In recognition of his accomplishments and exceptional scientific contributions, LASP research associate W.K. (Bill) Peterson has been elected as a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Peterson is being recognized by his peers in the scientific community for his outstanding work in Earth and space sciences with an honor that is bestowed upon no more than 0.1% of the AGU membership annually.
In 1930, an object smaller than our moon was discovered, labeled the ninth planet from the sun, and named Pluto at the suggestion of 11-year-old British girl Venetia Burney. The name was adopted because it was thought to be fitting as Pluto is the Roman God of the Underworld who is able to make himself invisible.
Invisible no longer.
After a nine-year journey of 3 billion miles, a piano-sized, power-packed NASA spacecraft has an upcoming date with history that some University of Colorado Boulder students, faculty and alumni wouldn’t miss for the world.
“Self-organising plasmas” – or “complex plasmas” consist of electrons, ions and charged microparticles. The charged microparticles can be visualised individually, allowing full kinetic access to the plasma distribution function for the first time. Complex plasmas can self-organise spontaneously to assume liquid and even crystalline states – these are new states of “soft matter”, which were […]
Abstract: The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:26:03 PDT on April 25, 2007 becoming the first satellite mission dedicated to the study of noctilucent clouds. A Pegasus XL rocket launched the satellite into a near perfect 600 km, noon – midnight, sun […]
Following the New Horizons’ encounter with Jupiter, there has been a flurry of debate in the literature regarding the fundamental nature of Jupiter’s magnetosphere. The observation of large plasmoids filling Jupiter’s magnetotail prompted the suggestion by McComas and Bagenal  that Jupiter has “a fundamentally different interaction with the solar wind”. At Earth, there is […]
Monitoring perturbations in the long-term balance between Earth’s absorption of radiative energy from the Sun and its emission of infrared radiation to space is one of the primary objectives behind the Decadal Survey Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) mission. Through on-orbit traceability of measurements to SI standards, CLARREO will initiate benchmark climate data […]
In situ measurements of total and gas phase water as well as ice crystals have been obtained during several airborne field experiments in the Arctic, at midlatitudes and in the tropics. From the data set obtained in these experiments, the ice water content (IWC) in cirrus clouds is derived as a function of temperature for […]
The recent verification that small asteroids are rubble piles and are subject the YORP effect (i.e, that solar radiation pressure makes asteroid spin rates change over relatively short time spans) has wide-ranging consequences for the life cycles of these bodies. As the spin rate of an asteroid changes, its minimum energy configuration can change and […]
3/16/2009 – “Calculation Challenges from Cassini CAPS: Thermal Ion Flow Velocities in Saturn’s Magnetosphere Moments”July 10, 2015
The motion of thermal ions is surprisingly unresolved at Saturn. Due to Saturn’s strong magnetic field it is expected that plasma close to planet will co-rotate with the magnetic field, but where does this break down? The two Voyager fly-bys suggest this happens around 6 Saturn radii from the planet, although the passes were non- […]
Recent satellite measurements have enabled discovery of a recurrent ‘breathing’, or expansion and contraction, of the Earth’s upper atmosphere at periods of several days. Evidence of this ‘breathing’ is found in upper atmospheric density, composition, and in gases responsible for cooling the upper atmosphere. The discovery of multi-day periodicities in the upper atmosphere is shown […]
The AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) spacecraft was launched on 25 April 2007. AIM is currently producing all planned observations. Some days after launch, however, AIM began to exhibit a problem in which it would not always achieve proper receiver uplink communications lock. During several periods from May 2007 to present there have […]
2/19/2009 – Some applications of the GRACE satellite mission, including monitoring changes in the polar ice sheets.July 10, 2015
NASA and the German Space Agency launched the GRACE satellite gravity mission in 2002. The mission is projected to last through 2013. GRACE provides highly accurate solutions for the Earth’s global gravity field every month. Differences between fields for different months provide information about time-variability in the gravity field, and so about month-to-month fluctuations in […]
