Swooping around Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft is orbiting Jupiter, returning a lot of science and images to NASA on Earth.

Sequence of Juno Spacecraft’s Close Approach to Jupiter

Juno telecon image

Image Credit: NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

This sequence of enhanced-color images shows how quickly the viewing geometry changes for NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter. The images were obtained by JunoCam.

Once every 53 days the Juno spacecraft swings close to Jupiter, speeding over its clouds. In just two hours, the spacecraft travels from a perch over Jupiter’s north pole through its closest approach (perijove), then passes over the south pole on its way back out.

The first image on the left shows the entire half-lit globe of Jupiter, with the north pole approximately in the center. As the spacecraft gets closer to Jupiter, the horizon moves in and the range of visible latitudes shrinks.

The third and fourth images in this sequence show the north polar region rotating away from our view while a band of wavy clouds at northern mid-latitudes comes into view.

By the fifth image of the sequence the band of turbulent clouds is nicely centered in the image.

The seventh and eighth images were taken just before the spacecraft was at its closest point to Jupiter, near Jupiter’s equator. Even though these two pictures were taken just four minutes apart, the view is changing quickly.

As the spacecraft crossed into the southern hemisphere, the bright “south tropical zone” dominates the ninth, 10th and 11th images.

The white ovals in a feature nicknamed Jupiter’s “String of Pearls” are visible in the 12th and 13th images.

In the 14th image Juno views Jupiter’s south poles.

An animated close encounter with Jupiter:

NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

Music by Ligeti

A Whole New Jupiter: First Science Results from NASA’s Juno Mission

Early science results from NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet’s surface than previously thought.

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. The findings from the first data-collection pass, which flew within about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of Jupiter’s swirling cloud tops on Aug. 27, are being published this week in two papers in the journal Science, as well as 44 papers in Geophysical Research Letters.

Among the findings that challenge assumptions are those provided by Juno’s imager, JunoCam. The images show both of Jupiter’s poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together.

We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Another surprise comes from Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which samples the thermal microwave radiation from Jupiter’s atmosphere, from the top of the ammonia clouds to deep within its atmosphere. The MWR data indicates that Jupiter’s iconic belts and zones are mysterious, with the belt near the equator penetrating all the way down, while the belts and zones at other latitudes seem to evolve to other structures. The data suggest the ammonia is quite variable and continues to increase as far down as we can see with MWR, which is a few hundred miles or kilometers.

Prior to the Juno mission, it was known that Jupiter had the most intense magnetic field in the solar system. Measurements of the massive planet’s magnetosphere, from Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG), indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than models expected, and more irregular in shape. MAG data indicates the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss, about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and the lead for the mission’s magnetic field investigation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others. This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen. Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works.”

Juno also is designed to study the polar magnetosphere and the origin of Jupiter’s powerful auroras—its northern and southern lights. These auroral emissions are caused by particles that pick up energy, slamming into atmospheric molecules. Juno’s initial observations indicate that the process seems to work differently at Jupiter than at Earth.

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, and the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But, once every 53 days, its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a two-hour transit (from pole to pole) flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam public outreach camera snapping pictures. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the transit can take 1.5 days.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Bolton. “On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system — one that every school kid knows — Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”

More information on the Juno mission is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

http://missionjuno.org

Between the rings

A cool photo:

Not all of us. I’m not sure what side of Earth is facing Cassini there so I don’t know whether that view is of us, or of the other lot on the other side of our planet.

A closer look:

And zoomed in you can see the moon more easily:

More information about the Cassini mission:

http://www.nasa.gov/cassini

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

NZ night lights

NASA has released composite images of the world as lit up at night. Here is New Zealand:

NZByNight

And the rest of the world (with us omitted):

324350main_11_full

Our lights would hardly show up on that scale.

No wonder at Arctic is melting with all that energy being burned in the northern hemisphere.

NASA: Earth at night

How to make climate change go away

Donald Trump and his administration has a novel way of making something they don’t like go away – stop funding any research on it.

