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NASA mission to study cosmic material between stars

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NASA mission to study cosmic material between stars

Posted on 27 March 2017 by GGS News

Washington : NASA has announced plans to launch a balloon-borne observatory to study the emissions from the cosmic material found between stars, known as the interstellar medium.

This data will help scientists determine the life cycle of interstellar gas in the Milky Way galaxy, witness the formation and destruction of star-forming clouds, and understand the dynamics and gas flow in the vicinity of the centre of our galaxy, the US space agency said in a statement on Saturday.

The Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission will fly an Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) carrying a telescope with carbon, oxygen and nitrogen emission line detectors.

“GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” said Paul Hertz of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The mission, led by Christopher Walker of the University of Arizona, is targetted for launch in 2021 from McMurdo, Antarctica, and is expected to stay in the air between 100 to 170 days, depending on weather conditions, NASA said.

This unique combination of data will provide the spectral and spatial resolution information needed for the researchers to untangle the complexities of the interstellar medium.

The observatory will help researchers map out parts of the Milky Way galaxy and a nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

“NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. GUSTO continues that tradition,” Hertz added. — IANS

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‘Lost’ Chandrayaan-1 found orbiting Moon

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‘Lost’ Chandrayaan-1 found orbiting Moon

Posted on 11 March 2017 by GGS News

Washington : India’s first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1, which was generally considered lost, is still orbiting the Moon, NASA scientists have found with new technological application of interplanetary radar.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, barely a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008.
Chandrayaan-1 is still circling some 200 km above the lunar surface, the scientists determined. In addition to finding Chandrayaan-1, the scientists also located NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter around the Moon.“We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar,” said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and principal investigator for the test project.
“Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located. Finding India’s Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009,” Brozovic said.
Finding derelict spacecraft and space debris in Earth’s orbit can be a technological challenge. Detecting these objects in orbit around Earth’s Moon is even more difficult.
Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the Moon. However, with the new technological application of interplanetary radar, the scientists at JPL successfully located the two spacecraft orbiting the Moon.
The researchers believe that the new technique could assist planners of future Moon missions. Add to the mix is that the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is very small, a cube about 1.5 metres on each side — about half the size of a smart car. — IANS

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Chandrayaan-1: India’s first lunar mission lost in space detected orbiting the Moon by NASA radar

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Chandrayaan-1: India’s first lunar mission lost in space detected orbiting the Moon by NASA radar

Posted on 10 March 2017 by GGS News

Washington : India’s first lunar probe — the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft — which was considered lost, is still orbiting the Moon, NASA scientists have found by using a new ground-based radar technique.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, almost a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008.Now, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California have successfully located the spacecraft still circling some 200 kilometres above the lunar surface.

“We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar,” said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at JPL and principal investigator for the test project.
“Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located. Finding India’s Chandrayaan-1 required a bit more detective work because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August of 2009,” said Brozovic.
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is very small, a cube about 1.5 meters on each side — about half the size of a smart car.
Although the interplanetary radar has been used to observe small asteroids several million miles from Earth, researchers were not certain that an object of this smaller size as far away as the Moon could be detected, even with the world’s most powerful radars.
Chandrayaan-1 proved the perfect target for demonstrating the capability of this technique.
To find a spacecraft 3,80,000 kilometres away, JPL’s team used NASA’s 70-metre antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California to send out a powerful beam of microwaves directed towards the Moon.
Then the radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Finding a derelict spacecraft at lunar distance that has not been tracked for years is tricky because the Moon is riddled with mascons (regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull) that can dramatically affect a spacecraft’s orbit over time, and even cause it to have crashed into the Moon.
JPL’s orbital calculations indicated that Chandrayaan-1 is still circling some 200 kilometres above the lunar surface, but it was generally considered “lost.”
However, with Chandrayaan-1, the radar team utilised the fact that this spacecraft is in polar orbit around the Moon, so it would always cross above the lunar poles on each orbit.
On July 2 last year, the team pointed Goldstone and Green Bank at a location about 160 kilometres above the Moon’s north pole and waited to see if the lost spacecraft crossed the radar beam.

