четверг, 22 ноября 2018 г.

How Do You Like Your Turkey? Home-Cooked or Rocket-Launched?

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It’s Thanksgiving, which means that you’re probably thinking about food right now. And here at NASA, we have to think about food very seriously when we explore space!


Astronauts Need to Eat, Too!



Like for you on Earth, nutrition plays a key role in maintaining the health and optimal performance of the astronauts. The Space Food Systems team is required to meet the nutritional needs of each crew member while adhering to the requirements of limited storage space, limited preparation options, and the difficulties of eating without gravity. 


Good food is necessary being comfortable on a mission a long way from home — especially for crewmembers who are on board for many months at a time. It’s important that the astronauts like the food they’re eating everyday, even given the preparation constraints!


Astronaut Food Has Not Always Been Appetizing


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The early space programs were groundbreaking in a lot of ways — but not when it came to food. Like today, crumbs had to be prevented from scattering in microgravity and interfering with the instruments. Mercury astronauts had to endure bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders, and semi-liquids stuffed into aluminum tubes. The freeze-dried food were hard to rehydrate, squeezing the tubes was understandable unappetizing, and the food was generally considered to be, like spaceflight, a test of endurance.


However, over the years, packaging improved, which in turn enhanced food quality and choices. The Apollo astronauts were the first to have hot water, which made rehydrating foods easier and improved the food’s taste. And even the Space Shuttle astronauts had opportunities to design their own menus and choose foods commercially available on grocery store shelves. 


 The Wonders of Modern Space Food


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Nowadays, astronauts on the International Space Station have the opportunity to sample a variety of foods and beverages prepared by the Space Food Systems team and decide which ones they prefer. They can add water to rehydratable products or eat products that are ready to eat off the shelf.


All the cooking and preparation has been done for them ahead of time because 1) they don’t have room for a kitchen to cook on the space station 2) they don’t have time to cook! The crewmembers are extremely occupied with station maintenance as well as scientific research on board, so meal times have to be streamlined as much as possible. 


Instead of going grocery shopping, bulk overwrap bags (BOBs!) are packed into cargo transfer bags for delivery to the space station. Meal based packaging allows the astronauts to have entrees, side dishes, snacks, and desserts to choose from. 


Taste in Space


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The perception of taste changes in space. In microgravity, astronauts experience a fluid shift in their bodies, so the sensation is similar to eating with a headcold. The taste is muted so crewmembers prefer spicy foods or food with condiments to enhance the flavor. 


We Can’t Buy Groceries, But We Can Grow Food!



Growing plants aboard the space station provides a unique opportunity to study how plants adapt to microgravity. Plants may serve as a food source for long term missions, so it’s critical to understand how spaceflight affects plant growth. Plus, having fresh food available in space can have a positive impact on astronauts’ moods!


Since 2002, the Lada greenhouse has been used to perform almost continuous plant growth experiments on the station. We have grown a vast variety of plants, including thale cress, swiss chard, cabbage, lettuce, and mizuna. 


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And in 2015, Expedition 44 members became the first American astronauts to eat plants grown in space when they munched on their harvest of Red Romaine. 


Earthlings Can Eat Space Food, Too



To give you a clear idea of how diverse the selection is for astronauts on board the space station, two earthlings gave the astronaut menu a try for a full week. Besides mentioning once that hot sauce was needed, they fared pretty well! (The shrimp cocktail was a favorite.)


Space Technology for Food on Earth


Not only has our space food improved, but so has our ability measure food production on Earth. Weather that is too dry, too wet, too hot, or too cool can strongly affect a farmer’s ability to grow crops. We collaborated with the United States Agency for International Development to create a system for crop yield prediction based on satellite data: the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor for Early Warning.


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This map measures the health, or “greenness” of vegetation based on how much red or near-infrared light the leaves reflect. Healthy vegetation reflects more infrared light and less visible light than stressed vegetation. As you can see from the map, a severe drought spread across southern Mexico to Panama in June to August of this year. 


The Crop Monitor compiles different types of crop condition indicators — such as temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture — and shares them with 14 national and international partners to inform relief efforts.


Thanksgiving in Space 



Space food has certainly come a long way from semi-liquids squeezed into aluminum tubes! This year, Expedition 57 crewmembers Commander Alexander Gerst and Flight Engineer Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor are looking forward to enjoying a Thanksgiving meal that probably sounds pretty familiar to you: turkey, stuffing, candied yams, and even spicy pound cakes!


Hungry for More?


If you can’t get enough of space food, tune into this episode of “Houston, We Have a Podcast” and explore the delicious science of astronaut mealtime with Takiyah Sirmons. 


And whether you’re eating like a king or an astronaut, we wish everybody a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


Oil extraction likely triggered mid-century earthquakes in L.A….


Oil extraction likely triggered mid-century earthquakes in L.A. http://www.geologypage.com/2018/11/oil-extraction-likely-triggered-mid-century-earthquakes-in-l-a.html


Earth’s cobalt deposits formed much later than previously…


Earth’s cobalt deposits formed much later than previously believed http://www.geologypage.com/2018/11/earths-cobalt-deposits-formed-much-later-than-previously-believed.html


Shaping the surface of Mars with water, wind, and ice


ESA – Mars Express Mission patch.


