NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars and produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, said LASP Associate Director for Science and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Bruce Jakosky, the mission’s principal investigator.
In addition, the new observations allowed scientists to make a comprehensive map of highly variable ozone in the Martian atmosphere underlying the coronas, he said. The spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit Sept. 21 and is in the process of lowering its orbit and testing its instruments. The $671 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, was launched toward Mars on Nov. 18, 2013, to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere.
NASA will host a news teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 14, to announce early science results from the LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission.
Launched in November 2013, the spacecraft entered orbit around Mars on Sept. 21 completing an interplanetary journey of 10 months and 442 million miles (711 million kilometers). MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere to help scientists understand climate change over the Red Planet’s history.
NASA has awarded a team led by the University of Colorado Boulder, which includes LASP scientists, more than $7 million to study aspects of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.
The team, led by CU-Boulder Professor Alexis Templeton of the geological sciences department, will be researching what scientists call “rock-powered life.” Rocky planets store enormous amounts of chemical energy, that, when released through the interaction of rocks and water, have the ability to power living systems on Earth as well as on other planets like Mars, said Templeton, principal investigator on the effort.
The LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has obtained its first observations of the extended upper atmosphere surrounding Mars.
The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument obtained these false-color images eight hours after the successful completion of Mars orbit insertion by the spacecraft at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21 after a 10-month journey.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.
In New Mexico on the morning of Aug. 18, a high-altitude balloon successfully carried the HyperSpectral Imager for Climate Science (HySICS) instrument to an altitude of 123,000 feet, above most of the Earth’s atmosphere, to reach space-like conditions and demonstrate new technologies for acquiring high-accuracy science measurements of the Earth.
Scientists use outgoing shortwave radiance, or the amount of sunlight scattered from Earth’s surface and atmosphere and reflected back toward space, as one of the key metrics for studying our planet’s dynamic climate. Watching these radiances over time helps researchers monitor and better understand the causes of environmental changes and global warming.
A NASA mission to Mars led by LASP is set to slide into orbit around the red planet on Sept. 21 to investigate how its climate has changed over the eons, completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles.
The orbit-insertion maneuver will begin with six thruster engines firing to shed some of the velocity from the spacecraft, known as the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN mission. The thruster engines will ignite and burn for 33 minutes to slow the spacecraft, allowing it to be captured into an elliptical orbit around Mars.
The importance of Mars exploration and how the aerospace industry partners with university researchers to advance one of Colorado’s leading economic sectors will be featured at a free program Monday, Sept. 8, in south Denver.
Aerospace leaders will discuss the importance of Mars exploration and the role of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN mission, the involvement of Colorado companies in space exploration and the value of public/private partnerships involving university-based research. Speakers will include Jim Green, director of NASA planetary science; Nick Schneider, MAVEN co-investigator and professor in the CU-Boulder Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences; Guy Beutelschies, space exploration systems director, Lockheed Martin; Jim Sponnick, vice president of Atlas and Delta programs, United Launch Alliance; and Patrick Carr, vice president and general manager of command, control and communications systems, Exelis.
A NASA-funded miniature satellite built by University of Colorado Boulder students to scrutinize solar flares erupting from the sun’s surface is the latest example of the university’s commitment to advancing aerospace technology and space science through strong partnerships with industry and government.
The $1 million Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS), led by CU-Boulder faculty in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, recently was selected by NASA for launch in January 2015 from the International Space Station.
Based on a recommendation from NASA’s 2014 Senior Review of its operating missions, the planet hunting Kepler space telescope has received a two-year extension to operate in a new two-wheel mode.
The approval allows the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery using two of its four original reaction wheels, and introduces new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.
At the conclusion of a highly successful 130-day mission, the NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is planned to impact the surface of the moon on April 21, 2014. LADEE carries the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX), which is the latest in a series of dust detectors designed and built at LASP.
A new study led by LASP research scientist Stuart Robbins indicates that volunteer “citizen scientists” counted lunar craters at rates comparable to professional scientists. Using images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, volunteers for CosmoQuest, which contributes real science data to NASA missions, analyzed the high-resolution photos of the Moon for impact craters. Robbins and his co-authors then compared the volunteers’ results to those of eight professional planetary crater-counters.
