The XRISM Mission (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, pronounced “crism”) satellite attempts to separate high-energy light into the equivalent of an X-ray rainbow. This mission is led by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), so it will accomplish this by utilizing the Resolve instrument.

Here we will be discussing how XRISM is exploring some essential mysteries and how it will further assist scientists in space missions and discoveries.

XRISM Space Mission Uncovering Some Energetic Mysteries

On August 25, 2023, XRISM will launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center (August 26 in Japan).

Richard Kelley, NASA’s XRISM principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said:

“Resolve will give us a new look into some of the universe’s most energetic objects, including black holes, clusters of galaxies, and the aftermath of stellar explosions, We’ll learn more about how they behave and what they’re made of using the data the mission collects after launch.”

NASA and JAXA collaborated on the Resolve X-ray microcalorimeter spectrometer instrument. It detects minute temperature changes caused by an X-ray hitting its 6-by-6-pixel detector. To estimate the energy of an X-ray, the sensor must be cooled to roughly minus 460 Fahrenheit (minus 270 Celsius), only a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.

X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission
NASA and JAXA team members at Japan’s Tsukuba Space Center calibrated XRISM’s Resolve instrument, imaged here, at just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. They had to perform these measurements before installing the instrument on the spacecraft. The information obtained during calibration describes the subtle characteristics of Resolve’s performance, which is necessary for scientists who will use XRISM to study the universe once it’s in space. Credits: JAXA

Now, you must think about how Resolve utilizes a multistage cooling process and spectroscopy to measure high-resolution X-ray spectra of cosmic sources. So, to answer your thoughts, we have curated some information related to it too.

What is Cutting-Edge Spectroscopy, and How Does XRISM Mission Unveil Some Cosmic Secrets?

After a multistage mechanical cooling process within a refrigerator-sized container containing liquid helium, the device achieves its operational temperature.

Resolve can measure the high-resolution spectra of an object by collecting thousands or even millions of X-rays from a cosmic source. Spectra are measurements of the intensity of light over a wide range of energies. Moreover, the Prisms divide visible light into distinct points, which we are more familiar with than the colors of the rainbow.

Early spectrometers employed prisms to look for spectral lines, which arise when atoms or molecules absorb or emit energy. Astronomers now utilize spectrometers calibrated to all types of light to learn about the physical states, movements, and compositions of cosmic objects.

A Spectroscopy on X-rays Performed by Resolve

Additionally, Resolve will perform spectroscopy on X-rays with energies ranging from 400 to 12,000 electron volts, forming a spectrum by measuring the powers of individual X-rays. (By comparison, the powers of visible light range between 2 and 3 electron volts.)

Following, we will highlight the significance and capabilities of the XRISM Mission, a joint mission of JAXA and NASA with involvement from the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency! So, keep hovering.

How Does XRISM Tell Us About Cosmic Enigmas with Keen Details?

Brian Williams, NASA’s XRISM project scientist at Goddard, said:

“The spectra XRISM collects will be the most detailed we’ve ever seen for some of the phenomena we’ll observe. The mission will provide us with insights into some of the most difficult places to study, like the internal structures of neutron stars and near-light-speed particle jets powered by black holes in active galaxies.”

JAXA developed the mission’s other instrument, dubbed Xtend. It will provide XRISM with one of the most expansive fields of view of any X-ray imaging satellite ever flown, surveying a region around 60% greater than the average apparent size of the full moon. Both Resolve and Xtend rely on two identical Goddard X-ray mirror assemblies.

XRISM
This image shows the detector in the Resolve instrument on XRISM. Credits: NASA/XRISM/Caroline Kilbourne

XRISM is a joint mission of JAXA and NASA, with assistance from the European Space Agency. NASA’s involvement includes Canadian Space Agency science participation.

The next part of the blog is going to answer some of the frequently asked questions. So, if you also want to know, let’s start this roller coaster!

What are the European Contributions in XRISM Mission’s Factsheet?

Europe contributes crucial components to XRISM’s Resolve instrument, including loop heat pipes, star trackers, magnetic torques, and geomagnetic aspect sensors. Moreover, the University of Geneva in Switzerland and SRON in the Netherlands have been responsible for developing the filter wheel mechanism and electronics. Furthermore, it encompasses high-voltage power sources and calibration sources. As a result of these significant contributions, ESA will receive an allocation of up to 8% of the total guest observing time for the mission.

The Main Objectives Mission of XRISM Mission:

XRISM’s mission objectives encompass studying the universe using X-ray light, featuring an unparalleled combination of light-collecting potency and energy resolution. This unique capability allows it to differentiate X-rays based on their energies. The mission’s focal points include revealing insights into galaxy cluster dynamics, investigating the chemical composition of the Universe, and examining the movement of matter surrounding accreting supermassive black holes (Active Galactic Nuclei or AGN), along with a wide range of other scientific topics.

Serving as a Collaborative Effort for JAXA, NASA & ESA

Scheduled for a 2023 launch from Japan, XRISM (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) represents a groundbreaking collaborative effort between JAXA, NASA, and ESA. This pioneering mission aims to explore the X-ray sky utilizing state-of-the-art high-resolution spectroscopy and imaging technologies. With its cutting-edge capabilities, XRISM seeks to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos, offering unprecedented insights into the world of X-rays and their celestial sources.

What is the energy range of XRISM?

Resolve is a soft X-ray spectrometer that joins a lightweight soft X-ray telescope with an X-ray calorimeter spectrometer. Additionally, it offers a non-dispersive energy resolution of 5-7 eV in the 0.3-12 keV bandpass and covers a field of view of approximately 3 arcmin’s.

What is the revolving area of the XRISM Mission?

XRISM aims to fulfill this commitment by incorporating a scientifically complementary payload, which includes two identical X-ray mirror assemblies (XMA). Besides this, these X-ray mirror assemblies provide a Half Power Diameter (HPD) Point Spread Function of 1.7 arcmin’s and an effective area of approximately 300 cm2 at 6 keV.

The orion spacecraft mission’s laser communications system arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the Orion spacecraft, which will transport men around the Moon for the first time since the Apollo missions.

NASA Laser Communications Delivery
The O2O payload at Kennedy Space Center undergoing unpacking and examination. Credits: NASA / Isaac Watson

Onion Spacecraft Launching Date & Background

NASA launched the Artemis I mission on November 16, 2022, an uncrewed flight test that pushed the human-rated

Laser Communications for Artemis II
The Benefits of Laser Communications: Efficient, Lighter, Secure, and Flexible.
Credits: NASA / Dave Ryan

Orion spacecraft further into space than any previous mission.

 

The next mission, Artemis II will put all of Orion spaceflight systems to the test and pave the way for future lunar surface missions.

The Artemis II mission will also put new and improved technologies to the test, including laser communication capabilities.

The Orion Artemis II Optical Communications System, or O2O, is Orion’s laser communications terminal.

Sending & Receiving of Data Through Laser Communications 

Laser communications techniques, such as O2O, enable missions to send and receive more data in a single transmission than traditional radio wave systems, which are currently used by the majority of NASA missions. More information implies more discoveries.

