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Topic: Methane

NASA’s SOFIA Telescope examines the Haze around Pluto

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When the New Horizons spacecraft passed by Pluto in 2015, one of the many fascinating features its images revealed was that this small, frigid world in the distant solar system has a hazy atmosphere. Now, new data helps explain how Pluto’s haze is formed from the faint light of the Sun 3.7 billion miles away as it moves through an unusual orbit.

Remote observations of Pluto by NASA’s telescope on an airplane, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, show that the thin haze enshrouding Pluto is made of very small particles that remain in the atmosphere for prolonged periods of time rather than immediately falling to the surface.

Still image from an animation illustrating Pluto passing in front of a star during an eclipse-like event known as an occultation. SOFIA observed the dwarf planet as it was momentarily backlit by a star on June 29, 2015 to analyze its atmosphere. (NASA)

Still image from an animation illustrating Pluto passing in front of a star during an eclipse-like event known as an occultation. SOFIA observed the dwarf planet as it was momentarily backlit by a star on June 29, 2015 to analyze its atmosphere. (NASA)

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NASA Scientists simulating Ocean Vents find evidence these features could have start Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Where did life first form on Earth? Some scientists think it could have been around hydrothermal vents that may have existed at the bottom of the ocean 4.5 billion years ago.

In a new paper in the journal Astrobiology, NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe how they mimicked possible ancient undersea environments with a complex experimental setup.

They showed that under extreme pressure, fluid from these ancient seafloor cracks mixed with ocean water could have reacted with minerals from the hydrothermal vents to produce organic molecules – the building blocks that compose nearly all life on Earth.

A seafloor vent called a "white smoker" spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

A seafloor vent called a “white smoker” spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

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NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) discovers millions of Methane Hotspots in the Arctic

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says that the Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins to thaw, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

These methane emissions can accelerate future warming – but to understand to what extent, we need to know how much methane may be emitted, when and what environmental factors may influence its release.

The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Artemis Lunar Program moves full speed ahead

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2019, NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the agency’s Apollo 11 Moon landing, the most historic moment in space exploration, while also making significant progress toward putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program.

Through America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, Artemis gained bipartisan support this year among members of Congress, the U.S aerospace industry, as well as with international partners, including Canada, Australia, and Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency.

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NASA’s Cassini mission images used to create First Global Geologic Map of Titan

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has released the first map showing the global geology of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has been completed and fully reveals a dynamic world of dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains.

Titan is the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan what rains down is methane and ethane – hydrocarbons that we think of as gases but that behave as liquids in Titan’s frigid climate.

The first global geologic map of Titan is based on radar and visible-light images from NASA's Cassini mission, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. Labels point to several of the named surface features. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

The first global geologic map of Titan is based on radar and visible-light images from NASA’s Cassini mission, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. Labels point to several of the named surface features. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

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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 Shapeshifter transforming robot could one day explore Saturn’s moon Titan

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA mini robots that can roll, fly, float and swim, then morph into a single machine? Together they form Shapeshifter, a developing concept for a transformational vehicle to explore treacherous, distant worlds.

In a dusty robotics yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the Shapeshifter team is testing a 3D-printed prototype of this unusual explorer. A contraption that looks like a drone encased in an elongated hamster wheel rolls across the yard, then splits in half.

A prototype of the transforming robot Shapeshifter is tested in the robotics yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Shapeshifter is made of smaller robots that can morph into rolling spheres, flying drones, swimming submersibles, and more. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A prototype of the transforming robot Shapeshifter is tested in the robotics yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Shapeshifter is made of smaller robots that can morph into rolling spheres, flying drones, swimming submersibles, and more. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s WFIRST Space Telescope to use coronagraph instrument “Starglasses” to peer at Universe

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When a new NASA space telescope opens its eyes in the mid-2020s, it will peer at the universe through some of the most sophisticated sunglasses ever designed.

This multi-layered technology, the coronagraph instrument, might more rightly be called “starglasses”: a system of masks, prisms, detectors and even self-flexing mirrors built to block out the glare from distant stars – and reveal the planets in orbit around them.

An optical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, Camilo Mejia Prada, shines a light on the interior of a testbed for an instrument called a coronagraph that will fly aboard the WFIRST space telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Matthew Luem)

An optical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, Camilo Mejia Prada, shines a light on the interior of a testbed for an instrument called a coronagraph that will fly aboard the WFIRST space telescope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Matthew Luem)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data suggests Lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan actually Explosive Craters

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft radar data recently published research presents a new scenario to explain why some methane-filled lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan are surrounded by steep rims that reach hundreds of feet high. The models suggests that explosions of warming nitrogen created basins in the moon’s crust.

Titan is the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan it’s methane and ethane – hydrocarbons that we think of as gases but that behave as liquids in Titan’s frigid climate.

This artist's concept of a lake at the north pole of Saturn's moon Titan illustrates raised rims and rampartlike features such as those seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft around the moon's Winnipeg Lacus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept of a lake at the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan illustrates raised rims and rampartlike features such as those seen by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft around the moon’s Winnipeg Lacus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Dragonfly rotorcraft lander to fly around Saturn’s moon Titan exploring

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, 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.

This illustration shows NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly will explore dozens of locations across the icy world, sampling and measuring the compositions of Titan's organic surface materials to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. (NASA/JHU-APL)

This illustration shows NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly will explore dozens of locations across the icy world, sampling and measuring the compositions of Titan’s organic surface materials to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. (NASA/JHU-APL)

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