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NASA’s Juno spacecraft has delivered a breathtaking image of Jupiter’s infamous Great Red Spot, revealing the colossal scale of the gas giant’s most notorious storm. Captured from a mere 8,648 miles (13,917 kilometers) away, this true-color portrait showcases the storm’s immense size, with dimensions that dwarf our own planet Earth.

The Great Red Spot, a turbulent storm twice the size of Earth, has fascinated scientists and astronomy enthusiasts for over 350 years. Its swirling, tempestuous presence has been a constant feature in our solar system, serving as a stark reminder of the dynamic and often mysterious nature of planetary atmospheres.

NASA took to social media to share this extraordinary snapshot, highlighting the sheer magnitude and enduring presence of this Jovian storm. “Our spacecraft Juno captured Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in this true color portrait from around 8,648 miles (13,917 km) away,” NASA shared, captivating the imagination of space enthusiasts worldwide.

Despite its enduring presence, recent observations by Juno suggest that the Great Red Spot is undergoing significant changes. Measurements indicate that the storm is slowly shrinking, with its height diminishing by an eighth and its width by at least a third compared to data recorded by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1979. However, the storm remains a colossal force, with recent studies revealing that it extends approximately 200 miles (300 kilometers) beneath Jupiter’s cloud tops.

The dynamics of the Great Red Spot are further emphasized by its powerful winds, which can reach speeds of up to 400 mph (643 kph), unparalleled by any terrestrial storm. This is largely attributed to Jupiter’s lack of solid ground, which allows storms like the Great Red Spot to persist and evolve without the same dissipative forces experienced on Earth.

The image shared by NASA not only highlights the Great Red Spot’s impressive scale and beauty but also the contrasting colors of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Surrounding the storm are spiraling wisps of red, tan, and orange, set against the planet’s horizon in shades of beige, brown, and blue.

Since its release on Instagram, the image has garnered widespread admiration, amassing over two hundred thousand likes and sparking lively discussions among followers. Comments range from expressions of awe at the storm’s size and longevity to light-hearted comparisons to everyday objects. “Looks like a fried egg,” joked one user, while another marveled, “Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a centuries-old storm bigger than Earth!”

This latest contribution from the Juno mission continues to enhance our understanding of Jupiter, offering unprecedented insights into the workings of our solar system’s largest planet. As the spacecraft continues its journey around Jupiter, it promises to unveil further secrets and deepen our appreciation for the complex beauty of the universe.

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Recently, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) confirmed the successful placement of the Aditya L1 satellite into its final orbit on January 6, 2024. The space agency shared the milestone through a social media post, revealing that Aditya L1 has effectively entered the Halo orbit around the L1 point.

Regarded as a highly challenging task, the precision placement of the satellite in the Halo orbit at the Lagrangian point was meticulously executed by ISRO. The Ground Command Centre, situated approximately 1.5 million km away, played a crucial role as ISRO utilized the motor and thrusters for this intricate maneuver.

The propulsion system of the Aditya L1 spacecraft, comprising a 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor, eight 22 Newton thrusters, and four 10 Newton thrusters, was skillfully employed in a series of intermittent firings to guide the spacecraft to the L1 point.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended ISRO’s success, expressing confidence in India’s commitment to exploring new frontiers of science. Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, hailed the accomplishment as a proud moment for the country under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Aditya L1 marks India’s inaugural solar mission, designed to observe and study the Sun’s Corona, unraveling the mysteries of its extreme heat and its impact on Earth. The Lagrangian Point, or L1, represents the equilibrium point where gravitational forces between the Earth and the Sun allow uninterrupted observation of the Sun without the interference of eclipses.

Following its launch from Sriharikota, Aditya L1 underwent four Earth-bound maneuvers and a Trans Lagrangian Point Insertion maneuver to reach its final orbit. The successful positioning of Aditya L1 in its designated orbit signifies a significant stride in India’s scientific exploration, specifically in understanding the Sun-Earth connection.

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India’s first solar mission, Aditya-L1, is scheduled to reach its destination, the Lagrangian point (L1), located 1.5 million km from Earth, on January 6, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The mission, launched on September 2, aims to study the Sun from a unique orbit.

Destination Day: ISRO chairman S Somanath announced that Aditya-L1 is expected to reach the Lagrangian point on January 6.

Mission Background: Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on September 2, Aditya-L1 is India’s first space-based observatory designed to study the Sun.

Technical Maneuver: Once at the Lagrangian point, the spacecraft will require an engine firing to ensure it stays in its designated orbit and does not drift further.

Five-Year Mission: Aditya-L1, upon reaching its destination, will observe and measure various solar events for the next five years.

Global Impact: The data collected by Aditya-L1 will not only benefit India but also contribute valuable insights to understanding the dynamics of the Sun and its impact on life worldwide.

ISRO’s Vision: ISRO chief S Somanath emphasized the importance of India’s technological advancement and shared plans to build an Indian space station called ‘Bharatiya space station,’ aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directives.

Economic Growth: Acknowledging the changing landscape of the space sector, Somanath highlighted ISRO’s commitment to supporting and encouraging new actors, fostering economic growth around the new generation in the space industry.

As Aditya-L1 reaches this significant milestone, it marks a step forward in India’s space exploration journey, contributing valuable solar data for scientific understanding and technological growth.

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The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has fruitfully captured the first high-energy X-ray glimpse of solar flares using the High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) instrument on board the Aditya-L1 spacecraft.

HEL1OS is a devoted Indian space mission for the study of the Sun from an orbit around the L1 Lagrange point, which is about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The instrument was developed by the Space Astronomy Group of the U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) in Bengaluru, India.

The first observation period for HEL1OS began on October 29, 2023. During this time, the instrument was able to record the spontaneous phase of solar flares. Solar flares are sudden brightening’s of the Sun’s atmosphere that produce greater emission across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

HEL1OS is distinctively designed to study the impulsive hard X-ray emission from solar flares. This emission is very difficult to portray and understand because it is highly time variable and has multiple spectral components. HEL1OS overcomes these difficulties by having a set of detectors that are specifically tuned to different energy ranges and provide very high spectral and time resolution measurements.

“Commissioned on October 27, 2023, HEL1OS is currently undergoing fine-tuning of thresholds and calibration operations. The instrument is set to monitor the Sun’s high-energy X-ray activity with fast timing and high-resolution spectra,” ISRO stated in a release.

The HEL1OS data will enable researchers to study explosive energy release and electron acceleration during the impulsive phases of solar flares. This information will help us to better understand the Sun’s corona, which is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere.

Aditya-L1 spacecraft

The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to provide remote observations of the solar corona and in-situ observations of the solar wind at L1. The spacecraft carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere, and the outermost layers of the Sun, the corona, in different wavebands.

Aditya-L1 is a fully indigenous effort with the participation of national institutions.

Significance of the mission

The Aditya-L1 mission is a significant step forward for India’s space program. It is the first dedicated Indian space mission for the study of the Sun and will provide valuable data that will help us to better understand our nearest star.

The mission is also important for the development of India’s space technology. The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is a sophisticated spacecraft that incorporates a number of new technologies. The successful development and launch of the spacecraft is a testament to the capabilities of the Indian space industry.

Conclusion

The successful capture of the first high-energy X-ray glimpse of solar flares by HEL1OS is a significant achievement for the Aditya-L1 mission. The data from HEL1OS will help us to better understand the Sun and its corona. The Aditya-L1 mission is a valuable property for India’s space program and will contribute to the advancement of our knowledge of the Sun.

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