Northrop Grumman is working on the Next Gen Polar (NGP) satellites. It is known as Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR). They are significant for the defense of our nation by providing advanced warning against strategic missile threats. Additionally, these satellites cover the northern polar region. Which is the shortest route for missiles to reach the US. But it is a challenging area to monitor from space!

Next gen polar satellites

How do the Next Gen Polar Satellites Communicate With Each Other?

NGP satellites follow oval orbits and bring a new level of missile warning. Moreover, their upgraded sensors cover the entire northern hemisphere and have extra resilience to work well even in tough situations.

NGP’s better communication system sends wide-band OPIR data to the ground. This lets us pick out important infrared heat signatures from a lot of data. Therefore by using the improved data, we can fine-tune our processes over time and do better in space.

When a mission is as critical as missile warning and defense, experience and data-driven solutions are essential to high-confidence mission performance.

Next gen polar satellites

Shortest Rule for a Ballistic Missile Covering by Next Gen Polar Satellites:

Next-Generation Polar (NGP) are two of the OPIR satellites. They’ll orbit in a stretched-out way and cover the northern polar area. This is the shortest route for a ballistic missile to be aimed at the US. Moreover, the U.S. Space Force hired Northrop Grumman to create these satellites, with Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace. These are well structured for the mission payloads. These same groups will also make an extra OPIR payload for the Next-Generation Geo (NGG) satellites. All of these satellites will hang out in the same orbit.

How Next Generation Polar Satellites Detects any Potential Danger?

The NGP satellites work like watchers. They look over a huge part of the Northern Hemisphere and pick up heat signs from ballistic missile launches. These satellites will be about 20,000 miles away in their slightly tilted orbits. When the NGP satellites spot a launch, the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor satellites (HBTSS) step in. These other satellites will be closer to Earth. They keep a constant eye on missiles from when they start flying to when they glide in the air. Apart from this, they’ll then give really exact tracking info so we can aim at enemy missiles that are launched from land, sea, or air.

Highly Immersive Virtual Environment Technology for Better Designing of Next Gen Polar Satellites:

On March 14, 2023, in Redondo Beach, California, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) used digital technology. It is called Highly Immersive Virtual Environment (HIVE) to improve the design of the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Polar (NGP) satellites.

Northrop Grumman’s HIVE technology lets engineers create, work on. They maintain satellites in a virtual reality setup even before the production of any physical parts. This saves costs and reduces risks during the early development stages. Moreover, they do it through real-time modeling, simulation, visualization, and human interaction.

Carol Erikson, the vice president of Northrop Grumman, says:

“With digital engineering, we can move through the design, testing and manufacturing phases quickly and with agility, saving money and significantly reducing development timelines for large systems.”

In a recent demo using HIVE tech in Redondo Beach, California, Northrop Grumman engineers used virtual reality gear to simulate putting together the satellites’ main parts. This confirmed the NGP design, and digital tech will keep being used in the satellites’ next development stages.

Ciffone said:

“When it comes to detecting ballistic missiles, it’s a mission that can’t fail.”

NGP is a big improvement over the current polar monitoring system called the Space-Based Infrared System in Highly Elliptical Orbit (SBIRS HEO). NGP can spot both hypersonic and regular ballistic missile launches.

Key Features of NGP:

  • Northrop Grumman is leveraging digital transformation to deliver capability with speed.
  • Model-based systems engineering
  • Advanced modeling and simulation
  • Updated tools for our business management processes, production, and supply chain management
  • End-to-end solutions that enable us to deliver predictable capability at an affordable price

What is the next gen polar?

The Next-Gen OPIR polar satellites are designed to detect the heat signatures of incoming missiles and transmit this data to the ground through a robust and secure communication system.

What is next generation overhead persistent infrared satellites?

As part of Next-Gen OPIR, two NGP satellites will give accurate sensor coverage over the northern hemisphere. Which help to prevent and defend against ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

What is the Northrop Grumman missile warning system?

As part of Next-Gen OPIR, two NGP satellites will give accurate sensor coverage over the northern hemisphere. Therefore, they help to prevent and defend against ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

What is near polar orbit?

Another widely used orbit for remote sensing is the near-polar orbit. Because it has a high angle and its path nearly goes across the poles.

What is next generation overhead persistent infrared polar NGP?

The two NGP satellites will orbit widely and use infrared sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. They’ll also have an improved communication system to send mission data to the ground, helping decision makers identify heat signatures from incoming threats.

What is the next generation of geostationary weather satellites called?

The GOES-R Series includes four satellites (GOES-R/S/T/U) that will keep the GOES satellite system working until 2036.

What is the difference between geostationary and geosynchronous satellites?

A geostationary orbit is a type of geosynchronous orbit. The difference is that in a geostationary orbit, satellites stay fixed over Earth’s equator, while in a geosynchronous orbit, they can be at any angle.

How NGP is a Significant Part of Next Gen Polar OPIR?

NGP is an indispensable part of the next-gen OPIR construct for numerous reasons:

  1. It covers the poles. NGP will cover the northern polar region. Which is the shortest route for a ballistic missile to travel toward the United States.
  2. Failure isn’t an option. Because, the Infrared missile detection strengthens nuclear deterrence and NGP is key to the OPIR construct.
  3. Near total coverage. According to Sneller, NGP provides round-the-clock coverage of the Northern Hemisphere, including adversarial countries in Eurasia, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.
  4. Resilient. On top of the wide coverage NGP provides from its unique orbit, HEO is more resilient than other orbits.

Sneller, therefore, said:

“NGP monitors virtually every country from which a ballistic or hypersonic missile threat directed at the United States or its allies is likely to originate.”

If you are wondering is there any need of space agriculture, then your concern is right. Astronauts, and employees who work in space can’t simply make a quick visit to the grocery store, if they need any good range of healthy meal choices. That is why there is a need to have the farming concept in space too.

 And this is done to have a fresh, and healthy diet during long space missions. Astronauts must have nutrient-packed food available. Till today, they bring the majority of their needed food from Earth. And as its very common that space missions got prolonged. That is why it has become important for the researchers to cultivate plants. This cultivation will serve to enhance their diet and provides a good atmosphere like home to them too.

Today, we will highlight some of the major projects by NASA & ESA when it comes to the space agriculture research.

What Backgrounded Study has been Provided by SpaceX?

As SpaceX’s 25th cargo resupply mission for NASA (SpX-25) is all ready towards the International Space Station. It will be transporting an important space agricultural and its biology study. Furthermore, this investigation also holds the potential to revolutionize the methods that we use to cultivate and sustain crops. That is why both in the space environment and on our home planet Earth will have a better point of view about agriculture.

