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Infrared Dawn : I have been following the next big story in astronomy, and that is undoubtedly the emergence of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which is an origami-inspired infrared telescope which will be placed most probably in the Lagrange point (L2) which means after unfolding, the telescope will keep up with the Earth's revolution around the Sun. Why is it exciting? It is like a Hubble on steroids. Astronomers don't even know how much they will learn once the JWST sees first light.

Article Extract: Ball Aerospace had delivered all 18 hexagonal segments of the observatory’s honeycomb-like, 6.5-meter primary mirror, designed to look into a past 13 billion years distant. From an observation platform, you could see one of the mirrors on display in the Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility, the largest clean room in the world.

Two decades after astronomers first convened to discuss what sort of space-based observatory should succeed the Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble’s three-times-as-large, 100-times-as-powerful replacement, whose fabrication was overseen by primary contractor Northrop Grumman, finally seemed to be coming together. “Going from Hubble to the James Webb Space Telescope is like going from a biplane to the jet engine,” said Mikulski.

No one disputes that the Webb will be an extraordinary machine, one that will allow astronomers to look farther back in time than they’ve ever been able to see, to the earliest galaxies that formed after the Big Bang. The gold coating on its mirror segments, totalling about a golf ball’s worth and spread in a thin layer across the surface of each segment, will absorb light on the blue end of the spectrum, allowing the observatory to see a bandwidth between 0.6 to 28 microns, firmly in the infrared and stretching just slightly into the visible spectrum.

Amazing discoveries ahead : Once [we] started seeing things with Hubble that [we'd] never seen before, [we] pushed it harder and harder to do new things. The same will happen with the James Webb Space Telescope. We will discover new things that we have no way of knowing about today, no way of guessing [because] our intuition isn't able to take us there. And those will be the great discoveries that actually show up in the coming 20 years, in the coming 30 years. It is really, in many ways, the golden age of astronomy — it's the very best time ever to be an astronomer. (Michael Shara)

Main article Link: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/infrared-dawn-next-space-telescope-will-be-hubble-x-100-180951409/?no-ist (also courtesy pic top right)

Additional Link: http://io9.com/heres-why-you-should-be-excited-about-the-james-webb-sp-1594279578

Earlier post (Amazing JWST) : https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/Zr69vhsbyWh

Additional Earlier post: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/Rui2CdtJLpq

Space telescopes takes inspiration from Origami: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/5anQtZ6UwK6

Origami based solar array: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/AxWEXydnSVu

Pic link middle right and source : http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/

Pic link bottom right and source: http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/overview/gallery

Video link: (Technical version) James Webb Space Telescope Deployment In Detail

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope

pic link on left: http://www.planetsedu.com/planet/jupiter/

NASA link to the JWST: http://webb.nasa.gov/orbit.html

#jameswebb #space #astronomy  
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The James Webb Space Telescope : It's been some time in its manufacture and there have been multiple issues with funding, with Congress on the edge of pulling out. It would be a shame if at this stage it does not meet its launch in 2018. The JWST is inspired by Origami and will open post launch into the full six-mirror array. Its beautiful to behold.

Article Extract: They call it the successor to Hubble. But the James Webb Space Telescope is something more than the next great observatory to provide breathtaking views of nebulae and new insights to our place in the cosmos. It is also nearly all of NASA's eggs in one basket, one that appears to be perpetually near the brink of disaster. But things are looking up. Relatively speaking.

So the construction of Webb is on track. But then there's the money. Last week, Space.com reported on public comments by NASA administrator Charles Bolden warning that the telescope, which has already grown into an $8.8 billion project, is not in the clear. If Congress can't keep the JWST's money flowing, whether it's because future budgets slash NASA's funding or because another government shutdown stalls the project, the Webb mission could fall into uncertainty once more. Bolden said 2014 was the Webb telescope's peak development year—and the most expensive. Budget snags would be especially damaging now, though, for the moment, Congress has approved $658.2 million for Webb for 2014. And as nice as it is to see Webb on track, it must be torture for astronomers to know they're only one Congressional change-of-mind away from failure.