They propose to slash funding of climate research. That will either make everyone forget there could be any problems, or it will put the US way out of the world scientific loop.

VOX: Trump’s budget would hammer climate programs at EPA, NASA, NOAA, and Energy

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 can be read as a political document, a statement of his administration’s policy priorities. Many of these proposed cuts won’t get passed by Congress, but it’s a look at what Trump values.

And what’s clear is that Trump wants the US government to pull back sharply from any effort to stop global warming, adapt to its impacts — or even study it further. Under the proposal, a wide variety of Obama-era climate programs across multiple agencies would be scaled back or slashed entirely.

That includes eliminating much of the work the Environmental Protection Agency is doing to research climate impacts and limit emissions. It includes scaling back the Department of Energy’s efforts to accelerate low-carbon energy. It includes cuts to NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. The proposal would also eliminate the Sea Grant program at NOAA, which helps coastal communities adapt to a warmer world. The document dubs this a “lower priority.”

This anti-science approach will please some people, but it is likely to isolate the US even more from the rest of the world, which is moving away from high energy production and products.

1) Many of the EPA’s climate programs would be terminated. Trump is proposing a sweeping 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget — from $8.2 billion down to $5.7 billion — shrinking funding to the lowest levels in 40 years. That includes zeroing out funding for many of the agency’s climate programs. Currently, the EPA is the main US entity working to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So there’s no more money for work on the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation to control CO2 emissions from power plants, which Trump aims to repeal.

2) The Department of Energy’s R&D programs would be reoriented and scaled back. Trump is proposing a 5.6 percent cut to the Department of Energy. And, to do that, he would impose a steep 17.9 percent cut — roughly $2 billion — from core energy/science programs intended to accelerate the transition to new (and cleaner) energy technologies.

Clean energy and emissions controls and limiting pollution will be good for the world regardless of the effect on the climate and any effect changing climate may have on the world, but the US seems to prefer to go back to greater disregard for the environment and bugger the consequences.

3) State Department funding for climate change is axed. As part of the Paris climate deal in 2015, the United States pledged not just to cut emissions, but also to offer $3 billion in aid to poorer countries to help them adapt to climate change and build clean energy. So far, the Obama administration has chipped in $1 billion. This was seen as crucial for bringing these countries into the deal.

Trump would end all that. In his budget, he’s proposing to “cease payments to the United Nations’ (UN) climate change programs by eliminating U.S. funding related to the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds.”

4) NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs are cut. One reason we know so much about climate change is that NASA has deployed a fleet of Earth-observing satellites since 1999. They collect data on everything from temperature and precipitation to underground aquifers and ocean currents to wildfires, soil moisture, and storms.

But NASA’s Earth Science Division has come under attack from conservatives who don’t appreciate the agency’s forays into climate science and think NASA should focus on space exploration instead. As such, Trump’s budget would trim the agency’s Earth science budget to $1.8 billion — a $102 million cut. That’d include terminating “four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduc[ing] funding for Earth science research grants.”

The proposal derides these programs as too “Earth-centric.”

The aim seems to be to make America great again – on a different planet to the rest of the world.

5) A key NOAA program to help coastal communities adapt to climate change would be gone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program provides grants for research efforts intended to help coastal communities deal with a wide variety of challenges. Lately, that has included climate change

The rest of the world will carry ion doing what research it can. Perhaps Trump will order wiretaps of scientists in other countries to keep in touch with what research is finding out.

Alternately he could just turn his back on science and rely on Breitbart for all his guidance.

There will be a few scientists and bureaucrats out of jobs (3,200 from EPA alone) but they could be retrained into digging and shovelling coal.

If Congress plays ball with White House budget proposals it will mean massive changes, which will end up being a massive experiment. If they get it wrong it could be an expensive mistake.

1 star with 7 Earth sized planets

NASA’s big announcement is that they have discovered seven earth sized planets orbiting a single star. Based on their densities they are likely to be rocky. Three of these planets within a ‘habitable zone’.


NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist’s concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature on Feb. 23, 2017.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated – scientists believe it could be an icy, “snowball-like” world, but further observations are needed.

“The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. “It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds.”

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star – classified as an ultra-cool dwarf – is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

“This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations,” said Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. “Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets.”

NASA on exoplanet discovery

NASA is having a news conference to present new findings on exoplanets (planets orbiting stars) at 1 pm Wednesday EST, which is 7 am Thursday NZ time.


NASA to Host News Conference on Discovery Beyond Our Solar System

NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Details of these findings are embargoed by the journal Nature until 1 p.m.

Limited seating is available in the NASA TV studio for media who would like to attend in person at the agency’s Headquarters at 300 E Street SW in Washington. Media unable to attend in person may ask questions by telephone. To attend in person or participate by phone, media must send an email with their name, affiliation and telephone number to Dwayne Brown at dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov by noon Feb. 22.

The briefing participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium
  • Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California
  • Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
  • Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about exoplanets will be held following the briefing at 3 p.m. with scientists available to answer questions in English and Spanish.


An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun. The first scientific detection of an exoplanet was in 1988. However, the first confirmed detection came in 1992; since then, and as of 15 February 2017, there have been 3,577 exoplanets in 2,687 planetary systems and 602 multiple planetary systems confirmed.

HARPS (since 2004) has discovered about a hundred exoplanets while the Kepler space telescope (since 2009) has found more than two thousand. Kepler has also detected a few thousand candidate planets, of which about 11% may be false positives.

On average, there is at least one planet per star, with a percentage having multiple planets.

About 1 in 5 Sun-like stars  have an “Earth-sized” planet in the habitable zone.

Assuming there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, one can hypothesize that there are 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, rising to 40 billion if planets orbiting the numerous red dwarfs are included.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exoplanet

I can’t find anything but speculation about what the news might be, but here is a bit of a teaser.

CNET: NASA teases a major new exoplanet discovery

This week NASA will announce new findings about planets orbiting other stars that look to be the biggest exoplanet news since last year’s announcement of a potentially habitable exoplanet around our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri.

We’ve seen the research, and while we can’t share details yet, let’s just say it could very easily provide us with new settings for many future works of science fiction.

SiliconRepublic: What we know about NASA’s major exoplanet announcement

As for tomorrow’s announcement, some of the names expected to attend the conference might offer a few hints.

One of those names is Belgian astronomer Michael Gillon from the University of Liège, who has spent years studying exoplanets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60cm telescope.

In May of last year, Gillon and his fellow researchers published a paper in Nature – the same journal that this latest mysterious announcement will be included in – announcing the discovery of three planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth.

Ok, that doesn’t tell us much, but whatever NASA announces should be interesting given the build up.

 

Harmonics in Space

Visions of Harmony: Inspired by NASA’s Mission Juno

This Apple Music original celebrates the space agency’s groundbreaking journey to Jupiter—and the intersection between science and art.

While this is new harmony and space isn’t.

In 1619 Johannes Kepler publisahed Harmonices Mundi ( The Harmony of the World).

While medieval philosophers spoke metaphorically of the “music of the spheres”, Kepler discovered physical harmonies in planetary motion. He found that the difference between the maximum and minimum angular speeds of a planet in its orbit approximates a harmonic proportion. For instance, the maximum angular speed of the Earth as measured from the Sun varies by a semitone (a ratio of 16:15), from mi to fa, between aphelion and perihelion. Venus only varies by a tiny 25:24 interval (called a diesis in musical terms). Kepler explains the reason for the Earth’s small harmonic range:

The Earth sings Mi, Fa, Mi: you may infer even from the syllables that in this our home misery and famine hold sway.

The celestial choir Kepler formed was made up of a tenor (Mars), two bass (Saturn and Jupiter), a soprano (Mercury), and two altos (Venus and Earth). Mercury, with its large elliptical orbit, was determined to be able to produce the greatest number of notes, while Venus was found to be capable of only a single note because its orbit is nearly a circle.

