Category: Space

Radio Search for Artificial Emissions from ‘Oumuamua

It’s the first time a visitor from another star system has been seen nearby. But what is it? An asteroid, a comet … or an alien artifact?

Scientists at the SETI Institute have attempted to address this question by using the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) to observe ‘Oumuamua when it was about 170 million miles away, or slightly less than the diameter of Earth’s orbit.

The intention was to measure artificial radio transmissions which, if found, would be strong evidence that this object is not simply a rock tossed into space by a random gravitational slingshot interaction that occurred in its home star system.

“We were looking for a signal that would prove that this object incorporates some technology – that it was of artificial origin,” says Gerry Harp, lead author of a paper to be published in the February 2019 issue of Acta Astronautica.

“We didn’t find any such emissions, despite a quite sensitive search. While our observations don’t conclusively rule out a non-natural origin for ‘Oumuamua, they constitute important data in accessing its likely makeup.”

Following its discovery in October 2017, ‘Oumuamua was the subject of popular speculation about a possible non-natural origin largely because it brought to mind the interstellar spaceship in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Rendezvous with Rama. Its highly elongated shape and the fact that no coma was observed strengthened this hypothesis for some, as these are uncharacteristic of asteroids and comets.

A recent paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters by researchers at Harvard has also suggested the possibility that ‘Oumuamua is a deliberate construction. The Harvard researchers argue that the slight, unexpected acceleration observed for this object could be caused by pressure from sunlight as ‘Oumuamua swung around the Sun.

Their hypothesis is that the object might be a light sail, either deliberately or accidentally sent our way. A deliberate origin is considered somewhat more likely because our solar system is a very small target for any object that is not being aimed.

Such arguments strengthen the importance of observations such as those conducted on the ATA that can constrain the true nature of ‘Oumuamua.

Observations were made between November 23 and December 5, 2017, using the wide-band correlator of the ATA at frequencies between 1 and 10 GHz and with a frequency resolution of 100 kHz. No signals were found at a level that would be produced by an omnidirectional transmitter on-board the object of power 30 to 300 milliwatts.

In portions of the radio spectrum that are routinely cluttered by artificial satellite telemetry, the threshold for detection was as high as 10 watts. In all cases, these limits to the powers that could be detected are quite modest – comparable to that of cell phones or citizen band radios.

While no signals were found coming from ‘Oumuamua, the types of observations reported by SETI Institute scientists may have utility in constraining the nature of any interstellar objects detected in the future, or even the small, well-known objects in our own solar system.

It has been long-hypothesized that some of the latter could be interstellar probes, and radio observations offer a way to address this imaginative, but by no means impossible, idea.

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New Techniques Yields Tiny Results To Produce Great Resolution In Astronomy

This “super-resolution” view of asteroid Bennu was created using eight images obtained by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, from a distance of about 205 miles (330 km).

The spacecraft was moving as it captured the images with the PolyCam camera, and Bennu rotated 1.2 degrees during the nearly one minute that elapsed between the first and the last snapshot.

The team used a super-resolution algorithm to combine the eight images and produce a higher resolution view of the asteroid. Bennu occupies about 100 pixels and is oriented with its north pole at the top of the image.

OSIRIS-REx executes third asteroid approach maneuver
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has executed its third Asteroid Approach Maneuver (AAM-3). The trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters fired in a series of two braking maneuvers designed to slow the spacecraft’s speed relative to Bennu from approximately 11.7 mph (5.2 m/sec) to .24 mph (.11 m/sec).

Due to constraints that science instruments not be pointed too closely to the Sun, this maneuver was designed as two separate burns of approximately 5.8 mph (2.6 m/sec) each, to accomplish a net change in velocity of around 11.5 mph (5.13 m/sec). The mission team will continue to examine telemetry and tracking data over the next week to verify the new trajectory.

The maneuver targeted the spacecraft to fly through a corridor designed for the collection of high-resolution images that will be used to build a shape model of Bennu.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is in the midst of a six-week series of final approach maneuvers. AAM-1 and AAM-2, which executed on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 respectively, slowed the spacecraft by a total of approximately 1,088 mph (486 m/sec).

The last of the burns, AAM-4, is scheduled for Nov. 12 and will adjust the spacecraft’s trajectory to arrive at a position 12 miles (20 km) from Bennu on Dec. 3.

Russia Implies Americans Sabotaged International Space Station

Russian investigators looking into the origin of a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station have said it was caused deliberately, the space agency chief said.

A first commission had delivered its report, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, said in televised remarks late Monday.

“It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth.”

Rogozin said the commission’s main line of inquiry was that the hole had been drilled deliberately, a position that has been voiced in the past.

“Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now,” he said.

The small hole in the wall of a Russian-made Soyuz space capsule docked onto the ISS was located in August and quickly sealed up.

Officials have suggested a number of possible reasons for the appearance of the hole.

A top government official has denied a Russian media report that the investigation looked at the possibility that US astronauts had drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back to Earth.

The current ISS commander, US astronaut Drew Feustel, called the suggestion that the crew was somehow involved “embarrassing”.

Rogozin — who previously oversaw the Russian space industry as deputy prime minister — was appointed head of Roskosmos last May, in a move analysts said would spell trouble for the embattled sector.

The official, who was placed under US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis in 2014, admitted it had become difficult to work with NASA.

“Problems with NASA have certainly appeared but not through the fault of NASA,” he said, blaming unnamed American officials for telling the US space agency what to do.

He also claimed that SpaceX founder Elon Musk sought to squeeze Russia out of the space launch services market and complained about the US military drone X-37.

“Americans have this thing, the X-37,” Rogozin said. “We don’t understand its purposes. Rather, we do understand, but we have not received an official explanation.

“Essentially, this thing can be used as a weapons carrier.”

What this has to do with the investigation into a hole in the ISS is unknown, and the question remains: Could anyone take a drill to the ISS, a small contained environment with less internal area than many houses, with external cameras, and go unnoticed?

NASA representatives assure us that space walks are all carefully monitored in real time to assure astronaut safety.

The Sentinel believes that if the hole was drilled deliberately, the mostly likely explanation is that it must have been done before the capsule left  Earth. That means Russia.

Orbital Spin: Damage To The International Space Station Soyuz Reentry Craft Becomes Vehicle For Anti-American Propaganda

On August 30th, the International Space Station experienced an unexpected and much reported upon loss in pressure due to a puncture in the Soyuz reentry capsule attached to it.

The 2 millimeter hole was quickly found by cosmonauts and patched with multiple layers of a resin intended for this purpose.

Rumors in certain Russian news services erupted, claiming deliberate sabotage by American astronauts on board, usually citing unknown or anonymous sources.  Even major players in the Russian science community, such as the internationally recognized space news source Sputnik offered old Soviet style innuendo and misdirection intended to encourage distrust, even hostility, toward America.

Sputnik reported,  for example:

The situation around a hole in the fabric of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, docked to the International Space Station (ISS), is more complicated than it was expected, Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos stated.

Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, confirmed that a commission of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation had failed to determine the origin of the hole yet.

“The results that we have received fail to provide an objective image [of the situation] to us. Further work will be continued by a commission created by the [Roscosmos] corporation itself. The situation is far more difficult than we have expected,” Rogozin told reported.

Rogozin refused to comment on media reports alleging that US astronauts could have been responsible for the emergence of the hole on Soyuz.

A source told Sputnik on Thursday that an internal investigation, held by Energia, which is the spacecraft manufacturer, showed that the hole had been deliberately made by a drill bit. The company, however, failed to identify the perpetrators.”

In fact, Rogozin commented on his Facebook page that, “The recent gossip and rumors circulating about the incident at the ISS hinder the work of Roscosmos experts and are designed to subvert the friendly relations among the crew members of the space station.”

“All statements citing unnamed sources are inadmissible until Roscosmos special commission concludes its work,” the CEO stressed.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said earlier in the day that it was inadmissible to accuse either Russian or American ISS crewmembers of the incident since “it is a unified crew with no political disagreements whatsoever.”

TASS,  the Russian News Agency, published an article seeming  seeking to mitigate the rumors, but then reinforced them, noting

Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Tuesday citing its unnamed sources that the Roscosmos probe was considering, among other likely causes of the damage to Soyuz, deliberate actions by US astronauts, who in this way wished to speed up their return home.

According to the newspaper, the astronauts might have drilled the hole because one of the crew members was unwell. Urgent evacuation of all crewmembers would allow for getting full treatment, while the compartment where the hole was found would have burned down in the atmosphere. Roscosmos said it would refrain from making comments on the issue until the special probe reported its findings.

The Russian cosmonauts who repaired the damage, stopped the leak and averted a potential disaster merit recognition, international recognition and respect. Russia’s advances and contribution to both the ISS and science in general are significant and largely on par to ours or anyone’s at this stage.  Many, no most, of those accomplishments are largely unknown outside the scientific community, a fact which is unfortunate, unnecessary, and should be corrected.  However, such accomplishments are diminished when, in instances like this one, where after members of the Russian media often loudly accuse their American counterparts of ill-conceived political spin, they themselves jump blindly off the creditability cliff.

Pot, kettle and all of that.

TASS, Sputnik and the Russian media corps should consider the reputations of their admirable and praise worthy scientific community, and the sabotage they often do to it with such “reporting”.

American hands aren’t completely clean on this issue. Our press can be easily agitated and unapologetic when it makes mistakes, but come on, we’ve yet to accuse, however indirectly, Russian cosmonauts of deliberately endangering the lives of their fellow scientists, as well, it should be noted, as their own.

-The Sentinel

 

NASA & International Space Station Provide Dramatic Images of Hurricane Florence

Last Friday, Sept. 7, Florence was a sheared tropical storm but on Saturday vertical shear lessened and Florence started to get better organized. Today, Sept. 10 Hurricane Florence was rapidly strengthening and became a major hurricane.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) said “Interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence. Storm Surge and Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday morning”.

The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core observatory satellite had a fairly good look at Florence on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at 2:13 p.m. EDT (1813 UTC). GPM is a joint satellite mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency called JAXA.

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Last Friday, Sept. 7, Florence was a sheared tropical storm but on Saturday vertical shear lessened and Florence started to get better organized. Today, Sept. 10 Hurricane Florence was rapidly strengthening and became a major hurricane.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) said “Interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Florence. Storm Surge and Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of these areas by Tuesday morning”.

The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core observatory satellite had a fairly good look at Florence on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at 2:13 p.m. EDT (1813 UTC). GPM is a joint satellite mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency called JAXA.

 

For more news from NASA on Florence visit http://www.NASA.gov.