Steve Horowitz, O2O project manager said,

“At 260 megabits per second, O2O is capable of sending down 4K high-definition video from the Moon,”

He added

“In addition to video and pictures, O2O will transmit and receive procedures, pictures, flight plans, and be a link between Orion spacecraft and mission control on Earth.”

After collecting data, O2O will transmit it through laser signals to one of two ground stations in Las Cruces, New Mexico, or Table Mountain, California, both of which were chosen for their low cloud coverage.

The quality of photographs and films sent from Orion via O2O will be determined in part by cloud coverage at ground stations.

Optical Infusion Effect | Orion Spacecraft

The O2O laser terminal is part of the optical infusion effort of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN)

NASA's Laser Communications Roadmap
NASA’s Laser Communications Roadmap
Credits: NASA / Dave Ryan

program, which is testing laser communications on numerous missions.

A team of engineers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) created O2O.

This collaboration has resulted in several laser communications missions, including

  • Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) in 2013.
  • Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) in 2021
  • Tera-Byte Infrared Delivery (TBIRD) payload in 2022.

Potential Benefits of Laser Communications Through Orion Spacecraft

The SCaN is demonstrating the benefits of laser communications for missions by testing this technology in several space regimes.

  • The O2O laser terminal underwent multiple stages of environmental testing before being sent to Kennedy to guarantee that the payload can work in the harsh environment of space.
  • O2O laser communications terminals will allow more data to reach Earth and aid scientists in their efforts to perform advanced investigations. Artemis II’s data will help NASA plan future lunar missions and build a long-term presence on the Moon and, eventually, Mars.
Artemis II Moon Mission
The O2O payload in a Kennedy Space Center cleanroom.
Credits: NASA / Isaac Watson

Now, let’s see the capability of Artemis II from different perspectives.

What Artemis II is Supposed to Do?

The approximately 10-day flight will test NASA’s foundational human deep space exploration capabilities. The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, for the first time with astronauts and will pave the way for lunar surface missions, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

What is the Current Status of Artemis II as NASA’S Orion Spacecraft?

Artemis II stands as the second planned endeavor within NASA’s Artemis program and holds the distinction of being the initial crewed mission employing NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

The intended launch, scheduled for November 2024, will rely on the powerful Space Launch System (SLS).

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

For more than four decades, NASA’s Voyager spacecraft have been venturing into the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. Voyager Mission Launched in 1977, the twin spacecraft. The purpose of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 was to explore the outer planets of our solar system and study their atmospheres, rings, and moons. However, their mission didn’t end there. Both Voyager probes continue to send data back to Earth as they travel through interstellar space, becoming the first human-made objects to do so.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2
This infographic highlights the mission’s major milestones, including visiting the four outer planets and exiting the heliosphere, or the protective bubble of magnetic fields and particles created by the Sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Before we go further, let’s dig into the mission with a brief,

Overview:

NASA’s Voyager mission is one of the most remarkable space exploration initiatives to date. Approved in May 1972, this mission has allowed us to gain knowledge about the outer planets that had not existed in all of the preceding histories of astronomy and planetary science. The Voyagers have been working tirelessly for over three decades and continue to provide valuable information about our universe. This article will explore some fascinating facts about the Voyager mission.

You should also know,

What was the cost of the Voyager Mission?

The total cost of the Voyager mission, including launch vehicles, radioactive power sources (RTGs), and DSN tracking support, is 865 million dollars. While this may sound expensive, it’s essential to put it in perspective. On a per-capita basis, the cost is only 8 cents per U.S. resident per year or roughly half the cost of one candy bar each year since project inception. Moreover, the entire cost of Voyager is a fraction of the daily interest on the U.S. national debt.

Effort and Time Devoted:

A total of 11,000 workers were devoted to the Voyager project through the Neptune encounter. This is equivalent to one-third of the effort estimated to complete the great pyramid at Giza to King Cheops. It’s an incredible feat that highlights the dedication and perseverance of the skilled personnel involved in this mission.

Now, we will be discussing the objectives of the mission. 

What are the Objectives of the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM)?

The Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM) aims to push NASA’s exploration of the solar system beyond the outer planets. It seeks to reach the farthest limits of the Sun’s sphere of influence and beyond. The mission is an extension of the initial objective. It aims to study the outer solar system environment and identify the heliopause boundary. Additionally, it seeks to explore the outer limits of the Sun’s magnetic field and study the outward flow of the solar wind.

The VIM is an ongoing mission that continues to provide valuable insights into the outer regions of our solar system. The heliopause boundary separates the solar wind and interstellar medium. If it’s penetrated, measurements can be made. These measurements will be unaffected by the solar wind and will pertain to interstellar fields, particles, and waves.

Now, let’s discuss each spacecraft separately in detail. We will be starting with the,

Voyager 1 – Overview:

Voyager 1, launched by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1977, is the farthest spacecraft from Earth.

The primary mission of Voyager 1 was to fly by Jupiter and Saturn. However, it crossed into interstellar space in August 2012. Voyager 1 still transmits valuable data back to Earth. Voyager 1 and its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, have been in operation for over four decades. This makes them the longest-running spacecraft in history.

Voyager 1 Spacecraft
NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Illustration Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These missions provide unparalleled observations of space, and they have helped scientists understand energy and radiation in space. This data is critical for the future of space exploration, including protecting future missions and astronauts. The Voyager 1 spacecraft weighs 1,592 pounds (721.9 kilograms) and was launched using a Titan IIIE-Centaur rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 5, 1977. NASA and JPL manage the mission design and operation.

Voyager 1 has a copy of the Golden Record on board. The record serves as a message from humanity to the cosmos. It contains greetings in 55 different languages. It also has photographs of people and places on Earth. The record includes music from various cultures. The music includes classical compositions by Beethoven and a rock ‘n’ roll hit “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.

Now, let’s find out the,

What are the objectives of Voyager 1?

The main objective of Voyager 1 was to conduct a flyby of Jupiter and Saturn and to study their moons and rings in detail. Additionally, the spacecraft was tasked with collecting data on the interstellar medium and the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space. 

Voyager 1, a spacecraft, has a golden record on board that contains sounds and images representing humanity. The record includes in case the spacecraft is ever found by extraterrestrial life. The Voyager 1 mission was successful. It exceeded expectations and provided insights into our solar system and beyond. The mission was valuable.

If you are wondering,

How Voyager 1 has achieved these objectives?

To achieve its objectives, Voyager 1 was equipped with a suite of scientific instruments. This allows it to capture high-resolution images of planets and moons, and analyze ultraviolet light. Moreover, it allows measuring the temperature and composition of gases in outer planet atmospheres. The spacecraft also conducted various studies. Voyager 1 studied radio signals emitted by planets. Furthermore, measured the polarization of sunlight reflected by planets. It measured magnetic fields around planets. It also measured charged particles in magnetospheres and the interplanetary medium. Additionally, Voyager 1 detected and analyzed radio and plasma waves in magnetospheres. The Voyager 1 spacecraft had various scientific objectives. One of them was to measure cosmic rays in the interstellar medium. It also studied the atmospheres, ionospheres, and rings of planets and moons. It accomplished this through the use of a Radio Science System.

