Pasadena, CA – NASA says as the icy, ocean-filled moon Europa orbits Jupiter, it withstands a relentless pummeling of radiation. Jupiter zaps Europa’s surface night and day with electrons and other particles, bathing it in high-energy radiation. But as these particles pound the moon’s surface, they may also be doing something otherworldly: making Europa glow in the dark.
New research from scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California details for the first time what the glow would look like, and what it could reveal about the composition of ice on Europa’s surface.
Pasadena, CA – Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, give the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.
A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon’s surface in 2008.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was at the right place at the right time to capture a unique view of comet NEOWISE on July 5th, 2020. Parker Solar Probe’s position in space gave the spacecraft an unmatched view of the comet’s twin tails when it was particularly active just after its closest approach to the Sun, called perihelion.
The comet was discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE, on March 27th. Since then, the comet — called comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE and nicknamed comet NEOWISE — has been spotted by several NASA spacecraft, including Parker Solar Probe, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Pasadena, CA – This month marks 25 years since scientists first produced a fifth state of matter, which has extraordinary properties totally unlike solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The achievement garnered a Nobel Prize and changed physics.
A new study in the journal Nature builds on that legacy. In July 2018, NASA’s Cold Atom Lab became the first facility to produce that fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in Earth orbit. A fundamental physics facility on the International Space Station, Cold Atom Lab cools atoms down to ultracold temperatures in order to study their basic physical properties in ways that would not be possible on Earth.
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope examines Pulsar’s Gamma-rays connection to Antimatter around Earth
Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has discovered a faint but sprawling glow of high-energy light around a nearby pulsar. If visible to the human eye, this gamma-ray “halo” would appear about 40 times bigger in the sky than a full Moon. This structure may provide the solution to a long-standing mystery about the amount of antimatter in our neighborhood.
“Our analysis suggests that this same pulsar could be responsible for a decade-long puzzle about why one type of cosmic particle is unusually abundant near Earth,” said Mattia Di Mauro, an astrophysicist at the Catholic University of America in Washington and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says that out at the boundary of our solar system, pressure runs high. This pressure, the force plasma, magnetic fields and particles like ions, cosmic rays and electrons exert on one another when they flow and collide, was recently measured by scientists in totality for the first time — and it was found to be greater than expected.
Using observations of galactic cosmic rays — a type of highly energetic particle — from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft scientists calculated the total pressure from particles in the outer region of the solar system, known as the heliosheath.
Written by Francis Reddy
Greenbelt, MD – A new study using data from NASA’s NuSTAR space telescope suggests that Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth, is accelerating particles to high energies – some of which may reach our planet as cosmic rays.
“We know the blast waves of exploded stars can accelerate cosmic ray particles to speeds comparable to that of light, an incredible energy boost,” said Kenji Hamaguchi, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the lead author of the study. “Similar processes must occur in other extreme environments. Our analysis indicates Eta Carinae is one of them.”
Space Telescope Science Institute
Baltimore, MD – Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe since it was first calculated nearly a century ago. Intriguingly, the results are forcing astronomers to consider that they may be seeing evidence of something unexpected at work in the universe.
That’s because the latest Hubble finding confirms a nagging discrepancy showing the universe to be expanding faster now than was expected from its trajectory seen shortly after the big bang. Researchers suggest that there may be new physics to explain the inconsistency.
Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
Greenbelt, MD – Sometimes on a dark night near the poles, the sky pulses a diffuse glow of green, purple and red. Unlike the long, shimmering veils of typical auroral displays, these pulsating auroras are much dimmer and less common.
While scientists have long known auroras to be associated with solar activity, the precise mechanism of pulsating auroras was unknown. Now, new research, using data from NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms — or THEMIS — mission and Japan’s Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace — shortened to ERG, or also known as Arase — satellite, has finally captured the missing link thought responsible for these auroras.
Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
Greenbelt, MD – Scientists have long known that solar-energized particles trapped around the planet are sometimes scattered into Earth’s upper atmosphere where they can contribute to beautiful auroral displays.
Yet for decades, no one has known exactly what is responsible for hurling these energetic electrons on their way. Recently, two spacecraft found themselves at just the right places at the right time to witness first hand both the impulsive electron loss and its cause.
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