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[Source: This article was published in theverge.com By Loren Grush - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Now it just needs to launch more satellites

OneWeb — an aerospace company with plans to beam internet connectivity from space — announced plans today to provide “fiber-like internet” coverage to the Arctic starting as early as 2020. Using the company’s planned mega-constellation of satellites, the company says it can provide high-speed internet to homes, boats, and planes all located above the 60th parallel north latitude.

OneWeb is one of many companies aiming to provide internet from space using a complex array of satellites and ground stations. The company plans to launch an initial constellation of 650 spacecraft that will beam internet connectivity to a series of ground terminals on Earth’s surface. These vehicles will orbit at a relatively low altitude, decreasing the time it takes to beam coverage to the surface below. With so many satellites, OneWeb says it can provide global coverage, with at least one satellite in view of any area of the Earth at all times.

 

That coverage extends to the Arctic, which is a difficult place to lay fiberoptic cables and provide traditional internet connectivity. OneWeb claims that its satellite constellation will be able to provide high-speed internet to the 48 percent of the Arctic that currently doesn’t have broadband coverage. Local politicians are thrilled with the idea, arguing that it will help with economic development in the area.

“Connectivity is critical in our modern economy,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a statement. “As the Arctic opens, ensuring the people of the Arctic have access to affordable and reliable broadband will make development safer, more sustainable and create new opportunities for the next generation leading in this dynamic region of the globe.”

“CONNECTIVITY IS CRITICAL IN OUR MODERN ECONOMY.”

So far, OneWeb has only launched the first six satellites in its constellation, but the company says it was able to conduct some HD video streaming tests with the spacecraft in July. The tests proved that the satellites are operational and have a relatively low latency — under 40 milliseconds in lag time.

Other companies, notably SpaceX and Amazon, are also working to create mega-constellations of satellites that are meant to be even larger than OneWeb’s constellation. In April, Amazon detailed plans to launch a constellation of more than 3,200 satellites, while SpaceX has proposed launching two constellations that will contain nearly 12,000 satellites in total.

SpaceX has already launched the first 60 satellites in its constellation, though three of the first batch failed after reaching orbit. OneWeb argues that its constellation will be deployed “significantly earlier” than other planned constellations, allowing the company to provide coverage to the Arctic sooner than other systems. The company cites the fact that it already has two active ground stations in Norway and Alaska, which are needed to help connect OneWeb’s satellites to the current internet ground infrastructure. Those stations are supposed to be fully operational by January 2020, according to OneWeb, allowing this rollout to the Arctic by next year.

“Connectivity is now an essential utility and a basic human right,” OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said in a statement. “Our constellation will offer universal high-speed Arctic coverage sooner than any other proposed system meeting the need for widespread connectivity across the Arctic.”

OneWeb plans to launch its satellites in batches of 36 aboard Arianespace’s Soyuz rocket. The next launch is slated for later this year.

Categorized in Internet Technology

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Oxyde is a spacecraft/space module designed to carry robots to the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. It would also be used to pull smaller asteroids back closer to the Earth and Moon and could house engineers in charge of mining operations.

 


The background

Travelling within our solar system will probably become a possibility in the next 50 years. The next logical step will be to mine rare metals in space – if the numbers add up.

How will we do this? Will we develop multipurpose vehicles for this task? That’s the idea behind the Oxyde concept.

The Oxyde would fly into space by riding on top of a super heavy lift-launch vehicle.
The Oxyde would fly into space by riding on top of a super heavy lift-launch vehicle.

How it works

The Oxyde would be designed to carry humanoid robots into space. (See Robonaut 2by NASA.) It would not, however, be engineered to re-enter our atmosphere. It would fly out into space by riding on top of a super heavy-lift launch vehicle and remain there for the duration of its useful life.

The first Oxyde would be equipped with a chemical rocket powerful enough to reach the asteroid belt and bring back a small asteroid. Once it reached its destination, robonauts would exit the spacecraft and begin to survey and select suitable asteroids to mine.

Pulling an asteroid back to Earth will not be an easy task.The mass of the targeted asteroids would be limited by the thrust and fuel available on the Oxyde for the return trip. However, it would also be possible to send fuel to the surveying team once a candidate is selected.

