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NASA Mars Curiosity Rover finds new mystery, Oxygen

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – For the first time in the history of space exploration, NASA scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars.

As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.

Over the course of three Mars years (or nearly six Earth years) an instrument in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) portable chemistry lab inside the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover inhaled the air of Gale Crater and analyzed its composition.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover imaged these drifting clouds on May 17, 2019, the 2,410th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, using its black-and-white Navigation Cameras (Navcams). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover imaged these drifting clouds on May 17, 2019, the 2,410th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, using its black-and-white Navigation Cameras (Navcams). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s NICER telescope records sudden spike of X-Rays

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDNASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station detected a sudden spike of X-rays at about 9:04pm CDT on August 20th. The burst was caused by a massive thermonuclear flash on the surface of a pulsar, the crushed remains of a star that long ago exploded as a supernova.

The X-ray burst, the brightest seen by NICER so far, came from an object named SAX J1808.4-3658, or J1808 for short. The observations reveal many phenomena that have never been seen together in a single burst. In addition, the subsiding fireball briefly brightened again for reasons astronomers cannot yet explain.

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

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NASA says Stars Pollute, but Galaxies Recycle

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that galaxies were once thought of as lonely islands in the universe: clumps of matter floating through otherwise empty space. We now know they are surrounded by a much larger, yet nearly invisible cloud of dust and gas.

Astronomers call it the circumgalactic medium, or CGM. The CGM acts as a giant recycling plant, absorbing matter ejected by the galaxy and later pushing it right back in.

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover performs it’s second Chemistry Experiment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s new selfie is breathtaking, but it’s especially meaningful for the mission’s team: Stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm, the panorama also commemorates only the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment.

The selfie was taken on October 11th, 2019 (Sol 2,553) in a location named “Glen Etive” (pronounced “glen EH-tiv”), which is part of the “clay-bearing unit,” a region the team has eagerly awaited reaching since before Curiosity launched.

NASA's Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed "Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed “Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA reports Ozone Hole Smallest on Record Since Its Discovery

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA and NOAA scientists reported today that abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October, resulting in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1982.

The annual ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th, and then shrank to less than 3.9 million square miles (10 million square kilometers) for the remainder of September and October, according to NASA and NOAA satellite measurements. During years with normal weather conditions, the ozone hole typically grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles in late September or early October.

The 2019 ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th. Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion this year. (NASA)

The 2019 ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th. Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion this year. (NASA)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission completes Critcal Design Review

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On Friday, October 18th, 2019,  NASA’s Lucy mission successfully completed its Critical Design Review.

During this review, Lucy team members presented the completed mission design, demonstrating that the team has met all the technical challenges of the mission and is ready to begin building hardware. After the review completion, NASA’s independent review board provided a green light for proceeding into the fabrication/manufacturing stage of the mission.

Artist's concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

Artist’s concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

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NASA’s James Webb Telescope to peer into the Center of Milky Way Galaxy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The center of our galaxy is a crowded place: A black hole weighing 4 million times as much as our Sun is surrounded by millions of stars whipping around it at breakneck speeds. This extreme environment is bathed in intense ultraviolet light and X-ray radiation. Yet much of this activity is hidden from our view, obscured by vast swaths of interstellar dust.

NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope is designed to view the universe in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, but is very important for looking at astronomical objects hidden by dust.

The center of our Milky Way galaxy is hidden from the prying eyes of optical telescopes by clouds of obscuring dust and gas. But in this stunning vista, the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared cameras penetrate much of the dust, revealing the stars of the crowded galactic center region. The upcoming Webb telescope will offer a much-improved infrared view, teasing out fainter stars and sharper details. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al.)

The center of our Milky Way galaxy is hidden from the prying eyes of optical telescopes by clouds of obscuring dust and gas. But in this stunning vista, the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared cameras penetrate much of the dust, revealing the stars of the crowded galactic center region. The upcoming Webb telescope will offer a much-improved infrared view, teasing out fainter stars and sharper details. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al.)

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NASA Hubble Space Telescope data reveals more Gas flowing into the Milky Way, than out

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says our Milky Way is a frugal galaxy. Supernovas and violent stellar winds blow gas out of the galactic disk, but that gas falls back onto the galaxy to form new generations of stars. In an ambitious effort to conduct a full accounting of this recycling process, astronomers were surprised to find a surplus of incoming gas.

“We expected to find the Milky Way’s books balanced, with an equilibrium of gas inflow and outflow, but 10 years of Hubble ultraviolet data has shown there is more coming in than going out,” said astronomer Andrew Fox of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, lead author of the study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

This illustration envisions the Milky Way galaxy's gas recycling above and below its stellar disk. Hubble observes the invisible gas clouds rising and falling with its sensitive Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) instrument. The spectroscopic signature of the light from background quasars shining through the clouds gives information about their motion. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

This illustration envisions the Milky Way galaxy’s gas recycling above and below its stellar disk. Hubble observes the invisible gas clouds rising and falling with its sensitive Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) instrument. The spectroscopic signature of the light from background quasars shining through the clouds gives information about their motion. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

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NASA says Pressure Runs High at Edge of Solar System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, 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.

An illustration depicting the layers of the heliosphere. (NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium)

An illustration depicting the layers of the heliosphere. (NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium)

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NASA’s original Artemis Mission studied interaction of Moon, Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – By 2024, NASA will land astronauts, including the first woman and next man, on the Moon as part of the Artemis lunar exploration program. This won’t be the first time NASA takes the name Artemis to the Moon though.

Two robotic spacecraft orbiting the Moon today were initially known as ARTEMIS — short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. Since 2011, these spacecraft have been sending scientists valuable information about the lunar environment, and laying groundwork critical to returning humans to the Moon.

NASA’s twin ARTEMIS spacecraft have studied the solar wind's interaction with the Moon, including the lunar wake that distorts nearby magnetic fields. (E. Masongsong, UCLA EPSS)

NASA’s twin ARTEMIS spacecraft have studied the solar wind’s interaction with the Moon, including the lunar wake that distorts nearby magnetic fields. (E. Masongsong, UCLA EPSS)

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