Fiery blastoff of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar XIX satellite from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl., at 2:13 p.m. EST on Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL - Imagine watching a real rocket launch in a 360 degree live video broadcast. Well NASA is about to make it happen for the first time and in a big way on a significant mission.
On Tuesday April 18, NASA will broadcast the launch of the 'S.S. John Glenn' cargo freighter in a feat marking the world's first live 360-degree stream of a rocket launch - namely the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
The 'S.S. John Glenn' is named in honor of legendary NASA astronaut John Glenn - the first American to orbit Earth back in February 1962.
The 'S.S. John Glenn' is actually a Cygnus resupply spacecraft built by NASA commercial cargo provider Orbital ATK for a cargo mission heading to the International Space Station (ISS).
"NASA, in coordination with United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Orbital ATK, will broadcast the world's first live 360-degree stream of a rocket launch," the agency announced in a statement. The Cygnus spaceship will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Liftoff of the S.S. John Glenn on Orbital ATK's seventh commercial resupply services mission to the ISS - dubbed OA-7 or CRS-7 - is slated for 11:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, April 18.
The launch window lasts 30 minutes.
You can watch the live 360 stream of the Atlas V/OA-7 cargo resupply mission liftoff to the ISS on the NASA Television YouTube channel starting 10 minutes prior to lift off at:
John Glenn was selected as one of NASA's original seven Mercury astronauts chosen at the dawn of the space age in 1959. He recently passed away on December 8, 2016 at age 95.
The S.S. John Glenn will carrying more than 7,600 pounds of science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting outpost.
How can you watch the streaming 360 video? Read NASA's description:
"To view in 360, use a mouse or move a personal device to look up and down, back and forth, for a 360-degree view around Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Note: not all browsers support viewing 360 videos. YouTube supports playback of 360-degree videos on computers using Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera browsers. Viewers may use the YouTube app to view the launch on a smart phone. Those who own virtual reality headsets will be able to look around and experience the view as if they were actually standing on the launch pad."
"While virtual reality and 360 technology have been increasing in popularity, live 360 technology is a brand new capability that has recently emerged. Recognizing the exciting possibilities opened by applying this new technology to spaceflight, NASA, ULA, and Orbital ATK seized this opportunity to virtually place the public at the base of the rocket during launch. Minimum viewing distance is typically miles away from the launch pad, but the live 360 stream enables viewers to get a pads-eye view."
Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
When the Apollo astronauts returned to Earth, they came bearing 380.96 kilograms (839.87 lb) of Moon rocks. From the study of these samples, scientists learned a great deal about the Moon's composition, as well as its history of formation and evolution. For example, the fact that some of these rocks were magnetized revealed that roughly 3 billion years ago, the Moon had a magnetic field.
Much like Earth, this field would have been the result of a dynamo effect in the Moon's core. But until recently, scientists have been unable to explain how the Moon could maintain such a dynamo effect for so long. But thanks to a new study by a team of scientists from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center, we might finally have a answer.
To recap, the Earth's magnetic core is an integral part of what keeps our planet habitable. Believed to be the result of a liquid outer core that rotates in the opposite direction as the planet, this field protects the surface from much of the Sun's radiation. It also ensures that our atmosphere is not slowly stripped away by solar wind, which is what happened with Mars.
The Moon rocks returned by the Apollo 11 astronauts. Credit: NASA
For the sake of their study, which was recently published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the ARES team sought to determine how a molten, churning core could generate a magnetic field on the Moon. While scientists have understood how the Moon's core could have powered such a field in the past, they have been unclear as to how it could have been maintained it for such a long time.
Towards this end, the ARES team considered multiple lines of geochemical and geophysical evidence to put constraints on the core's composition. As Kevin Righter, the lead of the JSC's high pressure experimental petrology lab and the lead author of the study, explained in a NASA press release:
"Our work ties together physical and chemical constraints and helps us understand how the moon acquired and maintained its magnetic field - a difficult problem to tackle for any inner solar system body. We created several synthetic core compositions based on the latest geochemical data from the moon, and equilibrated them at the pressures and temperatures of the lunar interior."
Specifically, the ARES scientists conducted simulations of how the core would have evolved over time, based on varying levels of nickel, sulfur and carbon content. This consisted of preparing powders or iron, nickel, sulfur and carbon and mixing them in the proper proportions - based on recent analyses of Apollo rock samples.
Artist concept illustration of the internal structure of the moon. Credit: NOAJ
Once these mixtures were prepared, they subjected them to heat and pressure conditions consistent with what exists at the Moon's core. They also varied these temperatures and pressures based on the possibility that the Moon underwent changes in temperature during its early and later history - i.e. hotter during its early history and cooler later on.
What they found was that a lunar core composed of iron/nickel that had a small amount of sulfur and carbon - specifically 0.5% sulfur and 0.375% carbon by weight - fit the bill. Such a core would have a high melting point and would have likely started crystallizing early in the Moon's history, thus providing the necessary heat to drive the dynamo and power a lunar magnetic field.
This field would have eventually died out after heat flow led the core to cool, thus arresting the dynamo effect. Not only do these results provide an explanation for all the paleomagnetic and seismic data we currently have on the Moon, it is also consistent with everything we know about the Moon's geochemical and geophysical makeup.
Prior to this, core models tended to place the Moon's sulfur content much higher. This would mean that it had a much lower melting point, and would have meant crystallization could not have occurred until much more recently in its history. Other theories have been proposed, ranging from sheer forces to impacts providing the necessary heat to power a dynamo.
Cutaway of the Moon, showing its differentiated interior. Credit: NASA/SSERVI
However, the ARES team's study provides a much simpler explanation, and one which happens to fit with all that we know about the Moon. Naturally, additional studies will be needed before there is any certainty on the issue. No doubt, this will first require that human beings establish a permanent outpost on the Moon to conduct research.
But it appears that for the time being, one of the deeper mysteries of the Earth-Moon system might be resolved at last.
North Korea attempts new missile launch, but it fails. The reclusive nation attempted to fire the missile early Sunday, according to multiple media outlets citing South Korean officials. The move comes a day after a military parade displayed new missiles and other military hardware alongside goose-stepping soldiers in a show of military strength and defiance. President Trump has warned the isolated regime to avoid or face unspecified consequences.