Tag Archives: NASA

Lift-Off! NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe To 'Touch The Sun'

Lift-Off! NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe To 'Touch The Sun'We just got one step closer to "touching" the sun.



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Nasa probe will still be circling Sun at end of Solar System say scientists

Nasa probe will still be circling Sun at end of Solar System say scientistsNasa's new solar spacecraft is so indestructable that parts of it will be circling the Sun until the Solar System ends, eight billion years from now, scientists have said.  The US space agency launches its Parker Solar Probe on Saturday, which will travel closer to the Sun than any mission before, to unlock the secrets of fierce radioactive storms which threaten Earth.  Earth, and all the other objects in the Solar System are constantly plowing through what is known as the solar wind – a constant stream of high-energy particles, mostly protons and electrons, hurled into space by The Sun. These radioactive storms are so powerful they are able to knock out satellites, disrupt services such as communications and GPS, threaten aircraft and in even interfere with electricity supplies. The mission Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, the closest any man-made instrument has ever got to a star.  For seven years it will orbit at around 3.38 million miles from the star's surface, where temperatures reach 1,400C. The probe is relying on a 4.5 inch carbon heat shield which has taken 10 years to develop and which is so strong it will survive for billions of years even when the rest of the spacecraft has disintegrated. Speaking at a briefing ahead of the launch, Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe Programme Manager from Johns Hopkins University said: "At four million miles the Sun is very hot, so we need to bring an umbrella with us. "It’s a carbon heat shield. It took 18 months to fabricate it and a decade to develop it.  "Eventually the spacecraft will run out of propellant and will leave altitude control and parts of it will transition into the Sun. But hopefully in 10 to 20 years there is going to be this carbon disc and that will be around to the end of the Solar System." The Parker Solar Probe  Credit: Ed Whitman Johns Hopkins APL/NASA The spacecraft also holds a memory card containing the names of more than 1.1 million members of the public who were asked to write in to support the mission. London-born professor Nicky Fox, project scientist from Johns Hopkins University, said: "I think the spacecraft will break up into parts and form dust, and then those names will orbit the Sun forever." The nearest a spacecraft has previously come to the Sun was the Helios 2 mission in 1976, which flew to within 27 million miles. Once inside the corona, sensory equipment will attempt to ‘taste’ and ‘smell’ electronic particles while they are still moving slowly enough to be measured. Professor Mathew Owens, space scientist at the University of Reading, said: “It's an incredibly hostile environment in which to do science, so the spacecraft has faced enormous engineering challenges. But everything is looking positive for Saturday. “The thing we really don't understand about the Sun, and therefore stars in general, is why its atmosphere gets hotter further away from the heat source. “We've been trying to solve this mystery for more than 50 years, by taking measurements from a nice, safe distance, and it's left us in an unusual position. We've got a bunch of theories that seem to work, but don't know which ones actually explain the Sun.” Currently, solar activity is monitored by a network of satellites, but scientists still have a poo understanding of how radiation builds up in the star’s outer atmosphere and then accelerates towards Earth. A better understanding of “space weather” is also considered crucial for protecting astronauts and their equipment for any future endeavours to colonise the Moon or Mars. The Parker Solar Probe will go closer to a star than any mission has ever gone  Credit: Nasa The Parker Solar Probe, which weights 1,400lbs, will travel faster than any craft ever before at 430,000 mph, and during its a seven-year mission will make 24 orbits of the Sun. The spacecraft will carry instruments to measure bulk plasma, described as the 'bread and butter' of solar waves, as well as a full package of magnetic measuring equipment. Eugene Parker, who the mission is named after  Credit: AFP It will also carry a white light imager, dubbed 'Whisper' which can photograph solar waves. “Where does the solar wind come from? What causes flares and coronal mass ejections? We still don’t understand these processes,” said Justin Kasper, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan, mission principal investigator on the Parker Solar Probe. “The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth.” The mission was named after Eugene Parker, the solar astrophysicist who first discovered the solar wind, and has been in the works for more than half a century. The memory card on board also contains a copy of his first scientific paper outlining his work. It was conceived before a space program, or even Nasa, existed.



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NASA Unveils Its Dream Team of Astronauts for the First Commercial Flight

NASA Unveils Its Dream Team of Astronauts for the First Commercial FlightMeet the nine astronauts about to make history.



