Cal Day 2015

CalDay-logos-2014Join us for Cal Day, Saturday, April 18th, from 11am-5pm, the one day each year that UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab opens its doors to the public. Shuttles will be transporting the public every 15 minutes from Hearst Mining Circle on campus to SSL.  Activities include walking tours of UC Berkeley’s cutting-edge space science research lab, as well as talks on topics such as space weather, teens doing art-science mashups, a career panel on cool jobs in space science, and hands-on activities for all ages! Get your Science@Cal Passports here, with activities for children 5 and up.

For more information, go to the Events page on this website!

Visit Our Neighbor: Lawrence Hall of Science

See how the Hall is inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and designers. Have your Science@Cal passport stamped as you explore the wonderful world of science. Join free Planetarium presentations, design your own nano creations, and explore real-time datasets on Science On a Sphere. For more information, visit the Hall’s Cal Day page [link to: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/visit/events/cal_day]

MAVEN completes 1,000 Orbits around Mars

Maven 1000 Orbits

MAVEN completed 1,000 orbits around the Red Planet on April 6, 2015, four-and-a-half months into its one-year primary mission.

MAVEN is in its science-mapping orbit and has been taking data since the start of its primary mission on Nov. 16, 2014. The furthest point (apoapsis) in the spacecraft’s elliptical orbit has been 6,500 kilometers (4,039 miles) and the closest (periapsis) 130 kilometers (81 miles) above the ‪#‎Martian‬surface.

Delta 4-Heavy selected for launch of solar probe

File photo of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket launch in June 2012. Credit: ULA

File photo of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket launch in June 2012. Credit: ULA

 A NASA spacecraft that will fly closer to the sun than any mission before will launch on a Delta 4-Heavy rocket in 2018, requiring a boost from the largest active launcher in the U.S. inventory and repeated flybys around Venus to reach an operating post inside the solar atmosphere.

As expected, NASA announced its selection of the United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket to dispatch the Solar Probe Plus mission from Earth. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral is set for July 31, 2018, at the opening of a 20-day launch window, NASA said in a press release.

The complete article, courtesy of Spaceflight Now, can be read here:

MAVEN Detects Aurora and Mysterious Dust Cloud around Mars

Photo from NASA's MAVEN Mission to Mars Posts

Shown here is an artist’s conception of MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) observing the “Christmas lights aurora” on Mars. MAVEN observations show that aurora on Mars is similar to Earth’s “Northern Lights” but has a different origin. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

The ‪#‎MAVEN‬ spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the ‪#‎Martian‬ atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.

Shown here is a map of the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph’s auroral detections in December 2014 overlaid on Mars’ surface. The map shows that the aurora was widespread in the northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The aurora was detected in all observations during a 5-day period, though no data were taken in the southern hemisphere and some regions in the northern hemisphere were missed. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

Shown here is a map of the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph’s auroral detections in December 2014 overlaid on Mars’ surface. The map shows that the aurora was widespread in the northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The aurora was detected in all observations during a 5-day period, though no data were taken in the southern hemisphere and some regions in the northern hemisphere were missed. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

Read the full story, here.

Courtesy of NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars

NASA, ESA Telescopes Give Shape to Furious Black Hole Winds

15-021-nustar

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast out radiation and ultra-fast winds, as illustrated in this artist’s conception. NASA’s NuSTAR and ESA’s XMM-Newton telescopes show that these winds, containing highly ionized atoms, blow in a nearly spherical fashion. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions — a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.

Read more

 

Van Allen Probes spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act

MIT-Solar-Storm-A1_0

Earth’s magnetosphere is depicted with the high-energy particles of the Van Allen radiation belts (shown in red) and various processes responsible for accelerating these particles to relativistic energies indicated. The effects of an interplanetary shock penetrate deep into this system, energizing electrons to ultra-relativistic energies in a matter of seconds. Courtesy of NASA

Scientists at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, the University of Colorado, and elsewhere have analyzed data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes, and observed a sudden and dramatic effect in the aftermath of a solar shockwave: The resulting magnetosonic pulse, lasting just 60 seconds, reverberated through the Earth’s radiation belts, accelerating certain particles to ultrahigh energies.

The complete story, courtesy of MIT News is found here:

 

MAVEN Completes First Deep Dip Campaign

Maven over Mars

This image shows an artist concept of the MAVEN spacecraft in orbit around Mars. (Courtesy NASA/GSFC)

The MAVEN spacecraft has completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers designed to gather measurements closer to the lower end of the ‪#‎Martian‬upper atmosphere.

“During normal science mapping, we make measurements between an altitude of about 150 km and 6,200 km (93 miles and 3,853 miles) above the surface,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulder‘s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “During the deep-dip campaigns, we lower the lowest altitude in the orbit, known as periapsis, to about 125 km (78 miles) which allows us to take measurements throughout the entire upper atmosphere.”

The 25 km (16 miles) altitude difference may not seem like much, but it allows scientists to make measurements down to the top of the lower atmosphere. At these lower altitudes, the atmospheric densities are more than ten times what they are at 150 km (93 miles).

NASA Goddard
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Lockheed Martin
UC Berkeley

Read the full release here:, courtesy of University of Colorado, LASP