[Spacetalk] https://www.nasa.gov/index.html

Gabe Gabrielle gabe at educatemotivate.com
Wed Apr 20 07:00:01 CDT 2016


Good morning all,
 I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying the week, one day at a time as you pass through it….had way fun at the star party/Yuri’s night on Saturday….it had been a stormy, cloudy day with many showers and not a good forecast….as I left to go to the event, it continued to rain and it seemed it would not go well as the cloud cover was extensive…when I arrived it was raining and many people who had set up telescopes were trying to keep them dry…I think the presentation went well, even though it was mainly an adult audience with an overflowing crowd…maybe they were trying to get in out of therein??? :-) :-) but as I finished, answered questions, then headed outside I was amazed to see a crystal clear sky with all the stars, moon, and some planets visible…it was great to listen to the astronomers as well as looking through the telescopes….I hope you were able to share the launch and installation of the BEAM on the ISS….also your can go to the subject link for all the latest…we have to remember to always do our best, enjoy everything we do, live in the present, make each day special, let those we care about most know, smile, and have fun...Gabe



NASA to Attach, Test First Expandable Habitat on International Space Station
http://nasasearch.nasa.gov/search?utf8=✓&affiliate=nasa&query=BEAM

 <http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/beam_berthed_to_iss_aft_port_node_3_concept_art_b_003.jpg>
BEAM Installation Animation <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VopaBsuwikk>2:10
 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VopaBsuwikk>2:10
YouTube 16 days ago
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the International Space Station
More videos about BEAM
 <http://nasasearch.nasa.gov/search/news?affiliate=nasa&channel=704&query=BEAM>SpaceX Dragon Arrives Safely at ISS

The SpaceX Dragon U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station April 10 -- two days after being launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon was captured with the space station’s robotic Canadarm2 by Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), with assistance from NASA's Jeff Williams, as the two spacecraft were traveling over the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. The cargo craft was loaded with about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. BEAM will be attached to the station’s Harmony module for a two-year testing period. Dragon’s arrival is the first time two U.S. commercial cargo craft have been docked to the space station at the same time. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived to the station on March 26. 

NASA Works to Improve Solar Electric Propulsion for Deep Space Exploration 
 <http://nasasearch.nasa.gov/search/news?affiliate=nasa&channel=704&query=BEAM>SpaceX Dragon Arrives Safely at ISS <http://www.nasa.gov/feature/dragon-spacecraft-delivers-cargo-that-advances-journey-to-mars-and-benefits-life-on-earth>
The SpaceX Dragon U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station April 10 -- two days after being launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon was captured with the space station’s robotic Canadarm2 by Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), with assistance from NASA's Jeff Williams, as the two spacecraft were traveling over the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. The cargo craft was loaded with about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. BEAM will be attached to the station’s Harmony module for a two-year testing period. Dragon’s arrival is the first time two U.S. commercial cargo craft have been docked to the space station at the same time. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived to the station on March 26.  <http://nasasearch.nasa.gov/search/news?affiliate=nasa&channel=704&query=BEAM>

