Stellar Flares and Life Beyond Earth

When we think of space, it may be questioned if there is life beyond our world and how life can be sustained or even exist? With the help of stellar flares, that is a question that a new study conducted at the University of Colorado is trying to answer. A stellar flare is a sudden interruption of magnetic energy on or near the sun’s surface, sometimes associated with sunspot and electromagnetic radiation bursts. The idea of using flares to take life is because scientists believe that flares can increase the life-sustaining gases such as nitrogen oxide, nitric acid, and nitrogen dioxide to readable levels when they were previously non-detectable. The flares matter because they can take several hours or several days to form. This gives scientists an idea of the range of their effects on the exoplanet’s environment. The impressive study will explore the planet with inhabitable loans of M class and K class stars. An M class star is a spectral class having stars with weak hydrogen absorption and red color. A K class star is a main-sequence hydrogen-burning star that lived for between 17 to 70 billion years.

Study findings asserted that both the weather in space itself and these exoplanets may help or hinder the chances of harbor life. The distance between the planet and the stars also affects the planet’s ability to sustain life. However, in some cases, on other planets, solar flares can diminish any chance of life by destroying the planet’s ozone layer, wiping out life-sustaining gases. 

Using 3-D models and data from 2018 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey, the team determined atmosphere properties such as gases, water vapor, oxygen levels, and more. Our planet Earth has a strong magnetic field that prevents dangerous solar winds and other hazards from entering our atmosphere and ultimately breaking down I ozone layer. For exoplanets farther away from stars, this is not the case, as there is no protective magnetic barrier to stop anything harmful from coming into the atmosphere and wiping out chances of life.

Lenox Laser gives our best to all involved in the study. If you would like to read more, click here for an article from ScienceDaily or here for a report from Phys.org

James Webb Sunshield Passes Final Tests

               When completed, the famous James Webb telescope will be the world’s premier observatory for exploring galaxies. Webb will explore our galaxy’s makeup and beyond, studying inside stars and help map and explore undiscovered, uncharted areas of our solar system and universe.

However, the telescope’s most recent achievement is the final deployment test of its massive football-field-sized sunshield. It is designed to handle the harshest temperatures in space, enduring temperatures of -380°F to 85°F. The sunshield is intended to protect the telescope optics and internal mechanisms while keeping them cold while exploring galaxy and star readings properly.

Courtesy of NASA/Chris Gunn

               The sunshield’s successful unfolding completes Webb’s final tremendous milestone before the expected October 2021 launch. Altogether the telescope is costing NASA an estimated $10 billion, with potentially higher costs coming if any further delays happen. Not only will the sunshield protect Webb’s many internal optics from the sun’s heat, but it will also protect them from the light, which could help avoid potentially false readings upon exploration. Past tests included folding and unfolding the telescope’s many massively sized mirrors, tests of its optics, the sunshield tests, and interior and exterior components.

               The teams involved in creating James Webb were scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. Partnerships were also formed with Northrop Grumman, who helped design some onboard computers and the telescope. Thus far, everyone is extremely pleased with the progress made, and they cannot wait to see the outcome of all the hard work done for the project. However, the James Webb project has faced many hurdles and delays in its continuous journey towards a successful launch. Some of those delays include government funding, the most recent Covid-19 pandemic, equipment malfunction, and multiple ongoing tests that were postponed. Barring any other unforeseen circumstances or uncertainties, the James Webb telescope mission is expected to launch Halloween 2021. 

Lenox Laser is proud of everyone involved in this undertaking. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for the project. If you would like to read more about this development with James Webb, please click here.

SIMPLEx Mission to the Moon

The Moon has been vastly explored by mankind for several decades. Despite the progress, it is believed that its geography has not fully mapped. That is the potential goal of the new Lunar Trailblazer built by NASA. One of its primary functions will be to determine the amount of water on the Moon that could be hidden inside football-sized craters on the surface. This massive venture was an idea in partnership with NASA and Caltech University; its construction began in early 2019. The images that are taken will be the highest resolution possible. Now in the approval process, Trailblazers flight systems are expected to be delivered in October 2022. Altogether the satellite will measure 3.5 m in length upon full deployment of its onboard solar panels.

