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Topic: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA’s Mars Odyssey Orbiter has been Mapping the Red Planet for 20 Years

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7th, 2021 making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet.

The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars’ south pole in this artist’s concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover takes it’s first Drive on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars on March 4th, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape.

The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more are expected.

This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was taken during the first drive of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter checks in, Operations Normal

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California have received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which landed Feb. 18, 2021, at Jezero Crater attached to the belly of the agency’s NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover.

The downlink, which arrived at 3:30pm PST (5:30pm CST) via a connection through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, indicates that both the helicopter, which will remain attached to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station (an electrical box on the rover that stores and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are operating as expected.

In this illustration, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet's surface as NASA's Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s surface as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover sends back footage of landing on Red Planet

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington D.C. – Less than a day after NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully landed on the surface of Mars, engineers, and scientists at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California were hard at work, awaiting the next transmissions from Perseverance.

As data gradually came in, relayed by several spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, the Perseverance team were relieved to see the rover’s health reports, which showed everything appeared to be working as expected.

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA creates maps of Mars showing where near surface ice might be

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

Schlepping all that water to Mars would be costly and risky. That’s why NASA has engaged scientists and engineers since 2015 to identify deposits of Martian water ice that could be within reach of astronauts on the planet’s surface.

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

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NASA uses Artificial Intelligence to find new Craters on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Sometime between March 2010 and May 2012, a meteor streaked across the Martian sky and broke into pieces, slamming into the planet’s surface. The resulting craters were relatively small – just 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter.

The smaller the features, the more difficult they are to spot using Mars orbiters. But in this case – and for the first time – scientists spotted them with a little extra help: artificial intelligence (AI).

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter's Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter’s Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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NASA, Qatar Partnership to look for Buried Water in Earth’s Deserts

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Earth’s driest ecosystems are a study in extremes: They can be blazingly hot stretches of sand like the Sahara Desert or shatteringly cold expanses of ice such as those in Greenland and Antarctica.

These arid regions receive very little annual precipitation, and the effects of climate change in these ecosystems are poorly understood. A joint effort between NASA and the Qatar Foundation aims to address that – and, in the process, help communities that are being impacted by those changes.

Deserts like the Sahara harbor fresh water aquifers that can be affected by Earth's changing climate. The OASIS study project seeks to a establish a mission that would find and examine those aquifers. (NASA)

Deserts like the Sahara harbor fresh water aquifers that can be affected by Earth’s changing climate. The OASIS study project seeks to a establish a mission that would find and examine those aquifers. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter celebrates 15th Anniversary

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Since leaving Earth 15 years ago, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has reshaped our understanding of the Red Planet. The veteran spacecraft studies temperatures in Mars’ thin atmosphere, peers underground with radar, and detects minerals on the planet’s surface. But perhaps what it’s become best known for are stunning images.

Among its instruments, MRO carries three cameras: The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) has a fisheye lens that produces a daily global view. The Context Camera (CTX) provides 19-mile-wide (30-kilometer-wide) black-and-white terrain shots.

Five images taken by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched 15 years ago, on Aug. 12, 2005. Along with being a rich source of images for research, MRO studies atmospheric temperatures, peers underground with radar, and detects minerals on the planet's surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Five images taken by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched 15 years ago, on Aug. 12, 2005. Along with being a rich source of images for research, MRO studies atmospheric temperatures, peers underground with radar, and detects minerals on the planet’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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NASA maps Water Ice locations on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observes Dust thrust into the Sky from Storms on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says dust storms are common on Mars. But every decade or so, something unpredictable happens: A series of runaway storms breaks out, covering the entire planet in a dusty haze.

Last year, a fleet of NASA spacecraft got a detailed look at the life cycle of the 2018 global dust storm that ended the Opportunity rover’s mission. And while scientists are still puzzling over the data, two papers recently shed new light on a phenomenon observed within the storm: dust towers, or concentrated clouds of dust that warm in sunlight and rise high into the air.

Side-by-side movies shows how the 2018 global dust storm enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). This global dust storm caused NASA's Opportunity rover to lose contact with Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Side-by-side movies shows how the 2018 global dust storm enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). This global dust storm caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to lose contact with Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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