Topic: NASA’s Ames Research Center
Written by Bill Steigerwald
Greenbelt, MD – A powerful combination of observations and computer simulations is giving new clues to how the moon got its mysterious “tattoos” — swirling patterns of light and dark found at over a hundred locations across the lunar surface.
“These patterns, called ‘lunar swirls,’ appear almost painted on the surface of the moon,” said John Keller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “They are unique; we’ve only seen these features on the moon, and their origin has remained a mystery since their discovery.” Keller is project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, which made the observations.
Written by Charlie Sobeck, Kepler and K2 mission manager
NASA’s Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA – NASA mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM). On Sunday morning, the spacecraft reached a stable state with the communication antenna pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and historical event data to be downloaded to the ground. The spacecraft is operating in its lowest fuel-burn mode.
The mission has cancelled the spacecraft emergency, returning the Deep Space Network ground communications to normal scheduling.
NASA selects Pluto Orbiter, Extreme Environments Rover and 11 other pioneering technologies for development
Written by Gina Anderson
Washington, D.C. – NASA has selected 13 proposals through NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), a program that invests in transformative architectures through the development of pioneering technologies.
Among the selected are: a concept for reprogramming microorganisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics; a two-dimensional spacecraft with ultra-thin subsystems that may wrap around space debris to enable de-orbiting; and a method of computational imaging that leverages extrasolar intensity fluctuations to detect “echoes” from planets and other structures orbiting a distant star.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope given new mission to discover exoplanets in the center of Milky Way Galaxy
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers have made great strides in discovering planets outside of our solar system, termed “exoplanets.” In fact, over the past 20 years more than 5,000 exoplanets have been detected beyond the eight planets that call our solar system home.
The majority of these exoplanets have been found snuggled up to their host star completing an orbit (or year) in hours, days or weeks, while some have been found orbiting as far as Earth is to the sun, taking one Earth year to circle.
Written by H. Pat Brennan of JPL and Michele Johnson of Ames
Pasadena, CA – The brilliant flash of an exploding star’s shockwave — what astronomers call the “shock breakout” — has been captured for the first time in visible light by NASA’s planet-hunter, the Kepler space telescope.
An international science team led by Peter Garnavich, an astrophysics professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, analyzed light captured by Kepler every 30 minutes over a three-year period from 500 distant galaxies, searching some 50 trillion stars. They were hunting for signs of massive stellar death explosions known as supernovae.
Washington, D.C. – A year ago, Pluto was just a bright speck in the cameras of NASA’s approaching New Horizons spacecraft, not much different than its appearances in telescopes since Clyde Tombaugh discovered the then-ninth planet in 1930.
But this week, in the journal Science, New Horizons scientists have authored the first comprehensive set of papers describing results from last summer’s Pluto system flyby.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – The engineers huddled around a telemetry screen, and the mood was tense. They were watching streams of data from a crippled spacecraft more than 50 million miles away — so far that even at the speed of light, it took nearly nine minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.
It was late August 2013, and the group of about five employees at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, was waiting for NASA’s Kepler space telescope to reveal whether it would live or die. A severe malfunction had robbed the planet-hunting Kepler of its ability to stay pointed at a target without drifting off course.
Written by Darryl Waller
Moffett Field, CA – NASA has delivered an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to the University of Kansas in Lawrence for student training and development of a radar system for analyzing glaciers in Greenland associated with sea-level rise around the globe.
The UAS, named Viking-400, will allow students and faculty in the university’s Department of Aeronautical Engineering to gain hands-on experience with a production air vehicle to complement the school’s curriculum. . It will also facilitate the integration of radar instrument onto the aircraft. Students also will generate 3-D models of the aircraft that NASA will use for engineering and analysis.
Washington,D.C. – In the future, machines will monitor their own health and request help, themselves, when something’s wrong, predicts David Cirulli, engineering vice president and cofounder of CEMSol LLC.
“There’s going to be an integrated system-health engine as part of every system out there, and it will be able to interface with other systems and components,” says Cirulli. “That’s what’s missing today.” He compares the capability to how sick human patients can verbalize symptoms to a doctor, giving them the crucial information they need to diagnose a problem.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) begins fourth year of studying objects in Space
Written by Nicholas A. Veronico
Moffett Field, CA – NASA’s “flying” telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aboard a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner, began its fourth series of science flights on February 3rd, 2016.
This operational period, known as “Cycle 4,” is a one-year-long observing period in which SOFIA is scheduled for 106 flights between now and the end of January 2017.
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