Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NASA Planet Hunter on Its Way to Orbit

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life.
TESS, which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 6:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At 7:53 p.m., the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.
“We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With missions like the James Webb Space Telescope to help us study the details of these planets, we are ever the closer to discovering whether we are alone in the universe.”

Over the course of several weeks, TESS will use six thruster burns to travel in a series of progressively elongated orbits to reach the Moon, which will provide a gravitational assist so that TESS can transfer into its 13.7-day final science orbit around Earth. After approximately 60 days of check-out and instrument testing, the spacecraft will begin its work.
“One critical piece for the science return of TESS is the high data rate associated with its orbit,” said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge. “Each time the spacecraft passes close to Earth, it will transmit full-frame images taken with the cameras. That’s one of the unique things TESS brings that was not possible before.”
For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will use four unique wide-field cameras to map 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky during its first year of observations and 13 sectors of the northern sky during the second year, altogether covering 85 percent of the sky.
TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits. A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer’s perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness. More than 78 percent of the approximately 3,700 confirmed exoplanets have been found using transits.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits. TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler’s targets.
The brightness of these target stars will allow researchers to use spectroscopy, the study of the absorption and emission of light, to determine a planet’s mass, density and atmospheric composition. Water, and other key molecules, in its atmosphere can give us hints about a planets’ capacity to harbor life.
“The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come,” said Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research.”
Through the TESS Guest Investigator Program, the worldwide scientific community will be able to conduct research beyond TESS’s core mission in areas ranging from exoplanet characterization to stellar astrophysics, distant galaxies and solar system science.
TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT and managed by Goddard. George Ricker, of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, serves as principal investigator for the mission. TESS’s four wide-field cameras were developed by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. Additional partners include Orbital ATK, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

ISRO to launch its Navigation Satellite

After losing contact with its high power S-band communication satellite GSAT-6A within 48 hours after launch, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch its navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on April 12.

The satellite will be launched aboard Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-41 (PSLV C-41) rocket from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
IRNSS-1I will replace faulty IRNSS-1A navigation satellite, whose three Rubidium atomic clocks had stopped working two years ago.
The upcoming launches like of IRNSS-1I will not be affected because of the snapping of signal link with communication satellite GSAT-6A," ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan as saying.
ISRO tried to launch IRNSS-1H to replace faulty IRNSS-1A on August 31 last year, but the satellite got stuck in the heat shield of the PSLV rocket during the launch.IRNSS-1I is the eighth satellite to join the NavIC navigation satellite constellation. The satellite weighs 600kg (dry mass) with a life span of 10 years.The Indian space scientists and engineers are still trying to establish a link with the communication satellite GSAT-6A, which was launched on March 29, using Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08) rocket.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Parallel Universe Decoded

Space has fascinated mankind since long. With the advent of technology, we constantly get to know the answers to our impending question which have baffled us since long. The dark, mysterious space has generated curiosity since forever. With various missions, expeditions taking place every now and then have tried to quench out curiosity thirst. But some questions are still there yet to be answered. The thought of is we alone in this universe has made many scientists sleep less. With every possible effort to find a cure in this path, we still are just clueless. Yet the internet has somehow found its answer, viral answers though.

Recently a viral news did its round on net exclaiming first ever evidence of another life in a parallel universe. The recent viral hit came from a press release of the Royal Astronomical Society. The study details the possible origins of a cold spot found in the data probing of cosmic microwave background. This relates to the leftover heat from the moment the universe was formed after the big bang. Some possible definition of this cold spot is the result of the collision of two universes slamming against each other billions of years ago. The press release states that the cold spot found could be a result of the collision of between two universes. If the further detailed study is to be done and some new researched are to be found which support this reason could be the next big step in the mankind’s search for a parallel universe and other life.

There may not be tonnes of evidence to prove such claims due to our limited approach and technology which has limited our reach in the space related issues, although these finding may or may not have its true basis of authenticity. This press release was supported by just one man and his study and hence can't be termed credible to reach to any point. None the less, such findings keep cropping up every time till the time someone renowned refutes them. At last, all we can hope is that whatever we come through be of use to us and not harm us.