At very rare intervals all of the planets would sing together in “perfect concord”: Kepler proposed that this may have happened only once in history, perhaps at the time of creation.

Kepler reminds us that harmonic order is only mimicked by man, but has origin in the alignment of the heavenly bodies:

Accordingly you won’t wonder any more that a very excellent order of sounds or pitches in a musical system or scale has been set up by men, since you see that they are doing nothing else in this business except to play the apes of God the Creator and to act out, as it were, a certain drama of the ordination of the celestial movements. (Harmonices Mundi, Book V).

Kepler discovers that all but one of the ratios of the maximum and minimum speeds of planets on neighboring orbits approximate musical harmonies within a margin of error of less than a diesis (a 25:24 interval). The orbits of Mars and Jupiter produce the one exception to this rule, creating the unharmonic ratio of 18:19. In fact, the cause of Kepler’s dissonance might be explained by the fact that the asteroid belt separates those two planetary orbits, as discovered in 1801, 150 years after Kepler’s death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonices_Mundi

 

Juno flyby #3

Juno will soon soon do it’s third flyby of Jupiter, the first close encounter with most of it’s instruments gathering data.

NASA Juno Mission Prepares for December 11 Jupiter Flyby

On Sunday, December 11, at 9:04 a.m. PST (12:04 p.m. EST, 17:04 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its third science flyby of Jupiter.

That will be 6.04 am Monday New Zealand time.

At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,580 miles (4,150 kilometers) above the gas giant’s roiling cloud tops and traveling at a speed of about 129,000 mph (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the planet.

Seven of Juno’s eight science instruments will be energized and collecting data during the flyby.

The eight instrument, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), is in need of a software patch.

“This will be the first time we are planning to operate the full Juno capability to investigate Jupiter’s interior structure via its gravity field,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We are looking forward to what Jupiter’s gravity may reveal about the gas giant’s past and its future.”

junoflyby

Artist’s concept of the Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
It will be very interesting to see what they discover about Jupiter, which was the largest and first planet to form in our Solar System.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-juno-mission-prepares-for-december-11-jupiter-flyby

Jupiter is the fifth planet from our sun and the largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter’s stripes and swirls are cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water. The atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, and its iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.

10 ‘need to know’ facts about Jupiter:

1. The Biggest Planet
With a radius of 43,440.7 miles (69,911 kilometers), Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth.

jupiterearth

2. Fifth in Line
Jupiter orbits our sun, a star. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun at a distance of about 484 million miles (778 million km) or 5.2 Astronomical Units (AU). Earth is one AU from the sun.

3. Short Day / Long Year
One day on Jupiter takes about 10 hours (the time it takes for Jupiter to rotate or spin once). Jupiter makes a complete orbit around the sun (a year in Jovian time) in about 12 Earth years (4,333 Earth days).

4. What’s Inside?
Jupiter is a gas-giant planet and therefore does not have a solid surface. Jupiter may have a solid, inner core about the size of Earth.

5. Atmosphere
Jupiter’s atmosphere is made up mostly of hydrogen (H2) and helium (He).

6. Many Moons
Jupiter has 53 known moons, with an additional 14 moons awaiting confirmation of their discovery — that is a total of 67 moons.

7. Ringed World
Jupiter has a faint ring system that was discovered in 1979 by the Voyager 1 mission. All four giant planets in our solar system have ring systems.

8. Exploring Jupiter
Many missions have visited Jupiter and its system of moons. The Juno spacecraft is currently orbiting Jupiter.

9. Ingredients for Life?
Jupiter cannot support life as we know it. However, some of Jupiter’s moons have oceans underneath their crusts that might support life.

10. Great Red Spot
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm (about the size of Earth) that has been raging for hundreds of years.

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter

Planet positions – obviously not distances:

1047px-planets2013-svg

 

Trump move to politicised non-science on climate?

As with some other policies Donald Trump is sending out mixed signals on climate change.

