vendredi 23 juin 2017

SpaceX - BulgariaSat-1 Mission Success












SpaceX - BulgariaSat-1 Mission patch.

June 23, 2017

Falcon 9 carrying BulgariaSat 1 launch. Image Credit: SpaceX

On June 23, 2017, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched the BulgariaSat-1 satellite into orbit—the first geostationary communications satellite in Bulgaria’s history. This mission marked the second reflight of a Falcon 9 first stage, having previously supported the Iridium-1 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in January of this year. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center was at 15:10 Eastern Daylight Time (19:10 UTC).

BulgariaSat-1 Launch Webcast

Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 successfully landed on SpaceX’s East Coast droneship “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. This marks the first time a Falcon 9 first stage has landed on both SpaceX’s East and West coast droneships, having previously landed on “Just Read the Instructions” in the Pacific Ocean.

BulgariaSat 1 satellite. Image Credit: SSL

BulgariaSat 1 will provide direct-to-home television broadcast and data communications services over southeast Europe for Bulsatcom. The payload will be the first geostationary communications satellite owned by a Bulgarian company.

For more information about SpaceX, visit: http://www.spacex.com/

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credit: Spacex.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

PSLV-C38 successfully launches Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites











ISRO - Indian Space Research Organisation logo.


June 23, 2017

PSLV-C38 carrying Cartosat-2 and 30 co-passenger launch

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 40th flight (PSLV-C38), launched the 712 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 243 kg at lift-off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C38 was launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the seventeenth flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors). The launch occured at 03:59 GMT on 23rd (11:59 p.m. EDT on 22nd).

video
PSLV-C38 Liftoff and Onboard Camera Video

The co-passenger satellites comprise 29 Nano satellites from 14 countries namely, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, United Kingdom and United States of America as well as one Nano satellite (NIUSAT) from India. The total weight of all these satellites carried on-board PSLV-C38 is about 955 kg.

Cartosat-2 series satellite

The 29 International customer Nano satellites were launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS) and the commercial arm of ISRO and the International customers.

PSLV-C38/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite Mission was launched on June 23, 2017 from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.

Related links:

NIUSAT: http://www.isro.gov.in/Spacecraft/niusat

Cartosat-2 Series Satellite: http://www.isro.gov.in/Spacecraft/cartosat-2-series-satellite-1

For more information about Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), visit: http://www.isro.gov.in/

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ISRO.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Why No One Under 20 Has Experienced a Day Without NASA at Mars









NASA - Mars Pathfinder Mission patch.

June 22, 2017


Image above: This portion of a classic 1997 panorama from the IMP camera on the mast of NASA's Mars Pathfinder lander includes "Twin Peaks" on the horizon, and the Sojourner rover next to a rock called "Yogi." Image credits: NASA/JPL.

As the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft approached its destination on July 4, 1997, no NASA mission had successfully reached the Red Planet in more than 20 years.

Even the mission team anxiously awaiting confirmation that the spacecraft survived its innovative, bouncy landing could not anticipate the magnitude of the pivot about to shape the Space Age.

In the 20 years since Pathfinder's touchdown, eight other NASA landers and orbiters have arrived successfully, and not a day has passed without the United States having at least one active robot on Mars or in orbit around Mars.

video
NASA at Mars: 20 years of 24/7 exploration

The momentum propelled by Pathfinder's success is still growing. Five NASA robots and three from other nations are currently examining Mars. The two decades since Pathfinder's landing have taken us about halfway from the first Mars rover to the first astronaut bootprint on Mars, proposed for the 2030s.

"Pathfinder initiated two decades of continuous Mars exploration bringing us to the threshold of sample return and the possibility of humans on the first planet beyond Earth," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Sojourner Rover

Pathfinder's rover, named Sojourner for the civil-rights crusader Sojourner Truth, became the best-known example of the many new technologies developed for the mission. Though Sojourner was only the size of a microwave oven, its six-wheel mobility system and its portable instrument for checking the composition of rocks and soil were the foundation for the expanded size and capabilities of later Mars rovers.