22 November 2018


ESA’s Mars Express has imaged an intriguing part of the Red Planet’s surface: a rocky, fragmented, furrowed escarpment lying at the boundary of the northern and southern hemisphere.



Perspective view of Nili Fossae

This region is an impressive example of past activity on the planet and shows signs of where flowing wind, water and ice once moved material from place to place, carving out distinctive patterns and landforms as it did so.


Mars is a planet of two halves. In places, the northern hemisphere of the planet sits a full few kilometres lower than the southern; this clear topographic split is known as the martian dichotomy, and is an especially distinctive feature on the Red Planet’s surface.


Northern Mars also displays large areas of smooth land, whereas the planet’s southern regions are heavily pockmarked and scattered with craters. This is thought to be the result of past volcanic activity, which has resurfaced parts of Mars to create smooth plains in the north – and left other regions ancient and untouched.



Nili Fossae in context

The star of this Mars Express image, a furrowed, rock-filled escarpment known as Nili Fossae, sits at the boundary of this north-south divide. This region is filled with rocky valleys, small hills, and clusters of flat-topped landforms (known as mesas in geological terms), with some chunks of crustal rock appearing to be depressed down into the surface creating a number of ditch-like features known as graben.



Mars Express view of Nili Fossae

As with much of the surrounding environment, and despite Mars’ reputation as a dry, arid world today, water is believed to have played a key role in sculpting Nili Fossae via ongoing erosion. In addition to visual cues, signs of past interaction with water have been spotted in the western (upper) part of this image – instruments such as Mars Express’ OMEGA spectrometer have spotted clay minerals here, which are key indicators that water was once present.



Topography of Nili Fossae

The elevation of Nili Fossae and surroundings, shown in the topographic view above, is somewhat varied; regions to the left and lower left (south) sit higher than those to the other side of the frame (north), illustrating the aforementioned dichotomy. This higher-altitude terrain appears to consist mostly of rocky plateaus, while lower terrain comprises smaller rocks, mesas, hills, and more, with the two sections roughly separated by erosion channels and valleys.


This split is thought to be the result of material moving around on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago. Similar to glaciers on Earth, flows of water and ice cut through the martian terrain and slowly sculpted and eroded it over time, also carrying material along with them. In the case of Nili Fossae, this was carried from higher areas to lower ones, with chunks of resistant rock and hardy material remaining largely intact but shifting downslope to form the mesas and landforms seen today.



Nili Fossae in 3D

The shapes and structures scattered throughout this image are thought to have been shaped over time by flows of not only water and ice, but also wind. Examples can be seen in this image in patches of the surface that appear to be notably dark against the ochre background, as if smudged with charcoal or ink. These are areas of darker volcanic sand, which have been transported and deposited by present-day martian winds. Wind moves sand and dust around often on Mars’ surface, creating rippling dune fields across the planet and forming multi-coloured, patchy terrain like Nili Fossae.


The data comprising this image were gathered by Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on 26 February 2018.



Mars Express

ESA’s Mars Express was launched in 2003. As well as producing striking views of the martian surface such as this, the mission has shed light on many of the planet’s biggest mysteries – and helped to build the picture of Mars as a planet that was once warmer, wetter and potentially habitable. Read more about the past 15 years of Mars Express, and what the mission has discovered so far, here: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/From_horizon_to_horizon_Celebrating_15_years_of_Mars_Express


Related links:


Mars Express: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express


Mars Express overview: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express_overview


Mars Express in-depth: http://sci.esa.int/marsexpress


Mars Webcam: http://blogs.esa.int/vmc


Images, Text, Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/NASA MGS MOLA Science Team.


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2018 November 22 Portrait of NGC 281 Image Credit &…


2018 November 22


Portrait of NGC 281
Image Credit & Copyright: Jeremiah Roth


Explanation: Look through the cosmic cloud cataloged as NGC 281 and you might miss the stars of open cluster IC 1590. Still, formed within the nebula that cluster’s young, massive stars ultimately power the pervasive nebular glow. The eye-catching shapes looming in this portrait of NGC 281 are sculpted dusty columns and dense Bok globules seen in silhouette, eroded by intense, energetic winds and radiation from the hot cluster stars. If they survive long enough, the dusty structures could also be sites of future star formation. Playfully called the Pacman Nebula because of its overall shape, NGC 281 is about 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp composite image was made through narrow-band filters. It combines emission from the nebula’s hydrogen and oxygen atoms to synthesize red, green, and blue colors. The scene spans well over 80 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 281.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181122.html


From gamma rays to X-rays: new method pinpoints previously unnoticed pulsar emission


ESA – XMM-Newton Mission patch.


21 November 2018


Based on a new theoretical model, a team of scientists explored the rich data archive of ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra space observatories to find pulsating X-ray emission from three sources. The discovery, relying on previous gamma-ray observations of the pulsars, provides a novel tool to investigate the mysterious mechanisms of pulsar emission, which will be important to understand these fascinating objects and use them for space navigation in the future.


Lighthouses of the Universe, pulsars are fast-rotating neutron stars that emit beams of radiation. As pulsars rotate and the beams alternatively point towards and away from Earth, the source oscillates between brighter and dimmer states, resulting in a signal that appears to ‘pulse’ every few milliseconds to seconds, with a regularity rivalling even atomic clocks.


