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Real-time UAV Structural Monitoring

August 28, 2013 8:16 am | Award Winners

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.

Arctic sea ice: Unlikely to break records, but downward trend continues

August 27, 2013 3:14 pm | by Maria-José Viñas, NASA's Earth Science News Team | News | Comments

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.

NASA spacecraft captures Earth-bound coronal mass ejection

August 21, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

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.

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Spaceflight alters bacterial social networks

August 15, 2013 3:03 pm | by Gianine M. Figliozzi, NASA Ames Research Center | News | Comments

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.

Study: Voyager 1 has left the Solar System

August 15, 2013 1:58 pm | News | Comments

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.

Around the world in four days: Tracking Chelyabinsk meteor plume

August 15, 2013 12:50 pm | by Kathryn Hansen, NASA's Earth Science News Team | News | Comments

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.

Mars food study researchers emerge from dome

August 14, 2013 9:14 am | by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

NASA eyes Mars as launch preparation begins

August 13, 2013 1:00 pm | by Steven Siceloff, NASA's Kennedy Space Center | News | Comments

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.

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Hubble Space Telescope finds source of Magellanic Stream

August 9, 2013 10:05 am | News | Comments

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.

A year of Curiosity on Mars

August 7, 2013 3:06 pm | Videos | Comments

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.

Astronomers image lowest-mass exoplanet around a sun-like star

August 5, 2013 6:22 pm | by Francis Reddy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

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.

New Doppler radar takes flight on this summer’s HS3 mission

August 1, 2013 4:30 pm | by Ellen Gray, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

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.

GOES-R satellite magnetometer boom deployment successful

July 30, 2013 9:23 am | by Rob Gutro and Kevin Mc Laughlin, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

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.

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Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

July 25, 2013 7:08 pm | News | Comments

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.

IRIS telescope offers first glimpse of sun’s mysterious atmosphere

July 25, 2013 6:37 pm | News | Comments

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.

Curiosity rover confirms Martian air is mostly CO2

July 22, 2013 9:20 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The measurements by the most advanced spacecraft to land on the red planet closely match what the twin Viking landers detected in the late 1970s and what scientists have gleaned from Martian meteorites. Mars' atmosphere is overwhelmingly dominated by carbon dioxide, unlike Earth's air, which is a mix of nitrogen and oxygen. But Curiosity’s measurements did yield one small surprise.

How Mars’ atmosphere got so thin

July 22, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

New findings from NASA's Curiosity rover provide clues to how Mars lost its original atmosphere, which scientists believe was much thicker than the one left today. The beauty of these measurements lies in the fact that these are the first really high-precision measurements of the composition of Mars' atmosphere.

NASA tries to save planet-hunting telescope

July 18, 2013 4:00 pm | News | Comments

Recovery efforts to save the $600 million Kepler mission began Thursday and will last for a week. Mission managers won't know until later this month at the earliest whether the Kepler spacecraft will ever search for Earth-like planets again.

Zero Gravity Solutions nearing goal for stock trade

July 18, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Biotechnology company Zero Gravity Solutiuons aims to utilize the unique effects of extended zero/micro gravity environments available on the International Space Station to promote gene expression and accelerate stem cell research. The company has completed filings required prior to trading of the company’s stock.

Spacesuit water leak ends spacewalk; astronaut OK

July 17, 2013 9:56 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

In one of the most harrowing spacewalks in decades, an astronaut had to rush back into the International Space Station on Tuesday after a mysterious water leak inside his helmet robbed him of the ability to speak or hear at times and could have caused him to choke or even drown. Italian Luca Parmitano was reported to be fine after the dangerous episode, which might have been caused by an unprecedented leak in the cooling system of his suit.

Report: Next Mars rover should gather rocks, soil

July 17, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

The next rover to Mars should hunt for signs of ancient life and gather rocks that a future mission could bring back to Earth for the first time, a team of scientists appointed by the U.S. space agency said Tuesday. The scientists' new report outlines ambitious goals for a mission to Mars that NASA wants to launch in 2020.

The heart of space weather observed in action

July 16, 2013 9:22 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Two NASA spacecraft have provided the most comprehensive movie ever of a mysterious process at the heart of all explosions on the sun: magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection happens when magnetic field lines come together, break apart and then exchange partners, snapping into new positions and releasing a jolt of magnetic energy. This process lies at the heart of giant explosions on the sun.

Astronomers find blue planet outside solar system

July 15, 2013 8:15 am | by James Brooks, Associated Press | News | Comments

Astronomers have for the first time managed to determine the color of a planet outside our solar system, a blue gas giant 63 light-years away. Measuring the planet's color, which is probably created by a turbulent atmosphere of silicate particles, is a significant first. It has never been done before with a planet outside our solar system.

Next Mars rover should gather rocks, soil

July 9, 2013 7:44 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Explore an intriguing spot on Mars. Hunt for ancient signs of Martian life. Bag a bunch of rocks and leave them on the surface for a future mission to possibly return. That's what the next rover to Mars should strive for, a NASA-appointed team said Tuesday. The scientists released a 154-page report outlining ambitious science goals for a red planet mission that NASA wants to launch in 2020.

NASA Mars rover Curiosity begins delayed road trip

July 8, 2013 4:48 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Martian mountain, here Curiosity comes. The NASA rover has officially kicked off its long-delayed road trip to Mount Sharp, a trek that involves rolling over rocky landscapes. Since July Fourth, the six-wheel rover has driven 190 feet to the southwest, leaving behind the spot where it spent the past seven months performing science experiments.

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