Archives

March 2013


A solar prominence began to bow out and the broke apart in a graceful, floating style in a little less than four hours (Mar. 16, 2013). The sequence was captured in extreme ultraviolet light. A large cloud of the particles appeared to hover further out above the surface before it faded away. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA


Opportunity Moves Into Place for Quiet Period of Operations - sols 3255-3260, Mar. 21, 2013-Mar. 26, 2013: This location, called 'Big Nickel,' is the last in-situ (contact) target before the rover departs from Cape York, once solar conjunction is concluded.

Opportunity Moves Into Place for Quiet Period of Operations - sols 3255-3260, Mar. 21, 2013-Mar. 26, 2013: This location, called 'Big Nickel,' is the last in-situ (contact) target before the rover departs from Cape York, once solar conjunction is concluded.

One of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station exposed this 400 millimeter night image of the greater New York City metropolitan area on March 23. For orientation purposes, note that Manhattan runs horizontal through the frame from left to the midpoint. Central Park is just a little to the left of frame center. ISS035-E-008056 (23 March 2013) - high res (3.4 M) low res (142 K)

One of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station took this photo which was part of a series documenting the launch of the "other half" of the Expedition 35 crew. The Soyuz TMA-08M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 29, 2013 (Kazakh time) carrying Expedition 35 Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov, NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy and Russian Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin to the International Space Station. Their Soyuz rocket launched at 2:43 a.m., March 29, local time, while it was still March 28 in GMT and USA time zones. ISS035-E-010313 (28 March 2013) - high res (2.7 M) low res (49 K)

"Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11,000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science." More


NASA is about to get a chance to try something totally new: instead of just visting or landing on things in space, it is going to go grab one of those things - something that is rather huge - and bring it back to Earth. Details will be formally announced on 10 April 2013 when the new budget is rolled out.


Three new crew members are on an unprecedented fast track to the International Space Station, going from the launch pad to the orbiting complex in just six hours.


The discovery of box-like geologic structures on Mount Sharp centered in Curiosity's Gale crater landing site, is raising interest for rover exploration as potentially habitable for past life on Mars.


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) - the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 - recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) - the arbiter of planetary and satellite nomenclature since its inception in 1919 - recently approved a proposal from the MESSENGER Science Team to assign names to nine impact craters on Mercury. In keeping with the established naming theme for craters on Mercury, all of the newly designated features are named after famous deceased artists, musicians, or authors or other contributors to the humanities. The newly named craters are


A new analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggests that Saturn's moons and rings are gently worn vintage goods from around the time of our solar system's birth.


The first firm details of the 15 February asteroid impact in Russia, the largest in more than a century, are becoming clear. ESA is carefully assessing the information as crucial input for developing the Agency's asteroid-hunting effort.


In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA's Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.

In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA's Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.

W3 is a giant molecular cloud containing an enormous stellar nursery, some 6200 light-years away in the Perseus Arm, one of our Milky Way Galaxy's main spiral arms.

The UK Space Agency is pleased to announce new chairpersons for two of its advisory committees: the Science Programme Advisory Committee (SPAC) and Space Exploration Advisory Committee (SEAC).

One of the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the International Space Station recorded this night image of the British Isles. The view is to the north with Dublin, Ireland left of center. London appears as the bright cluster of lights centered in the lower right quadrant. The green appearance along the horizon is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. ISS034-E-050137 (14 Feb. 2013) - high res (1.9 M) low res (53 K)


One of the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station photographed this image featuring the Southern High Plains of northwestern Texas, directly south of the city of Amarillo (off the image to the north).

One of the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station photographed this image featuring the Southern High Plains of northwestern Texas, directly south of the city of Amarillo (off the image to the north).


Fig. 1. 2MASS0103(AB)b in November 2012, with NACO in L' band. The green arrow shows the position of the companion in 2002. The light-blue circle identifies the expected position of the companion if it had been a background source.


Until now, supernovas came in two main "flavors." A core-collapse supernova is the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our Sun, while a Type Ia supernova is the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf. Today, astronomers are reporting their discovery of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax. This new class is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both varieties come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf.

Until now, supernovas came in two main "flavors." A core-collapse supernova is the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our Sun, while a Type Ia supernova is the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf. Today, astronomers are reporting their discovery of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax. This new class is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both varieties come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf.

