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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter still working hard after 10 years of service

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ten years after launch, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has revealed the Red Planet’s diversity and activity, returning more data about Mars every week than all six other missions currently active there. And its work is far from over.

The workhorse orbiter now plays a key role in NASA’s Journey to Mars planning. Images from the orbiter, revealing details as small as a desk, aid the analysis of potential landing sites for the 2016 InSight lander and Mars 2020 rover. Data from the orbiter will also be used as part of NASA’s newly announced process to examine and select candidate sites where humans will first explore the Martian surface in the 2030s.

Among the many discoveries by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since the mission was launched on Aug. 12, 2005, are seasonal flows on some steep slopes, possibly shallow seeps of salty water. This July 21, 2015, image from the orbiter's HiRISE camera shows examples within Mars' Valles Marineris. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Among the many discoveries by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since the mission was launched on Aug. 12, 2005, are seasonal flows on some steep slopes, possibly shallow seeps of salty water. This July 21, 2015, image from the orbiter’s HiRISE camera shows examples within Mars’ Valles Marineris. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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Chrysler recalls over 280,000 model 2011-2014 Dodge Chargers due to possible Inadvertent Side Air Bag Deployment

 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - NHTSAWashington, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain model year 2011-2014 Dodge Charger vehicles manufactured May 6th, 2010, to June 5th, 2014.

In the affected vehicles, the side impact sensor calibrations may be overly sensitive, and as a result, the side air bag inflatable curtains and seat air bags may unexpectedly deploy and the seat belt pre-tensioners may activate.

2014 Dodge Charger is one of the model years being recalled.

2014 Dodge Charger is one of the model years being recalled.

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NASA releases two Online Tools for Exploring Mars to the Public

 

Written by Guy Webster and Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On the three-year anniversary of the Mars landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover, NASA is unveiling two new online tools that open the mysterious terrain of the Red Planet to a new generation of explorers, inviting the public to help with its journey to Mars.

Mars Trek is a free, Web-based application that provides high-quality, detailed visualizations of the planet using real data from 50 years of NASA exploration and allowing astronomers, citizen scientists and students to study the Red Planet’s features.

A screen capture from NASA's new Experience Curiosity website shows the rover in the process of taking its own self-portrait. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A screen capture from NASA’s new Experience Curiosity website shows the rover in the process of taking its own self-portrait. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn mission releases video that gives flyover perspective of dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Striking 3-D detail highlights a towering mountain, the brightest spots and other features on dwarf planet Ceres in a new video from NASA’s Dawn mission.

A prominent mountain with bright streaks on its steep slopes is especially fascinating to scientists. The peak’s shape has been likened to a cone or a pyramid. It appears to be about 4 miles (6 kilometers) high, with respect to the surface around it, according to the latest estimates. This means the mountain has about the same elevation as Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska, the highest point in North America.

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Toyota recalls over 100,000 Prius V’s because Inverter Failure may cause Hybrid Vehicle to Stall

 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - NHTSAWashington, D.C. – Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain model year 2012-2014 Prius V vehicles manufactured August 22nd, 2011, to June 30th, 2014. A component within the hybrid inverter assembly may overheat, causing the hybrid system to reduce output power allowing the vehicle to only drive a short distance.

In some circumstances, the hybrid system may shut down causing the vehicle to stop while being driven.

2014 Toyota Prius V is one of the model years being recalled because the vehicle may stall if Inverter overheats.

2014 Toyota Prius V is one of the model years being recalled because the vehicle may stall if Inverter overheats.

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NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) telescope studies Odd group of Asteroids

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – High above the plane of our solar system, near the asteroid-rich abyss between Mars and Jupiter, scientists have found a unique family of space rocks.

These interplanetary oddballs are the Euphrosyne (pronounced you-FROH-seh-nee) asteroids, and by any measure they have been distant, dark and mysterious — until now.

Distributed at the outer edge of the asteroid belt, the Euphrosynes have an unusual orbital path that juts well above the ecliptic, the equator of the solar system. The asteroid after which they are named, Euphrosyne — for an ancient Greek goddess of mirth — is about 156 miles (260 kilometers) across and is one of the 10 largest asteroids in the main belt.

The asteroid Euphrosyne glides across a field of background stars in this time-lapse view from NASA's WISE spacecraft. (NASA)

The asteroid Euphrosyne glides across a field of background stars in this time-lapse view from NASA’s WISE spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA uses ground based Telescopes to produce images of Peanut shaped Asteroid flyby of Earth

 

Written by DC Agle and Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

The asteroid appears to be a contact binary — an asteroid with two lobes that are stuck together.

The images show the rotation of the asteroid, named 1999 JD6, which made its closest approach on July 24th at 9:55pm PDT (12:55am EDT on July 25th) at a distance of about 4.5 million miles (7.2 million kilometers, or about 19 times the distance from Earth to the moon).

Radar images of asteroid 1999 JD6 were obtained on July 25, 2015. The asteroid is between 660 - 980 feet (200 - 300 meters) in diameter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR )

Radar images of asteroid 1999 JD6 were obtained on July 25, 2015. The asteroid is between 660 – 980 feet (200 – 300 meters) in diameter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR )

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope verifies nearest Planet outside our Solar System

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.

Dubbed HD 219134b, this exoplanet, which orbits too close to its star to sustain life, is a mere 21 light-years away. While the planet itself can’t be seen directly, even by telescopes, the star it orbits is visible to the naked eye in dark skies in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star.

This artist's rendition shows one possible appearance for the planet HD 219134b, the nearest confirmed rocky exoplanet found to date outside our solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendition shows one possible appearance for the planet HD 219134b, the nearest confirmed rocky exoplanet found to date outside our solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Screaming Eagle Honor Flight aims to honor Veterans

 

Written by Staff Sgt. Sierra Fown
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY - 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell, KY – The Screaming Eagle Honor Flight departed Nashville, TN to Washington, D.C., Saturday with 27 World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans on board. In addition, each veteran had a volunteer sponsor, two of which were the 101st Airborne Division’s Soldier of the year and noncommissioned officer of the year.

The Screaming Eagle Honor Flight is a Clarksville-based chapter of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that provides veterans with free flights to and from D.C. Many of the veterans on board Saturday’s flight had never been to the National Mall to see the memorials that were built in their honor.

U.S. Marine veteran, Jim Devasher, a Bowling Green, Ky., native, points a name out on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington July 25, 2015. Staff Sgt. David Payton, 18th Airborne Corps and 101st Airborne Division NCO of the year was the guardian for Devasher during the Screaming Eagle Honor Flight. (Staff Sgt. Sierra A. Fown, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs)

U.S. Marine veteran, Jim Devasher, a Bowling Green, Ky., native, points a name out on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington July 25, 2015. Staff Sgt. David Payton, 18th Airborne Corps and 101st Airborne Division NCO of the year was the guardian for Devasher during the Screaming Eagle Honor Flight. (Staff Sgt. Sierra A. Fown, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs)

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NASA’s Global Flood Monitoring System helps to Predict Floods

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the pantheon of natural disasters, floods are among the worst. By any metric—from financial ruin to human toll—floods rank alongside earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. In fact, the most deadly disaster of the 20th century was the China floods of 1931, which may have resulted in more than a million deaths.

Predicting floods is notoriously tricky.  They depend on a complex mixture of rainfall, soil moisture, the recent history of precipitation, and much more.  Snowmelt and storm surges can also contribute to unexpected flooding.

Thanks to NASA, however, the predictions are improving.

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