A Graceful Arc

A gravitaional lensed galaxy from Hubble and Hershel. Credit: NASA/STScI; S. Allam and team; and the Master Lens Database, L. A. Moustakas, K. Stewart, et al (2014)

A gravitaional lensed galaxy from Hubble and Hershel. Credit: NASA/STScI; S. Allam and team; and the Master Lens Database, L. A. Moustakas, K. Stewart, et al (2014)

Hubble and Herschel combine to study the galaxy known as S0901 seen here as a arc. The arc is a result of huge gravitational forces from a galaxy or galaxies between us and the galactic arc, gravity so strong light from the more distant S0901 is actually magnified and bent into an arc.

Fascinating stuff! I do wonder if we will ever be able to sort of reverse engineer the arc into some semblance of the actual hidden galaxy.

target=”blank’>More images and the following caption at NASA:

The young galaxy SDSS090122.37+181432.3, also known as S0901, is seen here as the bright arc to the left of the central bright galaxy. The distorted view of S0901 is caused by gravitational lensing, resulting from one or more galaxies that lie between the observer and S0901. Although one effect of lensing is to distort the image, another effect is to magnify the light of the lensed object. This effect was used to enable scientists to study S0901 with Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI).

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Windjana

The next target for Curiosity is Windjana.  Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

The next target for Curiosity is Windjana. Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

A few Martian days after taking the first asteroid picture (see yesterdays post)Curiosity arrived at a place called “Windjana”.

Windjana is a about 60 cm wide (about 2 ft) on the right half of the image and is a target for a close-up examination and perhaps a drilling to see what’s inside. Have to like being able to do that. Another remarkable thing about this picture is how clean Curiosity is after 609 Martian days.

The sandstone target’s informal name comes from Windjana Gorge in Western Australia. If this target meets criteria set by engineers and scientists, it could become the mission’s third drilled rock and the first that is not mudstone.

The rock is within a waypoint location called “the Kimberley,” where sandstone outcrops with differing resistance to wind erosion result in a stair-step pattern of layers. Windjana is within what the team calls the area’s “middle unit,” because it is intermediate between rocks that form buttes in the area and lower-lying rocks that show a pattern of striations.

Mars Science Laboratory

A Curious First

The Mars rover, Curiosity takes the first image of an asteroid from Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M

The Mars rover, Curiosity takes the first image of an asteroid from Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M

The Curiosity has taken the first image of an asteroid taken from the surface of the Red Planet.

You will notice the asteroids and stars are streaks thanks to the 12 second exposure and the planetary rotation. The Martian rotates about its axis in 24.6 hours, only slightly longer than it does here on Earth.

The other object is the little moon Deimos. The image was taken on Sol 606 or 20 April 2014 (PDT).

Here is the non-annotated version. The moon Deimos appears larger than it normally would because brightness bloating.

Here’s part of NASA’s description

The Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has captured the first image of an asteroid taken from the surface of Mars. The night-sky image actually includes two asteroids: Ceres and Vesta, plus one of Mars’ two moons, Deimos, which may have been an asteroid before being captured into orbit around Mars. The image was taken after nightfall on the 606th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (April 20, 2014, PDT). In other camera pointings the same night, the Mastcam also imaged Mars’ larger moon, Phobos, plus the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

I’m looking for the image with the planets.

In the meantime here’s the full article from NASA.

How Many Parachutes Does it Take?

Have a look at this video of the latest version of NASA’s Orion being dropped from a C-17 at 13,000 feet / 3.96 km in a simulated launch abort scenario.

The series of parachutes was necessary to get Orion in position for the test. This is the first parachute test in the launch abort trials.

Video

Pan Minds the Gap

The little moon Pan is minding the (Enke) gap. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The little moon Pan is minding the (Enke) gap. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

If you’ve ever wondered how the Enke gap in the rings of Saturn can be, it is thanks to the tiny moon Pan who minds the gap, keeping it nice and orderly using its gravity.  Pan is so small it barely shows up in the image above.

BTW: If you are out and about just after sunset and in the twilight AND have decent skies, look to the south, on your left or East about 15 degrees you will see the planet Mars, nice and red then on the right or West about 15 degrees you will see the bright blue star Sirius. I saw the two last evening and quite enjoyed it, the colors were really good against the twilight sky.

Here’s the Cassini caption from JPL:

Saturn’s moon Pan, named for the Greek god of shepherds, rules over quite a different domain: the Encke gap in Saturn’s rings.

Pan (17 miles, or 28 kilometers across) keeps the Encke gap open through its gravitational influence on the ring particles nearby.