Once the Oxyde is back near the moon, it could enter a lunar orbit with the asteroid and mining operations could begin.

At this point, a crew of human engineers could take their places aboard the Oxyde and live there to supervise mining operations. Basically, the Oxyde would become a space module for the mining crew.

 

The Oxyde would allow mining to take place in space, a necessary financial incentive for colonizing the solar system.
The Oxyde would allow mining to take place in space, a financial incentive to colonize the solar system.

 

What it’s used for

Would you like humans to colonize the solar system one day? If the answer is yes, then there will need to be a financial incentive, and mining is probably one of the best ones to attract investors. Of course, the cost will still be astronomical ($100-million (U.S.) for each launch, plus the spacecraft, preparation, etc.). There are thousands of unanswered questions, but this concept was meant first and foremost to continue the discussion around space mining .

The designer

I would like to thank Martin Rico for creating the images of the Oxyde concept. Rico lives near Buenos Aires and studied design at the University of Buenos Aires and now works as a freelance industrial designer. He also designed the Seataci Yacht concept and the Sutton and Maui snowboard and surfboard mobile rental units.

Source: This article was published theglobeandmail By CHARLES BOMBARDIER

Categorized in Internet Technology

Crappy? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You have no idea kid!

This is the image of New York taken from the International Space Station, 400 km away from any point on Earth (that is directly under it) and travelling at 27000 km/h.

An image of New York taken from the International Space Station. Photo: Quora

So I heard you say low-res camera? You must be blind if you call this low-res in spite of the distance and speed of the ISS.

First off, the camera specifications are driven by science and system requirements. If we need a high-resolution camera, the science that we want to do with it shall require it have such a resolution. Otherwise, we are wasting mass and power, two of the most precious resources for spacecrafts.

 

And did I hear you say “no video”?

Have you heard of the High Definition Earth-Viewing System (HDEV) placed on the ISS? Here is a link:

live stream
live stream

A live stream of Earth’s view from the International Space Station. Photo: Quora

This is the live stream of Earth’s view from the International Space Station.

 

This space is too short to mention the entire specifications of cameras used by NASA spacecrafts.

If you are interested in Voyager 1’s wide angle camera, check these specs: Ring-Moon Systems Node.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and here are some of the images taken by it.

voyager1
voyager1 

 

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and this is an image taken by it. Photo: Quora Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and this is an image taken by it. Photo: Quora
voyager2
voyager2
Additionally, these images have to be transmitted with the same quality from over 10 Astronomical Units distance. Storage space, bandwidth of transfer, power requirements, and many other things come into play before deciding upon camera resolution.From the question description:Are we to believe that nasa spends years and billions on planet exploration probes only to equip them with crappie, low res cameras and no video?No, you just haven’t done your research quite well.
Source: This article was published yahoo.com By Karthik Venkatesh
Categorized in Internet Technology

A powerful space telescope orbiting Earth has spied on two galaxies in the midst of a cosmic close call 500 million light-years away. 

The Hubble Space Telescope spotted two galaxies — collectively called IRAS 06076-2139 — speeding past one another at about 1.2 million miles per hour, according to NASA. 

The two galaxies are moving so fast that they likely won't merge, but the two objects are so huge that they will distort each other as they pass about 20,000 light-years from one another. 

 

The immense gravity of the two objects will be able to influence the structure of the galaxies as they pass, changing the positions of stars and gas within them.

A full view of the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139 seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.
A full view of the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139 seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA

"Such galactic interactions are a common sight for Hubble, and have long been a field of study for astronomers," NASA said in a statement.

 

The Milky Way is actually on its way to a galactic collision itself with the Andromeda Galaxy. 

At some point in about 4.5 billion years the two galaxies will merge into one. That may sound slightly (or more-than-slightly) terrifying, but in reality, it shouldn't be too much cause for personal concern. 

"While galaxies are populated by billions of stars, the distances between individual stars are so large that hardly any stellar collisions will occur," NASA said of the Andromeda/Milky Way merger.

Scientists working with the Hubble just celebrated the space telescope's 27th year in space, and the intrepid eye on the sky is still going strong.

