NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Month in Review

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Month in Review

MARS

NASA’s InSight ‘Hears’ Its First Meteoroid Impacts on Mars

Sept. 19, 2022

These craters were formed by a Sept. 5, 2021, meteoroid impact on Mars, the first to be detected by NASA’s InSight. Taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, this enhanced-color image highlights the dust and soil disturbed by the impact in blue in order to make details more visible to the human eye.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The Mars lander’s seismometer has picked up vibrations from four separate impacts in the past two years.

NASA’s InSight lander has detected seismic waves from four space rocks that crashed on Mars in 2020 and 2021. Not only do these represent the first impacts detected by the spacecraft’s seismometer since InSight touched down on the Red Planet in 2018, it also marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected on Mars.

A new paper published Monday in Nature Geoscience details the impacts, which ranged between 53 and 180 miles (85 and 290 kilometers) from InSight’s location, a region of Mars called Elysium Planitia.

The first of the four confirmed meteoroids – the term used for space rocks before they hit the ground – made the most dramatic entrance: It entered Mars’ atmosphere on Sept. 5, 2021, exploding into at least three shards that each left a crater behind.

Learn more about the first meteoroid impact NASA’s InSight lander detected on Mars in this video.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Then, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over the estimated impact site to confirm the location. The orbiter used its black-and-white Context Camera to reveal three darkened spots on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter’s team used the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, or HiRISE, to get a color close-up of the craters (the meteoroid could have left additional craters in the surface, but they would be too small to see in HiRISE’s images).

“After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University, a co-author of the paper and a specialist in Mars impacts.

After combing through earlier data, scientists confirmed three other impacts had occurred on May 27, 2020; Feb. 18, 2021; and Aug. 31, 2021.

Researchers have puzzled over why they haven’t detected more meteoroid impacts on Mars. The Red Planet is next to the solar system’s main asteroid belt, which provides an ample supply of space rocks to scar the planet’s surface. Because Mars’ atmosphere is just 1% as thick as Earth’s, more meteoroids pass through it without disintegrating.

InSight’s seismometer has detected over 1,300 marsquakes. Provided by France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Études Spatiales, the instrument is so sensitive that it can detect seismic waves from thousands of miles away. But the Sept. 5, 2021, event marks the first time an impact was confirmed as the cause of such waves.

InSight’s team suspects that other impacts may have been obscured by noise from wind or by seasonal changes in the atmosphere. But now that the distinctive seismic signature of an impact on Mars has been discovered, scientists expect to find more hiding within InSight’s nearly four years of data.

Listen to a Meteoroid Hitting the Red Planet

The sound of a meteoroid striking Mars – created from data recorded by NASA’s InSight lander – is like a “bloop” due to a peculiar atmospheric effect. In this audio clip, the sound can be heard three times: when the meteoroid enters the Martian atmosphere, explodes into pieces, and impacts the surface.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES/IPGP

Science Behind the Strikes

Seismic data offer various clues that will help researchers better understand the Red Planet. Most marsquakes are caused by subsurface rocks cracking from heat and pressure. Studying how the resulting seismic waves change as they move through different material provides scientists a way to study Mars’ crust, mantle, and core.

The four meteoroid impacts confirmed so far produced small quakes with a magnitude of no more than 2.0. Those smaller quakes provide scientists with only a glimpse into the Martian crust, while seismic signals from larger quakes, like the magnitude 5 event that occurred in May 2022, can also reveal details about the planet’s mantle and core.

Read postcards people have sent to InSight

But the impacts will be critical to refining Mars’ timeline. “Impacts are the clocks of the solar system,” said the paper’s lead author, Raphael Garcia of Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse, France. “We need to know the impact rate today to estimate the age of different surfaces.”

Scientists can approximate the age of a planet’s surface by counting its impact craters: The more they see, the older the surface. By calibrating their statistical models based on how often they see impacts occurring now, scientists can then estimate how many more impacts happened earlier in the solar system’s history.

InSight’s data, in combination with orbital images, can be used to rebuild a meteoroid’s trajectory and the size of its shock wave. Every meteoroid creates a shock wave as it hits the atmosphere and an explosion as it hits the ground. These events send sound waves through the atmosphere. The bigger the explosion, the more this sound wave tilts the ground when it reaches InSight. The lander’s seismometer is sensitive enough to measure how much the ground tilts from such an event and in what direction.

“We’re learning more about the impact process itself,” Garcia said. “We can match different sizes of craters to specific seismic and acoustic waves now.”

The lander still has time to study Mars. Dust buildup on the lander’s solar panels is reducing its power and will eventually lead to the spacecraft shutting down. Predicting precisely when is difficult, but based on the latest power readings, engineers now believe the lander could shut down between October of this year and January 2023.

More About the Mission

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages InSight for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument to NASA, with the principal investigator at IPGP (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris). Significant contributions for SEIS came from IPGP; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland; Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the temperature and wind sensors.

Hear Meteoroid Striking Mars, Captured by NASA’s InSight Lander

Sep 19, 2022 NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s InSight lander detected seismic waves from a meteoroid and was able to capture the sound of the space rock striking the surface of Mars for the first time. The meteoroid – the term used for incoming space rocks before they hit the ground – entered Mars’ atmosphere on Sept. 5, 2021, exploding into at least three shards that each left craters behind. Mars’ atmosphere is just 1% as dense as Earth’s, allowing far more meteoroids to pass through and impact the Red Planet’s surface. This event marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact were detected on the Red Planet. Why does this meteoroid impact sound like a “bloop” in the video? It has to do with a peculiar atmospheric effect that’s also observed in deserts on Earth. After sunset, the atmosphere retains some heat accumulated during the day. Sound waves travel through this heated atmosphere at different speeds, depending on their frequency. As a result, lower-pitched sounds arrive before high-pitched sounds. An observer close to the impact would hear a “bang,” while someone many miles away would hear the bass sounds first, creating a “bloop.” NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over the estimated impact site to confirm the location. The orbiter used its black-and-white Context Camera to reveal three darkened spots on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter’s team used the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, or HiRISE, to get a color close-up of the craters. Because HiRISE sees wavelengths the human eye can’t detect, scientists change the camera’s filters to enhance the color of the image. The areas that appear blue around the craters are where dust has been removed or disturbed by the blast of the impact. Martian dust is bright and red, so removing it makes the surface appear relatively dark and blue. For more information on InSight, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Maryland/University of Arizona/CNES/IPGP/Manchu/Bureau 21/ETH Zurich/Kirschner/van Driel

News Media Contact

Andrew Good

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-2433

andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2022-136

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EARTH

NASA, USGS Map Minerals to Understand Earth Makeup, Climate Change

Sept. 30, 2022

A photo of a NASA ER-2 high-altitude aircraft with the AVIRIS and HyTES instruments installed.

Credit: NASA

These new observations can be used to identify the presence of a wide variety of minerals as well as mineral weathering or alteration.

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will map portions of the southwest United States for critical minerals using advanced airborne imaging.

Hyperspectral data from hundreds of wavelengths of reflected light can provide new information about Earth’s surface and atmosphere to help scientists understand Earth’s geology and biology, as well as the effects of climate change.

The research project, called the Geological Earth Mapping Experiment (GEMx), will use NASA’s Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES) instruments flown on NASA’s ER-2 and Gulfstream V aircraft to collect the measurements over the country’s arid and semi-arid regions, including parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

“This exciting new project is just one example of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to a clean energy future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA has a long history of Earth observation that shows us how the planet is responding to climate change. This project builds on our 60-year legacy, and can show us where to look for the resources that support our transition to a clean energy economy. With our partners at USGS, NASA has led the way in developing these Earth observation systems to gather information to measure and monitor the environment and climate change.”

These new observations record the spectroscopic fingerprints of surface minerals across hundreds of wavelength bands. In other words, these are measurements not only of visible light our eyes can see but also of wavelengths of light beyond the visible into the infrared. The data can be used to identify the presence of a wide variety of minerals including primary rock-forming minerals as well as mineral weathering or alteration.

This project will complement data from NASA’s newest instrument on the International Space Station, the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT). EMIT is focused on mapping the mineral dust source composition of Earth’s arid regions to better understand how mineral dust affects heating and cooling of the planet. The instrument also makes spectroscopic measurements of the hundreds of wavelengths of light reflected from materials on Earth. The mission provided its first view of Earth on July 27 and is expected to become fully operational next month.

The $16 million GEMx research project will last five years and is funded by the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative, through investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The initiative will capitalize on both the technology developed by NASA for spectroscopic imaging as well as the expertise in analyzing the datasets and extracting critical mineral information from them. Beyond providing additional detail over the mineral maps made by EMIT, GEMx will provide NASA with critical high-resolution data at regional scales to support development of the Surface Biology and Geology mission, part of NASA’s new Earth System Observatory. The Surface Biology and Geology mission will answer questions about the fluxes of carbon, water, nutrients, and energy within and between ecosystems and the atmosphere, the ocean, and Earth.

“This exciting scientific effort is made possible through the President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments and will enable NASA and the USGS to leverage our unique capabilities toward a common goal,” said USGS Director David Applegate. “The data we’re collecting will be foundational for not only critical minerals research but also for a wide range of other scientific applications, from natural hazards mitigation to ecosystem restoration.”

