December 7, 2017

Kepler’s Gaze Shifts Toward New Targets — Supernovae, The ‘Beehive Cluster’ And Earth

Image Credit: NASA

December 7, 2017 – The sixteenth observing campaign of the Kepler spacecraft’s K2 extended mission is now underway. The campaign has prospects for discoveries among 30,000 objects in the direction of the constellation Cancer. The cartoon illustrates some of the objects of interest that Kepler is observing for 80 days, from December 7, 2017 to February 25, 2018. Read More


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Experiencing The Great American Eclipse From 100,000 Ft.
Source: University of Colorado Boulder/Fiske Planetarium

Many of us have seen past eclipse footage taken from airplanes. When Viliam Klein first saw one such video, he wondered how he could use his prior experience launching balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere to create a film of the eclipse shadow moving across the landscape below. Years later, his vision became reality when he launched a high-altitude helium-filled balloon that carried a GoPro Omni 360-degree six camera system to over 100,000 feet above the Earth. Fiske Planetarium invites you to experience Viliam’s amazing adventure from concept to completion.


The Moon Shines Brightly Among NASA’s 2017 Highlights
Source: NASA

The Moon became a key focus point for NASA in 2017, whether it was blocking out the Sun during one of the most-viewed events in U.S. history, or reinvigorating the agency’s human space exploration plans.


NASA’s CATS Concludes Successful Mission On Space Station
Source: NASA

A spaceborne lidar instrument that fired more laser pulses than any previous orbiting instrument has ended its operations on the International Space Station, after a successful 33-month mission to measure clouds and tiny atmospheric particles that play key roles in Earth’s climate and weather.


Anheuser-Busch Barley Seeds Headed To Space
Source: Coloradoan

Barley seeds from Fort Collins are headed to space. Anheuser-Busch announced Thursday that the Global Barley Research Center at its Fort Collins brewery will be part of an International Space Station experiment. The 20 seedlings are scheduled to launch on a SpaceX cargo rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday. Five employees from the Fort Collins brewery will travel to witness the launch, which was initially scheduled for Dec. 4.


Rocket Lab Pushes Back Second Electron Launch By One Day
Source: Spaceflight Now

Rocket Lab plans to roll out the company’s second light-class Electron rocket to its launch pad in New Zealand on Thursday for final countdown preparations, but officials have delayed liftoff to no earlier than Friday night, U.S. time.


Study Validates NanoRacks Concept For Commercial Space Station Module
Source: SpaceNews

A five-month study supported by NASA has concluded that it is technically feasible to convert a launch vehicle upper stage into a habitat module that could be used on the International Space Station or future commercial space station.


SPACE 1: We’re Going To Space
Source: NPR

Last year we started to look into the satellite business. It used to be that satellites were the size of a school bus and cost a half billion dollars. But the space business is changing. Private companies are competing to get tiny satellites into orbit, driving the cost down. Commercial rockets are launching around the world, carrying satellites for universities, and farmers, and oil traders. So we, thought, what about podcasts? Who speaks for them? Why can’t they go, too? Today on the show, we go looking for our own satellite.


RIT Professor Among First To Use James Webb Space Telescope During Its Inaugural Run
Source: RIT News

Rochester Institute of Technology astrophysicist Jeyhan Kartaltepe will be one of the first scientists to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope soon after it launches in spring 2019. The Webb telescope is regarded by many as the powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, with sensitive infrared detectors designed to peer 13.5 billion years into the universe’s history.


Tethers Unlimited Wins NASA Grant To Work On Lab For 3-D Printing In Space
Source: GeekWire

Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited is getting a shot at helping to create an advanced fabrication facility that could manufacture and recycle 3-D printed items in space. Tethers Unlimited and two other companies will have 18 months to deliver a prototype for the multi-material fabrication lab, or FabLab. The other companies are Interlog Corp. of Anaheim, Calif.; and Techshot of Greenville, Ind.


JPL Deploys A CubeSat For Astronomy
Source: NASA/JPL

Tiny satellites called CubeSats have attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Besides allowing researchers to test new technologies, their relative simplicity also offers hands-on training to early-career engineers. A CubeSat recently deployed from the International Space Station is a key example of their potential, experimenting with CubeSats applied to astronomy.


Independent Review To Examine JWST Launch Plans
Source: SpaceNews

NASA will provide an updated launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope early next year, even as some warn that the mission might face further delays. At a Dec. 6 hearing of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said the revised launch date would come after an independent review of the status of the spacecraft.


Green Light For Continued Operations Of ESA Science Missions
Source: ESA

During its meeting at ESA Headquarters in Paris, on 21-22 November, the SPC approved indicative extensions for the continued operation of five ESA-led missions: Gaia, INTEGRAL, Mars Express, SOHO, and XMM-Newton. This followed a comprehensive review of the current operational status and outlook of the missions and their expected scientific returns during the extension period.


Video: Science Data Centers – How We Turn Bits Into Science Results
Source: University of Colorado Boulder/LASP

In this LASP public lecture from December 6, 2017, Alex DeWolfe describes some of the lesser-known aspects of the “pipeline” that turns the bits from the spacecraft into products that scientists can use to make new discoveries. Alex, who manages several LASP Science Data Centers, talks about the vast differences between all the various data sets that we handle here at LASP, the similarities between the pipelines, and the challenges that arise in processing, storing, and distributing unique spacecraft datasets.