Friday, November 15, 2019

Rest In Peace, Mr. Lewis.

My high school British Literature teacher Marcus Lewis. May he rest in peace.

Last week, I found out that one of my former high school teachers, Marcus Lewis, had passed away. Mr. Lewis taught British Literature during my senior year at Bishop Amat Memorial...and was one of my favorite instructors there. I was a senior during the 1997-'98 school year—and I recall that Mr. Lewis would give my Brit Lit class extra credit if we watched the movie Titanic (which was released in theaters on December 19, 1997) and gave him our ticket stubs for proof of viewing afterwards! So cool. Mr. Lewis also worked at a Barnes & Noble bookstore during that time, and was able to buy me the James Cameron's Titanic movie book (which was sold out everywhere else) shown below. Of course I paid him back.

Mr. Lewis' passing took place about eight months after my 8th grade teacher Mrs. Maria Ventura left this world. May they both rest in peace.

The JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC movie book. Mr. Lewis bought me a copy when he worked at a Barnes & Noble bookstore during the time he taught British Literature in my high school.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

SOLAR PROBE PLUS Update: NASA Releases First Round of Data from the Parker Spacecraft to the Public...

Data from the Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe instrument aboard NASA's Parker Solar Probe captured during the spacecraft’s first solar encounter in November 2018.
NASA / Naval Research Laboratory / Parker Solar Probe

First Parker Solar Probe Science Data Released to Public (News Release - November 12)

On Nov. 12, 2019, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe team released scientific data collected during the spacecraft's first two solar orbits to the general public.

Data can be accessed through the NASA Space Physics Data Facility, the Solar Data Analysis Center, the APL Parker Solar Probe Gateway, and the Science Operation Centers of the four science investigation teams (the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and Naval Research Laboratory.) The newly released data, in the form of data files and graphical displays, is available for interested public users to manipulate, analyze, and plot in any way they choose.

The released encounter data encompasses measurements made during the first two solar encounters, spanning the time between Oct. 31 and Nov. 12, 2018, and March 30 and April 19, 2019, when the spacecraft was within 0.25 AU of the Sun, as well as data collected at farther distances. One AU, or astronomical unit, is about 93 million miles, the average distance between the Sun and Earth.

Science teams led by principal investigators from partner institutions have been busy poring over the wealth of information collected by Parker Solar Probe in preparation for the mission's first science results, to be released later this year. The four instrument suites onboard – FIELDS, ISʘIS, SWEAP, and WISPR – have been observing the characteristics of the solar wind (fields, waves, flows, and particles) in the immediate environment surrounding the Sun, called the corona.

“Parker Solar Probe is crossing new frontiers of space exploration, giving us so much new information about the Sun,” said Parker Solar Probe Project Scientist Nour E. Raouafi, from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL, in Laurel, Maryland, which manages the mission for NASA. “Releasing this data to the public will allow them not only to contribute to the success of the mission along with the scientific community, but also to raise the opportunity for new discoveries to the next level.”

With three of 24 planned solar orbits under its belt, Parker Solar Probe will continue to get closer to the Sun in the coming years, eventually swooping to within 4 million miles of the Sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. The mission seeks to provide new data on solar activity and how the solar corona works, which contributes significantly to our ability to forecast major space weather events that impact life on Earth. The mission launched in 2018 and is slated to perform its primary science mission until 2025.

Source: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Farewell, Asteroid Ryugu: Hayabusa2 Is Now Headed Back to Earth!

An image overlay showing one of Hayabusa2's target markers falling slowly towards the surface of asteroid Ryugu on September 16, 2019. Four of five markers that launched with Hayabusa2 in 2014 were released onto Ryugu's surface as of November 13, 2019.
JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology and collaborators

Hayabusa2 Departs from Ryugu (Press Release)

JAXA confirmed Hayabusa2, JAXA's asteroid explorer, left the target asteroid Ryugu.

On November 13, 2019, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft's orbit control. The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 departure made at 10:05 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) was based on the following data analyses:

·The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
·The velocity leaving from Ryugu is approximately 9.2 cm/s
·The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

We are planning to conduct performance tests of onboard instruments, including the electric propulsion system, for the return to Earth.

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New Horizons Update: Ultima Thule Now Has a New Name!

A high-resolution image of the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth that was taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft from 4,109 miles (6,628 kilometers) away...on January 1, 2019.
NASA / Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute, National Optical Astronomy Observatory

Far, Far Away in the Sky: New Horizons Kuiper Belt Flyby Object Officially Named 'Arrokoth' (News Release)

In a fitting tribute to the farthest flyby ever conducted by spacecraft, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 has been officially named Arrokoth, a Native American term meaning “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.

With consent from Powhatan Tribal elders and representatives, NASA’s New Horizons team – whose spacecraft performed the record-breaking reconnaissance of Arrokoth four billion miles from Earth – proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center, the international authority for naming Kuiper Belt objects. The name was announced at a ceremony today at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “That desire to learn is at the heart of the New Horizons mission, and we’re honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery.”

New Horizons launched in January 2006; it then zipped past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007 and conducted an historic first flight through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015. The spacecraft continued its unparalleled voyage on New Year’s 2019 with the exploration of Arrokoth – which the team had nicknamed “Ultima Thule” ­-- a billion miles beyond Pluto, and the farthest flyby ever conducted.

Arrokoth is one of the thousands of known small icy worlds in the Kuiper Belt, the vast “third zone” of the solar system beyond the inner terrestrial planets and the outer gas giant planets. It was discovered in 2014 by a New Horizons team – which included Marc Buie, of the Southwest Research Institute – using the powerful Hubble Space Telescope.

“Data from the newly-named Arrokoth, has given us clues about the formation of planets and our cosmic origins,” said Buie. “We believe this ancient body, composed of two distinct lobes that merged into one entity, may harbor answers that contribute to our understanding of the origin of life on Earth.”

In accordance with IAU naming conventions, the discovery team earned the privilege of selecting a permanent name for the celestial body. The team used this convention to associate the culture of the native peoples who lived in the region where the object was discovered; in this case, both the Hubble Space Telescope (at the Space Telescope Science Institute) and the New Horizons mission (at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory) are operated out of Maryland — a tie to the significance of the Chesapeake Bay region to the Powhatan people.

“We graciously accept this gift from the Powhatan people,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Bestowing the name Arrokoth signifies the strength and endurance of the indigenous Algonquian people of the Chesapeake region. Their heritage continues to be a guiding light for all who search for meaning and understanding of the origins of the universe and the celestial connection of humanity.”

The Pamunkey Reservation in King William County, Virginia, is the oldest American Indian reservation in the U.S. -- formed by a treaty with England in the 1600s and finally receiving federal recognition in July 2015. The Pamunkey tribe and its village were significant in the original Powhatan Confederacy; today, Pamunkey tribal members work collaboratively with other Powhatan tribes in Virginia and also have descendants who are members of the Powhatan-Renape Nation in New Jersey. Many direct descendants still live on the Pamunkey reservation, while others have moved to Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C., New York and New Jersey.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Planetary Management Office, in Huntsville, Alabama, provides the NASA oversight for the New Horizons. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, directs the mission via Principal Investigator Stern, and leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's MSFC.

Source: NASA.Gov