How SpaceX has Conduct a Study on Space Agriculture?

This experiment is known as Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space” (DynaMoS). And it centers around the investigation of small organisms that we don’t know. Moreover, the initial indications of life on Earth trace back more than three billion years.

These microorganisms that is also known as microbe. They will eventually paved the way for all the life forms thriving on our planet today. With the passage of time, these microbes have evolved to effectively to the  available resources. And soil stands out as one of the most common, and opted ecosystems that has diverse microbial communities.

Microbes that stays in the soil plays a crucial role in the carbon cycle. And that is why the circulation of other essential nutrients, which in turn supports the growth of plants. Which is an important factor for the quality sustain of all life.

The DynaMoS project has a aim to dissect the impact of microgravity in space agriculture. And other variables on the metabolic plays important role among communities of soil microorganisms. This study will particularly highlight the soil microorganism groups which is known as  chitin. It is basically a carbon polymer that ranks as the second most prevalent on our planet.

Results from the Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space (DynaMoS) investigation will compare soil samples full of microbes flown aboard the International Space Station and ground control samples at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

How Space Agriculture Pave a Way in Science Inventions & Discoveries?

As we all know that consistent efforts plays an important role in the plant growth. And they holds a good significant in space exploration. This is why paving into the microorganism communities that are found within soil takes on fundamental role in our many space explorations.

What is BPS & How it Contributes to Space Agriculture?

NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division takes the lead in driving scientific revelations. And it further facilitates the science exploration. They do it by harnessing space environments for conducting studies that is not possible on Earth.

We all know that investigating biological and physical phenomena within extreme conditions provides researchers with so much knowledge.  With the means to push forward the important scientific insights necessary for extending our reach and duration in space missions.  Aside from this, the future space agriculture’s research yield valuable insights that have practical applications here on Earth.

Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space
Four bags containing 13 tubes each, like this one filled with soil, will fly to the International Space Station as part of the Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space (DynaMoS) investigation.

Important Words by a Scientist of BPS (Biological and Physical Sciences)

Dr. Mamta Patel Nagaraja. Who is a deputy program scientist for space biology for NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) division. He said:

“Farmers on Earth face challenges with weather changes, balancing carbon levels in soil, and other unpredictable forces, but growing crops in space is a whole different playing field.

One factor that is key is understanding how soil microbes perform and function in microgravity since they heavily affect the carbon and nutrient levels. Understanding the behavior of these microbes in spaceflight has the potential to improve agricultural production for long duration space travel. Which includes to other planets, and of course, farming right here on Earth.”

What is APH & How it Contributes to Space Agriculture?

The Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) also serves as a growth chamber into the station which helps in the plant research. This system has LED lights and a micro clay substrate. That is couple with control release fertilizer. It effectively provide water, nutrients, and oxygen to the plant roots.

However, what sets APH apart is its enclosed and automated design. Which is equipped with cameras and over 180 sensors. They maintain constant communication with a ground-based team stationed at Kennedy.

Space Agriculture
John “JC” Carver, a payload integration engineer with Kennedy’s Test and Operations Support Contract, opens the door to the growth chamber of the Advanced Plant Habitat Flight Unit No. 1 for a test harvest of half of the Arabidopsis thaliana plants growing within.
Credits: NASA/Leif Heimbold

Furthermore, it demands less day-to-day attention from the crew. Automation handles aspects such as water recovery and distribution, atmospheric composition, moisture levels, and temperature regulation. APH features an expanded palette of LED light colors compared to Veggie, including red, green, blue, white, far red, and even infrared. Which further benefits the nighttime imaging capabilities.

What is BRIC LED Lights?

The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) serves as a facility that help out in investigating the impact of space conditions on tiny organisms. Which can be cultivate in petri dishes. These organisms encompass entities like yeast and microbes. The latest iteration, known as BRIC-LED, has introduced light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to cater to biological specimens such as plants, mosses, algae, and cyanobacteria that rely on light to produce their sustenance.

Currently, BRIC-LED is undergoing tests to validate its hardware. Scientists are diligently ensuring that the LEDs remain within suitable temperature ranges for the plants while also conducting various system checks. In the near future, researchers like Dr. Simon Gilroy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will utilize this facility to carry out their studies.

When did NASA start growing plants in space?

The timeline of these space-based projects of space agriculture is as follows:

  • Advanced Plant Habitat. It commenced its journey aboard the ISS in April 2017.
  • Bion Satellites. That stary back in 1973.
  • Biomass Production System. Which embarked on its mission in April 2002 aboard the ISS.
  • Vegetable Production System (Veggie). And it took off in May 2014, finding its place aboard the ISS.

How does NASA help agriculture?

NASA Acres collaborates with various stakeholders within the agricultural domain to create data and tools derived from Earth observatories. These resources are aims at enhancing production levels. While protecting the land, water, the atmosphere, and human well-being.

What food did NASA grow in space?

NASA has achieved successful cultivation of plants. That includes lettuce and radishes, and has examined their reactions to the space environment in space agriculture research. This has a comprehensive analysis ranging from gene expression to even assessing the spiciness of the plants. NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 experiment further builds upon prior endeavors, extending to the growth of peppers within the confines of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH).

Farming Projects by NASA
The first growth test of crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat aboard the International Space Station yielded great results. Arabidopsis seeds – small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard – grew for about six weeks, and dwarf wheat for five weeks.
Credits: NASA

What is the NASA Veggie program?

The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) stands as a plant growth setup developed and employed by NASA within the context of outer space conditions. Veggie holds a dual purpose: to furnish astronauts with a self-sustaining and lasting food source, while also offering a platform for leisure and relaxation through therapeutic gardening activities.

Space Agriculture
Zinnia plants from the Veggie ground control system are being harvested in the Flight Equipment Development Laboratory in the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy. A similar zinnia harvest was conducted by astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station. Credits: NASA/Bill White

What is the Role of ESA in Space Agriculture?

On January 25, 2023, the European Space Agency (ESA) has a collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). They held an event that united the research of space agriculture in space exploration and agri-food sectors. The goal was to collaboratively address common challenges and lay out a shared trajectory for progress.

In a major test flight of SpaceX largest rocket, the massive Starship took off from a launch pad in southern Texas today. However, the rocket exploded before reaching space and cut short the flight. In a recent launch attempt, Starship and its booster successfully lifted off from the launch pad and ascended to a height of 39 kilometers. However, the spacecraft unexpectedly lost control and unfortunately exploded just four minutes into the flight before the planned separation could occur. During a webcast of the launch attempt, John Insprucker, the principal integration engineer for SpaceX, which constructed Starship, stated that the situation was not normal.

