NASA has just released five new videos called “Mysteries of the Sun”. The videos describe the science of the sun and its effects on the solar system and Earth. Scientists study the sun not only to better understand the orb that influences life, but also to study how it sends solar material out into space, filling up the bubble that defines the farthest reaches of the solar system.
The sun can also impact Earth’s technology: solar storms can affect our communications satellites and cause surges in power lines. These movies cover the breadth of solar, heliospheric, and geospace science, a field known as heliophysics.
The five movies, available online at http://missionscience.nasa.gov/sun and on DVD, cover five areas of heliophysics: Space Weather, Solar Variability, the Heliosphere, Earth’s magnetosphere, and Earth’s upper atmosphere.
In addition to the movies, there is a guidebook (PDF, 38.8MB) with full-color images, diagrams, and charts that will make the science of heliophysics clear for all readers. The topics covered include the anatomy of the Sun, the solar cycle, solar storms, and solar variability, as well as the Sun’s effects on space weather and the Earth’s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere such as the Aurora.
Above: Anatomy of the Sun — one of the illustrations from the Mysteries of the Sun book.
16 space observatory missions, dating back to the early 1970s, contributed to the data storehouse recently renamed the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Its a 200 Terabytes treasure trove that will feed astrophysics research for decade.
OMG SPACE is the thesis project of Margot Trudell, an OCAD student studying graphic design in Toronto, Canada. This website aims to illustrate the scale and the grandeur of our solar system, as well as illustrate through the use of infographics our work in the exploration of our solar system with various spacecraft.
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter-diameter telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. This cold, dry location facilitates observations of the faint cosmic microwave background.
The SPT was specifically designed to tackle the dark energy mystery. It operates at millimeter wavelengths to make high-resolution images of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which scientists use in their search for distant, massive galaxy clusters that can be used to pinpoint the properties of dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.
Analysis of new data from the SPT is currently providing new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy and Einstein’s cosmological constant. With this data set scientists will be able to place extremely tight constraints on dark energy and possibly determine the mass of the neutrinos.
Above:(1) The South Pole Telescope (SPT) at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. (2) This image displays a portion of the South Pole Telescope survey of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Points of light mark quasars and gravitationally lensed galaxies. The variations in the image are minute fluctuations in the intensity of the CMB. The fluctuations are caused by differences in the distribution of matter in the early universe at a time only 400,000 years after the Big Bang. The image is effectively a “baby picture” of the universe.
This sonification of the recent solar storm activity turns data from two spacecraft into sound. It uses measurements from the NASA SOHO spacecraft and the University of Michigan’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) on NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury. The creator is Robert Alexander, a design science doctoral student at the University of Michigan and NASA fellow.
New evidence that comets deposited building blocks of life on primordial Earth
A team of scientists from the NASA/Ames Research Center made experiments that recreated the conditions that existed inside comets when these celestial objects hit Earth’s atmosphere at almost 25,000 miles per hour and crashed down upon the surface.
The research shows that the building blocks of life could, indeed, have remained intact despite the tremendous shock wave and other violent conditions in a comet impact. Comets really would have been the ideal packages for delivering ingredients for the chemical evolution thought to have resulted in life because they include all of the ingredients for life — amino acids, water and energy.
In one set of experiments, the team used gas guns to simulate the enormous temperatures and powerful shock waves that amino acids in comets would experience on upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. The gas guns, devices that weigh thousands of pounds, hit objects with high-pressure blasts of gas moving at supersonic speeds.
They shot the gas at capsules filled with amino acids, water and other materials. The amino acids did not break down due to the heat and shock of the simulated crash. Indeed, they began forming the so-called peptide bonds that link amino acids together into proteins. The pressure from the impact of the crash apparently offset the intense heat and also supplied the energy needed to create the peptides.
The 500-meter Aperture Spherical radio telescope (FAST) will take over as the biggest radio telescope in the world. The amazing thing about FAST is that is gigantic and still it’s able to move in angles and change its radius. Its being constructed in the beautiful valley of Guizhou in South China and will be completed in just over four years. The Telescope will be able to help scientists see the origin of the Universe, dark matter and look for extraterrestrial life.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made over one million observations during its more than two decades in orbit. New images are published nearly every week, but hidden in Hubble’s huge data archives are some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen. They’re called Hubble’s Hidden Treasures, and you can now help to bring them to light.
Between now and May 31, 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) invites you to explore Hubble’s vast science archive to dig out the best unseen Hubble images. Find a great dataset in the Hubble Legacy Archive (HLA), adjust the contrast and colors, and submit to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group. You’ll be in with a chance to win an iPad among other great prizes.
NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets this morning from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream, the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment or ATREX.
The first rocket was launched at 4:58 a.m. EDT and each subsequent rocket was launched 80 seconds apart. Each rocket released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space. The launches and clouds were reported to be seen from as far south as Wilmington, N.C.; west to Charlestown, W. Va.; and north to Buffalo, N.Y.
Tracking the way the clouds move can help scientists understand the movement of the winds some 65 miles up in the sky, which in turn will help create better models of the electromagnetic regions of space that can damage man-made satellites and disrupt communications systems.
ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans. The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry.
French photographer Serge Brunier — one of ESO’s Photo Ambassadors — has created this seamless 360-degree panorama of the Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert, where the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is under construction.
The 360-degree view gives a sense of what it would be like to stand in the middle of this impressive new observatory. It demonstrates the complete isolation of the Chajnantor plateau; at an altitude of 5000 metres, the backdrop is almost featureless, except for a few mountain peaks and hilltops.
The high altitude location is perfect for submillimetre astronomy. That’s because water vapour in the atmosphere absorbs this type of radiation, but the air is much drier at high altitude sites such as Chajnantor.