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Topic: California Institute of Technology in Pasadena

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’s Cassini Spacecraft data used to weigh Saturn’s biggest ring

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It seems intuitive that an opaque material should contain more stuff than a more translucent substance. For example, muddier water has more suspended particles of dirt in it than clearer water. Likewise, you might think that, in the rings of Saturn, more opaque areas contain a greater concentration of material than places where the rings seem more transparent.

But this intuition does not always apply, according to a recent study of the rings using data from NASA’s Cassini mission. In their analysis, scientists found surprisingly little correlation between how dense a ring might appear to be — in terms of its opacity and reflectiveness — and the amount of material it contains.

The B ring is the brightest of Saturn's rings when viewed in reflected sunlight. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The B ring is the brightest of Saturn’s rings when viewed in reflected sunlight. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Juno mission achieves Distance Record for Solar Powered Spacecraft

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity’s most distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred at 11:00am PT (2:00pm ET, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, January 13th, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun.

The previous record-holder was the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, whose orbit peaked out at the 492-million-mile (792-million-kilometer) mark in October 2012, during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Launching 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)

Launching 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’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes discovers two massive stars in Eta Carinae system

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth, is best known for an enormous eruption seen in the mid-19th century that hurled at least 10 times the sun’s mass into space.

This expanding veil of gas and dust , which still shrouds Eta Carinae, makes it the only object of its kind known in our galaxy. Now a study using archival data from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes has found five objects with similar properties in other galaxies for the first time.

Hubble view of M83 -- the only galaxy known to host two potential "Eta twins." Its high rate of star formation increases the chances of finding massive stars that have recently undergone an Eta Carinae-like outburst. Bottom: Hubble data showing the locations of M83's Eta twins. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and R. Khan (GSFC and ORAU))

Hubble view of M83 — the only galaxy known to host two potential “Eta twins.” Its high rate of star formation increases the chances of finding massive stars that have recently undergone an Eta Carinae-like outburst. Bottom: Hubble data showing the locations of M83’s Eta twins. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) and R. Khan (GSFC and ORAU))

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NASA Space Telescopes observe wakes left by fast moving Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers are finding dozens of the fastest stars in our galaxy with the help of images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

When some speedy, massive stars plow through space, they can cause material to stack up in front of them in the same way that water piles up ahead of a ship. Called bow shocks, these dramatic, arc-shaped features in space are leading researchers to uncover massive, so-called runaway stars.

Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in these images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wyoming)

Bow shocks thought to mark the paths of massive, speeding stars are highlighted in these images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Wyoming)

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NASA reports Euclid Mission to investigate mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Euclid, a planned mission to investigate the profound cosmic mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, has passed its preliminary design review. This clears the way for construction to begin.

Euclid is a European Space Agency mission with important contributions from NASA, including infrared detectors for one instrument and science and data analysis.

Euclid is designed to give us important new insights into the “dark side” of the universe — namely dark matter and dark energy, both thought to be key components of our cosmos.

Artist's impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

Artist’s impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

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NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes Exoplanet Survey unravels Mystery of Missing Water

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery — why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

Of the nearly 2,000 planets confirmed to be orbiting other stars, a subset of them are gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. However, they orbit very close to their stars, making them blistering hot.

This image shows an artist's impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

This image shows an artist’s impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft to take High Resolution images of Jupiter using JunoCam

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Juno mission arrives at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016, new views of the giant planet’s swirling clouds will be sent back to Earth, courtesy of its color camera, called JunoCam. But unlike previous space missions, professional scientists will not be the ones producing the processed views, or even choosing which images to capture.

Instead, the public will act as a virtual imaging team, participating in key steps of the process, from identifying features of interest to sharing the finished images online.

“This is really the public’s camera. We are hoping students and whole classrooms will get involved and join our team,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

This trio of Junocam views of Earth was taken during Juno's close flyby on October 9th, 2013. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This trio of Junocam views of Earth was taken during Juno’s close flyby on October 9th, 2013. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA discovers Star orbited by Comets

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A star called KIC 8462852 has been in the news recently for unexplained and bizarre behavior. NASA’s Kepler mission had monitored the star for four years, observing two unusual incidents, in 2011 and 2013, when the star’s light dimmed in dramatic, never-before-seen ways. Something had passed in front of the star and blocked its light, but what?

Scientists first reported the findings in September, suggesting a family of comets as the most likely explanation. Other cited causes included fragments of planets and asteroids.

This illustration shows a star behind a shattered comet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows a star behind a shattered comet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA study shows Dark Matter Hairs may extend from Earth

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought.

A new study publishing this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, proposes the existence of long filaments of dark matter, or “hairs.”

Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe. The regular matter, which makes up everything we can see around us, is only 5 percent of the universe. The rest is dark energy, a strange phenomenon associated with the acceleration of our expanding universe.

This artist's rendering zooms in on what dark matter "hairs" might look like around Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering zooms in on what dark matter “hairs” might look like around Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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