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Topic: Solar System

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 reports Rosetta Spacecraft takes new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko showing surface details

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet’s nucleus.

It was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 7th, 2014. At the time, the spacecraft was 65 miles (104 kilometers) away from the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) nucleus.

In the image, the comet’s head (in the top half of the image) exhibits parallel linear features that resemble cliffs, and its neck displays scattered boulders on a relatively smooth, slumping surface.

Image of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet's nucleus. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

Image of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the diversity of surface structures on the comet’s nucleus. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

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NASA says get up early to see Venus and Jupiter converging in the Morning Sky

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Sleeping late is one of the simple pleasures of summer vacation. This week, waking up early will be a pleasure, too.

Set your alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise. Venus and Jupiter are converging in the dawn sky for a beautiful conjunction that will wake you up faster than a cup of strong coffee.

To see it, you’ll need a clear view of the east-northeastern horizon and … that’s all. No telescope is required.

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft arrives at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Today, after a decade-long journey chasing its target, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, carrying three NASA instruments, became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

“After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, we are delighted to announce finally we are here,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s director General.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 3, 2014, from a distance of 177 miles (285 kilometers). (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on August 3, 2014, from a distance of 177 miles (285 kilometers). (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

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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 says this years Perseid Meteor Shower will occur during a Supermoon

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Every year, sky watchers and summertime campers circle on their calendars a few key August nights—the 11th, 12th and 13th. These are the dates of the annual Perseid meteor shower, which rarely fails to please those who see it.

This year they’re adding a note: “supermoon.”

During the second week of August, the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year will face off against everyone’s favorite meteor shower—and the outcome could be beautiful.

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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 Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) tracks Comet Pan-STARRS

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured a series of pictures of comet C/2012 K1 — also known as comet Pan-STARRS — as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

The comet is named after the astronomical survey project called the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii, which discovered the icy visitor in May 2012.

Comet Pan-STARRS hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, from a vast and distant reservoir of comets called the Oort cloud.

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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 study reveals the moon Titan may have formed earlier than it’s host, Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches and Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A combined NASA and European Space Agency (ESA)-funded study has found firm evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan originated in conditions similar to the cold birthplace of the most ancient comets from the Oort cloud.

The finding rules out the possibility that Titan’s building blocks formed within the warm disk of material thought to have surrounded the infant planet Saturn during its formation.

New research on the nitrogen in Titan's atmosphere indicates that the moon's raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn began its formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

New research on the nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere indicates that the moon’s raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn began its formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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