LISA Pathfinder, a laboratory in space
Following a long series of tests, ESA’s LISA Pathfinder has started its science mission to prove key technologies and techniques needed to observe gravitational waves from space. Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, gravitational waves are fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime produced by exotic astronomical events such as supernova explosions or the merging of two black holes.
Thor’s helmet nebula, picture of February of the Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec
Each month the Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec (OAdM) of IEEC publishes an outstanding image from the observations made. In February, the protagonist of the picture of the month is Thor’s Helmet Nebula.
The CHEOPS mission announces the drawings from Spanish children travelling to space
The CHEOPS mission (CHaracterizing ExOplanet Satellite) of the European Space Agency has announced the drawings that will travel into space aboard its telescope. CHEOPS is scheduled for launch at the beginning of 2018 and its goal is to observe new planets outside the Solar System. CHEOPS has randomly selected 297 out of the nearly 4,500 drawings sent by Spanish children in response to the call and the results can be found on the official website of the project: http://www.cheops.es.
LISA Pathfinder releases successfully test masses which are already in free fall inside the spacecraft
Completed the most delicate operation of mission LISA Pathfinder of ESA which will test the technology that will allow to detect gravitational waves in space. It has been released the second test mass; the first one was released yesterday morning. For the first time, the two masses (a pair of identical 46 mm gold–platinum cubes) in the heart of the spacecraft are floating freely. The cubes sit 38 cm apart linked only by laser beams that measure the accurate distance at every moment.
Are we able to divert potentially hazardous asteroids?
Next June 30 is the Asteroid International Day which celebrates the largest asteroid impact known until now on Earth. It was Tunguska in 1908. In this context, the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC), the Royal Academy Science and Arts of Barcelona, the Academia Europaea and the Astronomical Association of Sant Cugat-Valldoreix (AASCV) have organized an outreach event about initiatives undertaken by scientists and space agencies to increase our ability to predict and mitigate the effects of potential impact of an asteroid on Earth.
Great expectation for the update on the search of gravitational waves of LIGO project
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Albert Einstein’s prediction of the existence of gravitational waves. As we celebrate this anniversary and it has completed the first period of operation of the LIGO detectors, the National Science Foundation gathers scientists from MIT, Caltech and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, on a press conference next Thursday February 11th in Washington to update the scientific community on their ongoing efforts to observe gravitational waves.
LISA Pathfinder can measure nanometer motion at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth
LISA Pathfinder advances on schedule and today we are now a little closer to the key moment of the mission: the release of the test masses in free-fall to test if we can detect gravitational waves. The lock fingers that kept the two test masses on LISA Pathfinder secure during the launch and cruise phase were successfully unlocked. As planned, the two cubes are still attached to the spacecraft via an additional mechanism that will hold them in place until mid-February.
Licia Verde and Raul Jimenez, IEEC members, interviewed by American Public Television
Licia Verde and Raul Jimenez, ICREA professors at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (IEEC-UB), were interviewed by Yvonne Stapp for the program “Science for the Public”, a leading science show in the American Public Television (PBS) in the US. Their one hour long interviews feature a detailed account of Verde and Jimenez’s endeavours at understanding the Universe during their tenure at the University of Barcelona as ICREA professors.
LISA Pathfinder, in orbit
Six weeks after launch, LISA Pathfinder has reached orbit around the L1 Lagrange point, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth toward the Sun, from where the technology that will allow to detect gravitational waves in space will be tested.
Early data from Dark Energy Survey
The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a project participated by the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC), which aims to find out the causes of the accelerating expansion of the universe, and it counts on the DECam, a camera that will measure the light from more than 300 million galaxies at distances of nine billion light years, installed at the Observatorio Astronómico Interamericano Cerro Tolo, la Serena (Chile).
Successful launch of the on-board computer of LISA Pathfinder
The Data Management Unit (DMU) of the LISA Pathfinder mission was launched successfully on the morning of January 11th. Over the next few hours, the software update and verification of the installation on the on-board computer, which controls the experiments of the mission, were also completed. All tasks performed so far have been successful.
Sergei Odintsov, from the ICE (IEEC-CSIC), repeats in the list of the most cited researchers in the world according to the agency Thomson Reuters
Sergei Odinstov, ICREA researcher at the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC), has been selected as one of the most cited researchers in the world, according to the Highly Cited Researchers report that agency Thomson Reuters has recently published. This is the second consecutive year that Odinstov is part of this list in the category of Physics.
Licia Verde, from the ICCUB (IEEC-UB), selected for the Thomson Reuters’ 2015 list of Highly Cited Researchers
Licia Verde, ICREA researcher at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (IEEC-UB), is among the top-cited researchers in the world, according to the recently published Thomson Reuters report.
Are Earth-like planets our best bet for finding extra-terrestrial life?
Our planet, the Earth, is not a fair representation of other life-bearing planets, while mankind is not a fair reflection of intelligent species, concludes a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and authored by Fergus Simpson, researcher at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB, IEEC-UB).
First Ph.D. thesis on the initial data processing of real data of the Gaia mission
“High Performance computing of massive astrometry and photometry data from Gaia” is the first Ph.D. thesis dedicated to the initial data processing of real data of the Gaia mission. The author is Javier Castañeda, researcher at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (IEEC-UB). It has had its defense on 15 December 2015 at the Facultat de Física, Universitat de Barcelona.