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Topic: European Space Agency

NASA to use Spacecraft Orbiting Earth to track Air Pollution

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For more than three decades NASA has focused its space-faring skills and science chops CSI-like on an elusive global killer. Later this month, that pursuit takes us to East Asia. In a few years, part way to the moon.

We are getting close.

Air pollution causes an estimated 152,000 deaths a year across the Americas and more than 2 million deaths in the Western Pacific, according to the United Nations. Some parts of the world have a detailed view of local air quality from ground sensor networks and forecast models that generate public alerts. But for much of the world this type of information and warning are not available.

Satellites have documented that human-produced and natural air pollution can travel a long way. This 2014 NASA satellite image shows a long river of dust from western Africa (bottom of image) push across the Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

Satellites have documented that human-produced and natural air pollution can travel a long way. This 2014 NASA satellite image shows a long river of dust from western Africa (bottom of image) push across the Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft encounters dust from Interstellar Space

 

Written by Emily Baldwin
European Space Agency

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of dust coming from beyond our solar system. The research, led by a team of Cassini scientists primarily from Europe, is published this week in the journal Science.

Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, studying the giant planet, its rings and its moons. The spacecraft has also sampled millions of ice-rich dust grains with its cosmic dust analyzer instrument. The vast majority of the sampled grains originate from active jets that spray from the surface of Saturn’s geologically active moon Enceladus.

Of the millions of dust grains Cassini has sampled at Saturn, a few dozen appear to have come from beyond our solar system. Scientists believe these special grains have interstellar origins because they moved much faster and in different directions compared to dusty material native to Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Of the millions of dust grains Cassini has sampled at Saturn, a few dozen appear to have come from beyond our solar system. Scientists believe these special grains have interstellar origins because they moved much faster and in different directions compared to dusty material native to Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Radio Telescopes could soon detect Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves

 

Written by Elizabeth Ferrara
NANOGrav

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The recent detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) came from two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of our sun, merging into one. Gravitational waves span a wide range of frequencies that require different technologies to detect.

A new study from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has shown that low-frequency gravitational waves could soon be detectable by existing radio telescopes.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, represented by the green grid, produced by accelerating bodies such as interacting supermassive black holes. These waves affect the time it takes for radio signals from pulsars to arrive at Earth. (David Champion)

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, represented by the green grid, produced by accelerating bodies such as interacting supermassive black holes. These waves affect the time it takes for radio signals from pulsars to arrive at Earth. (David Champion)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft to move into higher orbit around Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini mission is entering its next chapter with an orbital choreography meant to tilt the spacecraft’s orbit out of Saturn’s ringplane.

The second of five large propulsive maneuvers in this campaign took place on Saturday, January 23rd. Each maneuver in the series sets up a subsequent gravity-assist flyby of Saturn’s massive moon Titan, which reshapes the spacecraft’s orbit, sending it to increasingly higher inclination with respect to Saturn’s equator.

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft thrusters pass their functional tests

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While some technologies were created to make spacecraft move billions of miles, the Disturbance Reduction System has the opposite goal: To keep a spacecraft as still as possible.

The thruster system, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is part of the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched from Kourou, French Guiana on December 3rd, 2015 GMT (December 2nd PST).

LISA Pathfinder will test technologies that could one day allow detection of gravitational waves, whose effects are so miniscule that a spacecraft would need to remain extremely steady to detect them.

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system onboard. (ESA)

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system onboard. (ESA)

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NASA’s Juno mission achieves Distance Record for Solar Powered Spacecraft

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity’s most distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred at 11:00am PT (2:00pm ET, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, January 13th, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun.

The previous record-holder was the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, whose orbit peaked out at the 492-million-mile (792-million-kilometer) mark in October 2012, during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Launching from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Launching from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Euclid Mission to investigate mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Euclid, a planned mission to investigate the profound cosmic mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, has passed its preliminary design review. This clears the way for construction to begin.

Euclid is a European Space Agency mission with important contributions from NASA, including infrared detectors for one instrument and science and data analysis.

Euclid is designed to give us important new insights into the “dark side” of the universe — namely dark matter and dark energy, both thought to be key components of our cosmos.

Artist's impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

Artist’s impression of the Euclid spacecraft, a dark energy and dark matter mission planned for launch in 2020. (ESA/C. Carreau)

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NASA Thruster system aboard LISA Pathfinder spacecraft

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is on its way to space, having successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana (December 3rd local time/December 2nd PST). On board is the state-of-the-art Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), a thruster technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

LISA Pathfinder, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to test technologies that could one day detect gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, are ripples in spacetime produced by any accelerating body.

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves. (ESA)

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NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory sees Thousands of Comets Disintegrate

 

Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For an astronomer, discovering a comet can be the highlight of a lifetime. Great comets carry the names of their discoverers into history. Comet Halley, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Hale-Bopp are just a few examples….

Imagine the frustration, though, if every time you discovered a comet, it was rapidly destroyed.

Believe it or not, this is what happens almost every day to the most prolific comet hunter of all time.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to sample Saturn’s moon Enceladus’s ocean by flying through it’s icy plume

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will sample the ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus on Wednesday, October 28th, when it flies through the moon’s plume of icy spray.

Cassini launched in 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn in 2004. Since then, it has been studying the huge planet, its rings and its magnetic field. Here are some things to know about the mission’s upcoming close flyby of Enceladus:

This daring flyby will bring the Cassini spacecraft within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of Enceladus' south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This daring flyby will bring the Cassini spacecraft within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of Enceladus’ south pole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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