What achievements did Voyager one have made so far?

Voyager 1’s achievements have been groundbreaking and have paved the way for future space exploration missions. Voyager 1 has achieved many milestones throughout its mission, including being the first spacecraft to cross the heliosphere, the boundary where the influences outside our solar system are stronger than those from our Sun. As a result, it became the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space.

Voyager 1 also made important discoveries about the outer planets during its journey. For example, it discovered a thin ring around Jupiter and two new Jovian moons: Thebe and Metis. At Saturn, Voyager 1 found five new moons and a new ring called the G-ring.

In addition to its planetary discoveries, Voyager 1 carried a suite of scientific instruments that allowed it to study the space environment in great detail. The data returned from these instruments has helped to further our understanding of the solar wind, cosmic rays, and the structure of the heliosphere.

Its legacy as a trailblazing spacecraft continues to inspire scientists and engineers alike.

Now, its time to dig into the,

Voyager 2- Overview:

Voyager 2 has been a groundbreaking mission that has provided us with a wealth of information about our solar system’s outer reaches. It  is one of NASA’s most iconic spacecraft. The spacecraft was launched on August 20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The purpose of spacecraft was built to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment to explore the outer planets of our solar system. Weighing 1,592 pounds (721.9 kilograms), Voyager 2 is similar to its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Voyager 2 Spacecraft
NASA’s Voyager 2 Spacecraft Illustration Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The spacecraft was launched aboard a Titan IIIE-Centaur launch vehicle, also known as TC-7, from Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral. After launch, Voyager 2 began its journey towards Jupiter, where it arrived in 1979. The spacecraft continued to Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, becoming the first and only spacecraft to visit these outer planets. Its successful mission made Voyager 2 the second human-made object to enter interstellar space after its twin, Voyager 1.

One of the key features of Voyager 2 was its scientific instrumentation. The spacecraft carried a suite of scientific instruments designed to study the atmospheres, surfaces, and magnetic fields of the outer planets and the space between them. The data collected by Voyager 2 has greatly expanded our knowledge of the outer solar system and provided invaluable insights into the nature of these distant planets and their moons.

It remains an active spacecraft, and scientists continue to study the data it sent back to Earth, as well as the conditions of interstellar space that it is currently exploring.

What are the objectives of Voyager 2?

The purpose of Voyager 2 was to explore the outer planets of our solar system, which include Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. To achieve this objective, the spacecraft had various scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, magnetometers, and particle detectors. These tools helped in studying the planets, moons, rings, and atmospheres.

The mission also had a secondary objective, which was to study the heliosphere. This area is affected by the solar wind, and Voyager 2’s instruments were used to study the solar wind’s properties, interplanetary magnetic fields, and other outer solar system phenomena.

What are the features of Voyager 2?

The management of Voyager 2n is under JPL. However, NASA designs this space craft with a suite of scientific instruments to study the outer planets and the edge of our solar system. Its instruments included an Imaging Science System (ISS), Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS), Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS), Planetary Radio Astronomy Experiment (PRA), Photopolarimeter (PPS), Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer (MAG), Plasma Spectrometer (PLS), Low-Energy Charged Particles Experiment (LECP), Plasma Waves Experiment (PWS), Cosmic Ray Telescope (CRS), and Radio Science System (RSS). The ISS captured visible and infrared light images, the UVS provided atmospheric composition insights, and the IRIS measured thermal radiation to reveal planet temperatures and compositions. The other instruments measured the properties of plasma, magnetic fields, and cosmic ray fluxes to provide information about the outer solar system and the heliopause boundary.

What achievements have Voyager 2 made so far?

Voyager 2 is a remarkable spacecraft with numerous accomplishments. It is the only spacecraft to have studied all four of the giant planets of our solar system up close. During its mission, Voyager 2 discovered a 14th moon at Jupiter, and at Uranus, it discovered 10 new moons and two new rings. Voyager 2 made history as the first human-made object to fly past Uranus and then by Neptune, where it discovered five moons, four rings, and a “Great Dark Spot.” 

These incredible discoveries would not have been possible without the scientific instruments onboard Voyager 2, such as the Imaging Science System (ISS), Ultraviolet Spectrometer (UVS), and Planetary Radio Astronomy Experiment (PRA), among others. The data returned by Voyager 2 has revolutionized our understanding of the outer solar system and has helped us unravel some of the mysteries of our universe.

Lastly, we will be concluding the whole discussion with a,

Conclusion:

Interstellar Space Exploration
This illustration shows the current positions of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes: far outside the heliosphere, in interstellar space.
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Mission is a testament to human ingenuity, curiosity, and perseverance.

On the whole, Voyager has accomplished bold objectives and made remarkable achievements. It has rewritten the textbooks on our understanding of our solar system and the universe beyond. Voyager launched over four decades ago and is still journeying into interstellar space. It has inspired scientists, engineers, and space enthusiasts to push boundaries. We continue to receive data and insights from Voyager, leading to more discoveries and surprises in the cosmos.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced its upcoming Hera mission. The mission aims to follow up on the success of NASA’s DART mission. On September 26, 2022, the NASA DART team changed the orbit of an asteroid named Dimorphos. They did this using the DART spacecraft through a kinetic impact. This marked a significant milestone in asteroid deflection technology. NASA confirmed that the mission impact changed the asteroid’s motion in space. Debris blasted from the surface of Dimorphos was observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on October 8, 2022. ESA Hera mission aims to measure the impact of the DART mission on Dimorphos, enabling scientists to better understand how to protect Earth from potentially harmful asteroids. Additionally, it will help advocate for more planetary defense missions in the future.

Before we go any further, we should know,

Hera Mission Overview:

The Hera mission has a budget of €6 billion. The launch will be on October 2024 and will use an Ariane 6.4 launcher, with a Falcon 9 launcher as a backup. The spacecraft will perform a deep-space maneuver 2-3 weeks after launch. It will then fly by Mars in March 2025 at an altitude of 5000-8000 km before heading towards Didymos. There is also the possibility of an asteroid flyby during the cruise phase. Upon arrival at Didymos, Hera will also perform a capture sequence consisting of five maneuvers. This is expected to occur in January or early February 2027, with backup opportunities available in 2025 and also 2026. The arrival at Didymos will result in late 2030 or early 2031.

Hera Spacecraft

Five phases:

The Hera mission will consist of five phases after it reaches Didymos.  The first phase is the Early Characterization Phase, which will take six weeks and focus on determining the global shape, mass/gravity, thermal, and dynamical properties of both asteroids. The next phase is the Payload Deployment Phase, which will center on releasing the two CubeSats and supporting their early operations.

Moreover, the Detailed Characterization Phase comes first and lasts four weeks. In this phase, Hera and its CubeSats will map asteroids at a meter-scale and determine their thermal, spectral, and interior properties through measurements.