The Soyuz rocket is rolled out to the launch pad by train on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for March 29 and will send Expedition 35 Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov, and Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Russia on a five-and-a-half-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has resumed science investigations after recovery from a computer glitch that prompted the engineers to switch the rover to a redundant main computer on Feb. 28. The rover has been monitoring the weather since March 21 and delivered a new portion of powdered-rock sample for laboratory analysis on March 23, among other activities.

"We are back to full science operations," said Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has resumed science investigations after recovery from a computer glitch that prompted the engineers to switch the rover to a redundant main computer on Feb. 28. The rover has been monitoring the weather since March 21 and delivered a new portion of powdered-rock sample for laboratory analysis on March 23, among other activities.

One of the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the International Space Station recorded this image of much of Galveston Island, which is annually a popular "spring break" spot for students and vacationers from all over. Weather-wise, the whole week was pretty much a carbon copy of this clear day, though official spring time was more than a week away.


The Colorado Plateau spans northern Arizona, southern Utah, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. This physiographic province is well known for its striking landscapes and broad vistas--an impression that is enhanced by the view from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. This astronaut photograph highlights part of the Utah-Arizona border region of the Plateau, and includes several prominent landforms.

The Colorado Plateau spans northern Arizona, southern Utah, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. This physiographic province is well known for its striking landscapes and broad vistas—an impression that is enhanced by the view from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. This astronaut photograph highlights part of the Utah-Arizona border region of the Plateau, and includes several prominent landforms.

"A team of scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed the world's smallest medical implant to monitor critical chemicals in the blood. The 14mm device measures up to five indicators, including proteins like troponin, that show if and when a heart attack has occurred. Using Bluetooth, the device can then transmit the data to a smartphone for tracking. The device can also track levels of glucose, lactate, and ATP, providing valuable data for physiologic monitoring during activity, or in possible disease conditions like diabetes. As far as tricorders go, this device may be the one you have been waiting for, provided you are on board for the implant." more at ExtremeTech

Imagine the potential of such technology to monitor the health of astronauts. No more wires.

"Run tracking and calorie counting apps can certainly be regarded among the successes of the smartphone, but without dedicated sensor hardware, the philosophy of "there's an app for that" only goes so far. A host of products now available for Android let users with a little bit of technical know-how create powerful devices previously found only in the domain of hospitals and law enforcement. One of the most successful expansion boards that allows Android devices to control external instruments and to orchestrate the collection of a variety of sensor data is the IOIO board. The system works well in wireless mode with most Bluetooth dongles, and its on-board FPGA gives 25 I/O channels, including plenty for analog input. It also handles analog output via pulse width modulation (PWM)." More at ExtremeTech


From NASA ScienceCast: "A comet is heading for Mars, and there is a chance that it might hit the Red Planet in October 2014. An impact wouldn't necessarily mean the end of NASA's Mars program. But it would transform the program along with Mars itself."


Last week NASA Administrator Bolden announced that access to NASA computer networks and facilities would be curtailed for citizens of various countries. Among the countries listed was Saudi Arabia.  It is more than a little unusual to see Saudi Arabia targeted like this given the strong relations between the Saudis and the U.S. in a wide range of scientific and technological fields. It is even more odd that NASA would publicly snub a major U.S. ally in the Middle East in the midst of a presidential trip to the region.


NASA circulated two internal memos on the subject of Education and Public Outreach on Friday. These memos have begun to circulate outside of the agency as well.


Part of the Amazon Basin in northern Brazil is pictured in this image from the Japanese ALOS satellite. Along the left side of the image and running along the bottom, the Nhamunda River creates the border between the Brazilian states of Para (north) and Amazonas (south).

Part of the Amazon Basin in northern Brazil is pictured in this image from the Japanese ALOS satellite. Along the left side of the image and running along the bottom, the Nhamunda River creates the border between the Brazilian states of Para (north) and Amazonas (south). Small patches of land and vegetation outline the river's main route, though the surrounding area is also covered by water. This river is one of the many tributaries of the Amazon, which is located just to the south (not pictured).

