Items tagged with NASA

An asteroid that is roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower is nearing Earth's orbit this month. The giant space rock is also estimated to be comprised of precious metals worth nearly $5 billion dollars. It has been less than a month since NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which is sending a satellite through space to slam into the asteroid Dimorphos. The test is being done in order to find out if doing so can safely alter the trajectory of a large asteroid that has the potential to impact Earth and could cause massive destruction. While NASA does not anticipate an asteroid with that potential in the near future, ones like Nereus that is nearing Earth's orbit remind... Read more...
NASA's Curiosity rover has been sending images back from the surface of Mars since its landing in 2012. The latest of those images was a 360-degree selfie that would make any teenager back here on Earth envious. The Mars Rover Curiosity landed on the surface of the red planet on August 5, 2012. Since that time it has been sending back data and images that have helped NASA scientists learn more about Mars and its ability both past and present to support life. The rover is about the size of a small SUV coming in at 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall (not including the arm). It features a geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, a rock vaporizing laser, and a plethora of cameras. Those cameras... Read more...
After being delayed due to possible danger from space debris, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) went for a stroll in space to repair a faulty antenna.  Astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron have been given the go ahead to complete a spacewalk that was originally scheduled for November 30th. NASA made the decision to delay the spacewalk due to a possible danger of space debris and to give them time to assess the risk. It was unknown at the time if the space debris that was in question were remnants from the Russian ASAT that destroyed a Russian satellite recently. Dana Weigle, NASA's deputy manager of the ISS, stated at the time of the delay that the risk to astronauts... Read more...
After a nearly two-year delay, NASA's CREX-2 is set to try and figure out what causes a speed bump at 250 miles above Earth. If nothing else, maybe it will give Santa some answers as to why Rudolph gets a bit slower at times. NASA has been extremely busy as of late with launching various missions such as DART, which aims to purposely slam a satellite into an asteroid and change its course, and Artemis, which aims to put human-kind back on the surface of the moon by the end of the decade. But the past couple of years have not always been kind to NASA's planning. One mission that saw setbacks in prior years was part of the Grand Challenge Initiative-CUSP, and it ended up being delayed due to space... Read more...
NASA has made the decision to delay a spacewalk that was scheduled for today, November 30 due to space debris. Astronauts were set to swap out a communications antenna on the International Space Station (ISS).  NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were originally tasked for the spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system on the ISS. The spacewalk had been set to be shown live via NASA Television, the agency's website and on the NASA app. However, a notification of space debris led NASA to delay the walk because it did not have time to properly assess the risk it could impose on the safety of the astronauts.  It is uncertain if the debris that has caused the delay originated... Read more...
Thanks to a new deep neural network called ExoMiner, NASA has added a whopping 301 exoplanets that human eyes had missed. These exoplanets have been added to the 4,569 other planets that have been validated by NASA. NASA scientists, astronomers and researchers are always on the lookout for new exoplanets that may exist. Up until now the job of finding them has been placed mostly on the eyes of those looking. But now NASA has implemented a new way of searching for these exoplanets and it involves using AI and machine learning methods that automatically learn and task when provided with enough data.  ExoMiner takes advantage of NASA's Pleiades supercomputer. It can tell the difference between... Read more...
A lunar orbiter meant to take pictures of the moon's surface turned its cameras on to Saturn and its rings recently. NASA's Reconnaissance Orbiter captured an image of Saturn as it looked down at the north face of the rings. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) began its mission of capturing images of the moon back on June 18, 2009. Since sending back its first images of the moon on June 23, 2009, it has been collecting images in order to map out the lunar surface. One of its most notable images that was captured on July 11th and 15th of 2009 was that of the Apollo 11 landing site, bringing to mind NASA's Artemis missions that will place human boots back on the moon in the coming decade.... Read more...
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) showed that you can celebrate Thanksgiving and the holidays even while orbiting the Earth in space. The crew made a video of them sharing what they are thankful for this holiday season. Most of us in the United States are use to a Thanksgiving where we sit down at the family table and eat more than we should, while giving thanks that the backside of our pants didn't split wide open in the process. But just because you are not able to make the Earthly trip to sit at the family table, doesn't mean you cannot partake in good food, good friends and being thankful. NASA's crew members aboard the ISS demonstrated just that in a video released... Read more...
NASA's DART mission launched early this morning as it travels through space in order to slam into an asteroid. The hope is that the data collected will provide scientists with an answer on how to avert an Armageddon type event in the future. Humankind has pondered the thoughts of what a large asteroid slamming into the Earth would be like. Movies have been based on the idea and presented methods that don't really seem plausible. Scientists have theorized that an asteroid could have been what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs millions of years ago. With all of that in mind NASA has set out to seek answers and hopefully provide logical and effective methods of averting total annihilation. ... Read more...
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was set to launch on December 18th. However, an incident that occurred during testing of the observatory has NASA and its partners delaying the launch. Once the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) does launch, it is set to join forces with the Event Horizon Telescope. The first missions JWST has scheduled are observations using its infrared imaging power in hopes of overcoming some of the unique and persistent challenges that the Milky Way's black hole, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), presents. A large part of the issue in capturing a cleaner image with the Event Horizon Telescope is due to flickering flares in the material that surround Sgr A* and alter the pattern of... Read more...
The Galactic Center (GC) region of the Milky Way galaxy contains a supermassive black hole called, Sagittarius A, along with other types of particle accelerators and supernova remnants. It is here where astronomers and scientists found a new structure extending north and south of the galactic center. NASA and others have been scouring our galaxy and beyond for decades in search of new celestial bodies. With each new discovery, more questions also arise of course. A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing have been studying a map of radioactive gamma-rays that exist in and around the center of our galaxy. Their findings seem to indicate that there is something near... Read more...
Update: Program your coffee maker to brew a pot tonight because the longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years is afoot! Those on the East Coast who are willing to stay up late tonight will get a chance to see it beginning at 2am ET Friday morning, with it peaking at 4am. Those on the West Coast will be able to see it tonight starting at 11pm PT, with the peak coming at 1am PT Friday morning. As a reminder, you don't need protective eye-wear like you would with a solar eclipse. However, you will benefit from going to an area with a clear view of the night sky free from obstructions and light pollution. Bundle up in warm clothes, bring some coffee in a thermos, and happy viewing! Original... Read more...
The Parker Solar Probe is set to break its own impressive distance and speed records as it zips its way past the Sun. In its tenth of 24 planned trips around the Sun, the probe will again become the fastest human-made spacecraft to date. NASA's Parker Solo Probe completed its swing past Venus on October 16th. It used the planet's gravity to frame its path for its approach to the Sun. This is the probe's fifth of seven planned passes of Venus in order to gain gravity assists. The flyby actually reduced the speed of the probe by about 6,040 mph (9,720 kmph) as it set it up for its tenth close pass by the Sun, which NASA says will be on November 21st. During its tenth flyby, it will reach an estimated... Read more...
This past Tuesday evening, folks in the southeast United States had a rare opportunity to see a fireball race across the evening sky called an earthgrazer. This comes in the midst of the Taurid meteor shower that occurs around this time every year.. An earthgrazer is a meteor that grazes a long distance across the upper atmosphere of the the Earth due to its low trajectory. Some of these earthgrazers will actually skip off of the Earth's atmosphere, sending them back out into space. The one that was seen traveling across the lower southeast of the US this past Tuesday did not do that, however. It could be seen as it traveled 186 miles across Georgia, Alabama and ending just above the town of... Read more...
Starlight, star bright—NASA is searching for alien life on distant exoplanets. As humankind continues to ask the question, "Are we alone?," NASA continues to find ways to boldly go deeper into space to find out. NASA is set to launch a sounding rocket today from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico that will carry instrumentation to gather data about how starlight affects the atmospheres of exoplanets. This is part of the Suborbital Imaging Spectrograph for Transition region Irradiance from Nearby Exoplanet host stars, or more simply SISTINE-2, mission. It says the information it hopes to gather is key in the search for extraterrestrial life outside of our solar system. Without the ability... Read more...