The fourth phase is the Close Observation Phase, which lasts six weeks. This phase allows for high-resolution investigations of a large fraction of the surface area of Dimorphos, including the DART impact crater. This will be accomplished through 12 close flybys, with a pericenter distance of 4 km. The final phase is the Experimental Phase, which lasts six weeks. This phase will demonstrate innovative navigation techniques to achieve flybys at lower altitudes, down to 1 km or less. The goal is to enhance the resolution of Dimorphos’ morphological, spectral, and thermal properties, specifically in selected targets such as the DART impact crater, to the level of decimeters.

The Hera spacecraft will land on Didymos, providing high-resolution data on the primary in the process, marking the end of the mission.

Hera Phases

Now, let’s find out the,

What are the objectives of the Hera mission?

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Safety Program is developing the Hera mission, scheduled for launch in October 2024, with the primary goal of exploring a binary asteroid starting in December 2026, as part of a planetary defense mission. The Hera mission will provide valuable insights into asteroid science. Moreover, it will help in improving our understanding of the asteroid impact threat mitigation, mining, and scientific purposes. It aims to investigate the subsurface and also interior properties of the binary asteroid and measure the outcome of a kinetic impactor test, which will provide valuable information for asteroid impact threat mitigation, mining, and scientific purposes. The Hera mission is based on the previous Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) concept and will contribute substantially to asteroid science.

Hera will characterize the first binary near-Earth asteroid. It will constrain the surface structure and regolith mobility on both Didymos and Dimorphos. This mission offers a unique opportunity to study the surface geophysics of two objects of different sizes and surface gravity. Regarding the deflection demonstration, Hera has several goals. These include determining Dimorphos’ mass to assess the momentum transfer efficiency from DART’s impact. It also involves studying the resulting crater to enhance our knowledge of the cratering mechanism. Additionally, Hera will examine both the exterior and interior of Dimorphos to enable scaling of the momentum transfer efficiency to other asteroids.

So, now let’s dig into the construction and features of,

Hera Spacecraft:

The Hera spacecraft is set to be equipped with advanced technology that will enable it to navigate safely through the double-asteroid system. Moreover, the spacecraft will utilize automated guidance, navigation, and control systems, which function like self-driving cars. The body of the spacecraft will be desk-sized and house a variety of instruments, including an optical Asteroid Framing Camera. Additionally, it will have thermal and spectral imagers, as well as a laser altimeter that will aid in surface mapping.

The Hera spacecraft consists of three spacecraft, which includes two CubeSats that are as small as shoeboxes, and will be transported near Dimorphos. One of the CubeSats, called Juventas, will carry out an extraordinary radar investigation of the asteroid’s internal structure. Juventas will also have instruments like a gravimeter and an accelerometer to measure the asteroid’s weak gravitational pull and its response to outside forces. Milani, the second CubeSat, will perform near-infrared spectral imaging and collect dust samples from asteroids. Through an innovative inter-satellite link system, the CubeSat duo will maintain communication with both their Hera mother craft and each other. This arrangement will provide valuable insights into managing multiple spacecraft in the unusual near-weightless environment. Ultimately, the CubeSats will land on Dimorphos.

Hera spacecraft
An illustration of ESA’s proposed Hera spacecraft scanning the moon of the asteroid Didymos with a lidar instrument. Credit: ESA

The Hera mission will provide significant knowledge about the makeup and arrangement of the binary asteroid system. With these advanced features, scientists hope to better understand how to defend against potentially hazardous asteroids.

So let’s sum up the whole mission in a short,

Conclusion:

On the whole, ESA’s Hera mission is a crucial step in better understanding how to protect Earth from potentially harmful asteroids. In October 2024, the mission will explore a binary asteroid and measure the impact of NASA’s DART mission. The spacecraft’s advanced technology will allow scientists to study the binary asteroid’s subsurface and interior properties. Additionally, the mission will perform the first comprehensive characterization of a binary near-Earth asteroid, which will contribute substantially to asteroid science.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

The “Juice mission” (Jupiter Icy moons Explorer) is an exciting and ambitious project by the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore Jupiter and its three icy moons – Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto – in depth. With a launch date set for April 13, 2023, the mission aims to explore these moons and gain insights into their composition, geology, and potential habitability. The “Juice mission” will help us unlock new insights about our solar system and the potential for life beyond Earth by utilizing advanced technologies and scientific instrumentation. 

First, let’s find out,

What is the Juice Mission?

The “Juice mission” is an ambitious project by the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore Jupiter and three of its icy moons – Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto – in depth. This mission aims to gather critical information about the composition and potential habitability of these celestial bodies. It is considered a groundbreaking effort because it will utilize advanced technologies and scientific instrumentation to unlock new insights about our solar system. Ultimately, the “Juice mission” will help us better understand the potential for life beyond Earth.

An Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport located in Kourou, French Guiana, will be utilized to launch this mission. Once launched, JUICE will embark on a 7 to 8-year journey to reach Jupiter. The spacecraft will utilize Earth and Venus gravity assists along the way. Upon arrival in 2031, JUICE will go into orbit around Jupiter. It will optimize its orbit using flybys of Ganymede and Callisto, as well as flybys of Europa.

JUICE spacecraft
Artist’s concept of JUICE spacecraft at Jupiter. Image Credit: ESA

The spacecraft will first be entered into a highly elliptical orbit around Ganymede. This orbit will gradually evolve into a 5000 km circular orbit. After that, JUICE will lower its orbit to 500 km and then to 200 km. It will conduct mapping and other investigations at each altitude. The nominal mission is set to last for approximately 3 years. However, there is a possibility of an extension to the mission of 200 or more days. Regardless, the mission will end with an impact on the surface of Ganymede.

The launch of this mission has raised hundreds of questions. People are wondering why the European Space Agency needs to send another spacecraft if they have already launched such spacecraft in space. However, the following question might answer a few questions,

What are the objectives of the JUICE Mission?

The “Juice mission” aims to explore Jupiter and three of its icy moons – Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto – to gain insights into the evolution and habitability of icy worlds around Jupiter. The mission takes advantage of the findings from earlier expeditions such as Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, and Cassini, which allowed us to examine the largest moons of the giant planets more closely. Once considered lifeless, frigid collections of ice and stone, these moons are now known to be planet-like bodies with fascinating pasts.

The exploration of icy moons has expanded our scope in the search for life in the Universe. Scientists used to focus their search for extraterrestrial life on planets with Earth-like environments, such as Mars, but recent discoveries suggest that icy moons may also have the potential to support life, as they could contain liquid water oceans beneath their icy crusts. The question remains whether life could exist in the seabeds of these distant moons, similar to life on Earth around hydrothermal vents.

This is where the “Juice mission” comes in. With its advanced technologies and scientific instrumentation, Juice will explore the icy moons of Jupiter and gather critical information about their composition, geology, and potential habitability. By studying the subsurface oceans, Juice will help us unlock new insights into the conditions necessary for life to exist beyond Earth.

Juice’s data may also be useful for systems around Jupiter-like exoplanets, expanding our search for life in the Universe. In summary, the Juice mission is the European Space Agency’s boldest mission to date, with the potential to greatly enhance our understanding of our solar system and the potential for life beyond Earth.

