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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope takes image of Young Comet near Jupiter’s Asteroid

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that for the first time, a wayward comet-like object has been spotted near the family of ancient asteroids.

After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way. The object has settled near a family of captured ancient asteroids, called Trojans, that are orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter. This is the first time a comet-like object has been spotted near the Trojan population.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image of the young comet P/2019 LD2 as it orbits near Jupiter’s captured ancient asteroids, which are called Trojans. The Hubble view reveals a 400,000-mile-long tail of dust and gas flowing from the wayward comet's bright solid nucleus. (NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted/STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this image of the young comet P/2019 LD2 as it orbits near Jupiter’s captured ancient asteroids, which are called Trojans. The Hubble view reveals a 400,000-mile-long tail of dust and gas flowing from the wayward comet’s bright solid nucleus. (NASA/ESA/J. Olmsted/STScI)

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft radar shows the Moon may be Richer in Metals than thought

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – What started out as a hunt for ice lurking in polar lunar craters turned into an unexpected finding that could help clear some muddy history about the Moon’s formation.

Team members of the Miniature Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft found new evidence that the Moon’s subsurface might be richer in metals, like iron and titanium, than researchers thought. That finding, published July 1st in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, could aid in drawing a clearer connection between Earth and the Moon.

This image based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft shows the face of the Moon we see from Earth. The more we learn about our nearest neighbor, the more we begin to understand the Moon as a dynamic place with useful resources that could one day even support human presence. (NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University)

This image based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft shows the face of the Moon we see from Earth. The more we learn about our nearest neighbor, the more we begin to understand the Moon as a dynamic place with useful resources that could one day even support human presence. (NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University)

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NASA’s New Horizons Conducts the First Interstellar Parallax Experiment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For the first time, a spacecraft has sent back pictures of the sky from so far away that some stars appear to be in different positions than we’d see from Earth. 

More than four billion miles from home and speeding toward interstellar space, NASA’s New Horizons has traveled so far that it now has a unique view of the nearest stars.

“It’s fair to say that New Horizons is looking at an alien sky, unlike what we see from Earth,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA picks Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for new missions. Although they’re not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections. Final selections will be made next year.

NASA’s Discovery Program invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it.

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune's moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist's concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune’s moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist’s concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe discovers new insights about our Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

On December 4th, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to search for Ancient Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on February 18th, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites – rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA picks Study Proposals for understanding Fundamental Nature of Space

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. Two Proposals have been picked by NASA for concept studies that could help us better understand the fundamental nature of space and how it changes in response to planetary atmospheres, radiation from the Sun, and interstellar particles. The proposals will advance NASA’s heliophysics program and could lead to better protection for both technology and humans as we travel farther from home.

Each of these Heliophysics Science Mission of Opportunity proposals will receive $400,000 to conduct a nine-month mission concept study.

NASA has chosen two new science proposals for nine-month concept studies to advance our understanding of how the particles and energy in space – shown here flowing from the Sun in an illustration of the solar wind – affect the fundamental nature of space. One proposal will ultimately be chosen to launch along with NASA’s upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe in October 2024. (NASA)

NASA has chosen two new science proposals for nine-month concept studies to advance our understanding of how the particles and energy in space – shown here flowing from the Sun in an illustration of the solar wind – affect the fundamental nature of space. One proposal will ultimately be chosen to launch along with NASA’s upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe in October 2024. (NASA)

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NASA announces One of the Two Van Allen Probe Spacecraft shutdown

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA reports that on July 19th, 2019, mission operators sent a shutdown command to one of two Van Allen Probes spacecraft at 12:27pm CT, known as spacecraft B, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL, in Laurel, Maryland.

As expected, following final de-orbit maneuvers in February of this year, the spacecraft has used its remaining propellant to keep its solar panels pointed at the Sun and is now out of fuel.

Illustration of the identical Van Allen Probes. (JHU/APL, NASA)

Illustration of the identical Van Allen Probes. (JHU/APL, NASA)

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NASA wants to send Astronauts to Moon’s South Pole

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says south pole region of the moon is home to some of the most extreme environments in the solar system: it’s unimaginably cold, massively cratered, and has areas that are either constantly bathed in sunlight or in darkness. This is precisely why NASA wants to send astronauts there in 2024 as part of its Artemis program.

The most enticing feature of this southernmost region is the craters, some of which never see the light of day reach their floors. The reason for this is the low angle of sunlight striking the surface at the poles.

A permanently shadowed lunar crater. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

A permanently shadowed lunar crater. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA to test Planetary Defense Technology against Asteroid in 2022

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s first mission to demonstrate a planetary defense technique, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will get one chance to hit its target, the small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos.

The asteroid poses no threat to Earth and is an ideal test target: measuring the change in how the smaller asteroid orbits about the larger asteroid in a binary system is much easier than observing the change in a single asteroid’s orbit around the Sun.

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). (Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). (Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

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