The simple molecular ion H3+ has been known in the laboratory since 1911, when it was discovered by JJ Thomson while carrying out experiments on “rays of positive electricity”. It is stable, but highly reactive, making it an initiator chemical changes in mixed gases such as planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. The enormous anharmonicity […]
During MESSENGER’s second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008, very intense reconnection was observed between the planet’s magnetic field and a steady southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The dawn magnetopause was threaded by a strong magnetic field normal to its surface, ~ 14 nT, that implies a rate of reconnection ~10 times the typical […]
1/8/2009 – Spectral resolution and spatial structure: Why are they necessary for accurate climate-relevant observations?July 10, 2015
Both spectral and spatial resolution of space- and airborne radiometers have increased tremendously over the last two decades. At the same time, climate, cloud, and radiative transfer models became considerably more accurate due to growing computing capabilities. The question arises: How much resolution and accuracy is needed for which application? In this context, “prioritization” of […]
Solar flares and CMEs cause dramatic effects at the Earth, including damage to satellite electronics, loss of airline communications, and degradation, or even complete loss, of GPS. These effects become more disruptive as we become increasingly reliant on highly sophisticated technology. However, it is very difficult to predict when and where these events will occur […]
There has been much evidence indicating dust levitation and transport on or near the lunar surface. Dust mobilization is likely to be caused by electrostatic forces acting on small lunar dust particles that are charged by UV radiation and solar wind plasma. Laboratory studies are needed for understanding physics of dust charging and dynamics on […]
Since the discovery of the F ring by Pioneer 11 it has been known as one of the most dynamic planetary rings in the Solar system. Located just outside Saturn’s main rings with its orbit right between those of the two shepherding moons Prometheus and Pandora, it is divided into the dense F ring core […]
In the light of the Cassini mission to Saturn, the moon Enceladus turned out to be one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system. Data returned by several instruments on the spacecraft provide compelling evidence that this moon is unusually active and is capable of maintaining a pronounced ice volcanism. In particular, measurements […]
3/25/2010 – Sources or Losses? The cause and effect of ultra low-frequency magnetospheric pulsations in the Van Allen radiation belts.July 10, 2015
Geomagnetic activity is capable of dramatically affecting the relativistic electrons that comprise the outer zone of the Van Allen radiation belts, with approximately half of geomagnetic storms producing enhancements in the intensity of radiation in the belts, and the remainder either reducing relativistic electron fluxes or having no overall effect. Which of these outcomes will […]
Dusty plasmas, or often called ”complex plasmas” have been studied for decades mainly related to plasma processing or astrophysical environments. 1994 an unfamiliar, ordered state of micro particles in a low temperature plasma environment, the so called ”plasma crystal” was discovered. As a result, the investigation of dusty plasmas was strongly intensified. The behavior of […]
This will be a two-part talk focusing on both the basic and applied research programs at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) – and a couple at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The ONR basic research portfolio is aimed at improved understanding of the ionosphere and thermosphere (I/T) and developing new sensors and models for […]
Solar system terrestrial planets were exposed to strong (10~100 times present levels) soft X-ray and EUV radiation from the young Sun for several hundred million years after their formation. Planetary upper atmospheres expanded to several planetary radii under such XUV radiation and fast escape of major atmosphere gases occurred. The radial outflow, as a result […]
After a nine-year journey of 3 billion miles, a piano-sized, power-packed NASA spacecraft has an upcoming date with history that some University of Colorado Boulder students, faculty and alumni wouldn’t miss for the world.
2/25/2010 – Exploring Mercury’s Surface-bound Exosphere With the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer: Results from the Three MESSENGER FlybysJuly 10, 2015
The planet Mercury is surrounded by a tenuous surface-bounded exosphere whose composition and structure are controlled by interactions among the surface, magnetosphere, solar wind, and sunlight. One of the scientific goals of the MErcury: Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, Ranging (MESSENGER) mission is to understand the nature of those interactions in order to identify the important […]
2/18/2010 – Active and passive remote sensing of the Mesopause region: What do we learn from observing NoctiLucent Clouds (NLC)July 10, 2015
Active remote sensing by lidar allows to study processes in the middle atmosphere from small (
2/4/2010 – Enhanced Thermospheric Density: The Roles of East-West and Northward Interplanetary Magnetic FieldJuly 10, 2015
During 2005 solar EUV energy input to the thermosphere waned as Solar Cycle 23 declined. The reduction allowed a clearer delineation of episodic density disturbances caused by geomagnetic storms. We show new views of these disturbances based on Poynting flux calculations from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-series satellites, as well as from 1) […]
Over the past decade, the recommended solar oxygen abundance has declined rather precipitously, from a high of 850 ppm in the late 1970’s to the current value of around 450 ppm. At the rate of decline since 2001, in fact, the Sun will run out of oxygen circa 2016. Some might call this as a […]
Previous workers have suggested that chaotic terrain formation on Mars occurred in zones of elevated hydraulic head within a global hydrosphere.Our results indicate that chaotic terrain formation in the region of southern circum-Chryse may have resulted from the disruption of thick sedimentary deposits that contained large numbers of buried impact craters. The presented model suggests […]
While greenhouse gases are critical in climate studies, the main driver of Earth’s climate – by nearly a factor of 10,000 – is the incident total solar irradiance, which LASP is and will be measuring with the Total Irradiance Monitor instruments on the SORCE, Glory, and NPOESS missions. Water vapor and other greenhouse gases, aerosols, […]
Jupiter’s and Saturn’s immense magnetospheres differ considerably from Earth’s. These magnetospheres are generated in part by a strong planetary dynamo and by rapid rotation (~10 hour period). However, key differences lie in the internal sources of plasma (100s kg/s) provided by Io and Enceladus. Centrifugal stresses acting on the corotating, low-beta plasma in the inner […]
The heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) is hemispherically asymmetric so that the field dominant in the northern hemisphere is weaker but has a larger area than in the south. As a consequence, the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) is shifted southwards. This asymmetry, also called the bashful ballerina, typically persists during three-year intervals in the late declining […]
9/23/2010 – Formation of the Ganymede/Callisto Dichotomy and Titan’s Interior State from Impacts During the Late Heavy BombardmentJuly 10, 2015
Despite their similar sizes and compositions, Ganymede and Callisto have followed different evolutionary pathways. Ganymede has experienced extensive geological activity and has a large rock core. Callisto’s surface is ancient. Core formation in Callisto has apparently been incomplete; its interior has layers of mixed ice and rock. The Ganymede/Callisto dichotomy could have arisen during an […]
The Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) aboard the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched on 11 February 2010. The EVE instruments measure the solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) irradiance from 0.1 to 105 nm with unprecedented spectral resolution (0.1 nm), temporal cadence (10 sec minimum), and accuracy (20% or better). This seminar will discuss some […]
10/8/2010 – Reconstructing Pre-Historic Temperatures from Natural Proxies: Statistical Methods in Paleoclimate ResearchJuly 10, 2015
The instrumental temperature record covers at most 150 years. Because a longer record is needed to characterize the natural variability of the climate system, it is necessary to call upon climate proxy data, which are noisy and sparsely distributed in space. Information about pre-historic temperatures can be derived from elements of the natural world sensitive […]
Oort cloud comets are currently believed to have formed in the Sun’s proto-planetary disk, and to have been ejected to large heliocentric orbits by the giant planets. I will review the evolution of our understanding of Oort cloud formation. I will present the currently best models and show that they fail to reproduce all of […]
The Antarctic “Ozone Hole” was first reported in the literature 25 years ago by Farman et al. . Despite intense research in the ensuing years into the chemical, microphysical and dynamical processes that create this phenomenon, there remain sufficient gaps in our knowledge that we cannot say with certainty when in the future the “ozone […]
Prior to the Apollo era the lunar atmosphere was thought to be a collision-less, ballistic conduit for thermal evaporation that balances the inflow of solar wind ions with their loss as neutrals. However, the first atmospheric species to be identified on the moon was radiogenic argon-40, and its identification was the indirect result of a […]
11/11/2010 – The nature of Turbulence in Circumstellar disks: Magnetorotational and Baroclinic InstabilityJuly 10, 2015
Turbulence in circumstellar disks diffuses small solid material, leads to collisions among larger objects, concentrates boulders promoting planetesimal formation via gravity and also has an impact on planet migration. Despite the importance of turbulence, its nature is not completely understood so far. In certain regions of the disk the gas is sufficiently ionized for magneto-hydrodynamics […]
Results from two recent papers discussing changes in stratospheric constituents driven by changes in the circulation and some associated impacts on climate will be presented. In the first paper (Solomon et al., 2010), we show that a significant decrease in stratospheric water vapor a consequence of an increase in the mass flux into the tropical […]
After 6 years of Cassini mission the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) instrument recorded more than hundred stellar occultations by Saturn’s rings. Most of the observed occultations have excellent resolution on the order of ten meters or even better. In this talk we give overview of UVIS results on the rings small scale structure. The high […]
12/3/2010 – Towards an improved understanding of the Tropical Tropopause Transition Layer, TC4, ATTREX and SEAC4RSJuly 9, 2015
The talk will describe some of the scientific issues that are driving research in this area, results from recent studies, and plans for future field missions.
