A Sunflower In Space.

Yesterday I told you about a new telescope design and hinted at an ongoing project for exoplanet discovery.

Space sunflower may help snap pictures of planets

A spacecraft that looks like a giant sunflower might one day be used to acquire images of Earth-like rocky planets around nearby stars. The prototype deployable structure, called a starshade, is being developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The hunt is on for planets that resemble Earth in size, composition and temperature. Rocky planets with just the right temperature for liquid water—not too hot, not too cold—could be possible abodes for life outside our solar system. NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered hundreds of planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets, some of which are a bit larger than Earth and lie in this comfortable “Goldilocks” zone.

Researchers generally think it’s only a matter of time before we find perfect twins of Earth. The next step would be to image and characterize their spectra, or , which provide clear clues about whether those worlds could support life. The starshade is designed to help take those pictures of planets by blocking out the overwhelmingly bright light of their stars. Simply put, the starshade is analogous to holding your hand up to the sun to block it while taking a picture of somebody.

The proposed starshade could launch together with a telescope. Once in space, it would separate from the rocket and telescope, unfurl its petals, then move into position to block the light of stars.

 

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

New Space Telescope Concept.

A new orbiting telescope concept developed at Colorado University at Boulder would have hundreds of times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

New space telescope concept could image objects at far higher resolution than Hubble

Professor Webster Cash from CU said the instrument package would consist of an orbiting space telescope with an opaque disk in front of it that could be up to a half mile across.

Cash also says that diffracted light waves from a target star or other space object would bend around the edges of the disk and converge in a central point. That light would then be fed into the orbiting telescope to provide high-resolution images, he said.

The new telescope, called the Aragoscope, was named after French scientist Francois Arago who first detected diffracted light waves around a disk.

The Aragoscope could allow scientists to image space objects like black hole “event horizons” and plasma swaps between stars. The telescope could also point toward Earth and image objects as small as a rabbit.  Although Professor Cash says that this would be useful to hunt for lost campers in the mountains, it also has potential malevolent uses.

Cash has won multiple NASA grants for other concepts, like a concept of a telescope and a giant, daisy-shaped “starshade” that would block light from a parent star and let light from its planets to leak around the edges, allowing the team to image them.  I saw part of this at the JPL open house last year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

RAS Recap.

This weekends Riverside Astronomical Meeting was a great meeting.

Kam Arnold of UCSD

Our guest speaker, Kam Arnold, Assistant Research Scientist at UCSD, Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences gave a talk on “Fundamental Physics with Cosmic Microwave Background Polarimetry.”

Full-sky image derived from nine years' WMAP data

His talk covered the basics of cosmic microwave background (CMB), how it has help with cosmology and where we are headed.

He developed the POLARBEAR a cosmic microwave background polarization experiment located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile in the Antofagasta Region.

This is the first sensor that will part of the Simons array that will gather data on the polarization of the CMB.  The device is incredibly cooled to about 0.2 degrees above Kelvin (absolute zero).  I didn’t know that we could get things that cold.

They use a similar compressor to a refrigerator, it just uses Helium 3 and Helium 4 to get temperatures down that low.

Considering that the CMB is measured in micro-Kelvins, the super cold temperatures are needed for the most accurate data.

It is amazing the data that we can gather right hear on Earth.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

Riverside Astronomical Society Meeting This Saturday.

This Saturday at 7:00pm at La Sierra University’s Conssentine Hall is the monthly Riverside Astronomical Society’s monthly general meeting.

RAS_14

The meeting will begin at 7:00pm and end at 9:00pm.  We will have food and fun.

Kam Arnold of UCSD

This month’s guest speaker is Kam Arnold, Assistant Research Scientist at UCSD, Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences.  He will be giving a talk on “Fundamental Physics with Cosmic Microwave Background Polarimetry.”

Michael Barker

Michael Barker, our Chief Observer, will be giving his monthly report on all things astronomy.

John Liderbach-Vega

John Liderbach-Vega, the RAS outreach director will be giving this month’s “What’s Up” presentation on Orion, the Hunter.

Directions to Conssentine Hall and all the meeting information can be found here.

I hope to see you there.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

Rosetta See Comet Changes.

The Rosetta spacecraft has started sending images back during comet 67P’s evolution as it passed around the sun.

A new jet issues from a fissure in the rugged, dusty surface of Rosetta's comet. Credit: ESO/Rosetta/Navcam

New jets are forming as the sun heats up the icy comet.

Side by side comparison of the two image from Dec. 9, 2014 (left) and Jan. 8, 2015. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam

Internal pressure is building up as well, causing fissures and cracks to appear, in the after and before photo above.

Four-image mosaic shows the overall view of the comet on January 22 photographed 17.4 miles (28 km) from its center. The larger of the two lobes is at left; Hapi is the smooth region at the transition between the lobes. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam

As comet 67p gets closer to the sun, more jets will be spewing forth their scientific goodies for Rosetta to examine.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

Its Alive!!!

Kepler lives again.

And instyle, the planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft discovered the first exoplanet  using its new mission — K2.

Kepler's Second Light: How K2 Will Work

The K2 mission uses the disabled Kepler to detect habitable planets around smaller, dimmer red dwarf stars.

K2 Small Planet Yield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”

Andrew Vanderburg

Lead researcher Andrew Vanderburg, a graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studied publicly available data collected by the spacecraft during a test of K2 in February 2014.

The discovery was confirmed with measurements taken by the HARPS-North spectrograph of the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands, which captured the wobble of the star caused by the planet’s gravitational tug as it orbits.

The newly confirmed planet, HIP 116454b, 180 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pisces, is 2.5 times the diameter of Earth and has a nine-day orbit around a star that is smaller and cooler than our sun.

The K2 mission promises to not only continue Kepler’s planet hunt, but also to expand the search to bright nearby stars that harbor planets that can be studied in detail and better understand their composition. K2 also will introduce new opportunities to observe star clusters, active galaxies and supernovae.

Since the K2 mission officially began in May 2014, it has observed more than 35,000 stars and collected data on star clusters, dense star-forming regions, and several planetary objects within our own solar system. It is currently in its third campaign.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman