From Assembly to Launch Pad: MAVEN
Recently, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Orbiter and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft went into orbit around Mars. MAVEN was designed to enable scientists to study Mars’ upper atmosphere. MAVEN’s goal is to allow us to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet.
MAVEN was launched from Cape Canaveral in November 2013. It takes years and hundreds of millions of dollars to build a spacecraft like this, so nothing is left to chance. MAVEN had to clear a lot of hurdles before it made it to the launch pad.
The test protocols for a spacecraft like this are meticulously designed to simulate every stage of the mission. It is far better to discover a problem in the factory than on the launch pad (or post-launch!), so these tests allow the engineers to diagnose and fix any hardware or software problems that would have otherwise come up during the business end of the mission.
Click on this link to find out more about some of those tests.
Submitted by Srikar D., Discoverer.
Edited by Mark S.
PLUTO IS STILL A DWARF PLANET, PERIOD!
Decided to make a handy graphic after seeing a lot of misinformation spread around tumblr. Current science isn’t perfect and definitions are bound to change, but I wanted to push back against the hostile attitude against it because it seems like a lot of people are being hostile for the wrong reasons.
Please let me know if there are any factual errors, thank you :)
Stop spreading misinformation, and start spreading this! Yay.
Sensationalism and the internet echo-chamber are really good at drowning out the facts.
My third submission to SciNote.ORG is about living and doing Science at a south pole research station.
Have to say that the Editor who worked with me on this piece did a really awesome job of embellishing my original work.
What is it like to live and do science at a South-Pole research station?
Can you imagine living in the frigid and utterly desolate environment of the South Pole for nearly 11 months? Well, we can’t either, but Jason Gallicchio, a postdoctoral researcher at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, has done it.
Gallicchio, an associate fellow for the Kavli Insitute of Physics at the University of Chicago, is part of an astrophysics experiment at the South Pole Telescope. He knows all about the challenges of building and maintaining such a complex scientific instrument in one of the most unforgiving places on the planet. Gallacchio was primarily responsible for the telescope’s data acquisition and software systems, and he also occasionally assisted with some maintenance work.
You might ask why anyone would even put a telescope in such a hostile environment in the first place. It’s not an accident, I promise! Actually, placing the telescope at the South Pole minimizes the interference from the Earth’s atmosphere. One of the primary objectives of the South Pole Telescope is to precisely measure temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background, and getting such precise measurements requires the telescope to be put in a high, dry, and atmospherically stable site.
The South Pole Telescope is 10 meters across and weighs 280 tons. Researchers use this telescope to study cosmic microwave background radiation (or CMB, as it’s often affectionately called), hoping to uncover hints about the early days of our universe.
As Erik M. Leitch of the University of Chicago explains, CMB is a sort of faint glow of light that fills the universe, falling on Earth from every direction with nearly uniform intensity. It is the residual heat of creation—the afterglow of the Big Bang—streaming through space in these last 14 billion years, like the heat from a sun-warmed rock, re-radiated at night.
Click here to read more about life at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
You can learn even more about the topics discussed in this summary at the links below:
Submitted by Srikar D, Discoverer.
Edited by Jessica F.
Charming visualization from this altogether delightful children’s book about space – an imaginative and illuminating primer on the cosmos to spark awe in the souls of budding Sagans.
The winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 has been announced. Check them out!
Hey guys, I just found out that the NOAA space weather prediction centre has a real time map of the aurora’s that are going on right now due to the X-class solar flare from the sun.
It shows the areas that the aurora is visible from and is updated every 30 seconds.
WOW! I didn’t have a clue about this resource. Kudos to Tynan Plillips for the find.
Just how big is the Sun?
The Sun is large enough that approximately 1.3 million Earths could fit inside, if squashed in. If the Earths retain their spherical shape, 960,000 Earths would fit.
But can you visualize that number of Earths?
Click on the picture above to see what 1.3 million Earths look like.
Submitted by space-facts
Edited by Margaret G.
Seeing a supernovae within hours of the explosion
For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.
WOW! This is a great discovery.
Our cosmic address gets an update.
Astronomers have discovered that our galaxy belongs to a massive cluster of 100,000 galaxies, which they’ve called Laniakea. Time to replace all your stationery, because our new address is: the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, Laniakea, the Universe: http://bit.ly/1prGDsD