We Finally Have a Complete View of The Resonance Dust Ring of Venus


ScienceAlert 19 April, 2021 - 02:22am 23 views

When will ingenuity helicopter fly on Mars?

The first helicopter is expected to attempt the first-ever flight on Mars on Sunday (April 11), with NASA unveiling the results a day later, and you can follow it all online. NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity flight coverage actually begins today (April 9) with a preflight press conference at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). Space.comHow to watch the Mars helicopter Ingenuity's first flight online

Did the helicopter fly on Mars?

The small, 4-pound helicopter hitched a ride to the red planet with the Perseverance rover, which touched down in an area of Mars known as Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. Weeks after landing, the rover transported Ingenuity to its "airfield," a flat 33-foot-by-33-foot patch of the Martian landscape. NBC NewsNASA helicopter set for historic first flight on Mars

The pristine, white-light images, taken from inside the orbit of Venus, show the ring in almost its entirety. This is vital data for understanding this ring, and the dynamics of the Solar System and its gravitational interactions.

"This is the first time that a circumsolar dust ring in the inner Solar System could be revealed in its full glory in 'white light' images," said astronomer Guillermo Stenborg of the US Naval Research Laboratory. "I find that pretty special."

The Solar System is a truly dusty place. The whole thing formed from dust (and gas); much of the dust got integrated into planets and asteroids and whatnot (not to mention the Sun); often it gets shaken back out again.

Asteroids and comets are like cosmic salt and pepper shakers, sprinkling their surrounding space wherever they go. Recent research found that Mars could be spraying the stuff everywhere during the huge, global storms that occur every year.

All that dust can just drift around, but sometimes it can get snatched up in orbital resonance with a planet; that is, it orbits along the same path, with an orbital period that's a single-integer ratio with that of the planet.

Earth has a significant resonance dust ring; scientists recently found evidence that Mercury has one, too. And Venus's dust ring has been known, and even partially observed, by joint German-American solar mission Helios and NASA's solar mission STEREO, for some time.

Cue the Parker Solar Probe, equipped with an instrument called the Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR). WISPR consists of two visible-light heliospheric imagers designed to image the interplanetary medium to study the solar wind - the constant stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun.

Because interplanetary dust is so bright with reflected sunlight, it outshines the solar wind, so special image processing is applied to remove the background noise in solar wind observations. This also means that WISPR is uniquely capable to observe Venus's resonance dust ring.

During normal operations, of course, the dust ring would be automatically extracted from the data. Parker performed some rolling maneuvers in August and September of 2019 to manage its momentum, which caused the WISPR cameras to move - and a bright streak to appear in the resulting images.

At first, the astronomers thought it was something else, such as a glowing helmet streamer shooting out of an active region of the Sun, or even an image processing error. It was way too big to be a helmet streamer, and image processing oopsies were also ruled out. Next step was looking at what else is in that space, and that's when they found that the streak lined up perfectly with Venus's orbit.

Since the glow is also consistent with the scattering of light by dust, the team concluded that the most likely explanation is the resonance dust ring of the planet.

The data could be extremely useful. Scientists think that interplanetary dust could be a transport mechanism for molecules within the Solar System, a means whereby materials shed from asteroids or comets make their way to other bodies.

We still don't know how these dust rings formed, or where they came from, though, so the more information we have, the closer we can get to figuring it out.

"One idea is that the dust rings naturally formed from the primordial cloud, but several researchers contend that each planet's gravity has gradually trapped the particles, perhaps even asteroid or cometary particles within its orbit," explained astrophysicist Russell Howard of the US Naval Research Laboratory.

Another possibility is that the dust rings are constantly being turned over; collisions between grains could kick some of the old dust out of orbit, while new dust arrives from elsewhere.

There's another mystery with the Venus ring, too. Analysis of the data from previous observations suggested there was a lot more dust in Venus's resonance ring than could be easily explained. A research team recently conducted some modeling, and determined that the best explanation for the quantity of dust is a group of unseen asteroids sharing the orbit of Venus.

We still haven't found those asteroids, so that hypothesis is far from being confirmed. Who knows, maybe Parker will spot them; or maybe the probe will lead us to another explanation for the phenomenon. Either way, it's going to be exciting.

"We're learning things about the dynamics, the exchanges, of dust particles throughout the heliosphere that before Parker Solar Probe we didn't know," Stenborg said.

