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Space News and Discussions

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#4181
caltrek

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Jupiter’s skies are peppered with electron streams, ammonia plumes, and massive storms

 

http://www.sciencema...-massive-storms

 

Introduction:

 

(Science) Scientists have long known that Jupiter is a stormy place. But since NASA’s Juno probe reached the solar system’s largest planet last July, they’ve found it to be a far more tempestuous place than they realized. The first-ever detailed look at Jupiter’s polar regions—captured during Juno’s first orbit last August—reveals chaotic swirls of storms, some measuring up to 1400 kilometers across, researchers report today in Science. The study also shows that Jupiter’s equator is home to a broad plume of ammonia rising from deep layers of the atmosphere, a “striking and unexpected” feature found by beaming microwaves into the jovian atmosphere, the researchers say. Other data indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is nearly 50% stronger than previously suspected in some places, hinting that the movement of electrically charged particles deep in the planet’s atmosphere may rise closer to the cloudtops than previously presumed. Other electrically charged particles power Jupiter’s polar auroras. But unlike those on Earth—which are fueled by particles streaming in from space—Jupiter’s polar auroras are powered by streams of electrons rising from deep within the planet’s atmosphere, reports another study published today in Science. One of Juno’s next targets: Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot, scheduled to get its close flyby in July. 

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4182
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Some Plants Grow Well in Martian Soil

 

http://www.skyandtel...n-martian-soil/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky and Telescope) NASA and private entrepreneurs are pushing to land people on Mars within the next generation. To survive on Mars, colonists will need a lot of gear, not least of which is food. Since lugging food adds a lot of weight to spacecraft — and packaged food only retains its nutrients for so long, anyway — any would-be Martians will need to grow food on site in order to survive.

 

But conditions on the Red Planet are different than on Earth. The surface receives less than half the amount of sunlight that Earth does, and dust in the atmosphere can attenuate it even more. Due to the absence of an ozone layer, more ultraviolet radiation reaches the ground. As to the Martian surface itself, the dirt (technically “regolith”) is more iron-rich, particularly in iron oxides.

 

To see how terrestrial plants might fare in Martian soil, students at Villanova University last semester conducted the Red Thumbs Mars Garden Project. They obtained simulated Martian soil, made from volcanic basalts similar to those on Mars, and mixed it with other compounds to make it about 90% similar to Martian regolith.

 

The students focused on nutritious plants, including lettuce, kale, garlic, and potatoes, as well as hops (the business students were looking for inventive ways to make Martian greenhouse products marketable, professor Edward Guinan quipped during his talk January 12th at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C.). They then planted the seedlings in different concentrations of Martian soil in a campus greenhouse rigged for light levels on the Red Planet and let things unfold.

 

Despite hiccups in the pilot study (lack of greenhouse temperature control, students forgetting to water plants), several of the experimental foodstuffs grew fine in the Martian simulated dirt. Mixed greens such as lettuce and kale did well, but potatoes — the mainstay of protagonist Mark Watney in The Martian — did not. The clay-like Martian simulant was so thick that it crushed the growing taters, giving them no room to expand.

Mars-Garden-Guinan-Students-2.jpg

Students care for plants with Professor Edward Guinan (right) in Villanova University’s Mars Garden. 
Villanova University


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4183
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Galaxies Show Order in Chaotic Young Universe

 

http://www.skyandtel...young-universe/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky and Telescope) Our cosmos was a messy youngster. Hotter and denser than the universe we live in now, it was home to turbulent gas flinging about under the influence of gravity. Theorists think the earliest galaxies built up gradually, first clump by clump, then by mergers with other galaxies.

 

Astronomers expected that most galaxies living among this early chaos would be turbulent masses themselves. But new observations have revealed two surprisingly mature galaxies when the universe was only 800 million years old. Renske Smit (University of Cambridge, UK) and colleagues report in the January 11th Nature that these two galaxies have already settled into rotating disks, suggesting they evolved rapidly right after they were born.

