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

A way to explore Venus


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NASA Langley researchers want to get a better idea about conditions on our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, so they have come up with HAVOC or a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept – a lighter-than-air rocket ship that would help send two astronauts on a 30-day mission to explore the planet’s atmosphere. Exploration of Venus is a challenge not only because its smog-like sulfuric acid-laced atmosphere, but also its extremely hot surface temperature and extremely high air pressure on the surface.

VIDEO : NASA Asteroid Bennu’s Journey


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Bennu’s Journey is a 6-minute animated movie about NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, Asteroid Bennu, and the formation of our solar system. Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years, Asteroid Bennu has had a tough life in a rough neighborhood – the early solar system. Bennu’s Journey shows what is known and what remains mysterious about the evolution of Bennu and the planets. By retrieving a sample of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will teach us more about the raw ingredients of the solar system and our own origins.

Venus Express Spacecraft, Low On Fuel, Does Delicate Dance Above Doom Below


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It’s been an interesting year for Venus Express. A few months ago, controllers deliberately dipped the spacecraft into the atmosphere of the planet — for science purposes, of course. The daring maneuver was approved because the spacecraft is near the end of its mission. It’s nearly out of fuel and will fall into Venus — sometime. Likely in 2015. No one knows exactly when, however.

Until Dec. 30, European Space Agency operators are going to boost the spacecraft’s orbit to try to get a little more productivity out of it. After that, all depends on what gas is left in the tank.
The push against the dense atmosphere revealed a few surprises. In a recent blog post, ESA said the atmosphere was changing more than expected. Between different altitudes, controllers sometimes saw a steady rise in pressure and sometimes multiple peaks. The spacecraft’s journeys took it as low as 129.2 kilometers (80 miles) above the surface, but mostly involving a month of “surfing” between 131 km and 135 km (81.4 miles and 83.9 miles).

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Artist’s impression of Venus Express performing aerobreaking maneuvers in the planet’s atmosphere in June and July 2014. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau (Click Image to Download) 

“One possible explanation is that we detected atmospheric waves,” stated Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express project scientist.

“These features can be caused when high speed winds travel over mountain ranges. The waves then propagate upwards. However, such waves have never before been detected at such heights – twice the altitude of the cloud deck that blankets Venus.”

ESA observed that the atmospheric density increased 1,000 times between 165 km and 130 km (102.5 miles and 80.8 miles) and that it also changed when the spacecraft moved from day to night (specifically, it was four times greater on the sunlit side.) Measurements were also taken of high-energy particles and Venus’ magnetic fields, which are still being examined.

But now, the end is indeed near for the spacecraft after eight years at Venus — four times longer than its primary mission. Although it is healthy and performing routine science operations, fuel is only standing at around 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) and oxidizer at 5 kg (11 lbs). It’s possible not all of it is accessible due to propellant movement in the tanks, ESA said. The new maneuvers are expected to subtract 1.4 kg of fuel and 2 kg of oxidizer from these totals.

“Unfortunately, we do not know how much fuel remains in its tanks, but we are intending to continue the up-down process as long as possible, until the propellant runs out,” Svedhem added.

“We have yet to decide whether we shall simply continue until we lose control, allowing it to enter the atmosphere and burn up naturally, or whether we attempt a controlled descent until it breaks up.”

Source : Universe Today

Image shows how EVERY planet can fit between Earth and Moon !!!


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How many planets can you fit between Earth and the moon? If your answer was anything less than ‘all of them’ then we’re afraid you’re incorrect.

In an amazing mosaic image it’s shown how you can fit all other worlds in the solar system between us and our natural satellite, with room to spare.

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In reality the distance between Earth and the moon varies from 225,622 miles (363,104km) to 252,088 miles (405,696km) – the lower limit of which would not leave room for Neptune.

However, Fraser Cain from Universe Today did the maths and found the numbers were a little off, with the actual distance left when using the average Earth-moon distance would be about 2,729 miles (4,392km). This, he says, would be enough to also fit Pluto in the line-up and another dwarf planet except Eris, which is too large.

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Last year astronomical artist Ron Miller created eye-opening illustrations imagining what the night sky would look like if the moon was replaced by the other planets in the solar system. Here we see how big Jupiter would look in the sky if it were in the position of the moon.

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This incredible image was taken by Nasa’s Juno spacecraft on its way to Jupiter in August 2011. It shows how big the gap is between Earth (the white dot on the left) and the moon (the dot on the right). Here they are 250,000 miles (402,000km) apart. It was taken from a distance of six million miles (9.7 million km).

So,By seeing these images you will get the idea of HOW BIG IS THE UNIVERSE

source : DailyMail

Did Venus give Earth the moon?


