Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Question 42: 31 July 2012 (Week 31)

Q42: What is Blue Moon?

Blue Moon - Calendar - August 2012

Blue Moon is an event in which full moon occurs twice in same month. This happens in around every 2.7 years. It is nothing to do with the blue color. Moon will appears same as full moon.

In August 2012, 1st full moon will occur on August 2 and second full moon will occur on August 31.  Full moon on August 31 will be " Blue Moon".

Written by: DMR

Keys Dates for Curiosity Landing

Curiosity Was Launched on    Curiosity will land on Mars       Watch landing on NASA TV
7:02 a.m. PST, Nov. 26, 2011                             10:31 p.m. PDT, Aug. 5, 2012                                Aug. 5, 2012, 8:30 p.m. PDT
       (10:02 a.m. EST)                                          (1:31 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6, 2012)                              (11:30 p.m. EDT):NASA TV


Curiosity Entry, Descent and Landing Procedure Begins

Mars Science Laboratory flight team begins executing its procedure for entry, descent and landing (EDL), and the spacecraft begins its sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing this coming weekend. These activities include enabling needed components and setting final parameters. In addition, the schedule over the next several days includes opportunities to update parameters for the autonomous software controlling events during EDL. If needed, these updates can fine-tune the spacecraft's autonomous controls for its descent through the atmosphere. Some parameters give the spacecraft's onboard computer knowledge about where the vehicle is relative to Mars. Others may be updated based on observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft of Mars' variable atmospheric conditions in this week before landing.

Source: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov

Answer to Question 41

A41: Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain with height of 33480 feet from base to peak. It is situated in island of Hawaii in USA. Its base is on Sea floor and its peak is 13796 feet above sea level.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shape of Celestial Body - Spherical or Irregular

There are two major factors on which shape of the celestial body depends:

Gravitation Pull: The shape of a body is determined by the interaction between its gravity and solidity. It is simple Newton’s law of Gravitation, whenever we have huge mass close enough, each particle start experiencing the gravitational force towards the centre. This gravitation pull is equal in all directions, which results into a spherical shape.  

Gravity of the significantly larger moons and planets is so strong; by contrast, that it turns these celestial bodies into spheres. That is reason almost all the stars and big planets are spherical.

Planet Mars; Image Credit: NASA

Celestial objects that are too small for gravity to pull them into spherical shape can have a variety of shapes. Small asteroids and comets have little gravity, which is insufficient to force their larger rocks into a spherical distribution.

Comet; Image Credit: NASA

Asteroids; Image Credit: NASA

Rotation of Celestial Body: The spin around their own axis - also plays an important role with regard to the shape of celestial bodies. Spinning bodies are oblate--larger along the equatorial than along the polar axes because of the centrifugal force. The Earth is not complete sphere but oblate, it is around 0.3% larger across the equator than from pole to pole.

Shape of a celestial body may also depend on the Tidal forces and internal motions.

Written By: DMR

Why Mars Every Time

The huge NASA rover speeding toward an Aug. 5 landing on Mars may be the most capable and complex Red Planet explorer ever launched, but it's far from the first.
The 1-ton Curiosity rover — which will search for evidence that Mars is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life — represents humanity's 40th effort to explore the Red Planet over the last half-century.
The huge number of attempted Mars missions may seem surprising, especially since many of our solar system's other planets and moons remain relatively unstudied. But the Red Planet keeps calling us back — and for good reason, experts say.
Fifty years of Mars exploration
The Mars exploration era began in October 1960, when the Soviet Union launched two probes four days apart. The spacecraft, known in the West as Marsnik 1 and Marsnik 2, were designed to perform flybys of the Red Planet, but neither even reached Earth orbit.
The United States got in the game in 1964, launching the Mariner 3 spacecraft on an intended Mars flyby. The mission failed, but Mariner 4 succeeded, cruising past the Red Planet in July 1965 and sending 21 photos back to Earth.
The nation built on that accomplishment, sending a series of orbiters, landers and rovers to Mars over the following five decades.
Notable NASA successes include the Viking 1 and Viking 2 missions, which sent orbiters and landers toward the Red Planet in 1975; the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed in January 2004; the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which arrived at the Red Planet in 2006; and the Phoenix lander, which discovered subsurface water ice in 2008.
But failure remains a regular part of Mars exploration. NASA setbacks include the Mars Polar Lander and Mars Climate Orbiter, two missions that were lost upon arrival at the Red Planet in late 1999. And none of the 19 Mars efforts the Soviet Union/Russia has launched over the years achieved its goals in full.
Overall, the success rate for Mars missions is south of 50 percent.

