Washington, D.C. – As Super Bowl LI in Houston Texas approaches and players, coaches and a host of personnel behind the scenes prepare for the big game in Space City, NASA remains on the cutting edge of human space exploration, setting its sights on the journey to Mars.
A football player’s journey to the end zone, though, has a lot more in common to space exploration than one might think.
Here are five similarities.
Written by Lori Keesey
Greenbelt, MD – A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises — collectively known as cetaceans — end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth’s magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way?
Although some have postulated this and other theories, no one has ever initiated a thorough study to determine whether a relationship exists — until now.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its fourth flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Thursday, February 2nd, at 4:57am PST (7:57am EST, 12:57 UTC).
At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,670 miles (4,300 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops and traveling at a speed of about 129,000 mph (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the gas giant. All of Juno’s eight science instruments, including the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, will be on and collecting data during the flyby.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – A new device on the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii has delivered its first images, showing a ring of planet-forming dust around a star, and separately, a cool, star-like body, called a brown dwarf, lying near its companion star.
The device, called a vortex coronagraph, was recently installed inside NIRC2 (Near Infrared Camera 2), the workhorse infrared imaging camera at Keck. It has the potential to image planetary systems and brown dwarfs closer to their host stars than any other instrument in the world.
Written by Keith Koehler
Wallops Island, VA – An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar sky was successfully launched on a NASA sounding rocket at 8:45am EST, January 27th, 2017, from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska.
The Polar Night Nitric Oxide experiment or PolarNOx was launched on a Black Brant IX sounding rocket to an altitude of nearly 176 miles. Preliminary information shows that good data was collected.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – A simple chemistry method could vastly enhance how scientists search for signs of life on other planets.
The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. It was designed specifically to analyze for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth.
The method is 10,000 times more sensitive than current methods employed by spacecraft like NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, according to a new study published in Analytical Chemistry. The study was carried out by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new study of the first year of observational data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission is providing significant surprises that will help in modeling Earth’s climate, forecasting our weather and monitoring agricultural crop growth.
The findings are presented in a paper published recently in the journal Nature Geosciences by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. They used SMAP measurements to estimate soil moisture memory in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of Earth’s topsoils.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Thin, blade-like walls, some as tall as a 16-story building, dominate a previously undocumented network of intersecting ridges on Mars, found in images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The simplest explanation for these impressive ridges is that lava flowed into pre-existing fractures in the ground and later resisted erosion better than material around them.
A new survey of polygon-forming ridges on Mars examines this network in the Medusae Fossae region straddling the planet’s equator and similar-looking networks in other regions of the Red Planet.
Written by John Leslie
Silver Spring, MD – GOES-16, the first spacecraft in NOAA’s next-generation of geostationary satellites, has sent the first high-resolution images from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. Included among them are a composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere captured on January 15th, 2017.
Created using several of the ABI’s 16 spectral channels, the full-disk image offers an example the satellite’s advanced technology.
NASA’s Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA – New observations show that Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, does not appear to have the carbon-rich surface composition that space- and ground-based telescopes previously indicated.
Using data primarily from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, a team of astronomers has detected the presence of substantial amounts of material on the surface of Ceres that appear to be fragments of other asteroids containing mostly rocky silicates.
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