PTI |

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reveals age of Ceres’ brightest area

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reveals age of Ceres’ brightest area

Posted on 09 March 2017 by GGS News

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reveals age of Ceres’ brightest area

New Delhi : NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has revealed the brightest central area on Ceres and it is approximately 30 million years younger than the crater in which it lies. Scientists, who studied Occator Crater’s central dome in detail, said that this intriguing bright feature, known as Cerealia Facula, on the dwarf planet is only about 4 million years old – quite recent in terms of geological history. Scientists believe the initial trigger was the impact that dug out the crater itself, causing briny liquid to rise closer to the surface. As per NASA, new evidence also suggests that Occator’s bright dome likely rose in a process that took place over a long period of time, rather than forming in a single event.

OneNews India | 

 

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Russian cargo craft ‘Progress MS-05’ docks to space station – Watch

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Russian cargo craft ‘Progress MS-05’ docks to space station – Watch

Posted on 24 February 2017 by GGS News

New Delhi : The International Space Station received its second cargo shipment in less than 24 hours Friday with the automated linkup of a Russian Progress refueling and resupply freighter.

The Progress MS-05 spaceship closed in to dock with the space station’s Pirs module at 0830 GMT (3:30 a.m. EST) Friday, two days after blasting off from Kazakhstan on top of a Soyuz rocket. The docking occurred as the space station sailed 250 miles (400 kilometers) over the South Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

The Progress cargo craft’s on-board computer, relying on data fed by a Kurs rendezvous radar, commanded the final phase of the approach.

Live video from cameras outside the space station showed the Progress supply ship firing maneuvering thrusters in the final minutes of the rendezvous, steering for its docking target on the Pirs module.

The Progress spaceship’s docking probe retracted as planned shortly after docking, and hooks engaged to create a firm connection between the two vehicles.

Friday’s docking came less than a day after a commercial SpaceX-owned Dragon supply ship arrived at the space station, pulling within range of the research lab’s robotic arm for capture and berthing to the Harmony module on the U.S. section of the complex.

The Russian Progress spacecraft docked with the Earth-facing Pirs module on the Russian segment, where it is slated to remain until mid-June, when it will depart and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to dispose of the space station’s trash, making way for the next logistics mission.

“At both ends of the International Space Station throughout the day on Friday, the crew members of Expedition 50 will be unloading cargo from two different vehicles that arrived just 24 hours apart to culminate one of the busiest weeks in the history of the International Space Station,” said Rob Navias, NASA TV’s commentator for Friday’s Progress docking.

The Progress MS-05 mission, known as Progress 66P in the space station’s visiting vehicle manifest, carried around 5,820 pounds, or 2,640 kilograms, of cargo and propellant to replenish stocks on the space station.

About 2,903 pounds (1,317 kilograms) of the material is dry cargo — spare parts, food, clothing and experiments — and another 1,940 pounds (880 kilograms) is propellant. The mission also delivered 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of fresh water and about 51 pounds (23 kilograms) of oxygen, according to NASA.

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NASA’s exoplanets discovery: Finding ‘Earth 2.0’ closer to reality

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NASA’s exoplanets discovery: Finding ‘Earth 2.0’ closer to reality

Posted on 23 February 2017 by GGS News

Washington : The first step in finding life outside our own planet is to find a planet like our own: small, rocky, and at just the right distance from the star that liquid water could exist on its surface.

That’s why an announcement today from NASA is so exciting: The space agency, along with partners around the world, has found seven potentially Earth-like planets orbiting a star 40 light-years away.

“It’s the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around a same star,” Michaël Gillon, the lead author of the Nature paper announcing the discovery, said in a press conference. “The seven planets … could have some liquid water and maybe life on the surface.”

Three of the planets are directly in the star’s habitable zone, meaning water can mostly likely exist on the surface of them. One of them, Gillon said, has a mass “strongly to suggest a water-rich composition.” And it’s possible that the other four could have liquid water, too, depending on the composition of their atmospheres, the astronomers said.

The exoplanets orbit a star in the constellation Aquarius called Trappist-1. And it’s a solar system very different from our own.

For one, Trappist-1 is a tiny, “ultra-cool” dwarf star. It’s cool because it’s small: just about a tenth of the mass of our sun and about one-thousandth as bright. But its low mass allows its planets to orbit it very closely and remain in the habitable zone.

The distance at which the planets orbit Trappist-1 is comparable to the distance of Jupiter to its moons. All the planets are believed to be rocky, and are all believed to be around the size of Earth, give or take 10 to 20 percent.
The exoplanets orbit a star in the constellation Aquarius called Trappist-1. And it’s a solar system very different from our own.

