vendredi 26 août 2016

Hubble Spots an Irregular Island in a Sea of Space











NASA - Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Aug. 26, 2016


This image, courtesy of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), captures the glow of distant stars within NGC 5264, a dwarf galaxy located just over 15 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent).

Dwarf galaxies like NGC 5264 typically possess around a billion stars — just 1 percent of the number of stars found within the Milky Way. They are usually found orbiting other larger galaxies such as our own, and are thought to form from the material left over from the messy formation of their larger cosmic relatives.

NGC 5264 clearly possesses an irregular shape — unlike the more common spiral or elliptical galaxies — with knots of blue star formation. Astronomers believe that this is due to the gravitational interactions between NGC 5264 and other galaxies nearby. These past flirtations sparked the formation of new generations of stars, which now glow in bright shades of blue.

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
https://www.spacetelescope.org/

Image credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA/Text credits: European Space AgencyNASA/Ashley Morrow.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples












SpaceX - CRS-9 Dragon Mission patch.

Aug. 26, 2016

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA immediately. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.


Image above: This image, captured from NASA Television's live coverage, shows SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft departing the International Space Station at 6:10 am EDT Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, after successfully delivering almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on its ninth resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory. Image Credits: NASA Television.

When it arrived at the station July 20, Dragon delivered the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs) in its external cargo hold, or “trunk.” The IDAs will be used by commercial spacecraft now in development for transporting astronauts to the station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The initial adapter was installed during an Aug. 19 spacewalk by Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA. The second adapter is being built and will be delivered on a future Dragon cargo resupply mission.

Among the experiment samples returning Friday are those from the Heart Cells study, which is looking at how microgravity affects human heart cells. The U.S. National Laboratory investigation is studying how microgravity changes the human heart, and how those changes vary between individuals. Deep space missions including the journey to Mars will require long periods of space travel, which creates increased risk of health problems such as muscle atrophy, including possible atrophy of the heart muscle. Heart cells cultured aboard the space station for one month will be analyzed for cellular and molecular changes. Results could advance the study of heart disease and the development of drugs and cell replacement therapy.

video
U.S. Commercial Cargo Craft Departs the International Space Station

Samples will also be returned from two rodent-based investigations, the Mouse Epigenetics and Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly experiments. The mouse model is useful for showing how much shorter stays by mice in the low-Earth environment can be used to infer how similar conditions may affect future human exploration.

In Mouse Epigenetics, researchers are exploring altered gene expression and DNA by tracking changes in the organs of male mice that spend one month in space, and examining changes in the DNA of their offspring. In Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly, scientists are looking at rapid loss of bone and muscle mass in the legs and spine, and comparing it to what is experienced by people with muscle wasting diseases or with limited mobility on Earth and testing an antibody known to prevent muscle wasting in mice on Earth. This U.S. National Laboratory experiment is sponsored by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.

Also returning are samples from the Multi-Omics experiment. This research is analyzing the composition of microbes in the human digestive system and how they may affect the human immune system. Researchers may be able to identify bacterial or metabolic biomarkers that could be useful for astronaut health management, and therefore future human exploration of the solar system.

Dragon is currently the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth. The spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida July 18 carrying almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on the company’s ninth commercial resupply mission to the station.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in human space exploration, including the journey to Mars.

Related links:

international docking adapters (IDAs): http://www.nasa.gov/feature/meet-the-international-docking-adapter/

Heart Cells study: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1914.html

Mouse Epigenetics experiment: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1992.html

Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly experiment: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1722.html

Multi-Omics experiment: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1949.html

Get more information about SpaceX's mission to the International Space Station at:
http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

NASA's Commercial Crew Program: http://nasa.gov/commercialcrew

Find more information about the International Space Station, its crews and their research at: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Cheryl Warner/Karen Northon/Johnson Space Center/Dan Huot/NASA Television.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

Jupiter's Extended Family? A Billion or More












NASA patch.

Aug. 26, 2016

Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around.

Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

It turns out the inverse is also true -- we can turn our instruments and probes to our own backyard, and view Jupiter as if it were an exoplanet to learn more about those far-off worlds. The best-ever chance to do this is now, with Juno, a NASA probe the size of a basketball court, which arrived at Jupiter in July to begin a series of long, looping orbits around our solar system's largest planet. Juno is expected to capture the most detailed images of the gas giant ever seen. And with a suite of science instruments, Juno will plumb the secrets beneath Jupiter's roiling atmosphere.


Image above: Comparing Jupiter with Jupiter-like planets that orbit other stars can teach us about those distant worlds, and reveal new insights about our own solar system's formation and evolution. (Illustration) Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

It will be a very long time, if ever, before scientists who study exoplanets -- planets orbiting other stars -- get the chance to watch an interstellar probe coast into orbit around an exo-Jupiter, dozens or hundreds of light-years away. But if they ever do, it's a safe bet the scene will summon echoes of Juno.

"The only way we're going to ever be able to understand what we see in those extrasolar planets is by actually understanding our system, our Jupiter itself," said David Ciardi, an astronomer with NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute (NExSci) at Caltech.

Not all Jupiters are created equal

Juno's detailed examination of Jupiter could provide insights into the history, and future, of our solar system. The tally of confirmed exoplanets so far includes hundreds in Jupiter's size-range, and many more that are larger or smaller.

The so-called hot Jupiters acquired their name for a reason: They are in tight orbits around their stars that make them sizzling-hot, completing a full revolution -- the planet's entire year -- in what would be a few days on Earth. And they're charbroiled along the way.

But why does our solar system lack a "hot Jupiter?" Or is this, perhaps, the fate awaiting our own Jupiter billions of years from now -- could it gradually spiral toward the sun, or might the swollen future sun expand to engulf it?

Not likely, Ciardi says; such planetary migrations probably occur early in the life of a solar system.

"In order for migration to occur, there needs to be dusty material within the system," he said. "Enough to produce drag. That phase of migration is long since over for our solar system."

Jupiter itself might already have migrated from farther out in the solar system, although no one really knows, he said.

Looking back in time

If Juno's measurements can help settle the question, they could take us a long way toward understanding Jupiter's influence on the formation of Earth -- and, by extension, the formation of other "Earths" that might be scattered among the stars.

"Juno is measuring water vapor in the Jovian atmosphere," said Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "This allows the mission to measure the abundance of oxygen on Jupiter. Oxygen is thought to be correlated with the initial position from which Jupiter originated."

If Jupiter's formation started with large chunks of ice in its present position, then it would have taken a lot of water ice to carry in the heavier elements which we find in Jupiter.  But a Jupiter that formed farther out in the solar system, then migrated inward, could have formed from much colder ice, which would carry in the observed heavier elements with a smaller amount of water.  If Jupiter formed more directly from the solar nebula, without ice chunks as a starter, then it should contain less water still.  Measuring the water is a key step in understanding how and where Jupiter formed.

That's how Juno's microwave radiometer, which will measure water vapor, could reveal Jupiter's ancient history.

"If Juno detects a high abundance of oxygen, it could suggest that the planet formed farther out," Quintana said.

A probe dropped into Jupiter by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 1995 found high winds and turbulence, but the expected water seemed to be absent. Scientists think Galileo's one-shot probe just happened to drop into a dry area of the atmosphere, but Juno will survey the entire planet from orbit.

The chaotic early years

Where Jupiter formed, and when, also could answer questions about the solar system's "giant impact phase," a time of crashes and collisions among early planet-forming bodies that eventually led to the solar system we have today.

Our solar system was extremely accident-prone in its early history -- perhaps not quite like billiard balls caroming around, but with plenty of pileups and fender-benders.

"It definitely was a violent time," Quintana said. "There were collisions going on for tens of millions of years. For example, the idea of how the moon formed is that a proto-Earth and another body collided; the disk of debris from this collision formed the moon. And some people think Mercury, because it has such a huge iron core, was hit by something big that stripped off its mantle; it was left with a large core in proportion to its size."

Part of Quintana's research involves computer modeling of the formation of planets and solar systems. Teasing out Jupiter's structure and composition could greatly enhance such models, she said. Quintana already has modeled our solar system's formation, with Jupiter and without, yielding some surprising findings.

