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Solar System News (miscellaneous articles)

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Draggendrop    5,747

Dawn's First Year at Ceres: A Mountain Emerges

 

PIA20348_ip.jpg

The mysterious mountain Ahuna Mons is seen in this mosaic of images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn took these images from its lowest-altitude orbit. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

 

larger image for download...

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20348

 

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One year ago, on March 6, 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft slid gently into orbit around Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Since then, the spacecraft has delivered a wealth of images and other data that open an exciting new window to the previously unexplored dwarf planet.

 

"Ceres has defied our expectations and surprised us in many ways, thanks to a year's worth of data from Dawn. We are hard at work on the mysteries the spacecraft has presented to us," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

 

Among Ceres' most enigmatic features is a tall mountain the Dawn team named Ahuna Mons. This mountain appeared as a small, bright-sided bump on the surface as early as February 2015 from a distance of 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), before Dawn was captured into orbit. As Dawn circled Ceres at increasingly lower altitudes, the shape of this mysterious feature began to come into focus. From afar, Ahuna Mons looked to be pyramid-shaped, but upon closer inspection, it is best described as a dome with smooth, steep walls.

 

Dawn's latest images of Ahuna Mons, taken 120 times closer than in February 2015, reveal that this mountain has a lot of bright material on some of its slopes, and less on others. On its steepest side, it is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) high. The mountain has an average overall height of 2.5 miles (4 kilometers). It rises higher than Washington's Mount Rainier and California's Mount Whitney.

 

Scientists are beginning to identify other features on Ceres that could be similar in nature to Ahuna Mons, but none is as tall and well-defined as this mountain.

more at the link...

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Dawns_First_Year_at_Ceres_A_Mountain_Emerges_999.html

 

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What’s Inside Jupiter? Close Encounters With The Giant | Video

 

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On March 8th, 2016, Jupiter and Earth are closest, at 413 million miles, which happens every 13 months. In July, the Juno probe will enter Jovian orbit, skimming just 3100 miles from the cloud tops. Repeated passes should give researchers a good idea of the planet’s composition, which likely includes ha vast reserve of hydrogen compressed to the metallic state surrounding a rocket ice core.

http://www.space.com/32170-whats-inside-jupiter-close-encounters-with-the-giant-video.html

 

What’s Inside Jupiter? Close Encounters With The Giant | Video is 4:39 min.

 

 

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

LISA Pathfinder Begins Its Science Mission

 

ooLISA.jpg

LISA      ESA

 

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After completing a long series of tests on the spacecraft and payload, the ESA mission LISA Pathfinder has started its science mission.

 

Over the next six months it will conduct hundreds of experiments to pave the way for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories like eLISA. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the Institute for Gravitational Physics of Leibniz Universität Hannover are leading mission partners.

 

LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator satellite mission, about 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth towards the Sun. There, mission scientists have now set up a space laboratory to study the perfect free fall of two cubic test masses. The team will use it to test technologies necessary for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories.

 

"We are now just starting the second week of the LISA Pathfinder science operations. We are absolutely thrilled by how well our first set of experiments went," says Prof. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover, who also is the Co-Principal Investigator of the LISA Technology Package. "For the next weeks we have a tight schedule of experiments to run on the satellite, which will ultimately show that we can build a full-scale gravitational-wave observatory in space."

 

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The scientific mission of LISA Pathfinder officially started last week, on 1 March, with a review of the commissioning period presented on 7 March.

 

The science operations will last six months, split between 90 days for the LISA Technology Package, and 90 days for the Disturbance Reduction System, an additional experiment provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

During the entire operations phase, Max Planck and Leibniz Universität researchers in Hannover are partners in the data analysis which plays a central role in extracting the crucial information from the science data. They have played a leading role in the development of the software use, too. The institute has set up an operations control room in Hannover to function as back-up for the control room at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and for in-depth studies of the data. Since an immediate data analysis is required for the configuration of follow-up experiments, scientist from the institute will also take part in the around-the-clock shifts at ESOC.

more at the link...

http://spaceref.com/astronomy/lisa-pathfinder-begins-its-science-mission.html

 

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Total Solar Eclipse 9 March 2016 in Indonesia | Most Beautiful Moments Solar Eclipse Total

video is 51: 13 min.

Shows various cities as it happens.

 

 

 

:)

 

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Draggendrop    5,747

Close Comet Flyby Threw Mars’ Magnetic Field Into Chaos

 

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Just weeks before the historic encounter of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) with Mars in October 2014, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft entered orbit around the Red Planet. To protect sensitive equipment aboard MAVEN from possible harm, some instruments were turned off during the flyby; the same was done for other Mars orbiters. But a few instruments, including MAVEN’s magnetometer, remained on, conducting observations from a front-row seat during the comet’s remarkably close flyby.

 

The one-of-a-kind opportunity gave scientists an intimate view of the havoc that the comet’s passing wreaked on the magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, around Mars. The effect was temporary but profound.

 

mars-siding_spring_graphic_final.jpg?ito

The close encounter between comet Siding Spring and Mars flooded the planet with an invisible tide of charged particles from the comet's coma. The dense inner coma reached the surface of the planet, or nearly so. The comet's powerful magnetic field temporarily merged with, and overwhelmed, the planet's weak field, as shown in this artist's depiction.
Credits: NASA/Goddard

 

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“Comet Siding Spring plunged the magnetic field around Mars into chaos,” said Jared Espley, a MAVEN science team member at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We think the encounter blew away part of Mars’ upper atmosphere, much like a strong solar storm would.”

 

Unlike Earth, Mars isn’t shielded by a strong magnetosphere generated within the planet. The atmosphere of Mars offers some protection, however, by redirecting the solar wind around the planet, like a rock diverting the flow of water in a creek. This happens because at very high altitudes Mars’ atmosphere is made up of plasma – a layer of electrically charged particles and gas molecules. Charged particles in the solar wind interact with this plasma, and the mingling and moving around of all these charges produces currents. Just like currents in simple electrical circuits, these moving charges induce a magnetic field, which, in Mars’ case, is quite weak.

 

Comet Siding Spring is also surrounded by a magnetic field. This results from the solar wind interacting with the plasma generated in the coma – the envelope of gas flowing from a comet’s nucleus as it is heated by the sun. Comet Siding Spring’s nucleus – a nugget of ice and rock measuring no more than half a kilometer (about 1/3 mile) – is small, but the coma is expansive, stretching out a million kilometers (more than 600,000 miles) in every direction. The densest part of the coma – the inner region near the nucleus – is the part of a comet that’s visible to telescopes and cameras as a big fuzzy ball.

 

When comet Siding Spring passed Mars, the two bodies came within about 140,000 kilometers (roughly 87,000 miles) of each other. The comet’s coma washed over the planet for several hours, with the dense inner coma reaching, or nearly reaching, the surface. Mars was flooded with an invisible tide of charged particles from the coma, and the powerful magnetic field around the comet temporarily merged with – and overwhelmed – the planet’s own weak one.

 

“The main action took place during the comet’s closest approach,” said Espley, “but the planet’s magnetosphere began to feel some effects as soon as it entered the outer edge of the comet’s coma.”

