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Topic: Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discovers gas planet in the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known.

The discovery demonstrates that Spitzer — from its unique perch in space — can be used to help solve the puzzle of how planets are distributed throughout our flat, spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy. Are they concentrated heavily in its central hub, or more evenly spread throughout its suburbs?

This artist's map of the Milky Way shows the location of one of the farthest known exoplanets, lying 13,000 light-years away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s map of the Milky Way shows the location of one of the farthest known exoplanets, lying 13,000 light-years away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data helps Scientists solve mystery behind Saturn’s Storms

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The long-standing mystery of why Saturn seethes with enormous storms every 30 years may have been solved by scientists working with data from NASA’s Cassini mission. The tempests, which can grow into bright bands that encircle the entire planet, are on a natural timer that is reset by each subsequent storm, the researchers report.

In 140 years of telescope observations, great storms have erupted on Saturn six times. Cassini and observers on Earth tracked the most recent of these storms from December 2010 to August 2011. During that time, the storm exploded through the clouds, eventually winding its way around Saturn.

This series of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the development of a huge storm of the type that erupts about every 30 years on Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

This series of images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the development of a huge storm of the type that erupts about every 30 years on Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA reports Crowdsourced Smartphone Data could give advance notice for People in Earthquake Zones

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Smartphones and other personal electronic devices could, in regions where they are in widespread use, function as early warning systems for large earthquakes, according to newly reported research.

This technology could serve regions of the world that cannot afford higher quality, but more expensive, conventional earthquake early warning systems, or could contribute to those systems.

The study, led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), found that the sensors in smartphones and similar devices could be used to build earthquake warning systems.

Cell phones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives. ("Everyone Check Your Phones - NYC" by Jim Pennucci, used under CC BY.)

Cell phones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives. (“Everyone Check Your Phones – NYC” by Jim Pennucci, used under CC BY.)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) images now available Online to the Public

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Millions of images of celestial objects, including asteroids, observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft now are available online to the public. The data was collected following the restart of the asteroid-seeking spacecraft in December 2013 after a lengthy hibernation.

The collection of millions of infrared images and billions of infrared measurements of asteroids, stars, galaxies and quasars spans data obtained between December 13th, 2013, and December 13th, 2014.

The NEOWISE spacecraft viewed comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on January 30, 2015, at a solar distance of 120 million miles (193 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The NEOWISE spacecraft viewed comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on January 30, 2015, at a solar distance of 120 million miles (193 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Space Based Radar Helps Track Underground Water Pollution Risk

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The next time you’re digging for buried treasure, stop when you hit water. That underground resource is more valuable than all legendary hoards combined.

Ninety percent of Earth’s available fresh water is beneath the surface at any particular time. We drink it, we grow our food with it, and we power industries with it. We also pollute it.

Urban growth in Milan, Italy. In this region, urbanization has increased the potential for groundwater contamination. Image (Wikimedia Commons)

Urban growth in Milan, Italy. In this region, urbanization has increased the potential for groundwater contamination. Image (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA reports Astronomers discovers Planet in Multiple Star System

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Growing up as a planet with more than one parent star has its challenges. Though the planets in our solar system circle just one star — our sun — other more distant planets, called exoplanets, can be reared in families with two or more stars.

Researchers wanting to know more about the complex influences of multiple stars on planets have come up with two new case studies: a planet found to have three parents, and another with four.

This artist's conception shows the 30 Ari system, which includes four stars and a planet. The planet, a gas giant, orbits its primary star (yellow) in about a year's time. (Karen Teramura, UH IfA)

This artist’s conception shows the 30 Ari system, which includes four stars and a planet. The planet, a gas giant, orbits its primary star (yellow) in about a year’s time. (Karen Teramura, UH IfA)

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NASA reports Space Telescopes reveal fierce winds coming from Black Hole

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions — a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.

This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these ultra-fast winds and prove they are powerful enough to inhibit the host galaxy’s ability to make new stars.

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward, as illustrated in this artist's conception. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward, as illustrated in this artist’s conception. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA researchers may have discovered why Comets have a hard outer crust

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers tinkering with ice and organics in the lab may have discovered why comets are encased in a hard, outer crust.

Using an icebox-like instrument nicknamed Himalaya, the researchers show that fluffy ice on the surface of a comet would crystalize and harden as the comet heads toward the sun and warms up. As the water-ice crystals form, becoming denser and more ordered, other molecules containing carbon would be expelled to the comet’s surface. The result is a crunchy comet crust sprinkled with organic dust.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen here in an image captured by the Rosetta spacecraft. The mission's Philae lander hit the surface with a big bounce, demonstrating the comet's surface is hard. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen here in an image captured by the Rosetta spacecraft. The mission’s Philae lander hit the surface with a big bounce, demonstrating the comet’s surface is hard. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

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NASA says Early Universe Gravitational Waves hard to find

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A joint analysis of data from the Planck space mission and the ground-based experiment BICEP2 has found no conclusive evidence of gravitational waves from the birth of our universe, despite earlier reports of a possible detection.

The collaboration between the teams has resulted in the most precise knowledge yet of what signals from the ancient gravitational waves should look like, aiding future searches.

Planck is a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA contributions. BICEP2 and its sister project, the Keck Array, are based at the South Pole and funded by the National Science Foundation, also with NASA contributions.

The color scale in this image from the Planck mission represents the emission from dust, a minor but crucial component that pervades our Milky Way galaxy. The texture indicates the orientation of the galactic magnetic field. It is based on measurements of the direction of the polarized light emitted by the dust. (ESA/Planck Collaboration)

The color scale in this image from the Planck mission represents the emission from dust, a minor but crucial component that pervades our Milky Way galaxy. The texture indicates the orientation of the galactic magnetic field. It is based on measurements of the direction of the polarized light emitted by the dust. (ESA/Planck Collaboration)

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Volunteers scanning NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope images lead Astronomers to new Discovery

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Sometimes it takes a village to find new and unusual objects in space. Volunteers scanning tens of thousands of starry images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, using the Web-based Milky Way Project, recently stumbled upon a new class of curiosities that had gone largely unrecognized before: yellow balls.

The rounded features are not actually yellow — they just appear that way in the infrared, color-assigned Spitzer images.

Volunteers using the web-based Milky Way Project brought star-forming features nicknamed "yellowballs" to the attention of researchers, who later showed that they are a phase of massive star formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Volunteers using the web-based Milky Way Project brought star-forming features nicknamed “yellowballs” to the attention of researchers, who later showed that they are a phase of massive star formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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