The Starshade is NASA’s latest design in a cutting-edge effort to take pictures of planets orbiting stars far from the sun.
The flower-shaped spacecraft’s goal is to make detecting and imaging exoplanets much, much easier. Despite the fact that astronomers have been indirectly detecting exoplanets for more than 15 years, actually taking a picture of one has been an incredibly difficult task thanks to the often-blinding lights of their parent stars.
In conjunction with a space-based telescope, NASA’s starshade will position itself precisely between the telescope and the star that’s being observed, blocking the starlight before it even reaches the telescope’s mirrors. Light coming from exoplanets orbiting the star would be visible and astronomers would finally be able to take actual pictures of them.
These images could provide clues as to whether or not such distant worlds could support life as we know it.
Dr. Stuart Shaklan, JPL’s lead engineer on the starshade project, says “The flower-shaped petals are part of what makes the starshade so effective. The shape of the petals, when seen from far away, creates a softer edge that causes less bending of light waves. Less light bending means that the starshade shadow is very dark, so the telescope can take images of the planets without being overwhelmed by starlight.”
Princeton researcher and principal investigator of the starshade project Professor Jeremy Kasdin has assembled a team that will create a smaller scale starshade at Princeton to verify that the design blocks the light as predicted by the computer simulations. Also, to measure its accuracy, a team at JPL will test the deployment of a near-full scale starshade system in the lab.
Tell Congress that you support doubling NASA’s funding so that they can bring these projects to light faster and without budget worries.
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Read more: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/video/15
It has been suspected for a long time that under Enceladus’ icy crust laid a vast ocean. Finally, the news we were waiting for: the Cassini orbiter has detected signals of a hidden ocean beneath the 19 to 25 miles (30 – 40 km) of ice. The sea itself is at least 6 miles (10 km) deep and can be thought of as a larger Lake Superior.
Enceladus has also been known to have geysers, similar to those recently discovered on Europa, which contain salts as well as organic molecules such as methane and ethane. What’s interesting is that Enceladus experiences tidal flexing as it orbits Saturn. This flexing is thought to generate heat at the poles. Furthermore, scientists believe that there’s enough heat at the South Pole to melt the ice and push the seawater up to the various cracks in the surface. This is very exciting for astrobiologists because it means that the sea could be in contact with organic-rich silicate material from the moon’s internal rocky core, which is just at the right temperature for sustaining life. This discovery is truly setting the stage for the future and it makes a compelling case to study Enceladus in more detail.
Read more here: http://io9.com/weve-found-a-hidden-ocean-on-enceladus-that-may-harbor-1557622077
Show your support for NASA, so that we can send more orbiters and uncover the amazing mysteries waiting for us. Tell Congress it’s time we give a Penny4NASA. Take action today by heading over to http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/
the ghost inside | harmony grange | 3.26.14
This is me having the worst show of my life trying not to puke while kids went actually apeshit right behind me.
My girlfriend is in love with you... Better watch out when I see ya at groezrock
hahahaha you’re much more likely to get a kiss from me than she is.
Yes indeed, best festival ever! I know you guys like Saves The Day but they're playing the day before you, too bad!
true but saves the day is on warped tour with us all summer!