SpaceX has achieved a significant milestone with its most ambitious rocket. It successfully launched from the pad with up to 33 engines firing in synchrony. This achievement is a major step forward for the company. According to Insprucker, the Starship provided a remarkable conclusion to an already remarkable test.

SpaceX has set the upcoming Starship flights to usher in a fresh era of space exploration, which includes transporting people to the Moon and Mars. This development could also pave the way for novel forms of astrophysics and planetary science. The rocket had no crew on its inaugural test flight.

The rocket with the highest power:

In a recent development, it has been revealed that Starship boasts of almost double the power of NASA’s latest deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which took its maiden flight in November. Until now, Starship had only undergone a few tests at low altitudes above SpaceX’s spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas. Today’s mission was to achieve space travel and orbit most of the planet before landing in the ocean near Hawaii.

According to Laura Forczyk, the executive director of Astralytical, a space consulting company in Atlanta, Georgia, the successful demonstration of Starship’s ability to reach orbit by SpaceX would have a significant impact on future developments.

SpaceX has announced its plans to utilize the Starship spacecraft to establish a human settlement on the planet Mars. NASA has set its sights on utilizing the vehicle to assist in landing astronauts on the Moon’s surface soon as a component of its proposed Artemis missions. Scientists are envisioning the potential of utilizing Starship’s vast size to transport large telescopes for planetary missions into the depths of space.

During the Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 18th, Julianna Scheiman, the director of NASA satellite missions at SpaceX, expressed her enthusiasm for the potential of utilizing Starship to advance scientific research.

Crafts that can be reused:

The Starship spacecraft resembles a colossal metal tube. It stands at a towering height of 120 meters. When combined with its Super Heavy rocket booster, it becomes even taller. Moreover, scientists have developed a new spacecraft that can transport up to 150 tonnes of equipment into space. The designers have innovatively crafted a fully reusable transportation system for future space missions, making it cost-effective. In a bid to reduce the expenses of space travel, SpaceX has announced its intention to recover and reuse its components.

According to Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, the limitations of space flight have always been mass, volume, and cost. Starship effectively removes all of these limitations.

Between 1981 and 2011, NASA completed 135 missions to low Earth orbit with its space shuttles. These shuttles were designed for routine space access. NASA has decided to retire the shuttle. Instead, they will focus on developing a more advanced SLS. This will enable deeper space exploration.

SpaceX has successfully created smaller rockets that are partially reusable, including the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy series. Various users, including governments and companies, frequently use these rockets to launch satellites. SpaceX plans to utilize its Starship spacecraft for the deployment of larger objects, including the upcoming Starlink communications satellites. However, some astronomers have raised concerns about the potential impact of these satellites on nighttime observations.

Challenges Faced by Rockets:

By Forczyk, the ability of SpaceX to deliver on its commitment to frequent and also cost-effective Starship flights remains uncertain. The potential of Starship to deliver smaller rockets is advantageous for the spacecraft. NASA has endorsed it as a crucial component of their Moon exploration initiative, which further strengthens its potential.

As demonstrated by today’s flight, the development of any new rocket remains a difficult task. Shortly, it is highly probable that SpaceX will conduct tests on several other Starships that have already been constructed. According to Forczyk, there is a possibility of witnessing substantial advancements this year. The possibility remains uncertain.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA’s Lucy mission marks a new era in space exploration, as it is the first spacecraft launched with the specific aim of exploring the Trojan asteroids. These asteroids are a population of primitive celestial bodies that share Jupiter’s orbit, making them unique targets for scientific study. However, the spacecraft is set to embark on a series of multiple flybys of these asteroids, providing a close-up look at these “fossils” of planetary formation. With its launch date set for October 16, 2021, the Lucy mission represents a significant step forward in our understanding of the formation and evolution of our solar system.

Now before we discuss Lucy you might be wondering,

What are Trojan asteroids and what is the role of Lucy in their exploration?

The Trojan asteroids are small celestial bodies in our solar system. They are unique because they were left over from the formation of giant planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. These asteroids are remnants of the raw materials that came together to create the planets in our solar system. As a result, they are valuable targets for study.

An American planetary scientist Harold F. Levison says: “The Trojan Asteroids are leftovers from the early days of our solar system, effectively the fossils of planet formation.”

Trojan Asteroids
Lucy Mission to the Trojan Asteroids. Credit: NASA

Unlike the objects in the main asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the Trojan asteroids share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun, but they stay close to Jupiter’s L4 and L5 Lagrange points, which are gravitational stable locations in space. Moreover, the Trojan asteroids are on average just as far from Jupiter as Jupiter is from the Sun, and they are also known to be almost as numerous as the objects in the main asteroid belt. The Jupiter and Trojan asteroids are small, with the largest being around 160 miles (250 km) across. The asteroids are in a constant gravitational tug-of-war between the Sun and Jupiter.

Furthermore, this causes them to remain in the vicinity of Jupiter’s L4 and L5 Lagrange points. These points are located 60 degrees ahead and behind Jupiter. They form an equilateral triangle with the Sun. This makes the Lagrange points ideal places for the asteroids to remain in a stable orbit.

Lucy is the first spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. It will fly by a total of eight asteroids over the next 12 years. This includes one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojans. This makes it the first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many asteroids. The spacecraft’s journey will provide an up-close investigation of these “fossils” of planetary formation. This will provide invaluable insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system.

Now, we got you covered if you are thinking,

What are the objectives of Lucy’s mission?

NASA’s Lucy mission is an ambitious undertaking that aims to explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, including one asteroid in the solar system’s main asteroid belt and seven Trojan asteroids.  

The Lucy mission has scientific objectives. It aims to achieve them by flying by and performing remote sensing on eight different Trojan asteroids during five flybys. The mission aims to study these asteroids in unprecedented detail. It seeks to provide insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system.

The primary objectives of the mission are to study the asteroids’ geological history, composition, and internal structure, providing valuable insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system.

By flying by and performing remote sensing on these asteroids, the Lucy spacecraft will also collect data on their albedo, shape, and size-frequency distributions. Yet, this data will allow scientists to create detailed maps of the asteroids’ surface features, including their crustal structure, layering, and relative ages of surface units.

In addition, the mission will study the color, composition, and properties of the regolith on the asteroids’ surface. By determining the distribution of minerals, ices, and organic species, the mission will provide clues to the asteroids’ formation and evolution, shedding light on the processes that led to the formation of planets like Earth.

The Lucy mission has a goal to determine the masses and densities of the Trojan asteroids. This information will provide insights into their internal structure and composition. To achieve this, the mission will study sub-surface composition through excavation by craters, fractures, ejecta blankets, and exposed bedding. By doing so, the mission will gain a better understanding of the asteroids’ bulk properties.