The research has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Read full article at ScienceAlert

Democrats and Republicans find common ground — on Mars

Yahoo News 19 April, 2021 - 11:11am

Democrats and Republicans alike are giddy for NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which is expected to take off on Mars as early as Wednesday for the first powered flight on another planet. And some of the top space supporters on Capitol Hill are hopeful this excitement among their colleagues and the broader American public will translate into bigger budgets for NASA to pursue its most ambitious missions, including sending people to the moon and Mars, getting Martian soil samples back to Earth and exploring further into our solar system with robots.

“Sometimes my friends on the hard left and the hard right don’t want to spend money on NASA, on space exploration and on advancing into the off world,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Fortunately ... there’s overwhelming support from what I define as the rational center in Congress to continue to do this.”

POLITICO spoke to more than half a dozen lawmakers in both parties who were optimistic that the energy around the lightweight helicopter’s first flight, as well as the broader rover mission whose long-term goal is to bring Martian soil back to Earth for study, will ultimately mean a boost for future budgets.

That doesn't mean securing the funding will be easy, even with support from both parties. Lawmakers are contending with a growing to-do list of top priorities to fund on Earth, including repairing the nation's infrastructure and boosting the post-Covid economy, while the nation's debt looms large.

“I know there are skeptics out there who think we can do a lot more uncrewed [missions], but the prospect of taking human beings back to the moon and on to Mars excites people across politics and religion and age,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), the chair of the House space and aeronautics subcommittee. “Struggles in Washington and the government writ large are not fun. It’s difficult to get unity. But with NASA, especially with going to other planets, there’s a great sense of bipartisanship.”

There’s a lot to be excited about on the Ingenuity mission. The four-pound helicopter’s super lightweight blades must spin five times faster than a normal helicopter's to allow it to fly in an atmosphere so thin that it’s equivalent to 100,000 feet on Earth. And it all must happen autonomously because of the 30-minute round trip communications lag.

Ingenuity, which arrived on Mars in February attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover, is a technology demonstration mission that will last only 31 days.

For the first flight, officials designated an "airfield" on Mars, a flat area with enough texture that the helicopter can use its camera to keep track of where it is. Ingenuity will climb at roughly three feet per second, hover for up to 30 seconds, make a turn in mid-air and then land. The flight may seem short, but the Wright Flyer's first flight lasted only 12 seconds and changed the world. The helicopter even includes a nod to that history: A postage-stamp sized piece of cloth from the Wright Brothers' aircraft is attached to Ingenuity.

If the helicopter lands safely from the first flight, engineers are expected to conduct several other test flights during the 31-day mission.

NASA is hopeful that, if successful, the technology will allow the agency to use future aircraft to explore new parts of the Red Planet, help rovers plot their best route to a position, act as scouts for humans on future missions and even to explore other planets.

"If we can do this on Mars, we can do it other places, perhaps on Venus," Bobby Braun, the director for planetary science at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a recent press conference.

There's a long communications lag, so there will be no live video. But engineers are hopeful the Perseverance rover nearby will be able to capture photo and video of the helicopter in flight. And Ingenuity has cameras that will capture the first aerial imagery of Mars.

That’s just a fraction of what Congress will need to appropriate if the U.S. wants to send people to Mars. A trip to Mars is expected to cost about $500 billion to design and build a spacecraft, plus extra money to support humans for the duration of the mission. The cost for any sort of sustained Mars program beyond a single mission would easily soar into the trillions.

“I think this is going to be something very, very valuable to mankind, and although I am a conservative Republican, I believe we need to have funding and a reauthorization for NASA programs … so we can answer questions that man has been asking for thousands of years,” said Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House space subcommittee who represents the Houston suburbs close to NASA's astronaut training headquarters. “We’re on the verge of really great things.”

NASA’s budget has a long way to go to catch up to that. Congress appropriated $23.3 billion for the space agency in fiscal 2021, and the Biden administration’s fiscal 2022 plan released Friday inches the agency up to $24.7 billion. At the current level, NASA would have to devote its entire budget for more than 20 years to the Mars program to make a mission happen — a task that will take support from both parties.

NASA has not set a timeline to send people to Mars. Some space boosters on Capitol Hill have pushed for the first crewed mission to happen in 2033, but, while the Biden administration has been supportive of reaching Mars, it has not spoken about a timeline to do so.

NASA will have to make the case for spending this huge amount of money when there are so many other critical priorities on Earth and a growing deficit. When the federal government is faced with strengthening the economy, controlling the pandemic, increasing the number of jobs and defending against foreign threats, it's not hard to imagine space getting shortchanged.

