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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft makes history as it begins orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000 kilometers) from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity at about 4:39am PST (7:39am EST) Friday.

Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California received a signal from the spacecraft at 5:36am PST (8:36am EST) that Dawn was healthy and thrusting with its ion engine, the indicator Dawn had entered orbit as planned.

The slim crescent of Ceres smiles back as the dwarf planet awaits the arrival of an emissary from Earth. (NASA)

The slim crescent of Ceres smiles back as the dwarf planet awaits the arrival of an emissary from Earth. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity examines blocky rocks on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity climbed last month to an overlook for surveying “Marathon Valley,” a science destination chosen because spectrometer observations from orbit indicate exposures of clay minerals.

Near the overlook, it found blocky rocks so unlike any previously examined on Mars that the rover team has delayed other activities to provide time for a thorough investigation.

This map updates progress that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is making toward reaching a driving distance equivalent to a marathon footrace. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This map updates progress that NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is making toward reaching a driving distance equivalent to a marathon footrace. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA reports Astronomers discovers Planet in Multiple Star System

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Growing up as a planet with more than one parent star has its challenges. Though the planets in our solar system circle just one star — our sun — other more distant planets, called exoplanets, can be reared in families with two or more stars.

Researchers wanting to know more about the complex influences of multiple stars on planets have come up with two new case studies: a planet found to have three parents, and another with four.

This artist's conception shows the 30 Ari system, which includes four stars and a planet. The planet, a gas giant, orbits its primary star (yellow) in about a year's time. (Karen Teramura, UH IfA)

This artist’s conception shows the 30 Ari system, which includes four stars and a planet. The planet, a gas giant, orbits its primary star (yellow) in about a year’s time. (Karen Teramura, UH IfA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to enter orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres on March 6th

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around Ceres on Friday, March 6th.

“Dawn is about to make history,” said Robert Mase, project manager for the Dawn mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Our team is ready and eager to find out what Ceres has in store for us.”

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NASA researchers study of Ionosphere may help improve GPS Communications

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When you don’t know how to get to an unfamiliar place, you probably rely on a smart phone or other device with a Global Positioning System (GPS) module for guidance. You may not realize that, especially at high latitudes on our planet, signals traveling between GPS satellites and your device can get distorted in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, in collaboration with the University of New Brunswick in Canada, are studying irregularities in the ionosphere, a part of the atmosphere centered about 217 miles (350 kilometers) above the ground that defines the boundary between Earth and space.

The Aurora Borealis viewed by the crew of Expedition 30 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken on February 7, 2012 from 09:54:04 to 10:03:59 GMT, on a pass from the North Pacific Ocean, west of Canada, to southwestern Illinois. (NASA/JSC)

The Aurora Borealis viewed by the crew of Expedition 30 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken on February 7, 2012 from 09:54:04 to 10:03:59 GMT, on a pass from the North Pacific Ocean, west of Canada, to southwestern Illinois. (NASA/JSC)

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NASA Earth science missions provide new insights into planet Earth

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Four new NASA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space – with a fifth newly in orbit – after the busiest year of NASA Earth science launches in more than a decade.

On February 27th, 2014, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory into space from Japan. GPM and the other new missions are making observations and providing new insights into global rain and snowfall, atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean winds, clouds and tiny airborne particles called aerosols. Three of the new Earth missions are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Over the past 12 months NASA has added five missions to its orbiting Earth-observing fleet - the biggest one-year increase in more than a decade. (NASA)

Over the past 12 months NASA has added five missions to its orbiting Earth-observing fleet – the biggest one-year increase in more than a decade. (NASA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft’s latest photo reveals bright spot on dwarf planet Ceres has second bright area nearby

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover takes powder sample from rock at Telegraph Peak

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its drill on Tuesday, February 24th to collect sample powder from inside a rock target called “Telegraph Peak.” The target sits in the upper portion of “Pahrump Hills,” an outcrop the mission has been investigating for five months.

The Pahrump Hills campaign previously drilled at two other sites. The outcrop is an exposure of bedrock that forms the basal layer of Mount Sharp. Curiosity’s extended mission, which began last year after a two-year prime mission, is examining layers of this mountain that are expected to hold records of how ancient wet environments on Mars evolved into drier environments.

This hole, with a diameter slightly smaller than a U.S. dime, was drilled by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover into a rock target called "Telegraph Peak." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This hole, with a diameter slightly smaller than a U.S. dime, was drilled by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover into a rock target called “Telegraph Peak.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory unfurled it’s Reflector Antenna today

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, today sent commands to unfurl the massive 20-foot-wide (6-meter) reflector antenna on NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, launched January 31st.

The deployment of the mesh reflector antenna, which supports the collection of SMAP’s radar and radiometer instrument measurements in space, marks a key milestone in commissioning the satellite. SMAP will soon begin its three-year science mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed.

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA has launched Five Earth Missions in the last year

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Over the past 12 months NASA has added five missions to its orbiting Earth-observing fleet – the biggest one-year increase in more than a decade. NASA scientists will discuss early observations from the new missions and their current status during a media teleconference at 11:00am PST (2:00pm EST) Thursday, February 26th.

New views of global carbon dioxide, rain and snowfall, ocean winds, and aerosol particles in the atmosphere will be presented during the briefing.

Five new Earth science missions have joined NASA's orbiting fleet since the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission one year ago. (NASA)

Five new Earth science missions have joined NASA’s orbiting fleet since the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission one year ago. (NASA)

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