Pulsars are the incredibly dense, extremely magnetic, relics of massive stars, and are amongst the most extreme objects in the Universe. Understanding how particles behave in such a strong magnetic field is fundamental to understanding how matter and magnetic fields interact more generally.



Image above: XMM-Newton’s view of pulsar J1826-1256. Animation Credits: ESA/XMM-Newton/J. Li, DESY, Germany.


Originally detected through their radio emission, pulsars are now known to also emit other types of radiation, though typically in smaller amounts. Some of this emission is standard thermal radiation – the type that everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits. Pulsars release thermal radiation when they accrete matter, for example from another star.


But pulsars also emit non-thermal radiation, as is often produced in the most extreme cosmic environments. In pulsars, non-thermal radiation can be created via two processes: synchrotron emission and curvature emission. Both processes involve charged particles being accelerated along magnetic field lines, causing them to radiate light that can vary in wavelength from radio waves to gamma-rays.


Non-thermal X-rays result mostly from synchrotron emission, while gamma-rays may come from so-called synchro-curvature emission – a combination of the two mechanisms. It is relatively easy to find pulsars that radiate gamma-rays – NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has detected more than 200 of them over the past decade, thanks to its ability to scan the whole sky. But only around 20 have been found to pulse in non-thermal X-rays.


“Unlike gamma-ray detecting survey instruments, X-ray telescopes must be told exactly where to point, so we need to provide them with some sort of guidance,” says Diego Torres, from the Institute of Space Sciences in Barcelona, Spain.


Aware that there should be many pulsars emitting previously undetected non-thermal X-rays, Torres developed a model that combined synchrotron and curvature radiation to predict whether pulsars detected in gamma-rays could also be expected to appear in X-rays.


“Scientific models describe phenomena that can’t be experienced directly,” explains Torres.


“This model in particular helps explain the emission processes in pulsars and can be used to predict the X-ray emission that we should observe, based on the known gamma-ray emission.”


The model describes the gamma-ray emission of pulsars detected by Fermi – specifically, the brightness observed at different wavelengths – and combines this information with three parameters that determine the pulsar emission. This allows a prediction of their brightness at other wavelengths, for instance in X-rays.


Torres partnered with a team of scientists, led by Jian Li from the Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron in Zeuthen near Berlin, Germany, to select three known gamma-ray emitting pulsars that they expected, based on the model, to also shine brightly in X-rays. They dug into the data archives of ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatories to search for evidence of non-thermal X-ray emission from each of them.


“Not only did we detect X-ray pulsations from all three of the pulsars, but we also found that the spectrum of X-rays was almost the same as predicted by the model,” explains Li.


“This means that the model very accurately describes the emission processes within a pulsar.”



Image above: Non-thermal X-ray emission from three pulsars. Image Credits: Adapted from J. Li et al. (2018).


In particular, XMM-Newton data showed clear X-ray emission from PSR J1826-1256 – a radio quiet gamma-ray pulsar with a period of 110.2 milliseconds. The spectrum of light received from this pulsar was very close to that predicted by the model. X-ray emission from the other two pulsars, which both rotate slightly more quickly, was revealed using Chandra data.


This discovery already represents a significant increase in the total number of pulsars known to emit non-thermal X-rays. The team expects that many more will be discovered over the next few years as the model can be used to work out where exactly to look for them.


Finding more X-ray pulsars is important for revealing their global properties, including population characteristics. A better understanding of pulsars is also essential for potentially taking advantage of their accurate timing signals for future space navigation endeavours.


The result is a step towards understanding the relationships between the emission by pulsars in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, enabling a robust way to predict the brightness of a pulsar at any given wavelength. This will help us better comprehend the interaction between particles and magnetic fields in pulsars and beyond.


“This model can make accurate predictions of pulsar X-ray emission, and it can also predict the emission at other wavelengths, for example visible and ultraviolet,” Torres continues.


“In the future, we hope to find new pulsars leading to a better understanding of their global properties.”



XMM-Newton. Image Credit: ESA

The study highlights the benefits of XMM-Newton’s vast data archive to make new discoveries and showcases the impressive abilities of the mission to detect relatively dim sources. The team is also looking forward to using the next generation of X-ray space telescopes, including ESA’s future Athena mission, to find even more pulsars emitting non-thermal X-rays.


“As the flagship of European X-ray astronomy, XMM-Newton is detecting more X-ray sources than any previous satellite. It is amazing to see that it is helping to solve so many cosmic mysteries,” concludes Norbert Schartel, XMM-Newton Project Scientist at ESA.


Notes for Editors:


“Theoretically motivated search and detection of non-thermal pulsations from PSRs J1747-2958, J2021+3651, and J1826-1256” by Li et al. is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters: https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/aae92b


The prepint is available on the arXiv/astro-ph server: https://arxiv.org/abs/1811.08339


ESA’s XMM-Newton: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/xmm-newton


Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: ESA/Norbert Schartel/Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC)/Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)/Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avanc¸ats (ICREA)/Diego Torres/Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron DESY/Jian Li.


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TAGSAM Testing Complete: OSIRIS-REx Prepared to TAG an Asteroid


NASA – OSIRIS-REx Mission patch.


Nov. 21, 2018


On Nov. 14, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft stretched out its robotic sampling arm for the first time in space. The arm, more formally known as the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), is key to the spacecraft achieving the primary goal of the mission: returning a sample from asteroid Bennu in 2023.