12/9/2010 – Development of the approach for comprehensive retrieval of aerosol properties from enhanced satellite observationsJuly 9, 2015
We propose to enhance aerosol retrievals by emphasizing statistical optimization in inversion of advanced satellite observations. The concept improves retrieval accuracy relying on pronounced data redundancy (excess of the measurements number over number of unknowns). The concept has been successfully adopted and refined in the operational AERONET algorithm retrieving the detailed aerosol properties from ground-based […]
12/10/2010 – The retrievals of detailed aerosol from AERONET sun/sky-radiometers: Overview of inversion principles, products and advances.July 9, 2015
The AERONET operational retrievals rely on the algorithm by Dubovik and King . This algorithm is based on the principles of optimized statistical estimations and derives detailed size distribution and spectral complex refractive index by fitting measurements of both direct and diffuse radiation. It also provides such radiative characteristics as aerosol spectral single scattering albedo […]
1/14/2011 – Deepwater Horizon atmospheric emissions constrain air-water partitioning, hydrocarbon fate, and leak rateJuly 9, 2015
The fate of deepwater releases of gas and oil is initially determined by solubility and volatility of individual hydrocarbon species; these attributes determine partitioning between air and water. Quantifying this air-water partitioning is necessary to constrain simulations of gas and oil transport, to predict marine bioavailability of different fractions of the gas-oil mixture, and to […]
We explore the underlying principles of self-organization behind closed- and open-cellular mesoscale cloud structures in cloud fields off the west coast of continents. Early surface observations in the 1930s drew parallels to Rayleigh-Benard convection but it was only with the advent of meteorological satellites that observations of mesoscale cellular organization became commonplace. Recent evidence has […]
2/10/2011 – Radar observation of meteor generated plasmas: understanding the impacts billions of sand and dust sized meteoroidsJuly 9, 2015
Over 100 kilotons of meteoric material hits the Earth every year, yet the average mass, velocity (15-55 km/s), and chemical composition of the particles comprising this mass flux remain poorly constrained. This is because the vast majority of this flux is composed of particles of micron size that are no larger than a grain of […]
Prior to the Apollo era the lunar atmosphere was thought to be a collision-less, ballistic conduit for thermal evaporation that balances the inflow of solar wind ions with their loss as neutrals. However, the first atmospheric species to be identified on the moon was radiogenic argon-40, and its identification was the indirect result of a […]
NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft is now well into its primary mission to initiate a new era in our understanding of the innermost planet. MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury on 18 March 2011. MESSENGER’s Mercury Dual Imaging System is acquiring a global monochrome image mosaic at better […]
Polypyrrole is an air-stable organic conducting polymer. It can be easily prepared in the form of microscopic particles or alternatively deposited as an ultrathin overlayer on either polymer latex particles or mineral grains. Its conductivity is sufficiently high to enable the efficient accumulation of surface charge and hence acceleration of such colloidal particles up to […]
The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission has been remotely observing the global interaction of our heliosphere with the local interstellar medium for over two and a half years. Initially, IBEX generated the first all-sky maps of Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) emanating in from the boundaries of our heliosphere over the energy range from ~0.1-6 keV. […]
Saturn’s ice moon Enceladus turned out to be one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system. Data returned by several instruments on the Cassini spacecraft provide compelling evidence that this moon is unusually active and is capable of maintaining a pronounced ice volcanism. In particular, measurements of the spatial distribution of the plume […]
Earth provides a testbed for fine tuning crewed and robotic mission concepts prior to their launch. I have been participating in several NASA-funded projects that assess the scientific return from various mission scenarios. For example, last month we assessed the potential for quality science data for a proposed crewed landing on an asteroid. In this […]
10/18/2011 – Multi-Model Comparisons of the Sensitivity of the Atmospheric Response to the SORCE Solar Irradiance Data SetJuly 9, 2015
Uncertainties in the solar irradiance could have a large impact on simulations of the climate system, since the response of the atmosphere strongly depends on the spectral distribution of the solar irradiance. Most (chemistry) climate models today use the standard NRLSSI (Lean) spectral variability to study the effect of the 11-year solar cycle on climate. […]
