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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) discovers Comet that looked like an Asteroid

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun.

The comet glows brightly in infrared wavelengths, with a dust tail streaking more than 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across the sky. Its spectacular activity is driven by the vaporization of ice that has been preserved from the time of planet formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers evidence that Gullies on Mars are being created by Dry Ice

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars’ surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.

The first reports of formative gullies on Mars in 2000 generated excitement and headlines because they suggested the presence of liquid water on the Red Planet, the eroding action of which forms gullies here on Earth.

This pair of images covers one of the hundreds of sites on Mars where researchers have repeatedly used the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study changes in gullies on slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This pair of images covers one of the hundreds of sites on Mars where researchers have repeatedly used the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study changes in gullies on slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover drives out of area mapped as safe for it’s 2012 Landing

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA Mars rover Curiosity has driven out of the ellipse, approximately 4 miles wide and 12 miles long (7 kilometers by 20 kilometers), that was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the rover on June 27th at the end of a drive that put Curiosity right on the ellipse boundary.

This June 27, 2014, image from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on the rover's landing-ellipse boundary, which is superimposed on the image. The 12-mile-wide ellipse was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This June 27, 2014, image from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on the rover’s landing-ellipse boundary, which is superimposed on the image. The 12-mile-wide ellipse was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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NASA’s QuikScat satellite to be used to calibrate it’s successor RapidScat

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – June 19th marked the 15th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s QuikScat, a satellite sent for a three-year mission in 1999 that continues collecting data. Built in less than 12 months, QuikScat has watched ocean wind patterns for 15 years and improved weather forecasting worldwide. Despite a partial instrument failure in 2009, it provides calibration data to international partners.

On this anniversary, the mission’s team is calibrating ISS-RapidScat, the successor that will maintain QuikScat’s unbroken data record. After its launch in a few months, RapidScat will watch ocean winds from the International Space Station (ISS) for a two-year mission.

Using data from NASA's QuikScat, weather forecasters were able to predict hazardous weather events over oceans 6 to 12 hours earlier than before these data were available. Orange areas show where winds are blowing the hardest and blue shows relatively light winds. (NASA)

Using data from NASA’s QuikScat, weather forecasters were able to predict hazardous weather events over oceans 6 to 12 hours earlier than before these data were available. Orange areas show where winds are blowing the hardest and blue shows relatively light winds. (NASA)

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NASA selects experiments to accompany Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flight

 

Written by Rachel Hoover
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA has selected 12 technology experiments to fly on the first commercial research flight on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

Through NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, officials have been working with commercial companies, universities and government organizations to coordinate testing of innovative space technologies on research flights through the use of commercial suborbital flight platforms.

Telescopic image of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a supersonic test flight in 2013. (Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observatory)

Telescopic image of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a supersonic test flight in 2013. (Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observatory)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers large new Crater on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers have discovered on the Red Planet the largest fresh meteor-impact crater ever firmly documented with before-and-after images. The images were captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The crater spans half the length of a football field and first appeared in March 2012. The impact that created it likely was preceded by an explosion in the Martian sky caused by intense friction between an incoming asteroid and the planet’s atmosphere.

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA reports on Intense Solar Storm that barely missed Earth

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Last month (April 8th-11th), scientists, government officials, emergency planners and others converged on Boulder, Colorado, for NOAA’s Space Weather Workshop—an annual gathering to discuss the perils and probabilities of solar storms.

The current solar cycle is weaker than usual, so you might expect a correspondingly low-key meeting. On the contrary, the halls and meeting rooms were abuzz with excitement about an intense solar storm that narrowly missed Earth.

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NASA says researchers use Microgravity Environment aboard International Space Station to better understand Fungi

 

Written by Laura Niles
International Space Station Program Science Office and Public Affairs Office

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – You may not recognize it by name, but if you have ever had a child with a diaper rash, that child was likely a host to Candida albicans (C. albicans). This unwelcome “guest” can be hard to control, as it can potentially lead to serious illness in humans with weakened immune systems.

During an investigation dubbed “Microbe,” using the unique microgravity environment aboard space shuttle Atlantis on an International Space Station mission, researchers at the Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe gained a better understanding of these prevalent fungi.

Group Activation Pack cylinders similar to these, pictured within the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, were used to study the fungal pathogen C. albicans aboard space shuttle Atlantis. (NASA)

Group Activation Pack cylinders similar to these, pictured within the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, were used to study the fungal pathogen C. albicans aboard space shuttle Atlantis. (NASA)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer data reveals insights into how Black Holes Form

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How do you grow a supermassive black hole that is a million to a billion times the mass of our sun? Astronomers do not know the answer, but a new study using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has turned up what might be the cosmic seeds from which a black hole will sprout.

The results are helping scientists piece together the evolution of supermassive black holes — powerful objects that dominate the hearts of all galaxies.

The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The galaxy NGC 4395 is shown here in infrared light, captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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