Vol. 60, No. 3, MARCH, 2015 Next Meeting – Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 8pm at the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory ~ ~“Meeting Topic: VARIABLE STARS -- How the Study of These Have Led to a Deeper Understanding of the Universe ~ presented by: Dr. Len Jensen, an amateur astronomer who has held several positions with the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers and currently is Assistant Professor at the Univ. of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine IN THE MARCH ISSUE: How much do you know about Delaware Trivia? Odds are high that you know the Official State Bird is the Blue Hen Chicken. You might have heard that the State Tree is American Holly. But I”ll bet you didn’t know that Delaware has an official State Star! Or that it has been designated the “Delaware Diamond.” I didn’t. Here’s the description from the State website... www.delaware.gov/topics/facts/misc.shtml On June 30, 2000, the Delaware Diamond, located in the constellation of Ursa Major (Great Bear), with coordinates of right ascension 9h40m44s and declination 48°14’2”, was designated as Delaware’s State star. It is a star of the 12th magnitude and is the first star on the International Star Registry ever to be registered to an American State. It can be seen with binoculars or a telescope. Twelve-year-old Amy Nerlinger of Wilmington named the star through a contest sponsored by the Delaware Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1999. Delaware Code Title 29 § 317. If you’ve never heard of the International Star Registry don’t miss the next DAS meeting. In addition to a little more trivia you’ll hear a seriously interesting main program by our guest speaker, Dr. Len Jensen. Be there! Each issue of FOCUS is full of useful hyperlinks. Just click on any graphic or telltale blue web address and your browser should take you to additional linked web resources. AP SIG Lunar Imaging at the Sawin on March 27 or 28 Public Nights Schedule at Mt. Cuba Observatory 2015 Annual Dinner Meeting May 17th! Astro Images by Frank Colosimo DAS Board Members-At-Large Elections Astronomy Picture of the Day-Stars at the Galactic Center “From the Observing Chair” Spring Ahead by Fred De Lucia Sawin Certification Program Astro-League Membership Fees IMPORTANT Board Positions Need Members to Fill NOW! Astro Images Sought by MCAO for Lobby Display Page 2 Page 2 Page 3 Pages 4&5 Page 6 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 8 Page 8 Page 8 Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities Rates for Astronomy Technology Today & Amateur Astronomy Page 9 Page 9 “From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory” Why Comets are Like Deep Fried Ice Cream Hubble Captures Rare Triple Moon Conjunction Dawn Gets Closer View of Ceres Planck Mission Explores the History of our Universe ‘Pale Blue Dot’ Images Turn 25 Pages 10&11 Page 11 Page 12 Page 12 Page 13 “NASA Science News” An Edge On Close Encounter with Jupiter Mud Matters Eastern U.S. in a Record Breaking Freezer NASA Receives Proposals for New Planetary Science Mission Chandra finds Member of Black Hole Family Tree Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 “From The Goddard Space Flight Center” NASA Measures Frigid Cloud Top Temps NASA Team Develops New Ka-Band System Texas Has New Big, Bright Webb STTARS Webb Telescope Conversations with James Geithner MAVEN Completes First Deep Dip Campaign Bright Spot on Ceres has Dimmer Companion SOHO Sees Something New Near the Sun OSIRIS-REx Completes System Integration Review Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Pages 22&23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Sawin Observatory Reminder & DAS Loaner Equipment Astro Photo of the Month & Website of the Month Info on Club Special Interest Groups Info on Memberships & Magazine Subscriptions Contact Information for the DAS Board “The Last Word” - FOCUS Editor Joe Neuberger Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 32 Saturn--Photo taken in June, 2012 at ChesLen Preserve. “This image was taken from 2 movies I made with Fred’ De Lucia’s Obsession DOB scope. I used Registax to stack the 200 best frames of each movie and then I stacked the result.” Credit: Photo by DAS Member Rob Lancaster. Observing with the Delaware Astronomical Society... Astro-Photo Special Interest Group Meeting Set for Lunar Imaging at the Sawin on the Weekend of March 27 / 28 by Bill Hanagan The next meeting of the AP-SIG is tentatively scheduled for March 27 or 28 at 8:00 PM at MCAO. If the weather allows, we’ll pick one of these nights to head out to the Sawin and image some of the features of the 1st quarter moon. If you’re a beginner, this is a great opportunity to get started in astrophotography. If the weather isn’t accommodating, we’ll meet inside as usual. The specific date will be announced a day or two ahead of the meeting via the DAS Yahoo Group email, so we can take advantage of the best night weather-wise. The Moon -- Photro taken on October 20th, 2007 with a Canon EOS 20D camera by DAS member and AP SIG founder Bill Hanagan If you would like to capture one or more images of the moon, be sure to bring along your own SLR and matching T-ring, along with a remote shutter release. For those who are new to astrophotography, a T-ring takes the place of a lens on an SLR and receives a “T-Adapter”, which in its simplest form is just a 2” or 1.25” tube that fits into a telescope focuser. I’ll have a 2” T-adapter and I’ll also have a 2x Big Barlow and 4x Powermate on hand for added magnification when needed. “PUBLIC NIGHTS” at the Mt. CUBA OBSERVATORY... MCAO PUBLIC NIGHTS updates on programs planned. Interested individuals or groups can apply by letter or call 654-6407 (preferably between the hours of 9 and 11 am, Monday through Friday) to the Observatory to obtain reservations for these “Public Nights”. Greg Weaver The Mt. Cuba Observatory Public Nights continue year round! In addition to learning about many aspects of the heavens, you’ll have a chance to visit and view our all-digital full-dome planetarium. You can pick up a schedule when you next come to a meeting or get the latest updated version off the website at: http:// MountCuba.org. Programs are presented on Monday nights at 8pm. Please check the website for full details and The Public Nights schedule for 2015 follows: Date Speaker 23 Mar. Scott Jackson Topic Exoplanets The 24 inch Herr Telescope (Greg Weaver) -2- DAS 2015 Dinner Meeting is May 19th After the great success of the 2014 Dinner Meeting, we will be holding this year's meeting in a similar fashion! To register visit the DAS website at http://delastro.org/16-event-reports/98-dinnermeeting. The date is Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 and the price will remain $20 per person! We will hold it once again at the beautiful Ashland Nature Center. A map can be found here: The speaker and topic will be announced soon... The Menu: Bread & butter Arugula & watermelon salad Main course, served with beans & rice and asparagus Carne Adovada (New Mexican Citrus Pork), or Chicken with Peruvian Sauce, or Vegetarian option upon request Latin Flan Water & soda Beer & wine by free will donation Hot tea & coffee The easiest way to register, is via PayPal on the DAS website page. Please select your main course choice. Note, if you are registering more than one person, please add all meal choices to the cart prior to checking out. If you would prefer, you can mail a check along with a note indicating your meal choices to: Jeff Lawrence DAS Treasurer 815 Leeds Lane Newark, DE 19711 Join Us At The For Great Food, Speaker, Awards and Comaraderie! http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/AshlandNatureCenter -3- Images by Member Frank Colosimo from His Blue Mountain Vista Observatory at New Ringgold, PA M63, NGC 5055, or the Sunflower Galaxy as it is known is a magnitude 8.6 spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici. It has an apparent size of 12.3 arc minutes, and is estimated to be 37 million light years away. It is a great object to observe in the late Winter/Spring. Imaging data: Date: Dec 29,2008 Jan 4,25 2009; Location: New Ringgold PA; Optics: Meade LX200r-14 at f/7.9 28llmm; Mount: Paramount ME; Camera/Filters: Apogee Alta U8300 FLI CFW-2-7 FLI Filters; Guiding: Orion Starshoot Autoguider in Orion ST-80; Exposure: Luminance: 18x5 minutes binned 2x2, R:8x5 min G:9x5 min B:9x8 min all binned 3x3 for a total of 4.1 hours; Processing: Image acquisition using CCD Autopilot. Initial processing was done using Maxim DL with subsequent processing using Photoshop. -4- Markarian’s Chain is a line up of galaxies located in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. It is called a chain because when viewed by us, the galaxies appear to lie along a curvy line. It was named after the Armenian astrophysicist, B. E. Markarian. Member galaxies include M84 (NGC 4374), M86 (NGC 4406), NGC 4477, NGC 4473, NGC 4461, NGC 4458, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435. At least seven galaxies in the chain appear to move coherently, although others appear to be superposed by chance. Imaging data: Date: Jan 2015; Location: New Ringgold PA; Optics: Takahashi FSQ106ED 530 mm focal length; Mount: Paramount MX; Camera: SBIG STL 11000; Guiding: self guided; Exposure: Luminance 16x10 min for a total of 2.7 hrs; Processing: Image acquisition using CCD Autopilot. Initial processing was done using Maxim DL with subsequent processing with Photoshop. Leo I is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy in the constellation Leo. It lies around 820,000 lightyears distant and is a member of our Local Group of galaxies. It is thought to be one of the most distant satellites of the Milky Way galaxy. It was not discovered until 1950 by Albert George Wilson. It lies close to bright Regulus and that plus its low surface brightness make it a real challenge to observe visually. See if you can pick it out just above Regulus. Imaging Data: Date: Jan 2015; Location: New Ringgold PA; Optics: Takahashi FSQ106ED 530 mm focal length; Mount: Paramount MX; Camera: SBIG STL 11000; Guiding: self guided; Exposure: Luminance 10x5 min, R 5x5 min, G 6x5 min, B 6x5 min for a total of 2.3 hrs; Processing: Image acquisition using CCD Autopilot. Initial processing was done using Maxim DL with subsequent processing with Photoshop. -5- DAS Board Members At Large Elections Fred De Lucia, DAS Elections Committee Chairperson The terms for the three DAS Board Members At Large are expiring this year. Elections will take place in May via the usual electronic voting method of the past several elections. Board Members At Large hold voting positions on the DAS Board of Directors and, essentially, represent the interests of the general membership in all matters brought before the Board for discussion. The terms are for two years and begin on July 1 of odd numbered years. Eligible candidates must be in good standing (i.e. current in their dues) and at least 16 years of age. Candidates will be announced at the April meeting at which time nominations will also be permitted to come from the floor. Nominations from any member in good standing will be accepted for the slate. Members can nominate themselves. Please, email me at [email protected] or call me at 609-410-8943 with your nominations or your questions. Astronomy Picture of the Day from 2015 March 8 Stars at the Galactic Center Image Credit: Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al., JPL-Caltech, NASA -- http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html Explanation: The center of our Milky Way Galaxy is hidden from the prying eyes of optical telescopes by clouds of obscuring dust and gas. But in this stunning vista, the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared cameras, penetrate much of the dust revealing the stars of the crowded galactic center region. A mosaic of many smaller snapshots, the detailed, falsecolor image shows older, cool stars in bluish hues. Reddish glowing dust clouds are associated with young, hot stars in stellar nurseries. The very center of the Milky Way was only recently found capable of forming newborn stars. The galactic center lies some 26,000 light-years away, toward the constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this picture spans about 900 light-years. -6- Spring Ahead By Fred De Lucia, DAS Observing Chair Before beginning this article I checked the weather forecasts for the upcoming Dark Window and it appears that we’re in for a break. Above average temperatures beginning on March 11 and clearing skies, just in time to welcome in the March Dark Window. Hopefully, by the time you read this it hasn’t changed and you’ll have seen a post or two for some observing plans on the DAS Yahoo Group. It’s hard for me to accept that it’s been over 4 months since I had my 18” scope out for observing. The Trap Pond State Park session with the Delmarva Stargazers on October 25 was my last time out. Spolier alert: I’m going to complain about the weather. Last year at this time many were observing the supernova in M82, the temperature during one of those sessions was 15°F. It really didn’t seem so bad, but there’s a huge difference as you get into single digit temperatures and even more so on the minus side. Some of you may recall my talk a few years ago about an aurora trip to Chena Hot Springs, Alaska and the -26°F night while watching an aurora, fortunately, the warm lodge was only a short walk away for when the aurora faded. I’m no stranger to the cold and I know how to prepare to make it bearable. But, although there have been a night or two of clear skies recently, the near zero temperatures were too discouraging to get me out to take a long drive to a dark site. Consequently, I had to experience my observing vicariously by reading the observing reports of some of my ChesMont buds posted on their website. Yep! They were out in -7° (that’s no typo), I repeat, -7°F temperatures at a PA observing site near Summit Mountain on February 20 and out again at the Blue Mountain Vista on February 23. BUT!! That was then and this is now! The start of the March Dark Window looks promising. On another uplifting thought, The Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) is on April 18 and 19, the weekend before our April meeting. Last year several of us from DAS had a great time browsing the floor full of telescope equipment, catching some lectures and spending time with the horde of Solar telescopes outside under clear afternoon skies for some thrilling views of our Sun. Warning: temptation reigns on that floor full of equipment. There were several that I know (me included) that brought home an unexpected bargain. I wonder what lies ahead for this year. Back to observing plans before closing. Those Leo targets I outlined in last month’s column are still doable, as well as our Oort cloud visitor, C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, at magnitude 6.3 and 40° altitude as of this writing, it’s still a prime time target for all sizes of amateur telescopes. For dedicated backyarders, Jupiter still rides high at over 42 arc seconds of sky, plenty big for outstanding views of cloud structure under steady skies, and its moons will occult and eclipse as the month wears on. With Spring approaching, members should plan to get back to the Sawin. We have new eyepieces waiting for first light and our 17.5” scope is waaayyy underutilized. Perhaps someone with a desire to peck away at some Spring galaxies or is curious about what a larger scope can reveal in the more commonly observed globular clusters will plan to get it out. Maybe take it out to a dark sky site, like to the Delmarva Stargaze XXI in May, which is set for the week before our dinner meeting. I hope to see some, if not many, of you at a DAS star party or at the Sawin or on an observing field. I wish clear, dark and steady skies to all. -7- Sawin Certification Program Fred De Lucia The Sawin is the major centerpiece of DAS. In the past it was in use much more often and by a number of members on every clear Friday night. It has been largely underutilized for a number of reasons. One reason, I believe, is that newer members or members who do not own a telescope might feel intimidated by the equipment and the observatory’s layout. We hope to address this by instituting the Sawin Certification Program. With the new upgrades installed, its use will be more inviting and user friendly to both new and experienced members. Certified Key Holders of the Sawin have access to its use at any time without supervision . The Program will consist of a minimum of 2 sessions, scheduled at the Sawin, to obtain the necessary knowledge and experience in using the Sawin equipment. These sessions will be supervised by a current Sawin Key Holder. The first session, likely set for a weekend in the daylight (even if it’s cloudy), will familiarize learners with the layout of the Sawin and overall operation, including opening the roof, uncovering and covering the telescopes, handling eyepieces and pointing the telescopes, etc. If the supervising Sawin Key Holder determines that progression during the first session is acceptable, then the second session will be scheduled for a clear sky night session to address night time use of the equipment. The Sawin Certification Program is for DAS members only who are in good standing and 16 years of age or older. Participants in the program who are under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For information or sign-up, please contact Greg Lee, DAS President at [email protected] ASTRONOMICAL LEAGUE MEMBERSHIP · · · The DAS offers an optional membership in the Astronomical League (AL) at a discounted rate. AL membership dues are $7.50 per year and are due on June 1 for all members. Prorated discounts for new memberships starting mid-year are as follows: April 16 - July 15: $7.50 per member July 16 - Oct 15: $5.62 per member Oct 16 - Jan 15: $3.75 per member Jan 16 - April 15: $1.87 per member Members should make their check out to DAS and mail it to the Treasurer whose information is below:: Jeff Lawrence DAS Treasurer 815 Leeds Lane Newark, DE 19711 Members are Needed to Step Up to Fill Important DAS Board Positions: Education Chairperson and Observatory Chairperson These important Club positions remain unfilled and important functions of our club have come to a virtual halt because of it. If you would like to give a little more of yourself to this organizatioin, please contact President Greg Lee at 302-762-5358 and explore with him what these positions entail. PLEASE give it some thought--your club needs YOU! Call for DAS AstroImages for Display in Mt. Cuba Lobby MCAO is asking for any DAS members to submit their astroimages for display in the Observatory. It would like to display the club member’s talents and update some of the images currently on display in the lobby of the Observatory. Images will be displayed for up to a year and replaced as new images are submitted. Full credits to the imager will be included. Please include all technical information with the image (date, telescope and camera used, exposure time, image processing software, etc.). You may email digital images to the Mt. Cuba website. Photos may be sent to the Observatory or brought to a DAS meeting. The Observatory looks forward to displaying your beautiful images! Contact Greg at [email protected] -8- Star Parties, Upcoming Events and Activities March 17, 2015 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm DAS Monthly Meeting Topic: Variable Stars presented by Dr. Len Jensen, amateur astronomer, former president, vice president, observing chair, member at large and secretary of Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers and currently Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine; DAS Board meeting at 7PM, all are welcome. General meeting at 8PM. March 19, 2015 - March 22, 2015 Delmarva Stargazers Mirror Making Seminar-http://www.delmarvastargazers.org/ Delmarva Star Gazers will host the 15th Mid-Atlantic Mirror Making Seminar March 19 through March 22, 2015, at the Mallard Lodge, Smyrna, DE. March 28, 2015 7:15 pm - 9:15 pm Bellevue State Park Introduction to the Night Sky Bellevue State Park offers an evening of stargazing as DAS shows constellations and gives an introduction to observing the night sky. Equipment will be available, or you may bring your own. Redfiltered lights only please. No fee for this program. Call the Park to pre-register 302-761-6963. Meet in the Hunter Barn parking lot April 16, 2015 - April 17, 2015 NEIAC - Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference Devoted to all aspects of Astronomical Imaging, this two-day event hosts workshops & lectures by prominent professional & amateur astro-imagers. April 18, 2015 - April 19, 2015 NEAF - Northeast Astronomy Forum World’s Largest Astronomy Expo - Bringing you the Universe in two exciting event-packed days. NEAF is renowned worldwide as the ultimate astronomy experience. Nowhere else can you find so much in one place or at one time. April 21, 2015 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm DAS Monthly Meeting Topic: Needle in a Haystack: The Search for 1A Supernova by Dr. Steve Walters, IEEE Fellow and author of CCDWare, The Ultimate Image Session Planning Solution. http://www.ccdware.com/ DAS Board meeting at 7PM, all are welcome. General meeting at 8PM. See the full line-up of events on the DAS’ website EVENTS CALENDAR at http://delastro.org/events/calendar#year=2015&month=3&day=9&view=month DAS Now has a Discount Subscription Rate for Astronomy Technology Today Magazine and Amateur Astronomy Magazine Astronomy Technology Today: Members can subscribe directly on-line and then in the appropriate box enter the club’s discount code which is: DAS. During the order process, members simply enter the discount code and they will receive the discounted rate at checkout. Print subscribers also have unlimited access to all current and past digital issues at no additional cost. Normal print subscriptions are $18 per year. The club rate is $14 per year. The magazine is issued bi-monthly. https://www.astronomytechnologytoday.com/ Amateur Astronomy Magazine: DAS members must print, fill out and mail the form found in the “Files” section of our Yahoo email list website. . The magazine is issued quarterly. http://www.amateurastronomy.com/index.htm. -9- Why Comets Are Like Deep Fried Ice Cream --Studying comet composition helps explain how early Earth may have received water and organics. --New research used "Himalaya," an icebox-like instrument. AsThe experiments tronomers tinkering began with amorwith ice and organics phous, or porous, ice in the lab may have -- the proposed discovered why composition of the comets are encased in chilliest of comets a hard, outer crust. and icy moons. In this Using an state, water vapor icebox-like instrument molecules are flashnicknamed Himalaya, frozen at extremely the researchers show cold temperatures of that fluffy ice on the around 30 Kelvin surface of a comet (minus 243 degrees would crystalize and Celsius, or minus 405 harden as the comet degrees Fahrenheit), heads toward the sun sort of like Han Solo and warms up. As the in the Star Wars water-ice crystals form, movie "The Empire becoming denser and Strikes Back." Disormore ordered, other derly states are molecules containing preserved: Water carbon would be molecules are Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen here in an image captured by the Rosetta expelled to the comet's spacecraft. The mission's Philae lander hit the surface with a big bounce, demonstrating the haphazardly mixed surface. The result is a comet's surface is hard. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM with other molecules, http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image esa_rosetta_navcam_20150121_mosaic-1024x969.jpg crunchy comet crust such as the organics, sprinkled with organic dust. and remain frozen in that state. Amorphous ice is like "A comet is like deep fried ice cream," said Murthy cotton candy, explains Gudipati: light and fluffy and filled Gudipati of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, with pockets of space. California, corresponding author of a recent study appearOn Earth, all ice is in the ing in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. "The crust is crystalline form. It's not cold enough made of crystalline ice, while the interior is colder and more to form amorphous ice on our planet. porous. The organics are like a final layer of chocolate on top." Even a handful of loose snow is in the The lead author of the study is Antti Lignell, a crystalline form, but contains much postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technolsmaller ice crystals than those in snowogy in Pasadena, who formerly worked with Gudipati at JPL. flakes. Researchers already knew that comets have soft Gudipati and Lignell used interiors and seemingly hard crusts. NASA's Deep Impact their Himalaya cryostat instrument to and the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft both slowly warm their amorphous ice inspected comets up close, finding evidence of soft, porous mixtures from 30 Kelvin to 150 Kelvin Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory interiors. Last November, Rosetta's Philae probe bounced (minus 123 degrees Celsius, or minus in Pasadena, California, to a landing on the surface of 67P/Churyumov190 degrees Fahrenheit), mimicking use a cryostat instruGerasimenko, confirming that comets have a hard surface. conditions a comet would experience ment, nicknamed The black, soot-like coats of comets, made up of organic as it journeys toward the sun. The ice "Himalaya," to study the icy conditions under molecules and dust, had also been seen before by the had been infused with a type of organics, which comets form. Deep Impact mission. called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Image Credit: NASA/JPLBut the exact composition of comet crust -- and or PAHs, which are seen everywhere Caltech how it forms -- remains unclear. in deep space. In the new study, researchers turned to labs on The results came as a surprise. Earth to put together a model of crystallizing comet crust. "The PAHs stuck together (Continued on Page 11) February 10, 2015: -10- Hubble Captures Rare Triple-Moon Conjunction Firing For images off a string of action and more information snapshots like a sports about the Hubble photographer at a Space Telescope, visit: NASCAR race, http://hubblesite.org/ NASA's Hubble Space news/2015/05 or Telescope captured http://www.nasa.gov/ the rare occurrence of hubble three of Jupiter's largest moons racing For additional informaacross the banded tion, contact: face of the gas-giant planet: Europa, Ray Villard