The latest update from NASA on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
The latest update from NASA on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Here’s a cool music video of the song Upside Down & Inside Out from the band OK Go. It was filmed on a S7 Airlines aircraft flying a series of parabolic trajectories, which provide periods of 20-25 seconds of weightlessness.
As seen in this diagram, the “zero-g” periods are when the plane coasts over the top of the ballistic trajectory. You pay for this when the plane pulls up and your weight nearly doubles.
Usually people lay down flat during those heavy times. I had assumed the video makers had done an excellent job of weaving a series of segments seamlessly together to make it look like a continuous performance. However, articles about the video say it was actually shot in one continuous take. The band members and stewardess actors steadfastly stood or sat upright and tolerated the extra weight without changing their expressions. It took a lot of planning and practice to make this video.
[ Update 2: Yep, that’s what they did: Behind-The-Scenes Of OK Go’s Zero Gravity “Upside Down & Inside Out” Video – Stereogum
An Il-76 MDK airplane is capable of flying in parabolic maneuvers to generate brief periods of weightlessness, but these periods only last up to 27 seconds, and the song is over three minutes long. “Because we wanted the video to be a single, uninterrupted routine, we shot continuously over the course of eight consecutive weightless periods, which took about 45 minutes, total,” explains Trish Sie, who directed the clip with her brother, OK Go frontman Damien Kulash, Jr. “We paused the action, and the music, during the non-weightless periods, and then cut out these sections and smoothed over each transition with a morph.”
Update: Watching the video again, it is obvious that it was not a continuous take. One can see where a weightless period ends and then immediately continues into another weightless segment. So they have edited out most of the time that the performers were weighed down.]
Articles about the video:
I can remember attending a colloquium talk in the 1970s by Joseph Weber on his pioneering attempts to measure gravitational waves. I also recall a talk later in the 1980s on the concept of a giant Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) for detecting such waves. It’s sure has been a long search, but two LIGO detectors in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington have now observed for the first time the gravitational waves signal created by two black holes rotating around each other and then colliding and merging into one big black hole.
Here is a brief video about the discovery
This clip illustrates how the waves are detected by monitoring the interference pattern of two laser beams that have traveled to the ends and back of 4 km (2.5 mile) long tunnels at 90 degrees to each other. A gravitational wave will alter the length of those tunnels slightly, which in turn will alter the interference of the two beams :
Here is a video of the entire briefing held today:
And here is the scientific paper: LIGO-P150914-v14: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger.
Last summer billionaire Yuri Milner announced he would fund a $100M initiative for the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. The organization formed to implement the program is called Breakthrough Initiatives and its chairman is Pete Worden, former director of NASA Ames Research Center. Below is a video of an interesting and entertaining SETI Institute talk given by Worden in which he discusses the history of SETI, exoplanets, the possibility of earth-like planets around nearby star systems, the feasibility of interstellar travel, and other topics.
On July 20, 2015, the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced in London, UK a new initiative to study life in the universe. The announcement was made by Silicon Valley billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Steven Hawking. The Breakthrough Initiatives currently consist of two primary elements, Breakthrough Listen which is a $100M renewed search for intelligent extraterrestrial signals, and Breakthrough Message, a global competition with a $1M prize to create, but not send a message representing humanity. S. Pete Worden, the former Center Director of the NASA Ames Research Center, is the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. He will talk about these initiatives in the broader context of our search for life in the universe.
The latest public report from the ESO (European Southern Observatory) :
A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the reflection nebula IC 2631. Although HD 97300 is in the spotlight for now, the very dust that makes it so hard to miss heralds the birth of additional, potentially scene-stealing, future stars.
The glowing region in this new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope is a reflection nebula known as IC 2631. These objects are clouds of cosmic dust that reflect light from a nearby star into space, creating a stunning light show like the one captured here. IC 2631 is the brightest nebula in the Chamaeleon Complex, a large region of gas and dust clouds that harbours numerous newborn and still-forming stars. The complex lies about 500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Chamaeleon.
This video journey starts with a view of the spectacular southern Milky Way and then closes in on the inconspicuous southern constellation of Chameleon (The Chameleon). The final image shows a detailed view of the blue reflection nebula IC 2631 around the young star HD 97300.
