October 30, 2017

The North

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

October 30, 2017 – Reflected sunlight is the source of the illumination for visible wavelength images such as the one above. However, at longer infrared wavelengths, direct thermal emission from objects dominates over reflected sunlight. This enabled instruments that can detect infrared radiation to observe the pole even in the dark days of winter when Cassini first arrived at Saturn and Saturn’s northern hemisphere was shrouded in shadow. Read More


Spitzer Reveals Ancient Galaxies’ Frenzied Starmaking

This visulization of surface ozone across the Front Rang on an August afternoon shows how ozone pollution can sometimes be more accute in the high mountains than on the populated plains, depending on local winds. Image Credit: UCAR

October 30, 2017 – A comprehensive new air quality report for the state of Colorado quantifies the sources of summertime ozone in Denver and the northern Front Range, revealing the extent to which motor vehicles and oil and gas operations are the two largest local contributors to the pollutant. Read More


Scientists Pinpoint Sources Of Front Range Ozone

This visulization of surface ozone across the Front Rang on an August afternoon shows how ozone pollution can sometimes be more accute in the high mountains than on the populated plains, depending on local winds. Image Credit: UCAR

October 30, 2017 – A comprehensive new air quality report for the state of Colorado quantifies the sources of summertime ozone in Denver and the northern Front Range, revealing the extent to which motor vehicles and oil and gas operations are the two largest local contributors to the pollutant. Read More


Saturn’s Radiation Belts: A Stranger To The Solar Wind

Image Credit: MPS, Imge of Saturn: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

October 30, 2017 – The radiation belts of Earth and Saturn differ more strongly than previously assumed. In these belts, very energetic particles, such as electrons and protons, move around the planet at high velocities – captured by its magnetic field. In the case of the Earth, the solar wind, a current of charged particles from the Sun varying in strength, controls the intensity of the radiation belt both directly and indirectly. The radiation belts of Saturn, however, develop completely independently of the solar wind and are instead decisively influenced by the gas giant’s moons. These results are published today in the journal Nature Astronomy by a group of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany co-leading the most comprehensive study on the subject to date. Key to the new findings are measurements of the MIMI-LEMMS instrument aboard NASA’s Cassini space probe, which explored the Saturn system for more than 13 years before its dive into the planet on the 15th of September this year. Read More


Keystone Science School Girls In STEM Aims To Close The Gender Gap In The Technology Field

October 30, 2017 – Keystone Science School hosts a Girls in STEM: Tech Retreat on November 10-12. In today’s film and media industries there is a large gender gap, especially in the technology realm. This gender gap is evident not only in the workforce, but in the pursuit of post-secondary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree programs. Read More


Jupiter’s X-Ray Auroras Pulse Independently

This image combines an image taken with Hubble Space Telescope in the optical (taken in spring 2014) and observations of Jupiter’s auroras in the ultraviolet, taken in 2016. Image Credit: NASA / ESA / J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

October 30, 2017 – Jupiter’s intense northern and southern lights pulse independently of each other according to new UCL-led research using ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatories. Read More


More News:

NASA Evaluates Use Of A Coin-Sized Thermometer To Characterize Comets And Earthbound Asteroids
Source: NASA

Two NASA teams want to deploy a highly compact, sensitive thermometer that could characterize comets and even assist in the redirection or possible destruction of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.


GOES-R Series Program Quarterly Newsletter: July-September 2017
Source: NASA/NOAA

The GOES-R Quarterly Newsletter for the time period July – September 2017 is now available. The 2017 hurricane season has given GOES-16 the opportunity to showcase its advanced capabilities. Forecasters are marveling at the unparalleled imagery from the satellite. As work continues to transition GOES-16 to operations in December, our team is focusing on preparing GOES-S for launch in the spring.


NuSTAR Probes Black Hole Jet Mystery
Source: NASA/JPL

Black holes are famous for being ravenous eaters, but they do not eat everything that falls toward them. A small portion of material gets shot back out in powerful jets of hot gas, called plasma, that can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Along the way, this plasma somehow gets energized enough to strongly radiate light, forming two bright columns along the black hole’s axis of rotation. Scientists have long debated where and how this happens in the jet.


US Space Policy, Organizational Incentives, And Orbital Debris Removal
Source: The Space Review

Over the last 50 years of human activities in space, there has been a growing recognition of the threat from space debris. Our use of space has grown, which in turn has increased the amount of human-generated space debris we have left in orbit. The growing congestion of critical orbital regions, such as the 700-to-900-kilometer region in low Earth orbit (LEO) and the geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) region 36,000 kilometers above the equator, poses significant challenges for humanity’s ability to derive benefits from space over the long term.