How well do we know how much energy is coming in to the Earth’s climate system? And — although a much more difficult measurement — how much of that is lost to space? Climate-quality data require more stringent measurement accuracies and stabilities than needed for shorter-term studies. LASP is helping improve the measurements of both […]
In collisionless space plasmas, the Hall physics plays a significant role in magnetic reconnection. In this talk, I will show the evidence for the Hall electromagnetic field for a reconnection event seen by Cluster in the magnetotail. And I will talk about the newly developed reconstruction method, which is used to produce 2-D maps of […]
There is abundant evidence that the ancient Martian climate was different from the present one. Liquid water was present, leaving behind both geological and geochemical evidence. But the present climate is cold and dry, unable to support sustained liquid water at the surface. I’ll discuss the evidence for climate change and the processes that might […]
The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on the 2001 Mars Odyssey Spacecraft has provided thermal infrared (IR) spectra of materials dispersed throughout the low albedo Noachian and Hesperian-aged southern highlands plains units that show a featureless slope towards longer wavelengths. Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) visible/near infrared spectral observations for the sites indicate […]
If planets had personalities, Mars would be a rock star according to recent preliminary results from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. Mars sports a “Mohawk” of escaping atmospheric particles at its poles, “wears” a layer of metal particles high in its atmosphere, and lights up with aurora after being smacked by solar storms. MAVEN is also mapping out the escaping atmospheric particles. The early results are being discussed at a MAVEN-sponsored “new media” workshop held in Berkeley, California, on June 19-21.
The moon is engulfed in a permanent but lopsided dust cloud that increases in density when annual events like the Geminids spew shooting stars, according to a new study led by LASP scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The cloud is made up primarily of tiny dust grains kicked up from the moon’s surface by the impact of high-speed, interplanetary dust particles, said CU-Boulder physics Professor and LASP research associate Mihály Horányi. A single dust particle from a comet striking the moon’s surface lofts thousands of smaller dust specks into the airless environment, and the lunar cloud is maintained by regular impacts from such particles, said Horányi.
An instrument to be designed and built at LASP has been selected to fly on a NASA mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, which is believed to harbor a subsurface ocean that may provide conditions suitable for life.
The LASP instrument, known as the SUrface Dust Mass Analyzer (SUDA), will be used to measure the composition of solid particles released from Europa’s surface due to meteoroid bombardment. The instrument also will be able to measure the properties of small, solid particles believed to be spewing from a hidden ocean within the moon, said University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor of Physics, Sascha Kempf, who will serve as principal investigator on the project.
Watching the sun is dangerous work for a telescope. Solar instruments in space naturally degrade over time, bombarded by a constant stream of solar particles that can cause a film of material to adhere to the optics. Decades of research and engineering skill have improved protecting such optics, but one crucial solution is to regularly recalibrate the instruments to accommodate such changes.
In mid-May, the seventh calibration mission for an instrument on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, will launch into space onboard a sounding rocket for a 15-minute flight. The instrument to be calibrated is called EVE, short for the EUV Variability Experiment, where EUV stands for extreme ultraviolet. EVE’s job is to observe the total energy output of the sun in EUV light waves. The calibration mission is scheduled to launch on May 21, 2015, on a Terrier-Black Brant suborbital sounding rocket around 3 pm EDT from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
A mission to study dynamic changes in the atmosphere of Mars over days and seasons led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) involves the University of Colorado Boulder as the leading U.S. scientific-academic partner.
Known as the Emirates Mars Mission, the project is being designed to observe weather phenomena like Martian clouds and dust storms as well as changes in temperature, water vapor and other and gases throughout the layers of the atmosphere. The CU-Boulder part of the mission will be undertaken at LASP.
The mission will be headquartered at and controlled from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, which is affiliated with the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology. According to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of Dubai, the new Mars probe will be named Hope.