NASA has previously said that the telescope should be able to continue working in orbit through at least 2020, two years after the James Webb Space Telescope — Hubble's successor — is expected to get to space. 

Source: This article was published mashable.com By Miriam Kramer

Categorized in Internet Technology

Why do the other planets, like Venus (shown above) have a different atmosphere than Earth? Credit: ESA

Here on Earth, we tend to take our atmosphere for granted, and not without reason. Our atmosphere has a lovely mix of nitrogen and oxygen (78% and 21% respectively) with trace amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide and other gaseous molecules. What’s more, we enjoy an atmospheric pressure of 101.325 kPa, which extends to an altitude of about 8.5 km.

In short, our atmosphere is plentiful and life-sustaining. But what about the other planets of the Solar System? How do they stack up in terms of atmospheric composition and pressure? We know for a fact that they are not breathable by humans and cannot support life. But just what is the difference between these balls of rock and gas and our own?

 

For starters, it should be noted that every planet in the Solar System has an atmosphere of one kind or another. And these range from incredibly thin and tenuous (such as Mercury’s “exosphere”) to the incredibly dense and powerful – which is the case for all of the gas giants. And depending on the composition of the planet, whether it is a terrestrial or a gas/ice giant, the gases that make up its atmosphere range from either the hydrogen and helium to more complex elements like oxygen, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

Mercury’s Atmosphere:

Mercury is too hot and too small to retain an atmosphere. However, it does have a tenuous and variable exosphere that is made up of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, sodium, calcium, potassium and water vapor, with a combined pressure level of about 10-14 bar (one-quadrillionth of Earth’s atmospheric pressure). It is believed this exosphere was formed from particles captured from the Sun, volcanic outgassing and debris kicked into orbit by micrometeorite impacts.

Mercury's Horizon
A High-resolution Look over Mercury’s Northern Horizon. Credit: NASA/MESSENGER

Because it lacks a viable atmosphere, Mercury has no way to retain the heat from the Sun. As a result of this and its high eccentricity, the planet experiences considerable variations in temperature. Whereas the side that faces the Sun can reach temperatures of up to 700 K (427° C), while the side in shadow dips down to 100 K (-173° C).

Venus’ Atmosphere:

Surface observations of Venus have been difficult in the past, due to its extremely dense atmosphere, which is composed primarily of carbon dioxide with a small amount of nitrogen. At 92 bar (9.2 MPa), the atmospheric mass is 93 times that of Earth’s atmosphere and the pressure at the planet’s surface is about 92 times that at Earth’s surface.

Venus is also the hottest planet in our Solar System, with a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C/863.6 °F). This is due to the CO²-rich atmosphere which, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the Solar System. Above the dense CO² layer, thick clouds consisting mainly of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid droplets scatter about 90% of the sunlight back into space.

Another common phenomena is Venus’ strong winds, which reach speeds of up to 85 m/s (300 km/h; 186.4 mph) at the cloud tops and circle the planet every four to five Earth days. At this speed, these winds move up to 60 times the speed of the planet’s rotation, whereas Earth’s fastest winds are only 10-20% of the planet’s rotational speed.

Venus flybys have also indicated that its dense clouds are capable of producing lightning, much like the clouds on Earth. Their intermittent appearance indicates a pattern associated with weather activity, and the lightning rate is at least half of that on Earth.

Earth’s Atmosphere:

Earth’s atmosphere, which is composed of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide and other trace gases, also consists of five layers. These consists of the Troposphere, the Stratosphere, the Mesosphere, the Thermosphere, and the Exosphere. As a rule, air pressure and density decrease the higher one goes into the atmosphere and the farther one is from the surface.

 

Closest to the Earth is the Troposphere, which extends from the 0 to between 12 km and 17 km (0 to 7 and 10.56 mi) above the surface. This layer contains roughly 80% of the mass of Earth’s atmosphere, and nearly all atmospheric water vapor or moisture is found in here as well. As a result, it is the layer where most of Earth’s weather takes place.

The Stratosphere extends from the Troposphere to an altitude of 50 km (31 mi). This layer extends from the top of the troposphere to the stratopause, which is at an altitude of about 50 to 55 km (31 to 34 mi). This layer of the atmosphere is home to the ozone layer, which is the part of Earth’s atmosphere that contains relatively high concentrations of ozone gas.

