Pasadena, CA – Eight and a half years into its grand tour of the solar system, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was ready for another encounter. It was January 24th, 1986, and soon it would meet the mysterious seventh planet, icy-cold Uranus.
Over the next few hours, Voyager 2 flew within 50,600 miles (81,433 kilometers) of Uranus’ cloud tops, collecting data that revealed two new rings, 11 new moons and temperatures below minus 353 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 214 degrees Celsius). The dataset is still the only up-close measurements we have ever made of the planet.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says a new spacecraft is journeying to the Sun to snap the first pictures of the Sun’s north and south poles.
Solar Orbiter, a collaboration between the European Space Agency, or ESA, and NASA, will have its first opportunity to launch from Cape Canaveral on February 7th, 2020, at 10:15pm CST.
Launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft will use Venus’s and Earth’s gravity to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane — the swath of space, roughly aligned with the Sun’s equator, where all planets orbit.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope data has been used in a new study to provide a rare glimpse of conditions on the surface of a rocky planet orbiting a star beyond the Sun. The study, published today in the journal Nature, shows that the planet’s surface may resemble those of Earth’s Moon or Mercury:
The planet likely has little to no atmosphere and could be covered in the same cooled volcanic material found in the dark areas of the Moon’s surface, called mare.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft data reveals Earth’s Moon and Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought.
The potential ice deposits are found in craters near the poles of both worlds. On the Moon, “We found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon, and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits,” said lead author Lior Rubanenko of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Washington, D.C. – Saturn’s moon Titan will be the next destination for NASA in our solar system. Titan is the unique, richly organic world. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.
Written by Lina Tran
Greenbelt, MD – Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it’s often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.
The dust consists of crushed-up remains from the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago — rubble from asteroid collisions or crumbs from blazing comets.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth. In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava.
The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”
Washington, D.C. – Fishermen would be puzzled if they netted only big and little fish, but few medium-sized fish. Astronomers likewise have been perplexed in conducting a census of star-hugging extrasolar planets. They have found hot Jupiter-sized planets and hot super-Earths (planets no more than 1.5 times Earth’s diameter).
These planets are scorching hot because they orbit very close to their star. But so-called “hot Neptunes,” whose atmospheres are heated to more than 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, have been much harder to find. In fact, only about a handful of hot Neptunes have been found so far.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – NASA has a new mission to Mars, and it’s taking podcast listeners along for the ride.
Launched Monday, October 29th, 2018 the eight-episode series “On a Mission” follows the InSight lander as it travels hundreds of millions of miles and attempts to land on Mars on November 26th.
“On a Mission” will be the first JPL podcast to track a mission during flight, through interviews with the InSight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – The navigation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also has a role in two of the spacecraft’s four onboard instrument suites. Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and through the solar corona itself.
One instrument, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi), will investigate the mysteries of high-speed solar particles that hurtle toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Observations by the Parker Solar Probe will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the Sun’s dynamic corona. EPI-Hi is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, led by Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University in New Jersey.
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