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Topic: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft arrives at Pluto

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on December 6th for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.

Operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD, confirmed at 9:53pm (EST) that New Horizons, operating on pre-programmed computer commands, had switched from hibernation to “active” mode. Moving at light speed, the radio signal from New Horizons – currently more than 2.9 billion miles from Earth, and just over 162 million miles from Pluto – needed four hours and 26 minutes to reach NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia.

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover confirms first Mineral Mapped from Space

 

Written by Preston Dyches and Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Reddish rock powder from the first hole drilled into a Martian mountain by NASA’s Curiosity rover has yielded the mission’s first confirmation of a mineral mapped from orbit.

“This connects us with the mineral identifications from orbit, which can now help guide our investigations as we climb the slope and test hypotheses derived from the orbital mapping,” said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

This image shows the first holes drilled by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity at Mount Sharp. The loose material near the drill holes is drill tailings and an accumulation of dust that slid down the rock during drilling. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image shows the first holes drilled by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity at Mount Sharp. The loose material near the drill holes is drill tailings and an accumulation of dust that slid down the rock during drilling. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Galileo spacecraft images give scientists evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This indicates the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth.

Researchers have clear visual evidence of Europa’s icy crust expanding. However, they could not find areas where the old crust was destroyed to make room for the new.

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter's moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa's 20-30 kilometer-thick (roughly 10-20 mile) ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted. (Noah Kroese, I.NK)

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa’s 20-30 kilometer-thick (roughly 10-20 mile) ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted. (Noah Kroese, I.NK)

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NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft’s restored footage gives Detailed Map of Nepture’s Moon Triton

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau/Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager’s historic footage of Triton has been “restored” and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon.

The map, produced by Paul Schenk, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, has also been used to make a movie recreating that historic Voyager encounter, which took place 25 years ago, on August 25th, 1989.

The Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Triton, a moon of Neptune, in the summer of 1989. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lunar & Planetary Institute)

The Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Triton, a moon of Neptune, in the summer of 1989. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lunar & Planetary Institute)

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NASA reports Comet ISON to pass by Mars on October 1st

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – According to NASA, the Comet ISON will flyby Mars on October 1st as continues toward our Sun.

Around the world, astronomers are buzzing with anticipation over the approach of Comet ISON.  On Thanksgiving Day 2013, the icy visitor from the outer solar system will skim the sun’s outer atmosphere and, if it survives, could emerge as one of the brightest comets in years.

First, though, it has to fly by Mars.

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NASA answers the question, “If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?”

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life.

This artist's concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Europa's potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Europa’s potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope sees Comet ISON Gas Emissions

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have observed what most likely are strong carbon dioxide emissions from Comet ISON ahead of its anticipated pass through the inner solar system later this year.

Images captured June 13th with Spitzer’s Infrared Array Camera indicate carbon dioxide is slowly and steadily “fizzing” away from the so-called “soda-pop comet,” along with dust, in a tail about 186,400 miles (300,000 kilometers) long.

These images from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of C/2012 S1 (Comet ISON) were taken on June 13th, when ISON was 310 million miles (about 500 million kilometers) from the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF)

These images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of C/2012 S1 (Comet ISON) were taken on June 13th, when ISON was 310 million miles (about 500 million kilometers) from the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF)

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NASA’s Cassini and Messenger Spacecrafts take pictures of Earth

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19th show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.

In this rare image taken on July 19th, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and Earth in the same frame. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

In this rare image taken on July 19th, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and Earth in the same frame. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft nears edge of our Solar System and will soon enter Interstellar Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Data from NASA’s Voyager 1, now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, suggest the spacecraft is closer to becoming the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.

Research using Voyager 1 data and published in the journal Science today provides new detail on the last region the spacecraft will cross before it leaves the heliosphere, or the bubble around our sun, and enters interstellar space.

This artist's concept shows NASA's two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes sheds light on the mysteries surrounding Earth’s Radiation Belt System

 

Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationLaurel, MD – Just 96 days since their launch, NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes have already provided new insights into the structure and behavior of the radiation belts that surround Earth, giving scientists a clearer understanding about the fundamental physical properties of these regions more than half a century after their discovery.

In a press conference at the American Geophysical Union’s 2012 Fall Meeting in San Francisco, members of the Van Allen Probes science team discussed current findings made in unlocking the mysteries of the radiation belts.

A graphic depicting the twin Van Allen Probes in orbit within Earth's magnetic field. (Credit: JHU/APL)

A graphic depicting the twin Van Allen Probes in orbit within Earth’s magnetic field. (Credit: JHU/APL)

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