He has said that he sees some connection between humans and th4e changing climate, but has just been reported he will eliminate all climate change research conducted by NASA as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”.

But the confused signals may be because Trump hasn’t had time to work out what to do yet.

The Atlantic: What Does Trump Think About Climate Change? He Doesn’t Know Either

Speaking at the offices of The New York Times on Tuesday, Donald J. Trump appeared to vacillate on, and sometimes even disagree with, previous statements about climate change made by Donald J. Trump. He even seemed ready to grant that climate change exists.

“I think there is some connectivity” between humans and the changing climate, he told the Times reporters and editors, according to Maggie Haberman.

He also told Tom Friedman, the Times columnist, that he was keeping “an open mind” about the Paris Agreement, the first international treaty to combat climate change.

Maybe he’s just been reading the news. More than 70 percent of Americans, and a majority of Republicans, want the United States to remain in the Paris Agreement, according to a poll from the University of Chicago. Hundreds of U.S. companies have also asked the Trump administration to stay in the treaty. They aren’t just liberal-aligned firms, either: Many of them, including Kellogg and General Mills, have given tens of thousands to Republicans in the recent past.

Even the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is coming around to the agreement. “‘President-elect Trump should accept the Paris treaty on climate to buy some goodwill overseas,” he said on-air last week.

But from the Guardian: Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.

“We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.

“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

Trump has previously said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.

Trump’s pick to head the Environment Protection Agency sort of contradicts his appartent stance against ‘politicised science’.

Business Insider: Trump is taking advice on the future of the environment from a man who denies basic science

So what will Trump’s actual environmental policies look like? Here’s what we know.

Trump has picked a man named Myron Ebell to oversee the EPA transition.

Ebell is not a scientist, and has no degrees or qualifications in climate science. But he serves as Director of Global Warming and Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian advocacy group in Washington, DC.

In practice, that means he spends his time rejecting and trying to discredit scientists who work to understand the global climate.

Ebell believes that climate scientists are part of a coordinated ‘global warming movement’

Much like Trump has suggested.

It looks like the \US may be headed for politicised non-science.

Jupiter’s north pole

I was surprised to hear recently that we had never had a view of Jupiter’s poles, but as Jupiter has a similar inclination to Earth we can only see the mid latitudes from here, and no spacecraft has flown by or orbited Jupiter’s poles. Until now.

About a week ago NASA’s Juno spacecraft began it’s first orbit of Jupiter with all cameras and sensors in action.

The first photo was a close up of a familiar-ish  view:

img_2628

NASA have now released a photo that takes the best look ever at the northern polar region:

pia21030_main_2_north_polar_full-disk_a
NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter’s north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

That’s still only a half view but it has excited astronomers.

Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.

Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital flybys on Aug. 27 when the spacecraft came about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the six-hour transit, from above Jupiter’s north pole to below its south pole, took one-and-a-half days. While analysis of this first data collection is ongoing, some unique discoveries have already made themselves visible.

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

I can understand their excitement but it must hardly be surprising it’s like nothing we have seen before – we haven’t seen it before, and Jupiter is different to all other planets in our solar system.

If all you’ve ever seen of Earth is a view from side on  then a look at the North Pole will be hardly recognizable compared to what has been seen as well.

JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome. “These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics.”

Among the more unique data sets collected by Juno during its first scientific sweep by Jupiter was that acquired by the mission’s Radio/Plasma Wave Experiment (Waves), which recorded ghostly-sounding transmissions emanating from above the planet. These radio emissions from Jupiter have been known about since the 1950s but had never been analyzed from such a close vantage point.

“Jupiter is talking to us in a way only gas-giant worlds can,” said Bill Kurth, co-investigator for the Waves instrument from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “Waves detected the signature emissions of the energetic particles that generate the massive auroras which encircle Jupiter’s north pole. These emissions are the strongest in the solar system. Now we are going to try to figure out where the electrons come from that are generating them.”

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

Very interesting – and like much of space exploration, a lot of new views and new information about what we share Space with.