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Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects — asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth — otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.

NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs.

This image, taken in 2015, shows Earth as seen by NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), aboard NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft. (NASA)

This image, taken in 2015, shows Earth as seen by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s ECOSTRESS instrument on International Space Station to study Plant Water usage

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Doctors learn a lot about their patients’ health by taking their temperature. An elevated temperature, or fever, can be a sign of illness. The same goes for plants, but their temperatures on a global scale are harder to measure than the temperatures of individual people.

That’s about to change, thanks to a new NASA instrument that soon will be installed on the International Space Station called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station. ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. This will enable researchers to determine plant water use and to study how drought conditions affect plant health.

ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. Scientists will be able to use that temperature data to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to water shortages. (USDA)

ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. Scientists will be able to use that temperature data to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to water shortages. (USDA)

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NASA makes break through in Additive Manufacturing for Rocket Propulsion

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – NASA is breaking ground in the world of additive manufacturing with the Low Cost Upper Stage-Class Propulsion project. Recently, the agency successfully hot-fire tested a combustion chamber at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama made using a new combination of 3-D printing techniques.

“NASA continues to break barriers in advanced manufacturing by reducing time and costs involved in building rocket engine parts through additive manufacturing,“ said John Fikes, project manager for the Low Cost Upper Stage-Class Propulsion Project. “We are excited about the progress of this project. We demonstrated that the E-Beam Free Form Fabrication produced combustion chamber jacket can protect the chamber liner from the pressures found in the combustion chamber.”  

A new study involving long-term monitoring of Alpha Centauri by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars are likely not being pummeled by large amounts of X-ray radiation from their host stars. This is important for the viability of life in the nearest star system outside the Solar System. (Optical: Zdenek Bardon; X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Colorado/T. Ayres et al.)

A new study involving long-term monitoring of Alpha Centauri by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars are likely not being pummeled by large amounts of X-ray radiation from their host stars. This is important for the viability of life in the nearest star system outside the Solar System. (Optical: Zdenek Bardon; X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Colorado/T. Ayres et al.)

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NASA researchers construct 3D View of Amazon Forests to study El Niño Drought effects

 

Written by Ellen Gray
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Three-dimensional measurements of the central Brazilian Amazon rainforest have given NASA researchers a detailed window into the high number of branch falls and tree mortality that occur in response to drought conditions.

They found that 65 percent more trees and large branches died due to an El Niño-driven drought in 2015-2016 than compared to an average year. Understanding the effects of prolonged drought gives scientists a better sense of what may happen to carbon stored in tropical forests if these events become more common in the future.

The research team lays out a transect tape along which they measured the amount and location of woody debris on the forest floor, Tapajós National Forest, Brazil. (NASA/Veronika Leitold)

The research team lays out a transect tape along which they measured the amount and location of woody debris on the forest floor, Tapajós National Forest, Brazil. (NASA/Veronika Leitold)

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NASA announces Successful Test of Sample Return Technology

 

Written by Leslie Williams
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationEdwards, CA – Just a sample will do.

Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, California, flight tested its pneumatic sampler collection system, PlanetVac, on Masten Space Systems’ Xodiac rocket on May 24th, launching from Mojave, California, and landing to collect a sample of more than 320 grams of top soil from the surface of the desert floor.

“The opportunity to test a technology on Earth before it is destined for another planet allows researchers and mission planners to have confidence that once the technology arrives to its space destination it will work,” said Ryan Dibley, NASA Flight Opportunities program campaign manager. Flight Opportunities program funded the test flight.

Masten Space Systems’ Xodiac rocket flight tests Honeybee Robotics pneumatic sampler collection system, PlanetVac, in Mojave Desert. (NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes)

Masten Space Systems’ Xodiac rocket flight tests Honeybee Robotics pneumatic sampler collection system, PlanetVac, in Mojave Desert. (NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes)

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NASA reports Astronomers observe Supermassive Black Hole devour a Star

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged the formation and expansion of a fast-moving jet of material ejected when the powerful gravity of a supermassive black hole ripped apart a star that wandered too close to the massive monster.

The scientists tracked the event with radio and infrared telescopes, including the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, in a pair of colliding galaxies called Arp 299.

An artist's concept of a tidal disruption event (TDE) that happens when a star passes fatally close to a supermassive black hole, which reacts by launching a relativistic jet. (Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

An artist’s concept of a tidal disruption event (TDE) that happens when a star passes fatally close to a supermassive black hole, which reacts by launching a relativistic jet. (Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

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NASA assessment shows Antarctica Ice Losses have Tripled since 2012, Sea Levels Rising Faster

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012, increasing global sea levels by 0.12 inch (3 millimeters) in that timeframe alone, according to a major new international climate assessment funded by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

According to the study, ice losses from Antarctica are causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years. Results of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The Antarctic Peninsula from the air: although the mountains are plastered in snow and ice, measurements tell us that this region is losing ice at an increasing rate. (Pippa Whitehouse, University of Durham)

The Antarctic Peninsula from the air: although the mountains are plastered in snow and ice, measurements tell us that this region is losing ice at an increasing rate. (Pippa Whitehouse, University of Durham)

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NASA studies Thickest Dust Storm ever seen on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

This set of images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This set of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA Flies Large Unmanned Aircraft in Public Airspace Without Chase Plane for First Time

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. This historic flight moves the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots.

Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the United States opens the doors to all types of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations. The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft.

NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, is flown in preparation for its first mission in public airspace without a safety chase aircraft. (NASA/Carla Thomas)

NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, is flown in preparation for its first mission in public airspace without a safety chase aircraft. (NASA/Carla Thomas)

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NASA’s GRACE-FO Satellites complete first mission

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Less than three weeks after launch, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission has successfully completed its first mission phase and demonstrated the performance of the precise microwave ranging system that enables its unique measurements of how mass migrates around our planet.

The twin spacecraft launched May 22nd from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. NASA and German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) engineers and mission controllers at the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen then spent the first few days completing the mission’s launch and early operations phase and moving into an 85-day in-orbit checkout period. Science operations will begin when that period has been successfully completed.

Along the satellites' ground track (top), the inter-spacecraft distance between them changes as the mass distribution underneath (i.e., from mountains, etc.) varies. The small changes measured by the Microwave Ranging Instrument (middle) agree well with topographic features along the orbit (bottom). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GFZ)

Along the satellites’ ground track (top), the inter-spacecraft distance between them changes as the mass distribution underneath (i.e., from mountains, etc.) varies. The small changes measured by the Microwave Ranging Instrument (middle) agree well with topographic features along the orbit (bottom). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GFZ)

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