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Topic: Craters

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft nears it’s destination, the planet Pluto

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – One of the fastest spacecraft ever built — NASA’s New Horizons — is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and it is nearing its destination: Pluto.

“The encounter begins next January,” says Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute and the mission’s principal investigator. “We’re less than a year away.”

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NASA’s Dawn mission photos used to make atlas of Asteroid Vesta

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An atlas of the giant asteroid Vesta, created from images taken as NASA’s Dawn mission flew around the object (also known as a protoplanet), is now accessible for the public to explore online. The set of maps was created from mosaics of 10,000 images taken by Dawn’s framing camera instrument at a low altitude of about 130 miles (210 kilometers).

The maps are mostly at a scale about that of regional road-touring maps, where every inch of map is equivalent to a little more than 3 miles of asteroid (1 centimeter equals 2 kilometers).

If you could drive a car around the giant Asteroid Vesta, you would need a road map akin to the atlas of images released from NASA's Dawn mission. Twenty-nine new maps of the asteroid, one of which is shown here, show its mountains and craters at a scale similar to that of common road maps. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

If you could drive a car around the giant Asteroid Vesta, you would need a road map akin to the atlas of images released from NASA’s Dawn mission. Twenty-nine new maps of the asteroid, one of which is shown here, show its mountains and craters at a scale similar to that of common road maps. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s GRAIL Twin Spacecraft data shows origin of Surface Gravity on Earth’s Moon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The origin of massive invisible regions that make the moon’s gravity uneven, a phenomenon that affects the operations of lunar-orbiting spacecraft has been uncovered by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.

Because of GRAIL’s findings, future spacecraft on missions to other celestial bodies can navigate with greater precision.

Using a precision formation-flying technique, the twin GRAIL spacecraft mapped the moon's gravity field, as depicted in this artist's rendering. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Using a precision formation-flying technique, the twin GRAIL spacecraft mapped the moon’s gravity field, as depicted in this artist’s rendering. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovers additional Asteroids between Jupiter and Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -  A new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter has been created using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)

Astronomers used millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE all-sky survey, called NEOWISE, to identify 28 new asteroid families. The snapshots also helped place thousands of previously hidden and uncategorized asteroids into families for the first time. The findings are a critical step in understanding the origins of asteroid families, and the collisions thought to have created these rocky clans.

This artist's conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter records new impact Craters on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists using images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.

Researchers have identified 248 new impact sites on parts of the Martian surface in the past decade, using images from the spacecraft to determine when the craters appeared. The 200-per-year planetwide estimate is a calculation based on the number found in a systematic survey of a portion of the planet.

This set of images from cameras on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter documents the appearance of a new cluster of impact craters on Mars. The orbiter has imaged at least 248 fresh craters, or crater clusters, on Mars. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Univ. of Arizona)

This set of images from cameras on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter documents the appearance of a new cluster of impact craters on Mars. The orbiter has imaged at least 248 fresh craters, or crater clusters, on Mars. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA studies the movement of Moon Dust

 

Written by Nancy Neal-Jones / Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Electrically charged lunar dust near shadowed craters can get lofted above the surface and jump over the shadowed region, bouncing back and forth between sunlit areas on opposite sides, according to new calculations by NASA scientists.

The research is being led by Michael Collier at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, as part of the Dynamic Response of the Environment At the Moon (DREAM) team in partnership with the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

This is a view from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft across the north rim of Cabeus crater. The leaping dust behavior may be observed on the moon in places like this where sunlit areas are close to shaded regions. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

This is a view from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft across the north rim of Cabeus crater. The leaping dust behavior may be observed on the moon in places like this where sunlit areas are close to shaded regions. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observations show the craters on Saturn’s Moon Titan disappearing

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Titan’s siblings must be jealous. While most of Saturn’s moons display their ancient faces pockmarked by thousands of craters, Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – may look much younger than it really is because its craters are getting erased.

Dunes of exotic, hydrocarbon sand are slowly but steadily filling in its craters, according to new research using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

This set of images from the radar instrument on NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a relatively "fresh" crater called Sinlap (left) and an extremely degraded crater called Soi (right). Sinlap has a depth-to-diameter ratio close to what we see on Jupiter's moon Ganymede. Soi has a shallow depth compared to similar craters on Ganymede. These craters are both about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in diameter. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/GSFC)

This set of images from the radar instrument on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows a relatively “fresh” crater called Sinlap (left) and an extremely degraded crater called Soi (right). Sinlap has a depth-to-diameter ratio close to what we see on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Soi has a shallow depth compared to similar craters on Ganymede. These craters are both about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in diameter. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/GSFC)

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NASA says Jupiter and the Moon to present a Sky Show for Christmas

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Just when you thought Christmas was over: At the end of the day on December 25th, a pair of holiday lights will pop out of the deepening twilight. Jupiter and the Moon are having a Christmas conjunction.

It’s a beautiful apparition, visible all around the globe. Even city dwellers, who often miss astronomical events because of light pollution, can see the show. Separated by less than 2 degrees, the bright pair will beam right through urban lights.

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NASA’s GRAIL mission spacecrafts crash site on the Moon dedicated to Astronaut Sally Ride

 

Written by D.C. Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has named the site where twin agency spacecraft impacted the moon Monday in honor of the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America’s first woman in space and a member of the probes’ mission team.

Last Friday, Ebb and Flow, the two spacecraft comprising NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, were commanded to descend into a lower orbit that would result in an impact Monday on a mountain near the moon’s north pole.

The final flight path for NASA's twin GRAIL mission spacecraft to impact the moon on December 17th. GRAIL's MoonKAM is the signature education and public outreach program led by Sally Ride Science-founded by Dr. Sally Ride, America's first woman in space.

The final flight path for NASA’s twin GRAIL mission spacecraft to impact the moon on December 17th. GRAIL’s MoonKAM is the signature education and public outreach program led by Sally Ride Science-founded by Dr. Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space.

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NASA’s Dawn mission images show Sinuous Gullies on the asteroid Vesta

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook and D.C. Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In a preliminary analysis of images from NASA’s Dawn mission, scientists have spotted intriguing gullies that sculpt the walls of geologically young craters on the giant asteroid Vesta.

Led by Jennifer Scully, a Dawn team member at the University of California, Los Angeles, these scientists have found narrow channels of two types in images from Dawn’s framing camera – some that look like straight chutes and others that carve more sinuous trails and end in lobe-shaped deposits. The mystery, however, is what is creating them?

This image shows examples of long, narrow, sinuous gullies that scientists on NASA's Dawn mission have found on the giant asteroid Vesta. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image shows examples of long, narrow, sinuous gullies that scientists on NASA’s Dawn mission have found on the giant asteroid Vesta. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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