In a rare feat, an astrophysicist from the University of Bern, Switzerland, has discovered closed-form solutions – a formula solvable in finite steps – to the century-old problem in astronomy – the relationship between the reflectivity of a planet and its phase curve – the brightness of the planet as a function of the phase angle. The phase angle is the angle between the falling and reflected rays. In the case of observing a planet from Earth, the phase angle is the angle between the sunlight falling on the planet and the reflected light from the planet reaching Earth.
Heng’s solutions uncover the relationship between the light reflected by a solar system planet and the shape of its phase curve that only depends upon the angle of scattering – the angle at which the surface of a solar system body scatters sunlight.
“The ground-breaking aspect of these solutions is that they are valid for any law of reflection, which means they can be used in very general ways,” says Heng, who made the discovery, in a statement. The research, which Heng produced in collaboration with two other scientists, was published on August 30 in Nature Astronomy.
In 1916, an influential American astronomer Henry Norris Russell posed the problem of calculating reflected light from planets in a widely noted paper. According to Russell, the albedo – the percentage of sunlight reflected by a planet -and the phase curves of the planets could tell about their properties. In a paper, Russell also derived the stellar magnitude of the sun, the moon and the planets using their photometric observations. However, he could not find a general solution that could apply to all the bodies equally. In 1981, American lunar astronomer Bruce Hapke came up with an analytic solution to the problem, however, he also could not find a closed-function solution that could simply express the apparent relationship between the albedo and the phase curve, irrespective of the solar system body.
Building on the work of the pioneers, Heng’s solutions will offer a long-awaited resolution and help astronomers efficiently analyse decades of data, helping us know more about planets and their moons by just looking at the sunlight they reflect.
SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Crew Shares Photos of Earth from Space – Beebom
If you are a space enthusiast like myself, I’m sure you love the mesmerizing views of the Earth from space shared by astronauts. Having said that, chances are you will love the breathtaking pictures recently shared by the astronauts in SpaceX’s Inspiration4 spacecraft, which took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on September 15. It safely returned to Earth today.
The seven-seater SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft was recently launched from the Kennedy space center. Following the launch, astronauts from the Inspiration4 spacecraft shared four orbital photos of the Earth. You can check out the tweet right below.
The photos were taken from the cupola of the spacecraft, which is a dome-shaped, transparent viewing area that allows astronauts to get a unique glimpse of our planet from space. Not just that, SpaceX Inspiration4’s astronauts also shared a short video showing the sunset. You can check it out right here:
The astronauts include the Shift4 Payments CEO and founder Jared Isaacman, who financed the space mission and is currently the acting commander of the spacecraft, Air Force veteran Christopher Sembroski, physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, and geoscientist Dr. Sian Proctor.
Now, it is worth mentioning that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft can carry seven people onboard. However, the Inspiration4 mission only includes four astronauts aboard the spacecraft. As per reports, following the launch, the Inspiration4 spacecraft has now completed 15 orbits around Earth and is expected to complete a full orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes. If you want to monitor the progress of the flight, you can go to SpaceX’s official tracking website.
More space tourism to come after Inspiration4 crew returns from successful mission | Watch News Videos Online – Globalnews.ca
World's first space tourists splash down in their SpaceX capsule after three days in orbit – Yahoo Eurosport UK
Four space tourists safely splashed down in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida on Saturday, ending their trailblazing trip into orbit.
Their SpaceX capsule parachuted into the ocean just before sunset, not far from where their chartered flight began three days earlier.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk took them on as the company’s first rocket-riding tourists.
The fully automated Dragon capsule reached an unusually high altitude of miles 585km after Wednesday night’s liftoff, that’s 160km above the International Space Station.
The passengers were able to take in views of Earth through a big bubble-shaped window added to the top of the capsule.
For more on this story, watch the full report in the media player above.
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