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NASA to test Space Launch System’s Largest Fuel Tank

 

Written by Tracy McMahan
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Major construction is complete on NASA’s largest new Space Launch System structural test stand, and engineers are now installing equipment needed to test the rocket’s biggest fuel tank.

The stand is critical for ensuring SLS’s liquid hydrogen tank can withstand the extreme forces of launch and ascent on its first flight, and later on the second flight, which will carry up to four astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on a journey around the moon, into the deep-space proving ground for the technology needed for the journey to Mars.

Robert Bobo, left, and Mike Nichols talk beneath the 221-foot-tall Test Stand 4693, the largest of two new Space Launch System test stands at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Bobo manages SLS structural strength testing, and Nichols is lead test engineer for the SLS liquid hydrogen tank, which the stand will subject to the forces it must endure during launch and flight. (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

Robert Bobo, left, and Mike Nichols talk beneath the 221-foot-tall Test Stand 4693, the largest of two new Space Launch System test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Bobo manages SLS structural strength testing, and Nichols is lead test engineer for the SLS liquid hydrogen tank, which the stand will subject to the forces it must endure during launch and flight. (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

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NASA’s Discovery Program to send missions to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids and Metal Asteroid

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected two missions that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest eras in the history of our solar system – a time less than 10 million years after the birth of our sun. The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

“Lucy will visit a target-rich environment of Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids, while Psyche will study a unique metal asteroid that’s never been visited before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is what Discovery Program missions are all about – boldly going to places we’ve never been to enable groundbreaking science.”

Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. (SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. (SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft takes photo of massive storms on Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, highlights the seventh of eight features forming a ‘string of pearls on Jupiter — massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant’s southern hemisphere.

Since 1986, these white ovals have varied in number from six to nine. There are currently eight white ovals visible.

This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA's Juno spacecraft, highlights the seventh of Jupiter's eight 'string of pearls' -- massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant's southern hemisphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, highlights the seventh of Jupiter’s eight ‘string of pearls’ — massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant’s southern hemisphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reveals new areas where Ice may hide on Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – At first glance, Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt, may not look icy. Images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft have revealed a dark, heavily cratered world whose brightest area is made of highly reflective salts — not ice.

But newly published studies from Dawn scientists show two distinct lines of evidence for ice at or near the surface of the dwarf planet. Researchers are presenting these findings at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

This graphic shows a theoretical path of a water molecule on Ceres. Some water molecules fall into cold, dark craters called "cold traps," where very little of the ice turns into vapor, even over the course of a billion years. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This graphic shows a theoretical path of a water molecule on Ceres. Some water molecules fall into cold, dark craters called “cold traps,” where very little of the ice turns into vapor, even over the course of a billion years. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft has successful Flyby of Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter on Sunday, December 11th, its latest science orbit of the mission.

Seven instruments and the spacecraft’s JunoCam were operating during the flyby to collect data that is now being returned to Earth. Juno is currently in a 53-day orbit, and its next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on February 2nd, 2017.

On Sunday, December 11th, at 9:04am PST (12:04pm EST, 17:04 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its third flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to see near-earth asteroid Bennu through Cameras on OSIRIS-REx spacecraft

 

Written by Sarah Schlieder
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Retrieving an asteroid sample is no easy task. Doing the job blindfolded is even more challenging. That’s why scientists equipped the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with a set of eyes to watch it all unfold.

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) launched September 8th, 2016, and is traveling to a near-Earth asteroid known as Bennu, to harvest a sample of surface material, and return it to Earth for study. A trio of cameras will capture it all.

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft to make third Flyby of Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Sunday, December 11th, at 9:04am PST (11:04am CST, 17:04 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its third science flyby of Jupiter.

At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,580 miles (4,150 kilometers) above the gas giant’s roiling cloud tops and traveling at a speed of about 129,000 mph (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the planet. Seven of Juno’s eight science instruments will be energized and collecting data during the flyby.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer instrument ends operations

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat) Earth science instrument has ended operations following a successful two-year mission aboard the space station. The mission launched September 21st, 2014, and had recently passed its original decommissioning date.

ISS-RapidScat used the unique vantage point of the space station to provide near-real-time monitoring of ocean winds, which are critical in determining regional weather patterns. Its measurements of wind speed and direction over the ocean surface have been used by agencies worldwide for weather and marine forecasting and tropical cyclone monitoring.

Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array observes new Star being born

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – A snapshot of the stellar life cycle has been captured in a new portrait from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array (SMA).  

A cloud that is giving birth to stars has been observed to reflect X-rays from Cygnus X-3, a source of X-rays produced by a system where a massive star is slowly being eaten by its companion black hole or neutron star. This discovery provides a new way to study how stars form. 

A small cloud of dust and gas containing a new star being formed about 20,000 light years from Earth. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/M.McCollough et al, Radio: ASIAA/SAO/SMA)

A small cloud of dust and gas containing a new star being formed about 20,000 light years from Earth. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/M.McCollough et al, Radio: ASIAA/SAO/SMA)

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