Polling also consistently finds that the American people want NASA to focus on monitoring Earth's climate and protecting the planet from asteroids. While human exploration generates a lot of excitement when it happens, support for those programs is always at the bottom of the list compared to the space agency's other priorities including conducting scientific research and developing new technology that can be adapted for use on Earth.

Still, America has historically been able to accomplish great things in space when it prioritized that spending, such as at the peak of the race to the moon, when NASA's funding was more than 4 percent of the federal budget.

“Look at Apollo. That wasn’t a Democratic or Republican program, it was an American program and really a global program,” said Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Space really should be nonpartisan. … I think you’ve seen that. We live in a partisan environment, but you haven’t seen the Biden administration rush to undo things Trump did in space.”

In fact, the Biden White House has voiced support for three of Trump’s top space initiatives: the Space Force, the National Space Council and the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon. White House press secretary Jen Psaki even acknowledged recently that space is one of the only areas where Biden and Trump agree.

One reason might be because debating space programs that will happen years or decades into the future is different from debating how much your neighbors will be taxed or what the federal government’s budget should be next year.

“It’s exhilarating, it’s thrilling, but it’s also a different kind of debate than most committees have,” Lucas said. “When you’re looking past the horizon of anybody alive … that’s just different."

Space is also one of the few areas where nearly every member of Congress has a parochial interest, whether that’s major launch infrastructure or aerospace suppliers contributing pieces to NASA programs.

“Most of us … have businesses in our states that … either are contracting with NASA … or they are part of the aerospace industry. That’s another reason why there's a great deal of interest. People understand potential economic opportunities,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. “There’s still this idea on the part of a lot of people that it’s an industry that’s mainly in Florida or Texas or Alabama. That’s not true at all. It’s all across the country.”

The bipartisan relationships built on the space committee means lawmakers can come together in this narrow area, despite drastic differences in other areas.

“I have a good relationship with Brian Babin, who is the ranking member on the space subcommittee,” Beyer said. “I don’t like everything he does. He voted not to impeach the president and not to accept the Pennsylvania election results, but we’re very much on the same page when it comes to NASA and certainly Ingenuity.”

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Baylor and coach Scott Drew have refused to accept a vehicle wrapped with the school's national championship logo after an insensitive remark made by the dealership's general manager when discussing it during a live TV interview. The customized Jeep Wrangler was driven in the team's championship parade through downtown Waco on Tuesday night, and was then going to be given to the school for Drew to use for the next year. When talking about the vehicle with KWTX-TV before the parade started, Ted Teague, GM of the Allen Samuels dealership in Waco, said Drew could enjoy the Jeep and “use it to recruit, pull some people out of the hood.”