Callisto, and Io. Space Telescope These soScience Institute, Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) called Galilean moons, Baltimore, Md, and http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/triple-moon.jpg named after the 17th Rob Gutro century scientist Galileo Galilei, who discovered them with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center a telescope, complete orbits around Jupiter with durations ranging from 2 days to 17 days. They can commonly be seen transiting the face of Jupiter and casting shadows onto its cloud tops. However, seeing three moons transiting the face of Jupiter at the same time is rare, occurring only once or twice a decade. Why Comets Are Like The Hubble image shows the beginning of the event, which took place on January 24, 2015. From left to Deep Fried Ice Cream (Continued from Page 10) right, the moons Callisto and Io are above Jupiter's cloud and were expelled from the ice host as it crystallized. This tops. The shadows from Europa, Callisto, and Io are strung may be the first observation of molecules clustering out from left to right. Europa is not visible in this image. together due to a phase transition of ice, and this certainly Near the end of the event, approximately 42 minutes has many important consequences for the chemistry and later (right-side image) Europa has entered the frame at lower physics of ice," said Lignell. left. Slower-moving Callisto is above and to the right of With PAHs kicked out of the ice mixtures, the water Europa. Fastest-moving Io is approaching the eastern limb of molecules had room to link up and form the more tightly the planet; its shadow is no longer visible on Jupiter. Europa's packed structures of crystalline ice. shadow is toward the left side of the image, and Callisto's "What we saw in the lab -- a crystalline comet crust shadow to the right. The moons' orbital velocities are proporwith organics on top -- matches what has been suggested tionally slower with increasing distance from the planet. from observations in space," said Gudipati. Deep fried ice Missing from the sequence is Ganymede, one of the cream is really the perfect analogy, because the interior of four Galilean moons that was outside Hubble's field of view the comets should still be very cold and contain the more and too far from Jupiter to be part of this conjunction. porous, amorphous ice." The moons in these photos have distinctive colors. The composition of comets is important to underThe ancient cratered surface of Callisto is brownish; the standing how they might have delivered water and organics smooth icy surface of Europa is yellow-white; and the volcato our nascent, bubbling-hot Earth. New results from the nic, sulfur-dioxide surface of Io is orange. The apparent Rosetta mission show that asteroids may have been the “fuzziness” of some of the shadows depends on the moons’ primary carriers of life's ingredients; however, the debate is distances from Jupiter. The farther away a moon is from the ongoing and comets may have played a role. For Gudipati, planet, the softer the shadow, because the shadow is more comets are capsules containing clues not only to our spread out across the disk. planet's history but to the birth of our entire solar system. The images were taken with Hubble's Wide Field He said, "It's beautiful to think about how far we Camera 3 in visible light. have come in our understanding of comets. Future misThe Hubble Space Telescope is a project of internasions designed to bring cold samples of comets back to tional cooperation between NASA and the European Space Earth could allow us to fully unravel their secrets." Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope contributions from its member states and NASA. JPL, a Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasascience operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the dena, manages the U.S. contribution of the Rosetta misAssociation of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in sion for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Washington, D.C. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. February 5, 2015: -11- D AW N G E T S C L O S E R V I E W S OF CERES NASA's Dawn spacecraft, on approach to dwarf planet Ceres, has acquired its latest and closest-yet snapshot of this mysterious world. February 5, 2015 At a resolution of 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) per pixel, the pictures represent the sharpest images to date of Ceres. After the spacecraft arrives and enters into orbit around the dwarf planet, it will study the intriguing world in great detail. Ceres, with a diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers), is the largest object in the main asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn's mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital This animation showcases a series of images NASA's Dawn spacecraft Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the took on approach to Ceres on Feb. 4, 2015 at a distance of about spacecraft. JPL is managed for NASA by the California 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The framing cameras http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia19179-16.gif were provided by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen, Germany, with significant contributions by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The visible and infrared mapping spectrometer was provided by the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, built by Selex ES, and is managed and operated by the Italian Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome. The gamma ray and neutron detector was built by Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, and is operated by the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. For more information about Dawn, visit: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov. P LANCK M ISSION E XPLORES THE H ISTORY OF O UR U NIVERSE --Milky Way Untangled. A new, dynamic portrait of our Milky Way galaxy shows a frenzy of gas, charged particles and dust. The main composite image comes from the European Space Agency's Planck mission, in which NASA plays an important role. It is constructed from observations made at microwave and millimeter wavelengths of light, which are longer than what we see with our eyes.The various components making up the main image are shown below it: -- Dust Glow (upper left). The red colors making up this map show light coming from the thermal glow of dust throughout our galaxy. The dust is cold, only about 20 degrees above absolute zero (20 Kelvin). -- Carbon Monoxide Gas (upper right). Yellow shows carbon monoxide gas, which is concentrated along the plane of our Milky Way in the densest clouds of gas and dust that are churning out new stars. -- Careening Particles (lower left). The green shows a kind of radiation known as free-free. This occurs when isolated electrons and protons careen past one another in a series of near collisions, slowing down but continuing on their own way (the name free-free comes from the fact that the particles start out alone and end up alone). The free-free signatures are associated with hot, ionized gas near massive stars. -- Captured in Magnetic Fields (lower right). Blue indicates a type of radiation called synchrotron, which occurs when fast-moving electrons, spit out of supernovas and other energetic phenomena, are captured in the galaxy’s magnetic field, spiraling along them near the speed of light. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/planck-mission-explores-the-history-of-our-universe/#.VODUN-bF9Ne -12- 'Pale Blue Dot' Images Turn 25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7aL0ZGjoeg February 13, 2015 Valentine's Day is special for NASA's Voyager mission. It was on Feb. 14, 1990, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune. This "family portrait" captures Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from Voyager 1's unique vantage point. A few key members did not make it in: Mars had little sunlight, Mercury was too close to the sun, and dwarf planet Pluto turned out too dim. Taking these images was not part of the original plan, but the late Carl Sagan, a member of the Voyager imaging team at the time, had the idea of pointing the spacecraft back toward its home for a last look. The title of his 1994 book, "Pale Blue Dot," refers to the image of Earth in this series. "Twenty-five years ago, Voyager 1 looked back toward Earth and saw a 'pale blue dot,' " an image that continues to inspire wonderment about the spot we call home," said Ed Stone, project scientist for the Voyager mission, based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. The image of Earth contains scattered light that resembles a beam of sunlight, which is an artifact of the camera itself that makes the tiny Earth appear even more dramatic. Voyager 1 was 40 astronomical units from the sun at this moment. One astronomical unit is 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers. These family portrait images are the last that Voyager 1, which launched in 1977, returned to Earth. Mission specialists subsequently turned the camera off so that the computer controlling it could be repurposed. The spacecraft is still operating, but no longer has the capability to take images. "After taking these images in 1990, we began our interstellar mission. We had no idea how long the spacecraft would last," Stone said. Today, Voyager 1, at a distance of 130 astronomical units, is the farthest human-made object from Earth, and it still regularly communicates with our planet. In August 2012, the spacecraft entered interstellar space – the space between the stars -- and has been delivering data about this uncharted territory ever since. Its twin, Voyager 2, also launched in 1977, is also journeying toward interstellar space. Voyager 1 is more than three times farther from Earth than it was on Valentine's Day 25 years ago. Today, Earth would appear about 10 times dimmer from Voyager's vantage point. Sagan wrote in his "Pale Blue Dot" book: "That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world." NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, built and operates the twin Voyager spacecraft. The Voyagers Interstellar Mission is a part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Voyager, visit: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov -13- An Edge-On Close Encounter with Jupiter events. For inEvstance, on Feb. 5th, ery 13 months, Earth volcanic Io cast its and Jupiter have a shadow on Mercuryclose encounter. sized Ganymede, Astronomers call it Jupiter's largest an "opposition" moon. On Feb. 7th, because Jupiter is icy Europa, home to opposite the Sun in what may be the the sky. Our solar solar system's system’s largest gas largest underground planet rises in the ocean, cast its east at sunset, and shadow on Io. soars overhead at Events like these will midnight, shining continue, off and on, brighter than any star until July 2015. in the night sky. During the This year's last edge-on appariopposition of Jupiter tion in 2009, some occured on Feb. 6th. observers managed It wasn't an ordinary to obtain the first close encounter with Earth (approximately Efrain Morales Rivera of Aquadilla, Puerto Rico, photographed multiple shadows transiting the resolved time-lapse face of Jupiter on Jan. 24th. A full-sized version of his image matches each shadow to a videos of mutual 640 million kilomemoon. View at: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/04feb_jupiter/ phenomena. Experiters), but in Feb. enced amateur astronomers recorded satellites ducking in 2015, Jupiter was edge on to the Sun. and out of one another's shadows, moons in partial and In a rare coincidence, Jupiter's opposition on Feb. total eclipse, and multiple shadows playing across the face 6th coincided almost perfectly with its equinox on Feb. 5th of Jupiter. Backyard telescopes have come a long way in when the Sun crossed Jupiter's equatorial plane. It is an the past 6 years, so even better movies can be expected edge-on apparition of the giant planet that sets the stage for a this time. remarkable series of events. For the next couple of months, You don't have to be an experienced astronomer to backyard sky watchers can see the moons of Jupiter executexperience Jupiter's ing a complex series of opposition. Anyone mutual eclipses and transits. can see the bright The eclipses planet rising in the have already started. east at sunset. It On Jan. 24th, for outshines by far example, three of anything else in its Jupiter's moon's, Io, patch of sky. Point a Europa, and Callisto, small telescope at cast their inky-black the bright light and, shadows on Jupiter's voila!