Source: www.space.com

Question 41: 30 July 2012 (Week 31)

Q41: Name and Height of highest mountain in sea on earth.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Top 10 Countries Visiting This Blog

Winners of 30th Week's Quiz

Russian Cargo Spacecraft Docks With Space Station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship parked itself at the International Space Station tonight (July 28), in a second attempt to test an updated space docking system, NASA says.
The robotic Russian Progress 47 spacecraft re-docked to the space station to test the new Kurs-NA docking system. The cargo ship safely approached the station and automatically attached itself to thePirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the massive orbiting laboratory at 9:01 p.m. EDT (0101 GMT July 29). Russia intends to use the Kurs-NA docking system on future unmanned Progress spacecraft and manned Soyuz vehicles.
The Progress' safe docking followed a failed first attempt four days ago, on July 23, which was aborted after a technical glitch prevented the spacecraft from reaching the orbiting outpost. After that attempt, the Progress 47's onboard computers kept the craft a safe distance away from the station while Russian engineers analyzed the failure.
Source: www.Space.com

Blue Moon in August

The month of August brings us not one, but two full moons. The first will kick off the month on Wednesday (Aug.1), and will be followed by a second on Aug. 31.
Some almanacs and calendars assert that when two full moons occur within a calendar month, the second full moon is called a "blue moon."
The full moon that night will likely look no different than any other full moon. But the moon can change color in certain conditions. 
Two full moons in the same month is not as uncommon as one might think.  In fact, it occurs, on average, about every 2.66 years.  And in the year 1999, it occurred twice in a span of just three months. 
While we've assigned the name blue moon to the second full moon of the month, it seems that we have no such name for the second new moon of the month.  Nonetheless, these opposing phases seem to be connected with each other. For if two new moons occur within a specific month, then in most cases, four years later, two full moons will also occur in that very same month. 
As an example, there were two new moons in August 2008. Now, four years later, August 2012 will be graced with two full moons.
The next time we will see two full moons in a single month comes in July 2015 (July 1 and 31). But if you still have a calendar leftover from last year, check the month of July. 

4 Planets Have Rings in Solar System

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings. Jupiter's rings were discovered by the interplanetary space probe Voyager 1 in March 1979. The rings extend 80,240 miles (129,130 kilometers) from the center of the planet. They are about 4,300 miles (7,000 kilometers) wide and less than 20 miles (30 kilometers) thick. A faint inner ring is believed to extend to the edge of Jupiter's atmosphere.
Saturn has the largest, most spectacular set of rings in the solar system. Saturn's rings were first recognized by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) in 1659 and were examined in detail by the Voyager I and Voyager 2 missions in 1980 and 1981. Saturn's rings are about 41,168 miles (66,400 kilometers) wide and 169,800 miles (273,200 kilometers) in diameter, but less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) thick. There are six different rings, the largest of which appears to be divided into thousands of ringlets. The rings appear to be composed mainly of frozen water—in the form of snowflakes, snowballs, hailstones, and icebergs—ranging in size from 3 inches to more than 10 yards in diameter.
In 1977, when Uranus occulted (passed in front of) a star, scientists observed that the light from the star flickered or winked several times before the planet totally blocked the star from view. The same flickering occurred as Uranus continued on its path and the star came back into view. The reason for this flickering was determined to be the presence of rings around Uranus. Nine rings were initially identified and Voyager 2 discovered two more in 1986, bringing the total to eleven. The rings are thin, narrow, and very dark.
Voyager 2 also discovered a series of at least five very faint rings around Neptune in 1989. The rings are made up of particles, some of which are greater than one mile in diameter and are considered "moonlets." Where these particles clump together, they create relatively bright areas called "arcs."

