News




Landsat 9 Is Set for Liftoff

Monday, September 27th 2021 09:38 AM

  On Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, at 2:12 EDT a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Landsat 9 satellite is slated to lift off on a mission to observe Earth, the planet we call home. The Landsat 9 satellite is a joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey mission that will continue 50-year legacy of monitoring Earth’s land and coastal regions. This image was taken on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.   Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Hubble Finds Early, Massive Galaxies Running on Empty

Thursday, September 23rd 2021 09:14 AM

When the universe was about 3 billion years old, just 20% of its current age, it experienced the most prolific period of star birth in its history. But when NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile gazed toward cosmic objects in this period, they found something odd: six early, massive, "dead" galaxies that had run out of the cold hydrogen gas needed to make stars. Without more fuel for star formation, these galaxies were literally running on empty. The findings are published in the journal Nature.   These images are composites from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The boxed and pullout images show two of the six, distant, massive galaxies where scientists found star formation has ceased due to the depletion of a fuel source – cold hydrogen gas. Hubble, together with ALMA, found these odd galaxies when they combined forces with the "natural lens" in...

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NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final

Wednesday, September 22nd 2021 09:26 AM

  Team CoSTAR, led by NASA’s JPL, will use autonomous robots with diverse methods of movement to compete in the complex underground environments of the SubT Challenge Final. One of the robots, NeBula-Spot, walks on four legs to explore hard-to-access locations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Led by NASA JPL, Team CoSTAR will participate in the SubT final this week to demonstrate multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments. Eight teams featuring dozens of robots from more than 30 institutions, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will converge in a former Kentucky limestone mine from Sept. 21 to 24 to participate in a series of complex underground scenarios. The goal: to demonstrate cutting-edge robotic autonomy capabilities and compete for the chance to win $2 million. Sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the event marks the final contest in the Subterranean, or SubT, Challenge, which bega...

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  The James Webb Space Telescope is the biggest orbital telescope ever built and is scheduled to be launched into space on Dec. 18, 2021. The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to head to space on Dec. 18, 2021. With it, astronomers hope to find the first galaxies to form in the universe, will search for Earthlike atmospheres around other planets and accomplish many other scientific goals. I am an astronomer and the principal investigator for the Near Infrared Camera – or NIRCam for short – aboard the Webb telescope. I have participated in the development and testing for both my camera and the telescope as a whole. To see deep into the universe, the telescope has a very large mirror and must be kept extremely cold. But getting a fragile piece of equipment like this to space is no simple task. There have been many challenges my colleagues and I have had to overcome to design, test and soon launch and align the most powerful space telescope ever built.  ...

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  Last night at 8:02 PM EDT, the crew of Inspiration 4 — the first all-civilian spaceflight — blasted off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Tucked inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which was lofted to orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, are four fortunate astronauts: Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, Christopher Sembroski, and Jared Isaacman. The latter footed the bill for the trip. Unlike the recent suborbital spaceflights of billionaires carried out this summer by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, Inspiration4 is setting its sights higher, taking the untrained civilian crew all the way to orbit. There, they will circle the Earth for three days, conducting experiments and enjoying their views before returning for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.   Although Inspiration4 is currently orbiting more than 100 miles above the International Space Station (ISS), one of the mission's main goals is much more Earth-bou...

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  Sample tube number 266 was used to collect the first sample of Martian rock by NASA's Perseverance rover. The laser-etched serial number helps science team identify the tubes and their contents.   NASA's Mars 2020 rover will store rock and soil samples in sealed tubes on the planet's surface for future missions to retrieve, as seen in this illustration. The Johnson Space Center scientist was tasked with helping guide the way for mission’s first cored Mars rock sample. The evening of Aug. 1 felt a lot like a birthday to NASA planetary scientist Justin Simon. On that night, Simon attended a virtual watch party for researchers preparing to use NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover to conduct the first detailed study of a candidate rock target for drilling and collecting a sample. Ready to unwrap presents, Simon and his fellow researchers anxiously refreshed their inboxes to see the first downlinked and up-close images of the rock – that could help them be...

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  Some volcanoes can produce eruptions so powerful they release oceans of dust and toxic gases into the air, blocking out sunlight and changing a planet’s climate for decades. By studying the topography and mineral composition of a portion of the Arabia Terra region in northern Mars, scientists recently found evidence for thousands of such eruptions, or “super eruptions,” which are the most violent volcanic explosions known. Spewing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air, these explosions tore through the Martian surface over a 500-million-year period about 4 billion years ago. Scientists reported this estimate in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in July 2021. “Each one of these eruptions would have had a significant climate impact — maybe the released gas made the atmosphere thicker or blocked the Sun and made the atmosphere colder,” said Patrick Whelley, a geologist at NASA’s Goddard...

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Rerun of Supernova Blast Expected to Appear in 2037

Monday, September 13th 2021 09:29 AM

It's challenging to make predictions, especially in astronomy. There are however, a few forecasts astronomers can depend on, such as the timing of upcoming lunar and solar eclipses and the clockwork return of some comets. Now, looking far beyond the solar system, astronomers have added a solid prediction of an event happening deep in intergalactic space: an image of an exploding star, dubbed Supernova Requiem, which will appear around the year 2037. Although this rebroadcast will not be visible to the naked eye, some future telescopes should be able to spot it.   Now you see them, now you don't. Three views of the same supernova appear in the 2016 image on the left, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. But they're gone in the 2019 image. The distant supernova, named Requiem, is embedded in the giant galaxy cluster MACS J0138. The cluster is so massive that its powerful gravity bends and magnifies the light from the supernova, located in a galaxy far behind it. Called gravitatio...

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  This composite of two images shows the hole drilled by NASA's Perseverance rover during its sucessful sample-collection attempt. Panelists will discuss the Perseverance rover’s successful collection of the sample and latest science analysis. NASA will hold a virtual media briefing Friday, Sept. 10, at noon EDT to provide an update on the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover, which recently completed its first successful rock sampling. The event will be livestreamed on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and multiple agency social media platforms. The briefing will also discuss what the rover’s instruments have learned about the rock from which the sample was taken, and implications for a future sample retrieval mission. Through the Mars Sample Return campaign, NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are planning a series of future missions to return the rover’s sample tubes to Earth for closer study. Briefing participants include:...

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Rocket Flight to Sharpen NASA's Study of the Sun

Thursday, September 9th 2021 09:09 AM

  The EVE payload is loaded onto a cart for transport at the White Sands Missile Range. Credits: NASA It’s best not to look directly at the Sun, unless you’re one of NASA’s Sun-observing instruments. And even then, doing so will cause some damage. Exposure to the Sun degrades light sensors of all kinds, from the retinas in the human eye to instruments aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite, or SDO. Fortunately, with periodic calibrations, the latter can continue transmitting high-quality data to researchers on Earth. SDO’s Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment, or EVE, uses sounding rockets for calibration. During roughly 15-minute flights, these suborbital rockets carry a duplicate of the EVE instrument about 180 miles above Earth, where it records measurements to keep its twin instrument aboard SDO in tune. Tom Woods, a solar physicist at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, is t...

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