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#5301
Jessica

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Astronomers propose a novel method of finding atmospheres on rocky worlds

by Christine Pulliam, Laura Betz, NASA

When NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021, one of its most anticipated contributions to astronomy will be the study of exoplanets—planets orbiting distant stars. Among the most pressing questions in exoplanet science is: Can a small, rocky exoplanet orbiting close to a red dwarf star hold onto an atmosphere?

 

In a series of four papers in the Astrophysical Journal, a team of astronomers proposes a new method of using Webb to determine whether a rocky exoplanet has an atmosphere. The technique, which involves measuring the planet's temperature as it passes behind its star and then comes back into view, is significantly faster than more traditional methods of atmospheric detection like transmission spectroscopy.

"We find that Webb could easily infer the presence or absence of an atmosphere around a dozen known rocky exoplanets with less than 10 hours of observing time per planet," said Jacob Bean of the University of Chicago, a co-author on three of the papers.

 

https://phys.org/new...cky-worlds.html



#5302
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China to build space-based solar power station by 2035
 
2019-12-02 10:04:20
 
XIAMEN, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- China plans to accomplish a 200-tonne megawatt-level space-based solar power station by 2035, according to the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).
 
The space-based solar power station would capture the sun's energy that never makes it to the planet, said Wang Li, a CAST research fellow with the program, when attending the sixth China-Russia Engineering Forum held last week in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province.
 
The energy is converted to microwaves or lasers and then beamed wirelessly back to the Earth's surface for human consumption, Wang said.
 
"We hope to strengthen international cooperation and make scientific and technological breakthroughs so that humankind can achieve the dream of limitless clean energy at an early date," Wang said.
 
Compared with traditional fossil energy, which has been increasingly exhausted and is responsible for severe environmental issues, space-based solar power is more efficient and sustainable, providing a reliable power supply solution for satellites and disaster-hit areas or isolated areas on the Earth, Wang said.
 


#5303
wjfox

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NASA’s Exoplanet-Hunting Mission Catches a Natural Comet Outburst in Unprecedented Detail
 
Dec. 3, 2019
 
Using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers at the University of Maryland (UMD), in College Park, Maryland, have captured a clear start-to-finish image sequence of an explosive emission of dust, ice and gases during the close approach of comet 46P/Wirtanen in late 2018. This is the most complete and detailed observation to date of the formation and dissipation of a naturally-occurring comet outburst. The team members reported their results in the November 22 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
 
“TESS spends nearly a month at a time imaging one portion of the sky. With no day or night breaks and no atmospheric interference, we have a very uniform, long-duration set of observations,” said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the research paper. “As comets orbit the Sun, they can pass through TESS’ field of view. Wirtanen was a high priority for us because of its close approach in late 2018, so we decided to use its appearance in the TESS images as a test case to see what we could get out of it. We did so and were very surprised!”
 
“While TESS is a powerhouse for discovering planets orbiting nearby, bright stars, its observing strategy enables so much exciting additional science,” said TESS project scientist Padi Boyd of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Since the TESS data are rapidly made public through NASA’s Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), it’s exciting to see scientists identifying which data are of interest to them, and then doing all kinds of additional serendipitous science beyond exoplanets.”
 
 
 
wirtanen_outburst.gif


#5304
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China to build space-based solar power station by 2035

200 tonne, <200MW?

 

If not, the $/KWh is pretty steep. Would mean it's either for State pride or for niche purposes (S.C. Sea).

 

It would explain some of the need for 60x Saturn V-size vehicles between 2030-2035. 


If you're going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill

You don't decide your future. You decide your habits, and your habits decide your future.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln.


#5305
caltrek

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China seems to be getting in the news a lot lately in regards to space and astronomy. Another example:

 

Scientists Spot Black Hole So Huge It ‘Shouldn’t Even Exist’ in Our Galaxy

 

https://www.courthou...-in-our-galaxy/

 

Introduction:

 

BEIJING (Agence-France-Presse) – Astronomers have discovered a black hole in the Milky Way so huge that it challenges existing models of how stars evolve, researchers said Wednesday.

