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NASA gives green light to Mars Insight Mission Launch

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission to study the deep interior of Mars, following final approval this week by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission was originally scheduled to launch in March of this year, but NASA suspended launch preparations in December due to a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft data reveals new insights about the Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A lonely 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain on Ceres is likely volcanic in origin, and the dwarf planet may have a weak, temporary atmosphere. These are just two of many new insights about Ceres from NASA’s Dawn mission published this week in six papers in the journal Science.

“Dawn has revealed that Ceres is a diverse world that clearly had geological activity in its recent past,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ceres' lonely mountain, Ahuna Mons, is seen in this simulated perspective view. The elevation has been exaggerated by a factor of two. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

Ceres’ lonely mountain, Ahuna Mons, is seen in this simulated perspective view. The elevation has been exaggerated by a factor of two. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft to study Dwarf Planet Ceres from Higher Orbit

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After studying Ceres for more than eight months from its low-altitude science orbit, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will move higher up for different views of the dwarf planet.

Dawn has delivered a wealth of images and other data from its current perch at 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Ceres’ surface, which is closer to the dwarf planet than the International Space Station is to Earth. Now, the mission team is pivoting to consider science questions that can be examined from higher up.

This artist concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft above dwarf planet Ceres, as seen in images from the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft above dwarf planet Ceres, as seen in images from the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Astronomers puzzle over age of distant Star

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

Researchers initially classified the star as elderly, perhaps a red supergiant. But a new study by a NASA-led team of researchers suggests that the object, labeled IRAS 19312+1950, might be something quite different — a protostar, a star still in the making.

“Astronomers recognized this object as noteworthy around the year 2000 and have been trying ever since to decide how far along its development is,” said Martin Cordiner, an astrochemist working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He is the lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal describing the team’s findings, from observations made using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory.

An age-defying star called IRAS 19312+1950 exhibits features characteristic of a very young star and a very old star. It is the bright red star at the center of this image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An age-defying star called IRAS 19312+1950 exhibits features characteristic of a very young star and a very old star. It is the bright red star at the center of this image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft examination of Jupiter will help us better understand far off worlds

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around.

Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

It turns out the inverse is also true — we can turn our instruments and probes to our own backyard, and view Jupiter as if it were an exoplanet to learn more about those far-off worlds.

Comparing Jupiter with Jupiter-like planets that orbit other stars can teach us about those distant worlds, and reveal new insights about our own solar system's formation and evolution. (Illustration) (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comparing Jupiter with Jupiter-like planets that orbit other stars can teach us about those distant worlds, and reveal new insights about our own solar system’s formation and evolution. (Illustration) (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft finishes Jupiter Flyby

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44am PDT (8:44am CDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds.

At the time, Juno was traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission.

“Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Jupiter's north polar region is coming into view as NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

Jupiter’s north polar region is coming into view as NASA’s Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to begin new mission phase in October

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Celebrating the spacecraft’s ability to push the boundaries of space science and technology, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope team has dubbed the next phase of its journey “Beyond.”

“Spitzer is operating well beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of the mission,” said Michael Werner, the project scientist for Spitzer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We never envisioned operating 13 years after launch, and scientists are making discoveries in areas of science we never imagined exploring with the spacecraft.”

This artist's concept shows NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer begins its "Beyond" mission phase on Oct. 1, 2016. The spacecraft is depicted in the orientation it assumes to establish communications with ground stations. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer begins its “Beyond” mission phase on Oct. 1, 2016. The spacecraft is depicted in the orientation it assumes to establish communications with ground stations. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft to flyby Jupiter closer than ever Saturday, August 27th

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – This Saturday at 5:51am PDT, (7:51am CDT, 12:51 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter than at any other time during its prime mission.

At the moment of closest approach, Juno will be about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled during its prime mission (scheduled to end in February of 2018).

This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA's Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA’s Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA’s WISE Explorer and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discover infrared/gamma ray connection to Blazars

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays.

The discovery, which was accomplished by comparing data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, has enabled the researchers to uncover dozens of new blazar candidates.

Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. (M. Weiss/CfA)

Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. (M. Weiss/CfA)

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NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter data reveals no water in Seasonal Streaks on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Seasonal dark streaks on Mars that have become one of the hottest topics in interplanetary research don’t hold much water, according to the latest findings from a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars.

The new results from NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission rely on ground temperature, measured by infrared imaging using the spacecraft’s Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). They do not contradict last year’s identification of hydrated salt at these flows, which since their 2011 discovery have been regarded as possible markers for the presence of liquid water on modern Mars.

Blue dots on this map indicate sites of recurring slope lineae (RSL) in part of the Valles Marineris canyon network on Mars. RSL are seasonal dark streaks that may be indicators of liquid water. The area mapped here has the highest density of known RSL on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Blue dots on this map indicate sites of recurring slope lineae (RSL) in part of the Valles Marineris canyon network on Mars. RSL are seasonal dark streaks that may be indicators of liquid water. The area mapped here has the highest density of known RSL on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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