The MAVEN spacecraft and all of its science instruments have completed their initial checkout, and all of them are working as expected. This means that MAVEN is on track to carry out its full science mission as originally planned.
The mission is designed to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere. It will determine the role that escape of gas from the atmosphere to space has played in changing the climate throughout the planet’s history. MAVEN was launched on November 18, 2013, and will go into orbit around Mars on the evening of Sept. 21, 2014 (10 p.m. EDT).
After a 5-week commissioning phase in orbit, during which it will get into its science-mapping orbit, deploy its booms, and do a final checkout of the science instruments, it will carry out a one-Earth-year mission. It will observe the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere, determine the rate of escape of gas to space today and the processes controlling it, and make measurements that will allow it to determine the total amount of gas lost to space over time.
NASA has approved a 28-day mission extension for the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). LASP provided the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX) onboard the satellite, which launched on September 6, 2013 and is now expected to impact the surface of the moon in late April 2014.
Due to accurate and efficient propulsion and guidance over the course of the mission to date, the spacecraft has more fuel remaining than mission operators originally expected. The extra propellant will provide an opportunity for LADEE to gather an additional full lunar cycle worth of very low-altitude data to help scientists unravel the mysteries of the moon’s tenuous atmosphere and dust environment.
As 2013 draws to a close, it is amazing to reflect on all of LASP’s accomplishments in its 65th year! The last four months of the year were punctuated by launches to the moon, and Earth and Mars orbits for the LDEX, TCTE, and MAVEN instruments that LASP designed, built, and now operates.
On November 19, an instrument to monitor solar energy, built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) launched into orbit around Earth to help determine the effects of solar radiation on Earth’s climate. This Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) will mitigate a gap in an otherwise continuous 35-year climate data record following the loss […]
A LASP-led mission that will investigate how Mars lost its atmosphere and abundant liquid water launched into space on November 18 at 11:28 a.m. MST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft separated from an Atlas V Centaur rocket’s second stage 53 minutes after launch. The solar arrays deployed approximately one hour after launch and currently power the spacecraft. MAVEN now is embarking on a 10-month interplanetary cruise before arriving at Mars next September.
MAVEN is set to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket Nov. 18. The two-hour launch window extends from 1:28 to 3:28 p.m. EST. Liftoff will occur from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.
Launch commentary coverage, as well as prelaunch media briefings, will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The following is a list of MAVEN launch-related briefings, events, and activities.
A LASP proposal has been selected by NASA’s new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).
LASP’s proposal outlines the creation of the Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres, and Cosmic Dust (IMPACT). IMPACT focuses on experimental and theoretical investigations of: the effects of high-speed dust impacts, plasma charging, mobilization and transport of dust due to human and/or robotic activities, as well as natural processes; and the near-surface plasma environment of airless bodies in the solar system, including our Moon, Near Earth Objects, and the moons of Mars Phobos and Deimos.
LASP kicks off a special year-long Public Lecture series to honor our 65th anniversary on October 11, 2013. Please join us! Speaker: Dr. Sam Durrance Date: Friday, October 11, 2013 Time: 6:00 PM; doors open for a reception at 5:15 PM Location: LSTB-A200 (map) Abstract: Riding a rocket into space, the exhilaration of zero-g, the […]
On Sept. 29, 2013, a scientific balloon launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, NM, flying an instrument that scientists hope will eventually establish a new long-term benchmark data set pertaining to climate change on the Earth.
The instrument, funded by a $4.7 million NASA Earth Science Technology Office Instrument Incubator Program contract, is intended to acquire extremely accurate radiometric measurements of Earth relative to the incident sunlight. Over time, such measurements can tell scientists about changes in land-use, vegetation, urban landscape use, and atmospheric conditions on our planet. Such long-term radiometric measurements from the HyperSpectral Imager for Climate Science (HySICS) instrument can then help scientists identify the drivers of climate change.