In 1979, NASA started developing spectral imaging systems at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The first system, the Airborne Imaging Spectrometer, led to the development of AVIRIS. NASA and USGS have a long history of collaborating on collecting and analyzing spectroscopic data, including the 17-year Earth Observing-1 mission, which carried the first Earth orbiting instrument spanning the AVIRIS spectral range, Hyperion. This type of spectroscopic imaging has a long history of use in mineral research. These data are also useful for understanding a variety of other Earth science, ecological, and biological issues including geological acid mine drainage, debris flows, agriculture, wildfires, and biodiversity.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/earth

News Media Contact

Tylar Greene

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-358-0030

tylar.j.greene@nasa.gov

2022-141

For more information, please visit the following link:

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SOLAR SYSTEM

NASA’s Juno Shares First Image From Flyby of Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Sept. 29, 2022

Observations from the spacecraft’s pass of the moon provided the first close-up in over two decades of this ocean world, resulting in remarkable imagery and unique science.

The complex, ice-covered surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during a flyby on Sept. 29, 2022. At closest approach, the spacecraft came within a distance of about 219 miles (352 kilometers).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI/MSSS

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The first picture NASA’s Juno spacecraft took as it flew by Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa has arrived on Earth. Revealing surface features in a region near the moon’s equator called Annwn Regio, the image was captured during the solar-powered spacecraft’s closest approach, on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 2:36 a.m. PDT (5:36 a.m. EDT), at a distance of about 219 miles (352 kilometers).

This is only the third close pass in history below 310 miles (500 kilometers) altitude and the closest look any spacecraft has provided at Europa since Jan. 3, 2000, when NASA’s Galileo came within 218 miles (351 kilometers) of the surface.

Europa is the sixth-largest moon in the solar system, slightly smaller than Earth’s moon. Scientists think a salty ocean lies below a miles-thick ice shell, sparking questions about potential conditions capable of supporting life underneath Europa’s surface.

This segment of the first image of Europa taken during this flyby by the spacecraft’s JunoCam (a public-engagement camera) zooms in on a swath of Europa’s surface north of the equator. Due to the enhanced contrast between light and shadow seen along the terminator (the nightside boundary), rugged terrain features are easily seen, including tall shadow-casting blocks, while bright and dark ridges and troughs curve across the surface. The oblong pit near the terminator might be a degraded impact crater.

Find out where Juno is right now with NASA’s interactive Eyes on the Solar System. With its blades stretching out some 66 feet (20 meters), the spacecraft is a dynamic engineering marvel, spinning to keep itself stable as it orbits Jupiter and flies by some of the planet’s moons. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With this additional data about Europa’s geology, Juno’s observations will benefit future missions to the Jovian moon, including the agency’s Europa Clipper. Set to launch in 2024, Europa Clipper will study the moon’s atmosphere, surface, and interior, with its main science goal being to determine whether there are places below Europa’s surface that could support life.

As exciting as Juno’s data will be, the spacecraft had only a two-hour window to collect it, racing past the moon with a relative velocity of about 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometers per second).

“It’s very early in the process, but by all indications Juno’s flyby of Europa was a great success,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “This first picture is just a glimpse of the remarkable new science to come from Juno’s entire suite of instruments and sensors that acquired data as we skimmed over the moon’s icy crust.”

During the flyby, the mission collected what will be some of the highest-resolution images of the moon (0.6 miles, or 1 kilometer, per pixel) and obtained valuable data on Europa’s ice shell structure, interior, surface composition, and ionosphere, in addition to the moon’s interaction with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

See more images from JunoCam

Images of Ganymede from Juno’s 2021 flyby

“The science team will be comparing the full set of images obtained by Juno with images from previous missions, looking to see if Europa’s surface features have changed over the past two decades,” said Candy Hansen, a Juno co-investigator who leads planning for the camera at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “The JunoCam images will fill in the current geologic map, replacing existing low-resolution coverage of the area.”

Juno’s close-up views and data from its Microwave Radiometer (MWR) instrument will provide new details on how the structure of Europa’s ice varies beneath its crust. Scientists can use all this information to generate new insights into the moon, including data in the search for regions where liquid water may exist in shallow subsurface pockets.

Building on Juno’s observations and previous missions such as Voyager 2 and Galileo, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, slated to arrive at Europa in 2030, will study the moon’s atmosphere, surface, and interior – with a goal to investigate habitability and better understand its global subsurface ocean, the thickness of its ice crust, and search for possible plumes that may be venting subsurface water into space.

The close flyby modified Juno’s trajectory, reducing the time it takes to orbit Jupiter from 43 to 38 days. The flyby also marks the second encounter with a Galilean moon during Juno’s extended mission. The mission explored Ganymede in June 2021 and is scheduled to make close flybys of Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, in 2023 and 2024.

More About the Mission

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

More information about Juno is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

and

https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu

News Media Contact

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011

agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

Deb Schmid

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio

210-522-2254

dschmid@swri.org

2022-140

For more information, please visit the following link:

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     WEATHER

NASA-Built Weather Sensors Capture Vital Data on Hurricane Ian

Sept. 28, 2022

From aboard the International Space Station, NASA-built instruments Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR) and Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems (TEMPEST) captured wind and water vapor data from Hurricane Ian as the storm neared Cuba.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A pair of microwave radiometers collected data on the storm as they passed over the Caribbean Sea aboard the International Space Station.

Two recently launched instruments that were designed and built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to provide forecasters data on weather over the open ocean captured images of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, as the storm approached Cuba on its way north toward the U.S. mainland.

COWVR (short for Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer) and TEMPEST (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems) observe the planet’s atmosphere and surface from aboard the International Space Station, which passed in low-Earth orbit over the Caribbean Sea at about 12:30 a.m. EDT.

Ian made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province at 4:30 a.m. EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center. At that time, it was a Category 3 hurricane, with estimated wind speeds of 125 mph (205 kph).

The image above combines microwave emissions measurements from both COWVR and TEMPEST. White sections indicate the presence of clouds. Green portions indicate rain. Yellow, red, and black indicate where air and water vapor were moving most swiftly. Ian’s center is seen just off of Cuba’s southern coast, and the storm is shown covering the island with rain and wind.

COWVR and TEMPEST sent the data for this image back to Earth in a direct stream via NASA’s tracking and data relay satellite (TDRS) constellation. The data were processed at JPL and made available to forecasters less than two hours after collection.

About the size of a minifridge, COWVR measures natural microwave emissions over the ocean. The magnitude of the emissions increases with the amount of rain in the atmosphere, and the strongest rain produces the strongest microwave emissions. TEMPEST – comparable in size to a cereal box – tracks microwaves at a much shorter wavelength, allowing it to see ice particles within the hurricane’s cloudy regions that are thrust into the upper atmosphere by the storm.

Both microwave radiometers were conceived to demonstrate that smaller, more energy-efficient, more simply designed sensors can perform most of the same measurements as current space-based weather instruments that are heavier, consume more power, and cost much more to construct.

COWVR’s development was funded by the U.S. Space Force, and TEMPEST was developed with NASA funding. The U.S. Space Test Program-Houston 8 (STP-H8) is responsible for hosting the instruments on the space station under Space Force funding in partnership with NASA. Data from the instruments is being used by government and university weather forecasters and scientists. The mission will inform development of future space-based weather sensors, and scientists are working on mission concepts that would take advantage of the low-cost microwave sensor technologies to study long-standing questions, such as how heat from the ocean fuels global weather patterns.

News Media Contact

Andrew Wang / Jane J. Lee

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

626-379-6874 / 818-354-0307

andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov / jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov

2022-139

For more information, please visit the following link:

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ASTEROIDS AND COMETS

NASA’s Asteroid-Striking DART Mission Team Has JPL Members

Sept. 22, 2022

This illustration depicts NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft prior to impact at the Didymos binary asteroid system.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

It’s a bold and complex undertaking to try impacting an asteroid. JPL is there to assist with navigators, communications, and more.

On Monday, Sept. 26, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission has the challenging goal of crashing its spacecraft into Dimorphos, a small moonlet orbiting a larger asteroid by the name of Didymos. While the asteroid poses no threat to Earth, this mission will test technology that could be used to defend our planet against potential asteroid or comet hazards that may be detected in the future.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, designed and leads the ambitious mission for NASA. But as with many missions, the endeavor calls on expertise from various NASA centers. In the case of the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, that expertise is for navigation, precise location of the target, asteroid science, and Earth-to-spacecraft communications.

“Strategic partnerships like ours with APL are the lifeblood of cutting-edge space mission development,” said Laurie Leshin, director of JPL. “Our history of working with APL goes all the way back to Voyager and extends well into the future, with missions like Europa Clipper. The work we do together makes us all – and our missions – better. We’re proud to support the DART mission and team.”

Teachable Moment

THE SCIENCE BEHIND DART

Launched in November 2021, the approximately 1,320-pound (about 600-kilogram) DART spacecraft will be at a point 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth when it impacts Dimorphos, which is just 525 feet (160 meters) across. Making matters more challenging still, the spacecraft will be closing in on the space rock at about 4 miles (6.1 kilometers) per second. Dimorphos orbits Didymos, which is roughly half a mile (780 meters) in diameter, every 11.9 hours.

Getting to Dimorphos

JPL’s navigation section is experienced at getting spacecraft to faraway locations accurately (think: Cassini to Saturn, Juno to Jupiter, Perseverance to Mars). Each mission brings its own set of challenges, and DART has many.

“It’s a difficult job,” said JPL’s Julie Bellerose, who leads the DART spacecraft navigation team. “A big part of what the navigation team is working on is getting DART to a 9-mile-wide (15-kilometer-wide) box in space 24 hours before impact.” At that point, Bellerose said, the mission’s final trajectory correction maneuver (the firing of thrusters to modify the direction of flight) will be executed by mission controllers back on Earth. From then on, it’s up to DART.

During the final hours of its one-way journey, DART will utilize an autonomous onboard navigator created by APL to stay on course. SMART Nav, or Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation, collects and processes images of Didymos and Dimorphos from DART’s DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation) high-resolution camera, and then uses a set of computational algorithms to determine what maneuvering needs to be done in the final four hours before impact.

Along with the DART team, another set of JPL navigators is calculating and planning the trajectory of DART’s spacecraft companion: The Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids, or LICIACube, which has the important task of imaging DART’s impact effects on Dimorphos. The toaster-size spacecraft disconnected from DART on Sept. 11 to navigate interplanetary space on its own – with an assist from the team at JPL.

“We are working with ASI to get LICIACube to within 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 kilometers) of Dimorphos just two to three minutes after DART’s impact – close enough to get good images of the impact and ejecta plume, but not so close LICIACube could be hit by ejecta,” said JPL’s LICIACube navigation lead Dan Lubey.

While not necessary for the DART mission to succeed, the pre- and post-impact images this small satellite’s two optical cameras LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid) and LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) will provide could benefit the scientific community for studies of near-Earth objects and aid in the interpretation of the DART results.

Time and Space

JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), an element of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), was tasked with determining not only the location of Didymos in space to within 16 miles (25 kilometers), but also when Dimorphos would be visible – and accessible – from DART’s direction of approach.

Along with investigators at other institutions, members of CNEOS will study the plume of rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) ejected by the impact, as well as the newly formed impact crater and the movement of Dimorphos in its orbit around its parent asteroid. Led by JPL’s Steve Chesley, they will not only examine data and imagery from DART and LICIACube, but also data from space and ground-based telescopes.

Scientists think the impact should shorten the moonlet’s orbital period around the larger asteroid by several minutes. That duration should be long enough for the effects to be observed and measured by telescopes on Earth. It should also be enough for this test to demonstrate whether kinetic impact technology – impacting an asteroid to adjust its speed and therefore its path – could in fact protect Earth from an asteroid strike.

Important contributors among those Earth-based telescopes include NASA’s Deep Space Network, the array of giant radio telescope dishes that JPL manages. With radar observations led by JPL scientist Shantanu Naidu, the massive 70-meter (230-foot) dish of Deep Space Station 14 at the network’s Goldstone complex near Barstow, California, will begin observing the aftermath of the celestial collision about 11 hours after impact, when Earth’s rotation brings Didymos and Dimorphos into view of Goldstone. Data from the echoes bounced off the two space rocks should help determine what changes occurred in the moonlet’s orbit and may even provide some coarse-resolution radar images.

Of course, radio science is only part of the Deep Space Network’s role. The navigation teams depend on it as well because the network is the means by which NASA has been communicating with spacecraft at the Moon and beyond since 1963.

More About the Mission

Johns Hopkins APL manages the DART mission for PDCO as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office. DART is the world’s first planetary defense test mission, intentionally executing a kinetic impact into Dimorphos to slightly change its motion in space. While the asteroid does not pose any threat to Earth, the DART mission will demonstrate that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a kinetic impact on a relatively small asteroid and prove this is a viable technique to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth if one is ever discovered. DART will reach its target on Sept. 26, 2022.

ASI’s LICIACube mission is operated by Argotec with independent navigation provided by JPL, the University of Bologna, and Politecnico di Milano. LICIACube rode along with DART throughout launch and cruise and then was released 15 days before DART’s impact. LICIACube’s mission focuses on imaging the results of the DART’s impact (the crater and ejecta plume) as well as the unimpacted side of Dimorphos.

News Media Contact

DC Agle / Ian J. O’Neill

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011 / 818-354-2649

agle@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

Josh Handal

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-358-2307

joshua.a.handal@nasa.gov

Justyna Surowiec / Michael Buckley

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

240-302-9268 / 240-228-7536

justyna.surowiec@jhuapl.edu / michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

2022-137

For more information, please visit the following link:

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SOLAR SYSTEM

NASA’s Juno Will Perform Close Flyby of Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa

Sept. 22, 2022

This image of Jupiter’s moon Europa was taken by the JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Oct. 16, 2021, from a distance of about 51,000 miles (82,000 kilometers).

Credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Andrea Luck CC BY

Full Image Details

As the spacecraft makes a close approach of the moon, it is expected to provide valuable science – and remarkable imagery – for NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, at 2:36 a.m. PDT (5:36 a.m. EDT), NASA’s Juno spacecraft will come within 222 miles (358 kilometers) of the surface of Jupiter’s ice-covered moon, Europa. The solar-powered spacecraft is expected to obtain some of the highest-resolution images ever taken of portions of Europa’s surface, as well as collect valuable data on the moon’s interior, surface composition, and ionosphere, along with its interaction with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

Such information could benefit future missions, including the agency’s Europa Clipper, which is set to launch in 2024 to study the icy moon. “Europa is such an intriguing Jovian moon, it is the focus of its own future NASA mission,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We’re happy to provide data that may help the Europa Clipper team with mission planning, as well as provide new scientific insights into this icy world.”

Juno’s extended mission includes flybys of the moons Ganymede, Europa, and Io. This graphic depicts the spacecraft’s orbits of Jupiter – labeled “PJ” for perijove, or point of closest approach to the planet – from its prime mission in gray to the 42 orbits of its extended mission in shades of blue and purple.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

Full Image Details

With an equatorial diameter of 1,940 miles (3,100 kilometers), Europa is about 90% the size of Earth’s Moon. Scientists think a salty ocean lies below a miles-thick ice shell, sparking questions about potential conditions capable of supporting life underneath Europa’s surface.

The close flyby will modify Juno’s trajectory, reducing the time it takes to orbit Jupiter from 43 to 38 days. It will be the closest a NASA spacecraft has approached Europa since Galileo came within 218 miles (351 kilometers) on Jan. 3, 2000. In addition, this flyby marks the second encounter with a Galilean moon during Juno’s extended mission. The mission explored Ganymede in June 2021 and plans to make close approaches of Io in 2023 and 2024.

Data collection will begin an hour prior to closest approach, when the spacecraft is 51,820 miles (83,397 kilometers) from Europa.

“The relative velocity between spacecraft and moon will be 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometers per second), so we are screaming by pretty fast,” said John Bordi, Juno deputy mission manager at JPL. “All steps have to go like clockwork to successfully acquire our planned data, because soon after the flyby is complete, the spacecraft needs to be reoriented for our upcoming close approach of Jupiter, which happens only 7 ½ hours later.”

Find out where Juno is right now with NASA’s interactive Eyes on the Solar System. With its three giant blades stretching out some 66 feet (20 meters), the spacecraft is a dynamic engineering marvel, spinning to keep itself stable as it makes oval-shaped orbits around Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The spacecraft’s full suite of instruments and sensors will be activated for the Europa encounter. Juno’s Jupiter Energetic-Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI) and its medium-gain (X-band) radio antenna will collect data on Europa’s ionosphere. Its Waves, Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE), and Magnetometer (MAG) experiments will measure plasma in the moon’s wake as Juno explores Europa’s interaction with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

MAG and Waves will also search for possible water plumes above Europa’s surface. “We have the right equipment to do the job, but to capture a plume will require a lot of luck,” said Bolton. “We have to be at the right place at just the right time, but if we are so fortunate, it’s a home run for sure.”

See raw images from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager

Inside and Out

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) will peer into Europa’s water-ice crust, obtaining data on its composition and temperature. This is the first time such data will have been collected to study the moon’s icy shell.

In addition, the mission expects to take four visible-light images of the moon with JunoCam (a public-engagement camera) during the flyby. The Juno science team will compare them to images from previous missions, looking for changes in Europa’s surface features that might have occurred over the past two decades. These visible-light images will have an expected resolution better than 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel.

Although Juno will be in Europa’s shadow when closest to the moon, Jupiter’s atmosphere will reflect enough sunlight for Juno’s visible-light imagers to collect data. Designed to take images of star fields and search for bright stars with known positions to help Juno get its bearings, the mission’s star camera (called the Stellar Reference Unit) will take a high-resolution black-and-white image of Europa’s surface. Meanwhile, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) will attempt to collect infrared images of its surface.

Juno’s closeup views and data from its MWR instrument will inform the Europa Clipper mission, which will perform nearly 50 flybys after it arrives at Europa in 2030. Europa Clipper will gather data on the moon’s atmosphere, surface, and interior – information that scientists will use to better understand Europa’s global subsurface ocean, the thickness of its ice crust, and possible plumes that may be venting subsurface water into space.

More About the Mission

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

More information about Juno is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

and

https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu

News Media Contact

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011

agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

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Deb Schmid

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio

210-522-2254

dschmid@swri.org

2022-138

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VIDEO

What’s Up: October 2022

The Orionid meteor shower peaks in late October, and Mars appears to halt its usual eastward motion, wandering toward the west for a bit.

Read More

What are some skywatching highlights in October 2022? Enjoy giant planets Jupiter and Saturn all night throughout the month. Then watch as Mars begins its retrograde motion, moving westward each night instead of eastward, for the next few months. Finally, check out the Orionid meteors overnight on Oct. 20.

Transcript:

What’s Up for October? Evenings with giants, Mars changes course, and meteors from Orion.

Giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are visible throughout the night in October. Early in the evening, you’ll find them to the southeast, moving slowly westward with the stars over the course of the night. They form a triangle with bright star Fomalhaut.

When observing this trio, note how the planets shine with a steady light, while the star twinkles. This can be an easy way to know if what you’re looking at is a planet or a star.

Mars has been steadily working its way toward the east all year like it usually does, relative to the background stars. But at the end of October, Mars halts this apparent motion, and then appears to reverse course. Over the next three months, from November to late January, Mars moves toward the west each night. Then near the end of January, it reverses direction again, and continues its eastward journey.

This is what’s called the retrograde motion of Mars. It happens about every two years, and it really threw early observers for a loop. That Mars appears to change its direction is an illusion caused by the motions of our planet in its orbit passing by the Red Planet in its orbit.

See, Earth and Mars are on these roughly circular paths around the Sun, like cars on a racetrack, and Earth is on the inner, faster track. About every 26 months, we overtake Mars, which is moving slower in its orbit. During that period when we’re passing Mars, and before we round the bend in our orbit to pull away from it, we see Mars in retrograde, appearing to change direction, even though it’s still moving forward in its orbit.

So take note of Mars over the next few months, as it appears to reverse course. Note how its position changes with respect to Betelgeuse, Aldebaran and the Pleiades over the weeks, and you’ll be witnessing what was once a source of intense curiosity for astronomers, but which we now know is just a sign of two planets passing in the night.

The Orionid meteor shower is active throughout October and November, and peaks on the night of October 20. It’s a moderate shower, usually producing 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak, under clear, dark skies. This year, the Moon will be about 20 percent full on the peak nights. So it will interfere a bit when it rises a couple of hours before dawn, but shouldn’t totally spoil the viewing.

The shower’s name comes from the fact that you can trace the paths of its meteors back to an area on the sky near Orion. These meteors are fragments of dust left behind by Comet Halley in a trail that extends along its orbit. They tend to be bright and fast moving, and they often leave persistent trails that can glow in the sky for a few seconds after they streak by.

No special equipment is needed to observe meteor showers. Just make sure you’re warm enough, and viewing from a safe, dark spot away from bright lights. Then all you have to do is look up and enjoy the show.

Here are the phases of the Moon for October. Stay up to date with all of NASA’s missions to explore the solar system and beyond at nasa.gov. I’m Preston Dyches from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and that’s What’s Up for this month.

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videos/whats-up-october-2022?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20220930-11

What’s Up: October 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA

Sep 30, 2022  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What are some skywatching highlights in October 2022? Enjoy giant planets Jupiter and Saturn all night throughout the month. Then watch as Mars begins its retrograde motion, moving westward each night instead of eastward, for the next few months. Finally, check out the Orionid meteors overnight on Oct. 20. 0:00 Intro 0:11 Evenings with Jupiter & Saturn 0:37 Mars’ retrograde motion 2:07 Orionid meteor shower 3:04 October Moon phases Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch…. — Additional Resources — Skywatching resources from NASA: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch… NASA “Watch the Skies” blog: https://blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/ NASA’s Night Sky Network: https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/

Chapters

Intro 0:00Evenings with Jupiter & Saturn 0:11

Mars’ retrograde motion 0:37

Orionid meteor shower 2:07

October Moon phases 3:04

Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Investigates Geologically Rich Mars Terrain

Sept. 15, 2022

NASA’s Perseverance rover puts its robotic arm to work around a rocky outcrop called “Skinner Ridge” in Mars’ Jezero Crater. Composed of multiple images, this mosaic shows layered sedimentary rocks in the face of a cliff in the delta, as well as one of the locations where the rover abraded a circular patch to analyze a rock’s composition.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

The latest findings provide greater detail on a region of the Red Planet that has a watery past and is yielding promising samples for the NASA-ESA Mars Sample Return campaign.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is well into its second science campaign, collecting rock-core samples from features within an area long considered by scientists to be a top prospect for finding signs of ancient microbial life on Mars. The rover has collected four samples from an ancient river delta in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater since July 7, bringing the total count of scientifically compelling rock samples to 12.

“We picked the Jezero Crater for Perseverance to explore because we thought it had the best chance of providing scientifically excellent samples – and now we know we sent the rover to the right location,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “These first two science campaigns have yielded an amazing diversity of samples to bring back to Earth by the Mars Sample Return campaign.”

Twenty-eight miles (45 kilometers) wide, Jezero Crater hosts a delta – an ancient fan-shaped feature that formed about 3.5 billion years ago at the convergence of a Martian river and a lake. Perseverance is currently investigating the delta’s sedimentary rocks, formed when particles of various sizes settled in the once-watery environment. During its first science campaign, the rover explored the crater’s floor, finding igneous rock, which forms deep underground from magma or during volcanic activity at the surface.

“The delta, with its diverse sedimentary rocks, contrasts beautifully with the igneous rocks – formed from crystallization of magma – discovered on the crater floor,” said Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech in Pasadena, California. “This juxtaposition provides us with a rich understanding of the geologic history after the crater formed and a diverse sample suite. For example, we found a sandstone that carries grains and rock fragments created far from Jezero Crater – and a mudstone that includes intriguing organic compounds.”

Composed of multiple images from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, this mosaic shows a rocky outcrop called “Wildcat Ridge,” where the rover extracted two rock cores and abraded a circular patch to investigate the rock’s composition.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

“Wildcat Ridge” is the name given to a rock about 3 feet (1 meter) wide that likely formed billions of years ago as mud and fine sand settled in an evaporating saltwater lake. On July 20, the rover abraded some of the surface of Wildcat Ridge so it could analyze the area with the instrument called Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals, or SHERLOC.

SHERLOC’s analysis indicates the samples feature a class of organic molecules that are spatially correlated with those of sulfate minerals. Sulfate minerals found in layers of sedimentary rock can yield significant information about the aqueous environments in which they formed.

The most detailed panorama ever returned from Mars – combining 1,118 images taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument on NASA’s Perseverance rover in June 2022 – reveals the intriguing landscape of Jezero Crater’s delta. In this video, rover science operations team member Rachel Kronyak gives a tour of the panorama.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

What Is Organic Matter?

Organic molecules consist of a wide variety of compounds made primarily of carbon and usually include hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They can also contain other elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. While there are chemical processes that produce these molecules that don’t require life, some of these compounds are the chemical building blocks of life. The presence of these specific molecules is considered to be a potential biosignature – a substance or structure that could be evidence of past life but may also have been produced without the presence of life.

In 2013, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover found evidence of organic matter in rock-powder samples, and Perseverance has detected organics in Jezero Crater before. But unlike that previous discovery, this latest detection was made in an area where, in the distant past, sediment and salts were deposited into a lake under conditions in which life could potentially have existed. In its analysis of Wildcat Ridge, the SHERLOC instrument registered the most abundant organic detections on the mission to date.

See more images from the Perseverance mission

Where Is Perseverance Right Now?

Explore with Perseverance in 3D

Perseverance Video File

“In the distant past, the sand, mud, and salts that now make up the Wildcat Ridge sample were deposited under conditions where life could potentially have thrived,” said Farley. “The fact the organic matter was found in such a sedimentary rock – known for preserving fossils of ancient life here on Earth – is important. However, as capable as our instruments aboard Perseverance are, further conclusions regarding what is contained in the Wildcat Ridge sample will have to wait until it’s returned to Earth for in-depth study as part of the agency’s Mars Sample Return campaign.”

The first step in the NASA-ESA (European Space Agency) Mars Sample Return campaign began when Perseverance cored its first rock sample in September 2021. Along with its rock-core samples, the rover has collected one atmospheric sample and two witness tubes, all of which are stored in the rover’s belly.

The geologic diversity of the samples already carried in the rover is so good that the rover team is looking into depositing select tubes near the base of the delta in about two months. After depositing the cache, the rover will continue its delta explorations.

“I’ve studied Martian habitability and geology for much of my career and know first-hand the incredible scientific value of returning a carefully collected set of Mars rocks to Earth,” said Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “That we are weeks from deploying Perseverance’s fascinating samples and mere years from bringing them to Earth so scientists can study them in exquisite detail is truly phenomenal. We will learn so much.”

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including caching samples that may contain signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

Perseverance Explores the Jezero Crater Delta

Sep 14, 2022  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover has arrived at an ancient delta in Jezero Crater, one of the best places on the Red Planet to search for potential signs of ancient life. The delta is an area where scientists surmise that a river once flowed billions of years ago into a lake and deposited sediments in a fan shape. Rachel Kronyak, a member of the Perseverance science operations team, guides the viewer through this Martian panorama and its intriguing sedimentary rocks. It’s the most detailed view ever returned from the Martian surface, consisting of 2.5 billion pixels and generated from 1,118 individual Mastcam-Z images. Those images were acquired on June 12, 13, 16, 17, and 20, 2022 (the 466th, 467th, 470th, 471st, and 474th Martian day, or sol, of Perseverance’s mission). In this panorama, an area called Hogwallow Flats is visible, as is Skinner Ridge, where two rock core samples were taken. The color enhancement in this image improves the visual contrast and accentuates color differences. This makes it easier for the science team to use their everyday experience to interpret the landscape. For more information on the Perseverance rover, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

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For more about Perseverance:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

News Media Contact

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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WEATHER

NASA’s AIRS Instrument Records Typhoon Hinnamnor Before Landfall

Sept. 8, 2022

NASA’s AIRS instrument imaged Typhoon Hinnamnor on the afternoon of Sept. 5, shortly before the storm made landfall in South Korea on Sept. 6. This image captured Hinnamnor – the first super typhoon of the Western Pacific season – as it spiraled northward through the East China Sea.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder aboard the Aqua satellite captured the outer bands of the powerful tropical cyclone as the storm approached the Korean Peninsula.

NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured imagery of Typhoon Hinnamnor in the West Pacific Ocean just before 2 p.m. local time on Sept. 5. Typhoon Hinnamnor was one of the strongest in South Korea’s recorded history, dropping some 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain and unleashing record winds.

In an infrared image from AIRS, the typhoon can be seen moving northward over the Korean Peninsula, with the coast of China to the west and the southernmost Japanese islands to the east. The large purple area of the image indicates very cold clouds at about minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67 degrees Celsius), carried high into the atmosphere by deep thunderstorms. These storm clouds are associated with heavy rainfall. The image’s extensive areas of red beyond the storm indicate temperatures of around 80 F (26 C), typical of Earth’s daytime surface during late summer. These areas are mostly cloud-free, with the clear air caused by air motion outward from the cold clouds in the storm center then downward in the surrounding areas.

U.S. Hurricane Hunter planes don’t monitor the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, so AIRS and other satellite instruments are essential for tracking typhoons as they grow. AIRS, launched in 2002, was the first instrument to reveal the 3D distribution of rain within tropical storms like Hinnamnor. These 3D images have made a major contribution to knowledge of how hurricanes and typhoons develop, improving forecasts and saving lives.

One of six instruments aboard Aqua, AIRS provides data that is improving weather forecasts and advancing our understanding of Earth’s climate. AIRS, along with its partner microwave instrument the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit, AMSU-A, was a generational advancement in atmospheric sounding systems at its launch and has provided two decades of high-quality atmospheric observations. These instruments are part of NASA’s larger Earth observing fleet, which works to measure components of the global water and energy cycles, climate variation and trends, and the response of the climate system to increased greenhouse gases.

AIRS, in conjunction with AMSU-A, senses infrared and microwave radiation emitted from Earth to provide a 3D look at the planet’s weather and climate, making observations down to Earth’s surface. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, 3D map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. AIRS is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, a division of Caltech.

More information about AIRS can be found at:

https://airs.jpl.nasa.gov

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Written by Sally Younger

2022-133

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STARS AND GALAXIES

A Cosmic Tarantula, Caught by NASA’s Webb

Sept. 6, 2022

In this mosaic image stretching 340 light-years across, Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) displays the Tarantula Nebula star-forming region in a new light, including tens of thousands of never-before-seen young stars that were previously shrouded in cosmic dust.

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

The cycle of star formation is on display in this nearby nebula. Webb’s MIRI instrument captures protostars nestled deep in clouds of gas and dust, still gathering mass.

Once upon a space-time, a cosmic creation story unfolded: thousands of never-before-seen young stars spotted in a stellar nursery called 30 Doradus, captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Nicknamed the Tarantula Nebula for the appearance of its dusty filaments in previous telescope images, the nebula has long been a favorite for astronomers studying star formation. In addition to young stars, Webb reveals distant background galaxies, as well as the detailed structure and composition of the nebula’s gas and dust.

At only 161,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest star-forming region in the Local Group, the galaxies nearest our Milky Way. It is home to the hottest, most massive stars known. Astronomers focused three of Webb’s high-resolution infrared instruments on the Tarantula. Viewed with Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the region resembles a burrowing tarantula’s home, lined with its silk. The nebula’s cavity centered in the NIRCam image has been hollowed out by blistering radiation from a cluster of massive young stars, which sparkle pale blue in the image. Only the densest surrounding areas of the nebula resist erosion by these stars’ powerful stellar winds, forming pillars that appear to point back toward the cluster. These pillars contain forming protostars, which will eventually emerge from their dusty cocoons and take their turn shaping the nebula.

At the longer wavelengths of light captured by its Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), Webb focuses on the area surrounding the central star cluster and unveils a very different view of the Tarantula Nebula. Full Image Details

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) caught one very young star doing just that. Astronomers previously thought this star might be a bit older and already in the process of clearing out a bubble around itself. However, NIRSpec showed that the star was only just beginning to emerge from its pillar and still maintained an insulating cloud of dust around itself. Without Webb’s high-resolution spectra at infrared wavelengths, this episode of star formation in action could not have been revealed.

The region takes on a different appearance when viewed in the longer infrared wavelengths detected by Webb’s Mid-infrared Instrument (MIRI). The hot stars fade, and the cooler gas and dust glow. Within the stellar nursery clouds, points of light indicate embedded protostars, still gaining mass. While shorter wavelengths of light are absorbed or scattered by dust grains in the nebula, and therefore never reach Webb to be detected, longer mid-infrared wavelengths penetrate that dust, ultimately revealing a previously unseen cosmic environment.

One of the reasons the Tarantula Nebula is interesting to astronomers is that the nebula has a similar type of chemical composition as the gigantic star-forming regions observed at the universe’s “cosmic noon,” when the cosmos was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its peak. Star-forming regions in our Milky Way galaxy are not producing stars at the same furious rate as the Tarantula Nebula and have a different chemical composition. This makes the Tarantula the closest (i.e., easiest to see in detail) example of what was happening in the universe as it reached its brilliant high noon. Webb will provide astronomers the opportunity to compare and contrast observations of star formation in the Tarantula Nebula with the telescope’s deep observations of distant galaxies from the actual era of cosmic noon.

Despite humanity’s thousands of years of stargazing, the star-formation process still holds many mysteries – many of them due to our previous inability to get crisp images of what was happening behind the thick clouds of stellar nurseries. Webb has already begun revealing a universe never seen before, and is only getting started on rewriting the stellar creation story.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.

News Media Contact

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

626-808-2469

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2022-132

For more information, please visit the following link:

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EXOPLANETS

NASA’s Webb Takes Its First-Ever Direct Image of Distant World

Sept. 2, 2022

This image shows the exoplanet HIP 65426 b in different bands of infrared light, as seen from the James Webb Space Telescope. The images at bottom look different because of the ways the different Webb instruments capture light. A coronagraph blocks the host star’s light so the planet can be seen.

Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI)

One of the telescope’s instruments used to observe the planet is managed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For the first time, astronomers have used NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to take a direct image of a planet outside our solar system. The exoplanet is a gas giant, meaning it has no rocky surface and is not habitable. The finding is detailed in NASA’s latest JWST blog entry.

Two of Webb’s instruments observed the planet: the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California managed MIRI during its design, construction, and commissioning. Both instruments are equipped with coronagraphs, which are sets of tiny masks that block out starlight, enabling Webb to take direct images of certain exoplanets like this one, called HIP 65426 b. NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, slated to launch later this decade, will use the even more advanced Coronagraph Instrument, which is also managed by JPL.

News Media Contact

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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For more information, please visit the following link:

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SOLAR SYSTEM

Explore the Solar System With NASA’s New-and-Improved 3D ‘Eyes’

Sept. 2, 2022

NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System includes renderings of 126 NASA spacecraft, including Juno, seen here flying by Jupiter.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The agency’s newly upgraded “Eyes on the Solar System” visualization tool includes Artemis I’s trajectory along with a host of other new features.

NASA has revamped its “Eyes on the Solar System” 3D visualization tool, making interplanetary travel easier and more interactive than ever. More than two years in the making, the update delivers better controls, improved navigation, and a host of new opportunities to learn about our incredible corner of the cosmos – no spacesuit required. All you need is a device with an internet connection.

Anyone with an internet-enabled device browser can explore the past, present, and future of the solar system in 3D with NASA’s interactive Eyes on the Solar System. Click anywhere on the image to get a closer look at a 3D rendering of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flying by Saturn’s moon Enceladus in 2015.

Learn the basics about dwarf planets or the finer points of gas giants, and ride alongside no fewer than 126 space missions past and present – including Perseverance during its harrowing entry, descent, and landing on the Red Planet. In fact, you can follow the paths of spacecraft and celestial bodies as far back as 1949 and as far into the future as 2049.