Space Shuttle Endeavour sillouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere and the blue layer the mesosphere.[1] (The shuttle is actually orbiting at an altitude of more than 320 km (200 mi), far above all three layers.) Credit: NASA
Space Shuttle Endeavour sillouetted against the atmosphere. The orange layer is the troposphere, the white layer is the stratosphere and the blue layer the mesosphere. Credit: NASA

Next is the Mesosphere, which extends from a distance of 50 to 80 km (31 to 50 mi) above sea level. It is the coldest place on Earth and has an average temperature of around -85 °C (-120 °F; 190 K). The Thermosphere, the second highest layer of the atmosphere, extends from an altitude of about 80 km (50 mi) up to the thermopause, which is at an altitude of 500–1000 km (310–620 mi).

The lower part of the thermosphere, from 80 to 550 kilometers (50 to 342 mi), contains the ionosphere – which is so named because it is here in the atmosphere that particles are ionized by solar radiation.  This layer is completely cloudless and free of water vapor. It is also at this altitude that the phenomena known as Aurora Borealis and Aurara Australis are known to take place.

The Exosphere, which is outermost layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, extends from the exobase – located at the top of the thermosphere at an altitude of about 700 km above sea level – to about 10,000 km (6,200 mi). The exosphere merges with the emptiness of outer space, and is mainly composed of extremely low densities of hydrogen, helium and several heavier molecules including nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide

The exosphere is located too far above Earth for any meteorological phenomena to be possible. However, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis sometimes occur in the lower part of the exosphere, where they overlap into the thermosphere.

This photo of the aurora was taken by astronaut Doug Wheelock from the International Space Station on July 25, 2010. Credit: Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Photo of the aurora taken by astronaut Doug Wheelock from the International Space Station on July 25, 2010. Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center

The average surface temperature on Earth is approximately 14°C; but as already noted, this varies. For instance, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 70.7°C (159°F), which was taken in the Lut Desert of Iran. Meanwhile, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was measured at the Soviet Vostok Station on the Antarctic Plateau, reaching an historic low of -89.2°C (-129°F).

Mars’ Atmosphere:

Planet Mars has a very thin atmosphere which is composed of 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon and 1.89% nitrogen along with traces of oxygen and water. The atmosphere is quite dusty, containing particulates that measure 1.5 micrometers in diameter, which is what gives the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface. Mars’ atmospheric pressure ranges from 0.4 – 0.87 kPa, which is equivalent to about 1% of Earth’s at sea level.

 

Because of its thin atmosphere, and its greater distance from the Sun, the surface temperature of Mars is much colder than what we experience here on Earth. The planet’s average temperature is -46 °C (51 °F), with a low of -143 °C (-225.4 °F) during the winter at the poles, and a high of 35 °C (95 °F) during summer and midday at the equator.

The planet also experiences dust storms, which can turn into what resembles small tornadoes. Larger dust storms occur when the dust is blown into the atmosphere and heats up from the Sun. The warmer dust filled air rises and the winds get stronger, creating storms that can measure up to thousands of kilometers in width and last for months at a time. When they get this large, they can actually block most of the surface from view.

Mars, as it appears today, Credit: NASA
Mars, as it appears today, with a very thin and tenuous atmosphere. Credit: NASA

Trace amounts of methane have also been detected in the Martian atmosphere, with an estimated concentration of about 30 parts per billion (ppb). It occurs in extended plumes, and the profiles imply that the methane was released from specific regions – the first of which is located between Isidis and Utopia Planitia (30°N 260°W) and the second in Arabia Terra (0°N 310°W).

Ammonia was also tentatively detected on Mars by the Mars Express satellite, but with a relatively short lifetime. It is not clear what produced it, but volcanic activity has been suggested as a possible source.

Jupiter’s Atmosphere:

Much like Earth, Jupiter experiences auroras near its northern and southern poles. But on Jupiter, the auroral activity is much more intense and rarely ever stops. The intense radiation, Jupiter’s magnetic field, and the abundance of material from Io’s volcanoes that react with Jupiter’s ionosphere create a light show that is truly spectacular.