Answer to Question 40

A40: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Curiosity Configured for Final Approach

MSL Configured for Final Approach; Flight Team Takes a Breath

With completion of nearly all work to configure the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft for entry, descent and landing, most of the flight team is getting some well-deserved rest today in preparation for next week's final approach to Mars. There are no planned flight team spacecraft activities today. NASA's Deep Space Network continues to monitor spacecraft telemetry and track the spacecraft's trajectory.

Question 40: 28 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q40: How many planets have ring around them in our solar system.

Spacecraft for Curiosity

What is the spacecraft?

The spacecraft is the protective "spaceship" that enables the precious cargo (that is, the rover!) to travel between Earth and Mars. It is separate from the launch vehicle that carries the spacecraft and the rover outside of Earth's atmosphere and gravity pull.

Like NASA's twin Mars rovers that landed on the red planet in early 2004, the Mars Science Laboratory rover is tucked inside a tightly packaged cruise stage and aeroshell with a heat shield. Unlike the two Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Science Laboratory Rover will extend its wheels similar to the way an airplane unfolds its landing gear just before touchdown.

The spacecraft includes the mechanical units that safely carry and maneuver the rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere and lands on Mars.

The spacecraft design for Mars Science Laboratory consists of:

  Cruise Stage:
Configuration for travel between Earth & Mars.
  Entry, Descent, & Landing System:
Configuration for entry into the Martian atmosphere. Includes the aeroshell and a "sky crane" lander structure.
A wheeled vehicle with science instruments for discoveries on the Martian surface.

The spacecraft design for the Mars Science Laboratory mission is based largely on the successful twin Viking landers sent to Mars in the 1970s. The rover design is based on the Mars Exploration Rovers, which landed on Mars in early 2004. The system for entry, descent, and landing is entirely new.

How much does the spacecraft weigh?

The Mars Science Laboratory mission had a total launch mass, including the rockets that lifted it away from Earth, of about 531,000 kilograms (1.17 million pounds). The total mass of the spacecraft is 3,893 kilograms (8,463 pounds). The mass of parts of the spacecraft is as follows:

  Mass in kg (lbs)
899 kg
(1,982 lbs)
EDL System
(Aeroshell and fueled descent stage)
2,401 kg
(5,293 lbs)
Cruise Stage (Fueled)
539 kg
(1,188 lbs)

Flags on Moon

An enduring question ever since the manned moon landings of the 1960s has been: Are the flags planted by the astronauts still standing?
Now, lunar scientists say the verdict is in from the latest photos of the moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC): Most do, in fact, still stand.
"From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11," LROC principal investigator Mark Robinson wrote in a blog post today(July 27). "Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reported that the flag was blown over by the exhaust from the ascent engine during liftoff of Apollo 11, and it looks like he was correct!"
Each of the six manned Apollo missions that landed on the moon planted an American flag in the lunar dirt.
Scientists have examined images of the Apollo landing sites before for signs of the flags, and seen hints of what might be shadows cast by the flags. However, this wasn't considered strong evidence that the flags were still standing. Now, researchers have examined photos taken of the same spots at various points in the day, and observed shadows circling the point where the flag is thought to be."
Most scientists had assumed the flags hadn't survived more than four decades of harsh conditions on the moon.
"Intuitively, experts mostly think it highly unlikely the Apollo flags could have endured the 42 years of exposure to vacuum, about 500 temperature swings from 242 F during the day to -280 F during the night, micrometeorites, radiation and ultraviolet light, some thinking the flags have all but disintegrated under such an assault of the environment," scientist James Fincannon, of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, wrote in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

Source: www.space.com

Answer to Question 39

A39: Tee-garden's Stars lies in Milky Way Galaxy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Question 39: 27 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q39: In which galaxy we have " Teegarden's Stars"?