The Lucy spacecraft has a dual mission. Firstly, it will search for rings and satellites of the Trojan asteroids. This could give us valuable insights into how these asteroids formed and evolved. Secondly, the mission will investigate the potential for hazardous impacts from these asteroids. This will help us better understand how to protect Earth from asteroid impacts.

By studying the Trojan asteroid’s geological history, composition, and internal structure, the mission aims to advance our understanding of the early solar system and the processes that led to the formation of planets like Earth.

Now, let’s dig into the,

Launch of Lucy

NASA’s Lucy mission launch on October 16, 2021, using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.  This mission is the first spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. Moreover, it will also fly by a total of eight asteroids over the next 12 years. Furthermore, the spacecraft’s mission is to investigate the Trojan asteroids, which are remnants of the material that formed giant planets, and provide information about the formation and evolution of our solar system.

Lucy's orbital path
This diagram illustrates Lucy’s orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape. Credit: Southwest Research Institute

Hal Levison, Lucy’s principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado quoted: “We started working on the Lucy mission concept early in 2014, so this launch has been long in the making,”  He added, “It will still be several years before we get to the first Trojan asteroid, but these objects are worth the wait and all the effort because of their immense scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky.”

Journey of Lucy!

Lucy’s Trojan destinations are located near Jupiter’s Lagrange points, where smaller masses can be trapped. One swarm of Trojans is ahead of Jupiter, and another is behind it. In 2022, during its initial Earth gravity assist, Lucy’s trajectory will accelerate and redirect beyond the orbit of Mars. After that, the spacecraft will return to Earth for a second gravity assist in 2024. Lucy’s journey towards the Donald Johanson asteroid. The Donald Johanson asteroid is present in the main asteroid belt of the solar system. Lucy will arrive at the Donald Johanson asteroid in 2025.

In 2027, Lucy will also travel towards the swarm located ahead of Jupiter to encounter its first Trojan asteroid. After completing its first four targeted flybys, the spacecraft will travel back to Earth for a third gravity boost in 2031, which will also catapult it to the trailing swarm of Trojans for a 2033 encounter.

“Today we celebrate this incredible milestone and look forward to the discoveries that Lucy will uncover,” said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, after the launch.

The spacecraft’s two solar arrays, each measuring nearly 24 feet in width, unfurled successfully about 30 minutes after launch and also began charging the spacecraft’s batteries to power its subsystems. Yet, at 6:40 a.m., Lucy sent its first signal to Earth from its antenna to NASA’s Deep Space Network. Lucy’s mission is the 13th in NASA’s Discovery Program, overseen by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Lastly,

The end of the mission:

Lastly, when the Lucy mission will be nearing its end. The spacecraft will travel on a stable orbit from near the Earth’s orbit to the Trojan Swarms and back again. The team plans to orbit the spacecraft carefully to avoid contamination for over a century. In the future, if nobody collects Lucy as a historical artifact, the spacecraft’s orbit will become unstable. Jupiter’s gravitational pull could fling it out of the Solar System or send it crashing into the Sun. However, the legacy of the Lucy mission will inspire future generations. In such a way, they explore the mysteries of our Solar System and the vast universe beyond.

Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA’s X-59 QueSST mission is set to revolutionize supersonic air travel by creating technology that can help in the sonic boom reduction. This mission, part of NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles and Integrated Aviation Systems Programs, will use the X-59 research aircraft to collect data on human responses to the sound generated during supersonic flight. The data will be used to develop new sound-based rules for supersonic flights over land, paving the way for faster and more efficient air travel. 

Let’s explore the X-59 mission and its history, features, and recent updates.

Overview:

NASA’s X-59 QueSST mission aims to revolutionize supersonic air travel by developing technology that can reduce the loudness of a sonic boom to a gentle thump. This will enable supersonic flights over land, which has not been possible due to the loud sonic boom created by conventional supersonic aircraft. NASA’s aeronautical innovators are leading a government-industry team that is carrying out the mission.

Engineers are designing and building the X-59 research aircraft with cutting-edge technology to achieve the mission’s first goal. After its construction, the X-59 will take to the skies above multiple U.S. communities to gather information about how humans respond to the noise produced by supersonic flight. The collected data will be provided to both American and global regulatory authorities to aid in the creation of fresh regulations for supersonic flight over land that are based on sound. These new rules would pave the way for faster-than-sound air travel, opening up new commercial cargo and passenger markets.

NASA’s aeronautics programs organize the X-59 mission as part of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program and the Integrated Aviation Systems Program. The Systems Project Office is managing the mission with members spanning both programs and all four of NASA’s aeronautical research field centers: Langley Research Center in Virginia; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; and Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center, both located in California. The X-59 QueSST mission represents a crucial step towards achieving faster and more efficient air travel that can transform the way we move around the world.

Now, let’s dig explore the fascinating history of this project,

Flash Back:

Seventy-five years ago, on October 14th, 1947, a groundbreaking moment in aviation history occurred when the Bell X-1 rocket plane broke the sound barrier for the first time over the high desert of California. A small group of researchers, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), studied techniques for reducing sonic booms caused by supersonic flight.

This achievement demonstrated that it was possible to penetrate the imaginary wall in the sky that many believed could not be breached, marking a significant milestone in the history of aviation. The NACA team worked in collaboration with the newly formed US Air Force and Bell engineers and pilots to achieve this breakthrough.

“That first supersonic flight was such a tremendous achievement, and now you look at how far we’ve come since then. What we’re doing now is the culmination of so much of their work,” Catherine Bahm, an aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, said.”

NACA contingent in October 1947
The NACA contingent in October 1947 in front of the Bell X-1-2 and Boeing B-29 launch aircraft

Today, a new generation of aeronautical innovators is working on NASA’s QueSST mission, which aims to revolutionize supersonic flight once again. This time, the goal is to design and build an aircraft, the X-59, that can generate a sonic boom so quiet that it will be barely noticeable on the ground. This breakthrough would make it possible for supersonic flight to occur over land, opening up new commercial cargo and passenger markets and drastically reducing travel times.

Through their hard work and dedication, the aeronautical innovators of NASA’s QueSST mission are poised to break the sound barrier once again, this time in a way that will transform the future of air travel and make it possible for us all to travel just as fast as the X-1 pilots who flew supersonic seventy-five years ago.

So, If you are wondering,

What’s the purpose of this mission? 

