NASA Honors Second Anniversary Of New Horizons Pluto Encounter


Launched January 19, 2006 NASA’s New Horizons probe buckled down, unfazed by billions of miles between Earth and mission objectives – exploration of Pluto, Pluto’s moons and the Kuiper Belt. A few days ago, July 14, 2017 marked the second anniversary of New Horizons first fly-by of once a planet Pluto.

https://www.space.com/37485-new-horizons-pluto-flyby-anniversary-two-years.html

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, capturing this near-sunset view of the dwarf planet’s icy mountains and flat ice plains. The image was taken from a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) from Pluto; the scene is 780 miles (1,250 km) wide. – https://www.space.com/16533-pluto-new-horizons-spacecraft-pictures.html

Ponder New Horizons at – https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/new-horizons-nearing-pluto/

To honour New Horizon’s second “closest fly-by” of Pluto anniversary, NASA released two short commemorative videos –

 

The magnitude of New Horizons defies comprehension, it’s tough to fathom 7.5 billion kilometers culminating in near perfect dalliance with outer edges of our solar system. Rather than dismiss New Horizons for lack of tangible perspectives, ponder distance and time traveled with new eyes. Invite New Horizons images for tea, sip politely, let cosmic wonder tickle your toes. Laugh out loud when I tell you New Horizons has enough spring in her step to cross 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto for a hand shake with asteroid 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. Beyond that, New Horizons will wait as only good soldiers can. Ready to rise from trenches when fresh orders dictate another charge into the great unknown.

https://astronomynow.com/2017/01/22/new-horizons-to-continue-mission-of-discovery-with-kuiper-belt-encounter/

Smallest Known Star Discovered


This week astronomers at University of Cambridge announced discovery of EBLM JO555-57Ab, the smallest star ever identified by science. To ponder EBLM JO555-57Ab, cast an eye of imagination 600 light years across the cosmos. Recline in upholstered comfort, search for unmistakable washes of sunlight emanating from a cosmic body smaller than Jupiter, barely larger than Saturn. Marvel at the fickle nature of our universe while dismissing notions of mandatory solar enormity. Despite a meager footprint, know that a star, is a star, is a star.

Demure as EBLM JO555-57Ab appears, mass not size determines star status. More mass = more gravity, exceptional gravity smashes particles together creating nuclear fusion which releases energy as light, radiation and solar wind. See How Stars Work at – http://science.howstuffworks.com/star5.htm

Alexander Boetticher, lead study author doubts stars get much smaller than EBLM JO555-57Ab.

“Our discovery reveals how small stars can be. Had this star formed with only a slightly lower mass, the fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core could not be sustained, and the star would instead have transformed into a brown dwarf.”

EBLM JO555-57Ab resides in a double star system, but for this critical detail, astronomers might never have noticed EBLM JO555-57Ab passing in front of her larger companion star. Curiously, dim, coolish, barely a star like our now know smallest star, are the “best candidates” for finding Earth sized exoplanets with surface water. Boetticher adds –

[EBLM J0555-57Ab] is smaller, and likely colder, than many of the gas giant exoplanets that have so far been identified. While a fascinating feature of stellar physics, it is often harder to measure the size of such dim low-mass stars than for many of the larger planets. Thankfully, we can find these small stars with planet-hunting equipment, when they orbit a larger host star in a binary system.

It might sound incredible, but finding a star can at times be harder than finding a planet.

Artist’s concept of newly-measured smallest star, called EBLM J0555-57Ab, in contrast to planets Jupiter and Saturn and to the small, cool star Trappist-1, known to be home to at least 7 planets. Image via University of Cambridge.

http://earthsky.org/space/discovery-smallest-star-eblm-j0555-57ab?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=9d598c024d-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-9d598c024d-393970565&mc_cid=9d598c024d&mc_eid=a5b828713b

Space Gallery Of The Week


Each week https://www.space.com/32252-amazing-images.html?utm_source=sp-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=icymi posts “The Most Amazing Space Photos This Week”. Below, a gallery of personal favorites from this week  –

Brilliant Southern Lights and Milky Way Shine at South Pole

“Astrophotographer Hunter Davis captured two images of our galaxy’s band of neighboring stars sharing the sky with the southern lights. They were taken in Antarctica, just over a relay station at the South Pole before the winter solstice, Davis said. The snow that blankets the base of the photos accentuates the brightness of the lights in the sky.”

