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Topic: NASA’s Living with a Star Program

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe uses Venus gravity assist to get closer to the Sun

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On October 3rd, 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe performed the first significant celestial maneuver of its seven-year mission. As the orbits of the spacecraft and Venus converged toward the same point, Parker Solar Probe slipped in front of the planet, allowing Venus’ gravity — relatively small by celestial standards — to twist its path and change its speed.

This maneuver, called a gravity assist, reduced Parker’s speed relative to the Sun by 10 percent — amounting to 7,000 miles per hour — drawing the closest point of its orbit, called perihelion, nearer to the star by 4 million miles.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe completed its first flyby of Venus on Oct. 3, 2018, during a Venus gravity assist, where the spacecraft used the planet's gravity to alter its trajectory and bring it closer to the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its first flyby of Venus on Oct. 3, 2018, during a Venus gravity assist, where the spacecraft used the planet’s gravity to alter its trajectory and bring it closer to the Sun. (NASA/JHUAPL)

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Three NASA Missions to explore our Solar System capture first images

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s continued quest to explore our solar system and beyond received a boost of new information this week with three key missions proving not only that they are up and running, but that their science potential is exceptional.

On September 17th, 2018, TESS — the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — shared its first science observations. Later in the week, the latest two missions to join NASA’s heliophysics fleet returned first light data: Parker Solar Probe, humanity’s first mission to “touch” the Sun, and GOLD, a mission that studies the dynamic boundary between Earth and space.

Download high-resolution versions of this and other TESS “first light” images from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

Download high-resolution versions of this and other TESS “first light” images from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (NASA/MIT/TESS)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe navigation controlled by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The navigation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also has a role in two of the spacecraft’s four onboard instrument suites. Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and through the solar corona itself.

One instrument, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi), will investigate the mysteries of high-speed solar particles that hurtle toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Observations by the Parker Solar Probe will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the Sun’s dynamic corona. EPI-Hi is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, led by Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University in New Jersey.

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched Sunday on it’s way to the Sun

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Sunday to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission. The spacecraft will transmit its first science observations in December, beginning a revolution in our understanding of the star that makes life on Earth possible.

Roughly the size of a small car, the spacecraft lifted off at 2:31am CDT on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. At 4:33am, the mission operations manager reported that the spacecraft was healthy and operating normally.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, August 12th, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, August 12th, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA halts Parker Solar Probe Launch, New Launch Date is Sunday, August 12th

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was scrubbed today due to a violation of a launch limit, resulting in a hold. There was not enough time remaining in the window to recycle.

The launch is planned for Sunday, August 12th, 2018 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 2:31am CDT.

NASA scrubs Saturday morning launch of the Parker Solar Probe due to a glitch with the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket. (NASA)

NASA scrubs Saturday morning launch of the Parker Solar Probe due to a glitch with the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket. (NASA)

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NASA’s Van Allen Probes celebrates 5 years of studying Van Allen Radiation Belts

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Most satellites, not designed to withstand high levels of particle radiation, wouldn’t last a day in the Van Allen Radiation belts. Trapped by Earth’s magnetic field into two giant belts around the planet, high-energy particles in the region can batter the spacecraft and even interfere with onboard electronics.

But NASA’s Van Allen Probes have been traveling through this hazardous area since August 30th 2012 – they are now celebrating their fifth year in space studying this dynamic region.

The two Van Allen Probes work as a team, following one behind the other to uniquely observe changes in the belts. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/JHUAPL)

The two Van Allen Probes work as a team, following one behind the other to uniquely observe changes in the belts. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/JHUAPL)

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NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft discover stripe pattern in one radiation belt around Earth

 

Written by Geoff Brown / Karen C. Fox
APL / NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft have shown that high-energy electrons in the inner radiation belt display a persistent pattern that resembles slanted zebra stripes.

Surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light.

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.  (NASA)

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.
(NASA)

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NASA’s Van Allen Probes find third Radiation Belt around the Earth

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Earth’s radiation belts were one of the first discoveries of the Space Age. A new finding published in today’s issue of Science shows that we still have much to learn about them. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes, launched just last August, have revealed a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth.

“Even 55 years after their discovery, Earth’s radiation belts still are capable of surprising us,” said Nicky Fox, Van Allen Probes deputy project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics  Laboratory in Laurel, MD. “We thought we knew the radiation belts, but we don’t.”

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National Research Council report shows more ways the Sun effects Earth’s Climate

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

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NASA releases Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday

 

NASA is so sure the world won’t come to an end on December 21st, 2012, they have already released this news item for the day after.

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If you’re reading this story, it means one thing:  The World Didn’t End Yesterday.

According to media reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, the world was supposed to be destroyed on December 21st, 2012.

Apparently not.

“The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning,” says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. “The Maya calendar did not end on December 21st, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date.”

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