Why will June 30 be one second longer?

NASA has explained that 30 June 2015 will officially be a bit longer than usual because an extra second or “leap” second will be added.

Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt said that Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that.

A day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is “atomic time,” the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium.

These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

However, the mean solar day, the average length of a day, based on how long it takes Earth to rotate, is about 86,400.002 seconds long. Scientists estimate that the mean solar day hasn’t been 86,400 seconds long since the year 1820 or so.

The leap second will be added to June 30 at 11:59:59 UTC on the dot. What this means is that, rather than switch to a brand new day, the atomic clocks that scientists rely on to keep track of time will also show 11:59:60 UTC.

The reason some days need be made to last 86,401 seconds instead of just 86,400 is because otherwise atomic clocks might become out of sync with Earth’s rotation.

But for this extra second, the Coordinated Universal Time measured by atomic clocks could over the years become so out of sync with Earth’s rotation that it would show noon instead of midday.

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NASA Tool Helps You Experience ‘Pluto time’

Pluto time, as described by NASA, is a time of the day, at a particular place, with clear climatic conditions which can simulate or replicate the light levels of that of the dwarf planet billions of miles away from us. This time is usually just a short period during dawn and dusk and quite naturally, mostly ignored by us. But the researches at NASA discovered just how significant this short moment is. This ignored short period of time replicates Pluto’s light levels and thus gives you a true experience of how the horizon on Pluto will be like.

With a lot of research, NASA has recently developed a new ‘Pluto time’ website which will help space fans and enthusiasts experience Pluto’s time condition first-hand. As Pluto is over 3 billion miles away from our planet, it receives much less sunlight than here. Thus, the ‘time’ or light conditions of Pluto are something which are very interesting.

But according to NASA, there’s always Pluto time somewhere on our planet and thus you can experience your local Pluto time by using this new NASA tool. To know more about this tool and use this tool on your own, you can visit NASA HERE.

Just enter your location into this tool and know your personal Pluto time to experience the light conditions of the little dwarf. This tool generates an exact time you can step outside and experience the light levels of Pluto. NASA is actually collecting pictures from all over the world of people experiencing Pluto time everywhere. You could contribute to their album too. Just log on to their website and learn when to experience a journey to Pluto.

New NASA app gives preview of deep space missions

NASA has developed a new interactive 3D app that can allow avid space explorers reach the launch pad of space missions – virtually.

Smartphone and tablet users can experience the excitement of standing on the launch pad beneath NASA’s massive new rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, with the app that previews the starting point for the journey to Mars.

The app works by pointing the device up to see to the top of the rocket, or holding level to see the details of the solid rocket boosters and engines, NASA said.

No matter where the user is, opening the scene viewer portion of the app shows what the device’s camera would see if it were at the launch pad with the huge SLS rocket setting up for liftoff.

These views won’t exist in real-life until NASA sends SLS carrying an Orion spacecraft to a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon as the agency pioneers deep into space, but gives users a taste of what the powerful launches will entail.

Called NASA 3DV, for 3-D view, the inventive app shows viewers 3-D models of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, the fixtures of NASA’s push to send astronauts on deep space exploration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The app also shows virtual models of the crawler transporter that carried the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttle to the launch pad and is on tap to take the SLS and Orion on the same trip.

Nasa’s New Horizons Probe Begins Six-Month Approach to Pluto

US space agency NASA said its New Horizons spacecraft officially began its six-month approach to Pluto on 15 January 2015, with the first close-up flyby scheduled for July 14.

After a voyage of nine years covering 4.8 billion kilometres, the piano-sized probe awoke from its final hibernation period in early December for the encounter.  “We’ve completed the longest journey any craft has flown from Earth to reach its primary target, and we are ready to begin exploring!” Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, said in a statement.

According to the space agency, the photo shoot of the Pluto system using the probe’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager will begin January 25.  The pictures will not only help mission scientists understand the dynamics of Pluto’s moons, but also play a critical role in navigating the probe as it covers the remaining 220 million kilometres (135 million miles) to the dwarf planet, N said.

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Via NDTV Gadgets