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Topic: Telescope

NASA’s Starshade technology to aid observations of far off Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the feat of staying highly synchronized while airborne can be appreciated by anyone who’s ever seen aircraft engaged in formation flying. In work sponsored by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are taking formation flying to a new extreme.

Their work marks an important milestone within a larger program to test the feasibility of a technology called a starshade. Although starshades have never flown in space, they hold the potential to enable groundbreaking observations of planets beyond our solar system, including pictures of planets as small as Earth.

This artist's concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Solar Wind heats up Jupiter’s Atmosphere

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New Earth-based telescope observations show that auroras at Jupiter’s poles are heating the planet’s atmosphere to a greater depth than previously thought – and that it is a rapid response to the solar wind.

“The solar wind impact at Jupiter is an extreme example of space weather,” said James Sinclair of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who led new research published April 8th in Nature Astronomy. “We’re seeing the solar wind having an effect deeper than is normally seen.”

Scientists used red, blue and yellow to infuse this infrared image of Jupiter's atmosphere (red and yellow indicate the hotter regions), which was recorded by the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph (COMICS) at the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii on Jan. 12, 2017. (NAOJ and NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists used red, blue and yellow to infuse this infrared image of Jupiter’s atmosphere (red and yellow indicate the hotter regions), which was recorded by the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph (COMICS) at the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii on Jan. 12, 2017. (NAOJ and NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says comet 46P/Wirtanen to be visible this Sunday

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Sunday, December 16th, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope.

Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it’s still a fairly rare opportunity. “This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope's field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope’s field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study Great Red Spot on Jupiter

 

Written by Eric Villard / Laura Betz
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the most ambitious and complex space observatory ever built, will use its unparalleled infrared capabilities to study Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, shedding new light on the enigmatic storm and building upon data returned from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories.

Jupiter’s iconic storm is on the Webb telescope’s list of targets chosen by guaranteed time observers, scientists who helped develop the incredibly complex telescope and  among the first to use it to observe the universe. One of the telescope’s science goals is to study planets, including the mysteries still held by the planets in our own solar system from Mars and beyond.

This photo of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, was snapped when the planet was comparatively close to Earth, at a distance of 415 million miles. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard))

This photo of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, was snapped when the planet was comparatively close to Earth, at a distance of 415 million miles. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard))

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NASA to invest in 25 Visionary Technology Proposals

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is investing in technology concepts that include meteoroid impact detection, space telescope swarms and small orbital debris mapping technologies that may one day be used for future space exploration missions. Five of the concepts are from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The agency is investing in 25 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.

NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots, Other Visionary Technology. (NASA)

NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots, Other Visionary Technology. (NASA)

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NASA Optics Experts close to developing Telescope that can search far off Planets for Life

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD –  Optics Experts Measure to Picometer Accuracy — a NASA First.

NASA optics experts are well on the way to toppling a barrier that has thwarted scientists from achieving a long-held ambition: building an ultra-stable telescope that locates and images dozens of Earth-like planets beyond the solar system and then scrutinizes their atmospheres for signs of life. 

Babak Saif and Lee Feinberg at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, have shown for the first time that they can dynamically detect subatomic- or picometer-sized distortions — changes that are far smaller than an atom — across a five-foot segmented telescope mirror and its support structure.

Goddard optics experts Babak Saif (left) and Lee Feinberg (right), with help from engineer Eli Griff-McMahon an employee of Genesis, have created an Ultra-Stable Thermal Vacuum system that they will use to make picometer-level measurements. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

Goddard optics experts Babak Saif (left) and Lee Feinberg (right), with help from engineer Eli Griff-McMahon an employee of Genesis, have created an Ultra-Stable Thermal Vacuum system that they will use to make picometer-level measurements. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

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NASA continues research into discovering nature of Dark Matter

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – An innovative interpretation of X-ray data from a cluster of galaxies could help scientists fulfill a quest they have been on for decades: determining the nature of dark matter.

The finding involves a new explanation for a set of results made with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton and Hitomi, a Japanese-led X-ray telescope. If confirmed with future observations, this may represent a major step forward in understanding the nature of the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up about 85% of matter in the universe.

Composite image of the Perseus galaxy cluster using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton and Hitomi, a Japanese-led X-ray telescope. (X-ray: NASA/CXO/Fabian et al.; Radio: Gendron-Marsolais et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF Optical: NASA, SDSS)

Composite image of the Perseus galaxy cluster using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton and Hitomi, a Japanese-led X-ray telescope. (X-ray: NASA/CXO/Fabian et al.; Radio: Gendron-Marsolais et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF Optical: NASA, SDSS)

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NASA Scientists lead International Team in Global Asteroid Tracking Test

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – An international team of astronomers led by NASA scientists successfully completed the first global exercise using a real asteroid to test global response capabilities.

Planning for the so-called “TC4 Observation Campaign” started in April, under the sponsorship of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. The exercise commenced in earnest in late July, when the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope recovered the asteroid. The finale was a close approach to Earth in mid-October.

2012 TC4's heliocentric orbit has changed due to the 2012 and 2017 close encounters with Earth. The cyan color shows the trajectory before the 2012 flyby, the magenta shows the trajectory after the 2012 flyby, and yellow shows the trajectory after the 2017 flyby. The orbital changes were primarily in semi-major axis and eccentricity, although there were also slight changes in the inclination. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

2012 TC4’s heliocentric orbit has changed due to the 2012 and 2017 close encounters with Earth. The cyan color shows the trajectory before the 2012 flyby, the magenta shows the trajectory after the 2012 flyby, and yellow shows the trajectory after the 2017 flyby. The orbital changes were primarily in semi-major axis and eccentricity, although there were also slight changes in the inclination. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to launch James Webb Space Telescope in Spring 2019

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now is planning to launch between March and June 2019 from French Guiana, following a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities. Previously Webb was targeted to launch in October 2018.

“The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected.”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to examine Ocean Worlds in our Solar System

 

Written by Eric Villard
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will use its infrared capabilities to study the “ocean worlds” of Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, adding to observations previously made by NASA’s Galileo and Cassini orbiters. The Webb telescope’s observations could also help guide future missions to the icy moons.

Europa and Enceladus are on the Webb telescope’s list of targets chosen by guaranteed time observers, scientists who helped develop the telescope and thus get to be among the first to use it to observe the universe. One of the telescope’s science goals is to study planets that could help shed light on the origins of life, but this does not just mean exoplanets; Webb will also help unravel the mysteries still held by objects in our own solar system (from Mars outward).

Possible spectroscopy results from one of Europa’s water plumes. This is an example of the data the Webb telescope could return. (NASA-GSFC/SVS, Hubble Space Telescope, Stefanie Milam, Geronimo Villanueva)

Possible spectroscopy results from one of Europa’s water plumes. This is an example of the data the Webb telescope could return. (NASA-GSFC/SVS, Hubble Space Telescope, Stefanie Milam, Geronimo Villanueva)

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