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NASA studies Mars Canyons for signs of liquid water

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Puzzles persist about possible water at seasonally dark streaks on Martian slopes, according to a new study of thousands of such features in the Red Planet’s largest canyon system.

The study published today investigated thousands of these warm-season features in the Valles Marineris region near Mars’ equator. Some of the sites displaying the seasonal flows are canyon ridges and isolated peaks, ground shapes that make it hard to explain the streaks as resulting from underground water directly reaching the surface.

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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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover put itself into Safe Mode over Fourth of July weekend

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is taking steps to return the rover to full activity following a precautionary stand-down over the Fourth of July weekend.

Curiosity is now communicating with ground controllers and is stable. The rover put itself into safe mode on July 2nd, ceasing most activities other than keeping itself healthy and following a prescribed sequence for resuming communications.

This May 11, 2016, self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Okoruso" drilling site on lower Mount Sharp's "Naukluft Plateau." The scene is a mosaic of multiple images taken with the arm-mounted Mars Hands Lens Imager (MAHLI). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This May 11, 2016, self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the “Okoruso” drilling site on lower Mount Sharp’s “Naukluft Plateau.” The scene is a mosaic of multiple images taken with the arm-mounted Mars Hands Lens Imager (MAHLI). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft completes burn, now in Jupiter Orbit

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53pm PDT (11:53pm EDT) Monday, July 4th.

“Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully entering Jupiter's orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entering Jupiter’s orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft prepares for Jupiter Orbit Insertion

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After almost five years and 1.7 billion million miles (2.7 billion kilometers), NASA’s Juno mission is about to enter into orbit around the biggest planetary inhabitant in our solar system — Jupiter. Approaching the massive planet from above, Juno will be within 300,000 miles of Jupiter by 2:14pm PDT (5:14pm EDT).

A minute later, Juno will cross the orbit of Jupiter’s innermost Galilean moon (Io), at 2:15pm PDT (5:15pm EDT). Juno closes the distance between it and the gas-giant world to 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) by 4:17pm PDT (7:17pm EDT) and is only 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers) away by 6:03pm PDT (9:03pm EDT).

NASA's Juno spacecraft obtained this color view on June 28, 2016, at a distance of 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA’s Juno spacecraft obtained this color view on June 28, 2016, at a distance of 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover finds differences between Earth and Mars’ Sand Dunes

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Some of the wind-sculpted sand ripples on Mars are a type not seen on Earth, and their relationship to the thin Martian atmosphere today provides new clues about the atmosphere’s history.

The determination that these mid-size ripples are a distinct type resulted from observations by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Six months ago, Curiosity made the first up-close study of active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth, at the “Bagnold Dunes” on the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp.

Two sizes of ripples are evident in this December 13th, 2015, view of a top of a Martian sand dune, from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth.

Two sizes of ripples are evident in this December 13th, 2015, view of a top of a Martian sand dune, from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth.

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft finishes objectives at Dwarf Planet Ceres, completes mission

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On June 30th, just in time for the global celebration known as Asteroid Day, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft completes its primary mission. The mission exceeded all expectations originally set for its exploration of protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

The historic mission is the first to orbit two extraterrestrial solar system targets, and the first to orbit any object in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. On March 6th, 2015, Dawn also became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around a dwarf planet.

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft’s Autopilot will control burn to obtain Jupiter Orbit

 

Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – At about 12:15pm PDT today (3:15pm EDT), mission controllers will transmit command product “ji4040” into deep space, to transition the solar-powered Juno spacecraft into autopilot.

It will take nearly 48 minutes for the signal to cover the 534-million-mile (860-million-kilometer) distance between the Deep Space Network Antenna in Goldstone, California, to the Juno spacecraft. While sequence ji4040 is only one of four command products sent up to the spacecraft that day, it holds a special place in the hearts of the Juno mission team.

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft approaching Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft approaching Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft now in Jupiter’s Magnetosphere

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft has entered the planet’s magnetosphere, where the movement of particles in space is controlled by what’s going on inside Jupiter.

“We’ve just crossed the boundary into Jupiter’s home turf,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. “We’re closing in fast on the planet itself and already gaining valuable data.”

NASA's Juno spacecraft obtained this color view on June 28, 2016, at a distance of 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA’s Juno spacecraft obtained this color view on June 28, 2016, at a distance of 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

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NASA says Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres may come from Hydrothermal Activity

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The brightest area on Ceres, located in the mysterious Occator Crater, has the highest concentration of carbonate minerals ever seen outside Earth, according to a new study from scientists on NASA’s Dawn mission. The study, published online in the journal Nature, is one of two new papers about the makeup of Ceres.

“This is the first time we see this kind of material elsewhere in the solar system in such a large amount,” said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author and principal investigator of Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. De Sanctis is based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome.

The center of Ceres' mysterious Occator Crater is the brightest area on the dwarf planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

The center of Ceres’ mysterious Occator Crater is the brightest area on the dwarf planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

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NASA study shows during winter months Carbon Emissions in Arctic may go Unobserved

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study has found that in at least part of the Arctic, scientists are not doing as good a job of detecting changes in carbon dioxide during the long, dark winter months as they are at monitoring changes during the short summer.

That’s a concern, because growing Arctic plants can act as a brake on global warming rates by removing carbon from the atmosphere, but increasing cold-season emissions could overwhelm the braking effect and accelerate global warming.

Even after the ground surface freezes in the fall, Alaskan soils can continue to emit carbon. (NOAA/Mandy Lindeberg)

Even after the ground surface freezes in the fall, Alaskan soils can continue to emit carbon. (NOAA/Mandy Lindeberg)

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