Category:2016

Ready for launch: Instrument suite to assess space weather

Nov 10, 2016

A multimillion dollar CU-Boulder/LASP instrument package expected to help scientists better understand potentially damaging space weather is now slated to launch aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Designed and built at LASP, the instrument suite known as the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) is the first of four identical packages that will fly on four NOAA weather satellites in the coming decade. EXIS will measure energy output from the sun that can affect satellite operations, telecommunications, GPS navigation and power grids on Earth as part of NOAA’s next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R Series (GOES-R).

MAVEN spacecraft completes one Mars year of science observations

Oct 03, 2016

Today, the LASP-led MAVEN mission has completed one Mars year of science observations. One Mars year is just under two Earth years.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft launched on Nov. 18, 2013, and went into orbit around Mars on Sept. 21, 2014. During its time at Mars, MAVEN has answered many questions about the Red Planet.

MinXSS CubeSat fills critical gap in measuring the sun

Sep 30, 2016

A bread loaf-sized satellite, designed and built by University of Colorado students, has been collecting data since its deployment from the International Space Station on May 16 and is providing observations of the sun at unprecedented wavelengths and resolution.

The Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS)—a 30cm x 10cm x 10 cm, 3-unit satellite—is the first ever science CubeSat launched for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and has already met its minimum mission science criteria for data and observations.

LASP recognized for research on critical space weather missions

Aug 29, 2016

Based on years of dedication to studying the sun and its effects on space-borne and Earth-based technological systems, and under strong leadership from LASP director Dan Baker, a team of LASP scientists and engineers is being recognized for research into this ever present threat to modern society. CO-LABS announced today four winners of their 2016 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research, with the LASP team winning in the Earth Systems and Space Sciences category.

CO-LABS is a non-profit consortium of federal research labs, research universities, businesses, and economic development organizations with a mission to support and expand the positive impacts of Colorado’s science and technology resources. Since 2009, the Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research has honored Colorado scientists and engineers from the state’s federally funded research laboratories for outstanding achievements.

Launching rockets and STEM dreams for first-generation students

Aug 16, 2016

Wearing latex gloves and focused expressions, a group of middle school students gathered around a large cardboard tube recently at the CU Boulder Engineering Center then carefully began wrapping it in fiberglass. All the while, an undergraduate with the CU Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (CU SEDS) organization explained how rockets are designed and built.

Soon, these same students will travel to southern Colorado to launch a rocket they helped assemble as part of a CU Junior Aerospace Engineering Camp. This camp, in particular, brought students to campus from Casa de la Esperanza, a housing community in Longmont for agricultural workers and their families.

LASP scientists, students primed for Juno arrival at Jupiter

Jun 23, 2016

A group of LASP scientists and students are anxiously awaiting the arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter July 4, a mission expected to reveal the hidden interior of the gas giant as well as keys to how our solar system formed.

Launched in 2011, the spacecraft is slated to orbit Jupiter’s poles 37 times roughly 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) above its cloud tops to better understand the origin and evolution of the largest planet in the solar system. Scientists hope to determine if Jupiter has a solid core, measure the planet’s magnetic fields, hunt for water vapor and observe the polar auroras.

Three planetary scientists from LASP and five University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) students are part of the Juno mission.

LASP research points to electrostatic dust transport in reshaping airless planetary bodies

Jun 14, 2016

A team of LASP scientists, led by University of Colorado physics professor Mihály Horányi, has conducted laboratory experiments that may bring closure to a long-standing issue of electrostatic dust transport, explaining a variety of unusual phenomena on the surfaces of airless planetary bodies, including observations from the Apollo era and the recent Rosetta mission to Comet 67P.

Sounding rocket EVE supports tune-up of SDO EVE instrument

May 18, 2016

Satellites provide data daily on our own planet, our sun and the universe around us. The instruments on these spacecraft are constantly bombarded with solar particles and intense light, not to mention the normal wear and tear from operating in space.

