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NASA study looks into reduction of Bright Clumps in Saturn’s Ring

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Compared to the age of the solar system — about four-and-a-half billion years — a couple of decades are next to nothing. Some planetary locales change little over many millions of years, so for scientists who study the planets, any object that evolves on such a short interval makes for a tempting target for study. And so it is with the ever-changing rings of Saturn.

Case in point: Saturn’s narrow, chaotic and clumpy F ring. A recent NASA-funded study compared the F ring’s appearance in six years of observations by the Cassini mission to its appearance during the Saturn flybys of NASA’s Voyager mission, 30 years earlier.

Cassini spied just as many regular, faint clumps in Saturn's narrow F ring, like those pictured here, as Voyager did, but it saw hardly any of the long, bright clumps that were common in Voyager images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

Cassini spied just as many regular, faint clumps in Saturn’s narrow F ring, like those pictured here, as Voyager did, but it saw hardly any of the long, bright clumps that were common in Voyager images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s Galileo spacecraft images give scientists evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This indicates the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth.

Researchers have clear visual evidence of Europa’s icy crust expanding. However, they could not find areas where the old crust was destroyed to make room for the new.

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa's 20-30 kilometer-thick (roughly 10-20 mile) ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted. (Noah Kroese, I.NK)

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa’s 20-30 kilometer-thick (roughly 10-20 mile) ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted. (Noah Kroese, I.NK)

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NASA’s RapidScat scatterometer to be robotically assembled at International Space Station

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s ISS-RapidScat wind-watching scatterometer, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than September 19th, will be the first science payload to be robotically assembled in space since the space station itself.

This image shows the instrument assembly on the left, shrouded in white. On the right is Rapid-Scat’s nadir adapter, a very sophisticated bracket that points the scatterometer toward Earth so that it can record the direction and speed of ocean winds. The two pieces are stowed in the unpressurized trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

RapidScat's two-part payload is shown in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

RapidScat’s two-part payload is shown in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

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New NASA Study reveals ozone-depleting compound tetrachloride abundant in Earth’s Ozone Layer

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – High above Earth, more than 20 miles above sea level, a diaphanous layer of ozone surrounds our planet, absorbing energetic UV rays from the sun.

It is, essentially, sunscreen for planet Earth. Without the ozone layer, we would be bathed in dangerous radiation on a daily basis, with side effects ranging from cataracts to cancer.

People were understandably alarmed, then, in the 1980s when scientists noticed that man made chemicals in the atmosphere were destroying this layer.

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NASA’s Cassini Mission has found that Methane Rainfall on Saturn’s moon Titan is being transformed underground lakes

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini mission has revealed hundreds of lakes and seas spread across the north polar region of Saturn’s moon Titan. These lakes are filled not with water but with hydrocarbons, a form of organic compound that is also found naturally on Earth and includes methane.

The vast majority of liquid in Titan’s lakes is thought to be replenished by rainfall from clouds in the moon’s atmosphere. But how liquids move and cycle through Titan’s crust and atmosphere is still relatively unknown.

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn's moon Titan -- its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan — its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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NASA Instrument “Alice” aboard Rosetta Orbiter has sent first data back to Earth about Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A NASA instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Rosetta orbiter has successfully made its first delivery of science data from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The instrument, named Alice, began mapping the comet’s surface last month, recording the first far-ultraviolet light spectra of the comet’s surface. From the data, the Alice team discovered the comet is unusually dark — darker than charcoal-black — when viewed in ultraviolet wavelengths. Alice also detected both hydrogen and oxygen in the comet’s coma, or atmosphere.

Artist's impression of the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA reports Small Asteroid 2014 RC to Pass Close, but Safely past Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A small asteroid, designated 2014 RC, will safely pass very close to Earth on Sunday, September 7th, 2014.

At the time of closest approach, based on current calculations to be about 2:18pm EDT (11:18am PDT / 18:18 UTC), the asteroid will be roughly over New Zealand.

From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about 60 feet (20 meters) in size.

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports International Space Station to get 3-D Printer built to work in Microgravity

 

Written by Jessica Eagan
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – Riddle: It’s the size of a small microwave, and it may alleviate the need for NASA astronauts to wait for resupply ships to arrive at the International Space Station to get some essential items.

Answer: A 3-D printer — the first ever to be flown to space. And it could change the way NASA does business aboard the space station.

The 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3-D Printing In Zero-G), led out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, provided a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to Made In Space Inc. to build the first 3-D printer for operation in microgravity. It is scheduled to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX-4 resupply mission.

Mike Snyder and Jason Dunn, both from Made In Space, assemble the 3-D printer that will fly to the International Space Station in the company's cleanroom. (Made In Space)

Mike Snyder and Jason Dunn, both from Made In Space, assemble the 3-D printer that will fly to the International Space Station in the company’s cleanroom. (Made In Space)

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NASA reports International Space Station to monitor Lake Erie Algae Growth problem

 

Written by Jessica Nimon
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – The green stuff that clouds up fish tanks – it’s not just an aesthetic annoyance. In fact, if you’ve been watching recent news of algal bloom concerns in Lake Erie, you know that the right conditions for algae can lead to contamination of local water sources, potentially impacting aquatic life and humans.

What you might not have known is that among the resources to help study this problem you will find the International Space Station’s Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO).

A Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) image of western Lake Erie, Aug. 15, 2014, taken from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. (HICO Team/Naval Research Laboratory)

A Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) image of western Lake Erie, Aug. 15, 2014, taken from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. (HICO Team/Naval Research Laboratory)

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NASA’s Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar to be used to Survey Napa Valley Quake Area

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists are conducting an airborne survey of earthquake fault displacements in the Napa Valley area of Northern California using a sophisticated radar system developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

A modified C-20A aircraft from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center carrying JPL’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) flew a five-hour data-collection mission on Friday, August 29th, over the area that experienced a major quake during the pre-dawn hours on Sunday, August 24th.

NASA's C-20A Earth science research aircraft with the UAVSAR slung underneath its belly lifts off the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on a prior radar survey mission. (NASA Armstrong)

NASA’s C-20A Earth science research aircraft with the UAVSAR slung underneath its belly lifts off the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on a prior radar survey mission. (NASA Armstrong)

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