"For a long time, people thought Jupiter was essential to habitability because it might have shielded Earth from the constant influx of impacts [during the solar system's early days] which could have been damaging to habitability," she said. "What we've found in our simulations is that it's almost the opposite. When you add Jupiter, the accretion times are faster and the impacts onto Earth are far more energetic. Planets formed within about 100 million years; the solar system was done growing by that point," Quintana said.

"If you take Jupiter out, you still form Earth, but on timescales of billions of years rather than hundreds of millions. Earth still receives giant impacts, but they're less frequent and have lower impact energies," she said.

Getting to the core

Another critical Juno measurement that could shed new light on the dark history of planetary formation is the mission's gravity science experiment. Changes in the frequency of radio transmissions from Juno to NASA's Deep Space Network will help map the giant planet's gravitational field.

Knowing the nature of Jupiter's core could reveal how quickly the planet formed, with implications for how Jupiter might have affected Earth's formation.

And the spacecraft's magnetometers could yield more insight into the deep internal structure of Jupiter by measuring its magnetic field.

"We don't understand a lot about Jupiter's magnetic field," Ciardi said. "We think it's produced by metallic hydrogen in the deep interior. Jupiter has an incredibly strong magnetic field, much stronger than Earth's."

Mapping Jupiter's magnetic field also might help pin down the plausibility of proposed scenarios for alien life beyond our solar system.

Earth's magnetic field is thought to be important to life because it acts like a protective shield, channeling potentially harmful charged particles and cosmic rays away from the surface.

"If a Jupiter-like planet orbits its star at a distance where liquid water could exist, the Jupiter-like planet itself might not have life, but it might have moons which could potentially harbor life," he said.

An exo-Jupiter’s intense magnetic field could protect such life forms, he said. That conjures visions of Pandora, the moon in the movie "Avatar" inhabited by 10-foot-tall humanoids who ride massive, flying predators through an exotic alien ecosystem.

Juno's findings will be important not only to understanding how exo-Jupiters might influence the formation of exo-Earths, or other kinds of habitable planets. They'll also be essential to the next generation of space telescopes that will hunt for alien worlds. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will conduct a survey of nearby bright stars for exoplanets beginning in June 2018, or earlier. The James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2018, and WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope), with launch anticipated in the mid-2020s, will attempt to take direct images of giant planets orbiting other stars.

"We're going to be able to image planets and get spectra," or light profiles from exoplanets that will reveal atmospheric gases, Ciardi said. Juno's revelations about Jupiter will help scientists to make sense of these data from distant worlds.

"Studying our solar system is about studying exoplanets," he said. "And studying exoplanets is about studying our solar system. They go together."

Related links:

Juno: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Distant Planets: https://www.nasa.gov/subject/6889/distant-planets

Jupiter: https://www.nasa.gov/jupiter

To learn more about a few of the known exo-Jupiters, visit:

https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/alien-worlds/strange-new-worlds

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL/Preston Dyches/NASA Exoplanet Program, written by Pat Brennan.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Spitzer Space Telescope Begins 'Beyond' Phase












NASA - Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

Aug. 26, 2016

video
Spitzer Beyond

Video above: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which launched Aug. 25, 2003, will begin the “Beyond” phase of its mission on Oct. 1, 2016. Spitzer has been operating beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of its mission, and making discoveries in unexpected areas of science, such as exoplanets.

Celebrating the spacecraft's ability to push the boundaries of space science and technology, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope team has dubbed the next phase of its journey "Beyond."

"Spitzer is operating well beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of the mission," said Michael Werner, the project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We never envisioned operating 13 years after launch, and scientists are making discoveries in areas of science we never imagined exploring with the spacecraft."

NASA recently granted the spacecraft a two-and-a-half-year mission extension. This Beyond phase of the Spitzer mission will explore a wide range of topics in astronomy and cosmology, as well as planetary bodies in and out of our solar system.


Image above: his diagram shows how the different phases of Spitzer’s mission relate to its location relative to the Earth over time. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Because of Spitzer's orbit and age, the Beyond phase presents a variety of new engineering challenges. Spitzer trails Earth in its journey around the sun, but because the spacecraft travels slower than Earth, the distance between Spitzer and Earth has widened over time. As Spitzer gets farther away, its antenna must be pointed at higher angles toward the sun to communicate with Earth, which means that parts of the spacecraft will experience more and more heat. At the same time, Spitzer's solar panels point away from the sun and will receive less sunlight, so the batteries will be under greater stress.  To enable this riskier mode of operations, the mission team will have to override some autonomous safety systems.

