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Topic: Protoplanet

NASA states Subsurface Lake may exist at Mar’s South Pole

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that a new paper published in Science this week suggests that liquid water may be sitting under a layer of ice at Mars’ south pole.

The finding is based on data from the European Mars Express spacecraft, obtained by a radar instrument called MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding). The Italian Space Agency (ASI) led the development of the MARSIS radar. NASA provided half of the instrument, with management of the U.S. portion led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The view of Mars shown here was assembled from MOC daily global images obtained on May 12th, 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

The view of Mars shown here was assembled from MOC daily global images obtained on May 12th, 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft delivers detailed photos of Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres.

Dawn took these images near its current altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Ceres, between December 19th and 23rd, 2015.

Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres, shows off many fascinating attributes at the high image resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel. The crater has bright material exposed on its rim, which could be salts, and its flat floor likely formed from impact melt and debris.

This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows Kupalo Crater, one of the youngest craters on Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captures high detail photos of Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau / Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The brightest spots on the dwarf planet Ceres gleam with mystery in new views delivered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. These closest-yet views of Occator crater, with a resolution of 450 feet (140 meters) per pixel, give scientists a deeper perspective on these very unusual features.

The new up-close view of Occator crater from Dawn’s current vantage point reveals better-defined shapes of the brightest, central spot and features on the crater floor. Because these spots are so much brighter than the rest of Ceres’ surface, the Dawn team combined two different images into a single composite view — one properly exposed for the bright spots, and one for the surrounding surface.

This image, made using images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, shows Occator crater on Ceres, home to a collection of intriguing bright spots. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image, made using images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, shows Occator crater on Ceres, home to a collection of intriguing bright spots. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft data shows evidence that Vesta may have had Water at one time

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its surface.

However, a new study shows evidence that Vesta may have had short-lived flows of water-mobilized material on its surface, based on data from Dawn.

“Nobody expected to find evidence of water on Vesta. The surface is very cold and there is no atmosphere, so any water on the surface evaporates,” said Jennifer Scully, postgraduate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. “However, Vesta is proving to be a very interesting and complex planetary body.”

This image shows Cornelia Crater on the large asteroid Vesta. On the right is an inset image showing an example of curved gullies, indicated by the short white arrows, and a fan-shaped deposit, indicated by long white arrows. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image shows Cornelia Crater on the large asteroid Vesta. On the right is an inset image showing an example of curved gullies, indicated by the short white arrows, and a fan-shaped deposit, indicated by long white arrows. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft out of Safe Mode and back to Normal Operational State

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11th. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned communication with NASA’s Deep Space Network that morning. The spacecraft was not performing any special activities at the time.

Engineers immediately began working to restore the spacecraft to its normal operational state. The team determined the source of the problems, corrected them, and then resumed normal ion thrusting on Monday night, September 15th.

Artist concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres during an upcoming flyby. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

Artist concept of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres during an upcoming flyby. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft nears half way point to dwarf planet Ceres

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It’s going to be a ball when NASA’s Dawn spacecraft finally arrives at the dwarf planet Ceres, and mission managers have now inked in the schedule on Dawn’s dance card.

Dawn has been cruising toward Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, since September 2012. That’s when it departed from its first dance partner, Vesta.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn spent nearly 14 months orbiting Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, from 2011 to 2012. It is heading towards Ceres, the largest member of the asteroid belt. When Dawn arrives, it will be the first spacecraft to go into orbit around two destinations in our solar system beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn spent nearly 14 months orbiting Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, from 2011 to 2012. It is heading towards Ceres, the largest member of the asteroid belt. When Dawn arrives, it will be the first spacecraft to go into orbit around two destinations in our solar system beyond Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn mission photos used to make atlas of Asteroid Vesta

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An atlas of the giant asteroid Vesta, created from images taken as NASA’s Dawn mission flew around the object (also known as a protoplanet), is now accessible for the public to explore online. The set of maps was created from mosaics of 10,000 images taken by Dawn’s framing camera instrument at a low altitude of about 130 miles (210 kilometers).

The maps are mostly at a scale about that of regional road-touring maps, where every inch of map is equivalent to a little more than 3 miles of asteroid (1 centimeter equals 2 kilometers).

If you could drive a car around the giant Asteroid Vesta, you would need a road map akin to the atlas of images released from NASA's Dawn mission. Twenty-nine new maps of the asteroid, one of which is shown here, show its mountains and craters at a scale similar to that of common road maps. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

If you could drive a car around the giant Asteroid Vesta, you would need a road map akin to the atlas of images released from NASA’s Dawn mission. Twenty-nine new maps of the asteroid, one of which is shown here, show its mountains and craters at a scale similar to that of common road maps. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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Data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft data reveals changing surface on Giant Asteroid Vesta

 

Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Like a Hollywood starlet constantly retouching her makeup, the giant asteroid Vesta is constantly stirring its outermost layer to present a young face. Data from NASA’s Dawn mission show that a form of weathering that occurs on the moon and other airless bodies we’ve visited in the inner solar system does not alter Vesta’s outermost layer in the same way.

Carbon-rich asteroids have also been splattering dark material on Vesta’s surface over a long span of the body’s history. The results are described in two papers released today in the journal Nature.

This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows a close up of part of the rim around the crater Canuleia on the giant asteroid Vesta. Canuleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter, is the large crater at the bottom-left of this image. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/PSI/Brown)

This image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows a close up of part of the rim around the crater Canuleia on the giant asteroid Vesta. Canuleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter, is the large crater at the bottom-left of this image. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/PSI/Brown)

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