Tag Archives: NASA

AMERICA’S INFRARED SPITZER TELESCOPE by Tom Logsdon

ASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which launched Aug. 25, 2003, will begin the “Beyond” phase of its mission on Oct. 1, 2016. Spitzer has been operating beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of its mission, and making discoveries in unexpected areas of science, such as exoplanets.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which launched Aug. 25, 2003, will begin the “Beyond” phase of its mission on Oct. 1, 2016. Spitzer has been operating beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of its mission, and making discoveries in unexpected areas of science, such as exoplanets.

Tom Logsdon teaches a number of courses for Applied Technology Institute including:

  1. Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals
  2. GPS Technology
  3. Strapdown and Integrated Navigation Systems
  4. Breakthrough Thinking: Creative Solutions for Professional Success

The article below was written by him could be of interest to our readers.

AMERICA’S INFRARED SPITZER TELESCOPE

“As in the soft and sweet eclipse, when soul meets soul on lover’s lips.”

 

British Lyric Poet

                                                                                                Percy Shelly

                                                                                                     Prometheus Unbound, 1820

America’s famous inventor, Thomas Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park, had long admired the somber, romantic words penned by England’s master poet Percy Shelly.  And, like Shelly, he, too, was enchanted with the sensual experiences conjured up by the periodic eclipses that blotted out the sun and the moon.

In 1878 Edison clambered aboard the newly constructed transcontinental railroad headed from New Jersey to Wyoming where he hoped to utilize his newly constructed infrared sensor to study the total solar eclipse he knew would soon sweep across America’s western landscape.  When he arrived in Wyoming, the only building he could rent was an old chicken coop at the edge of the prairie.  And, as soon as the moon slipped in front of the sun causing the sky to darken, the chickens decided to come to roost.

Soon The Wizard of Menlo Park was so busy trying to quiet his squawking companions, he caught only a fleeting glimpse of the rare and colorful spectacle lighting up the darkened daytime sky.  His infrared sensor, unfortunately, remained untested that day.

Even if those agitated Wyoming chickens had behaved themselves with proper decorum during that unusual event, Thomas Edison’s sensor would have been entirely ineffective because most of the infrared frequencies emanating from the sun and the stars are absorbed by the atmosphere surrounding the earth.  However, sensors of similar design can, and do, handle important astronomical tasks when they are installed in cryogenically cooled telescopes launched into space by powerful and well-designed rockets.

The infrared rays streaming down to earth from distant stars and galaxies lie just beyond the bright red colors at the edge of in the electromagnetic spectrum our eyes can see.  As such, they penetrate the clouds of dust found, in such abundance, in interstellar space.  The dust that has accumulated under your bed is not particularly valuable or interesting.  But the dust found in outer space is far more beneficial – and exciting, too!

The Spitzer Space Telescope – a giant thermos bottle in space – now following along behind planet earth as it circles the sun, was an effective infrared telescope until it used up its entire supply of liquid helium coolant.  In the meantime, it has become a “warm” space-age telescope seeking out previously undiscovered exoplanets orbiting around suns trillions of miles away.  This is accomplished by observing their shadows periodically dimming the star’s visible light as the various planets coast in between the Spitzer and the celestial body being observed.

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New Horizons Flyover of Pluto

Two years ago on July 14, 2015, the New Horizon spacecraft reached Pluto. To celebrate this anniversary NASA released a Pluto flyby video.

Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, mission scientists have created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than the spacecraft itself.

This dramatic Pluto flyover begins over the highlands to the southwest of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain informally named Sputnik Planitia. The viewer first passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right. The tour moves north past the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra and then turns southward over Pioneer Terra — which exhibits deep and wide pits — before concluding over the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa in the far east of the encounter hemisphere.

Digital mapping and rendering were performed by Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Background

New Horizons is a space probe launched by NASA on 19 January 2006, to the dwarf planet Pluto and on an escape trajectory from the Sun. It is the first man-made spacecraft to go to Pluto. Its flight took eight years. It arrived at the PlutoCharon system on July 14, 2015. It flew near Pluto and took photographs and measurements while it passed. At about 1 kilobit per second, it took 15 months to transmit them back to Earth.

