Space 0402

Space and Astronomy Update 04.03.11



Transcript of Space 0402

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Space and Astronomy

Update 04.03.11

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NASA Ends Stardust

• Comet hunter program• Decided to use lat of fuel for an experiment• Mission previously collected sample of comet

dust from comet Wild2• Orbit was tweaked to meet Tempel 1 on 02/14– Tempel1 was hit by an impact mission in 2006 but

data was not successfully gathered• The Stardust flyby provided footage of the Tempel 1


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RIP Stardust

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Physicists create heavier antimatter

• Heaviest form of antimatter seen to date– Only anti-helium nuclei though

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‘Quasi-stars’ spawned early black holes

• A quasi-star is formed when a very large dust cloud coalesces to form a star. – If large enough it theoretically can have a black hole

at its center.– Such a black hole can quickly grow to thousands of

time the sun’s mass– The energy of such a star is formed of the radiation

from its mass falling into the black hole at the core– Such a black hole eventually eats its star layers and

anything close. It can reach a billion solar masses.

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Sun-less habitable planets?

• Dark matter could make it possible– In some models dark matter interacts with nuclei

of regular matter atoms causing gravitation bounding.

– Energy is released in the eventual annihilation of the dark matter deep within a planet

– It is only expected sufficient interaction could occur near the center of galaxies however.

– But once enough dark matter is bound the planet can self-sustain its heat for a very long time.

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Near Earth Asteroid Surveys

• As of today– 7922 NEOs, 824 of dia > 1 km, 1214 classed as potentially

hazardous• Next phase expectations– Total of 50000 NEOs with diameter > 140m– 10,000 potentially hazardous

• Earth asteroid scopes– PAN-starrs 1 operating in Hawaii, PAN-starrs 2 in 2012 and

future plans for PAN Starrs 4– Large Synoptic Survey Telescope for wide field survey is in

the design phase

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Asteroid Scaling 1

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Asteroid Scaling 2

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Asteroid Scaling 3

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Dark Energy, Not an Illusion

• New measurements of exploding stars support the theory

• Universe expansion rate increasing– Dark energy was theorized to explain this– An alternate idea was that there was less matter in our

area so less gravity • The new measurements give an expansion rate to

high for the alternate theory– Though some now propose a void within a void

• Epicycles, anyone?

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Messenger: Mercury Mission

• Why Mercury?– Odd day cycle (6 months log but 88 day orbit)– Only half mapped previously– Made of as much as 85% iron-core• Twice normally expected

– Only other planet in system with global magnetic field• Mercury’s field is thought to have different origin

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Messenger Mercury Probe

• Schedule– August 3, 2004 -- MESSENGER Launch

August 2005 -- Earth flybyOctober 2006 -- Venus flybyJune 2007 -- Venus flybyJanuary 2008 -- Mercury flybyOctober 2008 -- Mercury flybySeptember 2009 -- Mercury flybyMarch 2011 -- Yearlong science orbit of Mercury begins

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Messenger layout

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Mercury North Pole

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Mercury: Wide Angle

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First Orbital Image

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Ultra cool brown Brown Dwarf?

• Odd room temperature brown dwarf found– Apparently at a mere 30 C• Coolest found before this is 100 C.

– Discovered using NASA’s Infrared Spitzer Telescope• Orbits a white dwarf 63 ly from Earth – Ways 7 times as much as Jupiter– Orbit is too wide to be considered as possibly a

large planet

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SpaceX: Something Big is Coming

• Elon Musk of SpaceX will hold a press conference in Washington Tuesday– Thought to be about the Dragon spacecraft

– But SpaceX already has a contract with NASA on this so perhaps something else?

– Perhaps a Falcon 9 announcement?

• EVENT: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to Talk About the Next Big ThingTIME: 11:20 AMDATE: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

• Webcast:

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SpaceX Falcon 9

• Nine engine next generation after Falcon 1– Nine Merlin engines • Engine proven in the Falcon 1 program

– First commercial mission launch last June• Lowest rocket based prices to orbit– Capacity to Leo 10 metric tons• Cost ~$49M

– Capacity to GEO 4500 kg• Roughly same cost

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