Hint: Post on July 4, 2012, nearby Stars

Watch Curiosity Landing on NASA TV

Watch Curiosity's Landing!

Aug 5, 2012     10:31 p.m.   Pacific
Aug 6, 2012     1:31 a.m.   Eastern
Aug 6, 2012     5:31 a.m.   Universal

Watch NASA TV Show Online
Begins Aug 5: 2012
8:30 p.m. Pacific
11:30 p.m. Eastern

For more Detail: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/participate/

What is Pulsar

Pulsars are among the strangest objects in the universe. In 1967, at the Cambridge Observatory, Jocelyn Bell and Anthony Hewish were studying the stars when they stumbled on something quite extraordinary. It was a star-like object that seemed to be emitting quick pulses of radio waves. Radio sources had been known to exist in space for quite some time. 

But this was the first time anything had been observed to give off such quick pulses. They were as regular as clockwork, pulsing once every second. The signal was originally thought to be coming from an orbiting satellite, but that idea was quickly disproved. After several more of these objects had been found, they were named pulsars because of their rapidly pulsing nature. Bright pulsars have been observed at almost every wavelength of light. Some can actually be seen in visible light. Many people tend to get pulsars confused with quasars. But the two objects are totally different. Quasars are objects that produce enormous amounts of energy and may be the result of a massive black hole at the center of a young galaxy. But a pulsar is a different animal entirely.

Olympic City London from Space

London's lights from space, taken by the Suomi NPP satellite on March 27, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory 

Answer to Question 38

A38: The word "nebula" is derived from the Latin word for "clouds". Indeed, a nebula is a cosmic cloud of gas and dust floating in space.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alien Solar System Looks a Lot Like Our Own

Astronomers have discovered an alien solar system whose planets are arranged much like those in our own solar system, a find that suggests most planetary systems start out looking the same, scientists say.
Researchers studying the star system Kepler-30, which is 10,000 light-years from Earth, found that its three known worlds all orbit in the same plane, lined up with the rotation of the star — just like the planets in our own solar system do. The result supports the leading theory of planet formation, which posits that planets take shape from a disk of dust and gas that spins around newborn stars.

"In agreement with the theory, we have found the star's spin to be aligned with the planets," said study co-author Dan Fabrycky, of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "So this result is profound because it is basic data testing the standard planet formation theory."

Three known exoplanets orbit the star Kepler-30 in a configuration that is similar to our solar system’s.CREDIT: Cristina Sanchis Ojeda
Planets crossing starspots
The Kepler-30 system consists of three known extrasolar planets circling a sunlike star. All three worlds — Kepler-30b, Kepler-30c and Kepler-30d — are much larger than Earth, with two being even more massive than Jupiter.

The three planets were detected in January by NASA's Kepler space telescope, which has spotted more than 2,300 potential alien worlds since its March 2009 launch. Kepler uses the "transit method," noting the telltale brightness dips caused when a planet crosses, or transits, a star's face from the telescope's perspective.

In the new study, the scientists studied Kepler observations of the extrasolar system even more closely.
Like our own sun, Kepler-30 has starspots, temporary blotches that appear dark because they're significantly cooler than the rest of the star's surface. The research team determined that all three planets transited the same starspot repeatedly, showing that their orbits must be coplanar and aligned closely with the star's spin.

In this sense, the Kepler-30 system looks like our cosmic neighborhood, which sports eight planets all lined up neatly along the sun's rotational equator. Both systems probably formed from a spinning disk of dust and gas, researchers said.

Not all exoplanet systems are so well-ordered. For example, many so-called "hot Jupiters" — giant planets that sit very close to their host stars — have off-kilter or even retrograde orbits. But hot Jupiters likely weren't born this way; rather, they were probably knocked askew by gravitational run-ins with other planets

'Impossible' Stars Found

Four pairs of what astronomers are calling "impossible stars" — stellar twins in orbits so close they defy explanation — have been found in our Milky Way galaxy, scientists say.
Astronomers using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii discovered the four star pairs, each of which is a binary system in which two stars circle each other in less than four hours. Until now, scientists thought that such twin-star setups couldn't exist.
Our sun does not orbit another star, but roughly half of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy do, as part of a binary system. These binary stars likely formed close together, and have been orbiting one another since their birth, the researchers said.