“Balancing these concerns on a heat-sensitive spacecraft will be a delicate dance, but engineers are hard at work preparing for the new challenges in the Beyond phase,” said Mark Effertz, the Spitzer spacecraft chief engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado, which built the spacecraft.

Spitzer, which launched on Aug. 25, 2003, has consistently adapted to new scientific and engineering challenges during its mission, and the team expects it will continue to do so during the "Beyond" phase, which begins Oct. 1. The selected research proposals for the Beyond phase, also known as Cycle 13, include a variety of objects that Spitzer wasn't originally planned to address -- such as galaxies in the early universe, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and exoplanets.


Image above: This artist's concept shows NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer begins its "Beyond" mission phase on Oct. 1, 2016. The spacecraft is depicted in the orientation it assumes to establish communications with ground stations. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

"We never even considered using Spitzer for studying exoplanets when it launched," said Sean Carey of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. "It would have seemed ludicrous back then, but now it's an important part of what Spitzer does."

Spitzer’s exoplanet exploration

Spitzer has many qualities that make it a valuable asset in exoplanet science, including an extremely accurate star-targeting system and the ability to control unwanted changes in temperature. Its stable environment and ability to observe stars for long periods of time led to the first detection of light from known exoplanets in 2005. More recently, Spitzer’s Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) has been used for finding exoplanets using the "transit" method -- looking for a dip in a star's brightness that corresponds to a planet passing in front of it. This brightness change needs to be measured with exquisite accuracy to detect exoplanets. IRAC scientists have created a special type of observation to make such measurements, using single pixels within the camera.

Another planet-finding technique that Spitzer uses, but was not designed for, is called microlensing. When a star passes in front of another star, the gravity of the first star can act as a lens, making the light from the more distant star appear brighter. Scientists are using microlensing to look for a blip in that brightening, which could mean that the foreground star has a planet orbiting it. Spitzer and the ground-based Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) were used together to find one of the most distant planets known outside the solar system, as reported in 2015. This type of investigation is made possible by Spitzer’s increasing distance from Earth, and could not have been done early in the mission.

Peering into the early universe

Understanding the early universe is another area where Spitzer has broken ground. IRAC was designed to detect remote galaxies roughly 12 billion light-years away -- so distant that their light has been traveling for roughly 88 percent of the history of the universe. But now, thanks to collaborations between Spitzer and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, scientists can peer even further into the past. The farthest galaxy ever seen, GN-z11, was characterized in a 2016 study using data from these telescopes. GN-z11 is about 13.4 billion light-years away, meaning its light has been traveling since 400 million years after the big bang.  

"When we designed the IRAC instrument, we didn't know those more distant galaxies existed," said Giovanni Fazio, principal investigator of IRAC, based at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The combination of the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer has been fantastic, with the telescopes working together to determine their distance, stellar mass and age."

Closer to home, Spitzer advanced astronomers' understanding of Saturn when scientists using the observatory discovered the planet's largest ring in 2009. Most of the material in this ring -- consisting of ice and dust -- begins 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Saturn and extends about 7.4 million miles (12 million kilometers) beyond that. Though the ring doesn't reflect much visible light, making it difficult for Earth-based telescopes to see, Spitzer could detect the infrared glow from the cool dust.

The multiple phases of Spitzer

Spitzer reinvented itself in May 2009 with its warm mission, after the depletion of the liquid helium coolant that was chilling its instruments since August 2003. At the conclusion of the "cold mission," Spitzer’s Infrared Spectrograph and Multiband Imaging Photometer stopped working, but two of the four cameras in IRAC persisted. Since then, the spacecraft has made numerous discoveries despite operating in warmer conditions (which, at about minus 405 Fahrenheit or 30 Kelvin, is still cold by Earthly standards).

"With the IRAC team and the Spitzer Science Center team working together, we've really learned how to operate the IRAC instrument better than we thought we could," Fazio said. "The telescope is also very stable and in an excellent orbit for observing a large part of the sky."