 

Smit and colleagues first found the two galaxies in deep Spitzer Space Telescope images, then followed up using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a network of radio dishes high in the Atacama Desert in Chile. ALMA’s incredible resolution enabled the astronomers to measure radiation from ionized carbon — an element associated with forming stars — across the face of these diminutive galaxies.

 

Consider for a moment: These galaxies are a fifth the size of the Milky Way, and they’re incredibly far away — their light has traveled 13 billion years to Earth. Even in images taken by the eagle-eyed Hubble Space Telescope, such galaxies appear as small red dots. Yet astronomers are now able to point an array of radio dishes to not only spot the galaxies themselves but also capture features within them down to a couple thousand light-years across.

 

They Grow Up So Fast

 

The ALMA observations revealed that these two galaxies aren’t the turbulent free-for-all that astronomers expect for most galaxies in this early time period. Their rotating disks aren’t quite like the Milky Way’s, as spiral arms take time to form. Instead, they look more like the fluffy disk galaxies typically seen at so-called cosmic noon, the universe’s adolescent period of star formation and galaxy growth. That implies rapid evolution, as cosmic noon occurred more than 2 billion years after these two galaxies existed.

 

DataVisualisation.jpg

Data visualization of the the velocity gradient across the two surprisingly evolved young galaxies.
Hubble (NASA/ESA), ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), P. Oesch (University of Geneva) and R. Smit (University of Cambridge)


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#4184
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NASA-Funded Research Will Let Unmanned Spacecraft “Think” Using AI and Blockchain

 

In Brief Researchers will put artificial intelligence to work on a blockchain system in order to help unmanned spacecraft "think" for themselves. This will let spacecraft react to new data even when far from Earth, where transmitted instructions lag.
 

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#4185
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Glad to see that plants can be grown on mars!

 

The question is can we make plants capable of surviving in its atmosphere.


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#4186
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Glad to see that plants can be grown on mars!

 

The question is can we make plants capable of surviving in its atmosphere.

Probably not without terraforming, but what's the point--greenhouses aren't hard to make.


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#4187
caltrek

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^^^^Hard enough when you consider the effort needed to transport materials needed for greenhouse construction.  This can be partially mitigated by use of materials found on Mars, but only partially. At least at our current and near future level of technology.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4188
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The key to building anything on Mars is large scale 3D printing. Start with small printers transported there and use them to build larger printers either with transported minerals or minerals found on Mars. Use the larger printers to begin construction of the framework for the biospheres and the cranes needed to assemble them (if the printers can not print them fully erected). Use the same cranes to lift the glass panels constructed from the Martian regolith into position on the framework.


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“If the genius of invention were to reveal to-morrow the secret of immortality, of eternal beauty and youth, for which all humanity is aching, the same inexorable agents which prevent a mass from changing suddenly its velocity would likewise resist the force of the new knowledge until time gradually modifies human thought.” 

 

                                                                 Nikola Tesla - New York World, May 19th 1907 


#4189
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China Air Force Engineers propose space-based laser to remove small space junk
brian wang | January 16, 2018

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Researchers from the Information and Navigation College, Air Force Engineering University and the Institute of China Electronic Equipment System Engineering Company performed computational analysis for using a space-based laser to remove space junk.

The orbital momentum models of small scale space debris and space-based laser station were established. The velocity variation of the space debris ablating by the space-based laser station was analyzed, and the orbit maneuver of the space debris irradiated by laser station was modeled and studied. The variations of orbital parameters of the space debris orbit respectively without and with irradiation of high-power pulsed laser were simulated and analyzed, and the impacts of the inclination and right ascension of ascending node (RAAN) of the space-based laser station on debris removal were analyzed and discussed. The simulation results show that, debris removal is affected by inclination and RAAN, and laser station with the same inclination and RAAN as debris has the highest removal efficiency. It provides necessary theoretical basis for the deployment of space-based laser station and the further application of space debris removal by using space-based laser.

