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NASA Updates

Discussion in 'Education & Research' started by layman, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Strange bright spot on Ceres has a companion




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    LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- It's been several weeks since scientists first caught a glimpse of a strange bright spot sparkling on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. But scientists back on Earth still don't have an explanation.
    Now, newly released images -- captured by NASA's Dawn probe -- show the bright spot is actually two round splotches of reflected light, side by side, one slightly brighter than the other. The two eye-like headlights seem to be shining out from the pit of one of Ceres' craters.

    "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin," explained Chris Russell, principal investigator for NASA's Dawn mission, based at UCLA.

    "This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations," Russell added.

    While Dawn continues to beam back better and better images, it's still too early for NASA scientists to make any definitive determinations on the origin of the bright spots.

    The latest photos were taken on Feb. 19, when the probe was still 29,000 miles from Ceres. Dawn will enter into orbit around Ceres on March 6.

    "The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size, it is brighter than anything else on Ceres," said Andreas Nathues, leader of Dawn's camera team, which is based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany. "This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us."

    Still, the favorite explanation remains the same -- ice. Previous research has uncovered evidence of water vapor rising from Ceres' surface, and scientists believe Ceres' interior may be liquid water.

    Ceres is one of five dwarf planets or protoplanets, a category that includes Pluto. It is also the largest body traveling in the asteroid belt, which occupies the real estate between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.


    Read more: Scientists remain perplexed by Ceres' two bright spots - UPI.com
     
  2. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    How an Ion Drive Helped NASA's Dawn Probe Visit Dwarf Planet Ceres

    NASA probe that takes four days to go from 0 to 60 mph is about to make space exploration history.
    NASA's Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, early Friday morning (March 6).

    If all goes according to plan, Dawn will become the first probe ever to orbit a dwarf planet, as well as the first to circle two celestial bodies beyond the Earth-moon system. (Dawn, which launched in September 2007, studied the protoplanet Vesta, the asteroid belt's second-largest denizen, up close from July 2011 through September 2012.) [Amazing Photos of Dwarf Planet Ceres]



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    [​IMG] This illustration depicts NASA's Dawn spacecraft arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres (lower right). Image released March 2, 2015.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
    View full size image
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    NASA's Dawn spacecraft is the first ever to visit two targets in the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres. See how NASA's Dawn spacecraft will visit the asteroids Vesta and Ceres in this Space.com infographic.
    Credit: Karl Tate/SPACE.com
    View full size image
    The $473 million Dawn mission's unprecedented deep-space feats are enabled by its innovative ion propulsion system, which is about 10 times more efficient than traditional chemical thrusters. Dawn's engines ionize xenon atoms and then accelerate the ions out the back of the spacecraft using a large voltage.

    This process generates tiny amounts of thrust — the equivalent of a piece of paper pushing on your hand. But that thrust adds up over time, allowing the Dawn spacecraft to achieve tremendous velocities.

    "Ion propusion enables us to do things, and go places, that would be either extremely expensive or completely impossible to do," Dawn project manager Robert Mase, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said during a news conference Monday (March 2). "Dawn really capitalizes on this innovative technology to deliver big science on a small budget."

    Ion propulsion has also allowed Dawn's handlers to craft a slow, gentle approach to Ceres that should result in a low-stress orbital arrival. There will be no critical, make-or-break orbital-insertion burns, such as the ones that typically deliver orbiters to Mars and other deep-space destinations.

    "We just slip right in, and there's no moment of truth or anything like that," Dawn principal investigator Christopher Russell of UCLA told Space.com. "So it's boring but safe."

    Dawn will continue to demonstrate the advantages of ion engines after it reaches Ceres, Russell added.

    "When we get into orbit, we can optimize our trajectory," he said. "If we want to be in a particular local time sector, or we want to be at a particular altitude or particular sun angle — things of that nature — we can go there and, with the ion propulsion engine, tailor that orbit very easily."

    Dawn isn't the first interplanetary mission to employ ion propulsion; NASA's Deep Space 1 probe and Japan's asteroid-sampling Hayabusa spacecraft also used ion thrusters. (Those probes launched in 1998 and 2003, respectively.) But Dawn is showing just what the technology is capable of, and that will be a big part of the mission's legacy, Russell said.