 

At first, the changes were subtle. As Mars’ magnetosphere, which is normally draped neatly over the planet, started to react to the comet’s approach, some regions began to realign to point in different directions. With the comet’s advance, these effects built in intensity, almost making the planet’s magnetic field flap like a curtain in the wind. By the time of closest approach – when the plasma from the comet was densest – Mars’ magnetic field was in complete chaos. Even hours after the comet’s departure, some disruption continued to be measured.

 

Espley and colleagues think the effects of the plasma tide were similar to those of a strong but short-lived solar storm. And like a solar storm, the comet’s close passage likely fueled a temporary surge in the amount of gas escaping from Mars’ upper atmosphere. Over time, those storms took their toll on the atmosphere.

 

“With MAVEN, we’re trying to understand how the sun and solar wind interact with Mars,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN’s principal investigator from the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. “By looking at how the magnetospheres of the comet and of Mars interact with each other, we’re getting a better understanding of the detailed processes that control each one.”

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/close-comet-flyby-threw-mars-magnetic-field-into-chaos

 

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Close_comet_flyby_threw_Mars_magnetic_field_into_chaos_999.html

 

http://spaceref.com/mars/close-comet-flyby-threw-mars-magnetic-field-into-chaos.html

 

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/nsfc-ccf031016.php

 

One more hazard to consider for the future colonizers....will need a good space weather center for the planet.

 

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Ten Years of Discovery by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

 

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On March 10, 2006, the spacecraft fired its six largest rocket engines for about 27 minutes, slowing it down enough for the gravity of Mars to catch it into orbit. Those engines had been used only once before, for 15 seconds during the first trajectory adjustment during the seven-month flight from Earth to Mars. They have been silent since arrival day. Smaller engines provide thrust for orbit adjustment maneuvers.

 

For its first three weeks at Mars, the spacecraft flew elongated, 35-hour orbits ranging as far as 27,000 miles (43,000 kilometers) from the Red Planet. During the next six months, a process called aerobraking used hundreds of carefully calculated dips into the top of the Martian atmosphere to gradually adjust the size of the orbit. Since September 2006, the craft has been flying nearly circular orbits lasting about two hours, at altitudes from 155 to 196 miles (250 to 316 kilometers).

 

The spacecraft's two large solar panels give MRO a wingspan the length of a school bus. That surface area helped with atmospheric drag during aerobraking and still cranks out about 2,000 watts of electricity when the panels face the sun. Generous power enables the spacecraft to transmit a torrent of data through its main antenna, a dish 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter. The total science data sent to Earth from MRO -- 264 terabits -- is more than all other interplanetary missions combined, past and present.

 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft with the capability to transmit copious data to suit the science goals of revealing Mars in great detail, which requires plenty of data.

 

For example, the mission's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, managed by the University of Arizona, Tucson, has returned images that show features as small as a desk anywhere in observations that now have covered about 2.4 percent of the Martian surface, an area equivalent to two Alaskas, with many locations imaged repeatedly. The Context Camera (CTX), managed by Malin Space Systems, San Diego, has imaged more than 95 percent of Mars, with resolution showing features smaller than a tennis court. The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM), managed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, also has imaged nearly 98 percent of the planet in multiple visual-light and infrared wavelengths, providing composition information at scales of 100 to 200 yards or meters per pixel.

http://spaceref.com/mars/ten-years-of-discovery-by-mars-reconnaissance-orbiter.html

 

Magnificent Mars: 10 Years of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

video is 2:20 min.

 

 

 

 

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The Southern Floor of Gale Crater

 

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Gale Crater   NASA/ HiRISE

 

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This image along the southern interior floor of Gale Crater hosts many different landforms.

 

Light-toned, scabby, and presumably hydrated materials on the crater floor are covered by large, darker-toned dunes.

 

The small crater, about 2 kilometers in diameter, in the middle of the image is filled with an enigmatic deposit that appears to have flowed into the crater from the south.

http://spaceref.com/mars/the-southern-floor-of-gale-crater.html

 

:)

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Draggendrop    5,747

Driving up to the Naukluft Plateau on Mars

 

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Mars Curiosity's View              NASA

 

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Sols 1273-1274: We are planning only 2 sols today because tactical operations will transition to nominal next week (working all 5 weekdays). On Sol 1273, Mastcam will acquire a multispectral image of the contact between the Murray and Stimson geologic units.

 

This set of images, taken using all of the Mastcam filters, will be acquired just after noon, when the illumination of the contact should be better than in previous images. Then ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets "Kleinberg" and "Tumas 2" and Mastcam will acquire a stereo mosaic of a low ridge southwest of the rover. Later in the afternoon, the arm will go to work doing contact science: First, MAHLI will take images of a bedrock target named "Schwarzrand" before the DRT brushes it off. The MAHLI will acquire a full suite of images of the brushed spot and of Kleinberg before the APXS is placed on Kleinberg for a couple 2-hour integrations. Then the APXS will be moved over to Schwarzrand for an overnight integration.

 

The Sol 1274 plan starts with a drive toward the plateau to the southwest of the vehicle, followed by imaging needed to plan contact science in the new location. Post-drive images of the likely drive direction will also be acquired, in case we decide not to do contact science on Monday.

http://spaceref.com/mars/driving-up-to-the-naukluft-plateau-on-mars.html

 

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Self Portrait at Bagnold Dune Field on Mars

 

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Mars Curiosity view                 NASA

 

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The latest self-portrait from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the car-size mobile laboratory beside a dark dune where it has been scooping and sieving samples of sand.

 

The new selfie combines 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of Curiosity's arm on Jan. 19.

 

The rover has been investigating a group of active sand dunes for two months, studying how the wind moves and sorts sand particles on Mars. The site is part of Bagnold Dune Field, which lines the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp.

 

When the component images were taken, the rover had scuffed the edge of "Namib Dune" and collected the first of three scoops of sand from that dune. It used its scoop later to collect a second sample on Jan. 19, and a third on Jan. 22.

 

During processing of the third sample, an actuator in the sample-processing device did not perform as expected when commanded. This week, the Curiosity team is identifying possible reasons for the actuator's performance.

more at the link.....

http://spaceref.com/mars/self-portrait-at-bagnold-dune-field-on-mars.html

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

The Youthful Surface of Enceladus

 

pia18362-1041.jpg?itok=4G812G-u

Enceladus           NASA

 

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NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of Saturn's moon Enceladus that shows wrinkled plains that are remarkably youthful in appearance, being generally free of large impact craters.

 

When viewed with north pointing up, as in this image, the day-night boundary line (or terminator) cuts diagonally across Enceladus, with Saturn approaching its northern summer solstice. The lit portion on all of Saturn's large, icy moons, including Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) and Saturn itself, is now centered on their northern hemispheres. This change of season, coupled with a new spacecraft trajectory, has progressively revealed new terrains compared to when Cassini arrived in 2004 (see PIA06547), when the southern hemisphere was more illuminated.

 

This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Enceladus. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 14, 2016.

