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Topic: Orbit

NASA’s discovers bright Neutron Star among two Supermassive Black Holes

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the nearby Whirlpool galaxy and its companion galaxy, M51b, two supermassive black holes heat up and devour surrounding material. These two monsters should be the most luminous X-ray sources in sight, but a new study using observations from NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission shows that a much smaller object is competing with the two behemoths.

The most stunning features of the Whirlpool galaxy – officially known as M51a – are the two long, star-filled “arms” curling around the galactic center like ribbons. The much smaller M51b clings like a barnacle to the edge of the Whirlpool. Collectively known as M51, the two galaxies are merging.

Bright green sources of high-energy X-ray light captured by NASA's NuSTAR mission are overlaid on an optical-light image of the Whirlpool galaxy (in the center of the image) and its companion galaxy, M51b (the bright greenish-white spot above the Whirlpool), taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech, IPAC)

Bright green sources of high-energy X-ray light captured by NASA’s NuSTAR mission are overlaid on an optical-light image of the Whirlpool galaxy (in the center of the image) and its companion galaxy, M51b (the bright greenish-white spot above the Whirlpool), taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. (NASA/JPL-Caltech, IPAC)

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NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft to reduce Orbit around Mars

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s 4-year-old atmosphere-sniffing Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission is embarking on a new campaign today to tighten its orbit around Mars.

The operation will reduce the highest point of the MAVEN spacecraft’s elliptical orbit from 3,850 to 2,800 miles (6,200 to 4,500 kilometers) above the surface and prepare it to take on additional responsibility as a data-relay satellite for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which launches next year.

“The MAVEN spacecraft has done a phenomenal job teaching us how Mars lost its atmosphere and providing other important scientific insights on the evolution of the Martian climate,” said Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “Now we’re recruiting it to help NASA communicate with our forthcoming Mars rover and its successors.”

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN. (left) Current MAVEN orbit around Mars: 6,200 kilometers (~3,850 miles) at highest altitude, and an orbit period of about 4.5 hours. (center) Aerobraking process: MAVEN performs a series of "deep dip" orbits approaching to within about 125 kilometers (~78 miles) of Mars at lowest altitude, causing drag from the atmosphere to slow down the spacecraft. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Kel Elkins and Dan Gallagher)

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN. (left) Current MAVEN orbit around Mars: 6,200 kilometers (~3,850 miles) at highest altitude, and an orbit period of about 4.5 hours. (center) Aerobraking process: MAVEN performs a series of “deep dip” orbits approaching to within about 125 kilometers (~78 miles) of Mars at lowest altitude, causing drag from the atmosphere to slow down the spacecraft. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Kel Elkins and Dan Gallagher)

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NASA’s Mars Cube One goes dark

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Before the pair of briefcase-sized spacecraft known collectively as MarCO launched last year, their success was measured by survival: If they were able to operate in deep space at all, they would be pushing the limits of experimental technology.

Now well past Mars, the daring twins seem to have reached their limit. It’s been over a month since engineers have heard from MarCO, which followed NASA’s InSight to the Red Planet. At this time, the mission team considers it unlikely they’ll be heard from again.

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took these images as it approached Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took these images as it approached Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA’s Langley Research Center studies interaction between the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere

 

NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – Chill out. That’s the current message from the Sun to Earth’s upper atmosphere says NASA.

To be more precise, as the Sun settles into a cyclical, natural lull in activity, the upper atmosphere, or thermosphere — far above our own climate system — is responding in kind by cooling and contracting.

Could that have implications for folks down here on the surface? Absolutely not. Unless, that is, you’re someone with a vested interest in tracking an orbiting satellite or space debris.

The Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, or SABER, instrument on the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, satellite looks at the interaction between the Sun and Earth's upper atmosphere. (NASA/JHU/APL)

The Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, or SABER, instrument on the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, satellite looks at the interaction between the Sun and Earth’s upper atmosphere. (NASA/JHU/APL)

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NASA explored Venus for the first time, 40 years ago

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Slightly smaller than Earth, Venus is our closest planetary neighbor. Despite its proximity, relatively little was known about the planet in the late 1970s, especially its lower atmosphere. All that changed, though, when the most comprehensive study of the Venusian atmosphere began 40 years ago with the NASA Pioneer Venus project. 

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley managed the project, consisting of two spacecraft built by the Hughes Aircraft Company in El Segundo, California.

Left: Pioneer Venus Orbiter during assembly. Middle: Pioneer Venus Multiprobe undergoing final assembly and checkout. Right: Model of the Venera 11 and 12 lander (left) and entire spacecraft (right). (NASA)

Left: Pioneer Venus Orbiter during assembly. Middle: Pioneer Venus Multiprobe undergoing final assembly and checkout.
Right: Model of the Venera 11 and 12 lander (left) and entire spacecraft (right). (NASA)

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NASA establishes groundwork for exploration of the Moon, Mars in 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars. 

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking. We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation,” Bridenstine said. “This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers hot Neptune losing its Atmosphere

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Fishermen would be puzzled if they netted only big and little fish, but few medium-sized fish. Astronomers likewise have been perplexed in conducting a census of star-hugging extrasolar planets. They have found hot Jupiter-sized planets and hot super-Earths (planets no more than 1.5 times Earth’s diameter).

These planets are scorching hot because they orbit very close to their star. But so-called “hot Neptunes,” whose atmospheres are heated to more than 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, have been much harder to find. In fact, only about a handful of hot Neptunes have been found so far.

This artist's illustration shows a giant cloud of hydrogen streaming off a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 97 light-years from Earth. The exoplanet is tiny compared to its star, a red dwarf named GJ 3470. The star's intense radiation is heating the hydrogen in the planet's upper atmosphere to a point where it escapes into space. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

This artist’s illustration shows a giant cloud of hydrogen streaming off a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 97 light-years from Earth. The exoplanet is tiny compared to its star, a red dwarf named GJ 3470. The star’s intense radiation is heating the hydrogen in the planet’s upper atmosphere to a point where it escapes into space. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft to determine asteroid Bennu’s exact orbit

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On December 3rd, 2018 after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid.

It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.

Generations of planetary scientists will get to study pieces of the primitive materials that formed our cosmic neighborhood and to better understand the role asteroids may have played in delivering life-forming compounds to planets and moons.

This artist's concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu's surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it's trajectory. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu’s surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it’s trajectory. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA explains why it’s important to study Space Rocks

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

Those clues come in the form of asteroids, comets and other small objects. Like detectives sifting through forensic evidence, scientists carefully examine these small bodies for insights about our origins.

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft’s Service Module arrives from Europe

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The powerhouse that will help NASA’s Orion spacecraft venture beyond the Moon is stateside. The European-built service module that will propel, power and cool during Orion flight to the Moon on Exploration Mission-1 arrived from Germany at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to begin final outfitting, integration and testing with the crew module and other Orion elements.

The service module is integral to human missions to the Moon and Mars. After Orion launches on top of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket, the service module will be responsible for in-space maneuvering throughout the mission, including course corrections.

The European Service Module for NASA's Orion spacecraft is loaded on an Antonov airplane in Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 5, 2018, for transport to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space. Credits: NASA/Rad Sinyak

The European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is loaded on an Antonov airplane in Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 5, 2018, for transport to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space. Credits: NASA/Rad Sinyak

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