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NASA Satellites, Telescopes ready for Comet Siding Spring’s flyby of Mars

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, have front row seats to image and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on Sunday, October 19th.

Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet — less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.

NASA Science Fleet Prepares for Mars Comet. (NASA)

NASA Science Fleet Prepares for Mars Comet. (NASA)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) finds brightest Dead Star every recorded

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have found a pulsating, dead star beaming with the energy of about 10 million suns. This is the brightest pulsar – a dense stellar remnant left over from a supernova explosion – ever recorded. The discovery was made with NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.

“You might think of this pulsar as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ of stellar remnants,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass.”

The discovery appears in a new report in the Thursday, October 9th, issue of the journal Nature.

High-energy X-rays streaming from a rare and mighty pulsar (magenta), the brightest found to date, can be seen in this new image combining multi-wavelength data from three telescopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO/NOAO)

High-energy X-rays streaming from a rare and mighty pulsar (magenta), the brightest found to date, can be seen in this new image combining multi-wavelength data from three telescopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO/NOAO)

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NASA researchers report Antarctic Sea Ice growth hits Record high

 

Written by Kate Ramsayer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s.

The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The new Antarctic sea ice record reflects the diversity and complexity of Earth’s environments, said NASA researchers. Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has referred to changes in sea ice coverage as a microcosm of global climate change.

On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr)

On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr)

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NASA study shows global warming not effecting Earth’s deep ocean

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.

Deep sea creatures, like these anemones at a hydrothermal vent, are not yet feeling the heat from global climate change. Although the top half of the ocean continues to warm, the bottom half has not increased measurably in temperature in the last decade. (NERC)

Deep sea creatures, like these anemones at a hydrothermal vent, are not yet feeling the heat from global climate change. Although the top half of the ocean continues to warm, the bottom half has not increased measurably in temperature in the last decade. (NERC)

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captures images of Mid-level Solar Flare from the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 3:01pm EDT on October 2nd, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun 24-hours a day, captured images of the flare. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation.

Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2nd, 2014. The solar flare is the bright flash of light on the right limb of the sun. A burst of solar material erupting out into space can be seen just below it. (NASA/SDO)

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2nd, 2014. The solar flare is the bright flash of light on the right limb of the sun. A burst of solar material erupting out into space can be seen just below it. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA’s Mars Rover program laser technology being adapted to find Gas Leaks on Earth

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it is testing state-of-the-art technology adapted from NASA’s Mars rover program.

Originally designed to find methane on the Red Planet, this laser-based technology is lightweight and has superior sensitivity to methane, a major component of natural gas.

This artist's concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept features NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Rosetta Spacecraft’s target Comet begins Jet Activity

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The four images that make up a new montage of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were taken on September 26th, 2014 by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. At the time, Rosetta was about 16 miles (26 kilometers) from the center of the comet.

In the montage, a region of jet activity can be seen at the neck of the comet. These jets, originating from several discrete locations, are a product of ices sublimating and gases escaping from inside the nucleus.

An image taken by the ESA Rosetta spacecraft shows jets of dust and gas escaping from the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

An image taken by the ESA Rosetta spacecraft shows jets of dust and gas escaping from the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft finds giant Cloud circling south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have discovered that a giant, toxic cloud is hovering over the south pole of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, after the atmosphere there cooled dramatically.

The scientists found that this giant polar vortex contains frozen particles of the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide, or HCN.

“The discovery suggests that the atmosphere of Titan’s southern hemisphere is cooling much faster than we expected,” said Remco de Kok of Leiden Observatory and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, lead author of the study published today in the journal Nature.

These two views of Saturn's moon Titan show the southern polar vortex, a huge, swirling cloud that was first observed by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/University of Arizona/SSI/Leiden Observatory and SRON)

These two views of Saturn’s moon Titan show the southern polar vortex, a huge, swirling cloud that was first observed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/University of Arizona/SSI/Leiden Observatory and SRON)

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NASA’s GRAIL mission data reveals ‘Ocean of Storms’ region of Earth’s Moon formed from ancient rift valleys

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), mission scientists have solved a lunar mystery almost as old as the moon itself.

Early theories suggested the craggy outline of a region of the moon’s surface known as Oceanus Procellarum, or the Ocean of Storms, was caused by an asteroid impact. If this theory had been correct, the basin it formed would be the largest asteroid impact basin on the moon.

A view of Earth's moon looking south across Oceanus Procellarum, representing how the western border structures may have looked while active. (NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/GSFC)

A view of Earth’s moon looking south across Oceanus Procellarum, representing how the western border structures may have looked while active. (NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/GSFC)

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NASA’s Swift satellite detects strong, hot stellar flares from nearby Red Dwarf Star

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, Maryland – On April 23rd, NASA’s Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.

“We used to think major flaring episodes from red dwarfs lasted no more than a day, but Swift detected at least seven powerful eruptions over a period of about two weeks,” said Stephen Drake, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who gave a presentation on the “superflare” at the August meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s High Energy Astrophysics Division. “This was a very complex event.”

DG CVn, a binary consisting of two red dwarf stars shown here in an artist's rendering, unleashed a series of powerful flares seen by NASA's Swift. At its peak, the initial flare was brighter in X-rays than the combined light from both stars at all wavelengths under typical conditions. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger)

DG CVn, a binary consisting of two red dwarf stars shown here in an artist’s rendering, unleashed a series of powerful flares seen by NASA’s Swift. At its peak, the initial flare was brighter in X-rays than the combined light from both stars at all wavelengths under typical conditions. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger)

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