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NASA to study Earth’s Ionosphere during Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On August 21st, 2017, the Moon will slide in front of the Sun and for a brief moment, day will melt into a dusky night. Moving across the country, the Moon’s shadow will block the Sun’s light, and weather permitting, those within the path of totality will be treated to a view of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona.

But the total solar eclipse will also have imperceptible effects, such as the sudden loss of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, which generates the ionized layer of Earth’s atmosphere, called the ionosphere. This ever-changing region grows and shrinks based on solar conditions, and is the focus of several NASA-funded science teams that will use the eclipse as a ready-made experiment, courtesy of nature.

The Moon’s shadow will dramatically affect insolation — the amount of sunlight reaching the ground — during the total solar eclipse. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

The Moon’s shadow will dramatically affect insolation — the amount of sunlight reaching the ground — during the total solar eclipse. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA reports TRAPPIST-1 is nearly twice as Old as our Solar System

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If we want to know more about whether life could survive on a planet outside our solar system, it’s important to know the age of its star. Young stars have frequent releases of high-energy radiation called flares that can zap their planets’ surfaces.

If the planets are newly formed, their orbits may also be unstable. On the other hand, planets orbiting older stars have survived the spate of youthful flares, but have also been exposed to the ravages of stellar radiation for a longer period of time.

This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA gives Five Tips for Photographing Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The total solar eclipse crossing America on August 21st, 2017 will be the first eclipse to march from sea to shining sea in nearly 100 years. This astronomical event is a unique opportunity for scientists studying in the shadow of the Moon, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to capture unforgettable images.

Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a selfie master, try out these tips for photographing the eclipse.  

People watch a partial eclipse in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 20, 2015. (Robin Cordiner)

People watch a partial eclipse in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 20, 2015. (Robin Cordiner)

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NASA releases Television Coverage for August 21st Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On Monday, August 21st, 2017,  all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the Sun, and NASA Television will carry it live from coast to coast from unique vantage points on the ground and from aircraft and spacecraft, including the International Space Station. Coverage will be featured during the live four-hour broadcast Eclipse Across America: Through the Eyes of NASA.

Programming begins at 11:00am CDT (noon EDT) with a preview show hosted from Charleston, South Carolina. The main show begins at 12:00pm CDT (1:00pm EDT) and will cover the path of totality the eclipse will take across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.

This illustration depicts a rare alignment of the Sun and Moon casting a shadow on Earth. (NASA)

This illustration depicts a rare alignment of the Sun and Moon casting a shadow on Earth. (NASA)

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NASA looks into Tethering Two CubeSats to study Swirl Patterns on the Moon

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A novel mission concept involving two CubeSats connected by a thin, miles-long tether could help scientists understand how the Moon got its mysterious “tattoos” — swirling patterns of light and dark found at more than 100 locations across the lunar surface.

NASA’s Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies, or PSDS3, program recently selected a team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to further develop a mission concept called the Bi-sat Observations of the Lunar Atmosphere above Swirls, or BOLAS. The study, led by Goddard Principal Investigator Timothy Stubbs, could lead to the first tethered planetary CubeSat mission, Stubbs said.

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (NASA)

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft to start last five orbits around Saturn

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will enter new territory in its final mission phase, the Grand Finale, as it prepares to embark on a set of ultra-close passes through Saturn’s upper atmosphere with its final five orbits around the planet.

Cassini will make the first of these five passes over Saturn at 9:22pm PDT Sunday, August 13th (12:22am EDT Monday, August 14th). The spacecraft’s point of closest approach to Saturn during these passes will be between about 1,010 and 1,060 miles (1,630 and 1,710 kilometers) above Saturn’s cloud tops.

This artist's rendering shows Cassini as the spacecraft makes one of its final five dives through Saturn's upper atmosphere in August and September 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows Cassini as the spacecraft makes one of its final five dives through Saturn’s upper atmosphere in August and September 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Balloon Program to take on new missions

 

Written by Raleigh McElvery
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD –  For decades, NASA has released enormous scientific balloons into Earth’s atmosphere, miles above the altitude of commercial flights. The Balloon Program is currently preparing new missions bearing sensitive instruments, including one designed to investigate the birth of our universe and another with ballooning origins that will fly on the International Space Station.

NASA’s Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER), which will launch a series of test flights over the next few years, could confirm the theory that our nascent universe expanded by a trillion trillion (1024) times immediately following the big bang.

This illustration shows the Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometer (BETTII) ascending into the upper atmosphere. The experiment was severely damaged on June 9, when the payload detached from its parachute and fell. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Michael Lentz)

This illustration shows the Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometer (BETTII) ascending into the upper atmosphere. The experiment was severely damaged on June 9, when the payload detached from its parachute and fell. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Michael Lentz)

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NASA reports new Study looks at Poor Air Quality and its effects on masking Global Warming

 

Written by Abigail Nastan
MISR Communications and Applications Specialist

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – During the 20th century, the average temperature of the continental United States rose by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 degree Celsius) — everywhere, that is, except in the Southeast.

There, until the 1980s, the temperature actually decreased slightly. Climate scientists dubbed this peculiar phenomenon the “warming hole,” and it was the cause of much speculation. But beginning in the 1990s, temperatures in the Southeast began to warm again, and in the early years of the 21st century this warming has accelerated.

Looking through smog in downtown Atlanta from midtown. (CC BY-SA 2.0, by Flickr user Ben Ramsey)

Looking through smog in downtown Atlanta from midtown. (CC BY-SA 2.0, by Flickr user Ben Ramsey)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover landed on Mars Five Years ago

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which landed near Mount Sharp five years ago this week, is examining clues on that mountain about long-ago lakes on Mars.

On August 5th, 2012, the mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover’s touchdown using a new “sky crane” landing method.

This self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Feb. 3, 2013), plus three exposures taken during Sol 270 (May 10, 2013) to update the appearance of part of the ground beside the rover. (NASA)

This self-portrait of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (Feb. 3, 2013), plus three exposures taken during Sol 270 (May 10, 2013) to update the appearance of part of the ground beside the rover. (NASA)

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NASA Planetary Protection Excites Space Fans of All Ages

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The recent announcement for a position that NASA has had since the 1960s – Planetary Protection Officer – has generated a lot of excitement in the public, as well as comparisons to many sci-fi movie heroes.

It also caught the attention of one self-proclaimed “Guardian of the Galaxy” — an inspired fourth grader from New Jersey who reached out to NASA in a letter to express his interest in serving as the agency’s Planetary Protection Officer. Nine-year-old Jack Davis is, in return, receiving a letter from NASA’s Planetary Science Director Jim Green. 

Letters exchanged between NASA and space enthusiast Jack Davis, a fourth-grade student in New Jersey. (NASA)

Letters exchanged between NASA and space enthusiast Jack Davis, a fourth-grade student in New Jersey. (NASA)

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