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Topic: California Institute of Technology in Pasadena

NASA reports ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa may actually touch the icy surface

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could lick the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath.

A new paper by Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, and Kevin Hand from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, details the strongest evidence yet that salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa’s frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.

Based on new evidence from Jupiter's moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon's global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter's innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Based on new evidence from Jupiter’s moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon’s global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface where they are bombarded with sulfur from volcanoes on Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Comet to flyby close to Mars in October 2014

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will make a very close approach to Mars in October 2014.

The latest trajectory of comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) generated by the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, indicates the comet will pass within 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) of Mars and there is a strong possibility that it might pass much closer.

This computer graphic depicts the orbit of comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) through the inner solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This computer graphic depicts the orbit of comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) through the inner solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sees Venus from orbit around Saturn

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A distant world gleaming in sunlight, Earth’s twin planet, Venus, shines like a bright beacon in images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn.

One special image of Venus and Saturn was taken last November when Cassini was placed in the shadow of Saturn. This allowed Cassini to look in the direction of the sun and Venus, and take a backlit image of Saturn and its rings in a particular viewing geometry called “high solar phase.” This observing position reveals details about the rings and Saturn’s atmosphere that cannot be seen in lower solar phase.

Peering over the shoulder of giant Saturn, through its rings, and across interplanetary space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft spies the bright, cloudy terrestrial planet, Venus. The vast distance from Saturn means that Venus only shows up as a white dot, just above and to the right of the image center. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Peering over the shoulder of giant Saturn, through its rings, and across interplanetary space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spies the bright, cloudy terrestrial planet, Venus. The vast distance from Saturn means that Venus only shows up as a white dot, just above and to the right of the image center. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) helps scientists measure the spin rate of a Black Hole

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.

The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.

This artist's concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has drilled first Rock Sample on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.

Transfer of the powdered-rock sample into an open scoop was visible for the first time in images received Wednesday at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover’s drill. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to lead U.S. Science Team to study Dark Energy and Dark Matter

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected three NASA-nominated science teams to participate in their planned Euclid mission, including one team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

NASA is a partner in the Euclid mission, a space telescope designed to probe the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter. Euclid is currently scheduled to launch in 2020.

This artist's concept shows the Euclid spacecraft. The telescope will launch to an orbit around the sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. The Lagrange point is a location where the gravitational pull of two large masses, the sun and Earth in this case, precisely equals the force required for a small object, such as the Euclid spacecraft, to maintain a relatively stationary position behind Earth as seen from the sun. (Image credit: ESA/C. Carreau)

This artist’s concept shows the Euclid spacecraft. The telescope will launch to an orbit around the sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. The Lagrange point is a location where the gravitational pull of two large masses, the sun and Earth in this case, precisely equals the force required for a small object, such as the Euclid spacecraft, to maintain a relatively stationary position behind Earth as seen from the sun. (Image credit: ESA/C. Carreau)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observes Storm on Saturn devour itself

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail. In a new paper that provides the most detail yet about the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA’s Cassini mission describe how the massive storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out.

It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself in this way anywhere in the solar system.

This set of images from NASA's Cassini mission shows the evolution of a massive thunder-and-lightning storm that circled all the way around Saturn and fizzled when it ran into its own tail. The storm was first detected on Dec. 5th, 2010. That month, it developed a head of bright clouds quickly moving west and spawned a much slower-drifting clockwise-spinning vortex. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)

This set of images from NASA’s Cassini mission shows the evolution of a massive thunder-and-lightning storm that circled all the way around Saturn and fizzled when it ran into its own tail. The storm was first detected on Dec. 5th, 2010. That month, it developed a head of bright clouds quickly moving west and spawned a much slower-drifting clockwise-spinning vortex. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity moves closer to Martian Rock selected for first Drilling

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers’ approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

The size of a car, Curiosity is inside Mars’ Gale Crater investigating whether the planet ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life. Curiosity landed in the crater five months ago to begin its two-year prime mission.

This view shows the patch of veined, flat-lying rock selected as the first drilling site for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This view shows the patch of veined, flat-lying rock selected as the first drilling site for NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer data confirms Spiral Galaxy as Largest ever discovered

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for decades. Now a team of astronomers from the United States, Chile and Brazil has crowned it the largest known spiral, based on archival data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) mission, which has since been loaned to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Measuring tip-to-tip across its two outsized spiral arms, NGC 6872 spans more than 522,000 light-years, making it more than five times the size of our Milky Way galaxy.

This composite of the giant barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 combines visible light images from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope with far-ultraviolet (1,528 angstroms) data from NASA's GALEX and 3.6-micron infrared data acquired by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS)

This composite of the giant barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 combines visible light images from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope with far-ultraviolet (1,528 angstroms) data from NASA’s GALEX and 3.6-micron infrared data acquired by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS)

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NASA reports evidence of large Asteroid Belt around the star Vega

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies. The scientists used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

The discovery of an asteroid belt-like band of debris around Vega makes the star similar to another observed star called Fomalhaut. The data are consistent with both stars having inner, warm belts and outer, cool belts separated by a gap. This architecture is similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in our own solar system.

This artist's concept illustrates an asteroid belt around the bright star Vega. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept illustrates an asteroid belt around the bright star Vega. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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