This artist's impression shows two active stars — M4-type red dwarfs — that orbit each other every 2.5 hours, as they continue to spiral inwards. Eventually they will coalesce into a single star.
CREDIT: J. Pinfield, for the RoPACS network

It was typically thought that if a star formed too close to another, the two stars would quickly merge into a single, bigger star. This theory seemed to agree with observations taken over the last three decades, which reveal that binary systems are abundant, but none of the pairs have an orbital period shorter than five hours, the researchers said. 
In the new study, a team of astronomers monitored the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars in near-infrared light over the past five years, and found several stellar binaries with surprisingly short orbits.

The astronomers focused on binaries of red dwarfs, which are stars that are up to ten times smaller and a thousand times dimmer than the sun. While red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the Milky Way galaxy, they often do not show up in astronomical surveys because they are too dim in visible light.

"To our complete surprise, we found several red dwarf binaries with orbital periods significantly shorter than the 5 hour cut-off found for sun-like stars, something previously thought to be impossible," the study's lead author Bas Nefs, from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, said in a statement. "It means that we have to rethink how these close-in binaries form and evolve."

Early in their lifetimes, stars shrink in size, which suggests that the orbits of stars in these tight binary systems must have also shrunk since they were formed, the researchers said. If not, the stars would have interacted with each other early on, and would have likely merged.

But, how the orbits of stars in these binaries shrunk by so much remains a mystery. According to the new study, one possible explanation is that cool stars in binary systems are much more active and violent than was previously thought. As the cool stellar companions spiral in toward each other, their magnetic field lines may become twisted and deformed. This powerful magnetic activity may help slow down the spinning stars, allowing them to move closer together, the researchers explained.

Source: www.space.com


The word "nebula" is derived from the Latin word for "clouds". Indeed, a nebula is a cosmic cloud of gas and dust floating in space. More than one nebula are called nebulae.

Crab Nebula

Nebulae are the basic building blocks of the universe. They contain the elements from which stars and solar systems are built. They are also among the most beautiful objects in the universe, glowing with rich colors and swirls of light. Stars inside these clouds of gas cause them to glow with beautiful reds, blues, and greens. 

These colors are the result of different elements within the nebula. Most nebulae are composed of about 90% hydrogen, 10% helium, and 0.1% heavy elements such as carbon, nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron. These clouds of matter are also quite large. In fact, they are among the largest objects in the galaxy. Many of them are dozens or even hundreds of light-years across. Nebulae have been divided into five major categories. These are emission nebulae, reflection nebulae, dark nebulae, planetary nebulae, and supernova remnants. Emission and reflection nebulae tend to be fuzzy in appearance and lack any noticeable shape or structure. They are also known as diffuse nebulae

Question 38: 26 July 2012 (Week 30)

A38: What do you understand by term Nebula?

Answer to Question 37

A37: Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)  is the latest mission launched for Mars Planet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NASA successfully tests hypersonic inflatable heat shield

A large inflatable heat shield to demonstrate how a space capsule can slowdown and protect itself while entering Earth's atmosphere at hypersonic speeds has been successfully tested by NASA.

The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by sounding rocket yesterday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and survived a trip through Earth's atmosphere, while travelling at a speeds of 7,600 mph, NASA said in a statement.

The purpose of the IRVE-3 test was to show that a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during planetary entry and descent, or as it returns to Earth with cargo from the International Space Station.

"It's great to see the initial results indicate we had a successful test of the hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator," said James Reuther, deputy director of NASA's Space Technology Program.

"This demonstration flight goes a long way toward showing the value of these technologies to serve as atmospheric entry heat shields for future space," said Reuther.

About 6 minutes into the flight, the 680-pound inflatable aeroshell or heat shield, and its payload separated from the launch vehicle's 22-inch-diameter nose cone about 280 miles over the Atlantic Ocean.

An inflation system pumped nitrogen into the IRVE-3 aeroshell until it expanded to a mushroom shape almost 10 feet in diameter. Then the aeroshell plummeted at hypersonic speeds through Earth's atmosphere.

"A team of NASA engineers and technicians spent the last three years preparing for the IRVE-3 flight," said Lesa Roe, director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

"We are pushing the boundaries with this flight. We look forward to future test launches of even bigger inflatable aeroshells." Roe said.

Source: Times of India

Question 37: 25 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q37: Which is the latest mission launched for Mars Planet?


Find Curiosity's Location

After its successful launch on Nov. 26, 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover is in its Cruise Phase on its way to Mars! The trip from Earth to Mars will take about 36 weeks (254 days).

One can visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/whereistherovernow/ for daily update for the location of curiosity.

The Top 5 Potentially Habitable Alien Planets

Astronomers have found more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, and thousands more await confirmation by follow-up observations. Many of these alien worlds are too hot or too cold to support life as we know it, but researchers have found a few that appear to be much more hospitable. 

On July 19, scientists at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo’s Planetary Habitability Laboratory released a list of the top five potentially habitable exoplanets. Here's a brief rundown of the PHL's best candidates:

1. Gliese 581g
This rocky world was announced in September 2010 and has been controversial ever since, with some researchers casting doubt on its existence and its discoverers remaining firmly behind their find. 

Gliese 581g, which is located just 20 light-years away, is likely two to three times as massive as Earth and zips around its parent star every 30 days or so. This orbit places the planet squarely in its star's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.

2. Gliese 667Cc
Gliese 667Cc, which was discovered in February 2012 by the same core team that spotted Gliese 581g, orbits a red dwarf 22 light-years away, in the constellation Scorpius (The Scorpion).

The alien world is a so-called "super Earth" that's at least 4.5 times as massive as our planet, and it completes an orbit every 28 days. At least one other planet circles the star Gliese 667C, which is part of a triple-star system.
3. Kepler-22b
Kepler-22b was spotted by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope in December 2011. It's a super Earth about 2.4 times as wide as our planet. If the greenhouse effect operates on Kepler-22b like it does on Earth, the alien world would have an average surface temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), researchers have said.

Kepler-22b is found about 600 light-years away, and it orbits a star very much like our own sun.
4. HD 85512b
HD 85512b is another super Earth, one that's thought to be 3.6 times as massive as our planet. The alien world is found about 35 light-years from us, in the direction of the constellation Vela (The Sail).

Astronomers announced the discovery of HD 85512b in September 2011. The planet's estimated surface temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).
5. Gliese 581d
This world, which is about seven times as massive as Earth, orbits a bit farther out than its planetary sibling Gliese 581g.

When 581d was first discovered in 2007, many scientists regarded it as too cold to be potentially habitable. In the years since, however, atmospheric-modeling studies have suggested that the planet may indeed be able to support life as we know it — provided 581d is warmed by a greenhouse effect.

Source: www.Space.com

Answer to Question 36

A36: Groombridge 34 is a binary star system located about 11.7 light years from our Sun. It consists of two red dwarf stars in a nearly circular orbit with a separation of about 147 astronomical units.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Solar System: Facts about Mars

Question 36: 24 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q36: What is Groombridge 34? Give some details about it.

Hint: Post on "4th July 2012"

Curiosity: Phases of Operation

The phases of the mission include:
  • Pre-launch Activities: Preparation for the mission, including landing site selection, assembly and testing, and delivery to Cape Canaveral
  • Launch: Lift-off from Earth
  • Cruise: Voyage through space
  • Approach: Nearing the red planet Mars
  • Entry, Descent, and Landing: Journey through the martian atmosphere to the surface
  • First Drive: After landing when engineers first conduct tests to ensure the rover is in a "safe state"
  • Surface Operations: Learning about Mars through the day-to-day activities of the rover

This is an artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars.
Curiosity Approaching Mars, Artist's Concept

