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NASA examines Fluids in Space on International Space Station

 

Written by Jenny Howard
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – Watching a bubble float effortlessly through the International Space Station may be mesmerizing and beautiful to witness, but that same bubble is also teaching researchers about how fluids behave differently in microgravity than they do on Earth.

The near-weightless conditions aboard the station allow researchers to observe and control a wide variety of fluids in ways that are not possible on Earth, primarily due to surface tension dynamics and the lack of buoyancy and sedimentation within fluids in the low-gravity environment.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg watches a water bubble float freely between her and the camera, showing her image refracted in the droplet. (NASA)

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg watches a water bubble float freely between her and the camera, showing her image refracted in the droplet. (NASA)

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NASA discovers Two Asteroid this week that will safely pass by Earth

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -Two small asteroids recently discovered by astronomers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) near Tucson, Arizona, are safely passing by Earth within one lunar distance this week.

The first of this week’s close-approaching asteroids — discovered by CSS on February 4th — is designated asteroid 2018 CC. Its close approach to Earth came Tuesday (February 6th) at 12:10pm PST (2:10pm CST) at a distance of about 114,000 miles (184,000 kilometers). The asteroid is estimated to be between 50 and 100 feet (15 and 30 meters) in size.

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Friday, February 9th, at a distance of about 39,000 miles. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid 2018 CB will pass closely by Earth on Friday, February 9th, at a distance of about 39,000 miles. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA releases new information on Earth Size Planets of TRAPPIST-1

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The seven Earth-size planets of TRAPPIST-1 are all mostly made of rock, with some having the potential to hold more water than Earth, according to a new study published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The planets’ densities, now known much more precisely than before, suggest that some planets could have up to 5 percent of their mass in water — which is 250 times more than the oceans on Earth.

The form that water would take on TRAPPIST-1 planets would depend on the amount of heat they receive from their star, which is a mere 9 percent as massive as our Sun.

This artist's concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets' diameters, masses and distances from the host star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets’ diameters, masses and distances from the host star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA finds long lost IMAGE Satellite

 

Written by Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On January 20th, 2018, amateur astronomer Scott Tilley detected an unexpected signal coming from what he later postulated was NASA’s long-lost IMAGE satellite, which had not been in contact since 2005.

On January 30th, NASA — along with help from a community of IMAGE scientists and engineers — confirmed that the signal was indeed from the IMAGE spacecraft. Whatever the next steps for IMAGE may be, the mission’s nearly six years in operation provided robust research about the space around Earth that continue to guide science to this day.

IMAGE spacecraft is tested prior to its March 2000 launch. (NASA)

IMAGE spacecraft is tested prior to its March 2000 launch. (NASA)

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NASA completes Second RS-25 Engine Hot Fire Test of 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA followed up the first RS-25 test of 2018 with a second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) engine on February 1st at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The full-duration, 365-second certification test of another RS-25 engine flight controller on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis comes about two weeks after a January 16th hot fire.

The test marks completion of green run testing for all four of the new RS-25 engine flight controllers needed for the second flight of NASA’s SLS rocket. NASA is building SLS to send humans to such deep-space destinations as the moon and Mars.

NASA preforms second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) engine on February 1st at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (NASA)

NASA preforms second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) engine on February 1st at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (NASA)

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Dinosaur Footprints found at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

 

Written by Ashley Hume and Patrick Lynch
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A slab of sandstone discovered at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center contains at least 70 mammal and dinosaur tracks from more than 100 million years ago, according to a new paper published January 31st in the journal Scientific Reports. The find provides a rare glimpse of mammals and dinosaurs interacting.

The tracks were discovered by Ray Stanford — a local dinosaur track expert whose wife, Sheila, works at Goddard. After dropping off Sheila at work one day in 2012, Stanford spotted an intriguing rock outcropping behind Shelia’s building on a hillside. Stanford parked his car, investigated, and found a 12-inch-wide dinosaur track on the exposed rock.

A model of a Nodosaur dinosaur sits inside what is believed to be the fossil of a Nodosaur footprint. The footprint was found by Ray Stanford a local dinosaur hunter. (NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth)

A model of a Nodosaur dinosaur sits inside what is believed to be the fossil of a Nodosaur footprint. The footprint was found by Ray Stanford a local dinosaur hunter. (NASA/Goddard/Rebecca Roth)

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NASA looks back at 60 Years of Space Science

 

Written by Samson Reiny
​NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On the evening of Friday, January 31st, 1958, Americans eagerly waited for news as the rocket carrying the Explorer 1 satellite was prepped for launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The stakes were high.

Just months earlier, the Soviet Union successfully launched two Sputnik satellites, in October and November 1957. That December, news media were invited to witness the launch of a U.S. satellite on a Navy Vanguard rocket, but it exploded seconds after liftoff. The pressure was on the Army Ballistic Missile Agency’s Jupiter-C rocket, the satellite built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the science instruments developed at the University of Iowa to succeed.

After two days of weather delays, on Jan. 31st, 1958, at 9:48pm CST, the Jupiter-C rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, successfully into orbit. University of Iowa physicist James Van Allen’s instrument for measuring cosmic rays, a Geiger counter, helped make the first major scientific find of the Space Age: a belt of radiation around Earth that would later be named in his honor. (NASA)

After two days of weather delays, on Jan. 31st, 1958, at 9:48pm CST, the Jupiter-C rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, successfully into orbit. University of Iowa physicist James Van Allen’s instrument for measuring cosmic rays, a Geiger counter, helped make the first major scientific find of the Space Age: a belt of radiation around Earth that would later be named in his honor. (NASA)

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A Look Back at the Journey of NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A panoramic image that NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took from a mountainside ridge provides a sweeping vista of key sites visited since the rover’s 2012 landing, and the towering surroundings.

The view from “Vera Rubin Ridge” on the north flank of Mount Sharp encompasses much of the 11-mile (18-kilometer) route the rover has driven from its 2012 landing site, all inside Gale Crater. One hill on the northern horizon is about 50 miles (about 85 kilometers) away, well outside of the crater, though most of the scene’s horizon is the crater’s northern rim, roughly one-third that distance away and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the rover.

A viewpoint on "Vera Rubin Ridge" provided NASA's Curiosity Mars rover this detailed look back over the area where it began its mission inside Gale Crater, plus more-distant features of the crater. The right-eye, telephoto-lens camera of the rover's Mastcam took the component images Oct. 25, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A viewpoint on “Vera Rubin Ridge” provided NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover this detailed look back over the area where it began its mission inside Gale Crater, plus more-distant features of the crater. The right-eye, telephoto-lens camera of the rover’s Mastcam took the component images Oct. 25, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA Optics Experts close to developing Telescope that can search far off Planets for Life

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD –  Optics Experts Measure to Picometer Accuracy — a NASA First.

NASA optics experts are well on the way to toppling a barrier that has thwarted scientists from achieving a long-held ambition: building an ultra-stable telescope that locates and images dozens of Earth-like planets beyond the solar system and then scrutinizes their atmospheres for signs of life. 

Babak Saif and Lee Feinberg at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, have shown for the first time that they can dynamically detect subatomic- or picometer-sized distortions — changes that are far smaller than an atom — across a five-foot segmented telescope mirror and its support structure.

Goddard optics experts Babak Saif (left) and Lee Feinberg (right), with help from engineer Eli Griff-McMahon an employee of Genesis, have created an Ultra-Stable Thermal Vacuum system that they will use to make picometer-level measurements. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

Goddard optics experts Babak Saif (left) and Lee Feinberg (right), with help from engineer Eli Griff-McMahon an employee of Genesis, have created an Ultra-Stable Thermal Vacuum system that they will use to make picometer-level measurements. (NASA/W. Hrybyk)

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2018 Spinoff publication shows NASA Space Technology at work on Earth

 

Written by Gina Anderson
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The 2018 edition of NASA’s annual Spinoff publication, released Tuesday, features 49 technologies the agency helped create that are used in almost every facet of modern life.

These include innovations that help find disaster survivors trapped under rubble, purify air and surfaces to stop the spread of germs, and test new materials for everything from airplanes to athletic shoes.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used their expertise at detecting faint signals in satellite data to develop a device capable of detecting human heartbeats underneath piles of rubble. The technology has been licensed by multiple companies, including R4 Inc. After a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador in April of 2016, R4 president David Lewis Sr. brought the company’s FINDER system to look for trapped victims. Here, Lewis, right, shows local firefighters how to operate the system. (R4 Inc.)

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used their expertise at detecting faint signals in satellite data to develop a device capable of detecting human heartbeats underneath piles of rubble. The technology has been licensed by multiple companies, including R4 Inc. After a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador in April of 2016, R4 president David Lewis Sr. brought the company’s FINDER system to look for trapped victims. Here, Lewis, right, shows local firefighters how to operate the system. (R4 Inc.)

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