LASP is a world-renowned space science research institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. CU receives more NASA funding than any public university. LASP has been growing consistently and is currently at its highest level of activity with multiple complex programs totaling over $60 million in expenses per year. The increase in workload and […]
NASA 36.300 – Launching May 21, 2015 Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 Time: 1:00 – 1:30 pm (MDT). This launch window is near local noon to minimize the atmospheric absorption of the solar EUV radiation during the rocket observations. Location: White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), NASA’s sounding rocket facility in New Mexico. NASA Sounding Rocket […]
The University of Colorado announced today that it has awarded a five-year contract to SES Government Solutions (SES GS), of Reston, Va., to host a NASA-funded science instrument on board SES-14, a communications satellite to be stationed over the Americas.
The Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission, a NASA Explorers mission led from the University of Central Florida and built and operated at the University of Colorado (CU-Boulder), will collaborate with SES GS to place a science instrument on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload. This is the first time a university and a commercial spacecraft operator have teamed to host a NASA science mission. At a cost of roughly 10% of a traditional science satellite, working with a communications satellite represents the most cost-effective way to reach geostationary orbit.
NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury, carrying an instrument designed and built at LASP, is slated to run out of fuel and crash into the planet in the coming days after a wildly successful, four-year orbiting mission chock-full of discoveries.
The mission began in 2004, when the MESSENGER spacecraft launched from Florida on a 7-year, 4.7 billion mile journey that involved 15 loops around the sun before the spacecraft settled into orbit around Mercury in March 2011. LASP provided the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS), which has been successfully making measurements of Mercury’s surface and its tenuous atmosphere, called the exosphere, since orbit insertion.
LASP Director and University of Colorado Boulder Distinguished Professor, Daniel Baker, was awarded the Vikram A. Sarabhai Professorship and Prize for 2015, which honors internationally distinguished scholars and is named for the founder of India’s space program.
As part of the award, Baker traveled to the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, in February to work with scientists and students and give seminars and lectures. His primary research interests include the study of physical and energetic particle phenomena in the plasma of planetary magnetospheres.
The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission, part of the NASA Explorers Program, passed a rigorous examination on March 5th at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, enabling the mission to move into the final design and fabrication phase.
At any given moment, our sun emits a range of light waves far more expansive than what our eyes alone can see: from visible light to extreme ultraviolet to soft and hard X-rays. Different wavelengths can have different effects at Earth and, what’s more, when observed and analyzed correctly, those wavelengths can provide scientists with information about events on the sun. In 2012 and 2013, a detector was launched on a sounding rocket for a 15 minute trip to look at a range of sunlight previously not well-observed: soft X-rays.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the Martian atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.
The presence of dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.
Following a successful launch at 8:44 p.m. MDT Thursday, NASA’s four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.
The spacecraft, positioned one on top of the other on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V-421 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After reaching orbit, each spacecraft deployed from the rocket’s upper stage sequentially, in five-minute increments, beginning at 10:16 p.m., with the last separation occurring at 10:32 p.m. NASA scientists and engineers were able to confirm the health of all separated spacecraft at 10:40 p.m.
Comprised of four identical, octagonal spacecraft flying in a pyramid formation, the MMS mission is designed to better understand the physical processes of geomagnetic storms, solar flares, and other energetic phenomena throughout the universe.
Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission, led by LASP and University of Colorado postdoctoral researcher, Sean Hsu, have found that microscopic grains of rock detected near Saturn imply hydrothermal activity is taking place within the moon Enceladus.
This is the first clear indication of an icy moon having hydrothermal activity—in which seawater infiltrates and reacts with a rocky crust, emerging as a heated, mineral-laden solution. The finding adds to the tantalizing possibility that Enceladus, which displays remarkable geologic activity including geysers, could contain environments suitable for living organisms.
The results were published today in the journal Nature.
After a decade-long voyage through the solar system, NASA’s New Horizons mission is scheduled to fly by Pluto in July 2015, carrying with it the LASP-built Student Dust Counter (SDC). The New Horizons mission also involves LASP scientists and CU-Boulder students, who await data from the unprecedented approach and close encounter of the dwarf planet and its five known moons.
In preparation for the July encounter, LASP Office of Communications and Outreach staff recently traveled to two rural Colorado communities and delivered Pluto-related programming to students and their families. Accompanying them was Fran Bagenal, LASP planetary scientist, CU-Boulder professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences, and New Horizons mission co-investigator. Bagenal served as the New Horizons and Pluto science expert during the school visits and gave public presentations to both communities.
LASP will serve as the Science Operations Center for a NASA mission launching this month to better understand the physical processes of geomagnetic storms, solar flares and other energetic phenomena throughout the universe.