For one, Trappist-1 is a tiny, “ultra-cool” dwarf star. It’s cool because it’s small: just about a tenth of the mass of our sun and about one-thousandth as bright. But its low mass allows its planets to orbit it very closely and remain in the habitable zone.

The distance at which the planets orbit Trappist-1 is comparable to the distance of Jupiter to its moons. All the planets are believed to be rocky, and are all believed to be around the size of Earth, give or take 10 to 20 percent.
Maybe the most exciting thing here is that these seven planets are very well suited for detailed atmospheric study,” Gillon said. The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, will have the ability to measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If the atmospheres contain telltale gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane, life could exist there. “We can expect that in a few years, we will know a lot more about these [seven] planets,” Amaury Triaud, another of the paper’s co-authors, said.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it’s because astronomers announced three potentially habitable planets around Trappist-1 in May. Today’s reveal adds four more to the mix.

Right now, the astronomers are beginning to study the planets’ atmospheres with the telescopes they have. And from these observations, they feel fairly confident that the worlds are rocky. “For detailed characterization, we will need James Webb,” Triaud said.

In the meantime, we just have our imaginations to fill in the gap. This is an artist’s rendition of what the fifth planet in this bizarre solar system might look like. These planets are believed to be tidally locked to the star, each has a permanent day side and a permanent night side. And because the planets are so close together, they’d appear in the sky like moons.
The more Earth-like exoplanets astronomers find in the galaxy, the more they update their estimates of how many Earth-like planets could be out there. “For every transiting planet found, there should be a multitude of similar planets (20–100 times more) that, seen from Earth, never pass in front of their host star,” Nature reporter Ignas Snellen explains in a feature article. And the more exoplanets there are, the more likely it is that life exists on at least one of them.

“With this discovery we’ve made a giant, accelerated leap forward in our search for habitable worlds and life on other worlds potentially,” Sara Seager, a leading exoplanet expert at MIT, said during the announcement. This one star system, she said, gives astronomers many chances to look for life, and refine their understanding of exoplanets in small-star systems.

Also promising: Tiny, cool stars like Trappist-1 are some of the most common in the galaxy. Investigating them will likely yield more exoplanet discoveries. Which will help get us closer to finding places like Earth.

As NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Finding another Earth-like planet isn’t a matter of if but when.“ VOX |

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ISRO sets world record by successfully launching 104 satellites in single mission

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ISRO sets world record by successfully launching 104 satellites in single mission

Posted on 15 February 2017 by GGS News

Sriharikota : Today at 9.30 am, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) marked its name in history by setting a new world record after launching 104 satellites into orbit in a single mission. The launch saw PSLV-C37 pushing a mindboggling 104 satellites into orbit.

Of the 104 satellites, 101 satellites were from international clients. Of the 101 international co-passenger nano-satellites, 96 are from the US, and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. The weight of all the satellites at launch totals 1,378 kg.The countdown for the launch of PSLV-C37/Cartosat2 Series satellite mission began at 5:28 AM soon after the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval for lift off, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
This mission was ISRO’s second successful attempt after launching 23 satellites in one go in June 2015. PSLV first launched the 714 kg CARTOSAT-2 Series satellite for earth observation and then injected the 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit, about 520 km from Earth. ISRO scientists have used the XL Variant — the most powerful rocket — earlier used in the ambitious Chandrayaan and during the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Out of the 101 co-passenger satellites onboard, a total of 96 belong to USA alone, five are from International customers to ISRO, which include Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, respectively. Two Indian nano satellites, weighing a total of around 1,378 kg, also rode piggyback on the PSLV rocket. The nano-satellites belonging to international customers were launched as part of the arrangement by Antrix Corporation Ltd (ANTRIX) the commercial arm of the ISRO.
Cartosat-2 Series, which is the primary satellite, will be similar to the earlier four satellites in Cartosat-2 Series. After coming into operation, it will provide remote sensing services. Images sent by it will be useful for coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water and creation of land use maps, among others. Cartosat-2 Series has a mission life of five years.
The two Indian Nano-satellites INS-1A and INS-1B were developed as co-passenger satellites to accompany bigger satellites on PSLV. The primary objective of INS (ISRO Nano Satellite) is to provide an opportunity for ISRO technology demonstration payloads, provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.
INS-1A carries Surface Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function Radiometer and INS-1B caries Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser as payloads.
In its 39th flight, the PSLV launched the 714-kg Cartosat-2 satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 664kg, at lift-off. The satellites have been successfully placed in an orbit 505km above the Earth.
ISRO has confirmed that all the 104 satellites were sucessfully seperated from the launch vehicle and are being placed into their respective orbits.
After the launch, PM Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO team for successful launch of 104 satellites: space agency chief A S Kiran Kumar.DECCAN CHRONICLE.