--there are swirling cloudtops. Jupiter's cloud belts The "triple shadow and storms, and the transit" happened pinprick lights of the while Jupiter was high Galilean satellites in the sky over North circling the gas giant America, and many below. backyard astronomers Try it. 640 watched the event. million kilometers As Earth won't seem so far crosses the plane of away at all. Jupiter's equator in the weeks and months Credits: Author | Production editor: ahead, there will be http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/04feb_jupiter/ Dr. Tony Phillips, many mutual Feb 6, 2015: [email protected] -14- M U D M AT T E R S A new ScienceCast video explores the importance of moist soils in the Earth system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToO-tS-X2U4&feature=youtu.be Water may be the most influential substance on Earth. It covers more than 70% of our planet's surface, plays a key role in weather and climate, and nurtures life itself. Earth's deep oceans are unique in the solar system, and their globe-spanning majesty, as seen from space, is a testament to the primacy of "H2O." Oceans, however, are just the most eye-catching repositories of water. The substance can be found in lesser amounts in almost every nook and cranny of the planet, and researchers know it is important to keep track of water everywhere. For example … in mud. Believe it or not, NASA has just launched a satellite that can track water in the muddy slosh under your feet, as well as other forms of water in the ground. The name of the mission is SMAP—short for "Soil Moisture Active Passive." The satellite left Earth on Jan. 31st, rocketing into the sky onboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. There's more to soil moisture than mud, of course. “With data from SMAP, scientists and decision makers around the world will be better equipped to understand how Earth works as a system,” says Christine Bonniksen, SMAP program executive at NASA headquarters. "It will show us the down-to-Earth impacts of soil moisture, from floods and drought to weather and crop yield forecasts." SMAP senses soil moisture using an extraordinary mesh antenna; a large six-meter, mesh reflector antenna will deploy like a pop-up tent and spin, lasso-style, at approximately14 revolutions per minute. Thru this antenna, both the radar actively pinging the ground below with microwaves and the passive radiometer listening to the earth’s emissions, can gauge the moisture in soils along the satellite's ground track. Circling Earth in a 426-mile altitude, near-polar orbit, SMAP will be able to produce high resolution "moisture maps" every three days. Water in the soil can exist in many forms. As it orbits, SMAP will be able to detect whether the ground within its 3 kilometer wide "footprint" is frozen or thawed. This capability, which is unique to SMAP, will assist scientists in determining the growing season length and how much carbon plants are removing from the atmosphere each year, thus improving our current understanding of global warming. Additionally, SMAP will enhance our ability to respond to weather-related catastrophes by contributing to flood prediction and drought monitoring. “Soils are like sponges,” explains Erika Podest, a scientist on the SMAP team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “They can hold a certain amount of water. If we know the amount of water in the soils and we know that there’s a big rainstorm coming, for example, and that the soils are near saturation, then we can predict that that area might be at risk for flooding.” Clearly, mud does a lot more than just lie underfoot. The data gathered by the SMAP mission will be invaluable both within and beyond the science lab. Says Podest confidently, "I think it has the potential to touch everyone’s life." Feb 6, 2015: Credits: Authors: Rachel Molina, Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: [email protected] -15- E ASTERN U.S. IN A R ECORD -B REAKING "F REEZER " NASA's Terra satellite captured this picture of snow across the eastern United States on Feb. 19 at 16:20 UTC (11:20 a.m. EST). Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/unitedstates.a2015050.1620.1km.jpg NASA's Terra satellite captured an image of the snow-covered eastern U.S. that looks like the states have been sitting in a freezer. In addition to the snow cover, Arctic and Siberian air masses have settled in over the Eastern U.S. triggering many record low temperatures in many states. On Feb. 19 at 16:40 UTC (11:40 a.m. EST), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured a picture of the snowy landscape. The snow cover combined with the frosty air mass made the eastern U.S. feel like the inside of a freezer. The MODIS image was created at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. On the morning of Feb. 20, NOAA's Weather Prediction Center (WPC) noted, "There were widespread subzero overnight lows Thursday night (Feb. 19) extending from Illinois to western Virginia, and numerous record lows were set. Bitterly-cold arctic air is setting numerous temperature records across the eastern U.S. and will keep temperatures well below normal on Friday (Feb. 20)." In Baltimore, Maryland, a low temperature of 1F broke the record low for coldest morning recorded at the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington-International Airport. In Louisville, Kentucky, temperatures dropped to -6F, breaking the old record low of 0F, according to meteorologist Brian Goode of WAVE-TV. Meanwhile, Richmond Kentucky bottomed out at a frigid -32F. In North Carolina, a record low temperature was set at Charlotte where the overnight temperature bottomed out at 7F breaking the old record of 13F in 1896. In Asheville, temperatures dropped to just 4F breaking the old record of 10F in 1979. Temperature records for Asheville extend back to 1876. Several records were also broken in Georgia, according to Matt Daniel, a meteorologist at WMAZ-TV, Macon Georgia, who cited data from the National Weather Service. Daniel said that Macon set a new record low when the temperature dropped to 18F, beating the previous record of 21F set in 1958. Athens broke a new record low, too dropping to 14F and beating the old record of 18F set in 1958/1928. NOAA's NPC noted that "Highs on Friday (Feb. 20) will struggle to get out of the teens from the Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic region. After Friday, temperatures are forecast to moderate and get closer to February averages as a storm system approaches from the west." Feb 20, 2015: Credits: | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: [email protected] -19-16- NASA RECEIVES PROPOSALS FOR NEW PLANETARY SCIENCE MISSION SPACEFLIGHT NOW: Posted on February 24, 2015 by Stephen Clark NEW NASA MOVIE ON THE MAGNETOSPHERIC MULTISCALE, OR MMS MISSION Artist’s concept of the InSight Mars lander, the next Discovery-class NASA’s 13th Discovery program mission mission set for launch in March 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech is set for launch in 2021. Credit: NASA http://spaceflightnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ARTICLE-11.5.14-heavy-asteroids-dark-main003-v3.jpg http://spaceflightnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/insight.jpg The proposals are in for a new NASA robotic mission for launch in 2021 to explore the solar system, and scientists have submitted concepts for probes to the moon, planets, asteroids and comets for a chance to win $450 million in federal funding. Scientists had to send in their proposals by Feb. 18 for consideration by NASA managers as the next mission in the space agency’s Discovery program, a series of relatively low-cost, focused science probes aimed at exploring the solar system. Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said Feb. 19 that the agency plans to select at least two finalists from the proposals in May to receive $3 million federal grants for detailed concept studies. NASA should pick a single winner by September 2016, he told a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group. “We’ll rapidly get down to making some announcements as soon as we can get through the evaluation,” Green said. The mission must be ready for launch by the end of 2021, and must cost no more than $450 million, excluding the launcher, which NASA pays from a separate account. Up to one-third of the mission’s cost can come from international partners without counting against the $450 million cost cap. The concept selected by NASA will become the 13th mission in the agency’s Discovery program, which started in the early 1990s and had its first launch in 1996. Discovery missions launched to date include the Mars Pathfinder rover mission, the NEAR Shoemaker probe that first orbited an asteroid, and the Stardust project, which returned samples of comet and interstellar dust to Earth. NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft currently orbiting Mercury, the planet-hunting Kepler telescope, and the Dawn mission now approaching the dwarf planet Ceres were also developed and launched under the auspices of the Discovery program. The 12th Discovery mission, the InSight Mars lander, is due for launch in March 2016 to touch down on the red planet and measure its seismic activity. The competition now underway will end with the selection of the 13th Discovery mission. The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or mission MMS, mission willtechnologies, provide unprecedented on a phenomenon equipment called magnetic reconnection, which the NASA hopes to infuse the next with new offering updetail government-furnished with incentives to sweeten happens throughout the universe and can accelerate particles up to nearly the speed of light. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Duberstein deal forhttp://www.nasa.gov/content/mission_pages/mms/movie-on-the-mms-mission/#.VOdNoebF9Nc principal investigators leading each proposal. The government has offered to supply a deep space optical communications system to test new high-speed data links with Earth, giving February 19,an 2015: March 2015, plans launch thetoMagnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission. MMS science teams extra $30On million above12, their $450 NASA million cost capto if they choose use the laser telecom unit. consists of four identical spacecraft that willcommunications orbit around Earth magnetic system surrounding NASA’s LADEE mission demonstrated laser betweenthrough the moonthe anddynamic Earth in 2013, but optical communications has our not planet tofrom study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. been tested greater distances. Watch teams NASA's movie clicking above to learnofmore MMS magnetic -- which If science wishnew to send entryby probes into the atmospheres Venusabout or Saturn, theyand will need a new reconnection type of heat shield. NASA’s occurs near Earth, on theto sun, stars and3D-woven in the vicinity of black and incentive. neutron stars. solicitation included a provision furnishinaother newly-developed heat shield with aholes $10 million The Magnetospheric mission how magnetic fields around Earth A deep space atomic clock isMultiscale, available withoraMMS, $5 million bonus, studies and NASAthe hasmystery offered toofprovide xenon ion thrusters and radioisotope connect and disconnect, heater units without incentives. explosively releasing energy via a process known a magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work to provide first possibilities three-dimensional viewand of Saturn. this fundaNASA stipulates the mission must together use solar power, limitingthe mission beyond Jupiter mentalThe process, which occurs throughout the universe. Discovery solicitation released in November came four years after the last opportunity for a low-cost planetary mission in 2010, which Theselection mission ended with the of observes the InSight reconnection Mars lander. directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. in proposed this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps usmissions, under- with another call for Green said NASABy hasstudying funding in reconnection the White House’s budget to speed up the pace of Discovery stand reconnection as well, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the proposals as soon as late elsewhere 2017. vicinity“Our of black and neutron stars, and at the said. boundary between our solarbudget system's heliosphere plan isholes to bring Discovery calls in closer,” Green “Right now, the president’s supports about every 36 months. It’s not the interstellar space. 24and months that we’d like, but this is far healthier than it had been projected in the past.” The New Frontiers program, which covers medium-cost interplanetary missions between low-cost Discovery projects and multibillion-dollar Launch Vehicle: LaunchofVehicle, 4 meter XEPFGreen Fairing, flagship missions, should begin theATLAS process Vfor421 the selection its next mission in 2016, said. Two Solid Rocket Boosters The(SRB’s), mission willSingle have aEngine cost cap Centaur. around $1 billion, following up on the New Horizons probe approaching Pluto, the Juno mission to Jupiter Launch asteroid Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Eastern and the OSIRIS-REx sample return mission set forStation, launch inFlorida, September 2016.Test Range, LC-41 Launch Pad. Launch Readiness Date (LRD): 2015 Unlike the Discovery program, which allows March proposals for any solar system mission, the New Frontiers bids are limited to five missions: Comet Surface Sample Return; Saturn Probes; Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return; Venus In-situ Explorer; Trojan Tour and Rendezvous. -19-17- NASA’S CHANDRA FINDS INTRIGUING MEMBER OF BLACK HOLE FAMILY TREE February 24, 2015: A In addition to newly discovered its mass, another cosmic object may help remarkable property of provide answers to NGC2276-3c is that it some long-standing has produced a questions about how powerful radio jet that black holes evolve and extends up to 2,000 influence their surroundlight years. The region ings, according to a new along the jet that study using NASA’s extends for about Chandra X-ray 1,000 light years from Observatory. NGC2276-3c seems to “In paleontolbe missing young ogy, the discovery of stars. This provides certain fossils can help evidence that the scientists fill in the IMBH may have had a evolutionary gaps strong influence on its between different environment, as the jet dinosaurs,” said Mar could have cleared out Mezcua of the Harvarda cavity in the gas and Smithsonian Center for suppressed the Astrophysics, who led formation of new stars. the study. “We do the Further studies of the same thing in asNGC2276-3c jet could tronomy, but we often provide insight into the have to ‘dig’ up our potentially large effects discoveries in galaxies that supermassive that are millions of light black hole seeds in the years away.” early universe have The Intriguing A newly discovered object in the galaxy NGC 2276 may prove to be an important black hole that had on their surroundobject, called NGC ings. helps fill in the evolutionary story of these exotic objects .Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/M.Mezcua et al & NASA/CXC/INAF/A.Wolter 2776-3c is located in an The location http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/ngc2276.jpg arm of the apiral galaxy of the IMBH in a spiral NGC 2776, which is about 100 million light years from Earth. NGC2276-3c arm of NGC 2276 raises other questions. Was it formed within the galaxy, appears to be what astronomers call an “intermediate-mass black hole” (IMBH). or did it come from the center of a dwarf galaxy that collided and merged For many years, scientists have found conclusive evidence for with NGC 2276 in the past? smaller black holes that contain about five to thirty times the mass of the This IMBH is one of eight ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) in sun. There is also a lot of information about so-called supermassive NGC 2276 studied by Anna Wolter of the National Institute for Astrophysics holes that reside at the center of galaxies and weigh millions or even (INAF) in Milan, Italy, and her colleagues. Hundreds of ULXs have been billions times the sun’s mass. detected in the last 30 years; however, the nature of these sources is still a As their name suggests, IMBHs represent a class of black matter of debate, with some thought to contain IMBHs. Chandra observaholes that fall in between these two well-established groups, with tions show that one apparent ULX observed by ESA’s XMM-Newton is actually masses in the range of a few hundred to a few hundred thousand solar five separate ULXs, including NGC2276-3c. Wolter’s study concluded that about masses. One reason that IMBHs are important is that they could be the five to fifteen solar masses worth of stars are forming each year in NGC 2276. seeds from which supermassive black holes formed in the early universe. This high rate of star formation may have been triggered by a collision with a “Astronomers have been looking very hard for these mediumdwarf galaxy, supporting the merger idea for the IMBH’s origin. sized black holes,” said co-author Tim Roberts of the University of Durham in The results from Mezcua and Wolter and their colleagues will the UK. “There have been hints that they exist, but the IMBHs have been appear in separate papers in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical acting like a long-lost relative that isn’t interested in being found.” Society. The Mezcua paper and Wolter paper are also available online. To learn about NGC2276-3c, the researchers observed it at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, almost the same time in X-rays with Chandra and in radio waves with the manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in European Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network. The X-ray and Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, radio data, along with an observed relation between radio and X-ray Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations. luminosities for sources powered by black holes, were used to estimate the An interactive image, a podcast, and a video about these findings black hole’s mass. A mass of about 50,000 times that of the sun was are available at: http://chandra.si.edu. obtained, placing it in the range of IMBHs For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: . “We found that NGC2276-3c has traits similar to both stellar-mass http://www.nasa.gov/chandra. black holes and supermassive black holes” said co-author Andrei Lobanov of CREDITS: Janet Anderson; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. “In other Ala.; 256-544-0034; [email protected] words, this object helps tie the whole black hole family together.” Megan Watzke; Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.; 617-496-7998; [email protected] -18- NASA MEASURES FRIGID CLOUD TOP TEMPS OF THE ARCTIC AIR OUTBREAK This false-colored infrared image from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite at 7:29 UTC (2:29 a.m. EST) shows cloud top temp-eratures over New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire near 245K/-28C/-18F (greenish to blue shading) .Image Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/airs-cold_snap.jpg February 13, 2015: Some of the coldest air of the 2014-2015 winter season was settling over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. on February 13, 2015. That Arctic air mass brought wind chills from below zero to the single numbers from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. Despite the cold on the surface, infrared NASA satellite imagery revealed even colder temperatures in cloud tops associated with the air mass. NOAA's GOES-East satellite provided a visible and infrared picture of the clouds associated with the Arctic air mass, as they stretched from the eastern Dakotas to the Mid-Atlantic region. Underneath that cloudy blanket, surface temperatures were far from warm. NOAA's National Weather Service noted on Feb. 13, "Dangerous wind chills will affect areas from the mid-Atlantic to New England on Friday as some of the coldest air of the season combines with gusty winds. Wind Chill Advisories, Watches and Warnings are in effect across the region." The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite gathered infrared data on the high, cold cloud tops associated with the pool of cold Arctic air now sitting over the northeastern U.S. The AIRS data were made into a false-colored infrared image at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. AIRS data revealed that cloud top temperatures over New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire (with a greenish to blue shading in the image) showed temperatures about 245K/-28C/-18F. Cloud top temperatures over southern Pennsylvania were near 250K/-23C/-9F. Meanwhile, on the ground in New York City at 2 p.m. EST, Feb. 13, the air temperature was 19F/-7C, and the wind chill was 9F/-13C. In Burlington, Vermont on the ground, the temperature was 4F/-16C, and the wind chill was -8F/22C and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the surface temperature was 23F/-5C with a wind chill near 9F/-13C. So, although it's brutally cold on the surface, it's even colder in the clouds. Further, the data on those cloud temperatures does not include a wind chill! Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center -19- NASA TEAM DEVELOPS NEW KA-BAND COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM TO BREAK THROUGH THE NOISE The radio frequency band that many NASA missions use to communicate with spacecraft — S-band — is getting a bit crowded and noisy, and likely to get more jammed as science missions demand higher and higher data rates. A team of NASA technologists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, just may have a solution, particularly for potential missions that plan to operate in low-Earth orbit and have limited real estate to accommodate communications gear. Under two different research and development projects, technologists Mae Huang and Victor Marrero-Fontanez have collaborated to test and verify components of a In this photo, Huang is holding a test prototype end-to-end Ka-band space communications system, which promises signifiboard upon which her Ka-band/ cantly higher data rates — a whopping 2.4 gigabits of data per second (Gbps) — over microwave design is mounted and more traditional S-band systems, which theoretically could achieve data rates of 90 bonded. and Marrero-Fontanez is on her right. Image Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk megabits of data per second (Mbps). Huang is working with Goddard’s Jeffrey Jaso — a pioneer in Ka-Band communications — to develop a Ka-band transmitter. Marrero-Fontanez, meanwhile, is designing Ka-band antennas to receive the Ka-band signals. Huang and Marrero-Fontanez plan to assemble a prototype in 2015. Huang also will be delivering an engineering test unit of her transmitter to a Goddard team that is considering the technology’s use on the proposed Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). WFIRST, a next-generation observatory proposed for launch in the mid-2020s. WFIRST would carry out wide-field imaging and slitless spectroscopic surveys of the near-infrared sky, with an emphasis on studying dark energy and exoplanets. Due to its heavy data-rate requirements, the project provided Huang with some funding to advance her technology, she said. WFIRST isn’t the only mission looking for a compact, low-power, end-to-end system. Future Earth-observing missions also are expected to generate higher and higher data rates that could overwhelm the S-band allocations that are shared by space missions using NASA’s Near-Earth Network and Deep Space Network and Federal and commercial operations. “In a sense it’s like rush-hour traffic. When you start your morning commute, you may notice fewer cars, but before you know it, you’re in stop-and-go traffic as more cars merge onto the highway. The world’s frequency bands are beginning to look a lot like bumper-to-bumper traffic,” she said. “Cell phones, streaming video, and data communications are all placing big strains on available bandwidth. Meanwhile, commercial businesses are putting pressure on the government to free up other bands, pushing more Federal operations into the S-band that NASA uses. Couple that with NASA’s expected need to transmit and receive greater and greater amounts of mission data, something will have to give.” Although NASA has had the Ka-band allocation for years and has used the frequency on past missions, the band has remained underused for a variety of reasons, mainly because of limited technology development, perceived technical challenges, among other things,” Marrero-Fontanez said. “However, NASA has always had a strong interest in using this frequency allocation,” he added, particularly because it can significantly increase data throughput by a factor of more than 100 as compared with S-band. Making the switchover to Ka-band is further complicated, Huang said, because technologists have few, if any, options to buy Ka-band hardware and components from commercial vendors. “The design is challenging and Goddard has past experience in developing reliable space hardware, and more specifically, reliable Ka-band hardware.” To overcome those challenges, Huang received support from both NASA and Goddard to advance what she believes is the bandwidth of the future for NASA communications in low-Earth orbit — at least until more advanced techniques, such as laser or X-ray communications, become broadly available. “Those investments have certainly paid off,” she said. “Our technology achieves high data rates and includes several innovations,” Huang continued, adding that Jaso deserves most of the credit for pioneering Goddard’s Ka-band technology. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, launched in 2010, used a first-generation Ka-band transmitter to deliver 300 Mbps using 2.5 watts of power. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2009, contained a second-generation Ka-band unit that delivered three switchable rates from 57 to 228 Mbps. In comparison, the Goddard team has tested and verified the current third-generation technology capable of delivering 2400 Mbps (2.4 Gbps), with a higher transmitted power option of 10 watts. Instead of a fixed frequency, the third-generation operates over the entire Ka-band downlink range with a tunable data rate while in operation. She has started investigating the possibility of integrating data encoding as a core function of the Ka-band transmitter. “This is something that has been an interest of some future missions,” she said. “Missions will be interested in our technology not only because it provides a low-risk option, but because it can be adopted without spending on non-recurring engineering. We’re compact, low mass, offer low-power requirements,” she continued. “It really has great potential.” -20- T E X A S H A S N E W B I G , B R I G H T W E B B STTARS Webb Conversations: Components, Structure of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope February 12, 2015 This is the first installment in a four-part series of conversations with Paul Geithner, deputy project manager, technical, for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, about different aspects of the Webb. The Webb telescope is a showcase for new technologies. Recently Paul Geithner provided a closer look at the technologies on the observatory. Q: The Webb telescope seems to have a lot of unique technologies on board. Can you explain what they are? Paul: Sure. The Webb telescope features many novel technologies that make it feasible. Among these are large, lightweight, deployable structures and optics; software and mechanisms needed to control the segmented mirrors; and ultra-sensitive infrared light detectors. Webb is breaking the mold in terms of its size; it will be the largest space telescope. The scale of its deploy ment in space, and scope of its very cold, a.k.a. cryogenic, telescope and scientific instruments. August 2013 James Webb Space Telescope mural image. (Artist's impression.) Image Credit: Northrop Grumman http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/ image/jwst_artist_concept_northrop-grumman.jpg Q: What are the four main parts of the Webb? Paul: The Webb observatory has four main 'elements' –the telescope, the instrument module, the sunshield and the spacecraft bus. Q: After What is the primary mirror does have to be so large? landing at Ellington Airport, the and Jameswhy Webb SpaceitTelescope’s STTARS was unloaded and readied for its route to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. STTARS is a giant white shipping container with a very important cargo: a test of part of thecomprised telescope called theindividual Pathfinder Backplane. Paul: The telescope features a model primary mirror of 18 hexagonal mirror segments that, when Credit: NASA/Chris http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/starrs_arrival.jpg combined, have aImage 6.5 meter (21.3-foot)Gunn diameter. The mirror segments deploy, or unfold, and get aligned in space by February 23, 2015: A big, bright Webbalso Spaceincludes Telescopethree “STTARS” now deep in the heart of Texas. The Space Telescope Transporter for commands from Earth. The James telescope otheristypes of mirrors. Air RoadSize and Sea (STTARS) is aitgiant whitetoshipping container with a very the important model of part of the called the matters when comes telescopes. The bigger maincargo: mirrora test a telescope has, theWebb moretelescope, light it can “Pathfinder new NASAit video shows arrival at NASA’s Space Center in Houston 2015. telescope stangather andBackplane.” the more Asensitive can be anditsthe more detail Johnson it can resolve. Webb is fairly on bigFeb. by 5, ground The Pathfinder Backplaneground is a practice section ofhave the James Webb Space Telescope. To ensure the(21.3-foot) telescope willisoperate at its frigid dards, assome of the newest telescopes bigger main mirrors, but 6.5 meters absolutely huge destination million miles out in space, it must complete cryogenic tests. The biggest cryogenic test occurs at Chamber A at Johnson, the same for a space1 telescope. vacuum chamber where Apollo spacecraft were tested. “The James Webb is the biggest telescope for space that’s ever been built,” said Andrew Booth, pathfinder lead optical Q: What are theSpace otherTelescope three types of mirrors on the Webb? engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. But itsNASA's enormousWebb size means special includes accommodations to move ittertiary halfway and across the country. Enter STTARS. Paul: telescope a secondary, fine-steering mirror. Although the relatively “The major challenge in mirrors this transport the size,”it's said Carpenter, one of the mechanical integration engineers on the STTARS small secondary and tertiary are isunique, theAdam expansive primary mirror that has the most complicated anatomy team.a “The container weighs 165,000 pounds. There is a tremendous amount of planning going through this move.” with number of components operating together to make the telescope work. The journey began in mirror a clean room at Goddard. The massive shippingmirror container entered therounded clean room floating on airso pads, a puck Unlike the primary segments, the single secondary is perfectly and convex, thelike reflective on an airbulges hockey table. Then lifted and lowered the mirror 3,000-pound Pathfinder Backplane crane into the container. surface toward theengineers light source. The tertiary is thehoneycombed third stop for light coming intobythe telescope and is the thein container exited -theall clean room, hydraulic adjustable wheels only fixedOnce mirror the system of the other mirrors align to it. were attached, and the whole thing was hooked up to a semitruck engine. By midnight, the STTARS wasreflects on its wayoffto the Jointprimary Base Andrews in the Maryland – very, very slowly. Traveling 5 mph, the team The light from an object mirror, secondary mirror, and off theattertiary andSTTARS fine steering walked alongside the container adjustments along in its the seven hour-long mirrors, before entering themaking science instruments back of thejourney. telescope. Once the massive Andrews, it was loaded into athe C-5most Charlie military transport plane, the largest plane in the All of the mirrorscontainer workingreached together will provide Webbupwith advanced infrared vision of anycargo space obserU.S. fleet, which was designed to carry tanks. The container slid inside with very little clearance on all sides. vatory ever launched by NASA. “What’s so significant about this move is that this is the first payload for Webb leaving Goddard,” said Carpenter, who flew with the Pathfinder to Houston.the “When the flight unitmodule" leaves Goddard, we’ll be doing move with Q:Backplane You mentioned "instrument - what does thatthis consist of?the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and all four instruments and all 18 primary mirror segments, based off what we learned here. With this project, everything is so big and we are doingPaul: so many firsts.has During this'scientific process weinstruments' are all working–cameras long hours to be spectrometers sure everything is that done "see" right.” infrared light and record Webb four and When the C-5of landed at Ellingtonobjects. airport in Houston, the Pathfinder Backplane was carefullytogether unloaded make and trucked to Johnson. In the images and spectra astronomical The telescope mirrors and instruments up the 'cold half' of the coming weeks it will be prepared for a key cryogenic test that will help the team check out testing methods for the Webb telescope. observatory. “We’ve got to test the test,” Booth said. “That’s why this pathfinder is so valuable because it will ensure the testing on the actual telescope is accurate.” Q: Why does the Webb need a "sunshield" and what does it do? “The Pathfinder Backplane is a key step to the next phase of Webb testing,” said Bethany Selna, Optical Telescope Element and the Integrated Science Instrument Module (OTIS) mechanical integration test lead. ”The Pathfinder demonstrates the ability to test the full-scale Paul: The instruments are shaded from the sun byand a tennis court-sized five-layer deployable sunshield. The structure with optics atofcryogenic temperatures. then repeatpolymer the tests with the flight hardware.” sunshield consists deployable booms We andwill gossamer membranes, which are layers of bonded molecules that Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor and to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will (Continued be the moston powerful space telescope Following Page) make up The the James thin sheets, coated with reflective aluminum a protective silicon coating. ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. -23--21- Webb Conversations: Components, Structure of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope This is the first installment in a four-part series of conversations with Paul Geithner, deputy project manager, technical, for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, about different aspects of the Webb. The Webb telescope is a showcase for new technologies. Recently Paul Geithner provided a closer look at the technologies on the observatory. February 12, 2015: Q: The Webb telescope seems to have a lot of unique technologies on board. Can you explain what they are? Paul: Sure. The Webb telescope features many novel technologies that make it feasible. Among these are large, lightweight, deployable structures and optics; software and mechanisms needed to control the segmented mirrors; and ultra-sensitive infrared light detectors. Webb is breaking the mold in terms of its size; it will be the largest space telescope. The scale of its deployment in space, and scope of its very cold, a.k.a. cryogenic, telescope and scientific instruments. August 2013 James Webb Space Telescope mural image. (Artist's impression.) Image Credit: Northrop Grumman Q: What are the four main parts of the Webb? Paul: The Webb observatory has four main 'elements' –the telescope, the instrument module, the sunshield and the spacecraft bus. Q: What is the primary mirror and why does it have to be so large? Paul: The telescope features a primary mirror comprised of 18 individual hexagonal mirror segments that, when combined, have a 6.5 meter (21.3-foot) diameter. The mirror segments deploy, or unfold, and get aligned in space by commands from Earth. The telescope also includes three other types of mirrors. Size matters when it comes to telescopes. The bigger the main mirror a telescope has, the more light it can gather and the more sensitive it can be and the more detail it can resolve. Webb is fairly big by ground telescope standards, as some of the newest ground telescopes have bigger main mirrors, but 6.5 meters (21.3-foot) is absolutely huge for a space telescope. Q: What are the other three types of mirrors on the Webb? Paul: NASA's Webb telescope includes a secondary, tertiary and fine-steering mirror. Although the relatively small secondary and tertiary mirrors are unique, it's the expansive primary mirror that has the most complicated anatomy with a number of components operating together to make the telescope work. Unlike the primary mirror segments, the single secondary mirror is perfectly rounded and convex, so the reflective surface bulges toward the light source. The tertiary mirror is the third stop for light coming into the telescope and is the only fixed mirror in the system -- all of the other mirrors align to it. The light from an object reflects off the primary mirror, the secondary mirror, and off the tertiary and fine steering mirrors, before entering the science instruments in the back of the telescope. All of the mirrors working together will provide Webb with the most advanced infrared vision of any space observatory ever launched by NASA. Q: You mentioned the "instrument module" - what does that consist of? Paul: Webb has four 'scientific instruments' –cameras and spectrometers that "see" infrared light and record images and spectra of astronomical objects. The telescope mirrors and instruments together make up the 'cold half' of the observatory. Q: Why does the Webb need a "sunshield" and what does it do? Paul: The instruments are shaded from the sun by a tennis court-sized five-layer deployable sunshield. The sunshield consists of deployable booms and gossamer polymer membranes, which are layers of bonded molecules that make up the thin sheets, coated with reflective aluminum and a protective silicon coating. (Continued on the Following Page) -22- Webb Conversations: (Continued from Preceeding Page) Basically, it looks like a five-layered giant silver kite in space. We need a sunshield to keep the telescope and instruments cold because Webb is an infrared telescope, which means it sees infrared light. Infrared light is light that is of slightly longer, or redder, wavelengths than visible light. We cannot see it with our eyes but we can feel it as radiant heat. For an infrared telescope to be as sensitive as possible, its optics and scientific instruments need to be very cold so that their own heat does not blind them to the faint infrared signals they are trying to observe from astronomical objects. Q: What does the spacecraft bus consist of? The Webb telescope completes the gold coating of its telescope mirrors with segment C1. A microscopically thin layer of gold maximizes the reflectivity of these mirrors to infrared light. Image Credit: NASA/Ball Aerospace/Tinsley http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/ thumbnails/image/jwst_mirror_gold_black.jpg Paul: The bus is the infrastructure of a spacecraft. All of the basic infrastructure functions like control systems and communications, fuel tanks, batteries, etc. are housed in it and it is bathed in perpetual sunshine on the sunny side of the sunshield. Q: Why is it important to build a satellite or space telescope in a clean room? Paul: Contamination can affect a space telescope's performance. Different parts are vulnerable to different things. The mirrors, detectors, and sunshield membranes are sensitive to contamination, the electronics are sensitive to electrostatic discharge, some of the mechanisms and composite structures are sensitive to moisture. We build and assemble Webb with great care in cleanrooms so as to minimize these risks to performance. The biggest mechanical stress that the telescope's graphite-epoxy composite structure will see is actually the stress from shrinkage as it cools down. Q: What benefit is it to have Webb's orbit (about 1 million miles) so far away from Earth? Paul: Webb will be free of any distortions in astronomical signals caused by Earth's atmosphere, which distorts and absorbs light, and even emits its own infrared light. Webb's combination of large optics, location in space, and cold temperature will make it exquisitely sensitive and tremendously powerful. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Designed to be the most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit www.nasa.gov/webb or www.jwst.nasa.gov. Credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Over 1000 people in more than 17 countries are developing the James Webb Space Telescope. Shown here are team members in front of the JWST full-scale model at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. http://jwst.nasa.gov/images/people.jpg -23- NASA’S MAVEN SPACECRAFT COMPLETES FIRST DEEP DIP CAMPAIGN This image shows an artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/maven_mars_sunrise_2.jpg NASA’S Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) has completed the first of five deep-dip maneuvers designed to gather measurements closer to the lower end of the Martian upper atmosphere. “During normal science mapping, we make measurements between an altitude of about 150 km and 6,200 km (93 miles and 3,853 miles) above the surface,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. “During the deep-dip campaigns, we lower the lowest altitude in the orbit, known as periapsis, to about 125 km (78 miles) which allows us to take measurements throughout the entire upper atmosphere.” The 25 km (16 miles) altitude difference may not seem like much, but it allows scientists to make measurements down to the top of the lower atmosphere. At these lower altitudes, the atmospheric densities are more than ten times what they are at 150 km (93 miles). “We are interested in the connections that run from the lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere and then to escape to space,” said Jakosky. “We are measuring all of the relevant regions and the connections between them.” The first deep dip campaign ran from Feb. 10 to 18. The first three days of this campaign were used to lower the periapsis. Each of the five campaigns lasts for five days allowing the spacecraft to observe for roughly 20 orbits. Since the planet rotates under the spacecraft, the 20 orbits allow sampling of different longitudes spaced around the planet, providing close to global coverage. This month’s deep dip maneuvers began when team engineers fired the rocket motors in three separate burns to lower the periapsis. The engineers did not want to do one big burn, to ensure that they didn’t end up too deep in the atmosphere. So, they “walked” the spacecraft down gently in several smaller steps. “Although we changed the altitude of the spacecraft, we actually aimed at a certain atmospheric density,” said Jakosky. “We wanted to go as deep as we can without putting the spacecraft or instruments at risk.” Even though the atmosphere at these altitudes is very tenuous, it is thick enough to cause a noticeable drag on the spacecraft. Going to too high an atmospheric density could cause too much drag and heating due to friction that could damage spacecraft and instruments. At the end of the campaign, two maneuvers were conducted to return MAVEN to normal science operation altitudes. Science data returned from the deep dip will be analyzed over the coming weeks. The science team will combine the results with what the spacecraft has seen during its regular mapping to get a better picture of the entire atmosphere and of the processes affecting it. One of the major goals of the MAVEN mission is to understand how gas from the atmosphere escapes to space, and how this has affected the planet's climate history through time. In being lost to space, gas is removed from the top of the upper atmosphere. But it is the thicker lower atmosphere that controls the climate. MAVEN is studying the entire region from the top of the upper atmosphere all the way down to the lower atmosphere so that the connections between these regions can be understood. MAVEN is the first mission dedicated to studying the upper atmosphere of Mars. The spacecraft launched Nov. 18, 2013, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. MAVEN successfully entered Mars’ orbit on Sept. 21, 2014. MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university provided two science instruments and leads science operations, as well as education and public outreach, for the mission. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN project and provided two science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory also provided four science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, provides navigation and Deep Space Network support, as well as the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations. February 19, 2015 -24- 'B RIGHT S POT ' ON C ERES H AS D IMMER C OMPANION This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/pia19185-cr.jpg Feb 27, 2015: Dwarf Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets will closer to being NOAA's planet DSCOVR satellite launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 11, 2015. DSCOVR captured into orbit around the object. Theforecasters latest images from measurements Dawn, takenofnearly 29,000 milesimproving (46,000their kilometers) from provide NOAA space weather more reliable solar wind conditions, ability to monitor harmful solar activity. Image Credit:lies NASA Ceres, reveal that a bright spotpotentially that stands out in previous images close to yet another bright area. http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/dscover_launch_wide.jpg "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such -20- geologic interpretations," said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles. Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn entered orbit around Ceres on March 6. As scientists receive better and better views of the dwarf planet over the next 16 months, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of its origin and evolution by studying its surface. The intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus. "The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," said Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen, Germany. Dawn visited the giant asteroid Vesta from 2011 to 2012, delivering more than 30,000 images of the body along with many other measurements, and providing insights about its composition and geological history. Vesta has an average diameter of 326 miles (525 kilometers), while Ceres has an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers). Vesta and Ceres are the two most massive bodies in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. More information: Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgements, visit: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission. For information about NASA's Dawn mission, visit: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov. -25- SOHO SEES SOMETHING NEW NEAR THE SUN A comet circles around the sun in this movie from ESA/NASA's SOHO. The comet is somewhat unusual as it's not form any known family of comets. This is the 2,875th comet discovered by SOHO. Image Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/Hill http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/soho-sees-something-new-near-the-sun/#.VO342HzF9Ne February 24, 2015: An unusual comet skimmed past the sun on Feb 18-21, 2015, as captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. This comet was interesting for two reasons. First it's what's called a non-group comet, meaning it's not part of any known family of comets. Most comets seen by SOHO belong to the Kreutz family – all of which broke off from a single giant comet many centuries ago. The second reason it's interesting is because the vast majority of comets that come close enough to the sun to be seen by SOHO do not survive the trip. Known as sungrazers, these comets usually evaporate in the intense sunlight. This comet made it to within 2.2 million miles of the sun's surface – but survived the trip intact. "There's a half-decent chance that ground observers might be able to detect it in the coming weeks," said Karl Battams, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. "But it's also possible that events during its trip around the sun will cause it to die fairly fast." Since launching in 1995, SOHO has become the number one comet finder of all time -- this was comet discovery number 2,875. However, SOHO sees non-group comets like this only a few times a year. Watch the video to see the comet fly around the sun. Toward the end of the video, as the comet begins to develop a tail, the sun releases an eruption of solar material, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, to add something more to the scene. For more on SOHO: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/soho/index.html -26- OSIRIS-REX MISSION SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES SYSTEM INTEGRATION REVIEW This week marked the completion of an important step on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations for the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx mission. The team met at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado during the week of February 23, 2015 to review the plan for integrating all of the systems on the spacecraft, such as the scientific instrumentation, electrical and communication systems, and navigation systems. Successful completion of this System Integration Review means that the project can proceed with assembling and testing the spacecraft in preparations for launch in September 2016. Assembly and testing operations for the spacecraft are on track to begin next month at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Littleton. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu, and bring at least a 2.1ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Lo manages New Frontiers for the (Continued from Page 27) The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft core structure is successfully lowered and mated to the hydrazine agency's Science Mission Directorate propellant tank and boat tail assembly at Lockheed Martin, Denver, Colo.Image Credit: Lockheed Martin http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/osiris-rex_tank_install_11-25-14_120_copy.jpg in Washington. For more information about OSIRIS-REx visit: http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex and http://www.asteroidmission.org. February 27, 2015: FOCUS uses plenty of photos in banners & elsewhere each issue, and Click to we want to use YOURS...not Hubble’s!! Please forward photos to the FOCUS editor and Stay Informed About EVERYTHING to Joe Neuberger at [email protected] do with Man’s Exploration of the Universe! -27-- SAWIN OBSERVATORY REMINDER AND DAS LOANER TELESCOPES AND EQUIPMENT Bill Hanagan The DAS owns and maintains The Sawin Observatory on the grounds of the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory. The Sawin Observatory houses the club’s equatorially mounted 12.5" reflecting telescope. The Sawin is also currently home base for our 17.5" split-tube Dobsonian telescope. DAS members can obtain a key for access to the Sawin Observatory by being checked out on these telescopes and the use of the observatory. Naturally, all DAS members are invited to look through these telescopes during our Member Star Parties (MSPs) at the Sawin. DAS members who are interested in becoming key holders of the Sawin Observatory should contact Greg Lee to receive training in the use of the facility and the telescopes. LOANER TELESCOPES and EQUIPMENT 80 mm Celestron Refractor (on loan from Bill McKibben) The club currently has on loan from our Secretary, Bill McKibben, an 80 mm Celestron Refractor with a Nextar GOTO mount. Contact Bill McKibben if you would like to give this scope a try. 6” Orion Dobsonian Telescope We have a 6" Orion Sky-Quest XT6 Dobsonian reflector, complete with eyepiece set, available for loan to members. You can keep the telescope out on loan for a month or more. However, we use this telescope heavily for outreach star parties at the Woodside Farm Creamery, so if you have it on loan from April through October you may be asked to bring it out to one or more of these events. Meade 8” LX-10 Telescope We also have an 8” Meade LX-10 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) available for loan. This telescope is equipped with an equatorial wedge and is driven in Right-Ascension only. If you have any thoughts about buying a telescope, especially an SCT, you are strongly advised to take this one out on loan so you can learn the advantages and disadvantages of this design. Barlowed Laser Collimator Toolset Also available for loan to DAS members is Howie Glatter’s version of the Barlowed Laser Colimator. This is actually made up of a set of three very nice tools: 1) a 1.25” Glatter laser collimator (which is useful on its own for collimating the secondary mirror); 2) a 1.25” “TuBlug”, which converts the straight beam laser collimator into a “Barlowed” laser collimator, complete with a target screen that’s visible from the back end of your Newtonian telescope; and 3) an Orion 2” to 1.25” centering adapter for use with 2” focusers. Along with the center donut or triangle on your Newtonian primary mirror, a Barlowed laser collimator is a very accurate and incredibly easy way to collimate