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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Citizen Scientists use NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data to discover New World

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star’s habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet’s surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets – planets beyond our solar system.

“It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,” said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student who discussed the discovery on Monday, January 7th, at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

The newfound planet K2-288Bb, illustrated here, is slightly smaller than Neptune. Located about 226 light-years away, it orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy)

The newfound planet K2-288Bb, illustrated here, is slightly smaller than Neptune. Located about 226 light-years away, it orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy)

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Invention Challenge

 

Written by Taylor Hill and Arielle Samuelson
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Whether via bungee cord, half-inch chain, servo motors, torsion springs, electronics or just plain gravity, 20 middle- and high-school student teams used a range of equipment to compete in this year’s JPL Invention Challenge at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The teams – mainly from Southern California but including ones from as far away as Ethiopia and Guam – took part in the “Upright Pipe Contest” on Friday, December 14th. The objective was to get a 24-inch length of two-inch PVC pipe from a horizontal position to an upright position on a platform using whatever device they could come up with, instructions not included.

Students from the Los Angeles High School's Wild Cats team compete with the invention they built for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Annual Invention Challenge. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Students from the Los Angeles High School’s Wild Cats team compete with the invention they built for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Annual Invention Challenge. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory produces coldest temperatures known

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA asks what’s the coldest place you can think of? Temperatures on a winter day in Antarctica dip as low as -120ºF (-85ºC). On the dark side of the Moon, they hit -280ºF (-173ºC). But inside NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory on the International Space Station, scientists are creating something even colder.

The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is the first facility in orbit to produce clouds of “ultracold” atoms, which can reach a fraction of a degree above absolute zero: -459ºF (-273ºC), the absolute coldest temperature that matter can reach.

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

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NASA captures radar images of asteroid 2003 SD220 as it approached Earth

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The December 2018 close approach by the large, near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 has provided astronomers an outstanding opportunity to obtain detailed radar images of the surface and shape of the object and to improve the understanding of its orbit.

The asteroid will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 at a distance of about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers). This will be the asteroid’s closest approach in more than 400 years and the closest until 2070, when the asteroid will safely approach Earth slightly closer.

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on December 15th-17th, by coordinating observations with NASA's 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on December 15th-17th, by coordinating observations with NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

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Two NASA Space Telescopes observe rapid growth of Young Star

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An adolescent star in the midst of a dramatic growth phase has been observed with the help of two NASA space telescopes. The youngster belongs to a class of stars that gain mass when matter swirling around the star falls onto its surface.

The in-falling matter causes the star to appear about 100 times brighter. Astronomers have found only 25 stars in this class, and only about half of those have been observed during an outburst.

This illustration shows a young star undergoing a type of growth spurt. Left: Material from the dusty and gas-rich disk (orange) plus hot gas (blue) mildly flows onto the star, creating a hot spot. Middle: The outburst begins - the inner disk is heated, more material flows to the star, and the disk creeps inward. Right: The outburst is in full throttle, with the inner disk merging into the star and gas flowing outward (green). (Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))

This illustration shows a young star undergoing a type of growth spurt. Left: Material from the dusty and gas-rich disk (orange) plus hot gas (blue) mildly flows onto the star, creating a hot spot. Middle: The outburst begins – the inner disk is heated, more material flows to the star, and the disk creeps inward. Right: The outburst is in full throttle, with the inner disk merging into the star and gas flowing outward (green). (Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC))

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NASA Engineers setup area to mimic terrain around Mars Insight Lander

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander is due to set its first science instrument on Mars in the coming days. But engineers here on Earth already saw it happen – last week.

Like NASA’s Curiosity rover, InSight has a full-scale working model at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This sister lander, aptly named ForeSight, lets the team test all operations before they happen on Mars.

To practice how InSight will place its instruments, JPL engineers built a Martian rock garden modeled on images from the spacecraft’s cameras.

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander's instruments here on Earth before it's done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander’s instruments here on Earth before it’s done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

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NASA establishes groundwork for exploration of the Moon, Mars in 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars. 

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking. We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation,” Bridenstine said. “This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA study shows Asia’s Glaciers moving slower due to Ice Loss

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A NASA-led, international study finds Asia’s high mountain glaciers are flowing more slowly in response to widespread ice loss, affecting freshwater availability downstream in India, Pakistan and China. Researchers analyzed almost 2 million satellite images of the glaciers and found that 94 percent of the differences in flow rates could be explained by changes in ice thickness.

For more than a decade, satellite data have documented that the glaciers were thinning as the melt rates on their top surfaces increased.

Glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan, one of the mountain regions studied in the new research. (Université Grenoble Alpes/IRD/Patrick Wagnon)

Glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan, one of the mountain regions studied in the new research. (Université Grenoble Alpes/IRD/Patrick Wagnon)

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NASA says comet 46P/Wirtanen to be visible this Sunday

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Sunday, December 16th, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope.

Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it’s still a fairly rare opportunity. “This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope's field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope’s field of view during the exposure. (NASA)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft reaches halfway point in Jupiter mission

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On December 21st, at 8:49:48am PST (10:49:48am CST) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will be 3,140 miles (5,053 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops and hurtling by at a healthy clip of 128,802 mph (207,287 kilometers per hour). This will be the 16th science pass of the gas giant and will mark the solar-powered spacecraft’s halfway point in data collection during its prime mission.

Juno is in a highly-elliptical 53-day orbit around Jupiter. Each orbit includes a close passage over the planet’s cloud deck, where it flies a ground track that extends from Jupiter’s north pole to its south pole.

A south tropical disturbance has just passed Jupiter's iconic Great Red Spot, and is captured stealing threads of orange haze from the Great Red Spot in this series of color-enhanced images from NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran)

A south tropical disturbance has just passed Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot, and is captured stealing threads of orange haze from the Great Red Spot in this series of color-enhanced images from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran)

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