Professor Brian Toon of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been selected to present the 2013 CU-Boulder Distinguished Research Lecture, an award that is among the highest honors bestowed by the faculty upon a faculty member at CU-Boulder. Each year, the Office of the Vice […]
A $6 million instrument designed and built by LASP to study the behavior of lunar dust will be riding on a NASA mission to the moon now slated for launch on Friday, Sept. 6, from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The mission, known as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, […]
Haiku recognized in the LASP-led MAVEN message-to-Mars contest were announced today on the Going to Mars campaign website. Haiku authors from around the world—including Palestine, India, Australia, and Europe—entered the contest. The top five winners—all those whose haiku received 1,000 votes or more—include popular British blogger Benedict Smith and well-known American poet Vanna Bonta. Other entries receiving special recognition include MAVEN team selections in categories ranging from haiku specifically about MAVEN to humorous haiku.
The LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for launch this November. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Friday.
LASP director and research scientist Dan Baker is co-author of new research that indicates that a massive particle accelerator exists in the Van Allen radiation belts, a harsh band of super-energetic, charged particles surrounding our planet. The results were published in Science magazine today.
The LASP-led MAVEN Going to Mars campaign has opened public voting on submissions to the message to Mars contest. Messages are in the form of three-line poems called haiku. The public will select the top three haiku via open voting on an online interface. Winning haiku will be announced on the MAVEN website on August […]
A new study by LASP research scientist Brian Toon and doctoral student Eric Wolf indicates that explaining Earth’s early conditions, which were warm enough to support life despite a 20-percent dimmer Sun, may be simpler than believed. The study, published in the July issue of Astrobiology, indicates that the Archean eon, 2.8 billion years ago, […]
The winner of the LASP-run MAVEN student art contest turns out be the work of more than a single young person. The First Place entry, selected by online public vote, was the work of a Colorado-based Kindergarten Enrichment class.
A multimillion dollar LASP instrument package to study space weather has passed its pre-installation testing and is ready to be incorporated onto a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite for a 2015 launch.
The MAVEN mission is inviting people from all over the world to submit their names and a unique message online. Participants’ names and the top-voted messages will be burned to a specially-designed DVD and sent to the Red Planet aboard the MAVEN spacecraft, scheduled to launch in November, 2013.
The LASP-operated NASA Kepler spacecraft has discovered two planetary systems that include three super-Earth-sized planets in the “habitable zone,” where the surface temperature of a planet may sustain liquid water.
NASA has announced that LASP will collaborate on a $55 million project to build and launch an instrument to provide unprecedented imaging of the Earth’s upper atmosphere from a geostationary orbit.
The kind of information the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will collect will have a direct impact on man’s understanding of space weather and its impact on communication and navigation satellites.
LASP is participating in the National Space Symposium, this week, as part of our effort to reach out to space industry audiences attending this important annual conference. Visitors can find us at Exhibit Booth #506, which we are sharing with the University of Colorado Boulder Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES). We are leaders in […]
Members of the worldwide public are invited to participate in NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission through a new Education & Public Outreach (E/PO) effort called the Going to Mars campaign. MAVEN, which is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere, has a robust E/PO program designed to engage a variety of audiences in the mission.
The Van Allen Probes mission has revealed a third radiation belt encircling Earth, dispelling a long-held theory that only two of these hazardous charged particle layers exist in Earth’s magnetic field. This discovery is based on data collected from the LASP-built Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope (REPT) experiment, published today in the journal Science online, at the Science Express website.
The LASP-led Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission spacecraft is now fully assembled and ready to begin its environmental testing phase. For the next six months, the spacecraft will undergo numerous, intensive tests that simulate the harsh space environments that it will encounter once it launches this November.
