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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers first Earth size planet orbiting another Star in the “Habitable Zone”

 

Written by Tony Phillip
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting in the “habitable zone” of another star. The planet, named “Kepler-186f” orbits an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

The “habitable zone” is defined as the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA)

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NASA reports redesigned Soybean Plants can yield higher production with less Water

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study shows that soybean plants can be redesigned to increase crop yields while requiring less water and helping to offset greenhouse gas warming. The study is the first to demonstrate that a major food crop can be modified to meet multiple goals at the same time.

The study, led by Darren Drewry of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, used an advanced vegetation model and high-performance computer optimization techniques.

A soybean field in Ohio. (WikiMedia Commons)

A soybean field in Ohio. (WikiMedia Commons)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals Saturn’s moon Enceladus has underground Ocean

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. -  Evidence that Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbors a large underground ocean has been uncovered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.

Researchers theorized the presence of an interior reservoir of liquid water in 2005 when Cassini discovered water vapor and ice spewing from vents near the moon’s south pole. New data on the moon’s gravity field reported in the April 4th, 2014, edition of the journal Science strengthen the case for an ocean hidden inside Enceladus.

This diagram illustrates the possible interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus based on a gravity investigation by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and NASA's Deep Space Network, reported in April 2014.

This diagram illustrates the possible interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus based on a gravity investigation by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and NASA’s Deep Space Network, reported in April 2014.

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Clarksville’s Winter Market this Friday, March 14th

 

UT Extension OfficeClarksville, TN – Hopefully the Winter Market is going to start looking a lot like Spring here in the near days or weeks. Visit us at the Winter Market this Friday from 9:30am until 1:30am at the Smith Trahern Mansion. «Read the rest of this article»

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Over 700 new planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Mission

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

The artist concept depicts "multiple-transiting planet systems," which are stars with more than one planet. (NASA)

The artist concept depicts “multiple-transiting planet systems,” which are stars with more than one planet. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance, Odyssey orbiters discover Martian Slopes where Water possibly flowed

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This image combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL)

This image combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL)

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NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovers a Planet that Wobbles

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

Artist's concept of NASA's Kepler space telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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American Red Cross offers Assistance to Stranded Travelers due to Harsh Frigid Winter Weather

 

American Red CrossNashville, 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»

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NASA to activate instruments on Rosetta spacecraft in preparation for Comet rondevu

 

Written by DC Agle/Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

This artist’s impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA reports Herschel Space Observatory discovers water vapor on Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, 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.

An artist's concept of Ceres with vaporous jets in the asteroid belt. (ESA/ATG medialab)

An artist’s concept of Ceres with vaporous jets in the asteroid belt. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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