"Without Mars Pathfinder, there could not have been Spirit and Opportunity, and without Spirit and Opportunity, there could not have been Curiosity," Pathfinder Project Scientist Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said of the subsequent generations of Mars rovers. JPL is now developing another Mars rover for launch in 2020.

NASA planned Pathfinder primarily as a technology demonstration mission, but it also harvested new knowledge about Mars, from the planet's iron core to its atmosphere, and from its wetter and warmer past to its arid modern climate.

The space agency was shifting from less-frequent, higher-budget missions to a strategy of faster development and lower budgets. Pathfinder succeeded within a real-year, full-mission budget of $264 million, a small fraction of the only previously successful Mars lander missions, the twin Vikings of 1976.

"We needed to invent or re-invent 25 technologies for this mission in less than three years, and we knew that if we blew the cost cap, the mission would be cancelled," said JPL's Brian Muirhead, flight system manager and deputy project manager for Pathfinder. "Everybody who was part of the Mars Pathfinder Project felt we'd done something extraordinary, against the odds."

Crucial new technologies included an advanced onboard computer, the rover and its deployment system, solid-fuel rockets for deceleration, and airbags inflating just before touchdown to cushion the impact of landing. NASA re-used most of the Pathfinder technologies to carry out the Mars Exploration Rover Project, which landed Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004.

Landing Day on Independence Day

"On the morning of July Fourth, 1997, we were in our tiny mission-control area waiting to see the signal that would confirm Pathfinder had survived its atmospheric entry and landing, and that it was transmitting from the surface of Mars," Muirhead said. "We saw that tiny spike in the signal coming through the Deep Space Network, and we knew."

Pathfinder quickly provided the first fresh images from Mars directly available to the public over the still-young World Wide Web. The mission set a web-traffic record at the time with more than 200 million hits from July 4 to July 8, 1997.

The lander and rover operated for three months -- triple the planned mission for the lander and 12 times the rover's planned mission of one week. This longevity enabled Pathfinder to overlap the Sept. 12, 1997, arrival of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. That orbiter, in turn, operated at Mars for more than nine years, overlapping with arrivals of two later orbiters -- Mars Odyssey in 2001 and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2006, which are both still active -- and the 2004 landings of two rovers, one of which -- Opportunity -- is still active. Subsequent successful NASA missions of the post-Pathfinder era have been the Phoenix lander, Curiosity rover and MAVEN orbiter.

Twenty straight years of studying Mars have yielded major advances in understanding active processes on modern Mars, wet environments favorable for life on ancient Mars, and how the planet changed. These two decades of continuous robotic presence have built on the science and engineering gains from NASA's Mars Mariner and Viking missions of the 1960s and '70s.

The advances in understanding Mars during the past two decades have set the stage for even greater advances in the next two decades, particularly in efforts to determine whether life has ever existed on Mars and to put humans on Mars. For more information about past, present and future exploration of Mars, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/mars

For more information about the Mars Pathfinder mission, see: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars-pathfinder

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Laurie Cantillo/Dwayne Brown/JPL/Guy Webster.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Witness Cassini's Finale at Saturn Live from JPL












NASA - Cassini Mission to Saturn patch.

June 22, 2017


Image above: Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize waits for the spacecraft's signal at the start of the "Grand Finale" mission phase with the operations team in mission control at JPL on April 26, 2017. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Social media users may apply for access to a two-day event culminating in the triumphant end of NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn after nearly 20 years in space. Up to 25 selected participants for the September 14-15, 2017, event will tour, explore and share their experiences from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Writers, vloggers, photographers, educators, students, artists and other curious minds who use social media to engage specific audiences are encouraged to apply.

Selected attendees will tour JPL, including a visit to mission control and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility; meet Cassini mission scientists and engineers; and share in the final moments of the Cassini mission, live from the JPL media site, as the spacecraft makes a fateful plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, ending its long and discovery-rich mission.

