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Topic: Solar System

NASA reports Three Radio Telescopes discover Double Asteroid

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New observations by three of the world’s largest radio telescopes have revealed that an asteroid discovered last year is actually two objects, each about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in size, orbiting each other.

Near-Earth asteroid 2017 YE5 was discovered with observations provided by the Morocco Oukaimeden Sky Survey on December 21st, 2017, but no details about the asteroid’s physical properties were known until the end of June. This is only the fourth “equal mass” binary near-Earth asteroid ever detected, consisting of two objects nearly identical in size, orbiting each other. The new observations provide the most detailed images ever obtained of this type of binary asteroid.

Artist's concept of what binary asteroid 2017 YE5 might look like. The two objects showed striking differences in radar reflectivity, which could indicate that they have different surface properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of what binary asteroid 2017 YE5 might look like. The two objects showed striking differences in radar reflectivity, which could indicate that they have different surface properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports First Known Interstellar Object to enter our Solar System speeds up and changes directions

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists has confirmed ‘Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.

“Our high-precision measurements of ‘Oumuamua’s position revealed that there was something affecting its motion other than the gravitational forces of the Sun and planets,” said Marco Micheli of ESA’s (European Space Agency) Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre in Frascati, Italy, and lead author a paper describing the team’s findings.

This artist's illustration shows 'Oumuamua racing toward the outskirts of our solar system, and is annotated with the locations of the planetary orbits. As the complex rotation of the object makes it difficult to determine the exact shape, there are many models of what it could look like. (NASA)

This artist’s illustration shows ‘Oumuamua racing toward the outskirts of our solar system, and is annotated with the locations of the planetary orbits. As the complex rotation of the object makes it difficult to determine the exact shape, there are many models of what it could look like. (NASA)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study Great Red Spot on Jupiter

 

Written by Eric Villard / Laura Betz
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the most ambitious and complex space observatory ever built, will use its unparalleled infrared capabilities to study Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, shedding new light on the enigmatic storm and building upon data returned from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories.

Jupiter’s iconic storm is on the Webb telescope’s list of targets chosen by guaranteed time observers, scientists who helped develop the incredibly complex telescope and  among the first to use it to observe the universe. One of the telescope’s science goals is to study planets, including the mysteries still held by the planets in our own solar system from Mars and beyond.

This photo of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, was snapped when the planet was comparatively close to Earth, at a distance of 415 million miles. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard))

This photo of Jupiter, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, was snapped when the planet was comparatively close to Earth, at a distance of 415 million miles. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (NASA Goddard))

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory studies Alpha Centauri system for planets that can support life

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – In humanity’s search for life outside our Solar System, one of the best places scientists have considered is Alpha Centauri, a system containing the three nearest stars beyond our Sun.

A new study that has involved monitoring of Alpha Centauri for more than a decade by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory provides encouraging news about one key aspect of planetary habitability. It indicates that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars in the Alpha Cen system are likely not being pummeled by large amounts of X-ray radiation from their host stars.

A new study involving long-term monitoring of Alpha Centauri by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars are likely not being pummeled by large amounts of X-ray radiation from their host stars. This is important for the viability of life in the nearest star system outside the Solar System. (Optical: Zdenek Bardon; X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Colorado/T. Ayres et al.)

A new study involving long-term monitoring of Alpha Centauri by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that any planets orbiting the two brightest stars are likely not being pummeled by large amounts of X-ray radiation from their host stars. This is important for the viability of life in the nearest star system outside the Solar System. (Optical: Zdenek Bardon; X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Colorado/T. Ayres et al.)

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft begins Campaign 18 observing Clusters of Stars

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft began the 18th observing campaign of its extended mission, K2, on May 12th, 2018. For the next 82 days, Kepler will stare at clusters of stars, faraway galaxies, and a handful of solar system objects, including comets, objects beyond Neptune, and an asteroid. The Kepler spacecraft is expected to run out of fuel within several months.

Campaign 18 is a familiar patch of space, as it’s approximately the same region of sky that Kepler observed during Campaign 5 in 2015. One of the advantages of observing a field over again is that planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, may be found orbiting farther from their stars. Astronomers hope to not only discover new exoplanets during this campaign, but also to confirm candidates that were previously identified.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) has discovered 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its fourth year of survey data. Since the mission was restarted in December 2013, after a period of hibernation, the asteroid- and comet-hunter has completely scanned the skies nearly eight times and has observed and characterized 29,375 objects in four years of operations. This total includes 788 near-Earth objects and 136 comets since the mission restart.

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of the planets in our solar system into orbits that allow them to enter Earth’s neighborhood.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched Wednesday

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system, including some that could support life.

TESS, which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 5:51pm CDT Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At 6:53pm, the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.

NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 18, 2018. TESS will search for new worlds outside our solar system for further study. (NASA Television)

NASA’s next planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 18, 2018. TESS will search for new worlds outside our solar system for further study. (NASA Television)

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NASA collects Meteorites in Antarctica

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On rare calm days, the most striking thing you notice at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet on an Antarctic glacier is the silence.

“There was just no sound; no air handling equipment, no leaves rustling, no bugs, no planes or cars. So quiet you just heard your heartbeat,” said Barbara Cohen, planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Most of the time, however, there is a steady howl of bitter cold wind flowing down from the East Antarctic ice plateau. With a summer temperature hovering around zero Fahrenheit, “It’s the wind that makes you cold,” Cohen said.

Camp at Mount Raymond in the Transantarctic Mountains. (Barbara Cohen)

Camp at Mount Raymond in the Transantarctic Mountains. (Barbara Cohen)

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NASA Study of Interstellar Object “Oumuamua” helps us understand Planet Formation

 

Written by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The first interstellar object ever seen in our solar system, named ‘Oumuamua, is giving scientists a fresh perspective on the development of planetary systems. A new study by a team including astrophysicists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, calculated how this visitor from outside our solar system fits into what we know about how planets, asteroids and comets form. 

On October 19th, 2017, astronomers working with the NASA-funded Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS1) at the University of Hawaii spotted an object zipping through our solar system at a very high speed. Scientists at the Minor Planet Center, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, confirmed it was the first object of interstellar origin that we’ve seen.

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua, the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins. (European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser)

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua, the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins. (European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to search Solar System for Water

 

Written by Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD –  Water is crucial for life, but how do you make water? Cooking up some H2O takes more than mixing hydrogen and oxygen. It requires the special conditions found deep within frigid molecular clouds, where dust shields against destructive ultraviolet light and aids chemical reactions. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will peer into these cosmic reservoirs to gain new insights into the origin and evolution of water and other key building blocks for habitable planets.

A molecular cloud is an interstellar cloud of dust, gas, and a variety of molecules ranging from molecular hydrogen (H2) to complex, carbon-containing organics. Molecular clouds hold most of the water in the universe, and serve as nurseries for newborn stars and their planets.

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

Blue light from a newborn star lights up the reflection nebula IC 2631. This nebula is part of the Chamaeleon star-forming region, which Webb will study to learn more about the formation of water and other cosmic ices. (European Southern Observatory (ESO))

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