Article link in +Popular Mechanics : http://goo.gl/eBgLdO

Earlier post on the JWST : https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/Zr69vhsbyWh

How origami inspired a solar array (related earlier post) : https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/103586346709495625226/+LacerantPlainerWrites/posts/AxWEXydnSVu

+NASA Link to the JWST : http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2005/jwst_model.html (Video courtesy NASA, from same link).

+Wikipedia link to the JWST: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope#Proposed_U.S._withdrawal

NASA updates on the JWST : http://jwst.nasa.gov/recentaccomplish.html

Youtube video link (must watch) : James Webb Space Telescope: Deployment Animation

+Nature Publishing Group link : http://www.nature.com/news/nasa-s-troubled-us-8-billion-hubble-successor-is-back-on-track-1.14686

#science #astronomy #space #jameswebb #telescope  

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Origami based solar array : While I posted about the James Webb Telescope here (http://goo.gl/1ScpBv), this is another amazing use of Origami by Shannon Zirbel a grad student from BYU. The concept is to reduce the space and weight for payloads into space, and origami does this beautifully. It's amazing how this can be used in science, and it does look amazing as the solar array opens up like petals of a flower.

Article Extract: A team of mechanical engineers has sought the expertise of an expert in origami mathematics to design a low-cost, compact array that will spring into its true and larger form when released in space. Space exploration is expensive business, and inevitably must become more and more cost-effective to thrive. We've already seen how cubesats can potentially democratise space studies, now a team at Brigham Young University (BYU) thinks it has developed an equivalent for solar arrays that can power space stations in the future.

"It's expensive and difficult to get things into space; you're very constrained in space," said research leader and professor at BYU Larry Howell. "With origami you can make it compact for launch and then as you get into space it can deploy and be large." "It's hard to predict what the greatest outcome of this collaboration will be, but it would be a great success if a solar array based on our concept flew on a Nasa mission," Lang said. "Origami could also be used for antennas, solar sails and even expandable nets used to catch asteroids."

Article Link: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-12/16/origami-solar-array

Paper: http://mechanicaldesign.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/article.aspx?articleid=1737156

Earlier post on space telescopes inspired by origami: http://goo.gl/QeeJPJ

Earlier post: The Math of Origami: http://goo.gl/VUVGYz

Earlier post on Origami Science and related embedded links: http://goo.gl/7j7z9o

About Shannon Zirbel: http://news.byu.edu/archive12-may-nasafellow.aspx

Related article: http://www.kurzweilai.net/origami-solves-a-space-problem

Pics courtesy: Wired, youtube (embedded link)

#science #origami #space  
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2013-12-17
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Star movements : Right from the time of Copernicus, we have stared at the skies wondering about the stars that twinkle in the night. While even the ancient astronomers figured out parallax and how it works, we have begun to study the most exact movements of stars in the sky....

Article Extract: Even very young children know that sometimes, as you move, nearer objects will seem to move relative to more distant objects. Children wouldn't know the name of this phenomenon; it is called parallax. Scientists in the time of Copernicus and Galileo also knew about parallax. This knowledge led to the most serious and valid challenge to the theory that the earth moved; stellar parallax. They argued that if the earth moved around the sun as Copernicus and Galileo suggested, then there must be some evidence of parallax effects. A moving earth would mean that the earth would be on opposite sides of the sun six months apart. And if the earth was on opposite sides of the sun six months apart there should be some visible change in the relative position of the stars during the year (nearer stars should seem to move relative to more distant stars). Yet the relative positions of nearer and farther stars seemed to remain the same. No one in Galileo's time or for almost 200 years after his death was able to demonstrate this necessary effect of earth's motion around the sun. Stellar parallax was finally observed in 1838 by Friedrich Bessel, a German scientist. But it is not Bessel that is credited with finally proving that the earth moved around the earth. In 1725, James Bradley, while searching for the elusive stellar parallax, detected motion of the stars over the course of the year which did not fit the pattern of stellar parallax. He had discovered stellar aberration, which is also related to the motion of the earth.