    "When other people appreciate what Dawn did [with ion propulsion], we will doing a lot more of this," he said. "It takes a little bit of extra time, but it's safer and cheaper, and that's important."

    How an Ion Drive Helped NASA's Dawn Probe Visit Dwarf Planet Ceres
     
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  3. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
    Dawn Spacecraft Slips Quietly Into Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres
    By Alan Boyle
    NASA's Dawn spacecraft slipped into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday, in a manner as cool and quiet as the soft blue glow of its ion engines.

    Eight years and 3 billion miles after its launch, the boxy probe was captured by Ceres' gravitational pull at 7:39 a.m. ET (4:39 a.m. PT), said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    At least that was the scheduled time. Confirmation that Dawn was on the right track for its Ceres encounter had to wait until a routine communication session later in the day. But because of the gentle but steady thrust of Dawn's ion propulsion system, there was little question that the orbital mechanics would work out the way Rayman and his teammates expected.

    This wasn't your typical orbital insertion.

    "Usually, there's a big, bone-rattling, whiplash-producing maneuver," Rayman told NBC News, "but Dawn flies most of the time on this pillar of blue-green xenon ions, just like a spacecraft from science fiction. ... It's a beautiful celestial pas de deux, these two dancers together. I think it's really a remarkable scene to imagine. It's so different from what we're accustomed to from five decades of previous space exploration."



    What Can We Learn From Visiting Ceres?
    NBCNews.com
    • This also isn't your typical target for an interplanetary mission. Ceres is a type of world that's never been visited before.

      With a diameter of 590 miles, it's the biggest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, orbiting about 250 million miles from the sun. When Ceres was discovered in 1801, it was considered one of the major planets — but as more asteroids were discovered, it came to be left off the list. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union classified Ceres as a dwarf planet, along with Pluto, because it's big enough to retain a round shape but doesn't necessarily stand out in a celestial crowd.

      Will Dawn's close-up change Ceres' planetary status again? Rayman doesn't much care about the back-and-forth nomenclature. "Whatever you call it, it's something very special," he said.

      Ceres could have a huge reservoir of water ice beneath its cratered crust — and in the solar system's early days, it might have even been suitable for life. Studying the dwarf planet could provide new insights into how the solar system was formed. And then there's Ceres' biggest mystery: a pair of bright spots that shine like alien headlights when sunlight hits them just the right way.

      "It's neat to have such an intriguing mystery," Rayman said. "You can't look at them without being mesmerized."



      Dawn also has the distinction of being the first probe to go into orbit around two worlds beyond Earth. Earlier in the $473 million mission, Dawn spent 14 months mapping Vesta, the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. Then Dawn moved on, firing its ion thruster to make the three-year trek between the two asteroids.

      The ion drive isn't suited for getting anywhere with a burst of power. The maximum propulsive push is roughly equal to the weight of a piece of paper pressing down on your palm. But the solar-powered ion engines build up speed steadily over time. Rayman said Dawn's total velocity change since its launch in 2007 amounts to 23,800 mph (38,300 kilometers).

      "You can compare that to the 17,500 miles per hour it takes to go from the surface of Earth to low Earth orbit," he said.

      By now, Dawn has matched Ceres' orbital track so closely that it's traveling a mere 100 miles an hour relative to the dwarf planet. Because of that slight but steady push, Friday's entry into orbit was pretty much a typical day at the office.

      "While it's important, and it's a historical milestone from the standpoint of humankind's exploration of the cosmos, from the spacecraft's standpoint, it's not different," Rayman said. Only one person was due to be stationed at JPL's mission control when Dawn entered orbit. (And it wasn't Rayman.)




      Dawn is now 40,000 miles from Ceres, approaching the dwarf planet from its dark side. For that reason, there'll be nothing to see (or take pictures of) until April 10, when the probe's camera is due to capture some images of Ceres' crescent for navigational purposes.

      The mapping mission begins in earnest on April 23, when Dawn settles into an 8,400-mile pole-to-pole orbit. The spacecraft will alternate observing campaigns with orbital maneuvers, working its way down to an altitude of just 235 miles by November.