 

https://www.nextbigf...space-junk.html


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#4190
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How massive can neutron stars be?
January 16, 2018, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

 

Astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt set a new limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars: They cannot exceed 2.16 solar masses.

Since their discovery in the 1960s, scientists have sought to answer an important question: How massive can neutron stars actually become? By contrast to black holes, these stars cannot gain in mass arbitrarily; past a certain limit there is no physical force in nature that can counter their enormous gravitational force. For the first time, astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt have succeeded in calculating a strict upper limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars.

With a radius of about 12 kilometres and a mass that can be twice as large as that of the sun, neutron stars are amongst the densest objects in the universe, producing gravitational fields comparable to those of black holes. Whilst most neutron stars have a mass of around 1.4 times that of the sun, massive examples are also known, such as the pulsar PSR J0348+0432 with 2.01 solar masses.

 

Read more at: https://phys.org/new...-stars.html#jCp


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#4191
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Dark Energy Survey Releases First Three Years of Data

 

http://www.skyandtel...st-three-years/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky and Telescope) Free, detailed information on 400 million astronomical objects, anybody? Just visit the website of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) – it’s there for the taking. At a special session of the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C., scientists presented the first data release (DR1) of the survey, containing observations that were collected between mid-2013 and early 2016. Among the preliminary results: eleven new stellar streams in the Milky Way galaxy and new constraints on cosmological parameters.

 

The Dark Energy Survey is carried out with the giant Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the 4-meter Blanco Telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. Built at Fermilab in Chicago, DECam sports 62 sensitive CCDs with a grand total of 570 million pixels. The 4-ton camera has a huge 3-square-degree field of view. The survey’s main goal is to solve the riddle of dark energy – the mystery force behind the accelerating expansion of the universe.

 

During the first three years of the survey, some 39,000 exposures have been taken at five different wavelength bands, covering a whopping 5,186 square degrees – about one-eighth of the whole sky. According to DES release scientist Matias Carrasco Kind (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), DR1 contains data on 310 million galaxies and 80 million stars brighter than magnitude 22.5. "This is the largest photometric dataset to date," he says.

 

Thanks to its impressive sensitivity, DES has almost doubled the number of known ultra-faint dwarf galaxies swarming around the Milky Way, from two dozen to more than fifty (some of the new finds still need independent confirmation). At the meeting, Alex Drlica-Wagner (Fermilab) reported a ‘strong correlation’ in sky position with the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. "30 to 60 percent of the DES satellite galaxies may have a Magellanic origin," he says. "They may have started out as satellites of the two Milky Way companions."

 

streams-480px.jpg

In this DES image, which covers a big chunk of the sky, color indicates the distance of the stars: blue is closer, green is further away, red is even further away.

Alex Drlica-Wagner (Fermilab), Nora Shipp (U. Chicago) & the DES Collaboration


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#4192
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SpaceX now targeting Friday or the weekend for Falcon Heavy static fire test
brian wang | January 17, 2018

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SpaceX teams are working towards the eventual launch of the SpaceX three-core Falcon Heavy rocket. It will likely lift off on its demonstration flight early this year.

SpaceX has delayed the static fire test of the 230-foot-tall rocket’s 27 Merlin main engines. It is a routine operation that will produce data for analysis by engineers. If all goes well after the testing phase, the rocket’s inaugural flight from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A will be scheduled.

As of Wednesday morning, SpaceX is targeting no earlier than 3:30 p.m. Eastern time Friday for a test fire of its Falcon Heavy rocket at Kennedy Space Center. Teams have six hours, or until 9:30 p.m., to briefly fire the 27 Merlin engine.

 

https://www.nextbigf...-fire-test.html


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: space exploration, aerospace engineering, astronomy, NASA, SpaceX, interstellar, telescopes, satellites, Mars, space

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