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Topic: Red Planet

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft one year away from reaching the dwarf planet, Pluto

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In July 2015, NASA will discover a new world. No one knows what to expect when the alien landscape comes into focus. There could be icy geysers, towering mountains, deep valleys, even planetary rings.

At this point, only one thing is certain: Its name is Pluto.

On July 14th, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will make a close flyby of that distant world.

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NASA’s prepares for Next Giant Leap, Mars and Beyond

 

NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The first humans who will step foot on Mars are walking the Earth today. It was 45 years ago that Neil Armstrong took the small step onto the surface of the moon that changed the course of history. The years that followed saw a Space Age of scientific, technological and human research, on which we have built the modern era.

We stand on a new horizon, poised to take the next giant leap—deeper into the solar system. The Apollo missions blazed a path for human exploration to the moon and today we are extending that path to near-Earth asteroids, Mars and beyond.

Artist's concept image of a boot print on the moon and on Mars. (NASA)

Artist’s concept image of a boot print on the moon and on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers evidence that Gullies on Mars are being created by Dry Ice

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars’ surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.

The first reports of formative gullies on Mars in 2000 generated excitement and headlines because they suggested the presence of liquid water on the Red Planet, the eroding action of which forms gullies here on Earth.

This pair of images covers one of the hundreds of sites on Mars where researchers have repeatedly used the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study changes in gullies on slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This pair of images covers one of the hundreds of sites on Mars where researchers have repeatedly used the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study changes in gullies on slopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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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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NASA’s Curiosity Rover completes first Martian Year on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover will complete a Martian year — 687 Earth days — on June 24th, having accomplished the mission’s main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) investigates technologies for Human, Robotic missions to Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is paving the way for future Mars exploration. The directorate is currently investing in and developing bold, disruptive technology required for future deep-space missions.

This critical work leads a concerted effort throughout the agency, including at the program level and across multiple centers, as well as with partners in American industry.

During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA's ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces.

During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces.

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers large new Crater on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers have discovered on the Red Planet the largest fresh meteor-impact crater ever firmly documented with before-and-after images. The images were captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The crater spans half the length of a football field and first appeared in March 2012. The impact that created it likely was preceded by an explosion in the Martian sky caused by intense friction between an incoming asteroid and the planet’s atmosphere.

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This is the largest fresh impact crater anywhere ever clearly confirmed from before-and-after images. It is 159 feet across. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA prepares Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Saucer craft for Flight Test

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle, has completed final assembly at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

This experimental flight test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit future Mars missions, including those involving human exploration. Three weeks of testing, simulations and rehearsals are planned before the first launch opportunity on the morning of June 3rd. LDSD was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and shipped to Kauai for final assembly and preparations.

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua'i, Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua’i, Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft to examine Solar Wind’s roll in Mars losing it’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Claire Saravia
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – This past November, NASA launched the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission in the hope of understanding how and why the planet has been losing its atmosphere over billions of years.

One instrument aboard the spacecraft will study a special component of the Martian atmosphere to help solve this mystery. By studying ions, or small electrically charged particles, in and above the Red Planet’s tenuous atmosphere, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer will help answer why Mars has gradually lost much of its atmosphere, developing into a frozen, barren planet.

This artist's concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist’s concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

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