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Topic: Saturn

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to be turned off January 30th, 2020

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On January 30th, 2020, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope will be switched off permanently  after nearly 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light. By then, the spacecraft will have operated for more than 11 years beyond its prime mission, thanks to the Spitzer engineering team’s ability to address unique challenges as the telescope slips farther and farther from Earth.

Managed and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Spitzer is a small but transformational observatory. It captures infrared light, which is often emitted by “warm” objects that aren’t quite hot enough to radiate visible light.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in front of an infrared image of the Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope in front of an infrared image of the Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data shows inner workings of Saturn’s Rings

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The NASA Cassini spacecraft provided intricate detail on the workings of Saturn’s complex rings when it dove close to Saturn in its final year, new analysis shows.

Although the mission ended in 2017, science continues to flow from the data collected. A new paper published June 13th in Science describes results from four Cassini instruments taking their closest-ever observations of the main rings.

Findings include fine details of features sculpted by masses embedded within the rings.

This false-color image to the right shows an infrared spectral map of Saturn's A, B and C rings, captured by Cassini's VIMS. (Infrared image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/CNRS/LPG-Nantes); (Saturn image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic)

This false-color image to the right shows an infrared spectral map of Saturn’s A, B and C rings, captured by Cassini’s VIMS. (Infrared image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/CNRS/LPG-Nantes); (Saturn image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/G. Ugarkovic)

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Two Austin Peay State University graduates win National Science Foundation fellowships

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Two recently graduated Austin Peay State University (APSU) science students have earned National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.

National Science Foundation fellow Deborah Gulledge inside Austin Peay State Univeristy's planetarium.

National Science Foundation fellow Deborah Gulledge inside Austin Peay State Univeristy’s planetarium.

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NASA’s latest instrument to probe Uranus, Neptune’s Atmospheres

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Much has changed technologically since NASA’s Galileo mission dropped a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere to investigate, among other things, the heat engine driving the gas giant’s atmospheric circulation.

A NASA scientist and his team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are taking advantage of those advances to mature a smaller, more capable net flux radiometer. This type of instrument tells scientists where heating and cooling occurs in a planet’s atmosphere and defines the roles of solar and internal heat sources that contribute to atmospheric motions.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data gives new insights into Titan’s Lakes

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On its final flyby of Saturn’s largest moon in 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gathered radar data revealing that the small liquid lakes in Titan’s northern hemisphere are surprisingly deep, perched atop hills and filled with methane.

The new findings, published April 15th in Nature Astronomy, are the first confirmation of just how deep some of Titan’s lakes are (more than 300 feet, or 100 meters) and of their composition. They provide new information about the way liquid methane rains on, evaporates from and seeps into Titan – the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface.

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers tiny Moons coated from Saturn’s Rings

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New findings have emerged about five tiny moons nestled in and near Saturn’s rings. The closest-ever flybys by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveal that the surfaces of these unusual moons are covered with material from the planet’s rings – and from icy particles blasting out of Saturn’s larger moon Enceladus. The work paints a picture of the competing processes shaping these mini-moons.

“The daring, close flybys of these odd little moons let us peer into how they interact with Saturn’s rings,” said Bonnie Buratti of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Buratti led a team of 35 co-authors that published their work in the journal Science on March 28th. “We’re seeing more evidence of how extremely active and dynamic the Saturn ring and moon system is.”

This graphic shows the ring moons inspected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in super-close flybys. The rings and moons depicted are not to scale. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

This graphic shows the ring moons inspected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in super-close flybys. The rings and moons depicted are not to scale. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA uses Cassini Spacecraft data to determine length of a Day on Saturn

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, researchers believe they have solved a longstanding mystery of solar system science: the length of a day on Saturn. It’s 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

The figure has eluded planetary scientists for decades, because the gas giant has no solid surface with landmarks to track as it rotates, and it has an unusual magnetic field that hides the planet’s rotation rate.

The answer, it turned out, was hidden in the rings.

A view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

A view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Data reveals Saturn’s Rings may have formed much later than the Planet

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The rings of Saturn may be iconic, but there was a time when the majestic gas giant existed without its distinctive halo. In fact, the rings may have formed much later than the planet itself, according to a new analysis of gravity science data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

The findings indicate that Saturn’s rings formed between 10 million and 100 million years ago. From our planet’s perspective, that means Saturn’s rings may have formed during the age of dinosaurs.

An artist's concept of the Cassini orbiter crossing Saturn's ring plane. New measurements of the rings' mass give scientists the best answer yet to the question of their age. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s concept of the Cassini orbiter crossing Saturn’s ring plane. New measurements of the rings’ mass give scientists the best answer yet to the question of their age. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA explains why it’s important to study Space Rocks

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

Those clues come in the form of asteroids, comets and other small objects. Like detectives sifting through forensic evidence, scientists carefully examine these small bodies for insights about our origins.

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

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NASA has perfect landing spot picked out for Mars InSight Lander

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – No doubt about it, NASA explores some of the most awe-inspiring locations in our solar system and beyond. Once seen, who can forget the majesty of astronaut Jim Irwin standing before the stark beauty of the Moon’s Hadley Apennine mountain range, of the Hubble Space Telescope’s gorgeous “Pillars of Creation” or Cassini’s magnificent mosaic of Saturn?

Mars also plays a part in this visually compelling equation, with the high-definition imagery from the Curiosity rover of the ridges and rounded buttes at the base of Mount Sharp bringing to mind the majesty of the American Southwest. That said, Elysium Planitia – the site chosen for the November 26th landing of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars – will more than likely never be mentioned with those above because it is, well, plain.

This artist's concept depicts the smooth, flat ground that dominates InSight's landing ellipse in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts the smooth, flat ground that dominates InSight’s landing ellipse in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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