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Topic: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe discovers new insights about our Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

On December 4th, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

Illustration of Parker Solar Probe. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

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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’s Parker Solar Probe launched Sunday on it’s way to the Sun

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Sunday to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission. The spacecraft will transmit its first science observations in December, beginning a revolution in our understanding of the star that makes life on Earth possible.

Roughly the size of a small car, the spacecraft lifted off at 2:31am CDT on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. At 4:33am, the mission operations manager reported that the spacecraft was healthy and operating normally.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, August 12th, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, August 12th, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s DopplerScatt Radar to Benefit Weather and Climate Studies, Maritime Uses

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Ocean currents and winds form an endless feedback loop: winds blow over the ocean’s surface, creating currents there. At the same time, the hot or cold water in these currents influences the wind’s speed.

This delicate dance is crucial to understanding Earth’s changing climate. Gathering data on this interaction can also help people track oil spills, plan shipping routes and understand ocean productivity in relation to fisheries.

Instruments already exist that measure ocean currents, and others that measure wind, such as NASA’s QuickScat and RapidScat. But a new, airborne radar instrument developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is able to measure both.

2010 photo of a shoreline in Bay Jimmy, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil weakens and kills vegetation, leading to the loss of roots that help hold soil together. (Bruce A. Davis, Department of Homeland Security)

2010 photo of a shoreline in Bay Jimmy, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil weakens and kills vegetation, leading to the loss of roots that help hold soil together. (Bruce A. Davis, Department of Homeland Security)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) examines unique Merger of Galaxies

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A supermassive black hole inside a tiny galaxy is challenging scientists’ ideas about what happens when two galaxies become one.

Was 49 is the name of a system consisting of a large disk galaxy, referred to as Was 49a, merging with a much smaller “dwarf” galaxy called Was 49b. The dwarf galaxy rotates within the larger galaxy’s disk, about 26,000 light-years from its center.

Thanks to NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, scientists have discovered that the dwarf galaxy is so luminous in high-energy X-rays, it must host a supermassive black hole much larger and more powerful than expected.

This optical image shows the Was 49 system, which consists of a large disk galaxy, Was 49a, merging with a much smaller "dwarf" galaxy Was 49b. (DCT/NRL)

This optical image shows the Was 49 system, which consists of a large disk galaxy, Was 49a, merging with a much smaller “dwarf” galaxy Was 49b. (DCT/NRL)

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NASA prepares for future Satellite by studying Coral Reefs of Hawaii

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA pulled off a scientific double play in Hawaii this winter, using the same instruments and aircraft to study both volcanoes and coral reefs. Besides helping scientists understand these two unique environments better, the data will be used to evaluate the possibility of preparing a potential future NASA satellite that would monitor ecosystem changes and natural hazards.

The advantages of studying active volcanoes from the air rather than the ground are obvious. Coral reefs may not offer the same risks in a close encounter that volcanoes do, but there’s another good reason to study them by remote sensing: they’re dotted across thousands of square miles of the globe.

NASA coral reef studies in Hawaii this winter will help scientists understand this unique environment. (NOAA)

NASA coral reef studies in Hawaii this winter will help scientists understand this unique environment. (NOAA)

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NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory finds far away Supermassive Black Hole

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Astronomers have used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to discover a jet from a very distant supermassive black hole being illuminated by the oldest light in the Universe. This discovery shows that black holes with powerful jets may be more common than previously thought in the first few billion years after the Big Bang.

The light detected from this jet was emitted when the Universe was only 2.7 billion years old, a fifth of its present age. At this point, the intensity of the cosmic microwave background radiation, or CMB, left over from the Big Bang was much greater than it is today.

Extended X-ray jet associated with quasar B3 0727+409. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/ISAS/A. Simionescu et al, Optical: DSS)

Extended X-ray jet associated with quasar B3 0727+409. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/ISAS/A. Simionescu et al, Optical: DSS)

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NASA reports International Space Station to monitor Lake Erie Algae Growth problem

 

Written by Jessica Nimon
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – The green stuff that clouds up fish tanks – it’s not just an aesthetic annoyance. In fact, if you’ve been watching recent news of algal bloom concerns in Lake Erie, you know that the right conditions for algae can lead to contamination of local water sources, potentially impacting aquatic life and humans.

What you might not have known is that among the resources to help study this problem you will find the International Space Station’s Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO).

A Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) image of western Lake Erie, Aug. 15, 2014, taken from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. (HICO Team/Naval Research Laboratory)

A Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) image of western Lake Erie, Aug. 15, 2014, taken from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. (HICO Team/Naval Research Laboratory)

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