 

LB-1 is 15,000 light years from Earth and has a mass 70 times greater than the Sun, according to the journal Nature.

 

The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100 million stellar black holes but LB-1 is twice as massive as anything scientists thought possible, said Liu Jifeng, a National Astronomical Observatory of China professor who led the research.

 

“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” he added.

 

 

Edit:  Below is a link to an article in Nature on the same subject.  Note that Jifeng Liu is listed as a co-author, or at least a contact regarding the research.  https://www.nature.c...1586-019-1766-2


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


#5306
caltrek

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Of course, we should not count out Europe:

 

Europe gives space programs a big boost

 

https://www.sciencem...grams-big-boost

 

Introduction:

 

(Science) European nations have given a green light, and a significant funding boost, to almost all of the proposals laid out by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its future program, officials said today at the end of a 2-day budget meeting in Seville, Spain. The more than 20% rise in the ESA’s 3-year budget is the largest boost the agency has seen in 25 years, one that will allow it to: concurrently run two major orbiting observatories to look at x-rays and gravitational waves; join NASA in returning samples from Mars; expand its monitoring of Earth’s environment to help tackle the climate crisis; and develop a reusable vehicle to take cargo to and from space. 

Sentinel-1crop.jpg?itok=U6_6FibO

 

Europe's fleet of Earth-observing Sentinel satellites could grow with a big budget boost.

ESA/ATG MEDIALAB

 


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


#5307
Jessica

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Scientists reveal potential new class of X-ray star system research

by Amy Oliver, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

A scientist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian has announced the discovery that mass in triple star systems takes on the characteristics of recipient stars before mass is actually transferred, which may allow scientists to re-examine previously labeled binary star systems for evidence of a third companion.

 

"Scientists already knew that the transfer of mass from one star to another is one of the most important processes in astronomy, because it produces events that release tremendous amounts of energy—from Type Ia supernovae to the merger of black holes. I wanted to extend this to understand what happens if one star transfers mass to a pair of stars," said Rosanne Di Stefano, astronomer at CfA. "To do that I had to generalize the familiar process of star-to-star mass flow."

Di Stefano suggests that the flow of mass is similar to the flow of water through a faucet. "The mass-giving star takes on a tear-drop shape, filling its 'Roche Lobe' and transferring mass through a small region called the L1 point," said Di Stefano. "The Roche Lobe and the L1 point provide a mathematical basis for computing exactly what happens to transferred mass in a binary where both gravity and rotation influence the flow of matter."

 

https://phys.org/new...lass-x-ray.html



#5308
Jessica

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Cheops: Europe's Exoplanet Mission

 

ESA’s first mission dedicated to investigating planets outside our solar system is scheduled for launch on a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana on 17 December 2019.

Cheops – Characterising ExOPlanet Satellite – will study known exoplanets that are orbiting bright stars. The aim is to obtain detailed information about these planets to find out more about their composition and internal structure.

 

http://www.esa.int/E...oplanet_Mission



#5309
Jessica

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Evidence of an Alien Planet Spotted Around a White Dwarf, a Cosmic First


By Mike Wall - Space.com Senior Writer a day ago Space

The exotic system provides a preview of our own solar system's fate.

Dead stars can have planets, too.

For the first time ever, astronomers have spotted evidence of an exoplanet circling a superdense stellar corpse known as a white dwarf, a new study reports.

"This discovery is major progress, because over the past two decades, we had growing evidence that planetary systems survive into the white-dwarf stage," study lead author Boris Gaensicke, from the University of Warwick in England, said in a statement.

"We've seen a lot of asteroids, comets and other small planetary objects hitting white dwarfs, and explaining these events requires larger, planet-mass bodies further out," Gaensicke added. "Having evidence for an actual planet that itself was scattered in is an important step."

 



HtwejJ3APMqteccFwN5WVF-650-80.jpg

For the first time, scientists have spotted a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf star, shown in this
artist's impression of the system. (Image credit: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick)

The vast majority of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, including our own sun, will end up as white dwarfs. When these stars finish burning their nuclear fuel, they'll first bloat up as enormous red giants, then eventually collapse down into white dwarfs, which pack about one solar mass into a sphere the size of Earth.

