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vijigermany

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Nasa prepares to fly probe into Sun's scorching atmosphere

:

Nasa

is preparing to send a probe closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft has ventured, enduring wicked heat while zooming through the solar corona to study this outermost part of the stellar atmosphere that gives rise to the

solar wind

.

The Parker Solar Probe, a robotic spacecraft the size of a small car, is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with August 6 targeted as the launch date for the planned seven-year mission. It is set to fly into the Sun's corona within 3.8 million miles (6.1 million km) from the solar surface, seven times closer than any other spacecraft.

"To send a probe where you haven't been before is ambitious. To send it into such brutal conditions is highly ambitious," Nicola Fox, a project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, told a news conference on Friday.

The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 27 million miles (43 million km). By way of comparison, the average distance from the Sun for Earth is 93 million miles (150 million km).

The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet's magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth's space environment.



"It's of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict this space weather, much like we predict weather here on Earth," said Alex Young, a solar scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "In the most extreme cases of these space weather events, it can actually affect our power grids here on Earth."



The project, with a $1.5 billion price tag, is the first major mission under Nasa's Living With a Star program.



The probe is set to use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to steadily reduce its orbit around the Sun, using instruments designed to image the solar wind and study electric and magnetic fields, coronal plasma and energetic particles. Nasa aims to collect data about the inner workings of the highly magnetized corona.



The probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Newman Parker, will have to survive difficult heat and radiation conditions. It has been outfitted with a heat shield designed to keep its instruments at a tolerable 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) even as the spacecraft faces temperatures reaching nearly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) at its closest pass.
 

vijigermany

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Astronomers spot nearby star ‘chomping mini-planets’



Astronomers may have caught a relatively nearby star munching on a planet or mini-planets.

A Nasa space telescope noticed that the star suddenly started looking a bit strange last year. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory spotted a 30-fold increase in iron on the edge of the star, which is only 10 million years old, along with pronounced dimming.



Astronomers have been watching the baby star — in the

constellation

Taurus — for decades and iron levels weren’t high in 2015 the last time the Chandra telescope looked at it. The star, called RW Aur A, is 450 light-years away. A

light-year

is 5.9 trillion miles.



Hans Moritz Guenther, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he’s never seen anything quite like this before, calling it “a lot stranger than we thought we’d be seeing.” “We’ve never seen any star that’s changed its iron abundance like that,” he said.



Guenther said one potential simple explanation is that the star is eating a planet or mini-planets. He looked at other possible explanations, and of the two that make sense, he prefers the planet-munching one.



Computer simulations show it can happen, but it has never been seen before, he said. The study is in Wednesday’s Astronomical Journal.
 

vijaykumar12

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The Ariane 5 rocket akes off from the launchpad in the European Space Centre (Europe spaceport) on July 25, 2018 in Kourou, French Guian carrying with four Galileo satellites
1532932104475.png
 

vijigermany

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Rare blue diamonds may be Earth's deepest secret

1533351567348.png

The

Hope Diamond
, a rare blue diamond that is one of the world's most famous jewels, has had a complicated history, passing through the hands of monarchs and bankers and heiresses and thieves before landing for all to see at a Washington museum.

The geological history of blue diamonds is even more complex, according to research published on Wednesday examining these exceptionally scarce and valuable gems.

Scientists analyzed 46 blue diamonds, including one from South Africa that sold for $25 million in 2016, and determined that they can form at depths of at least 410 miles (660 km), reaching into a part of the Earth's interior called the lower mantle. Tiny mineral fragments trapped inside them provided clues about the birthplace of the diamonds.

Blue diamonds comprise only about 0.02 percent of mined diamonds but include some of the world's most famous jewels.

Diamonds are a crystalline form of pure carbon, forming under enormous heat and pressure. Blue diamonds crystallize alongside water-bearing minerals that long ago were part of the seafloor but were shoved to great depths during the inexorable movement of the immense tectonic plates that shape Earth's surface, the researchers said.



Scientists already knew these diamonds acquired their blue hue from the element boron. This study indicated this

boron
once had been in ocean water and was incorporated into the seafloor rock that over millions of years moved deep underground.



"This is the first time anyone has come up with a fact-based story or model for how blue diamonds form. Prior to this study we had no idea where they form, what kinds of host-rocks they form in, or where they might be getting their boron from," said Gemological Institute of America research scientist Evan Smith, who led the study published in the journal Nature. Most diamonds are not completely colorless, often possessing slight yellowish tints. Although rare, some even have prominent hues of, for example, yellow, brown, pink or green. About 99 percent of all diamonds form roughly 90 to 125 miles (150-200 km) underground -- shallower depths than the blue ones.



Aside from the Hope Diamond, on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, another blue diamond called the Oppenheimer Blue in 2016 sold for $57.5 million, at the time the highest auction price for any jewel.



