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NASA’s Cassini mission images suggests Saturn’s moon Mimas has a frozen core or a liquid ocean

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study focused on the interior of Saturn’s icy moon Mimas suggests its cratered surface hides one of two intriguing possibilities: Either the moon’s frozen core is shaped something like a football, or the satellite contains a liquid water ocean.

Researchers used numerous images of Mimas taken by NASA’s Cassini mission to determine how much the moon wobbles as it orbits Saturn. They then evaluated several possible models for how its interior might be arranged, finding two possibilities that fit their data.The study is published in the October 17th issue of the journal Science.

This mosaic of Saturn's moon Mimas was created from images taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its closest flyby of the moon on Feb. 13, 2010. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This mosaic of Saturn’s moon Mimas was created from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its closest flyby of the moon on Feb. 13, 2010. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Mission has found that Methane Rainfall on Saturn’s moon Titan is being transformed underground lakes

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini mission has revealed hundreds of lakes and seas spread across the north polar region of Saturn’s moon Titan. These lakes are filled not with water but with hydrocarbons, a form of organic compound that is also found naturally on Earth and includes methane.

The vast majority of liquid in Titan’s lakes is thought to be replenished by rainfall from clouds in the moon’s atmosphere. But how liquids move and cycle through Titan’s crust and atmosphere is still relatively unknown.

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn's moon Titan -- its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan — its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity explores aluminum mineral rich area on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its solar panels their cleanest in years, NASA’s decade-old Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is inspecting a section of crater-rim ridgeline chosen as a priority target due to evidence of a water-related mineral.

Orbital observations of the site by another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, found a spectrum with the signature of aluminum bound to oxygen and hydrogen. Researchers regard that signature as a marker for a mineral called montmorillonite, which is in a class of clay minerals called smectites.

This scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity catches "Pillinger Point," on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, in the foreground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity catches “Pillinger Point,” on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, in the foreground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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APSU student Matthew Martin to conduct research at Cornell University this summer

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – This summer, Matthew Martin’s budding interest in plants will send him to the Ivy League campus of Cornell University where he’ll conduct advanced research in the field of plant pathology.

The Austin Peay State University student is getting this rare opportunity thanks to Cornell’s competitive Microbial Friends and Foes Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. «Read the rest of this article»

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to begin 100th trip around Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Gay Hill
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ten years ago, we knew Titan as a fuzzy orange ball about the size of Mercury. We knew it had a nitrogen atmosphere — the only known world with a thick nitrogen atmosphere besides Earth. But what might lie beneath the hazy air was still just a guess.

On March 6th, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will swoop down within 933 miles (1,500 kilometers) of Titan to conduct its 100th flyby of the Saturn moon. Each flyby gives us a little more knowledge of Titan and its striking similarities to our world.

This artist's concept shows a possible model of Titan's internal structure that incorporates data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (A. D. Fortes/UCL/STFC)

This artist’s concept shows a possible model of Titan’s internal structure that incorporates data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (A. D. Fortes/UCL/STFC)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity data shows Mars at one time had Wet, Mild Environment

 

Written by Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – New findings from rock samples collected and examined by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity have confirmed an ancient wet environment that was milder and older than the acidic and oxidizing conditions told by rocks the rover examined previously.

In the January 24th edition of the journal Science, Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, writes in detail about the discoveries made by the rover and how these discoveries have shaped our knowledge of the planet. According to Arvidson and others on the team, the latest evidence from Opportunity is landmark.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the component images for this self-portrait about three weeks before completing a decade of work on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the component images for this self-portrait about three weeks before completing a decade of work on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ)

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NASA’s Opportunity Rover continues to explore Mars after a Decade

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eighth graders didn’t have Facebook or Twitter to share news back then, in January 2004. Bekah Sosland, 14 at the time, learned about a NASA rover landing on Mars when the bouncing-ball video on the next morning’s Channel One news in her Fredericksburg, Texas, classroom caught her eye.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in space at the time,” she recalled last week inside the spacecraft operations facility where she now works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. “I remember I was talking with friends, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed this thing bouncing and rolling on a red surface. I watched as it stopped and opened up, and it had this rover inside.”

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity observed this outcrop on the "Murray Ridge" portion of the rim of Endeavour Crater as the rover approached the 10th anniversary of its landing on Mars.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity observed this outcrop on the “Murray Ridge” portion of the rim of Endeavour Crater as the rover approached the 10th anniversary of its landing on Mars.

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NASA’s Mars Rover Teams name sites in Memory of Bruce Murray

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Features on Mars important to the missions of NASA’s two active Mars rovers are now called “Murray Ridge” and “Murray Buttes,” in honor of influential planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013).

The rover Opportunity, which has been roaming Mars for nearly a decade, is currently climbing Murray Ridge, part of an uplifted crater rim. NASA’s newer rover, Curiosity, is headed toward Murray Buttes as the entryway to that mission’s main destination.

This scene shows the "Murray Ridge" portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater on Mars. The ridge is the NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's work area for the rover's sixth Martian winter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU)

This scene shows the “Murray Ridge” portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater on Mars. The ridge is the NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s work area for the rover’s sixth Martian winter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU)

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NASA Study reveals Carbon Planets may lack water essential for life

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Planets rich in carbon, including so-called diamond planets, may lack oceans, according to NASA-funded theoretical research.

Our sun is a carbon-poor star, and as result, our planet Earth is made up largely of silicates, not carbon. Stars with much more carbon than the sun, on the other hand, are predicted to make planets chock full of carbon, and perhaps even layers of diamond.

By modeling the ingredients in these carbon-based planetary systems, the scientists determined they lack icy water reservoirs thought to supply planets with oceans.

This artist's concept illustrates the fate of two different planets: the one on the left is similar to Earth, made up largely of silicate-based rocks with oceans coating its surface. The one on the right is rich in carbon -- and dry. Chances are low that life as we know it, which requires liquid water, would thrive under such barren conditions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept illustrates the fate of two different planets: the one on the left is similar to Earth, made up largely of silicate-based rocks with oceans coating its surface. The one on the right is rich in carbon — and dry. Chances are low that life as we know it, which requires liquid water, would thrive under such barren conditions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity starts Solander Point climb

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover has begun climbing “Solander Point,” the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission’s nearly 10 Earth years on Mars.

Guided by mineral mapping from orbit, the rover is exploring outcrops on the northwestern slopes of Solander Point, making its way up the hill much as a field geologist would do. The outcrops are exposed from several feet (about 2 meters) to about 20 feet (6 meters) above the surrounding plains, on slopes as steep as 15 to 20 degrees. The rover may later drive south and ascend farther up the hill, which peaks at about 130 feet (40 meters) above the plains.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of "Solander Point" on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of “Solander Point” on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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