Here is a video for one of the songs on the album:
Here is a video for one of the songs on the album:
David Livingston plans a major upgrade to the The Space Show website. An Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign is underway for the non-profit organization to support the modernization plan for the website. The site www.SupportTheSpaceshow.com offers additional details.
Here’s a video from David and Spencer Austin-Martin, who will lead the website revamp:
From the Indiegogo campaign page:
To bring The Space Show into the modern age we first have to acknowledge its current limitations. Built in the early 2000s, the current Space Show website offers very limited search capabilities that involve a two step process of a key word search on a static page followed by manually looking up the show via a chronological search function. Furthermore, only about 1/3 of the shows have key words none which are not a searchable part of our database. The current platform is also ill suited for the modern internet age where users are accessing the site from many different kinds devices including smartphones and tablets.
Our plan is to move The Space Show onto Drupal, an advanced Content Management System used by major media, businesses and institutions from the Economist and SpaceX to NASA and many major universities. Leveraging the power of Drupal, The Space Show will become sustainable, scalable, and upgradable. Listeners will also benefit from a responsive layout that will display properly on smart phones, tablets, PCs, and laptops regardless of the operating system. Behind the scenes there will be search engine optimization and users will benefit from a constantly updated and fresh content display which will enable fully searchable access to The Space Show’s treasury of information.
Check out the latest TMRO.tv program: Escape Dynamics Ground Based Space Propulsion – TMRO
In this episode of TMRO we have the CEO/CTO of Escape Dynamics Dmitriy Tseliakhovich, Ph.D. to talk about ground based propulsion. Think chemical rockets are the only way to get to space? Think again!
TMRO Live 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 Space Pod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
For more about Escape Dynamics and their microwave beam propulsion technology, check out this video of a talk by co-founder, President and COO Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux given at the recent NewSpace 2015 Conference:
Here’s a schematic of their system:
An announcement from the Reach for the Stars program:
Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition Winners
to Celebrate at Space Camp
In response to the nations call for more interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activities – over 1000 kids across the nation participated in the ninth annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. At the end of the competition those who had the “Right Stuff”* were victorious. The annual Competition, for ages ten to eighteen, runs continuously.
With minds set on the task at hand, competitors prepared their rockets, aimed the launch rod and awaited the countdown. “Ready light – On!” 10…9…8…7… “All systems – Go.” 6…5…4… Everyone held their breath. 3…2…1… With a whoosh, the small rocket leaped from the launch pad and soared hundreds of feet into the air. All eyes turned skyward. “Wait for it…Wait for it!” With a pop, the parachute opens and the rocket descends for a near perfect touch-down.
Contestants in the competition had to build and launch their own solid-fuel powered rocket. The competitions were held in their area by schools, scouts, youth groups and Challenger Learning Centers. The closest average landing by parachute to a target after two launches wins the local event. Local winner’s results were then submitted to the national competition headquarters. This produced four national winners.
The winners of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition; Alani Davidson, Kalli Riemer, Emily Schmidtlein and Maya Watson will celebrate with their families at Space Camp in “Rocket City” Huntsville, Alabama. All national winners will launch their rockets in celebration under an “October Sky” from Homer Hickam Field.** Most of the competitors and many of the family and friends have read his inspirational book, Rocket Boys or seen the movie, October Sky. Competition director, Jack Colpas says, “Getting the opportunity to launch their rockets from a exciting location is an important part of the celebration.”
In addition to the launch, the kids will be awarded a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative coin and certificate that honor the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe and the crew of the Challenger. The certificates are signed by Captain Jon McBride, who piloted Challenger on one of its earliest missions.
Winners get to experience the Astronaut Training Simulators at Space Camp. They will take turns walking in the 1/6 gravity of the moon, move about mock space in a MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) and test their intestinal fortitude in the Spatial Disorientation Simulator.
Then they get to tour the US Space & Rocket Center with their friends and families. The group gets to visit the Space Shuttle Simulator – Pathfinder, see the amazing display at Rocket and Shuttle Parks, the Apollo Courtyard and the Saturn V Hall. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The Center has one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world.” (rocketcenter.com/museum )
This is a fantastic opportunity for a young rocketeer. Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition directors Jack and Kathy Colpas boast, “National winners receive memories to last a lifetime – and bragging rights for generations to come.”
For the past 9 years – over 50 % of the national winners in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition have been girls! Girl Scouts have taken an amazing seven national wins.
Model rocket manufacturer Estes, the world leader in educational rocketry, provided $200 in prize money to the top three national winners. The money is provided to any competitor who wins the national event using Estes rocket supplies. The prize money is provided to help with travel expenses. Three of the national winners will be traveling tothe US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Travel funding is crucial. These kids have earned the right to attend the national winners’ celebrations.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Hampton Inn – Huntsville joined together to provide unforgettable memories for the national winners of the annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Tickets to Space Camp, plus discounted lodging and free breakfast are being provided for four winners and their families. Without the generosity of these companies, this winners’ celebration would not be possible.
Corporate sponsors are needed to ensure kids nationwide have the opportunity to enter the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Sponsors receive national recognition and the satisfaction of Helping Kids Reach for the Stars. More information is available at www.TheRocketman.net .
Jack and Kathy Colpas, co-directors of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition are retired public school educators. “Our goal is to give kids the educational experience of building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket. Our purpose is to foster an interest in model rocketry, STEM subjects and aeronautics. Our mission is to keep alive the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe.”
* Thomas Wolfe, The Right Stuff – (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1979
**Homer Hickam is the author of the memoire, Rocket Boys which became the inspirational movie October Sky.
The latest Space to Ground report from NASA on activities related to the International Space Station:
Some misc. cool tech stories today:
A real hoverboard built with high-temperature superconductors and flying above a special track with magnets: Lexus maglev hoverboard: 20 minutes of magic in a skatepark – ExtremeTech
A big advantage of an electric car is that you can top off the battery every night with a garage charger. Of course, that means you have to remember to plug it in every evening. Tesla Motors shows off a prototype robotic system to automatically connect a charger to a Tesla whenever it is parked in the garage:
Elon Musk on Twitter: “Tesla Snakebot autocharger prototype. Does seem kinda wrong :)”
An engineer wins $20,000 in a challenge contest sponsored by General Fusion to solve the company’s problem of finding a way to seal the hammer and anvil system from the molten lead surrounding the cloud of plasma that will be compressed by the lead to produce nuclear fusion reactions : General Fusion Announces Winner of Crowdsourced Engineering Challenge – General Fusion
Here’s a video describing the General Fusion system, which Jeff Bezos and other notables have invested in:
The The Future And You program focuses on the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop and includes interviews with Les Johnson (space scientist), Robert G. Kennedy (author, speaker and engineer), Yohon Lo (aerospace and system engineer), Kenneth I. Roy (author and engineer), and Martha Knowles: The Future And You : The Future And You–July 29, 2015
Eric Berger the SciGuy has an interesting interview with Andy Weir, author of the best-selling book, The Martian, the movie version of which will soon be in theaters: Would Andy Weir, author of The Martian, ever go into space? Hell no, he says in a lengthy interview. – SciGuy/Houston Chronicle.
They mention Weir’s talk at the recent NewSpace 2015 conference. You can hear his fun talk at the awards gala in this video starting at around 36 minute point:
The latest TMRO.tv SpacePod short video reports:
* New Details Emerge Regarding Virgin Galactic Crash – Space Pod 08/04/15
This week Ariel Waldman talks about the beauty of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and how it may be the best place to find extraterrestrial life in our Solar System.
* Pictures of the Baby Universe – Space Pod 08/03/15
This week Ariel Waldman shares her baby pictures of the universe, also known as the Cosmic Microwave Background, from the space probes COBE, WMAP and Planck.
* New Details Emerge Regarding Virgin Galactic Crash – Space Pod 08/04/15
The National Transportation Safety Board has released their investigation into the SpaceShipTwo crash last year, and the results are worse than we thought.
