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Topic: NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data reveals Hydrothermal Conditions for Life may have existed on Mars

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.

A recent international report examines observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

This view of a portion of the Eridania region of Mars shows blocks of deep-basin deposits that have been surrounded and partially buried by younger volcanic deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This view of a portion of the Eridania region of Mars shows blocks of deep-basin deposits that have been surrounded and partially buried by younger volcanic deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA to launch James Webb Space Telescope in Spring 2019

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now is planning to launch between March and June 2019 from French Guiana, following a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities. Previously Webb was targeted to launch in October 2018.

“The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected.”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

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NASA uses resources to help Agencies Provide Hurricane Harvey Response

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is using its assets and expertise from across the agency, including from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to help respond to Hurricane Harvey — now Tropical Storm Harvey — which has been a disaster of unprecedented proportions for those who live and work in Southeast Texas.

With no atmospheric steering mechanism to move the storm once it made landfall, Harvey has been producing rainfall totals measured in feet, rather than inches, presenting exceptional challenges to local, state and federal emergency managers and first responders.

JPL's Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team created this Flood Proxy Map showing areas of Southeast Texas likely flooded from Hurricane Harvey (light blue). The map is derived from radar images from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 satellite before and after landfall. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/METI/Google Earth)

JPL’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team created this Flood Proxy Map showing areas of Southeast Texas likely flooded from Hurricane Harvey (light blue). The map is derived from radar images from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 satellite before and after landfall. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/METI/Google Earth)

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NASA says International Space Station Crew ready for Total Solar Eclipse

 

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – The Expedition 52 crew wrapped up a busy week on Friday with more science work, cargo unloading and cleanup after a Russian spacewalk on Thursday. They are also busy preparing for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse on Monday with the chance at several unique views of the event.

The crew participated in several studies including Vascular Echo Ultrasound, a Canadian Space Agency investigation that examines changes in blood vessels and the heart while the crew members are in space.

The station crew will have three chances to see the total solar eclipse from space. The third pass will offer the most coverage with the sun 84% obscured by the moon. (NASA)

The station crew will have three chances to see the total solar eclipse from space. The third pass will offer the most coverage with the sun 84% obscured by the moon. (NASA)

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NASA to chase Total Solar Eclipse from WB-57F Jets

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – For most viewers, the Monday, August 21st, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.

Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and his team will use two of NASA’s WB-57F research jets to chase the darkness across America on August 21st. Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, Caspi will ­­­­­capture the clearest images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.

(Photo illustration) During the upcoming total solar eclipse, a team of NASA-funded scientists will observe the solar corona using stabilized telescopes aboard two of NASA’s WB-57F research aircraft. This vantage point provides distinct advantages over ground-based observations, as illustrated by this composite photo of the aircraft and the 2015 total solar eclipse at the Faroe Islands. (NASA/Faroe Islands/SwRI)

(Photo illustration) During the upcoming total solar eclipse, a team of NASA-funded scientists will observe the solar corona using stabilized telescopes aboard two of NASA’s WB-57F research aircraft. This vantage point provides distinct advantages over ground-based observations, as illustrated by this composite photo of the aircraft and the 2015 total solar eclipse at the Faroe Islands. (NASA/Faroe Islands/SwRI)

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NASA monitors for Bacteria and Microorganisms on International Space Station

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Wherever you find people, you also find bacteria and other microorganisms. The International Space Station is no exception.

That generally is not a problem. For one thing, the space station is kept cleaner than many environments on Earth. Routine cleaning activities are included on astronaut task schedules.

Cargo sent to the station, and the vehicles that carry it, undergo a rigorous cleaning process and monitoring for microorganisms before launch. Crew members assigned to the space station spend 10 days in pre-flight quarantine.

The International Space Station, as seen from space shuttle Atlantis in 2011. (NASA)

The International Space Station, as seen from space shuttle Atlantis in 2011. (NASA)

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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Engineers begin Summer with Safety System Tests

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Engineers working on NASA’s Orion kicked off summer with a series of important tests for some of the spacecraft’s critical safety systems. In the Utah desert, the skies over Arizona and the water at Johnson Space Center in Houston, the team is making sure Orion is safe from launch to splashdown.

At the Promontory, Utah, facility of Orion subcontractor Orbital ATK, engineers tested the abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system June 15th, firing the 17-foot tall motor for five seconds. The motor was fastened to a vertical test stand with its nozzles pointed toward the sky for the test. It produced enough thrust to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground and helps qualify the system for future missions with astronauts.

The abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system fired for five seconds in a test at the Promontory, Utah facility of manufacturer Orbital ATK. (Orbital ATK)

The abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system fired for five seconds in a test at the Promontory, Utah facility of manufacturer Orbital ATK. (Orbital ATK)

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NASA reports International Space Station’s microgravity environment used to Help Fight Cancer

 

Written by Jenny Howard
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – On Earth, research into antibody-drug conjugates to treat cancer has been around a while. The research presents a problem, though, because Earth-based laboratories aren’t able to mimic the shape of the cancer cell within the body, which can sometimes produce incorrect findings.

The International Space Station’s unique microgravity environment allows scientists to approach the research from a new, 3-D angle.

International Space Station (ISS). (NASA)

International Space Station (ISS). (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover discovers variety of Minerals on Mars

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA scientists have found a wide diversity of minerals in the initial samples of rocks collected by the Curiosity rover in the lowermost layers of Mount Sharp on Mars, suggesting that conditions changed in the water environments on the planet over time.

Curiosity landed near Mount Sharp in Gale Crater in August 2012. It reached the base of the mountain in 2014. Layers of rocks at the base of Mount Sharp accumulated as sediment within ancient lakes around 3.5 billion years ago. Orbital infrared spectroscopy had shown that the mountain’s lowermost layers have variations in minerals that suggest changes in the area have occurred.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover examined a mudstone outcrop area called "Pahrump Hills" on lower Mount Sharp, in 2014 and 2015. This view shows locations of some targets the rover studied there. The blue dots indicate where drilled samples of powdered rock were collected for analysis. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover examined a mudstone outcrop area called “Pahrump Hills” on lower Mount Sharp, in 2014 and 2015. This view shows locations of some targets the rover studied there. The blue dots indicate where drilled samples of powdered rock were collected for analysis. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA to use Super Low Temperatures to slow Atoms for observation on International Space Station

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.

Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “knife” will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they’re almost motionless. This suite of instruments is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), and was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. CAL is in the final stages of assembly at JPL, ahead of a ride to space this August on SpaceX CRS-12.

Its instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s more than 100 million times colder than the depths of space.

Artist's concept of an atom chip for use by NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

Artist’s concept of an atom chip for use by NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

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