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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA uses new application of Radar to find missing Spacecraft orbiting the Moon

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Finding derelict spacecraft and space debris in Earth’s orbit can be a technological challenge. Detecting these objects in orbit around Earth’s moon is even more difficult. Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the moon.

However, a new technological application of interplanetary radar pioneered by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has successfully located spacecraft orbiting the moon — one active, and one dormant. This new technique could assist planners of future moon missions.

DSS-14 is NASA's 70-meter (230-foot) antenna located at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. It is known as the "Mars Antenna" as it was first to receive signals from the first spacecraft to closely observe Mars, Mariner 4, on March 18, 1966. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

DSS-14 is NASA’s 70-meter (230-foot) antenna located at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. It is known as the “Mars Antenna” as it was first to receive signals from the first spacecraft to closely observe Mars, Mariner 4, on March 18, 1966. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Study reveals California’s San Joaquin Valley continues to Sink

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Since the 1920s, excessive pumping of groundwater at thousands of wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley has caused land in sections of the valley to subside, or sink, by as much as 28 feet (8.5 meters). This subsidence is exacerbated during droughts, when farmers rely heavily on groundwater to sustain one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation.

Long-term subsidence is a serious and challenging concern for California’s water managers, putting state and federal aqueducts, levees, bridges and roads at risk of damage. Already, land subsidence has damaged thousands of public and private groundwater wells throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Total subsidence in California's San Joaquin Valley between May 7, 2015 and Sept. 10, 2016, as measured by ESA's Sentinel-1A and processed at JPL. Two large subsidence bowls are evident, centered on Corcoran and southeast of El Nido, with a small, new feature between them, near Tranquility. (European Space Agency/NASA-JPL/Caltech/Google Earth)

Total subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley between May 7, 2015 and Sept. 10, 2016, as measured by ESA’s Sentinel-1A and processed at JPL. Two large subsidence bowls are evident, centered on Corcoran and southeast of El Nido, with a small, new feature between them, near Tranquility. (European Space Agency/NASA-JPL/Caltech/Google Earth)

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NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft makes adjustment to avoid Mars Moon Phobos

 

Written by Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft performed a previously unscheduled maneuver this week to avoid a collision in the near future with Mars’ moon Phobos.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft has been orbiting Mars for just over two years, studying the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. On Tuesday, February 28th, the spacecraft carried out a rocket motor burn that boosted its velocity by 0.4 meters per second (less than 1 mile per hour).

This artist's sketch shows NASA's MAVEN spacecraft above Mars. (NASA)

This artist’s sketch shows NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft above Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) detects Brightest Pulsar in the University

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – There’s a new record holder for brightest pulsar ever found — and astronomers are still trying to figure out how it can shine so brightly. It’s now part of a small group of mysterious bright pulsars that are challenging astronomers to rethink how pulsars accumulate, or accrete, material.

A pulsar is a spinning, magnetized neutron star that sweeps regular pulses of radiation in two symmetrical beams across the cosmos. If aligned well enough with Earth, these beams act like a lighthouse beacon — appearing to flash on and off as the pulsar rotates. Pulsars were previously massive stars that exploded in powerful supernovae, leaving behind these small, dense stellar corpses.

NGC 5907 ULX is the brightest pulsar ever observed. This image comprises X-ray emission data (blue/white) from ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (galaxy and foreground stars). The inset shows the X-ray pulsation of the spinning neutron star. (ESA/XMM-Newton; NASA/Chandra and SDSS)

NGC 5907 ULX is the brightest pulsar ever observed. This image comprises X-ray emission data (blue/white) from ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (galaxy and foreground stars). The inset shows the X-ray pulsation of the spinning neutron star. (ESA/XMM-Newton; NASA/Chandra and SDSS)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover’s observes Dust Devils on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Mars, wind rules. Wind has been shaping the Red Planet’s landscapes for billions of years and continues to do so today. Studies using both a NASA orbiter and a rover reveal its effects on scales grand to tiny on the strangely structured landscapes within Gale Crater.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, on the lower slope of Mount Sharp — a layered mountain inside the crater — has begun a second campaign of investigating active sand dunes on the mountain’s northwestern flank. The rover also has been observing whirlwinds carrying dust and checking how far the wind moves grains of sand in a single day’s time.

This image shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, scooting across ground inside Gale Crater, as observed on the local summer afternoon of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover's 1,597th Martian day, or sol (Feb. 1, 2017). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

This image shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, scooting across ground inside Gale Crater, as observed on the local summer afternoon of NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover’s 1,597th Martian day, or sol (Feb. 1, 2017). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

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NASA technology used in Digital Dental X-ray Imager

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When sitting in the dentist’s chair, few patients think of NASA. But the space agency is there nonetheless, in the sensor that enables high-resolution, digital X-ray imagery that helps the dentist spot problems.

The sensor had its start looking to get images of something quite different: other worlds, and our own, from space.

In the early 1990s, when NASA adopted a “faster, better, cheaper” mantra, engineer Eric Fossum with the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, had an idea to achieve that goal for spaceborne imagers.

CMOS technology, which grew out of space imaging research at JPL, has made dental X-rays safer, cheaper and easier to process. (Courtesy of Schick by Sirona)

CMOS technology, which grew out of space imaging research at JPL, has made dental X-rays safer, cheaper and easier to process. (Courtesy of Schick by Sirona)

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NASA finds Red Dwarf Star with several Earth Size Planets in Orbit

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A bumper crop of Earth-size planets huddled around an ultra-cool, red dwarf star could be little more than chunks of rock blasted by radiation, or cloud-covered worlds as broiling hot as Venus.

Or they could harbor exotic lifeforms, thriving under skies of ruddy twilight.

Scientists are pondering the possibilities after this week’s announcement: the discovery of seven worlds orbiting a small, cool star some 40 light-years away, all of them in the ballpark of our home planet in terms of their heft (mass) and size (diameter). Three of the planets reside in the “habitable zone” around their star, TRAPPIST-1, where calculations suggest that conditions might be right for liquid water to exist on their surfaces—though follow-up observations are needed to be sure.

This illustration shows the seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, and ultra-cool dwarf star, as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

This illustration shows the seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, and ultra-cool dwarf star, as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discover Star with Seven Earth Sized Planets in Orbit

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist's concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature in Feb. 23, 2017 announcing new results about the system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist’s concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature in Feb. 23, 2017 announcing new results about the system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA completes Flyby Mission review for Jupiter’s moon Europa

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A mission to examine the habitability of Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa is taking one step closer to the launchpad, with the recent completion of a major NASA review.

On February 15th, NASA’s Europa multiple-flyby mission successfully completed its Key Decision Point-B review. This NASA decision permits the mission to move forward into its preliminary design phase, known as “Phase B,” beginning on February 27th.

A highlight of Phase A was the selection and accommodation of 10 instruments being developed to study the scientific mysteries of Europa.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Europa mission spacecraft, which is being developed for a launch sometime in the 2020s. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Europa mission spacecraft, which is being developed for a launch sometime in the 2020s. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Earth Science continues research from International Space Station

 

Written by Samson Reiny
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The number of instruments on the International Space Station dedicated to observing Earth to increase our understanding of our home planet continues to grow.

Two new instruments are scheduled to make their way to the station on the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument will monitor the condition of the ozone layer, which covers an area in the stratosphere 10 to 30 miles (16 to 48 kilometers) above Earth and protects the planet from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

The International Space Station is becoming an increasingly busy platform for studying our home planet. (NASA)

The International Space Station is becoming an increasingly busy platform for studying our home planet. (NASA)

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