"The tiny spacecraft passenger for Vega's upcoming Flight VV02 is getting the same "white glove" treatment as the launch's two larger payloads, with Estonia's ESTCube-1 student satellite now mission-ready at the Spaceport in French Guiana. In the Spaceport's S1B clean room, ESTCube-1 has been integrated in its box-type dispenser - readying the cubesat for integration in the Vega launcher's payload "stack," along with the Proba-V and VNREDSat-1A passengers. ESTCube-1 is the first Estonian satellite, built by a collaboration of students from Tartu University, Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Life Sciences, and was developed in conjunction with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the German Space Center (DLR)." More

"Four teams of university students have been chosen to develop and conduct hypergravity experiments during ESA's fourth 'Spin Your Thesis!' campaign. The campaign will take place from 23 September to 4 October 2013 at the Large Diameter Centrifuge facility located at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Each week two teams will use the centrifuge equipment. During the preparation of their experiments, the students will be supported by ESA's Education Office and hypergravity experts. A member of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA) will also be on hand to provide advice and expertise in gravity-related research." More

"The Silicon Valley Space Center will develop four scientific payloads to fly on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, which is currently under construction in Mojave, California. The payloads will fly on missions sponsored by the United States Rocket Academy's Citizens in Space program. The payloads are part of a cooperative agreement between the Silicon Valley Space Center and Citizens in Space, which was announced today. "The Silicon Valley Space Center is proud to support the Citizens in Space program," said Dr. Sean Casey, co-founder of the Silicon Valley Space Center. "This is a unique opportunity to leverage the technical expertise of the Silicon Valley community in support of citizen science and the emerging suborbital spaceflight industry." More


Restarting science operations after 3 weeks of computer problems, the Mars rover Curiosity will be using its robotic arm and the Goddard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory to process a triple-dose of drilled subsurface rock in a more intense search for organic carbon before April 4, when Mars will move behind the Sun blocking communications until May 1.


The positions of the planets next month will mean diminished communications between Earth and NASA's spacecraft at Mars.

Each spring and summer, as the air warms up and the sunlight beats down on the Greenland ice sheet, sapphire-colored ponds spring up like swimming pools. As snow and ice melt atop the glaciers, the water flows in channels and streams and collects in depressions on the surface that are sometimes visible from space. These melt ponds and lakes sometimes disappear quickly - a phenomenon that scientists have observed firsthand in recent years.


Each spring and summer, as the air warms up and the sunlight beats down on the Greenland ice sheet, sapphire-colored ponds spring up like swimming pools. As snow and ice melt atop the glaciers, the water flows in channels and streams and collects in depressions on the surface that are sometimes visible from space. These melt ponds and lakes sometimes disappear quickly - a phenomenon that scientists have observed firsthand in recent years.


Acquired by ESA's Planck space telescope, the most detailed map ever created of the cosmic microwave background - the relic radiation from the Big Bang - was released today revealing the existence of features that challenge the foundations of our current understanding of the Universe.


NASA's Operation IceBridge scientists have begun another season of research activity over Arctic ice sheets and sea ice with the first of a series of science flights from Greenland completed on Wednesday.

NASA's Operation IceBridge scientists have begun another season of research activity over Arctic ice sheets and sea ice with the first of a series of science flights from Greenland completed on Wednesday.


Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have travelled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, according to a new study appearing online today.


A sequence of radar images of asteroid 2013 ET was obtained on March 10, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., when the asteroid was about 693,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Earth, which is 2.9 lunar distances.

Radar Images of Asteroid 2013 ET These radar images of asteroid 2013 ET were obtained when the asteroid was about 693,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers / 2.9 lunar distances) from Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

Astronomers have found some of the youngest stars ever seen, thanks to the Herschel space observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile, a collaboration involving the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden, and the European Southern Observatory in Germany, contributed to the findings.


Astronomers have found some of the youngest stars ever seen, thanks to the Herschel space observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Many spacecraft just fade away, drifting silently through space after their mission is over, but not GRAIL. NASA's twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft went out in a blaze of glory on Dec. 17, 2012, when they were intentionally crashed into a mountain near the Moon's north pole.


The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.


The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.


The March 2013 edition of Space Quarterly Magazine is now available. Here are the table of contents for the U.S. and Canadian editions.


A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory points to the origin of a famous supernova. This supernova, discovered in 1604 by Johannes Kepler, belongs to an important class of objects that are used to measure the rate of expansion of the Universe.

A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory points to the origin of a famous supernova. This supernova, discovered in 1604 by Johannes Kepler, belongs to an important class of objects that are used to measure the rate of expansion of the Universe.


An international research team announces the first scientific results from one of the most inaccessible places on Earth: the bottom of the Mariana Trench located nearly 11 kilometers below sea level in the western Pacific, which makes it the deepest site on Earth.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is expected to resume science investigations in a few days, as engineers quickly diagnosed a software issue that prompted the rover to put itself into a precautionary standby status over the weekend.


Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy landed their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft in the steppe of Kazakhstan, northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk Friday evening.

