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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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NASA’s TESS Satellite discovers its first Exoplanets

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, in its first three months of observations.

The mission’s sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes — most of them likely stellar outbursts — in the same region of the sky. They include six supernova explosions whose brightening light was recorded by TESS even before the outbursts were discovered by ground-based telescopes.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets in the data from the space telescope’s four cameras. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets in the data from the space telescope’s four cameras. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

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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 Sounding Rocket Probes the Dark Regions of Space

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The Dual-channel Extreme Ultraviolet Continuum Spectrograph or DEUCE payload was successfully launched at 1:46am CST, December 18th, 2018 on a Black Brant IX sounding rocket from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The rocket carried the payload to 175 miles altitude before descending and landing by parachute.  Payload recovery is in progress.  The experiment team reports that great data was received during the flight.

The DEUCE payload sits atop a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (NASA)

The DEUCE payload sits atop a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (NASA)

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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 OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft finds water on Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA Headquarters 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Recently analyzed data from NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.

During the mission’s approach phase, between mid-August and early December, the spacecraft traveled 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km) on its journey from Earth to arrive at a location 12 miles (19 km) from Bennu on December 3rd, 2018.

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA reports Wintertime Arctic Sea Ice Growth Slows, Long-term Decline

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – New NASA research has found that increases in the rate at which Arctic sea ice grows in the winter may have partially slowed down the decline of the Arctic sea ice cover.

As temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at double the pace of the rest of the planet, the expanse of frozen seawater that blankets the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas has shrunk and thinned over the past three decades. The end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent has almost halved since the early 1980s. A recent NASA study found that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70 percent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

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NASA study discovers Greenhouse Gas ‘Detergent’ Recycles Itself in Atmosphere

 

NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A simple molecule in the atmosphere that acts as a “detergent” to breakdown methane and other greenhouse gases has been found to recycle itself to maintain a steady global presence in the face of rising emissions, according to new NASA research.

Understanding its role in the atmosphere is critical for determining the lifetime of methane, a powerful contributor to climate change.

The hydroxyl (OH) radical, a molecule made up of one hydrogen atom, one oxygen atom with a free (or unpaired) electron is one of the most reactive gases in the atmosphere and regularly breaks down other gases, effectively ending their lifetimes.

Clouds over American Samoa from NASA’s Atmospheric Tomography mission in 2016.

Clouds over American Samoa from NASA’s Atmospheric Tomography mission in 2016.

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NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft to explore Jupiter Trojan Asteroids

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that a little over 4 billion years ago, the planets in our solar system coexisted with vast numbers of small rocky or icy objects orbiting the Sun. These were the last remnants of the planetesimals – the primitive building blocks that formed the planets.

Most of these leftover objects were then lost, as shifts in the orbits of the giant planets scattered them to the distant outer reaches of the solar system or beyond. But some were captured in two less-distant regions, near points where the gravitational influence of Jupiter and the Sun balance, and have remained trapped there, mostly untouched, for billions of years.

Conceptual image of the NASA Lucy mission to the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. (NASA/SwRI)

Conceptual image of the NASA Lucy mission to the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. (NASA/SwRI)

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NASA discovers large Meteorite Crater underneath the Ice in Greenland

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An international team of researchers, including a NASA glaciologist, has discovered a large meteorite impact crater hiding beneath more than a half-mile of ice in northwest Greenland. The crater — the first of any size found under the Greenland ice sheet — is one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth, measuring roughly 1,000 feet deep and more than 19 miles in diameter, an area slightly larger than that inside Washington’s Capital Beltway.

The group, led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark worked for the past three years to verify their discovery, which they initially made in 2015 using NASA data. Their finding is published in the November 14th issue of the journal Science Advances.

Radar data from an intensive aerial survey of the Hiawatha crater in May 2016 is shown here in aqua-colored curtains. A blue arrow points to the central peak of the crater. (NASA/Cindy Starr)

Radar data from an intensive aerial survey of the Hiawatha crater in May 2016 is shown here in aqua-colored curtains. A blue arrow points to the central peak of the crater. (NASA/Cindy Starr)

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