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Spacewalk Success

NASA Astronauts Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio completed a spacewalk today to replace a failed Multiplexer/Demultiplexer (MDM) back up computer, think of it as kind of a relay computer used to run some of the robotics on the spacecraft.

The problem was discovered during a routine check by Mission Control. This was a backup system and there was no problem with the primary system so there was never a danger to either the crew or the station. Still the back up is kind of an urgent need. The failed computer has been in place since April 2002 when is was delivered already installed on a station truss.

Hopefully we will hear of any forensic results concerning the failure; 12 years could be just old age. Still I’m curious.

Source

Hubble’s View of NGC 3455

Hubble used the Advance Camera for Surveys to get this look at NGC 3455.  Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

Hubble used the Advance Camera for Surveys to get this look at NGC 3455. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Nick Rose

Located at RA: 10 51 52/DEC: 17 33.1 in the constellation Leo. The photo caption at NASA and included below pegs the distance at 65 million light-years what it doesn’t say is the red-shift velocity is about 1102 km sec / 685 miles per second!

The companion galaxy mentioned in the press release NGC 3454 can be seen here. NGC 3455 is the galaxy just below center and above that you can see the bright star in the center and the cigar shaped NGC 3454 above that.  Image: Simbad

The companion galaxy mentioned in the press release NGC 3454 can be seen here. NGC 3455 is the galaxy at the  center and above that you can see the bright star (from the Hubble image) in the center and the cigar shaped NGC 3454 above that. Image: Simbad

A very nice image and you can get more sizes at the link below.

The NASA/Hubble press release:

Shown here is a spiral galaxy known as NGC 3455, which lies some 65 million light-years away from us in the constellation of Leo (the Lion).

Galaxies are classified into different types according to their structure and appearance. This classification system is known as the Hubble Sequence, named after its creator Edwin Hubble.
In this image released 14, April, 2014, NGC 3455 is known as a type SB galaxy — a barred spiral. Barred spiral galaxies account for approximately two thirds of all spirals. Galaxies of this type appear to have a bar of stars slicing through the bulge of stars at their center. The SB classification is further sub-divided by the appearance of a galaxy’s pinwheeling spiral arms; SBa types have more tightly wound arms, whereas SBc types have looser ones. SBb types, such as NGC 3455, lie in between.
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3,000 for MESSENGER

The peak-ring basin Scarlatti as seen from MESSENGER on 18 April 2014.  Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The peak-ring basin Scarlatti as seen from MESSENGER on 18 April 2014. Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

On 20 April 2014 the MESSENGER spacecraft completed 3,000 orbits of the planet Mercury and is about to get closer to the planet than ever before at an altitude of 199 km / 124 miles.

From the MESSENGER website:

“We are cutting through Mercury’s magnetic field in a different geometry, and that has shed new light on the energetic electron population,” said MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph McNutt, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. “In addition, we are now spending more time closer to the planet in general — and that has, in turn, increased the opportunities for all of the remote sensing instruments to make higher-resolution observations of the planet.”

 

MESSENGER has been completing three orbits of Mercury every day since April 2012, when two orbit-correction maneuvers reduced its orbital period about Mercury from 12 hours to 8 hours. The shorter orbit has allowed the science team to explore new questions about Mercury’s composition, geological evolution, and environment that were raised by discoveries made during the first year of orbital operations.

APL’s Carolyn Ernst, the deputy instrument scientist for the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), said the change from a 12- to an 8-hour orbit provided her team with 50% more altimetry tracks. “MLA coverage takes a long time to build up, and because of the small footprint of the laser, a lot of coverage is needed to obtain good spatial resolution. The more data we acquire, the better we resolve the topography of the planet,” she said. “The 8-hour orbit has also allowed us to make more MLA reflectivity measurements, which have provided critical clues for characterizing Mercury’s radar-bright deposits at high northern latitudes.”

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LADEE Interfaces with Moon

Artist concept of LADEE.  Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

Artist concept of LADEE. Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) interfaced with lunar surface, NASA speak for it hit the moon – hard.

The impact occurred between 21:30 and 22:22 PDT on 17 April. Not bad, my guess was 19:20 on 18 April.

I was kind of hoping to hear where it hit this weekend, apparently I was over-simplifying things. The spacecraft was moving about 5,800 kmh or 3,600 mph. Not likely to be anything recognizable on the surface except for small impact craters.

We might get a good look at the impact site from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera as soon as mission managers figure out where it ended up and a LRO pass will occur.

The LADEE mission end at NASA.