The most significant part of this endeavor is to find out if there is water on the Moon and why. Temperatures on the Moon can be up to 260°F in sunlight and can drop to -280°F; this could lead to ice pockets and formations around the Moon’s surface. Trailblazer’s design team includes some brilliant scientists from Lockheed Martin that will test the satellite’s design and instrument functionality. They are also joined by scientists at Oxford University who will be designing the instruments which enable Trailblazer to do the necessary water studies on the Moon. Some of the questions about the study needing to be answered are the following: Is there water found in rock? Does the temperature change of water happen during the day-night cycle? Most importantly, does water exist in the shadow covered areas of the Moon? If all goes well, the mission is planned to launch in 2025.

Full mapping of the Moon would allow scientists to understand its geological makeup, surface area, water, and rock formations. Some of the events in the timetable of the lunar Trailblazer started in 2018 when it was announced as a candidate for NASA’s Planetary Small Satellites program. Last year Trailblazer was selected for the upcoming mission; beyond this, no further information is available at this time. The previously mentioned high-resolution images taken by the satellite will give scientists a more real-time feel of what is being dealt with on the Moon surface. Lenox Laser wishes all the teams involved the very best of luck and cannot wait to see the study results. If you would like to read more, click here.

We here at Lenox Laser also wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

SiriusXM Satellite Launched by SpaceX

The SpaceX program’s momentum continues to grow this past Sunday’s launch of another Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket contained a massive 15,000-pound SXM-7 satellite used by Sirius XM satellite radio to further broadcast signals even stronger across the US and Canada. For the Falcon 9 rocket, this was the seventh consecutive flight, which took SpaceX eight days to pull off. About half an hour after launch, the massive satellite was released into orbit to fly on its own power. The new satellite is intended to have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years before it would need to be replaced with an upgraded model. It is one of five new satellites that will join a group to form a cohesive network to operate with constant speed and efficiency—the satellite docked with the International Space Station late Sunday evening.

The XM seven satellite will be capable of broadcasting Sirius XM satellite signals into trucks, cars, homes, and businesses with an ever-growing lineup of content ranging from news, sports, and music. The satellite will sit approximately 22,300 feet in orbit above the equator, moving in sync with the Earth’s rotation but can still be seen in the sky. It was built by Maxar Technologies, which specializes in optical imagery, image mapping, robotics, global imagery. It is hoped that if this SpaceX venture is a massive success, different areas of the globe to get satellite radio may be explored. The Falcon 9 launch was the 25th of the year, and flight number 102 in total since SpaceX began 10 years ago. The XM 7 is replacing the XM 3 satellite that was launched in 2011.

The Starlink program started by SpaceX is another essential part of this puzzle. Its purpose is to bring affordable, high-speed satellite Internet to areas that cannot access an ISP. The last space excellent for 2020 is expected to be on Thursday, December 17, weather permitting. The launch will take place at the Kennedy Space Center. Lenox Laser wishes SpaceX all the best in their current and future endeavors. We cannot wait to see what is done with the technology of this magnitude at their disposal. If you would like to read more, please click here.

New Study about The Darkness of Space

Darkness is defined as the partial or total absence of light; however, new studies are potentially showing that space may not be so dark after all. NASA’s New Horizons satellite was launched in 2006 with an initial purpose of exploring the dwarf planet of Pluto, but, in 2015, New Horizons entirely shot past the world in what was to be a six-month reconnaissance flyby along with exploring the Kuiper belt. Beyond the Milky Way galaxy, researchers have taken photos, extracted any light coming from random stars or from the Milky Way, and concluded that there is light beyond our own universe. With this finding, scientists began to ask where the light may be coming from.

Thanks to highly detailed images in the Hubble telescope’s many attempts, scientists may now have detailed pictures of light existing in the far corners of the universe. However, minuscule the light amount may be, scientists believe that even a small amount is a groundbreaking find. However, the discovery does come with some caveats. An example is that whatever light the observer may be looking at may affect the amount of dust in the space.

The Hubble Telescope has contributed more to the question of light outside of the Milky Way. So far, according to this study, the Hubble Telescope has helped in finding some of the farthest and dimmest galaxies known to man to this day. However, despite finding so much, Hubble’s capabilities are limited because there could exist light sources that cannot be seen. Given that light is infinite and can go in any number of directions, a piece of dust in space can project a considerable amount of light and, therefore, mess up findings. While scientists still have a long way to go as to what they may or may not discover with this new study, they are astounded continuously so far as to what they found. This is a real example of just how far technology has come to give humankind such an in-depth look at the mystery with such potential.

If you would like to read more about this study, click here for an NPR article or here for a Forbes article on the study.

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