After the Moon and Mars, ISRO eyes Venus for next exploration mission


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After the successful launch of its Mars orbiter, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now viewing Venus as possibly the next planet it can study and explore.

“Besides the Mars-2 mission, we are looking at Venus and even an asteroid for exploration. A project has to be formulated for this before we chart out a proper roadmap for the explorations.  Venus is our neighbour and has many scientific challenges and aspects that need to be studied. Exploring an asteroid is also challenging task,” Dr Kiran Kumar, Isro chairman, told HT.

In 2014, India created history in space when its Mars orbiter slipped into the Red Planet’s orbit in its maiden attempt.

India became the first Asian country to reach Mars and the first in the world to enter the orbit of the planet in its first attempt.

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Photo of Mars as taken by ISRO’s Mars Oriber Mission

Regarding the Saarc satellite, Dr Kumar said that it would be launched before December 2016. “The activities related to this project are in progress and we should begin building the satellite soon.”

Moving beyond satellite launches and planetary explorations, Isro is also aggressively working with many government departments on optimising the usage of space tools and data.

A national meet on space is likely to be held in Delhi next month, where ministries and departments of the government will give presentations on how they are using space tools in their workings. From civil aviation to railways, tribal affairs to health, postal to agriculture the number of government departments working with Isro has increased to more than 60 in the past few months.

Source : HindustanTimes

The New Horizons Pluto mission is a big deal. Here are Some reasons why


SOURCE : vox.com 

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is about to show us an alien world for the first time. At precisely 7:49 am ET on Tuesday, the probe will become the first spacecraft to fly by Pluto.

New Horizons has been en route for nine years, traveling more than 3 billion miles. The flyby will be over in a matter of minutes, as the probe frantically takes hundreds of photos and collects data on Pluto’s atmosphere, geology, and moons. All this data will be enormously valuable to scientists as they seek to understand our solar system and how it formed billions of years ago.

More than anything, this mission is about broadening our horizons — taking in just a little bit more of the impossibly vast universe we live in.

1) We’ve never seen Pluto before

Pluto feels familiar. It’s easy to imagine the small, frigid rock, millions of miles from the sun and covered in ice.

But what you’re picturing in your head when you think about Pluto is probably an artist’s illustration. Until very recently, we didn’t even know exactly what color it was — and the best photos we had of Pluto looked like this:

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New Horizons is going to change that in a very big way. Already, as it’s closed in on Pluto, it’s given us way better photos than ever before:

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Pluto (right) and its moon Charon, as seen by New Horizons on July 11. (NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)

The high-resolution photos to come will give us detailed topographical maps, just like those provided by the satellites that orbit Earth. They could reveal mountains, ice caps, volcanoes, or even an ocean of liquid water under the ice. “Who knows what kind of bizarre things we’ll find up close?” Stern said.

2) This mission will remind you how vast space really is

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Earth, as seen by the Voyager spacecraft, from more than 4 billion miles away.

We spend our entire lives on the surface of Earth — so it’s hard to really grasp how far away Pluto truly is from us.

But as an analogy, think of Earth as a basketball. By comparison, Pluto would be a little larger than a golf ball. But if you wanted to keep the scale constant, you’d have to put that golf ball incredibly far away: 50 to 80 miles (depending on its location in orbit). This mission, like many activities in space, is a good reminder of how vast our corner of the universe is — and how absurdly tiny our entire earthly realm of experience is by comparison.

And it’s not just the size of space that boggles the mind. It’s also the timescale on which everything occurs. Pluto takes 248 Earth years to orbit the sun. To put it another way, the entirety of US history has occurred during a single Plutonian orbit.

3) We won’t get many more missions like this for a while

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There’s a mission to Europa planned, but it won’t reach the moon for a decade or more.

The past few decades have been filled with all sorts of fascinating missions to the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets of our solar system — uncrewed probes sent every few years, run by trained scientists, and supported by government funding.

But the sad truth is that this era is largely drawing to a close. As David W. Brown writes in an article on the dark future of American space exploration, “There is nothing budgeted in the pipeline to take its place. Yesterday invested in today. But we are not investing in tomorrow.”

This is the result of cutbacks to NASA’s planetary exploration budget. The OSIRIS-REx probe will launch next year, to travel to an asteroid and bring back a sample, but it won’t return until 2023. Meanwhile, a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa is in the works, but it likely won’t be launched until 2025 at the earliest, and wouldn’t reach Europa until the 2030s.

In other words: Enjoy this brief flyby. It’s going to be a while before any NASA probe visits a new world.

4)This is a staggering technological achievement

t’s hard to appreciate just how difficult it is to send a spacecraft to Pluto. But think of it this way: because it’s so incredibly far away, it took New Horizons nine years to cover the 3-billion-mile trip there — which means the craft is using decade-old technology, traveling a route that was calculated years ago.

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New Horizons’ trajectory through the solar system.