Chris Jackson/GettyHis grandfather’s funeral isn’t until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be, even by his extravagant standards of non-normalcy, a pretty extraordinary week for Prince Harry.As he sits in splendid isolation in Frogmore Cottage, Harry could be forgiven if his head is spinning.The lavishly restored period property into which he and Meghan moved just 24 months ago, and dreamed of making their home, now houses his cousin Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack and their baby. The tenants are still there, and the owner is holed up in what was once intended as Doria Ragland’s (Meghan Markle’s mom) self-contained apartment, The Daily Beast understands.Prince Harry and Prince William’s Feud Rumbles on as They Issue Dueling Statements on Philip’s Death He is literally just a few miles away from Windsor Castle, but if he has spoken to his father or the queen, no-one is saying so. And this despite the fact that, bizarrely, Her Majesty carried out an official duty Tuesday, overseeing the retirement of one of her senior aides, recorded thus by the official court circular: “The Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia.” (Was Earl Peel was ordered to leave his wand on the desk on the way out?).We do know, courtesy of the Telegraph’s well-briefed correspondent Camilla Tominey, that Harry has spoken to his brother Prince William on the phone since he landed back in the U.K.This hardly seems like a great triumph in the arena of conflict resolution.We already know from Gayle King that other phone calls between Harry and his brother and father have taken place. King said they were regarded as “not productive.”If you love The Daily Beast’s royal coverage, then we hope you’ll enjoy The Royalist, a members-only series for Beast Inside. Become a member to get it in your inbox on Sunday.There is, frankly, no suggestion from royal aides that being in the same time zone has helped mend fences, no sense of joyous white smoke going up from Frogmore or 140 miles north at Anmer Hall, where William and Kate are rather pointedly spending the last days of the Easter holidays with their children, rather than waving at Harry from the garden of Frogmore Cottage like some of us might be inclined to do.Tominey touts Kate as taking on the role of fraternal peacemaker, quoting a source as saying, “Being so close to her own siblings, Pippa and James, and having witnessed first-hand the special bond between William and Harry, [Kate] has found the whole situation difficult and upsetting.”But while hopes of a major reconciliation between Harry and his family are being talked up by commentators, the reality on the ground is that expectations are at rock bottom. 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The brothers were said to be reluctant to walk behind their mother’s coffin at her funeral but Philip took charge telling them, “I’ll walk if you walk.” Harry said years later that he was grateful for his grandfather’s guidance.But piecing together the tatters of Harry’s relationship with the royal family will be no easy task. Many of the 29 other royals attending the funeral on Saturday will feel the same way as one friend of the family who, The Daily Beast reported, said this week: “Philip was already seriously ill when the interview screened. He was 99, so the fact that he has died is of course very sad, but hardly surprising. His death may put things into perspective, but I’m not sure it really changes anything.”The logistical constraints imposed by the pandemic are unlikely to help; if they are remotely like any other family, one imagines the brothers need to have a frank, face to face discussion at a certain level of decibels to clear the air. But having arrived back in the U.K. on Sunday afternoon, Harry is not likely to be allowed to exit quarantine until the day of the funeral. Harry’s people have made it clear he will be following Covid quarantine rules to the letter.If Harry doesn’t already feel like he has gone through the looking glass, the curious apparent rehabilitation of Prince Andrew should do it.The first sign of this development came when Andrew, who has failed to make himself available to the American authorities for questioning over his links to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, winkled his way back on to TV screens at the weekend.He told a camera outside church that his mother was feeling a “huge void” in her life; it still hasn’t been established if his intervention was authorized. It seems hard to believe even Andrew would be stupid enough to do something like that if it wasn’t, as some briefing has suggested.Dan Wootton, the journalist who broke the news that Harry and Meghan were leaving the U.K., reported in the Daily Mail that sources had told him: “Prince Andrew might hope that this sad situation changes things, but Prince Charles is adamant there is no way back while allegations hang over him. He spoke on camera in a private capacity because this is a family event. No one can stop him doing that.”Neither the palace nor an advisory firm retained by Prince Andrew responded to inquiries from The Daily Beast on that question.Until today it looked as if Andrew was set to be allowed to wear military uniform to the funeral, the only question being whether he would be in the garb of a three-star vice admiral (his current rank, which was never removed from him when he was fired from the family as a working royal), or actually be promoted by his mother to a four star admiral, an elevation that was due to take place last year but was put on hold. The Daily Mail reported that he was lobbying hard to be awarded his overdue promotion.Harry is the only male member of the family not technically serving, so was thought to be the only male royal attending the funeral not in military uniform. There is nothing more integral to the royal family’s sense of its own legitimacy than its military associations, and Harry’s happiest days were spent in the army. 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FROM MICHIGAN TO MARS | News, Sports, Jobs

Marquette Mining Journal 19 April, 2021 - 11:11am

Joan Ervin, center, is shown with her parents, Mary Jo and Mike Ervin, at the launch of the Perseverance Rover on July 30. Ervin worked on NASA’s Mars 2020 project for around four years and played a role in the Perseverance Rover’s design and creation. The Perseverance Rover landed on Mars on Feb. 18. (Photo courtesy of Joan Ervin via 8-18 Media)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature, written by 8-18 Media  Reporter Anja McBride, 16, is the first in a series of two 8-18 Media articles about a northern Michigan native’s involvement in NASA’s Mars 2020 project. The second part will be published in the April 17-18 weekend edition of The Mining Journal.

MARQUETTE — 2020-21 may have already felt out of this world for you, but NASA really did go out of this world when it landed the Perseverance Rover on Mars on Feb. 18.

Joan Ervin, a Howell native, played a role in the Perseverance Rover’s design and creation.

Ervin received her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering and master’s degree in space systems engineering from the University of Michigan. Ervin resides in California and is currently employed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is a federally funded research and development center managed for NASA by Caltech.

Ervin worked on NASA’s Mars 2020 project for around four years, during which she held two different roles.

First, she was a payload systems engineer for the PIXL instrument on the rover, which helped define the interfaces with the rest of the rover.

Next, she transitioned to the role of lead payload systems engineer about a year and a half before launch. In that role, she led a team of payload engineers to test and install several instruments to ensure they were ready for launch.

Ervin was inspired at a young age by things that fly through the air and rocket launches. That early love of flight helped her navigate her career path.

