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Topic: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Laboratory begins reseach into Nighttime Thunderstorms over the Great Plains

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has joined a multi-agency field campaign studying summer storm systems in the U.S. Great Plains to find out why they often form after the sun goes down instead of during the heat of the day.

The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, or PECAN, project began June 1st and continues through mid-July. Participants from eight research laboratories and 14 universities are collecting storm data to find out how and why storms form.

NASA Takes to Kansas Skies to Study Nighttime Thunderstorms

NASA Takes to Kansas Skies to Study Nighttime Thunderstorms

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NASA gives explanation for extra second on June 30th, 2015

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The day was officially a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015, because an extra second, or “leap” second, was added.

“Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” said Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Strictly speaking, a day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives – Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. UTC is “atomic time” – the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium. These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

A flower clock is seen in the Jardin Anglais, Geneva, Switzerland. (Claude Meisch/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License)

A flower clock is seen in the Jardin Anglais, Geneva, Switzerland. (Claude Meisch/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope finds Cloud of Hydrogen created by Exoplanet’s evaporating Atmosphere

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dubbed “The Behemoth” bleeding from a planet orbiting a nearby star. The enormous, comet-like feature is about 50 times the size of the parent star. The hydrogen is evaporating from a warm, Neptune-sized planet, due to extreme radiation from the star.

This phenomenon has never been seen around an exoplanet so small. It may offer clues to how other planets with hydrogen-enveloped atmospheres could have their outer layers evaporated by their parent star, leaving behind solid, rocky cores. Hot, rocky planets such as these that roughly the size of Earth are known as Hot-Super Earths.

This artist's concept shows "The Behemoth," an enormous comet-like cloud of hydrogen bleeding off of a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 30 light-years from Earth. Also depicted is the parent star, which is a faint red dwarf named GJ 436. The hydrogen is evaporating from the planet due to extreme radiation from the star. A phenomenon this large has never before been seen around any exoplanet. (NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

This artist’s concept shows “The Behemoth,” an enormous comet-like cloud of hydrogen bleeding off of a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 30 light-years from Earth. Also depicted is the parent star, which is a faint red dwarf named GJ 436. The hydrogen is evaporating from the planet due to extreme radiation from the star. A phenomenon this large has never before been seen around any exoplanet. (NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals chaotic wobbling dance of Pluto’s Moons Nix and Hydra

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If you lived on one of Pluto’s moons, you might have a hard time determining when, or from which direction, the sun will rise each day. Comprehensive analysis of data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows that two of Pluto’s moons, Nix and Hydra, wobble unpredictably.

“Hubble has provided a new view of Pluto and its moons revealing a cosmic dance with a chaotic rhythm,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “When the New Horizons spacecraft flies through the Pluto system in July we’ll get a chance to see what these moons look like up close and personal.”

This illustration shows the scale and comparative brightness of Pluto’s small satellites. The surface craters are for illustration only and do not represent real imaging data. (NASA/ESA/A. Feild (STScI))

This illustration shows the scale and comparative brightness of Pluto’s small satellites. The surface craters are for illustration only and do not represent real imaging data. (NASA/ESA/A. Feild (STScI))

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NASA to suspend Communications to Mars Missions in June due to Mars Solar Conjunction

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In June 2015, Mars will swing almost directly behind the sun from Earth’s perspective, and this celestial geometry will lead to diminished communications with spacecraft at Mars.

The arrangement of the sun between Earth and Mars is called Mars solar conjunction. It occurs about every 26 months as the two planets travel in their sun-centered orbits. The sun disrupts radio communications between the planets during the conjunction period.

This diagram illustrates the positions of Mars, Earth and the sun during a period that occurs approximately every 26 months, when Mars passes almost directly behind the sun from Earth's perspective. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This diagram illustrates the positions of Mars, Earth and the sun during a period that occurs approximately every 26 months, when Mars passes almost directly behind the sun from Earth’s perspective. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA selects Instruments for mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected nine science instruments for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

NASA’s Galileo mission yielded strong evidence that Europa, about the size of Earth’s moon, has an ocean beneath a frozen crust of unknown thickness. If proven to exist, this global ocean could have more than twice as much water as Earth.

With abundant salt water, a rocky sea floor, and the energy and chemistry provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet.

This artist's rendering shows a concept for a future NASA mission to Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy Jovian moon, thought to contain a global subsurface ocean. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows a concept for a future NASA mission to Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy Jovian moon, thought to contain a global subsurface ocean. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory starts three year mission

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed has begun science operations.

Launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission, SMAP will help scientists understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; reduce uncertainties in predicting climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts. SMAP data have additional practical applications, including improved weather forecasting and crop yield predictions.

High-resolution global soil moisture map from SMAP's combined radar and radiometer instruments, acquired between May 4 and May 11, 2015 during SMAP's commissioning phase. The map has a resolution of 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The data gap is due to turning the instruments on and off during testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

High-resolution global soil moisture map from SMAP’s combined radar and radiometer instruments, acquired between May 4 and May 11, 2015 during SMAP’s commissioning phase. The map has a resolution of 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The data gap is due to turning the instruments on and off during testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope sees Halo of Gas surrounding Andromeda Galaxy

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the immense halo of gas enveloping the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured.

The dark, nearly invisible halo stretches about a million light-years from its host galaxy, halfway to our own Milky Way galaxy. This finding promises to tell astronomers more about the evolution and structure of majestic giant spirals, one of the most common types of galaxies in the universe.

The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. (NASA/STScI)

The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest massive galactic neighbor, is about six times larger and 1,000 times more massive than previously measured. (NASA/STScI)

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NASA measurements show Ethanol Refineries Emissions may be higher than Estimated

 

Written by Patrick Lynch
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Ethanol fuel refineries could be releasing much larger amounts of ozone-forming compounds into the atmosphere than current assessments suggest, according to a new study based on a field campaign that included a NASA sensor.

Airborne measurements made downwind from an ethanol fuel refinery in Decatur, Illinois, in 2013 found ethanol emissions 30 times higher than government estimates.

The measurements also showed emissions of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include ethanol, were five times higher than government numbers, which estimate emissions based on manufacturing information.

Air-quality readings over the Midwest were made from an aircraft in 2013 at three different distances downwind from an ethanol refining plant in Decatur, Illinois. The measurements were used to calculate emissions of various gases, including VOCs, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. (Joost de Gouw)

Air-quality readings over the Midwest were made from an aircraft in 2013 at three different distances downwind from an ethanol refining plant in Decatur, Illinois. The measurements were used to calculate emissions of various gases, including VOCs, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. (Joost de Gouw)

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NASA monitors increased Traffic orbiting Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has beefed up a process of traffic monitoring, communication and maneuver planning to ensure that Mars orbiters do not approach each other too closely.

Last year’s addition of two new spacecraft orbiting Mars brought the census of active Mars orbiters to five, the most ever. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission joined the 2003 Mars Express from ESA (the European Space Agency) and two from NASA: the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the 2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

This graphic depicts the relative shapes and distances from Mars for five active orbiter missions plus the planet's two natural satellites. It illustrates the potential for intersections of the spacecraft orbits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This graphic depicts the relative shapes and distances from Mars for five active orbiter missions plus the planet’s two natural satellites. It illustrates the potential for intersections of the spacecraft orbits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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