Category Information and Update

Why Clouds Form Near Black Holes

Once you leave the majestic skies of Earth, the word “cloud” no longer means a white fluffy-looking structure that produces rain. Instead, clouds in the greater universe are clumpy areas of greater density than their surroundings.
 

Quasar with labels

This illustration depicts a quasar, a type of active galactic nucleus, surrounded by a dusty donut shape (torus) and clumps called “clouds.” These clouds start small but can expand to be more than 1 parsec (3.3 light-years) wide. In this diagram, the clouds are at least 1 parsec from the torus.Credits: Illustration by Nima AbkenarDownload image without labels here

Space telescopes have observed these cosmic clouds in the vicinity of supermassive black holes, those mysterious dense objects from which no light can escape, with masses equivalent ...

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NASA’s Curiosity Keeps Rolling As Team Operates Rover From Home

Members of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission team

Members of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover mission team photographed themselves on March 20, 2020, the first day the entire mission team worked remotely from home.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For people who are able to work remotely during this time of social distancing, video conferences and emails have helped bridge the gap. The same holds true for the team behind NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. They’re dealing with the same challenges of so many remote workers — quieting the dog, sharing space with partners and family, remembering to step away from the desk from time to time — but with a twist: They’re operating on Mars.

On March 20, 2020, nobody on the team was present at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the mission is based...

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NASA Missions Help Reveal the Power of Shock Waves in a Nova Explosion

Unprecedented observations of a nova outburst in 2018 by a trio of satellites, including two NASA missions, have captured the first direct evidence that most of the explosion’s visible light arose from shock waves — abrupt changes of pressure and temperature formed in the explosion debris.

A nova is a sudden, short-lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star. It occurs when a stream of hydrogen from a companion star flows onto the surface of a white dwarf, a compact stellar cinder not much larger than Earth. NASA’s Fermi and NuSTAR space telescopes, together with the Canadian BRITE-Toronto satellite and several ground-based facilities, studied the nova.

NASA’s Fermi and NuSTAR space telescopes, together with another satellite named BRITE-Toronto, are providing new...

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NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission

This graphic shows a simulation of a WFIRST observation of M31

This graphic shows a simulation of a WFIRST observation of M31, also known as the Andromeda galaxy. Hubble used more than 650 hours to image areas outlined in blue. Using WFIRST, covering the entire galaxy would take only three hours.Credits: DSS, R. Gendle, NASA, GSFC, ASU, STScI, B. F. Williams

NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.

The WFIRST space telescope will have a viewing area 100 times larger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which will enable it to detect faint infrared signals from across the cosmos while also generating enormous panoramas of the universe, revealing secrets of dark energ...

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NASA to Reveal Name of Next Mars Rover, Hold Media Teleconference

NASA will unveil the name of the agency’s next Mars rover, currently known as Mars 2020, during a live event on NASA Television at 1:30 p.m. EST Thursday, March 5, followed by a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. about the mission and the naming.

In addition to airing live on NASA Television, the event will stream live on FacebookUstreamYouTubeTwitter, NASA Television, and the agency’s website.

The Mars 2020 rover was the subject of anationwide naming contest in 2019 that drew more than 28,000 essays byK-12 students from every U.S. state and territory. Nearly 4,700 volunteer judges – educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts from around the country – helped narrow the pool down to 155 semifinalists...

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New Earth Mission Will Track Rising Oceans Into 2030

Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission

The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission that will track sea level rise, one of the clearest signs of global warming, for the next 10 years. Sentinel-6A, the first of the mission’s two satellites, is shown in its clean room in Germany and is scheduled to launch in November 2020. Credits: IABG

View the latest sea level data in Earth Now.

Earth’s climate is changing, and the study of oceans is vital to understanding the effects of those changes on our future. For the first time, U.S and European agencies are preparing to launch a 10-year satellite mission to continue to study the clearest sign of global warming — rising sea levels...

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NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa

Images of Europa through time

On the left is a view of Europa taken from 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) away on March 2, 1979 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Next is a color image of Europa taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft during its close encounter on July 9, 1979. On the right is a view of Europa made from images taken by the Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Credits: NASA/JPL Download images of Europa here

Forty years ago, a Voyager spacecraft snapped the first closeup images of Europa, one of Jupiter’s 79 moons. These revealed brownish cracks slicing the moon’s icy surface, which give Europa the look of a veiny eyeball...

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