      Dawn's primary mission is scheduled to end in June 2016, but it could keep watch on Ceres for months or even years longer, until the hydrazine fuel for its maneuvering thruster system runs out. Even when that fuel is gone, the spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit around Ceres for decades afterward. Dawn's eventual end, like Friday's orbital insertion, is expected to be virtually devoid of drama.

      "The drama is not in whether this mission is going to succeed or fail," Rayman said. "It's not whether there's going to be some small glitch that spells doom for the mission. ... To me, the drama is in the opportunity to explore a mysterious alien world that has beckoned for more than two centuries — and we finally have a robotic ambassador from Earth, answering that invitation.

      "That, to me, is where the drama is.

      Dawn Spacecraft Slips Quietly Into Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres - NBC News
     
  4. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Nasa reveals plans to produce breathable air on Mars

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    An image of the surface of Mars, taken by Viking 1 (Picture: Nasa)
    Science fiction came one step closer to becoming reality after scientists announced their plans to introduce oxygen to Mars’ atmosphere.

    After sending the Mars Curiosity rover to the red planet, Nasa are now planning the Mars 2020 mission, in which they intend to include a device which can slowly convert the atmosphere on Mars into breathable oxygen (and no, it’s not just a tree).

    The MOXIE, as the boffins call it, was designed by MIT and will initially be used to create an unlimited supply of breathable air for for first astronauts to settle on Mars.

    However the concept of ‘terraforming’ – the process of transforming a planet’s environment to make it hospitable for humans – which was once a staple of science fiction stories could now theoretically be achieved.

    The MOXIE device could even generate liquid oxygen on Mars, potentially providing fuel for the astronauts to undertake a return journey to earth.

    MORE: NASA tests spacecraft for first manned mission to Mars

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    The MOXIE. Looks simple, right? (Picture: MIT)
    It is hoped the Mars 2020 mission will teach Nasa about how humans could possibly live on one of our nearest neighbours.

    Michael Hecht of MIT said: ‘Human exploration of Mars will be a seminal event for the next generation, the same way the moon landing mission was for my generation.

    ‘I welcome this opportunity to move us closer to that vision.’

    Mars 2020 mission: Nasa reveals plans to produce breathable air on Mars | Metro News
     
  5. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    More than anything this technology may save earth one day.

     
  6. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    We’ll Find Evidence of Alien Life within Next Two Decades, Top NASA Scientist Says


    According to NASA chief scientist Dr Ellen Stofan, in the next twenty years, scientists may very well finally answer whether we are alone in the Solar System and beyond.

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    This artist’s impression shows the super-Earth exoplanet HD 85512b. This exoplanet is about 3.6 times as massive as the Earth and lies at the edge of the habitable zone around the star, where liquid water, and perhaps even life, could potentially exist. Image credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser / Nick Risinger, skysurvey.org.

    “NASA science activities have provided a wave of amazing findings related to water in recent years that inspire us to continue investigating our origins and the fascinating possibilities for other worlds, and life, in the Universe,” Dr Stofan said April 7 during a panel discussion that focused on NASA’s efforts to search for habitable worlds.

    Astronomers see the signature of water in giant molecular clouds between the stars, in disks of material that represent newborn planetary systems, and in the atmospheres of giant planets orbiting other stars.

    The Solar System’s four gas giants are thought to contain huge quantities of water, and their moons and rings have substantial water ice.

    Perhaps the most surprising water worlds are the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn that show strong evidence of oceans beneath their surfaces.

    Planetary researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently uncovered evidence for a massive subterranean ocean on Ganymede, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System.

    Europa is thought to have an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface in contact with mineral-rich rock, and may have the three ingredients needed for life as we know it.

    Gravity data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently revealed that Enceladus – the sixth-largest of the moons of Saturn – harbors a regional subsurface ocean at depths of 30-40 km. In 2014, scientists discovered more than a hundred active geysers erupting on this icy moon. A March 2015 study suggested Enceladus may have hydrothermal activity on its ocean floor.

    NASA’s missions have also found signs of water in craters on Mercury and our moon.

    While our Solar System may seem drenched in some places, others seem to have lost large amounts of water.

    On Mars, scientists have found evidence that the planet had water on its surface for long periods in the distant past.

    In 2012, Curiosity rover discovered an ancient streambed that existed amidst conditions favorable for life as we know it.

    More recently, NASA scientists using ground-based telescopes were able to estimate the amount of water Mars has lost over 4.5 billion years.

    They concluded that the planet once had enough liquid water to form an ocean, and that the ancient Martian ocean covered a greater portion of the planet’s surface than the Atlantic Ocean does on our planet and held more water than Arctic Ocean.

    The story of how Mars dried out is intimately connected to how the planet’s atmosphere interacts with the solar wind. Data from NASA’s solar missions are vital to helping scientists better understand what happened.

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    This illustration depicts the best-known candidates in NASA search for life in the Solar System. Image credit: NASA.

    Researchers think it was too hot in the Solar System’s early days for water to condense into liquid or ice on the inner planets, so it had to be delivered – possibly by comets and water-bearing asteroids.

    According to Dr Stofan, NASA’s Dawn mission is currently studying Ceres, which is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists think Ceres might have a water-rich composition similar to some of the bodies that brought water to the Solar System’s terrestrial planets.

    The amount of water in Jupiter holds a critical missing piece to the puzzle of the formation of the Solar System. This gas giant was likely the first planet to form, and it contains most of the material that wasn’t incorporated into the Sun. The leading theories about its formation rest on the amount of water the planet soaked up.

    Dr Stofan said that with the study of extrasolar planets, NASA scientists are closer than ever to finding out if other water-rich worlds like ours exist. For example, the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes recently detected water vapor in the atmosphere of the extrasolar Neptune-like planet HAT-P-11b.

    “In fact, our basic concept of what makes planets suitable for life is closely tied to water: every star has a habitable zone, or a range of distances around it in which temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist,” Dr Stofan said.

    In recent years, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has helped scientists discover many potentially habitable exoplanets, such as Gliese 832c, Kepler-438b, Gliese 667 Cc.


    We’ll Find Evidence of Alien Life within Next Two Decades, Top NASA Scientist Says | Space Exploration | Sci-News.com
     
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  7. r2d2 ka bhanja

    r2d2 ka bhanja FULL MEMBER

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    fascinating but the artist impression gives the wrong, well... impression. oceans beneath the surface are being speculated, so there most likely isn't any real earth like landscape or similar life anywhere else atleast in this part of the galaxy.
     
  8. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Kepler 186f
     
  9. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Hubble Image Inspires White House to Ponder Our Cosmos


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    The Arches Cluster is located about 25,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), close to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is, like its neighbor the Quintuplet Cluster, a fairly young astronomical object at between two and four million years old.
    Credit: NASA/ESA
    View full size image
    On Wednesday, President Barack Obama mentioned something curious in a tweet. It wasn't about the Affordable Care Act, it wasn't concerning national security and wasn't part of the climate change conversation. Instead, it was a message about the cosmos.

    "This was a fun briefing: My science[​IMG] advisor just showed me this Hubble shot of the most crowded place in our galaxy," wrote the President, with a dazzling Hubble Space Telescope observation of the Arches Cluster, located some 25,000 light-years away toward the center of our galaxy, attached.

    President Obama is a well-known advocate for the sciences, STEM and science outreach, but this tweet didn't focus on a specific policy or the White House Science Fair, this was just a guy (who happens to be the leader of the United States), looking up in wonder. [President Obama and NASA: Presidential Photos]




    The story behind the tweet became apparent on Thursday morning when the President's Chief Science Advisor John P. Holdren issued a White House statement. It just so happens that this particular observation, which was a part of an "ad-hoc" note he sent to White House staff, resonated with the President.

    "Today's morning report from NASA contains a Hubble photo I thought worth sharing," Holdren wrote in the White House briefing. "The astonishing density of stars — most of which, we now know, have planets — really does make one wonder whether there's anybody else out there. And this is just one piece of our own galaxy. There are an estimated 100 billion other galaxies in the observable universe. Enjoy!"

    Top 10 Hubble Hotshots of 2014




    The Hubble Space Telescope is still going strong 25 years after it was launched by Space Shuttle Discovery's crew in 1990 and this observation of the densely-packed stars in the Milky Way's core is just one of the million images taken by Hubble to date. But how densely packed is this star cluster?

    "The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between the sun and its nearest star there would be over 100,000 stars! At least 150 stars within the cluster are among the brightest ever discovered in the Milky Way," Holdren added.

    The observation in question was released by NASA and the European Space Agency on May 29.

    As noted by Holdren, it's images like these that really put things in perspective, and makes us question our place in the universe and whether there is life elsewhere. Astronomy is a profound science; it has the ability fire-up our sense of wonder and question our very existence. By looking into the furthest-most reaches of the universe, we are actually seeking answers to questions we didn't know we had about our own existence. Humanity can be very myopic, we only really care about what's happening down here on this tiny speck of life-giving sand, but the possibilities[​IMG] the universe provides makes us want to push the envelope, to look out further, to explore.

    NEWS: White House Requests Boosted $18.5B NASA Budget

    I have little doubt that small-minded politically-blinded individuals will criticize the President's wonderment at this particular Hubble image — after all, who has time to be dazzled by one of the most mindbogglingly beautiful and overwhelming portraits of our Milky Way's core, the light from which took 25,000 years to reach Earth, when they've got a country to run? But as the White House has shown us, even the most powerful governments have the ability to look up and ponder the universe.

    If only more world leaders would do the same. We all live in the same tiny biosphere in a minute region of a spiral galaxy containing around 400 billion stars and many more planets — a little bit of perspective would go a long way.

    Hubble Image Inspires White House to Ponder Our Cosmos
     
  10. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

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    Nasa 'flying saucer' parachute fails to inflate in test flight
    The space agency’s trials over Hawaii are meant to experiment with ways to send more sophisticated robots and eventually humans to red planet

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    Nasa’s test flight to land vehicles on Mars comes to an end when the parachute fails to inflate.
    Alan Yuhas in New York


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    Monday 8 June 2015 23.51 BST Last modified on Tuesday 9 June 2015 21.44 BST

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    Nasa let loose a flying saucer into the sky over Hawaii on Monday in order to test a donut-like airbag and its largest parachute ever, but the device did not inflate.

    After several days of delays, the space agency launched its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator mission, which may help land vehicles on to Mars, from the island of Kauai. But while the chute deployed, Nasa said the balloon above the saucer-shaped test vehicle did not inflate.

    “We’ll study data from this test to learn & improve,” the agency said in a tweet.

    The balloon lifted the vehicle to about 120,000 feet into the air, at which point it released it – and then a rocket on the saucer’s bottom fired, accelerating it to four times the speed of sound and a height of 180,000ft above the Pacific Ocean.

    The first of Nasa’s two tests began at about 180,000ft above the Pacific, when the vehicle deployed its Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD), a drag device that inflates full of pressurized gas. “It pops like the airbag in your car, but shaped like a donut,” said Nasa spokesman Joshua Buck.

    The SIAD, which Nasa has elsewhere compared to a Hawaiian pufferfish, increases the size of the vehicle to a 20ft diameter. The larger surface area entails more consequent drag, slowing the vehicle down from mach 4 speed to around mach 2.5 as it descends through the atmosphere.

    The vehicle was then meant to deploy its second test device, a 100ft diameter parachute, which Buck said was the largest supersonic parachute ever tested by Nasa. Together, the two drag devices could double how much Nasa landers can safely land on a planet – from about 3,300lb (1.5 tonnes) to up to 6,600lb (three tonnes).

    The Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, weighed about one tonne. More sophisticated braking systems could allow for bigger and better robots to explore the planet, as well as manned missions. Landing humans on Mars would probably entail a total weight of 15-20 tonnes.

    Although the 15ft-wide saucer may alarm imaginative Hawaiians, Buck said it was not designed for humans and is standard issue for testing landers. “It’s just the most logical way up,” he said. “It’s the shape of the vehicle we use to land on Mars.”

    Since the first Viking probe landed on Mars in 1976, Nasa has used parachutes to send rovers and landers to the red planet. But those parachutes can only handle a limited load, leading the agency to design new devices that can deploy at supersonic speeds.

    Nasa first tested a similar system last year, also using the thin air high over the Pacific to simulate the atmosphere of Mars. The test successfully fired a vehicle 70,000ft in 71 seconds after it reached the correct altitude – but the parachute frayed as it deployed, and the test vehicle crashed hard into the sea.

