Topic: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight 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.
NASA Researchers are developing new technologies to discover Earth-like Planets beyond our Solar System
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – We humans might not be the only ones to ponder our place in the universe. If intelligent aliens do roam the cosmos, they too might ask a question that has gripped humans for centuries: Are we alone?
These aliens might even have giant space telescopes dedicated to studying distant planets and searching for life. Should one of those telescopes capture an image of our blue marble of a planet, evidence of forests and plentiful creatures would jump out as simple chemicals: oxygen, ozone, water and methane.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Scientists are getting closer to finding worlds that resemble our own “blue marble” of a planet. NASA’s Kepler mission alone has confirmed more than 1,000 planets outside our solar system — a handful of which are a bit bigger than Earth and orbit in the habitable zones of their stars, where liquid water might exist.
Some astronomers think the discovery of Earth’s true analogs may be around the corner. What are the next steps to search for life on these potentially habitable worlds?
Written by Kasha Patel and Joy Ng
Greenbelt, MD – Not all raindrops are created equal. The size of falling raindrops depends on several factors, including where the cloud producing the drops is located on the globe and where the drops originate in the cloud.
For the first time, scientists have three-dimensional snapshots of raindrops and snowflakes around the world from space, thanks to the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.
Written by William Steigerwald / Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD – A new map of Mars’ gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.
“Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient,” said Antonio Genova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. “The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet’s gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD – Astronomers using the unique ultraviolet capabilities of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have identified nine monster stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the sun in the star cluster R136. This makes it the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date.
The results, which will be published in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, raise many new questions about the formation of massive stars.
Written by Harold F. Pierce / Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – Extremely heavy rain fell over the southern United States during the past week and data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission core satellite and others in the GPM constellation provided a look at areas with heaviest rainfall. The data showed the largest amounts of rain fell from north central Louisiana to southern Arkansas.
A slow moving area of low pressure pumped moisture from the Gulf of Mexico causing torrential rain that resulted in widespread flooding in states from Texas to Tennessee over the last week.
NASA’s MAVEN orbiter observes Comet Siding Spring create havoc with Mars’ Magnetic Field during flyby
Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
Greenbelt, MD – Just weeks before the historic encounter of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) with Mars in October 2014, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft entered orbit around the Red Planet.
To protect sensitive equipment aboard MAVEN from possible harm, some instruments were turned off during the flyby; the same was done for other Mars orbiters. But a few instruments, including MAVEN’s magnetometer, remained on, conducting observations from a front-row seat during the comet’s remarkably close flyby.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – The surface of Earth is constantly being reshaped by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, changes in sea level and ice sheets, and other processes.
Since some of these changes amount to only millimeters per year, scientists must make very precise measurements of the landscape and ocean in space and time in order to study their evolution and help mitigate their impacts.
The foundation for these precision measurements is the terrestrial reference frame, which serves the same purpose as landmarks along a trail. Earth-orbiting satellites and ground-based instruments use this reference system to pinpoint their own locations and, in turn, those of the features they are tracking.
Written by Lori Keesey
Greenbelt, MD – It’s getting noisier and noisier out there and now the cacophony of broadcast and other communications signals has begun to seriously interfere with important Earth science research.
A NASA team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is collaborating with Ohio State University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to build and launch a new CubeSat mission that will test next-generation techniques for detecting and discarding radio-frequency interference (RFI).
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