Spitzer's Beyond mission phase will last until the commissioning phase of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, currently planned to launch in October 2018. Spitzer is set to identify targets that Webb can later observe more intensely.

"We are very excited to continue Spitzer in its Beyond phase. We fully expect new, exciting discoveries to be made over the next two-and-a-half years," said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Spitzer, based at JPL.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit:

http://spitzer.caltech.edu

http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL/Elizabeth Landau.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

jeudi 25 août 2016

Internaut Day and the World Wide Web












CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

August 25, 2016


Image above: Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, pictured in 1994. In front of him shows a computer displaying an early version of the web. (Image: CERN).

Internaut day is being celebrated around the world on 23 August to mark the invention of the World Wide Web. An “internaut” is a person who possesses a thorough knowledge of how to use the Internet and its history. But what is the history of the web?

In March 1989, CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal to develop a distributed information system for the Laboratory. By December 1990, the world's first website and server were ready to go live at CERN. At that time, the World Wide Web enabled scientists to share information across the world; the source code was later released into the public domain in April 1993.


Image above: A statement outlining the release of the World Wide Web into the public domain in April 1993. (Image: CERN).

Although 23 August does not mark an exact anniversary in the creation of the web, it does give an opportunity to appreciate the ease of communication that it provides and how it has become vital in our everyday lives.

Note:

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 Member States.

Find out more about the many important milestones of the birth of the web: http://home.cern/topics/birth-web

World's first website: http://home.cern/about/spotlight/2013/restoring-first-website

For more information about the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), visit: http://home.web.cern.ch/

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Kathryn Coldham.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

NASA's Juno to Soar Closest to Jupiter This Saturday












NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

Aug. 25, 2016


Image above: This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA’s Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS.

This Saturday at 5:51 a.m. PDT, (8:51 a.m. EDT, 12:51 UTC) NASA's Juno spacecraft will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter than at any other time during its prime mission. At the moment of closest approach, Juno will be about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled during its prime mission (scheduled to end in February of 2018). The Aug. 27 flyby will be the first time Juno will have its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zooms past.

"This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "Back then we turned all our instruments off to focus on the rocket burn to get Juno into orbit around Jupiter. Since then, we have checked Juno from stem to stern and back again. We still have more testing to do, but we are confident that everything is working great, so for this upcoming flyby Juno's eyes and ears, our science instruments, will all be open."

"This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works," Bolton said.

While the science data from the pass should be downlinked to Earth within days, interpretation and first results are not expected for some time.

"No other spacecraft has ever orbited Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This is our first opportunity and there are bound to be surprises. We need to take our time to make sure our conclusions are correct." 

Not only will Juno's suite of eight science instruments be on, the spacecraft's visible light imager -- JunoCam will also be snapping some closeups. A handful of JunoCam images, including the highest resolution imagery of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles, are expected to be released during the later part of next week.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech, in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

More information on the Juno mission is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/juno

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno

http://www.twitter.com/NASAJuno

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Dwayne Brown/Laurie Cantillo/Tony Greicius/JPL/DC Agle.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Dragon Packed for Friday Morning Departure and Splashdown











ISS - Expedition 48 Mission patch.

August 25, 2016

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft has been packed with science experiments and gear for return to Earth and analysis by NASA engineers. Robotics controllers on the ground will maneuver the Canadarm2 to detach Dragon from the Harmony module Thursday afternoon.

Astronauts Takuya Onishi and Kate Rubins will command Canadarm2 to release Dragon at 6:10 a.m. EDT Friday. It will splashdown off the Pacific coast of Baja California a few hours later, then be retrieved and shipped back to Los Angeles by SpaceX personnel.


Image above: The SpaceX Dragon is pictured as the International Space Station orbited over the English Channel.

Less than two weeks later, a trio of Expedition 48 crew members will return to Earth inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft. Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are due to end their stay at the International Space Station on Sept. 6 and land in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, the space station crew is still participating in a wide variety of ongoing space research to benefit people living on Earth and in space. The crew conducted human research activities today exploring how long-term space missions affect an astronaut’s metabolism, digestion and blood pressure.

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Expedition 48: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition48/index.html

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch