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Topic: Southwest Research Institute

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft data reveals Shallow Lightning, Mushballs on Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New results from NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter suggest our solar system’s largest planet is home to what’s called “shallow lightning.” An unexpected form of electrical discharge, shallow lightning originates from clouds containing an ammonia-water solution, whereas lightning on Earth originates from water clouds.

Other new findings suggest the violent thunderstorms for which the gas giant is known may form slushy ammonia-rich hailstones Juno’s science team calls “mushballs”; they theorize that mushballs essentially kidnap ammonia and water in the upper atmosphere and carry them into the depths of Jupiter’s atmosphere.

This illustration uses data obtained by NASA's Juno mission to depict high-altitude electrical storms on Jupiter. Juno's sensitive Stellar Reference Unit camera detected unusual lightning flashes on Jupiter's dark side during the spacecraft's close flybys of the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt)

This illustration uses data obtained by NASA’s Juno mission to depict high-altitude electrical storms on Jupiter. Juno’s sensitive Stellar Reference Unit camera detected unusual lightning flashes on Jupiter’s dark side during the spacecraft’s close flybys of the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission Passes Critical Mission Milestone

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Lucy mission last week marked the completion of a major milestone on the path to spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations.

The Systems Integration Review ensured segments, components, and subsystems, scientific instrumentation, electrical and communication systems, and navigation systems are on schedule to be integrated into the system. It confirmed that facilities, support personnel, and plans and procedures are on schedule to support integration.

NASA's Lucy spacecraft poses in front of the orbit trajectory for her 12-year mission to study the Trojan Asteroids. Lucy will be featured in her own cartoon series coming soon. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft poses in front of the orbit trajectory for her 12-year mission to study the Trojan Asteroids. Lucy will be featured in her own cartoon series coming soon. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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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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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft data reveals Critical Information about Planetary Formation

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data from NASA’s New Horizons mission are providing new insights into how planets and planetesimals – the building blocks of the planets – were formed. 

The New Horizons spacecraft flew past the ancient Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth (2014 MU69) on January 1st, 2019, providing humankind’s first close-up look at one of the icy remnants of solar system formation in the vast region beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The uniform color and composition of Arrokoth’s surface shows the Kuiper Belt object formed from a small, uniform, cloud of material in the solar nebula, rather than a mishmash of matter from more separated parts of the nebula. The former supports the idea that Arrokoth formed in a local collapse of a cloud in the solar nebula. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

The uniform color and composition of Arrokoth’s surface shows the Kuiper Belt object formed from a small, uniform, cloud of material in the solar nebula, rather than a mishmash of matter from more separated parts of the nebula. The former supports the idea that Arrokoth formed in a local collapse of a cloud in the solar nebula. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft discovers new Cyclone on Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says Jupiter’s south pole has a new cyclone. The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on November 3rd, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops.

The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.

A new, smaller cyclone can be seen at the lower right of this infrared image of Jupiter's south pole taken on November 4th, 2019, during the 23rd science pass of the planet by NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

A new, smaller cyclone can be seen at the lower right of this infrared image of Jupiter’s south pole taken on November 4th, 2019, during the 23rd science pass of the planet by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission completes Critcal Design Review

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On Friday, October 18th, 2019,  NASA’s Lucy mission successfully completed its Critical Design Review.

During this review, Lucy team members presented the completed mission design, demonstrating that the team has met all the technical challenges of the mission and is ready to begin building hardware. After the review completion, NASA’s independent review board provided a green light for proceeding into the fabrication/manufacturing stage of the mission.

Artist's concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

Artist’s concept of Lucy Mission. (SwRI)

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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 Juno spacecraft discovers Changes in Magnetic Field of Jupiter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The first definitive detection beyond our world of an internal magnetic field that changes over time was detected during NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. It’s a phenomenon called secular variation. The gas giant’s secular variation is most likely driven by the planet’s deep atmospheric winds, Juno determined.

The discovery will help scientists further understand Jupiter’s interior structure – including atmospheric dynamics – as well as changes in Earth’s magnetic field. A paper on the discovery was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter's magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

This still from an animation illustrates Jupiter’s magnetic field at a single moment in time. The Great Blue Spot, an-invisible-to-the-eye concentration of magnetic field near the equator, stands out as a particularly strong feature. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard/Moore et al.)

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter observes Water Movement on the Moon

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists have observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon.

A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) measurements of the sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.

Up until the last decade or so, scientists thought the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

View of the Moon. (NASA)

View of the Moon. (NASA)

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NASA Finds Possible Second Impact Crater Under Greenland Ice

 

Written By Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – This follows the finding, announced in November 2018, of a 19-mile-wide crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier – the first meteorite impact crater ever discovered under Earth’s ice sheets. Though the newly found impact sites in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, at present they do not appear to have formed at the same time.

If the second crater, which has a width of over 22 miles, is ultimately confirmed as the result of a meteorite impact, it will be the 22nd largest impact crater found on Earth.

Just 114 miles from the newly-found Hiawatha impact crater under the ice of northwest Greenland, lies a possible second impact crater. The 22-mile wide feature would be the second crater found under an ice sheet, and if confirmed, would be the 22nd-largest crater on Earth. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ Jefferson Beck)

Just 114 miles from the newly-found Hiawatha impact crater under the ice of northwest Greenland, lies a possible second impact crater. The 22-mile wide feature would be the second crater found under an ice sheet, and if confirmed, would be the 22nd-largest crater on Earth. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/ Jefferson Beck)

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