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Topic: NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA Ames Research Center Wind Tunnels performs Ground Testing before you Fly

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve probably been in a vehicle that NASA helped develop. Because before something can fly in the sky, it needs to “fly” on the ground – and for that you need a wind tunnel. Several of these often huge and essential facilities are found at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley – including the biggest (two!) in the world.

A wind tunnel works by moving air past a stationary object, making it seem like the object is flying. The tunnel is essentially a giant tube with air flowing through it, usually moved along by fans.

This system of fans moves air through the world’s largest wind tunnels, at the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Each of the six fans is 40 feet in diameter and is driven by a 22,500-horsepower electric motor. Two figures near fan 5 give a sense of scale. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Tom Trower)

This system of fans moves air through the world’s largest wind tunnels, at the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Each of the six fans is 40 feet in diameter and is driven by a 22,500-horsepower electric motor. Two figures near fan 5 give a sense of scale. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Tom Trower)

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NASA tests VIPER Moon Rover Instruments for Lunar Flight

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When NASA’s new Moon rover, VIPER, lands on the lunar surface to begin its hunt for water ice at the poles, it will be equipped for the job with instruments that have already been battle-tested in this harsh environment.

Prior to the launch of VIPER, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, versions of these instruments will have flown as payloads on two earlier deliveries to the Moon by commercial providers under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley assemble the Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System in preparation for its 2021 flight to the Moon. While assembling the instrument inside the NIRVSS clean room, integration engineer Amanda Cook uses ultraviolet light to inspect the four infrared detectors on the NIRVSS Longwave Calibration Sensor for cleanliness, before fastening the board into its enclosure. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Dominic Hart)

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley assemble the Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System in preparation for its 2021 flight to the Moon. While assembling the instrument inside the NIRVSS clean room, integration engineer Amanda Cook uses ultraviolet light to inspect the four infrared detectors on the NIRVSS Longwave Calibration Sensor for cleanliness, before fastening the board into its enclosure. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Dominic Hart)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover being put through Tough Tests before trip to Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While auto manufacturers built over 92 million motor vehicles for this world in 2019, NASA built just one for Mars. The Perseverance Mars rover is one of a kind, and the testing required to get it ready to roll on the mean (and unpaved) streets of the Red Planet is one of a kind as well.

Because hardware cannot be repaired once the rover is on Mars, the team has to build a vehicle that can survive for years on a planet with punishing temperature shifts, constant radiation and ever-present dust.

This photo shows a successful test of the parachute that will be used to land NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars. The image were taken on Septe,ber 7th, 2018, during the third and final flight of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This photo shows a successful test of the parachute that will be used to land NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. The image were taken on Septe,ber 7th, 2018, during the third and final flight of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 to use CubeSat with Infrared Lasers to search the Moon’s Craters for Ice

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface. Take water, for instance: Because it’s a heavy and therefore expensive resource to launch from Earth, our future explorers might have to seek out ice to mine.

Once excavated, it can be melted and purified for drinking and used for rocket fuel. But how much water is there on the Moon, and where might we find it?

This artist's concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Researches to use Fluid Lensing to map Ocean Floor

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – NASA says that whenever you look through a substance, whether it’s the water in a pool or a pane of old, rippled glass, the objects you see look distorted.

For centuries, astronomers have been mapping the sky through the distortions caused by our atmosphere, however, in recent years, they’ve developed techniques to counter these effects, clearing our view of the stars.

If we turn to look at the Earth instead of the skies, distorted visuals are a challenge too: Earth scientists who want to map the oceans or study underwater features struggle to see through the distortions caused by waves at the surface.

Researchers flying the FluidCam instrument during a field deployment in Puerto Rico. (NASA)

Researchers flying the FluidCam instrument during a field deployment in Puerto Rico. (NASA)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data reveals Earth Size Planet in Habitable Zone

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A team of transatlantic scientists, using reanalyzed data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, has discovered an Earth-size exoplanet orbiting in its star’s habitable zone, the area around a star where a rocky planet could support liquid water.

Scientists discovered this planet, called Kepler-1649c, when looking through old observations from Kepler, which the agency retired in 2018. While previous searches with a computer algorithm misidentified it, researchers reviewing Kepler data took a second look at the signature and recognized it as a planet.

This artist's concept shows what exoplanet Kepler-1649c could look like on its surface. The planet is the closest to Earth in size and temperature found yet in data from the Kepler space telescope. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter)

This artist’s concept shows what exoplanet Kepler-1649c could look like on its surface. The planet is the closest to Earth in size and temperature found yet in data from the Kepler space telescope. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter)

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NASA’s VIPER Lunar Rover prepared to handle Moon Dust

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – NASA says that Moon dust is a formidable adversary – the grains are as fine as powder and as sharp as tiny shards of glass.

During the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon, the astronauts lamented how the dust found its way into everything, coating their spacesuits and jamming the shoulder joints, getting inside their lunar habitat and even causing symptoms of a temporary “lunar dust hay fever” in astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Those symptoms fortunately went away quickly – but the problem of Moon dust remains for future missions.

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

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NASA Science continues from Home Offices, Video Conferencing in response to Coronavirus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Across NASA’s many missions, thousands of scientists, engineers, and other experts and professionals all over the country are doing what they do best, but now from home offices and via video conferencing.

With most personnel supporting missions remotely to keep onsite staff at a minimal level in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Agency is moving ahead strongly with everything from space exploration to using our technology and innovation to help inform policy makers.  

NASA missions continue during Coronavirus outbreak. (NASA)

NASA missions continue during Coronavirus outbreak. (NASA)

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NASA uses Satellites to Help Forecast Wildlife Migration in Yellowstone National Park

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – The research project looked specifically at how long the growing season lasts in Yellowstone  National Park, from snowmelt in spring to first snowfall in autumn, and the vegetation that covers the land in between.

The satellite data revealed that the season for vegetation growth has been getting longer, likely a result of climate change decreasing the severity of winters and warming average temperatures overall.

Studying national parks is helpful for this type of climate research, because human land use is restricted in these spaces.

A study using data from two NASA Earth science satellites reveals that the season for vegetation growth has been getting longer in Yellowstone National Park. Likely a result of climate change decreasing the severity of winters and warming average temperatures overall, this effect on the productivity of grasslands has contributed to the growing number of bison in the park. (Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory)

A study using data from two NASA Earth science satellites reveals that the season for vegetation growth has been getting longer in Yellowstone National Park. Likely a result of climate change decreasing the severity of winters and warming average temperatures overall, this effect on the productivity of grasslands has contributed to the growing number of bison in the park. (Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory)

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