 

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 49,000 miles (79,000 kilometers) from Enceladus. Image scale is 1,540 feet (470 meters) per pixel.

 

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

http://spaceref.com/saturn/the-youthful-surface-of-enceladus.html

 

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The Saturnian Sisters

 

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Tethys and Rhea              NASA

 

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Similar in many ways, Saturn's moons Tethys and Rhea (left and right, respectively) even share a discoverer: Giovanni Cassini, namesake of the NASA spacecraft that captured this view.

 

The moons are named for sisters -- two Titans of Greek mythology. Although somewhat different in size, Rhea (949 miles or 1,527 kilometers across) and Tethys (660 miles or 1,062 kilometers across) are medium-sized moons that are large enough to have pulled themselves into round shapes. They are both composed largely of ices and are generally thought to be geologically inactive today.

 

The view looks toward the anti-Saturn sides of Tethys and Rhea. North on both moons is up. The image was taken in visible red light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Oct. 11, 2015.

 

The two moons appear close together here, but Tethys was about 220,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) farther away from Cassini when the image was captured -- nearly the distance from Earth to our moon. Thus, the view does not accurately reflect the bodies' relative sizes.

 

The image was obtained at a distance of approximately 708,000 miles (1.14 million kilometers) from Rhea. Image scale on Rhea is 4 miles (7 kilometers) per pixel. Tethys was 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) away during this observation and has a pixel scale of 6 miles (9 kilometers) per pixel.

 

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia18363/the-saturnian-sisters

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

As Cold as Ice and as Old as the Sun: Cool Findings on Comet Churi

 

smooth-hapi-region-comet-67pchuryumov-de

File image.

 

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Temperatures are warming up in the world of astronomy after a team of researchers discovered ice crystals on a comet, suggesting it could be as old as the solar system.

 

An international research team discovered the ice in crystalline form on the surface of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Churi for short, indicating that it was formed 4.6 billion years ago - the results of the experiment have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

 

The comet, which is part of the planet Jupiter family, has found to have ice crystals on its surface that could have originated in space before the solar system or the sun was formed in conditions described by scientists as protosolar nebula.

 

By analyzing chemicals trapped in the ice on the comet's surface, researchers were able to determine the age of the ice crystals using a mass spectrometer - which is an instrument that can measure the masses and relative concentrations of atoms and molecules. A statement from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) said:

"If comets are made of crystalline ice, this means that they must have formed at the same time as the solar system, that than earlier in the interstellar medium."

 

Before Life Began
The discovery of ice crystals on Churi could have implications on future research surrounding how the earth and solar system began life.

"In October 2014 [the mass spectrometer] first measured amounts of molecular nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO) and argon (Ar) in Churi's ice," a statement from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) said.

 

"The data was compared with that from laboratory experiments on amorphous ice, as well as from models describing the composition of gas hydrates, a type of crystalline ice in which water molecules can trap molecules of gas."

 

The levels of nitrogen and argon gas in the ice led the researchers to conclude that is had a crystalline structure, suggesting the ice on the surface of the comet could have been formed before the solar system, or even at the same time.

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/As_Cold_as_Ice_and_as_Old_as_the_Sun_Cool_Findings_on_Comet_Churi_999.html

 

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Picturing the Sun's Magnetic Field

 

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Sun's Magnetic Field                 NASA

 

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This illustration lays a depiction of the sun's magnetic fields over an image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 12, 2016.

 

The complex overlay of lines can teach scientists about the ways the sun's magnetism changes in response to the constant movement on and inside the sun. Note how the magnetic fields are densest near the bright spots visible on the sun - which are magnetically strong active regions - and many of the field lines link one active region to another.

 

This magnetic map was created using the PFSS - Potential Field Source Surface - model, a model of the magnetic field in the sun's atmosphere based on magnetic measurements of the solar surface. The underlying image was taken in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of 171 angstroms. This type of light is invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in gold.

http://spaceref.com/solar-physics/picturing-the-suns-magnetic-field.html

 

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Unexpected Changes of Bright Spots on Ceres Discovered

 

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Ceres               ESO

 

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Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and the only such object classed as a dwarf planet.

 

spacecraft has been in orbit around Ceres for more than a year and has mapped its surface in great detail. One of the biggest surprises has been the discovery of very bright spots, which reflect far more light than their much darker surroundings [1]. The most prominent of these spots lie inside the crater Occator and suggest that Ceres may be a much more active world than most of its asteroid neighbours.

 

New and very precise observations using the HARPS spectrograph at the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile, have now not only detected the motion of the spots due to the rotation of Ceres about its axis, but also found unexpected additional variations suggesting that the material of the spots is volatile and evaporates in sunlight.

 

The lead author of the new study, Paolo Molaro, at the INAF-Trieste Astronomical Observatory , takes up the story: "As soon as the Dawn spacecraft revealed the mysterious bright spots on the surface of Ceres, I immediately thought of the possible measurable effects from Earth. As Ceres rotates the spots approach the Earth and then recede again, which affects the spectrum of the reflected sunlight arriving at Earth."

 

Ceres spins every nine hours and calculations showed that the velocities of the spots towards and away from the Earth due to this rotation would be very small, of order 20 kilometres per hour. But this motion is big enough to be measurable via the Doppler effect with high-precision instruments such as HARPS.

 

The team observed Ceres with HARPS for a little over two nights in July and August 2015. "The result was a surprise," adds Antonino Lanza, at the INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory and co-author of the study. "We did find the expected changes to the spectrum from the rotation of Ceres, but with considerable other variations from night to night."

 

The team concluded that the observed changes could be due to the presence of volatile substances that evaporate under the action of solar radiation [2]. When the spots inside the Occator crater are on the side illuminated by the Sun they form plumes that reflect sunlight very effectively. These plumes then evaporate quickly, lose reflectivity and produce the observed changes. This effect, however, changes from night to night, giving rise to additional random patterns, on both short and longer timescales.

 

If this interpretation is confirmed Ceres would seem to be very different from Vesta and the other main belt asteroids. Despite being relatively isolated, it seems to be internally active [3]. Ceres is known to be rich in water, but it is unclear whether this is related to the bright spots. The energy source that drives this continual leakage of material from the surface is also unknown.

 

Dawn is continuing to study Ceres and the behaviour of its mysterious spots. Observations from the ground with HARPS and other facilities will be able to continue even after the end of the space mission.

more at the link...

http://spaceref.com/ceres/unexpected-changes-of-bright-spots-on-ceres-discovered.html

 

:)

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Draggendrop    5,747

The LRO mission has been a treasure trove of data. I was going over some images and thought I would post on it.

 

LRO Mission Overview

 

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LRO is a robotic mission that set out to map the moon's surface and, after a year of exploration, was extended with a unique set of science objectives. LRO observations have enabled numerous groundbreaking discoveries, creating a new picture of the moon as a dynamic and complex body. These developments have set up a scientific framework through which to challenge and improve our understanding of processes throughout the solar system.

