IRIS Mission

An image from the NASA / JAXA Hinode mission showing the lower atmosphere of the Sun the focus for the IRIS spacecraft.Credit: NASA&JAXA/Hinode

An image from the NASA / JAXA Hinode mission showing the lower atmosphere of the Sun the focus for the IRIS spacecraft.Credit: NASA&JAXA/Hinode

There is a so-called interface layer in the Sun’s atmosphere between the photoshphere and corona that is very difficult to study. Mostly this is due to the lack of tools and that is about to change with the The Interface Region Imaging Spectorgraph mission – IRIS.

The mission is going to trace the flow of energy and plasma through the chromoshpere and the transition region into the corona. We do know a fair amount about parts of the Sun’s atmosphere and lack knowlege in others. This interface region is such an area.

IRIS has the capability, along with the latest in 3D modeling to answer some fundamental questions and give insight into the understanding of energy transport into the corona and solar winds and perhaps give us enough knowledge to serve as a prototype for all stars.

The Interface Region Imaging Spectorgraph mission is set to launch on June 26, 2013 from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.

Venus Launch

venuspioneer1

This is the first topographical map of Venus  and it was made in the Pioneer program.

It was 35 years ago on this day. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter was launched atop an Atlas-Centaur rocket. The launch kicked off the Pioneer project and was one of two components, the second of which launched in August of 1978.

venuspioneer2

After the May 20, 1978 launch the orbiter arrived at Venus and was placed into orbit on December 4, 1978. The oribiter was 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) across by 1.2 meters (3.49 feet) high and was packed with 17 experiments.

See here for details.

One of the products was the first topographical map of Venus shown at the top of the post.

The Pioneer Venus Orbiter provided data until 1992 when it entered and was destroyed by the atmosphere of Venus. It is worth mentioning that for the first ten years of operation and that includes building the spacecraft, the cost was 125 million dollars.

Pioneer project from Wikipedia
Pioneer project from NASA

 

GROVER

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QlpTNTufv4[/youtube]

The GROVER acronym stands for two things, Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research.

As the name suggest GROVER is headed to Greenland, on or about June 8th.

GROVER was developed in 2010 and 2011 by teams of students participating in summer engineering boot camps at Goddard. ROVER will be joined on the ice sheet in June by another robot, named Cool Robot, developed nearby at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., with funding from the National Science Foundation.

For more information visit NASA’s GROVER feature in their Looking at Earth site.

Another partnership between NASA and students that will be fun to follow as time goes on.