Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini mission continues its adventures in extraterrestrial oceanography with new findings about the hydrocarbon seas on Saturn’s moon Titan.
During a flyby in August, the spacecraft sounded the depths near the mouth of a flooded river valley and observed new, bright features in the seas that might be related to the mysterious feature that researchers dubbed the “magic island.”
The findings are being presented this week at the Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Tucson, Arizona.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on October 19th, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.
Data from observations carried out by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have revealed that debris from the comet added a temporary and very strong layer of ions to the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer high above Mars.
Written by DC Agle and Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – After sailing through space for more than 10 years, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is now less than a week shy of landing a robotic probe on a comet.
The mission’s Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, November 12th at 7:35amPST/10:35am EST. A signal confirming the landing is expected about 8:02am PST/11:02am EST.
If all goes as planned with this complex engineering feat, it will be the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.
The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.
Written by Preston Dyches and Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Reddish rock powder from the first hole drilled into a Martian mountain by NASA’s Curiosity rover has yielded the mission’s first confirmation of a mineral mapped from orbit.
“This connects us with the mineral identifications from orbit, which can now help guide our investigations as we climb the slope and test hypotheses derived from the orbital mapping,” said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – When Galileo first observed Venus displaying a crescent phase, he excitedly wrote to Kepler (in anagram) of Venus mimicking the moon-goddess. He would have been delirious with joy to see Saturn and Titan, seen in this image, doing the same thing.
More than just pretty pictures, high-phase observations — taken looking generally toward the Sun, as in this image — are very powerful scientifically since the way atmospheres and rings transmit sunlight is often diagnostic of compositions and physical states.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – As it soared past Saturn’s large moon Titan recently, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.
In the past, Cassini had captured, separately, views of the polar seas and the sun glinting off them, but this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.
When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.
Written by Courtney O’Connor
Pasadena, CA – NASA invites social media followers to apply for credentials to get a preview of the Orion spacecraft’s first flight test during NASA Social events December 3rd involving each of its 10 centers.
Orion will launch on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is targeted for 4:05am PST (7:05am EST) December 4th.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – This image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by Rosetta’s Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) on September 20th, from a distance of 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers), shows jets of dust and gas streaming into space from the neck of the comet’s nucleus.
Images of the comet nucleus, taken by Rosetta earlier in the summer, showed that the distinct jets of dust and gas emanating from the comet were originated from the neck region, which connects the comet’s two lobes. Images obtained by OSIRIS now show jets of dust along almost the entire length of the comet.
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