IC 2631 is illuminated by the star HD 97300, one of the youngest — as well as most massive and brightest — stars in its neighbourhood. This region is full of star-making material, which is made evident by the presence of dark nebulae noticeable above and below IC 2631 in this picture. Dark nebulae are so dense with gas and dust that they prevent the passage of background starlight.
Despite its dominating presence, the heft of HD 97300 should be kept in perspective. It is a T Tauri star, the youngest visible stage for relatively small stars. As these stars mature and reach adulthood they will lose mass and shrink. But during the T Tauri phase these stars have not yet contracted to the more modest size that they will maintain for billions of years as main sequence stars.
These fledging stars already have surface temperatures similar to their main sequence phase and accordingly, because T Tauri-phase objects are essentially jumbo versions of their later selves, they look brighter in their oversized youth than in maturity. They have not yet started to fuse hydrogen into helium in their cores, like normal main sequence stars, but are just starting to flex their thermal muscles by generating heat from contraction.
Reflection nebula, like the one spawned by HD 97300, merely scatter starlight back out into space. Starlight that is more energetic, such as the ultraviolet radiation pouring forth from very hot new stars, can ionise nearby gas, making it emit light of its own. These emission nebulae indicate the presence of hotter and more powerful stars, which in their maturity can be observed across thousands of light-years. HD 97300 is not so powerful, and its moment in the spotlight is destined not to last.
A newly formed star lights up the surrounding cosmic clouds in this close up look at an image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Dust particles in the vast clouds that surround the star HD 97300 diffuse its light, like a car headlight in enveloping fog, and create the blue reflection nebula IC 2631. Although HD 97300 is in the spotlight for now, the very dust that makes it so hard to miss heralds the birth of additional, potentially scene-stealing, future stars.
Credit: ESO. Music: Johan B Monell
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.Links
NASA JPL and Invisible Creature Speaks have released a set of three gorgeous retro-art style space tourism themed posters: New Work: Visions Of The Future for NASA – Invisible Creature –
These 3 commissioned pieces are part of JPL’s Visions Of The Future 2016 Calendar – an internal gift to JPL and NASA staff, as well as scientists, engineers, government and university staff. The artwork for each month will also be released as a free downloadable poster at the NASA JPL site soon.
NASA JPL was kind enough to let us sell our own limited-edition signed posters and prints. Those are available here.
Got to see the #SuperBowl in person after all! But at 17,500MPH, it didn’t last long. #YearInSpace
Drag the cursor on this image to see the 360 degree view of the Namib Dune on Mars where the Curiosity rover was exploring in December:
This view of the downwind face of “Namib Dune” on Mars covers 360 degrees, including a portion of Mount Sharp on the horizon. The site is part of the dark-sand “Bagnold Dunes” field along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. Images taken from orbit indicate that dunes in the Bagnold field move as much as about 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year.
The component images of this scene were taken on Dec. 18, 2015, by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover during the 1,197th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars.
The bottom of the dune nearest the rover is about 23 feet (7 meters) from the camera. This downwind face of the dune rises at an inclination of about 28 degrees to a height of about 16 feet (5 meters) above the base. The center of the scene is toward the east; both ends are toward the west.
A color adjustment has been made approximating a white balance, so that rocks and sand appear approximately as they would appear under Earth’s sunlit sky. A brightness adjustment accommodates including rover hardware in the scene.
The mission’s examination of dunes in the Bagnold field, along the rover’s route up the lower slope of Mount Sharp, is the first close look at active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the rover’s Mastcam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover.
Photojournal Note: Also available is the full resolution TIFF file PIA20284_full.tif. This file may be too large to view from a browser; it can be downloaded onto your desktop by right-clicking on the previous link and viewed with image viewing software.
1. Monday, Feb. 8, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. ERIK SEEDHOUSE to discuss his new book on the Dragon capsule.
2. Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. JOHN BRANDENBURG for Part 2 of his Space Show program trilogy.
3. Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, 2016; 9:30-11AM PST; (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30AM – 1 PM CST. We welcome back ANATOLY ZAK and for the first time DEBRA WERNER to discuss their Oct. 2015 article in Aerospace America on astronaut safety. The article is available online at …AA_Oct2015_MaximizingSafety_Feature1 (pdf).
4. Sunday, Feb. 14., 2016: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. MARK BRODWIN to discuss galaxies, galaxy formation, and new galaxy discoveries. Dr. Brodwin was a recent Hotel Mars guest on these subjects.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
This week we ask, “Where in the solar system should we explore next? And should it be with humans, robots or both?”