LRO and the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) were launched on an Atlas V rocket on June 18, 2009, beginning a four-day trip to the moon. LRO spent its first three years in a low polar orbit collecting detailed information about the moon and its environment. After this initial orbit, LRO transitioned to a stable elliptical orbit, passing low over the lunar south pole. With a suite of seven powerful instruments, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/overview/index.html

 

 

LRO Homepage

http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/

 

LRO Camera gallery

http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/lroc_browse?page=1

 

Here are a few detail shots...

 

LARMORQ_OBL_thumb1.png

LROC NAC view of the south wall and rim of splendiferous Larmor Q crater, looking obliquely east-to-west from an altitude of 60 km; image M174081337 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

 

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Larmor Q is sub-circular crater, whose diameter is 23 km measured north to south and 19 km measured east to west. But Larmor Q is not just another stunning crater; it is also scientifically interesting, too! Oblique images, like the one below, provide a unique vantage point that can help with geologic interpretation

http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/773

 

 

chang_e3_FI_opening.png

LROC NAC view of the Chang'e 3 lander (large arrow) and rover (small arrow) just before sunset on their first day of lunar exploration. LROC NAC M1142582775R, image width 576 m, north is up [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

 

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Chang'e 3 landed on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) just east of a 450 m diameter impact crater on 14 December 2013. Soon after landing, a small rover named Yutu (or Jade Rabbit in English) was deployed and took its first tentative drive onto the airless regolith. At the time of the landing LRO's orbit was far from the landing site so images of the landing were not possible. Ten days later on 24 December, LRO approached the landing site, and LROC was able to acquire a series of six LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image pairs during the next 36 hours (19 orbits). The highest resolution image was possible when LRO was nearly overhead on 25 December 03:52:49 UT (24 December 22:52:49 EST). At this time LRO was at an altitude of ~150 km above the site, and the pixel size was 150 cm. 

http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/637

 

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Apollo Landing Site Images 2011 NASA Goddard

old but good...video is 1:24 min.

 

 

 

 

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Satellite Tool Kit
Real-Time Visualization Display System

 

This one gives real time mapping location.

http://lrostk.gsfc.nasa.gov/preview.cgi

 

Zoom in Moon map

This one is great if you have co-ordinates...example, Apollo sites.

http://target.lroc.asu.edu/q3/

 

 

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NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft's vantage point in orbit around the moon.

 

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/lro-earthrise-2015

 

I have used these tools to see the Apollo sites and the rover. Simply amazing.

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

Ultraviolet Image of the Sun Reveals An Intricate Atmosphere

 

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Proba Image of the Sun                         ESA

 

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This eerie coloured orb is nothing less than the life-giver of the Solar System. It is the Sun, the prodigious nuclear reactor that sits at the heart of our planetary system and supplies our world with all the light and heat needed for us to exist.

 

To the human eye, the Sun is a burning light in the sky. It is dangerous to look at it directly unless some special filtering is used to cut out most of the light pouring from its incandescent surface.

 

However, to the electronic eyes of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Sun appears a place of delicate beauty and detail.

SOHO's extreme-ultraviolet telescope was used to take these images. This telescope is sensitive to four wavelengths of extreme-ultraviolet light, and the three shortest were used to build this image. Each wavelength has been colour-coded to highlight the different temperatures of gas in the Sun.

The gas temperature is traced by iron atoms, where rising temperature strips increasing numbers of electrons from around the nucleus.

 

An iron atom usually contains 26 electrons. In this image, blue shows iron at a temperature of 1 million degrees celsius, having lost 8 or 9 electrons. Yellow shows iron at 1.5 million degrees (11 lost electrons) and red shows iron at 2.5 million degrees (14 lost electrons).

 

These atoms all exist in the outer part of the Sun's atmosphere known as the corona. How the corona is heated to millions of degrees remains the subject of scientific debate.

 

The constant monitoring of the Sun's atmosphere with SOHO, and with other Sun-staring spacecraft like the Solar Dynamics Observatory and Proba-2, is allowing solar physicists to build up a detailed picture of the way the corona behaves. This gives them insight into the physical processes that give rise to the corona and its behaviour.

http://spaceref.com/solar-physics/ultraviolet-image-of-the-sun-reveals-an-intricate-atmosphere.html

 

http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2016/03/Ultraviolet_image_shows_the_Sun_s_intricate_atmosphere

 

http://www.solarham.net/

 

:)

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Draggendrop    5,747

Gravity Map Provides Insight To Mars' Interior Structure

 

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A new map of Mars' gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.

 

"Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient," said Antonio Genova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. "The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet's gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars. Furthermore, the improved resolution of our gravity map will help us understand the still-mysterious formation of specific regions of the planet." Genova, who is affiliated with MIT but is located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the lead author of a paper on this research published online March 5 in the journal Icarus.

 

The improved resolution of the new gravity map suggests a new explanation for how some features formed across the boundary that divides the relatively smooth northern lowlands from heavily cratered southern highlands. Also, the team confirmed that Mars has a liquid outer core of molten rock by analyzing tides in the Martian crust and mantle caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the two moons of Mars. Finally, by observing how Mars' gravity changed over 11 years - the period of an entire cycle of solar activity -- the team inferred the massive amount of carbon dioxide that freezes out of the atmosphere onto a Martian polar ice cap when it experiences winter. They also observed how that mass moves between the south pole and the north pole with the change of season in each hemisphere.

 

The map was derived using Doppler and range tracking data collected by NASA's Deep Space Network from three NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars: Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Mars Odyssey (ODY), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Like all planets, Mars is lumpy, which causes the gravitational pull felt by spacecraft in orbit around it to change. For example, the pull will be a bit stronger over a mountain, and slightly weaker over a canyon.

 

Slight differences in Mars' gravity changed the trajectory of the NASA spacecraft orbiting the planet, which altered the signal being sent from the spacecraft to the Deep Space Network. These small fluctuations in the orbital data were used to build a map of the Martian gravity field.

 

The gravity field was recovered using about 16 years of data that were continuously collected in orbit around Mars. However, orbital changes from uneven gravity are tiny, and other forces that can perturb the motion of the spacecraft had to be carefully accounted for, such as the force of sunlight on the spacecraft's solar panels and drag from the Red Planet's thin upper atmosphere. It took two years of analysis and computer modeling to remove the motion not caused by gravity.

 

"With this new map, we've been able to see gravity anomalies as small as about 62 miles (100 kilometers) across, and we've determined the crustal thickness of Mars with a resolution of almost 75 miles (around 120 kilometers)," said Genova. "The better resolution of the new map helps interpret how the crust of the planet changed over Mars' history in many regions."

more at the links...good articles and general findings...

 

http://spaceref.com/mars/gravity-map-provides-insight-to-mars-interior-structure.html

 

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/New_Gravity_Map_Gives_Best_View_Yet_Inside_Mars_999.html

 

Mars Gravity Map, video is 1:28 min.

 

 

 

 

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Wow! Moon's Young Crater Seen in Close-Up View (Photo)

 

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Tycho crater is often the star of many skywatcher images because it's clearly visible on our Moon's surface and can be seen in stunning detail in this image.

 

Astrophotographer John Chumack  took this image on Feb. 19 with a 6-inch Newt Reflector Telescope & ZWO 120M Monochrome camera, 500 frames stacked in Registax6.