This mosaic of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Rising above the present location of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, higher than any mountain in the 48 contiguous states of the United States, Mount Sharp is featured in new imagery from the rover.

A massive backplane that will hold the primary mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope nearly motionless while it peers into space is another step closer to completion with the recent assembly of the support structure's wings.


ESA is offering software developers the opportunity to use its new testbed in space. The robust nanosat will allow individuals, companies and institutions to try out pioneering software without the danger of losing a mission.

"After conquering the seventh continent in its 100th birthday year, the World's Favorite Cookie has decided to take on the universe in its 101st with a new, ground-breaking star chart messaging app; OREO Skies. Putting its own, playful twist on traditional mobile messaging, OREOteamed up with Nokia to develop a smartphone app designed to connect people in a never-been-done before way: through the stars. Using augmented reality technology, the OREO Skies mobile app, now available exclusively onNokia Lumia Windows smartphones, allows users to ignite the "child" inside by writing messages and attaching them to actual constellations revealed in the app. As the best-selling global cookie brand,OREO is offering people around the world a chance to connect with each other in a way that's never been done before." More

"NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) recently selected E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) as one of 24 small satellites to fly as secondary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. EcAMSat is being developed through a partnership between NASA's Ames Research Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine. It will be the first NASA mission in the "6U" configuration, with six times the volume of a single cubesat unit ("1U"). Cubesats belong to a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart, and weigh less than three pounds. Though it is large for a nanosatellite, the 6U EcAMSat weighs only about 30 pounds and measures approximately 14.4 inches long, 8.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches tall." More


From 800 km high, Earth-observing satellites are assisting international development organisations with their work in developing countries. Satellites enable objective observations of the status of remote rural areas consistently over space and time.


The ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these images of the sun spitting out a coronal mass ejection (CME) on March 15, 2013, from 3:24 to 4:00 a.m. EDT. This type of image is known as a coronagraph, since a disk is placed over the sun to better see the dimmer atmosphere around it, called the corona. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO

The ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these images of the sun spitting out a coronal mass ejection (CME) on March 15, 2013, from 3:24 to 4:00 a.m. EDT. This type of image is known as a coronagraph, since a disk is placed over the sun to better see the dimmer atmosphere around it, called the corona. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO

"ESA is offering software developers the opportunity to use its new testbed in space. The robust nanosat will allow individuals, companies and institutions to try out pioneering software without the danger of losing a mission. Satellites are so complex and costly that their controllers cannot afford to take risks. The need for reliability means that onboard and ground control software has not altered significantly in the past 20 years. But the tiny Ops-Sat, a CubeSat combining commercial off-the-shelf technology and ESA expertise, is a chance to try out new ideas in space as early as 2015. "This satellite is designed for experimenting with mission-critical software both on board and on the ground," says Dave Evans, Ops-Sat project manager at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. "This means it must be flexible, powerful and robust." More

From 800 km high, Earth-observing satellites are assisting international development organisations with their work in developing countries. Satellites enable objective observations of the status of remote rural areas consistently over space and time.


This image was taken on March 09, 2013, and received on Earth March 10, 2013, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The camera was pointing toward Rhea at approximately 2,348 miles (3,778 kilometers) away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters.


A new NASA-developed, laser-based space communication system will enable higher rates of satellite communications similar in capability to high-speed fiber optic networks on Earth. The space terminal for the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), NASA's first high-data-rate laser communication system, was recently integrated onto the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.


The dark hot spot in this false-color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft is a window deep into Jupiter's atmosphere. All around it are layers of higher clouds, with colors indicating which layer of the atmosphere the clouds are in.

The dark hot spot in this false-color image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft is a window deep into Jupiter's atmosphere. All around it are layers of higher clouds, with colors indicating which layer of the atmosphere the clouds are in. The bluish clouds to the right are in the upper troposphere, or perhaps higher still, in the stratosphere. The reddish gyre under the hot spot to the right and the large reddish plume at its lower left are in the lower troposphere. In addition, a high, gauzy haze covers part of the frame. An annotated version of this image highlights the hot spot in the middle with an arrow and boxes around the plume and the gyre. Larger image

Artist's rendering of the planetary system HR 8799 at an early stage in its evolution, showing the planet HR 8799c, a disk of gas and dust, and interior planets. Image courtesy of Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics; Mediafarm.

A team of international scientists including a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size like planet beyond our solar system.


Scientific confirmation that the NASA Mars rover Curiosity has found a location habitable to Martian microbial life 3 billion years ago is an historic milestone in planetary exploration.