To ensure a successful entry, descent, and landing, engineers begin intensive preparations during the approach phase, 45 days before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere. It lasts until the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere, which extends 3522.2 kilometers (2,113 miles) as measured from the center of the red planet.
The activities that engineers typically focus on during the approach phase include:
  • the final trajectory correction maneuvers, which are used to make final adjustments to the spacecraft's incoming trajectory at Mars
  • attitude pointing updates, as necessary, for communications and power
  • frequent "Delta DOR" measurements that monitor the spacecraft's position and ensure accurate delivery
  • start of the entry, descent, and landing behavior software, which automatically executes commands during that phase
  • entry, descent, and landing parameter updates
  • spacecraft activities leading up to the final turn to the entry attitude and separation from the cruise stage
  • the loading of surface sequences and communication windows needed for the first several sols (a "sol" is a martian day)
During the approach phase, the amount of requested tracking by the Deep Space Network would be substantially increased to allow engineers to determine more accurate trajectory solutions in the final weeks before arrival at Mars. This tracking would support the safe delivery of the Mars Science Laboratory landing system to the surface of Mars. The Deep Space Network's 34-meter and 70-meter antennas will be able to provide tracking coverage of the spacecraft during the approach phase.
Source: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov

Sally Ride - First American Women in Space - A Tributes

Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel in space, has died at 61.Ride had been fighting pancreatic cancer for 17 months and died peacefully, her company Sally Ride Science announced today (July 23). 
When she was 32, Ride blasted off on the STS-7 mission of the space shuttle Challenger, breaking through the highest glass ceiling for U.S. women to date. 
During her historic mission, which deployed two communications satellites, Ride also became the first woman to use the shuttle's robotic arm in space. 
Source: Space.com

Answer to Question 35

A35: Main Asteroid Belt is located roughly between the orbital of Mars Planet and Jupiter Planet.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Planet that may support human life ‘discovered’

Astronomers have claimed to have discovered a planet that may be capable of supporting human life.
The planet is 22 light years away and is formally known as Gliese 581g, an Australian daily has reported.

A study by astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington shows that the planet is twice the size of earth.

‘Super Earth’
It is known as a ‘Super Earth’ due to its ability to hold on to its gassy atmosphere, which increases its chances of retaining liquid.
Lead researcher Professor Vogt of the University of California said he named it ‘Zarmina’s World’ after his wife, and the planet has “churchly weather.”
The scientists were not clear whether the liquid is frozen and stored under the surface or is flowing freely across the planet.

The researchers have so far been unable to determine what the surface of the planet is like, Professor Vogt was quoted as saying.

‘Goldilocks Zone’
The planet exists in a band of perpetual twilight near its orbiting star known as the ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ an area near earth that is not too hot or cold, but is just right for sustaining life.
This is not the first time Professor Vogt has claimed the existence of a habitable planet known as ‘HARPS’ (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet).

His findings back in 2010 sparked a fight between U.S. researchers and a rival team of Swiss astronomers.
The study will be published in European astrophysics journal, Astronomisch Naschrischten (AEST).

Source: The Hindu

Question 35: 23 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q35: Where is our solar system's main asteroid belt?

Asteroid as big as a 'city block' - Flying by ( 2002 AM3)

The asteroid is estimated to be 2,000 to 4,500 feet wide, and qualifies as a 'near Earth object'. NEA (near-Earth asteroid) 2002 AM31 is described as 'the size of a city block', the 'Daily Mail' reported.
It will pass through space 14 times further from Earth than the Moon.The space rock will be tracked live by cameras on Earth and in space.
"The entire astronomical community has reversed its thinking about them over the past few decades. Instead of living on an 'island Earth' with little or no connection with other celestial objects, we now feel that collisions with comets or asteroids change the evolution of our biosphere, and maybe even seeded our world with the amino acids that started life long ago," Astronomy magazine's Bob Berman said.
The Slooh website will stream the event online. "Near-Earth asteroid 153958 (2003 AM31) represents 1 of approximately 9,000 whizzing past Earth at any given moment, and we wanted to highlight this one as it's only 13.7 lunar distances from Earth - similar to near-Earth asteroid LZ1 which zoomed past us unexpectedly mid-June," Patrick Paolucci, President at Slooh website was quoted by the paper as saying.
he asteroid, known as 2002 AM31 was discovered 10 years ago by Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR). It is a fairly large near-Earth asteroid — about 3,000 feet wide — and will come within about 3.2 million miles of Earth, or roughly 14 times the Earth-moon distance. Because of its size and distance, the object is classified as “potentially hazardous,” though it has zero chance of hitting Earth

