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NASA Laser Communications research may lead to faster data transfer in Space

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day.

The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You’re lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps).

But we might be on the cusp of a change. Just as going from dial-up to broadband revolutionized the Internet and made high-resolution photos and streaming video a given, NASA may be ready to undergo a similar “broadband” moment in coming years.

Several upcoming NASA missions will use lasers to increase data transmission from space. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Amber Jacobson, producer)

Several upcoming NASA missions will use lasers to increase data transmission from space. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Amber Jacobson, producer)

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2017 Total Solar Eclipse will give NASA Unique Opportunity to study the Earth

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in nearly 40 years takes place on August 21st, 2017. Beyond providing a brilliant sight in the daytime sky, total solar eclipses provide a rare chance for scientists to collect data only available during eclipses. NASA is funding 11 scientific studies that will take advantage of this opportunity.  

“When the moon blocks out the sun during a total eclipse, those regions of Earth that are in the direct path of totality become dark as night for almost three minutes,” said Steve Clarke, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This will be one of the best-observed eclipses to date, and we plan to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn as much as we can about the sun and its effects on Earth.”

The total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, stretches across the U.S. from coast to coast, providing scientists with a unique opportunity to study the eclipse from different vantage points. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

The total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, stretches across the U.S. from coast to coast, providing scientists with a unique opportunity to study the eclipse from different vantage points. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA examines possible link between Animal Beachings and Severe Solar Storms

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, 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.

Veterinarians Rachel Berngartt and Kate Savage volunteer with NMFS' Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network during the necropsy of a humpback whale calf that stranded on Baranof Island, Alaska. (Aleria Jensen, NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC)

Veterinarians Rachel Berngartt and Kate Savage volunteer with NMFS’ Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network during the necropsy of a humpback whale calf that stranded on Baranof Island, Alaska. (Aleria Jensen, NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC)

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NASA successfully launched Sounding Rocket into the Alaskan Sky

 

Written by Keith Koehler
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWallops 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.

NASA Sounding Rocket launching from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. (NASA/Jamie Adkins)

NASA Sounding Rocket launching from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. (NASA/Jamie Adkins)

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NASA’s SMAP mission provides Climate, Weather and Agriculture data

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA announces NOAA’s GOES-16 Satellite takes First Photos of Earth

 

Written by John Leslie
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilver 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.

This composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere was captured from NOAA GOES-16 satellite at 1:07 pm EST on Jan. 15, 2017 and created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the satellite's sophisticated Advanced Baseline Imager. The image, taken from 22,300 miles above the surface, shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. (NOAA)

This composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere was captured from NOAA GOES-16 satellite at 1:07 pm EST on Jan. 15, 2017 and created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the satellite’s sophisticated Advanced Baseline Imager. The image, taken from 22,300 miles above the surface, shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. (NOAA)

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2016 Warmest Year on Record according to NASA, NOAA

 

Written by Sean Potter
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

2016 was the hottest year on record, continuing a decades-long warming trend. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analyzed measurements from 6,300 locations and found that Earth’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late-19th century, largely a result of human emissions into the atmosphere. (NASA)

2016 was the hottest year on record, continuing a decades-long warming trend. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analyzed measurements from 6,300 locations and found that Earth’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late-19th century, largely a result of human emissions into the atmosphere. (NASA)

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NASA Satellites examine Heavy Rainfall in Southern Thailand

 

Written by Hal Pierce/Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Widespread flooding has recently caused the deaths of dozens of people in southern Thailand. Frequent and persistent downpours have resulted in record rainfall totals and NASA calculated rainfall over the region from January 5th to January 12th, 2017.

The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite is part of a constellation of satellites that can measure rainfall from space. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the data is input into NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data product.

NASA calculated rainfall over southern Thailand from Jan. 5 to 12, 2017. Extreme rainfall totals of over 700 mm (27.6 inches) were found over the Gulf of Thailand. Highest totals over land were greater than 500 mm (19.7 inches) on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula in the Bang Saphan District. (NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce)

NASA calculated rainfall over southern Thailand from Jan. 5 to 12, 2017. Extreme rainfall totals of over 700 mm (27.6 inches) were found over the Gulf of Thailand. Highest totals over land were greater than 500 mm (19.7 inches) on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula in the Bang Saphan District. (NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers shadow moving across Young Star

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Searching for planets around other stars is a tricky business. They’re so small and faint that it’s hard to spot them. But a possible planet in a nearby stellar system may be betraying its presence in a unique way: by a shadow that is sweeping across the face of a vast pancake-shaped gas-and-dust disk surrounding a young star.

The planet itself is not casting the shadow. But it is doing some heavy lifting by gravitationally pulling on material near the star and warping the inner part of the disk. The twisted, misaligned inner disk is casting its shadow across the surface of the outer disk.

These images, taken a year apart by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, reveal a shadow moving counterclockwise around a gas-and-dust disk encircling the young star TW Hydrae. The two images at the top, taken by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, show an uneven brightness across the disk. Through enhanced image processing (images at bottom), the darkening becomes even more apparent. These enhanced images allowed astronomers to determine the reason for the changes in brightness. The dimmer areas of the disk, at top left, are caused by a shadow spreading across the outer disk. (NASA, ESA, and J. Debes (STScI))

These images, taken a year apart by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, reveal a shadow moving counterclockwise around a gas-and-dust disk encircling the young star TW Hydrae. The two images at the top, taken by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, show an uneven brightness across the disk. Through enhanced image processing (images at bottom), the darkening becomes even more apparent. These enhanced images allowed astronomers to determine the reason for the changes in brightness. The dimmer areas of the disk, at top left, are caused by a shadow spreading across the outer disk. (NASA, ESA, and J. Debes (STScI))

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NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program to explore Exotic Astronomical Objects

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars.

Objects such as black holes can heat surrounding gases to more than a million degrees. The high-energy X-ray radiation from this gas can be polarized – vibrating in a particular direction.

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

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