TMRO Space Pods are crowd funded shows. If you like [these episodes] consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to www.patreon.com/spacepod for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our weekly live show campaign as well over at www.patreon.com/tmro
Check out this cool video from the Dawn mission showing the bright spots and a pyramid-shaped mountain on “Weird Ceres”:
Striking 3-D detail highlights a towering mountain, the brightest spots and other features on dwarf planet Ceres in a new video from NASA’s Dawn mission.
A prominent mountain with bright streaks on its steep slopes is especially fascinating to scientists. The peak’s shape has been likened to a cone or a pyramid. It appears to be about 4 miles (6 kilometers) high, with respect to the surface around it, according to the latest estimates. This means the mountain has about the same elevation as Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska, the highest point in North America.
This mountain is among the tallest features we’ve seen on Ceres to date,” said Dawn science team member Paul Schenk, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston. “It’s unusual that it’s not associated with a crater. Why is it sitting in the middle of nowhere? We don’t know yet, but we may find out with closer observations.”
Also puzzling is the famous Occator (oh-KAH-tor) crater, home to Ceres’ brightest spots. A new animation simulates the experience of a close flyover of this area. The crater takes its name from the Roman agriculture deity of harrowing, a method of pulverizing and smoothing soil.
In examining the way Occator’s bright spots reflect light at different wavelengths, the Dawn science team has not found evidence that is consistent with ice. The spots’ albedo - a measure of the amount of light reflected - is also lower than predictions for concentrations of ice at the surface.
“The science team is continuing to evaluate the data and discuss theories about these bright spots at Occator,” said Chris Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We are now comparing the spots with the reflective properties of salt, but we are still puzzled by their source. We look forward to new, higher-resolution data from the mission’s next orbital phase.”
An animation of Ceres’ overall geography, also available in 3-D, shows these features in context. Occator lies in the northern hemisphere, whereas the tall mountain is farther to the southeast (11 degrees south, 316 degrees east).
“There are many other features that we are interested in studying further,” said Dawn science team member David O’Brien, with the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. “These include a pair of large impact basins called Urvara and Yalode in the southern hemisphere, which have numerous cracks extending away from them, and the large impact basin Kerwan, whose center is just south of the equator.”
Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Thanks to data acquired by Dawn since the spacecraft arrived in orbit at Ceres, scientists have revised their original estimate of Ceres’ average diameter to 584 miles (940 kilometers). The previous estimate was 590 miles (950 kilometers).
Dawn will resume its observations of Ceres in mid-August from an altitude of 900 miles (less than 1,500 kilometers), or three times closer to Ceres than its previous orbit.
On March 6, 2015, Dawn made history as the first mission to reach a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct extraterrestrial targets. It conducted extensive observations of Vesta in 2011-2012.
Dawn’s mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory 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:
Great views of the Moon transiting across the face of the Earth have been taken by the DSCOVR science spacecraft, which was launched to the Earth-Sun Lagrange point L-1 back in February on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
A NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth last month. The series of test images shows the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.
The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere. Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, the camera will provide a series of Earth images allowing study of daily variations over the entire globe. About twice a year the camera will capture the moon and Earth together as the orbit of DSCOVR crosses the orbital plane of the moon.
These images were taken between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, showing the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America. The North Pole is in the upper left corner of the image, reflecting the orbital tilt of Earth from the vantage point of the spacecraft.
The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images. Since then, several NASA missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail. The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer because the moon is tidally locked to Earth. That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.
In May 2008 NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft captured a similar view of Earth and the moon from a distance of 31 million miles away. The series of images showed the moon passing in front of our home planet when it was only partially illuminated by the sun.
EPIC’s “natural color” images of Earth are generated by combining three separate monochrome exposures taken by the camera in quick succession. EPIC takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband spectral filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.
Combining three images taken about 30 seconds apart as the moon moves produces a slight but noticeable camera artifact on the right side of the moon. Because the moon has moved in relation to the Earth between the time the first (red) and last (green) exposures were made, a thin green offset appears on the right side of the moon when the three exposures are combined. This natural lunar movement also produces a slight red and blue offset on the left side of the moon in these unaltered images.
