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NASA studies how seasonal changes affect Plankton

 

Written by Denise Lineberry
NASA’s Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – Each new season brings change. Seasonal change on land is something that we’re familiar with and adjust to regularly. But what happens to billions of plankton in the ocean each season? How do they adjust to changing sunlight patterns and mixing of the water column? And what impact do these tiny critters have on us, so far away on land?

To answer those questions and others, NASA’s North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) mission began its fourth and final deployment, making it the first research mission to conduct an integrated study of all four distinct phases of the world’s largest phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic and how they impact the atmosphere.

A view of the Atlantis, seaborne research vessel for the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study. (Nicole Estaphan)

A view of the Atlantis, seaborne research vessel for the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study. (Nicole Estaphan)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observations show dust storms on Mars play role in loss of Atmosphere

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Some Mars experts are eager and optimistic for a dust storm this year to grow so grand it darkens skies around the entire Red Planet.

This biggest type of phenomenon in the environment of modern Mars could be examined as never before possible, using the combination of spacecraft now at Mars.

A study published this week based on observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) during the most recent Martian global dust storm — in 2007 — suggests such storms play a role in the ongoing process of gas escaping from the top of Mars’ atmosphere.

Two 2001 images from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show a dramatic change in the planet's appearance when haze raised by dust-storm activity in the south became globally distributed. The images were taken about a month apart. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Two 2001 images from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show a dramatic change in the planet’s appearance when haze raised by dust-storm activity in the south became globally distributed. The images were taken about a month apart. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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A Look Back at NASA’s efforts to send Astronauts into Deep Space from 2017

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Below are the top images from 2017 that tell the story of building and testing the systems that will send astronauts to deep space destinations including the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Construction Completed for Stand to Test SLS’s Largest Fuel Tank

Major construction is complete on NASA’s structural test stand that will ensure SLS’s liquid hydrogen tank can withstand the extreme forces of launch and ascent. Together, the SLS liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks will feed 733,000 gallons (nearly 3 million liters) of super-cooled propellant to four RS-25 engines, producing a total of 2 million pounds of thrust at the base of the core stage.

The 215-foot-tall structural test stand for NASA's Space Launch System is seen Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The 215-foot-tall structural test stand for NASA’s Space Launch System is seen Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s ER-2 High-Altitude Aircraft takes Prototype Space Sensors for a Test Ride

 

Written by Kate Squires
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationEdwards, CA – Scientists recently completed test flights with prototypes of potential satellite sensors – including two from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California — over the Western United States, probing basic science questions about aerosols, clouds, air quality and global ocean ecosystems.

The flight campaign, called Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL), sought to test capabilities of several proposed instruments for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) pre-formulation study.

The view from NASA's ER-2 flying at approximately 65,000 feet (19,812 meters) near a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona, during the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne campaign on Nov. 7, 2017. (NASA/Stu Broce)

The view from NASA’s ER-2 flying at approximately 65,000 feet (19,812 meters) near a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona, during the Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) airborne campaign on Nov. 7, 2017. (NASA/Stu Broce)

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NASA 2017 Highlights

 

Written by Jen Rae Wang / Allard Beutel
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Moon became a key focus point for NASA in 2017, whether it was blocking out the Sun during one of the most-viewed events in U.S. history, or reinvigorating the agency’s human space exploration plans.

One of the numerous NASA-related activities and actions the Trump Administration did in 2017 was to reconstitute the National Space Council. During its first meeting on October 5th, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to develop a plan to help extend human exploration across our solar system, and return astronauts to the Moon in preparation for human missions to Mars and other destinations.

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NASA tests Exo Brake Parachute Device for returning Small Spacecraft to Earth

 

Written by Kimberly Minafra
NASA’ Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA launched the Technology Educational Satellite, or TechEdSat-6, to the International Space Station on Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on November 12th. This bread loaf-sized satellite is part of a continuing series to demonstrate the “Exo-Brake” parachute device, advanced communications and wireless sensor networks. 

TechEdSat-6 was released into low-Earth orbit from the NanoRacks platform on November 20th, to begin a series of wireless sensor experiments which will be the first self-powered tests, expanding the capabilities of sensor networks for future ascent or re-entry systems.

TechEdSat satellite with the Exo-Brake system demonstrates guided controlled re-entry of small spacecraft to Earth from space. (NASA)

TechEdSat satellite with the Exo-Brake system demonstrates guided controlled re-entry of small spacecraft to Earth from space. (NASA)

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NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover Mission tests Parachute Opening at Supersonic Speed

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Landing on Mars is difficult and not always successful. Well-designed advance testing helps. An ambitious NASA Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020 will rely on a special parachute to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at over 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second).

Preparations for this mission have provided, for the first time, dramatic video of the parachute opening at supersonic speed.

The Mars 2020 mission will seek signs of ancient Martian life by investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth.

A 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. 4. This was the first test of the Mars 2020 mission's parachute-testing series, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE. (NASA/Wallops)

A 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. 4. This was the first test of the Mars 2020 mission’s parachute-testing series, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE. (NASA/Wallops)

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft to undergo design test of Launch Abort System in April 2019

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to undergo a design test in April 2019 of the capsule’s launch abort system (LAS), which is a rocket-powered tower on top of the crew module built to very quickly get astronauts safely away from their launch vehicle if there is a problem during ascent.

This full-stress test of the LAS, called Ascent Abort Test 2 (AA-2), will see a booster, provided by Orbital ATK, launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying a fully functional LAS and a 22,000 pound Orion test vehicle to an altitude of 32,000 feet at Mach 1.3 (over 1,000 miles an hour).

NASA will test Orion’s launch abort system in high-stress ascent conditions during an April 2019 test called Ascent Abort-2. (NASA)

NASA will test Orion’s launch abort system in high-stress ascent conditions during an April 2019 test called Ascent Abort-2. (NASA)

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NASA’s CERES Flight Model 6 instrument to help study Earth’s Energy Budget

 

Written by Eric Gillard
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – The Earth and its interconnected systems have always been a fascination for Norman Loeb.

“It’s quite an interesting thing when you think about how energy is distributed and exchanged in various forms amongst Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land and snow surfaces,” he said.

As the principal investigator of NASA’s Radiaton Budget Science Project, Loeb oversees a series of space-borne instruments that measure reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth. It gives him a chance to satisfy his curiosity about our home planet from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Earth’s energy budget describes the balance between the radiant energy that reaches Earth from the sun and the energy that flows from Earth back out to space. (NASA)

Earth’s energy budget describes the balance between the radiant energy that reaches Earth from the sun and the energy that flows from Earth back out to space.
(NASA)

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NASA Developing Technology to Land on other Planets with rough Terrain

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Canyons, craters and cracked ice fields on other worlds might be hiding exciting scientific discoveries. But how do we get spacecraft to land on dangerous, uneven terrain?

A new NASA video explains how cutting-edge technologies could help. A system called the CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) is being developed in the Mojave Desert, with participation from several partners, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

A rocket flying several landing technologies was recently flown in the Mojave Desert. These flight tests, coordinated by NASA, are helping to develop technology for precise landings in uneven terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A rocket flying several landing technologies was recently flown in the Mojave Desert. These flight tests, coordinated by NASA, are helping to develop technology for precise landings in uneven terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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