The New Horizons spacecraft

The primary mission of New Horizons is to study Pluto and its system of moons. The secondary mission is to study any objects in the Kuiper Belt if something became available for a flyby.

The space probe set the record for the fastest man-made object ever launched, with the Earth-relative speed of about 16.26 km/s, although, arguably, the Helios probes got a faster Sun-relative speed. It used a gravity assist from Jupiter to get its high speeds without having to burn as much monopropellant (weak rocket fuel) as needed to fly directly to Pluto.

ATI instructors who helped plan, develop and engineer the New Horizons Mission. These include the following engineers and scientists, with their bios and links to their related ATI courses.

1. Dr. Alan Stern http://aticourses.com/planetary_science.htm

Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. In 2010, he was elected to be the President and CEO of The Golden Spike Company, a commercial space corporation planning human lunar expeditions. Additionally, since 2009, he has been an Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute, and since 2008 has had his own aerospace consulting practice.

Dr. Stern is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NASA’s $720M New Horizon’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, the largest PI-led space mission ever launched by NASA. New Horizons launched in 2006 and is arriving July 14, 2015. Dr. Stern is also the PI of two instruments aboard New Horizons, the Alice UV spectrometer and the Ralph Visible Imager/IR Spectrometer.

2. Eric Hoffman

http://www.aticourses.com/effective_design_reviews.htm

http://www.aticourses.com/spacecraft_quality.htm

http://www.aticourses.com/satellite_rf_communications.htm

Eric Hoffman has designed space-borne communications and navigation equipment and performed systems engineering on many APL satellites and communications systems. He has authored over 60 papers and holds 8 patents in these fields. Mr. Hoffman was involved in the proposal (as well as several prior Pluto mission concepts).  He chaired the major system level design reviews (and now teaches the course� Effective Design Reviews).  He was Space Department Chief Engineer during the concept, design, fabrication, and test of New Horizons. His still actively consulting in the field. He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and coauthor of the leading textbook Fundamentals of Space Systems

3. Chris DeBoy

http://www.aticourses.com/Satellite_Communications_Design_Engineering.htm

Chris DeBoy leads the RF Engineering Group in the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and is a member of APL’s Principal Professional Staff. He has over 20 years of experience in satellite communications, from systems engineering (he is the lead RF communications engineer for the New Horizons Mission to Pluto) to flight hardware design for both Low-Earth orbit and deep-space missions. He holds a BSEE from Virginia Tech, a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins, and teaches the satellite communications course for the Johns Hopkins University.

4. Dr. Mark E. Pittelkau

http://www.aticourses.com/attitude_determination.htm

Dr. Pittelkau was previously with the Applied Physics Laboratory, Orbital Sciences Corporation, CTA Space Systems (now Orbital), and Swales Aerospace. His experience in satellite systems covers all phases of design and operation, including conceptual design, implementation, and testing of attitude control systems, attitude and orbit determination, and attitude sensor alignment and calibration, control-structure interaction analysis, stability and jitter analysis, and post-launch support. His current interests are precision attitude determination, attitude sensor calibration, orbit determination, and optimization of attitude maneuvers. Dr. Pittelkau earned the B.S. and Ph. D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and the M.S. degree in EE from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

5. Douglas Mehoke

http://www.aticourses.com/spacecraft_thermal_control.htm

Douglas Mehoke is the Assistant Group Supervisor and Technology Manager for the Mechanical System Group in the Space Department at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has worked in the field of spacecraft and instrument thermal design for 30 years, and has a wide background in the fields of heat transfer and fluid mechanics. He has been the lead thermal engineer on a variety spacecraft and scientific instruments, including MSX, CONTOUR, and New Horizons. He is presently the Technical Lead for the development of the Solar Probe Plus Thermal Protection System.  He was the original thermal engineer for New Horizons, the mechanical system engineer, and is currently the spacecraft damage lead for the flyby Hazard Team. Other JHU/APL are currently teaching the Spacecraft Thermal Control course.

