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Topic: NASA’s New Frontiers Program

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft works with Hubble Telescope, Gemini Observatory to examine Atmosphere of Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms in the solar system, taking place more than 500 million miles away on the giant planet Jupiter.

A team of researchers led by Michael Wong at the University of California, Berkeley, and including Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Imke de Pater also of UC Berkeley, are combining multiwavelength observations from Hubble and Gemini with close-up views from Juno’s orbit about the monster planet, gaining new insights into turbulent weather on this distant world.

This graphic shows observations and interpretations of cloud structures and atmospheric circulation on Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory. By combining the Juno, Hubble and Gemini data, researchers are able to see that lightning flashes are clustered in turbulent regions where there are deep water clouds and where moist air is rising to form tall convective towers similar to cumulonimbus clouds (thunderheads) on Earth. (NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley), A. James and M.W. Carruthers (STScI), and S. Brown (JPL))

This graphic shows observations and interpretations of cloud structures and atmospheric circulation on Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory. By combining the Juno, Hubble and Gemini data, researchers are able to see that lightning flashes are clustered in turbulent regions where there are deep water clouds and where moist air is rising to form tall convective towers similar to cumulonimbus clouds (thunderheads) on Earth. (NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley), A. James and M.W. Carruthers (STScI), and S. Brown (JPL))

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft searches Asteroid Bennu’s surface for safe areas to land

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – This summer, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will undertake NASA’s first-ever attempt to touch the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample of it, and safely back away. But since arriving at asteroid Bennu over a year ago, the mission team has been tackling an unexpected challenge: how to accomplish this feat at an asteroid whose surface is blanketed in building-sized boulders.

Using these hazardous boulders as signposts, the mission team developed a new precision navigation method to overcome the challenge.

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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Student built instrument onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft detects new Black Hole

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – University students and researchers working on a NASA mission orbiting a near-Earth asteroid have made an unexpected detection of a phenomenon 30 thousand light years away. Last fall, the student-built Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft detected a newly flaring black hole in the constellation Columba while making observations off the limb of asteroid Bennu.

REXIS, a shoebox-sized student instrument, was designed to measure the X-rays that Bennu emits in response to incoming solar radiation. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, like visible light, but with much higher energy.

This image shows the X-ray outburst from the black hole MAXI J0637-043, detected by the REXIS instrument on NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The image was constructed using data collected by the X-ray spectrometer while REXIS was making observations of the space around asteroid Bennu on Nov. 11, 2019. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard)

This image shows the X-ray outburst from the black hole MAXI J0637-043, detected by the REXIS instrument on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The image was constructed using data collected by the X-ray spectrometer while REXIS was making observations of the space around asteroid Bennu on Nov. 11, 2019. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft data reveals amount of Water in Jupiter’s Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno mission has provided its first science results on the amount of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy, the Juno results estimate that at the equator, water makes up about 0.25% of the molecules in Jupiter’s atmosphere – almost three times that of the Sun.

These are also the first findings on the gas giant’s abundance of water since the agency’s 1995 Galileo mission suggested Jupiter might be extremely dry compared to the Sun (the comparison is based not on liquid water but on the presence of its components, oxygen and hydrogen, present in the Sun).

The JunoCam imager aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this image of Jupiter's southern equatorial region on Sept. 1, 2017. The image is oriented so Jupiter's poles (not visible) run left-to-right of frame. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

The JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this image of Jupiter’s southern equatorial region on Sept. 1, 2017. The image is oriented so Jupiter’s poles (not visible) run left-to-right of frame. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

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NASA picks spot on Asteroid Bennu to collect Samples

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After a year scoping out asteroid Bennu’s boulder-scattered surface, the team leading NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission has officially selected a sample collection site.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission team concluded a site designated “Nightingale” – located in a crater high in Bennu’s northern hemisphere – is the best spot for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to snag its sample.

This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft discovers new Cyclone on Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says Jupiter’s south pole has a new cyclone. The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on November 3rd, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops.

The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.

A new, smaller cyclone can be seen at the lower right of this infrared image of Jupiter's south pole taken on November 4th, 2019, during the 23rd science pass of the planet by NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

A new, smaller cyclone can be seen at the lower right of this infrared image of Jupiter’s south pole taken on November 4th, 2019, during the 23rd science pass of the planet by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft offers insight into Particles being ejected from Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft’s navigation cameras taken on January 6th, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft maneuvers to avoid Jupiter’s Shadow

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Last night, NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter successfully executed a 10.5-hour propulsive maneuver – extraordinarily long by mission standards. The goal of the burn, as it’s known, will keep the solar-powered spacecraft out of what would have been a mission-ending shadow cast by Jupiter on the spacecraft during its next close flyby of the planet on November 3rd, 2019.

Juno began the maneuver yesterday, on September 30th, at 6:46pm CDT (4:46pm PDT) and completed it early on October 1st. Using the spacecraft’s reaction-control thrusters, the propulsive maneuver lasted five times longer than any previous use of that system.

This picture depicts the point of view of NASA's Juno spacecraft during its eclipse-free approach to the gas giant November 3rd, 2019. The Sun is depicted as the yellow dot rising up just to left of the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI)

This picture depicts the point of view of NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its eclipse-free approach to the gas giant November 3rd, 2019. The Sun is depicted as the yellow dot rising up just to left of the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft discovers Changes in Magnetic Field of Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first definitive detection beyond our world of an internal magnetic field that changes over time was detected during NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. It’s a phenomenon called secular variation. The gas giant’s secular variation is most likely driven by the planet’s deep atmospheric winds, Juno determined.

The discovery will help scientists further understand Jupiter’s interior structure – including atmospheric dynamics – as well as changes in Earth’s magnetic field. A paper on the discovery was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter's magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter’s magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft discovers plumes erupting on asteroid Bennu

 

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NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. 

Bennu is the target of NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31st. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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