If it were a car that’s a few years old, you would take it to the mechanic for a tune-up to make sure it continues running smoothly. However, with a spacecraft it’s not that easy. Thus, scientists may turn to calibration flights to make sure the instruments are kept up to snuff and providing validated data.

One such flight will be the Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) Variability Experiment, or EVE, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, to observe the sun from a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket at 3:02 p.m. EDT May 25 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

MinXSS CubeSat set to deploy from ISS, study sun’s soft X-rays

May 13, 2016

The bread loaf-sized Miniature X-Ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) CubeSat will be deployed from an airlock on the International Space Station (ISS) at 4 a.m. MDT on Monday, May 16, beginning its journey into space where it will study emissions from the sun that can affect ground-based communications systems.

The NASA-funded MinXSS, designed, built, and operated by University of Colorado Boulder students and faculty at LASP and CU-Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department (AES), will operate in Earth’s orbit for up to 12 months. The CubeSat will be deployed from the ISS via a special deployer designed by NanoRacks, LLC.

The MinXSS will observe soft X-rays from the sun, which can disrupt Earth’s upper atmosphere and hamper radio and GPS signals traveling through the region. The intensity of the soft x-ray emissions emitted from the sun is continuously changing over a large range—with peak emission levels occurring during large eruptions on the sun called solar flares.

The Jet Set: Understanding the plume shooting from a Saturn moon

May 06, 2016

Planetary scientists are a step closer to understanding changes in the puzzling jets of gas and dust grains observed shooting into space from cracks on the icy surface of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn.

First observed in 2005 by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it orbited the ringed planet, the plume is coming from a subterranean, salty ocean beneath the moon’s surface. The latest observations with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft now at Saturn by a team including Larry Esposito, LASP planetary scientist and University of Colorado Boulder professor, indicate at least some of the narrow jets there blast with increased fury when the moon is farther from Saturn.

Cassini Spacecraft Samples Interstellar Dust

Apr 13, 2016

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of dust coming from beyond our solar system. The research, led by a team that includes scientists at the University of Colorado and LASP, will be published in the journal Science on Friday, April 15, 2016.

Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, studying the giant planet, its rings, and its moons. The spacecraft has also sampled millions of ice-rich dust grains with its Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) instrument. LASP research scientists Sascha Kempf, Sean Hsu, and Eberhard Grün are all co-investigators for the Cassini CDA instrument and co-authors of the paper.

Student Dust Counter got few “hits” during Pluto flyby

Mar 18, 2016

A LASP-led and University of Colorado Boulder student-built instrument riding on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft found only a handful of dust grains, the building blocks of planets, when it whipped by Pluto at 31,000 miles per hour last July.

Data downloaded and analyzed by the New Horizons team indicated the space environment around Pluto and its moons contained only about six dust particles per cubic mile, said LASP planetary scientist and CU-Boulder Professor Fran Bagenal, who leads the New Horizons Particles and Plasma Team.

“The bottom line is that space is mostly empty,” said Bagenal. “Any debris created when Pluto’s moons were captured or created during impacts has long since been removed by planetary processes.”

LASP-built instrument to study the birthplace of stars and planets

Feb 17, 2016

To the casual onlooker, the space between the stars is benign and inactive. However, this space, also called the interstellar medium, is very active and contains the raw materials for future solar systems.

On February 21, 2016, the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS) will fly on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket on its second flight in two years to study the atoms and molecules in the interstellar medium.

LASP director elected AIAA Fellow

Feb 09, 2016

LASP Director, Dan Baker, has been elected Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for its class of 2016. AIAA Fellows are elected based on their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics and astronautics.

In addition to his role as LASP director, Baker is a faculty member in the departments of Physics and Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. Baker, who chaired the National Research Council’s 2012 Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics, is currently involved in a number of NASA missions, including the MAVEN mission to Mars, the Van Allen Probes mission, and the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission.

AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 corporate members. The induction ceremony for the new Fellows will take place at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala on June 15, 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.