Topic: Mojave Desert
Edwards Air Force Base, CA – For the deserts of Southern California, the major milestones of aviation have long been marked by the unique sights, and sounds, of flight.
From the late Chuck Yeager’s breaking of the sound barrier in 1947, to the space shuttles’ approach and landing at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (then Dryden) in Edwards, and through today, one recognizable sound is the sonic boom – a loud, sometimes startling event that we hear on the ground when an aircraft overhead flies faster than the speed of sound, also called supersonic speed.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on International Space Station (ECOSTRESS) captured a birds-eye view of the vast Apple fire raging in Southern California.
The wildfire began on the evening of Friday, July 31st, after two smaller fires merged and rapidly grew in the hot conditions in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents. Air temperatures have soared past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), stressing the vegetation and turning the area into a tinderbox. By Monday, the wildfire had exploded to over 26,000 acres.
Pasadena, CA – During the first astronaut landing on the Moon, the view of the Sea of Tranquility rising up to meet Neil Armstrong was not what Apollo 11 mission planners had intended.
They had hoped to send the lunar module Eagle toward a relatively flat landing zone with few craters, rocks and boulders. Instead, peering through his small, triangular commander’s window, Armstrong saw a boulder field – very unfriendly for a lunar module.
So the Apollo 11 commander took control of the descent from the onboard computer, piloting Eagle well beyond the boulder field, to a landing site that will forever be known as Tranquility Base.
Written by Marie Lewis
Florida – Crew safety is paramount in the return of human spaceflight launches from Florida’s Space Coast, and the latest round of parachute testing is providing valuable data to help industry partners Boeing and SpaceX meet NASA’s requirements for certification.
On March 4th, SpaceX performed its 14th overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon development. This exercise was the first of several planned parachute system qualification tests ahead of the spacecraft’s first crewed flight and resulted in the successful touchdown of Crew Dragon’s parachute system.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – As NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft were changing our understanding of the solar system, they also spurred a leap in spacecraft communications.
The mission’s impact is still visible in California’s Mojave Desert. There, at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, the arcs of antenna dishes peek out over craggy hilltops. Goldstone was the first place where the two Voyagers started to change the landscape. The farther they traveled, the bigger these dishes needed to be so they could send and receive radio waves necessary to track and communicate with the probes.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – Canyons, craters and cracked ice fields on other worlds might be hiding exciting scientific discoveries. But how do we get spacecraft to land on dangerous, uneven terrain?
A new NASA video explains how cutting-edge technologies could help. A system called the CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) is being developed in the Mojave Desert, with participation from several partners, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is back in contact with Earth after its successful first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings on April 26th, 2017.
The spacecraft is in the process of beaming back science and engineering data collected during its passage, via NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California’s Mojave Desert.
The DSN acquired Cassini’s signal at 11:56pm PDT on April 26th, 2017 (1:56am CDT on April 27th) and data began flowing at 12:01am PDT (2:01am CDT) on April 27th.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers were watching when comet P/2016 BA14 flew past Earth on March 22nd. At the time of its closest approach, the comet was about 2.2 million miles (3.5 million kilometers) away, making it the third closest comet flyby in recorded history (see “A ‘Tail’ of Two Comets”). Radar images from the flyby indicate that the comet is about 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) in diameter.
The scientists used the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California’s Mojave Desert to track the comet.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – Airplane accidents are especially dangerous because jet fuel is highly flammable under crash conditions. On impact, jet fuel is dispersed in the air as a fine mist, which triggers a sequence of events that can lead to a fire engulfing an entire plane.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech, have been working on additives that inhibit the formation of this highly flammable mist during collisions. These additives are based on long molecules called polymers.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – On February 15th, 2012 an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet’s surface. There’s no danger of a collision, but the space rock, designated 2012 DA14, has NASA’s attention. It will come closer to the Earth, than any object of it’s since since near earth objects have been monitored.
“This is a record-setting close approach,” says Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at JPL. “Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we’ve never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.”
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