Friday, September 21, 2018

Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes First Qualification Test of New Rocket Motor for Atlas V

On Sept. 20, 2018, in Promontory, Utah, Northrop Grumman conducted the first ground test of its newly-developed GEM 63 rocket motor that will fly on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicle.

Northrop Grumman Corporation conducted its first ground test of a 63-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) on Thursday in Promontory, Utah. Utilizing advanced technologies, the company developed this new rocket motor for use on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle.

NASA Balloon Mission Captures Electric Blue Clouds

Credit: NASA/PMC Turbo/Joy Ng

On the cusp of our atmosphere live a thin group of seasonal electric blue clouds. Forming 50 miles above the poles in summer, these clouds are known as noctilucent clouds or polar mesospheric clouds — PMCs. A recent NASA long-duration balloon mission observed these clouds over the course of five days at their home in the mesosphere. The resulting photos, which scientists have just begun to analyze, will help us better understand turbulence in the atmosphere, as well as in oceans, lakes and other planetary atmospheres, and may even improve weather forecasting.

Scientists ID Three Causes of Earth's Spin Axis Drift

The observed direction of polar motion, shown as a light blue line, compared with the sum (pink line) of the influence of Greenland ice loss (blue), postglacial rebound (yellow) and deep mantle convection (red). The contribution of mantle convection is highly uncertain. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech

A typical desk globe is designed to be a geometric sphere and to rotate smoothly when you spin it. Our actual planet is far less perfect -- in both shape and in rotation.

Looking Back in Time to Watch for a Different Kind of Black Hole

Image from the DCBH simulation shows density (left) and temperature (right) of an early galaxy. Supernovae shock waves can be seen expanding from the center, disrupting and heating the galaxy. Credit: Georgia Tech

Black holes form when stars die, allowing the matter in them to collapse into an extremely dense object from which not even light can escape. Astronomers theorize that massive black holes could also form at the birth of a galaxy, but so far nobody has been able to look far enough back in time to observe the conditions creating these direct collapse black holes (DCBH).

Wave-Particle Interactions Allow Collision-Free Energy Transfer in Space Plasma

Electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves are generated by the instability of hydrogen ions and cause nearby helium ions to accelerate.

The Earth's magnetosphere contains plasma, an ionized gas composed of positive ions and negative electrons. The motion of these charged plasma particles is controlled by electromagnetic fields. The energy transfer processes that occur in this collisionless space plasma are believed to be based on wave-particle interactions such as particle acceleration by plasma waves and spontaneous wave generation, which enable energy and momentum transfer.

Gaia Detects a Shake in the Milky Way

Artist’s impression of a perturbation in the velocities of stars in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

A team led by researchers from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB, UB-IEEC) and the University of Groningen has found, through the analysis of Gaia data, substructures which were unknown so far in the Milky Way. The findings, which appeared when combining positions and speed of 6 million stars from our galaxy’s disk, have been published in the journal Nature.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

ExoMars Highlights Radiation Risk for Mars Astronauts and Watches as Dust Storm Subsides

The Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, onboard the joint ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter imaged the Ariadne Colles region at 34ºS on 2 September 2018.  The image shows an unusual terrain type – sometimes referred to as chaotic blocks – but what is particularly striking are the large number of dark streaks. One possible interpretation is that these features were produced during the recent dust storm: they could have resulted from dust devils stirring up the surface dust. Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their career during the journey itself to and from the Red Planet, according to data from the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter being presented at the European Planetary Science Congress, EPSC, in Berlin, Germany, this week.