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Topic: Caltech

NASA researchers discover dusty star system similar to our solar system

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers studying what appears to be a beefed-up version of our solar system have discovered that it is encased in a halo of fine dust. The findings are based on infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA is a partner.

The dusty star system, called HD 95086, is located 295 light-years from Earth in the constellation Carina. It is thought to include two belts of dust, which lie within the newfound outer dust halo.

This artist's concept depicts giant planets circling between belts of dust. Scientists think the star system HD 95068 may have a planetary architecture similar to this. While the star system's two dust belts are known, along with one massive planet, more giant planets may lurk unseen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts giant planets circling between belts of dust. Scientists think the star system HD 95068 may have a planetary architecture similar to this. While the star system’s two dust belts are known, along with one massive planet, more giant planets may lurk unseen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA explores possible suborbital platform with Airship Challenge

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau/Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Airships aren’t just powered balloon-like vehicles that hover above sporting events. Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are floating the idea that airships have potential for important scientific and commercial uses.

NASA is considering issuing a challenge for developing stratospheric airships that can break records in terms of duration of flight at high altitudes. The agency has issued a request for information for this contemplated “20-20-20 Airship Challenge.” Submissions will be accepted until December 1st.

Artist's concept for a high-altitude, long-duration airship that could be used as a research platform or for commercial purposes. (Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive)/Keck Institute for Space Studies)

Artist’s concept for a high-altitude, long-duration airship that could be used as a research platform or for commercial purposes. (Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive)/Keck Institute for Space Studies)

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NASA Spacecraft analyzes effects of Comet Flyby on Mar’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on October 19th, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

Data from observations carried out by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have revealed that debris from the comet added a temporary and very strong layer of ions to the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer high above Mars.

This artist's concept depicts the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA's MAVEN spacecraft scanning the upper atmosphere of Mars. IUVS uses limb scans to map the chemical makeup and vertical structure across Mars' upper atmosphere. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

This artist’s concept depicts the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft scanning the upper atmosphere of Mars. IUVS uses limb scans to map the chemical makeup and vertical structure across Mars’ upper atmosphere. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

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NASA Sounding Rocket discovers more light than expected in Space between Galaxies

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.

The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.

This artist's concept shows a view of a number of galaxies sitting in huge halos of stars. The stars are too distant to be seen individually and instead are seen as a diffuse glow, colored yellow in this illustration. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows a view of a number of galaxies sitting in huge halos of stars. The stars are too distant to be seen individually and instead are seen as a diffuse glow, colored yellow in this illustration. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover confirms first Mineral Mapped from Space

 

Written by Preston Dyches and Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Reddish rock powder from the first hole drilled into a Martian mountain by NASA’s Curiosity rover has yielded the mission’s first confirmation of a mineral mapped from orbit.

“This connects us with the mineral identifications from orbit, which can now help guide our investigations as we climb the slope and test hypotheses derived from the orbital mapping,” said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

This image shows the first holes drilled by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity at Mount Sharp. The loose material near the drill holes is drill tailings and an accumulation of dust that slid down the rock during drilling. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image shows the first holes drilled by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity at Mount Sharp. The loose material near the drill holes is drill tailings and an accumulation of dust that slid down the rock during drilling. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures image of distant Ringed Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It might look like a spoked wheel or even a “Chakram” weapon wielded by warriors like “Xena,” from the fictional TV show, but this ringed galaxy is actually a vast place of stellar life. A newly released image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 1291.

Though the galaxy is quite old, roughly 12 billion years, it is marked by an unusual ring where newborn stars are igniting.

“The rest of the galaxy is done maturing,” said Kartik Sheth of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory of Charlottesville, Virginia. “But the outer ring is just now starting to light up with stars.”

A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, taken in infrared light, shows where the action is taking place in galaxy NGC 1291. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A new image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, taken in infrared light, shows where the action is taking place in galaxy NGC 1291. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientists work with new material “Metallic Glasses” that can be molded like Plastic but retains strength of Metal

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Open a door and watch what happens — the hinge allows it to open and close, but doesn’t permanently bend. This simple concept of mechanical motion is vital for making all kinds of movable structures, including mirrors and antennas on spacecraft.

Material scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working on new, innovative methods of creating materials that can be used for motion-based mechanisms.

When a device moves because metal is flexing but isn’t permanently deformed, that’s called a compliant mechanism.

This image shows components of a mirror structure that can be rotated very precisely by flexing parts made of a material scientists call "bulk metallic glass." (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows components of a mirror structure that can be rotated very precisely by flexing parts made of a material scientists call “bulk metallic glass.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover takes first drill sample from Mount Sharp

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has collected its first taste of the layered mountain whose scientific allure drew the mission to choose this part of Mars as a landing site.

Late Wednesday, September 24th, the rover’s hammering drill chewed about 2.6 inches (6.7 centimeters) deep into a basal-layer outcrop on Mount Sharp and collected a powdered-rock sample. Data and images received early Thursday at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, confirmed success of this operation. The powder collected by the drilling is temporarily held within the sample-handling mechanism on the rover’s arm.

This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the first sample-collection hole drilled in Mount Sharp, the layered mountain that is the science destination of the rover's extended mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the first sample-collection hole drilled in Mount Sharp, the layered mountain that is the science destination of the rover’s extended mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) discovers source of Intense Gamma Rays

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Our Milky Way galaxy is littered with the still-sizzling remains of exploded stars.

When the most massive stars explode as supernovas, they don’t fade into the night, but sometimes glow ferociously with high-energy gamma rays. What powers these energetic stellar remains?

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is helping to untangle the mystery. The observatory’s high-energy X-ray eyes were able to peer into a particular site of powerful gamma rays and confirm the source: A spinning, dead star called a pulsar.

The blue dot in this image marks the spot of an energetic pulsar -- the magnetic, spinning core of star that blew up in a supernova explosion. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO)

The blue dot in this image marks the spot of an energetic pulsar — the magnetic, spinning core of star that blew up in a supernova explosion. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to look for Galaxies in the far reaches of the Cosmos

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new survey of galaxies by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope is taking a plunge into the deep and uncharted waters of our cosmos.

In one of the longest surveys the telescope will have ever performed, astronomers have begun a three-month expedition trawling for faint galaxies billions of light-years away.

The results are already yielding surprises.

Scientists "fish" for galaxies in this playful, digitally altered photo. The researchers are part of a program called SPLASH, which is using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to dive deep into the cosmic sea and find some of the most remote galaxies known. Early results are turning up surprisingly big "fish" -- massive galaxies -- in the darkest reaches of the universe, dating back to a time when our universe was less than one billion years old. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists “fish” for galaxies in this playful, digitally altered photo. The researchers are part of a program called SPLASH, which is using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to dive deep into the cosmic sea and find some of the most remote galaxies known. Early results are turning up surprisingly big “fish” — massive galaxies — in the darkest reaches of the universe, dating back to a time when our universe was less than one billion years old. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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