Topic: Solar System
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – A school of sardines fluttered by as giant leafy kelp swayed back and forth at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Monday, June 22nd. At the bottom of this 188,000-gallon aquatic tank, a bright orange garibaldi fish seemed to ignore a new visitor to the aquatic wonderland: the silver body of an under-ice rover.
The rover’s presence 24 feet (7.3 meters) underwater at the science center this week helped researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, test the innovative rover’s systems. On Monday, the visitors’ guide to the rover and the fish around it was Andy Klesh, principal investigator for the rover at JPL and volunteer diver at the science center.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – The closer we get to Ceres, the more intriguing the distant dwarf planet becomes. New images of Ceres from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft provide more clues about its mysterious bright spots, and also reveal a pyramid-shaped peak towering over a relatively flat landscape.
“The surface of Ceres has revealed many interesting and unique features. For example, icy moons in the outer solar system have craters with central pits, but on Ceres central pits in large craters are much more common. These and other features will allow us to understand the inner structure of Ceres that we cannot sense directly,” said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Since last September, scientists using NASA’s Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft have generated maps of the distribution of water in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as the comet’s orbit brings it closer to the sun.
MIRO is able to detect water in the coma by measuring the direct emission from water vapor in the coma and by observing absorption of radiation from the nucleus at water-specific frequencies as the radiation passed through the coma.
Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Washington, D.C. – Beyond Earth, Jupiter’s moon Europa is considered one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of present-day life, and a new NASA mission to explore this potential is moving forward from concept review to development.
NASA’s mission concept — to conduct a detailed survey of Europa and investigate its habitability — has successfully completed its first major review by the agency and now is entering the development phase known as formulation.
Written by Elizabeth Landau/Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – A new view of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 23rd, shows finer detail is becoming visible on the dwarf planet. The spacecraft snapped the image at a distance of 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) with a resolution of 1,600 feet (480 meters) per pixel. The image is part of a sequence taken for navigational purposes.
After transmitting these images to Earth on May 23rd, Dawn resumed ion-thrusting toward its second mapping orbit.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Testing is underway on NASA’s next mission on the journey to Mars, a stationary lander scheduled to launch in March 2016.
The lander is called InSight, an abbreviation for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is about the size of a car and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the interior structure of the Red Planet. Examining the planet’s deep interior could reveal clues about how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – NASA has selected nine science instruments for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.
NASA’s Galileo mission yielded strong evidence that Europa, about the size of Earth’s moon, has an ocean beneath a frozen crust of unknown thickness. If proven to exist, this global ocean could have more than twice as much water as Earth.
With abundant salt water, a rocky sea floor, and the energy and chemistry provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler spacecraft began hunting for planets outside our solar system on May 12th, 2009. From the trove of data collected, we have learned that planets are common, that most sun-like stars have at least one planet and that nature makes planets with unimaginable diversity.
Kepler launched on March 6th, 2009. Its mission was to survey a portion of our galaxy to determine what fraction of stars might harbor potentially habitable, Earth-sized exoplanets, or planets that orbit other stars.
Land Between the Lakes’ Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory Summer Evening Shows and Star Parties
Office of Land Between the Lakes, KY/TN – Summer Evening Planetarium Shows begin May 30th with Firefall at Golden Pond Planetarium followed by a Star Party.
Friends of Land Between The Lakes will present additional 8pm evening planetarium shows and star parties on select Saturdays during June, July, August, and September. Admission is $5.00 ages 13 and up, $3,00 ages 5-12, and free for ages 4 and under.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – The long-standing mystery of why Saturn seethes with enormous storms every 30 years may have been solved by scientists working with data from NASA’s Cassini mission. The tempests, which can grow into bright bands that encircle the entire planet, are on a natural timer that is reset by each subsequent storm, the researchers report.
In 140 years of telescope observations, great storms have erupted on Saturn six times. Cassini and observers on Earth tracked the most recent of these storms from December 2010 to August 2011. During that time, the storm exploded through the clouds, eventually winding its way around Saturn.
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