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Topic: Orbit

NASA Mars Opportunity Rover makes it through another Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, has just passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the long Martian year with its solar panels in encouragingly clean condition for entering a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Before dust season will come the 14th Earth-year anniversaries of Mars landings by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in January 2004. Their missions were scheduled to last 90 Martian days, or sols, equivalent to about three months.

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in "Perseverance Valley" shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity's imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in “Perseverance Valley” shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity’s imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA explains a Supermoon and why it’s so Super

 

Written by Lyle Tavernier
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The term “supermoon” has been popping up a lot in the news and on social media over the past few years. But what are supermoons, why do they occur and how can they be used as an educational tool. Plus, are they really that super?

There’s a good chance you’ll hear even more about supermoons in the coming months. The full moon on December 3rd marked the first and only supermoon of 2017, but it will be followed by two more in January 2018. Three supermoons in a row! Now is a great time to learn about these celestial events and get students exploring more about Earth’s only natural satellite.

An image of the moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is shown in two halves to illustrate the difference in the apparent size and brightness of the moon during a supermoon. The left half shows the apparent size of a supermoon (full moon at perigee), while the right half shows the apparent size and brightness of a micromoon (full moon at apogee). (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

An image of the moon taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is shown in two halves to illustrate the difference in the apparent size and brightness of the moon during a supermoon. The left half shows the apparent size of a supermoon (full moon at perigee), while the right half shows the apparent size and brightness of a micromoon (full moon at apogee). (NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

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NASA research shows Gravitational Pull of Moons could preserve Liquid Water Oceans on Frigid Worlds

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald / Nancy Jones
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Heat generated by the gravitational pull of moons formed from massive collisions could extend the lifetimes of liquid water oceans beneath the surface of large icy worlds in our outer solar system, according to new NASA research.

This greatly expands the number of locations where extraterrestrial life might be found, since liquid water is necessary to support known forms of life and astronomers estimate there are dozens of these worlds.

“These objects need to be considered as potential reservoirs of water and life,” said Prabal Saxena of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of the research published in Icarus November 24th.

Composite, enhanced-color image of Pluto (lower right) and its largest moon Charon (upper left) taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Composite, enhanced-color image of Pluto (lower right) and its largest moon Charon (upper left) taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

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NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes observe Exoplanet with Hot Stratosphere devoid of Water

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A NASA-led team has found evidence that the oversized exoplanet WASP-18b is wrapped in a smothering stratosphere loaded with carbon monoxide and devoid of water. The findings come from a new analysis of observations made by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.

The formation of a stratosphere layer in a planet’s atmosphere is attributed to “sunscreen”-like molecules, which absorb ultraviolet (UV) and visible radiation coming from the star and then release that energy as heat.

A NASA-led team of scientists determined that WASP-18b, a "hot Jupiter" located 325 light-years from Earth, has a stratosphere that's loaded with carbon monoxide, but has no signs of water. (NASA)

A NASA-led team of scientists determined that WASP-18b, a “hot Jupiter” located 325 light-years from Earth, has a stratosphere that’s loaded with carbon monoxide, but has no signs of water. (NASA)

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NASA to Test Antibiotics effectiveness on E. coli in Space

 

Written by Frank Tavares
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Ever wonder what would happen if you got sick in space? NASA has sent bacteria samples into low-Earth orbit to help find out.

One of the agency’s latest small satellite experiments is the E. coli Anti-Microbial Satellite, or EcAMSat, which will explore the genetic basis for how effectively antibiotics can combat E. coli bacteria in the low gravity of space. This CubeSat – a spacecraft the size of a shoebox built from cube-shaped units – has just been deployed from the space station, and may help us improve how we fight infections, providing safer journeys for astronauts on future voyages, and offer benefits for medicine here on Earth.

EcAMSat contains this experimental module, inside which the E. coli are stored. Nutrients, the antibiotic, a special dye and waste are stored in bags connected through a series of tubes to the microfluidics card – a device storing small pools of liquid containing the bacteria. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

EcAMSat contains this experimental module, inside which the E. coli are stored. Nutrients, the antibiotic, a special dye and waste are stored in bags connected through a series of tubes to the microfluidics card – a device storing small pools of liquid containing the bacteria. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

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NASA tests Exo Brake Parachute Device for returning Small Spacecraft to Earth

 

Written by Kimberly Minafra
NASA’ Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA launched the Technology Educational Satellite, or TechEdSat-6, to the International Space Station on Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on November 12th. This bread loaf-sized satellite is part of a continuing series to demonstrate the “Exo-Brake” parachute device, advanced communications and wireless sensor networks. 

