Saturday, October 3, 2015

ULA Launches Mexican Morelos-3 Satellite

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched its 100th mission with an Atlas V rocket carrying the Morelos-3 satellite for Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation. The mission, procured for Mexico by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, launched at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41. Credit: ULA

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched its 100th mission Saturday with an Atlas V rocket carrying the Morelos-3 satellite for Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation. The mission, procured for Mexico by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, launched at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Rosetta’s First Peek at the Comet’s Dark Side

Subsurface temperature maps of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, showing the southern hemisphere of the comet. The maps are based on observations obtained with the Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Obiter (MIRO) at millimeter (left) and sub-millimeter (right) wavelengths between September and October 2014. The MIRO data are projected on a digital shape model of the comet. A temperature bar (in degrees Kelvin), is to the right. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Since its arrival at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has been surveying the surface and the environment of this curiously shaped body. But for a long time, a portion of the nucleus -- the dark, cold regions around the comet's south pole -- remained inaccessible to almost all instruments on the spacecraft. Due to a combination of its double-lobed shape and the inclination of its rotation axis, Rosetta's comet has a very peculiar seasonal pattern over its 6.5-year-long orbit. Seasons are distributed very unevenly between the two hemispheres. Each hemisphere comprise parts of both comet lobes and the "neck."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Russian Progress M-29M Cargo Spacecraft Docks with Space Station

Progress M-29M approaching the ISS. Credit: NASA TV

The Progress M-29M space freighter has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said on Friday. "The docking has been automatic," Roscosmos said. The spacecraft was launched on October 1 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress cargo ship brings 2.3 tons of cargo to the ISS, the agency said.

The Golden Anniversary of Black-Hole Singularity

The black hole in the Milky Way is shown. Credit: Ute Kraus, Universität Hildesheim

When a star collapses forming a black hole, a space-time singularity is created wherein the laws of Physics no longer work. In 1965 Sir Roger Penrose presented a theorem where he associated that singularity with so-called ''trapped surfaces'' that shrink over time. That hypothesis -one of the results of the general theory of relativity- is now celebrating its anniversary.

Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History

High-resolution images of Charon were taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, shortly before closest approach on July 14, 2015, and overlaid with enhanced color from the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Charon's cratered uplands at the top are broken by series of canyons, and replaced on the bottom by the rolling plains of the informally named Vulcan Planum. The scene covers Charon’s width of 754 miles (1,214 kilometers) and resolves details as small as 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers).   Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has returned the best color and the highest resolution images yet of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon – and these pictures show a surprisingly complex and violent history. At half the diameter of Pluto, Charon is the largest satellite relative to its planet in the solar system. Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more.

Spaceflight Purchases SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: SpaceX

Spaceflight, the company reinventing the model for launching small satellites into space, announced Wednesday the purchase of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the expansion of its launch services to include dedicated rideshare missions. Spaceflight’s first dedicated rideshare mission, named the “2017 Sun Synch Express,” will launch in the second half of 2017 to a sun-synchronous low Earth orbit which is popular for earth imaging satellites.

Mechanism of Explosions and Plasma Jets Associated with Sunspot Formation Revealed

(Left) Hinode observation of a developing sunspot. An elongated bright feature called a 'light bridge' appears between the merging pores (darkest parts). (Right) Computer simulation of sunspot formation. A light bridge resembling the one observed is formed between the pores. (Credit: NAOJ/JAXA/LMSAL/NASA)

Sunspots are planet-sized conglomerates of bundles of intense magnetic field lines on the surface of the Sun. They are known to cause explosions (solar flares) which can directly impact our technological infrastructure. What astrophysical mechanisms are responsible for the formation of sunspots and how do they drive explosive events are important questions in our quest to understand the Sun's activity and its magnetic effect on Earth. To tackle these questions, an international research team led by Shin Toriumi (Specially Appointed Assistant Professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) analyzed observations of sunspots as they formed taken by Hinode, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellites.