David Kirkpatrick

June 14, 2010

Amazing space image — the sun

Hot from the inbox:

X-Ray image of the sun

Hit this link for a much, much larger version (too big for this blog).

The release:

GOES-15 Solar X-Ray Imager Makes a Miraculous First Light

GREENBELT, Md., June 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Solar X-Ray Imager instrument aboard the GOES-15 satellite has just provided its first light image of the sun, but it required a lot of experts to make it happen.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Scientists and engineers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been working to bring the Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI) instrument to full functionality since the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-15, formerly known as the GOES-P satellite, achieved orbit.

GOES-15 launched on March 4, 2010 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. On April 6, 2010, GOES-15 captured its first visible image of Earth and on April 26, GOES-15 took its first full-disk infrared image.

“Since the early checkout of GOES 15 (P) and the anomalous turn on of the Solar X-Ray Imager, the team has been aggressively pursuing all avenues to recover the instrument,” said Andre’ Dress, GOES N-P Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Frankly, we were down to our last straw when all the teams’ hard work and efforts finally paid off.  We now believe we have a full recovery of the instrument’s functionality!  It’s an incredible story and a true testament of our NASA/contractor teams’ expertise, hard work and determination.”

On June 3, the GOES 15 Solar X-Ray Imager finally came on-line. Scientists and engineers had subjected SXI to a series of long duration turn on tests in the hopes of clearing the short. About 16 hours into the testing, the instrument voltages returned to normal values and SXI now appears to be functioning properly.

“We were facing a tough problem when we first attempted to bring SXI on-line,” said

George Koerner, SXI program manager at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, Calif., where the Solar X-ray Imager was designed and built. “But because of our ability to bring together subject matter experts from both government and industry, to move forward step by step, and to work as a team patiently and persistently, together we achieved mission success. This is an enormously satisfying outcome.”

Since its recovery, several test solar images have also been subsequently taken successfully. The GOES team continue to assess the health of the instrument. This new round of testing will assess SXI’s total functionality. That functionality means the team will capture images of the sun with the camera to assess whether the camera is properly processing image data.

“I don’t think most people realize how important these space weather instruments are in our everyday life,” Dress said. “This data is used by the U.S. Department of Defense, NOAA, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in protecting our space assets, land-based assets and directing flight paths for the FAA.”

GOES-15 will join three other NOAA operational GOES spacecraft that help the agency’s forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar activity that can impact the satellite-based electronics and communications industry. NASA’s testing of the spacecraft and its instruments will continue through the entire post-launch test period expected to end in late August 2010. This will be followed by a series of NOAA Science Tests. The GOES series of U.S. satellites are developed by a joint NASA-NOAA-Industry partnership, launched by NASA (with industry partners), and operated by NOAA.

For the first GOES SXI image, visit:


For more information about the GOES-P mission and program on the Web, visit:


Photo:  PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

September 14, 2009

NASA’ll take you to Jupiter

Filed under: Media, Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:56 pm

At least virtually. Pretty cool idea overall.

A release from today’s inbox:

NASA Launches Virtual Trip to Jupiter

GREENBELT, Md., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA invites the public to travel to Jupiter from the comfort of one of 38 Science On a Sphere theaters around the globe. Viewers will feel like they are in orbit around the largest planet in our solar system as images based on data from NASA missions are projected onto a 6-foot sphere in the center of the theater.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

Called “LARGEST,” the free, seven-minute presentation opens September 15. “The movie has incredible visual appeal,” said astrophysicist Amy Simon-Miller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was a scientific consultant for the production. “We think it will engage people and get them interested in learning more about Jupiter and planetary exploration.”

On September 24, the NASA Goddard Visitor Center will hold a public lecture on this new movie. Dr. Amy Simon-Miller, Chief Planetary Systems Laboratory at Goddard will provide details on Jupiter’s active environment and data collection. Michael Starobin, Goddard’s Senior Producer and the film’s director, will discuss the creative process and technical challenges for making a movie on a sphere.  Registration is required to attend the event.

The film is based on data from NASA’s robotic missions to the outer solar system, including Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini, as well as Hubble Space Telescope observations. Watching the movie sends viewers on a journey stretching more than five times the Earth-Sun distance. Jupiter is a “gas giant” — more than 11 times wider than Earth — with a small core forever shrouded beneath a cloak of toxic, roiling clouds and oceans of liquid metallic hydrogen tens of thousands of miles deep.

Viewers will be treated to up-close-and-personal encounters of the Great Red Spot, a storm larger than Earth that’s been raging for hundreds of years. They’ll also experience dramatic fireballs with up to six million megatons of explosive power from the impacts of doomed comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which left planet-sized “bruises” of soot hanging for months in the Jovian atmosphere.

As virtual astronauts, visitors will also explore Jupiter’s swirling mini-solar system of more than 60 moons, including tormented Io, which gushes fountains of molten sulfur over a hundred miles high, and fractured Europa, which may harbor oceans of liquid water, and possibly life, beneath its cracked, icy crust.

Science On a Sphere is an exciting new projection technology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “LARGEST” is the latest in a series of films for the Sphere created by the team at NASA Goddard using new techniques and technology of their own, designed specifically for making spherical movies. In fact, LARGEST pushed the team to develop several new presentation techniques, demonstrated throughout the film. Goddard released the world’s first major spherical film in 2006 called “FOOTPRINTS.”

“Jupiter is not only a perfect subject for the Sphere, but also simply a great subject for a movie,” said Senior Producer Michael Starobin of Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., Columbia, Md. “It presents itself as a regal, mighty character, and we tried hard to invest its cinematic depiction with as much commanding grandeur as possible. This is a movie that takes viewers somewhere way out of the ordinary. It brings abstract ideas to vibrant life and makes the fifth planet real in fresh, unexpected ways. This was a thrilling project to develop.” Starobin wrote, produced, and directed the film.

“LARGEST” was funded by NASA’s Educational and Public Outreach in Earth and Space Science program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. The science and educational outreach team includes Simon-Miller and David Williams of NASA Goddard, Maurice Henderson of Adnet Systems, Inc., Rockville, Md., Pamela Clark of the Catholic University of America, Washington, Louis Mayo of Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., and Sallie Smith of Lux Consulting Group, Silver Spring, Md. Over a dozen people from Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio and Conceptual Image Lab pioneered the techniques used to make the film (complete credits are available at the website below).

To find the nearest Science on a Sphere theater, and for more images and information about Jupiter, refer to:


To register for the September 24 lecture, visit:


Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/