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Topic: NASA

NASA’s Twin GRACE-FO Satellites moved to Launch Site

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A pair of advanced U.S./German Earth research satellites with some very big shoes to fill is now at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to begin final preparations for launch next spring.

Following a year-long test campaign by satellite manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany, the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were loaded aboard an air freighter at Munich airport December 11th and arrived at the launch site on California’s central coast Tuesday, December 12th. GRACE-FO will provide continuity to the Earth climate data record of the extremely successful predecessor GRACE, which completed its science mission in October after more than 15 years in orbit.

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

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NASA’s MAVEN mission insights about Mars helps with understanding Distant Planets Habitability

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – How long might a rocky, Mars-like planet be habitable if it were orbiting a red dwarf star? It’s a complex question but one that NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission can help answer.

“The MAVEN mission tells us that Mars lost substantial amounts of its atmosphere over time, changing the planet’s habitability,” said David Brain, a MAVEN co-investigator and a professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We can use Mars, a planet that we know a lot about, as a laboratory for studying rocky planets outside our solar system, which we don’t know much about yet.”

This illustration depicts charged particles from a solar storm stripping away charged particles of Mars' atmosphere, one of the processes of Martian atmosphere loss studied by NASA's MAVEN mission, beginning in 2014. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a global magnetic field that could deflect charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA/GSFC)

This illustration depicts charged particles from a solar storm stripping away charged particles of Mars’ atmosphere, one of the processes of Martian atmosphere loss studied by NASA’s MAVEN mission, beginning in 2014. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a global magnetic field that could deflect charged particles emanating from the Sun. (NASA/GSFC)

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NASA says Dwarf Planet Ceres is still evolving

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could fly aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions.

These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned.

Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time — processes indicative of an active, evolving world.

The bright areas of Occator Crater -- Cerealia Facula in the center and Vinalia Faculae to the side -- are examples of bright material found on crater floors on Ceres. This is a simulated perspective view. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

The bright areas of Occator Crater — Cerealia Facula in the center and Vinalia Faculae to the side — are examples of bright material found on crater floors on Ceres. This is a simulated perspective view. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data reveals deepness of Great Red Spot on Jupiter

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its first pass over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in July 2017 indicate that this iconic feature penetrates well below the clouds. Other revelations from the mission include that Jupiter has two previously uncharted radiation zones. The findings were announced Monday at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans.

“One of the most basic questions about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is: how deep are the roots?” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter's Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

This photo shows the motion of clouds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart)

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NASA reports Geminid Meteor Shower to peak December 13th and 14th

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Maybe you’ve already seen a bright meteor streak across the December sky? The annual Geminid meteor shower has arrived. It’s a good time to bundle up, go outside and let the universe blow your mind!

“With August’s Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The thin, waning crescent Moon won’t spoil the show.”

A Geminid meteor. (Image credit: Jimmy Westlake)

A Geminid meteor. (Image credit: Jimmy Westlake)

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NASA’s ER-2 High-Altitude Aircraft surveys Southern California Wildfires

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A team of NASA scientists is using a high-altitude aircraft and a sophisticated imaging spectrometer built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to study environmental impacts caused by the devastating Southern California wildfires.

NASA’s ER-2, based at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, flies as high as 70,000 feet (21,300 meters), almost twice as high as a commercial airliner.

NASA uses the unique perspective of the ER-2 for science research missions over much of the world.

The Ventura coastline is barely visible under a plume of smoke as NASA's ER-2 high-altitude aircraft carrying JPL's AVIRIS spectrometer instrument surveys the Southern California wildfires on Dec. 7, 2017. (NASA/Tim Williams)

The Ventura coastline is barely visible under a plume of smoke as NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft carrying JPL’s AVIRIS spectrometer instrument surveys the Southern California wildfires on Dec. 7, 2017. (NASA/Tim Williams)

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NASA’s ASTERIA CubeSat to be used for Astronomy Research

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Tiny satellites called CubeSats have attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Besides allowing researchers to test new technologies, their relative simplicity also offers hands-on training to early-career engineers.

A CubeSat recently deployed from the International Space Station is a key example of their potential, experimenting with CubeSats applied to astronomy.

For the next few months, a technology demonstration called ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) will test whether a CubeSat can perform precise measurements of change in a star’s light.

A JPL CubeSat named ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 21. It will test the use of CubeSats for astronomy research. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A JPL CubeSat named ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 21. It will test the use of CubeSats for astronomy research. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Mars Opportunity Rover makes it through another Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, has just passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the long Martian year with its solar panels in encouragingly clean condition for entering a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Before dust season will come the 14th Earth-year anniversaries of Mars landings by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in January 2004. Their missions were scheduled to last 90 Martian days, or sols, equivalent to about three months.

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in "Perseverance Valley" shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity's imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in “Perseverance Valley” shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity’s imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA uncovers most distant Supermassive Black Hole ever discovered

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have uncovered a rare relic from the early universe: the farthest known supermassive black hole. This matter-eating beast is 800 million times the mass of our Sun, which is astonishingly large for its young age. Researchers report the find in the journal Nature.

“This black hole grew far larger than we expected in only 690 million years after the Big Bang, which challenges our theories about how black holes form,” said study co-author Daniel Stern of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This artist's concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. (Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science)

This artist’s concept shows the most distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. It is part of a quasar from just 690 million years after the Big Bang. (Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science)

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NASA simulations show how Early Earth received Metal and Rock during Massive Collisions

 

Written by Kimberly Minafra
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Planetary collisions are at the core of our solar system’s formation. Scientists have long believed that after the Moon’s formation, the early Earth experienced a long period of bombardment that diminished about 3.8 billion years ago.

During this period, called “late accretion,” collisions with moon-sized planetary bodies, known as planetesimals, embedded extensive amounts of metal and rock-forming minerals into the Earth’s mantle and crust. It is estimated that approximately 0.5 percent of Earth’s present mass was delivered during this stage of planetary evolution.

Artist concept shows the collision of a large moon-sized planetary body penetrating all the way down to the Earth's core, with some particles ricocheting back into space. (Southwest Research Institute/Simone Marchi)

Artist concept shows the collision of a large moon-sized planetary body penetrating all the way down to the Earth’s core, with some particles ricocheting back into space. (Southwest Research Institute/Simone Marchi)

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