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Topic: Moon

NASA to include 13 CubeSats with 2018 launch of unmanned Orion Spacecraft into Deep Space

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will carry 13 low-cost CubeSats to test innovative ideas along with an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in 2018. Six of these CubeSat missions have contributions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars. SLS’ first flight, referred to as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), provides the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, as most launch opportunities for CubeSats are limited to low-Earth orbit.

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System, will examine the moon's surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft to move into higher orbit around Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini mission is entering its next chapter with an orbital choreography meant to tilt the spacecraft’s orbit out of Saturn’s ringplane.

The second of five large propulsive maneuvers in this campaign took place on Saturday, January 23rd. Each maneuver in the series sets up a subsequent gravity-assist flyby of Saturn’s massive moon Titan, which reshapes the spacecraft’s orbit, sending it to increasingly higher inclination with respect to Saturn’s equator.

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

This is an artists concept of Cassini during the Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver, just after the main engine has begun firing. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA Engineers finish Orion Spacecraft’s pressured life support vessel

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Orion spacecraft is another step closer to launching on its first mission to deep space atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

On January 13th, technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space, marking another important step on the journey to Mars.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft's pressure vessel was finished on January 13th, 2015. The pressure vessel will provide a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. (NASA)

NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s pressure vessel was finished on January 13th, 2015. The pressure vessel will provide a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. (NASA)

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NASA’s Stardust Spacecraft sample gave new insights into Comets and our Solar System

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It was less than an hour into the new day of January 15th, 2006 (EST), when tens of thousands of miles above our planet, two cable cutters and two retention bolts fired, releasing a spring which pushed a 101-pound (46-kilogram) sample return capsule away from its mother ship.

Later, during its final plunge Earthward, the capsule would become the fastest human-made object to enter our atmosphere, achieving a velocity of about 28,600 mph (12.8 kilometers per second).

The sample return capsule from NASA's Stardust mission successfully landed at the U.S. Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, Utah, at 2:10am Pacific (3:10am Mountain) on January 15, 2006. The capsule carried cometary and interstellar samples gathered by the Stardust spacecraft. (NASA)

The sample return capsule from NASA’s Stardust mission successfully landed at the U.S. Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, Utah, at 2:10am Pacific (3:10am Mountain) on January 15, 2006. The capsule carried cometary and interstellar samples gathered by the Stardust spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft delivers detailed photos of Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres.

Dawn took these images near its current altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Ceres, between December 19th and 23rd, 2015.

Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres, shows off many fascinating attributes at the high image resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel. The crater has bright material exposed on its rim, which could be salts, and its flat floor likely formed from impact melt and debris.

This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA Planetary Discoveries honored by U.S. Postal Service with 2016 Commemorative Stamps

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The U.S. Postal Service has previewed the New Year’s series of stamps highlighting NASA’s Planetary Science program, including a do-over of a famous Pluto stamp commemorating the NASA New Horizons’ historic 2015 flyby.

The Postal Service on Wednesday released a preview of its new 2016 stamps, which include an image of Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft, eight new colorful Forever stamps of NASA images of solar system planets, a Global Forever stamp dedicated to Earth’s moon as well as another postal treat for space fans: a tribute to 50 years of Star Trek.

Pluto Explored! In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 ‘Pluto: Not Yet Explored’ stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft. In 2015 the spacecraft carried the stamp on its history-making mission to Pluto and beyond. With this stamp, the Postal Service recognizes the first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizon mission. The souvenir sheet of four stamps contains two new stamps appearing twice. The first stamp shows an artists’ rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft and the second shows the spacecraft’s enhanced color image of Pluto taken near closest approach. (USPS/Antonio Alcalá © 2016 USPS)

Pluto Explored! In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 ‘Pluto: Not Yet Explored’ stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft. In 2015 the spacecraft carried the stamp on its history-making mission to Pluto and beyond. With this stamp, the Postal Service recognizes the first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizon mission. The souvenir sheet of four stamps contains two new stamps appearing twice. The first stamp shows an artists’ rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft and the second shows the spacecraft’s enhanced color image of Pluto taken near closest approach. (USPS/Antonio Alcalá © 2016 USPS)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft finishes last close Flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has begun transmitting data and images from the mission’s final close flyby of Saturn’s active moon Enceladus. Cassini passed Enceladus at a distance of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers) on Saturday, December 19th, at 9:49am PST (11:49am CST).

“This final Enceladus flyby elicits feelings of both sadness and triumph,” said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL. “While we’re sad to have the close flybys behind us, we’ve placed the capstone on an incredible decade of investigating one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system.”

NASA's Cassini spacecraft peered out over the northern territory on Saturn's moon Enceladus, during its final close flyby of Enceladus, on Dec. 19, 2015. (NASA)

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft peered out over the northern territory on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, during its final close flyby of Enceladus, on Dec. 19, 2015. (NASA)

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NASA reports Christmas Day Full Moon

 

Written by Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Not since 1977 has a full moon dawned in the skies on Christmas. But this year, a bright full moon will be an added gift for the holidays.

December’s full moon, the last of the year, is called the Full Cold Moon because it occurs during the beginning of winter. The moon’s peak this year will occur at 5:11am CST.

This rare event won’t happen again until 2034. That’s a long time to wait, so make sure to look up to the skies on Christmas Day.

How the moon will appear on Christmas, 2015. (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

How the moon will appear on Christmas, 2015. (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to make final close flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, Saturday

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A thrilling chapter in the exploration of the solar system will soon conclude, as NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft makes its final close flyby of the ocean-bearing moon Enceladus. Cassini is scheduled to fly past Enceladus at a distance of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers) on Saturday, December 19th, at 9:49am PST (11:49am CST).

Although the spacecraft will continue to observe Enceladus during the remainder of its mission (through September 2017), it will be from much greater distances — at closest, more than four times farther away than the December 19th encounter.

An exciting chapter of space exploration history will come to a close as NASA's Cassini spacecraft makes its final close flyby of Saturn's active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus. (NASA/JPL-CalTech)

An exciting chapter of space exploration history will come to a close as NASA’s Cassini spacecraft makes its final close flyby of Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus. (NASA/JPL-CalTech)

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NASA lists Milky Way Galaxy planets that are remarkably similar to those in the Star Wars universe

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The fantasy creations of the “Star Wars” universe are strikingly similar to real planets in our own Milky Way galaxy. A super Earth in deep freeze? Think ice-planet “Hoth.” And that distant world with double sunsets can’t help but summon thoughts of sandy “Tatooine.”

No indications of life have yet been detected on any of the nearly 2,000 scientifically confirmed exoplanets, so we don’t know if any of them are inhabited by Wookiees or mynocks, or play host to exotic alien bar scenes (or even bacteria, for that matter).

Still, a quick spin around the real exoplanet universe offers tantalizing similarities to several Star Wars counterparts.

The glittering city lights of Coruscant, the Star Wars core world, might have evolved on an older, near Earth-size planet like Kepler-452b. This real-life Earth cousin exists in a system 1.5 billion years older than Earth, giving any theoretical life plenty of time to develop an advanced technological civilization. (NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

The glittering city lights of Coruscant, the Star Wars core world, might have evolved on an older, near Earth-size planet like Kepler-452b. This real-life Earth cousin exists in a system 1.5 billion years older than Earth, giving any theoretical life plenty of time to develop an advanced technological civilization. (NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

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