Written by Arielle Samuelson
Washington, D.C. – In the “Star Wars” universe, ice, ocean and desert planets burst from the darkness as your ship drops out of light speed. But these worlds might be more than just science fiction.
Some of the planets discovered around stars in our own galaxy could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Launch is targeted for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data reveals Ice Deposit on Mars has more water than Lake Superior
Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Washington, D.C. – Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what’s in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, researchers using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined.
Scientists examined part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia region, in the mid-northern latitudes, with the orbiter’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument.
Analyses of data from more than 600 overhead passes with the onboard radar instrument reveal a deposit more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – Construction is now complete on the first of the two satellites for NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, planned for launch in the December 2017/January 2018 timeframe.
The satellite, built by Airbus Defence and Space at its manufacturing facility in Friedrichshafen, Germany, will spend the next several months undergoing testing at the IABG test center in Ottobrunn, near Munich. The second GRACE-FO satellite will be ready for testing in the near future.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover will drive down a gully carved long ago by a fluid that might have been water, according to the latest plans for the 12-year-old mission. No Mars rover has done that before.
The longest-active rover on Mars also will, for the first time, visit the interior of the crater it has worked beside for the last five years. These activities are part of a two-year extended mission that began October 1st, the newest in a series of extensions going back to the end of Opportunity’s prime mission in April 2004.
Opportunity launched on July 7th, 2003 and landed on Mars on January 24th, 2004 (PST), on a planned mission of 90 Martian days, which is equivalent to 92.4 Earth days.
Written by Bob Granath
Florida – As NASA continues preparing for the Journey to Mars, the technology now in development is expanding beyond the spacecraft and propulsion systems needed to get there. NASA scientists and engineers also are developing systems to harness abundant resources available in the solar system to support these pioneering missions.
The practice is called in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU. Like early European settlers coming to America, planetary pioneers will not be able to take everything they need, so many supplies will need to be gathered and made on site.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.
The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.
“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”
Written by Nancy Smith Kilkenny, ATS
Cleveland, OH – When human explorers embark on the journey to Mars, they need to know the natural conditions of the red planet before they arrive. That’s why NASA sends rovers to the surface of Mars to photograph the landscape and operate scientific experiments to understand the habitat for humans or other kinds of life.
One of those future rover missions may host the Martian Aqueous Habitat Reconnaissance Suite (MAHRS), a set of five instruments that can take surface measurements in the search for habitable environments.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan.
Located in Titan’s stratosphere, the cloud is made of a compound of carbon and nitrogen known as dicyanoacetylene (C4N2), an ingredient in the chemical cocktail that colors the giant moon’s hazy, brownish-orange atmosphere.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – A lonely 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain on Ceres is likely volcanic in origin, and the dwarf planet may have a weak, temporary atmosphere. These are just two of many new insights about Ceres from NASA’s Dawn mission published this week in six papers in the journal Science.
“Dawn has revealed that Ceres is a diverse world that clearly had geological activity in its recent past,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
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