The lunar far side lacks the large, dark, basaltic plains, or maria, that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side. The largest far side features are Mare Moscoviense in the upper left and Tsiolkovskiy crater in the lower left. A thin sliver of shadowed area of moon is visible on its right side.
“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.”
Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, NASA will post daily color images of Earth to a dedicated public website. These images, showing different views of the planet as it rotates through the day, will be available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired.
DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force with the primary objective of maintaining the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.
For more information about DSCOVR, visit: www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR
The latest ESO report:
This extraordinary bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space, may appear supernatural and mysterious, but it is a familiar astronomical object: a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star. This is the best view of the little-known object ESO 378-1 yet obtained and was captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.
Nicknamed the Southern Owl Nebula, this shimmering orb is a planetary nebula with a diameter of almost four light-years. Its informal name relates to its visual cousin in the northern hemisphere, the Owl Nebula. ESO 378-1 , which is also catalogued as PN K 1-22 and PN G283.6+25.3, is located in the constellation of Hydra (The Female Water Snake).
Planetary nebulae are created by the ejected and expanding gas of dying stars. Although they are brilliant and intriguing objects in the initial stages of formation, these bubbles fade away as their constituent gas moves away and the central stars grow dimmer.
For a planetary nebula to form, the aging star must have a mass less than about eight times that of the Sun. Stars that are heavier than this limit will end their lives in dramatic fashion as supernova explosions.
As these less massive stars grow old they start to lose their outer layers of gas to stellar winds. After most of these outer layers have dissipated, the remaining hot stellar core starts to emit ultraviolet radiation which then ionises the surrounding gas. This ionisation causes the expanding shell of ghostly gas to begin to glow in bright colours.
After the planetary nebula has faded away, the leftover stellar remnant will burn for another billion years before consuming all its remaining fuel. It will then become a tiny — but hot and very dense — white dwarf that will slowly cool over billions of years. The Sun will produce a planetary nebula several billion years in the future and will afterwards also spend its twilight years as a white dwarf.
Planetary nebulae play a crucial role in the chemical enrichment and evolution of the Universe. Elements such as carbon and nitrogen, as well as some other heavier elements, are created in these stars and returned to the interstellar medium. Out of this material new stars, planets and eventually life can form. Hence astronomer Carl Sagan’s famous phrase: “We are made of star stuff.”
This video sequence starts from a wide field of the Milky Way and closes in on a rather empty patch of sky in the huge constellation of Hydra. A strange blue disc becomes visible — the planetary nebula ESO 378-1. The final very detailed view comes from ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org). Music: Johan B. Monell
This picture comes from the ESO Cosmic Gems programme, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes for the purposes of education and public outreach. The programme makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO’s science archive.
 The ESO in the name of this object refers to a catalogue of objects compiled in the 1970s and 80s from careful inspection of new photographs taken with the ESO 1-metre Schmidt telescope at La Silla.
Take a ride over the surface of the Atlantic Chaos region of Mars via images taken from orbit by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft : Fly Over Mars In This Breathtaking New Animation – Popular Science –
From the ESA video caption:
Explore the Atlantis Chaos region of Mars, in the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere. The video showcases a myriad of features that reflect a rich geological history. The tour takes in rugged cliffs and impact craters, alongside parts of ancient shallow, eroded basins. See smooth plains scarred with wrinkled ridges, scarps and fracture lines that point to influence from tectonic activity. Marvel at ‘chaotic’ terrain – hundreds of small peaks and flat-topped hills that are thought to result from the slow erosion of a once-continuous solid plateau. This entire region may once have played host to vast volumes of water – look out for the evidence in the form of channels carved into steep-sided walls.
Read more about this region here: [Space in Images – 2015 – 07 – Ancient Atlantis]
Sunday August 2nd JP Aerospace conducted the second flight of Ascender 26. There was a series of goal for this flight including a faster climb rate, steeper pitch angle and buoyancy controlled maneuvering. The flight was a compete success. We even flew a little bit higher, 6,850 feet (2,850 above our 4000 foot launch site).
