Topic: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
Pasadena, CA – What remains of the star that exploded just outside our galaxy in 1987? Debris has obscured scientists’ view, but two of NASA’s X-ray telescopes have revealed new clues.
Since astronomers captured the bright explosion of a star on February 24th, 1987, researchers have been searching for the squashed stellar core that should have been left behind. A group of astronomers using data from NASA space missions and ground-based telescopes may have finally found it.
As dust collects on the solar panels and winter comes to Elysium Planitia, the team is following a plan to reduce science operations in order to keep the lander safe.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander recently received a mission extension for another two years, giving it time to detect more quakes, dust devils, and other phenomena on the surface of Mars.
While the mission team plans to continue collecting data well into 2022, the increasing dustiness of the spacecraft’s solar panels and the onset of the Martian winter led to a decision to conserve power and temporarily limit the operation of its instruments.
How two new technologies will help Perseverance, NASA’s most sophisticated rover yet, touch down onto the surface of Mars this month.
Pasadena, CA – After a nearly seven-month journey to Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover is slated to land at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater on February 18th, 2021, a rugged expanse chosen for its scientific research and sample collection possibilities.
But the very features that make the site fascinating to scientists also make it a relatively dangerous place to land – a challenge that has motivated rigorous testing here on Earth for the lander vision system (LVS) that the rover will count on to safely touch down.
Huntsville, AL – NASA is targeting the final test in the Green Run series, the hot fire, for as early as January 17th, 2021. The hot fire is the culmination of the Green Run test series, an eight-part test campaign that gradually brings the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the deep-space rocket that will power the agency’s next-generation human Moon missions — to life for the first time.
NASA conducted the seventh test of the SLS core stage Green Run test series – the wet dress rehearsal – on December 20th at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and marked the first time cryogenic, or super cold, liquid propellant was fully loaded into, and drained from, the SLS core stage’s two immense tanks.
Pasadena, CA – The heat probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed on Mars by NASA’s InSight lander has ended its portion of the mission.
Since February 28th, 2019, the probe, called the “mole,” has been attempting to burrow into the Martian surface to take the planet’s internal temperature, providing details about the interior heat engine that drives Mars’ evolution and geology. But the soil’s unexpected tendency to clump deprived the spike-like mole of the friction it needs to hammer itself to a sufficient depth.
Pasadena, CA – NASA has authorized a mission extension for its Juno spacecraft exploring Jupiter. The agency’s most distant planetary orbiter will now continue its investigation of the solar system’s largest planet through September 2025, or until the spacecraft’s end of life.
This expansion tasks Juno with becoming an explorer of the full Jovian system – Jupiter and its rings and moons – with multiple rendezvous planned for three of Jupiter’s most intriguing Galilean moons: Ganymede, Europa, and Io.
Washington, D.C. – NASA has chosen four small-scale astrophysics missions for further concept development in a new program called Pioneers. Through small satellites and scientific balloons, these selections enable new platforms for exploring cosmic phenomena such as galaxy evolution, exoplanets, high-energy neutrinos, and neutron star mergers.
“The principal investigators of these concept studies bring innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to the problem of how to do high-impact astrophysics experiments on a small budget,” said Thomas H. Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Each of the proposed experiments would do something no other NASA telescope or mission can do, filling important gaps in our understanding of the universe as a whole.”
Huntsville, AL – Future lunar landers might come equipped with 3D printed rocket engine parts that help bring down overall manufacturing costs and reduce production time. NASA is investing in advanced manufacturing – one of five industries of the future – to make it possible.
Through a series of hot-fire tests in November, NASA demonstrated that two additively manufactured engine components – a copper alloy combustion chamber and nozzle made of high-strength hydrogen resistant alloy – could withstand the same extreme combustion environments that traditionally manufactured metal structures experience in flight.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA reports that researchers may have found the long-sought “nanoflares” thought to heat the solar corona to its incredible temperatures.
A new study published in Nature Astronomy marks the first time researchers have captured the full lifecycle of a putative nanoflare – from bright origins to blistering demise.
Nanoflares are tiny eruptions on the Sun, one-billionth the size of normal solar flares. Eugene Parker – of Parker Solar Probe fame – first predicted them in 1972 to solve a major puzzle: the coronal heating problem.
Despite searching with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have no evidence that a distant black hole estimated to weigh between 3 billion and 100 billion times the mass of the Sun is anywhere to be found.
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