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Topic: Atmosphere

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft enters Mars Orbit

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24pm EDT Sunday, September 21st, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

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NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft ready to enter Mars orbit

 

Written by Izumi Hansen and Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled September 21st insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).

Flight Controllers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado, will be responsible for the health and safety of the spacecraft throughout the process. The spacecraft’s mission timeline will place the spacecraft in orbit at approximately 6:50pm PDT (9:50pm EDT).

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is quickly approaching Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere. When it arrives on September 21, 2014, MAVEN's winding journey from Earth will culminate with a dramatic engine burn, pulling the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit.

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is quickly approaching Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere. When it arrives on September 21, 2014, MAVEN’s winding journey from Earth will culminate with a dramatic engine burn, pulling the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit.

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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 says Comet Siding Spring and Mars’ Atmospheres may Collide in October

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On October 19th, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away–which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon.

The nucleus of the comet won’t hit Mars, but there could be a different kind of collision.

“We hope to witness two atmospheres colliding,” explains David Brain of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). “This is a once in a lifetime event!”

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NASA says this years Perseid Meteor Shower will occur during a Supermoon

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Every year, sky watchers and summertime campers circle on their calendars a few key August nights—the 11th, 12th and 13th. These are the dates of the annual Perseid meteor shower, which rarely fails to please those who see it.

This year they’re adding a note: “supermoon.”

During the second week of August, the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year will face off against everyone’s favorite meteor shower—and the outcome could be beautiful.

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Odyssey Orbiter, MAVEN spacecraft ready for Comet C/2013 A1 flyby

 

Written by Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on October 19th.

The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. At that velocity, even the smallest particle — estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across — could cause significant damage to a spacecraft.

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet's trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach Mars or might also miss it.

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet’s trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach Mars or might also miss it.

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NASA takes a look back at the Jupiter comet crash

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Twenty years ago, human and robotic eyes observed the first recorded impact between cosmic bodies in the solar system, as fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Between July 16th and July 22nd, 1994, space- and Earth-based assets managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, joined an armada of other NASA and international telescopes, straining to get a glimpse of the historic event.

NASA's Galileo spacecraft captured these four views of Jupiter as the last of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's large fragments struck the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Galileo spacecraft captured these four views of Jupiter as the last of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9’s large fragments struck the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will soon provide Scientists data to look into the past

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which launched on July 2nd, will soon be providing about 100,000 high-quality measurements each day of carbon dioxide concentrations from around the globe. Atmospheric scientists are excited about that.

But to understand the processes that control the amount of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, they need to know more than just where carbon dioxide is now. They need to know where it has been. It takes more than great data to figure that out.

Scientists will use measurements from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 to track atmospheric carbon dioxide to sources such as these wildfires in Siberia, whose smoke plumes quickly carry the greenhouse gas worldwide. The fires were imaged on May 18 by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer instrument on the Terra satellite. (NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

Scientists will use measurements from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 to track atmospheric carbon dioxide to sources such as these wildfires in Siberia, whose smoke plumes quickly carry the greenhouse gas worldwide. The fires were imaged on May 18 by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer instrument on the Terra satellite. (NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

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NASA’s Aura satellite celebrates it’s 10th Year analyzing Earth’s Climate System

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Nitrogen and oxygen make up nearly 99 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. The remaining one percent is comprised of gases that — although present in small concentrations — can have a big impact on life on Earth.

Trace gases called greenhouse gases warm the surface, making it habitable for humans, plants and animals. But these greenhouse gases, as well as clouds and tiny particles called aerosols in the atmosphere, also play vital roles in Earth’s complex climate system.

NASA's 10-year-old Aura satellite, which studies Earth's atmosphere, continues to help scientists understand Earth's changing climate. (NASA)

NASA’s 10-year-old Aura satellite, which studies Earth’s atmosphere, continues to help scientists understand Earth’s changing climate. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals salty ocean inside Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence of an ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth’s Dead Sea. The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Icarus.

“This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards,” said the paper’s lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. “Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

Researchers found that Titan’s ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

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