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India tests exo-atmospheric ballistic missile interception – Know all about it

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India tests exo-atmospheric ballistic missile interception – Know all about it

Posted on 11 February 2017 by GGS News

Balasore : The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Saturday successfully tested an exo-atmospheric missile interception as part of the ballistic missile defence programme, sources informed.

At 7.45 am, on the east coast of India, an incoming missile was successfully intercepted at a height of 100 kms with a direct hit by an interceptor missile, said a top DRDO official.

The interceptor is based on the nuclear-capable Prithvi missile.IANS

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ISRO to launch record 104 satellites on February 15: Things to know

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ISRO to launch record 104 satellites on February 15: Things to know

Posted on 08 February 2017 by GGS News

New Delhi : The India Space Research Organization (ISRO) is conducting its mega-launch program on February 15, under which it will set off total 104 satellites to space. As scheduled, the satellites will take off at one go around 9 am from Sriharikota spaceport, Andhra Pradesh on February 15.
ISRO will create history by launching a record of 104 satellites, including 101 from foreign countries, out of which 88 are from the United States and the remaining are from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. The rest 3 belongs to India itself.
All satellites will be placed in the lower orbit of the earth for monitoring the planet and its ongoing actions.
ISRO will take up its most efficient launcher rocket ‘PSLV-C37’- Polar Satellite launch Vehicle for setting the satellites in motion. It’s a 320-tonne rocket which will launch all the satellites with a combined weight of 1,500 kg, including the 650 kg remote-sensing Cartosat-2 and two nano-satellites (IA and IB) weighing 15 kg each.
The launch of 104 satellites will surpass the 37 satellites launch record set in June 2014 and 29 satellites launched by NASA in 2013. The Indian space agency has already launched 20 satellites in one shot in June 2016.
If ISRO succeeds in conducting this mega-launch program, then it will be honored as the only agency to launch the highest number of satellites in one go.

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According to NASA scientists we have two options to protect Earth from deadly asteroids

According to NASA scientists we have two options to protect Earth from deadly asteroids

Posted on 16 December 2016 by GGS News

New Delhi, IT SOUNDS like an idea that should remain firmly in the realm of Hollywood but NASA thinks one day we might need to nuke any Earth-bound asteroids to save humanity.
Scientists gathered this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting which included researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center who spoke, among other things, about how to prevent humans going the same way as the dinosaurs.
And when it comes to planetary defence, sending a nuclear rocket to intercept an oncoming asteroid is at the top of the list of ideas.
It’s basically one of two options. Either we can shoot an object at the offending asteroid to nudge it onto a trajectory away from us. Or we can send a nuclear missile to blow it up into little, far less threatening, pieces.
Outside of those two options, we’re about as vulnerable as it gets when it comes to large space rocks hurtling towards us.
That point was driven home by Dr Joseph Nuth, a researcher with Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“The biggest problem, basically, is there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment,” he said.
While smaller space shrapnel can be common and burn up on approach, potential extinction-inducing impacts are much more rare.
“Things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially. You could say, of course, we’re due, but it’s a random course at that point,” he told the meeting, The Guardian reported.

It’s not entirely uncommon for asteroids to get knocked into our neighbourhood. In fact according to Mr Nuth Earth had somewhat a close encounter in 1996 when a comet flew into Jupiter and again in 2014 when a comet passed “within cosmic spitting distance of Mars”.
Earlier in the year, NASA announced it was planning to launch a probe to study an “Armageddon” asteroid named Bennu that could one day pulverise the Earth.
Dr Cathy Plesko, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who also spoke during the meeting said she favoured the deflection option, a technique she equated to a “giant cannonball”.
“Cannonball technology is actually very good technology, intercepting an object at high speed actually ends up being more effective than high explosives,” she said.
Either way it looks like we’re relying on rocket power to save the planet from any unwanted asteroid visitors, as long as we detect the threat in time.au.news

 

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