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Topic: Gravity Field

NASA’s GRACE-FO mission switches to backup system, resumes collecting data

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission has resumed collecting science-quality data and planned in-orbit checks after successfully completing a switchover to a backup system in the microwave instrument (MWI) on one of the mission’s twin spacecraft.

The in-orbit checks include calibrations and other system tests, and are expected to continue until January, when GRACE-FO will enter the science phase of its mission.

Illustration of the twin GRACE Follow-On Satellites. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Illustration of the twin GRACE Follow-On Satellites. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data shows Jupiter’s atmosphere runs deep

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data collected by NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter indicate that the atmospheric winds of the gas-giant planet run deep into its atmosphere and last longer than similar atmospheric processes found here on Earth. The findings will improve understanding of Jupiter’s interior structure, core mass and, eventually, its origin.

Other Juno science results released today include that the massive cyclones that surround Jupiter’s north and south poles are enduring atmospheric features and unlike anything else encountered in our solar system. The findings are part of a four-article collection on Juno science results being published in the March 8th edition of the journal Nature.

This computer-generated image is based on an infrared image of Jupiter's north polar region that was acquired on February 2, 2017, by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard Juno during the spacecraft's fourth pass over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

This computer-generated image is based on an infrared image of Jupiter’s north polar region that was acquired on February 2, 2017, by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard Juno during the spacecraft’s fourth pass over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

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NASA takes first steps to Journey to Mars with study of Human Body in Space

 

Written by Laurie Abadie / Amanda vonDeak
NASA Human Research Strategic Communications

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPalmdale, CA – Before we can run or jump, we walk. Before sending humans to Mars, NASA must understand how the human body is affected by living and working in space. Typical missions to the International Space Station last six months. A round-trip mission to Mars could last three years.  

Do the effects of being in space change over time? NASA is asking the scientific community to propose research that will help bridge the gap in our knowledge regarding long-term experiences in space.

NASA is taking the first steps on its Journey to Mars. Artist’s concept, looking toward Mars. (NASA)

NASA is taking the first steps on its Journey to Mars. Artist’s concept, looking toward Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Twin GRACE-FO Satellites moved to Launch Site

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A pair of advanced U.S./German Earth research satellites with some very big shoes to fill is now at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to begin final preparations for launch next spring.

Following a year-long test campaign by satellite manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany, the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were loaded aboard an air freighter at Munich airport December 11th and arrived at the launch site on California’s central coast Tuesday, December 12th. GRACE-FO will provide continuity to the Earth climate data record of the extremely successful predecessor GRACE, which completed its science mission in October after more than 15 years in orbit.

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

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NASA’s GRACE-1 and GRACE-2 satellites end operations

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After more than 15 productive years in orbit, the U.S./German GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission has ended science operations. During their mission, the twin GRACE satellites have provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing by tracking the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.

GRACE made science measurements by precisely measuring the distance between its twin satellites, GRACE-1 and GRACE-2, which required that both spacecraft and their instruments be fully functional.

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission coming to a close

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With one of its twin satellites almost out of fuel after more than 15 years of chasing each other around our planet to measure Earth’s ever-changing gravity field, the operations team for the U.S./German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission is making plans for an anticipated final science collection.

On September 3rd, one of 20 battery cells aboard the GRACE-2 satellite stopped operating due to an age-related issue. It was the eighth battery cell loss on GRACE-2 since the twin satellites that compose the GRACE mission launched in March 2002 on a mission designed to last five years. The following day, contact was lost with GRACE-2.

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft has successful Flyby of Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter on Sunday, December 11th, its latest science orbit of the mission.

Seven instruments and the spacecraft’s JunoCam were operating during the flyby to collect data that is now being returned to Earth. Juno is currently in a 53-day orbit, and its next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on February 2nd, 2017.

On Sunday, December 11th, at 9:04am PST (12:04pm EST, 17:04 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its third flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft to make third Flyby of Jupiter

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Sunday, December 11th, at 9:04am PST (11:04am CST, 17:04 UTC) NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its third science flyby of Jupiter.

At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,580 miles (4,150 kilometers) above the gas giant’s roiling cloud tops and traveling at a speed of about 129,000 mph (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the planet. Seven of Juno’s eight science instruments will be energized and collecting data during the flyby.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft starts final year studying Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame.

Beginning on November 30th, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft just past the outer edge of the main rings. These orbits, a series of 20, are called the F-ring orbits. During these weekly orbits, Cassini will approach to within 4,850 miles (7,800 kilometers) of the center of the narrow F ring, with its peculiar kinked and braided structure.

Since NASA's Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, the planet's appearance has changed greatly. This view shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, the planet’s appearance has changed greatly. This view shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA Spacecrafts orbiting Mars make revealing Gravity Map of the Red Planet

 

Written by William Steigerwald / Nancy Neal Jones

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A new map of Mars’ gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.

“Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient,” said Antonio Genova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. “The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet’s gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars”

This Mars map shows variations in thickness of the planet's crust, the relatively thin surface layer overlying the mantle of the planet. It shows unprecedented detail derived from new mapping of variations in Mars' gravitational pull on orbiters. (NASA/GSFC/Scientific Visualization Studio)

This Mars map shows variations in thickness of the planet’s crust, the relatively thin surface layer overlying the mantle of the planet. It shows unprecedented detail derived from new mapping of variations in Mars’ gravitational pull on orbiters. (NASA/GSFC/Scientific Visualization Studio)

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