The X-59 QueSST is part of NASA’s Low-Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) project, which aims to gather data and inform the development of new regulations that could permit commercial supersonic flight over land. The goal is to provide a safe and economically viable way for supersonic flights that helps in sonic boom reduction to transport passengers across the world, drastically reducing flight times.

The X-59 QueSST’s unique design is the key to its quiet supersonic flight. Its long, slender shape reduces the shockwaves that produce the sonic boom, allowing it to fly at supersonic speeds without causing the loud disturbance that typically comes with it. Instead, the X-59 QueSST produces a “soft thump” that is barely audible on the ground, if at all.

NASA officials have said about the purpose of the project: “Through QueSST, NASA plans to demonstrate that the X-59 can fly faster than sound without generating the loud sonic booms supersonic aircraft typically produce. This thunderous sound is the reason the U.S. and other governments banned most supersonic flights over land,” To achieve this feat, the X-59 QueSST will use advanced technologies, including a uniquely-shaped cockpit window that allows the pilot to see forward without producing a shockwave. It will also use a specially-designed engine nozzle that reduces the exhaust velocity, further minimizing the sonic boom.

The X-59 QueSST, designed for sonic boom reduction and make supersonic flight quieter, is scheduled to make its first flight in 2023. NASA hopes that the data gathered during the LBFD project on sonic boom reduction will help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establish new rules and regulations for supersonic flight over land. This could pave the way for commercial supersonic aircraft to fly across the United States and beyond, while minimizing their impact on the environment and communities.

Now, let’s uncover,

What are the features of NASA’s QueSST?

NASA’s QueSST mission is developing the X-59 aircraft, which features an advanced external Visibility System (XVS) that uses augmented reality technology to enhance the pilot’s situational awareness. This system comprises a front-facing camera and display combination that overlays critical information such as guidance to destination airports, airspace warnings and alerts, and landing approach cues onto the pilot’s view.

Supersonic Space Travel
Instead of a forward windshield, the pilot will navigate via a heads-up display connected to cameras on the aircraft’s nose.
Courtesy NASA

Engineers have adjusted the X-59 aircraft’s external Visibility System (XVS) to enhance pilot situational awareness and reduce sonic boom during supersonic flight. The engineers designed the XVS to seamlessly work with sensors and a 4K camera feed, so that it provides the pilot with an ultra-high-definition (UHD) monitor display inside the cockpit. This ensures that the pilot has access to a crystal-clear view of their surroundings, enabling them to make critical decisions quickly and with confidence. Additionally, the aircraft also features a retractable camera located underneath it that provides a second view during lower-speed flight, such as during airport approach and landing.

With these advanced features, the X-59 promises to be a game-changer in the field of supersonic flight, paving the way for faster-than-sound air travel over land while ensuring the safety and comfort of pilots and passengers alike.

Moreover, The aircraft has received a 13-foot-long engine from General Electric Aviation, which will provide 22,000 pounds of thrust and enable the X-59 to fly faster than the speed of sound. The flight, scheduled for around 2025, aims to demonstrate that the X-59’s new supersonic technology will only produce a “thump” as heard by people on the ground, rather than a sonic boom. Lobbyists could use this information to persuade regulators to amend existing rules that restrict the speed at which planes can fly over land, potentially reducing travel times. We expect the engine to propel the X-59 to speeds up to Mach 1.4 and altitudes around 55,000 feet (16,764 meters).

We got some recent updates about the project for you here as well so let’s find out about that,

Recent updates on the Project:

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, has recently finished installing the lower empennage or tail assembly for NASA’s X-59 QueSST project. The installation of this key component allows the team to carry out final wiring and system checkouts on the aircraft as it prepares for integrated ground testing, including engine runs and taxi tests. The QueSST mission will showcase the X-59 aircraft’s ability to fly supersonic while significantly reducing the loud sonic boom to a quieter sonic thump, which is a major milestone.

NASA's X-59 QueSST
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

According to Ray Castner, NASA’s propulsion performance lead for the X-59, “The engine installation is the culmination of years of design and planning by the NASA, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric Aviation teams.” Castner also expressed his admiration and pride with these words: “I am both impressed with and proud of this combined team that’s spent the past few months developing the key procedures, which allowed for a smooth installation.”

Currently, the X-59 is undergoing installation within support framing, and its completion will mark the beginning of the next stage of the mission. The QueSST team aims to fly the X-59 over several U.S. communities to collect data on the human response to the sound generated during supersonic flight, with the ultimate goal of providing this data to U.S. and international regulators. The QueSST aircraft will prove supersonic travel with less noise is possible, altering air travel.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

The universe is a vast and mysterious place, filled with secrets that have puzzled humanity for centuries. For many years, telescopes have been our eyes into the cosmos, allowing us to uncover some of its greatest mysteries. NASA James Webb Space Telescope is a marvel of engineering and a key to unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos. This great time machine has allowed us to look back 13.5 billion years to the beginning of time itself. In just a few months, NASA’s JSWT has shed light on its deepest mysteries

But what exactly makes the JWST so special, and what has it already achieved? We will be discussing all the achievements of JWST, but first, we would like to give a quick flashback about JWST. Let’s start with.

Quick facts:

JSWT’s state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge capabilities have revolutionized our understanding of the universe like never before. Here are some quick facts about the Webb telescope that you might find interesting:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was originally known as the Next Generation Space Telescope and was renamed in 2002 to honor James E. Webb, who served as the highest-ranking official for NASA from 1961 to 1968. Webb is credited with transforming NASA from a disconnected organization into a highly coordinated machine. However, the decision to name the JWST after him was controversial due to his alleged role in firing employees suspected of homosexuality.
  • NASA launched the Webb telescope on December 25, 2021. The launch took place at 12:20 UTC and the telescope was aboard an Ariane 5 ECA (VA256) rocket. The rocket was launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais, ELA-3.
  • The observatory’s primary mission is to study the universe’s first galaxies, stars, and planets and their formation.
  • Experts estimate that constructing the telescope will cost around US$10 billion. This makes one of the most expensive space missions ever undertaken.
  • They used 18 hexagonal segments to make the Webb mirror, and they applied a thin layer of gold that is only 100 nanometers thick to each segment.
  • The mirror uses a little more than 48 grams of gold in total. People use gold to coat mirrors because it excellently reflects infrared light. The mirror uses a total mass of gold equivalent to that of a golf ball, and the thin layer of gold filling a volume the size of a marble.
  • Webb can downlink a massive amount of recorded science data every day. It can transfer at least 57.2 gigabytes of data per day, and the maximum data rate is 28 megabits per second. This is a significant improvement compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, which can only transmit 120 megabytes of data per day.
  • An onboard solar array powers Webb, providing 2,000 watts of electrical power for the life of the mission.
    It also has a propulsion system that helps to maintain the observatory’s orbit and attitude. The propellant onboard is enough for at least 10 years of science operations.
  • The James Webb telescope has four scientific instruments that use infrared detectors to capture light from distant astronomical sources. The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) are the instruments at play. Designers create each instrument to perform specific functions and give them unique capabilities.
  • The Webb telescope has a five- to 10-year mission lifetime.