The $1.1 billion Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission will be comprised of four identical, octagonal spacecraft flying in a pyramid formation, each carrying 25 instruments. The goal is to study in detail magnetic reconnection, the primary process by which energy is transferred from the solar wind to Earth’s protective magnetic space environment known as the magnetosphere, said LASP Director Daniel Baker, Science Operations Center (SOC) lead scientist for MMS.
Final preparations are underway for the launch of NASA’s quartet of Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft, which constitute the first space mission dedicated to the study of magnetic reconnection. This fundamental process occurs throughout the universe where magnetic fields connect and disconnect with an explosive release of energy.
The launch of MMS, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, is scheduled for 8:44 p.m. MDT on Thursday, March 12 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
When NASA’s napping New Horizon’s spacecraft awakens later this week in preparation for its July 2015 encounter with Pluto, a University of Colorado Boulder student instrument onboard already will have been up for years.
The instrument, the Student Dust Counter (SDC), was designed and built to detect dust both on the interplanetary journey to Pluto and beyond, said CU-Boulder physics Professor and LASP research scientist Mihaly Horanyi, principal investigator on the effort. The SDC has been on for most of the mission—even as the other instruments primarily napped—measuring dust grains that are the building blocks of the solar system’s planets, he said.
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) Director, Dan Baker, was appointed a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor at a Board of Regents meeting on November 20th. Baker is one of six faculty members within the four university campuses to receive the award this year and takes a place among the 79 faculty members who have earned this distinction since its inception in 1977. Nominations for the award were made by a committee of current Distinguished Professors, reviewed by university president, Bruce Benson, and voted for approval by the Board of Regents.
Selection criteria are based on outstanding contributions of university faculty members to their academic disciplines, including creativity and research, teaching or supervision of student learning, and service to the university and affiliated institutions. Baker, director of LASP for two decades, was recognized for his leadership in the space science community and influence on space policy at the federal level. Baker was also lauded for enabling hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students to conduct authentic research at the lab.
Two NASA and one European spacecraft, including NASA’s MAVEN mission—led by LASP—have gathered new information about the basic properties of a wayward comet that buzzed by Mars Oct. 19, directly detecting its effects on the Martian atmosphere.
Data from observations carried out by MAVEN, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft revealed that debris from the comet, known officially as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, caused an intense meteor shower and added a new layer of ions, or charged particles, to the ionosphere. The ionosphere is an electrically charged region in the atmosphere that reaches from about 75 miles (120 kilometers) to several hundred miles above the Martian surface.
Using the observations, scientists were able to make a direct connection between the input of debris from the meteor shower to the subsequent formation of the transient layer of ions—the first time such an event has been observed on any planet, including Earth, said the MAVEN research team.
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, […]
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 […]
The Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC), a CU/LASP-built instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, just became the record-holder for the most distant functioning space dust detector ever in space. On October 10, the SDC surpassed the previous record when it flew beyond 18 astronomical units—one unit is the distance between the […]
NASA announced today that the CU/LASP-led mission to Mars to investigate how the planet lost much of its atmosphere eons ago has been approved by the space agency to move into the development stage.
LASP atmospheric researchers Linnea Avallone and Lars Kalnajs are currently at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where they are participating in the Concordiasi campaign, a French-led project to study the Antarctic “ozone hole” using instrumentation on long-duration, super-pressure balloons.
A team of experts from LASP at CU-Boulder has been awarded $6.7 million from NASA to design, develop, and test instruments for the fastest space probe ever built. The probe will orbit 22 times closer to the sun than Earth, and well inside the orbit of Mercury, to better understand how the sun ticks. Robert […]
University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) professionals and students have completed their role operating the NASA ICESat mission, one of five missions operated at LASP. ICESat reached the end of its productive seven-year life in June, when NASA began decommissioning the satellite because of instrument failure. The remaining […]
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.
The transit signatures of two distinct planets were seen in the data for the sun-like star designated Kepler-9. The planets were named Kepler-9b and 9c. The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system. The findings will be published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.
