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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft begins Campaign 18 observing Clusters of Stars

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft began the 18th observing campaign of its extended mission, K2, on May 12th, 2018. For the next 82 days, Kepler will stare at clusters of stars, faraway galaxies, and a handful of solar system objects, including comets, objects beyond Neptune, and an asteroid. The Kepler spacecraft is expected to run out of fuel within several months.

Campaign 18 is a familiar patch of space, as it’s approximately the same region of sky that Kepler observed during Campaign 5 in 2015. One of the advantages of observing a field over again is that planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, may be found orbiting farther from their stars. Astronomers hope to not only discover new exoplanets during this campaign, but also to confirm candidates that were previously identified.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover successfully drills rock sample

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers working with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them. This past weekend, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year.

Curiosity tested percussive drilling this past weekend, penetrating about 2 inches (50 millimeters) into a target called “Duluth.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been testing this drilling technique since a mechanical problem took Curiosity’s drill offline in December of 2016.

NASA's Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called "Duluth" on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called “Duluth” on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s GRACE Follow-On Spacecraft launched Tuesday with mission to track Earth’s Water Changes

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. –  A joint U.S./German space mission to track the continuous movement of water and other changes in Earth’s mass on and beneath the planet’s surface successfully launched at 12:47pm PDT (2:47pm CDT) Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 from the California coast.

The twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO), a joint NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) mission, lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sharing their ride into space with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites.

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA to launch three CubeSat satellites on next International Space Station resupply mission

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This weekend, when the next cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station lifts off from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, it will be carrying among its supplies and experiments three cereal box-sized satellites that will be used to test and demonstrate the next generation of Earth-observing technology.

NASA has been increasing its use of CubeSats — small satellites based on several configurations of approximately 4 x 4 x 4-inch cubes — to put new technologies in orbit where they can be tested in the harsh environment of space before being used as part of larger satellite missions or constellations of spacecraft.

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA satellite observations reveal Freshwater locations changing around the Earth

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have combined an array of NASA satellite observations of Earth with data on human activities to map locations where freshwater is changing around the globe and why.

The study, published today in the journal Nature, finds that Earth’s wet land areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier due to a variety of factors, including human water management, climate change and natural cycles.

A team led by Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, used 14 years of observations from the U.S./German-led Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft mission to track global trends in freshwater in 34 regions around the world.

Artist's illustration of the twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission. GRACE Follow-On will soon continue the work of the original GRACE mission, providing valuable data that will help manage Earth's critical water resources. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

Artist’s illustration of the twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission. GRACE Follow-On will soon continue the work of the original GRACE mission, providing valuable data that will help manage Earth’s critical water resources. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA’s Mars Cube One takes photo of Earth and Moon

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 1 took a classic portrait of Earth from several billion miles away in 1990. Now a class of tiny, boxy spacecraft, known as CubeSats, have just taken their own version of a “pale blue dot” image, capturing Earth and its moon in one shot.

NASA set a new distance record for CubeSats on May 8th when a pair of CubeSats called Mars Cube One (MarCO) reached 621,371 miles (1 million kilometers) from Earth. One of the CubeSats, called MarCO-B (and affectionately known as “Wall-E” to the MarCO team) used a fisheye camera to snap its first photo on May 9th. That photo is part of the process used by the engineering team to confirm the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna has properly unfolded.

The first image captured by one of NASA's Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats. The image, which shows both the CubeSat's unfolded high-gain antenna at right and the Earth and its moon in the center, was acquired by MarCO-B on May 9. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The first image captured by one of NASA’s Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats. The image, which shows both the CubeSat’s unfolded high-gain antenna at right and the Earth and its moon in the center, was acquired by MarCO-B on May 9. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA is sending Mars Helicopter to Red Planet on Mars 2020 Rover Mission

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars.

The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”

The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with NASA's Mars 2020 rover, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s GRACE-FO Mission set to launch May 19th

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Imagine standing on the roof of a building in Los Angeles and trying to point a laser so accurately that you could hit a particular building in San Diego, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away.

This accuracy is required for the feat that a novel technology demonstration aboard the soon-to-launch Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission will aim to achieve.

For the first time, a promising technique called laser ranging interferometry will be tested between two satellites.

GRACE-FO will demonstrate the effectiveness of using lasers instead of microwaves to more precisely measure fluctuations in the separation distance between the two spacecraft, potentially improving the precision of range fluctuation measurements by a factor of at least 10 on future GRACE-like missions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

GRACE-FO will demonstrate the effectiveness of using lasers instead of microwaves to more precisely measure fluctuations in the separation distance between the two spacecraft, potentially improving the precision of range fluctuation measurements by a factor of at least 10 on future GRACE-like missions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA takes Satellite Images of Hawaii Volcano Fissures

 

Written by Esprit Smith
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The eruption of Kilauea Volcano on the island of Hawaii triggered a number of gas- and lava-oozing fissures in the East Riff Zone of the volcano. The fissures and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas prompted evacuations in the area.

Images taken from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite picked up these new fissures.

In the first image, the red areas are vegetation, and the black and gray areas are old lava flows.

ASTER image acquired May 6 picks up hotspots on the thermal infrared bands – shown in yellow. These hotspots are newly formed fissures and lava flows. (NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

ASTER image acquired May 6 picks up hotspots on the thermal infrared bands – shown in yellow. These hotspots are newly formed fissures and lava flows. (NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team)

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NASA’s twin Mars Cub One CubeSats on their way to Deep Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has received radio signals indicating that the first-ever CubeSats headed to deep space are alive and well. The first signal was received at 12:15pm PST (2:15pm CST) today; the second at 1:58pm PST (3:58pm CST). Engineers will now be performing a series of checks before both CubeSats enter their cruise to deep space.

Mars Cube One, or MarCO, is a pair of briefcase-sized spacecraft that launched along with NASA’s InSight Mars lander at 4:05am PDT (6:05am CDT) today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. InSight is a scientific mission that will probe the Red Planet’s deep interior for the first time; the name stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

An artist's rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats -- a kind of modular, mini-satellite -- attempting to fly to another planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An artist’s rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats — a kind of modular, mini-satellite — attempting to fly to another planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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