NASA Works to Improve Solar Electric Propulsion for Deep Space Exploration 
 <http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/sep_contract_award_pr_image_screen_shot_2014-12-12_at_3_11_53_pm.png>
Advanced solar electric propulsion will be needed for future human expeditions into deep space, including to Mars. Shown here is a 13-kilowatt Hall thruster being evaluated at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and use them to ionize the onboard propellant. It uses 10 times less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets.
Credits: NASA
NASA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. of Redmond, Washington, to design and develop an advanced electric propulsion system that will significantly advance the nation's commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its Journey to Mars <http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars>. The Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) contract is a 36-month cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with a performance incentive and total value of $67 million. Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems. “Through this contract, NASA will be developing advanced electric propulsion elements for initial spaceflight applications, which will pave the way for an advanced solar electric propulsion demonstration mission by the end of the decade,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “Development of this technology will advance our future in-space transportation capability for a variety of NASA deep space human and robotic exploration missions, as well as private commercial space missions. ”Aerojet Rocketdyne will oversee the development and delivery of an integrated electric propulsion system consisting of a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low-pressure xenon flow controller, and electrical harness. NASA has developed and tested a prototype thruster and PPU that the company can use as a reference design. The company will construct, test and deliver an engineering development unit for testing and evaluation in preparation for producing the follow-on flight units. During the option period of the contract, if exercised, the company will develop, verify and deliver four integrated flight units – the electric propulsion units that will fly in space. The work being performed under this contract will be led by a team of NASA Glenn Research Center engineers, with additional technical support by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers.  This work will directly complement recent advanced solar array systems work, also funded by STMD. NASA anticipates the electrical power to operate this advanced electric propulsion flight system in space will be generated by solar arrays using structures similar to those that were developed under the solar array systems contracts. NASA has been refining development of spaceflight electric propulsion technology for more than five decades, the first successful ion electric propulsion thruster being developed at Glenn in the 1950s. The first operational test of an electric propulsion system in space was Glenn’s Space Electric Rocket Test 1, which flew on July 20, 1964. Since then, NASA has increasingly relied on solar electric propulsion for long-duration, deep-space robotic science and exploration missions to multiple destinations, the most recent being NASA’s Dawn <https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/main/index.html> mission. The Dawn mission, managed by JPL, surveyed the giant asteroid Vesta and the protoplanet, Ceres, between 2011 and 2015. The advanced electric propulsion system is the next step in NASA’s Solar Electric Propulsion <https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/sep/index.html> (SEP) project, which is developing critical technologies to extend the range and capabilities of ambitious new science and exploration missions. ARM, NASA’s mission to capture an asteroid boulder and place it in orbit around the moon in the mid-2020s, will test the largest and most advanced SEP system ever utilized for space missions. For more information about NASA technology, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/technology <http://www.nasa.gov/technology>

Lone Planetary-Mass Object Found in Family of Stars
 <https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia20583-main_-wise_ldwarf.jpg>
A young, free-floating world sits alone in space in this illustration. The object, called WISEA J114724.10−204021.3, is thought to be an exceptionally low-mass "brown dwarf," which is a star that lacked enough mass to burn nuclear fuel and glow like a star. Astronomers using data from NASA's WISE and 2MASS sky surveys found the object in TW Hydrae – a young, 10-million-year-old association of stars.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Full image and caption <http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/young-brown-dwarf-in-tw-hydrae-family-of-stars>
 <https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia20582-wise_tw_hya_map.jpg>
A sky map taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the location of the TW Hydrae family, or association, of stars, which lies about 175 light-years from Earth and is centered in the Hydra constellation. The stars are thought to have formed together around 10 million years ago. Recently, data from WISE and its predecessor, the Two Micron All Sky Survey, or 2MASS, found the lowest-mass free-floating object in this family -- a likely brown dwarf called WISEA J114724.10−204021.3.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In 2011, astronomers announced that our galaxy is likely teeming with free-floating planets. In fact, these lonely worlds, which sit quietly in the darkness of space without any companion planets or even a host sun, might outnumber stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The surprising discovery begged the question: Where did these objects come from? Are they planets that were ejected from solar systems, or are they actually light-weight stars called brown dwarfs that formed alone in space like stars?

A new study using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, WISE, and the Two Micron All Sky Survey, or 2MASS, provides new clues in this mystery of galactic proportions. Scientists have identified a free-floating, planetary-mass object within a young star family, called the TW Hydrae association. The newfound object, termed WISEA J114724.10−204021.3, or just WISEA 1147 for short, is estimated to be between roughly five to 10 times the mass of Jupiter.

