Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
An adolescent star in the midst of a dramatic growth phase has been observed with the help of two NASA space telescopes. The youngster belongs to a class of stars that gain mass when matter swirling around the star falls onto its surface. The in-falling matter causes the star to appear about 100 times brighter. Astronomers have found only 25 stars in this class, and only about half of those have been observed during an outburst.
No doubt about it, NASA explores some of the most awe-inspiring locations in our solar system and beyond. Once seen, who can forget the majesty of astronaut Jim Irwin standing before the stark beauty of the Moon’s Hadley Apennine mountain range, of the Hubble Space Telescope’s gorgeous “Pillars of Creation” or Cassini’s magnificent mosaic of Saturn?
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
July 16, 2015
MEDIA ADVISORY M15-109
NASA will hold a media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, July 17, to reveal new images of Pluto and discuss new science findings from Tuesday’s historic flyby.
The briefing will be held in James E. Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington. NASA Television and the agency’s website will carry the briefing live.
Participants in the briefing will be:
- Jim Green, director of Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado
- Randy Gladstone, New Horizons co-investigator at SwRI in San Antonio
- Jeffrey Moore, New Horizons co-investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California
- Fran Bagenal, New Horizons co-investigator, University of Colorado, Boulder
Media may participate by phone. To join the briefing by phone, reporters must email their name, affiliation and telephone number to Karen Northon at karen.northon by noon Friday.
Media and the public also may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.
For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information, visit:
For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:
I have created a number of pages available that will provide you with additional information, links to news feeds, and iPad and Android Apps by NASA for a variety of missions and news.
The new pages (all pages are available when you click the three bars on the upper right hand side of the page) that have been added are:
Along with the featured apps, NASA also has numerous apps for everything from other facilities to current space exploration projects, live views of the Sun, ISS and Mars rover.
Here this page provides the news feed (RSS) links to many of NASA’s missions, centers, science and technology, general and topical feeds. You will need to copy the links into your News or an RSS App or computer programs (Microsoft Exchange suppports RSS feeds within the mail program, for example).
Each NASA center creates and updates Fact Sheets covering its mission, facilities and projects. Click on a center’s name to go its Fact Sheet index. Click on the links to veiw any fact sheet you wish to know about.
This page is the main page for all the RSS and XML feeds that other websites provide, such as Space.com. As we find more sites providing news stories related to Cosmology and Space Exploration, I will add it here.
As I gather more links together, I will update this message (which will stick to the top for at least seven days every time it changes) with the new links. For example, I am working on a Fact Sheet page that will provide links to every mission NASA has performed. It will at least have current missions, however, I am also going to add all missions going back to the beginning of the US space program.
“We don’t know if planets are more common in our galaxy’s central bulge or the disk of the galaxy, which is why these observations are so important,” said Jennifer Yee of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a NASA Sagan fellow. Yee is the lead author of one of three new studies that appeared recently in the Astrophysical Journal describing a collaboration between astronomers using Spitzer and the Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or OGLE.
Microlensing complements other planet-hunting tools, such as NASA’s Kepler mission, which has found more than 1,000 planets closer to home. But it faces one key problem: This method can’t always precisely narrow down the distance to the stars and planets being observed. While a passing star may magnify the light of a more distant star, it rarely can be seen itself, making the task of measuring how far away it is challenging.
- Space observatory discovers one of the most distant planets known
- Research helps map whereabouts of exoplanets throughout the Milky Way
A series of observations from Mars orbit show how dark blast zones that were created during the August 2012 landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover have faded inconsistently.
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter made the observations on multiple dates from landing to last month. After fading for about two years, the pace of change slowed and some of the scars may have even darkened again.
The images track changes in blast zones at four locations caused by different pieces of Curiosity hardware, such as the heat shield and the descent stage. The four series, each with images from five to seven different dates since landing, are available online at:
“Spacecraft like Curiosity create these dark blast zone patterns where bright dust is blown away by the landing,” said Ingrid Daubar, a HiRISE team scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who has used similar blast zones to find fresh meteor impact sites on Mars. “We expected to see them fade as the wind moved the dust around during the months and years after landing, but we’ve been surprised to see that the rate of change doesn’t appear to be consistent.”
One purpose for repeated follow-up imaging of Curiosity’s landing area has been to check whether scientists could model the fading and predict how long it would take for the scars to disappear. Daubar’s work on this aids preparations for NASA’s next Mars lander, InSight, on track for launch in March 2016. The InSight mission will deploy a heat probe that will hammer itself a few yards, or meters, deep into the ground to monitor heat coming from the interior of the planet. The brightness of the ground affects temperature below ground, because a dark surface warms in sunshine more than a bright one does.
HiRISE is one of six instruments with which NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been studying Mars since 2006.
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project has been using the Curiosity rover to examine ancient Martian environments favorable for microbial life.
With three active NASA Mars orbiters and two Mars rovers, NASA seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. In parallel on its journey to Mars, NASA is developing the capabilities needed for human missions there.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project, the Mars Science Laboratory Project and the InSight Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.
Links for additional info:
About HiRISE: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu
About NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: http://mars.nasa.gov/mro
About Curiosity and NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project: http://mars.nasa.gov/msl
About InSight: http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov
› Groundwater pollution is a worldwide threat to water availability.
› A new technique uses satellite observations of land use changes to assess a region’s risk of groundwater pollution.
The next time you’re digging for buried treasure, stop when you hit water. That underground resource is more valuable than all legendary hoards combined. Ninety percent of Earth’s available fresh water is beneath the surface at any particular time. We drink it, we grow our food with it, and we power industries with it.
We also pollute it. When pollutants get into groundwater, they can stay there for decades. Cleanup efforts are difficult, expensive and not always successful. It would be better to protect groundwater from contamination in the first place, but risks to groundwater are moving targets. Although unchanging factors such as porous soil or shallow aquifer depth play a role, the greatest risk comes from the source of the pollutants: people. And people are always moving. A growing city, in particular, usually means a growing threat to groundwater quality. To lock on to the moving target of groundwater risk, planners worldwide need up-to-date information on how people are changing the land surface.
Son Nghiem, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has devised a new technique to use satellite observations of changes in land use to assess the threat of groundwater pollution by a common group of polluting compounds called nitrates. “To test the method, we successfully conducted the Po Plain Experiment [POPLEX] in northern Italy,” said POPLEX leader Marco Masetti, a professor at the University of Milan, Italy. Combining data from the experiment with satellite data and two other data sets on population and land use, they discovered that in this region, groundwater is more vulnerable in urban than in agricultural areas. The satellite data produced a more accurate map of groundwater risks than either of the other data sets.
Nghiem’s new technique uses data from NASA’s QuikScat scatterometer, a satellite managed by JPL. The method improves the “focus” of the QuikScat image from a pixel size of about 15 miles (25 kilometers) per side to 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) per side, capturing far more detail on how the landscape has changed. Nghiem explained his technique takes advantage of the fact that human-made structures bounce back more of the radar signal than does soil or vegetation. Since large buildings with steel frames are concentrated in cities, the strength of the return signals is a good measure of urbanization.
Lombardy, the region of Italy where the POPLEX experiment took place, “is both one of the most urbanized and one of the most agricultural regions in Italy,” said Stefania Stevenazzi, a doctoral candidate at the University of Milan and lead author of a paperon the research, which appears in the March 19 Hydrogeology Journal. The city of Milan is in the north, and the southern part of the region is mainly farmland. Lombardy’s farmers have usually been blamed for nitrate pollution in the region’s aquifers because nitrates are used as fertilizers, but the compounds also have urban sources, including leaks from sewage systems.
The research team produced three groundwater vulnerability maps based on observed changes from 2000 to 2009. Each map used the same hydrological and geological data, but a different data set representing human factors: census results, a high-resolution aerial photographic survey and the QuikScat observations processed by Nghiem’s method. Statistical techniques were applied to rank the vulnerability of every part of the plain. Water samples from about 200 wells were used to verify the results.
The three maps agreed that in Lombardy, urban sources of nitrate were more important than the rural in polluting groundwater. The QuikScat map, however, proved to match the water samples most accurately. For example, the map using census data indicated that several areas in greater Milan were not at much risk, whereas the satellite data caught the reality that these areas are highly vulnerable. That is because censuses place people at their home addresses, but most of the people in Milan’s labor force are commuters who spend many waking — and polluting — hours at work.
Stevenazzi added, “Our analysis shows how much changes in land use were related to increasing or decreasing contamination in the 2000s. These results are also useful to evaluate how future land-use plans can be developed appropriately to safeguard groundwater quality and human health.”
For more information on the Po Plain Experiment, see:
For more on QuikScat, please visit:
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.