Now you probably might be wondering,

How will the JUICE spacecraft achieve its objectives?

JUICE is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2031. This will mark the beginning of its ambitious mission, which is to study Jupiter’s icy moons in detail. The solar-powered spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for 2.5 years. It will also make close flybys of the planet’s three largest moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Thanks to the spacecraft’s ability to fly within 200 to 1,000 kilometers (about 120 to 620 miles) of the moons, close studies will be possible. This will allow for unprecedented detail in the study of these moons.

JUICE Mission
JUICE Mission Milestones. Image Credit: ESA

In the first phase of the mission, JUICE will fly by Europa twice and Ganymede and Callisto 12 times each. During the last phase of its mission, JUICE will enter the orbit of Ganymede. This will make history, as it will be the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than Earth’s. JUICE weighs 4,800 kilograms (about 10,600 pounds). This means that it requires nearly 3,000 kilograms (roughly 6,600 pounds) of fuel to execute the complex trajectories necessary for its mission. JUICE’s 10 cutting-edge instruments weigh only 104 kilograms (230 pounds) thanks to the European Space Agency’s past missions.

Hopefully, this mission will also be a great success. However, we got some insights for you on,

How will JUICE study the Galilean moons?

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or JUICE, is designed to study the icy moons of Jupiter in unprecedented detail. During its journey, JUICE will only conduct two flybys of Europa, approaching as close as 250 miles (400 kilometers) to the moon’s icy terrain on each of these passes. This is because Europa orbits Jupiter at a distance of 417,000 miles (671,000 km), and any spacecraft that stays that close to the planet would survive only a few months, at best, due to Jupiter’s extreme size and powerful magnetic field.

Similarly, JUICE will perform 21 flybys of Callisto, getting as close as 120 miles (200 km) from its surface. Callisto and Europa are two distinct worlds with noticeable differences. Callisto has a surface covered with numerous craters, and scientists believe it is the oldest surface in the solar system. Currently, it is not clear whether Callisto contains a subsurface ocean, which is present in Europa and Ganymede. Fortunately, JUICE will provide insight into this question.

 

JUICE will perform 12 flybys of Ganymede and approach as near as 250 miles to the moon, which is magnetically active, before finally achieving an orbit around it. Ganymede, 665,000 miles (1.07 million km) from Jupiter, is less likely than Europa to support life. JUICE may discover something unexpected. JUICE will orbit Jupiter for 2.5 years. It will often be within 200 to 1,000 kilometers (120 to 620 miles) of the icy moons. During the mission’s final phase, JUICE will closely study Ganymede for a minimum of nine months. The spacecraft will orbit a moon other than ours for the first time. JUICE’s 10 state-of-the-art instruments will provide valuable data on these distant moons’ composition, geology, and habitability.

Let’s conclude this discussion,

Conclusion:

On the whole, the ESA’s Juice mission is expected to bring valuable information about Jupiter’s moon. The spacecraft is ready to study Jupiter’s icy moons.  This groundbreaking project will unlock new insights into our solar system and the potential of life beyond Earth. The Juice spacecraft will utilize advanced technologies and will enter into orbit around Jupiter in 2031. It will surely provide unprecedented detail to make close studies possible. JUICE will help us understand the evolution and habitability of icy worlds around Jupiter and expand our scope in the search for life in the Universe. Cosmologists are counting on JUICE to bring more valuable insights from the mission.

 

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

On January 28, 1986, a catastrophic event occurred that shocked the world and forever changed the future of space exploration. At 11:39:13 EST (16:39:13 UTC), the Space Shuttle Challenger, with its crew of seven aboard, broke apart just 73 seconds into its flight, losing all crew members. The Challenger disaster occurred off the coast of Florida, in the Atlantic Ocean, and was caused by the failure of an O-ring seal in the right Solid Rocket Booster (SRB), due to cold weather and wind shears. The impact of this tragedy was profound, leading to the cancellation of the Teacher in Space Project and subsequent civilian shuttle spaceflights, as well as the grounding of the entire Shuttle fleet for the implementation of new safety measures.

Let’s find out,

Construction and Features:

Challenger disaster
Credit: NASA

NASA’s second Space Shuttle orbiter, Challenger (OV-099), was a Structural Test Item (STA-099). The decision to build STA-099 was made due to the low production rate of the Orbiters, which made it necessary to have a prototype vehicle that could be converted into a flight vehicle later on. The purpose of the STA-099 was to undergo structural testing to validate computational models and to show compliance with the required 1.4 factor of safety. The testing was performed to a safety factor of 1.2 times the design limit loads to prevent damage during structural testing.

NASA initially planned to convert the prototype orbiter, Enterprise (OV-101), which was used for flight testing, as the second operational orbiter. But, design changes made during the construction of the first orbiter, Columbia (OV-102), would have required considerable rework. Although STA-099’s qualification testing averted damage, NASA found that reconstructing STA-099 as OV-099 would be less expensive than refitting Enterprise.

Challenger had some design modifications as compared to its predecessor, Columbia. Most of the tiles on the payload bay doors, top wing surface, and rear fuselage surface were replaced with DuPont white Nomex felt insulation, resulting in a Thermal Protection System with fewer tiles. This change allowed Challenger to carry a more payload of 2,500 lb (1,100 kg) than Columbia. Challenger was the first orbiter to carry a head-up display system.  Scientists used the system during the descent phase of a mission. The head-up display supplied crucial information to the crew during the landing.

Moreover, it comes about

Flights and Modifications:

Challenger made its first flight on April 4, 1983, and quickly became the primary orbiter in NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet, flying more missions per year than Columbia. In fact, between 1983 and 1984, Challenger flew on 85% of all Space Shuttle missions. Challenger, Discovery, and other Space Shuttles were in heavy use during the early 1980s. It flew three missions a year from 1983 to 1985. Challenger and Discovery underwent modifications at Kennedy Space Center. The modifications allowed them to carry the Centaur-G upper stage in their payload bays. Challenger’s next mission, had STS-51-L been successful, was to deploy the Ulysses probe with the Centaur. The Ulysses probe would have studied the polar regions of the Sun.

Challenger achieved many milestones during its spaceflight career. The milestones included being the first for many groups, such as the first American woman, African-American, and Canadian in space. Challenger also completed three Spacelab missions and performed the Space Shuttle’s first night launch and landing. However, Challenger is most remembered for the tragic loss of the orbiter and its seven-member crew. The loss occurred on January 28, 1986, during mission STS-51-L.  The debris of the vessel was collected and stored in decommissioned missile silos at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Occasionally, different pieces of debris from the orbiter wash up on the Florida coast and are transported to the silos for storage. It’s worth noting that Challenger was the only Space Shuttle that never wore the NASA “meatball” logo, due to its early loss.

Here is to discuss,

What was the disaster Of Challenger?

