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Topic: NASA’s Voyager

NASA’s Deep Space Network celebrates 50 years of operation

 

Written by David Israel
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Deep Space Network, the world’s largest and most powerful communications system for “talking to” spacecraft, will reach a milestone on December 24th: the 50th anniversary of its official creation.

Over the past 50 years, antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) have communicated with just about every mission that has gone to the moon or beyond. The historic communiqués include “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind”; numerous encounters with the outer planets of our solar system; images taken by rovers exploring Mars; and the data confirming that NASA’s Voyager spacecraft had finally entered interstellar space.

Beam Wave Guide antennas at Goldstone, known as the "Beam Waveguide Cluster." Each antenna is 111.5-feet (34-m) in diameter. They're located in an area at Goldstone called "Apollo Valley." This photograph was taken on Jan. 11th, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Beam Wave Guide antennas at Goldstone, known as the “Beam Waveguide Cluster.” Each antenna is 111.5-feet (34-m) in diameter. They’re located in an area at Goldstone called “Apollo Valley.” This photograph was taken on Jan. 11th, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Study reveals Carbon Planets may lack water essential for life

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Planets rich in carbon, including so-called diamond planets, may lack oceans, according to NASA-funded theoretical research.

Our sun is a carbon-poor star, and as result, our planet Earth is made up largely of silicates, not carbon. Stars with much more carbon than the sun, on the other hand, are predicted to make planets chock full of carbon, and perhaps even layers of diamond.

By modeling the ingredients in these carbon-based planetary systems, the scientists determined they lack icy water reservoirs thought to supply planets with oceans.

This artist's concept illustrates the fate of two different planets: the one on the left is similar to Earth, made up largely of silicate-based rocks with oceans coating its surface. The one on the right is rich in carbon -- and dry. Chances are low that life as we know it, which requires liquid water, would thrive under such barren conditions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept illustrates the fate of two different planets: the one on the left is similar to Earth, made up largely of silicate-based rocks with oceans coating its surface. The one on the right is rich in carbon — and dry. Chances are low that life as we know it, which requires liquid water, would thrive under such barren conditions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA funded study shows rain from Saturn’s Rings falls across the Planet

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study tracks the “rain” of charged water particles into the atmosphere of Saturn and finds there is more of it and it falls across larger areas of the planet than previously thought.

The study, whose observations were funded by NASA and whose analysis was led by the University of Leicester, England, reveals that the rain influences the composition and temperature structure of parts of Saturn’s upper atmosphere. The paper appears in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.

This artist's concept illustrates how charged water particles flow into the Saturnian atmosphere from the planet's rings, causing a reduction in atmospheric brightness. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/University of Leicester)

This artist’s concept illustrates how charged water particles flow into the Saturnian atmosphere from the planet’s rings, causing a reduction in atmospheric brightness. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/University of Leicester)

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory studies atmospheric chemistry of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A laboratory experiment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, simulating the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan suggests complex organic chemistry that could eventually lead to the building blocks of life extends lower in the atmosphere than previously thought.

The results now point out another region on the moon that could brew up prebiotic materials. The paper was published in Nature Communications this week.

The colorful globe of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The colorful globe of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA reports ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa may actually touch the icy surface

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could lick the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath.

A new paper by Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, and Kevin Hand from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, details the strongest evidence yet that salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa’s frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.

Based on new evidence from Jupiter's moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon's global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter's innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Based on new evidence from Jupiter’s moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon’s global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Jupiter and the Moon to present a Sky Show for Christmas

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Just when you thought Christmas was over: At the end of the day on December 25th, a pair of holiday lights will pop out of the deepening twilight. Jupiter and the Moon are having a Christmas conjunction.

It’s a beautiful apparition, visible all around the globe. Even city dwellers, who often miss astronomical events because of light pollution, can see the show. Separated by less than 2 degrees, the bright pair will beam right through urban lights.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observes Atmosphere Circulation change on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft tie a shift in seasonal sunlight to a wholesale reversal, at unexpected altitudes, in the circulation of the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. At the south pole, the data show definitive evidence for sinking air where it was upwelling earlier in the mission.

So the key to circulation in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan turned out to be a certain slant of light. The paper was published today in the journal Nature.

This artist's impression of Saturn's moon Titan shows the change in observed atmospheric effects before, during and after equinox in 2009. The Titan globes also provide an impression of the detached haze layer that extends all around the moon (blue). This image was inspired by data from NASA's Cassini mission. (Image Credit: ESA)

This artist’s impression of Saturn’s moon Titan shows the change in observed atmospheric effects before, during and after equinox in 2009. The Titan globes also provide an impression of the detached haze layer that extends all around the moon (blue). This image was inspired by data from NASA’s Cassini mission. (Image Credit: ESA)

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NASA Maps Volcanic Heat on Jupiter’s Moon Io

 

Written by Priscilla Vega and Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study finds that the pattern of heat coming from volcanoes on Io’s surface disposes of the generally-accepted model of internal heating.  The heat pouring out of Io’s hundreds of erupting volcanoes indicates a complex, multi-layer source.

These results come from data collected by NASA spacecraft and ground-based telescopes and appear in the June issue of the journal Icarus.

A map of hot spots, classified by the amount of heat being emitted, shows the global distribution and wide range of volcanic activity on Io.  Most of Io’s eruptions dwarf their contemporaries on Earth.

Thermal emission from erupting volcanoes on the jovian moon, Io. A logarithmic scale is used to classify volcanoes on the basis of thermal emission: the larger the spot, the larger the thermal emission. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Bear Fight Institute)

Thermal emission from erupting volcanoes on the jovian moon, Io. A logarithmic scale is used to classify volcanoes on the basis of thermal emission: the larger the spot, the larger the thermal emission. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Bear Fight Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Spies Wave Rattling Jet Stream on Jupiter

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New movies of Jupiter are the first to catch an invisible wave shaking up one of the giant planet’s jet streams, an interaction that also takes place in Earth’s atmosphere and influences the weather.

The movies, made from images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft when it flew by Jupiter in 2000, are part of an in-depth study conducted by a team of scientists and amateur astronomers led by Amy Simon-Miller at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, and published in the April 2012 issue of Icarus.

Following the path of one of Jupiter's jet streams, a line of V-shaped chevrons travels west to east just above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Following the path of one of Jupiter's jet streams, a line of V-shaped chevrons travels west to east just above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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Alien Matter in the Solar System: A Galactic Mismatch

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – This just in:  The Solar System is different from the space just outside it.

Researchers announced the finding at a press conference on January 31st, 2012. It’s based on data from NASA’s IBEX spacecraft, which is able to sample material flowing into the solar system from interstellar space.

“We’ve detected alien matter that came into our solar system from other parts of the galaxy–and, chemically speaking, it’s not exactly like what we find here at home.” says David McComas the principal investigator for IBEX at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Roughly the size of a card table, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer is the latest in NASA’s series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab)

Roughly the size of a card table, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer is the latest in NASA’s series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab)

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