Now, let’s dig into the achievements so far JWST has made. This is how we have elaborated on JWST’s achievements:

What are the achievements of the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Telescope has a range of scientific objectives, including observing the distant universe to study the formation of the first galaxies. The telescope’s ability to collect light that has taken billions of years to travel across the cosmos allows astronomers to see the objects as they were billions of years ago. The JWST has already captured a ‘deep field’ image centered around the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which is 4.6 billion light-years away. 

Space Exploration
Stephan’s Quintet is a laboratory for studying gravitational interactions between galaxies. This image from NIRCam and MIRI contains more than 150 million pixels and is constructed from 1,000 separate image files © NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

The gravitational field of the galaxy cluster has distorted these galaxies, as shown in the image. It provides new methods to measure galaxy mass and study the properties of dust in intervening galaxies. The James Webb Telescope can observe galaxies in the infrared. This allows astronomers to compare observations made in visible light by other telescopes. And study the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time. The JWST has also studied Stephan’s Quintet and M74. These are a group of interacting galaxies and a spiral galaxy, respectively. The telescope has revealed previously unseen details about these galaxies.  The telescope will collaborate with other observatories to study celestial objects and further our understanding of the universe. Infrared astronomy is especially useful for studying star formation. This is because longer wavelengths can penetrate the clouds of dust and gas that block visual light.

The James Webb Telescope has made several achievements in the field of exoplanet research. JWST can’t provide detailed images of planets outside our solar system. However, it did capture a direct image of an exoplanet: HIP 65426 b. This planet is between six to twelve times the mass of Jupiter. JWST used coronagraphs on its NIRCam and MIRI instruments to observe it. Also, JWST can analyze the light it receives to determine the chemical makeup of celestial objects.

Galaxy’s shape
At mid-infrared wavelengths, as seen by MIRI, the traditional shape of the galaxies disappears. This is because MIRI is not sensitive to starlight, which we traditionally use to define a galaxy’s shape © NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Scientists used the NIRISS instrument of the JWST to study the exoplanet WASP-96 b and detected the presence of water vapor in its atmosphere. Furthermore, the James Webb Telescope has also targeted planets within our own Solar System, including Jupiter and Neptune. JWST has been successful in capturing different wavelengths from the NIRCam instrument to create an image of Jupiter, where brightness represented altitude in the Jovian atmosphere. The JWST’s ability to observe planetary systems provides opportunities to study smaller planets and cooler planets more similar to Earth, and giant planets in much more detail than previously available.

Now let’s conclude this discussion:

On the whole:

The James Webb Space Telescope is a remarkable achievement in human ingenuity and technology. The telescope has already achieved remarkable milestones. One of which is taking us back 13.5 billion years to the birth of the universe. Moreover, observing the distant universe to study the formation of the first galaxies. The James Webb Telescope has a minimum mission lifetime. However, it has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe in unimaginable ways. It will undoubtedly play a crucial role in uncovering the secrets of the cosmos as we continue to explore the vastness of space. Its discoveries will inspire future generations to keep looking up and push the boundaries of science and technology.

Published by: Sky Headlines

Have you ever dreamed of walking on the Moon or exploring the mysteries of space? NASA’s Artemis mission is a program that will make those dreams a reality. The Artemis program aims to land humans on the Moon, establish a long-term presence on and around the Moon, and eventually send astronauts to Mars. But the mission is not just about exploration and discovery. Artemis will also demonstrate new technologies and inspire the next generation of space explorers.

Now you probably be wondering,

What is NASA’s Artemis mission?

Artemis is the name of NASA’s program that seeks to achieve multiple objectives. The program aims to land humans on the Moon. To establish a long-term human presence on and around the Moon, and eventually send astronauts to Mars. To achieve these goals, Artemis will rely on innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, and NASA will collaborate with commercial and international partners.

The Artemis program has set forth several objectives that it aims to achieve. One of its key objectives is to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration, including Mars. In addition, Artemis seeks to study the Moon to gain insights into the origin and history of Earth, the Moon, and our solar system.

Furthermore, the program aims to establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon, expanding U.S. global economic impact. It also seeks to broaden commercial and international partnerships, which will be crucial for the program’s success. Finally, Artemis aims to inspire a new generation and encourage careers in STEM, positioning the next generation to lead future space exploration missions.

So, here are

Some amazing facts about Artemis Mission!

  1. Artemis is named after the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.
  2. NASA chose the name to symbolize its efforts to return astronauts, science payloads, and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface.
  3. The tip of the A in the Artemis logo points beyond the Moon to signify that the Moon is not the end goal. But rather a preparation for future exploration beyond it.
  4. The crescent in the logo represents missions from the perspective of the audience, with the focus on going from Earth to the Moon and returning with knowledge and development.
  5. The crescent also resembles Artemis’ bow, which represents the source of energy and effort sent toward the Moon.
  6. The Moon is the primary destination for the Artemis program and a stepping stone toward Mars.
  7. The trajectory in the logo moves from left to right through the crossbar of the A. It highlights the differences in the return to the Moon compared to the Apollo missions.
  8. The red color of the trajectory represents the course to Mars.
  9. The A in the logo represents an arrowhead from Artemis’ quiver and symbolizes the launch of missions.

Let’s start with the,

Artemis 1!

After four delays, Artemis 1 was launched on November 16 at 1:47 am EST (6:47 am GMT). Artemis I is NASA’s first flight test of their deep space exploration system. It includes the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This uncrewed mission is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that are establishing a foundation for human deep space exploration and demonstrating NASA’s commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

Now, here is the,

Map of Artemis 1!

Map of Artemis 1

Artemis 1 was a test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. Scientists designed it to demonstrate their ability to travel to the Moon and beyond. The mission began on November 30, 2021, with the launch of the SLS rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft traveled a total distance of approximately 450,000 kilometers to the Moon. As there it entered a lunar orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometers above the lunar surface. A trans-lunar injection burn followed. As it sent the spacecraft approximately 64,373 kilometers beyond the Moon and into deep space.

During the mission, the spacecraft carried out a series of tests and maneuvers, including a flyby of the Moon, a test of the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield, and a demonstration of its communication and navigation systems. On December 11, 2021, after a mission lasting 25.5 days, the module landed in the Pacific Ocean close to California. The mission was a significant milestone in NASA’s Artemis program.  As it aims to return humans to the Moon and establish a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade.

