Happy Birthday Hubble.

Can you believe that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched 24 years ago!

File:Hubble Probes the Early Universe.jpg

It seems like yesterday that we knew everything about the universe…and then Hubble rewrote (and continues to rewrite) our understanding of the universe.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field and others showed us that what we thought was empty space, was actually quite busy.  Everything in that image above is another galaxy.

Considering the size of the field of view (shown above) of the Hubble for those deep field views, there is an amazing amount of places in the universe to explore.

Using the Hubble, astronomers where able to find dark matter and fill in about 5% of the matter that is missing from the universe.

So how much longer can Hubble last?  There are no more service missions scheduled for the Hubble and the last mission was in 2009.  Eventually, the giant space telescope will run out of gas.  It’s last command will be to crash down into the Pacific Ocean in a fiery death.  That will be a sad day.  But the data and pioneering efforts of the world’s first space-based optical telescope will be around for years to come.

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/800x600_autoletterbox/public/heic1406a.jpg?itok=_iijvPZx

In honor of the 24th anniversary of the Hubble, NASA announced that it will release an infrared image of a nearby star factor known as the Monkey Head Nebula (or known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252).

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Wake Up!

The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.

During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins.  The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.

When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.

Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.

Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit.  At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa.  What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.

Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers,  fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth.  And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).

There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular.  I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have.  We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Back to Life for WISE

A wise man once said: “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.”

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft has been re-activated and called up for duty by NASA.  After being placed in hibernation (a low power state) for the past three years, WISE will be fully functional again next month.

 A WISE

WISE’s original mission was to create infrared images of 99 percent of the sky, with at least eight images made of each position on the sky in order to increase accuracy.

WISE was placed in a 326 mi (525 km), circular, polar, sun-synchronous orbit during its original ten month mission.  During that time the spacecraft took 1.5 million images, one every 11 seconds.

NASA approached Congress in 2007 about using WISE for finding Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) and with a couple of close flyby’s and the massive bolide in Siberia a few months ago, it seemed prudent to try and find these NEO’s before they find us.

WISE will also be used to find asteroids suitable for exploration missions and NASA’s asteroid initiative, or how to catch an release an asteroid.

It shows that keeping some spacecraft operational after their mission (instead of crashing them down to Earth) can be productive.

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Kepler’s Dead, Long Live Kepler.

The Kepler spacecraft is no longer able to accurately point with enough accuracy to continue its exo-planet hunting mission.

FILE - This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. NASA is calling off all attempts to fix the crippled space telescope. But it's not quite ready to call it quits on the robotic planet hunter. Officials said Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 they're looking at what science might be salvaged by using the broken spacecraft as is. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

So last week NASA called off attempts to fix Kepler’s frozen gyroscopes.  So now, officials are looking at what science, if any, can be done by the broken spacecraft.

As I have stated before, this doen’t mean that the mission was a failure.  Kepler has been operating on extended time since it completed its primary mission ended last November.  Kepler has  confirmed 135 exo-planets and has identified more than 3,500 candidate planets.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of more exoplanets are expected from the data collected by Kepler.  It will take at least another three years to analyze the remaining data.

Considering what a small area of space that Kepler was observing, this was a remarkable mission.

“We literally expect … the most exciting discoveries are to come in the next few years as we search through all this data,” he said.

NASA expects to know by year’s end what can be salvaged for Kepler.

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Big Blue.

Once again, Hubble has expanded the Universe of our knowledge.

This time, Astronomers found the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.  The planet, HD 189733b, isn’t just blue, its big, at least the size of Jupiter.  The cobalt blue color doesn’t come from water reflection, like Earth, but most likely from the blow-torched atmosphere.  There is even speculation that there is solid silica rain (glass rain).

However fun a glass rain storm would be probably pales in comparison to the 2,000 degree Fahrenheit  (1093 Celsius) temperature and 4,500/mph (7242/ kph) wind.  Shards of glass flying at you very fast, what’s not to love about a planet like that?

Using Hubble’s Imaging Spectrograph, Astronomers measured changes in the color of light from planet HD 189733b during its transit behind the star it orbits.  Fortuitously, the planet’s orbit is tilted edge-on with respect to the Earth so the planet routinely passes in front and behind its star.

Hubble’s instruments measured about 1/10,000 of the light you would normally see.  “We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue, but not in the green or the red. This means that the object that disappeared is blue because light was missing in the blue, but not in the red when it was hidden.”

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Jelly Doughnuts!

“Mmmmm…doughnuts” Homer Simpson.

Today is Friday, and I am in charge of bringing in the doughnuts (or donuts if you prefer) and bagels for everyone in the office.

Today it turns out that the jelly doughnuts and bagels have switched metaphoric states.

M57LRGBa(500).jpg (44902 bytes)

Credit: Alson Wong (http://www.alsonwongastro.com/m57-ring.htm)

Most of my pictures look like my friend Alson Wong’s image above.  (Alson, I needed to borrow yours because I can’t find mine, thanks).  You could always see that there was some material in the center  portion, but it was thought to be the expanding matter blown off from the central star.

A core disc of dark, smokey blue crossed with wisps of violet and ringed with all the colors of the rainbow before exploding into shells of red gasses streaking out across the stars

However, a new image by Hubble has lead team leader C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University to state that: “The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it’s like a jelly doughnut, because it’s filled with material in the middle.”

One of the reasons that the ring nebula is so interesting, is because it is a prelude to what could happen with our Sun.  Although the star at the center of the ring was much larger than our Sun, it should end up in a similar fate.  Blowing of material and becoming a white dwarf.  From millions of times the size of the Earth, to about the same size (although a lot hotter and denser).

Someone once asked me why I keep taking images that everyone else has already imaged.  The answer, of course, is you never know what you will find.  Many new discoveries in space happen because of directed research by professionals (like this one), but a good amount of discoveries happen because some amateur astronomer was imaging the same thing and something new showed up.

RTMC_CLogoJ.jpg (9992 bytes)

We have only been peering at the heavens seriously for about 400 years.  We tracked the stars way before that, but serious, scientific inquiry is only about 400 years old.  The star that formed the ring is relatively young in comparison, the event happened about 4,000 years ago and will go on for another 10,000 years or so.

BIG PLUG for RTMC.

This weekend, if you want to learn more about astronomy, how to make your own telescope, view the night sky.  The RTMC Astronomy Expo is being held near Big Bear California this weekend.  Go here for more information.  I’ll be there and I’m sure that the will be jelly doughnuts….mmmmmm.

- Ex astris, scientia -

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman