Archives

February 2013



NASA's Van Allen Probes mission has discovered a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth, revealing the existence of unexpected structures and processes within these hazardous regions of space.

NASA's Van Allen Probes mission has discovered a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth, revealing the existence of unexpected structures and processes within these hazardous regions of space.

Using new technology at the telescope and in laboratories, researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in interstellar space. The discoveries indicate that some basic chemicals that are key steps on the way to life may have formed on dusty ice grains floating between the stars.

The propeller-shaped white dashes near the bottom of this Cassini spacecraft image reveal the location of a small moonlet embedded in Saturn's A ring. The gravity of this tiny moonlet affects the orbits of nearby ring particles and creates the propeller feature, nicknamed Bleriot by imaging scientists, that Cassini sees.


The Mars rover Curiosity is this week in the midst of potentially historic discoveries as the full range of its capabilities are brought to bear for the first time on a gray powdered Martian subsurface rock sample.


This image compresses the Vela movie sequence into a single snapshot by merging pie-slice sections from eight individual frames.

This image compresses the Vela movie sequence into a single snapshot by merging pie-slice sections from eight individual frames. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration


Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our Sun.

Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our Sun.

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education, in cooperation with NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), and Science Mission Directorates (SMD), the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT), and NASA's ten Centers, solicits proposals for the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Each funded NASA EPSCoR proposal is expected to establish research activities that will make significant contributions to the strategic research and technology development priorities of one or more of the Mission Directorates or the OCT and contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities, higher education, and economic development of the jurisdiction. If submitted, Notices of Intent are due on March 18, 2013 and proposals are due on April 19, 2013." More


Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have obtained what is likely the first direct observation of a forming planet still embedded in a thick disc of gas and dust. If confirmed, this discovery will greatly improve our understanding of how planets form and allow astronomers to test the current theories against an observable target.

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have obtained what is likely the first direct observation of a forming planet still embedded in a thick disc of gas and dust. If confirmed, this discovery will greatly improve our understanding of how planets form and allow astronomers to test the current theories against an observable target.


If Dennis Tito has his way, two people will leave our planet in January 2018 and make a trip to Mars and back. Tito will be footing much of the bill himself. This mission won't stop at Mars, but rather, will do a quick flyby.

Saturn's north polar hexagon basks in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear to disappear on account of Saturn's shadow, put in an appearance in the background.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft's wide-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 750 nanometers.

Early on the morning of February 22, 2013, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of heavy snow over the United States. In many towns and cities across the Great Plains, more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell. Kansas bore the brunt of the storm, with as much as 22 inches (56 centimeters) falling in the town of Russell.


The Whirlpool Galaxy is a classic spiral galaxy. At only 30 million light years distant and fully 60 thousand light years across, M51, also known as NGC 5194, is one of the brightest and most picturesque galaxies on the sky.


Early on the morning of February 22, 2013, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of heavy snow over the United States.


Saturn's north polar hexagon basks in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear to disappear on account of Saturn's shadow, put in an appearance in the background.

NASA scientists report that warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation locally and regionally have altered the growth of large forest areas in the eastern United States over the past 10 years. Using NASA's Terra satellite, scientists examined the relationship between natural plant growth trends, as monitored by NASA satellite images, and variations in climate over the eastern United States from 2000 to 2010.

"I am pleased to invite Ames resident staff to drop in on the "Dark Side of the Jam" gathering in Building 3 on March 8-10, 2013. The Dark Side of the Jam is bringing together top game designers for a "satellite game jam" with the goal of developing space and science games. Dark Side of the Jam challenges gamers to not only to demonstrate their coding prowess, but help capture the public's interest in the science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. Dark Side of the Jam opens with registration at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 8, and runs until 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, in the Building 3 Ballroom. The center director will welcome the participants, and then NASA speakers will share knowledge about NASA aeronautics, small spacecraft, robotics, and planetary exploration to ignite ideas. NASA also will provide feedback on Saturday to the game developers. The event kicks off on Friday evening at about 7:30 p.m. NASA also will provide displays and models for inspiration." More

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, Expedition 34 flight engineer, talks about life aboard the orbiting International Space Station.

The Space Telescope Science Institute provides backyard stargazers this monthly guide to the northern hemisphere's skywatching events. In March, look for the Beehive Cluster and find out how to spot Jupiter and Saturn.


Even dying stars could host planets with life -- and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade. This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. Researchers found that we could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.

Even dying stars could host planets with life -- and if such life exists, we might be able to detect it within the next decade. This encouraging result comes from a new theoretical study of Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarf stars. Researchers found that we could detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf's planet much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star.


A discussion on the end of polling to name the moons of Pluto. Moderated by Alan Boyle, with scientists Franck Marchis, and Mark Showalter.