Within its first three months on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover saw a surprising diversity of soils and sediments along a half-kilometer route that tell a complex story about the gradual desiccation of the Red Planet. Perhaps most notable among findings from the ChemCam team is that all of the dust and fine soil contains small amounts of water.
Imagine the distance between the sun and the star nearest to it—a star called Alpha Centauri. That’s a distance of about 4 light years. Now, imagine as many as 10,000 of our suns crammed into that relatively small space. That is about the density of a galaxy that was recently discovered by an international team of astronomers led by a Michigan State Univ. faculty member.
NASA's Curiosity rover hasn't discovered any signs of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, a finding that does not bode well for the possibility that microbes capable of producing the gas could be living below the planet's surface, scientists said Thursday. On Earth, most of the gas is a byproduct of life, spewed when animals digest or plants decay.
NASA's newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia. The LADEE spacecraft, which is charged with studying the lunar atmosphere and dust, soared aboard an unmanned Minotaur rocket a little before midnight. It was a change of venue for NASA, which normally launches moon missions from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Like the wind adjusting course in the middle of a storm, scientists have discovered that the particles streaming into the solar system from interstellar space have most likely changed direction over the last 40 years. Such information can help us map out our place within the galaxy surrounding us, and help us understand our place in space.
NASA is headed back to the moon, this time to explore its thin atmosphere and rough dust. The robotic spacecraft LADEE, will fly to the moon by way of Virginia's Eastern Shore. Liftoff is set for late Friday night from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
In May 2009, the Mars rover Spirit cracked through a crusty layer of Martian topsoil, sinking into softer underlying sand. The unexpected sand trap permanently mired the vehicle. The mission mishap may have been prevented by a better understanding of terramechanics, which describes the interaction between vehicles and deformable terrain.
When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.
Humans are designed to grasp well; but repetitive, high-force gripping can result in long-term discomfort or injury. For example, an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15 to 20 lbs of force to hold a tool for a task. NASA’s Johnson Space Center, General Motors and Oceaneering Space Systems have partnered to design a solution: the Robo-Glove.
The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.
In 2003, the Helios solar electric airplane broke up in mid-air and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The incident highlighted a problem: Operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had no way of knowing when the wings were experiencing unsustainable strain. Scientists at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and 4DSP, a company specializing in signal and image processing systems, co-developed a lightweight, robust Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) that greatly speeds the operational monitoring and sensing.
The melting of sea ice in the Arctic is well on its way toward its annual "minimum," that time when the floating ice cap covers less of the Arctic Ocean than at any other period during the year. While the ice will continue to shrink until around mid-September, it is unlikely that this year’s summer low will break a new record. Still, this year’s melt rates are in line with the sustained decline of the Arctic ice cover.
On Tuesday, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon which can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.
In two NASA-funded studies, biofilms made by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa were cultured on Earth and aboard space shuttle Atlantis in 2010 and 2011 to determine the impact of microgravity on their behavior. After comparing the biofilms grown on the ground with those grown on space station-bound shuttles, study results show for the first time that spaceflight changes the behavior of bacterial communities.
Carrying Earthly greetings on a gold plated phonograph record and still-operational scientific instruments NASA's Voyager 1 has traveled farther from Earth than any other human-made object. And now, researchers say, it has begun the first exploration of our galaxy beyond the Sun's influence. The finding could be, however, somewhat controversial.
A meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded 14 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2013. Unlike similar past events, this time scientists had the sensitive instruments on the Suomi NPP satellite to deliver unprecedented data and help them track and study the meteor plume for months.
Six researchers have spent the past four months living in a small dome on a barren Hawaii lava field at 8,000 feet, trying to figure out what foods astronauts might eat on Mars and during deep-space missions. They emerged on Tuesday with their recipes and without the space suits they were required to wear each time they ventured onto the northern slope of Mauna Loa—an active volcano that last erupted in 1984.
A recent arrival to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will have quite a different approach than that taken by recent probes dispatched to the Red Planet. Instead of rolling about on the surface looking for clues to the planet's hidden heritage, MAVEN will orbit high above the surface so it can sample the upper atmosphere for signs of what changed over the eons and why.
Astronomers have solved a 40-year-old mystery on the origin of the Magellanic Stream, a long ribbon of gas stretching nearly halfway around our Milky Way galaxy. It appears to originate from two dwarf galaxies, but astronomers did not know if one or both galaxies were the source. Hubble Space Telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph was used to examine the gas and find the answer.
Curiosity Rover team members re-live the dramatic Aug. 6, 2012 landing and the mission's achievements to date in a recent event aired on NASA Television and the agency's website. In the year since inspiring millions of people worldwide with its one-of-a-kind landing in a crater on the Red Planet, Curiosity has achieved its primary scientific objective; finding evidence that ancient Mars could have sustained microbial life.
Using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, an international team of astronomers has imaged a giant planet around the bright star GJ 504. Several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, the new world, dubbed GJ 504b and still glowing from the heat of its formation, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.
The Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission will fly this year to investigate Atlantic Ocean hurricanes. It will carry a new type of dual-frequency conical-scanning Doppler radar that sports a new shape: Most aircraft carrying Doppler radar look like they’ve grown a tail, developed a dorsal fin, or sprouted a giant pancake on their backs. But the unmanned Global Hawk carries will carry the radar under its belly as it flies above hurricanes.
The GOES-R Magnetometer Engineering Development Unit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center completed successful boom deployment test at an ATK facility in Goleta, Calif. The magnetometer, which will deploy aboard the boom after launch, will provide measurements of the space environment magnetic field, which controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere.
After studying data from a pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites.
On July 17, 2013, the international team which supported and built NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, was rewarded for its hard work when the door of the telescope opened to view the mysterious lowest layers of the sun's atmosphere in unprecedented detail. Imaging in ultraviolet light and using a spectrograph, the orbiter has already revealed a multitude of previously unseen structures.