Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – Five new NASA airborne field campaigns, including one managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, will take to the skies starting in 2015 to investigate how long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters and fires in Africa affect our climate.
These studies into several incompletely understood Earth system processes were competitively selected as part of NASA’s Earth Venture-class projects. Each project is funded at a total cost of no more than $30 million over five years. This funding includes initial development, field campaigns and analysis of data.
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive instrument looks to answer the question, “How does Weather influence Soil Moisture?”
Written by Carol Rasmussen
Pasadena, CA – Anyone who spends time outdoors knows that weather influences soil moisture — the moisture locked in soils that allows plants to grow — through temperature, wind and, of course, rain and snowfall. But in our complex, interlocking Earth system, there are almost no one-way streets. How does soil moisture influence weather in return?
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument may help answer that question. Scheduled for launch on January 29th, 2015, SMAP was built and will be operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A 3D image shows what it would look like to fly over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The image was generated from data collected by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) aboard the European Space Agency’s Philae spacecraft during the descent to the spacecraft’s initial touchdown on the comet November 12th.
The stereographic image was generated using two images acquired by ROLIS when Philae was a little less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the surface.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA’s best view of Jupiter’s ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. This is the first time that NASA is publishing a version of the scene produced using modern image processing techniques.
This view of Europa stands out as the color view that shows the largest portion of the moon’s surface at the highest resolution.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – Images from NASA’s Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail. These maps are included with a series of 11 scientific papers published this week in a special issue of the journal Icarus.
Geological mapping is a technique used to derive the geologic history of a planetary object from detailed analysis of surface morphology, topography, color and brightness information.
NASA’s Near Earth Object Program has released map showing small asteroids entering Earth’s atmosphere
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA - A map released by NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program reveals that small asteroids frequently enter and disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere with random distribution around the globe.
Released to the scientific community, the map visualizes data gathered by U.S. government sensors from 1994 to 2013. The data indicate that Earth’s atmosphere was impacted by small asteroids, resulting in a bolide (or fireball), on 556 separate occasions in a 20-year period.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – Despite large temperature increases in Alaska in recent decades, a new analysis of NASA airborne data finds that methane is not being released from Alaskan soils into the atmosphere at unusually high rates, as recent modeling and experimental studies have suggested.
The new result shows that the changes in this part of the Arctic have not yet had enough impact to affect the global methane budget.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – On Wednesday, November 12th, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission successfully landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Descending at a speed of about 2 mph (3.2 kilometers per hour) the lander, called “Philae,” first touched down and its signal was received at 8:03am PST (11:03am EST).
Partially due to anchoring harpoons not firing, and the comet’s low gravity (a hundred-thousand times less than that of Earth), Philae bounced off the surface and flew up to about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) both above the comet’s surface as well as downrange.
Written by DC Agle/Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – After more than a decade traveling through space, a robotic lander built by the European Space Agency has made the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet.
Mission controllers at ESA’s mission operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, received a signal confirming that the Philae lander had touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, November 12th, just after 8:00am PST/11:00am EST.
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