NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has passed the milestone of 100,000 shots fired by its laser. It uses the laser as one way to check which chemical elements are in rocks and soils.
With the sad demise of Comet ISON fresh in our minds, it's worth remembering that there's plenty more (and perhaps more impressive) lumps of space ice where that came from.
The Expedition 38 crew members worked throughout Friday on long term experiments to benefit life on Earth and in space. The six space station residents also exercised to stay fit and checked station systems to ensure the orbital laboratory is in excellent condition.
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata along with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio participated in more eye exams Friday for the Ocular Health study. They scanned their eyes with an ultrasound device, checked their blood pressure and too [...]
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has demonstrated unprecedented telescope technologies using ultra-lightweight polymer membrane optics.
Ball is incrementally demonstrating technology needed to deploy a large, 20-meter-diameter, lightweight space-based telescope in geosynchronous orbit as part of the Membrane Optic Imager Real-time Exploitation (MOIRE) program, led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Most recently, Ball completed construction and testing of one-eighth of a 5-meter-diameter annular segmented telescope to verify functionality of the MOIRE design.
"The ground demonstration substantiates that this innovative technology could work on next generation space telescopes to greatly reduce their costs and enable larger telescopes," said Ball Aerospace President Rob Strain. "This technology could apply to a wide-range of applications providing various forms of information to a multitude of users."
The lightweight optics developed under the MOIRE program reduces the mass of large aperture telescopes by nearly an order of magnitude compared to those with conventional optics. Since costs scale roughly with spacecraft mass, one key to affordability is minimizing the mass of future space optics. This technology could lend itself to easily stowed configurations for launch within a payload shroud that could be deployed on orbit.
The telescope concept that Ball developed employs thin (less than 1/1000th of an inch) transparent membranes etched with a diffraction pattern as the primary optical element used to focus light.
"This is the first design to use transparent membranes on a large scale," said Aaron Seltzer, director of Advanced Development for Ball Aerospace's National Defense business unit. "The result is a telescope with exceptionally low mass per unit of collecting area."
To produce MOIRE's optical-quality polymer membranes and the precision etching needed to generate the diffraction pattern, Ball worked with NeXolve and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The Ball demonstration telescope uses six primary diffractive optical elements. Additional technologies demonstrated by Ball for the MOIRE telescope include the use of secondary diffractive optical elements to correct chromatic dispersion (e.g. the rainbow effect visible on the reverse side of a DVD); stability of the membranes; and the use of laser metrology and active optics to align the primary and secondary optics.
Following the successful ground-based proof of concept for MOIRE, the Ball team intends to pursue additional funding to move the technology forward.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions for national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more information, visit www.ballaerospace.com.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, food and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 15,000 people worldwide and reported 2012 sales of more than $8.7 billion. For more information, visit www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
A NASA astrophysicist has confirmed the existence of giant convection cells --approximately 200,000 kilometers in diameter -- flowing slowly on the sun, lending further insight into the transport of heat from its core and the origin of cycles of sunspot activity that affect essential satellite-based communications such as cell phones and TV broadcasting.
The rapid movement of smaller convection cells -- granules and supergranules about 1,000 and 30,000 kilometers in diameter, respectively -- [...]
Despite declared bipartisan support for a bill that would relive NASA of the requirement to withhold funds on key projects as a hedge against payout if they’re cancelled, the House Science Committee delayed markup of that bill on Thursday until next week. As discussed here earlier this week, HR 3625 would require NASA not to [...]
HD 106906b is no "ordinary" alien planet -- it shouldn't exist. Continue reading →
This visualization shows the position of the sun's magnetic fields from January 1997 to December 2013. The field lines swarm with activity: The magenta lines show where the sun's overall field is negative and the green lines show where it is positive. A region with more electrons is negative, the region with less is labeled positive. Additional gray lines represent areas of local magnetic variation.
The entire sun's magnetic polarity, flips approximately every 11 years -- though sometimes it [...]
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 on Dec. 5 at 11:14 p.m. PST.
Designated NROL-39, the mission is in support of national defense. "Today's successful launch of the NROL-39 mission is a testament to the tremendous government-industry partnership. We greatly appreciate the teamwork with the NRO Office of Space Launch and our many mission partners," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. "We are honored to be entrusted to launch these one-of-a-kind national assets to orbit to protect our national security and to support the many brave men and women serving around the world."
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle 501 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4 engine.
In addition to the NROL-39 payload, the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite (GEMSat), consisting of 12 CubeSats, took advantage of the Atlas V launch vehicle ride share capabilities and were deployed following completion of the primary mission. The NRO and ULA partnered to develop an Aft Bulkhead Carrier (ABC) on the Centaur upper stage, which is a platform for accommodating auxiliary payloads aboard Atlas V missions.
The CubeSats were developed under a sponsorship of both the NRO and NASA. The Aerospace Corporation, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Army developed the seven NRO-sponsored CubeSats. The five NASA-sponsored CubeSats were developed by Montana State University, California Polytechnic State University, the University of Michigan, and Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. "We are pleased we could support the NRO, NASA, and all of the associated institutions by successfully delivering these important auxiliary payloads which will test and validate new technologies for debris mitigation, propulsion, space weather, communications, on-orbit data processing and the use of commercially available components," said Sponnick.
Developed by the United States Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads, the commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch and twitter.com/ulalaunch.
Contact: Jessica Rye, (321) 730-5646 (Office), (321) 693-6250 (Cell) firstname.lastname@example.org
This new Hubble image shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 660, located around 45 million light-years away from us.
NGC 660 is classified as a "polar ring galaxy," meaning that it has a belt of gas and stars around its center that it ripped from a near neighbor during a clash about one billion years ago.The first polar ring galaxy was observed in 1978 and only around a dozen more have been discovered since then, making them something of a cosmic rarity.
Unfortunately, NGC 660’s polar [...]