We’re celebrating Women’s History Month with a look at a group of women from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab who are key to the success of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, a groundbreaking mission to explore our Sun, scheduled to launch on July 31.
Meet APL’s Nicola Fox, project scientist; Betsy Congdon, lead thermal protection system engineer; Yanping Guo, mission design and navigation manager; and Annette Dolbow, integration and test lead engineer — just a few of the women working to ready the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft for its historic journey to our star.
Learn more at http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/
Want to get the hottest ticket this summer without standing in line?
NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching in summer 2018. The mission will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and your name will go along for the ride.
“This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades.”
Understanding the Sun has always been a top priority for space scientists. Studying how the Sun affects space and the space environment of planets is the field known as heliophysics. The field is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star, it supports exploration in the solar system and beyond.
Parts of the instrument suites on the Parker Solar Probe were made here at SSL.
February 17th is the 11 year anniversary of the launch of the Five THEMIS Spacecraft, a two year mission to study space weather.
NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) aims to resolve one of the oldest mysteries in space physics, namely to determine what physical process in near-Earth space initiates the violent eruptions of the aurora that occur during substorms in the Earth’s magnetosphere.
THEMIS is a 2-year mission consisting of 5 identical probes that will study the violent colorful eruptions of Auroras.
More about THEMIS and ARTEMIS Mission here
We mourn the passing for Frances Townes, wife of Charles Townes, on her 102nd birthday. You can read her obituary Berkeleyside.
The Robert P. Lin Graduate Fellowship will be used to support outstanding graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley who pursue research related to space sciences, including, but not limited to, students with training in Physics, Astronomy or Engineering.
After a successful launch on Thursday, Jan. 25, GOLD is now on its way to providing unprecedented images of the Earth’s ionosphere—the boundary between our planet and space.
Also launching this year is the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, which will study the ionosphere and neutral upper atmosphere.
But while GOLD flies in geostationary orbit—onboard its host SES Government Solutions communications satellite—more than 22,000 miles above the Western Hemisphere, ICON flies just 350 miles above Earth, where it can gather close-up images of this region.
Download this image as a PDF.
Learn more about the collaboration between ICON—led out of UC Berkeley‘s Space Sciences Laboratory—and GOLD—designed and built at the University of Colorado Boulder‘s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics: https://go.nasa.gov/2GpxSRh.
(Image credit: NASA Goddard/Mary Pat Hrybyk)
The systems engineers successfully established communication with the GOLD instrument and its detector doors opened when commanded. After their tests, the engineers powered off the instrument the same day, at 7:40 p.m. EST. The instrument will remain powered off until its host satellite, SES-14, reaches geostationary orbit and GOLD operations commence later this year.
On Wednesday, Jan. 17, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was lowered into the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft will remain in the chamber for about seven weeks, coming out in mid-March for final tests and packing before heading to Florida.
The thermal vacuum chamber simulates the harsh conditions that Parker Solar Probe will experience on its journey through space, including near-vacuum conditions and severe hot and cold temperatures.
“This is the final major environmental test for the spacecraft, and we’re looking forward to this milestone,” said Annette Dolbow, Parker Solar Probe’s integration and test lead from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, which designed, built, and will manage the mission for NASA. “The results we’ll get from subjecting the probe to the extreme temperatures and conditions in the chamber, while operating our systems, will let us know that we’re ready for the next phase of our mission – and for launch.”
During thermal balance testing, the spacecraft will be cooled to -292 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 Celsius). Engineers will then gradually raise the spacecraft’s temperature to test the thermal control of the probe at various set points and with various power configurations.