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Topic: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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’s NICER telescope records sudden spike of X-Rays

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDNASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station detected a sudden spike of X-rays at about 9:04pm CDT on August 20th. The burst was caused by a massive thermonuclear flash on the surface of a pulsar, the crushed remains of a star that long ago exploded as a supernova.

The X-ray burst, the brightest seen by NICER so far, came from an object named SAX J1808.4-3658, or J1808 for short. The observations reveal many phenomena that have never been seen together in a single burst. In addition, the subsiding fireball briefly brightened again for reasons astronomers cannot yet explain.

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

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NASA Instrument on European Mission to Explore Planet Clouds on European Mission

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA will contribute an instrument to a European space mission that will explore the atmospheres of hundreds of planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun, or exoplanets, for the first time.

The instrument, called the Contribution to ARIEL Spectroscopy of Exoplanets, or CASE, adds scientific capabilities to ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, or ARIEL, mission.

This artist's concept shows the European Space Agency's ARIEL spacecraft on its way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2) - a gravitationally stable, Sun-centric orbit - where it will be shielded from the Sun and have a clear view of the sky. NASA's JPL will manage the mission's CASE instrument. (ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office)

This artist’s concept shows the European Space Agency’s ARIEL spacecraft on its way to Lagrange Point 2 (L2) – a gravitationally stable, Sun-centric orbit – where it will be shielded from the Sun and have a clear view of the sky. NASA’s JPL will manage the mission’s CASE instrument. (ESA/STFC RAL Space/UCL/Europlanet-Science Office)

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NASA says Stars Pollute, but Galaxies Recycle

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says that galaxies were once thought of as lonely islands in the universe: clumps of matter floating through otherwise empty space. We now know they are surrounded by a much larger, yet nearly invisible cloud of dust and gas.

Astronomers call it the circumgalactic medium, or CGM. The CGM acts as a giant recycling plant, absorbing matter ejected by the galaxy and later pushing it right back in.

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

The Triangulum galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or M33, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington))

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover performs it’s second Chemistry Experiment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s new selfie is breathtaking, but it’s especially meaningful for the mission’s team: Stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm, the panorama also commemorates only the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment.

The selfie was taken on October 11th, 2019 (Sol 2,553) in a location named “Glen Etive” (pronounced “glen EH-tiv”), which is part of the “clay-bearing unit,” a region the team has eagerly awaited reaching since before Curiosity launched.

NASA's Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed "Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed “Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA reports Ozone Hole Smallest on Record Since Its Discovery

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA and NOAA scientists reported today that abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October, resulting in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1982.

The annual ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th, and then shrank to less than 3.9 million square miles (10 million square kilometers) for the remainder of September and October, according to NASA and NOAA satellite measurements. During years with normal weather conditions, the ozone hole typically grows to a maximum area of about 8 million square miles in late September or early October.

The 2019 ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th. Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion this year. (NASA)

The 2019 ozone hole reached its peak extent of 6.3 million square miles (16. 4 million square kilometers) on September 8th. Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion this year. (NASA)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission completes Critcal Design Review

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On Friday, October 18th, 2019,  NASA’s Lucy mission successfully completed its Critical Design Review.

During this review, Lucy team members presented the completed mission design, demonstrating that the team has met all the technical challenges of the mission and is ready to begin building hardware. After the review completion, NASA’s independent review board provided a green light for proceeding into the fabrication/manufacturing stage of the mission.

Artist's concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

Artist’s concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

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NASA launches Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After a successful Thursday night, October 10th, 2019 launch, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft is in orbit for a first-of-its-kind mission to study a region of space where changes can disrupt communications and satellite orbits, and even increase radiation risks to astronauts.

A Northrop Grumman Stargazer L-1011 aircraft took off at 7:31pm CDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying ICON, on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket, to launch altitude of about 39,000 feet.

Northrop Grumman’s L-1011 aircraft, Stargazer, prepares for takeoff at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip in Florida on Oct. 10, 2019. Attached beneath the aircraft is the company’s Pegasus XL rocket, carrying NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON). (NASA)

Northrop Grumman’s L-1011 aircraft, Stargazer, prepares for takeoff at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip in Florida on Oct. 10, 2019. Attached beneath the aircraft is the company’s Pegasus XL rocket, carrying NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON). (NASA)

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NASA Hubble Space Telescope data reveals more Gas flowing into the Milky Way, than out

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says our Milky Way is a frugal galaxy. Supernovas and violent stellar winds blow gas out of the galactic disk, but that gas falls back onto the galaxy to form new generations of stars. In an ambitious effort to conduct a full accounting of this recycling process, astronomers were surprised to find a surplus of incoming gas.

“We expected to find the Milky Way’s books balanced, with an equilibrium of gas inflow and outflow, but 10 years of Hubble ultraviolet data has shown there is more coming in than going out,” said astronomer Andrew Fox of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, lead author of the study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

This illustration envisions the Milky Way galaxy's gas recycling above and below its stellar disk. Hubble observes the invisible gas clouds rising and falling with its sensitive Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) instrument. The spectroscopic signature of the light from background quasars shining through the clouds gives information about their motion. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

This illustration envisions the Milky Way galaxy’s gas recycling above and below its stellar disk. Hubble observes the invisible gas clouds rising and falling with its sensitive Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) instrument. The spectroscopic signature of the light from background quasars shining through the clouds gives information about their motion. (NASA, ESA and D. Player (STScI))

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NASA’s original Artemis Mission studied interaction of Moon, Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – By 2024, NASA will land astronauts, including the first woman and next man, on the Moon as part of the Artemis lunar exploration program. This won’t be the first time NASA takes the name Artemis to the Moon though.

Two robotic spacecraft orbiting the Moon today were initially known as ARTEMIS — short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. Since 2011, these spacecraft have been sending scientists valuable information about the lunar environment, and laying groundwork critical to returning humans to the Moon.

NASA’s twin ARTEMIS spacecraft have studied the solar wind's interaction with the Moon, including the lunar wake that distorts nearby magnetic fields. (E. Masongsong, UCLA EPSS)

NASA’s twin ARTEMIS spacecraft have studied the solar wind’s interaction with the Moon, including the lunar wake that distorts nearby magnetic fields. (E. Masongsong, UCLA EPSS)

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