Space Shuttle Challenger
Credit: NASA

Tragically, Challenger met its demise during its tenth mission, STS-51-L, on January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle was destroyed just 73 seconds into the flight, at an altitude of approximately 46,000 feet. The cause of the Challenger disaster was later determined to be an O-ring seal failure on the right solid rocket booster (SRB). The O-rings failed to seal properly due to various factors, including cold weather. A plume of flame was able to escape from the SRB due to the failed O-ring seal.

The escaping flame caused the structural failure of the external fuel tank (ET) and the SRB. The structural failure of the ET and SRB caused the vehicle to break apart. The break-up of the vehicle occurred under the stress of aerodynamic loads. The loss of the seven crew members on board was a tragic outcome of the disaster. The Challenger disaster was a significant setback for the Space Shuttle program. They grounded the Space Shuttle fleet for nearly three years as a result of the tragedy.

When it comes about,

The views of Janet Petro

Janet Petro, who is the Kennedy Space Center Director, says: “Challenger and her crew live on in the hearts and memories of both NASA and the nation,” Moreover, she added: “Today, as we turn our sights again toward the Moon and Mars, we see that the same love of exploration that drove the Challenger crew is still inspiring the astronauts of today’s Artemis Generation, calling them to build on the legacy of knowledge and discovery for the benefit of all humanity.”

Lastly,

When did the world see Challenger’s sad loss?

January 28, 1986, the world saw the Challenger’s sad loss. President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to investigate the cause of the disaster. The commission was tasked with developing corrective measures. Former secretary of state William Rogers led the commission. The commission included notable figures such as former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot Chuck Yeager.

The investigation found an “O-ring” seal failed in one of the two solid-fuel rockets. The O-ring was to be elastic and pliable. The O-ring did not respond as expected due to the cold temperature at launch time. The failure of the O-ring caused a breach in the seal. Hot gases escaped through the breach and damaged critical parts of the space shuttle. The damage caused by the hot gases led to the catastrophic failure of the Challenger.

As a result of the investigation, NASA suspended all manned spaceflights for more than two years while it redesigned and improved various features of the space shuttle. The commission’s recommendations led to changes in NASA’s safety protocols and a renewed focus on safety in the space program. The lessons learned from the Challenger disaster continue to inform NASA’s approach to space exploration today.

To sum it up:

Bill Nelson, NASA’s Administrator, says: “While it has been nearly 37 years since seven daring and brave explorers lost their lives aboard Challenger, this tragedy will forever be seared in our country’s collective memory. For millions around the globe, myself included, Jan. 28, 1986, still feels like yesterday,” Moreover, he says: “This discovery allows us to pause once again, to uplift the legacies of the seven pioneers we lost, and to reflect on how this tragedy changed us. At NASA, the core value of safety is – and must forever remain – our top priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before.”

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

Researchers used satellite measurements to determine CO2 emissions by country and carbon uptake at the national level. Using a NASA satellite that looks at Earth, CO2 emissions in more than 100 countries worldwide have been tracked. This project provides information on the amount of carbon dioxide released by certain countries. It also measures the carbon dioxide absorbed by natural “sinks” like forests. Accordingly, the results can demonstrate the usefulness of space-based technologies in helping countries meet their climate goals. Hence, these technologies can provide valuable information about the Earth’s climate.

Now the point is that,

What is the importance of NASA’s OCO-2?

The launch of the OCO-2 satellite was in 2014. Three camera-like spectrometers map natural and human-made carbon dioxide levels. So, these spectrometers detect carbon dioxide’s distinctive spectra. Afterward,  measuring how much sunlight a column of air absorbs from the gas, they indirectly estimate the gas.

Moreover, over 60 scientists worldwide took part in an international study that used data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission and observations from the ground to figure out how much carbon dioxide in the air will change from 2015 to 2020. Anyhow, Researchers could estimate how much carbon dioxide was released and taken in by using this measurement-based or “top-down” method.

Even though the OCO-2 mission wasn’t meant to figure out how much each nation emitted, the study results are helpful because the first Global Stock take, which will look at how well the world is doing in meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, is set for 2023.  All in all the study looked at information on CO2 emissions by country.

NASA Earth Science Division Director Karen St. Germain says: “NASA is focused on delivering Earth science data that addresses real- climate challenges – like helping governments around the world measure the impact of their carbon mitigation efforts,” Moreover, she said: “This is one example of how NASA is developing and enhancing efforts to measure carbon emissions in a way that meets user needs.”

Altogether, here arises the question,

How does bottom-up and top-down approach play a role in measuring carbon emissions?

In order to measure carbon emissions, the conventional approach involves calculating the amount of carbon dioxide released in various sectors, including transportation and agriculture this method, called “bottom-up,” is significant for keeping track of efforts to reduce emissions. But making these carbon inventories takes a lot of time and requires expertise and knowledge of the activities involved.

The study’s authors suggest a “top-down” approach that builds a database of emissions and removals to deal with this problem. This method could benefit countries that need more money to make inventories. The authors’ research includes information from over 50 countries that have not reported their emissions in the last ten years.

So here is the point to know that,

How do ecological changes and fossil fuels lead to the emission of carbon dioxide?

Tracking fossil fuel emissions and carbon in ecosystems, including trees, bushes, and soils, provides a unique perspective. Hence, this information is beneficial for keeping track of changes in carbon dioxide levels caused by changes in land cover. In addition, deforestation is the leading cause of carbon emissions in the Global South. Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania form the Global South. In some regions, land management and reforestation have reduced atmospheric carbon. Therefore, the effects of deforestation on global carbon emissions vary by region.

The authors say that traditional “bottom-up” methods are essential for figuring out how much carbon dioxide an ecosystem puts out and how much it takes in. But these methods can be brutal when there needs to be more data or the overall effects of logging must be fully understood.

Philippe Ciais, study author and research director of France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, says: “Our top-down estimates provide an independent estimate of these emissions and removals, so although they cannot replace the detailed process understanding of traditional bottom-up methods, we can check both approaches for consistency,”

After all, we should know that,

Why is it critical to monitor the carbon balance of unmanaged ecosystems and identify any changes in carbon uptake?

The study presents a multifaceted understanding of the movement of carbon across Earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere.

In addition to the human activities included in national inventories, unmanaged ecosystems can absorb carbon from the atmosphere. This can help mitigate the effects of global warming, particularly in tropical and boreal forests where human activity is minimal.

Australian university professor and research author Noel Cressie says: “National inventories are intended to track how management policies impact emissions and removals of CO2,” Moreover, he says: “However, the atmosphere doesn’t care whether CO2 is being emitted from deforestation in the Amazon or wildfires in the Canadian Arctic. Both processes will increase the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and drive climate change. Therefore, it is critical to monitor the carbon balance of unmanaged ecosystems and identify any changes in carbon uptake.”

The researchers concluded that their pilot experiment has room for improvement in revealing trends in national emissions.

NASA scientist and lead author Brendan Byrne works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, says about CO2 emissions by country: “Sustained, high-quality observations are critical for these top-down estimates,” Moreover, he says: “Continued observations from OCO-2 and surface sites will allow us to track how these emissions and removals change as the Paris Agreement is implemented. So, future international missions that provide an expanded mapping of CO2 concentrations across the globe will allow us to refine these top-down estimates and give more precise estimates of countries’ emissions and removals.”

