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Topic: earth

NASA Telescopes used to study unusual Flash of Light nicknamed “The Cow”

 

Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A brief and unusual flash spotted in the night sky on June 16th, 2018, puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists across the globe. The event – called AT2018cow and nicknamed “the Cow” after the coincidental final letters in its official name – is unlike any celestial outburst ever seen before, prompting multiple theories about its source.

Over three days, the Cow produced a sudden explosion of light at least 10 times brighter than a typical supernova, and then it faded over the next few months.

AT2018cow erupted in or near a galaxy known as CGCG 137-068, which is located about 200 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. This zoomed-in image shows the location of the "Cow" in the galaxy. (Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

AT2018cow erupted in or near a galaxy known as CGCG 137-068, which is located about 200 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. This zoomed-in image shows the location of the “Cow” in the galaxy. (Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

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Citizen Scientists use NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data to discover New World

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star’s habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet’s surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets – planets beyond our solar system.

“It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,” said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student who discussed the discovery on Monday, January 7th, at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

The newfound planet K2-288Bb, illustrated here, is slightly smaller than Neptune. Located about 226 light-years away, it orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy)

The newfound planet K2-288Bb, illustrated here, is slightly smaller than Neptune. Located about 226 light-years away, it orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy)

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NASA’s Langley Research Center studies interaction between the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere

 

NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – Chill out. That’s the current message from the Sun to Earth’s upper atmosphere says NASA.

To be more precise, as the Sun settles into a cyclical, natural lull in activity, the upper atmosphere, or thermosphere — far above our own climate system — is responding in kind by cooling and contracting.

Could that have implications for folks down here on the surface? Absolutely not. Unless, that is, you’re someone with a vested interest in tracking an orbiting satellite or space debris.

The Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, or SABER, instrument on the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, satellite looks at the interaction between the Sun and Earth's upper atmosphere. (NASA/JHU/APL)

The Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, or SABER, instrument on the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, satellite looks at the interaction between the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere. (NASA/JHU/APL)

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NASA’s BioSentinel satellite to study Space Radiation for Manned Deep Space Flights

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Astronauts live in a pretty extreme environment aboard the International Space Station. Orbiting about 250 miles above the Earth in the weightlessness of microgravity, they rely on commercial cargo missions about every two months to deliver new supplies and experiments.

And yet, this place is relatively protected in terms of space radiation. The Earth’s magnetic field shields space station crew from much of the radiation that can damage the DNA in our cells and lead to serious health problems.

BioSentinel’s microfluidics card, designed at NASA Ames, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. Once in orbit, the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast will be measured using a 3-color LED detection system and a metabolic indicator dye. (NASA)

BioSentinel’s microfluidics card, designed at NASA Ames, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. Once in orbit, the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast will be measured using a 3-color LED detection system and a metabolic indicator dye. (NASA)

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NORAD begins tracking Santa Claus’ on Christmas Eve 2018

 

Norad Tracks SantaPeterson Air Force Base, COSanta’s flight across the world has been tracked by NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) for more than 50 years.

Back in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” This began the tradition.

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NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory produces coldest temperatures known

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA asks what’s the coldest place you can think of? Temperatures on a winter day in Antarctica dip as low as -120ºF (-85ºC). On the dark side of the Moon, they hit -280ºF (-173ºC). But inside NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory on the International Space Station, scientists are creating something even colder.

The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is the first facility in orbit to produce clouds of “ultracold” atoms, which can reach a fraction of a degree above absolute zero: -459ºF (-273ºC), the absolute coldest temperature that matter can reach.

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

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NASA captures radar images of asteroid 2003 SD220 as it approached Earth

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The December 2018 close approach by the large, near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 has provided astronomers an outstanding opportunity to obtain detailed radar images of the surface and shape of the object and to improve the understanding of its orbit.

The asteroid will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 at a distance of about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers). This will be the asteroid’s closest approach in more than 400 years and the closest until 2070, when the asteroid will safely approach Earth slightly closer.

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on December 15th-17th, by coordinating observations with NASA's 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on December 15th-17th, by coordinating observations with NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

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NASA Lucy Spacecraft to navigate to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids

 

Written by Tamsyn Brann
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In science fiction, NASA says explorers can hop in futuristic spaceships and traverse half the galaxy in the blink of a plot hole. However, this sidelines the navigational acrobatics required in order to guarantee real-life mission success.

In 2021, the feat of navigation that is the Lucy mission will launch. To steer Lucy towards its targets doesn’t simply involve programming a map into a spacecraft and giving it gas money – it will fly by six asteroid targets, each in different orbits, over the course of 12 years.

This diagram illustrates Lucy's orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape. After launch in October 2021, Lucy has two close Earth flybys before encountering its Trojan targets. In the L4 cloud Lucy will fly by (3548) Eurybates (white), (15094) Polymele (pink), (11351) Leucus (red), and (21900) Orus (red) from 2027-2028. After diving past Earth again Lucy will visit the L5 cloud and encounter the (617) Patroclus-Menoetius binary (pink) in 2033. (Southwest Research Institute)

This diagram illustrates Lucy’s orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape. After launch in October 2021, Lucy has two close Earth flybys before encountering its Trojan targets. In the L4 cloud Lucy will fly by (3548) Eurybates (white), (15094) Polymele (pink), (11351) Leucus (red), and (21900) Orus (red) from 2027-2028. After diving past Earth again Lucy will visit the L5 cloud and encounter the (617) Patroclus-Menoetius binary (pink) in 2033. (Southwest Research Institute)

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NASA Engineers setup area to mimic terrain around Mars Insight Lander

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander is due to set its first science instrument on Mars in the coming days. But engineers here on Earth already saw it happen – last week.

Like NASA’s Curiosity rover, InSight has a full-scale working model at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This sister lander, aptly named ForeSight, lets the team test all operations before they happen on Mars.

To practice how InSight will place its instruments, JPL engineers built a Martian rock garden modeled on images from the spacecraft’s cameras.

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander's instruments here on Earth before it's done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander’s instruments here on Earth before it’s done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

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NASA says comet 46P/Wirtanen to be visible this Sunday

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Sunday, December 16th, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope.

Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it’s still a fairly rare opportunity. “This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope's field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope’s field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

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