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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft to be assisted by other missions during Pluto flyby

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What’s icy, has “wobbly” potato-shaped moons, and is the world’s best-known dwarf planet? The answer is Pluto, and NASA’s New Horizons is speeding towards the edge of our solar system for a July 14th flyby.

It won’t be making observations alone; NASA’s fleet of observatories will be busy gathering data before and after to help piece together what we know about Pluto, and what features New Horizons data might help explain.

Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Artist conception of New Horizons Spacecraft. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

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NASA study reveals Oceans Temperature Rise Slowed

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Researchers say this shifting pattern of ocean heat accounts for the slowdown in the global surface temperature trend observed during the past decade.

Researchers Veronica Nieves, Josh Willis and Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, found a specific layer of the Indian and Pacific oceans between 300 and 1,000 feet (100 and 300 meters) below the surface has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized.

An Argo float, foreground. The new study included direct measurements of ocean temperatures from the global array of 3,500 Argo floats and other ocean sensors. (Argo program, Germany/Ifremer)

An Argo float, foreground. The new study included direct measurements of ocean temperatures from the global array of 3,500 Argo floats and other ocean sensors. (Argo program, Germany/Ifremer)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft has one year remaining on flight to Jupiter

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With just one year remaining in a five-year trek to Jupiter, the team of NASA’s Juno mission is hard at work preparing for the spacecraft’s expedition to the solar system’s largest planet.

The mission aims to reveal the story of Jupiter’s formation and details of its interior structure. Data from Juno will provide insights about our solar system’s beginnings, and what we learn from the mission will also enrich scientists’ understanding of giant planets around other stars.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) looks deeply into Black Holes

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Some of the “biggest and baddest” black holes around are buried under thick blankets of gas and dust. These monsters in the middle of galaxies are actively devouring material, but their hidden nature makes observing them a challenge.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) recently caught a glimpse of five of these secluded beasts. While hidden from view from most other telescopes, NuSTAR can spot them by detecting the highest-energy X-rays, which can penetrate through the enshrouding gas and dust.

A montage of images showing an artist's concept of NuSTAR (top); a color image of one of the galaxies targeted by NuSTAR (lower left); and artist's concept of a hidden black hole. (Top: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Lower-left: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA. Bottom-right: NASA/ESA)

A montage of images showing an artist’s concept of NuSTAR (top); a color image of one of the galaxies targeted by NuSTAR (lower left); and artist’s concept of a hidden black hole. (Top: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Lower-left: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA. Bottom-right: NASA/ESA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity moves towards valley with clay outcrops

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Operators of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity plan to drive the rover into a valley this month where Opportunity will be active through the long-lived rover’s seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops that contain clay minerals.

Opportunity resumed driving on June 27th after about three weeks of reduced activity around Mars solar conjuntion, when the sun’s position between Earth and Mars disrupts communication. The rover is operating in a mode that does not store any science data overnight. It transmits the data the same day they’re collected.

Road trip! This compilation of images from hazard-avoidance cameras on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between January 2004 and April 2015 shows the rover's-eye-view of the Martian marathon covering 26.2 miles(42.2 kilometers) from its landing location. A map of the rover's path is on the right. (NASA)

Road trip! This compilation of images from hazard-avoidance cameras on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between January 2004 and April 2015 shows the rover’s-eye-view of the Martian marathon covering 26.2 miles(42.2 kilometers) from its landing location. A map of the rover’s path is on the right. (NASA)

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NASA uses AVIRIS-NG instrument to map California Oil Pipeline Spill Beach Tar

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When an on-land pipeline ruptured north of Santa Barbara, California, on May 19th — spilling 105,000 barrels of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach and about 21,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean in the north Santa Barbara Channel — it created an environmental nightmare for local beaches and wildlife.

In support of the response to the Refugio Incident, as it is known, NASA deployed a De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft carrying a unique airborne instrument developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, to study the spill and test the ability of imaging spectroscopy to map tar on area beaches. The work is advancing our nation’s ability to respond to future oil spills.

AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue (visible) aerial image of the Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and on nearby Santa Barbara Channel beaches. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

AVIRIS-NG red-green-blue (visible) aerial image of the Refugio Incident oil spill, showing oil on the water and on nearby Santa Barbara Channel beaches. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Laboratory begins reseach into Nighttime Thunderstorms over the Great Plains

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has joined a multi-agency field campaign studying summer storm systems in the U.S. Great Plains to find out why they often form after the sun goes down instead of during the heat of the day.

The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, or PECAN, project began June 1st and continues through mid-July. Participants from eight research laboratories and 14 universities are collecting storm data to find out how and why storms form.

NASA Takes to Kansas Skies to Study Nighttime Thunderstorms

NASA Takes to Kansas Skies to Study Nighttime Thunderstorms

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NASA captures image of Cosmic Fireworks

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less than 2 million years old — a blink of an eye in astronomical terms for stars like these expected to burn for billions of years.

This new composite image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in pink) with infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (shown in red) as well as optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories’ Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak (red, green, blue).

This new composite image of stellar cluster NGC 1333 combines X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink); infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red); and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories' Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/DSS)

This new composite image of stellar cluster NGC 1333 combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink); infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (red); and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories’ Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. (NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/DSS)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover examines two types of Bedrock on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is examining a valley where at least two types of bedrock meet, for clues about changes in ancient environmental conditions recorded by the rock.

In addition to two rock types for which this site was chosen, the rover has found a sandstone with grains of differing shapes and color.

Curiosity’s international team has resumed full operations of the car-size mobile laboratory after a period of limited activity during most of June.

This May 25, 2015, view from the Curiosity rover's Mastcam shows a site where two different types of bedrock meet near "Marias Pass" on Mount Sharp. Pale mudstone in the foreground is like bedrock the rover studied at "Pahrump Hills." The darker sandstone above it is called the Stimson unit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This May 25, 2015, view from the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam shows a site where two different types of bedrock meet near “Marias Pass” on Mount Sharp. Pale mudstone in the foreground is like bedrock the rover studied at “Pahrump Hills.” The darker sandstone above it is called the Stimson unit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA gives explanation for extra second on June 30th, 2015

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The day was officially a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015, because an extra second, or “leap” second, was added.

“Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” said Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Strictly speaking, a day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives – Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. UTC is “atomic time” – the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium. These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

A flower clock is seen in the Jardin Anglais, Geneva, Switzerland. (Claude Meisch/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License)

A flower clock is seen in the Jardin Anglais, Geneva, Switzerland. (Claude Meisch/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License)

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