It’s worth noting that the Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever built. As it generates 8.8 million pounds of thrust on liftoff. This makes it 1.3 million pounds more powerful than the Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo missions, and capable of carrying larger payloads and traveling further into space.

Continuing with the mission briefing,

What is the current status of the Artemis 1 mission?

NASA’s Artemis I mission is an uncrewed flight test. It successfully demonstrated the agency’s deep space rocket, spacecraft, and ground systems readiness for future missions to the Moon. Engineers have extensively reviewed data since the mission’s completion to confirm the initial observations. It includes the performance of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. The SLS rocket flew precisely as designed, meeting or exceeding performance expectations. While the Exploration Ground Systems program is repairing damaged components and making upgrades in preparation for future Artemis missions.

The Orion spacecraft successfully performed every aspect of its journey beyond the Moon, including generating more power than expected and consuming less power than predicted. NASA is examining two observations from the flight in more detail. These include variations across the appearance of Orion’s heat shield and an issue where latching current limiters switched open without commanding several times throughout the mission. Despite these issues, NASA is making progress toward the Artemis II mission. Along with the heat shield set to be attached to the crew module in May and the mobile launcher undergoing testing this summer. The agency is determined to ensure crew safety is a top priority for future missions.

Now let’s dig in to find out,

Artemis 2!

Artemis II marks a significant milestone in NASA’s quest for deep space exploration. As it will be the first manned mission of the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center. With four astronauts aboard, the mission will test the spacecraft’s systems in the actual environment of deep space and confirm their operational readiness for future missions. The Artemis II flight test will be crucial in paving the way for the historic Artemis III mission. Because it aims to land the first woman and next man on the Moon.

Here is,

Map of Artemis 2!

Map of Artemis 2

Artemis 2 is the second planned mission of NASA’s Artemis program and is currently scheduled for launch in 2024. The mission will be crewed by four astronauts. It will be the first time humans have traveled beyond low Earth orbit since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will launch the mission into space. And the crew will fly the Orion spacecraft to a distance of 7402 kilometers beyond the Moon’s far side. A lunar flyby will follow it, allowing the crew to observe and study the lunar surface from a closer distance.

The spacecraft will then return to Earth, and the mission is expected to take between eight to ten days to complete. During the mission, the crew will collect valuable flight test data. It will help NASA refine its plans for future crewed missions to the Moon and beyond. It’s worth noting that Artemis 2 is a crucial step towards NASA’s goal of returning humans to the Moon and establishing a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade. By testing the Orion spacecraft and the SLS rocket in a crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit, NASA will be one step closer to achieving this goal.

Now here are some more details on this mission,

What is the current status of the Artemis 2 mission?

NASA’s Artemis II is the first crewed Artemis mission that will send four astronauts around the Moon and return them home. It has achieved a significant milestone in its development. Teams have fully integrated all five major Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage structures at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The engine section was joined to the rest of the rocket stage on March 17. It is located at the bottom of the 212-foot-tall core stage.  The next step will be to integrate the four RS-25 engines into the engine section to complete the stage.

The engine section is the most complex and intricate part of the rocket stage, housing the engines and including vital systems for mounting, controlling, and delivering fuel from the propellant tanks to the engines. The RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters. They together generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, also attach to it. The core stage for Artemis II is built, outfitted, and assembled at Michoud. Through Artemis missions, NASA aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon It paves the way for a long-term lunar presence. It also serves as a stepping stone for astronauts on the way to Mars.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

The universe is vast and complex, and our ability to grasp it is limited by the instruments we have at our disposal. That’s where remarkable space-based observatories like the Spitzer Space Telescope come in – with its advanced infrared capabilities. This telescope allowed us to see the universe in a whole new light. That unlocks secrets that were previously hidden from us. In this blog, we will travel through time to learn about the Spitzer Space Telescope, its accomplishments, and the fantastic discoveries it has aided in.

But firstly we should know that,

What is the Spitzer Space Telescope?

This spacecraft was launched on August 25, 2003, at 5:35 AM. It aimed to study the cosmos in a completely different light. Orbiting at a height of 568 km and moving at a speed of 0.4741 km/s, Spitzer was a revolutionary piece of technology that gave us a new perspective on space. At $720 million, this project marked a significant investment for space travel in the future.

NASA launched the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of the Great Observatories Program, which included other space-based observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. While those telescopes focused on visible light, gamma rays, and X-rays, respectively. The Spitzer was designed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation. This allowed it to observe objects in the universe that were too cool or obscured by dust to be seen with optical telescopes.

Spitzer Space Telescope
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Moreover,

What was the use of the Spitzer Space Telescope?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was an essential tool when studying the cosmos in infrared light. Its primary function was to detect infrared radiation, mainly heat. Spitzer’s sensitive detectors have helped astronomers learn more about distant and hidden regions of the cosmos. Such as dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.

Using Spitzer’s infrared vision, astronomers have studied inaccessible phenomena. Such as failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, gigantic molecular clouds, and organic chemicals that could be the key to life on other worlds. As a whole, the Spitzer Space Telescope is crucial in solving cosmic puzzles.

Here is the important thing to note;

Is the Spitzer telescope still in space?

Yes, the Spitzer telescope is still in space but no longer operational. The Spitzer telescope lasted in the cold phase for about 16 years. The Spitzer Space Telescope, which NASA launched in 2003, was the most sensitive infrared space telescope ever built at the time of its launch. During its 16 years of existence, it fundamentally altered our understanding of the cosmos.

The associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington is “Thomas Zurbuchen”. He says: “Spitzer has taught us about entirely new aspects of the cosmos and taken us many steps further in understanding how the universe works. It addresses questions about our origins and whether or not are we alone”.  Moreover, he said: “This Great Observatory has also identified some important and new questions and tantalizing objects for further study, mapping a path for future investigations to follow. Its immense impact on science certainly will last well beyond the end of its mission.”

However,

What makes the Spitzer Space Telescope unique?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was unique for various reasons. One of the most remarkable features of Spitzer was its ability to detect infrared radiation. It allowed it to study cosmic regions hidden from optical telescopes. The Spitzer telescope also had a large mirror that measured 33 inches (85 cm) in diameter, which made it the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space.

Furthermore, Spitzer was the final mission in NASA’s Great Observatories Program – a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light. The program also includes the visible-light Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO). Spitzer was also unique because of its cryogenic telescope assembly, which contained the telescope and Spitzer’s three scientific instruments.

