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NASA’s Curiosity Rover completes first Martian Year on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover will complete a Martian year — 687 Earth days — on June 24th, having accomplished the mission’s main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover captures images of the planet Mercury passing in front of the Sun

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has imaged the planet Mercury passing in front of the sun, visible as a faint darkening that moves across the face of the sun.

This is the first transit of the sun by a planet observed from any planet other than Earth, and also the first imaging of Mercury from Mars.

Mercury fills only about one-sixth of one pixel as seen from such great distance, so the darkening does not have a distinct shape, but its position follows Mercury’s expected path based on orbital calculations.

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers large new Crater on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers have discovered on the Red Planet the largest fresh meteor-impact crater ever firmly documented with before-and-after images. The images were captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The crater spans half the length of a football field and first appeared in March 2012. The impact that created it likely was preceded by an explosion in the Martian sky caused by intense friction between an incoming asteroid and the planet’s atmosphere.

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA begins construction on 2016 Mars Lander, named InSight

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA and its international partners now have the go-ahead to begin construction on a new Mars lander, after it completed a successful Mission Critical Design Review on Friday.

NASA’s Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission will pierce beneath the Martian surface to study its interior. The mission will investigate how Earth-like planets formed and developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust, and will collect information about those interior zones using instruments never before used on Mars.

This artist's concept depicts the stationary NASA Mars lander known by the acronym InSight at work studying the interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts the stationary NASA Mars lander known by the acronym InSight at work studying the interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover completes work at waypoint “The Kimberley”; ready to move to next destination

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Portions of powdered rock collected by drilling into a sandstone target last week have been delivered to laboratory instruments inside NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, and the rover will soon drive on toward its long-term destination on a mountain slope.

Other instruments on the rover have inspected the rock’s interior exposed in the hole and in drill cuttings heaped around the hole. The target rock, “Windjana,” is a sandstone slab within a science waypoint area called “The Kimberley.”

The Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover provided this nighttime view of a hole produced by the rover's drill and, inside the hole, a line of scars produced by the rover's rock-zapping laser. The camera used its own white-light LEDs to illuminate the scene on May 13, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover provided this nighttime view of a hole produced by the rover’s drill and, inside the hole, a line of scars produced by the rover’s rock-zapping laser. The camera used its own white-light LEDs to illuminate the scene on May 13, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover drills into slab of sandstone on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Portions of rock powder collected by the hammering drill on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover from a slab of Martian sandstone will be delivered to the rover’s internal instruments.

Rover team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, received confirmation early today (Tuesday) of Curiosity’s third successful acquisition of a drilled rock sample, following the drilling Monday evening (PDT).

This May 5, 2014, image from the Navigation Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows two holes at top center drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana." The farther hole was created by the rover's drill while it collected rock-powder sample material from the interior of the rock.

This May 5, 2014, image from the Navigation Camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows two holes at top center drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” The farther hole was created by the rover’s drill while it collected rock-powder sample material from the interior of the rock.

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover searches for next spot to drill

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is telling the rover to use several tools this weekend to inspect a sandstone slab being evaluated as a possible drilling target.

If this target meets criteria set by engineers and scientists, it could become the mission’s third drilled rock, and the first that is not mudstone. The team calls it “Windjana,” after a gorge in Western Australia.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has driven within robotic-arm's reach of the sandstone slab at the center of this April 23 view from the rover's Mast Camera. The rover team plans to have Curiosity examine a target patch on the rock, called "Windjana," to aid a decision about whether to drill there. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has driven within robotic-arm’s reach of the sandstone slab at the center of this April 23 view from the rover’s Mast Camera. The rover team plans to have Curiosity examine a target patch on the rock, called “Windjana,” to aid a decision about whether to drill there. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captures first ever photo of Asteroids from the surface of Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is the first ever from the surface of Mars to show an asteroid, and it shows two: Ceres and Vesta.

These two — the largest and third-largest bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — are the destinations of NASA’s Dawn mission. Dawn orbited Vesta in 2011 and 2012, and is on its way to begin orbiting Ceres next year. Ceres is a dwarf planet, as well as an asteroid.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has caught the first image of asteroids taken from the surface of Mars. The image includes two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. This version includes Mars' moon Deimos in a circular, exposure-adjusted inset and square insets at left from other observations the same night.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has caught the first image of asteroids taken from the surface of Mars. The image includes two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. This version includes Mars’ moon Deimos in a circular, exposure-adjusted inset and square insets at left from other observations the same night.

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snaps shot of Curiosity Rover

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists using NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover are eyeing a rock layer surrounding the base of a small butte, called “Mount Remarkable,” as a target for investigating with tools on the rover’s robotic arm.

The rover works near this butte in an image taken on April 11th by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and tracks from its driving are visible in this view from orbit, acquired on April 11th, 2014, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and tracks from its driving are visible in this view from orbit, acquired on April 11th, 2014, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity captures image of something reflecting on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on April 2nd and April 3rd include bright spots, which might be due to the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera’s detector.

The rover took the image just after arriving at a waypoint called “the Kimberley.” The bright spot appears on a horizon, in the same west-northwest direction from the rover as the afternoon sun.

This image from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover includes a bright spot near the upper left corner. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover includes a bright spot near the upper left corner. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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