The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) has seen a lot for a ten-year-old. Launched into Earth’s orbit on January 25, 2003, SORCE’s four LASP-built instruments have spent the past decade measuring solar energy in Earth’s atmosphere to help understand how the Sun affects climate change. SORCE has observed a gamut of solar events during […]
LASP physicist Dr. John “Jack” Gosling has received the U.S. National Academy of Sciences 2013 Arctowski Medal for his outstanding contributions to the field of solar physics. Gosling has received the award for his extensive research on energetic solar events and their effects on Earth. He will be formally honored at a ceremony on Sunday, […]
The NASA MESSENGER mission has found evidence for a significant amount of ice on Mercury, according to three papers published today in Science Express. Although Mercury is the closest planet to our Sun, MESSENGER data suggests that permanently shadowed pockets and craters near Mercury’s poles are cold enough to support water in the form of […]
A $20 million remote sensing instrument package built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, which is leading a 2013 NASA mission to understand how Mars might have lost its atmosphere, has been delivered to Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colo., for spacecraft integration. The remote sensing package, designed […]
LASP has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Aviation Week Laureate Award for Workforce based on its unique, hands-on Mission Operations & Data Systems (MO&DS) training program for CU-Boulder students. The winner of the award will be announced at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2013. The annual Laureate Awards […]
With key help from citizen scientists, the LASP-operated NASA Kepler spacecraft has discovered a unique planet orbiting a double-star system; the system is, in turn, orbited by two additional stars. Amateur astronomers and scientists aided the discovery through the Yale University Planet Hunters citizen-science program. The newly discovered planet, PH1, is the first reported case […]
Members of the Boulder community joined LASP scientists, staff, and students under the glow of a First Quarter Moon on Saturday evening for the 2012 International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) celebration. Sponsored by the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS), the event was an opportunity for the community to view […]
NASA has authorized the next Mars mission, led by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), to proceed to system delivery, spacecraft integration, testing, and launch, which is slated for November 2013. The $670 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission will be the first devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time.
A new survey, led by LASP Director Daniel Baker, brings the next decade of solar and space physics closer to home. The National Research Council (NRC) 10-year plan recommends that heliophysics research focus on the near-Earth environment in order to better understand how the Sun and space weather impact phenomena on Earth. Baker chaired the […]
Launch update: After a few postponements, RBSP launched successfully at 4:05 a.m. EDT on Thursday, August 30. On August 24, the NASA Radiation Belt and Storm Probes (RBSP) mission will launch into orbit to study the forbidding belts of radiation that encircle Earth, which are trapped here by our planet’s magnetic field. Dual spacecraft will […]
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has invited LASP Director Daniel Baker to deliver a Bowie lecture at its 2012 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California, this December. Designation as a Bowie lecturer is the highest honor in each of the AGU scientific sections. Baker will deliver the Van Allen lecture in the Space Physics and […]
An estimated 350 people gathered at LASP Sunday night for activities surrounding the landing of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover on Mars. The late-night public event brought local citizens, LASP staff, and space industry experts together to witness and celebrate Curiosity’s dramatic landing on the surface of the Red Planet. A number […]
UPDATE: After some range issues and weather setbacks, CSSWE launched successfully on Thursday, September 13, at 3:39 p.m. MT. It was deployed three hours later, and made its first pass over the LASP ground station at approximately 4:14 a.m. MT on Friday, September 14, when the first beacons were received. A CubeSat mission designed, built, […]
A group of New Media communicators gathered at LASP this past weekend to discuss the most up-to-date issues surrounding lunar and small bodies science and exploration with experts in the field. Sponsored by the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS), the weekend-long workshop offered professional development for bloggers, podcasters, and other […]
An instrument to monitor solar energy, built by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, will be launched into orbit in 2013 to help determine the effects of solar radiation on Earth’s climate. This Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) will mitigate a potential and likely upcoming gap in an […]
The University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) will conduct mission operations and data processing for the first privately funded deep-space mission, whose goal will be to spot near-Earth objects that could be in a dangerous trajectory with Earth. The mission will be led by the B612 Foundation. The Sentinel mission […]
LASP scientists will launch a sounding rocket this Saturday, June 23, from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, to check the performance of the EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) onboard the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The scientific rocket will carry a near-replica of the SDO EVE satellite and will calibrate the EVE optical […]
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) presented LASP Director Dr. Daniel Baker with the distinguished 2012 Popular Writing Award on June 12 in Anchorage, Alaska. Baker shares the honor with Dr. James Green, director of the NASA Solar System Exploration Division. To encourage solar research education, the AAS Solar Physics Division offers its annual monetary award […]
