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Elizabeth Therese Niwel
Believe in the impossible.
Believe in the impossible.
Elizabeth Therese Niwel's posts

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If you missed ...
Russian Cargo Craft arrives at the International Space Station
The unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 66 cargo craft automatically docked to the International Space Station Feb. 24, completing a two-day journey to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the residents of the complex. The Progress linked up to the Pirs Docking Compartment on the Russian segment of the complex two days after its launch on a Soyuz booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was the first launch of a Progress resupply craft to the station since a launch failure last Dec. 1 resulted in the loss of the ISS Progress 65 ship.


#NASA #ESA #ISS #RosCosmos #Space #Soyuz #Progress #Docking

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VEGA flight opportunity for multiple small Satellites
Unlike most small launchers, Vega is able to place multiple payloads into orbit. In particular, it offers configurations able to handle payloads ranging from a single satellite up to one main satellite plus additional small satellites.

Payload masses range from 300 kg to 2500 kg, depending on the type and altitude of the orbit required by the customers. Vega is benchmarked to loft 1500 kg into a 700 km-altitude circular orbit at 90° inclination. It is the ideal launcher for most scientific and Earth observation missions.

Named after the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere, Vega makes access to space easier, quicker and cheaper. It operates from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Vega is a 3 m-diameter single-body vehicle, standing 30 m tall with a liftoff mass of 137 tonnes. It has three solid-propellant stages and a liquid-propellant upper module for attitude and orbit control, and satellite release.

Vega officially became an ESA programme in June 1998, when the Agency inherited the small-launcher programme of Italy’s ASI space agency.

Europe’s Vega small launcher is set to demonstrate its extended capability to deploy multiple light satellites using its new versatile Small Satellites Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser, in the second half of 2018.

This demonstration provides the first of the launch opportunities under the new Light satellite, Low-cost Launch opportunity (LLLor L3) Initiative initiated at the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in December 2016 with the aim to provide low-cost and regular launch services for European Institutional light satellites through full exploitation of the Ariane 6 and Vega C launch systems’ capabilities.

This first proof-of-concept flight using the current Vega launch system will demonstrate and validate standard innovative services for light satellites.

Read more ...

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NASA - funded Ballon recovered from Antarctica
For 12 days in January 2016, a football-field-sized balloon with a telescope hanging beneath it floated 24 miles above the Antarctic continent, riding the spiralling polar vortex. On Jan. 31, 2016, scientists sent the pre-planned command to cut the balloon – and the telescope parachuted to the ground in the Queen Maud region of Antarctica.

The telescope sat on the ice for an entire year.

The scientists did quickly recover the data vaults from the NASA-funded mission, called GRIPS, which is short for Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares. But due to incoming winter weather – summer only runs October through February in Antarctica – they had to leave the remaining instruments on the ice and schedule a recovery effort for the following year. Finally, in January 2017, it was warm and safe enough to recover the instruments.

For more information:

NASA Goddard/UC-Berkeley/Hazel Bain/Joy Ng, producer

Music credit: "Inducing Waves" by Ben Niblett [PRS] and Jon Cotton [PRS] from Killer Tracks Music

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at:


#NASA #NASAgov #NASAGoddard #GRIPS #Antarctica #ParachutedTelescope #SpiralingPolarVortex #SolarFlares #Sun #Earth #Space #Sky #WinterWeather #Summer #ESA

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Lake Success, California
California has seen some heavy rains recently after years of drought, filling many of the state’s reservoirs. The rising waters are evident in this radar image from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite mission over part of the San Joaquin Valley.

The three water bodies pictured here are Lake Kawhea in the upper right, Bravo Lake to its left and Lake Success in the lower right. This image was created by combining two scans from Sentinel-1’s radar on 15 December and 26 January, and assigning each scan a colour. Combined, the colours reveal changes, such as the red colouring in the reservoirs showing the water level increase.

Officials have begun to release water from Lake Success as heavy rains have nearly filled it to capacity, and the outflow is sometimes exceeding the inflow in these days.

The problem of too much water is in stark contrast from the situation in previous years, when drought led to water shutoffs and cutoffs, severely hindering yields in the San Joaquin Valley – a major agricultural region. Major crops include grapes, cotton, nuts and fruits, with productivity relying on irrigation from surface water diversions and groundwater pumping from wells.