6. Steven Gemeny

http://www.aticourses.com/ground_systems_design.htm

Steve Gemeny is a Principal Program Engineer and a former Senior Member of the Professional Staff at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he served as Ground Station Lead for the TIMED mission to explore Earth’s atmosphere and Lead Ground System Engineer on the New Horizons mission to explore Pluto by 2020. Mr. Gemeny is an experienced professional in the field of Ground Station and Ground System design in both the commercial world and on NASA Science missions with a wealth of practical knowledge spanning nearly three decades. Mr. Gemeny delivers his experiences and knowledge to his ATIcourses’ students with an informative and entertaining presentation style. Mr Gemeny is Director Business Development at Syntonics LLC, working in RF over fiber product enhancement, new application development for RF over fiber technology, oversight of advanced DOD SBIR/STTR research and development activities related to wireless sensors and software defined antennas.

7. John Penn

http://www.aticourses.com/fundamentals_of_RF_engineering.html

John Penn is currently the Team Lead for RFIC Design at Army Research Labs. Previously, he was a full-time engineer at the Applied Physics Laboratory for 26 years where he contributed to the New Horizons Mission. He joined the Army Research Laboratory in 2008. Since 1989, he has been a part-time professor at Johns Hopkins University where he teaches RF & Microwaves I & II, MMIC Design, and RFIC Design. He received a B.E.E. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1980, an M.S. (EE) from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in 1982, and a second M.S. (CS) from JHU in 1988.

8. Timothy Cole

http://www.aticourses.com/space_based_lasers.htm

http://www.aticourses.com/Tactical_Intelligence_Surveillance_Reconnaissance_System_Engineering.htm

http://www.aticourses.com/Wireless_Sensor_Networking.htm

Timothy Cole is a leading authority with 30 years of experience exclusively working in electro-optical systems as a system and design engineer. While at Applied Physics Laboratory for 21 years, Tim was awarded the NASA Achievement Award in connection with the design, development, and operation of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Laser Radar and was also the initial technical lead for the New Horizons LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI instrument).  He has presented technical papers addressing space-based laser altimetry all over the US and Europe. His industry experience has been focused on the systems engineering and analysis associated development of optical detectors, wireless ad hoc remote sensing, exoatmospheric sensor design and now leads ICESat-2 ATLAS altimeter calibration effort.

9. Robert Moore

http://www.aticourses.com/satellite_rf_communications.htm

Robert C. Moore worked in the Electronic Systems Group at the JHU/APL Space Department since 1965 and is now a consultant. He designed embedded microprocessor systems for space applications. He led the design and testing efforts for the New Horizons spacecraft autonomy subsystem. Mr. Moore holds four U.S. patents. He teaches for ATIcourses and the command-telemetry-data processing segment of “Space Systems” at the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering.

10. Jay Jenkins

http://www.aticourses.com/spacecraft_solar_arrays.htm

Jay Jenkins is a Systems Engineer in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA and an Associate Fellow of the AIAA. His 24-year aerospace career provided many years of experience in design, analysis, and test of aerospace power systems, solar arrays, and batteries. His career has afforded him opportunities for hands-on fabrication and testing, concurrent with his design responsibilities. He was recognized as a winner of the ASME International George Westinghouse Silver Medal for his development of the first solar arrays beyond Mars’ orbit and the first solar arrays to orbit the planet, Mercury. He was recognized with two Best Paper Awards in the area of Aerospace Power Systems.

 

NASA bets the farm on the long-term viability of space agriculture

Old MacDonald had a space farm.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.

Also, our president, Jim Jenkins, is an avid gardener who grows a garden full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas.

Jim_Tomato

If you give an astronaut a packet of food, she’ll eat for a day. If you teach an astronaut how to farm in space, she’ll eat for a lifetime—or at least for a 6-month-long expedition on the International Space Station.

Since its earliest missions, NASA has been focused on food, something astronauts need whether they’re at home on Earth or orbiting 250-odd miles above it. Over the years, the administration has tried a series of solutions: John Glenn had pureed beef and veggie paste, other flight crews used new-age freeze drying technology. More recently, NASA’s been trying to enable its astronauts to grow their own food in orbit.