 

"Tycho is about 108 million years of age, and is relatively younger than most craters. You asked how do we know how old it is? This information is based on analysis of samples of the crater ray recovered during the NASA Apollo 16 mission," he wrote in an email to Space.com.

 

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About half way between the Straight Wall and the moon's south pole is Tycho crater, named for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe . Although not the largest crater on the moon, Tycho is one of the brightest, indicating that it is one of the youngest of the craters. It is the point of origin of a huge system of rays which encircle the moon, best seen in about a week when the moon is full. Tycho is 53 miles (86 kilometers) in diameter with classic central peak and terraced walls.

http://www.space.com/32237-amazing-moon-photo-tycho-crater.html

 

MOON_Tycho_Chumack.jpg?interpolation=lan

Astrophotographer John Chumack took this image of Tycho Crater on the moon's surface on February, 19, 2016.
Credit: John Chumack

 

http://www.space.com/32237-amazing-moon-photo-tycho-crater.html

 

:D

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Here's some new data that we've all been waiting to see:

 

Article Link (Popular Science Website) | Ceres Occator Crater - New Closeup Image Gallery (Where a zoomed, enhanced contrast version of the last image can be seen)

 

 

 

CeLjlU2UEAAOSVx.jpg:large

I think we've got this months' GQ Cover Shot, folks. I'd love to see a Spectrographic Analysis of the material there. :yes: 

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lordloc    2

Pffft, that's fake. You can see cheese in that crater :D

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Draggendrop    5,747

Earth's moon wandered off axis billions of years ago

 

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Dallas TX (SPX) Mar 24, 2016 A new study published in Nature reports discovery of a rare event - that Earth's moon slowly moved from its original axis roughly 3 billion years ago. Planetary scientist Matt Siegler at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and colleagues made the discovery while examining NASA data known to indicate lunar polar hydrogen.

 

The hydrogen, detected by orbital instruments, is presumed to be in the form of ice hidden from the sun in craters surrounding the moon's north and south poles. Exposure to direct sunlight causes ice to boil off into space, so this ice - perhaps billions of years old - is a very sensitive marker of the moon's past orientation.

 

An odd offset of the ice from the moon's current north and south poles was a tell-tale indicator to Siegler and prompted him to assemble a team of experts to take a closer look at the data from NASA's Lunar Prospector and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. Statistical analysis and modeling revealed the ice is offset at each pole by the same distance, but in exactly opposite directions.

 

This precise opposition indicates the moon's axis - the imaginary pole that runs north to south through it's middle, and around which the moon rotates - shifted at least six degrees, likely over the course of 1 billion years, said Siegler.

 

"This was such a surprising discovery. We tend to think that objects in the sky have always been the way we view them, but in this case the face that is so familiar to us - the Man on the Moon - changed," said Siegler, who also is a scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Ariz.

 

"Billions of years ago, heating within the Moon's interior caused the face we see to shift upward as the pole physically changed positions," he said. "It would be as if Earth's axis relocated from Antarctica to Australia. As the pole moved, the Man on the Moon turned his nose up at the Earth."

The discovery is reported in an article in the scientific journal Nature, "Lunar true polar wander inferred from polar hydrogen,". Siegler's primary co-authors are astrophysicist Richard S. Miller, a professor at the University of Alabama Huntsville, and planetary dynamicist James T. Keane, a graduate student at the University of Arizona.

 

Very few planetary bodies known to permanently shift their axis


Planetary bodies settle into their axis based on their mass: A planet's heavier spots lean it toward its equator, lighter spots toward the pole. On the rare occasion mass shifts and causes a planet to relocate on its axis, scientists refer to the phenomenon as "true polar wander."

 

Discovery of lunar polar wander gains the moon entry into an extremely exclusive club. The only other planetary bodies theorized to have permanently shifted location of their axis are Earth, Mars, Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moon Europa.

 

What sets the moon apart is its polar ice, which appears to effectively "paint out" the path along which its poles moved.

more at the link...

http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Earths_moon_wandered_off_axis_billions_of_years_ago_999.html

 

video, 30 second

http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/111738.php

 

----------------------------

 

Solar storms trigger Jupiter's 'Northern Lights'

 

jupiter-aurora-blue-300-lg.jpg

The Sun constantly ejects streams of particles into space in the solar wind. When giant storms erupt, the winds become much stronger and compress Jupiter's magnetosphere, shifting its boundary with the solar wind two million kilometres through space.

 

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Solar storms trigger Jupiter's intense 'Northern Lights' by generating a new X-ray aurora that is eight times brighter than normal and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth's aurora borealis, finds new UCL-led research using NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

 

It is the first time that Jupiter's X-ray aurora has been studied when a giant storm from the Sun has arrived at the planet. The dramatic findings complement NASA's Juno mission this summer which aims to understand the relationship between the two biggest structures in the solar system - the region of space controlled by Jupiter's magnetic field (i.e. its magnetosphere) and that controlled by the solar wind.

 

"There's a constant power struggle between the solar wind and Jupiter's magnetosphere. We want to understand this interaction and what effect it has on the planet. By studying how the aurora changes, we can discover more about the region of space controlled by Jupiter's magnetic field, and if or how this is influenced by the Sun.

 

"Understanding this relationship is important for the countless magnetic objects across the galaxy, including exoplanets, brown dwarfs and neutron stars," explained lead author and PhD student at UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, William Dunn.

 

The Sun constantly ejects streams of particles into space in the solar wind. When giant storms erupt, the winds become much stronger and compress Jupiter's magnetosphere, shifting its boundary with the solar wind two million kilometres through space.

 

The study found that this interaction at the boundary triggers the high energy X-rays in Jupiter's Northern Lights, which cover an area bigger than the surface of the Earth.

more at the link...

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Solar_storms_trigger_Jupiters_Northern_Lights_999.html

 

paper...

The impact of an ICME on the Jovian X-ray aurora

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JA021888/abstract;jsessionid=12B5048CCB7A89D195549E21733AAB98.f03t01

 

------------------------

 

Titan's Tallest Mountains

 

oopia20023.jpg

Mithrim Montes                 NASA

 

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In a nod to extraterrestrial mountaineers of the future, scientists working on NASA's Cassini mission have identified the highest point on Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

 

Titan's tallest peak is 10,948 feet (3,337 meters) high and is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes. The researchers found that all of Titan's highest peaks are about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in elevation. The study used images and other data from Cassini's radar instrument, which can peer through the obscuring smog of Titan's atmosphere to reveal the surface in detail.

 

"It's not only the highest point we've found so far on Titan, but we think it's the highest point we're likely to find," said Stephen Wall, deputy lead of the Cassini radar team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

 

The results, which use data collected by Cassini's radar instrument, are being presented today at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas.

 

Most of Titan's tallest mountains appear to be close to the equator. The researchers identified other peaks of similar height within the Mithrim Montes, as well as in the rugged region known as Xanadu, and in collections of more isolated peaks called "ridge belts" located near the landing site of ESA's Huygens probe.

