Forrest Mozer Awarded John Adam Fleming Medal

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Forrest Mozer who has been honored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) as one of the 2018 class of medalists. Mozer has been awarded the John Adam Fleming Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements, contributions, and service to the Earth and space science community.

The recipients of the AGU medals and awards represent many areas of Earth and space science and come from a variety of backgrounds including early career researchers, climate scientists, data scientists, and journalists. Their passion, vision, creativity, and leadership have helped to expand scientific understanding, pave the way to new research directions, and have made Earth and space science accessible, relevant, and inspiring to audiences across the scientific community and general public. The honorees will be recognized during the Honors Tribute at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, 12 December 2018, in Washington, DC.

“This year’s awardees exemplify AGU’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and promoting the best scientific research, education, and communication in the Earth and space sciences,” said Eric Davidson, AGU President. “I offer my congratulations and thanks to this esteemed group of scientists, educators, and journalist who – through their devotion to scientific discovery and outreach – are helping to make the world a better place.”

See a complete list of the 2018 AGU medal, award, and prize recipients here.

Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun

Weeks after Parker Solar Probe made the closest-ever approach to a star, the science data from the first solar encounter is just making its way into the hands of the mission’s scientists. It’s a moment many in the field have been anticipating for years, thinking about what they’ll do with such never-before-seen data, which has the potential to shed new light on the physics of our star, the Sun. Read about what scientists hope to learn from the mission:

This image from Parker Solar Probe’s WISPR (Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe) instrument shows a coronal streamer, seen over the east limb of the Sun on Nov. 8, 2018, at 1:12 a.m. EST. Coronal streamers are structures of solar material within the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, that usually overlie regions of increased solar activity. The fine structure of the streamer is very clear, with at least two rays visible. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun’s surface when this image was taken. The bright object near the center of the image is Jupiter, and the dark spots are a result of background correction.

There goes the fastest, hottest mission under the Sun! ☀️🛰

This video made with images from the APL-designed-and-built Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory Ahead (#STEREO-A) spacecraft, shows the location of the #ParkerSolarProbe (also designed and built by #JHUAPL) as it flies through the Sun’s outer atmosphere during its first solar encounter phase in November 2018. (Credit: #NASA/STEREO)

Eavesdropping in Space: How NASA records eerie sounds around Earth


Space isn’t silent. It’s abuzz with charged particles that — with the right tools — we can hear. Which is exactly what NASA scientists with the Van Allen Probes mission are doing. The sounds recorded by the mission are helping scientists better understand the dynamic space environment we live in so we can protect satellites and astronauts.

To some, it sounds like howling wolves or chirping birds or alien space lasers. But these waves aren’t created by any such creature – instead they are made by electric and magnetic fields.

If you hopped aboard a spacecraft and stuck your head out the window, you wouldn’t be able to hear these sounds like you do sounds on Earth. That’s because unlike sound — which is created by pressure waves — this space music is created by electromagnetic waves known as plasma waves.

Plasma waves lace the local space environment around Earth, where they toss magnetic fields to and fro. The rhythmic cacophony generated by these waves may fall deaf to our ears, but NASA’s Van Allen Probes were designed specifically to listen for them.

Read and Hear the sounds of space

Courtesy of Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Parker Solar Probe Sits Atop Delta IV Heavy – Av Week 1st Place Space

The #ParkerSolarProbe sits on top a Delta IV Heavy #rocket🚀 at Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (August 2018). This photo, shot by #JHUAPL‘s own Ed Whitman, won first place in the #space category in the 2018 Aviation Week Photo Contest! 🎉

The Parker Solar Probe – designed, built, and operated for #NASA by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – became the fastest human-made object ever on Oct. 29, when it reached a speed of 153,454 miles per hour. — with NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA Sounding Rockets Carry TRICE-2 over Norwegian Sea

The two TRICE-2 Black Brant XII sounding rockets are seen in this time-lapse photograph soaring into space over the Norwegian Sea. Credits: NASA/Jamie Adkins

Two NASA sounding rockets successfully flew over the Norwegian Sea early in the morning December 8 carrying an experiment to study the electrodynamics of the polar cusp.

The Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics or TRICE-2 were launched at 3:26 and 3:28 a.m. EST from the Andoya Space Center in Andenes, Norway. The first rocket flew to an altitude 646 miles and the second flew to 469 miles.

Preliminary data show that the two four-stage Black Brant XII rockets performed nominally and good science data was received from both flights.

The Whole Storythanks to Keith Koehler, Wallops Flight Facility

NASA-funded Twin Rockets, TRICE-2, to Tag Team the Cusp

The two rockets for the Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics, or TRICE-2, are in the launch position during a dress rehearsal at the Andøya Space Center in Norway,

In early December, observers in northern Norway will be treated to an unusual show: a sounding rocket double feature. Arcing up over the Norwegian sea, the first rocket will blast off to an altitude of more than 600 miles high, headed due north. Approximately two minutes later, at a lower altitude, another rocket will follow its path.

These twin rockets are chasing down a mystery about magnetic reconnection, the explosive process that allows charged particles from space to stream into Earth’s atmosphere. Carefully observing anomalies in this stream of particles, scientists have wondered about the processes that let them in: Does magnetic reconnection turn on and off, like a faucet, or do particles course in from separate locations, like the distinct streams of a sprinkler?

Armed with two rockets and a clever experimental design, the scientists behind the TRICE-2 mission, short for Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics-2, hope to uncover an answer. The results promise to shed light on the fundamental process of magnetic reconnection and, in the long run, help us better predict how and when Earth’s magnetic shield can suddenly become porous and let outside particles in.

The Complete Article and Video


“Magnetic Mars” Engages Public Audiences in Science

The MAVEN communications and outreach team has developed a variety of resources to help communicate the discoveries of the mission to a broad public audience. An article describing these resources published today in the American Geophysical Union (AGU) journal EOS (Earth and Space Science News).

Visitors to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry can check out the Invisible Mars Science on a Sphere exhibit, part of an effort by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission team to bring Mars research to the general public. Credit: OMSI

For a cold little planet, Mars remains a hot topic: The general public wants to know more about this alien world and hear from the scientists who study it. Recent findings that highlight tantalizing clues to Mars’s wetter past have piqued this interest still further.

For example, because Mars lacks a global magnetic field, the planet has lost much of its ancient, thicker atmosphere, and much of its carbon dioxide has been lost to space. How habitable was the Red Planet, and what does its history tell us about habitability of other alien worlds?

Read the complete EOS article by Christine Shupla, , Tom Mason, and Bruce Jakosky

The Parker Solar Probe is the single greatest innovation of 2018

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

There is no shortage of innovation in NASA’s mission roster. Whether you are landing on Mars or entering orbit around an alien planet, missions to space require mind-blowing technological advances. This year the most ingenious spacecraft accolade (and our award for Innovation of the Year) goes to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. This spacecraft is going to the most deadly place in the solar system—our sun. And it’s not just getting kind of close: as NASA likes to say, it’s going to “kiss” our hellishly hot host star.

No space agency has ever sent a spacecraft so close to the sun before. Previous attempts have inched as near as 25 million miles from the surface, but Parker Solar Probe will orbit the sun at an average distance of only 4 million miles. In order to do this and not melt into a gooey pile of metal, it is equipped with a revolutionary heat shield. The surface of the sun averages around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but Parker Solar Probe won’t get that close. The team expects the spacecraft to reach temperatures of around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit at most during its 6.5-year mission, and it’s built to beat that heat without a problem.

The heat shield is made up of a carbon-carbon material, similar to what is found in some golf clubs, but this carbon has been heated up. The shield also features a special carbon foam that is made up of 97% air. With a nice coating of white paint on the front to deflect the sun’s rays, this spacecraft is all set to survive an otherwise deadly environment. And all of that protection is only 8 feet in diameter, 4.5 inches thick, and 160 pounds.

Read the complete Article, courtesy of Shannon Stirone and Popular Science