“It was in middle school actually that I even learned what an aerospace engineer was,” Ervin said. “I had no idea what that was, but my older sister was going to college at the time and she had toured the engineering department and that’s when I learned about it.

Ervin worked on several other large projects before Mars 2020.

“When I started at JPL, I started in what we call mission formulation. That is where we come up with new concepts or ideas for new missions that we can fly and answer science questions,” Ervin explained. “So, I did that for about four to five years and then worked on the Mars Insight Project, which is the lander that is now on Mars.

What is a normal workday in the life of an aerospace engineer like?

Ervin is the team lead, meaning she spends a lot of time working with other people and helping them be successful in what they do.

“Usually, first thing in the morning, what I do is connect with the team,” she said. “So since we are remote we do that over a chat tool that we have. But if we were in-person, it would be in-person, just kind of walking around seeing how everyone is doing in the morning. And then I review my email from any late-night email that came in, (to see) if there is anything urgent I need to respond to. And then, mostly a lot of my time throughout the day is in meetings, where we are checking in on the progress of work, or we are discussing design and technical issues that we need to work through and come up with how to fix something. what the next step would be.

Every job in the universe has both difficult and rewarding parts to it. Surprisingly, the pros and cons of Ervin’s job are rather earthly.

“I would say people are both sometimes the most difficult and the most rewarding. So as you all have experienced, it can be challenging working with each other and it is also really, really rewarding,” she said. “In addition to that, this business is fairly stressful. There are high stakes, if something breaks and we are close to launch that can have a really big impact.

“Part of that is enjoyable, knowing that what you are working on has a lot of impact, but it can be stressful. I would say overall the biggest reward is working on something that is bigger than myself and basically doing hard things with other people.

This story may be over, but the adventures of NASA and its staff are far from it. Read more about Ervin’s career adventures in part two, coming next weekend.

8-18 Media youth reporters Annabella Martinson, 16; Liam Ulland-Joy, 15; and Esme Ulland Joy, 12, contributed to this report.

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Watch: Nasa’s Mars helicopter completes first powered flight on another planet

The National 18 April, 2021 - 12:31pm



Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 April 2021

Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the helicopter was designed and built, endured a nervous wait as telemetry from the helicopter arrived on Earth after it travelled about 289 million kilometres from Mars.

The data showed that Ingenuity had lifted off from the surface of Mars as planned, completing a task many compared to the first powered flight on Earth in 1903.

You wouldn’t believe what I just saw.

An image taken by one of the helicopter’s onboard cameras showed it hovering above the Red Planet.

The Perseverance rover, which carried Ingenuity to Mars, was positioned near the flight zone in the Jezero Crater to capture more imagery of the test flight, relaying back a short video of the helicopter in flight.

The team of engineers and scientists behind the Ingenuity celebrated as the data came in.

Lead Engineer MiMi Aung said: "We can now say that humans have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.

"We've been talking so long about our Wright brothers moment on Mars, and here it is," she said.

An earlier flight attempt was delayed by a software glitch, but engineers were able to solve the problem from Earth and instructed the helicopter to take off early on Monday.

The flight plan involved the helicopter climbing to three metres above the surface and hovering for 30 seconds in the thin Martian atmosphere, before landing back on the surface. In all, Ingenuity logged a total of 39.1 seconds of flight.

The Ingenuity helicopter was designed to prove that flight on Mars is possible.

While Mars has much less gravity to overcome than Earth, its atmosphere is only 1 per cent of the volume of that of the Earth, presenting a special challenge for aerodynamic lift.

To compensate, engineers equipped Ingenuity with rotor blades that are larger and spin much faster than would be needed on Earth for an aircraft of its size.

The design was successfully tested in vacuum chambers built at the Jet Propulsion Lab to simulate Martian conditions.

Ingenuity will undertake several more flights of increasing complexity and length over the next weeks, between rest periods of four to five days as it recharges its batteries.

Nasa hopes Ingenuity will pave the way for efforts to explore the planets and moons of the solar system from the "air", including Mars and Saturn’s moon, Titan.

"We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next," said Ms Aung. "History shows they got back to work – to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft – and so will we.”

Updated: April 19, 2021 06:34 PM

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UAE reports 1,803 new cases and two deaths

Irish hotel quarantine exemption limited to four Covid-19 vaccine makers

Prince Philip's funeral pays tribute to his ‘unwavering loyalty’ to the Queen

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UK adds India to red list of travel ban countries amid concern over new variant

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