While you’re at it, you can rotate objects, compare them side by side, and even modulate the perspective as well as the lighting. The visuals are striking. This latest version of “Eyes” also lets you scroll through rich interactive journeys, including Voyager’s Grand Tour of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Watch a video tutorial to get started with ‘Eyes’

“The beauty of the new browser-based ‘Eyes on the Solar System’ is that it really invites exploration. You just need an internet connection, a device that has a web browser, and some curiosity,” said Jason Craig, the producer of the “Eyes” software at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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2022-130

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Month in Review, NASA’s JPL, November 2021 Skywatching, The Orbit of Asteroid Didymos, How NASA’s Curiosity Rover Is Making Mars Safer for Astronauts, First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere, Triumph at Saturn, PBS new and NBC News

Month in Review, NASA’s JPL, November 2021 Skywatching, The Orbit of Asteroid Didymos, How NASA’s Curiosity Rover Is Making Mars Safer for Astronauts, First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere, Triumph at Saturn, PBS new and NBC News

JPL News – Month in Review, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What’s Up: November 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA

The Orbit of Asteroid Didymos, Nov 17, 2021

How NASA’s Curiosity Rover Is Making Mars Safer for Astronauts, Nov 15, 2021

NASA’s Juno: Science Results Offer First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere, Oct 28, 2021

Catch the premiere of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory documentary “Triumph at Saturn” on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. PDT online at JPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

PBS NewsHour full episode, Nov. 19 & 20, 2021

Nightly News Full Broadcast – Nov. 19 & 20, 2021

 

JPL News – Month in Review

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory <jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov> 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

 

 

MONTH IN REVIEW

 

 

What’s Up – November 2021
Enjoy the Moon and planets after sunset all month, plus a lunar eclipse! A partial lunar eclipse will be visible to much of the world on Nov. 18 and 19. Also, the familiar stars of Northern Hemisphere winter (or Southern summer) are returning to late night skies.
› Watch now

NASA’s Juno: Science Results Offer First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere
NASA’s Jovian orbiter lends deeper understanding of what happens below the gas giant’s striking clouds.
› Read the full story

Getting NASA Data to the Ground With Lasers
Two optical ground stations, including one managed by JPL, will support NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration mission when it launches this fall.
› Read the full story

How to Find Hidden Oceans on Distant Worlds? Use Chemistry
A new study shows how the chemicals in an exoplanet’s atmosphere can, in some cases, reveal whether or not the temperature on its surface is too hot for liquid water.
› Read the full story

NASA 3502527

Upgrading the Space Station’s Cold Atom Lab With Mixed Reality
NASA is looking into whether mixed reality technology could help with repairs and upgrades on the cutting-edge Cold Atom Lab aboard the space station.
› Read the full story

You Can Help Train NASA’s Rovers to Better Explore Mars
Members of the public can now help teach an artificial intelligence algorithm to recognize scientific features in images taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover.
› Read the full story

A ‘Monster’ Star-Forming Region Spied by NASA’s Spitzer
Just like clouds on Earth, clouds of gas and dust in space can sometimes resemble familiar objects, or even popular movie creatures.
› Read the full story

‘Roving With Perseverance’: NASA Mars Rover and Helicopter Models on Tour
Catch Mars mania as a traveling exhibit visits more than a dozen towns across the U.S. with lifelike models of NASA’s Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter.
› Read the full story

NEID Spectrometer Lights Up Path to Exoplanet Exploration
A new NASA instrument will look for planets by detecting subtle wobbles from their parent stars. To prepare, it will study the Sun.
› Read the full story

Hear Sounds From Mars Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover
Two microphones aboard the six-wheeled spacecraft add a new dimension to the way scientists and engineers explore the Red Planet.
› Read the full story

Online Film Premiere: ‘Triumph at Saturn’ (Part I)
Catch the premiere of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory documentary “Triumph at Saturn” on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. PDT online at JPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
› Read the full story

My Favorite Martian Image: the Ridges of ‘South Séítah’
NASA’s Perseverance rover captures a geologic feature with details that offer clues to the area’s mysterious past.
› Read the full story

NASA Leadership Visits JPL, Discusses Climate Change and Mars
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy met with elected officials about Earth science and visited mission control for the Perseverance Mars rover.
› Read the full story

NASA Turns to the Cloud for Help With Next-Generation Earth Missions
As satellites collect larger and larger amounts of data, engineers and researchers are implementing solutions to manage these huge increases.
› Read the full story

With First Martian Samples Packed, Perseverance Initiates Remarkable Sample Return Mission
NASA, along with the European Space Agency, is developing a campaign to return the Martian samples to Earth.
› Read the full story

Icy ‘Glue’ May Control Pace of Antarctic Ice-Shelf Breakup
As the ice-and-snow rubble known as mélange melts in Antarctica’s ice shelves, rifts can grow and icebergs break off even in the brutal cold of winter.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Perseverance Sheds More Light on Jezero Crater’s Watery Past
Pictures from NASA’s latest six-wheeler on the Red Planet suggest the area’s history experienced significant flooding events.
› Read the full story

Working Overtime: NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock Completes Mission
Geared toward improving spacecraft navigation, the technology demonstration operated far longer than planned and broke the stability record for atomic clocks in space.
› Read the full story

Science of Psyche: Unique Asteroid Holds Clues to Early Solar System
Set to launch next year, NASA’s Psyche mission marks the first time the agency has set out to explore an asteroid richer in metal than rock or ice.
› Read the full story

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What’s Up: November 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA

Nov 2, 2021  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What are some skywatching highlights in November 2021? Enjoy the Moon and planets after sunset all month, plus a lunar eclipse! A partial lunar eclipse will be visible to much of the world on Nov. 18 and 19. Also, the familiar stars of Northern Hemisphere winter (or Southern summer) are returning to late night skies. In particular, note that several destinations of NASA’s Lucy mission are located near the Pleiades. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….

Enjoy the Moon and planets after sunset all month, plus a lunar eclipse! A partial lunar eclipse will be visible to much of the world on Nov. 18 and 19. Also, the familiar stars of Northern Hemisphere winter (or Southern summer) are returning to late night skies. In particular, note that several destinations of NASA’s Lucy mission are located near the Pleiades.

Transcript:

What’s Up for November? Sunset planets, a partial lunar eclipse, and the return of the winter stars.

From November 6th through the 11th, watch the Moon glide past Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter after sunset in the south/southwest. In particular, if you step outside for a look on November 7th, you’ll find the four-day-old crescent Moon just about 2 degrees away from Venus. Should be really pretty, so don’t miss it.

And from now through early December, you’ll find Jupiter and Saturn drawing a little closer to Venus each night.

A partial lunar eclipse is on the way, taking place overnight on November 18th and 19th, when the Moon slips into Earth’s shadow for a couple of hours. Weather permitting, the eclipse will be visible from any location where the Moon appears above the horizon during the eclipse. Depending on your time zone, it’ll occur earlier or later in the evening for you.

Now that’s a huge swath of the planet that’ll be able to see at least part of the eclipse, including North and South America, Eastern Asia, Australia and the Pacific Region. So check the timing of its visibility for your area.

For U.S. East Coast observers, the partial eclipse begins a little after 2 a.m., reaching its maximum at 4 in the morning. For observers on the West Coast, that translates to beginning just after 11 p.m., with a maximum at 1 a.m.

Partial lunar eclipses might not be quite as spectacular as total lunar eclipses – where the Moon is completely covered in Earth’s shadow – but they occur more frequently.

And that just means more opportunities to witness little changes in our solar system that sometimes occur right before our eyes.

All month long, if you’re up late and cast your gaze toward the east, you’ll notice some familiar companions have begun rising late in the night. The familiar stars of Northern winter skies are returning, rising late at night and sitting high in the south by dawn.

You’ll find the Pleiades star cluster leading the constellations Taurus the bull and the hunter Orion, followed by the brightest star in the sky, Sirius – all of them back to keep us company on the long winter nights here in the Northern Hemisphere. (And for those in the Southern Hemisphere, they’re keeping you company on shorter nights as spring gives way to summer there.)

A fun note about the Pleiades this month is that several of the 8 asteroids to be visited by NASA’s Lucy mission are located in that part of the sky. The Lucy spacecraft launched on Oct. 16th on its 12-year mission to visit a bunch of special asteroids called the Trojans. They share the orbit of Jupiter, with a group of them leading the planet, and another group following behind it.

Lucy will be the first space mission to explore this unique group of asteroids, providing new insights about the formation and early history of our solar system.

Here are the phases of the Moon for November. You can catch up on all of NASA’s missions to explore the solar system and beyond at nasa.gov. I’m Preston Dyches from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and that’s What’s Up for this month.

For more information, please visit the following link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzeK4TcOSPU

The Orbit of Asteroid Didymos

Nov 17, 2021

CONTEXT IMAGE

This diagram shows the orbit of binary asteroid Didymos around the Sun. Didymos consists of a large, nearly half-mile-wide (780-meter-wide) asteroid orbited by a smaller, 525-foot-wide (160-meter-wide) asteroid, or moonlet. Didymos’ orbital path around the Sun is shown as the thin white ellipse and Earth’s orbit is the thick white line. In the background are the orbits for 2,200 other known potentially hazardous asteroids.

A potentially hazardous asteroid is classified as an asteroid wider than about 460 feet (140 meters) with an orbit that brings it within 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit.

