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Topic: NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found 101 distinct Geysers on Saturn’s Icy Moon Enceladus

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists using mission data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have identified 101 distinct geysers erupting on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moon’s underground sea all the way to its surface.

These findings, and clues to what powers the geyser eruptions, are presented in two articles published in the current online edition of the Astronomical Journal.

This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn's moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals salty ocean inside Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence of an ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth’s Dead Sea. The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Icarus.

“This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards,” said the paper’s lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. “Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

Researchers found that Titan’s ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to make a flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft zooms toward Saturn’s smoggy moon Titan for a targeted flyby on June 18th, mission scientists are excitedly hoping to repeat a scientific tour de force that will provide valuable new insights into the nature of the moon’s surface and atmosphere.

For Cassini’s radio science team, the last flyby of Titan, on May 17th, was one of the most scientifically valuable encounters of the spacecraft’s current extended mission.

Cassini will attempt to bounce signals off of Saturn's moon Titan once more during a flyby on June 18, 2014, revealing important details about the moon's surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Cassini will attempt to bounce signals off of Saturn’s moon Titan once more during a flyby on June 18, 2014, revealing important details about the moon’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA study shows Pluto’s Moon Charon could have had a subterranean ocean due to cracks in it’s surface

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – If the icy surface of Pluto’s giant moon Charon is cracked, analysis of the fractures could reveal if its interior was warm, perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water, according to a new NASA-funded study.

Pluto is an extremely distant world, orbiting the sun more than 29 times farther than Earth. With a surface temperature estimated to be about 380 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (around minus 229 degrees Celsius), the environment at Pluto is far too cold to allow liquid water on its surface. Pluto’s moons are in the same frigid environment.

This artist concept shows Pluto and some of its moons, as viewed from the surface of one of the moons. Pluto is the large disk at center. Charon is the smaller disk to the right. (NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI))

This artist concept shows Pluto and some of its moons, as viewed from the surface of one of the moons. Pluto is the large disk at center. Charon is the smaller disk to the right. (NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI))

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft uses Sunsets on Saturn’s moon Titan to reveal Atmospheres of Exoplanets

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through Titan's hazy atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through Titan’s hazy atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft takes photo of Planet Uranus from Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured its first-ever image of the pale blue ice-giant planet Uranus in the distance beyond Saturn’s rings.

The robotic spacecraft briefly turned its gaze away from the ringed beauty of Saturn on April 11th, 2014, to observe the distant planet, which is the seventh planet from the sun.

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft features a blue planet, but unlike the view from July 19, 2013 (PIA17172) that featured our home planet, this blue orb is Uranus, imaged by Cassini for the first time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft features a blue planet, but unlike the view from July 19, 2013 (PIA17172) that featured our home planet, this blue orb is Uranus, imaged by Cassini for the first time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captures image of possible new Moon around Saturn

 

Written by Jane Platt
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.

Images taken with Cassini’s narrow angle camera on April 15th, 2013, show disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s A ring — the outermost of the planet’s large, bright rings. One of these disturbances is an arc about 20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide.

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons. (NASA)

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals Saturn’s moon Enceladus has underground Ocean

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. -  Evidence that Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbors a large underground ocean has been uncovered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.

Researchers theorized the presence of an interior reservoir of liquid water in 2005 when Cassini discovered water vapor and ice spewing from vents near the moon’s south pole. New data on the moon’s gravity field reported in the April 4th, 2014, edition of the journal Science strengthen the case for an ocean hidden inside Enceladus.

This diagram illustrates the possible interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus based on a gravity investigation by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and NASA's Deep Space Network, reported in April 2014.

This diagram illustrates the possible interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus based on a gravity investigation by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and NASA’s Deep Space Network, reported in April 2014.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to begin 100th trip around Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Gay Hill
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ten years ago, we knew Titan as a fuzzy orange ball about the size of Mercury. We knew it had a nitrogen atmosphere — the only known world with a thick nitrogen atmosphere besides Earth. But what might lie beneath the hazy air was still just a guess.

On March 6th, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will swoop down within 933 miles (1,500 kilometers) of Titan to conduct its 100th flyby of the Saturn moon. Each flyby gives us a little more knowledge of Titan and its striking similarities to our world.

This artist's concept shows a possible model of Titan's internal structure that incorporates data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (A. D. Fortes/UCL/STFC)

This artist’s concept shows a possible model of Titan’s internal structure that incorporates data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (A. D. Fortes/UCL/STFC)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope capture unique view of Saturn’s Auroras

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles.

While NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don’t face Earth.

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