your Newtonian or Dobsonian telescope. It may sound complicated, but using the Barlowed laser collimator is incredibly quick and easy compared to earlier generations of collimation tools. As one person noted “It’s one of the handiest and most useful tools the club has ever offered for loan to the membership!” Obviously, no one DAS member can keep these collimation tools out on loan forever, but borrowing this set of tools is a great way to become familiar with the new “Barlowed Laser Collimator” approach to collimation without having to buy the tool set sight unseen. If you’re interested in borrowing any of the club’s loaner telescopes or other items, please contact Bill Hanagan, Jeff Lawrence, or Greg Lee at one of our monthly meetings. DAS FORUM / E-MAIL SITE ON YAHOO Don Shedrick This is a restricted e-mail service for use by DAS members for DAS purposes. To use this site, go to http://groups.yahoo.com; search for Delaware Astronomical Society; and click on the link that comes up. To join, you must have a Yahoo ID and password; if you don’t, you can register at this time by following Yahoo’s instructions. You will then be allowed to “Join the group” upon clicking in that box. You must then register for the DAS group and add your profile by clicking on “add new profile” and completing the form -28- When adding or editing your profile, you will need to enter your actual name in the “Real Name” box so you can be identified as a DAS member so Don Shedrick can approve your application to join the DAS group, and everyone will know to whom they are communicating. Finally, specify your desired email address for delivery of messages. Note: You may choose to not have your name and email address displayed to any-one other than DAS members who are members of the Yahoo DAS email group. For more detailed instructions, go to the DAS website under DAS Resource Links. ASTRO-PHOTO of the Inside the Coma Cluster of Galaxies MONTH Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: D. Carter (LJMU) et al. and the Coma HST ACS Treasury Team: Explanation: Almost every object in the above photograph is a galaxy. The Coma Cluster of Galaxies pictured above is one of the densest clusters known - it contains thousands of galaxies. Each of these galaxies houses billions of stars just as our own Milky Way Galaxy does. Although nearby when compared to most other clusters, light from the Coma Cluster still takes hundreds of millions of years to reach us. In fact, the Coma Cluster is so big it takes light millions of years just to go from one side to the other! The above mosaic of images of a small portion of Coma was taken in unprecedented detail in 2006 by the Hubble Space Telescope to investigate how galaxies in rich clusters form and evolve. Most galaxies in Coma and other clusters are ellipticals, although some imaged here are clearly spirals. The spiral galaxy on the upper left of the above image can also be found as one of the bluer galaxies on the upper left of this wider field image. In the background thousands of unrelated galaxies are visible far across the universe. WEBSITE of the MONTH http://researchhighlights.elsevier.com/ FREE mobile app for Science, Technology and Medical professionals who need to keep up-to-date, on the go Track your search terms across 20,000+ peer-reviewed journals. Publisher-neutral: powered by journals from hundreds of publishers. Scan lists of newly-published research articles. Use author-written bulleted highlights or abstracts to select articles for reading. For Apple or Android smartphones and tablets. Research Highlights mobile app' is currently available for: * iOS 6 devices and above. * Android 2.2.3 devices and above. -29- DAS ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP Bill Hanagan The DAS astro-photography special interest group (DAS \ AP-SIG) meets monthly at Mt. Cuba and at our members’ homes. The AP SIG sometimes meets regardless of the weather, but some meetings are planned around specific imaging demonstrations and are “Flex-Scheduled” using email on 1-2 day notice to synchronize with the weather. APSIG meetings are regularly announced via the DAS Yahoo Group as well as by email to AP-SIG members. See the sidebar for a brief rundown on how to get started taking astro-photos. To join the AP-SIG, send me an email at [email protected] with your name, address, and phone number and tell me that you want to join the AP-SIG. AP-SIG meetings are informal and typically include the presentation of astrophotos taken by the members along with an extended question and answer period. The topics discussed during our Q&A sessions have covered the entire gamut of astrophotography, from how to get started with a minimum of equipment, to polar aligning your telescope, to the fine points of using auto-guiders and post-processing digital images. In addition, we often have special presentations on topics of particular interest at the time. For example, we’ve had special presentation on the ways a telescope can be polar aligned, the nature of various noise sources in electronic detectors including CCD cameras, how to make high dynamic range (HDR) photos, and how to photograph many different particular subjects, including: aurora, lunar eclipses, meteors, and the planets. Even if you aren’t an AP-SIG member, you’re welcome to attend the AP-SIG meetings to learn more. The next meeting of the AP-SIG is tentatively scheduled for March 27 or 28 at 8:00 PM at MCAO. If the weather allows, we’ll pick one of these nights to head out to the Sawin and image some of the features of the 1st quarter moon. Read more detail in the story on Page 2 of this issue of the FOCUS. On How to Get Started in Astro-Photography Bill Hanagan You can get started in astrophotography with your current camera mounted on a tripod by taking wide field photographs of meteor showers, conjunctions, constellations, and star trails. Mounting your camera “piggyback” on a motorized telescope that tracks the movement of the stars allows you to photograph a few more subjects, mostly large and bright nebulas and comets. At this level, some smaller subjects may benefit from the use of a telephoto lens. As you move to progressively fainter and smaller subjects, the demands on your equipment will grow considerably. However, as you improve your equipment, the number of subjects that you can photograph will also increase exponentially. Joining the AP SIG is a great way to learn what equipment you’ll need to photograph the subjects that interest you and to find out what specific equipment works well (or doesn’t work) before you spend your money. DAS AMATEUR TELESCOPE MAKING SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP Bill Hanagan The DAS Amateur Telescope Making (ATM) Special Interest Group (SIG) is made up of DAS members who get together to work on their own as well as club related telescope making projects. The ATM SIG meets at times and locations appropriate for whatever projects are currently underway. The general range of activities of the ATM SIG includes all manner of telescope making including Newtonian mirror making, the testing of complete telescopes as well as individual optics, and the making of telescope accessories. In the past, we’ve made several Newtonian telescope mirrors from scratch and completed some that members brought in as works in progress, including one that was started in the mid-60’s! We’ve also made new telescope tubes, made secondary mirror holders, tested numerous telescope objectives, manufactured spiders, and made many solar filters for telescopes and binoculars. We recently completed the refiguring of the DAS 17.5” Newtonian mirror. Anyone interested in joining the ATM SIG should email their name, address, and phone number to me at [email protected] . FOCUS uses plenty of photos in banners & elsewhere each issue, and So how about you?? HAVE ANY OLD or NEW ASTROPHOTOS?? we want to use YOURS...not Hubble’s!! PLEASE email to FOCUS editor (or tell us where they can be found on the web if your photos reside there) Photos need NOT be current. -30- INFORMATION ON DAS MEMBERSHIPS AND MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS DAS MEMBERSHIP · DAS membership dues are $30.00 per year and due on November 1 for all members. - There is no need to renew membership until the treasurer contacts you during the membership renewal drive starting in mid-October. · New members joining at various times of the year may be eligible for a prorated dues amount. - $20 when joining March-May - $10 when joining June-August - $30 for joining September-October through November 1 of the following year. SKY & TELESCOPE MAGAZINE · · · · · · The DAS offers subscriptions to Sky & Telescope at a discounted rate of $32.95 per year. Subscriptions to S&T will be processed by the club for the first subscription year only. The publisher should then send renewal notices directly to the subscriber at the club rate of $32.95. You may receive renewal offers for amounts other than $32.95. If so, check to see if they are special offers and how close you are to your renewal date. Your subscription expiration date should be displayed on the mailing label on your magazine. If you are within 3 months of your renewal date and still have not received the correct renewal notice, please contact the publisher and tell them you should receive the member rate. ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE · · · · The DAS offers subscriptions to Astronomy magazine at a discounted rate of $34.00 per year. Subscriptions to Astronomy will be processed by the club for the first subscription year only. Your subscription expiration date should be displayed on the mailing label on your magazine. Renewals can be handled by all club members on the Astronomy.com website using the following steps: a. go to www.astronomy.com b. select the ‘customer service’ link in the upper right corner c. select the ‘renew your subscriptions’ link d. enter your customer number (found on the mailing label), postal code, and the renewal code of ‘RCLUB040’ and click ‘continue’ e. follow the remaining steps from there. NEW MEMBERSHIP FORM · · Please review the membership and magazine information above carefully. PLEASE fill out the membership form below completely. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -- - - NEW MEMBERSHIP FORM Please be sure to review the Membership and Magazine information above carefully. Please make checks payable to DAS and forward to: Jeff Lawrence, Treasurer, 815 Leeds Lane, Newark, DE 19711 Senior / Family Membership $30.00/20.00/10.00 Junior Membership (15 or under) $10.00 Sky & Telescope Magazine $32.95 Astronomy Magazine $34.00 Total: Name_________________________________________________Email Adress________________________________ Street Address_________________________________________________Phone Number________o______________ City___________________________________________________________State______Zip___________________________ Notes_________________________________________________________________________________________________ For questions or concerns, contact Jeff Lawrence, DAS Treasurer at (302) 668-8277 or [email protected] -31- DAS CONTACTS Please call any of us with your concerns! Board members: Officers: President: Greg Lee -- 302-762-5358 or [email protected], Vice-President: Rob Lancaster -- also, Program Chair & Future Web Site Development -- [email protected] Secretary: Bill McKibben, Secretary [email protected] Treasurer: Jeff Lawrence [email protected]; (302) 668-8277also Sky & Telescope & Astronomy magazine issues Board Members at Large: Terry Lisansky [email protected] Glenn Bentley -- 610-869-0706 or [email protected] Bill Hanagan -- 302-239-0949 or [email protected], also Astronomical Photography Special Interest Group; Amateur Telescope Making Special Interest Group; By-Laws;Observatory and Equipment Improvements Standing Chairs: Publications: Joe Neuberger -- 302-723-2734 or [email protected], also, FOCUS Newsletter article/photo contributions Observing: Fred DeLucia -- 609-410-8943 or [email protected], also, Elections Chair and Awards Chair Education: Open Position (contact Pres. Greg Lee with questions) Observatory: Open Position (contact Pres. Greg Lee with questions) Library Maria Lavalle and Sue Bebon MCAO Web Page: www.MountCuba.org DAS Web Page: www.DelAstro.org Other Chairs: Web Site Maintenance and Operation: Daniel Chester-- [email protected] Other Contacts: Astronomical League Coordinator: Lynn King - [email protected] SEE PRECEEDING PAGE FOR NEW MEMBERSHIP FORM If you have questions, call any of the member representatives listed. Otherwise, just check the appropriate boxes and complete the form on the preceeding page. Print it or cut it off and send it with your check to Jeff Lawrencet his address on the form. The magazine prices are group rates to DAS members. If you’re just joining us for the first time, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and WELCOME to the DAS! It’s GREAT to have you with us! The Last Word. . . FOCUS editor Joe Neuberger I know I’m pushing it a bit, But March for me means the onset of Spring. The days won’t be many, But there’ll be some where I’ll be in the garden working and some where I’ll be getting the telescope tuned up and doing some viewing of the wonders above. So join me in welcoming Spring 2015, FINALLY, even if it is pushing it a bit!
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