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NASA selects experiments to accompany Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flight

 

Written by Rachel Hoover
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA has selected 12 technology experiments to fly on the first commercial research flight on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

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.

Telescopic image of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a supersonic test flight in 2013. (Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observatory)

Telescopic image of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a supersonic test flight in 2013. (Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observatory)

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NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft discover stripe pattern in one radiation belt around Earth

 

Written by Geoff Brown / Karen C. Fox
APL / NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, 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.

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.  (NASA)

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.
(NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance, Odyssey orbiters discover Martian Slopes where Water possibly flowed

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This image combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL)

This image combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gets images of Lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This false-color mosaic, made from infrared data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, reveals the differences in the composition of surface materials around hydrocarbon lakes at Titan, Saturn's largest moon. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho)

This false-color mosaic, made from infrared data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, reveals the differences in the composition of surface materials around hydrocarbon lakes at Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho)

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Lunar Research funded by NASA detects Water on Moon’s Surface and possible Water underneath

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This image of the moon was generated by data collected by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 mission. It is a three-color composite of reflected near-infrared radiation from the sun, and illustrates the extent to which different materials are mapped across the side of the moon that faces Earth. (Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS)

This image of the moon was generated by data collected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. It is a three-color composite of reflected near-infrared radiation from the sun, and illustrates the extent to which different materials are mapped across the side of the moon that faces Earth. (Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS)

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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 reports ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa may actually touch the icy surface

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

Based on new evidence from Jupiter's moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon's global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter's innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Based on new evidence from Jupiter’s moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon’s global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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