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Topic: Jupiter

NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft moves into final Phase of Operations

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Psyche mission has passed a critical milestone that moves it a step closer to launch. After an intense review of the mission’s progress in building its science instruments and engineering systems, Psyche won clearance to progress into what NASA calls Phase D of its life cycle – the final phase of operations prior to its scheduled launch in August 2022.

Until now, the mission has focused on planning, designing, and building the body of the spacecraft, its solar-electric propulsion system, the three science instruments, electronics, the power subsystem, and the like.

Technicians power on the main body of NASA's Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

Technicians power on the main body of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, called the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, in November 2020. (Maxar Technologies)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft gets Mission Extended

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has authorized a mission extension for its Juno spacecraft exploring Jupiter. The agency’s most distant planetary orbiter will now continue its investigation of the solar system’s largest planet through September 2025, or until the spacecraft’s end of life.

This expansion tasks Juno with becoming an explorer of the full Jovian system – Jupiter and its rings and moons – with multiple rendezvous planned for three of Jupiter’s most intriguing Galilean moons: Ganymede, Europa, and Io.

This view of Jupiter's atmosphere from NASA's Juno spacecraft includes something remarkable, two storms caught in the act of merging. (Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSSImage processing by Tanya Oleksuik, © CC)

This view of Jupiter’s atmosphere from NASA’s Juno spacecraft includes something remarkable, two storms caught in the act of merging. (Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSSImage processing by Tanya Oleksuik, © CC)

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NASA extends Juno, Insight missions

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars, the agency’s quest to seek answers about our solar system and beyond continues to inform those efforts and generate new discoveries. The agency has extended the missions of two spacecraft, following an external review of their scientific productivity.

The missions – Juno and InSight – have each increased our understanding of our solar system, as well as spurred new sets of diverse questions.

NASA has extended both the Juno mission at Jupiter through September 2025 (left) and the InSight mission at Mars through December 2022. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has extended both the Juno mission at Jupiter through September 2025 (left) and the InSight mission at Mars through December 2022. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports ‘Great’ Conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn happens night of December 21st

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of December 21st, 2020.

In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the night sky, discovering the four moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In that same year, Galileo also discovered a strange oval surrounding Saturn, which later observations determined to be its rings.

Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset from Shenandoah National Park, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Luray, Virginia. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on December 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset from Shenandoah National Park, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Luray, Virginia. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on December 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft reveals Jupiter’s Hot Spots are wider, deeper than thought

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Twenty-five years ago, NASA sent history’s first probe into the atmosphere of the solar system’s largest planet. But the information returned by the Galileo probe during its descent into Jupiter caused head-scratching: The atmosphere it was plunging into was much denser and hotter than scientists expected.

New data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft suggests that these “hot spots” are much wider and deeper than anticipated. The findings on Jupiter’s hot spots, along with an update on Jupiter’s polar cyclones, were revealed on December 11th, 2020, during a virtual media briefing at the American Geophysical Union’s fall conference.

These images from NASA's Juno mission show three views of a Jupiter "hot spot" - a break in Jupiter's cloud deck that provides a glimpse into the planet's deep atmosphere. The pictures were taken by the JunoCam imager during the spacecraft's 29th close flyby of the giant planet on Sept. 16, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Brian Swift © CC BY)

These images from NASA’s Juno mission show three views of a Jupiter “hot spot” – a break in Jupiter’s cloud deck that provides a glimpse into the planet’s deep atmosphere. The pictures were taken by the JunoCam imager during the spacecraft’s 29th close flyby of the giant planet on Sept. 16, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Brian Swift © CC BY)

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NASA model suggests Europa’s Plumes of Water Vapor could come from within it’s Icy Crust

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Plumes of water vapor that may be venting into space from Jupiter’s moon Europa could come from within the icy crust itself, according to new research. A model outlines a process for brine, or salt-enriched water, moving around within the moon’s shell and eventually forming pockets of water – even more concentrated with salt – that could erupt.

Europa scientists have considered the possible plumes on Europa a promising way to investigate the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon, especially since they offer the opportunity to be directly sampled by spacecraft flying through them.

This illustration of Jupiter's icy moon Europa depicts a cryovolcanic eruption in which brine from within the icy shell could blast into space. A new model proposing this process may also shed light on plumes on other icy bodies. (Justice Wainwright)

This illustration of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa depicts a cryovolcanic eruption in which brine from within the icy shell could blast into space. A new model proposing this process may also shed light on plumes on other icy bodies. (Justice Wainwright)

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NASA research shows Radiation gives Jupiter’s Moon Europa a Glow

 

Pasadena, CA – NASA says aNASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administrations 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.

This illustration of Jupiter's moon Europa shows how the icy surface may glow on its nightside, the side facing away from the Sun. Variations in the glow and the color of the glow itself could reveal information about the composition of ice on Europa's surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration of Jupiter’s moon Europa shows how the icy surface may glow on its nightside, the side facing away from the Sun. Variations in the glow and the color of the glow itself could reveal information about the composition of ice on Europa’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data suggests “Sprites” or “Elves” dance in Jupiter’s Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New results from NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter indicates that either “sprites” or “elves” could be dancing in the upper atmosphere of the solar system’s largest planet.

It is the first time these bright, unpredictable and extremely brief flashes of light – formally known as transient luminous events, or TLE’s – have been observed on another world. The findings were published on October 27th, 2020, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

The lightning phenomenon known as a sprite depicted at Jupiter in this illustration. Jupiter's hydrogen-rich atmosphere would likely make them appear blue. In Earth's upper atmosphere, the presence of nitrogen gives them a reddish color. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI)

The lightning phenomenon known as a sprite depicted at Jupiter in this illustration. Jupiter’s hydrogen-rich atmosphere would likely make them appear blue. In Earth’s upper atmosphere, the presence of nitrogen gives them a reddish color. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI)

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NASA data reveals Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has an Ultraviolet Aurora

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Data from NASA instruments aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Rosetta mission have helped reveal that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has its own far-ultraviolet aurora.

It is the first time such electromagnetic emissions in the far-ultraviolet have been documented on a celestial object other than a planet or moon. A paper on the findings was released today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This composite is a mosaic comprising four individual NAVCAM images taken from 19 miles (31 kilometers) from the center of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 20, 2014. The image resolution is 10 feet (3 meters) per pixel. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

This composite is a mosaic comprising four individual NAVCAM images taken from 19 miles (31 kilometers) from the center of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 20, 2014. The image resolution is 10 feet (3 meters) per pixel. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovers supergiant star Betelgeuse’s Dimming is Due to Outburst

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are showing that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse’s surface.

Hubble researchers suggest that the dust cloud formed when superhot plasma unleashed from an upwelling of a large convection cell on the star’s surface passed through the hot atmosphere to the colder outer layers, where it cooled and formed dust grains. The resulting dust cloud blocked light from about a quarter of the star’s surface, beginning in late 2019. By April 2020, the star returned to normal brightness.

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright, red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star's surface. In panel three, the outflowing, expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star's surface. (NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI))

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright, red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star’s surface. In panel three, the outflowing, expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star’s surface. (NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI))

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