Newsletter #11

Let’s be Astro!!

1. NASA’s Curiosity Mars

This self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at “Namib Dune,” where the rover’s activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis.

The scene combines 57 images taken on Jan. 19, 2016, during the 1,228th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars. Namib Dune is part of the dark-sand “Bagnold Dune Field” along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. Images taken from orbit have shown that dunes in the Bagnold field move as much as about 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year.

2.  China Just Released True Color HD Photos Of The Moon

In Jan 2016, the China National Space Administration released all of the images from their recent moon landing to the public. There are now hundreds and hundreds of never-before-seen true color, high definition photos of the lunar surface available for download.

Chang’e 3, named after the goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology, was a follow-up mission to Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 which were both lunar orbiters. The objective of the Chang’e 3 mission was to demonstrate the key technologies required for a soft moon landing and rover exploration. The mission was also equipped with a telescope and instruments to perform geologic analysis of the lunar surface.

It’s been nearly 40 years since anyone soft-landed a spacecraft on the moon. This next decade, however, is set to see a wave of lunar exploration like we’ve never experienced. With the China National Space Administration focusing their resources on lunar probes, and private companies planning to profit off of lunar resources, the moon is about to become a much busier destination.

See more at:
3. Singaporean satellites successfully launched to space

On December 16, 2015, six Singaporean satellites were successfully launched by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C29. The primary satellite is TeLEOS-1, Singapore’s first commercial Earth Observation satellite by ST Electronics was deployed at about 18 minutes 12 seconds after lift-off, which was followed by five other satellites, including VELOX-C1 and VELOX-2 developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

– ST Electronics News
– ISRO Press Release
– Gunter’s Space, VELOX-C1
– Gunter’s Space, VELOX-2

4. Saturn’s Rings: Less than that meets the eye?

It seems intuitive that an opaque material should contain more stuff than a more translucent substance. For example, muddier water has more suspended particles of dirt in it than clearer water. Likewise, you might think that, in the rings of Saturn, more opaque areas contain a greater concentration of material than places where the rings seem more transparent.

But this intuition does not always apply, according to a recent study of the rings using data from NASA’s Cassini mission. In their analysis, scientists found surprisingly little correlation between how dense a ring might appear to be — in terms of its opacity and reflectiveness — and the amount of material it contains.

The new results concern Saturn’s B ring, the brightest and most opaque of Saturn’s rings, and are consistent with previous studies that found similar results for Saturn’s other main rings.

The scientists found that, while the opacity of the B ring varied by a large amount across its width, the mass — or amount of material — did not vary much from place to place. They “weighed” the nearly opaque centre of the B ring for the first time — technically, they determined its mass density in several places — by analysing spiral density waves. These are fine-scale ring features created by gravity tugging on ring particles from Saturn’s moons, and the planet’s own gravity. The structure of each wave depends directly on the amount of mass in the part of the rings where the wave is located.

See more at Luxembourg Aims to Jump-Start Asteroid Mining

The Luxembourg government on Feb. 3 announced it would seek to jump-start an industrial sector to mine asteroid resources in space by creating regulatory and financial incentives.
The incentives include co-investment in research and development and, eventually, direct capital investment in space resource-mining companies setting up shop in Luxembourg.

See more at: 

6. The Largest Known Solar System Has Been Found

Recently, astronomers in the UK, U.S. and Australia announced that a planet, previously thought to be free floating alone in space, is actually orbiting around a star 1 trillion kilometers away from it every 900,000 years. This is the widest planet system ever recorded.Though both the planet, 2MASS J2126, and its star had been known for 8 years, no one had made the link between both objects. When originally discovered, they thought it was a rogue planet free floating adrift in space, thus dubbing it as the “lonely planet.” HowObservations of the star and planet revealed that their movements were associated. Mathematical modelling and computer simulation has suggested that the planet is exerting the necessary gravity to shape such orbits.

See more at :

7. This telescope will capture the first image of a black hole

The black hole problem is peculiar. Of course, you can’t see something that neither emits nor reflects light. It is a physical impossibility. But black holes are violent places with vast environments of turbulent gas and highly energized material that lights up brilliantly — think of the gorgeous collimated jets of M87, for instance.Feryal Ozel from the University of Arizona is part of the Event Horizon Telescope, and she presented its capabilities on the second day of the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Kissimee, Florida. This telescope will take a picture of the innermost region of a black hole: its event horizon, where material passes the “point of no return” on its way toward being consumed.

They use a process called interferometry to link telescopes together from around the world to form one enormous virtual dish. And by looking at millimeter wavelengths, they can peer through the flow of material swirling around the black hole to see right down into its center.

The data will allow researchers to understand the flow of material around black holes and even perform tests of general relativity.

See more at:

Hope you enjoy! Also, if you want to share with us any news or updates you found about Astro, do feel free to send them to this email, and they would possibly appear on the next newsletter!! Everything is welcomed! Let’s create an Astro sharing community!!! Thank you!

Last but not the least, Happy Chinese New Year!!!:) 猴年大吉!

On behalf of Hwa Chong Astronomy Club

Print Friendly, PDF & Email