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After Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM), ISRO eyes inter-planetary missions to Jupiter and Venus

After Moon and Mars, ISRO plans to spread its reach to Jupiter and Venus.

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A satellite, (representational Image), Pixabay

Bangalore, Jan 4, 2017: After its successful and internationally acclaimed  Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM), ISRO is eyeing inter-planetary missions to Jupiter and Venus and is studying and analysing their feasibility.

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“We are looking at other planets that can be explored. So, two of them are Jupiter and Venus. The mission analysis is on what type of satellite we are supposed to build and what type of rocket we need.”

“Studies are going on and it may take few years from now to have a concrete plan,” M Nageswara Rao, Associate Director, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) stated at a plenary session on science technology at the Indian Science Congress.

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He added that the oppertunity of launching a satellite to Venus comes once in 19 months, considering the distance between the planets and earth’s position.

Venus, second in order from the Sun, is nearly 162 million miles away from Earth while Jupiter, which lies between Mars and Saturn, is nearly 610 million miles away from Earth.

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Rao mentioned that a follow-up mission for Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) is also being planned.

“We want to have a follow-up Mars Mission and we want to have a mission to Venus. We want to go close, 70,000 km close (to Mars). Work for Chandrayaan 2 is also on. The project involves having a lander and a rover,” he stated.

So for the first time, ISRO can have its lander land on the moon, which will give the space agency minute details of the earth’s natural satellite. Earlier programmed as a joint collaboration with Russia, ISRO has now decided to go solo on this project.

Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to be launched next year.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

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Scientists to Probe Jupiter’s Violent Storms, Lightning Strikes

Scientists from various organisations probe Jupiter's violent Storms and lightning strikes

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Scientists to probe Jupiter's violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms on the giant planet Jupiter.

The images, part of a multi-year joint programme, revealed that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid.

The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud colour variations.

Three years of imaging observations using the international Gemini Observatory have probed deep into Jupiter’s cloud tops. The ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images complement optical and ultraviolet observations by Hubble and radio observations by the Juno spacecraft to reveal new secrets about the giant planet.

“The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Michael Wong of University of California, Berkeley.

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Scientists to probe Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

“We used a very powerful technique called lucky imaging,” added Wong.

With lucky imaging, a large number of very short exposure images are obtained and only the sharpest images, when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable, are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.

According to Wong, “These images rival the view from space.”

Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) allows astronomers to peer deep into Jupiter’s mighty storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze but is obscured by thicker clouds high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

This creates a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.

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Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes to be probed by scientist. Pixabbay

The detailed, multiwavelength imaging of Jupiter by Geminiand Hubble has, over the past three years, proven crucial to contextualizing the observations by the Juno orbiter, and to understanding Jupiter’s wind patterns, atmospheric waves, and cyclones.

The two telescopes, together with Juno, can observe Jupiter’s atmosphere as a system of winds, gases, heat, and weather phenomena, providing coverage and insight not unlike the network of weather satellites meteorologists use to observe Earth.

Because the Hubble and Gemini observations are so important for interpreting Juno data, Wong and his colleagues are making all of the processed data easily accessible to other researchers through the Mikulski Archives for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

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The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. (IANS)

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Christie’s Makes Largest Lunar Meteorites Available for Sale

Lunar meteorites arrived on Earth after having been blasted off the lunar surface

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Meteor shower is depicted in the above picture. Pixabay

Christies presents NWA 12691, a significant lunar rock, among the largest known in existence. Moon rock is among the rarest substances on Earth, with less than 650 kg. of lunar meteorites known to exist.

This example is the fifth largest piece of the Moon on Earth, larger than any returned by the Apollo programme. Valued in the region of �2 million, the specimen is available for immediate purchase via Christie’s Private Sales.

Lunar meteorites arrived on Earth after having been blasted off the lunar surface by the collision with an asteroid or comet. All of the Moon’s large craters were created by such impacts. This particular meteorite was part of a large meteorite shower straddling the Western Saharan, Algerian and Mauritanian borders, responsible for nearly half of all known lunar meteorites.

Approximately 30 different meteorites were collected, analysed, classified and assigned different NWA numbers in the belief they might be from different events and represent different lunar samples; but it has been determined that they all originate from the same lunar impact event as the current offering, NWA 12691, found in the Sahara Desert two years ago.

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All of the Moon’s large craters were created by having been blasted off the lunar surface by the collision with an asteroid or comet. Wikimedia Commons

James Hyslop, Christie’s Head of Science & Natural History: “I’ve been lucky enough to handle a few lunar meteorites at Christie’s over the years, but every time I see this specimen in the warehouse the sheer size of it bowls me over. Weighing over 13.5kg, it is so much larger than anything else that has ever been offered before. The experience of holding a piece of another world in your hands is something you never forget.”

Scientists identify Moon rocks by their specific textural, mineralogical, chemical and isotopic signatures. Many of the common minerals found on Earth are rare or absent on the Moon, while some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth. In addition, Moon rocks contain gases captured from the solar wind with isotope ratios very different from the same gases found on Earth.

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Christie’s will also offer for private sale a group of 13 aesthetic iron meteorites. Shaped by forces terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, this group of natural sculptures forms one of the most important collections of aesthetic iron meteorites in private hands. The collection, estimated in the region of �1.4 million, is available for immediate purchase via Christie’s Private Sales.

Unknown millennia ago – the exact date is lost to prehistory – an object weighing more than 26,000kg crashed into Earth. It originally formed 4.5 billion years ago from the core of a planetary- like body located between Mars and Jupiter, whose shattered remains are now part of the asteroid belt. An impact event ejected what was to become the Gibeon mass into interplanetary space before its descent to Earth, exploding in the atmosphere and raining down on what is now the Kalahari Desert. (IANS)

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NASA Selects Masten Space Systems To Deliver 8 Polaroids To Moon’s South Pole

Due to challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, NASA is leveraging virtual presence and communications tools to safely make progress on these important lunar exploration activities

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The payloads that will be delivered have been developed predominantly from the two recent NASA Provided Lunar Payloads (NPLP) and Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads (LSITP) solicitations. Pixabay

NASA has selected a California-based company called Masten Space Systems to deliver and operate eight payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022, to help lay the foundation for human expeditions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024.

The payloads, which include nine instruments to assess the composition of the lunar surface, test precision landing technologies, and evaluate the radiation on the Moon, are being delivered under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative as part of the agency’s Artemis programme, the US space agency said on Wednesday.

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The $75.9 million award includes end-to-end services for delivery of the instruments, including payload integration, launch from Earth, landing on the Moon’s surface, and operation for at least 12 days. Masten Space Systems will land these payloads on the Moon with its XL-1 lander, NASA said.

“Commercial industry is critical to making our vision for lunar exploration a reality. The science and technology we are sending to the lunar surface ahead of our crewed missions will help us understand the lunar environment better than we ever have before,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

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NASA has selected a California-based company called Masten Space Systems to deliver and operate eight payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022, to help lay the foundation for human expeditions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024. Pixabay

“These CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services ) deliveries are on the cutting edge of our work to do great science and support human exploration of the Moon. I’m happy to welcome another of our innovative companies to the group that is ready to start taking our payloads to the Moon as soon as possible,” Bridenstine said.

The payloads that will be delivered have been developed predominantly from the two recent NASA Provided Lunar Payloads (NPLP) and Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads (LSITP) solicitations.

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Due to challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, NASA is leveraging virtual presence and communications tools to safely make progress on these important lunar exploration activities, and to award this lunar surface delivery as it was scheduled prior to the pandemic. (IANS)