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Topic: Icarus

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope finds farthest Star on record

 

Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD – More than halfway across the universe, an enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the farthest individual star ever seen. Normally, it would be much too faint to view, even with the world’s largest telescopes.

But through a quirk of nature that tremendously amplifies the star’s feeble glow, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope were able to pinpoint this faraway star and set a new distance record. They also used Icarus to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a foreground galaxy cluster.

Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is only visible because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about 5 billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star's brightening in 2016. (NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota))

Icarus, whose official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1, is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is only visible because it is being magnified by the gravity of a massive galaxy cluster, located about 5 billion light-years from Earth. Called MACS J1149+2223, this cluster, shown at left, sits between Earth and the galaxy that contains the distant star. The panels at the right show the view in 2011, without Icarus visible, compared with the star’s brightening in 2016. (NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota))

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NASA study shows hydrocarbon seas on Saturn’s moon Titan could bubble with Nitrogen

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A recent NASA-funded study has shown how the hydrocarbon lakes and seas of Saturn’s moon Titan might occasionally erupt with dramatic patches of bubbles.

For the study, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, simulated the frigid surface conditions on Titan, finding that significant amounts of nitrogen can be dissolved in the extremely cold liquid methane that rains from the skies and collects in rivers, lakes and seas.

Cassini captured this mosaic of images showing the northern lakes and seas of Saturn's moon Titan on Feb. 17, 2017. The mission's final close Titan flyby is planned for April 22. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Cassini captured this mosaic of images showing the northern lakes and seas of Saturn’s moon Titan on Feb. 17, 2017. The mission’s final close Titan flyby is planned for April 22. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers Saturn’s Moon Enceladus has a global ocean under it’s icy surface

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Researchers found the magnitude of the moon’s very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present.

The finding implies the fine spray of water vapor, icy particles and simple organic molecules Cassini has observed coming from fractures near the moon’s south pole is being fed by this vast liquid water reservoir. The research is presented in a paper published online this week in the journal Icarus.

Illustration of the interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus showing a global liquid water ocean between its rocky core and icy crust. Thickness of layers shown here is not to scale. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Illustration of the interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus showing a global liquid water ocean between its rocky core and icy crust. Thickness of layers shown here is not to scale. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn Mission creates Geological Maps of Asteroid Vesta

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Images from NASA’s Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail. These maps are included with a series of 11 scientific papers published this week in a special issue of the journal Icarus.

Geological mapping is a technique used to derive the geologic history of a planetary object from detailed analysis of surface morphology, topography, color and brightness information.

This high-resolution geological map of Vesta is derived from Dawn spacecraft data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

This high-resolution geological map of Vesta is derived from Dawn spacecraft data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

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NASA study looks into reduction of Bright Clumps in Saturn’s Ring

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Compared to the age of the solar system — about four-and-a-half billion years — a couple of decades are next to nothing. Some planetary locales change little over many millions of years, so for scientists who study the planets, any object that evolves on such a short interval makes for a tempting target for study. And so it is with the ever-changing rings of Saturn.

Case in point: Saturn’s narrow, chaotic and clumpy F ring. A recent NASA-funded study compared the F ring’s appearance in six years of observations by the Cassini mission to its appearance during the Saturn flybys of NASA’s Voyager mission, 30 years earlier.

Cassini spied just as many regular, faint clumps in Saturn's narrow F ring, like those pictured here, as Voyager did, but it saw hardly any of the long, bright clumps that were common in Voyager images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

Cassini spied just as many regular, faint clumps in Saturn’s narrow F ring, like those pictured here, as Voyager did, but it saw hardly any of the long, bright clumps that were common in Voyager images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

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NASA’s Cassini Mission has found that Methane Rainfall on Saturn’s moon Titan is being transformed underground lakes

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini mission has revealed hundreds of lakes and seas spread across the north polar region of Saturn’s moon Titan. These lakes are filled not with water but with hydrocarbons, a form of organic compound that is also found naturally on Earth and includes methane.

The vast majority of liquid in Titan’s lakes is thought to be replenished by rainfall from clouds in the moon’s atmosphere. But how liquids move and cycle through Titan’s crust and atmosphere is still relatively unknown.

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn's moon Titan -- its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

Hundreds of lakes and seas are spread across the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan — its northern polar region in particular. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals salty ocean inside Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence of an ocean inside Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth’s Dead Sea. The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Icarus.

“This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards,” said the paper’s lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. “Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

Researchers found that Titan’s ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid. (NASA/JPL/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/G. Mitri/University of Nantes)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captures image of possible new Moon around Saturn

 

Written by Jane Platt
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.

Images taken with Cassini’s narrow angle camera on April 15th, 2013, show disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s A ring — the outermost of the planet’s large, bright rings. One of these disturbances is an arc about 20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide.

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons. (NASA)

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons. (NASA)

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NASA reports Jupiter’s moon Europa once spun off kilter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – By analyzing the distinctive cracks lining the icy face of Europa, NASA scientists found evidence that this moon of Jupiter likely spun around a tilted axis at some point.

Europa’s tilt could influence calculations of how much of the moon’s history is recorded in its frozen shell, how much heat is generated by tides in its ocean, and even how long the ocean has been liquid.

This view of Jupiter's moon Europa features several regional-resolution mosaics overlaid on a lower resolution global view for context. The regional views were obtained during several different flybys of the moon by NASA's Galileo mission, and they stretch from high northern to high southern latitudes. Prominent here are the long, arcuate (or arc-shaped) and linear markings called lineae (Latin for strings or threads). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona )

This view of Jupiter’s moon Europa features several regional-resolution mosaics overlaid on a lower resolution global view for context. The regional views were obtained during several different flybys of the moon by NASA’s Galileo mission, and they stretch from high northern to high southern latitudes. Prominent here are the long, arcuate (or arc-shaped) and linear markings called lineae (Latin for strings or threads). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona )

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data reveals Saturn Storm’s Power churns up ice water

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A monster storm that erupted on Saturn in late 2010 – as large as any storm ever observed on the ringed planet — has already impressed researchers with its intensity and long-lived turbulence.

A new paper in the journal Icarus reveals another facet of the storm’s explosive power: its ability to churn up water ice from great depths. This finding, derived from near-infrared measurements by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, is the first detection at Saturn of water ice. The water originates from deep in Saturn’s atmosphere.

This set of images from NASA's Cassini mission shows the turbulent power of a monster Saturn storm. The visible-light image in the back, obtained on Feb. 25, 2011, by Cassini's imaging camera, shows the turbulent clouds churning across the face of Saturn. The inset infrared image, obtained a day earlier, by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, shows the dredging up of water and ammonia ices from deep in Saturn's atmosphere. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/Univ. of Wisconsin)

This set of images from NASA’s Cassini mission shows the turbulent power of a monster Saturn storm. The visible-light image in the back, obtained on Feb. 25, 2011, by Cassini’s imaging camera, shows the turbulent clouds churning across the face of Saturn. The inset infrared image, obtained a day earlier, by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, shows the dredging up of water and ammonia ices from deep in Saturn’s atmosphere. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Univ. of Arizona/Univ. of Wisconsin)

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