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Topic: Mars

NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity explores aluminum mineral rich area on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its solar panels their cleanest in years, NASA’s decade-old Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is inspecting a section of crater-rim ridgeline chosen as a priority target due to evidence of a water-related mineral.

Orbital observations of the site by another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, found a spectrum with the signature of aluminum bound to oxygen and hydrogen. Researchers regard that signature as a marker for a mineral called montmorillonite, which is in a class of clay minerals called smectites.

This scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity catches "Pillinger Point," on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, in the foreground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity catches “Pillinger Point,” on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, in the foreground. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover completes first Martian Year on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover will complete a Martian year — 687 Earth days — on June 24th, having accomplished the mission’s main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Johnson Space Center has Astronauts Test Tools Underwater for Asteroid Mission

 

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – NASA is planning to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s, and preparations are already being made.

Stan Love and Steve Bowen have between them spent more than 62 hours in the vacuum of space on nine shuttle mission spacewalks, and they’re putting that experience to use here on Earth by helping engineers determine what astronauts will need on NASA’s next step toward Deep Space.

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope finds Asteroid candidate for Redirect Mission

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have measured the size of an asteroid candidate for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a proposed spacecraft concept to capture either a small asteroid, or a boulder from an asteroid.

The near-Earth asteroid, called 2011 MD, was found to be roughly 20 feet (6 meters) in size, and its structure appears to contain a lot of empty space, perhaps resembling a pile of rubble. Spitzer’s infrared vision was key to sizing up the asteroid.

The Spitzer Space Telescope whizzes in front of a brilliant, infrared view of the Milky Way galaxy's plane in this artistic depiction. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Spitzer Space Telescope whizzes in front of a brilliant, infrared view of the Milky Way galaxy’s plane in this artistic depiction. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Messenger Satellite discovers Space Weather Anomaly at the Planet Mercury

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The solar wind of particles streaming off the sun helps drive flows and swirls in space as complicated as any terrestrial weather pattern. Scientists have now spotted at planet Mercury, for the first time, a classic space weather event called a hot flow anomaly, or HFA, which has previously been spotted at Earth, Venus, Saturn and Mars.

“Planets have a bow shock the same way a supersonic jet does,” said Vadim Uritsky at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “These hot flow anomalies are made of very hot solar wind deflected off the bow shock.”

The yellow color shows the standing bow shock in front of Mercury. The signature of material flowing in a vastly different direction than the solar wind -- an HFA – can be seen in red at the lower left. (NASA/Duberstein)

The yellow color shows the standing bow shock in front of Mercury. The signature of material flowing in a vastly different direction than the solar wind — an HFA – can be seen in red at the lower left. (NASA/Duberstein)

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NASA uses ground radar to capture images of Asteroid as it passes near Earth

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists using Earth-based radar have produced sharp views of a recently discovered asteroid as it slid silently past our planet. Captured on June 8th, 2014, the new views of the object designated “2014 HQ124″ are some of the most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained.

The radar observations were led by scientists Marina Brozovic and Lance Benner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The JPL researchers worked closely with Michael Nolan, Patrick Taylor, Ellen Howell and Alessondra Springmann at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to plan and execute the observations.

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover captures images of the planet Mercury passing in front of the Sun

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has imaged the planet Mercury passing in front of the sun, visible as a faint darkening that moves across the face of the sun.

This is the first transit of the sun by a planet observed from any planet other than Earth, and also the first imaging of Mercury from Mars.

Mercury fills only about one-sixth of one pixel as seen from such great distance, so the darkening does not have a distinct shape, but its position follows Mercury’s expected path based on orbital calculations.

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NASA selects concepts for Phase I of Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program

 

Written by David E. Steitz
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected 12 proposals, including three from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including  a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan, using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets, and  a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

Artist's concept of the Titan Aerial Daughtercraft. (NASA)

Artist’s concept of the Titan Aerial Daughtercraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) investigates technologies for Human, Robotic missions to Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is paving the way for future Mars exploration. The directorate is currently investing in and developing bold, disruptive technology required for future deep-space missions.

This critical work leads a concerted effort throughout the agency, including at the program level and across multiple centers, as well as with partners in American industry.

During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA's ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces.

During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces.

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NASA Engineers to test landing heavy payloads on Mars

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A saucer-shaped vehicle designed to test interplanetary landing devices hangs on a tower in preparation for launch at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

The saucer, which is part of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, will test two devices for landing heavy payloads on Mars: an inflatable tube and an enormous parachute.

The launch tower helps link the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle's rocket will take it to even higher altitudes, where the supersonic test begins. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The launch tower helps link the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle’s rocket will take it to even higher altitudes, where the supersonic test begins. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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