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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover captures 360 view of Murray Buttes on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eroded mesas and buttes reminiscent of the U.S. Southwest shape part of the horizon in the latest 360-degree color panorama from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

The rover used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) to capture dozens of component images of this scene on August 5th, 2016, four years after Curiosity’s landing inside Gale Crater.

The visual drama of Murray Buttes along Curiosity’s planned route up lower Mount Sharp was anticipated when the site was informally named nearly three years ago to honor Caltech planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013), a former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL manages the Curiosity mission for NASA.

This 360-degree vista was acquired on Aug. 5, 2016, by the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover as the rover neared features called "Murray Buttes" on lower Mount Sharp. The dark, flat-topped mesa seen to the left of the rover's arm is about 50 feet high and, near the top, about 200 feet wide. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This 360-degree vista was acquired on Aug. 5, 2016, by the Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover as the rover neared features called “Murray Buttes” on lower Mount Sharp. The dark, flat-topped mesa seen to the left of the rover’s arm is about 50 feet high and, near the top, about 200 feet wide. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Terra Satellite captured images of Blue Cut Fire in California

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On August 16th, 2016, at around 10:30am, a brush fire ignited in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles, just to the west of Interstate 15. Within a matter of hours, extreme temperatures, high winds and low humidity allowed the fire to spread rapidly, burning through brush left tinder-dry by years of drought.

By August 17th, the fire had expanded dramatically, and firefighters continue to battle to save homes and evacuate residents.

The MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

The MISR instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

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NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center students test fly Mars Airplane Prototype

 

Written by Jay Levine, X-Press editor
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationEdwards, CA – Some interns get coffee. Others might make copies. Not at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, where a group of students successfully flew a prototype of an aircraft that could one day fly in the Martian atmosphere and send its findings back to Earth.

Called the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M, the small, remotely piloted glider aircraft flew August 11th at Armstrong. It continues an effort that began last year with a mostly different group of students.

The Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M, flies during a test flight. Students during the past two summers worked on the concept leading to successful flights. (NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes)

The Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M, flies during a test flight. Students during the past two summers worked on the concept leading to successful flights. (NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes)

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NASA Analysis Finds July 2016 is Warmest on Record

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Because the seasonal temperature cycle peaks in July, it means July 2016 also was warmer than any other month on record. July 2016’s temperature was a statistically small 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than previous warm Julys in 2015, 2011 and 2009.

GISTEMP Anomaly (including seasonal cycle). (NASA)

GISTEMP Anomaly (including seasonal cycle). (NASA)

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NASA Scientists examine Methane Hot Spots in Four Corners area of United States

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In an extensive airborne survey, a NASA-led team has analyzed a previously identified “hot spot” of methane emissions in the Four Corners region of the United States, quantifying both its overall magnitude and the magnitudes of its sources. The study finds that just 10 percent of the individual methane sources are contributing half of the emissions.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, both in Pasadena, California; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boulder, Colorado; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, used two JPL airborne spectrometers to identify and measure more than 250 individual sources of methane.

The Four Corners region of New Mexico and Colorado. Numerous light-colored spots are sites of gas and oil development. (Flickr user Doc Searls, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The Four Corners region of New Mexico and Colorado. Numerous light-colored spots are sites of gas and oil development. (Flickr user Doc Searls, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

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NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission moves forward with Robotic Design and Development

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B, or KDP-B, was conducted in July and formally approved by agency management August 15th. It is one in a series of project lifecycle milestones that every spaceflight mission for the agency passes as it progresses toward launch. At KDP-B, NASA established the content, cost, and schedule commitments for Phase B activities.

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

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NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission looks at Heavy Rainfall in Louisiana

 

Written by Harold Pierce and Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The low pressure center that has been gyrating over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico for days has now dropped very heavy precipitation over southeastern Louisiana. The Global Precipitation Measurement mission, or GPM, core satellite gathered rainfall data on the system and looked at it in three dimensions.

Up to 10 inches (254 mm) of rain since Thursday, August 11th, has already caused flooding in parts of the state. On August 12th the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for many parts of southeastern Louisiana. Much of the New Orleans area is under a flood watch until Saturday morning, August 13th.

The GPM core satellite found heavy rainfall in storms on Aug. 11, 2016, at 10:26 p.m. EDT falling at a rate of over 3.9 inches (100.1 mm) per hour in one intense downpour in Louisiana. A few storm tops were reaching heights of over 9.9 miles (16 km). (NASA/JAXA/Hal Pierce)

The GPM core satellite found heavy rainfall in storms on Aug. 11, 2016, at 10:26 p.m. EDT falling at a rate of over 3.9 inches (100.1 mm) per hour in one intense downpour in Louisiana. A few storm tops were reaching heights of over 9.9 miles (16 km). (NASA/JAXA/Hal Pierce)

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NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope looks for Dark Matter

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Dark matter, the mysterious substance that constitutes most of the material universe, remains as elusive as ever. Although experiments on the ground and in space have yet to find a trace of dark matter, the results are helping scientists rule out some of the many theoretical possibilities.

Three studies published earlier this year, using six or more years of data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, have broadened the mission’s dark matter hunt using some novel approaches.

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), at center, is the second-largest satellite galaxy orbiting our own. This image superimposes a photograph of the SMC with one half of a model of its dark matter (right of center). Lighter colors indicate greater density and show a strong concentration toward the galaxy's center. Ninety-five percent of the dark matter is contained within a circle tracing the outer edge of the model shown. (Dark matter, R. Caputo et al. 2016; background, Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan University)

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), at center, is the second-largest satellite galaxy orbiting our own. This image superimposes a photograph of the SMC with one half of a model of its dark matter (right of center). Lighter colors indicate greater density and show a strong concentration toward the galaxy’s center. Ninety-five percent of the dark matter is contained within a circle tracing the outer edge of the model shown. (Dark matter, R. Caputo et al. 2016; background, Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan University)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope sees stars spinning like Dancers in Pleiades Cluster

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Like cosmic ballet dancers, the stars of the Pleiades cluster are spinning. But these celestial dancers are all twirling at different speeds. Astronomers have long wondered what determines the rotation rates of these stars.

By watching these stellar dancers, NASA’s Kepler space telescope during its K2 mission has helped amass the most complete catalog of rotation periods for stars in a cluster. This information can help astronomers gain insight into where and how planets form around these stars, and how such stars evolve.

This image shows the famous Pleiades cluster of stars as seen through the eyes of WISE, or NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

This image shows the famous Pleiades cluster of stars as seen through the eyes of WISE, or NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA research helps develop Artificial Intelligence Technology that may one day help First Responders in the Field

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Firefighters have only their wits and five senses to rely on inside a burning building. But research developed in part by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, may change that, introducing artificial intelligence (AI) that could collect data on temperatures, gases and other danger signals and guide a team of first responders safely through the flames.

AUDREY, the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis, has received the Undersecretary’s Award for Collaboration from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in recognition of its joint development by JPL and DHS.

New artificial intelligence technology, developed jointly by the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security, could one day guide first responders in the field. (USAF photo/Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon)

New artificial intelligence technology, developed jointly by the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security, could one day guide first responders in the field. (USAF photo/Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon)

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