Despite this, NASA engineers managed to get the tiny probe — about the size and shape of a grand piano — to an incredibly precise spot in space, using Jupiter’s gravity as a slingshot to accelerate it outward and a few thruster burns over the years to keep the probe on track.

Along the way, they had to worry about potentially damaging debris nearby Pluto — as well as a scary software glitch this past weekend, which was, thankfully, resolved. Now New Horizons is going to fly within 7,750 miles of Pluto, coming closer than its moons.

Because New Horizons is traveling at such a high speed (about 31,000 miles per hour) and can’t slow down, the flyby will be over in a matter of minutes — fording it to collect all its data in a tiny window of time.

And receiving all that data is another huge challenge. Because New Horizons is so far away, it takes about 4.5 hours for any data it sends back to reach Earth. And the signal is so faint that NASA has to use 200-foot-wide radio dishes (one each in Australia, California, and Spain) to pick it up. This means an extremely low rate of data transmission: about 1 kilobit per second, more than 50 times slower than a 56k modem from the ’90s. It takes more than 42 minutes for New Horizons to fully transmit an image that’s 1024 pixels wide.

If you haven’t been paying attention so far, now’s the time to start. This is a really big deal.

NASA’s Messenger Spacecraft Crashes into Mercury, Captures Stunning Shots Before Demise


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Artist rendering of Messenger above Mercury.

NASA confirmed Thursday afternoon that its Messenger spacecraft collided into Mercury’s surface at more than 8,000 mph, creating a new crater on the planet.

NOTE : MESSENGER (a backronym of MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) was a robotic NASA spacecraft which orbited the planet Mercury.MESSENGER became the second mission after Mariner 10’s 1975 flyby to reach Mercury when it made a flyby in January 2008, followed by a second flyby in October 2008, and a third flyby in September 2009, prior to entering Mercury’s orbit in March 2011. It was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

“Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating Messenger as more than a successful mission,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said. “The Messenger mission will continue to provide scientists with a bonanza of new results as we begin the next phase of this mission — analyzing the exciting data already in the archives, and unraveling the mysteries of Mercury.”

But before Messenger’s years-long mission came an end, NASA released several new photos of Mercury, as taken by the spacecraft. Some of these photos were composite imagery, combining years of data and photos collected by Messenger, according to CNET.

Here’s one of the incredible false-color images recently published by NASA. The different colors signify variations in mineral composition, topography and other factors on Mercury’s surface.

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Here are some images of Mercury,

Click Image to Start Slideshow

The mission ended, according to NASA, because the spacecraft’s thrusters have run out of fuel.

Source : Weather.com

This woman wants to live and die on Mars—and 200,000 others would gladly take her place


Volker Maiwald, executive officer and habitat engineer of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, walks among the rock formations in the Utah desert

Ok, it’s Utah – but we can dream. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Dina was born in Iraq, lives in the US, and may end her life on Mars.

She’s one of 663 people who are still in the running for a place on the first four-person team that Mars One, a Dutch organization launched in 2011, wants to send to the red planet. Candidates have been whittled down from some 200,000 who applied.

In a video made for the Guardian by Stateless Media, Dina (whose last name isn’t given) and two other hopefuls—one from the UK, one from Mozambique—discuss love, sex, and death on Mars.

Dina is 29 now, but she’ll be nearing 40 by the time of the Mars mission’s planned launch in 2024. She could be almost a year older than that when they arrive on Mars, which is up to 300 days’ travel away .
Her days may then be numbered. A group of strategic engineering graduates estimated that the first of the travelers would die in 68 days—though the plan is to live there much longer .

Intimacy is not encouraged, because of the potential risks of childbirth—though in the long term the future of colony would rely on it .

No one will return from the mission. This led, last year, to a prohibition on Muslims joining the mission , issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates. It judged the mission to be so inevitably fatal that it is essentially suicide.

In the future, the mission plans to meet its costs, to a large extent, via broadcast rights . The first mission will cost $6 billion, according to estimates, though a subsequent mission—a plan is already in the pipeline—would be somewhat cheaper.

Source : qz.com

Europe Wants To Send Humans To The Dark Side Of The Moon


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(Click Image to Download)

Should we return to the Moon? While Elon Musk, Mars One, and even NASA have their sights set on the Red planet, many think that the Moon is a better option for space exploration .
The European Space Agency (ESA) is one – they just released a new video stating that the Moon is an important and crucial step in mankind’s future.

“In the future, the Moon can become a place where the nations of the world can come together to understand our common origins, to build a common future, and to share a common journey beyond. A place where we can learn to move onwards into the solar system,” ESA explains in the video “Destination: Moon” .

ESA envisions future manned missions to the far side of the Moon – also known as the dark side of the Moon because it never faces the Earth (though it isn’t shrouded in darkness at all). This alien landscape is a rugged terrain, scarred with billions of years worth of impact craters, including one of the largest impact craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.

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Photograph of the far side of the moon taken by a crew member on Apollo 16.

