Written by Rachel Hoover
Through NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, officials have been working with commercial companies, universities and government organizations to coordinate testing of innovative space technologies on research flights through the use of commercial suborbital flight platforms.
Written by Geoff Brown / Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft have shown that high-energy electrons in the inner radiation belt display a persistent pattern that resembles slanted zebra stripes.
Surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.
The features are dark, finger-like markings that advance down some Martian slopes when temperatures rise. The new clues include corresponding seasonal changes in iron minerals on the same slopes and a survey of ground temperatures and other traits at active sites.
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan’s north pole.
The images reveal new clues about how the lakes formed and about Titan’s Earth-like “hydrologic” cycle, which involves hydrocarbons rather than water.
Pasadena, CA – NASA-funded lunar research has yielded evidence of water locked in mineral grains on the surface of the moon from an unknown source deep beneath the surface.
Using data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists remotely detected magmatic water, or water that originates from deep within the moon’s interior, on the surface of the moon.
Pasadena, 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.
Pasadena, 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.
Washington, 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.
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
Pasadena, CA – If you could lick the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath.
A new paper by Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, and Kevin Hand from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, details the strongest evidence yet that salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa’s frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.
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