As planned, engineers at Lockheed Martin commanded the spacecraft to move the arm through its full range of motion – flexing its shoulder, elbow, and wrist “joints.” This long-awaited stretch, which was confirmed by telemetry data and imagery captured by the spacecraft’s SamCam camera, demonstrates that the TAGSAM head is ready to collect a sample of loose dirt and rock (called regolith) from Bennu’s surface.



Image above: This image shows the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) sampling head extended from the spacecraft at the end of the TAGSAM arm. The image was obtained by the SamCam camera on Nov. 14, 2018 as part of a visual checkout of the spacecraft’s sample acquisition system. This is a rehearsal image for an observation that will be taken at Bennu during the moment of sample collection to help document the asteroid material collected in the TAGSAM head. There are two witness plate assemblies on the top perimeter of the TAGSAM head, one of which is entirely visible in this image. These witness plates record the deposition of material on the TAGSAM head over the duration of the mission, giving scientists a record of material on the TAGSAM head that is not from Bennu. Image Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.


“The TAGSAM exercise is an important milestone, as the prime objective of the OSIRIS-REx mission is to return a sample of Bennu to Earth,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “This successful test shows that, when the time comes, TAGSAM is ready to reach out and tag the asteroid.”


Years of innovation


Lockheed Martin engineers spent more than a decade designing, building, and testing TAGSAM, which includes an 11-foot (3.35-meter) arm with three articulating joints, a round sampler head at the end of the arm that resembles the air filter in a car, and three bottles of high-pressure nitrogen gas.


This test deployment was a rehearsal for a date in mid-2020 when the spacecraft will unfold the TAGSAM arm again, slowly descend to Bennu’s surface, and briefly touch the asteroid with the sampler head. A burst of nitrogen gas will stir up regolith on the asteroid’s surface, which will be caught in the TAGSAM head. The TAG sequence will take about five seconds, after which the spacecraft will execute small maneuvers to carefully back away from Bennu. Afterward, SamCam will image the sampler head, as it did during the test deployment, to help confirm that TAGSAM collected at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of regolith.



TAGSAM Taking a Sample

Video above: In mid-2020, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will use its TAGSAM device to stir up and collect a sample of loose material from asteroid Bennu’s surface. That material will be returned to Earth for study in 2023. Video Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.


The TAGSAM mechanism was designed for the key challenge unique to the OSIRIS-REx mission: collecting a sample from the smallest planetary body ever to be orbited by a spacecraft. “First-of-its-kind innovations like this one serve as the precursor for future missions to small bodies,” said Sandy Freund, systems engineer manager and Lockheed Martin OSIRIS-REx MSA manager. “By proving out these technologies and techniques, we are going to be able to return the largest sample from space in half a century and pave the way for other missions.”


A month of testing


The unfolding of the TAGSAM arm was the latest and most significant step in a series of tests and check-outs of the spacecraft’s sampling system, which began in October when OSIRIS-REx jettisoned the cover that protected the TAGSAM head during launch and the mission’s outbound cruise phase. Shortly before the cover ejection, and again the day after, OSIRIS-REx performed two spins called Sample Mass Measurements. By comparing the spacecraft’s inertial properties during these before-and-after spins, the team confirmed that the 2.67-pound (1.21-kilogram) cover was successfully ejected on Oct. 17.



OSIRIS-REx taking sample on Bennu. Image Credit: NASA

A week later, on Oct. 25, the Frangibolts holding the TAGSAM arm in place fired successfully, releasing the arm and allowing the team to move it into a parked position just outside its protective housing. After resting in this position for a few weeks, the arm was fully deployed into its sampling position, its joints were tested, and images were captured with SamCam. The spacecraft will execute two additional Sample Mass Measurements over the next two days. The mission team will use these spins as a baseline to compare with the results of similar spins that will be conducted after TAG in 2020 in order to confirm the mass of the sample collected.



TAGSAM Arm Deployment and Mass Measurement Spin

Video above: Over the past month, the OSIRIS-REx team conducted a series of tests to ensure that TAGSAM, the spacecraft’s sampling mechanism, is ready to collect a sample from Bennu in 2020. This rehearsal marked the first time since launch that the TAGSAM arm has moved through its full range of motion. Video Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.


Although the sampling system was rigorously tested on Earth, this rehearsal marked the first time that the team has deployed TAGSAM in the micro-gravity environment of space.


“The team is very pleased that TAGSAM has been released, deployed, and is operating as commanded through its full range of motion.” said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It has been restrained for over two years since launch, so it is gratifying to see it out of its shackles and performing well.”


OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to arrive at Bennu on Dec. 3. It will spend nearly one year surveying the asteroid with five scientific instruments so that the mission team can select a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample.



Animation above: Over the past month, the OSIRIS-REx team conducted a series of tests to ensure that TAGSAM, the spacecraft’s sampling mechanism, is ready to collect a sample from Bennu in 2020. This rehearsal marked the first time since launch that the TAGSAM arm has moved through its full range of motion. Animation Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.


“Now that we have put TAGSAM through its paces in space and know it is ready to perform at Bennu, we can focus on the challenges of navigating around the asteroid and seeking out the best possible sample site,” said Lauretta.


