NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon Takes Off

A football stadium-size super pressure ballon was launched by NASA from New Zealand to test and validate the super balloon technology.

Wellington: Eighth time lucky. After seven unsuccessful attempts Nasa has launched a  football stadium-sized balloon in Wanaka, New Zealand. The super-pressure balloon test flight is now on a planned 100-day journey.

According to balloon technologists, it may be visible from the ground, particularly at Sunrise and Sunset to those who live in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa.

The purpose of the flight is to test and validate the super pressure balloon technology with the goal of long-duration flight at mid-latitudes.

In addition, the University of Chicago’s Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) is a mission of opportunity flying on the 2017 SPB test flight.

The EUSO-SPB is designed to detect high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.

As these high-energy particles enter the atmosphere, they interact with nitrogen molecules in the air and create a UV fluorescence light.

From its high-altitude vantage point, EUSO-SPB will look downward observing a broad swathe of the Earth’s atmosphere to detect the UV fluorescence from these deep space cosmic rays coming in from above.

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Nasa Launches Kalamsat, Tiniest Satellite Made By Indian Teenager

Nasa had launched Kalamsat which was designed and developed by 18-year-old Tamil Nadu student Rifat Sharook and his team.

Chennai:  Nasa launched the tiniest satellite called Kalamsat on Thursday. The lightest satellite weighing just 64 grams was designed and developed by 18- year-old Tamil Nadu student Rifat Sharook and his team. With the launch of this satellite, India once again broke a global space record.

The little satellite named after scientist and former president Abdul Kalam, was flown by a Nasa sounding rocket and was launched from the Wallop Island facility around 3 pm (IST). In 1960s Kalam is said to have his training in the sounding rocket programme at Wallops Island. Only Kalamsat was the Indian payload in the mission.  See Also: ISRO Launches PSLV With 31 Satellites From Sriharikota

Speaking to a leading English daily from Chennai, the Mission Director Srimathy Kesan said that the satellite was assembled at her T Nagar residence in Chennai. Giving the details of the launch she said that the total flight time of the rocket was 240 minutes. She told that the satellite separated from the rocket 125 minutes after liftoff.

Revealing that Kalamsat fell into the sea, she told that it will be recovered and NASA will be sending it back to them for decoding data.  She said that the flight was “out of the world and it was a divine intervention.”  See Also: Sirisha Joined RJ Studio Six Months Ago, Her Aunt Reveals

Explaining the reason for happiness, Kesan said, while the previous Nasa Mission from Wallops got postponed because of weather, we were able to launch successfully.

This one-of-its’s-kind satellite, which can be held in one’s palm, is a 3.8cm cube and its structure is fully 3-D printed with reinforced carbon fiber polymer. It is equipped with a nano Geiger Muller counter which will measure radiation in space. Added Kesan: “It is the only cube to be converted into a satellite in this mission,” she added.  See Also: Duvvada Jagannadham Review: First Half Best

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NASA Chooses New Astronauts, Indian-American Among The 12

Lt Col Raja G Chai, an American Indian is one of the 12 trainees selected by NASA American Spaceflight in its 22nd batch. They will be sent to space after two years of training.

Houston: An Indian-American was selected by NASA American spaceflight trainee. NASA selected 12 persons for its 22nd batch of American spaceflight trainees, which is termed as the largest batch in two decades. NASA received 18,300 applications after it announced open astronaut call. The twelve people were selected from among them.

The selection criterion was based on physical requirements as well as certain education and experience criteria, like having a bachelor’s degree in STEM field or accumulating up to 1,000 hours of piloting jets. All the selected candidates surpass the minimum skills NASA requires.

The twelve candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at Space X and a NASA research pilot. Lt Col Raja ‘Grinder’ Chari, 39, belonging to Indian origin, is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He hails from Waterloo, Iowa. Chari completed his Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. His father is from India.

After completion of two years of training, the new candidates could be assigned to mission performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

U S Vice President Mike Pence was in Texas along with NASA officials to announce the new astronaut candidates or ‘ascans.’

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NASA Earth Observatory Releases Nighttime Views Of India

NASA is aiming at processing the images within hours of acquisition.

Joshua Stevens, scientist a NASA Earth Observatory, released the images of India and surrounding areas at nighttime in 2012 compared to 2016. He used Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Román, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to compile the images.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens

Composite Nighttime View of India and surrounding areas in 2012.


Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens

Composite Nighttime View of India and surrounding areas in 2016

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NASA Discovers 7 Earthlike Planets 40 light years away

Florida: NASA scientists have announced a breaking discovery that seven earth-like planets are orbiting a nearby star. These planets are identified to have qualities similar to earth, which means warm climate and rocky terrain. Three among the seven are said to be in habitable zone, which theoretically means existence of oceans of water and therefore life.

NASA’s discovery brings in monumental interest among scientist in life beyond Earth. The scientists working with telescope at the European Southern Observatory have identified these Earth-like rocky planets. The identified solar system is said to be just fewer than 40 light-years away from Earth.

The lead scientist Michaël Gillon said “This is an amazing planetary system — not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!”

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launched From Kennedy Space Centre

Florida: SpaceX dragon cargo spaceship Falcon 9 rocket, carrying nearly 5,500 pounds of food supplies for the six astronauts living at the International Space Station (ISS), was launched on Sunday at 9:38 am. The spaceship is expected to arrive at the space station on Wednesday 22 February, a SpaceX spokesman said.

It was the first launch of SpaceX from NASA’s historic launch pad 39A, Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida. This place is best known for the launch of Apollo 11 mission that set first humans to the surface of the moon in the 1960’s and 1970.

Initially, the launch was planned on Saturday, but was cancelled due to a malfunction with the rocket engine. The NASA director of Kennedy Space Centre, Mr. Bob Cababa confirmed that they have resolved all the technical issues on Saturday night and was ready to launch on Sunday. They had to replace the thrust vector control actuator in the second stage to be able to safely launch the rocket.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitted “All systems go, except the movement trace of an upper stage engine steering hydraulic piston was slightly odd. Standing down to investigate”

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Europe’s Mars craft goes missing

  • Falls silent before touchdown

Paris: An initial analysis of Europe’s second Mars craft suggests the latest lander may have plummeted to its demise. If it is true, this would be the second failed attempt by Europe to reach Mars surface.

The lander named Schiaparelli, was on a test run for a future rover to look out for evidence of life, past or present, on the Red Planet.

Schiaparelli, a joint European-Russian project, fell silent just seconds before its scheduled touchdown, while its mothership Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) entered Mars orbit as planned.

“We are not in a position yet to determine the dynamic condition at which the lander touched the ground,” European Space Agency (ESA) head of solar and planetary missions Andrea Accomazzo told a webcast news briefing at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

“Further analysis of some 600 megabytes of data has to be done to know whether it survived structurally or not,” he said. This could take “some time”, Accomazzo added.

ESA and NASA Mars orbiters, meanwhile, were keeping their eyes and ears open for any signal from the lander that went silent suddenly.

If not, this would be Europe’s second failed Mars landing in a row, joining a string of unsuccessful attempts by global powers to explore our planetary neighbour’s hostile surface.

While holding out faint hope, ground controllers said it seemed the paddling pool-sized lander’s parachute may have been discarded too early, and its fall-breaking thrusters switched off too soon.

The $251-million Schiaparelli had travelled for seven years and 496 million km onboard the TGO to within a million km of Mars on Sunday, when it set off on its own mission to reach the surface.

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Why NASA is chasing this asteroid?

Florida: NASA is sending a spacecraft to chase down a dark, potentially dangerous asteroid called Bennu and bring the samples back to the Earth.

Bennu is one of the most dangerous space rocks, as it could one day collide with Earth. Every six years, it passes so close to Earth due to which  NASA considers it  potentially hazardous asteroid.

But before it threatens human extinction, Bennu could guide us in our understanding of how our planet formed and how life came to evolve on Earth.

At 4.5 billion years old, Bennu is considered a relic from the ancient solar system holding pristine samples unchanged since our own planet’s birth.

The mission will take seven years, from Thursday night’s planned liftoff from Cape Canaveral till the return of the asteroid samples in 2023, and cover an incredible 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) through space.

NASA’s robotic  asteroid hunter, Osiris-Rex, is designed to scoop up pebbles and rock the size of gravel — anywhere from one to four or even five handfuls in a single swipe.

Osiris-Rex – named partly after the Egyptian god of the underworld who sowed the seeds of regeneration. Initially it will race through space to catch up with the asteroid for two-years and then orbit it for another two years taking detailed photographs.

The lessons NASA learns could help refine the technology that can redirect asteroids on a collision course with our planet.

There’s a small chance – one in 2700 – that Bennu may collide with the Earth, if it’s not steered off course by the sun’s rays.

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