So, here is

List of the countries along with the annual emission of carbon dioxide:

# Country CO2 Emissions
(tons, 2016)
1 Year
Change
Population
(2016)
Per
capita
Share
of
world
1 China 10,432,751,400 -0.28% 1,414,049,351 7.38 29.18%
2 United States 5,011,686,600 -2.01% 323,015,995 15.52 14.02%
3 India 2,533,638,100 4.71% 1,324,517,249 1.91 7.09%
4 Russia 1,661,899,300 -2.13% 145,275,383 11.44 4.65%
5 Japan 1,239,592,060 -1.21% 127,763,265 9.7 3.47%
6 Germany 775,752,190 1.28% 82,193,768 9.44 2.17%
7 Canada 675,918,610 -1.00% 36,382,944 18.58 1.89%
8 Iran 642,560,030 2.22% 79,563,989 8.08 1.80%
9 South Korea 604,043,830 0.45% 50,983,457 11.85 1.69%
10 Indonesia 530,035,650 6.41% 261,556,381 2.03 1.48%
11 Saudi Arabia 517,079,407 0.92% 32,443,447 15.94 1.45%
12 Brazil 462,994,920 -6.08% 206,163,053 2.25 1.29%
13 Mexico 441,412,750 -2.13% 123,333,376 3.58 1.23%
14 Australia 414,988,700 -0.98% 24,262,712 17.1 1.16%
15 South Africa 390,557,850 -0.49% 56,207,646 6.95 1.09%
16 Turkey 368,122,740 5.25% 79,827,871 4.61 1.03%
17 United Kingdom 367,860,350 -6.38% 66,297,944 5.55 1.03%
18 Italy 358,139,550 0.84% 60,663,060 5.9 1.00%
19 France 331,533,320 2.11% 64,667,596 5.13 0.93%
20 Poland 296,659,670 2.67% 37,989,220 7.81 0.83%
21 Taiwan 276,724,868 1.91% 23,618,200 11.72 0.77%
22 Thailand 271,040,160 1.55% 68,971,308 3.93 0.76%
23 Malaysia 266,251,542 6.54% 30,684,654 8.68 0.74%
24 Spain 251,892,320 -3.12% 46,634,140 5.4 0.70%
25 Ukraine 233,220,080 8.03% 44,713,702 5.22 0.65%
26 Kazakhstan 231,919,540 1.64% 17,830,901 13.01 0.65%
27 Egypt 219,377,350 4.72% 94,447,073 2.32 0.61%
28 United Arab Emirates 218,788,684 4.43% 9,360,980 23.37 0.61%
29 Vietnam 206,042,140 0.09% 93,640,422 2.2 0.58%
30 Argentina 200,708,270 0.16% 43,508,460 4.61 0.56%
31 Pakistan 178,013,820 9.13% 203,631,353 0.87 0.50%
32 Venezuela 175,884,256 -1.90% 29,851,255 5.89 0.49%
33 Netherlands 163,419,285 1.63% 16,981,295 9.62 0.46%
34 Iraq 162,646,160 1.22% 36,610,632 4.44 0.45%
35 Algeria 156,220,560 0.17% 40,551,392 3.85 0.44%
36 Philippines 126,922,662 12.37% 103,663,816 1.22 0.35%
37 Czech Republic (Czechia) 111,825,428 1.39% 10,618,857 10.53 0.31%
38 Uzbekistan 109,347,340 1.60% 31,441,751 3.48 0.31%
39 Kuwait 101,492,225 1.36% 3,956,875 25.65 0.28%
40 Qatar 98,990,085 1.79% 2,654,374 37.29 0.28%
41 Belgium 94,722,813 1.53% 11,354,420 8.34 0.26%
42 Oman 87,835,773 2.09% 4,479,219 19.61 0.25%
43 Nigeria 82,634,214 0.70% 185,960,241 0.44 0.23%
44 Chile 81,258,525 5.33% 18,209,068 4.46 0.23%
45 Turkmenistan 79,279,216 0.63% 5,662,368 14 0.22%
46 Romania 78,770,824 1.69% 19,796,285 3.98 0.22%
47 Colombia 77,667,594 -0.84% 48,175,052 1.61 0.22%
48 Bangladesh 74,476,230 4.50% 157,977,153 0.47 0.21%
49 Austria 73,764,112 1.54% 8,747,301 8.43 0.21%
50 Greece 67,840,662 -3.47% 10,615,185 6.39 0.19%
51 Israel 65,201,588 -0.38% 8,108,985 8.04 0.18%
52 Belarus 62,655,669 4.90% 9,445,643 6.63 0.18%
53 North Korea 58,708,734 19.49% 25,307,665 2.32 0.16%
54 Morocco 57,694,464 0.54% 35,126,283 1.64 0.16%
55 Peru 57,692,879 8.16% 30,926,032 1.87 0.16%
56 Libya 52,696,075 1.52% 6,492,162 8.12 0.15%
57 Finland 51,183,960 3.62% 5,497,713 9.31 0.14%
58 Hungary 51,018,899 2.16% 9,752,975 5.23 0.14%
59 Bulgaria 50,872,910 -6.00% 7,151,953 7.11 0.14%
60 Portugal 50,142,844 -2.36% 10,325,538 4.86 0.14%
61 Singapore 48,381,759 2.56% 5,653,634 8.56 0.14%
62 Hong Kong 47,066,386 1.23% 7,243,542 6.5 0.13%
63 Sweden 44,694,415 4.33% 9,836,007 4.54 0.13%
64 Norway 43,456,012 0.85% 5,250,949 8.28 0.12%
65 Serbia 41,168,059 2.27% 8,853,963 4.65 0.12%
66 Ecuador 40,065,690 -4.85% 16,491,116 2.43 0.11%
67 Switzerland 39,666,930 -2.30% 8,379,917 4.73 0.11%
68 Ireland 39,086,565 5.09% 4,695,779 8.32 0.11%
69 Syria 38,054,696 1.78% 17,465,575 2.18 0.11%
70 Denmark 38,007,645 5.23% 5,711,349 6.65 0.11%
71 Slovakia 36,817,242 1.74% 5,442,003 6.77 0.10%
72 Trinidad and Tobago 34,974,263 -5.92% 1,377,560 25.39 0.10%
73 Azerbaijan 33,614,235 -0.41% 9,736,043 3.45 0.09%
74 New Zealand 33,276,202 -0.14% 4,659,265 7.14 0.09%
75 Angola 30,566,933 3.13% 28,842,489 1.06 0.09%
76 Cuba 30,389,116 1.65% 11,335,104 2.68 0.08%
77 Tunisia 29,395,965 0.82% 11,303,945 2.6 0.08%
78 Bosnia and Herzegovina 25,674,120 0.86% 3,386,266 7.58 0.07%
79 Yemen 25,647,990 1.62% 27,168,208 0.94 0.07%
80 Bahrain 24,458,384 2.50% 1,425,792 17.15 0.07%
81 Dominican Republic 23,466,740 2.88% 10,397,741 2.26 0.07%
82 Jordan 22,772,370 1.83% 9,554,286 2.38 0.06%
83 Estonia 22,402,414 1.01% 1,316,510 17.02 0.06%
84 Lebanon 21,863,288 1.95% 6,714,281 3.26 0.06%
85 Bolivia 19,463,728 2.03% 11,031,814 1.76 0.05%
86 Croatia 19,408,194 3.02% 4,208,602 4.61 0.05%
87 Mongolia 18,574,260 18.09% 3,056,364 6.08 0.05%
88 Guatemala 18,539,316 2.42% 16,583,076 1.12 0.05%
89 Sri Lanka 18,454,691 8.55% 21,021,171 0.88 0.05%
90 Myanmar 16,701,776 5.61% 53,045,201 0.31 0.05%
91 Kenya 16,334,919 3.60% 49,051,534 0.33 0.05%
92 Montenegro 16,249,039 2.27% 627,264 25.9 0.05%
93 Slovenia 14,722,601 2.35% 2,074,210 7.1 0.04%
94 Ghana 14,469,986 3.54% 28,481,945 0.51 0.04%
95 Lithuania 13,685,264 2.66% 2,889,557 4.74 0.04%
96 Sudan 13,294,106 4.18% 39,847,439 0.33 0.04%
97 Panama 11,599,764 2.37% 4,037,078 2.87 0.03%
98 Ethiopia 10,438,855 4.03% 103,603,462 0.1 0.03%
99 Luxembourg 10,144,632 3.45% 579,264 17.51 0.03%
100 Zimbabwe 10,062,628 -4.17% 14,030,331 0.72 0.03%

