Topic: Greenbelt MD
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – NASA has selected nine science instruments for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.
NASA’s Galileo mission yielded strong evidence that Europa, about the size of Earth’s moon, has an ocean beneath a frozen crust of unknown thickness. If proven to exist, this global ocean could have more than twice as much water as Earth.
With abundant salt water, a rocky sea floor, and the energy and chemistry provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed has begun science operations.
Launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission, SMAP will help scientists understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; reduce uncertainties in predicting climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts. SMAP data have additional practical applications, including improved weather forecasting and crop yield predictions.
Written by Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured.
The dark, nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our own Milky Way galaxy. This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure of majestic giant spirals, one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe.
Written by Patrick Lynch
Washington, D.C. – Ethanol fuel refineries could be releasing much larger amounts of ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere than current assessments suggest, according to a new study based on a field campaign that included a NASA sensor.
Airborne measurements made downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, in 2013 found ethanol emissions 30 times higher than government estimates.
The measurements also showed emissions of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA and its partners are gathering the best available science and information on the April 25th, 2015, magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal, referred to as the Gorkha earthquake, to assist in relief and humanitarian operations.
Organizations using these NASA data products and analyses include the U.S. Geological Survey, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, World Bank, American Red Cross, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
NASA’s CALIPSO satellite helps scientists study link between Sahara Desert dust and Amazon Rainforest
Written by Rachel Molina
Washington, D.C. – The Sahara Desert is one of the least hospitable climates on Earth. Its barren plateaus, rocky peaks, and shifting sands envelop the northern third of Africa, which sees very little rain, vegetation, and life.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean thrives the world’s largest rainforest. The lush, vibrant Amazon basin, located in northeast South America, supports a vast network of unparalleled ecological diversity.
Written by Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – The ISS-RapidScat instrument has been in orbit seven months, and forecasters are already finding this new eye-in-the-sky helpful as they keep watch on major storms around the globe.
RapidScat measures Earth’s ocean surface wind speed and direction over open waters. The instrument’s data on ocean winds provide essential measurements for researchers and scientists to use in weather predictions, including hurricane monitoring.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA is bringing together experts spanning a variety of scientific fields for an unprecedented initiative dedicated to the search for life on planets outside our solar system.
The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or “NExSS”, hopes to better understand the various components of an exoplanet, as well as how the planet’s stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere by analyzing xenon.
While NASA’s Curiosity rover concluded its detailed examination of the rock layers of the “Pahrump Hills” in Gale Crater on Mars this winter, some members of the rover team were busy analyzing the Martian atmosphere for xenon, a heavy noble gas.
Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment analyzed xenon in the planet’s atmosphere. Since noble gases are chemically inert and do not react with other substances in the air or on the ground, they are excellent tracers of the history of the atmosphere.
Written by Nancy Neal-Jones / William Steigerwald
Greenbelt, MD – A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments.
The nitrogen was detected in the form of nitric oxide, and could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form that can be used by living organisms. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient Mars was habitable for life.
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