Tuesday May 22, 2018
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New Horizons all set to disclose Pluto’s mysteries

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New_Horizons_1By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Washington: The mission team of New Horizons is back in action with the popular spacecraft as they start extracting the extensive data stored in its digital recorders. Seven weeks back New Horizons closely passed by Pluto to study its unexplored mysteries. The whole downlinking process will take around a year to conclude.

Principal investigator for New Horizon, Alan Stern said, “These pictures, spectra and other data types being gained will help us in understanding the evolution and the origin of the Pluto system for the first time.” The data takes around four and a half hour to cover the three billion-mile distance to reach the Earth even while travelling at speed of light.
During NASA’s announcement at Southwest Research Institute, Stern further added, “It has got best data sets, the highest-resolution images and spectra with the most important atmospheric details. It can contain much more than that too,”

During the data downlink phase, the spacecraft transmits science and operations data to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) of antenna stations, which also provide services to other missions, like Voyager. New Horizon Project scientist Hal Weaver explained, “The New Horizons mission has made us wait for many years, but from the small amount of data we saw around the Pluto flyby, we know the results to come will be well worth the wait.”

Since late July, New Horizons has only been sending back lower data-rate information collected by the energetic particle, solar wind and space dust instruments. The pace picked up considerably on September 5 as it resumed sending flyby images and other data.

The team is also looking forward to post new, unprocessed pictures from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) installed on the New Horizons.

With Inputs from IANS

 

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SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites

The satellites are scheduled to launch at 3.47 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California

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SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites
SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites. Pixabay

On its way to deploy five Iridium Next communications satellites on Tuesday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will also launch twin NASA satellites that will monitor Earth’s water cycle, marking a unique rideshare arrangement.

The satellites are scheduled to launch at 3.47 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. (This corresponds to 1.17 a.m. Wednesday India time), NASA said.

The two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO) spacecraft will follow each other in orbit around Earth, separated by about 220 km.

On liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage engines will burn for approximately two minutes and 45 seconds before shutting down at main engine cutoff (MECO).

The Falcon 9’s first and second stages will separate seconds later. Then, the second-stage engine will ignite for the first time (SES1) and burn until the vehicle reaches the altitude of the injection orbit, 490 km.

NASA
Representational Image, VOA

While this burn is going on, the payload fairing — the launch vehicle’s nose cone — will separate into two halves like a clamshell and fall away.

When the rocket’s second stage has completed its ascent to the injection orbit altitude, it will pitch down (its nose points down) 30 degrees and roll so that one of the twin GRACE-FO satellites is facing down, toward Earth, and the other is facing up, toward space.

Then the second stage engine will cut off (SECO).

About 10 minutes after liftoff, a separation system on the second stage will deploy the GRACE-FO satellites.

Separation will occur over the Pacific Ocean at about 17.5 degrees North latitude, 122.6 degrees West longitude.

The first opportunity to receive data from the spacecraft will occur at NASA’s tracking station at McMurdo, Antarctica, about 23 minutes after separation, NASA said.

Also Read: A Study by NASA Shows Freshwater Decline in India

After the GRACE-FO satellites are deployed, the Falcon 9 second stage will coast for half an orbit before reigniting its engine (SES2) to take the Iridium Next satellites to a higher orbit for deployment.

GRACE-FO, a collaborative mission of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), continues the work of the original GRACE mission in observing the movement of water and other mass around our planet by tracking the changing pull of gravity very precisely. (IANS)

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