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NASA Space Science

SOFIA Sees Jupiter's Ancient Heat 59

astroengine writes "The flying telescope SOFIA took its maiden flight on Wednesday, and its 'first light' images have already been released. The cool thing about SOFIA is that it flies high enough (integrated inside a converted 747, taking it to an altitude of 41,000 ft) to carry it above 99% of the atmosphere's infrared-absorbing water vapor. This means it can collect 80% of the IR radiation that hits orbital telescopes (like NASA's Spitzer) but without the huge cost of being launched into space. Also, SOFIA is expected to last 20 years, many times the operational lifespan of space missions. Already, SOFIA has returned stunning results, including the observation of heat leaking through Jupiter's clouds, heat that was generated billions of years ago when the gas giant was forming."
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SOFIA Sees Jupiter's Ancient Heat

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @12:18PM (#32397594)

    IT never fails to amaze me that NASA does not send a balloon to 100,000 feet and load it up with all kinds of scientific equipment.

    With that large payload you'd need a balloon the size of Milwaukee.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @01:35PM (#32398324) Homepage

    Personally I am attracted to the alternative Electric Universe theory because they recognize a need to back up their statements with laboratory experiments, and with theories that do have a great deal of proof behind them, such as the behavior of plasma.


    Electric Universe holds that the solar wind is caused by the sun's electric charge, creating a current of protons outward.

    Actual experiment indicates that the solar wind is comprised of roughly equal amounts of protons and electrons traveling outward from the sun. With no net movement of charge there is no current, and Coulomb's Law says an electric field cannot move oppositely charged particles in the same direction, both indicating (though it's really one thing, the Theory of Electromagnetism) that the Sun has no net charge.

    As one would expect from the well-verified theory of plasma behavior, the majority of which are quasi-neutral, with those that aren't being necessarily non-dense.

    So, yeah, they ignore experiments that prove their most basic premises wrong, and don't even understand the well-established theory their ideas are allegedly based on.

    But hey, I can't tell you who you should be attracted to.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Sunday May 30, 2010 @02:43PM (#32398944) Homepage Journal

    Adaptive optics can deal with atmospheric image distortion, but they can't do anything about absorption. As I understand it, the key advantage of SOFIA (and space telescopes, of course) is that it can pick up wavelengths that are absorbed before reaching ground level.

  • by MrZilla ( 682337 ) on Monday May 31, 2010 @02:10AM (#32404258) Homepage

    The Sun is throwing photons at us, which is how both light and heat get's here.

    And that is the problem. Yes, things in space will cool down, however, the only way this occurs is through what is called "black body radiation", that is, the emission of photons. Cooling down this way is slower than being cooled by air, water or some other substance.

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