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Topic: Microbes

NASA reports SpaceX Cargo Spacecraft headed to International Space Station with latest Science Investigations

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The latest SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with more than 6,400 pounds of science investigations, a new airlock, and other cargo after launching at 10:17am CT Sunday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy and is scheduled to arrive at the space station around 12:30pm Monday, December 7th, performing the first autonomous docking for SpaceX and remaining at the station for about a month.

SpaceX launched its 21st commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station at 10:17am CT December 6th, 2020, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA Television)

SpaceX launched its 21st commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station at 10:17am CT December 6th, 2020, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA Television)

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NASA’s 21st SpaceX Cargo Mission carries research for Hearts, Airlocks and Asteroids

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – The 21st  SpaceX cargo resupply mission that launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carries a variety of critical research and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station.

The mission represents the first on an upgraded version of the company’s Dragon cargo spacecraft designed to carry more science payloads to and from the space station.

Highlights of the payloads on this mission include:

Technicians work on the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 29, 2020, preparing the facility for its flight to the International Space Station. The first commercially funded airlock for the space station provides payload hosting, robotics testing, satellite deployment, and more. (NASA/KSC)

Technicians work on the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 29, 2020, preparing the facility for its flight to the International Space Station. The first commercially funded airlock for the space station provides payload hosting, robotics testing, satellite deployment, and more. (NASA/KSC)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover begins Summer Trip

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has started a road trip that will continue through the summer across roughly a mile (1.6 kilometers) of terrain. By trip’s end, the rover will be able to ascend to the next section of the 3-mile-tall Martian (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it’s been exploring since 2014, searching for conditions that may have supported ancient microbial life.

Located on the floor of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp is composed of sedimentary layers that built up over time. Each layer helps tell the story about how Mars changed from being more Earth-like – with lakes, streams and a thicker atmosphere – to the nearly-airless, freezing desert it is today.

Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Stitched together from 28 images, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from “Greenheugh Pediment” on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment’s sandstone cap. At center is the “clay-bearing unit”; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Search for Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says in the hunt for life on other worlds, astronomers scour over planets that are light-years away. They need ways to identify life from afar — but what counts as good evidence?

Our own planet provides some inspiration. Microbes fill the air with methane; photosynthesizing plants expel oxygen. Perhaps these gases might be found wherever life has taken hold.

An artist's conception of an Earth-like exoplanet. (NASA/GSFC/C. Meaney/B. Monroe/S. Wiessinger)

An artist’s conception of an Earth-like exoplanet. (NASA/GSFC/C. Meaney/B. Monroe/S. Wiessinger)

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NASA establishes groundwork for exploration of the Moon, Mars in 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars. 

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking. We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation,” Bridenstine said. “This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA reports Genes in Space-3 identifies Microbes aboard International Space Station

 

Written by Jenny Howard
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – Being able to identify microbes in real time aboard the International Space Station, without having to send them back to Earth for identification first, would be revolutionary for the world of microbiology and space exploration. The Genes in Space-3 team turned that possibility into a reality this year, when it completed the first-ever sample-to-sequence process entirely aboard the space station.

The ability to identify microbes in space could aid in the ability to diagnose and treat astronaut ailments in real time, as well as assisting in the identification of DNA-based life on other planets. It could also benefit other experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson performed the Genes in Space-3 investigation aboard the space station using the miniPCR and MinION, developed for previously flown investigations. (NASA)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson performed the Genes in Space-3 investigation aboard the space station using the miniPCR and MinION, developed for previously flown investigations. (NASA)

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NASA develops Unit for International Space Station to study Living Things in Microgravity

 

Written by Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationFlorida – Scientists and engineers are developing new hardware destined for the International Space Station to support experiments demonstrating how different organisms, such as plants, microbes or worms, develop under conditions of microgravity. Results from the Spectrum project will shed light on which living things are best suited for long-duration flights into deep space.

According to Dr. Scott Shipley, project engineer for Spectrum at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, what make this system unique is it will allow scientists to observe how different genes are turned on and off while the organisms grow in space.

Spectrum Project processing inside the Space Station Processing Facility; expected to launch to International Space Station in 2018.  (NASA)

Spectrum Project processing inside the Space Station Processing Facility; expected to launch to International Space Station in 2018. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover examines Ancient Lake on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars provided stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another, according to a comprehensive look at findings from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA’s Curiosity rover mission.

Different conditions favorable for different types of microbes existed simultaneously in the same lake.

Previous work had revealed the presence of a lake more than three billion years ago in Mars’ Gale Crater. This study defines the chemical conditions that existed in the lake and uses Curiosity’s powerful payload to determine that the lake was stratified.

This evenly layered rock imaged in 2014 by the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a pattern typical of a lake-floor sedimentary deposit near where flowing water entered a lake. Shallow and deep parts of an ancient Martian lake left different clues in mudstone formed from lakebed deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This evenly layered rock imaged in 2014 by the Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a pattern typical of a lake-floor sedimentary deposit near where flowing water entered a lake. Shallow and deep parts of an ancient Martian lake left different clues in mudstone formed from lakebed deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Cassini mission and Hubble Space Telescope provides new details about moons Enceladus and Europa

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.

In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.

This artist's rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA is developing Tech, Robotic Arms to explore Icy, Ocean Worlds

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Want to go ice fishing on Jupiter’s moon Europa? There’s no promising you’ll catch anything, but a new set of robotic prototypes could help.

Since 2015, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been developing new technologies for use on future missions to ocean worlds. That includes a subsurface probe that could burrow through miles of ice, taking samples along the way; robotic arms that unfold to reach faraway objects; and a projectile launcher for even more distant samples.

A robotic claw, one of several innovative tools developed at JPL for exploring icy, ocean worlds like Europa. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A robotic claw, one of several innovative tools developed at JPL for exploring icy, ocean worlds like Europa. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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