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team, the mission’s science observation planning, and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


Related link:


TAGSAM: https://www.asteroidmission.org/?attachment_id=1699#main


For more information on OSIRIS-REx visit: http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex and http://www.asteroidmission.org/


Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Videos (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Karl Hille/University of Arizona, by Christine Hoekenga.


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HiPOD (21 November 2018): Mysterious!   – These…



HiPOD (21 November 2018): Mysterious!


   – These interesting-looking features are on the floor of crater near Amazonis Mensa. They might be wind-driven erosional features. (Alt: 275 km. Black and white is less than 5 km across; enhanced color is less than 1 km.)


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Exoplanet Stepping Stones



Exoplanet HR 8799c


Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko


Researchers are Perfecting Technology to One Day Look for Signs of Alien Life

Maunakea, Hawaii – Astronomers have gleaned some of the best data yet on the composition of a planet known as HR 8799c—a young giant gas planet about 7 times the mass of Jupiter that orbits its star every 200 years.


The team used state-of-the art instrumentation at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii to confirm the existence of water in the planet’s atmosphere, as well as a lack of methane.


While other researchers had previously made similar measurements of this planet, these new, more robust data demonstrate the power of combining high-resolution spectroscopy with a technique known as adaptive optics, which corrects for the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere.


“This type of technology is exactly what we want to use in the future to look for signs of life on an Earth-like planet. We aren’t there yet but we are marching ahead,” says Dimitri Mawet, an associate professor of astronomy at Caltech and a research scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA.


Mawet is co-author of a new paper on the findings published today in The Astronomical Journal.


The lead author is Ji Wang, formerly a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech and now an assistant professor at Ohio State University.




Artist’s impression based on published scientific data on the HR 8799 solar system. The magenta, HR 8799c planet is in the foreground. Compared to Jupiter, this gas giant is about seven times more massive and has a radius that is 20 percent larger. HR 8799c’s planetary companions, d and b are in the background, orbiting their host star. Credit: W.M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko/C.Alvarez


Taking pictures of planets that orbit other stars—exoplanets—is a formidable task. Light from the host stars far outshines the planets, making them difficult to see.


More than a dozen exoplanets have been directly imaged so far, including HR 8799c and three of its planetary companions. In fact, HR 8799 is the only multiple-planet system to have its picture taken. Discovered using adaptive optics on the Keck II telescope, the direct images of HR8799 are the first-ever of a planetary system orbiting a star other than our sun.


Once an image is obtained, astronomers can use instruments, called spectrometers, to break apart the planet’s light, like a prism turning sunlight into a rainbow, thereby revealing the fingerprints of chemicals. So far, this strategy has been used to learn about the atmospheres of several giant exoplanets.


The next step is to do the same thing only for smaller planets that are closer to their stars (the closer a planet is to its star and the smaller its size, the harder is it to see).


The ultimate goal is to look for chemicals in the atmospheres of Earth-like planets that orbit in the star’s “habitable zone”—including any biosignatures that might indicate life, such as water, oxygen, and methane.


Mawet’s group hopes to do just this with an instrument on the upcoming Thirty Meter Telescope, a giant telescope being planned for the late 2020s by several national and international partners, including Caltech.


But for now, the scientists are perfecting their technique using Keck Observatory —and, in the process, learning about the compositions and dynamics of giant planets.


“Right now, with Keck, we can already learn about the physics and dynamics of these giant exotic planets, which are nothing like our own solar system planets,” says Wang.


In the new study, the researchers used an instrument on the Keck II telescope called NIRSPEC (near-infrared cryogenic echelle spectrograph), a high-resolution spectrometer that works in infrared light.


They coupled the instrument with Keck Observatory’s powerful adaptive optics, a method for creating crisper pictures using a guide star in the sky as a means to measure and correct the blurring turbulence of Earth’s atmosphere.


This is the first time the technique has been demonstrated on directly imaged planets using what’s known as the L-band, a type of infrared light with a wavelength of around 3.5 micrometers, and a region of the spectrum with many detailed chemical fingerprints.


“The L-band has gone largely overlooked before because the sky is brighter at this wavelength,” says Mawet. “If you were an alien with eyes tuned to the L-band, you’d see an extremely bright sky. It’s hard to see exoplanets through this veil.”


The researchers say that the addition of adaptive optics made the L-band more accessible for the study of the planet HR 8799c. In their study, they made the most precise measurements yet of the atmospheric constituents of the planet, confirming it has water and lacks methane as previously thought.


“We are now more certain about the lack of methane in this planet,” says Wang. “This may be due to mixing in the planet’s atmosphere. The methane, which we would expect to be there on the surface, could be diluted if the process of convection is bringing up deeper layers of the planet that don’t have methane.”


The L-band is also good for making measurements of a planet’s carbon-to-oxygen ratio—a tracer of where and how a planet forms. Planets form out of swirling disks of material around stars, specifically from a mix of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon-rich molecules, such as water, carbon monoxide, and methane.


These molecules freeze out of the planet-forming disks at different distances from the star—at boundaries called snowlines. By measuring a planet’s carbon-to-oxygen ratio, astronomers can thus learn about its origins.


Mawet’s team is now gearing up to turn on their newest instrument at Keck Observatory, called the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer (KPIC). It will also use adaptive optics-aided high-resolution spectroscopy but can see planets that are fainter than HR 8799c and closer to their stars.


