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NASA’s Perseverance Rover to collect Mars’ Rock, Dust in Sample Tubes

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The tubes carried in the belly of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover are destined to carry the first samples in history from another planet back to Earth.

Future scientists will use these carefully selected representatives of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) to look for evidence of potential microbial life present in Mars’ ancient past and to answer other key questions about Mars and its history. Perseverance will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18th, 2021.

A tray holding 39 sample tubes - each protected in a gold-colored sheath - is installed in NASA's Perseverance rover in this picture taken at the agency's Kennedy Space Center on May 21st, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC)

A tray holding 39 sample tubes – each protected in a gold-colored sheath – is installed in NASA’s Perseverance rover in this picture taken at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center on May 21st, 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC)

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SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft launched Thursday heading to International Space Station with NASA Science Equipment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 11:29am CST Thursday, (December 5th, 2019. Dragon will deliver more than 5,700 pounds of NASA cargo and science investigations, including studies of malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire, and bone and muscle loss.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost on Sunday, December 8th. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at the space station will begin at 3:30am CST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

SpaceX launches its 19th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station at 11:29pm CST December 5th, 2019, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Upgraded science hardware for the Cold Atom Lab - built and operated by JPL- is among the cargo. (NASA TV)

SpaceX launches its 19th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station at 11:29pm CST December 5th, 2019, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Upgraded science hardware for the Cold Atom Lab – built and operated by JPL- is among the cargo. (NASA TV)

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NASA uses Cassini Spacecraft data to determine length of a Day on Saturn

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, researchers believe they have solved a longstanding mystery of solar system science: the length of a day on Saturn. It’s 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

The figure has eluded planetary scientists for decades, because the gas giant has no solid surface with landmarks to track as it rotates, and it has an unusual magnetic field that hides the planet’s rotation rate.

The answer, it turned out, was hidden in the rings.

A view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

A view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016 as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice. A year on Saturn is 29 Earth years; days only last 10:33:38, according to a new analysis of Cassini data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA reports Three Radio Telescopes discover Double Asteroid

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New observations by three of the world’s largest radio telescopes have revealed that an asteroid discovered last year is actually two objects, each about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in size, orbiting each other.

Near-Earth asteroid 2017 YE5 was discovered with observations provided by the Morocco Oukaimeden Sky Survey on December 21st, 2017, but no details about the asteroid’s physical properties were known until the end of June. This is only the fourth “equal mass” binary near-Earth asteroid ever detected, consisting of two objects nearly identical in size, orbiting each other. The new observations provide the most detailed images ever obtained of this type of binary asteroid.

Artist's concept of what binary asteroid 2017 YE5 might look like. The two objects showed striking differences in radar reflectivity, which could indicate that they have different surface properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of what binary asteroid 2017 YE5 might look like. The two objects showed striking differences in radar reflectivity, which could indicate that they have different surface properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft observes Mystery Cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Located in Titan’s stratosphere, the cloud is made of a compound of carbon and nitrogen known as dicyanoacetylene (C4N2), an ingredient in the chemical cocktail that colors the giant moon’s hazy, brownish-orange atmosphere.

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover now picking rock targets for Laser by itself

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is now selecting rock targets for its laser spectrometer — the first time autonomous target selection is available for an instrument of this kind on any robotic planetary mission.

Using software developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Curiosity is now frequently choosing multiple targets per week for a laser and a telescopic camera that are parts of the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument. Most ChemCam targets are still selected by scientists discussing rocks or soil seen in images the rover has sent to Earth, but the autonomous targeting adds a new capability.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some targets for the laser and telescopic camera of its ChemCam instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the Navcam image at left, chose the target indicated with a yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam for laser shots and the image at right. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some targets for the laser and telescopic camera of its ChemCam instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the Navcam image at left, chose the target indicated with a yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam for laser shots and the image at right. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS)

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NASA Scientist tries to answer the question, “How did Life get it’s start on Earth?”

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How did life on Earth get started? Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, strengthen the case that Earth’s first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans.

Scientists are interested in understanding early life on Earth because if we ever hope to find life on other worlds — especially icy worlds with subsurface oceans such as Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus — we need to know what chemical signatures to look for.

This image from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean shows a collection of limestone towers known as the "Lost City." Alkaline hydrothermal vents of this type are suggested to be the birthplace of the first living organisms on the ancient Earth.  (Image courtesy D. Kelley and M. Elend/University of Washington)

This image from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean shows a collection of limestone towers known as the “Lost City.” Alkaline hydrothermal vents of this type are suggested to be the birthplace of the first living organisms on the ancient Earth. (Image courtesy D. Kelley and M. Elend/University of Washington)

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