TechEdSat-6 was released into low-Earth orbit from the NanoRacks platform on November 20th, to begin a series of wireless sensor experiments which will be the first self-powered tests, expanding the capabilities of sensor networks for future ascent or re-entry systems.

TechEdSat satellite with the Exo-Brake system demonstrates guided controlled re-entry of small spacecraft to Earth from space. (NASA)

TechEdSat satellite with the Exo-Brake system demonstrates guided controlled re-entry of small spacecraft to Earth from space. (NASA)

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NASA tracks cigar-shaped Interstellar Asteroid as it passes through our Solar System

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the solar system on a steep trajectory from interstellar space-the first confirmed object from another star.

Now, new data reveal the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. The asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua by its discoverers, is up to one-quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly-elongated-perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide. That aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date.

Artist's concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 ('Oumuamua) as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. The aspect ratio of up to 10:1 is unlike that of any object seen in our own solar system. (European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser)

Artist’s concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua) as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. The aspect ratio of up to 10:1 is unlike that of any object seen in our own solar system. (European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser)

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NASA launched NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 into orbit Saturday

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of four highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites, equipped with next-generation technology and designed to improve the accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts out to seven days.

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47am PST Saturday.

At Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 2, the Delta II rocket engines roar to life. The 1:47am PST (4:47am EST), liftoff begins the Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, mission. JPSS is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA. (NASA)

At Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 2, the Delta II rocket engines roar to life. The 1:47am PST (4:47am EST), liftoff begins the Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, mission. JPSS is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA. (NASA)

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NASA to test CubeSat Weather Satellite

 

Written by Samson Reiny
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Behind every weather forecast—from your local, five-day prediction to a late-breaking hurricane track update—are the satellites that make them possible. Government agencies depend on observations from weather satellites to inform forecast models that help us prepare for approaching storms and identify areas that need evacuating or emergency first responders.

Weather satellites have traditionally been large, both in the effort needed to build them and in actual size. They can take several years to build and can be as big as a small school bus. But all of that could change in the future with the help of a shoebox-sized satellite that will start orbiting Earth later this month.

The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite, a 3U CubeSat, is shown with solar panels fully deployed, flanking the body of the spacecraft, which has a circular aperture at the top for the microwave radiometer antenna, used for atmospheric science measurements. There are also two small, thin tape-measure antennas on the top, used for UHF radio communication with the ground station. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite, a 3U CubeSat, is shown with solar panels fully deployed, flanking the body of the spacecraft, which has a circular aperture at the top for the microwave radiometer antenna, used for atmospheric science measurements. There are also two small, thin tape-measure antennas on the top, used for UHF radio communication with the ground station. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

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NASA Scientists lead International Team in Global Asteroid Tracking Test

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – An international team of astronomers led by NASA scientists successfully completed the first global exercise using a real asteroid to test global response capabilities.

Planning for the so-called “TC4 Observation Campaign” started in April, under the sponsorship of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. The exercise commenced in earnest in late July, when the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope recovered the asteroid. The finale was a close approach to Earth in mid-October.

2012 TC4's heliocentric orbit has changed due to the 2012 and 2017 close encounters with Earth. The cyan color shows the trajectory before the 2012 flyby, the magenta shows the trajectory after the 2012 flyby, and yellow shows the trajectory after the 2017 flyby. The orbital changes were primarily in semi-major axis and eccentricity, although there were also slight changes in the inclination. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

2012 TC4’s heliocentric orbit has changed due to the 2012 and 2017 close encounters with Earth. The cyan color shows the trajectory before the 2012 flyby, the magenta shows the trajectory after the 2012 flyby, and yellow shows the trajectory after the 2017 flyby. The orbital changes were primarily in semi-major axis and eccentricity, although there were also slight changes in the inclination. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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