“KPIC is a springboard to our future Thirty Meter Telescope instrument,” says Mawet. “For now, we are learning a great deal about the myriad ways in which planets in our universe form.”




The HR 8799 planetary system is the first solar system beyond our own that astronomers directly imaged. Captured in 2008 using Keck Observatory’s near-infrared adaptive optics, the picture revealed three planets (labeled ‘b’, ‘c’, and ‘d’) orbiting a dusty young star named HR 8799 (center). In 2010, the team announced they detected a fourth planet in the system (labeled ‘e’). The HR 8799 system is located 129 light-years away from Earth. Credit: NRC-HIA/C. Marois/W.M. Keck Observatory





About NIRSPEC


The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSPEC) is a unique, cross-dispersed echelle spectrograph that captures spectra of objects over a large range of infrared wavelengths at high spectral resolution. Built at the UCLA Infrared Laboratory by a team led by Prof. Ian McLean, the instrument is used for radial velocity studies of cool stars, abundance measurements of stars and their environs, planetary science, and many other scientific programs. A second mode provides low spectral resolution but high sensitivity and is popular for studies of distant galaxies and very cool low-mass stars. NIRSPEC can also be used with Keck II’s adaptive optics (AO)system to combine the powers of the high spatial resolution of AO with the high spectral resolution of NIRSPEC. Support for this project was provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation. Learn more at www.heisingsimons.org.


About Adaptative Optics


W. M. Keck Observatory is a distinguished leader in the field of adaptive optics (AO), a breakthrough technology that removes the distortions caused by the turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. Keck Observatory pioneered the astronomical use of both natural guide star (NGS) and laser guide star adaptive optics (LGS AO) on large telescopes and current systems now deliver images three to four times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. Keck AO has imaged the four massive planets orbiting the star HR8799, measured the mass of the giant black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, discovered new supernovae in distant galaxies, and identified the specific stars that were their progenitors. Support for this technology was generously provided by the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, Change Happens Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation, NASA, NSF, and W. M. Keck Foundation.

About W.M. Keck Observatory

The W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes are among the most scientifically productive on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes atop Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrometers, and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems. The data presented herein were obtained at Keck Observatory, which is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the Native Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.






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NASA InSight Team on Course for Mars Touchdown


NASA – InSight Mission logo.


Nov. 21, 2018


NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on track for a soft touchdown on the surface of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, the Monday after Thanksgiving. But it’s not going to be a relaxing weekend of turkey leftovers, football and shopping for the InSight mission team. Engineers will be keeping a close eye on the stream of data indicating InSight’s health and trajectory, and monitoring Martian weather reports to figure out if the team needs to make any final adjustments in preparation for landing, only five days away.



Image above: An artist’s impression of NASA InSight’s entry, descent and landing at Mars, scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


“Landing on Mars is hard. It takes skill, focus and years of preparation,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Keeping in mind our ambitious goal to eventually send humans to the surface of the Moon and then Mars, I know that our incredible science and engineering team — the only in the world to have successfully landed spacecraft on the Martian surface — will do everything they can to successfully land InSight on the Red Planet.”


InSight, the first mission to study the deep interior of Mars, blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California on May 5, 2018. It has been an uneventful flight to Mars, and engineers like it that way. They will get plenty of excitement when InSight hits the top of the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) and slows down to 5 mph (8 kph) — about human jogging speed — before its three legs touch down on Martian soil. That extreme deceleration has to happen in just under seven minutes.



Image above: This artist’s illustration shows NASA’s four successful Mars rovers (from left to right): Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, and Curiosity. The image also shows the upcoming Mars 2020 rover and a human explorer. Image Credit: NASA.


“There’s a reason engineers call landing on Mars ‘seven minutes of terror,'” said Rob Grover, InSight’s entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We can’t joystick the landing, so we have to rely on the commands we pre-program into the spacecraft. We’ve spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us. And we’re going to stay vigilant till InSight settles into its home in the Elysium Planitia region.”


One way engineers may be able to confirm quickly what activities InSight has completed during those seven minutes of terror is if the experimental CubeSat mission known as Mars Cube One (MarCO) relays InSight data back to Earth in near-real time during their flyby on Nov. 26. The two MarCO spacecraft (A and B) are making good progress toward their rendezvous point, and their radios have already passed their first deep-space tests.




Image above: NASA Science missions circle Earth, the Sun, the Moon, Mars and many other destinations within our solar system, including spacecraft that look out even further into our universe. The Science Fleet depicts the scope of NASA’s activity and how our missions have traveled throughout the solar system. Image Credits: NASA/GSFC.


“Just by surviving the trip so far, the two MarCO satellites have made a giant leap for CubeSats,” said Anne Marinan, a MarCO systems engineer based at JPL. “And now we are gearing up for the MarCOs’ next test — serving as a possible model for a new kind of interplanetary communications relay.”


If all goes well, the MarCOs may take a few seconds to receive and format the data before sending it back to Earth at the speed of light. This would mean engineers at JPL and another team at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver would be able to tell what the lander did during EDL approximately eight minutes after InSight completes its activities. Without MarCO, InSight’s team would need to wait several hours for engineering data to return via the primary communications pathways — relays through NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey orbiter.



