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NASA Hosts Teleconference About Curiosity Rover Progress

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA will host a media teleconference at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday, Aug. 14, to provide a status update on the Curiosity rover’s mission to Mars’ Gale Crater.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 10:31 p.m. PDT, Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6). Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., spent last week beginning initial checks of Curiosity’s 10 instruments and updating software for its two-year mission to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-241

NASA STEREO Observes One Of The Fastest CMEs On Record

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. clocked this giant cloud, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun.

Conversations began to buzz and the emails to fly: this was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO, which since its launch in 2006 has helped make CME speed measurements much more precise. Such an unusually strong bout of space weather gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events affect the space around the sun, as well as to improve their understanding of what causes them.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/fast-cme.html

Second Flight Instrument Delivered For James Webb Space Telescope

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The second of four main instruments to fly aboard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) has been delivered to NASA. The Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) will enable the telescope to accurately and precisely point at the correct, intended objects for it to observe. The FGS is packaged together as a single unit with the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) science instrument.

FGS/NIRISS arrived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., July 30. It has been undergoing inspection before post-delivery testing and then integration into Webb’s science instrument payload known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) developed the Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph.

The FGS consists of two identical cameras that are critical to Webb’s ability to “see.” Their images will allow the telescope to determine its position, locate its celestial targets, and remain pointed to collect high-quality data. The FGS will guide the telescope with incredible precision, with an accuracy of one millionth of a degree of angle.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/2nd-webb-inst.html

President Obama Calls NASA’s Mars Rover Team Today

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

President Barack Obama called members of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday to congratulate them on the “incredibly impressive” mission.

“We could not be more excited,” said the President, telling the team that “it’s really mind boggling what you’ve been able to accomplish.”

The president also noted his administration’s focus on engineering and science and math and said that Curiosity is inspiring kids across the country.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-240

LHC Experiments Bring New Insight Into Matter Of The Primordial Universe

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Experiments using heavy ions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are advancing understanding of the primordial universe. The ALICE, ATLAS and CMS collaborations have made new measurements of the kind of matter that probably existed in the first instants of the universe. They will present their latest results at the Quark Matter 2012 conference, which starts today in Washington DC. The new findings are based mainly on the four-week LHC run with lead ions in 2011, during which the experiments collected 20 times more data than in 2010.

Just after the big bang, quarks and gluons – basic building blocks of matter – were not confined inside composite particles such as protons and neutrons, as they are today. Instead, they moved freely in a state of matter known as “quark–gluon plasma”. Collisions of lead ions in the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, recreate for a fleeting moment conditions similar to those of the early universe. By examining a billion or so of these collisions, the experiments have been able to make more precise measurements of the properties of matter under these extreme conditions.

Full Story: http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2012/PR21.12E.html

Evidence Further Suggests Extraterrestrial Origin Of Quasicrystals

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Results from an expedition to far eastern Russia that set out to find the origin of naturally occurring quasicrystals have provided convincing evidence that they arrived on Earth from outer space.

Writing in IOP Publishing’s journal Reports on Progress in Physics, Paul J Steinhardt and Luca Bindi reveal that new, naturally occurring quasicrystal samples have been found in an environment that does not have the extreme terrestrial conditions needed to produce them, therefore strengthening the case that they were brought to Earth by a meteorite.

Furthermore, their findings reveal that the samples of quasicrystals were brought to the area during the last glacial period, suggesting the meteorite was most likely to have hit Earth around 15 000 years ago.

Full Story: http://www.iop.org/news/12/aug/page_56710.html