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NASA creates maps of Mars showing where near surface ice might be

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

Schlepping all that water to Mars would be costly and risky. That’s why NASA has engaged scientists and engineers since 2015 to identify deposits of Martian water ice that could be within reach of astronauts on the planet’s surface.

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

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NASA model suggests Europa’s Plumes of Water Vapor could come from within it’s Icy Crust

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Plumes of water vapor that may be venting into space from Jupiter’s moon Europa could come from within the icy crust itself, according to new research. A model outlines a process for brine, or salt-enriched water, moving around within the moon’s shell and eventually forming pockets of water – even more concentrated with salt – that could erupt.

Europa scientists have considered the possible plumes on Europa a promising way to investigate the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon, especially since they offer the opportunity to be directly sampled by spacecraft flying through them.

This illustration of Jupiter's icy moon Europa depicts a cryovolcanic eruption in which brine from within the icy shell could blast into space. A new model proposing this process may also shed light on plumes on other icy bodies. (Justice Wainwright)

This illustration of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa depicts a cryovolcanic eruption in which brine from within the icy shell could blast into space. A new model proposing this process may also shed light on plumes on other icy bodies. (Justice Wainwright)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft touches surface of Asteroid Bennu, collects Samples

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.

This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission readies itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission readies itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA uses Artificial Intelligence to find new Craters on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Sometime between March 2010 and May 2012, a meteor streaked across the Martian sky and broke into pieces, slamming into the planet’s surface. The resulting craters were relatively small – just 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter.

The smaller the features, the more difficult they are to spot using Mars orbiters. But in this case – and for the first time – scientists spotted them with a little extra help: artificial intelligence (AI).

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter's Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter’s Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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NASA OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft prepares for Touch-And-Go mission to asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A historic moment is on the horizon for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. In just a few weeks, the robotic OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will descend to asteroid Bennu’s boulder-strewn surface, touch down for a few seconds and collect a sample of the asteroid’s rocks and dust – marking the first time NASA has grabbed pieces of an asteroid, which will be returned to Earth for study.

On October 20th, 2020 the mission will perform the first attempt of its Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event. This series of maneuvers will bring the spacecraft down to site Nightingale, a rocky area 52 ft (16 m) in diameter in Bennu’s northern hemisphere, where the spacecraft’s robotic sampling arm will attempt to collect a sample.

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft completes Second Rehearsal, Ready to make Sample Collection

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Yesterday, the NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed its final practice run of the sampling sequence, reaching an approximate altitude of 131 feet (40 meters) over sample site Nightingale before executing a back-away burn. Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site, is located within a crater in Bennu’s northern hemisphere.

The approximately four-hour “Matchpoint” rehearsal took the spacecraft through the first three of the sampling sequence’s four maneuvers: the orbit departure burn, the “Checkpoint” burn and the Matchpoint burn.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft to make second practice run before landing on Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s first asteroid sampling spacecraft is making final preparations to grab a sample from asteroid Bennu’s surface. Next week, the OSIRIS-REx mission will conduct a second rehearsal of its touchdown sequence, practicing the sample collection activities one last time before touching down on Bennu this fall.

On August 11th, the mission will perform its “Matchpoint” rehearsal – the second practice run of the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event. The rehearsal will be similar to the April 14th “Checkpoint” rehearsal, which practiced the first two maneuvers of the descent, but this time the spacecraft will add a third maneuver, called the Matchpoint burn, and fly even closer to sample site Nightingale – reaching an altitude of approximately 131 ft (40 m) – before backing away from the asteroid.

This artist’s concept shows the trajectory and configuration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during Matchpoint rehearsal, which is the final time the mission will practice the initial steps of the sample collection sequence before touching down on asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This artist’s concept shows the trajectory and configuration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during Matchpoint rehearsal, which is the final time the mission will practice the initial steps of the sample collection sequence before touching down on asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures Planetary Collision

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says, “Now you see it, now you don’t.”

What astronomers thought was a planet beyond our solar system has now seemingly vanished from sight. Though this happens in science fiction, such as Superman’s home planet Krypton exploding, astronomers are looking for a plausible explanation.

One interpretation is that, rather than being a full-sized planetary object, which was first photographed in 2004, it could instead be a vast, expanding cloud of dust produced in a collision between two large bodies orbiting the bright nearby star Fomalhaut. Potential follow-up observations might confirm this extraordinary conclusion.

This artist's illustration depicts the collision of two 125-mile-wide icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. (ESA, NASA and M. Kornmesser)

This artist’s illustration depicts the collision of two 125-mile-wide icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. (ESA, NASA and M. Kornmesser)

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NASA releases First Names for Features on Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says Asteroid Bennu’s most prominent boulder, a rock chunk jutting out 71 ft (21.7 m) from the asteroid’s southern hemisphere, finally has a name. The boulder – which is so large that it was initially detected from Earth – is officially designated Benben Saxum after the primordial hill that first arose from the dark waters in an ancient Egyptian creation myth.

Benben Saxum and 11 other features on the asteroid are the first to receive official Bennu feature names approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.

This flat projection mosaic of asteroid Bennu shows the locations of the first 12 surface features to receive official names from the International Astronomical Union. The accepted names were proposed by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team members, who have been mapping the asteroid in detail over the last year. Bennu’s surface features are named after birds and bird-like creatures in mythology, and the places associated with them. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This flat projection mosaic of asteroid Bennu shows the locations of the first 12 surface features to receive official names from the International Astronomical Union. The accepted names were proposed by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team members, who have been mapping the asteroid in detail over the last year. Bennu’s surface features are named after birds and bird-like creatures in mythology, and the places associated with them. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft uses parts from other aircrafts

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A time-honored tradition employed by the aerospace community for decades is continuing with the assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in California.

Perfectly acceptable components from other aircraft – some major, some minor – are finding new life as parts installed on the X-59, an experimental airplane whose mission is to help open a new era of commercial supersonic air travel over land.

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft being assembled at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in Palmdale, California. (Lockheed Martin)

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft being assembled at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in Palmdale, California. (Lockheed Martin)

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