 

The investigation was originally motivated by a search for active zones within Titan's crust -- places where dynamic forces have shaped the landscape, perhaps in the relatively recent past.

 

oopia20024.l.jpg

This map of Saturn's moon Titan identifies the locations of mountains that have been named by the International Astronomical Union. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/USGS

 

http://spaceref.com/saturn/titans-tallest-mountains.html

 

larger image

pia20024.jpg?itok=SSO3ODlX

 

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/mountains-of-titan-map-2016-update

 

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Mountains and cliffs on Earth usually are found in locations where forces have shoved the surface upward from underneath. Forces of erosion, including wind, rain and runoff, slowly wear them down over time. The Himalaya and Andes Mountains are examples of places where interior forces are at work today. The Appalachian Mountains represent much more ancient activity that produced similarly gigantic peaks long ago, which have since eroded.

 

Cassini has found that Titan also has rain and rivers that erode its landscape. According to Radebaugh, the process probably proceeds much more slowly on Titan than on Earth because, at 10 times Earth's distance from the sun, there is less energy to power erosive processes in the moon's atmosphere.

 

Titan's icy crust sits atop a deep ocean of liquid water that probably acts much like Earth's upper mantle -- the layer of hot, high-pressure rock below the crust that can slowly flow and deform over time. Once a period of mountain-building ends, these fluid layers (Earth's upper mantle and Titan's liquid ocean) allow the crust to relax, like a person settling into a waterbed. Also, at great depth, the water-ice bedrock of Titan is softer than rock on Earth. Because of these characteristics, scientists didn't expect mountains on Titan would tower quite as high as those on Earth, which can rise to more than 5 miles (nearly 9 kilometers) tall.

 

The fact that Titan has significant mountains at all suggests that some active tectonic forces could be affecting the surface, for example, related to Titan's rotation, tidal forces from Saturn or cooling of the crust. The next step for the researchers will be trying to figure out what could produce such tall peaks on an icy ocean world.

http://spaceref.com/saturn/titans-tallest-mountains.html

 

:)

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Jim K    13,748

 

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Simulation of the sun's magnetic field

 

The sun's swirling magnetic field is at the heart of the phenomenon, and could hold the key to predicting and understanding it. That's why scientists have been trying for decades to model solar magnetic activity in computer simulations, but it hasn't been easy. Large-scale, low-resolution models seemed to match the sun's behavior pretty well, but higher-resolution, small-scale models couldn't account for what was happening at the large scale.

 

Now, with the help of a couple of supercomputers, scientists have created a model that works at both the small and large scales, and it might eventually help to predict the timing and intensity of solar activity. The research was published today in Science.

 

 

 

Source: Popular Science

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Jim K    13,748
14 hours ago, Draggendrop said:

 

Just to piggyback off of this ...

 

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Radar images do not present scenes as they would appear to human eyes. Instead of sunlight, radar images use radio waves beamed by the spacecraft that are reflected and scattered off of Titan's surface in order to see through Titan's opaque atmosphere. Bright regions indicate materials that are rough or that otherwise scatter the beam; dark regions indicate materials that are relatively smooth or that otherwise absorb radar waves. A side effect of this technique is the grainy pattern called "speckle" that typically is present in Cassini radar images.

 

This view was produced using a technique for handling noise in Cassini radar images, called despeckling, that produces clearer, easier-to-interpret views (see also PIA19053PIA19054 and PIA19052).

 

A labeled version of this image is also available, along with a version produced using more standard processing (without despeckling). This area was also featured in previous Cassini radar image releases (seePIA13331 and PIA10654).

 

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/radar-view-of-titans-tallest-mountains

 

 

 

pia20023_figb_labeled.jpg

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Draggendrop    5,747

The "Moon Village" concept is slowly gaining traction. I have been a long time fan for a moon base and would like to see this happen for several reasons such as technology qualification, commercial infrastructure and a multinational science lab. Here is a recent ESA video.

 

International 'Moon Village' Is Way To Go According To European Space Agency | Video 

 

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The director general of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, believes that the world should collaborate to create a permanent lunar base for "science, business, tourism or even mining." Plans to use robotics and 3D printing for building the base have been discussed.

http://www.space.com/32375-international-moon-village-is-way-to-go-according-to-european-space-agency-video.html

 

Moon Village, video is 4:26 min.

 

 

 

:)

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

I am fully in favor of this one. Like, yesterday.

 

We should have been working on this instead of the Shuttle, and invited everyone who wanted to participate and had the ability to throw in the financial, scientific and material resources to come along.

 

Gah, what a waste of time and resources the whole Shuttle Program turned out to be. We spent 38 years on that one. 1973, if I'm not mistaken, is when they took the vote to finance it in the NASA Budget as a special item. 38 years, when the U.S. and the rest of the world could have been doing Lunar Village (and likely Lunar CITY, by now). *sigh*

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Draggendrop    5,747

Yes...We lost a few decades and have to get re energized. There is a lot of international interest in "Moon Village". 

 

:D

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Jim K    13,748
6 hours ago, Unobscured Vision said:

I am fully in favor of this one. Like, yesterday.

 

We should have been working on this instead of the Shuttle, and invited everyone who wanted to participate and had the ability to throw in the financial, scientific and material resources to come along.

 

Gah, what a waste of time and resources the whole Shuttle Program turned out to be. We spent 38 years on that one. 1973, if I'm not mistaken, is when they took the vote to finance it in the NASA Budget as a special item. 38 years, when the U.S. and the rest of the world could have been doing Lunar Village (and likely Lunar CITY, by now). *sigh*

Yep, the moon village should be the next logical step.  It only makes sense ... get proof of concepts down ... gain knowledge about working on a foreign body ... etc ... before going "Hail Mary" to Mars.  The moon being only 230K miles vs Mars (33-401M miles away) is the most logical next step to set up residence ... but more importantly to learn about setting up "bases" on a relative close body where you can get back quickly if something goes wrong.  Setup base, build a rocket factory, slap together some fusion rocket engines, 3D print some spacecraft (out of lunar rock...haha), mine the moon for Helium-3 and away you go to Mars (a bit far fetched I know).

 

Also agree about the space shuttle.  While I think it was a beautiful and freakin awesome spacecraft ... it did set us back many years by just playing around in LEO. 

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Unobscured Vision    2,678
6 hours ago, jjkusaf said:

Yep, the moon village should be the next logical step.  It only makes sense ... get proof of concepts down ... gain knowledge about working on a foreign body ... etc ... before going "Hail Mary" to Mars.  The moon being only 230K miles vs Mars (33-401M miles away) is the most logical next step to set up residence ... but more importantly to learn about setting up "bases" on a relative close body where you can get back quickly if something goes wrong.  Setup base, build a rocket factory, slap together some fusion rocket engines, 3D print some spacecraft (out of lunar rock...haha), mine the moon for Helium-3 and away you go to Mars (a bit far fetched I know).

Hey, it could have happened! Still could, if we as a collective species can get our act together and make Lunar Village a reality.

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LOC    1,170

What was it Riker said to Cochhran in First Contact? "There are fifty million people living on the moon in my time. You can see Tycho City, New Berlin, even Lake Armstrong on a day like this."

