Topic: Dark Energy
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.
The WFIRST space telescope will have a viewing area 100 times larger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which will enable it to detect faint infrared signals from across the cosmos while also generating enormous panoramas of the universe, revealing secrets of dark energy, discovering planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), and addressing a host of other astrophysics and planetary science topics.
Pasadena, CA – Scientists have discovered that a mysterious pressure dubbed “dark energy” makes up about 68% of the total energy content of the cosmos, but so far we don’t know much more about it.
Exploring the nature of dark energy is one of the primary reasons NASA is building the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a space telescope whose measurements will help illuminate the dark energy puzzle. With a better understanding of dark energy, we will have a better sense of the past and future evolution of the universe.
Pasadena, CA – NASA says the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, set to launch in 2022, will investigate two of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy: dark matter and dark energy. A team of NASA engineers recently delivered critical hardware for one of the instruments that will fly on Euclid and probe these cosmic puzzles.
Based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the engineers designed, fabricated and tested 20 pieces of sensor-chip electronics (SCEs) hardware for Euclid (16 for the flight instrument and four backups).
Washington, D.C. – In a galaxy far away, an old star exploded and became a supernova. About 170 million years later on February 4th, 2018, the light emanating from the explosion was received by an arsenal of high-powered telescopes.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope detected the unfurling light of SN 2018oh, as it has been labeled. The first ground-based facility to identify the signal was with the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova and soon observatories around the globe were monitoring the supernova as part of a unique scientific experiment designed to help solve the mystery of how stars explode.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Observatory Measure the Universe’s Expansion Rate
Space Telescope Science Institute
Baltimore, MD – Using the power and synergy of two space telescopes, NASA says astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the universe’s expansion rate.
The results further fuel the mismatch between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed.
This so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe. Possibilities include the interaction strength of dark matter, dark energy being even more exotic than previously thought, or an unknown new particle in the tapestry of space.
Austin Peay State University physics student Deborah Gulledge named “Scientist of the Week” at National Lab
Clarksville, TN – The night sky is darker, the stars brighter, in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. The rural town sits about an hour south of Nashville, where the heavens are dimmed by excessive light pollution, and as a girl, Deborah Gulledge became curious about the brilliant stars above her home.
“I was always interested in astronomy,” she said recently.
Written by Alison Hawkes
Silicon Valley, CA – Astronomer Ed Shaya was in his office looking at data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2012 when he noticed something unusual: The light from a galaxy had quickly brightened by 10 percent. The sudden bump in light got Shaya instantly excited, but also nervous. The effect could be explained by the massive explosion of a star — a supernova! — or, more troublingly, a computer error.
“I just remember on that day, not knowing whether I should believe it or not,” he remembers. Rather than celebrate, he thought, “Did I make a mistake? Am I doing this all wrong?”
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – What is our universe made of, and has its composition changed over time? Scientists have new insights about these fundamental questions, thanks to an international collaboration of more than 400 scientists called the Dark Energy Survey (DES).
Three scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are part of this group that is helping to further our understanding of the structure of the universe.
The advances in astrophysics from DES are crucial to preparations for two upcoming space missions that will probe similar questions about the nature of the universe: ESA’s Euclid mission (which has significant NASA participation) and NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission, both expected to launch in the 2020s.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – A mechanical rover inspired by a Dutch artist. A weather balloon that recharges its batteries in the clouds of Venus.
These are just two of the five ideas that originated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and are advancing for a new round of research funded by the agency.
In total, the space agency is investing in 22 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.
Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “knife” will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they’re almost motionless. This suite of instruments is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), and was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. CAL is in the final stages of assembly at JPL, ahead of a ride to space this August on SpaceX CRS-12.
Its instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s more than 100 million times colder than the depths of space.
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