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NASA maps Water Ice locations on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Soon, NASA will have Two Rovers driving across Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Curiosity won’t be NASA’s only active Mars rover for much longer. Next summer, Mars 2020 will be headed for the Red Planet.

While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity’s design, they aren’t twins: Built and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life.

Here’s a closer look at what sets the siblings apart.

Illustrations of NASA's Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity's design, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Illustrations of NASA’s Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity’s design, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s SLS Test Feul Tank pushed past it’s limits during Test

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 deliberately pushed the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits to really understand its breaking point.

The test version of the Space Launch System rocket’s liquid hydrogen tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads over five hours before engineers detected a buckling point, which then ruptured. Engineers concluded the test at approximately 11:00pm. 

The December 5th test pushed the tank to its limits to see how much force it would take to cause the tank’s structure to fail. This image shows the resulted buckling of the structure when the tank failed after exposure to more than 260% of expected flight loads over 5 hours. (NASA/Dennis Olive)

The December 5th test pushed the tank to its limits to see how much force it would take to cause the tank’s structure to fail. This image shows the resulted buckling of the structure when the tank failed after exposure to more than 260% of expected flight loads over 5 hours. (NASA/Dennis Olive)

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NASA reports Seals used to study how heat moves through Ocean Layers

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flows in a loop around Antarctica, connecting the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. It is one of the most significant ocean currents in our climate system because it facilitates the exchange of heat and other properties among the oceans it links.

But how the current transfers heat, particularly vertically from the top layer of the ocean to the bottom layers and vice versa, is still not fully understood. This current is very turbulent, producing eddies – swirling vortices of water similar to storms in the atmosphere – between 30 to 125 miles (50 to 200 kilometers) in diameter.

A tagged elephant seal basks on Kerguelen Island, a French territory in the Antarctic. Elephant seals are tagged as part of a French research program called SO-MEMO (Observing System - Mammals as Samplers of the Ocean Environment), operated by the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). (Sorbonne University/Etienne Pauthenet)

A tagged elephant seal basks on Kerguelen Island, a French territory in the Antarctic. Elephant seals are tagged as part of a French research program called SO-MEMO (Observing System – Mammals as Samplers of the Ocean Environment), operated by the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). (Sorbonne University/Etienne Pauthenet)

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NASA to test World’s Largest Rocket Fuel Tank

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Earlier this year, a NASA and Boeing test team subjected a test version of the Space Launch System (SLS) liquid hydrogen tank to a series of 37 tests that simulate liftoff and flight stresses by using large hydraulic pistons to push and pull on the test tank with millions of pounds of force.  

Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This will be the largest-ever controlled test-to-failure of a NASA rocket stage fuel tank. (NASA/MSFC)

Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This will be the largest-ever controlled test-to-failure of a NASA rocket stage fuel tank. (NASA/MSFC)

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SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft launched Thursday heading to International Space Station with NASA Science Equipment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 11:29am CST Thursday, (December 5th, 2019. Dragon will deliver more than 5,700 pounds of NASA cargo and science investigations, including studies of malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire, and bone and muscle loss.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost on Sunday, December 8th. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at the space station will begin at 3:30am CST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

SpaceX launches its 19th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station at 11:29pm CST December 5th, 2019, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Upgraded science hardware for the Cold Atom Lab - built and operated by JPL- is among the cargo. (NASA TV)

SpaceX launches its 19th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station at 11:29pm CST December 5th, 2019, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Upgraded science hardware for the Cold Atom Lab – built and operated by JPL- is among the cargo. (NASA TV)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft offers insight into Particles being ejected from Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft’s navigation cameras taken on January 6th, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe discovers new insights about our Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

On December 4th, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

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NASA to send Robotic Tool Stowage to International Space Station

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.

RiTS is set to launch on December 4th, 2019 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. Its first residents will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect leaks from the station.

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19. (NASA)

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19. (NASA)

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NASA looks to use Artificial Intelligence to solve Space Science problems

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Could the same computer algorithms that teach autonomous cars to drive safely help identify nearby asteroids or discover life in the universe? NASA scientists are trying to figure that out by partnering with pioneers in artificial intelligence (AI) — companies such as Intel, IBM and Google — to apply advanced computer algorithms to problems in space science. 

Machine learning is a type of AI. It describes the most widely used algorithms and other tools that allow computers to learn from data in order to make predictions and categorize objects much faster and more accurately than a human being can.

Our solar system features eight planets, seen in this artist’s diagram. This representation is intentionally fanciful, as the planets are depicted far closer together than they really are. (NASA/JPL)

Our solar system features eight planets, seen in this artist’s diagram. This representation is intentionally fanciful, as the planets are depicted far closer together than they really are. (NASA/JPL)

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