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Draggendrop    5,747

2020 is set to be the biggest year yet for Mars exploration

 

nasa-rovers.jpg?w=680&h=453

NASA’s Martian rovers. From left to right, Spirit/Opportunity, Sojourner, Curiosity / Image courtesy of NASA

 

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2020 is set to be a good year for Mars exploration. The United States, China, the United Arab Emirates, Europe and Russia all have planned Mars missions that are scheduled to launch, or likely to launch, in that year.

 

There have been more than 40 missions to Mars throughout history. Some of these missions were failures, while others completed their goals and are no longer operational. Today, there are two operational robots on the Martian surface and five operational orbiters circling the planet.

 

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To date, all successful missions to Mars have been completed by four entities: NASA, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization. Japan and China have tried and failed.

 

In about five years, UAE and China hope to join the ranks of nations who’ve successfully explored Mars, while NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning ambitious missions to expand their Mars exploration capabilities.

 

Why is everyone launching in 2020? It’s part strategic, and part coincidence.

 

Because of the location of Mars relative to the Earth, prime launch windows (where the least amount of power is required to travel between the two planets) only open up every 26 months.

 

One of those windows happens to be between July and August of 2020, which is when these missions are scheduled, or expected to launch. Of course, any of these missions could have been launched during earlier windows in 2018, or later windows in 2022; 2020 just happened to line up with budgets and development timelines.

 

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If all goes according to plan (and if ExoMars Phase 2 doesn't get postponed), 2020 is going to be a big year for important (expensive) launches. Six to nine months after the 2020 launch window, Mars can expect a fleet of orbiters, landers and rovers coming from five different nations back here on Earth.

more at the link, including individual nations contributions...

http://techcrunch.com/2016/03/25/2020-is-set-to-be-the-biggest-year-yet-for-mars-exploration/

 

// Mars is going to be investigated in a way that SpaceX will have most of the data, that they require, confirmed...and then the push for colonization will be off in a scientifically informed manner....the rest will be done by "Wanderers".  ( If only some of us could find the fountain of youth!)

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

Working Toward 'Seamless' Infrared Maps of Titan

 

pia20022.jpg?itok=4B-HqZYL

credit   NASA/ESA/ISA

 

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Each of these two montages shows four synthetic views of Titan created using data acquired by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) on board NASA's Cassini spacecraft between 2004 and 2015. These views demonstrate some of the progress researchers have made in creating smooth-looking maps of Titan from the multitude of different VIMS observations made under a wide variety of lighting and viewing conditions.

Cassini has flown past Titan about once per month, on average, since 2004, in order to observe the giant moon and to take advantage of its gravity for shaping the spacecraft's trajectory. With each flyby, VIMS has a brief opportunity to add small pieces to the instrument's overall mapping coverage of Titan.

 

Producing a seamless global map of Titan is a challenging task, because observing conditions can vary greatly between each flyby. Among these variations are changes in the angle of the sun with respect to the surface and in the spacecraft's viewing direction. Such variations can make it even more difficult to remove the effects of scattering and absorption of light by Titan's thick, hazy atmosphere. These effects can also influence how bright different areas of the surface appear. Seasonal changes may also have played a role in changing the appearance of Titan's surface over the course of Cassini's long mission. These factors create a complex problem that researchers are still working to solve.

 

In each montage, the images from left to right present different views that demonstrate the broad spectral capability of the VIMS instrument. The upper row of images in each montage shows a particular region of interest; one features the 50-mile-wide (80-kilometer-wide) Sinlap impact crater, while the other focuses on the region surrounding the landing site for ESA's Huygens probe. The lower row of images features maps of the hemispheres in which these regions are located.

 

The images at far left show the surface at 2 microns, a wavelength where the atmosphere is quite transparent to infrared light.

 

The views at the next position are spectral ratio images -- in which an image at one wavelength is divided by an image at another wavelength. This technique can be used to emphasize subtle spectral variations on the surface, some of which are related to differences in composition.

 

The third view is a color composite with light at 5 microns shown in red, 2 microns shown in green and 1.27 microns shown in blue. (All component images were corrected for atmospheric and photometric effects.)

 

The final (rightmost) views are color composites created using ratios that divide the brightness of the surface in one set (or band) of wavelengths by that of another set in order to produce the red, green and blue channels of a color composite image. Like spectral ratio images, these images may reveal differences in the nature of surface materials.

more at the link...

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/working-toward-seamless-infrared-maps-of-titan

 

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Working_Toward_Seamless_Infrared_Maps_of_Titan_999.html

 

----------------------------------

For eye candy....

 

Peering Through Titan's Haze

 

pia20016.jpg?itok=TkZ1-ds0

credit   NASA/ESA/ISA

 

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This composite image shows an infrared view of Saturn's moon Titan from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, acquired during the mission's "T-114" flyby on Nov. 13, 2015. The spacecraft's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) instrument made these observations, in which blue represents wavelengths centered at 1.3 microns, green represents 2.0 microns, and red represents 5.0 microns. A view at visible wavelengths (centered around 0.5 microns) would show only Titan's hazy atmosphere (as in PIA14909). The near-infrared wavelengths in this image allow Cassini's vision to penetrate the haze and reveal the moon's surface.

 

During this Titan flyby, the spacecraft's closest-approach altitude was 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers), which is considerably higher than those of typical flybys, which are around 750 miles (1,200 kilometers). The high flyby allowed VIMS to gather moderate-resolution views over wide areas (typically at a few kilometers per pixel).

 

The view looks toward terrain that is mostly on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. The scene features the parallel, dark, dune-filled regions named Fensal (to the north) and Aztlan (to the south), which form the shape of a sideways letter "H."

 

Several places on the image show the surface at higher resolution than elsewhere. These areas, called subframes, show more detail because they were acquired near closest approach. They have finer resolution, but cover smaller areas than data obtained when Cassini was farther away from Titan.

 

Near the limb at left, above center, is the best VIMS view so far of Titan's largest confirmed impact crater, Menrva (first seen by the RADAR instrument in PIA07365). Similarly detailed subframes show eastern Xanadu, the basin Hotei Regio, and channels within bright terrains east of Xanadu. (For Titan maps with named features see http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Page/TITAN/target.)

 

Due to the changing Saturnian seasons, in this late northern spring view, the illumination is significantly changed from that seen by VIMS during the "T-9" flyby on December 26, 2005 (PIA02145). The sun has moved higher in the sky in Titan's northern hemisphere, and lower in the sky in the south, as northern summer approaches. This change in the sun's angle with respect to Titan's surface has made high southern latitudes appear darker, while northern latitudes appear brighter.

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/5-peering-through-titans-haze

 

----------------------------

 

Frosty Martian Valley

 

Hellas_Basin_rim_large.jpg

Hellas Basin rim    ESA

 

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Nestled within the fractured rim of a vast impact basin on Mars are valley floors dusted in frost.

 

At 2200 km wide and up to 9 km deep, the Hellas Basin is the largest impact crater on Mars. This scene, captured on 6 December 2015 by ESA’s Mars Express, focuses on a portion of the western rim of the basin.

