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Topic: Planets

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observes Asteroids circling a Young Star collide

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.

Scientists had been regularly tracking the star, called NGC 2547-ID8, when it surged with a huge amount of fresh dust between August 2012 and January 2013.

“We think two big asteroids crashed into each other, creating a huge cloud of grains the size of very fine sand, which are now smashing themselves into smithereens and slowly leaking away from the star,” said lead author and graduate student Huan Meng of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

This artist's concept shows the immediate aftermath of a large asteroid impact around NGC 2547-ID8, a 35-million-year-old sun-like star thought to be forming rocky planets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the immediate aftermath of a large asteroid impact around NGC 2547-ID8, a 35-million-year-old sun-like star thought to be forming rocky planets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes’ data used to measure Exoplanet with amazing accuracy

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Barely 30 years ago, the only planets astronomers had found were located right here in our own solar system. The Milky Way is chock-full of stars, millions of them similar to our own sun. Yet the tally of known worlds in other star systems was exactly zero.

What a difference a few decades can make.

As 2014 unfolds, astronomers have not only found more than a thousand “exoplanets” circling distant suns, but also they’re beginning to make precise measurements of them.

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NASA says Comet Siding Spring and Mars’ Atmospheres may Collide in October

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On October 19th, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away–which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon.

The nucleus of the comet won’t hit Mars, but there could be a different kind of collision.

“We hope to witness two atmospheres colliding,” explains David Brain of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). “This is a once in a lifetime event!”

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NASA observes Three Large Volcanic Eruptions on Jupiter’s Moon Io

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three massive volcanic eruptions occurred on Jupiter’s moon Io within a two-week period in August of last year. This led astronomers to speculate that such “outbursts,” which can send material hundreds of miles above the surface, might be much more common than they thought.

“We typically expect one huge outburst every one or two years, and they’re usually not this bright,” said Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of one of two papers describing the eruptions. “Here we had three extremely bright outbursts, which suggest that if we looked more frequently we might see many more of them on Io.”

Jupiter's moon Io saw three massive volcanic eruptions within a two-week period last August. (Katherine de Kleer/UC Berkeley/Gemini Observatory)

Jupiter’s moon Io saw three massive volcanic eruptions within a two-week period last August. (Katherine de Kleer/UC Berkeley/Gemini Observatory)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) discovers Comet that looked like an Asteroid

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun.

The comet glows brightly in infrared wavelengths, with a dust tail streaking more than 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across the sky. Its spectacular activity is driven by the vaporization of ice that has been preserved from the time of planet formation 4.5 billion years ago.

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) appeared to be a highly active comet one day past perihelion on July 7, 2014. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 selects concepts for Phase I of Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program

 

Written by David E. Steitz
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected 12 proposals, including three from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including  a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan, using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets, and  a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

Artist's concept of the Titan Aerial Daughtercraft. (NASA)

Artist’s concept of the Titan Aerial Daughtercraft. (NASA)

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NASA opens new Exhibit, Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new exhibit steeped in the cinematic world of “The Avengers” provides a super-powered dose of science and technology from NASA. The unique, interactive educational display premiered at Discovery Times Square in New York City on May 30th, 2014, for a six-month engagement.

Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. — an acronym for Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network — is an immersive experience in which visitors can explore the fictional superhero universe.

Artist's design concept for an interactive exhibit featuring NASA's Eyes on Exoplanets as part of Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit, opened in May 2014. (Victory Hill Entertainment Group)

Artist’s design concept for an interactive exhibit featuring NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets as part of Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit, opened in May 2014. (Victory Hill Entertainment Group)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft uses Sunsets on Saturn’s moon Titan to reveal Atmospheres of Exoplanets

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists working with data from NASA’s Cassini mission have developed a new way to understand the atmospheres of exoplanets by using Saturn’s smog-enshrouded moon Titan as a stand-in. The new technique shows the dramatic influence that hazy skies could have on our ability to learn about these alien worlds orbiting distant stars.

The work was performed by a team of researchers led by Tyler Robinson, a NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The findings were published May 26th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through Titan's hazy atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through Titan’s hazy atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA research study shows how Electrical Energy on the Sea Floor may have spawned Life on Earth

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays. What started out as simple cells ultimately transformed into slime molds, frogs, elephants, humans and the rest of our planet’s living kingdoms. How did it all begin?

A new study from researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and the Icy Worlds team at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life.

Michael Russell and Laurie Barge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, are pictured in their Icy Worlds laboratory, where they mimic the conditions of Earth billions of years ago, attempting to answer the question of how life first arose. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Michael Russell and Laurie Barge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, are pictured in their Icy Worlds laboratory, where they mimic the conditions of Earth billions of years ago, attempting to answer the question of how life first arose. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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