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Topic: Space

NASA establishes groundwork for exploration of the Moon, Mars in 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars. 

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking. We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation,” Bridenstine said. “This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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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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Three NASA Missions to explore our Solar System capture first images

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s continued quest to explore our solar system and beyond received a boost of new information this week with three key missions proving not only that they are up and running, but that their science potential is exceptional.

On September 17th, 2018, TESS — the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — shared its first science observations. Later in the week, the latest two missions to join NASA’s heliophysics fleet returned first light data: Parker Solar Probe, humanity’s first mission to “touch” the Sun, and GOLD, a mission that studies the dynamic boundary between Earth and space.

Download high-resolution versions of this and other TESS “first light” images from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

Download high-resolution versions of this and other TESS “first light” images from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope still going after 15 Years in Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Initially scheduled for a minimum 2.5-year primary mission, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has gone far beyond its expected lifetime — and is still going strong after 15 years.

Launched into a solar orbit on August 25th, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.

This image shows an artist's impression of the Spitzer Space Telescope. The background shows an infrared image from Spitzer of the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL)

This image shows an artist’s impression of the Spitzer Space Telescope. The background shows an infrared image from Spitzer of the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA instrument to measure Greenhouse Gas to orbit Earth on Mini-Carb CubeSat Mission

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD –  A novel instrument that has already proven its mettle on field campaigns will attempt to measure atmospheric greenhouse gases from an occultation-viewing, low-Earth-orbiting CubeSat mission called Mini-Carb early next year — marking the first time this type of instrument has flown in space.

Emily Wilson, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is teaming with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, or LLNL, to fly a smaller, more ruggedized version of her patented mini-Laser Heterodyne Radiometer, or mini-LHR, on an LLNL-built CubeSat platform early next year.

Technologists integrate a Goddard-developed instrument into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) CubeSat bus. Those pictured include LLNL’s Lance Simms (front) and from left to right: Vincent Riot (LLNL), A.J. DiGregorio (Goddard), Jennifer Young (Goddard), and Guru Ramu (Goddard). (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, LLNL-PHOTO-753023)

Technologists integrate a Goddard-developed instrument into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) CubeSat bus. Those pictured include LLNL’s Lance Simms (front) and from left to right: Vincent Riot (LLNL), A.J. DiGregorio (Goddard), Jennifer Young (Goddard), and Guru Ramu (Goddard). (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, LLNL-PHOTO-753023)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, The Science Behind Why It Won’t Melt

 

Written by Susannah Darling
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – One key to understanding what keeps the spacecraft and its instruments safe, is understanding the concept of heat versus temperature. Counterintuitively, high temperatures do not always translate to actually heating another object.

In space, the temperature can be thousands of degrees without providing significant heat to a given object or feeling hot. Why? Temperature measures how fast particles are moving, whereas heat measures the total amount of energy that they transfer. Particles may be moving fast (high temperature), but if there are very few of them, they won’t transfer much energy (low heat).

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe circling the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe circling the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Observatory Measure the Universe’s Expansion Rate

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – Using the power and synergy of two space telescopes, NASA says astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the universe’s expansion rate.

The results further fuel the mismatch between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed.

This so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe. Possibilities include the interaction strength of dark matter, dark energy being even more exotic than previously thought, or an unknown new particle in the tapestry of space.

Using two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes — NASA’s Hubble and ESA’s Gaia — astronomers have made the most precise measurements to date of the universe’s expansion rate. This is calculated by gauging the distances between nearby galaxies using special types of stars called Cepheid variables as cosmic yardsticks. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

Using two of the world’s most powerful space telescopes — NASA’s Hubble and ESA’s Gaia — astronomers have made the most precise measurements to date of the universe’s expansion rate. This is calculated by gauging the distances between nearby galaxies using special types of stars called Cepheid variables as cosmic yardsticks. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

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NASA’s ECOSTRESS instrument on International Space Station to study Plant Water usage

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Doctors learn a lot about their patients’ health by taking their temperature. An elevated temperature, or fever, can be a sign of illness. The same goes for plants, but their temperatures on a global scale are harder to measure than the temperatures of individual people.

That’s about to change, thanks to a new NASA instrument that soon will be installed on the International Space Station called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station. ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. This will enable researchers to determine plant water use and to study how drought conditions affect plant health.

ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. Scientists will be able to use that temperature data to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to water shortages. (USDA)

ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. Scientists will be able to use that temperature data to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to water shortages. (USDA)

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NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft finds new Magnetic Event in near Earth Environment

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Though close to home, the space immediately around Earth is full of hidden secrets and invisible processes. In a new discovery reported in the journal Nature, scientists working with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft — MMS — have uncovered a new type of magnetic event in our near-Earth environment by using an innovative technique to squeeze extra information out of the data.

Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important processes in the space — filled with charged particles known as plasma — around Earth.

In a turbulent magnetic environment, magnetic field lines become scrambled. As the field lines cross, intense electric currents (shown here as bright regions) form and eventually trigger magnetic reconnection (indicated by a flash), which is an explosive event that releases magnetic energy accumulated in the current layers and ejects high-speed bi-directional jets of electrons.(NASA Goddard’s Conceptual Image Lab/Lisa Poje; Simulations by: University of Chicago/Colby Haggerty; University of Delaware/Tulasi Parashar)

In a turbulent magnetic environment, magnetic field lines become scrambled. As the field lines cross, intense electric currents (shown here as bright regions) form and eventually trigger magnetic reconnection (indicated by a flash), which is an explosive event that releases magnetic energy accumulated in the current layers and ejects high-speed bi-directional jets of electrons.(NASA Goddard’s Conceptual Image Lab/Lisa Poje; Simulations by: University of Chicago/Colby Haggerty; University of Delaware/Tulasi Parashar)

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Virtual 3-D models of NASA’s Robotic Space Explorers in new “AR” Mobile App

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Media Relations Office

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA spacecraft travel to far-off destinations in space, but a new mobile app produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, brings spacecraft to users. The new app, called Spacecraft AR, uses the latest augmented reality (AR) technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA’s robotic space explorers into any environment with a flat surface.

You can download the new app here.

JPL developed the Spacecraft AR app in collaboration with Google. The app uses Google’s ARCore technology to bring 3-D spacecraft into users’ devices using native mobile augmented reality. (“Native mobile” AR uses the built-in capabilities of a mobile device to interact with 3-D environments and objects.)

The free Spacecraft AR app uses Google ARCore technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA robotic spacecraft, such as the Curiosity Mars rover seen here, into any environment with a flat surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The free Spacecraft AR app uses Google ARCore technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA robotic spacecraft, such as the Curiosity Mars rover seen here, into any environment with a flat surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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