Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day 11-06-03
Posted on 11/06/2003 5:27:29 AM PST by petuniasevan
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2003 November 6
Explanation: Almost out of view from our fair planet, rotating around the Sun's western edge, giant sunspot region AR 10486 lashed out with another intense solar flare followed by a large coronal mass ejection (CME) on Tuesday, November 4th at about 1950 Universal Time. The flare itself is seen here at the lower right in an extreme ultraviolet image from the sun-staring SOHO spacecraft's EIT camera. Saturating the EIT camera pixels and detectors on other satellites, this giant X-class flare was among the most powerful ever recorded since the 1970s, the third such historic blast from AR 10486 within the last two weeks. While energetic particle radiation from the flare did cause substantial radio interference, the associated CME is not expected to trigger extremely widespread aurorae as it glances off the magnetosphere, unlike the direct hits from last week's CMEs. Say farewell to the mighty AR 10486, for now. For the next two weeks, the sunspot region will be on the Sun's far side.
APOD Editor to speak in New York
Dr. Robert Nemiroff, a creator and editor of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), will present a free public slide show this Friday, November 7, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The show will feature his choices for the most spectacular NASA, APOD, and space images, as well as interesting bits on the science and stories behind them. The hour show will begin at 6:15 pm in the People Center, near the Kaufmann Auditorium, best accessed from the 77 th street entrance. The event is sponsored by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. No tickets are required.
NASA testing K9 rover in quarry for future missions
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: November 1, 2003
Credit: Tom Trower/NASA Ames Research Center
The demonstration will be conducted at Graniterock's A.R. Wilson Quarry Site in Aromas, Calif. Scientists chose the quarry site for the field experiment and to test its autonomous operational capabilities in a remote, non-vegetated location. Graniterock offered its 100-year-old quarry operation to NASA after Graniterock learned that the space agency was looking for a site to test the rover.
"We need to take the rover into the field, away from our own backyard, in order to test how robust our technologies are," said Maria Bualat, a computer engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., who is the K9 rover project lead. "However, the Bay Area is a lush tropical paradise compared to Mars, so we needed to find a place that wasn't covered in vegetation. Graniterock was kind enough to volunteer a portion of its quarry," she added.
"The goal of the K9 project is to integrate and demonstrate new robotic technologies that will enable NASA to meet the science goals of future Mars missions," said Bualat. Scientists hope to utilize new robotic technologies during NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission anticipated in 2009.
"The whole purpose of this research project is to ensure that this rover is as autonomous and reliable as possible. Autonomous instrument placement capability is essential for future Mars exploration," said Dr. Liam Pedersen, principle investigator for the K9 rover instrument placement project. "This is necessary to acquire samples, determine mineralogy, obtain microscopic images and other operations needed to understand the planet's geology and search for evidence of past life."
"The United States has gained so much from the space program over the years, and the plans to explore Mars by the end of the decade is another significant step in advancing America's lead in developing and applying advanced technologies," said Bruce W. Woolpert, Graniterock's president and CEO.
Credit: Tom Trower/NASA Ames Research Center
Due to the limited intelligence of current planetary rovers, it takes three martian days to complete the process of directing a rover to a targeted rock and placing an instrument on the rock to begin scientific analysis of it. Scientists at NASA Ames hope to be able to accomplish that objective in a single day, thereby increasing the efficiency of obtaining science data in future missions.
David Smith, a computer scientist at NASA Ames, leads the research group that is responsible for developing the rover's automated planning and scheduling software. In previous missions, there has been very little automation of the planning and scheduling process for planetary rovers, according to Smith.
"What's unique about this software that is being developed at NASA Ames is that it generates contingency plans to provide an alternative that can be executed when things go wrong," Smith said. "There is a great deal of uncertainty in operating a robotic system on Mars, so you need to be able to consider alternatives. By having options available, you increase the science return."
"NASA near-term Mars missions have very ambitious science goals that will require high levels of autonomy onboard the robot," said Bualat. "Our goal is to have a 'smart robot' that we can send off to Mars in 2009 that will take care of itself."
The K9 rover project's annual cost of approximately $1 million is funded jointly by the Intelligent Systems project under the Computing, Information and Communications Technology (CICT) program administered by NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology, and by the Mars Technology Program, administered by the Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington.
Graniterock was founded on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1900. The company has operations in Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Seaside, Salinas, Gilroy, Hollister, Aromas, Felton, Oakland, San Jose, Redwood City and South San Francisco. Graniterock Pavex Construction Division is a significant heavy engineering contractor building roadways, airport and private commercial and residential projects. Graniterock has also been the recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Governor's Golden State Quality Award.