Bryan Onate, an engineer stationed at the Kennedy Space Center, is on the forefront of this technology. He helped lead the team that built Veggie, NASA’s first plant growth system, and next month he’s sending up Veggie’s new and improved brother, the Advanced Plant Habitat.

The habitat is the size of a mini-fridge. But instead of storing soda, it will carefully record every step in the growth of plants aboard the space station. This will allow researchers on the ground unprecedented insight into how plants are shaped by microgravity and other forces at work in outer space. And, Onate says, “astronauts may get to enjoy the fruit of our labor.”

Read more here.

Babylon 5 solar system bears striking resemblance to our own

 

The number of planetary systems discovered seems to grow on a daily basis, but most of them are wildly different to our own solar system. Now a team of University of Arizona researchers led by Kate Su have used NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) flying observatory to take a closer look at a system 10.5 light years away and discovered it has a familiar general structure.


 

The star in question is Epsilon Eridani (ε Eri) in the southern hemisphere of the constellation of Eridanus. Its previous claims to fame were as the setting for the sci fi television series Babylon 5 and the disputed location of Star Trek‘s planet Vulcan. It’s also been the subject of several early studies seeking extrasolar planets and was even monitored in the 1960s by Project Ozma as a possible source of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Much of the previous work on Epsilon Eridani involved the Spitzer Space Telescope, but SOFIA is over twice the size of Spitzer, has three times the resolution, and can operate in the infrared at wavelengths between 25 and 40 microns. What this meant was that SOFIA could discern much smaller details, especially from warm materials, than before, which suggested an alternative model to the one provided by Spitzer’s data.

 

NASA astronaut: Space toilet inspires ‘sheer terror’

Forget motion sickness and adjusting to microgravity. Astronaut Jack Fischer is most worried about facing the space station’s intimidating bathroom facilities.

On Thursday, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is scheduled to embark on his first voyage to the International Space Station. He’s excited to be working on a variety of experiments, including ones dealing with plant growth and bone growth, but he’s less than thrilled about the prospect of using the loo in microgravity.

In a NASA Q&A, Fischer reveals what he expects his greatest challenge will be. He says it’s the toilet. “It’s all about suction, it’s really difficult, and I’m a bit terrified,” Fischer says.

In case you think Fischer is exaggerating his toilet trepidation, here’s NASA description of how the commode functions: “The toilet basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and waste into the commode.” It also requires the use of leg restraints.

“Unlike most things, you just can’t train for that on the ground,” Fischer says, “so I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.”

 

Stunning Space Station photo of glowing auroras

Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)
Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)

NASA has released an amazing photo show by Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, who photographed bright auroras from the International Space Station on March 27, 2017.

“The view at night recently has been simply magnificent: few clouds, intense auroras. I can’t look away from the windows,” Pesquet wrote in a tweet that included the image.

Here’s what NASA wrote about the image:

“The dancing lights of the aurora provide stunning views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.’

Check out more images from NASA’s Aurora Image Gallery

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You can make a difference. Applied Technology Institute is scheduling new courses for September 2016 through July 2017. Please let us know which courses you would like to see on our schedule or brought to your facility.

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Bounce House For The Astronauts!

Applied Technology Institute offers a variety of course on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.

When Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon cargo ship lifts off from Cape Canaveral on April 8, there’ll be a little treat for the astronauts on the International Space Station nestled among all the supplies and consumables: a whole new room for the ISS! How’d NASA fit an entire room onto a space craft with only as much cargo room as a small U-Haul? The same way you squeeze a camping mattress into the trunk of your car: make it inflatable.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is about 8 feet in diameter in its compacted state. Once it reaches the ISS and is attached to the wing known as the Tranquility Node, it’ll be filled with air until the aluminum-and-fabric structure swells to 565 cubic feet. It will then spend the next two years attached to the ISS, before being jettisoned and left to burn up in the atmosphere. As NASA says it has no plans to store equipment inside the module, astronauts will presumably use it as a tiny, zero-g bounce house.