Friday, June 30, 2017: In this view from the night side of Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured a sliver of sunlight peering over the horizon. Cassini arrived at the ringed planet 13 years ago today. — Hanneke Weitering

“The red giant star Betelgeuse is younger than the sun, but it’s living fast: The star has reached a life stage that the sun won’t hit for billions of years. New photos of the young star may help reveal the upheaval behind its mature appearance.

Stretched along the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Telescope, known as ALMA, captured its first image of the surface of this star. In doing so, it has provided astronomers and enthusiasts alike with the highest-resolution image ever captured of the red supergiant, European Southern Observatory (ESO) officials said in a statement.”

Jupiter’s Swirling Cloud Bands, NASA’s Juno spacecraft

Thursday, June 29, 2017: Jupiter’s intricate light and dark bands of cloud formations mesmerize in this enhanced image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created the image using data Juno collected on May 19, when it was about 20,800 miles (33,400 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering
The California Nebula
Tuesday, June 27, 2017: This long, faint cloud of interstellar gas and dust is the emission nebula NGC 1499. Because of its shape, astronomers nicknamed it the California Nebula. It lies about 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Perseus. — Hanneke Weitering

 

Ponder Solar Timelapse


SDO, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory left for work on February 11, 2010. Seven years later and counting, SDO faithfully watches the Sun in different wavelengths. Different wavelengths reveal temperature variances in vivid colour, mesmerizing real time images unlocking mysteries of our sun.

Follow this link to live SDO solar images – https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/the-sun-now/index.html Better still – lose yourself in this stunning timelapse woven from five unblinking years of SDO surveillance.

 

Cassini Reveals Saturn’s Hexagon Border


Oh Cassini, have I mentioned lately how much I admire you? In October 2015, https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/cassinis-curtain-call/ defined you as NASA’s unassuming civil servant, know that your exemplary service to humanity will never be forgotten.

On April 26, 2017 Cassini embarked on the first of 22 dives toward the heart of Saturn. Sliding dutifully between Saturn’s inner ring and outer atmosphere, Cassini encountered little resistance. Unaware of external trepidation, oblivious to collective relief she wasn’t obliterated by cosmic debris, Cassini documented her journey with stoic pride.

On May 4, 2017 NASA released this video, a Cassini eye view exposing mysteries of Saturn’s hexagon north pole cloud system and central vortex. Images that suggest neighboring hexagon and vortex clouds never mix –

In September 2017 a wild abandon death plunge toward Saturn will terminate the mission. Cameras rolling, Cassini’s demise will cement the legacy of an unassuming civil servant determined to advance science.

Outstanding link to Cassini timeline –

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/the-journey/timeline/#saturn-orbit-insertion

Pondering Cassini’s Imminent Demise


April 26, 2017 marks the beginning of NASA’s Cassini Mission end. Twenty years from home, fuel supplies close to exhaustion, Cassini’s imminent demise starts with the first of 22 planned dives between the rings of Saturn. The final plunge on September 22,2017 will lay Cassini to rest somewhere in the arms of Saturn. Mindful of protecting one of Saturn’s 62 moons from impact of an out of control space probe, Cassini’s assisted suicide is planned to maximize scientific discovery.

http://earthsky.org/space/cassini-at-saturn-grand-finale-2017?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=0b882ebc2e-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-0b882ebc2e-393970565&mc_cid=0b882ebc2e&mc_eid=a5b828713b

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA said – “No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we’ll attempt to boldly cross 22 times. What we learn from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end.”

These videos give me goosebumps. Oh Cassini, know your service to humanity mattered.

Timeline of Cassini Mission – https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/the-journey/timeline/#saturn-orbit-insertion