Hubble fast-forwards the motion of stars : To human eyes, stars seem like some of the most unmoving objects in the universe. From the perspective of thousands of years, however, they swarm like bees. The Hubble Space Telescope has helped bring to life such motion in 100,000 stars drifting around within a distant celestial blob called Omega Centauri, a globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way galaxy about 16,000 light-years from Earth. To create the video above, Hubble took photos of Omega Centauri from 2002 to 2006. But the video doesn’t show that period. Instead, it’s a computer-powered projection of the next 10,000 years deduced from the snapshots.

Article Link: http://www.scientus.org/Copernicus-Stellar-Parallax.html

Additional source: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/11/hubble-star-motion/

Related article: http://www.space.com/3051-mass-migration-stars-move-crowd.html

Full video (animated gif) : NASA Video Shows Motion of Stars

Mobile stars: http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/mobile-stars-apparent-movement-stars/

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_parallax

Pics courtesy: On left: Photo of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae taken with the Very Large Telescope VLT), in Chile (left). Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys revealed a colored photo of the cluster’s core (right). Credit: R. Kotak and H. Boffin/VLT and ESO; NASA, ESA and G. Meylan, via Space.com Bottom right: A sample of the projected motions of Omega Centauri stars at the globular cluster’s core. Each streak is about 600 years’ worth of motion. The space between plotted dots represents about a 30-year gap. NASA/ESA/Jay Anderson and Roeland van der Marel/STScI via Wired. Top right : Wired / NASA/ ESA video.

#stars #astronomy #scienceeveryday  
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2013-12-09
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The amazing James Webb Space Telescope : Of all the telescopes made so far, this is the most amazing one planned. In development from 1996, its a beautiful origami folded structure which will open up once into space. The telescope will orbit the Lagrange L2 point, keeping it cold enough to operate. The James Webb Space Telescope, which is close to three times the size of the Hubble telescope is expected to peer into the past like never before, the earliest times from the formation of the Universe.

Article Extract: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will probe the cosmos to uncover the history of the universe from the Big Bang to alien planet formation and beyond. Scientists are planning to use the infrared telescope to search for the first galaxies that formed at the beginning of the universe. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will also have the ability to look through cosmic dust clouds to find newly forming planetary systems and seek out the chemical origins of life in the solar system.

The James Webb Space Telescope represents an ambitious international collaboration led by NASA, with the important participation of the European and Canadian space agencies. The machine itself is nothing short of a marvel, with a gold-coated beryllium mirror 6.5 meters in diameter. The mirror itself is composed of 18 hexagonal segments, which will unfold, origami-like, after the telescope is launched. Since the light from objects in the distant, early universe is significantly redshifted, JWST will observe in infrared light. In addition, the ability of infrared radiation to penetrate through dust and gas (which are opaque to visible light), will allow JWST to peek into regions where new stars and planets are born. The telescope will be equipped with a tennis-court-sized sunshield that will unfurl and protect it from radiation coming from the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Unlike Hubble, which is in a low-Earth orbit at a distance of just over 300 miles above the surface of the Earth, JWST will be about a million miles from Earth--about four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Article Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mario-livio/james-webb-space-telescope_b_4151427.html

From Space.com: http://www.space.com/21925-james-webb-space-telescope-jwst.html

How JWST is being built (NASA) : http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope

Video link: Seeing Beyond - The James Webb Space Telescope (Final Cut)

Earlier post on the Eyeglass space telescope project: https://plus.google.com/110884604033336753419/posts/5anQtZ6UwK6

Hubblesci link: http://hubblesci.com/james-webb-space-observatory-poised-to-detect-extraterrestrial-life/

Model link: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2005/jwst_model.html

Pics courtesy: Wikipedia, Huffingtonpost, Popsci, NASA, Deep Astronomy

#space #telescope #origami  
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Space telescopes take inspiration from Origami : Robert Lang is a physicist who has been trying to use Origami for a space telescope. A fascinating story, even though it may never see the light of day. The Eyeglass telescope project and then the Moire space telescope project are shrouded in secrecy, but here is what is available as reading material....