Curiosity: Landing Sequences

Omega Nebula - Tri-Colour

Three-colour composite image of the Omega Nebula (Messier 17, or NGC 6618), based on images obtained with the EMMI instrument on the ESO 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope at the La Silla Observatory. North is down and East is to the right in the image. It spans an angle equal to about one third the diameter of the Full Moon, corresponding to about 15 light-years at the distance of the Omega Nebula. The three filters used are B (blue), V ("visual", or green) and R (red).
Credit: ESO, Source: Space.com

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Winners of 29th Week's Quiz

Facts About Curiosity

Mission name: Mars Science Laboratory

Rover name: Curiosity rover

Size: About the size of a small SUV-- 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall -- (about 3 meters long (not including the arm), 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall), or about the height of a basketball player.

Arm Reach: About 7 feet (2.2 meters)

Weight: 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)

Features: Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras

Mission: To search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life

Launch: Nov. 26, 2011, 7:02 a.m. PST (10:02 a.m. EST)

Landing: August 2012

Length of mission on Mars: The prime mission will last one Mars year or about 23 Earth months.

Answer to Question 34

A34: Weight of Curiosity is approximately 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Question 34: 21 July 2012 (Week 30)

Q34: What is weight of Curiosity Rover?

Curiosity: Body Structure

Just to keep Curiosity active and able to move, scientist tried to give similar features as of a living creature on earth.

Curiosity and a creature have something common
  • Body: a structure that protects the rovers´ "vital organs"
  • Brains: computers to process information
  • Temperature controls: internal heaters, a layer of insulation, and more
  • "Neck and Head": a mast for the cameras to give the rover a human-scale view
  • Eyes and other "senses": cameras and instruments that give the rover information about its environment
  • Arm and "hand": a way to extend its reach and collect rock samples for study
  • Wheels and "legs": parts for mobility
  • Energy: batteries and power
  • Communications: antennas for "speaking" and "listening"

Asteroid 2002 AM31 Passes by Earth

Asteroid 2002 AM31 will be about 3.2 million miles away from Earth on its closest approach (July 22, 2012), so there is no need to worry. Though - this orbital diagram created by NASA shows just how close a few million miles can be.
Credit: NASA/JPL

Answer to Question 33

A33: Moon is drifting away from earth by 3.8cm every year.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Russia building Moon spaceship - Lunar Base

MOSCOW - Russia has started building a spacecraft for manned Lunar missions with the first test scheduled in 2015, the project developer said Thursday.
"The work has already started. The unmanned tests are scheduled in 2015, the first manned mission is planned in 2018," head of the Central Research Institute of Machine Building Gennady Raikunov told local media.
These spaceships are designed to land on and lift off from the Moon, work as space tug boats and service modules for other space vehicles, Raikunov said.
"(Russian federal space agency) Roscosmos has planned the creation of a new manned transportation system to conduct manned flights to the Moon, servicing the vehicles in space," he said.
Raikunov linked the Lunar program to the fate of Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). Whether Russia will continue the ISS work after 2020 depends on the progress of the Lunar program.
"It is necessary to determine the main direction of manned cosmonautics development. Current strategy envisages focusing on the manned flights to the Moon, including the creation of a base on its surface," he said.
Last week, head of the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Corp. Victor Khartov said Russia must "return to the Moon in 2015 in a Soviet style, to prove everyone and ourselves that we remember all the Soviet Union could do" at the Farnborough air show in Britain.
The Russian space strategy until 2030 presented by Roscosmos regards the Moon missions as a step toward the manned flight to Mars.

Source: ChinaDaily.com.cn