Charles Townes turns 99

U.C. Berkeley Nobel Prize Winner and SSL Scientist Researcher, Professor Charles Townes will be turning 99 next week. Join the celebration! and help Dr. Townes celebrate this momentous Birthday milestone.

The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964 was divided, one half awarded to Charles Hard Townes, the other half jointly to Nicolay Gennadiyevich Basov and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle”.

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You can also read the Berkeley NewsCenter article.

MAVEN Particle and Fields Instruments Monitor Space Weather at Mars

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MAVEN Particles and Fields: Exploring the Solar Wind Beyond 1 A.U.

As part of its goal to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and the solar wind, MAVEN is exploring propagation of the solar wind and solar energetic particles (SEPs) beyond 1 Astronomical Unit (149,597,871 kilometers or 92,955,807 miles) during its cruise to ‪#‎Mars‬.

Solar wind density compressions from stream interactions and interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) (left) and SEP events (right) are seen at the orbits of Earth and ‪#‎MAVEN‬.

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They show the combined effects of radial propagation and solar rotation, and features can be followed along the solar-wind spirals.

MAVEN observations are complementary to near-Earth assets, providing a valuable perspective on the structure of the solar wind.

The Particles and Fields package has demonstrated its ability to monitor space weather at Mars!

For additional information about the MAVEN Particles and Fields Package, visit: http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/science/instrument-package

Watch a video, MAVEN’s Particles and Fields Package: Studying the Solar Wind at Mars: http://youtu.be/o0TDUVeCzLE

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Goddard UC Berkeley University of Colorado Boulder

Did the Solar Wind Erode the Early Martian Atmosphere

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The Martian climate remains one of the solar system’s biggest mysteries: although cold and dry today, myriad surface features on Mars carved by flowing water attest to a much warmer, wetter past. What caused this dramatic transition?

Scientists think that climate change on Mars may be due to solar wind erosion of the early atmosphere, and the MAVEN mission will test this hypothesis.

Project Manager David F. Mitchell discusses ‪#‎MAVEN‬ and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s role in sending it to the Red Planet.

MAVEN: Goddard Goes to Mars

(Video credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

100 Days to Mars Orbit Insertion for MAVEN

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Image credit: NASA – LASP

MAVEN is 100 days away from Mars Orbit Insertion

‪#‎Friggatriskaidekaphobia‬ is a fear of Friday the 13th. We on the MAVEN team prefer to celebrate the milestone of being 100 days out from September 21, 2014, when our upper atmospheric orbiter will rendezvous with the red planet and begin solving Mars’ climate mystery.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Update – Contact made with ISEE-3!

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It’s official: ISEE-3, the 36-year-old satellite that NASA left for dead over a decade ago, is back in touch with humankind. This afternoon, a group of citizen scientists who raised almost $160,000 to fund the process of taking control of ISEE-3 announced that two-way contact has been established with the little satellite that could. So what’s next?

“Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft’s overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth,” explained the Reboot team in a triumphant comment released today. Contact was made at Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, where scientists collaborated with a worldwide network of like-minded space fans to fund and engineer the project.

Now comes the fun part: Getting ISEE-3 back to the business of studying space. We’ll have more updates as they come.

Posted by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmodo Thursday May 29th

Everything Old is New Again

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Artist’s concept image of ISEE-3 (ICE) spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

ISEE-3 was launched in 1978 to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth and NASA has signed an agreement with citizen scientists attempting to communicate with the old spacecraft. The ISEE-3 Spacecraft is returning toward Earth 35 years after it was launched and 33 years after its official mission end. 

Two instruments on the satellite are attributed to the late Dr. Kinsey Anderson. The first instrument studied, Interplanetary and Solar Electrons 2 keV to > 1 MeV and the second instrument studied X-Ray and Gamma Ray Bursts in the 5-228 KeV range. Both Instruments were also worked on by Peter Harvey, Henry Heetderks and the late Henry Primbsch.

SSL Researchers in the news

SETI Researcher Dan Werthimer speaks before Congress about the existence of extraterrestrial life. The complete article is posted on Yahoo News,  “Astronomers Tell Congress They’re Almost Certain ET Exists“.

Project Scientist Thomas Immel warns us about the pandora’s box of the burgeoning Cube Sat industry, in “Mini-satellites send high-definition views of Earth” found at BBC News

MAVEN Solar Wind Ion Analyzer Will Look at Key Player in Mars Atmosphere Loss

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SWIA Assembled on Clean Room Flow Bench

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SWIA Mounted on a corner of the MAVEN Spacecraft

This past November, NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched MAVEN in the hope of understanding how and why Mars has been losing its atmosphere over billions of years.

One instrument aboard the spacecraft will study a special component of the Martian atmosphere to help solve this mystery. By studying ions, or small electrically charged particles, in and above the Red Planet’s tenuous atmosphere, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer will help answer why Mars has gradually lost much of its atmosphere, developing into a frozen, barren planet.

Once the MAVEN spacecraft is orbiting Mars, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA)—which was designed and built at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL)—will spend much of its time measuring the ions in the solar wind. Released continuously from the sun’s atmosphere, the solar wind travels toward Mars at speeds around a million miles per hour, carrying with it a magnetic field that originates inside the sun. It is composed of charged particles that interact with neutral gas particles in Mars’ upper atmosphere, giving them the ability to escape from Mars’ gravitational pull.

Scientists think the interactions between solar wind ions and Mars’ atmospheric particles are a key factor allowing the particles to escape, a process that gradually strips the planet of its atmosphere and has done so for billions of years.

Read the full NASA feature article, here:http://1.usa.gov/1iUhKqW

SWIA instrument lead, Jasper Halekas from UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab, was featured in a June 2012 MAVEN team blog entry