Image above: This map shows the temperature of the Martian atmosphere 16 miles above the surface. The data was taken on Nov. 18, 2018, about one week before NASA’s InSight lander is scheduled to touchdown on the Martian surface. The temperature indicates to mission scientists the amount of dust activity in the atmosphere. The map shows a range of latitudes, with temperatures clearly dropping near the planet’s north pole. The landing locations of various NASA Mars landers are shown for context. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


Once engineers know that the spacecraft has touched down safely in one of the several ways they have to confirm this milestone and that InSight’s solar arrays have deployed properly, the team can settle into the careful, three-month-long process of deploying science instruments.


“Landing on Mars is exciting, but scientists are looking forward to the time after InSight lands,” said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. “Once InSight is settled on the Red Planet and its instruments are deployed, it will start collecting valuable information about the structure of Mars’ deep interior — information that will help us understand the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including the one we call home.”



Image above: This artist’s concept depicts the smooth, flat ground that dominates InSight’s landing ellipse in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


“Previous missions haven’t gone more than skin-deep at Mars,” added Sue Smrekar, the InSight mission’s deputy principal investigator at JPL. “InSight scientists can’t wait to explore the heart of Mars.”



Image above: This image from the Mars Odyssey orbiter took this image of the target landing site for NASA’s InSight lander. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.


JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.



Image above: The artist’s impression shows the major interior layers of Earth, Mars and the Moon. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the wind sensors.



Image above: NASA’s InSight Mars Lander in fully landed configuration in the clean room at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Once the solar arrays are fully deployed on Mars, they can provide 600-700 watts on a clear day, or just enough to power a household blender. Image Credits: Lockheed Martin.


Related articles:


NASA Brings Mars Landing, First in Six Years, to Viewers Everywhere Nov. 26:
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-brings-mars-landing-first-in-six-years-to-viewers-everywhere-nov-26


How NASA Will Know When InSight Touches Down:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/11/how-nasa-will-know-when-insight-touches.html


The Mars InSight Landing Site Is Just Plain Perfect:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-mars-insight-landing-site-is-just.html


Five Things to Know About InSight’s Mars Landing:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/10/five-things-to-know-about-insights-mars.html


NASA’s InSight Will Study Mars While Standing Still:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/10/nasas-insight-will-study-mars-while.html


NASA’s First Image of Mars from a CubeSat:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/10/nasas-first-image-of-mars-from-cubesat.html


NASA CubeSats Steer Toward Mars:
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/06/nasa-cubesats-steer-toward-mars.html


Related links:


Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/seis/


Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3): https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/mission/instruments/hp3/


For more detailed information on the InSight mission, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight


For more information about MarCO, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cubesat/missions/marco.php


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Dwayne Brown/JoAnna Wendel/Tony Greicius/JPL/Jia-Rui Cook/D.C. Agle​.


Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


NASA to Launch New Refueling Mission, Helping Spacecraft Live Longer and Journey Farther


ISS – Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) patch.


Nov. 21, 2018


NASA will lay the foundation for spacecraft life extension and long duration space exploration with the upcoming launch of Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3), a mission that will pioneer techniques for storing and replenishing cryogenic spacecraft fuel. 


The third phase of an ongoing technology demonstration, RRM3 will attach to the International Space Station and build on two previous missions — RRM and RRM2. These first two phases practiced the robotic tasks of removing caps and valves on spacecraft, leading up to the act of replenishing fuel, but stopped short of cryogenic fluid transfer.



Robotic Refueling: Paving the Way for Exploration

Video above: One small box of technology is getting NASA one step closer to future exploration missions. The Robotic Refueling Mission 3, or RRM3, will prove technologies to transfer and store common spacecraft fuels in space. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio.


Cryogenic fluid can serve as a very potent fuel. As a propellant, it produces a high thrust or acceleration, allowing rockets to escape the gravitational force of planetary bodies. As a coolant, it keeps spacecraft operational and can prolong their lifespan by years.


Besides these uses, the ability to resupply cryogenic fuel in space could minimize the amount of fuel spacecraft are required to carry from Earth’s surface, making it possible to travel farther into space for longer periods of time.



Image above: RRM3 fluid transfer module with the external tool pedestal affixed to the top during a tool fit check in Greenbelt, Maryland. Image Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn.


Liquid oxygen is another type of cryogenic fluid, used for astronaut life support systems. Having the ability to efficiently store and replenish this type of oxygen could facilitate astronauts’ capacity to embark on long duration human exploration missions and live on other planets.


“Any time we get to extend our stay in space is valuable for discovery,” said Beth Adams Fogle, RRM3 mission manager in NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program office at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “RRM3’s ability to transfer and store cryogenic fluid could alter our current fuel constraints for human exploration.”



Image above: Spacewalking astronauts successfully transfer the RRM module from the Atlantis shuttle cargo bay to a temporary platform on the ISS’s Dextre robot for RRM Phase 1 and 2. Image Credit: NASA.


Another possibility is mining water on the Moon in order to separate it into its individual elements, hydrogen and oxygen — both of which can be converted into cryogenic propellants. RRM3 technologies will establish methods for transferring and storing these resources to refuel spacecraft on exploration missions, laying the groundwork for what could one day be lunar gas stations.


Beyond the Moon, carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere also has the potential of being converted to liquid methane, a cryogenic fluid. RRM3 techniques could then be applied to refuel departure rockets from Mars.



Image above: The ability to replenish and store cryogenic fluid can help with exploration. Here are some ways technologies demonstrated by RRM3 could be used at the Moon and Mars. Image Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.