Didymos’ smaller asteroid is the target of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) mission. The DART spacecraft is a kinetic impactor designed to collide with the moonlet to see how its orbit around the larger asteroid will be changed by the impact. The outcome of this mission will help NASA determine whether the method could be used to modify the trajectory of an asteroid should one threaten Earth in the future. Didymos is not a danger to our planet.

This orbital diagram was produced by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. CNEOS characterizes every known near-Earth asteroid (NEA) orbit to improve long-term impact hazard assessments in support of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).

For more information, please visit the following link

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/the-orbit-of-asteroid-didymos

How NASA’s Curiosity Rover Is Making Mars Safer for Astronauts

Nov 15, 2021

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this image of an outcrop with finely layered rocks within the “Murray Buttes” region on lower Mount Sharp on Sept. 8, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS Full Image Details

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, to take this selfie at the “Quela” drilling location in the “Murray Buttes” area on lower Mount Sharp between Sept. 17 and 18, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS Full Image Details

This pit crater was created by an empty lava tube in Mars’ Arsia Mons region. The image was captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Aug. 16, 2020.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

A radiation sensor aboard the spacecraft is providing new data on the health risks humans would face on the surface.

Could lava tubes, caves, or subsurface habitats offer safe refuge for future astronauts on Mars? Scientists with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover team are helping explore questions like that with the Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD.

Unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field to shield it from the high-energy particles whizzing around in space. That radiation can wreak havoc on human health, and it can seriously compromise the life support systems that Mars astronauts will depend on, as well.

Based on data from Curiosity’s RAD, researchers are finding that using natural materials such as the rock and sediment on Mars could offer some protection from this ever-present space radiation. In a paper published this summer in JGR Planets, they detailed how Curiosity remained parked against a cliff at a location called “Murray Buttes” from Sept. 9 to 21, 2016.

While there, RAD measured a 4% decrease in overall radiation. More significantly, the instrument detected a 7.5% decrease in neutral particle radiation, including neutrons that can penetrate rock and are especially harmful to human health. These numbers are statistically high enough to show it was due to Curiosity’s location at the foot of the cliff rather than normal changes in the background radiation.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for the right conditions to get these results, which are critical to ensure the accuracy of our computer models,” said Bent Ehresmann of the Southwest Research Institute, lead author of the recent paper. “At Murray Buttes, we finally had these conditions and the data to analyze this effect. We’re now looking for other locations where RAD can repeat these kinds of measurements.”

How’s the Weather on Mars? (NASA Mars Report) (November 15, 2021)

Nov 15, 2021  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Seasons change even on Mars and NASA’s fleet of explorers are helping scientists learn more about the effects on the Red Planet. NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers provide daily weather reports by measuring conditions such as humidity, temperature, and wind speed on the surface. Orbiters including Odyssey, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) survey the scope and scale of storms from above. Changing weather conditions can be challenging for the spacecraft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently increased its rotor speed from 2,537 rpm to 2,700 rpm to fly in a thinner summer atmosphere. Meanwhile, NASA’s InSight lander, which is studying Mars’ interior, recently measured one of the biggest, longest-lasting marsquakes the mission has ever detected. For more information on NASA’s Mars missions, visit mars.nasa.gov. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/ASU/MSSS

Seasons change even on Mars and NASA’s fleet of explorers are helping scientists learn more about the effects on the Red Planet.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/ASU/MSSS

A Space Weather Outpost on Mars

Most of the radiation measured by RAD comes from galactic cosmic rays – particles cast out by exploding stars and sent pinballing throughout the universe. This forms a carpet of “background radiation” that can pose health risks for humans.

Far more intense radiation sporadically comes from the Sun in the form of solar storms that throw massive arcs of ionized gas into interplanetary space.

“These structures twist in space, sometimes forming complex croissant-shaped flux tubes larger than Earth, driving shock waves that can efficiently energize particles,” said Jingnan Guo, who led a study, published in September in The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, analyzing nine years of RAD data while she was at Germany’s Christian Albrecht University.

“Cosmic rays, solar radiation, solar storms – they are all components of space weather, and RAD is effectively a space weather outpost on the surface of Mars,” says Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute, principal investigator of the RAD instrument.

Solar storms occur with varying frequency based on 11-year cycles, with certain cycles bearing more frequent and energetic storms than others. Counterintuitively, the periods when solar activity is at its highest may be the safest time for future astronauts on Mars: The increased solar activity shields the Red Planet from cosmic rays by as much as 30 to 50%, compared to periods when solar activity is lower.

“It’s a trade-off,” Guo said. “These high-intensity periods reduce one source of radiation: the omnipresent, high-energy cosmic ray background radiation around Mars. But at the same time, astronauts will have to contend with intermittent, more intense radiation from solar storms.”

“The observations from RAD are key to developing the ability to predict and measure space weather, the Sun’s influence on Earth and other solar system bodies,” said Jim Spann, space weather lead for NASA’s Heliophysics Division. “As NASA plans for eventual human journeys to Mars, RAD serves as an outpost and part of the Heliophysics System Observatory – a fleet of 27 missions that investigates the Sun and its influence on space – whose research supports our understanding of and exploration of space.”

The top of the Radiation Assessment Detector can be seen on the deck of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

RAD has measured the impact of more than a dozen solar storms to date (five while traveling to Mars in 2012), although these past nine years have marked an especially weak period of solar activity.

Scientists are just now starting to see activity pick up as the Sun comes out of its slumber and becomes more active. In fact, RAD observed evidence of the first X-class flare of the new solar cycle on Oct. 28, 2021. X-class flares are the most intense category of solar flares, the largest of which can lead to power outages and communications blackouts on Earth.

“This is an exciting time for us, because one of the important objectives of RAD is to characterize the extremes of space weather. Events such as solar flares and storms are one type of space weather that happens most frequently during increased solar activity – the time we are approaching now,” Ehresmann said. More observations are needed to assess just how dangerous a really powerful solar storm would be to humans on the Martian surface.

RAD’s findings will feed into a much larger body of data being compiled for future crewed missions. In fact, NASA even equipped Curiosity’s counterpart, the Perseverance rover, with samples of spacesuit materials to assess how they hold up to radiation over time.

For more information, please visit the following link

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/how-nasas-curiosity-rover-is-making-mars-safer-for-astronauts

For more information:

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/home/

and

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

News Media Contact

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-2433

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Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

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301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2021-226

NASA’s Juno: Science Results Offer First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere

Oct 28, 2021

NASA’s Jovian orbiter lends deeper understanding of what happens below the gas giant’s striking clouds.

The JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures a Jovian cyclone known as a barge type in polar jet stream called “Jet N4.”

Credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing: Gerald Eichstädt CC BY

New findings from NASA’s Juno probe orbiting Jupiter provide a fuller picture of how the planet’s distinctive and colorful atmospheric features offer clues about the unseen processes below its clouds. The results highlight the inner workings of the belts and zones of clouds encircling Jupiter, as well as its polar cyclones and even the Great Red Spot.

Researchers published several papers on Juno’s atmospheric discoveries today in the journal Science and the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Additional papers appeared in two recent issues of Geophysical Research Letters.

“These new observations from Juno open up a treasure chest of new information about Jupiter’s enigmatic observable features,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Each paper sheds light on different aspects of the planet’s atmospheric processes – a wonderful example of how our internationally-diverse science teams strengthen understanding of our solar system.”

Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016. During each of the spacecraft’s 37 passes of the planet to date, a specialized suite of instruments has peered below its turbulent cloud deck.

“Previously, Juno surprised us with hints that phenomena in Jupiter’s atmosphere went deeper than expected,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and lead author of the Science journal paper on the depth of Jupiter’s vortices. “Now, we’re starting to put all these individual pieces together and getting our first real understanding of how Jupiter’s beautiful and violent atmosphere works – in 3D.”

Juno’s microwave radiometer (MWR) allows mission scientists to peer beneath Jupiter’s cloud tops and probe the structure of its numerous vortex storms. The most famous of these storms is the iconic anticyclone known as the Great Red Spot. Wider than Earth, this crimson vortex has intrigued scientists since its discovery almost two centuries ago.

The new results show that the cyclones are warmer on top, with lower atmospheric densities, while they are colder at the bottom, with higher densities. Anticyclones, which rotate in the opposite direction, are colder at the top but warmer at the bottom.

The findings also indicate these storms are far taller than expected, with some extending 60 miles (100 kilometers) below the cloud tops and others, including the Great Red Spot, extending over 200 miles (350 kilometers). This surprise discovery demonstrates that the vortices cover regions beyond those where water condenses and clouds form, below the depth where sunlight warms the atmosphere.

Jupiter’s banded appearance is created by the cloud-forming weather layer. This composite image shows views of Jupiter in infrared and visible light taken by the Gemini North telescope and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/NASA/ESA, M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley) et al.

