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NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Caught in Hyperion's Particle Beam
The Cassini probe obtained this false-color view of Saturn's chaotically tumbling moon Hyperion during a flyby on Sept. 26, 2005. October 16, 2014: Static electricity is known to play an important role on Earth's airless, dusty moon, but evidence of static charge building up on other objects in the solar system has been elusive until now. A new analysis of data from NASA's Cassini mission has revealed that, during a 2005 flyby of Saturn's moon Hyperion, the spacecraft was briefly bathed in a beam of electrons coming from the moon's electrostatically charged surface.

The finding represents the first confirmed detection of a charged surface on an object other than our moon, although it is predicted to occur on many different bodies, including asteroids and comets.

The new analysis was led by Tom Nordheim, a doctoral candidate at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), University College London, and was published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Hyperion is porous and icy, with a bizarre, sponge-like appearance. Its surface is continuously bombarded by ultraviolet light from the sun and exposed to a rain of charged particles -- electrons and ions -- within the invisible bubble generated by Saturn's magnetic field, called the magnetosphere. The researchers think Hyperion's exposure to this hostile space environment is the source of the particle beam that struck Cassini.

Measurements made by several of Cassini's instruments during a close encounter with Hyperion on September 26, 2005, indicate that something unexpected took place in the charged particle environment around the spacecraft. Among those instruments, the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) detected that the spacecraft was magnetically connected to the surface of Hyperion for a brief period, allowing electrons to escape from the moon toward the robotic probe.

Most people are familiar with the electrostatic charge buildup that occurs when a balloon is rubbed against hair or a sweater. Objects in space can also become electrostatically charged by exposure to solar ultraviolet light and incoming charged particles. The Cassini data show that a similar process can take place on Hyperion.

The finding is surprising, as the small but odd-looking moon was thought to be a simple inert object, which would not undergo any strong interactions with the Saturnian magnetosphere. Nevertheless, the team's analysis indicates that Cassini remotely detected a strongly negative voltage on Hyperion. "It was rather like Cassini receiving a 200-volt electric shock from Hyperion, even though they were over 2,000 kilometers [1,200 miles] apart at the time," said Nordheim.

Scientists had previously suggested that surface features observed on the asteroid Eros and several of Saturn's moons are due to the motion of charged dust across their surfaces. On small objects with low gravity, dust grains might even be able to overcome the force of gravity and escape into space.

Although mission controllers have detected no signs that the Hyperion electron beam caused damage to Cassini, strong electric charging effects could prove to be a hazard to future robotic and human explorers at planetary objects without atmospheres, including Earth's moon, where they could create the potential for powerful electrostatic discharges.

"Our observations show that this is also an important effect at outer planet moons and that we need to take this into account when studying how these moons interact with their environment," said Geraint Jones of MSSL, a member of the Cassini CAPS team who helped supervise the study.

Cassini's CAPS instrument was powered off in 2012, when the instrument began to draw excess current. The team is based at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. Part of the CAPS instrument that made the detection discussed in this research -- the CAPS electron spectrometer -- was built by MSSL.

Nordheim and colleagues also utilized data from three other Cassini instruments in their analysis: the Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument, the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument and the magnetometer.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

More information about Cassini is available at the following sites:

Credit: NASA/JPL

+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
+University College London 
+Carolyn Porco Fan Page 

#NASA   #Space   #Saturn   #Cassini   #Hyperion   #Moon   #Static #Electrical  #Charge #Voltage  #Electrons #Electrostaic
#Magnetosphere #Planet #Solar #Cosmic #Radiation #Spacecraft

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A ton of booze, some ice cream all topped with M&M's. It's the M&M DELIGHT! Subscribe to our channel: and follow us:

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Animated Solar System Map
This is a preview of an animated and interactive Solar System map:
In the website version, "you can set the date to see where each of the bodies in our solar system are at any given date. You can toggle the moon phases on or off, toggle the zodiac symbols on and off to accompany the calendar dates, and can even adjust the speed at which the dates and planets advance."

Acknowledgement: SolarVPS

#Space   #Astronomy   #SolarSystem  #Planets #Moon #Zodiac #Animation #Science  #Copernicus #Tycho #STEM #Learning
Animated Photo

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Julian Melchiorri, a Royal College of Art graduate, claims to have created an artificial biological functional leaf. “I extracted chloroplasts from  plant cells and placed  them  inside this silk protein. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does”. In other words, this artificial  leaf can take in carbon dioxide, light and water to release oxygen.

