Total Solar Eclipse Aug 21st, 2017

Megamovie App makes photographing the Total Solar Eclipse a Snap

The Eclipse Megamovie project has released an app that makes it easy for citizen scientists with smart phones to photograph the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse and upload the images to the project team; a collaboration between the Space Sciences Laboratory’s Multiverse education group and Google’s Making & Science initiative to provide a lasting photo archive for scientists studying the sun’s corona.

The Eclipse Megamovie Mobile app, created by Ideum, is available for Android phones through Google Play store and for iPhones through iTunes’ App Store.

UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko, an admitted eclipse addict, advises on safe viewing and why you shouldn’t miss this rare event, the Great American Eclipse. Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally.

When downloaded and installed, the app walks users through a simple process to point your smart phone at the sun and automatically starts taking photos. Photos begin 15 seconds before totality and throughout the total eclipse – which will last a maximum of 2 minutes, 40 seconds, depending on where you are – and 15 seconds after the total eclipse has ended to capture what is known as the “diamond ring” effect.

The complete article on photographing the total eclipse using the Megamovie Mobile app is found here.

Delta IV Heavy Booster Cores Arrive for Parker Solar Probe

Framed by a series of cabbage palms, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy common booster core is transported by truck to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37 Horizontal Processing Facility after arriving at Port Canaveral. The Delta IV Heavy will launch NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission.
The mission will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. The probe will rely on measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and the Sun-Earth connection. Liftoff atop the Delta IV Heavy rocket is scheduled to take place from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 37 in summer 2018.

Launch preparations are beginning to get off the ground for NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled to lift off in summer 2018 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Two of the three common booster cores comprising the rocket’s first stage have arrived on the company’s Mariner ship, which delivered the components to Port Canaveral in Florida. From there the cores were offloaded and transported to the Horizontal Processing Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37.

The Parker Solar Probe will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. The probe will rely on measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and the Sun-Earth connection.

Van Allen Probes Surf through Waves in Space

The two populations of hiss, low and high frequency, inhabit two separate regions in near-Earth space.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith

The space surrounding our planet is full of restless charged particles and roiling electric and magnetic fields, which create waves around Earth. One type of wave, plasmaspheric hiss, is particularly important for removing charged particles from the Van Allen radiation belts, a seething coil of particles encircling Earth, which can interfere with satellites and telecommunications. A new study published in Journal of Geophysical Research using data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes spacecraft has discovered that hiss is more complex than previously understood.

The new study looked at a newly identified population of hiss waves at a lower frequency than usually studied. These low-frequency hiss waves are particularly good at cleaning out high-energy particles — those that can cause damage to satellites — from the radiation belts. The authors of the study noticed that low-frequency waves are actually a separate and unique population, tending to cluster in different regions around Earth compared to their high-frequency counterparts.

The complete article is found here.

2017 Novato Space Festival

Mark your calendars for the Annual Novato Space Festival, Sunday August 6th, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Meet legendary Astronauts from the Apollo, Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs.

EARLY ENTRANCE at 9:30am for families with CHILDREN 12 & UNDER
You’ll get to browse the exhibit area first,
THEN you’ll get to meet Astronaut Jerry Ross and he will read to you from his children’s book!

Parker Solar Probe – Cool Power

The solar panels are shown here on this artist rendering of Parker Solar Probe; they are the black squares with gray rectangles on the center of the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

As NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft begins its first historic encounter with the sun’s corona in late 2018—flying closer to our star than any other mission in history—a revolutionary cooling system will keep its solar arrays at peak performance, even in extremely hostile conditions.

Every instrument and system on board Parker Solar Probe (with the exception of four antennas and a special particle detector) will be hidden from the sun behind a breakthrough thermal protection system (TPS)—an eight-foot diameter shield that the spacecraft uses to defend itself against the intense heat and energy of our star.

Every system will be protected, that is, except for the two solar arrays that power the spacecraft. When the spacecraft is closest to the sun, the solar arrays will be receiving 25 times the solar energy they would while orbiting Earth, and the temperature on the TPS will reach more than 2,500°F (1,370°C). The cooling system will keep the arrays at a nominal temperature of 320°F (160°C) or below.

The complete article is found here.

1,000 Days in Orbit: MAVEN’s Top 10 Discoveries at Mars

This artist concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft and the limb of Mars.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

“MAVEN has made tremendous discoveries about the Mars upper atmosphere and how it interacts with the sun and the solar wind,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “These are allowing us to understand not just the behavior of the atmosphere today, but how the atmosphere has changed through time.”

During its 1,000 days in orbit, MAVEN has made a multitude of exciting discoveries. Here is a countdown of the top 10 discoveries from the mission:

10. Imaging of the distribution of gaseous nitric oxide and ozone in the atmosphere shows complex behavior that was not expected, indicating that there are dynamical processes of exchange of gas between the lower and upper atmosphere that are not understood at present.

9. Some particles from the solar wind are able to penetrate unexpectedly deep into the upper atmosphere, rather than being diverted around the planet by the Martian ionosphere; this penetration is allowed by chemical reactions in the ionosphere that turn the charged particles of the solar wind into neutral atoms that are then able to penetrate deeply.

See the remaining eight discoveries here:

NuSTAR’s First Five Years in Space

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft on orbit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Five years ago, on June 13, 2012, Caltech’s Fiona Harrison, principal investigator of NASA’s NuSTAR mission, watched with her team as their black-hole-spying spacecraft was launched into space aboard a rocket strapped to the belly of an aircraft. The launch occurred over the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Many members of the team anxiously followed the launch from the mission’s operations center at the University of California, Berkeley, anxious to see what NuSTAR would find.

Now, Harrison shares her take on five of the mission’s many iconic images and artist—ranging from our flaring sun to distant, buried black holes. NuSTAR is the first telescope capable of focusing high-energy X-rays—and it has taken the most detailed images of the sky in this energy regime to date.

Read the complete article and see the images.