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Topic: Science at NASA

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovers a mystery in Perseus Cluster

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Universe is a big place, full of unknowns. Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have just catalogued a new one.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” says Esra Bulbul of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics. “What we found, at first glance, could not be explained by known physics.”

Together with a team of more than a half-dozen colleagues, Bulbul has been using Chandra to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth.

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NASA looks back at the July 2012 Solar Superstorm that just missed Earth

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.

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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 reports three Supermoons to occur in consecutive months

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines. The news media called it a “supermoon” because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013.  Around the world, people went outside to marvel at its luminosity.

If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three….? The full Moons of summer 2014 — July 12th, August 10th, and September 9th — will all be supermoons.

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NASA to send Fruit Fly Lab to International Space Station

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day.

We have a lot in common.

Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues.”

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals salty ocean inside Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence of an ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth’s Dead Sea. The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Icarus.

“This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards,” said the paper’s lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. “Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

Researchers found that Titan’s ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

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NASA’s Carbon Observatory-2 satellite set for July 1st launch

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the lexicon of climate change, one word appears more often than any other: “carbon.” Carbon credits, carbon emissions, carbon sequestration…. These terms are on everyone’s lips.

The reason is carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CO2 is the most important driver of global warming. At approximately 400 parts per million, atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least the past 800,000 years.

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NASA reports Sun has entered Solar Max of it’s solar cycle

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Years ago, in 2008 and 2009 an eerie quiet descended on the sun. Sunspot counts dropped to historically-low levels and solar flares ceased altogether. As the longest and deepest solar minimum in a century unfolded, bored solar physicists wondered when “Solar Max” would ever return.

They can stop wondering. “It’s back,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar Max has arrived.”

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NASA reports Rosetta Spacecraft’s target Comet becoming active

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A spacecraft from Earth is about to do something no spacecraft has ever done before: orbit a comet and land on its surface.

Right now, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe is hurtling toward Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft’s mission is to study the comet at close-range as it transforms from a quiet nugget of ice and rock, frozen solid by years spent in deep space, to a sun-warmed dynamo spewing jets of gas and dust into a magnificently evolving tail.

News flash: The metamorphosis has begun.

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NASA’s Jason-2 satellite data points to possible El Niño in 2014

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Every ten days, the NASA/French Space Agency Jason-2 satellite maps all the world’s oceans, monitoring changes in sea surface height, a measure of heat in the upper layers of the water. Because our planet is more than 70% ocean, this information is crucial to global forecasts of weather and climate.

Lately, Jason-2 has seen something brewing in the Pacific—and it looks a lot like 1997.

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