Agricultural structures dominate this radar composite image. Like the reservoirs, colours reveal changes between December and January such as vegetation growth or harvests.

Along the right side of the image, we can see the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

See also video at:

#ESA   #Satellites   #Sentinel1   #LakeKawhea   #LakeSuccess   #Agriculture   #ImagesfromSpace   #Space   #Sky   #Geology  

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Amazing ~_~
A Rainbow view of NASA's RS-25 engine test
NASA engineers conducted their first RS-25 test of 2017 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on Feb. 22, continuing to collect data on the performance of the rocket engine that will help power the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Shown from the viewpoint of an overhead drone, the test of development engine No. 0528 ran the scheduled 380 seconds (six minutes and 20 seconds), allowing engineers to monitor various engine operating conditions. The test represents another step forward in development of the rocket that will launch humans aboard Orion deeper into space than ever before. Four RS-25 engines, together with a pair of solid rocket boosters, will power the SLS at launch on its deep-space missions. The engines for the first four SLS flights are former space shuttle main engines, which were tested extensively at Stennis and are some of the most proven engines in the world. Engineers are conducting an ongoing series of tests this year for SLS on both development and flight engines for future flights to ensure the engine, outfitted with a new controller, can perform at the higher level under a variety of conditions and situations. Stennis is also preparing its B-2 Test Stand to test the core stage for the first SLS flight with Orion, known as Exploration Mission-1. That testing will involve installing the flight stage on the stand and firing its four RS-25 engines simultaneously, just as during an actual launch.
The Feb. 22 test was conducted by Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services engineers and operators. Aerojet Rocketdyne is the prime contractor for the RS-25 engines. Syncom Space Services is the prime contractor for Stennis facilities and operations.


#NASA #RS25 #ESA #StennisSpaceCenter #SLS #Orion #space #Sky

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SpaceX Dragon Cargo Spacecraft Attached to the International Space Station
Following the arrival of the unpiloted SpaceX Dragon cargo craft to the International Space Station on Feb. 23, the station crew used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Dragon. Ground controllers then sent commands for the robot arm to maneuver the vehicle to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it was installed and bolted into place. The Dragon will spend about a month at the space station while the crew unloads the almost 5,500 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments delivered by the Dragon.


#NASA #SpaceXDragon #ISS #ESA #Space

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"Quartz" crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field
Scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology report in Nature (22 February 2017) unexpected discoveries about the Earth's core. The findings include insights into the source of energy driving the Earth's magnetic field, factors governing the cooling of the core and its chemical composition, and conditions that existed during the formation of the Earth.
The Earth's core consists mostly of a huge ball of liquid metal lying at 3,000 km beneath its surface, surrounded by a mantle of hot rock. Notably, at such great depths, both the core and mantle are subject to extremely high pressures and temperatures. Furthermore, research indicates that the slow creeping flow of hot buoyant rocks—moving several centimeters per year—carries heat away from the core to the surface, resulting in a very gradual cooling of the core over geological time. However, the degree to which the Earth's core has cooled since its formation is an area of intense debate amongst Earth scientists.

In 2013 Kei Hirose, now Director of the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), reported that the Earth's core may have cooled by as much as 1,000 ℃ since its formation 4.5 billion years ago. This large amount of cooling would be necessary to sustain the geomagnetic field, unless there was another as yet undiscovered source of energy. These results were a major surprise to the deep Earth community, and created what Peter Olson of Johns Hopkins University referred to as, "the New Core Heat Paradox", in an article published in Science.

Core cooling and energy sources for the geomagnetic field were not the only difficult issues faced by the team. Another unresolved matter was uncertainty about the chemical composition of the core. "The core is mostly iron and some nickel, but also contains about 10% of light alloys such as silicon, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, and other compounds," Hirose, lead author of the new study to be published in the journal Nature. "We think that many alloys are simultaneously present, but we don't know the proportion of each candidate element."