 


More:
https://www.livescie...-discovery.html


#5310
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WiNVDfr.png



#5311
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ALMA spots most distant dusty galaxy hidden in plain sight

by National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have spotted the light of a massive galaxy seen only 970 million years after the Big Bang. This galaxy, called MAMBO-9, is the most distant dusty star-forming galaxy that has ever been observed without the help of a gravitational lens.

 

Dusty star-forming galaxies are the most intense stellar nurseries in the universe. They form stars at a rate up to a few thousand times the mass of the Sun per year (the star-forming rate of our Milky Way is just three solar masses per year) and they contain massive amounts of gas and dust. Such monster galaxies are not expected to have formed early in the history of the universe, but astronomers have already discovered several of them as seen when the cosmos was less than a billion years old. One of them is galaxy SPT0311-58, which ALMA observed in 2018.

 

https://phys.org/new...axy-hidden.html



#5312
Jessica

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Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket makes 12th test flight

https://phys.org/new...ocket-12th.html

Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, launched the 12th crewless test of its New Shepard rocket on Wednesday, pushing the first flights with passengers to 2020.

 

The 60-foot-long (18-meter) suborbital rocket reached an altitude of 65 miles (105 kilometers), according to preliminary information, crossing the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman line.

A capsule affixed to its summit will one day carry six astronaut passengers on a trip that lasts a total of 10 minutes and at a cost of half a million dollars.

The rockets, tested since 2015, are re-usable, unlike those from the early spaceflight era. The one which flew on Wednesday had already completed five previous launches.

 



#5313
Jessica

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Scientists map Mars' global wind patterns for the first time

by University of Maryland Baltimore County

Today, a paper published in Science documents for the first time the global wind circulation patterns in the upper atmosphere of a planet, 120 to 300 kilometers above the surface. The findings are based on local observations, rather than indirect measurements, unlike many prior measurements taken on Earth's upper atmosphere. But it didn't happen on Earth: it happened on Mars. On top of that, all the data came from an instrument and a spacecraft that weren't originally designed to collect wind measurements.

 

In 2016, Mehdi Benna and his colleagues proposed to the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) project team that they remotely reprogram the MAVEN spacecraft and its Natural Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) instrument to do a unique experiment. They wanted to see if parts of the instrument that were normally stationary could "swing back and forth like a windshield wiper fast enough," to enable the tool to gather a new kind of data.

 

https://phys.org/new...l-patterns.html



#5314
Jessica

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US Space Force Will Be the Sixth Military Branch
Brian Wang | December 12, 2019
spacebattleorions-730x430.jpg

 

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 officially agreed by the House and Senate will officially establish the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.

More than 180 House Democrats joined a nearly united Republican caucus Wednesday night to pass a sweeping $738 billion military spending bill that gives President Donald Trump his long-sought “Space Force,” free rein to wage endless wars, and a green light to continue fueling the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Negotiators of the 2020 defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, reached a compromise Monday that redesignates Air Force Space Command as the new, sixth armed service. The Defense Department will have to draw from thousands of military personnel in existing space organizations, including those in the Air Force and across the department. They cannot hire new billets.

Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2019

 

The official creation of a Space Force simply awaits President Trump’s signature and Trump has said he would sign it right away. The Pentagon’s plan is to form a small staff of about 200 people to conduct the detailed planning work that will solidify the service’s structure and make foundational decisions about the Space Force’s culture, including its doctrine development and its uniforms.

Once the president signs the act into law, the Pentagon will have 90 days to stand up the “initial Space Force staff,” which will be comprised of about 151 personnel from the Air Force, 24 from the Army, 14 from the Navy and Marine Corps, and nine from the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the intelligence community.

https://www.defensen...ited-head-room/

The United States Space Force Act will redesignate Air Force Space Command as the United States Space Force (USSF). It will be related to the Air Force the way Marine’s relate to the Navy.

