Thursday, December 29, 2011
Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope are bringing out the COCOA this winter, but it's not a warm beverage. Rather, it’s a way to check that the mirrors are perfectly shaped and will work in the frosty environment of space.
COCOA stands for "Center of Curvature Optical Assembly." Curvature is important in a mirror, just as the convex side mirrors on your car are shaped to give you a wide field of vision behind and beside your car. COCOA tests on the Webb telescope's concave mirror segments are critical because they will tell engineers if all of the mirrors work together to make a telescope that has the correct shape.
"We need to check that the mirrors are of the right prescription, just like eyeglasses, so the images from our telescope are not blurry," said Lee Feinberg, Webb telescope Optical Telescope Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 of these being six-sided segments working together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror. Every individual mirror has been previously tested to confirm it has the correct shape, but testing them all together as an assembled telescope with COCOA ensures that the telescope as a whole works correctly.
The COCOA is part of NASA's vacuum cryo equipment that will be used at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to test the performance of the mirrors at operating temperatures. That's important because COCOA tells engineers if the full 18 segment mirror is functioning correctly in "operating temperatures" of 40 degrees Kelvin (-233 Celsius, or -387.4 Fahrenheit) prior to final assembly of the observatory before launch.
COCOA was built by ITT Exelis of Rochester, N.Y., with subcontractor Micro Instruments in Rochester, N.Y. ITT Exelis and Micro Instruments engineers are assembling the large Center of Curvature test system.
The Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/webb-cocoa.html
No team of reindeer, but radio signals flying clear across the solar system from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have delivered a holiday package of glorious images. The pictures, from Cassini's imaging team, show Saturn's largest, most colorful ornament, Titan, and other icy baubles in orbit around this splendid planet. The release includes images of satellite conjunctions in which one moon passes in front of or behind another. Cassini scientists regularly make these observations to study the ever-changing orbits of the planet's moons. But even in these routine images, the Saturnian system shines. A few of Saturn's stark, airless, icy moons appear to dangle next to the orange orb of Titan, the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere. Titan's atmosphere is of great interest because of its similarities to the atmosphere believed to exist long ago on the early Earth.
The images are online at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://ciclops.org .
While it may be wintry in Earth's northern hemisphere, it is currently northern spring in the Saturnian system and it will remain so for several Earth years. Current plans to extend the Cassini mission through 2017 will supply a continued bounty of scientifically rewarding and majestic views of Saturn and its moons and rings, as spectators are treated to the passage of northern spring and the arrival of summer in May 2017.
"As another year traveling this magnificent sector of our solar system draws to a close, all of us on Cassini wish all of you a very happy and peaceful holiday season, " said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
More information about Cassini mission is online at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/cassini20111222.html
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Every woman likes to be present at festivities where she can completely explain her loveliness to others. And in parties ladies can be dressed in the majority good-looking dresses which are not good to be dressed in on other events. But several women experience hard to get appropriate party dresses to purchase, because such beautiful wears particularly necessitate women to be suspicious when wearing them for fear that the conflicting effect may be arrived.
Some dresses for women may be pleasant but may be not appropriate for a woman’s skin tone. Some others may be good-looking to wear but may be out of the fashion. Now evening gowns are very common and several women adore them. They give enormous materials of ranges for women to prefer anything they like. Here are some instructions about how to prefer a dress for party.
When selecting party dresses, women must fully think their own skin tone. Women must select the dresses which can make their skin tones appear brighter not darker. Pick the color of the dresses which are darker than women’s skin tones, which will accomplish a fine result and make the skin appear brighter.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 // // 0 comments //
Monday, December 19, 2011
Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS), novel autonomy software that has been operating on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity since December 2009, is NASA's 2011 Software of the Year recipient.
The AEGIS software, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., autonomously directs Opportunity's cameras to interesting science targets. AEGIS was developed to enhance the usual targeting process involving scientists on the ground, which can require the rover to stay in the same place for a day or more while data are transmitted to Earth and targets are selected from preliminary images.
With AEGIS, the rover software analyzes images onboard, detects and prioritizes science targets in those images, and autonomously obtains novel, high-quality science data of the selected targets, within 45 minutes, with no communication back to Earth required. AEGIS chooses science targets based on pre-specified criteria set by the mission science team.
AEGIS can be used as soon as the rover reaches a new area and is especially beneficial during and after long drives. It enables high-quality data to be collected more often and in a significantly reduced time frame. The incorporation of AEGIS in the Mars Science Laboratory flight software is in progress, and it is also being considered for future NASA missions.