Jupiter also experiences violent weather patterns. Wind speeds of 100 m/s (360 km/h) are common in zonal jets, and can reach as high as 620 kph (385 mph). Storms form within hours and can become thousands of km in diameter overnight. One storm, the Great Red Spot, has been raging since at least the late 1600s. The storm has been shrinking and expanding throughout its history; but in 2012, it was suggested that the Giant Red Spot might eventually disappear.

Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide. These clouds are located in the tropopause and are arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as “tropical regions”. The cloud layer is only about 50 km (31 mi) deep, and consists of at least two decks of clouds: a thick lower deck and a thin clearer region.

There may also be a thin layer of water clouds underlying the ammonia layer, as evidenced by flashes of lightning detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter, which would be caused by the water’s polarity creating the charge separation needed for lightning. Observations of these electrical discharges indicate that they can be up to a thousand times as powerful as those observed here on the Earth.

 

Saturn’s Atmosphere:

The outer atmosphere of Saturn contains 96.3% molecular hydrogen and 3.25% helium by volume. The gas giant is also known to contain heavier elements, though the proportions of these relative to hydrogen and helium is not known. It is assumed that they would match the primordial abundance from the formation of the Solar System.

Trace amounts of ammonia, acetylene, ethane, propane, phosphine and methane have been also detected in Saturn’s atmosphere. The upper clouds are composed of ammonia crystals, while the lower level clouds appear to consist of either ammonium hydrosulfide (NH4SH) or water. Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun causes methane photolysis in the upper atmosphere, leading to a series of hydrocarbon chemical reactions with the resulting products being carried downward by eddies and diffusion.

Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits a banded pattern similar to Jupiter’s, but Saturn’s bands are much fainter and wider near the equator. As with Jupiter’s cloud layers, they are divided into the upper and lower layers, which vary in composition based on depth and pressure. In the upper cloud layers, with temperatures in range of 100–160 K and pressures between 0.5–2 bar, the clouds consist of ammonia ice.

Water ice clouds begin at a level where the pressure is about 2.5 bar and extend down to 9.5 bar, where temperatures range from 185–270 K. Intermixed in this layer is a band of ammonium hydrosulfide ice, lying in the pressure range 3–6 bar with temperatures of 290–235 K. Finally, the lower layers, where pressures are between 10–20 bar and temperatures are 270–330 K, contains a region of water droplets with ammonia in an aqueous solution.

On occasion, Saturn’s atmosphere exhibits long-lived ovals, similar to what is commonly observed on Jupiter. Whereas Jupiter has the Great Red Spot, Saturn periodically has what’s known as the Great White Spot (aka. Great White Oval). This unique but short-lived phenomenon occurs once every Saturnian year, roughly every 30 Earth years, around the time of the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice.

These spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide, and have been observed in 1876, 1903, 1933, 1960, and 1990. Since 2010, a large band of white clouds called the Northern Electrostatic Disturbance have been observed enveloping Saturn, which was spotted by the Cassini space probe. If the periodic nature of these storms is maintained, another one will occur in about 2020.

The winds on Saturn are the second fastest among the Solar System’s planets, after Neptune’s. Voyager data indicate peak easterly winds of 500 m/s (1800 km/h). Saturn’s northern and southern poles have also shown evidence of stormy weather. At the north pole, this takes the form of a hexagonal wave pattern, whereas the south shows evidence of a massive jet stream.

The persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north pole was first noted in the Voyager images. The sides of the hexagon are each about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long (which is longer than the diameter of the Earth) and the structure rotates with a period of 10h 39m 24s, which is assumed to be equal to the period of rotation of Saturn’s interior.

 

The south pole vortex, meanwhile, was first observed using the Hubble Space Telescope. These images indicated the presence of a jet stream, but not a hexagonal standing wave. These storms are estimated to be generating winds of 550 km/h, are comparable in size to Earth, and believed to have been going on for billions of years. In 2006, the Cassini space probe observed a hurricane-like storm that had a clearly defined eye. Such storms had not been observed on any planet other than Earth – even on Jupiter.