The US Space Force will start off with about 200 people and then it will scale up to about 15,000.

 

 

 

I support the space force for the simple reason it is the only way space exploration and tech will get funded right.



#5315
Jessica

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Researchers estimate the mass of the Milky Way to be 890 billion times that of our sun

by Bob Yirka , Phys.org

An international team of researchers has used sophisticated models to calculate the mass of the Milky Way. They have written a paper describing their efforts and results, and have posted it on the arXiv preprint server.

 

Prior research has led to estimates of the size of the Milky Way—it is now thought to be approximately 256,000 light-years across. Now, in this new effort, the researchers have carried out work that has led to an estimate of our galaxy's mass—approximately 890 billion times that of the sun, or 3.9 tredecillion pounds.

Figuring out the size, shape and mass of our galaxy is no easy feat considering that we are measuring it from within. We cannot see much of it because of interstellar gases and occluding stars. Because of that, scientists have looked for other ways to map the galaxy.

To come up with an estimate of the galaxy's mass, the researchers used data from multiple sources to create a model based on mass. The data provided information about the way stars, gas and other material in the galaxy move. The team used this data to develop what they describe as a "rotation curve." Because the galaxy does not spin in uniform ways, the researchers had to come up with such a curve to better understand the distances of the galactic objects.

 

https://phys.org/new...illion-sun.html



#5316
Jessica

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ESA's first exoplanet-specific mission,

, will launch from French Guyana tomorrow morning just before 10am CET (8:54am in the UK, 3:54am on the US east coast & 00:54 at night in California). Watch the webcast on https://esa.int/Education/Teach_with_Exoplanets/Watch_Cheops_launch_live!



#5317
wjfox

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CHEOPS launch: Mission to study alien worlds postponed due to 'software error'
 
December 17, 2019 12:54 AM PST
 
The European Space Agency's (ESA) "Characterizing Exoplanets Satellite" (CHEOPS) was scheduled to launch Dec. 17 from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The CHEOPS flight has been cancelled due to a "software error," according to the University of Bern, which was carrying a livestream for the momentous launch.
 
 
 
5HAdBor.jpg


#5318
Jessica

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European planet-studying mission launches from South America

by Danica Coto

A European spacecraft launched from South America Wednesday on a three-year mission to study planets in other solar systems.

 

The Characterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS) mission blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana at 0854 GMT (3:54 a.m. EST) atop a Russian Soyuz rocket. The launch came 24 hours after a first attempt was delayed shortly before liftoff because of a software problem in the upper stage of the rocket.

The European Space Agency says the satellite is the first mission dedicated to studying bright nearby stars that are already known to have planets, and will focus on "planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range." The agency hopes that the data sent by the mission will enable the bulk density of those planets to be calculated, a first step toward understanding them better.

 

https://phys.org/new...th-america.html



#5319
Jessica

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Boeing sends first crew capsule to ISS this week

 

Boeing is all set to launch its Starliner spacecraft for the first time to the International Space Station at the end of this week, a key mission as NASA looks to resume crewed flight by 2020.

 

This time around its sole passenger will be bandana-clad dummy Rosie, named after Rosie the Riveter, a campaign icon used to recruit women to munitions factory jobs during World War II.

"If we're blessed with great weather, I look forward to a mission early Friday morning, and then coming to the International Space Station on Saturday," Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

 

https://phys.org/new...e-iss-week.html



#5320
Jessica

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NASA's Mars 2020 rover completes its first drive

by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA's next Mars rover has passed its first driving test. A preliminary assessment of its activities on Dec. 17, 2019, found that the rover checked all the necessary boxes as it rolled forward and backward and pirouetted in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be rolling over Martian soil.

 

"Mars 2020 has earned its driver's license," said Rich Rieber, the lead mobility systems engineer for Mars 2020. "The test unambiguously proved that the rover can operate under its own weight and demonstrated many of the autonomous-navigation functions for the first time. This is a major milestone for Mars 2020."

Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars' climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. It is scheduled to land in an area of Mars known as Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

 

https://phys.org/new...mars-rover.html







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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