Topic: NASA’s Ames Research Center
Written by Jessica Nimon
Houston, TX – As the saying goes, sticks and stones may break your bones—especially if you have a weak skeleton. This is not only a concern for the elderly who can suffer from osteoporosis. Inactivity from injury, illness, or malnutrition from anorexia or dietary challenges also can lead to bone breakdown in otherwise healthy people.
Another cause of bone loss is living in microgravity. While most people may never experience life in space, the benefits of studying bone loss aboard the International Space Station has the potential to touch all of our lives here on the ground.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – About 60 percent of California is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the U.S. Drought Monitor’s most dire classification. The agency issued the same warning to Texas and the southeastern United States in 2012. California’s last two winters have been among the driest since records began in 1879. Without enough water in the soil, seeds can’t sprout roots, leaves can’t perform photosynthesis, and agriculture can’t be sustained.
Currently, there is no ground- or satellite-based global network monitoring soil moisture at a local level. Farmers, scientists and resource managers can place sensors in the ground, but these only provide spot measurements and are rare across some critical agricultural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Written by Maria Alberty
Moffett Field, CA – Inspired by science fiction, three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space Station since 2006.
These satellites provide a test bed for development and research, each having its own power, propulsion, computer, navigation equipment, and physical and electrical connections for hardware and sensors for various experiments.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day.
We have a lot in common.
Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues.”
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, 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.
Written by Jonas Dino
Moffett Field, CA – Excitement is building for fans across the globe with today’s first match of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) 2014 World Cup tournament. These fans include NASA engineers, who used the lead-up to the tournament to test the aerodynamics of this year’s new ball design, developed by Adidas and dubbed the Brazuca ball.
Although NASA is not in the business of designing or testing balls, the tournament provides an opportunity to explain the concepts of aerodynamics to students and individuals less familiar with the fundamentals of aerodynamics.
Written by Rachel Hoover
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.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.
“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – Scientists working with data from NASA’s Cassini mission have developed a new way to understand the atmospheres of exoplanets by using Saturn’s smog-enshrouded moon Titan as a stand-in. The new technique shows the dramatic influence that hazy skies could have on our ability to learn about these alien worlds orbiting distant stars.
The work was performed by a team of researchers led by Tyler Robinson, a NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The findings were published May 26th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – The largest moon in our solar system, a companion to Jupiter named Ganymede, might have ice and oceans stacked up in several layers like a club sandwich, according to new NASA-funded research that models the moon’s makeup.
Previously, the moon was thought to harbor a thick ocean sandwiched between just two layers of ice, one on top and one on bottom.
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