Here is to understand,

What can the Spitzer telescope see that others Cannot?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was capable of seeing cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes. It could detect infrared radiation, which allowed it to study cooler objects in space, such as failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets. Spitzer also studied the centers of galaxies and newly forming planetary systems, which are difficult to observe with optical telescopes.

Spitzer’s ability to see the Universe in a different kind of light than optical telescopes allows astronomers to study the Universe in previously impossible ways. Overall, Spitzer’s unique capabilities made it an essential tool for understanding the Universe.

What are the Discoveries of the Spitzer space telescope?

The spitzer space telescope has helped in knowing the universe better than ever. Some of its major discoveries are:

  • Spitzer detects heat radiation and infrared light. Scientists used Spitzer data to create the first exoplanet “weather map” in May 2009. This exoplanet weather map showed temperature changes on HD 189733b, a massive gas planet. The scientists also found roaring winds in the planet’s atmosphere.
  • Infrared light usually penetrates gas and dust clouds better than visible light. Hence, Spitzer has shown star-birthing zones. Spitzer captured young stars emerging from the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud. Astronomers call this cloud “Rho Oph.” The nebula is 410 light-years from Earth, near Scorpius and Ophiuchus.
  • Spitzer found COSMOS-AzTEC3 in 2011. This set of galaxies’ light reached Earth after 12 billion years. Scientists believe proto-clusters like this one evolved into modern galaxy clusters. COSMOS-AzTEC3 was the furthest proto-cluster ever found. It helps researchers understand how galaxies started and evolved.
  • Spitzer was the first telescope capable of directly identifying chemicals in the atmospheres of exoplanets back in 2007. Chemical compounds in two gas exoplanets were identified using spectroscopy. These gas-based “hot Jupiters,” HD 209458b and HD 189733b, orbit closer to their suns than our solar system’s gas planets. Directly studying exoplanet atmospheres could lead to the discovery of life on rocky worlds. This artist’s rendering depicts a heated Jupiter.
  • Supermassive black holes reside in most galaxies. Spitzer found two of the most distant supermassive black holes, revealing galaxy formation history. Quasars are black holes with discs. Spitzer found two quasars that emerged less than 1 billion years after the cosmos. Their light took 13 billion years to reach Earth.

 

Let’s conclude this discussion:

Scientists initially designed the Spitzer Space Telescope for a short mission. But it exceeded expectations and continued to operate for over a decade. In January 2020, NASA announced that it was retiring the Spitzer Space Telescope due to its aging hardware and limited remaining capabilities. However, the Spitzer Space Telescope legacy will live on through countless discoveries. As it helped make the new avenues of research it opened up. The Spitzer mission will live on through its science.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

We all know that nothing is faster than the speed of light. This is one of the major fundamental laws of science. However, as we are progressing in science and technology no one can say what will be the limits of our capabilities in the future. A well-known English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking say that “almost” nothing can exceed the speed of light. Yet, there might be a possibility that we could even pass light speed in the future. As for travel in space, we can say that we are still not close to approaching the speed of light.

Our progress in Space Travel:

Currently, the fastest spacecraft can reach speeds of up to 692,000 kilometers per hour, which is still slower than the speed of light.

Fastest uncrewed spaceship:

An uncrewed spaceship is a spacecraft that functions without a human crew on board. This type of spaceship is very efficient in scientific missions, exploration, or satellite launches. They have sensors, cameras, and other instruments. The main goal is to travel in space and gather data and perform specific tasks.

A NASA spacecraft “Parker Solar Probe” is the fastest unmanned spacecraft. It was launched in 2018 and reached speeds of 692,000 kilometers per hour (430,000 mph) as it approached the Sun.

Fastest crewed spaceship:

A crewed spaceship is a spacecraft designed to carry astronauts. These spaceships typically have life support systems, sleeping quarters, and other luxuries to support human life for travel in space.

As for crewed spacecraft, the fastest is the Moon-bound Apollo 10. NASA’s Apollo 10 moon is the fastest-crewed spacecraft. It can travel 24,791 mph (39,897 kph) during its trans-lunar journey.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

Rolls-Royce (A British motor car company) is collaborating with the UK space agency for nuclear power and propulsion options in spaceflight. Rolls-Royce has also announced a new image that shows a new possible version of a space nuclear reactor.

How is the new reactor system going to help in Mars Missions?

Nuclear fission systems control the power released in the splitting of atoms that could be used to power astronaut bases on the moon or Mars. With current-generation propulsion systems, the travel time to the Red Planet is six to nine months. This will also help shorten the travel time to Mars.

What will be the role of Rolls-Royce?

Rolls-Royce will be taking part in that ambitious spaceflight future. On (January 27) Friday, the reputed company announced an early-stage design of a space nuclear reactor. To investigate upcoming nuclear power options in space exploration Rolls-Royce will also be working with the United Kingdom Space Agency.

Moreover, Rolls-Royce made a brief description of the system in a tweet: “Each uranium particle is encapsulated in multiple protective layers that act as a containment system, allowing it to withstand extreme conditions,”

Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)!

Nuclear systems have long flown on robotic space missions. NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft, are using radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which are currently exploring interstellar space. RTGs provide electricity for many probes. Most of the rovers used in NASA’s Mars mission such as Perseverance and Curiosity also use RTGs. But some of the small rovers also are using solar energy such as Spirit and Opportunity.

RTGs are nuclear batteries that convert to electricity the heat thrown off by the decay of radioactive material. Space nuclear reactor has not powered a spacecraft to fly off from Earth yet. However, this could change soon. NASA and DARPA have recently made an announcement to build a nuclear thermal rocket by 2027.

Space fission or fusion power is going to change the spaceflight portfolio!

The power source of the sun and other stars are known as Nuclear fusion flows from the merging of atoms. One day, this could also be part of humanity’s spaceflight portfolio. This is going to take a very long time. However; we have to control this power source here on Earth. But recently U.S. scientists made a big achievement: a Space nuclear reactor experiment that produced more energy than it consumed.

However, there are some questions regarding space fission or fusion power as the safety of astronauts; convenience. More mass means a more expensive mission and longevity in a harsh and rugged environment.

Nuclear power is getting the center of attention in Movies:

Nuclear power is gaining attention both in reality and science fiction. These advanced robotics have even been a point for making a joke in the 2015 movie “The Martian.”. Starting with Matt Damon who is playing the role of an astronaut. Named “Mark Watney” in the movie he is in search of warmth in an unheated rover. desperately searching up a space nuclear reactor hidden in regolith for safety reasons said his Mars training manual had a section about surface operations labeled “Don’t Dig Up The Big Box of Plutonium, Mark.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines