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NASA Shares Images of Solar Eclipse Seen From Space

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This year’s last solar eclipse occurred last week. It was not visible from most parts of the world, including India. This eclipse was visible from Antarctica, while people in some other countries such as Australia and New Zealand were able to see a partial solar eclipse. But ever wondered how a total solar eclipse would appear when seen from space? NASA shared images captured from a space observatory on Instagram, which showed the Moon’s shadow as it passed over Antarctica.

NASA captioned the post, “Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse? How about seeing a total solar eclipse from space? The space agency stated that the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft captured the shadow as it passed over Antarctica.

“Shaped like a cone extending into space, the shadow has a circular cross-section most easily seen during a solar eclipse,” said the agency.

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The second and third images in the post show how the eclipse would look “from another perspective” — inside the International Space Station (ISS). Astronaut Kayla Barron snapped images of the eclipse from the ISS. Visible in the foreground is a Russian segment of the orbiting laboratory.

NASA also explained in the post how a solar eclipse occurs: “A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light in some areas. For a total solar eclipse to take place, the Sun, Moon, and Earth must line up exactly.”

Here are the images:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NASA (@nasa)

So far, the post has been liked by over 8.77 lakh people.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory is a joint project by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched in 2009 and “monitors changes in the solar wind and provides space weather forecasts and alerts for solar storms that could temporarily disrupt power grids and GPS”. Orbiting about a million miles from the Earth, DSCOVR takes a new photo of Earth every two hours.


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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Completes 10 Years of Exploring Mars — Here’s What It Has Found So Far

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It’s been more than 10 years since the US space agency NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in search of ancient signs of life on the planet. Curiosity is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission and is the biggest and the most capable rover ever sent to the Red Planet. Having launched on November 26, 2011, and making its descent on the Martian surface on August 5, 2012, Curiosity has so far covered 29 kilometres and ascended 625 metres on the Gale crater, where it landed. During its expedition so far, Curiosity has used its host of instruments and tools to examine if Mars ever had the right environmental conditions to support small life forms such as microbes.

Digging for evidence, the rover analysed 41 rock and soil samples on the planet in the past years. It scanned the skies of the Red Planet and sent intriguing pictures of shining clouds and drifting moons. With its radiation sensors, Curiosity has been capable of measuring the amount of radiation astronauts in future missions would be exposed to on Mars.

In its most significant finding, the rover concluded that the Gale crater had liquid water as well as the chemical building blocks and nutrients required for sustaining life at least tens of millions of years ago. It also determined that the crater had a lake and whose size waxed and waned over time. It explored the foothills of Mount Sharp in the crater where each layer offers signs on more recent era of the Red Planet’s environment.

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Watch this video to know more as Curiosity turns 10:

“We’re seeing evidence of dramatic changes in the ancient Martian climate. The question now is whether the habitable conditions that Curiosity has found up to now persisted through these changes. Did they disappear, never to return, or did they come and go over millions of years?” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Considering its abilities and efficiency, NASA recently extended Curiosity’s mission for three more years. Now, the rover is passing through a canyon, a new region that is thought to have formed after the water dried up and left salty minerals called sulfates. Scientists plan to explore this sulfate-rich region for the next few years and target particular sites like the Gediz Vallis channel for their study.


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Dwarf Galaxies of Earth’s Second Closest Galaxy Cluster Devoid of Dark Matter Halos

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When you ask an astronomer about dark matter, they will always mention about how the cosmos is filled with this enigmatic, unseen stuff. It is specifically found in the halos that encircle the majority of galaxies. The galaxy itself, as well as other galaxies nearby, are strongly gravitationally influenced by the mass of the halo. That has been the accepted theory on dark matter and how it affects galaxies. The concept of such halos is not without flaws, though. Evidently, there are certain weirdly shaped dwarf galaxies that appear to lack halos.

How is that feasible, then? Do they present a challenge to the observed dark matter halo hypotheses that are currently held?

Galaxies are shielded by dark matter halos or shells from the gravitational pull of their close galactic neighbours according to the so-called “standard model” of cosmology. This view is now being challenged in a study led by the University of Bonn and the University of Saint Andrews (Scotland).

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The results suggest that these dark matter halos are absent from the dwarf galaxies in the Fornax Cluster, the second closest galaxy cluster to Earth. The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Elena Asencio, a PhD candidate at the University of Bonn and the principal author of the study, said, “We introduce an innovative way of testing the standard model based on how much dwarf galaxies are disturbed by gravitational tides’ from nearby larger galaxies.”

Small, faint galaxies known as dwarfs are generally located in or close proximity to larger galaxies or galaxy clusters. They might therefore be affected by the gravitational effects of their larger neighbours. Recent research reveals that some of these dwarfs have distorted appearances, as though the cluster environment has disturbed them.

The Standard Model does not predict “such perturbations in the Fornax dwarfs,” said Pavel Kroupa, Professor at the University of Bonn and Charles University in Prague, and added that it’s because dark matter halos of these dwarfs should partially protect them from tides brought on by the cluster, according to the Standard Model.

Based on internal characteristics and distance from the gravitationally strong cluster centre, the authors calculated the expected level of disturbance of the dwarfs.

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According to Asencio, the comparison revealed “if one wants to explain the observations in the standard model, the Fornax dwarfs should already be destroyed by gravity from the cluster centre even when the tides it raises on a dwarf are 64 times weaker than the dwarf’s own self-gravity.”

This goes against the findings of earlier research that the amount of force required to perturb a dwarf galaxy is roughly equal to the dwarf’s own gravity.

The authors deduced from this that the observed morphologies of the Fornax dwarfs cannot be self-consistently explained by the mainstream paradigm. Dr Hongsheng Zhao from the University of St Andrews said that their findings have significant ramifications for fundamental physics, and that they expect to find additional perturbed dwarfs in other clusters.


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ISRO’s Faces SSLV-D1 Data Loss at Terminal Phase of the Mission, Placed in Wrong Orbit

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday said its Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D1) placed satellites into elliptical orbit instead of a circular orbit. Sharing the updates of its satellite launch, ISRO said “SSLV-D1 placed the satellites into 356kx76km elliptical orbit instead of 356km circular orbit. Satellites are no longer usable. The issue is reasonably identified. Failure of a logic to identify a sensor failure and go for a salvage action caused the deviation. A committee would analyse and recommend. With the implementation of the recommendations, ISRO will come back soon with SSLV-D2.”

Earlier in the day, ISRO launched its first new rocket the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D1) carrying Earth Observation Satellite (EOS-02) and a student-made satellite-AzaadiSAT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.

To mark the country’s celebrations of “Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the SSLV, co-passenger satellite called “AzaadiSAT” comprising 75 payloads built by 750 students from 75 rural government schools across India was launched.

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ISRO Chairman S Somanath on Sunday said that both Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D1) carrying Earth Observation Satellite (EOS-02) were injected but the “orbit achieved was less than expected which makes it unstable.”

“All stages performed normal. Both satellites were injected. But the orbit achieved was less than expected which makes it unstable,” the ISRO chief said.

He further said that the SSLV-D1 suffered data loss at the terminal phase of the mission.

“In the terminal phase of the mission, some data loss is occurring. We are analysing the data to conclude the final outcome of the mission with respect to achieving a stable orbit,” Somanath added.

Girls who designed the satellite also witnessed the SSLV-D1 launch. The general public also witnessed the launch from the viewing gallery of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota.


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