Cassinis Grand Finale. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Social applications may be submitted through June 29, 2017. To apply, visit:

https://go.nasa.gov/cassini-social

During its journey, Cassini has made many discoveries, including a global ocean with hydrothermal activity within Saturn's moon Enceladus, and vast seas of liquid methane on the planet's largest moon, Titan. Cassini began the final, dramatic phase of its mission, called the Grand Finale, on April 26, with the first of planned 22 dives between Saturn and its rings. The finale orbits bring the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, providing stunning, high-resolution images and new insights into the planet's interior structure and the origins of the rings. During its final plunge into Saturn, Cassini will send data about the atmosphere's composition until its signal is lost.

video
NASA at Saturn: Cassinis Grand Finale

More information about Cassini's Grand Finale, including multimedia, is available at:

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

More information about Cassini is at:

https://www.nasa.gov/cassini

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cassini-Huygens

Get more information about NASA social media at:

http://www.nasa.gov/socialmedia

Interact with the Cassini mission on social media via:

https://twitter.com/CassiniSaturn

https://www.facebook.com/NASACassini/

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Jason Townsend/JPL/Stephanie L. Smith.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

jeudi 22 juin 2017

Crew Studies Bone Loss Reversal and Unloads New Cargo










ISS - Expedition 52 Mission patch.

June 22, 2017

Expedition 52 is continuing to explore a new drug therapy today that may keep humans healthier in space. The trio onboard the International Space Station also worked on standard maintenance activities to keep the orbital complex in ship-shape.

Astronauts living on the station exercise a couple of hours every day to offset the muscle and bone loss experienced in microgravity. A new injectable drug is also being explored as a way to maintain strong bones during spaceflight. Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA are testing that drug today on mice for the fifth version of the ongoing Rodent Research experiment. Rodent Research-5 is testing the drugs ability to stop and reverse bone loss in space and may help patients with bone disease on Earth.


Image above: Astronaut Peggy Whitson checks out new science gear inside the Harmony module. The SpaceX Dragon is attached to the Earth-facing port of Harmony. Image Credit: NASA.

Fischer also worked on light plumbing duties and microbe sampling throughout Thursday. Whitson also worked on microbe sampling and set up life science gear ahead of a new experiment to be delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin checked out Russian life support gear and continued unloading new gear delivered last week inside the Progress 67 (67P) resupply ship. The veteran cosmonaut also repressurized the station’s atmosphere using oxygen stored inside the 67P.

Related links:

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Scientists Uncover Origins of the Sun’s Swirling Spicules










NASA - IRIS Mission patch.

June 22, 2017

At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sun’s surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and despite their grass-like abundance, scientists didn’t understand how they form. Now, for the first time, a computer simulation — so detailed it took a full year to run — shows how spicules form, helping scientists understand how spicules can break free of the sun’s surface and surge upward so quickly.

This work relied upon high-cadence observations from NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, and the Swedish 1-meter Solar Telescope in La Palma, in the Canary Islands. Together, the spacecraft and telescope peer into the lower layers of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the interface region, where spicules form. The results of this NASA-funded study were published in Science on June 22, 2017 — a special time of the year for the IRIS mission, which celebrates its fourth anniversary in space on June 26.

video
Scientists Uncover Origins of Dynamic Jets on Sun's Surface

Video above: Watch the video to learn how scientists used a combination of computer simulations and observations to determine how spicules form. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng, producer.

“Numerical models and observations go hand in hand in our research,” said Bart De Pontieu, an author of the study and IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, in Palo Alto, California. “We compare observations and models to figure out how well our models are performing, and to improve the models when we see major discrepancies.”

Observing spicules has been a thorny problem for scientists who want to understand how solar material and energy move through and away from the sun. Spicules are transient, forming and collapsing over the course of just five to 10 minutes. These tenuous structures are also difficult to study from Earth, where the atmosphere often blurs our telescopes’ vision.

A team of scientists has been working on this particular model for nearly a decade, trying again and again to create a version that would create spicules. Earlier versions of the model treated the interface region, the lower solar atmosphere, as a hot gas of electrically charged particles — or more technically, a fully ionized plasma. But the scientists knew something was missing because they never saw spicules in the simulations.