 

Published by: Sky Headlines

The Milky Way has been a subject of fascination and wonder for humans for decades. This magnificent spiral galaxy is our home in the universe and also contains billions of stars and countless mysteries waiting to be unraveled. For many years, astronomers struggled to understand the galaxy’s structure, evolution, and history due to the lack of precise data on its stars. But now, thanks to advancements in technology and space exploration, we now have a better understanding of our galaxy’s structure and evolution. One such breakthrough is the Gaia mission.

Launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2013, the Gaia mission aims to chart the positions, distances, and also motions of a billion stars in the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies. Gaia has an advanced telescope and imaging sensors. These have allowed it to gather an unprecedented amount of data. This data has revolutionized our understanding of the Milky Way’s past, present, and future.

What is the Gaia Mission?

The Gaia mission is a space observatory designed to measure the positions, distances, and motions of more than one billion stars in the Milky Way. Moreveor, The spacecraft operates at the second Lagrange point (L2) of the Sun-Earth system, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Furthermore, Gaia uses two telescopes to observe the stars and collect data on their positions, brightness, and spectra.

Furhtermore, Gaia has two telescopes with focal plane arrays that scan the sky simultaneously. The spacecraft spins slowly to cover a larger area of the sky, and it takes about six months for Gaia to complete one full scan.

What has Gaia revealed about the Milky Way?

The Gaia mission has provided unprecedented insights into the Milky Way’s structure. Moreover, The Gaia mission has also shed light on the Milky Way’s evolution over time. Here are some of the key findings:

The Milky Way is old:

Gaia data suggests that the Milky Way is about 13.6 billion years old, roughly the same age as the universe.

The Milky Way grew by accretion:

Gaia data supports the idea that the Milky Way grew by accreting smaller galaxies over time. Moreover, Gaia has detected the remnants of several past collisions with smaller galaxies, including the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy.

The Milky Way’s star formation history:

Gaia data has also allowed astronomers to study the Milky Way’s star formation history in unprecedented detail. The data shows that the galaxy experienced bursts of star formation triggered by collisions with smaller galaxies.

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy:

Gaia data confirms that our galaxy has a central bar-shaped structure, surrounded by spiral arms that extend outward.

The Milky Way’s disk is warped:

Gaia data also shows that the Milky Way’s disk is not flat but warped, likely due to interactions with nearby galaxies.

The Milky Way’s halo is inhomogeneous:

Gaia data reveals that the Milky Way’s halo, a roughly spherical region surrounding the galaxy, has a lumpy and uneven distribution of stars.

The Milky Way’s Formation and Evolution:

One of the primary goals of the Gaia mission is to trace the history of the Milky Way from its birth to the present day. Moreover, by measuring the positions and velocities of stars across the galaxy, Gaia has provided astronomers with a comprehensive 3D map of the Milky Way’s structure and dynamics.

The data also reveals that the Milky Way’s formation began with the collapse of clouds of gas and dust about 13.6 billion years ago. The first stars emerged from these clouds and formed the globular clusters we see today. Over time, the galaxy grew larger. This happened as smaller galaxies merged with it. These mergers triggered periods of intense star formation and shaped the structure of the galaxy.

Gaia has identified several “streams” of stars that were torn from smaller galaxies during their mergers with the Milky Way. Astronomers can study the colors and ages of these stars to reconstruct the history of these galactic mergers. This process provides insights into the formation and evolution of the Milky Way.

The Dark Matter Mystery:

The Gaia mission has also shed light on the mysterious substance known as dark matter, which makes up around 85% of the universe’s mass but cannot be directly observed. Dark matter exerts a gravitational force on stars and galaxies, and Gaia’s precise measurements of their motions have allowed astronomers to map the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way.

The data suggests that the Milky Way’s dark matter halo is not a simple spherical shape, as previously believed, but is instead elongated and twisted. This finding challenges our current understanding of dark matter and raises new questions about its nature and properties.

Galactic Archaeology:

Another exciting field of research enabled by the Gaia mission is galactic archaeology. By studying the ages and compositions of stars across the galaxy, astronomers can trace the Milky Way’s history and evolution. Gaia has identified a group of stars that are moving in the opposite direction to the rest of the galaxy. This discovery indicates that these stars may have come from a smaller, merging galaxy.

Gaia has also revealed that the Milky Way’s spiral arms are not static structures, but rather dynamic and constantly changing. This discovery suggests that the spiral arms may be the result of galactic mergers or interactions with neighboring galaxies.

How has the Gaia mission impacted astronomy?

The Gaia mission has had a significant impact on astronomy, providing a wealth of data for researchers to study. Here are some of the ways that Gaia has influenced astronomy:

Improved understanding of the Milky Way:

Gaia has also provided unprecedented insights into the structure and evolution of the Milky Way. This has advanced our understanding of our home galaxy.

New insights into star formation:

Gaia’s data on star formation has allowed astronomers to study the birth and evolution of stars in greater detail.

Insights into the dark matter:

Gaia has also contributed to our understanding of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe. Gaia data has helped astronomers map the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way.

Long story short:

The Gaia mission has provided a wealth of data that has allowed astronomers to study the Milky Way in unprecedented detail. Thanks to Gaia, we now have a better understanding of our home galaxy’s structure, evolution, and star formation history. The mission has also had a significant impact on astronomy, providing insights into dark matter and other mysteries of the universe. As the mission continues, we can expect even more groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.

 

Published by: Sky Headlines