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NASA’s Kepler Mission to Find Earth’s Twin

Posted on 06 December 2011 by yizhan

Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft is built to review regions in the Milky way to look for the “fraction in the numerous immeasureable stars” in our universe which might be competent in accommodating human life. The mission has confirmed the discovery of the first planet that exist in a habitable zone. Kepler‘s mission also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the “habitable zone” of their host star. But this candidates require follow-up observations to verify if they are actually a planet.

Kepler 22b

Image From Nasa “Kepler 22b”


The newly confirmed planet was called Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of our planet. Scientists have not comfirmed yet  if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth’s twin planets.

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away from us. While the planet is larger than Earth, that its orbit  290 days around a sun-like star smaller than our sun.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler’s principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.

Keplar Diagram

Image from Nasa ” Keplar 22b Diagram”

The Kepler science team employs ground-based telescopes as well as the Spitzer Space Telescope to evaluate findings on planet candidates that the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes within the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be noticed from ground-based observatories in early spring through early fall. The data from these kinds of findings helped them figure out which candidates can be confirmed as planets.

The Kepler team is organizing its inaugural science conference at Ames Dec. 5-9, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was introduced in February, the number of planet candidates determined by Kepler has increased by 89% and now with a total of  2,326.  Worth mentioning, 207 are just about Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.

So… What do you think is the meaning of this??





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Latest Cooling System From NASA

Posted on 30 May 2011 by yizhan

Have you ever wondered about the source of the buzz that comes from your computer? Likely to be a fan, trying to ventilate the internal components. This is a typical cooling system.

I am not a rocket scientist, but in general, such as electronic components become tinier and more powerful, the amount of heat they generate is proportionately higher. This is because the simple fact that there are simply not enough surface area for heat to spread quickly. Therefore, all the computers processor and high-end graphics cards come with a heatsink with a fan on top. Take off the radiator and you cook the ingredients in seconds.

However, little progress in the equipment room where no air or moisture to help conduct heat and you have an even greater challenge. And that is exactly what NASA has been exposed.

According to NASA, Jeff Didion, thermal engineering Goddard Space Flight Center, and the electronics, thermal control is always one of the limiting factors. He co-Jamal Seyed-Yagoob, Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, a partner with SU Air Force and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to find ways to push the envelop thermal-control barriers.

The new cooling device of the future from NASA.

(Credit: NASA)

The result is the new electro hydro dynamic (EHD) technology-based thermal management, revealed yesterday that promises to make it easier and more effective to remove heat from small spaces. This solution is designed to meet a particular challenge for engineers to build advanced space instruments and microprocessors, which can fail if the heat they generate is not removed.

The prototype of the thermal control technology is a new small pump, the size of a pinkie finger, which, besides the cooling function is designed to withstand extreme loads such as launching a rocket taking off and rushes into the space. The pump will be shown in June on a mission rocket designed to carry microsatellites into space. “If the device to survive the vibration, the technology has reached a milestone in its development,” said Didion. “That means it is at or near operational status, making it a viable technology for use in space flight instruments.”

While the device is called a prototype pump has no moving parts. According Didion, contrary to current technologies used today by cooling the developers of tools and components no EHD does not rely on mechanical pumps and other moving parts. Instead, they use electric fields to pump coolant through tiny channels within a cold plate heat. From there, the waste heat discharged on a radiator and dispersed away from heat sensitive circuits that must operate within certain temperature ranges.

The fact that there are no mechanical parts that required a new cooling system is lighter, uses less power (about 0.5 W) and, especially, can be scaled to different sizes, the greater the cold plates of electronic components micro-scale devices and lab-on-a-chip. If you want to see how it would work, except for a small pump tested the prototype rocket in June EHD cold plate is also used to test the international space station in 2013.

Meanwhile, Didion says, the team is working to keep growing EHD, such as the development of EHD pumps in the microchannels that are etched on silicon wafers. The next step is to put technology in the circuit, with the ultimate goal of the ladder to the chip level in the pipes does not exceed 100 microns, or about the width of a human hair.

There are no data available on technology costs to the amount, but hopefully in the future apply to the applications practical, like a computer chip. Then do not have to worry about finding a cooling water system or a big fan if you are big on overclocking.

When polarized sunglasses will help develop and increase the use of Velcro, this could be the next, the best thing – literally – that NASA had to offer.

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100-Years Starship… What is ist?

Posted on 27 October 2010 by yizhan

Read in The Week today that  NASA Ames and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  just started a project called the ” Hundred Year Star ship ” .  With $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K This project is designed to take astronaut a one way trip to Mars or to another planets.  So what is this project really is? what do they mean by the term “one way trip” .  Evan Dashevsky at GearLog mention that space is “annoyingly, impractically huge” and it will took a long time for us to travel, assuming that the nearest planet to earth is 24 million miles away.   ” Also, it will cost a lot less, since the major expense of any plan to travel to other worlds is bringing the astronauts home, say geologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch and physicist Paul Davies in the Journal of Cosmology.

Now, who would volunteer for this kind of task?  Rebecca Boyle in Popular Science, noted that price tag does not include the inestimable cost of saying goodbye forever,”  “It would really be little different from the first white settlers of the North American continent, who left Europe with little expectation of return,” says Davies.

NASA is looking at electric and ground-based microwave thermal propulsion systems to boost the ship into space, rather than using heavy rocket fuel.  This will cost less in achieving this mission.

“Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds,” he says. “I think we’ll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so.”

Microwave thermal propulsion

Microwave thermal propulsion (Kevin Parkin)

The microwave thermal thruster using beamed propulsion is an excellent idea,” said Dr. Narayanan M. Komerath, a professor at Georgia Tech College of Engineering and a NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts Fellow. “[Kevin Parkin] picks the 140 GHz window, which apparently offers strong advantages in absorption by the materials that he uses in the propulsion system.

Well I think they should also try this technology in commercial  flight. It would be cheaper and will benefits us all including our environment. Less carbon emission means less pollution…. What do you think?

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Latest Image Of The Sun

Posted on 22 April 2010 by yizhan

Solar Dynamics Observatory that was lunched by NASA last Feb. 11, 2010 just sent an early image of the sun’s activities, this latest technology saids to give capabilities for researchers and scientist to better understand the sun’s dynamic processes.

Some of the image that was sent show the latest activities, you can see a detailed view of a solar flare emitted by the sun. Richard Fisher, Director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington said, ” These initial image show a dynamic sun that i had never seen in more than 40 years of solar research. ” SDO will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which affects our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics.

Image Courtesy of NASA

SDO was lunched last Feb. 11, 2010, it is said to be the latest and most advance spacecraft that was design to study then sun. it will examine the sun’s activities and its magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of its effect to planet Earth’s climate and atmospheric chemistry . One capability of the SDO is that it can provide image that is more clear than HD TV.

Image Courtesy of NASA


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