As useful as cryogens are, their extremely low boiling points make storing them in space difficult, because they boil off over time. RRM3 will not only transfer cryogenic fluid, but store 42 liters of cryogen without fluid loss for six months — enough to maintain spacecraft instruments for years.


“Any time you try something for the first time, there is an element of risk,” said Jill McGuire, project manager for RRM3. “We hope our technology demonstration helps drive down the risk of refueling in space for future exploration and science missions.”


NASA engineers built on lessons learned from RRM and RRM2 to design next-generation hardware. During RRM3 mission operations, the space station’s Dextre robotic arm will carry out tasks using a suite of three primary tools.



Image above: Matt Ashmore, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, performs a fit check of RRM3’s three external tools (from left to right: cryogen servicing tool, VIPIR2, multi-function tool 2). After RRM3 is installed to the outside of International Space Station the Dextre robotic arm will mount the pedestal and tools, pre-assembled by astronauts on the space station. Image Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn.


The task sequence begins with the multi-function tool 2, which operates smaller specialized tools to prepare for the fluid transfer. Next, the cryogen servicing tool uses a hose to connect the tank filled with liquid methane to the empty tank. To monitor the process, the Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot 2 (VIPIR2) utilizes a state-of-the-art robotic camera to make sure tools are properly positioned.


“We learn by doing,” said Ben Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Project Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Pioneering new technologies is hard, but when we get it right the payoffs are big.”


RRM3 is developed and operated by the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and managed by the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. RRM3 is scheduled to launch to the space station on SpaceX’s 16th Commercial Resupply Services mission.


Related links:


Satellite Servicing Projects Division: https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/


Technology Demonstration Missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/main/index.html


Space Technology Mission Directorate: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/index.html


SpaceX’s 16th Commercial Resupply Services: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/launch/spacex.html


For more information about RRM3, visit: https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/RRM3.html


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


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Three Humans Will Spend Thanksgiving 260 Miles Above Earth


ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.


November 21, 2018


Three humans will spend Thanksgiving orbiting about 260 miles above Earth. Another three individuals are spending the holiday in Kazakhstan preparing to launch to the International Space Station on Dec. 3.


The Expedition 57 trio from the U.S., Russia and Germany will share a traditional Thanksgiving meal together with fresh ingredients delivered over the weekend on a pair of new cargo ships. Commander Alexander Gerst from ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will take the day off in space. Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev will work a normal day of Russian science and maintenance then join his crewmates for the holiday feast.



Image above: Serena Auñón-Chancellor (right) takes a group selfie with her Expedition 57 crew mates (from left) Sergey Prokopyev and Alexander Gerst. The three-person crew was gathered for dinner in the Zvezda Service Module, part of the International Space Station’s Russian segment. Image Credit: NASA.


Gerst called down to European mission controllers today for a weekly tag up then answered a questionnaire about his experiences living in space. Afterward, he continued unpacking inventory from the new Cygnus cargo craft.


Auñón-Chancellor spent most of her day in Japan’s Kibo lab module working on life support gear. Toward the end of the day, she stowed research samples in a science freezer then debriefed ground controllers with Gerst about Cygnus cargo operations.


Prokopyev focused his attention on the Russian side of the orbital lab working on life support gear and unloading the new Progress 71 cargo craft.



Image above: Flying over Peru (rear cam view), seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27’605 Km/h, altitude: 406,43 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam’s from ISS on November 21, 2018 at 21:22 UTC. Image Credits: Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Back on Earth, three Expedition 58 crew members from the U.S., Russia and Canada are in final training ahead of their six-and-a-half month mission on the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko will lead the six-hour flight aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft flanked by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.


This will be Kononenko’s fourth mission to the space station and his second as station commander. McClain and Saint-Jacques are both beginning their first missions to space.


Related links & articles:


Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html


Expedition 58: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition58/index.html


Experiences living in space: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1727


Cygnus cargo craft: https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/11/canadian-robotic-arm-installs-us-cygnus.html


Progress 71 cargo craft: https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/11/russian-cargo-craft-docks-to-station.html


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


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Marck Garcia/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Scarred Landscape

image

With California wildfires still burning, the

2018 fire season continues to leave its mark on the state’s landscape.

Together, the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire (as seen above) have burned more than

248,000 acres (1003 square kilometers, or 387 square miles).


Burn scars are what wildfire leaves behind.

With no vegetation to hold the land in place, many burned locations are

susceptible to landslides and mudslides, especially in areas with steep slopes.

Fighting fires on these slopes is more difficult, too — once a slope’s

steepness exceeds 30 percent, firefighting with bulldozers or trucks becomes

dangerous, and emergency response teams must fight the fires on foot.



For the past two weeks, our scientists have

been working every day producing maps and damage assessments that can help

agency fire managers understand the active wildfire and plan for recovery. By

deploying research aircraft carrying instruments, like the Uninhabited Aerial

Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), scientists can identify burned areas

at risk of mudslides in advance of winter rains expected in the area.


Learn more about how we’re mobilizing to aid California fire response here.



Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com


Prehistoric Pottery, Fragments and Jewellery Photoset 3, Devizes Museum, Wiltshire,...











Prehistoric Pottery, Fragments and Jewellery Photoset 3, Devizes Museum, Wiltshire, 17.11.18.


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