Full Image Details

This illustration combines an image of Jupiter from the JunoCam instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft with a composite image of Earth to depict the size and depth of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Credit: JunoCam Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSSJunoCam Image processing by Kevin M. Gill (CC BY)Earth Image: NASA

Full Image Details

Data collected by the JunoCam imager and microwave radiometer from a flyover of the Great Red Spot on July 11, 2017 provides a glimpse of the inner-workings of Jupiter’s most iconic anticyclone.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing: Kevin Gill CC BY

During a flyby of Jupiter in July 2019, mission scientists conducted an experiment measuring minute velocity changes in the Juno spacecraft as a result in the gravity field near the Great Red Spot.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

Full Image Details

The height and size of the Great Red Spot means the concentration of atmospheric mass within the storm potentially could be detectable by instruments studying Jupiter’s gravity field. Two close Juno flybys over Jupiter’s most famous spot provided the opportunity to search for the storm’s gravity signature and complement the MWR results on its depth.

With Juno traveling low over Jupiter’s cloud deck at about 130,000 mph (209,000 kph) Juno scientists were able to measure velocity changes as small 0.01 millimeter per second using a NASA Deep Space Network tracking antenna, from a distance of more than 400 million miles (650 million kilometers). This enabled the team to constrain the depth of the Great Red Spot to about 300 miles (500 kilometers) below the cloud tops.

“The precision required to get the Great Red Spot’s gravity during the July 2019 flyby is staggering,” said Marzia Parisi, a Juno scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and lead author of a paper in the journal Science on gravity overflights of the Great Red Spot. “Being able to complement MWR’s finding on the depth gives us great confidence that future gravity experiments at Jupiter will yield equally intriguing results.”

Belts and Zones

In addition to cyclones and anticyclones, Jupiter is known for its distinctive belts and zones – white and reddish bands of clouds that wrap around the planet. Strong east-west winds moving in opposite directions separate the bands. Juno previously discovered that these winds, or jet streams, reach depths of about 2,000 miles (roughly 3,200 kilometers). Researchers are still trying to solve the mystery of how the jet streams form. Data collected by Juno’s MWR during multiple passes reveal one possible clue: that the atmosphere’s ammonia gas travels up and down in remarkable alignment with the observed jet streams.

“By following the ammonia, we found circulation cells in both the north and south hemispheres that are similar in nature to ‘Ferrel cells,’ which control much of our climate here on Earth,” said Keren Duer, a graduate student from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and lead author of the Science journal paper on Ferrel-like cells on Jupiter. “While Earth has one Ferrel cell per hemisphere, Jupiter has eight – each at least 30 times larger.”

Juno’s MWR data also shows that the belts and zones undergo a transition around 40 miles (65 kilometers) beneath Jupiter’s water clouds. At shallow depths, Jupiter’s belts are brighter in microwave light than the neighboring zones. But at deeper levels, below the water clouds, the opposite is true – which reveals a similarity to our oceans.

“We are calling this level the ‘Jovicline’ in analogy to a transitional layer seen in Earth’s oceans, known as the thermocline – where seawater transitions sharply from being relative warm to relative cold,” said Leigh Fletcher, a Juno participating scientist from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and lead author of the paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets highlighting Juno’s microwave observations of Jupiter’s temperate belts and zones.

Polar Cyclones

Juno previously discovered polygonal arrangements of giant cyclonic storms at both of Jupiter’s poles – eight arranged in an octagonal pattern in the north and five arranged in a pentagonal pattern in the south. Now, five years later, mission scientists using observations by the spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) have determined these atmospheric phenomena are extremely resilient, remaining in the same location.

“Jupiter’s cyclones affect each other’s motion, causing them to oscillate about an equilibrium position,” said Alessandro Mura, a Juno co-investigator at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome and lead author of a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters on oscillations and stability in Jupiter’s polar cyclones. “The behavior of these slow oscillations suggests that they have deep roots.”

JIRAM data also indicates that, like hurricanes on Earth, these cyclones want to move poleward, but cyclones located at the center of each pole push them back. This balance explains where the cyclones reside and the different numbers at each pole.

More About the Mission

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

For more information, please visit the following link

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-juno-science-results-offer-first-3d-view-of-jupiter-atmosphere?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211102-19

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, and get more information about Juno online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/juno

Ride With Juno Past the Solar System’s Biggest Moon

NASA’s Juno Mission Expands Into the Future

The Dark Origins of One of Jupiter’s Grand Light Shows

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Deb Schmid

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio

210-522-2254

dschmid@swri.org

2021-220

Catch the premiere of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory documentary “Triumph at Saturn” on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. PDT online at JPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

The latest in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory series of historical documentaries, “Triumph at Saturn” chronicles the story of NASA’s Cassini mission. Part I of this two-part story will premiere on JPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. PDT; part II will premiere there at the same time on Oct. 22.

These films use rare archival footage and interviews with pioneering engineers and scientists in retelling the story of humanity’s first steps into the cosmos. The films go with 12 others in the series “JPL and the Space Age,” which documents everything from JPL’s origins to the Voyager spacecraft to the Mars Pathfinder mission and beyond. Each episode of was written, produced, and directed by JPL Fellow Blaine Baggett.

The full “Triumph at Saturn” film is planned to be available on this webpage in the near future.

Caltech, in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.

For more information, please visit the following link

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/online-film-premiere-triumph-at-saturn-part-i?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211102-19

News Media Contact

Gretchen McCartney

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-6215

gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

Triumph at Saturn (Part I)

Premiered Oct 15, 2021   NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Chronicling the story of NASA’s Cassini mission, this is the latest in our series of documentaries, “JPL and the Space Age.” These films use rare archival footage and interviews with pioneering engineers and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in retelling the stories of many of humanity’s first steps into the cosmos. Part I of this two-part story will premiere here on Oct. 15, 2021 at 3 p.m. Pacific time; part II will premiere here at the same time on Oct. 22: https://youtu.be/oGsajLIALJE. Other films in this series are available for viewing at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/who-we-are/d…. “Triumph at Saturn” is planned to be added to this collection in the near future.

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PBS NewsHour full episode, Nov. 19, 2021

Nov 19, 2021  PBS NewsHour

Friday on the NewsHour, Kyle Rittenhouse is cleared on all charges in a case that sparked national debate over racial injustice, guns and self-defense. Then, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the president’s priority Build Back Better bill, sending it on to the Senate. And, why those who were wrongfully convicted still face great struggles when adjusting to their post-prison life. WATCH TODAY’S SEGMENTS: Does the Rittenhouse acquittal set a precedent? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXC56… News Wrap: ‘Unite the Right’ trial jurors begin deliberating https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awcXo… Child care, climate change and more in Build Back Better Act https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiQR-… Here’s what you need to know about COVID boosters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzGm-… How the exonerated struggle to heal from ‘wounds’ of prison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umJdh… Capehart and Abernathy on Rittenhouse trial, Dem social bill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2TKH… Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6

PBS NewsHour Weekend, Full Episode November 20, 2021

Nov 20, 2021  PBS NewsHour

On this edition for Saturday, November 20th, protests, celebration, and talk of reform after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five charges, new pressure to protect frontline communities from oil and gas drilling in California, and, ‘if at first you don’t succeed’—lessons learned at the Museum of Failure. Hari Sreenivasan anchors from New York. Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6

#NightlyNews #KyleRittenhouse #BoosterShots

Nightly News Full Broadcast – Nov. 19, 2021

Nov 19, 2021  NBC News

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted on all charges in homicide trial, FDA and CDC authorize 3rd Pfizer, Moderna Covid shots for all adults, and airlines under pressure as millions expected to travel for Thanksgiving. 00:00 Intro 02:08 Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty 05:14 Vaccine Boosters For All 07:40 Holiday Travel Trouble 10:53 House Passes Biden Plan 13:56 Charlottesville Jury Deliberations 16:12 The Cost Of Care: Caregiving Financial Toll » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands that deliver compelling, diverse and engaging news stories. NBC News Digital features NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, TODAY.com, Nightly News, Meet the Press, Dateline, and the existing apps and digital extensions of these respective properties. We deliver the best in breaking news, live video coverage, original journalism and segments from your favorite NBC News Shows. Connect with NBC News Online! NBC News App: https://smart.link/5d0cd9df61b80 Breaking News Alerts: https://link.nbcnews.com/join/5cj/bre… Visit NBCNews.Com: http://nbcnews.to/ReadNBC Find NBC News on Facebook: http://nbcnews.to/LikeNBC Follow NBC News on Twitter: http://nbcnews.to/FollowNBC #NightlyNews #KyleRittenhouse #BoosterShots

Nightly News Full Broadcast – November 20th

Nov 20, 2021  NBC News

Chaos erupts at Atlanta Airport amidst Thanksgiving travel, Protests across the U.S. over Kyle Rittenhouse trial verdict, and CDC greenlights Covid boosters for all adults. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands that deliver compelling, diverse and engaging news stories. NBC News Digital features NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, TODAY.com, Nightly News, Meet the Press, Dateline, and the existing apps and digital extensions of these respective properties. We deliver the best in breaking news, live video coverage, original journalism and segments from your favorite NBC News Shows. Connect with NBC News Online! NBC News App: https://smart.link/5d0cd9df61b80 Breaking News Alerts: https://link.nbcnews.com/join/5cj/bre… Visit NBCNews.Com: http://nbcnews.to/ReadNBC Find NBC News on Facebook: http://nbcnews.to/LikeNBC Follow NBC News on Twitter: http://nbcnews.to/FollowNBC #NightlyNews #AtlantaAirport #KyleRittenhouse #BoosterShots

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