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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discover Ancient Oasis

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could travel back in time 3.5 billion years, what would Mars look like? The picture is evolving among scientists working with NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Imagine ponds dotting the floor of Gale Crater, the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin that Curiosity is exploring. Streams might have laced the crater’s walls, running toward its base. Watch history in fast forward, and you’d see these waterways overflow then dry up, a cycle that probably repeated itself numerous times over millions of years.

The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker" may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called “Old Soaker” may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA to help Mars InSight Lander’s Heat Probe dig

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander, which is on a mission to explore the deep interior of Mars, positioned its robotic arm this past weekend to assist the spacecraft’s self-hammering heat probe. Known as “the mole,” the probe has been unable to dig more than about 14 inches (35 centimeters) since it began burying itself into the ground on February 28th, 2019.

The maneuver is in preparation for a tactic, to be tried over several weeks, called “pinning.”

NASA InSight's robotic arm will use its scoop to pin the spacecraft's heat probe, or "mole," against the wall of its hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA InSight’s robotic arm will use its scoop to pin the spacecraft’s heat probe, or “mole,” against the wall of its hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA engineers test Mars 2020 Rover Descent Stage Separation

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In this picture from September 28th, 2019, NASA engineers and technicians working on the assembly and testing of the Mars 2020 spacecraft look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover. They’ve just completed a successful separation test at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Firing the pyrotechnic devices that held the rover and descent stage together and then doing the post-test inspection of the two vehicles was an all-day affair,” said Ryan van Schilifgaarde, a support engineer for Mars 2020 assembly at JPL.

In this picture from September 2th8, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover after a test. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this picture from September 2th8, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover after a test. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 Cassini mission data reveals New Organic Compounds in Enceladus Ice Grains

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New kinds of organic compounds, the ingredients of amino acids, have been detected in the plumes bursting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings are the result of the ongoing deep dive into data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Powerful hydrothermal vents eject material from Enceladus’ core, which mixes with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean before it is released into space as water vapor and ice grains. The newly discovered molecules, condensed onto the ice grains, were determined to be nitrogen- and oxygen-bearing compounds.

In this image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini's viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

In this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini’s viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s InSight Lander Hears a variety of Sounds on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”

The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.

Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA's InSight lander, on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA’s InSight lander, on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures image of Cloud of Gas, Dust full of Bubbles

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows a cloud of gas and dust full of bubbles, which are inflated by wind and radiation from young, massive stars. Each bubble is filled with hundreds to thousands of stars, which form from dense clouds of gas and dust.

The bubbles are estimated to be 10 to 30 light-years across, based on what astronomers know about them and other cosmic bubbles. However, determining the exact sizes of individual bubbles can be difficult, because their distance from Earth is challenging to measure and objects appear smaller the farther away they are.

This cloud of gas and dust in space is full of bubbles inflated by wind and radiation from massive young stars. Each bubble is about 10 to 30 light-years across and filled with hundreds to thousands of stars. The region lies in the Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Aquila (aka the Eagle). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This cloud of gas and dust in space is full of bubbles inflated by wind and radiation from massive young stars. Each bubble is about 10 to 30 light-years across and filled with hundreds to thousands of stars. The region lies in the Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Aquila (aka the Eagle). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA makes Highly Accurate GPS Possible

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Navigating to within three inches of your destination is made possible by algorithms and software developed by NASA. These power a NASA system that augments the raw navigation signals provided by the U.S. Air Force’s GPS satellites to support airplane navigation around the world, direct emergency responders and, soon, guide self-driving cars.

The Air Force began launching global positioning satellites in 1978, and it continues to operate and maintain the satellite network to this day. But over the decades, NASA has played a critical role in improving the system we rely on in our daily lives.

Google Maps Navigation software running as an app on a Samsung S6 smartphone, mounted above a car dashboard to provide driving directions. (NASA)

Google Maps Navigation software running as an app on a Samsung S6 smartphone, mounted above a car dashboard to provide driving directions. (NASA)

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NASA Space Telescopes discover Three Black Holes on Collision Course

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says astronomers have spotted three giant black holes within a titanic collision of three galaxies. The unusual system was captured by several observatories, including three NASA space telescopes.

“We were only looking for pairs of black holes at the time, and yet, through our selection technique, we stumbled upon this amazing system,” said Ryan Pfeifle of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the first author of a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal describing these results. “This is the strongest evidence yet found for such a triple system of actively feeding supermassive black holes.”

X-ray. (NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./R. Pfeifle et al.; Optical: SDSS & NASA/STScI)

X-ray. (NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./R. Pfeifle et al.; Optical: SDSS & NASA/STScI)

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NASA’s planet hunting TESS Satellite discovers Black Hole ripping apart a Star

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – For the first time, NASA’s planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) watched a black hole tear apart a star in a cataclysmic phenomenon called a tidal disruption event. Follow-up observations by NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and other facilities have produced the most detailed look yet at the early moments of one of these star-destroying occurrences.

“TESS data let us see exactly when this destructive event, named ASASSN-19bt, started to get brighter, which we’ve never been able to do before,” said Thomas Holoien, a Carnegie Fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California.

This illustration shows a tidal disruption, which occurs when a passing star gets too close to a black hole and is torn apart into a stream of gas. Some of the gas eventually settles into a structure around the black hole called an accretion disk. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This illustration shows a tidal disruption, which occurs when a passing star gets too close to a black hole and is torn apart into a stream of gas. Some of the gas eventually settles into a structure around the black hole called an accretion disk. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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