News topics discussed:
* Eutelsat 3B launched via Proton
* Beidou launch on LongMarch 3C
* GPS 2F-12 launch via Atlas V
* Updates on the SLS Secondary Payloads and CubeQuest Challenge
* Big Game to air on the ISS
* Hills of water ice float on a nitrogen sea on Pluto
* Europe is investing in the Dreamchaser Space plane
* Cosmonauts : How Russia Won The Space Race documentary
* James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror fully assembled
TMRO is viewer supported:
TMRO Live Show are crowd funded. 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
Check out this wonderful time-lapse video from the project SKYGLOW, which includes great views of the night sky: A Meteorite Explodes Over the Mojave in This Incredible Timelapse Video – Gizmodo
A couple of other Skyglow videos:
Harvard College astrophysics student Nina Hooper gives a TEDx talk on the potential of asteroid mining: Spotlight TEDx Talk: How asteroid mining could help us live in space – TEDx Innovations Blog
Imagine a world with ubiquitous, affordable space travel, where getting in a spaceship is no stranger than getting in an airplane. Harvard undergraduate Nina Hooper, an astrophysics student, shows how mining asteroids for platinum could be the way to make space travel cheap and accessible to civilians.
Nina Hooper is a Harvard College student from Melbourne, Australia studying astrophysics. She loves traveling and adventure and is working towards what she believes is the ultimate adventure – going to space. She is also a private pilot, a songwriter and a major foodie. Nina intends to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace and astrospace engineering either in the US or UK.
The latest NASA “Space to Ground” report on activities related to the International Space Station:
Update: A TMRO Space Pod on ISS research: Why do we blow money on the International Space Station? – Space Pod 2/2/16 – TMRO
Former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk chats to TMRO correspondent Lisa Stojanovski about how International Space Station research benefits Earth and how it can inspire the next generation of astronauts.
The latest ESO (European Southern Observatory) report:
Astronomers have used the ALMA and IRAM telescopes to make the first direct measurement of the temperature of the large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. By applying a novel technique to observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer they find that the grains are much colder than expected: −266 degrees Celsius. This surprising result suggests that models of these discs may need to be revised.
The international team, led by Stephane Guilloteau at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, France, measured the temperature of large dust grains around the young star 2MASS J16281370-2431391 in the spectacular Rho Ophiuchi star formation region, about 400 light-years from Earth.
This star is surrounded by a disc of gas and dust — such discs are called protoplanetary discs as they are the early stages in the creation of planetary systems. This particular disc is seen nearly edge-on, and its appearance in visible light pictures has led to its being nicknamed the Flying Saucer.
The astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the glow coming from carbon monoxide molecules in the 2MASS J16281370-2431391 disc. They were able to create very sharp images and found something strange — in some cases they saw a negative signal! Normally a negative signal is physically impossible, but in this case there is an explanation, which leads to a surprising conclusion.
This video takes us on a journey to the young star 2MASS J16281370-2431391 in the spectacular Rho Ophiuchi star formation region, about 400 light-years from Earth. This star is surrounded by a disc of gas and dust — a protoplanetary disc, the early stage in the creation of a planetary system. This particular disc is seen nearly edge-on, and its appearance in visible light pictures has led to its being nicknamed the Flying Saucer.
The final close-up infrared view of the Flying Saucer comes from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Lead author Stephane Guilloteau takes up the story:
“This disc is not observed against a black and empty night sky. Instead it’s seen in silhouette in front of the glow of the Rho Ophiuchi Nebula. This diffuse glow is too extended to be detected by ALMA, but the disc absorbs it. The resulting negative signal means that parts of the disc are colder than the background. The Earth is quite literally in the shadow of the Flying Saucer!”
The team combined the ALMA measurements of the disc with observations of the background glow made with the IRAM 30-metre telescope in Spain . They derived a disc dust grain temperature of only −266 degrees Celsius (only 7 degrees above absolute zero, or 7 Kelvin) at a distance of about 15 billion kilometres from the central star . This is the first direct measurement of the temperature of large grains (with sizes of about one millimetre) in such objects.
This temperature is much lower than the −258 to −253 degrees Celsius (15 to 20 Kelvin) that most current models predict. To resolve the discrepancy, the large dust grains must have different properties than those currently assumed, to allow them to cool down to such low temperatures.
“To work out the impact of this discovery on disc structure, we have to find what plausible dust properties can result in such low temperatures. We have a few ideas — for example the temperature may depend on grain size, with the bigger grains cooler than the smaller ones. But it is too early to be sure,” adds co-author Emmanuel di Folco (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux).
If these low dust temperatures are found to be a normal feature of protoplanetary discs this may have many consequences for understanding how they form and evolve.
For example, different dust properties will affect what happens when these particles collide, and thus their role in providing the seeds for planet formation. Whether the required change in dust properties is significant or not in this respect cannot yet be assessed.
Low dust temperatures can also have a major impact for the smaller dusty discs that are known to exist. If these discs are composed of mostly larger, but cooler, grains than is currently supposed, this would mean that these compact discs can be arbitrarily massive, so could still form giant planets comparatively close to the central star.
Further observations are needed, but it seems that the cooler dust found by ALMA may have significant consequences for the understanding of protoplanetary discs.
Here’s a sample:
Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society talks about the images: Fun with a new data set: Chang’e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data – The Planetary Society
The latest results from the New Horizons probe:
Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought.
This false-color image, derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shows where the spectral features of water ice are abundant on Pluto’s surface. It is based on two LEISA scans of Pluto obtained on July 14, 2015, from a range of about 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers).
The scans, taken about 15 minutes apart, were stitched into a combined multispectral Pluto “data cube” covering the full hemisphere visible to New Horizons as it flew past Pluto. A data cube like this is a three-dimensional array in which an image of Pluto is formed at each LEISA-sensitive wavelength.
Water ice is Pluto’s crustal “bedrock,” the canvas on which its more volatile ices paint their seasonally changing patterns. Initial New Horizons maps of Pluto’s water ice bedrock compared LEISA spectra with a pure water ice template spectrum, resulting in the map at left.
A disadvantage of that technique is that water ice’s spectral signature is easily masked by methane ice, so that map was only sensitive to areas that were especially rich in water ice and/or depleted in methane. The much more sensitive method used on the right involves modeling the contributions of Pluto’s various ices all together. This method, too, has limitations in that it can only map ices included in the model, but the team is continually adding more data and improving the model.
The new map shows exposed water ice to be considerably more widespread across Pluto’s surface than was previously known — an important discovery. But despite its much greater sensitivity, the map still shows little or no water ice in the informally named places called Sputnik Planum (the left or western region of Pluto’s “heart”) and Lowell Regio (far north on the encounter hemisphere). This indicates that at least in these regions, Pluto’s icy bedrock is well hidden beneath a thick blanket of other ices such as methane, nitrogen and carbon monoxide.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
This image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is the first look at Pluto’s atmosphere in infrared wavelengths, and the first image of the atmosphere made with data from the New Horizons Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument.
In this image, sunlight is coming from above and behind Pluto. The image was captured on July 14, 2015, while New Horizons was about 112,000 miles (180,000 kilometers) away. The image covers LEISA’s full spectral range (1.25 to 2.5 microns), which is divided into thirds, with the shortest third being put into the blue channel, middle third into the green channel, and longest into the red channel. North in this image is around the 10 o’clock position.
The blue ring around Pluto is caused by sunlight scattering from haze particles common in Pluto’s atmosphere; scientists believe the haze is a photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules, producing a complex mixture of hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene. These hydrocarbons accumulate into small particles – a fraction of a micrometer in size – which scatter sunlight to make the blue haze. The new infrared image, when combined with earlier images made at shorter, visible wavelengths, gives scientists new clues into the size distribution of the particles.
The whitish patches around Pluto’s limb in this image are sunlight bouncing off more reflective or smoother areas on Pluto’s surface – with the largest patch being the western section of the informally named Cthulhu Regio. Future LEISA observations returned to Earth should capture the remainder of the haze, missing from the lower section of the image.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.
This NASA JPL video points to highlights in the night sky for February:
Set your alarm! Five planets will be visible in the early morning sky until Feb. 20. Plus, learn what other celestial objects will be visible this month.
1. Monday, Feb. 1, 2016: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST; 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. JOHN BRANDENBURG Mars update and his challenge for a debate.
2. Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back ROBERT (BOB) ZIMMERMAN for space news updates and more.
4. Sunday, Feb., 2016: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We welcome back JIM FUNARO to tell us about the upcoming Contact Conference.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.