The AEGIS capability was developed as part of a larger autonomous science framework called OASIS (short for Onboard Autonomous Science Investigation System), which is designed to allow a rover to identify and react to serendipitous science opportunities. The AEGIS system takes advantage of the OASIS ability to detect and characterize interesting terrain features in rover images. This technology was created with assistance from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project and with funding from the New Millennium Program, the Mars Technology Program, the JPL Research and Technology Development Program, the JPL Interplanetary Network Development Program and the Intelligent Systems Program.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/tech20111208.html
NASA recently began a pilot using Google Apps, a suite of applications that brings services such as Gmail, Google Docs and other products together to help workers in today's business environment. NASA IT Labs, a part of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), sponsored the pilot to meet the growing demand from workers to access resources on any device.
About 600 IT staff from 11 NASA centers and facilities are participating in the pilot, which offers cost savings by managing user's identities, credentials and access via cloud computing using on-demand software. Cloud computing refers to resources and applications that are available on the Internet from nearly any Internet-connected device. No sensitive NASA data is being placed in the cloud.
Under the pilot, NASA users can connect to Google Apps for Government using an existing NASA work ID, which also functions as a smart card in the card reader of compatible computers. The card was created as a common identification standard for federal employees and contractors to increase security and reduce opportunities for identify fraud.
The pilot complies with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, which is designed to protect the nation's critical information infrastructure. Because no new ID or credential is needed, NASA complies with the law and workers can access secure materials from any smart device.
NASA also accepts and electronically verifies personal identity verification (PIV) credentials issued by other federal agencies through a credential registration process. With this capability, any authorized federal PIV card, which includes the DoD Common Access Card, may be used today for authentication to the Google Apps for Government NASA site.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/google_apps.html
Friday, December 16, 2011
On Nov. 26, 2011, Curiosity blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas 5 rocket. Riding a plume of fire through the blue Florida sky, the car-sized rover began a nine month journey to search for signs of life Mars.
Meanwhile, 93 million miles away, a second lesser-noticed Mars launch was underway. Around the time that Curiosity's rocket was breaking the bonds of Earth, a filament of magnetism erupted from the sun, hurling a billion-ton cloud of plasma (a coronal mass ejection or CME) toward the Red Planet.
There was no danger of a collision -- Mars rover vs. solar storm. Racing forward at 2 million mph, the plasma cloud outpaced Curiosity's rocket by a wide margin.
Next time could be different, however. With solar activity on the upswing (Solar Max is expected in 2012-2013) it's only a matter of time before a CME engulfs the Mars-bound rover.
That suits some researchers just fine. As Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in Boulder, Colorado, explains, "We look forward to such encounters because Curiosity is equipped to study solar storms."
Hassler is the principal investigator for Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector --"RAD" for short. The instrument, developed at SWRI and Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, counts cosmic rays, neutrons, protons and other particles over a wide range of energies. Tucked into the left front corner of the rover, RAD is about the size of a coffee can and weighs only three pounds, but has capabilities of Earth-bound instruments nearly 10 times its size.
Encounters with CMEs pose little danger to Curiosity. By the time a CME reaches the Earth-Mars expanse, it is spread so thin that it cannot truly buffet the spacecraft. Nevertheless, RAD can sense what happens as the CME passes by.
"RAD will be able to detect energetic particles accelerated by shock waves in some CMEs," says Arik Posner of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington DC. "This could give us new insights into the inner physics of these giant clouds."
There's more to this, however, than pure heliophysics. Future human astronauts will directly benefit from RAD's measurements during the cruise phase.
"Curiosity is nestled inside its spacecraft, just like a real astronaut would be," notes Frank Cucinotta, Chief Scientist for NASA's Space Radiation Program at the Johnson Space Center. "RAD will give us an idea of the kind of radiation a human can expect to absorb during a similar trip to Mars."
Of particular interest are secondary particles. Galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles hit the walls of the spacecraft, creating an inward spray of even more biologically dangerous neutrons and atomic nuclei. RAD will analyze the spray from the only realistic place to make such measurements—inside the spaceship.
In this way, "RAD is a bridge between the science and exploration sides of NASA," says Hassler. "The two objectives are equally exciting."
RAD was activated on Dec. 6, 2011. Of the rover's ten science instruments, it will be the only one active during the cruise to Mars. Daily transmissions to Earth will let Hassler and colleagues monitor what's going on "out there."
"We're very excited about the possibility of more solar storms," he adds.
As important as RAD’s cruise phase measurements are, the instrument’s primary mission doesn’t really begin until it lands on the Red Planet.
Mars has a very thin atmosphere and no global magnetic field to protect it from space radiation. Energetic particles reaching ground level might be dangerous to life--both future human astronauts and extant Martian microbes. RAD will find out how much shielding human explorers need on the surface of Mars. RAD will also help researchers estimate how far below ground a microbe might have to go to reach a radiation "safe zone."
