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Topic: NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

NASA Scientists take new look at Voyager 2 Data, Find new Discovery about Uranus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eight and a half years into its grand tour of the solar system, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was ready for another encounter. It was January 24th, 1986, and soon it would meet the mysterious seventh planet, icy-cold Uranus.

Over the next few hours, Voyager 2 flew within 50,600 miles (81,433 kilometers) of Uranus’ cloud tops, collecting data that revealed two new rings, 11 new moons and temperatures below minus 353 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 214 degrees Celsius). The dataset is still the only up-close measurements we have ever made of the planet.

Voyager 2 took this image as it approached the planet Uranus on Jan. 14, 1986. The planet's hazy bluish color is due to the methane in its atmosphere, which absorbs red wavelengths of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Voyager 2 took this image as it approached the planet Uranus on Jan. 14, 1986. The planet’s hazy bluish color is due to the methane in its atmosphere, which absorbs red wavelengths of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientists use GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data to examine Ice Loss in Greenland, Antarctica

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – According to NASA, during the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.

Led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine, the study also concludes that Antarctica continues to lose mass, particularly in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Antarctic Peninsula on the western part of the continent; however, those losses have been partially offset by gains from increased snowfall in the northeast.

Greenland's Steenstrup Glacier, with the midmorning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. (NASA/Operation IceBridge)

Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier, with the midmorning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. (NASA/Operation IceBridge)

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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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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 measures Carbon Dioxide in Urban Areas

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA/university study of carbon dioxide emissions for 20 major cities around the world provides the first direct, satellite-based evidence that as a city’s population density increases, the carbon dioxide it emits per person declines, with some notable exceptions.

The study also demonstrates how satellite measurements of this powerful greenhouse gas can give fast-growing cities new tools to track carbon dioxide emissions and assess the impact of policy changes and infrastructure improvements on their energy efficiency.

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) measures the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over areas like Las Vegas, Nevada, to help researchers better characterize the sources and sinks of the greenhouse gas. (Bert Kaufmann/CC BY-SA)

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) measures the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over areas like Las Vegas, Nevada, to help researchers better characterize the sources and sinks of the greenhouse gas. (Bert Kaufmann/CC BY-SA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover takes highest resolution panorama to date

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover has captured its highest-resolution panorama yet of the Martian surface. Composed of more than 1,000 images taken during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday and carefully assembled over the ensuing months, the composite contains 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape.

The rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam, used its telephoto lens to produce the panorama; meanwhile, it relied on its medium-angle lens to produce a lower-resolution, nearly 650-million-pixel panorama that includes the rover’s deck and robotic arm.

NASA's Curiosity rover captured its highest-resolution panorama of the Martian surface between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover captured its highest-resolution panorama of the Martian surface between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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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 InSight Lander provides deeper understand of Mars in it’s first year

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new understanding of Mars is beginning to emerge, thanks to the first year of NASA’s InSight lander mission. Findings described in a set of six papers published today reveal a planet alive with quakes, dust devils and strange magnetic pulses.

Five of the papers were published in Nature. An additional paper in Nature Geoscience details the InSight spacecraft’s landing site, a shallow crater nicknamed “Homestead hollow” in a region called Elysium Planitia.

In this artist's concept of NASA's InSight lander on Mars, layers of the planet's subsurface can be seen below and dust devils can be seen in the background. (IPGP/Nicolas Sarter)

In this artist’s concept of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, layers of the planet’s subsurface can be seen below and dust devils can be seen in the background. (IPGP/Nicolas Sarter)

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NASA maneuvers Mars InSight Landers’ robotic arm to press down on the “Mole”

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After nearly a year of trying to dig into the Martian surface, the heat probe belonging to NASA’s InSight lander is about to get a push. The mission team plans to command the scoop on InSight’s robotic arm to press down on the “mole,” the mini pile driver designed to hammer itself as much as 16 feet (5 meters) down.

They hope that pushing down on the mole’s top, also called the back cap, will keep it from backing out of its hole on Mars, as it did twice in recent months after nearly burying itself.

This test using an engineering model of the InSight lander here on Earth shows how the spacecraft on Mars will use its robotic arm to press on a digging device, called the "mole." (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This test using an engineering model of the InSight lander here on Earth shows how the spacecraft on Mars will use its robotic arm to press on a digging device, called the “mole.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover mission gains two Return Sample Scientists

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the fall of 2019, the Mars 2020 rover team welcomed ten members to serve as Returned Sample Science Participating Scientists.

Scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet, the Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of past microbial life, characterizing the planet’s climate and geology, and will be the first planetary mission to collect and cache Martian rock core and dust samples.

This artist's concept depicts NASA's Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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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