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Topic: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover moves toward bedrock outcrop at Mount Sharp

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As it approaches the second anniversary of its landing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is also approaching its first close look at bedrock that is part of Mount Sharp, the layered mountain in the middle of Mars’ Gale Crater.

The mission made important discoveries during its first year by finding evidence of ancient lake and river environments. During its second year, it has been driving toward long-term science destinations on lower slopes of Mount Sharp.

This full-circle panorama of the landscape surrounding NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on July 31, 2014, offers a view into sandy lower terrain called "Hidden Valley," which is on the planned route ahead. It combines several images from Curiosity's Navigation Camera. South is at the center. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This full-circle panorama of the landscape surrounding NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on July 31, 2014, offers a view into sandy lower terrain called “Hidden Valley,” which is on the planned route ahead. It combines several images from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera. South is at the center. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft captures pictures of Coma surrounding it’s target Comet

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Less than a week before Rosetta’s rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, images obtained by OSIRIS, the spacecraft’s onboard scientific imaging system, show clear signs of a coma surrounding the comet’s nucleus.

A new image from July 25th, 2014, clearly reveals an extended coma shrouding 67P’s nucleus. “Our coma images cover an area of 150 by 150 square kilometers (90 by 90 square miles),” said Luisa Lara from the Institute of Astrophysics in Andalusia, Spain.

The nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimernko as seen by Rosetta's OSIRIS instrument from a distance of 1,210 miles (1,950 kilometers) on July 29, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

The nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimernko as seen by Rosetta’s OSIRIS instrument from a distance of 1,210 miles (1,950 kilometers) on July 29, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found 101 distinct Geysers on Saturn’s Icy Moon Enceladus

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists using mission data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have identified 101 distinct geysers erupting on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moon’s underground sea all the way to its surface.

These findings, and clues to what powers the geyser eruptions, are presented in two articles published in the current online edition of the Astronomical Journal.

This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn's moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA says this years Perseid Meteor Shower will occur during a Supermoon

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Every year, sky watchers and summertime campers circle on their calendars a few key August nights—the 11th, 12th and 13th. These are the dates of the annual Perseid meteor shower, which rarely fails to please those who see it.

This year they’re adding a note: “supermoon.”

During the second week of August, the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year will face off against everyone’s favorite meteor shower—and the outcome could be beautiful.

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NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover sets Off World Driving Distance Record

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2004, now holds the off-Earth roving distance record after accruing 25 miles (40 kilometers) of driving, and is not far from completing the first extraterrestrial marathon. The previous record was held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover.

“Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world,” said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance.”

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, working on Mars since January 2004, passed 25 miles of total driving on July 27, 2014. The gold line on this map shows Opportunity's route from the landing site inside Eagle Crater (upper left) to its location after the July 27 (Sol 3735) drive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, working on Mars since January 2004, passed 25 miles of total driving on July 27, 2014. The gold line on this map shows Opportunity’s route from the landing site inside Eagle Crater (upper left) to its location after the July 27 (Sol 3735) drive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) discovers Comet that looked like an Asteroid

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun.

The comet glows brightly in infrared wavelengths, with a dust tail streaking more than 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across the sky. Its spectacular activity is driven by the vaporization of ice that has been preserved from the time of planet formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Odyssey Orbiter, MAVEN spacecraft ready for Comet C/2013 A1 flyby

 

Written by Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on October 19th.

The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. At that velocity, even the smallest particle — estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across — could cause significant damage to a spacecraft.

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet's trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach Mars or might also miss it.

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet’s trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach Mars or might also miss it.

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NASA releases new photos of Rosetta Comet

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – As the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe approaches Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) for an August rendezvous, the comet’s core is coming into sharper focus. On Thursday, July 24th, ESA released a new set of images and a striking 3D model of 67P’s nucleus.

The resolution of the latest images taken by the spacecraft’s OSIRIS imaging system on July 20th is 330 feet (100 meters) per pixel. At that resolution, 67P appears to consist of two parts: a smaller head connected to a larger body. The connecting region, the neck, is proving to be especially intriguing.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was imaged by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft on July 20, 2014, from a distance of approximately 3,400 miles (5,500 kilometers). These three images were taken two hours apart. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was imaged by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on July 20, 2014, from a distance of approximately 3,400 miles (5,500 kilometers). These three images were taken two hours apart. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers a mystery in Perseus Cluster

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Universe is a big place, full of unknowns. Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have just catalogued a new one.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” says Esra Bulbul of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. “What we found, at first glance, could not be explained by known physics.”

Together with a team of more than a half-dozen colleagues, Bulbul has been using Chandra to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth.

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NASA looks back at the July 2012 Solar Superstorm that just missed Earth

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.

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