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Topic: Atmosphere

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter observes Comet Siding Spring create havoc with Mars’ Magnetic Field during flyby

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Just weeks before the historic encounter of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) with Mars in October 2014, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft entered orbit around the Red Planet.

To protect sensitive equipment aboard MAVEN from possible harm, some instruments were turned off during the flyby; the same was done for other Mars orbiters. But a few instruments, including MAVEN’s magnetometer, remained on, conducting observations from a front-row seat during the comet’s remarkably close flyby.

A close encounter between a comet and Mars in 2014 flooded Mars with an invisible tide of charged particles. The comet's strong magnetic field temporarily merged with, and overwhelmed, the planet's weak magnetic field, as shown in this artist's depiction. NASA's MAVEN mission monitored the effects. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

A close encounter between a comet and Mars in 2014 flooded Mars with an invisible tide of charged particles. The comet’s strong magnetic field temporarily merged with, and overwhelmed, the planet’s weak magnetic field, as shown in this artist’s depiction. NASA’s MAVEN mission monitored the effects. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

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NASA helps maintain International Terrestrial Reference Frame

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The surface of Earth is constantly being reshaped by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, changes in sea level and ice sheets, and other processes.

Since some of these changes amount to only millimeters per year, scientists must make very precise measurements of the landscape and ocean in space and time in order to study their evolution and help mitigate their impacts.

The foundation for these precision measurements is the terrestrial reference frame, which serves the same purpose as landmarks along a trail. Earth-orbiting satellites and ground-based instruments use this reference system to pinpoint their own locations and, in turn, those of the features they are tracking.

Sites around the world (yellow dots) contributed data and serve as "landmarks along a trail" for the newest update to a global standard called the International Terrestrial Reference Frame. Each site conducts precision measurements using at least one and up to four geodetic techniques. (NASA/Earth Observatory/GSFC)

Sites around the world (yellow dots) contributed data and serve as “landmarks along a trail” for the newest update to a global standard called the International Terrestrial Reference Frame. Each site conducts precision measurements using at least one and up to four geodetic techniques. (NASA/Earth Observatory/GSFC)

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NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) to help unravel Secrets of the Universe

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe — the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

With a view 100 times bigger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, WFIRST will aid researchers in their efforts to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the cosmos. It also will discover new worlds outside our solar system and advance the search for worlds that could be suitable for life.

WFIRST, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, is shown here in an artist's rendering. It will carry a Wide Field Instrument to provide astronomers with Hubble-quality images covering large swaths of the sky, and enabling several studies of cosmic evolution. (NASA)

WFIRST, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, is shown here in an artist’s rendering. It will carry a Wide Field Instrument to provide astronomers with Hubble-quality images covering large swaths of the sky, and enabling several studies of cosmic evolution. (NASA)

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NASA researchers explore growing Food Crops during long Deep Space Missions

 

Written by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationKennedy Space Center, FL – NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler, Ph.D., and fictional astronaut Mark Watney from the movie “The Martian” have something in common — they are both botanists. But that’s where the similarities end. While Watney is a movie character who gets stranded on Mars, Wheeler is the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Program at Kennedy Space Center, working on real plant research.

“The Martian movie and book conveyed a lot of issues regarding growing food and surviving on a planet far from the Earth,” Wheeler said. “It’s brought plants back into the equation.”

An artist concept depicts a greenhouse on the surface of Mars. Plants are growing with the help of red, blue and green LED light bars and a hydroponic cultivation approach. (SAIC)

An artist concept depicts a greenhouse on the surface of Mars. Plants are growing with the help of red, blue and green LED light bars and a hydroponic cultivation approach. (SAIC)

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NASA Satellite data used to create maps to predict future Climate Change

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New, detailed maps of the world’s natural landscapes created using NASA satellite data could help scientists better predict the impacts of future climate change.

The maps of forests, grasslands and other productive ecosystems provide the most complete picture yet of how carbon from the atmosphere is reused and recycled by Earth’s natural ecosystems.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and Wageningen University, Netherlands, used a computer model to analyze a decade of satellite and field study data from 2001 to 2010.

Global map of the average amount of time that live biomass carbon and dead organic carbon spend in carbon reservoirs around the world, in years. (A. Anthony Bloom)

Global map of the average amount of time that live biomass carbon and dead organic carbon spend in carbon reservoirs around the world, in years. (A. Anthony Bloom)

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NASA Study reveals Natural Cycles are not enough to explain Global Warming

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, shows, in detail, the reason why global temperatures remain stable in the long run unless they are pushed by outside forces, such as increased greenhouse gases due to human impacts.

Lead author Patrick Brown, a doctoral student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and his JPL colleagues combined global climate models with satellite measurements of changes in the energy approaching and leaving Earth at the top of the atmosphere over the past 15 years.

Earth's atmosphere viewed from the International Space Station. A NASA/Duke University study provides new evidence that natural cycles alone aren't sufficient to explain the global atmospheric warming observed over the last century. (NASA)

Earth’s atmosphere viewed from the International Space Station. A NASA/Duke University study provides new evidence that natural cycles alone aren’t sufficient to explain the global atmospheric warming observed over the last century. (NASA)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft adjusts course to Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path, February 3rd, 2016. The maneuver refined the spacecraft’s trajectory, helping set the stage for Juno’s arrival at the solar system’s largest planetary inhabitant five months and a day from now.

“This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18pm PDT [11:18pm EDT],” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Launched from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Launched from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Asteroid to flyby Earth on March 5th

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A small asteroid that two years ago flew past Earth at a comfortable distance of about 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers) will safely fly by our planet again in a few weeks, though this time it may be much closer.

During the upcoming March 5th flyby, asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). The variation in possible closest approach distances is due to the wide range of possible trajectories for this object, since it was tracked for only a short time after discovery.

Graphic indicates the cloud of possible locations asteroid 2013 TX68 will be in at the time of its closest approach to Earth during its safe flyby of our planet on March 5th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Graphic indicates the cloud of possible locations asteroid 2013 TX68 will be in at the time of its closest approach to Earth during its safe flyby of our planet on March 5th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover samples sand from Namib Dune on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – At its current location for inspecting an active sand dune, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is adding some sample-processing moves not previously used on Mars.

Sand from the second and third samples the rover is scooping from “Namib Dune” will be sorted by grain size with two sieves. The coarser sieve is making its debut, and using it also changes the way the treated sample is dropped into an inlet port for laboratory analysis inside the rover.

Positioning of the rover to grab a bite of the dune posed a challenge, too. Curiosity reached this sampling site, called “Gobabeb,” on January 12th.

This view captures Curiosity's current work area where the rover continues its campaign to study an active sand dune on Mars. This site is part of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes along the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This view captures Curiosity’s current work area where the rover continues its campaign to study an active sand dune on Mars. This site is part of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes along the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Arctic emits more Methane in Winter than previously thought

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The amount of methane gas escaping from the ground during the long cold period in the Arctic each year and entering Earth’s atmosphere is likely much higher than estimated by current carbon cycle models, concludes a major new study led by San Diego State University and including scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

On November 12th, 2015, NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) completed its final aircraft flight.

Half of Alaska's methane emissions occur in winter -- mostly during times when soil temperatures are poised near freezing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Half of Alaska’s methane emissions occur in winter — mostly during times when soil temperatures are poised near freezing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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