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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA picks New Technologies to Invest in

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Smart spacesuits and solar surfing may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they are just two of the technology concepts NASA has selected for further research as part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. The program will fund 18 studies to determine the feasibility of early-stage technologies that could go on to change what’s possible in space.

The funded technologies have the potential to transform human and robotic exploration of other worlds, including the Moon and Mars.

NASA has selected two new concepts from JPL for future mission ideas, including a small satellite that could fly to the outer edges of the solar system. In this photo, a set of Earth-observing CubeSats launch from the International Space Station in 2014. (NASA)

NASA has selected two new concepts from JPL for future mission ideas, including a small satellite that could fly to the outer edges of the solar system. In this photo, a set of Earth-observing CubeSats launch from the International Space Station in 2014. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Spacecraft undergoing detailed Vehicle Stacking

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the past few months, the clean room floor in High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been covered in parts, components and test equipment for the Mars 2020 spacecraft, scheduled for launch toward the Red Planet in July of 2020.

But over the past few weeks, some of these components – the spacecraft-rocket-laden landing system and even the stand-in for the rover (christened “surrogate-rover”) – have seemingly disappeared.

In the center of this image is the Mars 2020 spacecraft stack attached to the Spacecraft Assembly Rotation Fixture (SCARF) in the High Bay 1 clean room in JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In the center of this image is the Mars 2020 spacecraft stack attached to the Spacecraft Assembly Rotation Fixture (SCARF) in the High Bay 1 clean room in JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data gives new insights into Titan’s Lakes

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On its final flyby of Saturn’s largest moon in 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gathered radar data revealing that the small liquid lakes in Titan’s northern hemisphere are surprisingly deep, perched atop hills and filled with methane.

The new findings, published April 15th in Nature Astronomy, are the first confirmation of just how deep some of Titan’s lakes are (more than 300 feet, or 100 meters) and of their composition. They provide new information about the way liquid methane rains on, evaporates from and seeps into Titan – the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface.

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

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NASA lists 10 Things You Should Know About Planetary Defense

 

NASA Headquarters 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C.1. Why Asteroids Impact Earth: Why do asteroids and meteoroids collide with Earth?

NASA says these objects orbit the Sun just like the planets, as they have been doing for billions of years, but small effects such as gravitational nudges from the planets can jostle the orbits, making them gradually shift over million-year timescales or abruptly reposition if there is a close planetary encounter.

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on Dec. 15-17, 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 Dec. 15-17, 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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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) will study plant growth

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says when plants take in too much energy, they don’t get fat – they lighten up. They absorb more sunlight than they need to power photosynthesis, and they get rid of the excess solar energy by emitting it as a very faint glow.

The light is far too dim for us to notice under normal circumstances, but it can be measured with a spectrometer. Called solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), it’s the most accurate signal of photosynthesis that can be observed from space.

That’s important because, as Earth’s climate changes, growing seasons worldwide are also changing in both timing and length.

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

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NASA reports Solar Wind heats up Jupiter’s Atmosphere

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New Earth-based telescope observations show that auroras at Jupiter’s poles are heating the planet’s atmosphere to a greater depth than previously thought – and that it is a rapid response to the solar wind.

“The solar wind impact at Jupiter is an extreme example of space weather,” said James Sinclair of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who led new research published April 8th in Nature Astronomy. “We’re seeing the solar wind having an effect deeper than is normally seen.”

Scientists used red, blue and yellow to infuse this infrared image of Jupiter's atmosphere (red and yellow indicate the hotter regions), which was recorded by the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph (COMICS) at the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii on Jan. 12, 2017. (NAOJ and NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Scientists used red, blue and yellow to infuse this infrared image of Jupiter’s atmosphere (red and yellow indicate the hotter regions), which was recorded by the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph (COMICS) at the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii on Jan. 12, 2017. (NAOJ and NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Europa Clipper Spacecraft’s high-gain antenna undergoes testing

 

Written by Joe Atkinson
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – NASA says it probably goes without saying, but this isn’t your everyday satellite dish.

In fact, it’s not a satellite dish at all. It’s a high-gain antenna (HGA), and a future version of it will send and receive signals to and from Earth from a looping orbit around Jupiter.

The antenna will take that long journey aboard NASA’s Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter’s moon Europa to see whether the icy orb could harbor conditions suitable for life. Scientists believe there’s a massive salty ocean beneath Europa’s icy surface. The antenna will beam back high-resolution images and scientific data from Europa Clipper’s cameras and science instruments.

A full-scale prototype of the high-gain antenna on NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft is undergoing testing in the Experimental Test Range at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. (NASA/Langley)

A full-scale prototype of the high-gain antenna on NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft is undergoing testing in the Experimental Test Range at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. (NASA/Langley)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discovers Butterfly in Space filled with New Born Stars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What looks like a red butterfly in space is in reality a nursery for hundreds of baby stars, revealed in this infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Officially named Westerhout 40 (W40), the butterfly is a nebula – a giant cloud of gas and dust in space where new stars may form. The butterfly’s two “wings” are giant bubbles of hot, interstellar gas blowing from the hottest, most massive stars in this region.

Besides being beautiful, W40 exemplifies how the formation of stars results in the destruction of the very clouds that helped create them.

Officially known as W40, this red butterfly in space is a nebula, or a giant cloud of gas and dust. The "wings" of the butterfly are giant bubbles of gas being blown from the inside out by massive stars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Officially known as W40, this red butterfly in space is a nebula, or a giant cloud of gas and dust. The “wings” of the butterfly are giant bubbles of gas being blown from the inside out by massive stars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Flight Tests

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Since the Wright brothers first took to the skies of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, December 17th, 1903, first flights have been important milestones in the life of any vehicle designed for air travel. After all, it’s one thing to design an aircraft and make it fly on paper – or computer. It is quite another to put all the pieces together and watch them get off the ground.

In late January 2019, all the pieces making up the flight model (actual vehicle going to the Red Planet) of NASA’s Mars Helicopter were put to the test.

Members of the NASA Mars Helicopter team attach a thermal film to the exterior of the flight model of the Mars Helicopter. The image was taken on February 1st, 2019 inside the Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide (7.62-meter-wide) vacuum chamber at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Members of the NASA Mars Helicopter team attach a thermal film to the exterior of the flight model of the Mars Helicopter. The image was taken on February 1st, 2019 inside the Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide (7.62-meter-wide) vacuum chamber at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Greenland’s fastest moving, fastest thinning Glacier is slowing, thickening

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA research shows that Jakobshavn Glacier, which has been Greenland’s fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the last 20 years, has made an unexpected about-face.

Jakobshavn is now flowing more slowly, thickening, and advancing toward the ocean instead of retreating farther inland. The glacier is still adding to global sea level rise – it continues to lose more ice to the ocean than it gains from snow accumulation – but at a slower rate.

The calving front of Jakobshavn Glacier, center. (NASA/OIB/John Sonntag)

The calving front of Jakobshavn Glacier, center. (NASA/OIB/John Sonntag)

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