LASP scientist and CU professor Tom Woods contributed to a study indicating that large changes in the sun’s energy output may drive unexpectedly dramatic fluctuations in Earth’s outer atmosphere. The study, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, links a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun’s ultraviolet […]
The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission, which studies polar mesospheric clouds(PMCs) and the atmosphere, was recently evaluated in the 2010 Senior Review of the NASA Heliophysics Mission Operations and Data Analysis program. The AIM mission received an “excellent” rating in both of the two categories evaluated—scientific merit and contribution to heliophysics goals. […]
Analysis of data from the third and final fly-by of the MESSENGER spacecraft in September 2009 has revealed a treasure trove of new information on the solar system’s innermost planet. MESSENGER is on its way to Mercury, where it will settle into orbit in March 2011 and help scientists answer crucial questions about Mercury’s geology, density, structure, and magnetic field. Three fly-bys of the planet, spaced over twenty months, have been necessary to guide the spacecraft into its upcoming orbit around Mercury beginning in March 2011.
The NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at CU-LASP came to an end on August 6th. Each year, the eight-week program brings students from all over the country to complete a summer-long research project working directly with scientists. This year, 16 students spent 8 weeks at either LASP, NCAR/HAO, NOAA/SWPC, or SwRI conducting research, […]
CU professor and LASP scientist Nick Schneider, together with three colleagues, have recently published the sixth edition of The Cosmic Perspective, a textbook used in introductory astronomy courses. The book covers a comprehensive survey of modern astronomy, from the universality of physics to our solar system and beyond. The book is used at CU and […]
LASP scientist Glen Stewart recently co-authored a study published in The Astrophysical Journal concerning the formation of large moons around Jupiter and Saturn. The study shows that the differences between the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn—Jupiter has four large moons while Saturn has only one large moon and many small icy moons—informs how the moons were formed.
According to Cora Randall, CU professor and LASP research associate, the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) Cloud Imaging and Particle Size (CIPS) instrument saw this season’s first polar mesospheric clouds on May 28. Polar mesospheric clouds, also called noctilucent or “night shining” clouds, form at about 50 miles above Earth’s surface and can be seen when they reflect light after sunset. The Northern Hemisphere cloud season generally begins in late May and lasts until late August; in the Southern Hemisphere, the season goes from late November to late February.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times on May 27th, LASP Director Dan Baker explored the value of Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors, which are commonly used for navigation. Developed by the military and implemented in 1973, GPS has been a significant advance in space technology. Sensors on each satellite, the Nuclear Detonation […]
A vast ocean likely covered one-third of the surface of Mars some 3.5 billion years ago, according to a new study conducted by LASP scientists, further supporting the idea of a sustained sea on the Red Planet.
The study, authored by Gaetano Di Achille and Brian Hynek, is the first to combine the analysis of water-related features, including scores of delta deposits and thousands of river valleys to test for the occurrence of an ocean sustained by a global hydrosphere on early Mars.
A LASP-built instrument launched aboard a sounding rocket on May 3 with the goal of providing calibration data for a twin instrument already in flight aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The “rocket-based” Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment, or EVE, was launched from the Air Force’s White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mex.
If you are a frequent visitor to the LASP website, you will notice that things have changed. LASP is currently updating its more than 300 web pages across the site, beginning with a new home page and top-level pages. Updates to secondary pages will follow and still currently maintain the older look and feel. Below […]
NASA recently unveiled initial images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, including images from a powerful ultraviolet instrument built at LASP. Launched on Feb. 11, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever launched to study the sun and its dynamic behavior. The spacecraft will provide images with clarity ten times better than high definition […]
On Friday, April 16th, Dr. Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), will be honored at the 2010 Distinguished Research Lecture and Reception. The event will be held on the CU-Boulder campus at 3 p.m. in room 100 of the Mathematics building and is free and open to the public. […]
LASP scientist Mihaly Horanyi is an international leader in the study of lunar dust. Now Horanyi and his CU Boulder-based team are working to establish the Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies, which will conduct both experimental and modeling research into the nature of dust on the moon and its impact for human exploration of the moon.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced on Feb. 17, 2010, that Dr. Daniel N. Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, was elected as a new academy member. Baker was honored for his leadership in the study of, and for his development of predictive tools for, the Earth’s radiation environment. He […]
Event Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Join Us at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) for the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) which includes the LASP-built instrument Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE). SDO is NASA’s first satellite in the Living With a Star program. 7:30 am — Doors open 7:45 am […]
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has awarded University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Daniel N. Baker with the prestigious James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award for excellence and leadership in space research. Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), received the award of excellence with emphasis “in […]
No articles to display