When your device has a problem, what do you do? You take it apart—whether that means digging into layers of software or painstakingly troubleshooting the hardware—and you fix it. For some folks, that's true whether we're talking about a $25 game controller or a multi-million-dollar piece of lab equipment. That kind of repair is extremely problematic when the machine in question is in space, though. For that reason, NASA's Hubble telescope has all kinds of fail-safes to prevent damage to the hardware, and one such fail-safe apparently activated on October 25th after the telescope failed to receive several synchronization messages. The device isn't damaged, but it can't be used for... Read more...
The thought of an asteroid hurtling through space, slamming into Earth and annihilating humankind has enamored the imagination of more than a few filmmakers and astronomers through the years. Well, NASA has been thinking about the possibility too, and may have a plan to try and avert any such disaster. When someone thinks about NASA and a plan to divert a massive asteroid from crashing into Earth, the image of astronauts drilling holes into the space rock itself to place explosives may come to mind thanks to Hollywood. But the true to life plan that has been devised is much less theatrical and a whole lot more practical. And NASA is close to launching it for its first in-space test run. The cleverly... Read more...
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is trying to spice things up in space. Astronauts have successfully grown hatch chilies aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and were able to feast upon the bounty by making tacos with the fresh chilies. The growth of the hatch chilies was part of NASA’s “Technical Display of Advanced Plant Habitat’s Capabilities (Plant Habitat-04)" experiment. This is the first time NASA has been able to grow peppers in space. Astronauts have grown other plants such as lettuce and radishes, but peppers proved to be a greater challenge because they simply take longer than some other plants to germinate, grow, and produce fruit.... Read more...
NASA is always on the lookout for signs of life beyond Earth and new planets it could exist on. Astronomers at NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory may have discovered a new planet the size of Saturn in another galaxy (far, far away). NASA has recently been crunching new data coming in from its probe Juno currently orbiting Jupiter. The data is giving researchers a much better idea of Jupiter's atmosphere and its famous Great Red Spot. Now it seems they will have even more data to investigate with the possible discovery of an exoplanet in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy due to its distinctive look. An exoplanet is a planet that is outside our own Solar System.... Read more...
As space travel and habitation technologies advance forward, we inch ever closer to the day humans will walk on the surface on Mars. Researchers understand that returning humans home from Mars, however, will more than likely require a Martian-based fuel supply and data suggests bacteria may be the solution. NASA's Artemis program is slated to put mankind back on the surface of the moon by 2024. And Blue Origin's low-orbit business park is supposed to begin by mid-decade. With information gleaned from these current advancements, it is not hard to imagine that we will finally succeed in taking humans to Mars as well. The reality of traveling to Mars is that it would require a large amount... Read more...
NASA's Juno probe has been beaming back some very interesting pictures as of late. The pictures have been giving scientists more insight into the atmosphere of Jupiter as well as the planet's Great Red Spot. Before NASA begins its Artemis program early next year, it is going through all the new data that is being sent back to them from the space probe Juno. Juno first entered the orbit of Jupiter back in 2016. It has utilized a specialized suite of instruments in its 37 passes to send data from scans below the planet's cloud deck to scientists back here on Earth. Some of that data has surprised even NASA. Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute... Read more...
Since the beginning of space exploration, radio frequencies have primarily been the method of data communication. All of that is about to change as NASA hearkens in a new age of laser space communications. And no, Dr. Evil fan club members, sharks will not be used for the frickin' lasers (we're still waiting on that).  Instead, NASA is set to launch its Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) this fall. NASA is billing this as a revolutionary way of communicating data from space to ground. As of now, there are two locations for ground communication known as Optical Ground Station (OGS) -1 and -2, which are located on Table Mountain, California, and Haleakala, Hawaii. The two locations... Read more...
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