LASP welcomes applications for our upcoming expenses-paid professional development workshop for bloggers, podcasters, and other science communicators. Attendees may or may not be formally trained in journalism or science. The workshop will be held July 20-22 on the CU-Boulder campus near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and will feature a prestigious line-up of space […]
An extensive new database details over 635,000 Martian impact craters, providing unprecedented information about Mars’ battered surface. Compiled by LASP scientists, the catalog will help researchers date various regions of the Red Planet, study its volcanic water history, and investigate its past potential to harbor life. The database details Martian impact craters, likely created by […]
The mass viewing of Sunday evening’s solar eclipse at CU-Boulder broke world records, with close to 10,000 attendees filling the stands at Folsom Field. Organized by Fiske Planetarium and co-sponsored by the two NASA Lunar Institute teams from CU—the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS) and Lunar University Network for Astrophysics […]
Forty years after the NASA Apollo 16 mission, a dusty video has given scientists fresh perspective on the surface of the Moon. Scientists with the LASP Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies (CCLDAS) analyzed Apollo 16 video images of dust clouds kicked up by the rover to show that they followed ballistic trajectories, […]
Children of LASP staff learned about space exploration during a series of activities held at the LASP Space Technology Building this morning. The children built Mars rovers out of candy, created and decorated a spectrograph, and dressed in “bunny suits”—the outerwear that employees don to help ensure that instruments destined for space are built in […]
A group of Longmont middle school students successfully sent a scientific balloon carrying edible treats into the sky last Saturday as an atmospheric physics experiment. Guided by LASP scientists and education/outreach staff, the Trail Ridge Middle School eighth grade Earth Explorers class launched a balloon platform carrying a container of Jell-O and a marshmallow into […]
NASA has extended the Kepler mission through fiscal year 2016, adding four years to Kepler’s search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and allowing LASP to continue our work operating the spacecraft. A team of 20 University of Colorado students and 16 LASP professionals control the Kepler spacecraft from the LASP Mission Operations […]
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum presented the 2012 Trophy for Current Achievement, its highest group award, to the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn on March 21 in Washington, D.C. The Cassini spacecraft carries the LASP-built Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph Subsystem (UVIS), which measures ultraviolet light in Saturn’s system to better understand the planet’s atmospheres, […]
The NASA Kepler Mission won the highest honor for space programs at the 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Awards on March 7 in Washington, D.C. Students and professionals in the LASP Mission Operations Center control the Kepler spacecraft, which is surveying our region of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets. The Laureate Awards recognize individuals […]
CU-Boulder students, working under the guidance of LASP scientists and engineers, have finished building a satellite to study space weather and have sent it to California Polytechnic Institute to begin integration with launch vehicle systems. More than 50 graduate and undergraduate students have contributed to designing and building the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE), an $840,000 CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation. The satellite is scheduled to launch into low-Earth polar orbit in early August 2012 as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program.
In recognition of their accomplishments and exceptional scientific contributions, two LASP scientists have been elected as fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Bruce Jakosky and Cora Randall have been recognized by their peers for their outstanding work in Earth and space sciences with an honor that is bestowed upon not more than 0.1% of the AGU membership annually.
Using data from the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, LASP scientists have made new measurements of interplanetary dust density. The data, collected from the CU-Boulder student-built Student Dust Counter (SDC) and the meteoroid detector on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, represent measurements of the micro-sized dust grains from the Earth out to the present position of the SDC, at approximately 20 Astronomical Units (AU). One AU is equal to the average distance from the Sun to the Earth, or approximately 93 million miles (149.5 million km).
New research led by LASP scientist Brian Toon uses a three-dimensional (3-D) model of Earth’s climate to assess the role of various factors in influencing historic global temperatures and resulting sea ice formation and change. Toon, along with doctoral student Eric Wolf, adapted the 3-D model to incorporate the complex and dynamic interactions between the atmosphere, cloud formation, energy radiation, land and ice cover, and the hydrological cycle to demonstrate how the Earth maintained a global mean temperature hospitable to life. The model attempts to solve the “faint young sun paradox” of the Archean Eon—from about 3.8 billion to 2.5 billion years ago—when the Sun was up to 30 percent less active, but geologic evidence points to a climate as warm or warmer than today.
In 1977, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, Elvis died, Virginia park ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning a record seventh time and two NASA space probes destined to turn planetary science on its head launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The identical spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were launched in the summer and programmed to pass by Jupiter and Saturn on different paths. Voyager 2 went on to visit Uranus and Neptune, completing the “Grand Tour of the Solar System,” perhaps the most exciting interplanetary mission ever flown. University of Colorado Boulder scientists, who designed and built identical instruments for Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were as stunned as anyone when the spacecraft began sending back data to Earth.