Uranus’ Atmosphere:

As with Earth, the atmosphere of Uranus is broken into layers, depending upon temperature and pressure. Like the other gas giants, the planet doesn’t have a firm surface, and scientists define the surface as the region where the atmospheric pressure exceeds one bar (the pressure found on Earth at sea level). Anything accessible to remote-sensing capability – which extends down to roughly 300 km below the 1 bar level – is also considered to be the atmosphere.

Diagram of the interior of Uranus. Credit: Public Domain
Diagram of the interior of Uranus. Credit: Public Domain

Using these references points, Uranus’  atmosphere can be divided into three layers. The first is the troposphere, between altitudes of -300 km below the surface and 50 km above it, where pressures range from 100 to 0.1 bar (10 MPa to 10 kPa). The second layer is the stratosphere, which reaches between 50 and 4000 km and experiences pressures between 0.1 and 10-10 bar (10 kPa to 10 µPa).

The troposphere is the densest layer in Uranus’ atmosphere. Here, the temperature ranges from 320 K (46.85 °C/116 °F) at the base (-300 km) to 53 K (-220 °C/-364 °F) at 50 km, with the upper region being the coldest in the solar system. The tropopause region is responsible for the vast majority of Uranus’s thermal infrared emissions, thus determining its effective temperature of 59.1 ± 0.3 K.

Within the troposphere are layers of clouds – water clouds at the lowest pressures, with ammonium hydrosulfide clouds above them. Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide clouds come next. Finally, thin methane clouds lay on the top.

In the stratosphere, temperatures range from 53 K (-220 °C/-364 °F) at the upper level to between 800 and 850 K (527 – 577 °C/980 – 1070 °F) at the base of the thermosphere, thanks largely to heating caused by solar radiation. The stratosphere contains ethane smog, which may contribute to the planet’s dull appearance. Acetylene and methane are also present, and these hazes help warm the stratosphere.

Uranus. Image credit: Hubble
Uranus, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/Hubble

The outermost layer, the thermosphere and corona, extend from 4,000 km to as high as 50,000 km from the surface. This region has a uniform temperature of 800-850 (577 °C/1,070 °F), although scientists are unsure as to the reason. Because the distance to Uranus from the Sun is so great, the amount of sunlight absorbed cannot be the primary cause.

Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus’s weather follows a similar pattern where systems are broken up into bands that rotate around the planet, which are driven by internal heat rising to the upper atmosphere. As a result, winds on Uranus can reach up to 900 km/h (560 mph), creating massive storms like the one spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2012. Similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, this “Dark Spot” was a giant cloud vortex that measured 1,700 kilometers by 3,000 kilometers (1,100 miles by 1,900 miles).

 

Neptune’s Atmosphere:

At high altitudes, Neptune’s atmosphere is 80% hydrogen and 19% helium, with a trace amount of methane. As with Uranus, this absorption of red light by the atmospheric methane is part of what gives Neptune its blue hue, although Neptune’s is darker and more vivid. Because Neptune’s atmospheric methane content is similar to that of Uranus, some unknown constituent is thought to contribute to Neptune’s more intense coloring.

Neptune’s atmosphere is subdivided into two main regions: the lower troposphere (where temperature decreases with altitude), and the stratosphere (where temperature increases with altitude). The boundary between the two, the tropopause, lies at a pressure of 0.1 bars (10 kPa). The stratosphere then gives way to the thermosphere at a pressure lower than 10-5 to 10-4 microbars (1 to 10 Pa), which gradually transitions to the exosphere.

Neptune’s spectra suggest that its lower stratosphere is hazy due to condensation of products caused by the interaction of ultraviolet radiation and methane (i.e. photolysis), which produces compounds such as ethane and ethyne. The stratosphere is also home to trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, which are responsible for Neptune’s stratosphere being warmer than that of Uranus.