WISEA 1147 is one of the few free-floating worlds where astronomers can begin to point to its likely origins as a brown dwarf and not a planet. Because the object was found to be a member of the TW Hydrae family of very young stars, astronomers know that it is also very young -- only 10 million years old. And because planets require at least 10 million years to form, and probably longer to get themselves kicked out of a star system, WISEA 1147 is likely a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs form like stars but lack the mass to fuse atoms at their cores and shine with starlight. "With continued monitoring, it may be possible to trace the history of WISEA 1147 to confirm whether or not it formed in isolation," said Adam Schneider of the University of Toledo in Ohio, lead author of a new study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. Of the billions of possible free-floating worlds thought to populate our galaxy, some may be very low-mass brown dwarfs, while others may in fact be bona fide planets, kicked out of nascent solar systems. At this point, the fraction of each population remains unknown. Tracing the origins of free-floating worlds, and determining whether they are planets or brown dwarfs, is a difficult task, precisely because they are so isolated. "We are at the beginning of what will become a hot field – trying to determine the nature of the free-floating population and how many are planets versus brown dwarfs," said co-author Davy Kirkpatrick of NASA's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, or IPAC, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Astronomers found WISEA 1147 by sifting through images taken of the entire sky by WISE, in 2010, and 2MASS, about a decade earlier. They were looking for nearby, young brown dwarfs. One way to tell if something lies nearby is to check to see if it's moved significantly relative to other stars over time. The closer an object, the more it will appear to move against a backdrop of more distant stars. By analyzing data from both sky surveys taken about 10 years apart, the close objects jump out. Finding low-mass objects and brown dwarfs is also well suited to WISE and 2MASS, both of which detect infrared light. Brown dwarfs aren't bright enough to be seen with visible-light telescopes, but their heat signatures light up when viewed in infrared images. The brown dwarf WISEA 1147 was brilliantly "red" in the 2MASS images (where the color red had been assigned to longer infrared wavelengths), which means that it's dusty and young. "The features on this one screamed out, 'I'm a young brown dwarf,'" said Schneider. After more analysis, the astronomers realized that this object belongs to the TW Hydrae association, which is about 150 light-years from Earth and only about 10 million years old. That makes WISEA 1147, with a mass between about five and 10 times that of Jupiter, one of the youngest and lowest-mass brown dwarfs ever found. Interestingly, a second, very similar low-mass member of the TW Hydrae association was announced just days later (2MASS 1119-11) by a separate group led by Kendra Kellogg of Western University in Ontario, Canada. Another reason that astronomers want to study these isolated worlds is that they resemble planets but are easier to study. Planets around other stars, called exoplanets, are barely perceptible next to their brilliant stars. By studying objects like WISEA 1147, which has no host star, astronomers can learn more about their compositions and weather patterns. "We can understand exoplanets better by studying young and glowing low-mass brown dwarfs," said Schneider. "Right now, we are in the exoplanet regime." Other authors of the study include: James Windsor and Michael Cushing of the University of Toledo; and Ned Wright of UCLA, who was also the principal investigator of the WISE mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed and operated WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode in 2011, after it scanned the entire sky twice, completing its main objectives. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA's efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. The 2MASS mission was a joint effort between the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and JPL. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.



