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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft observes Mystery Cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Located in Titan’s stratosphere, the cloud is made of a compound of carbon and nitrogen known as dicyanoacetylene (C4N2), an ingredient in the chemical cocktail that colors the giant moon’s hazy, brownish-orange atmosphere.

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft starts final year studying Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame.

Beginning on November 30th, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft just past the outer edge of the main rings. These orbits, a series of 20, are called the F-ring orbits. During these weekly orbits, Cassini will approach to within 4,850 miles (7,800 kilometers) of the center of the narrow F ring, with its peculiar kinked and braided structure.

Since NASA's Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, the planet's appearance has changed greatly. This view shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, the planet’s appearance has changed greatly. This view shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data reveals some Mars Lakes older than others

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Lakes and snowmelt-fed streams on Mars formed much later than previously thought possible, according to new findings using data primarily from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The recently discovered lakes and streams appeared roughly a billion years after a well-documented, earlier era of wet conditions on ancient Mars. These results provide insight into the climate history of the Red Planet and suggest the surface conditions at this later time may also have been suitable for microbial life.

Valleys much younger than well-known ancient valley networks on Mars are evident near the informally named "Heart Lake" on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Valleys much younger than well-known ancient valley networks on Mars are evident near the informally named “Heart Lake” on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

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NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument being looked at after two power anomalies

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, are assessing two power system-related anomalies affecting the operation of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument aboard the International Space Station. RapidScat measures surface wind speeds and directions over the ocean.

RapidScat is currently deactivated and in a stable configuration. A RapidScat project anomaly response team has been formed, working in conjunction with the space station anomaly response team. RapidScat will remain deactivated as the investigation continues.

Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which launched to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which launched to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures Nebulae image that looks like starship Enterprise

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the TV series “Star Trek,” which first aired September 8th,1966, a new infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope may remind fans of the historic show.

Since ancient times, people have imagined familiar objects when gazing at the heavens. There are many examples of this phenomenon, known as pareidolia, including the constellations and the well-known nebulae named Ant, Stingray and Hourglass.

Here is the nebulaes seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Here is the nebulaes seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft images reveals Dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New scenes from a frigid alien landscape are coming to light in recent radar images of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

Cassini obtained the views during a close flyby of Titan on July 25th, when the spacecraft came as close as 607 miles (976 kilometers) from the giant moon. The spacecraft’s radar instrument is able to penetrate the dense, global haze that surrounds Titan, to reveal fine details on the surface.

This synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) image was obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 25, 2016, during its "T-121" pass over Titan's southern latitudes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Université Paris-Diderot)

This synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) image was obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on July 25, 2016, during its “T-121” pass over Titan’s southern latitudes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Université Paris-Diderot)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft photos reveal unusual North Pole on Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.

Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital flybys on August 27th when the spacecraft came about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds.

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016. Image (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter’s north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016. Image (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA gives green light to Mars Insight Mission Launch

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars, following final approval this week by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission was originally scheduled to launch in March of this year, but NASA suspended launch preparations in December due to a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft data reveals new insights about the Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A lonely 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain on Ceres is likely volcanic in origin, and the dwarf planet may have a weak, temporary atmosphere. These are just two of many new insights about Ceres from NASA’s Dawn mission published this week in six papers in the journal Science.

“Dawn has revealed that Ceres is a diverse world that clearly had geological activity in its recent past,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ceres' lonely mountain, Ahuna Mons, is seen in this simulated perspective view. The elevation has been exaggerated by a factor of two. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

Ceres’ lonely mountain, Ahuna Mons, is seen in this simulated perspective view. The elevation has been exaggerated by a factor of two. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

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NASA Astronomers puzzle over age of distant Star

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

Researchers initially classified the star as elderly, perhaps a red supergiant. But a new study by a NASA-led team of researchers suggests that the object, labeled IRAS 19312+1950, might be something quite different — a protostar, a star still in the making.

“Astronomers recognized this object as noteworthy around the year 2000 and have been trying ever since to decide how far along its development is,” said Martin Cordiner, an astrochemist working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He is the lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal describing the team’s findings, from observations made using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory.

An age-defying star called IRAS 19312+1950 exhibits features characteristic of a very young star and a very old star. It is the bright red star at the center of this image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An age-defying star called IRAS 19312+1950 exhibits features characteristic of a very young star and a very old star. It is the bright red star at the center of this image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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