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Topic: Atmosphere

NASA ends Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer instrument’s mission

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On January 31st, NASA ended the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer’s (TES) almost 14-year career of discovery. Launched in 2004 on NASA’s Aura spacecraft, TES was the first instrument designed to monitor ozone in the lowest layers of the atmosphere directly from space. Its high-resolution observations led to new measurements of atmospheric gases that have altered our understanding of the Earth system.

TES was planned for a five-year mission but far outlasted that term.

TES collected spectral "signatures," illustrated here, of ozone and other gases in the lower atmosphere. (NASA)

TES collected spectral “signatures,” illustrated here, of ozone and other gases in the lower atmosphere. (NASA)

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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 looks back at America’s first Satellite, Explorer 1

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Media Relations

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Sixty years ago next week, the hopes of Cold War America soared into the night sky as a rocket lofted skyward above Cape Canaveral, a soon-to-be-famous barrier island off the Florida coast.

The date was January 31st, 1958. NASA had yet to be formed, and the honor of this first flight belonged to the U.S. Army. The rocket’s sole payload was a javelin-shaped satellite built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Explorer 1, as it would soon come to be called, was America’s first satellite.

A vintage JPL graphic celebrating the Explorer 1 satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A vintage JPL graphic celebrating the Explorer 1 satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations show dust storms on Mars play role in loss of Atmosphere

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Some Mars experts are eager and optimistic for a dust storm this year to grow so grand it darkens skies around the entire Red Planet.

This biggest type of phenomenon in the environment of modern Mars could be examined as never before possible, using the combination of spacecraft now at Mars.

A study published this week based on observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) during the most recent Martian global dust storm — in 2007 — suggests such storms play a role in the ongoing process of gas escaping from the top of Mars’ atmosphere.

Two 2001 images from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show a dramatic change in the planet's appearance when haze raised by dust-storm activity in the south became globally distributed. The images were taken about a month apart. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Two 2001 images from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show a dramatic change in the planet’s appearance when haze raised by dust-storm activity in the south became globally distributed. The images were taken about a month apart. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA practices Orion Spacecraft Recovery in Pacific Ocean

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s new deep space exploration systems will send crew 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, and return them safely home. After traveling through space at 25,000 miles per hour, the Orion spacecraft will slow to 300 mph after it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft then slows down to 20 mph before it safely splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

When astronauts come back from deep space, they will need to be picked up as quickly as possible. That’s where Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Recovery Team comes in.

NASA Recovery Team rehearses picking up the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean. (NASA)

NASA Recovery Team rehearses picking up the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers eroding slopes with exposed Ice

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Researchers using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have found eight sites where thick deposits of ice beneath Mars’ surface are exposed in faces of eroding slopes.

These eight scarps, with slopes as steep as 55 degrees, reveal new information about the internal layered structure of previously detected underground ice sheets in Mars’ middle latitudes.

The ice was likely deposited as snow long ago.

A cross-section of underground ice is exposed at the steep slope that appears bright blue in this enhanced-color view from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The scene is about 550 yards wide. The scarp drops about 140 yards from the level ground in the upper third of the image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS)

A cross-section of underground ice is exposed at the steep slope that appears bright blue in this enhanced-color view from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The scene is about 550 yards wide. The scarp drops about 140 yards from the level ground in the upper third of the image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to examine Brown Dwarfs

 

Written by Leah Ramsay
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MDTwinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are. Astronomers are hopeful that the powerful infrared capability of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will resolve a puzzle as fundamental as stargazing itself — what IS that dim light in the sky?

Brown dwarfs muddy a clear distinction between stars and planets, throwing established understanding of those bodies, and theories of their formation, into question.

Several research teams will use Webb to explore the mysterious nature of brown dwarfs, looking for insight into both star formation and exoplanet atmospheres, and the hazy territory in-between where the brown dwarf itself exists.

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

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NASA’s ER-2 High-Altitude Aircraft takes Prototype Space Sensors for a Test Ride

 

Written by Kate Squires
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationEdwards, CA – Scientists recently completed test flights with prototypes of potential satellite sensors – including two from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California — over the Western United States, probing basic science questions about aerosols, clouds, air quality and global ocean ecosystems.

The flight campaign, called Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL), sought to test capabilities of several proposed instruments for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) pre-formulation study.

The view from NASA's ER-2 flying at approximately 65,000 feet (19,812 meters) near a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona, during the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne campaign on Nov. 7, 2017. (NASA/Stu Broce)

The view from NASA’s ER-2 flying at approximately 65,000 feet (19,812 meters) near a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona, during the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne campaign on Nov. 7, 2017. (NASA/Stu Broce)

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NASA’s MAVEN mission insights about Mars helps with understanding Distant Planets Habitability

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – How long might a rocky, Mars-like planet be habitable if it were orbiting a red dwarf star? It’s a complex question but one that NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission can help answer.

“The MAVEN mission tells us that Mars lost substantial amounts of its atmosphere over time, changing the planet’s habitability,” said David Brain, a MAVEN co-investigator and a professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We can use Mars, a planet that we know a lot about, as a laboratory for studying rocky planets outside our solar system, which we don’t know much about yet.”

This illustration depicts charged particles from a solar storm stripping away charged particles of Mars' atmosphere, one of the processes of Martian atmosphere loss studied by NASA's MAVEN mission, beginning in 2014. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a global magnetic field that could deflect charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA/GSFC)

This illustration depicts charged particles from a solar storm stripping away charged particles of Mars’ atmosphere, one of the processes of Martian atmosphere loss studied by NASA’s MAVEN mission, beginning in 2014. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a global magnetic field that could deflect charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA/GSFC)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data reveals deepness of Great Red Spot on Jupiter

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its first pass over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in July 2017 indicate that this iconic feature penetrates well below the clouds. Other revelations from the mission include that Jupiter has two previously uncharted radiation zones. The findings were announced Monday at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans.

“One of the most basic questions about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter's Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

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