Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – Each year, NASA funds a handful of futuristic concepts to push forward the boundaries of space exploration. These early-stage proposals are selected with the hope of developing new ideas into realistic proofs-of-concept.
From August 23rd to 25th, the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium will host presentations on 28 proposals, including five from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
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.
Washington, D.C. – Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io has a thin atmosphere that collapses in the shadow of Jupiter, condensing as ice, according to a new study by NASA-funded researchers. The study reveals the freezing effects of Jupiter’s shadow during daily eclipses on the moon’s volcanic gases.
“This research is the first time scientists have observed this remarkable phenomenon directly, improving our understanding of this geologically active moon,” said Constantine Tsang, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The study was published August 2nd in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Written by Felicia Chou
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Juno is now poised to shine a spotlight on the origins and interior structure of the largest planet in our solar system.
As we wait for Juno’s first close-up images of Jupiter (to be taken August 27th during the spacecraft’s next pass by the planet), NASA continues to explore our solar system to help answer fundamental questions about how we came to be, where we are going and whether we are alone in the universe.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Some dusty parts of Mars get as cold at night year-round as the planet’s poles do in winter, even regions near the equator in summer, according to new NASA findings based on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations.
The surface in these regions becomes so frigid overnight that an extremely thin layer of carbon dioxide frost appears to form. The frost then vaporizes in the morning. Enough dust covers these regions that their heat-holding capacity is low and so the daily temperature swing is large. Daily volatilization of frost crystals that form among the dust grains may help keep the dust fluffy and so sustain this deep overnight chill.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Puzzles persist about possible water at seasonally dark streaks on Martian slopes, according to a new study of thousands of such features in the Red Planet’s largest canyon system.
The study published today investigated thousands of these warm-season features in the Valles Marineris region near Mars’ equator. Some of the sites displaying the seasonal flows are canyon ridges and isolated peaks, ground shapes that make it hard to explain the streaks as resulting from underground water directly reaching the surface.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Some of the wind-sculpted sand ripples on Mars are a type not seen on Earth, and their relationship to the thin Martian atmosphere today provides new clues about the atmosphere’s history.
The determination that these mid-size ripples are a distinct type resulted from observations by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Six months ago, Curiosity made the first up-close study of active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth, at the “Bagnold Dunes” on the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study has found that in at least part of the Arctic, scientists are not doing as good a job of detecting changes in carbon dioxide during the long, dark winter months as they are at monitoring changes during the short summer.
That’s a concern, because growing Arctic plants can act as a brake on global warming rates by removing carbon from the atmosphere, but increasing cold-season emissions could overwhelm the braking effect and accelerate global warming.
Written by Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Baltimore, MD – New images obtained on May 16th, 2016, by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope confirm the presence of a dark vortex in the atmosphere of Neptune. Though similar features were seen during the Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune in 1989 and by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994, this vortex is the first one observed on Neptune in the 21st century.
The discovery was announced on May 17th, 2016, in a Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) electronic telegram by University of California at Berkeley research astronomer Mike Wong, who led the team that analyzed the Hubble data.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – On July 4th, NASA will fly a solar-powered spacecraft the size of a basketball court within 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) of the cloud tops of our solar system’s largest planet.
As of Thursday, Juno is 18 days and 8.6 million miles (13.8 million kilometers) from Jupiter. On the evening of July 4th, Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, placing it into a polar orbit around the gas giant.
During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
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