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NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft senses Tsunami Waves from our Sun in Interstellar Space

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new “tsunami wave” from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun’s bubble, entering a new frontier.

“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” said Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, the mission’s project scientist since 1972. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”

The Space Between: This artist's concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Space Between: This artist’s concept shows the Voyager 1 spacecraft entering the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by plasma, ionized gas (illustrated here as brownish haze), that was thrown off by giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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NASA reports discovery of Icy Planet in Binary Star System

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A newly discovered planet in a binary, or twin, star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers’ notions of where Earth-like — and even potentially habitable — planets can form, and how to find them.

At twice the mass of Earth, the planet orbits one of the stars in the binary system at almost exactly the same distance at which Earth orbits the sun. However, because the planet’s host star is much dimmer than the sun, the planet is much colder than Earth — a little colder, in fact, than Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

This artist's rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers' notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

This artist’s rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers’ notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

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NASA observes Fireworks created by Black Hole in Nearby Galaxy

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Celebrants this Fourth of July will enjoy the dazzling lights and booming shock waves from the explosions of fireworks. A similarly styled event is taking place in the galaxy Messier 106, as seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Herschel Space Observatory. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Energetic jets, which blast from Messier 106′s central black hole, are heating up material in the galaxy and thus making it glow, like the ingredients in a firework. The jets also power shock waves that are driving gases out of the galaxy’s interior.

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

A galaxy about 23 million light-years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI/NSF/NRAO/VLA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals salty ocean inside Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence of an ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth’s Dead Sea. The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Icarus.

“This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards,” said the paper’s lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. “Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

Researchers found that Titan’s ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

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NASA successfully launches Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT) Wednesday.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket’s second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit.

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft detects water vapor coming from target Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on June 6th, 2014.

The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11th).

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

This artist’s impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA set to launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 this morning July 1st, 2014

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California tomorrow, July 1st, at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT).

OCO-2 — the first dedicated NASA mission to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide on global scales — has only a 30-second launch window each day. The launch window is short because the spacecraft needs to be precisely aligned within a series of Earth-observing satellites known as the “A-Train.”

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) Test Flight a Huge Success

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA representatives participated in a media teleconference this morning to discuss the June 28th, 2014 near-space test flight of the agency’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which occurred off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

A high-altitude balloon launch occurred at 8:45am HST (11:45am PDT/3:45pm CDT) from the Hawaiian island facility. At 11:05am HST (2:05pm PDT/6:05pm CDT), the LDSD test vehicle dropped away from the balloon as planned and began powered flight.

Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) completes Test Flight

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The balloon launch occurred at 8:45am HST (11:45am PDT/3:45pm CDT) from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. At 11:05am HST (2:05pm PDT/6:05pm CDT), the test vehicle dropped away from the balloon (as planned), and powered flight began.

The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35am HST (2:35pm PDT/6:35pm CDT), after the engineering test flight concluded.

The test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator rides on a balloon to high altitudes above Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator rides on a balloon to high altitudes above Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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