Scientists think the crater formed around 4 billion years ago. Inside of this 8.1-mile-deep crater, certain parts are shrouded in perpetual, freezing darkness, but at the crater’s rim, shown below, are high, mountainous peaks that bathe in almost-constant sunlight. It’s here, on these lunar mountains that ESA plans to send robots and eventually humans.

By sending future missions to the Moon we will be able to answer questions like:

  • Is there water elsewhere on the Moon?
  • If so, how much?
  • Where did it come from?
  • And what can it teach us about the origins of water and life on Earth?

If the Moon proves to have an abundant store of water under it surface, then future human generations can use the hydrogen and oxygen atoms for rocket fuel.

To Check out the full video Goto to Business Insider

U.S. and Russian Astronauts to Spend One Year on the ISS


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In another U.S. and Russian joint mission, American Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend 12 months on the International Space Station starting this March, confirms NASA.

During their one year stay in the ISS, Kelly and Kornienko will perform seven research experiments to aid scientists gather significant knowledge on the biomedical, psychological and medical challenges faced by astronauts in long-term space flight.

Among other things, scientists will study differences in vision, functionality, mental health, metabolic processes and physical performance separately from behavioral changes and motor performance.

Another set of tests will be conducted on Kelly and Astronaut Mark Kelly, Scott Kelly’s twin brother and also an astronaut who will stay on Earth.

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“These investigations will provide broader insight into the subtle effects and changes that may occur in spaceflight as compared to Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments for one year,” NASA said in a statement.

Mark Kelly’s experience includes piloting Space Transportation System 108 (Endeavour), STS-124 (Discovery Commander) and STS-134 (Endeavour Commander).

Scott Kelly was a crewman of STS-103 in 1999; STS-118 in 2007 and a 159-day stay on the ISS starting on October 7, 2010.
It’s going to be a strangely extensive space mission since a typical NASA mission to the ISS lasts no more than six months.

Source : full-timewhistle.com

You can soon bury your DNA on Moon!


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(Click Image to Download)

A British space consultant will charge people 50 pounds or so to place a sample of their DNA in an archive to be buried on the Moon. Called Lunar Mission One, the archive is the brainchild of David Iron, who has worked on Skynet, the UK spy satellite network, and Galileo, the European Union’s global positioning system. He will offer people a chance to place a sample of their DNA, in the form of a strand of hair, in an archive to be buried on the Moon, alongside a digital history of as much of their lives as they want to record.

However, Iron needs at least 10 million people to do this if he is to generate the 500 million pounds the moon shot will need, ‘New Scientist’ reported.

Iron and his colleagues have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the initial 600,000 pounds of seed funding needed to set up the company to commission designs for the spacecraft, which it is hoped will blast off in 2024. Iron is working with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, UK.Lunar Mission One plans to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon’s south pole. It will then drill at least 20 metres into the lunar crust, extracting core samples to be analysed on the craft. “No lunar or planetary mission of any kind has ever drilled to a significant depth below the surface. The deepest Apollo drill core was only 3 metres long,” said Ian Crawford at Birkbeck College, London, Lunar Mission One’s chief planetary scientist.

“The drill will enable the geothermal gradient, and thus lunar heatflow, to be measured for the first time,” Crawford said.

After about six months, capsules containing the DNA and digital data will be injected into the borehole, which will then be sealed.

Source : Deccan herald

Cool NASA Animation Beautifully Details Every Step of Orion’s First Launch!


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Source : universetoday.com

Video Caption: Animation details NASA’s Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission launching on Dec. 4. 2014. Credit: NASA

It’s not Science Fiction! It’s Not Star Trek!

No. It’s a really, really big NASA Mission! It’s Orion!

In fact, it’s the biggest and most important development in US Human Spaceflight since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Orion is launching soon on its first flight, the pathfinding Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission and sets NASA on the path to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

Watch this cool NASA animation beautifully detailing every key step of Orion’s First Launch!

Orion is designed to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Even farther into deep space than NASA’s Apollo moon landing which ended more than four decades ago!

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Orion atop Delta 4 Heavy Booster. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett (Click Image to Download)

We are T-MINUS 4 Days and Counting to the inaugural blastoff of Orion as of today, Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Every aspect of the final processing steps now in progress by engineers and technicians from NASA, rocket provider United Launch Alliance, and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin is proceeding smoothly and marching towards launch.

Orion will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on its inaugural test flight to space on the uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission at 7:05 a.m. EST on December 4, 2014, from Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The two-orbit, four and a half hour Orion EFT-1 flight around Earth will lift the Orion spacecraft and its attached second stage to an orbital altitude of 3,600 miles, about 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) – and farther than any human spacecraft has journeyed in 40 years.

Orion is NASA’s next generation human rated vehicle that will carry America’s astronauts beyond Earth on voyages venturing farther into deep space than ever before – beyond the Moon to Asteroids, Mars, and other destinations in our Solar System.