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Topic: NASA’s Discovery Program

NASA’s proposed VERITAS spacecraft would explore the depths of Venus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Under consideration to become the next NASA Discovery Program mission, VERITAS would reveal the inner workings of Earth’s mysterious “twin.”

Imagine Earth. Now fill the skies with thick, Sun-obscuring clouds of sulfuric acid; boil off the oceans by cranking up the temperature to 900 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 500 degrees Celsius), and boost the air pressure high enough to flatten you like a pancake. What you now have is Venus, a rocky planet similar in size to Earth but different in almost every other way.

An artist's concept of active volcanos on Venus, depicting a subduction zone where the foreground crust plunges into the planet's interior at the topographic trench. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Peter Rubin)

An artist’s concept of active volcanos on Venus, depicting a subduction zone where the foreground crust plunges into the planet’s interior at the topographic trench. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Peter Rubin)

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NASA InSight Lander’s Arm helps it’s Mole get buried, resumes Science Activities

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander has been using its robotic arm to help the heat probe known as the “mole” burrow into Mars. The mission is providing the first look at the Red Planet’s deep interior to reveal details about the formation of Mars and, ultimately, all rocky planets, including Earth.

Akin to a 16-inch-long (40-centimeter-long) pile driver, the self-hammering mole has experienced difficulty getting into the Martian soil since February 2019. It’s mostly buried now, thanks to recent efforts to push down on the mole with the scoop on the end of the robotic arm.

The movement of sand grains in the scoop on the end of NASA InSight's robotic arm suggests that the spacecraft's self-hammering "mole," which is in the soil beneath the scoop, had begun tapping the bottom of the scoop while hammering on June 20, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The movement of sand grains in the scoop on the end of NASA InSight’s robotic arm suggests that the spacecraft’s self-hammering “mole,” which is in the soil beneath the scoop, had begun tapping the bottom of the scoop while hammering on June 20, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA proposes Mission to travel to Neptune’s Moon Triton

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

This global color mosaic of Neptune's moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

This global color mosaic of Neptune’s moon Triton was taken in 1989 by Voyager 2 during its flyby of the Neptune system. (NASA/JPL/USGS)

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NASA to create concept design for Venus Atmosphere Probe

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A proposed mission called DAVINCI+ could one day fly the first U.S. spacecraft since 1978 to study the atmosphere of Venus.

On February 13th, NASA announced that DAVINCI+, named after the visionary Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, is one of four teams selected under the agency’s Discovery Program to develop concept studies for new missions in this decade to various intriguing destinations in the solar system.

Maat Mons is displayed in this computer-generated, three-dimensional perspective of the surface of Venus. The viewpoint is located 634 kilometers (393 miles) north of Maat Mons at an elevation of 3 kilometers (2 miles) above the terrain. Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers across the fractured plains shown in the foreground to the base of Maat Mons. (NASA/JPL)

Maat Mons is displayed in this computer-generated, three-dimensional perspective of the surface of Venus. The viewpoint is located 634 kilometers (393 miles) north of Maat Mons at an elevation of 3 kilometers (2 miles) above the terrain. Lava flows extend for hundreds of kilometers across the fractured plains shown in the foreground to the base of Maat Mons. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s InSight Lander provides deeper understand of Mars in it’s first year

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new understanding of Mars is beginning to emerge, thanks to the first year of NASA’s InSight lander mission. Findings described in a set of six papers published today reveal a planet alive with quakes, dust devils and strange magnetic pulses.

Five of the papers were published in Nature. An additional paper in Nature Geoscience details the InSight spacecraft’s landing site, a shallow crater nicknamed “Homestead hollow” in a region called Elysium Planitia.

In this artist's concept of NASA's InSight lander on Mars, layers of the planet's subsurface can be seen below and dust devils can be seen in the background. (IPGP/Nicolas Sarter)

In this artist’s concept of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, layers of the planet’s subsurface can be seen below and dust devils can be seen in the background. (IPGP/Nicolas Sarter)

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NASA maneuvers Mars InSight Landers’ robotic arm to press down on the “Mole”

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After nearly a year of trying to dig into the Martian surface, the heat probe belonging to NASA’s InSight lander is about to get a push. The mission team plans to command the scoop on InSight’s robotic arm to press down on the “mole,” the mini pile driver designed to hammer itself as much as 16 feet (5 meters) down.

They hope that pushing down on the mole’s top, also called the back cap, will keep it from backing out of its hole on Mars, as it did twice in recent months after nearly burying itself.

This test using an engineering model of the InSight lander here on Earth shows how the spacecraft on Mars will use its robotic arm to press on a digging device, called the "mole." (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This test using an engineering model of the InSight lander here on Earth shows how the spacecraft on Mars will use its robotic arm to press on a digging device, called the “mole.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA picks Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for new missions. Although they’re not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections. Final selections will be made next year.

NASA’s Discovery Program invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it.

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune's moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist's concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune’s moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist’s concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to help Mars InSight Lander’s Heat Probe dig

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander, which is on a mission to explore the deep interior of Mars, positioned its robotic arm this past weekend to assist the spacecraft’s self-hammering heat probe. Known as “the mole,” the probe has been unable to dig more than about 14 inches (35 centimeters) since it began burying itself into the ground on February 28th, 2019.

The maneuver is in preparation for a tactic, to be tried over several weeks, called “pinning.”

NASA InSight's robotic arm will use its scoop to pin the spacecraft's heat probe, or "mole," against the wall of its hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA InSight’s robotic arm will use its scoop to pin the spacecraft’s heat probe, or “mole,” against the wall of its hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s InSight Lander Hears a variety of Sounds on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”

The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.

Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA's InSight lander, on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA’s InSight lander, on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA takes a look at Marsquakes

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A recent set of earthquakes shook up Southern California. But NASA says Earth isn’t the only place that experiences quakes: Both the Moon and Mars have them as well. NASA sent the first seismometer to the Moon 50 years ago, during the Apollo 11 mission; the agency’s InSight lander brought the first seismometer to Mars in late 2018, and it’s called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

Provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the seismometer detected its first marsquake on April 6th, 2019.

This artist's concept is a simulation of what seismic waves from a marsquake might look like as they move through different layers of the Martian interior. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ETH Zurich/ Van Driel)

This artist’s concept is a simulation of what seismic waves from a marsquake might look like as they move through different layers of the Martian interior. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ETH Zurich/ Van Driel)

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