Article extract: At the turn of the millenium, it was the brainchild of a group of innovative scientists at one of the world’s most secretive research facilities, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, located about 40 miles east of San Francisco. LLNL is run by the Department of Energy with a primary mission of studying things nuclear — both reactors and bombs. The Eyeglass is an out-of-the-box idea — it would be about 22,000 miles out of the box, in geostationary Earth orbit.

Well, the first thing you have to do is reexamine how you design a telescope. The Hubble telescope, like many others, uses a single very large, curved reflector machined to incredible precision as its primary light-gathering element. The design goal of Eyeglass was to expand the main element to a diameter of 100 meters — about a football field. Making a single reflector 100 meters in diameter with an optical precision of roughly 1/100 of the diameter of a hair was out of the question; even if you could make the reflector, how would you loft it into space?

Once you’ve solved the many problems in building a 100-meter diameter thin plastic lens for space (and there are a lot), you still face a big problem: How do you get it up there in good shape? A 100-meter sheet of plastic is going to have to get crumpled, folded, or otherwise stuffed into the tube of the rocket, like a sleeping bag going into a stuff sack. And that’s a bad thing, because although transmissive lenses have looser tolerances than reflective elements (and diffractive lenses have, in some ways, even looser tolerances), one thing they can’t tolerate is being crumpled up. Any undesired fold, wrinkle, or buckle in the surface of the Eyeglass diffractive lens would irreparably damage the optical performance,. The only way such a surface was going to go into a rocket would be if it were collapsed into a smaller shape along a precise, controlled set of creases, whose locations and structure could be chosen in such a way as not to degrade the optical performance.

Sounds like origami : Rod and his engineers thought so, too, and so they did what all good engineers do when presented with a new problem: they did a literature search. It turns out that origami has been to space before. Back in the 1980s, an origami-based folding solar panel designed by Koryo Miura flew on a Japanese satellite. While Miura’s solar structure was not applicable to the Eyeglass, Rod and his team thought (correctly, as it turned out) that there might be other origami structures that might just work.

Article link: http://www.langorigami.com/science/technology/eyeglass/eyeglass.php

Link to publication: http://proceedings.spiedigitallibrary.org/proceeding.aspx?articleid=1314973

Additional link to Lightweight Optics for Space: https://str.llnl.gov/january-2013/britten

MIORE information : http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012SPIE.8442E..21A

Ball Aerospace program link: http://www.ballaerospace.com/page.jsp?page=259

Darpa Link: http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Membrane_Optic_Imager_Real-Time_Exploitation_%28MOIRE%29.aspx

MOIRE Gossamer paper : http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.2013-1458

#space #telescope #origami  

Pic detail: (Inset) : Photograph of the Eyeglass prototype on its test range at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California. Image courtesy Rod Hyde, LLNL. Big Image: Darpa pic on the MOIRE.
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Mysterious radio bursts : Astronomers at the Parkes radiotelescope, while performing a survey of a broad patch of the sky spotted a set of unusual events that last for just a handful of milliseconds. The events don't repeat and aren't accompanied by anything obvious at optical X-ray wavelengths. A careful examination of their properties, however, gives reason to believe that they are likely to occur at great distances from our galaxy.

There's really not a lot to say about the Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) themselves. Four were identified that differ largely in intensity; all of them lasted for less than five milliseconds. If the events were associated with bursts at high-energy wavelengths, then we have hardware in space that should have detected them. Although the radiotelescope used for the survey couldn't provide careful location information, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the area reported at optical wavelengths, either.

The typical radio bursts we've seen are either repetitive (like a pulsar) or accompanied by signs at other wavelengths. These are neither. One option the astronomers considered was a neutron star merger, but those mergers are expected to be very rare and wouldn't produce that much energy. The same problem faces an alternative explanation, which is that it could be the evaporation of a black hole—but it simply doesn't produce enough energy. A supernova with an orbiting neutron star might produce this sort of energy, but those aren't expected to be all that common.