Using data from the NASA Cassini mission, a team of scientists led by LASP researcher Sean Hsu, has successfully modeled dust streams being expelled from Saturn at speeds of more than 62 miles (100 km) per second. The data, taken from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) and the magnetometer on board Cassini, provide new information about the sources of the dust, as well as interactions within the mix of subatomic particles in which the charged dust is immersed, called dusty plasma.
As part of the upcoming American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, LASP director, Dan Baker, will serve as a panelist for a workshop on space weather. The workshop, titled, “Getting Ready for Solar Max: Separating Space Weather Fact from Fiction,” will be held on Tuesday, December 6, at 10 a.m. PT. Baker will begin the workshop with an overview of our current understanding of the Sun-Earth system, including solar variability and its interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere.
LASP Science Division personnel are moving to a new location on the CU Research Campus beginning October 14. According to LASP Director, Dan Baker, the benefits of the move are two-fold. Baker said, “LASP is a growing presence on campus. We are excited by the opportunity to expand our physical space to better address our current needs, while consolidating our science staff for more fluid collaboration.”
LASP scientist and CU-Boulder Department of Geological Sciences Assistant Professor, Brian Hynek, led a recent study detailing the earliest history of the development of the Tharsis volcanoes on Mars. The Tharsis region, one of the most prominent features on Mars, covers one quarter of the planet, rises 10 km above the surrounding flatlands, and has had near-continuous volcanic activity for roughly 4 billion years.
In recognition of his accomplishments and groundbreaking insights in the field of atmospheric science, LASP scientist and CU-Boulder Professor Peter Pilewskie has been named a recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Research Award. Pilewskie has been at LASP since 2004, where he performs research on the effects of clouds and aerosols on solar energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. He is also a professor in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and serves as the director of the collaborative LASP/NASA Goddard Sun-Climate Research Center.
CU-Boulder has announced its selection as the upcoming host for the National Solar Observatory headquarters. A team led by Russell Moore, CU-Boulder Provost, and including LASP researchers, submitted the bid to serve as the NSO’s new headquarters location.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has achieved another significant milestone on its way towards launch in November 2013. Lockheed Martin has completed building the primary structure of the MAVEN spacecraft at its Space Systems Company facility near Denver.
NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), launched in September 1991 and deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-48), is re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and will complete its decent on Friday, September 23. LASP designed and built the Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE) on board UARS and operated the instrument after launch. Throughout 14 years of successful operations, SOLSTICE made precise measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet and far ultraviolet spectral irradiance.
September 2011 marks a significant milestone for LASP, as our Mission Operations and Data Systems (MODS) team celebrates 15 years of continuous spacecraft operations. From long-standing science missions, such as ICESat, which have brought in important data over years—to newer missions, such as Kepler’s exciting search for Earth-like planets—LASP MODS has offered reliable spacecraft operations to agencies including NASA.
The Sun is the dominant source of energy for Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists are interested in determining how the Sun’s output affects Earth’s climate and the ways specific events can disrupt space weather applications, space-based technologies, and radio communications. New observations of solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) irradiance from the LASP-designed and built EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) are adding another piece to this complicated puzzle that may help scientists more accurately predict space weather events.
In recognition of his innovative work on the effects of aerosols on clouds and climate, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has awarded LASP scientist Brian Toon the 2011 Revelle Medal. Toon has been at LASP since 1997, where his research is focused on radiative transfer, cloud physics, and atmospheric chemistry as well as the search for parallels between the Earth and the terrestrial planets.
Several LASP scientists are involved in NASA’s upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter. Scheduled to launch on August 5, 2011, the mission will improve understanding of our solar system origins by revealing details about the formation and evolution of the gas giant. The spacecraft will embark on a five-year, 400-million-mile voyage to Jupiter, where it will orbit the planet 33 times, collecting data for more than one Earth year.
The CU/LASP-led mission to Mars, devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere, reached a major milestone last week when it successfully completed its Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. An independent review board, comprised of reviewers from NASA and several external organizations, met from July 11-15 to validate the system design of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission.
A study published in the journal Nature and co-authored by LASP scientist Sascha Kempf indicates that samples of water vapor and ice particles coming from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus demonstrate evidence for a large, subterranean salt-water reservoir. The Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) on board the NASA Cassini spacecraft measured the composition of plumes—emanating from fractures called tiger stripes—and found that ice grains close to the moon are salt rich, unlike those that make up the planet’s E Ring.
