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Topic: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA selects Three Finalists for Future Small Satellites

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three finalists have been selected by NASA from among a dozen concepts for future small satellites.

The finalists include a 2022 robotic mission to study two asteroid systems, twin spacecraft to study the effects of energetic particles around Mars, and a lunar orbiter managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to study water on the Moon.

One of three finalists selected by NASA for future small satellites, Lunar Trailblazer will detect and map water on the lunar surface to study how its form, abundance and location relate to geology. The principal investigator is Caltech's Bethany Ehlmann. JPL will provide project management. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

One of three finalists selected by NASA for future small satellites, Lunar Trailblazer will detect and map water on the lunar surface to study how its form, abundance and location relate to geology. The principal investigator is Caltech’s Bethany Ehlmann. JPL will provide project management. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA InSight’s Team looks to get heat probe digging again

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA InSight’s heat probe has been unable to dig very far on the surface of Mars. Scientists and engineers have a new plan for getting the probe also known as the “mole,” digging again on Mars. Part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the mole is a self-hammering spike designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface and record temperature.

But the mole hasn’t been able to dig deeper than about 12 inches (30 centimeters) below the Martian surface since February 28th, 2019.

Engineers in a Mars-like test area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory try possible strategies to aid the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA's InSight lander, using engineering models of the lander, robotic arm and instrument. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Engineers in a Mars-like test area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory try possible strategies to aid the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) on NASA’s InSight lander, using engineering models of the lander, robotic arm and instrument. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers stars kicked from their Galaxies

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Evidence that pairs of stars have been kicked out of their host galaxies has been found by scientists. This discovery, made using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, is one of the clearest examples of stellar pairs being expelled from their galactic base.

Astronomers use the term “binary” system to refer to pairs of stars orbiting around each other. These stellar pairs can consist of combinations of stars like our Sun, or more exotic and denser varieties such as neutron stars or even black holes.

Binary stars ejected from Fornax cluster. (NASA/CXC/Nanjing University/X. Jin et al.)

Binary stars ejected from Fornax cluster. (NASA/CXC/Nanjing University/X. Jin et al.)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft discovers Changes in Magnetic Field of Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first definitive detection beyond our world of an internal magnetic field that changes over time was detected during NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. It’s a phenomenon called secular variation. The gas giant’s secular variation is most likely driven by the planet’s deep atmospheric winds, Juno determined.

The discovery will help scientists further understand Jupiter’s interior structure – including atmospheric dynamics – as well as changes in Earth’s magnetic field. A paper on the discovery was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter's magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter’s magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

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NASA looks to Advance Human Moon Landers with help from 11 American Companies

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA looks to put American astronauts, the first woman and next man, on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028. In order to do so, NASA has picked 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program.

“To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations,” said Marshall Smith, director for human lunar exploration programs at NASA Headquarters.

Illustration of a human landing system. (NASA)

Illustration of a human landing system. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars InSight Lander to learn from Dust Cleanings

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CACatastrophic dust storms have the potential to end a mission like NASA’ Insight Lander as it did with NASA’s Opportunity rover. The same winds that blanket Mars with dust can also blow that dust away. Far more often, passing winds cleared off the rover’s solar panels and gave it an energy boost. Those dust clearings allowed Opportunity and its sister rover, Spirit, to survive for years beyond their 90-day expiration dates.

Dust clearings are also expected for Mars’ newest inhabitant, the InSight lander. Because of the spacecraft’s weather sensors, each clearing can provide crucial science data on these events, as well – and the mission already has a glimpse at that.

This is NASA InSight's second full selfie on Mars. Since taking its first selfie, the lander has removed its heat probe and seismometer from its deck, placing them on the Martian surface; a thin coating of dust now covers the spacecraft as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This is NASA InSight’s second full selfie on Mars. Since taking its first selfie, the lander has removed its heat probe and seismometer from its deck, placing them on the Martian surface; a thin coating of dust now covers the spacecraft as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s InSight Lander takes images of Sunrise, Sunset on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander takes several photos of the sunrise and sunset on Mars.

A camera on the spacecraft’s robotic arm snapped the photos on April 24th and 25th, the 145th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In local Mars time, the shots were taken starting around 5:30am and then again starting around 6:30pm.

As a bonus, a camera under the lander’s deck also caught clouds drifting across the Martian sky at sunset.

NASA's InSight lander used its Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the spacecraft's robotic arm to image this sunrise on Mars on April 24, 2019, the 145th Martian day (or sol) of the mission. This was taken around 5:30am Mars local time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight lander used its Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC) on the spacecraft’s robotic arm to image this sunrise on Mars on April 24, 2019, the 145th Martian day (or sol) of the mission. This was taken around 5:30am Mars local time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars InSight Lander records first ever likely Marsquake

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars InSight lander has measured and recorded for the first time ever a likely “marsquake.”

The faint seismic signal, detected by the lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, was recorded on April 6th, 2019 the lander’s 128th Martian day, or sol. This is the first recorded trembling that appears to have come from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind. Scientists still are examining the data to determine the exact cause of the signal.

This image of InSight's seismometer was taken on the 110th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The seismometer is called Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image of InSight’s seismometer was taken on the 110th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The seismometer is called Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA successfully tests RS-25 engines that will power Space Launch System rockets

 

NASA Stennis Space Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBay St. Louis, MS – NASA is a step closer to returning astronauts to the Moon in the next five years following a successful engine test on Thursday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The latest “hot fire” was the culmination of four-plus years of testing for the RS-25 engines that will send the first four Space Launch System (SLS) rockets into space.

“This completes four years of focused work by an exceptional Stennis test team,” Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said. “It represents yet another chapter in Stennis’ long history of testing leadership and excellence in support of this nation’s space exploration efforts. Everyone involved should feel proud of their work and contributions.”

NASA conducts a test of RS-25 flight engine No. 2062 on April 4th on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, MS. The test marked a major milestone in NASA’s march forward to Moon missions. All 16 RS-25 engines that will help power the first four flights of NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket now have been tested. (NASA/SSC)

NASA conducts a test of RS-25 flight engine No. 2062 on April 4th on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, MS. The test marked a major milestone in NASA’s march forward to Moon missions. All 16 RS-25 engines that will help power the first four flights of NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket now have been tested. (NASA/SSC)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft discovers plumes erupting on asteroid Bennu

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. 

Bennu is the target of NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31st. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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