 

This region spans a height difference of over 6000 m, stepping down like a staircase from the basin’s fractured, terraced rim to its flat, low-lying floor that is covered in frost or ice.

 

The surface expression of numerous valley-like features can be seen below the icy covering, indicating a flow of material towards the catchment areas on the floor of Hellas.

 

For example, towards the centre of the image, a glacier-like flow has carved a valley through the terraced topography, transporting and dumping material into the basin in a fan structure.

 

Zooming into the channel reveals parallel structures on the surface – ‘lineated valley fill’– that point to the flow of material.

 

Mass-movement of material can be seen all over the scene. Another example can be found in the small impact crater to the far left of the main image: its rim has been breached, and material has cascaded downhill.

 

Elsewhere, numerous gullies can be seen etched all along the terraced slopes.

 

Hellas_Basin_rim_in_context_medium.jpg

Hellas Basin rim in context   ESA

 

Hellas_Basin_rim_topography_large.jpg

Hellas Basin rim topography   ESA

 

Hellas_Basin_rim_perspective_view_medium

Hellas Basin rim: perspective view    ESA

 

more at the link...

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Frosty_martian_valleys

 

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Mars_Express_keeps_watch_on_frosty_Martian_valleys_999.html

 

The Hellas Basin is one of my favourite spots on Mars....:D

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Ahhhh :) Geographic and topographic data .... yummy ....

 

I've got a very strong urge to start a new thread entitled "Post your favorite location in the Solar System and Why", with the rules of the thread being a Sciencey, data-centric approach to your chosen location. All scientific and conceptual imagery would be allowed, etc.

 

Could be a very fun and interesting intellectual diversion. :yes: 

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Draggendrop    5,747

Jupiter Just Got Hit by a Comet or Asteroid ... Again (Video)

 

jupiter-impact-john-mckeon-swords-irelan

The flash from a new impact on Jupiter (arrow) is seen in this still from a video taken through a telescope by amateur astronomer John McKeon of Swords, Ireland on March 17, 2016.
Credit: John McKeon

 

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Amateur astronomer John McKeon was observing the king of planets by telescope from Swords, Ireland, on March 17 when he captured this stunning time-lapse video of something hitting Jupiter. McKeon was recording the transit of Jupiter's moons Io and Ganymede with an 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and his ASI120mm camera when something struck Jupiter, and he struck cosmic pay dirt.

"The original purpose of the imaging session was to get this time-lapse, with a happy coincidence of the impact in the second, last capture of the night," McKeon wrote in a YouTube video description.

While it's still too early to know exact details on the Jupiter crash, NASA asteroid expert Paul Chodas, who heads the agency's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said there's greater chance that an asteroid, not comet, is the culprit.

"It's more likely to be an asteroid simply because there are more of them," Chodas told Space.com by phone.

It's not yet clear what hit Jupiter, but the impact was also captured by at least one other amateur astronomer — Gerrit Kernbauer of Mödling, Austria — according to Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait, who posted Kernbauer's YouTube video of the impact. According to Plait, the impact occurred at 00:18 GMT, or just after midnight, on March 17.

Kernbauer used a Skywatcher Newton 200/1000 Telescope to capture the Jupiter impact video, which you can see here:

http://www.space.com/32411-jupiter-hit-by-comet-asteroid-video.html

 

Citizen scientists capture video of large object crashing into Jupiter

video is 0:20 min.

 

 

 

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Computer model explains sustained eruptions on icy moon of Saturn

 

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The Cassini spacecraft has observed geysers erupting on Saturn's moon Enceladus since 2005, but the process that drives and sustains these eruptions has remained a mystery. Now, scientists at the University of Chicago and Princeton University have pinpointed a mechanism by which cyclical tidal stresses exerted by Saturn can drive Enceladus's long-lived eruptions.

 

"On Earth, eruptions don't tend to continue for long," said Edwin Kite, assistant professor of geophysical sciences at UChicago. "When you do see eruptions that continue for a long time, they'll be localized into a few pipelike eruptions with wide spacing between them."

 

But Enceladus, which probably has an ocean underlying its icy surface, has somehow managed to sprout multiple fissures along its south pole. These "tiger stripes" have been erupting vapor and tiny frost particles continuously along their entire length for decades and probably much longer.

 

"It's a puzzle to explain why the fissure system doesn't clog up with its own frost," Kite said. "And it's a puzzle to explain why the energy removed from the water table by evaporative cooling doesn't just ice things over."

 

What's needed is an energy source to balance the evaporative cooling. "We think the energy source is a new mechanism of tidal dissipation that had not been previously considered," Kite said. Kite and Princeton's Allan Rubin present their findings the week of March 28 in the Early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

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Tidal pumping heats the water and the ice shell via turbulence. Kite and Rubin have proposed that new Cassini data can test this idea by revealing whether or not the ice shell in the south polar region is warm.

 

"If the new mechanism is a major contributor to the heat coming from the fractures, then the south polar ice in between the fractures may in fact be cold," Porco said. "The jury is still on out on this until the results from the final Enceladus flybys of last year are fully analyzed."

 

Kite and UChicago geophysical sciences Prof. Douglas MacAyeal are interested in studying an Earth analogue to the Enceladus geysers. A crack has formed across a section of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, partially breaking it away from the continent.

 

"In that crack you have strong tidal flow, so it would be interesting to see what a real ice sheet does in an environment that's analogous in terms of the amplitude of the stresses and the temperatures of the ice," Kite said.

 

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This enhanced color view of Enceladus shows much of the southern hemisphere and includes the south polar terrain at the bottom of the image. Scientists at the University of Chicago and Princeton University have published a new study describing the process that drives and sustains this moon of Saturn's long-lived geysers.
CREDIT
NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

 

more at the link...

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/uoc-cme032516.php

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

Jupiter doing its' job. The Solar Systems' Janitor and Game Warden all in one. Sometimes it needs to put a rogue wolf down that got out of line. There are likely several such impacts every year that we don't see.

 

And Enceladus ... just look at it. The real-life Hoth. There's likely more fresh water there than on Earth, folks. And now Science says that the geyser activity is due to Geothermal forces, and they're stronger than on Earth?! Guess what that means .. if there's any organics in the mix (very likely, due to nearby Titan) then there's a very strong possibility of amino organization. LIFE? That's a strong chance, folks. Where there's heat, a good environment, and the necessary ingredients, it could happen. Enceladus is now up there with Europa, if the Scientists are right. It might even be better than Europa, since there isn't a connected Magnetic Field arcing through it like at Europa. 

 

So now we've got FIVE candidate locations in our Solar System to check for life. Never thought we would be discussing these possibilities and have them be scientifically valid ten years ago ... brings a smile to my face.

 

We've got H2O everywhere in our Solar System. Literally everywhere, even Pluto-Charon. Ceres, Enceladus, Europa, Callisto, Titan, Triton (likely) ... yeah. :yes:  I love it.

 

(And that's NOT counting Uranus and Neptune's chemistry .... good grief, those two places could give rise to some really exotic forms of life. Especially Uranus.)

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