Posts Tagged Solar System

It’s official: We are an interstellar species

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of Space & Satellite related courses.  We thought the news below could be of interest to our readers.

In recent months it has appeared likely that Voyager 1, a probe launched in 1977, has gone beyond our solar system but now it’s official: the spacecraft has left the building.

This makes it the first human-made object to move beyond the Sun, its planets and its heliosphere, a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles.

The findings are to be published in Geophysical Research Letters (see abstract).

In their article the authors write:

“It appears that [Voyager 1] has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing [hydrogen] and [helium] spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium.”

And so there you have it, humans are an interstellar species. This is the century in which we have sent a machine on the path to the stars. Will a spacecraft carrying humans join it next century?

We can only hope.

UPDATENASA says not so fast, reiterating a position it took last December when questions arose about Voyager’s exit from the solar system:

“The Voyager team is aware of reports today that NASA’s Voyager 1 has left the solar system,” said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called ‘the magnetic highway’ where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space, and that change of direction has not yet been observed.”

Well, that’s interesting.


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Is NASA Tech Development Behind Schedule?

Yes, according to National Research Council report. Future success of space missions depends on new technology that NASA should already be developing.

NASA’s technology base is “largely depleted,” leaving the agency without the advancements it needs to meet the future goals of its space program, according to a new report.
“Success in executing future NASA space missions will depend on advanced technology developments that should already be underway,” according to an Interim Report on NASA’s Draft Space Technology Roadmaps by the National Research Council. “However, it has been years since NASA has had a vigorous, broad-based program in advanced space technology.”

With the space shuttle program over, NASA’s space program is in a period of transition that’s being hampered by budget cuts. Still, NASA has set its sights on ambitious goals for future space missions, such as sending people to the moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit.

The agency has 14 space technology roadmaps–which NASA commissioned the report to examine–that identify “a wide variety of opportunities to revitalize NASA’s advanced space technology development program.

The report’s findings suggest that the completion of these roadmaps could be in jeopardy.

The report cites several examples where there are gaps. For instance, to send people to destinations beyond low earth orbit, the agency needs new technology to mitigate the effects of space radiation, from both the cosmic ray background and from solar flares. It also needs new, state-of the art environmental control and life support systems (ECLSSs) that are highly reliable and can be easily repaired.

The report makes suggestions for how NASA can better ensure the success of its space technology program, such as increasing program stability; pursuing evolutionary improvements and adopting intermediate goals; and maintaining a balance between the focus and flexibility of the roadmaps in establishing technical approaches.

In a statement, NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun said the agency largely agrees with the findings of the report. He added that NASA also is looking forward to the completion of the final report, which is due in January. It will be used as guidance for the agency’s space-technology investment decisions in fiscal year 2012.

You can download a copy of the Interim Report here .

What is your opinion?  Please comment below…


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1,235 planets found by Kepler Telescope!

54 of them are in habitable zones of stars that are cooler then the Sun and temperatures could allow for existence of liquid water. This is exciting news considering that this report comes from the data collected by Kepler satellite within first four month of the 3.5 year project. Scientist predict that they will eventually find Earth-like planets.

Read more here


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