Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Jay Levine, X-Press editor
Edwards, 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.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, 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.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, 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.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Harold Pierce and Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, 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.
Written by Francis Reddy
Greenbelt, 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.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, 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.
NASA research helps develop Artificial Intelligence Technology that may one day help First Responders in the Field
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, 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.
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