Finding Another Earth
 <http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia19830-main-earthlikeexoplanets_0722.jpg>
A newly discovered exoplanet, Kepler-452b, comes the closest of any found so far to matching our Earth-sun system. This artist’s conception of a planetary lineup shows habitable-zone planets with similarities to Earth: from left, Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, the just announced Kepler-452b, Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. Last in line is Earth itself.
Credits: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
 <http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia19827.jpg>
Of the 1,030 confirmed planets from Kepler, a dozen are less than twice the size of Earth and reside in the habitable zone of their host stars. In this diagram, the sizes of the exoplanets are represented by the size of each sphere. These are arranged by size from left to right, and by the type of star they orbit, from the M stars that are significantly cooler and smaller than the sun, to the K stars that are somewhat cooler and smaller than the sun, to the G stars that include the sun. The sizes of the planets are enlarged by 25 times compared to the stars. The Earth is shown for reference.
Credits: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
The discovery of a super-Earth-sized planet orbiting a sun-like star brings us closer than ever to finding a twin of our own watery world. But NASA’s Kepler space telescope has captured evidence of other potentially habitable planets amid the sea of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. To take a brief tour of the more prominent contenders, it helps to zero in on the “habitable zone” around their stars. This is the band of congenial temperatures for planetary orbits -- not too close and not too far. Too close and the planet is fried (we’re looking at you, Venus). Too far and it’s in deep freeze. But settle comfortably into the habitable zone, and your planet could have liquid water on its surface -- just right. Goldilocks has never been more relevant. Scientists have, in fact, taken to calling this water-friendly region the “Goldilocks zone. ”The zone can be a wide band or a narrow one, and nearer the star or farther, depending on the star’s size and energy output. For small, red-dwarf stars, habitable zone planets might gather close, like marshmallow-roasting campers around the fire. For gigantic, hot stars, the band must retreat to a safer distance. About a dozen habitable zone planets in the Earth-size ballpark have been discovered so far -- that is, 10 to 15 planets between one-half and twice the diameter of Earth, depending on how the habitable zone is defined and allowing for uncertainties about some of the planetary sizes. The new discovery, Kepler-452b, fires the planet hunter’s imagination because it is the most similar to the Earth-sun system found yet: a planet at the right temperature within the habitable zone, and only about one-and-a-half times the diameter of Earth, circling a star very much like our own sun. The planet also has a good chance of being rocky, like Earth, its discoverers say. Kepler-452b is more similar to Earth than any system previously discovered. And the timing is especially fitting: 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the first exoplanet confirmed to be in orbit around a typical star. But several other exoplanet discoveries came nearly as close in their similarity to Earth. Before this, the planet Kepler-186f held the “most similar” distinction (they get the common moniker, “Kepler,” because they were discovered with the Kepler space telescope). About 500 light-years from Earth, Kepler-186f is no more than 10 percent larger than Earth, and sails through its star’s habitable zone, making its surface potentially watery. But its 130-day orbit carries it around a red-dwarf star that is much cooler than our sun and only half its size. Thus, the planet is really more like an “Earth cousin,” says Thomas Barclay of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, a co-author of the paper announcing the discovery in April 2014. Kepler-186f gets about one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from our sun. And that puts it just at the outside edge of the habitable zone. Scientists say that if you were standing on the planet at noon, the light would look about as bright as it does on Earth an hour before sunset. That doesn’t mean the planet is bereft of life, although it doesn’t mean life exists there, either. Before Kepler-186f, Kepler-62f was the exoplanet known to be most similar to Earth. Like the new discovery, Kepler-62f is a “super Earth,” about 40 percent larger than our home planet. But, like Kepler-186f, its 267-day orbit also carries it around a star that is cooler and smaller than the sun, some 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. Still, Kepler-62f does reside in the habitable zone. Kepler-62f’s discovery was announced in April 2013, about the same time as Kepler-69c, another super Earth -- though one that is 70 percent larger than our home planet. That’s the bad news; astronomers are uncertain about the planet’s composition, or just when a “super Earth” becomes so large that it diminishes the chance of finding life on its surface. That also moves it farther than its competitors from the realm of a potential Earth twin. The good news is that Kepler-69c lies in its sun’s habitable zone, with a 242-day orbit reminiscent of our charbroiled sister planet, Venus. Its star is also similar to ours in size with about 80 percent of the sun’s luminosity. Its planetary system is about 2,700 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. Kepler-22b also was hailed in its day as the most like Earth. It was the first of the Kepler planets to be found within the habitable zone, and it orbits a star much like our sun. But Kepler-22b is a sumo wrestler among super Earths, about 2.4 times Earth’s size. And no one knows if it is rocky, gaseous or liquid. The planet was detected almost immediately after Kepler began making observations in 2009, and was confirmed in 2011. This planet, which could have a cloudy atmosphere, is 600 light-years away, with a 290-day orbit not unlike Earth’s. Not all the planets jostling to be most like Earth were discovered using Kepler. A super Earth known as Gliese 667Cc also came to light in 2011, discovered by astronomers combing through data from the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope in Chile. The planet, only 22 light-years away, has a mass at least 4.5 times that of Earth. It orbits a red dwarf in the habitable zone, though closely enough -- with a mere 28-day orbit -- to make the planet subject to intense flares that could erupt periodically from the star’s surface. Still, its sun is smaller and cooler than ours, and Gliese 667Cc’s orbital distance means it probably receives around 90 percent of the energy we get from the sun. That’s a point in favor of life, if the planet’s atmosphere is something like ours. The planet’s true size and density remain unknown, however, which means it could still turn out to be a gas planet, hostile to life as we know it. And powerful magnetic fluxes also could mean periodic drop-offs in the amount of energy reaching the planet, by as much as 40 percent. These drop-offs could last for months, according to scientists at the University of Oslo’s Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics in Norway. Deduct two points. Too big, too uncertain, or circling the wrong kind of star: Shuffle through the catalog of habitable zone planets, and the closest we can come to Earth -- at least so far -- appears to be the new kid on the interstellar block, Kepler-452b. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. JPL is managed by The California Institute of Technology for NASA. More information about Kepler is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler <http://www.nasa.gov/kepler> More information about NASA's planet-hunting efforts is online at: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov <http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/> A related news release about Kepler's latest planetary find is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-kepler-mission-discovers-bigger-older-cousin-to-earth <http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-kepler-mission-discovers-bigger-older-cousin-to-earth>


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