Now, in this latest research carried out in Hirose's lab at ELSI, the scientists used precision cut diamonds to squeeze tiny dust-sized samples to the same pressures that exist at the Earth's core (Figure 1). The high temperatures at the interior of the Earth were created by heating samples with a laser beam. By performing experiments with a range of probable alloy compositions under a variety of conditions, Hirose's and colleagues are trying to identify the unique behaviour of different alloy combinations that match the distinct environment that exists at the Earth's core.

The search of alloys began to yield useful results when Hirose and his collaborators began mixing more than one alloy. "In the past, most research on iron alloys in the core has focused only on the iron and a single alloy," says Hirose. "But in these experiments we decided to combine two different alloys containing silicon and oxygen, which we strongly believe exist in the core."

The researchers were surprised to find that when they examined the samples in an electron microscope, the small amounts of silicon and oxygen in the starting sample had combined together to form silicon dioxide crystals (Figure 2) — the same composition as the mineral quartz found at the surface of the Earth.

"This result proved important for understanding the energetics and evolution of the core," says John Hernlund of ELSI, a co-author of the study. "We were excited because our calculations showed that crystallization of silicon dioxide crystals from the core could provide an immense new energy source for powering the Earth's magnetic field." The additional boost it provides is plenty enough to solve Olson's paradox.

The team has also explored the implications of these results for the formation of the Earth and conditions in the early Solar System. Crystallization changes the composition of the core by removing dissolved silicon and oxygen gradually over time. Eventually the process of crystallisation will stop when then core runs out of its ancient inventory of either silicon or oxygen.

"Even if you have silicon present, you can't make silicon dioxide crystals without also having some oxygen available" says ELSI scientist George Helffrich, who modeled the crystallization process for this study. "But this gives us clues about the original concentration of oxygen and silicon in the core, because only some silicon:oxygen ratios are compatible with this model."

Kei Hirose1, Guillaume Morard2, Ryosuke Sinmyo1, Koichio Umemoto1, John Hernlund1, George Helffrich1 & Stéphane Labrosse3

Title of original paper:
'Crystallization of silicon dioxide and compositional evolution of the Earth's core.'
Journal: - Nature DOI : - 10.1038/nature21367outer

Affiliations :
1Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan.
2Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie, UMR CNRS 7590, Sorbonne Universités—Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, IRD, 4 Place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France.
3Université de Lyon, École normale supérieure de Lyon, Université Lyon-1, CNRS, UMR 5276 LGL-TPE, F-69364 Lyon, France.

Via Tokyo Tech News

Figure 1 Diamonds to squeeze a sample to ultrahigh pressures corresponding to those of the Earth's core (greater than 135 gigapascals). The samples are heated under pressure to high temperatures of the core (about 4,000 kelvins and higher) by being irradiated by a laser through diamonds.


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Enjoy one more:
Virtual reality view of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system
The view from the surface of TRAPPIST-1b, the closest planet in the system to the central ultra cool dwarf star. This artist’s impression depicts a rocky, cratered landscape aglow with the light of its dim host star. Three other planets are visible in the sky: TRAPPIST-1f, d, and c in order from left to right. This version is intended for virtual reality viewers, where the user can control the viewing angle to look in any direction.

The artist’s impression in this video is based on the known physical parameters for the planets and stars seen, and uses a vast database of objects in the Universe.

ESO/L. Calçada/

see on:

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Just another way to see ... artist’s impressions ...
ESOcast 97 Light: 7 Earth-sized Worlds Found in Nearby Star System (4K UHD)
This ESOcast Light presents five amazing facts about the 7 Earth-sized planets found in the nearby TRAPPIST-1 system, from their rocky composition to their potential to harbour water.

The video is available in 4K UHD.

The ESOcast Light is a series of short videos bringing you the wonders of the Universe in bite-sized pieces. The ESOcast Light episodes will not be replacing the standard, longer ESOcasts, but complement them with current astronomy news and images in ESO press releases.

The artist’s impressions in this video are based on the known physical parameters for the planets and stars seen, and uses a vast database of objects in the Universe.


Editing: Herbert Zodet.
Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
Written by: Thomas Barratt and Lauren Fuge.
Music: STAN DART (
Footage and photos: ESO, Luis Calçada,, ACe Consortium, Babak Tafreshi ( and Nick Risinger (
Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.

More information and download options:


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