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Topic: Solar System

NASA’s Voyage to Moon was Difficult but reaped Huge Benefits

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – When President John F. Kennedy said going to the Moon was hard, he wasn’t kidding

Much of the technology needed to get to the lunar surface and return didn’t exist at the time of Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech. And much was unknown. As NASA’s Apollo missions were being planned, there was concern that the lunar module might sink right into the surface or become stuck in it.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon near a leg of the lunar module during Apollo 11. (NASA)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon near a leg of the lunar module during Apollo 11. (NASA)

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NASA Dragonfly rotorcraft lander to fly around Saturn’s moon Titan exploring

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Saturn’s moon Titan will be the next destination for NASA in our solar system. Titan is the unique, richly organic world. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.

NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon.

This illustration shows NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly will explore dozens of locations across the icy world, sampling and measuring the compositions of Titan's organic surface materials to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. (NASA/JHU-APL)

This illustration shows NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly will explore dozens of locations across the icy world, sampling and measuring the compositions of Titan’s organic surface materials to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry. (NASA/JHU-APL)

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NASA’s Starshade technology to aid observations of far off Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the feat of staying highly synchronized while airborne can be appreciated by anyone who’s ever seen aircraft engaged in formation flying. In work sponsored by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are taking formation flying to a new extreme.

Their work marks an important milestone within a larger program to test the feasibility of a technology called a starshade. Although starshades have never flown in space, they hold the potential to enable groundbreaking observations of planets beyond our solar system, including pictures of planets as small as Earth.

This artist's concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the geometry of a space telescope aligned with a starshade, a technology used to block starlight in order to reveal the presence of planets orbiting that star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Scientist may have discovered way to detect Life Friendly Climates on Other Worlds

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says scientists may have found a way to tell if alien worlds have a climate that is suitable for life by analyzing the light from these worlds for special signatures that are characteristic of a life-friendly environment.

This technique could reveal the inner edge of a star’s habitable zone, the region around a star where liquid water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet.

“Habitable planets by definition have water on their surfaces,” said Eric Wolf of the University of Colorado, Boulder. “However, water can come in the forms of ocean, ice, snow, vapor, or cloud. Each of these forms of water have very different effects on climate. ”

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist rendering of a red dwarf or M star, with three exoplanets orbiting. About 75 percent of all stars in the sky are the cooler, smaller red dwarfs. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says new data suggests Earth’s Water came from Comets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – According to NASA, the mystery of why Earth has so much water, allowing our “blue marble” to support an astounding array of life, is clearer with new research into comets.

Comets are like snowballs of rock, dust, ice, and other frozen chemicals that vaporize as they get closer to the Sun, producing the tails seen in images.

A new study reveals that the water in many comets may share a common origin with Earth’s oceans, reinforcing the idea that comets played a key role in bringing water to our planet billions of years ago.

Illustration of a comet, ice grains and Earth's oceans. SOFIA found clues in Comet Wirtanen's ice grains that suggest water in comets and Earth's oceans may share a common origin. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Cook/L. Proudfit)

Illustration of a comet, ice grains and Earth’s oceans. SOFIA found clues in Comet Wirtanen’s ice grains that suggest water in comets and Earth’s oceans may share a common origin. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Cook/L. Proudfit)

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Two Austin Peay State University graduates win National Science Foundation fellowships

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Two recently graduated Austin Peay State University (APSU) science students have earned National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.

National Science Foundation fellow Deborah Gulledge inside Austin Peay State Univeristy's planetarium.

National Science Foundation fellow Deborah Gulledge inside Austin Peay State Univeristy’s planetarium.

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NASA’s latest instrument to probe Uranus, Neptune’s Atmospheres

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Much has changed technologically since NASA’s Galileo mission dropped a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere to investigate, among other things, the heat engine driving the gas giant’s atmospheric circulation.

A NASA scientist and his team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are taking advantage of those advances to mature a smaller, more capable net flux radiometer. This type of instrument tells scientists where heating and cooling occurs in a planet’s atmosphere and defines the roles of solar and internal heat sources that contribute to atmospheric motions.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon, Triton, in the summer of 1989. This image, taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet, shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as Voyager’s cameras could resolve them. (NASA)

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

 

NASA Headquarters

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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NASA studies Dust in our Solar System

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Just as dust gathers in corners and along bookshelves in our homes, dust piles up in space too. But when the dust settles in the solar system, it’s often in rings. Several dust rings circle the Sun. The rings trace the orbits of planets, whose gravity tugs dust into place around the Sun, as it drifts by on its way to the center of the solar system.

The dust consists of crushed-up remains from the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago — rubble from asteroid collisions or crumbs from blazing comets.

In this illustration, several dust rings circle the Sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the Sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

In this illustration, several dust rings circle the Sun. These rings form when planets’ gravities tug dust grains into orbit around the Sun. Recently, scientists have detected a dust ring at Mercury’s orbit. Others hypothesize the source of Venus’ dust ring is a group of never-before-detected co-orbital asteroids. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

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NASA Researchers are creating Alien Atmospheres on Earth

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth. In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava.

The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”

This artist's concept shows planet KELT-9b, an example of a "hot Jupiter," or a gas giant planet orbiting very close to its parent star. KELT-9b is an extreme example of a hot Jupiter, with dayside temperatures reaching 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,300 Celcius). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows planet KELT-9b, an example of a “hot Jupiter,” or a gas giant planet orbiting very close to its parent star. KELT-9b is an extreme example of a hot Jupiter, with dayside temperatures reaching 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,300 Celcius). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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