In this image, the colors and contrasts were modified to emphasize the planet’s atmospheric features. The winds in Neptune’s atmosphere can reach the speed of sound or more. Neptune’s Great Dark Spot stands out as the most prominent feature on the left. Several features, including the fainter Dark Spot 2 and the South Polar Feature, are locked to the planet’s rotation, which allowed Karkoschka to precisely determine how long a day lasts on Neptune. (Image: Erich Karkoschka)
A modified color/contrast image emphasizing Neptune’s atmospheric features, including wind speed. Credit Erich Karkoschka)

For reasons that remain obscure, the planet’s thermosphere experiences unusually high temperatures of about 750 K (476.85 °C/890 °F). The planet is too far from the Sun for this heat to be generated by ultraviolet radiation, which means another heating mechanism is involved – which could be the atmosphere’s interaction with ion’s in the planet’s magnetic field, or gravity waves from the planet’s interior that dissipate in the atmosphere.

Because Neptune is not a solid body, its atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The wide equatorial zone rotates with a period of about 18 hours, which is slower than the 16.1-hour rotation of the planet’s magnetic field. By contrast, the reverse is true for the polar regions where the rotation period is 12 hours.

 

This differential rotation is the most pronounced of any planet in the Solar System, and results in strong latitudinal wind shear and violent storms. The three most impressive were all spotted in 1989 by the Voyager 2 space probe, and then named based on their appearances.

The first to be spotted was a massive anticyclonic storm measuring 13,000 x 6,600 km and resembling the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Known as the Great Dark Spot, this storm was not spotted five later (Nov. 2nd, 1994) when the Hubble Space Telescope looked for it. Instead, a new storm that was very similar in appearance was found in the planet’s northern hemisphere, suggesting that these storms have a shorter life span than Jupiter’s.

Reconstruction of Voyager 2 images showing the Great Black spot (top left), Scooter (middle), and the Small Black Spot (lower right). Credit: NASA/JPL
Reconstruction of Voyager 2 images showing the Great Black spot (top left), Scooter (middle), and the Small Black Spot (lower right). Credit: NASA/JPL

The Scooter is another storm, a white cloud group located farther south than the Great Dark Spot – a nickname that first arose during the months leading up to the Voyager 2 encounter in 1989. The Small Dark Spot, a southern cyclonic storm, was the second-most-intense storm observed during the 1989 encounter. It was initially completely dark; but as Voyager 2 approached the planet, a bright core developed and could be seen in most of the highest-resolution images.

In sum, the planet’s of our Solar System all have atmospheres of sorts. And compared to Earth’s relatively balmy and thick atmosphere, they run the gamut between very very thin to very very dense. They also range in temperatures from the extremely hot (like on Venus) to the extreme freezing cold.

And when it comes to weather systems, things can equally extreme, with planet’s boasting either weather at all, or intense cyclonic and dust storms that put storms here n Earth to shame. And whereas some are entirely hostile to life as we know it, others we might be able to work with.

We have many interesting articles about planetary atmosphere’s here at Universe Today. For instance, he’s What is the Atmosphere?, and articles about the atmosphere of MercuryVenusMarsJupiterSaturnUranus and Neptune,

For more information on atmospheres, check out NASA’s pages on Earth’s Atmospheric LayersThe Carbon Cycle, and how Earth’s atmosphere differs from space.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on the source of the atmosphere.

Source: This article was published universetoday.com By Matt Williams

Categorized in Internet Technology

Earth is a pretty nifty place. I mean, I’ve spent my entire life here and I’m guessing you have, too, and there’s plenty to see and do, but why is it here at all? For a long time, researchers have tried to answer that question with varying degrees of success, but a new theory of how Earth formed is gaining traction, and it might be the explanation we’ve been looking for.

 

The most widely-accepted explanation for how Earth and most terrestrial plants formed hinges on materials orbiting a newborn star — in this case, our sun — which bunched up and formed planets. It’s a fine theory, but some researchers have grown increasingly skeptical that the materials that make up our planet, which is rocky and iron-rich, could have stuck together on their own.

A new idea, introduced by Alexander Hubbard, a Ph.D. in Astronomy who now works with the American Museum of Natural History, turns to the sun for an explanation. Hubbard has proposed that the sun went through a period of intense volatility in which essentially roasted much of the material in its immediate vicinity, stretching as far as Mars. The softened materials would have been the right consistency to bunch up and form planets, and would explain why the rocky worlds of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars sprung up.