 

 

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LONDON —The Earth’s moon may be a present from Venus, which once had a moon and then lost it, a new theory suggests. Under the theory, Earth’s gravity captured Venus’ old moon, giving our planet its big natural satellite.

This idea contrasts to the thinking of the vast majority of moon researchers, who believe that the Earth’s moon formed some 4.5 billion years ago when a planet-size body slammed into nascent Earth at high speed.

This giant impact hypothesis, however, has its own issues, as did all the alternative moon formation theories discussed this week at the Origin of the Moon conference at the Royal Society here. [The Moon: 10 Surprising Lunar Facts]

“I think part of the key to [understanding] the moon may be that Venus has no moon, and we certainly have to study it (Venus) more,” said Dave Stevenson, professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology, who proposed the Venus idea at the conference. In an interview with SPACE.com after his presentation, Stevenson said that he himself favored the impact theory on moon formation, but unfortunately this theory did not yet answer all the questions.

How did Earth get its moon?
The “moon capture” theory assumes that Earth used its gravitational pull to attract a pre-formed space body into its orbit, thus making a satellite of this object. [How the Moon Formed: A Lunar Tour (Video)]

However, the geochemical composition of the moon and Earth likely trips up this theory. Analyses of the lunar rocks brought back by NASA’s Apollo moon landing missions have shown that the satellite has an isotopic composition very similar to that of Earth.

Isotopes refer to varieties of chemical elements that have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons. Two isotopes behave the same chemically.

And if both moon and Earth have very similar isotopes, it makes the capture theory difficult to maintain, said Alex Halliday, head of science at Oxford University. Such isotopic similarities suggest that “the material that makes up the moon did actually either come out of the Earth, or that the stuff that was in the disk that formed the moon got completely mixed up with the stuff in the Earth.”

Nonetheless, some aspects of the idea that the moon may have come from Venus are intriguing, he said.

“The reason why it’s interesting is that Earth and Venus are close to each other. They have similar mass, and people think they have probably formed in a similar way,” he said. “So the question is, if Earth and Venus formed in similar ways, how come the Earth has a moon and Venus doesn’t?”

Stevenson’s idea would answer that question, Halliday said, “throwing a new twist into the whole capture theory.”

There are many theories for what might have caused such a large moon for a planet as small as Earth. The most popular theory assumes an impact, where the debris of the collision — a mix of the material from Earth and the other body — gave birth to the moon. This body then stayed in orbit about the Earth, forever bound to its new home.

Another posits that the moon “fissioned” from the Earth’s crust and mantle due to the centrifugal force of a rapidly spinning early Earth.

Another theory, called binary accretion, assumes that the moon was born at the same time and place as Earth.

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Wandering moons
The biggest flaw of the fission, capture and binary accretion theories is that they cannot account for the high angular momentum of the Earth-moon system.

Scientists believe that initially the Earth was spinning so rapidly that a day lasted only five or six hours, and the moon was in a very low-altitude orbit. But gradually, tidal drag slowed the Earth’s spin and pushed the moon’s orbit up to its present level.

The capture theory will always face a challenge explaining the similar composition of the moon and Earth, Stevenson said. But if scientists analyze rocks from Venus and they turn out to be very similar to those on Earth, that would argue in favor of the capture theory. The giant impact idea also has trouble explaining why the Earth and the moon are so peculiarly similar.

Even though he himself favors the impact theory, Stevenson said he picked Venus for a larger purpose.

“We cannot understand the terrestrial planets unless we understand Venus, and at the moment, we don’t know anything about Venus in terms of the isotopes” it has, he says. “And I also think that as a test of our understanding of the origin of the moon, we need to understand whether Venus ever had a moon.”

If Venus indeed once had a moon and lost it, how might the planet have acquired a satellite in the first place?

Unlike what would have happened with Earth, the formation of any moon of Venus may have occurred much earlier, shortly after the formation of the solar system, Stevenson said.

Back then, there were still a lot of things whizzing around,” he said.

So Venus possibly would have gotten its moon after an even earlier giant impact of some sort, and the planet may have lost its moon either by collision or by escape. This would mean an object passed close by the Venus system and caused the moon to depart from its orbit, says Stevenson.

But even aside from the Venus idea, the widely preferred giant impact theory still “is not satisfactory in all respects,” Stevenson said.

Sean Solomon, the director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, agrees. “We are still on the trail of the detailed scenario that would seem both likely and complete in its ability to account for all the geochemical and geophysical observations,” he said.

Until scientists have figured out that scenario, even the escaped moon of Venus is a plausible theory, he said.

“Even with the giant impact idea, we don’t know the origin of the impacting object. It could’ve been an early protoplanet. It could’ve been a moon of another object that was removed from the gravitational field of its original [planet]. It could’ve been a very large asteroid. All of those scenarios are still open.”