    “The parachute was moving and inflating faster than we ever thought possible. Suspension lines were all over the place. There was canopy asymmetry, parts of the envelope trying to inflate inside out, and holes starting and propagating wherever you looked,” Ian Clark, Nasa’s principal investigator for the mission said in a release.

    “There was so much going on in that video in all sorts of gory detail that we did not understand,” he said. Clark’s team spent the subsequent months re-evaluating their design, and developed the parachute that was tested on Monday.

    A third test flight is scheduled for the summer of 2016, using a device that will inflate the vehicle’s size to 26ft in diameter.

    Three times this year private spaceflight company SpaceX has tested a separate landing system of rocket thrusters, designed to similarly land large vessels, but so far has failed to land on a barge in the Atlantic on each attempt.

    Nasa 'flying saucer' parachute fails to inflate in test flight | Science | The Guardian
     
  11. INDIAN NATIONALIST

    INDIAN NATIONALIST Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars

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    These dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale crater, corroborating their original hypothesis that the streaks are indeed formed by liquid water. The blue color seen upslope of the dark streaks are thought not to be related to their formation, but instead are from the presence of the mineral pyroxene. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (Infrared-Red-Blue/Green(IRB)) false color image (ESP_030570_1440) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5.
    Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

    New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

    Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

    “Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

    These downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

    [​IMG]
    Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanating out of the walls of Garni crater on Mars. The dark streaks here are up to few hundred meters in length. They are hypothesized to be formed by flow of briny liquid water on Mars. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (RED) image (ESP_031059_1685) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5.
    Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

    "We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks," said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience.

    Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

    The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren't as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.

    Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

    Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA's Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet's soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.
    MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.

    "The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are," said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

    For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.

    "When most people talk about water on Mars, they're usually talking about ancient water or frozen water," he said. "Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL."
    The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.
    “It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”



    This animation simulates a fly-around look at one of the places on Mars where dark streaks advance down slopes during warm seasons, possibly involving liquid water. This site is within Hale Crater. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field.

    There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France.

    The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.

    More information about NASA's journey to Mars is available online at:
    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/journeytomars
    For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:
    http://www.nasa.gov/mro
    -end-​

    Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov
    Guy Webster
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6278
    guy.w.webster@jpl.nasa.gov
    Last Updated: Sept. 28, 2015
    Editor: Gina Anderson
    Tags: Ames Research Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Journey to Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

    NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars | NASA
     
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  12. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    President Trump Signs Bill Authorizing NASA Funding and Mars Exploration
    Darlene Superville / AP
    Mar 21, 2017

    (WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Tuesday that updates NASA's mission to add exploration of Mars and authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the U.S. space agency for the current budget year.

    It's the first time in seven years that there has been an authorization bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a chief sponsor of the bill. Cruz joined several astronauts and other lawmakers in the Oval Office to watch Trump sign the bill.

    Last week, Trump sent Congress a budget proposal that would authorize $19.1 billion in agency spending next year. Congress appropriates funding for all government departments and agencies.

    "For almost six decades, NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth," Trump said. "I'm delighted to sign this bill. It's been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology."

    The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency. It supports use of the International Space Station through at least 2024, along with private sector companies partnering with NASA to deliver cargo and experiments, among other steps.

    Trump invited several lawmakers to comment after the signing, starting with Cruz before moving on to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. When Trump invited Vice President Mike Pence to speak, Pence suggested that former astronaut and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., be allowed to say a few words.

    "He's a Democrat. I wasn't going to let him speak," Trump quipped, to laughter. Nelson did say a few words, praising the bill for putting the agency on a "dual track" with commercial companies making roundtrips to the International Space Station and NASA continuing to explore the universe.
     
  13. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA Bill Aimed Sending People To Mars, Approved By Trump Administration
    Jaden JaneMar 22, 2017 07:58 AM EDT


    [​IMG]
    (Photo : Based Patriot/Youtube) Trump signed NASA bill
    NASA bill of sending people to Mars is now permitted. President Trump has signed the bill and support it with billions of funds.

    NASA has successfully earned the favor of President Donald Trump after it signed a bill of giving assistance for the plan of sending people to Mars, IGN reported. Trump has also set a $19.5 billion in funds for the proposed bill as support to NASA.

    On the year 2013, NASA aims to send people to Mars to explore the red planet. The congress funding set by Trump administration will assist the construction of the most powerful rocket of the agency, the Space Launch System rocket.

    According to Washington Post, this time, NASA won't be facing any budget cuts compared to other medical and science agencies. The funding signed by President Trump to set the rocket and add an Orion crew capsule that will sustain the mission in 2030.

    Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, Scott Pace commented, "I think it's then really more of a vote for such stability." Pace further noted the last NASA authorization bill which became fairly chaotic in 2010.

    Eventually, Trump made a clear statement last Tuesday that he thinks it's best for NASA to focus on deep space exploration instead of Earth Science. "It has been such a long time since a bill like this one has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of Nasa, space science, technology and human space exploration. We support jobs, It's about jobs," Trump said.

    Additionally, the NASA Bill which was signed by Trump also includes benefits for astronauts' health care. The bill has the TREAT Astronauts Act mandating that NASA will pay for monitoring, treatment, and diagnosis of any health problems that will arise prior to the spaceflight for all astronauts even the former ones.

    The NASA Bill will also relaunch the National Space Council headed by Vice President Pence. Meanwhile, the interest of President Trump is not toward on sending people to space for exploration, but, he jokingly said it's a great idea to send congress in space.
     
  14. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA spacecraft's close call with Martian moon Phobos

    Sat, 4 Mar 2017-11:53am , ANI
    NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), which is in its second year of studying the Red Planet's atmosphere, was recently forced to perform unscheduled maneuver to avert a space-wreck.

    In its first collision avoidance maneuver, MAVEN spacecraft carried out a rocket motor burn that boosted its velocity by 0.4 meters per second (less than 1 mile per hour) to steer clear of Mars? moon Phobos, NASA reported.

    The correction was small, but it was enough for the spacecraft to avoid the crater-filled moon by about 2.5 minutes.

    MAVEN, with an elliptical orbit around Mars, has an orbit that crosses those of other spacecraft and the moon Phobos many times over the course of a year. When the orbits cross, the objects have the possibility of colliding if they arrive at that intersection at the same time.

    These scenarios are known well in advance and are carefully monitored by NASA?s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which sounded the alert regarding the possibility of a collision.

    (This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
     
  15. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA Transition Act 2017 Includes Protects And Preserve Apollo Moon Landing Sites Favored By The White House
    Jaden JaneMar 24, 2017 05:57 PM EDT

    [​IMG]
    (Photo : Curivity/Youtube) Apollo moon landing sites are now protected and preserved
    The NASA Transition Act 2017 has been approved by President Trump. The act includes protecting and preserving Apollo landing sites.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA already passed an act at the Congress after more than six years of pushing. The NASA Transition Authorization act was finally signed by President Donald J. Trump to support the Nation's Space exploration.

    According to Lights In The Dark, the six different landing sites of Apollo in July 1969 up to December 1972 remain exactly as they were left for over four decades. During those times, 12 American astronauts landed to take data and samples to sustain the NASA Apollo Program.

    And just like what have been done with any artifacts collected over the past years these must be preserved. The footprints, all discarded equipment as well as rover tracks which are kept in place since the exploration must be taken with utmost importance.

    Fortunately, last March 21, 2017, President Donald Trump finally signed the law of NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, Collect Space reported. The law is implemented to protect and preserve the historical landing sites in the moon which is considered as one of the world's greatest discovery.

    Under the Act, is the section describing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that specifically assess the issues on the Apollo landing sites. The section clearly states, "protecting and preserving the historically important Apollo program landing sites."

    President Trump said, "Almost half a century ago, our brave astronauts planted the first American flag on the moon. A big moment in our history." Further stated in the bill aside from protection and preservation of the Apollo moon landing sites are the support for NASA to study a crewed mission towards Mars that would start in 2030.

    To recall, Apollo moon landing have left such discoveries where Neil Armstrong gained popularity as he is the first person to step on the moon. Currently, the NASA bill signed by President Trump will not only protect and preserve the moon landing sites but also further explore the space.
     

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