 

Hubbard’s theory isn’t just a random guess; He’s basing the idea on observed behavior of an infant star which went through a phase just like the one he’s proposing of our own sun. FU Orionis was first observed rapidly brightening in 1936 and at present it shines over 100 times brighter than it did when originally observed. If our own sun pulled the same trick in its early life it could have been exactly what was needed to form our planet.

Source: This article was published on bgr.com by Mike Wehner


Categorized in Internet Technology
NASA's Space Poop Challenge has awarded $30,000 in prizes to space tech pioneers for their spacesuit toilet innovations.
Credit: NASA

Turns out, space poop is a problem that puzzles thousands of people. After NASA asked for solutions to let astronauts urinate and defecate inside a spacesuit for up to six days, more than 5,000 entries (representing 20,000 people) answered the call.

The winner of the $15,000 Space Poop Challenge prize was Thatcher Cardon, for a solution called "MACES Perineal Access & Toileting System (M-PATS)." Details on the system were not immediately available.

Cardon explained how he devised the idea for the system.

 

"I was really interested in the problem, though, and spent some time lying down, eyes closed, just visualizing different solutions and modelling them mentally," Cardon, a colonel and commander of the 47th Medical Group at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, said in a statement by HeroX, which oversaw the challenge for NASA. [How Astronauts Use the Bathroom in Space: A Guide]

"Over time, the winning system of ideas coalesced," Cardon said. "Then, I packed up the family, and we drove around Del Rio, Texas, to dollar stores, thrift stores, craft stores, clothing and hardware stores to get materials for mock-ups."

The second-place prize of $10,000 was awarded to a system dubbed "Space Poop Unification of Doctors (SPUDs) Team – Air-powered," by Katherine Kin, Stacey Marie Louie and Tony Gonzales. The $5,000 third-place prize went to Hugo Shelley's "Spacesuit Waste Disposal System."

NASA scientists said they were pleasantly surprised by the public's interest in the challenge.

"The response to the Space Poop Challenge exceeded all of our expectations," Steve Rader, NASA tournament lab deputy director, said in a statement. "The level of participation and interest went far beyond what we expected for such a short competition." [In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Poop (Video)]

"It was wonderful to see the global response from our crowdsourcing challenge," added Kirstyn Johnson, NASA spacesuit technology engineer. "We enjoyed seeing the innovative approaches that were sent in given such a demanding scenario. Others at NASA are now thinking about ways we can leverage a crowdsourcing approach to solve some more of our spaceflight challenges."

 

The contest opened in October and invited participants to create a system inside a spacesuit to flush away urine, feces and menstrual fluid. The goal is to make the system function for 144 hours — long enough to keep an astronaut alive for a rescue if his or her spacecraft were to be disabled and out of breathable air.

NASA astronauts' current method of waste disposal involves using a diaper during spacewalks and launch and entry, but these systems can be used only for about a day. The agency noted that it is difficult to design pooping systems for microgravity, where fluids and other things float. Maintaining good hygiene for these systems was among the primary challenges participants were tasked with solving.

 

In a description of the challenge, NASA said it was looking for technologies that have a "technical readiness level of 4" on its "ready for flight" scale, meaning that the solution could be tested in one year and be ready for space in three years. NASA added that it would consider solutions that would need more time if they were considered breakthroughs.

This article was originally published on space.com By Elizabeth Howell

Categorized in How to

 

Life as we know it almost came to an end Wednesday when an asteroid narrowly missed Earth as it whizzed by, but fortunately close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Most humans across the planet went on with their day as usual, oblivious to the event which NASA discovered just two days before it happened.

The US space agency announced the asteroid named 2016 RB1 passed about 25,000 miles (40,000km) from our collective home, roughly one tenth the distance between the Earth and the moon.

Even if it had hit the Earth’s surface, its estimated size of 25 by 50 feet is much smaller than the one believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.


It also passed the Earth at the South Pole, so any destruction may have been limited to scientific researchers, cruise ship passengers, and penguins.

NASA claims it’s the closest an asteroid will come to Earth for “at least the next half century.”

 

The space rock was discovered by astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey at the summit of Mount Lemmon north of Tucson, Arizona.

An asteroid of similar size left more than 1,200 people injured when it hit Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013.

Source : https://www.rt.com/viral/358666-asteroid-narrowly-misses-earth/

 

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