Wednesday, January 19, 2005

:: quarks and quazars :: Cassini-Huygens, Mr. O, and Auroras

+ Stumbled upon LiveScience today. Interesting sister site to

+ Huygens probe landed in Titan's mud.
Want more? Check these links out:
@ All about Cassini-Hugyens at
@ Cassini-Hugyens NASA site.
@ ESA's Cassini-Hugens.

+ Possible Breakthrough Study of Material from Beyond Our Galaxy
For decades, astronomers have sought to pin down a source for ultra high-energy cosmic rays. The distant sources must be among the more powerful events in the universe, perhaps the creation of black holes or the mergers of galaxies.

It appears the first source has been located, a finding that would be considered a major breakthrough in the field.

If proved out, it represents the first time scientists are able to study a known object from beyond our galaxy by examining actual material (stuff like what you and everything else is made of) instead of electromagnetic radiation (radio waves, visible light, X-rays and so on).

Cosmic rays are not actually rays, like light. They are instead subatomic particles, thought to be mostly protons, on of the fundamental units of matter. The highest-energy versions of them race across the universe at more than 99.9 percent of light-speed, packing in their tiny bodies more punch than a golf ball hit by a pro, explained physicist Glennys Farrar of New York University.

The particles are difficult to study, because most break up in Earth's atmosphere. Only a handful ever reach the planet.

+ Mr.O - The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter- Scehduled to launch August 8th from Cape Canaveral, it will be the largest spacecraft to orbit Mars.
Zurek said MRO is booked with early work at the start of a five-and-a-half year agenda.

For one, MRO will scope out a landing site for NASA’s Phoenix lander. That mission is to land in the northern polar region of Mars in May 2008. Once on the surface, the stationary lander is to use its robotic arm to expose the upper few feet of surface material in a search for ice.

One of the first things on MRO’s priority list is to scan possible Phoenix lander sites for any hazards. MRO radar and sounder readings will also be taken, with the data assembled surely to be helpful in picking the right Phoenix landing spot. "They want to make sure it’s safe and we’re going to help certify that site for them," Zurek told

Similarly, locating the Mars Science Laboratory’s touchdown zone in October 2010 is another priority, Zurek noted, with MRO able to find the best place on Mars for the greatest scientific return from that highly capable rover.

+ Aurora around the world is putting on quite a show with a coronal mass ejection headed for Earth. Strong geomagnetic storms and high aurora sightings are possible when it arrives on January 19th for both Northern and Southern Auroras. POES Auroral Activity has more. And Aurora Viewing Tips- just past midway down on the page you'll find clickable maps to find your latitude, longitude, magnetic latitude and Kp.Find out the Kp for your location. Then check out this estimated planetary Kp index chart, updated every 3 hours, to see if you will be able to view aurora.
Other handy sites:
@ Hourly STD DMSP/POLAR Auroral Activity Report
@ Auroral Activity Observation Network
@ SpaceWeatherCenter
@ Aurora Sentry
@ CANOPUS- Real Time Auroral Oval
@ Night Sky Live

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