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Topic: earth

NASA’s Twin GRACE-FO Satellites moved to Launch Site

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A pair of advanced U.S./German Earth research satellites with some very big shoes to fill is now at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to begin final preparations for launch next spring.

Following a year-long test campaign by satellite manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany, the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were loaded aboard an air freighter at Munich airport December 11th and arrived at the launch site on California’s central coast Tuesday, December 12th. GRACE-FO will provide continuity to the Earth climate data record of the extremely successful predecessor GRACE, which completed its science mission in October after more than 15 years in orbit.

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data reveals deepness of Great Red Spot on Jupiter

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its first pass over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in July 2017 indicate that this iconic feature penetrates well below the clouds. Other revelations from the mission include that Jupiter has two previously uncharted radiation zones. The findings were announced Monday at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans.

“One of the most basic questions about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter's Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

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NASA reports Geminid Meteor Shower to peak December 13th and 14th

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Maybe you’ve already seen a bright meteor streak across the December sky? The annual Geminid meteor shower has arrived. It’s a good time to bundle up, go outside and let the universe blow your mind!

“With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The thin, waning crescent Moon won’t spoil the show.”

A Geminid meteor. (Image credit: Jimmy Westlake)

A Geminid meteor. (Image credit: Jimmy Westlake)

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NASA Mars Opportunity Rover makes it through another Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, has just passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the long Martian year with its solar panels in encouragingly clean condition for entering a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Before dust season will come the 14th Earth-year anniversaries of Mars landings by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in January 2004. Their missions were scheduled to last 90 Martian days, or sols, equivalent to about three months.

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in "Perseverance Valley" shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity's imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in “Perseverance Valley” shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity’s imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA simulations show how Early Earth received Metal and Rock during Massive Collisions

 

Written by Kimberly Minafra
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Planetary collisions are at the core of our solar system’s formation. Scientists have long believed that after the Moon’s formation, the early Earth experienced a long period of bombardment that diminished about 3.8 billion years ago.

During this period, called “late accretion,” collisions with moon-sized planetary bodies, known as planetesimals, embedded extensive amounts of metal and rock-forming minerals into the Earth’s mantle and crust. It is estimated that approximately 0.5 percent of Earth’s present mass was delivered during this stage of planetary evolution.

Artist concept shows the collision of a large moon-sized planetary body penetrating all the way down to the Earth's core, with some particles ricocheting back into space. (Southwest Research Institute/Simone Marchi)

Artist concept shows the collision of a large moon-sized planetary body penetrating all the way down to the Earth’s core, with some particles ricocheting back into space. (Southwest Research Institute/Simone Marchi)

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NASA’s new simulator allows anyone to experiment with Sea Level Science

 

Written by Pat Brennan
NASA’s Sea Level Portal

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA sea level simulator lets you bury Alaska’s Columbia glacier in snow, and, year by year, watch how it responds. Or you can melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and trace rising seas as they inundate the Florida coast.

Computer models are critical tools for understanding the future of a changing planet, including melting ice, rising seas and shifting precipitation patterns. But typically, these mathematical representations — long chains of computer code giving rise to images of dynamic change — are accessible mainly to scientists.

A simulation by VESL of Columbia Glacier, Alaska. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A simulation by VESL of Columbia Glacier, Alaska. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA explains a Supermoon and why it’s so Super

 

Written by Lyle Tavernier
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The term “supermoon” has been popping up a lot in the news and on social media over the past few years. But what are supermoons, why do they occur and how can they be used as an educational tool. Plus, are they really that super?

There’s a good chance you’ll hear even more about supermoons in the coming months. The full moon on December 3rd marked the first and only supermoon of 2017, but it will be followed by two more in January 2018. Three supermoons in a row! Now is a great time to learn about these celestial events and get students exploring more about Earth’s only natural satellite.

An image of the moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is shown in two halves to illustrate the difference in the apparent size and brightness of the moon during a supermoon. The left half shows the apparent size of a supermoon (full moon at perigee), while the right half shows the apparent size and brightness of a micromoon (full moon at apogee). (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

An image of the moon taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is shown in two halves to illustrate the difference in the apparent size and brightness of the moon during a supermoon. The left half shows the apparent size of a supermoon (full moon at perigee), while the right half shows the apparent size and brightness of a micromoon (full moon at apogee). (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

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NASA’s Voyager probes make their mark in Popular Culture

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Whether you’re traveling across cities, continents or even oceans this holiday season, there is no long-haul flight quite like that of the Voyagers.

This year, we celebrated 40 years since the launch of NASA’s twin Voyager probes — the two farthest, fastest spacecraft currently in operation. Each Voyager has contributed an enormous amount of knowledge about the solar system, including the unexpected diversity of its planets and their moons. Among their many distinctions, Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft to enter interstellar space, and Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to fly by all four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Each Voyager spacecraft carries a copy of the Golden Record, which has been featured in several works of science fiction. The record's protective cover, with instructions for playing its contents, is shown at left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Each Voyager spacecraft carries a copy of the Golden Record, which has been featured in several works of science fiction. The record’s protective cover, with instructions for playing its contents, is shown at left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA uses backup Thrusters to orient Voyager 1 Spacecraft

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you tried to start a car that’s been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth.

The Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980. They are located on the back side of the spacecraft in this orientation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980. They are located on the back side of the spacecraft in this orientation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes observe Exoplanet with Hot Stratosphere devoid of Water

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized exoplanet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet’s atmosphere is attributed to “sunscreen”-like molecules, which absorb ultraviolet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat.

A NASA-led team of scientists determined that WASP-18b, a "hot Jupiter" located 325 light-years from Earth, has a stratosphere that's loaded with carbon monoxide, but has no signs of water. (NASA)

A NASA-led team of scientists determined that WASP-18b, a “hot Jupiter” located 325 light-years from Earth, has a stratosphere that’s loaded with carbon monoxide, but has no signs of water. (NASA)

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