LASP/CU-Boulder students are designing and building a satellite that will study space weather—changes in near-Earth space conditions that adversely affect Earth-orbiting spacecraft and communication technologies. The Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) is an $840,000 CubeSat mission funded by the National Science Foundation. CSSWE is scheduled to launch into low-Earth polar orbit in June 2012 as a secondary payload under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program.
A new video that introduces the unique story of LASP student involvement in a NASA satellite instrument is now available. The video features students involved in the design, production, and operation of the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC), an instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto. Under the supervision of professional education staff, LASP undergraduate student Alex Thom compiled the video from archived mission footage and interviews.
CU-Boulder has announced its selection as a finalist to host the National Solar Observatory headquarters. A team led by Russell Moore, CU-Boulder Provost, and including LASP researchers submitted the bid to serve as the NSO’s new headquarters location. The NSO’s mission is to advance knowledge of the sun both as an astronomical object and as […]
A study published in Geophysical Research Letters and co-authored by LASP scientist Tom Woods has found that total solar irradiance (TSI)—a measure of the Sun’s energy output—may not be as low during the Little Ice Age as previously understood. Low total solar irradiance has been thought to be a cause of the Little Ice Age, a time in the 17th Century coinciding with a period of unusually low sunspot activity known as the Maunder Minimum.
Federally funded laboratories in Colorado, a group that includes LASP, contributed $1.5 billion to the state economy in fiscal year 2010 and accounted for more than 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, a new survey shows. The study, Impact of Federal Research Laboratories in Colorado, 2009-2010, was done at the behest of CO‐LABS, a consortium of […]
At approximately 7 p.m. MT on Thursday, March 17, after more than six and a half years and a nearly 5 billion mile journey, NASA’s MESSENGER mission became the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around the planet Mercury.
On March 23, 2011, LASP launched a sounding rocket intended to calibrate the Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) on the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The rocket carries an almost exact replica instrument as the satellite version SDO EVE instrument, which will help to determine any long-term degradation of the EVE optical system and will enable EVE to obtain the most accurate measurements possible of solar irradiance.
NASA’s Glory mission failed to reach orbit due to a failure of the Taurus XL rocket’s fairing to separate. The Glory satellite was designed to help scientists determine how much energy from the sun reaches Earth and how solar variability influences Earth’s long-term climate. Designed and built at LASP, the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument on board, was aimed at measuring the intensity of solar radiation at the top of Earth’s atmosphere.X Earth’s Climate X Glory
LASP scientist Eberhard Grün has been awarded the 2011 Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) Gold Medal for Geophysics.
At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, engineers are preparing the next Earth-observing NASA mission, Glory, which is slated to launch in late February. Glory carries the LASP-built Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) instrument, which will be directed towards the sun and will measure the intensity of solar radiation that enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
LASP graduate student Andrew Poppe was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Student Dust Counter instrument on board the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
New research led by CU-Boulder/LASP scientist Greg Kopp will advance scientists’ understanding of the contribution of natural versus anthropogenic causes of climate change. The research improves the accuracy of the continuous, 32-year record of the sun’s energy output, which scientists call total solar irradiance (TSI). Energy from the sun is the primary energy input driving […]
Sophomore and junior undergraduate students are invited to apply for the LASP NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Applications are due January 28, 2011. Foreign students may apply. Students will work with scientists at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) or at the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) […]
A new National Research Council report, co-chaired by Daniel Baker of CU/LASP and D. James Baker of the William J. Clinton Foundation, concludes that cooperation among federal agencies on space programs leads to costlier programs with greater risk and complexity. Daniel Baker said, “In many cases, an individual agency would do well to consider alternatives […]
The University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center announced the formation of a new collaborative research center dedicated to the study of the Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate. The center, called the Sun-Climate Research Center (SCRC), will be directed by Peter Pilewskie, a LASP research scientist […]
A recent study co-authored by LASP researcher Brian Toon used models to predict which regions on Mars could have ice caves. Ice caves are sometimes found on Earth in lava tubes left over from previous volcanic activity; on Mars, these ice caves could allow ice to exist in middle latitudes, where many lava tubes have […]