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/curiosity-cme.html
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
NASA's car-sized Curiosity rover has begun monitoring space radiation during its 8-month trip from Earth to Mars. The research will aid in planning for future human missions to the Red Planet.
Curiosity launched on Nov. 26 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard the Mars Science Laboratory. The rover carries an instrument called the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) that monitors high-energy atomic and subatomic particles from the sun, distant supernovas and other sources.
These particles constitute radiation that could be harmful to any microbes or astronauts in space or on Mars. The rover also will monitor radiation on the surface of Mars after its August 2012 landing.
"RAD is serving as a proxy for an astronaut inside a spacecraft on the way to Mars," said Don Hassler, RAD's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "The instrument is deep inside the spacecraft, the way an astronaut would be. Understanding the effects of the spacecraft on the radiation field will be valuable in designing craft for astronauts to travel to Mars."
Previous monitoring of energetic-particle radiation in space has used instruments at or near the surface of various spacecraft. The RAD instrument is on the rover inside the spacecraft and shielded by other components of Mars Science Laboratory, including the aeroshell that will protect the rover during descent through the upper atmosphere of Mars.
Spacecraft structures, while providing shielding, also can contribute to secondary particles generated when high-energy particles strike the spacecraft. In some circumstances, secondary particles could be more hazardous than primary ones.
These first measurements mark the start of the science return from a mission that will use 10 instruments on Curiosity to assess whether Mars' Gale Crater could be or has been favorable for microbial life.
"While Curiosity will not look for signs of life on Mars, what it might find could be a game-changer about the origin and evolution of life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "One thing is certain: The rover's discoveries will provide critical data that will impact human and robotic planning and research for decades."
As of 9 a.m. PST (noon EST) on Dec. 14, the spacecraft will have traveled 31.9 million miles (51.3 million kilometers) of its 352-million-mile (567-million-kilometer) flight to Mars. The first trajectory correction maneuver during the trip is being planned for mid-January.
Southwest Research Institute, together with Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, built RAD with funding from the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, and Germany's national aerospace research center, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20111213.html
Friday, December 9, 2011
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Monday, December 5, 2011
The most recent evaluations of NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) project confirmed all systems go for a third generation upgrade of the orbiting communications network. TDRS-K is scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the fall of 2012.
Approval to move forward came during a recent Agency Project Management Council (APMC) meeting at NASA Headquarters. "I am very proud of the entire TDRS civil servant and contractor team for successfully completing this milestone and demonstrating that the TDRS project is ready to proceed into the integration phase,” said Jeff Gramling, TDRS Project Manager. “I am excited to see the TDRS-K satellite enter the thermal vacuum chamber and begin environmental testing." Testing will occur within the Boeing Space Systems Facility in El Segundo, California.
APMC approval allows the project to enter Phase D that will include spacecraft integration and testing. During this phase the spacecraft reflectors will be mounted, the thermal panels and batteries will be installed before the spacecraft will have to endure the rigors of the vibration and acoustic testing. Finally, the spacecraft must pass a pre-ship review prior to being transported to Florida for launch.
Prior to the APMC approval, the project successfully completed a combined Pre-Environment Review (PER) and Systems Integration Review (SIR) in August of this year. The SIR is a significant milestone in the NASA mission lifecycle. During the upcoming environmental test phase, various segments and subsystems are scrutinized for their viability under the same harsh conditions they will endure within the vacuum of space.
"Successful completion of the environmental testing phase of the project will be the last step before we ship the TDRS-K spacecraft to the launch site," said Dave Littmann, TDRS Deputy Project Manager. "Through a rigorous testing program, we will ensure this satellite, once on-orbit, is capable of meeting its functional and performance requirements, to provide reliable services to the customers of NASA’s Space Network."
This next generation space communications satellite is part of a follow-on spacecraft fleet being developed and deployed to replenish NASA’s Space Network. The TDRS Project Office at Goddard Space Flight Center manages the TDRS development effort. TDRS is the responsibility of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) office within the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. Operations of the network is the responsibility of the Space Network Project at Goddard.
In December 2007, NASA signed a contract for Boeing Space Systems to build two, third generation TDRS spacecraft for launch in 2012 and 2013. Within the contract were the required modifications that will enable the White Sands Complex ground system to support the new spacecraft.
The launch of TDRS-K will begin the replenishment of the fleet through the development and deployment of the next generation spacecraft. These satellites will ensure NASA’s Space Network continues to provide around-the-clock, high throughput communications services to NASA’s missions and serving the scientific community and human spaceflight program for years to come.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/tdrs-go.html
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