Saturday, November 9, 2013

Space and astronomy news for early November

I already covered some space news in NASA back from shutdown and Fall back and solar eclipse, but I haven't had a comprehensive space news entry yet.  In fact, I really haven't had one since NASA videos from just before the shutdown more than a month ago.  It's time to resume the series.

I begin with NASA Television's Mars Mission Briefed on This Week @NASA.

During a news briefing at NASA headquarters officials and scientists discussed MAVEN, the agency's next mission to Mars. Scheduled to launch November 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, MAVEN will study the history and change of Mars' atmosphere, climate, and planetary habitability. Also, Bolden visits Langley, Power Up, Solar Flares, A busy time!, Free flight and Ice Flight!
Follow over the jump from more news from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope, Columbia University, Rutgers University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Virginia originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (NASA back from shutdown) and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Eclipse, Sandy Anniversary, and Fall Back) on Daily Kos.

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: The Sounds of Interstellar Space

As Voyager 1 recedes from the solar system, researchers are listening for "interstellar music" (a.k.a. plasma waves) to learn more about conditions outside the heliosphere.
JPL/NASA: What's Up for November 2013

MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission, will explore the planet's upper atmosphere and backyard astronomers can watch Comet ISON race towards the sun at 5 degrees a day.
Hubble Space Telescope: Tonight's Sky: November 2013

Backyard stargazers get a monthly guide to the northern hemisphere's skywatching events with "Tonight's Sky." November brings both the Leonid meteor shower and a hybrid solar eclipse.
University of Massachusetts: Astronomer, with International Team, Identifies Earliest Galaxy Ever Detected
October 31, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. ­– In a major new survey of the early universe conducted from the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, University of Massachusetts Amherst astronomer Mauro Giavalisco and colleagues at several other institutions identify the most distant, thus the earliest galaxy ever detected.

Although other Hubble-based observations have identified many other candidates for galaxies in the early universe, including some that may be even more distant, this galaxy is the farthest and earliest whose distance can be definitively confirmed with follow-up observations from the Keck I telescope, one of the largest on earth.

The surprise finding of a young galaxy from a survey that was not designed to find such bright early galaxies suggests that the infant universe may harbor a larger number of intense star-forming galaxies than astronomers believed possible, say first author Steve Finkelstein of the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, Giavalisco and others writing in a recent issue of Nature. This means theories and predictive models of the distribution of galaxies’ star formation activity may need revision.
Rutgers University: Rutgers Astronomer Contributes to Study of Black Hole Ingesting Matter
Andrew Baker helped commission radio observatory in Chile that gathered black hole images; findings offer insights into galaxy evolution
By Carl Blesch
Friday, October 25, 2013
An international team of astronomers that includes a Rutgers professor has shared remarkably detailed observations of a black hole caught in the act of ingesting and expelling matter from the center of a galaxy. These observations, made with a powerful new array of radio telescopes in Chile, will give scientists new insights into how black holes and the galaxies that host them evolve together.

The Rutgers team member, Andrew Baker, an associate professor of physics and astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, contributed to the competitive proposal that secured observing time for the black hole investigation, and to the paper reporting its results in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. He also spent part of 2009 in Chile helping commission the observatory, called ALMA.

“Thanks to ALMA’s power, this is among the sharpest such pictures ever made of a black hole that is actively feeding on a surrounding disk of material and converting it into electromagnetic radiation,” said Baker.
Columbia University: Faculty Q&A: Sean Solomon on Lamont-Doherty, Earth Science and Space
October 30, 2013
As a scientist, Sean Solomon has studied Mercury, Venus and Mars. Now he heads Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, whose researchers study planet Earth, from its deepest ocean to its highest peak.

Solomon arrives at Columbia from the Carnegie Institute, where he was its principal investigator for research with NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the origin of life on Earth and its potential for existing elsewhere.

“The four inner planets of our solar system are nature’s experiments in how a planet like the Earth became the planet it is today, and they had four extraordinarily different outcomes,” he said. “To understand our own planet, we must understand how all Earth-like planets formed and evolved.”
University of Virginia: NASA Selects U.Va. Spacecraft Design Class to Fly Experiment on High-Altitude Balloon
Josie Pipkin
October 21, 2013
The Spacecraft Design Team from the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science is among 10 teams in the U.S. selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to design, build and fly a science experiment aboard a suborbital flight vehicle.

The U.Va. team – the only one chosen from Virginia – will fly its experiment on a NASA high-altitude balloon platform floated 23 miles into the stratosphere next September in New Mexico. The flight will expose the payload to space-like conditions and result in valuable data that will be used by NASA researchers to validate computer models for predicting radiation produced in the atmosphere by cosmic rays.

Until then, all 10 college teams selected will work with NASA researchers to prepare for their flights.
I'm so glad NASA is back from shutdown and posting videos.  These reports are so much richer for their efforts.

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