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Topic: NASA

NASA’s Cassini mission and Hubble Space Telescope provides new details about moons Enceladus and Europa

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.

In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.

This artist's rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Habitable “Tatooine” type planets could be possible

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With two suns in its sky, Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine in “Star Wars” looks like a parched, sandy desert world. In real life, thanks to observatories such as NASA’s Kepler space telescope, we know that two-star systems can indeed support planets, although planets discovered so far around double-star systems are large and gaseous. Scientists wondered: If an Earth-size planet were orbiting two suns, could it support life?

It turns out, such a planet could be quite hospitable if located at the right distance from its two stars, and wouldn’t necessarily even have deserts.

This artist's concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA researchers are developing new Technique for making Heatshields

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A fresh approach to designing and manufacturing heat-thwarting thermal protection systems (TPS) for spacecraft is being developed and tested, offering the promise of fabricating larger tile sizes while reducing labor, cost and waste.

TPS, or heatshields, form the outer surface of spacecraft – called the aeroshell – and provide protection as the vehicle plunges through planetary atmospheres. This technology is critical to assuring mission success.

 Taking the heat! Entry, descent and landing payloads on atmospheric bodies require special materials. A new technique under study to manufacture and apply Thermal Protection System (TPS) tiles could save money and reduce spacecraft schedule, and assembly time. (Joe Brock, NASA Ames Research Center)


Taking the heat! Entry, descent and landing payloads on atmospheric bodies require special materials. A new technique under study to manufacture and apply Thermal Protection System (TPS) tiles could save money and reduce spacecraft schedule, and assembly time. (Joe Brock, NASA Ames Research Center)

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NASA reports Solar Storms can drain Electrical Charge from Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth’s poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles.

The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.

A team of researchers from Denmark, the United States and Canada made the discovery while studying a solar storm that reached Earth on February 19th, 2014.

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

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NASA’s Aqua Satellite observes Tropical Cyclone Ernie Intensify

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDThe storm formerly known as tropical cyclone 15S, now called Tropical Cyclone Ernie continued to strengthen as NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible image that showed the storm developed an eye.

NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Ernie on April 7th at 0645 UTC (2:45am EST) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument took a visible image of the storm. The image showed an eye had formed as the storm strengthened into a hurricane. Thick bands of powerful thunderstorms surrounded the eye.

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Ernie on April 7 at 0645 UTC (2:45 a.m. EST) and saw an eye had formed as the storm strengthened into a hurricane. Thick bands of powerful thunderstorms surrounded the eye. (NASA)

NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Ernie on April 7 at 0645 UTC (2:45 a.m. EST) and saw an eye had formed as the storm strengthened into a hurricane. Thick bands of powerful thunderstorms surrounded the eye. (NASA)

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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts selects 22 proposals for advancement

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A mechanical rover inspired by a Dutch artist. A weather balloon that recharges its batteries in the clouds of Venus.

These are just two of the five ideas that originated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and are advancing for a new round of research funded by the agency.

In total, the space agency is investing in 22 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

PL's AREE rover for Venus is just one of the concepts selected by NASA for further research funding. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PL’s AREE rover for Venus is just one of the concepts selected by NASA for further research funding. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA study suggests Dwarf Planet Ceres’ Atmosphere linked to Sun’s Behavior

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have long thought that Ceres may have a very weak, transient atmosphere, but mysteries lingered about its origin and why it’s not always present. Now, researchers suggest that this temporary atmosphere appears to be related to the behavior of the sun, rather than Ceres’ proximity to the sun.

The study was conducted by scientists from NASA’s Dawn mission and others who previously identified water vapor at Ceres using other observatories.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft determined the hydrogen content of the upper yard, or meter, of Ceres' surface. Blue indicates where hydrogen content is higher, near the poles, while red indicates lower content at lower latitudes. Vesta on the left, Ceres on the right. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft determined the hydrogen content of the upper yard, or meter, of Ceres’ surface. Blue indicates where hydrogen content is higher, near the poles, while red indicates lower content at lower latitudes. Vesta on the left, Ceres on the right. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

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NASA reports near-Earth Asteroid to pass by on April 19th

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A relatively large near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19th at a distance of about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size.

The asteroid, known as 2014 JO25, was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona — a project of NASA’s NEO Observations Program in collaboration with the University of Arizona. (An NEO is a near-Earth object).

This computer-generated image depicts the flyby of asteroid 2014 JO25. The asteroid will safely fly past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), or about 4.6 times the distance between Earth and the moon. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This computer-generated image depicts the flyby of asteroid 2014 JO25. The asteroid will safely fly past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), or about 4.6 times the distance between Earth and the moon. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says 2016 Quake Study may alter Earthquake Hazard Models

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Last November’s magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand was so complex and unusual, it is likely to change how scientists think about earthquake hazards in plate boundary zones around the world, finds a new international study.

The study, led by GNS Science, Avalon, New Zealand, with NASA participation, is published this week in the journal Science. The team found that the November 14th, 2016, earthquake was the most complex earthquake in modern history. The quake ruptured at least 12 major crustal faults, and there was also evidence of slip along the southern end of the Hikurangi subduction zone plate boundary, which lies about 12 miles (20 kilometers) below the North Canterbury and Marlborough coastlines.

Two ALOS-2 satellite images show ground displacements from the Nov. 2016 Kaikoura earthquake as colors proportional to the surface motion in two directions. The purple areas in the left image moved up and east 13 feet (4 meters); purple areas in the right image moved north up to 30 feet (9 meters). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA)

Two ALOS-2 satellite images show ground displacements from the Nov. 2016 Kaikoura earthquake as colors proportional to the surface motion in two directions. The purple areas in the left image moved up and east 13 feet (4 meters); purple areas in the right image moved north up to 30 feet (9 meters). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to begin final orbits around Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26th, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale.

“No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we’ll attempt to boldly cross 22 times,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “What we learn from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end.”

This illustration shows Cassini above Saturn's northern hemisphere prior to one of its 22 Grand Finale dives. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows Cassini above Saturn’s northern hemisphere prior to one of its 22 Grand Finale dives. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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