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Topic: University of Colorado

NASA Study finds evidence of Geothermal Heat Source under West Antarctica

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A new NASA study adds evidence that a geothermal heat source called a mantle plume lies deep below Antarctica’s Marie Byrd Land, explaining some of the melting that creates lakes and rivers under the ice sheet.

Although the heat source isn’t a new or increasing threat to the West Antarctic ice sheet, it may help explain why the ice sheet collapsed rapidly in an earlier era of rapid climate change, and why it is so unstable today.

The stability of an ice sheet is closely related to how much water lubricates it from below, allowing glaciers to slide more easily.

Illustration of flowing water under the Antarctic ice sheet. Blue dots indicate lakes, lines show rivers. Marie Byrd Land is part of the bulging "elbow" leading to the Antarctic Peninsula, left center. (NSF/Zina Deretsky)

Illustration of flowing water under the Antarctic ice sheet. Blue dots indicate lakes, lines show rivers. Marie Byrd Land is part of the bulging “elbow” leading to the Antarctic Peninsula, left center. (NSF/Zina Deretsky)

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NASA’s MAVEN Orbiter observes Global Aurora on Mars Surface

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – An unexpectedly strong blast from the Sun hit Mars this month, observed by NASA missions in orbit and on the surface.

“NASA’s distributed set of science missions is in the right place to detect activity on the Sun and examine the effects of such solar events at Mars as never possible before,” said MAVEN Program Scientist Elsayed Talaat, program scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington, for NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission.

The solar event on September 11th, 2017 sparked a global aurora at Mars more than 25 times brighter than any previously seen by the MAVEN orbiter, which has been studying the Martian atmosphere’s interaction with the solar wind since 2014.

These images from the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph on NASA's MAVEN orbiter show the appearance of a bright aurora on Mars during a solar storm in September 2017. The purple-white colors shows the intensity of ultraviolet light on Mars' night side before (left) and during (right) the event. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

These images from the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph on NASA’s MAVEN orbiter show the appearance of a bright aurora on Mars during a solar storm in September 2017. The purple-white colors shows the intensity of ultraviolet light on Mars’ night side before (left) and during (right) the event. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

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NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft celebrates 1,000 Days in Orbit

 

Written by Nancy Jones
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On June 17th, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) will celebrate 1,000 Earth days in orbit around the Red Planet. Since its launch in November 2013 and its orbit insertion in September 2014, MAVEN has been exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars.

MAVEN is bringing insight to how the sun stripped Mars of most of its atmosphere, turning a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life into a barren desert world.

This artist concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft and the limb of Mars. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft and the limb of Mars. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope identifies details of TRAPPIST-1h orbits

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Scientists using NASA’s Kepler space telescope identified a regular pattern in the orbits of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system that confirmed suspected details about the orbit of its outermost and least understood planet, TRAPPIST-1h.

TRAPPIST-1 is only eight percent the mass of our sun, making it a cooler and less luminous star. It’s home to seven Earth-size planets, three of which orbit in their star’s habitable zone — the range of distances from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet. The system is located about 40 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The star is estimated to be between 3 billion and 8 billion years old.

This artist's concept shows TRAPPIST-1h, one of seven Earth-size planets in the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. NASA's Kepler spacecraft, operating in its K2 mission, obtained data that allowed scientists to determine that the orbital period of TRAPPIST-1h is 19 days. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows TRAPPIST-1h, one of seven Earth-size planets in the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, operating in its K2 mission, obtained data that allowed scientists to determine that the orbital period of TRAPPIST-1h is 19 days. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Van Allen Probes discover human made Barrier around the Earth

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Humans have long been shaping Earth’s landscape, but now scientists know we can shape our near-space environment as well. A certain type of communications — very low frequency, or VLF, radio communications — have been found to interact with particles in space, affecting how and where they move.

At times, these interactions can create a barrier around Earth against natural high energy particle radiation in space. These results, part of a comprehensive paper on human-induced space weather, were recently published in Space Science Reviews.

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope provides additional data on system with 7 Earth Size Planets

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On February 22nd, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes.

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also has been observing this star since December 2016. Today these additional data about TRAPPIST-1 from Kepler are available to the scientific community.

This illustration shows the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to use Super Low Temperatures to slow Atoms for observation on International Space Station

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.

Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “knife” will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they’re almost motionless. This suite of instruments is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), and was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. CAL is in the final stages of assembly at JPL, ahead of a ride to space this August on SpaceX CRS-12.

Its instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s more than 100 million times colder than the depths of space.

Artist's concept of an atom chip for use by NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

Artist’s concept of an atom chip for use by NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

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NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft makes adjustment to avoid Mars Moon Phobos

 

Written by Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft performed a previously unscheduled maneuver this week to avoid a collision in the near future with Mars’ moon Phobos.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft has been orbiting Mars for just over two years, studying the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. On Tuesday, February 28th, the spacecraft carried out a rocket motor burn that boosted its velocity by 0.4 meters per second (less than 1 mile per hour).

This artist's sketch shows NASA's MAVEN spacecraft above Mars. (NASA)

This artist’s sketch shows NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft above Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project provides near real time view of Glacier movement

 

Written by Kate Ramsayer
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Glaciers and ice sheets move in unique and sometimes surprising patterns, as evidenced by a new capability that uses satellite images to map the speed of flowing ice in Greenland, Antarctica and mountain ranges around the world.

With imagery and data from Landsat 8, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists are providing a near-real-time view of every large glacier and ice sheet on Earth.

The NASA-funded Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project, called GoLIVE, is a collaboration between scientists from the University of Colorado, the University of Alaska, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The texture on the surface of flowing ice, such as Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, allows Landsat 8 to map nearly all the flowing ice in the world. (NASA/John Sonntag)

The texture on the surface of flowing ice, such as Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, allows Landsat 8 to map nearly all the flowing ice in the world. (NASA/John Sonntag)

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NASA researchers observe Arctic losing it’s older Sea Ice

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, has been hit with a double whammy over the past decades: as its extent shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

“What we’ve seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA'S Scientific Visualization Studio)

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA’S Scientific Visualization Studio)

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