One of the application is the production of oxygen in space that could handle the harsh environment of interstellar travel. Plants in fact just don’t like zero gravity environments, and toting around an indefinite oxygen supply isn’t really feasible.
Apart from space exploration, these leaves can be used for oxygen producing lampshades or for the ventilation systems in large buildings. Back here on Earth, they can be used as biological air filters or oxygen producers.

#nature #ecology #design  

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An automobile company creates TRANSPARENT car made of acrylic.

Please Follow: +Interesting Things 

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The incredible shrinking force

Around 2000, a guy named Robert Shawyer claimed he could bounce microwaves inside a fancy-shaped can and get them to  push the can forwards, without anything leaving the can. 

This would violate conservation of momentum.  It's like sitting inside a car and making it roll forwards by pushing on the steering wheel.  Standard physics doesn't allow this.  He didn't claim to be using anything other than standard physics. 

So: ho hum, just another guy with a really bad idea.  I get emails like this all the time.

But in 2001, his company got a £45,000 grant from the British government to study this idea.  He built his machine and claimed that with 850 watts of power he could get a force of 0.016 newtons.   That's a bit less than the force of gravity from a penny pushing down on your hand.  It could easily be an experimental error.

Why would people want a machine that uses lots of power to create a pathetically feeble force?   Because - here's the great piece of salesmanship - if it existed, you could use it to build a reactionless drive!  If you had a spaceship with huge amounts of power to spare - like, say, a nuclear reactor - you could use this gizmo to push your spaceship forwards without anything spewing out the back end. 

Again, this is about as plausible as powering a spaceship by having the crew push on it from the inside.   But if you don't know physics, it sounds very exciting. 

The story goes on.  And on.  And on.  It won't die.  In 2012, some Chinese physicists claimed they could get a force of 0.720 newtons from a power of 2,500 watts using some version of Shawyer's device. 

And now NASA is studying it!

They're claiming to see a force one thousandth as big as the Chinese - maybe because they are doing the experiment one thousand times more accurately.  And still, some people are excited about this. 

The new device comes with new improved mumbo-jumbo.  Shawyer claimed that thanks to special relativity, classical electromagnetism can violate conservation of momentum.  I took those courses in college, I know that's bullshit.  Now the NASA scientists say:

"Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma."

This is bullshit too - but now it's grad school bullshit.  "Quantum vacuum virtual plasma" is something you'd say if you failed a course in quantum field theory and then smoked too much weed.  There's no such thing as "virtual plasma".   If you want to report experimental results that seem to violate the known laws of physics, fine.  But it doesn't help your credibility to make up goofy pseudo-explanations.

I expect that in 10 years the device will be using quantum gravity and producing even less force. 

For an article written by a severely optimistic blogger, see:

The NASA technical report is here:

Unfortunately only the abstract is free!  I think someone with access should download the paper and make it publicly available.  If my government is spending my money on this sort of thing, I'd at least like to see it.

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Rosetta navigation camera (NAVCAM) image taken on 1 August 2014. This time showing the comet in a different orientation to the previous week.

#Rosetta #67P #RosettaAreWeThereYet  
2 Photos - View album

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Hubble captures view of “Mystic Mountain”
This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a pillar of gas and dust, three light-years tall, which is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.
This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around the Earth.
Scorching radiation and fast winds (streams of charged particles) from super-hot newborn stars in the nebula are shaping and compressing the pillar, causing new stars to form within it. Streamers of hot ionised gas can be seen flowing off the ridges of the structure, and wispy veils of gas and dust, illuminated by starlight, float around its towering peaks. The denser parts of the pillar are resisting being eroded by radiation.
Nestled inside this dense mountain are fledgling stars. Long streamers of gas can be seen shooting in opposite directions from the pedestal at the top of the image. Another pair of jets is visible at another peak near the centre of the image. These jets, (known as HH 901 and HH 902, respectively, are signposts for new star birth and are launched by swirling gas and dust discs around the young stars, which allow material to slowly accrete onto the stellar surfaces.
Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on 1-2 February 2010. The colours in this composite image correspond to the glow of oxygen (blue), hydrogen and nitrogen (green), and sulphur (red).

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NASA announces Mars 2020 rover payload to explore the Red Planet as never before.

The next rover NASA will send to Mars will carry seven carefully-selected instruments to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet. Learn more here:
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