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Nasa names astronauts to fly on first private US spaceships

Nasa names astronauts to fly on first private US spaceshipsNASA named the first nine astronauts who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX vehicles in 2019 on Friday – a mix of novices and veterans who are tasked with restoring America's ability to send humans into orbit. These pioneering flights to the International Space Station aboard commercially built crew capsules will be the first leaving US soil to put people into orbit since the iconic space shuttle program ended in 2011. For the past seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft – at a cost of some $ 80 million a seat. "This is a big deal for our country and we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said as he unveiled the crew members in Houston, Texas. An unmanned Boeing flight test is scheduled for later this year, with the first crew on board in mid-2019, NASA said. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine giving remarks during a NASA event announcing the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions Credit: AFP For SpaceX, a demonstration flight with no passengers is set for November 2018, and the first manned flight set for April 2019. Those named for the crew test flights for Boeing's Starliner include NASA shuttle veterans Eric Boe and Christopher Ferguson, along with Nicole Aunapu Mann, a naval aviator who was named a NASA astronaut in 2013 and will be making her first flight to space. "It is going to be a proud moment for America," Mann said. NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann Credit: Barcroft/UPI US President Donald Trumpalso praised the news while giving himself a pat on the back: "NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights," he tweeted. "We have the greatest facilities in the world and we are now letting the private sector pay to use them," Trump said. "Exciting things happening." "Space Force!" he added, referencing a sixth branch of the military he has called for that would focus on defending US interests. NASA, which is making a BIG comeback under the Trump Administration, has just named 9 astronauts for Boeing and Spacex space flights. We have the greatest facilities in the world and we are now letting the private sector pay to use them. Exciting things happening. Space Force!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2018 SpaceX's first crew tests will be manned by shuttle veterans Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. After that, the companies move on to actual missions. NASA "has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company," the agency said. On board Starliner's first mission will be NASA veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space. SpaceX's first crew will include naval aviator Victor Glover, also a novice to spaceflight, and shuttle veteran Michael Hopkins. Space exploration | Recent exciting discoveries More astronauts will be announced to join the crews at a later date, NASA said. NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 as part of its commercial crew program, aimed at helping private industry build spaceships to reach low-Earth orbit. "The goal is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations," NASA said. The US space agency, meanwhile, is working on building rockets and spacecraft that could allow humans to return to the Moon in the coming decade. Both Boeing and SpaceX are slightly behind schedule when it comes to their crew vehicles. The first manned flights were initially supposed to take place in 2018.



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NASA Announces New Crew For The Return Of Space Flights From American Soil

NASA Announces New Crew For The Return Of Space Flights From American SoilAmerica, meet your new astronauts.



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NASA rover knocked out as gigantic dust storm envelops Mars

NASA rover knocked out as gigantic dust storm envelops MarsCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's seemingly unstoppable Mars rover Opportunity has been knocked out by a gigantic dust storm that is enveloping the red planet and blotting out the sun.



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Massive Martian dust storm threatens plucky NASA rover

Massive Martian dust storm threatens plucky NASA roverBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An immense dust storm that may soon encircle Mars is threatening one of NASA’s rovers on the planet’s surface, with the vehicle becoming dormant and unresponsive at a site called Perseverance Valley, U.S. space agency officials said on Wednesday. The officials, however, expressed optimism that the Opportunity rover, which was built to operate for three months but has thrived on Mars since January 2004, will be able to survive and continue its scientific mission. John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said the solar-powered rover, with the sun blotted out by an intensifying dust storm already engulfing a quarter of Mars, is no longer responding to commands.



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Woman Says Neil Armstrong Gave Her A Vial Of Moon Dust, Sues NASA To Keep It

Woman Says Neil Armstrong Gave Her A Vial Of Moon Dust, Sues NASA To Keep ItA Tennessee woman is proactively suing NASA to keep what she says is a vial of



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NASA Finds Concentrated Batch Of Organic Molecules On Mars

NASA Finds Concentrated Batch Of Organic Molecules On MarsIf Mars were a fruit in the produce aisle (and, let's be honest, it would make



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Old NASA spacecraft points to new evidence of watery plumes over Europa

Old NASA spacecraft points to new evidence of watery plumes over EuropaA fresh look at data from a 1997 flyby of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, suggests that NASA’s Galileo spacecraft flew directly through a watery plume, raising hopes of probing the jets for signs of life around the second planet from Earth. The revelations Monday came after scientists revisited a puzzling reading from an instrument aboard Galileo, which in 1995 became the first spacecraft to enter the orbit of a gas giant planet. What they found was the most direct evidence yet of plumes emerging from Europa’s frozen surface, researchers reported in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.



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