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Topic: Ames Research Center

NASA says new data suggests Earth’s Water came from Comets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – According to NASA, the mystery of why Earth has so much water, allowing our “blue marble” to support an astounding array of life, is clearer with new research into comets.

Comets are like snowballs of rock, dust, ice, and other frozen chemicals that vaporize as they get closer to the Sun, producing the tails seen in images.

A new study reveals that the water in many comets may share a common origin with Earth’s oceans, reinforcing the idea that comets played a key role in bringing water to our planet billions of years ago.

Illustration of a comet, ice grains and Earth's oceans. SOFIA found clues in Comet Wirtanen's ice grains that suggest water in comets and Earth's oceans may share a common origin. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Cook/L. Proudfit)

Illustration of a comet, ice grains and Earth’s oceans. SOFIA found clues in Comet Wirtanen’s ice grains that suggest water in comets and Earth’s oceans may share a common origin. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Cook/L. Proudfit)

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NASA’s BioSentinel satellite to study Space Radiation for Manned Deep Space Flights

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Astronauts live in a pretty extreme environment aboard the International Space Station. Orbiting about 250 miles above the Earth in the weightlessness of microgravity, they rely on commercial cargo missions about every two months to deliver new supplies and experiments.

And yet, this place is relatively protected in terms of space radiation. The Earth’s magnetic field shields space station crew from much of the radiation that can damage the DNA in our cells and lead to serious health problems.

BioSentinel’s microfluidics card, designed at NASA Ames, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. Once in orbit, the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast will be measured using a 3-color LED detection system and a metabolic indicator dye. (NASA)

BioSentinel’s microfluidics card, designed at NASA Ames, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. Once in orbit, the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast will be measured using a 3-color LED detection system and a metabolic indicator dye. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity’s latest data adds to puzzle of liquid water on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mars scientists are wrestling with a problem. Ample evidence says ancient Mars was sometimes wet, with water flowing and pooling on the planet’s surface. Yet, the ancient sun was about one-third less warm and climate modelers struggle to produce scenarios that get the surface of Mars warm enough for keeping water unfrozen.

A leading theory is to have a thicker carbon-dioxide atmosphere forming a greenhouse-gas blanket, helping to warm the surface of ancient Mars. However, according to a new analysis of data from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, Mars had far too little carbon dioxide about 3.5 billion years ago to provide enough greenhouse-effect warming to thaw water ice.

Bedrock at this site added to a puzzle about ancient Mars by indicating that a lake was present, but that little carbon dioxide was in the air to help keep a lake unfrozen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Bedrock at this site added to a puzzle about ancient Mars by indicating that a lake was present, but that little carbon dioxide was in the air to help keep a lake unfrozen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA Spacecraft images indicate Tsunamis on Mars shaped it’s Coastal areas

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – New NASA-funded research indicates that giant tsunamis played a fundamental role in forming Martian coastal terrain, removing much of the controversy that for decades shrouded the hypothesis that oceans existed early in Mars’ history.

“Imagine a huge wall of red water the size of a high-rise building moving towards you at the speed of a jetliner,” said J. Alexis P. Rodriguez, former NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and senior research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “That could be a fair way to picture it in your mind.”

Left: Color-coded digital elevation model of the study area showing the two proposed shoreline levels of an early Mars ocean that existed approximately 3.4 billion years ago. Right: Areas covered by the documented tsunami events extending from these shorelines. (Alexis Rodriguez)

Left: Color-coded digital elevation model of the study area showing the two proposed shoreline levels of an early Mars ocean that existed approximately 3.4 billion years ago. Right: Areas covered by the documented tsunami events extending from these shorelines. (Alexis Rodriguez)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope observations brings new Insight about Planets Kepler’s discovered

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – More than three-quarters of the planet candidates discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft have sizes ranging from that of Earth to that of Neptune, which is nearly four times as big as Earth. Such planets dominate the galactic census but are not represented in our own solar system. Astronomers don’t know how they form or if they are made of rock, water or gas.

The Kepler team issued a report on four years of ground-based follow-up observations targeting Kepler’s exoplanet systems at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington. These observations confirm the numerous Kepler discoveries are indeed planets and yield mass measurements of these enigmatic worlds that vary between Earth and Neptune in size.

Chart of Kepler planet candidates as of January 2014. Image (NASA Ames Research Center)

Chart of Kepler planet candidates as of January 2014. Image (NASA Ames Research Center)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data helps Astronomers Discover Planetary Oddity

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a pair of neighboring planets with dissimilar densities orbiting very close to each other. The planets are too close to their star to be in the so-called “habitable zone,” the region in a star system where liquid water might exist on the surface, but they have the closest orbits between two planets ever confirmed.

The findings appeared in the journal Science.

This artist's conception shows Kepler-36c as it might look from the surface of neighboring Kepler-36b. (Image credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

This artist’s conception shows Kepler-36c as it might look from the surface of neighboring Kepler-36b. (Image credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

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