Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.
Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.
The features are dark, finger-like markings that advance down some Martian slopes when temperatures rise. The new clues include corresponding seasonal changes in iron minerals on the same slopes and a survey of ground temperatures and other traits at active sites.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat. That is the situation on a weird, wobbly world found by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.
The planet, designated Kepler-413b, precesses, or wobbles, wildly on its spin axis, much like a child’s top. The tilt of the planet’s spin axis can vary by as much as 30 degrees over 11 years, leading to rapid and erratic changes in seasons.
In contrast, Earth’s rotational precession is 23.5 degrees over 26,000 years. Researchers are amazed that this far-off planet is precessing on a human timescale.
Nashville, TN - Record breaking cold weather has swept much of the Southeast U.S. over the past few days. Areas that are normally mild have been faced with freezing temperatures which has resulted in many car accidents and stranded travelers across several states. As always, the Red Cross is there to help.
“We are currently working to assist stranded passengers at Greyhound stations in Nashville and Memphis with food, shelter and personal hygiene items,” said David Kitchen, Regional Disaster Program Officer. “Some of these people may have been stranded for over 24 hours and we want to ensure that their emergency needs are being met.” «Read the rest of this article»
Written by DC Agle/Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.
Rosetta was reactivated January 20th after a record 957 days in hibernation. U.S. mission managers are scheduled to activate their instruments on the spacecraft in early March and begin science operations with them in August. The instruments are an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, a microwave thermometer and a plasma analyzer.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres.
“This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere,” said Michael Küppers of ESA in Spain, lead author of a paper in the journal Nature.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – When firefighters want to extinguish a blaze, they often douse it with water. Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS), however, are experimenting with a form of water that does the opposite. Instead of stopping fire, this water helps start it.
“We call it ‘supercritical water,’” says Mike Hicks of the Glenn Research Center in Ohio. “And it has some interesting properties.”
NASA’s Operation IceBridge data helps map newly discovered water reservoir under Ice Sheet in Greenland
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD – Buried underneath compacted snow and ice in Greenland lies a large liquid water reservoir that has now been mapped by researchers using data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge airborne campaign.
A team of glaciologists serendipitously found the aquifer while drilling in southeast Greenland in 2011 to study snow accumulation. Two of their ice cores were dripping water when the scientists lifted them to the surface, despite air temperatures of minus 4 F (minus 20 C).
Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
Pasadena, CA – Water vapor above the frigid south polar region of Jupiter’s moon Europa has observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, providing the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon’s surface.
Previous scientific findings from other sources already point to the existence of an ocean located under Europa’s icy crust. Researchers are not yet fully certain whether the detected water vapor is generated by erupting water plumes on the surface, but they are confident this is the most likely explanation.
Written by Susan Hendrix
Greenbelt, MD – A comet’s journey through the solar system is perilous and violent. A giant ejection of solar material from the sun could rip its tail off.
Before it reaches Mars — at some 230 million miles away from the sun — the radiation of the sun begins to boil its water, the first step toward breaking the comet apart.
And, if it survives all this, the intense radiation and pressure as it flies near to the surface of the sun could destroy it altogether.
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