BEAM, which was developed in conjunction with Bigelow Aerospace, isn’t going into orbit simply so the astronauts can have a place to let loose their inner child. The module’s main purpose is to serve as a test bed for inflatable space habitats. Astronauts will measure how much radiation is entering the chamber, how much heat is leaking out, and how well it holds air, among other factors.

If the BEAM proves successful at holding its shape and deflecting nasty radiation and micrometeoroids, the basic concept could be a huge breakthrough for future deep-space missions. As anyone who’s read “The Martian” knows, inflatable habitats would be ideal for the lunar or Martian surface; they could be transported and air-dropped in compact form, then blown up to create living space.

NASA has released a quick video showing the basics of how the BEAM will be installed. Don’t worry about pausing that playlist for it, though; there’s no sound. In space, no one can hear you inflate your bounce house.


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Astronauts & Their Pets: How To Care For Your Pet From Space

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Satellites & Space-Related courses.

We thought this could be of interest to our readers.

Space: the final frontier, the dark expanse, the great unknown. It’s a place only a few brave humans have traveled, and one that mystifies most others. For the astronauts who spend time among the stars, outer space is a realm that offers them amazing and unique experiences.

Full of unknowns, space also offers its fair share of distinct problems. Science Channel’s new showSecret Space Escapes features some of the bizarre and terrifying issues that can occur when you leave Earth. But not all of the struggles of space are this extreme; some are as simple as home sickness or missing your furry best friends.

Three astronauts featured on Secret Space Escapes about how they dealt with being committed spacemen and pet owners.

Image above: Mission Specialist Clayton Anderson made his first shuttle flight on STS-117. Anderson served as a flight engineer on Expeditions 15 and 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clayton Anderson

He was a mission specialist on the STS-117 mission aboard Atlantis.  He stayed on the ISS for five months before returning to earth with the crew of STS-120.

Clayton has two dogs: Cosmo (a mini dachshund) and Lizzy (a dachshund/Yorkie combo).

His main means of communication with his furry friends were video chats.

Astronaut and medical doctor Scott Parazynski was a crewmember on STS-86, the seventh shuttle mission to dock with Mir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Parazynski

Scott was also on mission STS120.

He is a proud owner or Mare ( a planetary scientist dog). Mare’s name generates from the maria on the moon, the black parts on the moon that you can see with the naked eye.

Scott mainly communicated with Mare via phone calls.

Daniel Toni

Daniel has a total of 132 days in space about ISS.

He has an 18 year old cat named Koshka (Russian for cat) and a dog named Tayto (after the Irish brand of chips).

He doesn’t have a memory of seeing them in a video conference, but he is sure they were around. Like many things, the meowing and barking just go in the background.

 

All of them would have loved to have their pets in space, but are afraid that potty functions and dog breath could be an issue…

 

 

 

 


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Unidentified Space Object Will Fall to Earth Nov. 13

An unidentified space object will fall to Earth on Friday Nov. 13, but don’t be alarmed; it poses very little risk.

The unidentified object was first spotted in 2013 by astronomers in Arizona and it was appropriately dubbed WT1190F. It is believed to only be a couple feet in diameter and not very dense, which could mean it’s a leftover piece of a rocket.

The European Space Agency said the object has been orbiting Earth every three weeks in a “highly eccentric, non-circular orbit.”

Both ESA and NASA are excited to see the object reenter Earth’s atmosphere because it’ll help with research. ESA said the event will provide an opportunity to gather data and improve space agencies’ knowledge of how objects interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

“The first goal will be to better understand the reentry of satellites and debris from highly eccentric orbits,” Marco Micheli, astronomer at ESA’s NEO Coordination Centre, said in a statement. “Second, it provides an ideal opportunity to test our readiness for any possible future atmospheric entry events involving an asteroid, since the components of this scenario, from discovery to impact, are all very similar.”

WT1190F is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere around 6 p.m. (Sri Lanka time) and fall into the Indian Ocean about 62 miles off the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Astronomers said the object will put on a spectacular show to those nearby as it turns into a bright strike against the mid-day sky.


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