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Topic: University of Arizona

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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Student built instrument onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft detects new Black Hole

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – University students and researchers working on a NASA mission orbiting a near-Earth asteroid have made an unexpected detection of a phenomenon 30 thousand light years away. Last fall, the student-built Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) onboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft detected a newly flaring black hole in the constellation Columba while making observations off the limb of asteroid Bennu.

REXIS, a shoebox-sized student instrument, was designed to measure the X-rays that Bennu emits in response to incoming solar radiation. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, like visible light, but with much higher energy.

This image shows the X-ray outburst from the black hole MAXI J0637-043, detected by the REXIS instrument on NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The image was constructed using data collected by the X-ray spectrometer while REXIS was making observations of the space around asteroid Bennu on Nov. 11, 2019. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard)

This image shows the X-ray outburst from the black hole MAXI J0637-043, detected by the REXIS instrument on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The image was constructed using data collected by the X-ray spectrometer while REXIS was making observations of the space around asteroid Bennu on Nov. 11, 2019. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard)

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NASA picks Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for new missions. Although they’re not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections. Final selections will be made next year.

NASA’s Discovery Program invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it.

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune's moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist's concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The proposed Trident mission would explore Neptune’s moon Triton, seen here in a global color mosaic with an artist’s concept of an ionosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope mission ends after 16 years of Service

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope’s mission has come to an end after more than 16 years studying the universe in infrared light, revealing new wonders in our solar system, our galaxy and beyond.

Mission engineers confirmed at about 2:30pm PT (4:30pm CT) Thursday the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all science operations. After the decommissioning was confirmed, Spitzer Project Manager Joseph Hunt declared the mission had officially ended.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer begins its "Beyond" mission phase on Oct. 1, 2016. The spacecraft is depicted in the orientation it assumes to establish communications with ground stations. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer begins its “Beyond” mission phase on Oct. 1, 2016. The spacecraft is depicted in the orientation it assumes to establish communications with ground stations. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA picks spot on Asteroid Bennu to collect Samples

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After a year scoping out asteroid Bennu’s boulder-scattered surface, the team leading NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission has officially selected a sample collection site.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission team concluded a site designated “Nightingale” – located in a crater high in Bennu’s northern hemisphere – is the best spot for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to snag its sample.

This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA maps Water Ice locations on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft offers insight into Particles being ejected from Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft’s navigation cameras taken on January 6th, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures celestial Fireworks

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA asks you to imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding 170 years ago and are still continuing. This type of firework is not launched into Earth’s atmosphere, but rather into space by a doomed super-massive star, called Eta Carinae, the largest member of a double-star system.

A new view from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which includes ultraviolet light, shows the star’s hot, expanding gases glowing in red, white and blue. Eta Carinae resides 7,500 light-years away.

This Hubble Space Telescope image of the giant, petulant star Eta Carinae is yielding new surprises. Telescopes such as Hubble have monitored the super-massive star for more than two decades. The star, the largest member of a double-star system, has been prone to violent outbursts, including an episode in the 1840s during which ejected material formed the bipolar bubbles seen here. (NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona) and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute))

This Hubble Space Telescope image of the giant, petulant star Eta Carinae is yielding new surprises. Telescopes such as Hubble have monitored the super-massive star for more than two decades. The star, the largest member of a double-star system, has been prone to violent outbursts, including an episode in the 1840s during which ejected material formed the bipolar bubbles seen here. (NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona) and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute))

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finishes 60,000 trips around Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter completed 60,000 loops around the Red Planet at 10:39am PDT (12:39 pm CDT) on Wednesday morning, May 15th, 2019. On average, MRO takes 112 minutes to circle Mars, whipping around at about 2 miles per second (3.4 kilometers per second).

Since entering orbit on March 10th, 2006, the spacecraft has been collecting daily science about the planet’s surface and atmosphere, including detailed views with its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE). HiRISE is powerful enough to see surface features the size of a dining room table from 186 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface.

This still from an animation shows NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This still from an animation shows NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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

 

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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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