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Topic: water

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory studies Comet ISON and Comet PanSTARRS

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – For millennia, people on Earth have watched comets in the sky. Many ancient cultures saw comets as the harbingers of doom, but today scientists know that comets are really frozen balls of dust, gas, and rock and may have been responsible for delivering water to planets like Earth billions of years ago.

While comets are inherently interesting, they can also provide information about other aspects of our Solar System. More specifically, comets can be used as laboratories to study the behavior of the stream of particles flowing away from the Sun, known as the solar wind.

Recently, astronomers announced the results of a study using data collected with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of two comets — C/2012 S1 (also known as “Comet ISON”) and C/2011 S4 (“Comet PanSTARRS”).

The Comets ISON and PanSTARRS in optical images taken by an astrophotographer, with insets showing the X-ray images from Chandra. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ . of CT/B.Snios et al, Optical: DSS, Damian Peach ( damianpeach.com ))

The Comets ISON and PanSTARRS in optical images taken by an astrophotographer, with insets showing the X-ray images from Chandra. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ . of CT/B.Snios et al, Optical: DSS, Damian Peach ( damianpeach.com ))

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NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover tackles highest angled slope ever attempted on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s long-lived Mars rover Opportunity is driving to an alternative hillside target after a climb on the steepest slope ever tackled by any Mars rover. Opportunity could not quite get within reach of a target researchers hoped the rover could touch earlier this month.

A new image shows the view overlooking the valley below and catches the rover’s own shadow and wheel tracks as Opportunity heads toward its next target.

A shadow and tracks of NASA's Mars rover Opportunity appear in this March 22, 2016, image, which has been rotated 13.5 degrees to adjust for the tilt of the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A shadow and tracks of NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity appear in this March 22, 2016, image, which has been rotated 13.5 degrees to adjust for the tilt of the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Airborne Environmental Monitoring Instrument proves it can be used to monitor Water Quality

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Monitoring the quality of freshwater supplies is a global concern, especially in thirsty California, where the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and its watershed serve as a major freshwater source.

Now scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park and Sacramento, California, have successfully demonstrated how a NASA-developed airborne environmental monitoring instrument can be applied to help water managers monitor water quality not only in San Francisco Bay, but potentially in other inland and coastal water bodies around the world.

Maps of a) turbidity (water clarity), b) dissolved organic carbon and c) chlorophyll-a in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary's Grizzly Bay and Suisun Marsh in April 2014, derived from remote-sensing reflectance data from NASA's airborne Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) instrument. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Maps of a) turbidity (water clarity), b) dissolved organic carbon and c) chlorophyll-a in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary’s Grizzly Bay and Suisun Marsh in April 2014, derived from remote-sensing reflectance data from NASA’s airborne Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) instrument. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft photos suggest possible subsurface ocean on Pluto’s moon Charon

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Pluto’s largest moon may have gotten too big for its own skin.

Images from NASA’s New Horizons mission suggest that Pluto’s moon Charon once had a subsurface ocean that has long since frozen and expanded, pushing outward and causing the moon’s surface to stretch and fracture on a massive scale.

The side of Pluto’s largest moon viewed by NASA’s passing New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015 is characterized by a system of “pull apart” tectonic faults, which are expressed as ridges, scarps and valleys—the latter sometimes reaching more than 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) deep.

A close-up of the canyons on Charon, Pluto's big moon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July. Multiple views taken by New Horizons as it passed by Charon allow stereo measurements of topography, shown in the color-coded version of the image. The scale bar indicates relative elevation. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

A close-up of the canyons on Charon, Pluto’s big moon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July. Multiple views taken by New Horizons as it passed by Charon allow stereo measurements of topography, shown in the color-coded version of the image. The scale bar indicates relative elevation. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

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NASA researchers explore growing Food Crops during long Deep Space Missions

 

Written by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationKennedy Space Center, FL – NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler, Ph.D., and fictional astronaut Mark Watney from the movie “The Martian” have something in common — they are both botanists. But that’s where the similarities end. While Watney is a movie character who gets stranded on Mars, Wheeler is the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Program at Kennedy Space Center, working on real plant research.

“The Martian movie and book conveyed a lot of issues regarding growing food and surviving on a planet far from the Earth,” Wheeler said. “It’s brought plants back into the equation.”

An artist concept depicts a greenhouse on the surface of Mars. Plants are growing with the help of red, blue and green LED light bars and a hydroponic cultivation approach. (SAIC)

An artist concept depicts a greenhouse on the surface of Mars. Plants are growing with the help of red, blue and green LED light bars and a hydroponic cultivation approach. (SAIC)

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NASA Satellite data reveals Earth’s land masses are absorbing Water and slowing Sea Level rise

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth’s continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

Earth's land masses have stored increasing amounts of water in the last decade, slowing the pace of sea level rise. (U.S. National Park Service)

Earth’s land masses have stored increasing amounts of water in the last decade, slowing the pace of sea level rise. (U.S. National Park Service)

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NASA to include 13 CubeSats with 2018 launch of unmanned Orion Spacecraft into Deep Space

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will carry 13 low-cost CubeSats to test innovative ideas along with an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in 2018. Six of these CubeSat missions have contributions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars. SLS’ first flight, referred to as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), provides the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, as most launch opportunities for CubeSats are limited to low-Earth orbit.

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System, will examine the moon's surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (NASA)

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NASA Earth-Imaging satellites used for Global Agricultural Monitoring

 

Written by Gina Anderson
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When global food prices spiked dramatically in late 2007 and into 2008, the costs of many basic dietary staples doubled or even tripled around the world, sparking protests and riots. Panicked governments stopped exporting food, aggravating the crisis.

Almost as troubling: the crisis had taken the world by surprise.

To keep it from happening again, international leaders created an agricultural monitoring group, bringing together representatives from governments and aid groups.

The Group on Earth Observation’s Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) was created to make better predictions about weather and future crops. (NASA)

The Group on Earth Observation’s Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) was created to make better predictions about weather and future crops. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovery of high concentrations of Silica on Mars puzzles Scientists

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In detective stories, as the plot thickens, an unexpected clue often delivers more questions than answers. In this case, the scene is a mountain on Mars. The clue: the chemical compound silica. Lots of silica. The sleuths: a savvy band of Earthbound researchers whose agent on Mars is NASA’s laser-flashing, one-armed mobile laboratory, Curiosity.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found much higher concentrations of silica at some sites it has investigated in the past seven months than anywhere else it has visited since landing on Mars 40 months ago.

This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the "Marias Pass" area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone -- the pale zone in the center of the image -- lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the “Marias Pass” area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone — the pale zone in the center of the image — lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes Exoplanet Survey unravels Mystery of Missing Water

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery — why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

Of the nearly 2,000 planets confirmed to be orbiting other stars, a subset of them are gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. However, they orbit very close to their stars, making them blistering hot.

This image shows an artist's impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

This image shows an artist’s impression of the 10 hot Jupiter exoplanets studied using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. (NASA/ESA)

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