News Article | March 5, 2016
NASA will treat people around the world to a celestial spectacle through a live coverage of the total solar eclipse in Southeast Asia. Partnering with the Exploratorium Science Center of San Francisco, the space agency will host activities surrounding the March 8 total solar eclipse, when the moon will completely block the sun and reveal the sun’s breathtaking outer atmosphere known as the corona. The “path of totality” will be seen in Indonesia — Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi — and parts of Micronesia. A partial eclipse will hit most parts of northern Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa as well. Indonesia is estimated to experience about 3.5 minutes of totality about 1:00 Universal Time on March 9, which will be from mid to late morning. Due to the International Date Line, the solar eclipse will occur late on March 8 in the United States. NASA will organize a Facebook Q&A on March 7, Monday, at 2 p.m. EST to be participated by solar scientists from its Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. On March 8, Tuesday, at 1 p.m., scientists from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland will join Ask Me Anything on Reddit. Its TV coverage will start March 8 at 8 p.m., where the total eclipse will take place from 8:38 to 8:42. The NASA-Exploratorium collaboration sent a production crew by plane and boat to Woleai Island in Micronesia, with a telescope feed and narrated webcast aiming to delight observers worldwide. Using the hashtag #eclipse2016, users on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites can join the conversation even share their images of the much-awaited phenomenon. NASA space scientist Sarah Jaeggli said one would notice something different about the sunlight as the event reaches totality. "Your surroundings take on a twilight cast, even though it's daytime and the sky is still blue," she describes. A total solar eclipse in 1860 first shed light on the rare sighting and gave scientists the first documented glimpse of a coronal mass ejection — a huge burst of gas and magnetic field from the sun’s corona, released into the solar wind. A coronagraph enables one to see this event during eclipses. A friendly reminder: never look directly at the sun without proper protective gear like solar glasses, whether there’s an eclipse or none. The radiation coming from the sun’s rays could cause harm or even permanent damage to the eyes.
News Article | June 29, 2016
NASA successfully fired up a booster designed to support the most powerful rocket in the world during its second qualification test in Utah on Tuesday, June 28, pushing the space agency one small step closer to Mars. The test, which was held at the Orbital ATK facilities in Promontory, also marked the final full-scale hurdle before the rocket is launched to space on NASA's Orion spacecraft in its first uncrewed flight in late 2018. Known as the Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket is intended for deep space missions and will be used for the first manned journey to Mars in 2030. Tuesday's test involved seeing, feeling and experiencing approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, says William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Gerstenmaier says the test is important, as it will help scientists appreciate the progress they are making to advance human space exploration and see how far we have gone in opening new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space. John Honeycutt, program manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, says Tuesday's test is the "pinnacle" of years of hard work by NASA engineers. The first full-scale qualification test was conducted in March 2015, displaying an acceptable performance of the booster at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists say testing at the thermal extremes is crucial in understanding the effect of temperature on the way the propellant burns. The second full-duration qualification tested the booster at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The test lasted for two minutes but provided NASA with critical data on 82 objectives that will support the certification of the booster for space flight. When ignited, the temperature inside the rocket booster will increase up to nearly 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers will assess the data, which were captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the SLS booster. As soon as it is completed, four RS-25 main engines and two five-segment boosters will power SLS during deep space missions. The solid rocket boosters were built by Orbital ATK, NASA's contractor, and were designed to work in parallel with the main engines of SLS during the first two minutes of the flight. The boosters will give at least 75 percent of the thrust required for the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket to veer away from the gravitational pull of the planet. Honeycutt says SLS hardware is currently being produced for every part of the rocket. He says the space agency is also making progress on the Orion spacecraft. The ground systems will support a launch from the Kennedy Space Center. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 1, 2016
A new toolbox has been created by European researchers to improve the security of European electricity networks and help the shift towards renewables. The European Union-funded UMBRELLA project unveiled the prototype of a new toolbox for Transmission System Operators (TSOs) during a one-day workshop in Brussels on January 26. The prototype is intended to increase security and safety for future electricity networks throughout Europe, with a specific priority towards the continuing shift towards renewable energy. According to the Mission Statement for the UMBRELLA Project, researchers are “developing an innovative toolbox prototype to support the decentralised grid security approach of TSOs.” According to the European Community Research and Development Information Service, the “toolbox enables TSOs to act in a coordinated European target system where regional strategies converge to ensure the best possible use of the European electricity infrastructure.” The fundamentals behind the Toolbox are increasingly necessary in a day and age where electricity networks are encountering more and more intermittent electricity being fed into the grid from renewable energy sources. Many networks aren’t up to the challenge of handling intermittent electricity spikes — when compared to the steady flow of electricity from days gone by, such as that delivered by coal generation — and even if they are, many times the operators themselves need more tools to better manage the new intricacies of grid management. The difficulty only increases when one takes into account the gradual integration of national European electricity markets into one common European electrical energy market. The tools provided by the Toolbox provide operators with “remedial actions to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the transmission network, as well as give the operator additional information about the range of uncertainty to be expected.” “This gives the operators and operational planners the necessary time to prepare the actual implementation of the proposed remedies,” said project coordinator Helmut Paeschke. Image Credit: Brussels and Antwerp at Night via NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
News Article | August 29, 2016
NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds. At the time, Juno was traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission. "Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno's mission (scheduled to end in February 2018). The August 27 flyby was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zoomed past. "We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us." While results from the spacecraft's suite of instruments will be released down the road, a handful of images from Juno's visible light imager -- JunoCam -- are expected to be released the next couple of weeks. Those images will include the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles. "We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," said Bolton. The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.
News Article | March 11, 2016
NASA has announced that is has successfully tested the first deep space RS-25 rocket engine for 500 seconds–-a critical milestone that means the rocket is almost ready to carry human occupants into deep space. The engine is one of four that will make up the Space Launch System (SLS) that will enable a new era of space exploration, including manned trips to asteroids and Mars. "What a great moment for NASA and Stennis," Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, said in a statement. "We have exciting days ahead with a return to deep space and a journey to Mars, and this test is a very big step in that direction." You might assume that the RS-25 rocket engines used in the SLS are new technology, but they are actually the "workhorse engines" that have powered 135 space shuttle missions between 1981 and 2011. When the four engines are combined into the SLS, they will have a combined 2 million pounds of thrust. "Not only does this test mark an important step toward proving our existing design for SLS's first flight," Steve Wofford, engines manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said in a statement. "But it's also a great feeling that this engine that has carried so many astronauts into space before is being prepared to take astronauts to space once again on SLS's first crewed flight." NASA says the SLS’s first flight will happen no later than November 2018.