The vehicle landed undamaged four miles down range.
More photos from JP Aerospace Blog:
Here’s a report on the latest from the Curiosity Rover, which has now been on Mars for three years:
Check out also this recent science finding by Curiosity: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Inspects Unusual Bedrock – NASA JPL.
Michael Mackowski was recently on The Space Show to talk about his space activism efforts, which he recounted in the new book Adventures in Space Advocacy: A Personal Story of Space Activism : Michael Mackowski, Tuesday, 7-28-15 | Thespaceshow’s Blog
Michael is also very active in spacecraft modeling and has a new book out on this topic as well:
“The New Scale Spacecraft Primer” Modeling Reference Book is Published
The Space In Miniature series of books on scale modeling of historical spacecraft has been around since 1990. The first book, SIM #1 – A Scale Spacecraft Primer, has been woefully out of date for a while.
So I am pleased to announce that a new version of SIM #1 is now available: SIM #1.1 – The New Scale Spacecraft Primer. Most of the book is brand new material, with about 14 pages retained from the original edition. Some articles that are still useful were retained (Ariane, Space Operations Center review, Viking Mars Lander, etc.) but the rest are all new or recycled from my old IPMS Journal (the magazine of the International Plastic Modelers Society) columns. With the 25th anniversary of SIM and the 50th anniversary of IPMS/USA, several retrospective articles are included, including commentary from Kevin Atkins, Sven Knudson, and Mat Irvine. There is new content on my Curiosity Mars rover, the DC-X, the Revell Astronaut with MMU, and several other examples of scratchbuilding real space models. Real Space modelers should enjoy the commentaries as well as the new reference material.
SIM #1.1 – The New Scale Spacecraft Primer is available in both hard copy ($12 plus shipping for a 38-page soft-bound book printed in black and white on coated paper) and a digital version ($10 for a pdf with full color).
There are forms on the SIM website (http://spaceinminiature.com) to order either version (or both!). Customers can also send a check for $14.00 (which includes first class postage to U.S. addresses), payable to Michael Mackowski, to 1022 W. Juanita Ave., Gilbert, AZ 85233. The other titles in the SIM series are still available in various formats.
For additional details, contact the publisher at 480-282-1343 or by email at email@example.com.
Find more about tracking and imaging spacecraft in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.
1. Monday, August 3, 2015: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT; 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back BRENT SHERWOOD from JPL to discuss “Power from the Sky.”
2. SPECIAL TIME: Tuesday, August 4, 2015:,9:30 AM PDT; (12:30 PM EST, 11:30 AM CDT): We welcome back HANNAH KERNER regarding her recent article in Space.com, The Space Destination Debate Gets Us Nowhere … Literally.
4. Sunday, August 9,, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): We welcome SPENCER AUSTIN-MARTIN to discuss our Indiegogo crowdfunding website modernization and archival quality database campaign which is officially underway. See The Space Show blog by Saturday, August 8 for the applicable websites for our campaign. .
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.
Dubbed HD 219134b, this exoplanet, which orbits too close to its star to sustain life, is a mere 21 light-years away. While the planet itself can’t be seen directly, even by telescopes, the star it orbits is visible to the naked eye in dark skies in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star.HD 219134b is also the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star and, therefore, perfect for extensive research.
“Transiting exoplanets are worth their weight in gold because they can be extensively characterized,” said Michael Werner, the project scientist for the Spitzer mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “This exoplanet will be one of the most studied for decades to come.”The planet, initially discovered using HARPS-North instrument on the Italian 3.6-meter Galileo National Telescope in the Canary Islands, is the subject of a study accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Study lead author Ati Motalebi of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland said she believes the planet is the ideal target for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
“Webb and future large, ground-based observatories are sure to point at it and examine it in detail,” Motalebi said.
Only a small fraction of exoplanets can be detected transiting their stars due to their relative orientation to Earth. When the orientation is just right, the planet’s orbit places it between its star and Earth, dimming the detectable light of its star. It’s this dimming of the star that is actually captured by observatories such as Spitzer, and can reveal not only the size of the planet but also clues about its composition.
“Most of the known planets are hundreds of light-years away. This one is practically a next-door neighbor,” said astronomer and study co-author Lars A. Buchhave of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For reference, the closest known planet is GJ674b at 14.8 light-years away; its composition is unknown.HD 219134b was first sighted by the HARPS-North instrument and a method called the radial velocity technique, in which a planet’s mass and orbit can be measured by the tug it exerts on its host star. The planet was determined to have a mass 4.5 times that of Earth, and a speedy three-day orbit around its star.
Spitzer followed up on the finding, discovering the planet transits its star. Infrared measurements from Spitzer revealed the planet’s size, about 1.6 times that of Earth. Combining the size and mass gives it a density of 3.5 ounces per cubic inch (six grams per cubic centimeter) — confirming HD 219134b is a rocky planet.
Now that astronomers know HD 219134b transits its star, scientists will be scrambling to observe it from the ground and space. The goal is to tease chemical information out of the dimming starlight as the planet passes before it. If the planet has an atmosphere, chemicals in it can imprint patterns in the observed starlight.
Rocky planets such as this one, with bigger-than-Earth proportions, belong to a growing class of planets termed super-Earths.
“Thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission, we know super-Earths are ubiquitous in our galaxy, but we still know very little about them,” said co-author Michael Gillon of the University of Liege in Belgium, lead scientist for the Spitzer detection of the transit. “Now we have a local specimen to study in greater detail. It can be considered a kind of Rosetta Stone for the study of super-Earths.”
Further observations with HARPS-North also revealed three more planets in the same star system, farther than HD 219134b. Two are relatively small and not too far from the star. Small, tightly packed multi-planet systems are completely different from our own solar system, but, like super-Earths, are being found in increasing numbers.
JPL manages the Spitzer mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive, housed at Caltech’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.
For more information about NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, visit: www.nasa.gov/spitzer
The Mars Society has opened a crowd-funding campaign to raise $10,000 for the replacement of the greenhouse that burnt down last year at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah : Veggies on Mars – Help Rebuild the MDRS GreenHab – Indiegogo
The Mars Society launched today an online crowdfunding campaign – via Indiegogo.com – to help raise $10,000 to rebuild and refurbish the green house used at the organization’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah to carry out food and plant research important for eventual human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet.
The MDRS green house (commonly referred to as the GreenHab) was severely damaged by fire late last year, with MDRS staff determining that the facility was unfit for further use and needed to be completely rebuilt.
Plans to restore the new GreenHab include building a geodesic dome designed to house an assortment of food gardens and science experiments. More efficient, easier to use and healthier for plants, the new structure will ensure that plant and food research remain a key aspect of the overall MDRS simulation program.
A generous donation immediately following the GreenHab fire in December allowed the Mars Society to cover the cost of a temporary grow tent for plant research during the remainder of the 2014-15 field season and also purchase materials to build the new GreenHab dome structure.
Since then, Mars Society staff and volunteers have constructed a small sample geodesic test unit and completed a work trip to MDRS this past weekend to lay the building foundation, with plans to return to the Utah site in September to build the new dome in time for the upcoming crew field season, which begins in mid-October.
While the Mars Society has been able to raise part of the funds needed to fully rebuild and restore the MDRS GreenHab, the organization currently lacks money to equip the planned facility with the necessary tools to perform important crew research and testing.
MDRS staff intend to build new planters at MDRS to study dirt and regolith, install a hydroponics system that can eventually be converted into aquaponics, and purchase LED lighting, environmental controls, fans, sensors, Raspberry Pis and other supplies and equipment, all needed to ensure that crews using the GreenHab are able to provide the latest research in planning for human Mars exploration.
The Mars Society and MDRS staff are seeking YOUR HELP to restock and resupply the GreenHab. Contribute to future human Mars exploration by donating to our online campaign today! Thank you for your support and please help share our online campaign.