Article Link: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/07/mysterious-radio-bursts-come-from-outside-our-galaxy/

#mystery #space #radiotelescope #fastradiobursts #source #exploration #telescope  
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IRIS to look at the Sun : Once again today, NASA scientists fail to listen to their mothers. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite is set to stare directly at the Sun following its launch later today. IRIS, an ultraviolet telescope, will join the Solar Dynamics Observatory and Hinode missions in studying the Sun’s atmosphere.

Somewhat bafflingly, the surface of the Sun is “only” about 6,000°K, while the upper atmosphere (corona) reaches millions of degrees Kelvin. The other two satellites have been observing both the surface and the corona to help understand why the corona is so much hotter. IRIS will closely examine a region between the two to monitor material moving outward at high resolution, tracking the changes in temperature en route. IRIS will only look at one percent of the Sun at a time, but it will be able to resolve features down to 150 miles across. Apart from the general transfer of energy in the Sun’s atmosphere, researchers also hope to learn more about the formation of solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections.

Article Link: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/06/nasas-launch-of-sun-observing-satellite-to-be-carried-live-today/

Additional link: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/world/nasas-sun-satellite-launch-delayed/story-e6frfkui-1226670170146

#space #sun #CME #IRIS #science #scienceeveryday #nasa  
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2013-06-27
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Herschel deep-space telescope shuts down : The deep-space telescope Herschel has taken its final bow, climaxing a successful four-year mission to observe the birth of stars and galaxies. The largest and most powerful infrared telescope in space, Herschel made over 35,000 scientific observations and amassed more than 25,000 hours of science data, says the European Space Agency (ESA).

Launched in May 2009, Herschel carried 2,300 litres of liquid helium coolant, which evaporated over time. Its expected lifetime had been 3.5 years. At 7.5 metres high and four metres wide, Herschel had a launch mass of 3.4 tonnes. It carried three cameras and spectrometers and a primary mirror 3.5 metres across -- able to collect almost 20 times more light than any previous infrared space telescope.

Article Link: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/06/18/3784137.htm#.UcCP4pyNAUg

Max Planck Institute link on the telescope: http://www2011.mpe.mpg.de/Highlights/PR20100506/text.html

#science #scienceeveryday #telescope #herschel #herschelspacetelescope #space #exploration  
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2013-06-19
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World's biggest telescope gets green light

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) - due to be the world's widest eye on space - has got the go-ahead for construction on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. TMT will join 13 others on the extinct volcano but will dwarf them all: the biggest now are the twin 10-metre Keck telescopes. The summit is a perfect location as it offers clear skies for 300 days of the year.

If all goes well, observations will start in earnest in 2021. TMT may soon have to cede its size record, though: the European Southern Observatory is planning to have the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope on the mountain Cerro Armazones in Chile working early next decade. Not everyone in Hawaii is celebrating: the TMT site is being subleased from the University of Hawaii, but some Native Hawaiian groups are opposing the project, as the land is sacred to them.

The centerpiece of the TMT Observatory will be a Ritchey-Chrétien telescope with a 30 meter diameter primary mirror. This mirror will be segmented and consist of 492 smaller (1.4 m), individual hexagonal mirrors. The shape of each segment, as well as its position relative to neighboring segments, will be controlled actively.

At wavelengths longer than 0.8 μm, adaptive optics correction would enable observations with ten times the spatial resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. TMT would be more sensitive than existing ground-based telescopes by factors of 10 (natural seeing mode) to 100 (adaptive optics mode). If completed on schedule, TMT could be the first of the new generation of Extremely Large Telescopes.

Article Link: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2013/04/thirty-meter-telescope.html

Cnet pics: http://news.cnet.com/2300-17938_105-10016452.html

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Meter_Telescope

#science #scienceeveryday #TMT #thirtymetertelescope #telescope #sky #space  
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