"These diamonds are among the deepest ever found," Carnegie Institution for Science geochemist Steven Shirey said of the blue diamonds.
 

vijigermany

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Sunita Williams, 8 others to fly on Boeing, SpaceX spacecraft: Nasa

Indian-origin US astronaut

Sunita Williams
is among the nine astronauts named by

Nasa
on Friday for its first

human spaceflight
programme since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

After years of vehicle development and building anticipation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has now put the crew in commercial crew spacecraft.

The space agency announced that the nine astronauts will launch on the first crewed test flights and missions of new commercial spacecraft built and operated by The Boeing Company and SpaceX.

The eight active Nasa astronauts and one former astronaut-turned-corporate crew member will launch on Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragoncapsules to the International Space Station beginning in 2019.

The missions will mark the first crewed launches from US soil since the end of the space shuttle programme seven years ago.




Astronauts, from left to right, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams. (AP)



In addition to naming the crews of the test flights, Nasa also announced today the four astronauts who will fly aboard the first operational Starliner and Dragon missions to the space station. Both vehicles were developed in cooperation with Nasa to deliver crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory.

Josh Cassada, 45, will fly with Sunita ("Suni") Williams, 52, aboard Nasa's first contracted Starliner mission. It will be Cassada's first spaceflight. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012.

The commercial crew members took to the stage during an event led by Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Nasa astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 51, will fly together as SpaceX's first Dragon crew.

Veterans of two spaceflights each, Behnken and Hurley will lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A - the same Florida launch pad where the space shuttle left Earth for the last time in July 2011 with Hurley as pilot.

Nasa astronauts Eric Boe, 53, and Nicole Mann, 41, will join the commander of that same final space shuttle mission, former astronaut and now Boeing executive Christopher Ferguson, 56, as the crew of the Starliner test flight, launching atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Ferguson, who has been involved from the start in the Starliner's development, flew three shuttle missions as a Nasa astronaut. Boe piloted two shuttle flights. This will be Mann's first launch, having joined the astronaut corps in 2013.

Behnken, Hurley, Boe and Mann are Nasa's first astronauts to be named to the test flights of new US spacecraft since the March 1978 announcement of the space shuttle's first orbital flight test crews. Ferguson will become the first former Nasa astronaut to return to orbit as a company's crew member when he flies.

Prior to their maiden crewed missions, both Boeing and SpaceX plan uncrewed test flights in late 2018 or early 2019.

Both companies will also conduct abort system test flights to ensure the astronauts can safely escape should their rockets go awry.

Victor Glover, 42, and Michael Hopkins, 49, will fly on the first operational mission of SpaceX's crewed Dragon. It will be Glover's first time in space. Hopkins logged 166 days aboard the space station in 2014.

The two pairs of Nasa crewmates will fly to the station with Russian cosmonauts and international astronauts to be announced at a later date. Between the end of the space shuttle program and the start of commercial crew operations, Nasa's crew members have and are continuing to launch to the space station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.



Behnken, Boe, Hurley and Williams were named in 2015 as Nasa's "commercial crew cadre" and have been working with Boeing and SpaceX on the development of the spacecraft and the simulators that will be used to train astronauts to fly.



The two companies have also developed new spacesuits, modified their launch pads and established mission control teams to support the upcoming flights.



With the start of four-person commercial missions, the International Space Station crew is slated to grow by one to a seven-person residency in order to maximize the science that can be conducted on board.



Boeing's and SpaceX's commercial spacecraft may also open the space station - and more broadly, Earth orbit - to more privately-funded visitors and spaceflight participants from countries that do not have their own domestic crewed spacecraft and rockets.
 

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Complex 40 launch pad as seen through a time exposure in Cape Canaveral
1533633438144.png
 
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Parker Solar Probe: Nasa sets out to explore the Sun

Nasa
is set to launch a $1.5-billion car-sized mission to take a look at the
sun
from up close. The Parker
Solar Probe
, humanity’s first mission to explore a star, will also be the closest for a manmade object to approach the Sun. Scheduled to launch on August 11, 2018, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, here is a look at the mission and what it seeks to achieve...

Parker Solar Probe Unmanned Aircraft
The probe is the first to fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere, called the corona . The corona is about 300-times hotter than the Sun’s surface. It hurls powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms and disrupt Earth’s power grid. The probe is expected to help us understand such space storms.




The Parker Probe
Named after solar physicist Eugene Parker, who first described solar winds back in 1958, the probe will trace the flow of energy and understand the heating of the corona, explore solar wind acceleration, capture images of solar structures.

Wide-field imager for solar probe telescopes
The wide-field imager for solar probe telescopes will take images of the corona and inner heliosphere

Solar array wings
Solar array wings will keep panel power levels and temperatures from fluctuating

Solar Array Cooling System
Will protect solar arrays from incineration as it moves around the sun

Thermal Protection System
The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches thick. The heat shield can withstand radiation equivalent up to about 500 times the Sun’s radiation on Earth. It will keep the inside of the spacecraft at a cooler 29 degrees Celsius







When the Parker Probe nears the Sun, it will travel rapidly enough to go from New York to Tokyo in one minute — 700,000km per hour — making it the fastest human-made object.




 

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