The Trillion-Dollar (Solar) Storm
Source: The Space Review

Space weather events such as solar flares, the ejection of energetic particles from the Sun, and geomagnetic disturbances, can have measurable detrimental impacts on satellite operations, the ubiquitous Global Positioning System (GPS), high-frequency (HF) airplane communications, navigation, aviation, and the electrical power grid. These disruptions can have ripple effects, so that even economic sectors that are not ostensibly dependent on space assets (e.g. financial services) can suffer losses.


The Trillion-Dollar (Solar) Storm
Source: The Space Review

Space weather events such as solar flares, the ejection of energetic particles from the Sun, and geomagnetic disturbances, can have measurable detrimental impacts on satellite operations, the ubiquitous Global Positioning System (GPS), high-frequency (HF) airplane communications, navigation, aviation, and the electrical power grid. These disruptions can have ripple effects, so that even economic sectors that are not ostensibly dependent on space assets (e.g. financial services) can suffer losses.


“And Then On Launch Day It Worked”: Marking The 50th Anniversary Of The First Saturn V Launch (Part I)
Source: The Space Review

The first Saturn V was launched fifty years ago on November 9, 1967. Coming just ten months after the Apollo 1 fire, a successful launch of the Saturn was crucial if NASA was to meet President Kennedy’s end-of-the-decade Moon landing goal. George Mueller’s “All-Up” testing dictate, whereby all three stages and the Apollo Command and Service Module would be launched live, only added to the risk.


The Feds Should Avoid Giving SpaceX A Monopoly On Space Tech
Source: The Hill

Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees met last week to reconcile differences between the House and Senate annual defense policy bills. One controversial issue still before them is Section 1615 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA), which would effectively give SpaceX control of the advancement of new space launch systems, eliminating its competition in a narrow market and handing it an effective monopoly. Unfortunately, the measure would severely limit the U.S. government’s future contracting options, and it would cause prices to skyrocket.


SSL Wins Contract To Provide Powerful Multi-Mission Satellite To Embratel Star One
Source: SSL

Maxar Technologies (“Company” formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), a global communications and information company providing technology solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide, today announced that SSL, a business unit of Maxar Technologies, signed a contract to provide a powerful multi-mission communications satellite called Star One D2 to Embratel Star One.


Orbital ATK Set To Launch Minotaur C Rocket Carrying SkySat And Dove Spacecraft For Planet
Source: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it is in final preparations to launch the company’s Minotaur C rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on October 31 at approximately 2:37 p.m. PDT. The Minotaur C will carry Planet’s SkySat and Dove spacecraft, which will capture medium and high resolution multispectral imagery of Earth at unprecedented scale and frequency for the commercial market.


Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap
Source: CBS Denver

Colorado’s unemployment rate is a remarkably low 2.5 percent. Many Colorado companies are having a hard time finding Colorado graduates who are qualified to fill the jobs they have open. That’s creating an influx of workers into the state. Now there is a push by education, business and government to come Together 4 Colorado to provide the skills for this hot job market.


Chinese Astronaut Yang Liwei Among First UNESCO Space Science Medal Winners
Source: China Daily

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has awarded the UNESCO Medal on Space Science to first Chinese national sent to space, Yang Liwei, and three other prominent international space practitioners during the first edition of the award ceremony.


Aging Satellites Put Crucial Sea-Ice Climate Record At Risk
Source: Nature

One of the most important continuous records of climate change — nearly four decades of satellite measurements of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice — might soon be interrupted. Scientists all over the world rely on the sea-ice record compiled by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. But the US military satellites that collect the data, by measuring ice extent using microwave sensors, are approaching the end of their lives.


European Space Officials Outline Desired Contribution To Deep Space Gateway
Source: Space.com

Europe’s aerospace industry is getting ready for NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, hoping Europe will have its own module at the lunar-orbit space station resupplied by a European transportation system. During a session on the final day of Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany, Frederic Masson, an engineer at French space agency CNES, said France is already considering ways to increase performance of the upcoming Ariane 6 launcher to make it fit to contribute to humankind’s next big space endeavor.


SpaceCrafts: Making A Hubble Space Telescope Costume
Source: NASA Blueshift

A couple of years ago, our oldest son, Eric, decided to be the Curiosity Rover for Halloween. While there were some challenges to the costume design, the experience lead us to an unanticipated family tradition of homemade space costumes for Halloween. This year, while considering costume ideas, our 10 year old, Brian, was inspired by the Hubble’s 25th anniversary, meeting NASA’s Amber Straughn, and a Jimmy Fallon Hubble shout-out video from 2010. As with previous years, most of the costume components were scavenged from our basement junk and craft closet, and the kids were heavily involved in the planning and construction.


Pentagon Nominee Griffin: Procurement A ‘Mess,’ U.S. Losing Edge In Aviation, Space
Source: SpaceNews

If confirmed by the Senate, Griffin could become a key voice in advancing U.S. technology in areas where the United States has long dominated — such as aviation and space — and is now being challenged.