The key, the scientists realized, was neutral particles. They were inspired by Earth’s own ionosphere, a region of the upper atmosphere where interactions between neutral and charged particles are responsible for many dynamic processes.

Sun’s Swirling Spicules. Image Credit: NASA

The research team knew that in cooler regions of the sun, such as the interface region, not all gas particles are electrically charged. Some particles are neutral, and neutral particles aren’t subject to magnetic fields like charged particles are. Scientists had based previous models on a fully ionized plasma in order to simplify the problem. Indeed, including the necessary neutral particles was very computationally expensive, and the final model took roughly a year to run on the Pleiades supercomputer located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and which supports hundreds of science and engineering projects for NASA missions.

The model began with a basic understanding of how plasma moves in the sun’s atmosphere. Constant convection, or boiling, of material throughout the sun generates islands of tangled magnetic fields. When boiling carries them up to the surface and farther into the sun’s lower atmosphere, magnetic field lines rapidly snap back into place to resolve the tension, expelling plasma and energy. Out of this violence, a spicule is born. But explaining how these complex magnetic knots rise and snap was the tricky part.

“Usually magnetic fields are tightly coupled to charged particles,” said Juan Martínez-Sykora, lead author of the study and a solar physicist at Lockheed Martin and the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute in Sonoma, California. “With only charged particles in the model, the magnetic fields were stuck, and couldn’t rise beyond the sun’s surface. When we added neutrals, the magnetic fields could move more freely.”

Neutral particles provide the buoyancy the gnarled knots of magnetic energy need to rise through the sun’s boiling plasma and reach the chromosphere. There, they snap into spicules, releasing both plasma and energy. Friction between ions and neutral particles heats the plasma even more, both in and around the spicules.

With the new model, the simulations at last matched observations from IRIS and the Swedish Solar Telescope; spicules occurred naturally and frequently. The 10 years of work that went into developing this numerical model earned scientists Mats Carlsson and Viggo H. Hansteen, both authors of the study from the University of Oslo in Norway, the 2017 Arctowski Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. Martínez-Sykora led the expansion of the model to include the effects of neutral particles.

Artist's concept of IRIS in Orbit. Image Credit: NASA

The scientists’ updated model revealed something else about how energy moves in the solar atmosphere. It turns out this whip-like process also naturally generates Alfvén waves, a strong kind of magnetic wave scientists suspect is key to heating the sun’s atmosphere and propelling the solar wind, which constantly bathes our solar system and planet with charged particles from the sun.

“This model answers a lot of questions we’ve had for so many years,” De Pontieu said. “We gradually increased the physical complexity of numerical models based on high-resolution observations, and it is really a success story for the approach we’ve taken with IRIS.”

The simulations indicate spicules could play a big role in energizing the sun’s atmosphere, by constantly forcing plasma out and generating so many Alfvén waves across the sun’s entire surface.

“This is a major advance in our understanding of what processes can energize the solar atmosphere, and lays the foundation for investigations with even more detail to determine how big of a role spicules play,” said Adrian Daw, IRIS mission scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “A very nice result on the eve of our launch anniversary.”

Related links:

Science: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6344/1269.full

IRIS Mission Overview: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/iris/overview/index.html

New Space Weather Model Helps Simulate Magnetic Structure of Solar Storms: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/new-space-weather-model-helps-simulate-magnetic-structure-of-solar-storms

IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/iris/index.html

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Lina Tran.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Jupiter’s Bands of Clouds












NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

June 22, 2017


This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s bands of light and dark clouds was created by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Three of the white oval storms known as the “String of Pearls” are visible near the top of the image. Each of the alternating light and dark atmospheric bands in this image is wider than Earth, and each rages around Jupiter at hundreds of miles (kilometers) per hour. The lighter areas are regions where gas is rising, and the darker bands are regions where gas is sinking.

Juno acquired the image on May 19, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST) from an altitude of about 20,800 miles (33,400 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at: http://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam

More information about Juno is at: https://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch