned route up lower Mount Sharp was anticipated when the site was informally named nearly three years ago to honor Caltech planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013), a former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL manages the Curiosity mission for NASA.
The buttes and mesas are capped with rock that is relatively resistant to wind erosion. This helps preserve these monumental remnants of a layer that formerly more fully covered the underlying layer that the rover is now driving on.
Early in its mission on Mars, Curiosity accomplished its main goal when it found and examined an ancient habitable environment. In an extended mission, the rover is examining successively younger layers as it climbs the lower part of Mount Sharp. A key goal is to learn how freshwater lake conditions, which would have been favorable for microbes billions of years ago if Mars has ever had life, evolved into harsher, arid conditions much less suited to supporting life. The mission is also monitoring the modern environment of Mars.
These findings have been addressing high-priority goals for planetary science and further aid NASA’s preparations for a human mission to the Red Planet.
For more information about Curiosity, visit:
Check out also this stereo image of Boulders at ‘Bimbe’ on Lower Mount Sharp, Mars (Stereo) – Mars Science Laboratory
Here is this week’s episode of NASA’s Space to Ground report on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
The vehicle differs from a soft walled balloon and from a conventional Zeppelin type of airship. The goal is to combine the short takeoff and landing capabilities of a balloon with the control, stability, speed, and range of an aircraft. Only about 60% of the lift comes from the helium filled volume. The rest of the lift arises from the aerodynamic shape when driven forward by the propellers.
As described by the company:
The largest aircraft currently flying uses innovative technology to combine the best characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft. It can stay airborne for up to five days at a time if manned, and for over 2 weeks unmanned. It will fulfill a wide range of communication, cargo carrying and survey roles in both the military and commercial sectors all with a significantly lower carbon footprint than other forms of air transport.
Airlander 10 is underpinned by the company’s numerous patents vested worldwide. From the latest materials technology, to the aerodynamic effects of its shape, it is full of innovation. There is no internal structure in the Airlander – it maintains its shape due to the pressure stabilisation of the helium inside the hull, and the smart and strong Vectran material it is made of. Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings.
More about the test in this press release:
Airlander 10 has successfully completed its first flight. All objectives of the planned flight were accomplished and the aircraft is now safely back at its masting site.
Airlander 10 took off from the historic Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England at approximately 19:45 on Wednesday 17th of August, after a short flight it landed at 20:00, before dark.
The two Test Pilots were ecstatic about the flight and the flight performance of Airlander during its time in the air.
Cardington, Bedfordshire, UK – The first flight of Airlander 10 is a historic success and marks the commencement of Airlander 10’s Flight Test Programme which is expected to last for a number of months. After this the aircraft will begin a series of Trials and Demonstrations with prospective customers.
Airlander 10 has been widely hailed as an innovation that will have a hugely positive impact on the world by providing low carbon aviation and brand new capabilities in the sky.
Customer interest is strong due to these game-changing capabilities of the Airlander – it offers a stable platform with huge amounts of power and space for search & rescue or communications equipment, and also offers a unique passenger experience.
Chief Test Pilot Dave Burns said,
“It was privilege to fly the Airlander for the first time and it flew wonderfully. I’m really excited about getting it airborne. It flew like a dream.”
A confirmatory Pre-flight test began at 0900 this morning and once Technical Director Mike Durham, Chief Test Pilot David Burns and Ground Operations Chief Alex Travell were all in agreement, clearance was granted for First Flight to commence. These three have been working together for almost thirty years, which illustrates the depth of experience and know-how within Hybrid Air Vehicles.
The four massive but quiet engines were started approximately 30 minutes before takeoff. Once airborne, Chief Test Pilot David Burns, accompanied by Test Pilot Simon Davies, flew the majestic Airlander within a 6 mile (5 nautical mile) area around Cardington Airfield, just to the south of Bedford, in England. Airlander climbed to a height of 500ft and reached a maximum speed of 35 knots. Due to a later than anticipated take-off time the Airlander was limited to a 19 minute flight so we could land safely before darkness fell.
All test objectives were met during the flight. These included the safe launch, flight and landing of the Airlander 10 and a series of gentle turns at increasing speed. Some technical tests on its hull pressure were also undertaken.
Please note that drones and other aircraft are not permitted to fly within one nautical mile of Cardington Airfield most of the time due to restrictions associated with the Met Office Station there.
The Airlander is expected to be a showcase of UK innovation and is already being used in the UK Government’s “GREAT Britain” campaign to highlight the strength of the aerospace sector and the innovation in engineering this country is capable of creating. As the Airlander approaches first flight, customer interest has increased, particularly in the defence and security sector, and this, together with UK Government support should secure 400 new aerospace jobs as well as valuable export opportunities for the UK economy. The next step is to ensure the UK Government runs a trial in order to demonstrate the potential of this amazing aircraft to the world and secure the lucrative exports, and grow further jobs in Bedfordshire and in the supply chain across the UK (80% of Airlander’s supply chain is British). This will help ensure the £6m of UK Government grants received thus far lead to orders. Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd is also looking to raise equity through High Net Worth individuals and Institutional Investors to fund some aspects of the Flight Test Programme.
About Hybrid Air Vehicles: Founded in 2007, Hybrid Air Vehicles is the company behind the innovative Airlander range of hybrid aircraft. They utilise new aerospace technology that combines the best of the characteristics of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with lighter-than-air technology to create a new breed of hyper-efficient aircraft, with a significantly lower carbon footprint and operating cost than other forms of air transport.
Airlanders are low noise, low pollution, and are environmentally-friendly. They have ultra-long endurance, and a point-to-point cargo-carrying capacity. They can take off and land in a short distance from unprepared sites in desert, ice, water, or open field environments. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been awarded both UK and European grant funding to support the Airlander project. In addition the company has carried out two ‘crowdfunding’ rounds and is proud to have more than 2000 shareholders without whom return to flight would not have been possible. €2.5 million in funding from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The Airlander project was selected for funding through a dedicated SME Instrument of Horizon 2020, which the European Commission uses to invest in and support high growth and highly innovative small businesses. The technology is also fully in line with activities under the Smart, Green and Integrated Transport Societal Challenge of Horizon 2020, which aims to boost the competitiveness of the European transport industries and achieve a European transport system that is resource-efficient, climate-and-environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society.
Airlander 10 is designed to stay airborne for up to five days at a time to fulfil a wide range of communication and survey roles, as well as cargo carrying and tourist passenger flights.
There is a supporter’s club, the Airlander Club which members receive a monthly newsletter and a host of other benefits: http://www.hybridairvehicles.com/airlander-club Please visit http://www.hybridairvehicles.com/about-us/invest-in-us for more details about investment opportunities.
Chris Lewicki of the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources and Prof. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona and a scientist on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission (see earlier posting) will host a Google Hangout at 11:00 am PT (2:00 pm ET, 6:00 pm GMT) on Friday: Chris Lewicki & Dante Lauretta talk about asteroids, launches, and Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration! – Google+.
Do you like playing board games? Do you like STEM education? Have you ever wanted to plan your own mission to space? Then you will love this!
You are invited to a Google Hangout on Air to learn about an amazing new game that mixes fun, STEM and space all together on one board.
Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration captures the challenges and fun of planning a space mission and combines real rocket science with mission planning, strategy, politics, and interactive play. We have been playing this game in the office and can assure you it is JUST like planning a real mission!
The game was envisioned by Planetary Resources advisor, Dante Lauretta, Ph.D. Dante is a Professor at the University of Arizona, Principal Investigator of the NASA OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, and founder of Xtronaut.
During the hangout, our President and CEO Chris Lewicki will challenge Dante to a game, and discuss the exciting developments in asteroid science and exploration with the upcoming launches of OSIRIS-REx and our Arkyd 6.
Sign up to participate: RSVP for the Hangout by clicking here.
You can also purchase Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration on Amazon.com.
This video has two versions of the trailer for the movie Arrival with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, which opens in theaters on November 11th:
On September 8th a ULA Atlas V rocket will launch the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) from Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft’s mission is to visit the asteroid Bennu and bring back a small sample of it to earth. Analysis of the sample will provide hints about the conditions of the early solar system and provide clues on such as to how water and organic molecules came to the Earth. The mission will also add to the general knowledge about asteroids including possible resources of use in space and on earth.
On Wednesday, NASA held a panel briefing to discuss the meeting with the press:
This video describes the Bennu asteroid:
This video shows the trajectory of OSIRIS-REx reaches Bennu and returns to earth, taking advantage of the fact that the asteroid’s orbit is near earth and crosses earth’s:
Here is the latest episode of The Planetary Post with host Robert Picardo:
This month, we’re celebrating the U.S. National Park Service centennial by exploring the Parks After Dark.
This is the 7th installment of The Planetary Post, our monthly newsletter from Robert Picardo featuring the most notable space happenings. To sign up go to http://www.planetary.org/connect
Starring Robert Picardo • Music by Jim McKeever • Featuring Dr. Bruce Betts and CaLisa Lee • Additional video and images courtesy of NASA • Night Sky Footage by Josh Spradling
CaLisa Lee takes us to the North rim of the Grand Canyon for their annual Star Party event. Hear from rangers and astronomers about how the night sky can connect us to other people and the past.
Find more about sky-watching in national parks: Half the Park is After Dark: Stargazers Celebrate U.S. National Parks Centennial – The Planetary Society.
TMRO Returns in our new studio space, Station Two Zero Four! It doesn’t look like much yet, but we have big and exciting plans! THANK YOU citizens for helping make this happen, exciting times ahead!
In this episode we talk about Small Sats. What are they? Why does the industry care and what is the future of Small Sats in space?
Some recent space news topics discussed:
* Long March 3B launch of Tiantong 1
* Long March 4C launch of Gaofen 3
* NextSTEP program begins phase 2
* Kepler Finds Tabby’s Star is Mysteriously Dimming
* HDR SRB Camera test
* HTV delay means extra EVA
* Cassini Finds Flooded Canyon’s on Saturn’s Moon Titan
The shows are viewer supported:
TMRO:Space is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our weekly SpacePod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
Here is another video from the Electromagnetic Field event held in Guildford, UK earlier this summer (see previous posts A hacker’s guide to satellites and … An Intro to Rockets). Stuart Robinson tells the story of the $50Sat Eagle2 satellite that was launched to orbit in 2013:
More info about the project:
See also the HobbySpace Satellite Building section on student and amateur satellites.
Here is a video of the launch of the Russian Dnepr rocket, a converted ICBM, on which the $50Sat got a free ride: