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Space

NASA drops mini robots into volcano for science

Space may be vast, but the planets can be pretty cramped – especially when it comes to volcanoes. This is unfortunate because the difficult to navigate fissures that are a major volcanic feature contain clues as to the interior of planets and moons and the mechanisms that formed them. To help learn more, NASA is dropping miniature robots down crevices inaccessible to humans as a way of extracting information about volcanoes on and off the Earth.Read More

Space

Dawn begins Ceres approach for orbital rendezvous

Like the end of a very long and eventful road trip, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has its main goal in sight. The space agency says that the unmanned probe has emerged from behind the Sun as it uses its ion propulsion to catch up with the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt and that mission control was able to re-establish contact. The craft has received instructions for executing a series of maneuvers that will take it on its final approach phase, which will end with it going into orbit around Ceres.Read More

Space

Smart dust could put telescopes in a spray can

Good things come in small packages – and sometimes in aerosol cans. To prove this, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are working on technology for a future generation of space telescopes that may one day see the giant instruments replaced by swarms of particles that are deployed from a can and herded into place by laser beams.Read More

Space

Research suggests Jupiter's Great Red Spot is caused by the Sun

The Great Red Spot is the distinguishing feature that makes Jupiter one of the most easily recognizable planets in our solar system. Until recently, it was widely believed that this blemish was formed as a result of reddish-colored chemicals rising up from within the planet itself. However, using information obtained by analysis of data from the Cassini fly-by mission of Jupiter, researchers working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have discerned that the planet's Great Red Spot may have more to do with the external action of the sun than some internal mechanism.Read More

Space

Ganymede may be "club sandwich" moon

In a combination of the astronomical and the culinary, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say that Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, may not have a single large ocean, but instead may be built like a club sandwich with alternating layers of ice and water. The claim is based on computer models of how salt water acts under the high pressures that may exist beneath Ganymede’s global ice pack, and may improve the chances of finding life elsewhere in the Solar System. Read More

Space

JPL develops space flowers to help find Earth-like planets

Apparently NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, thinks that what space exploration in the 21st century needs is spacecraft that are a bit more botanical. The center has released a video showing off its starshade spacecraft that opens up like a blossom. Bearing a resemblance to a cosmic sunflower, it’s designed to help astronomers to directly study exoplanets, including taking the first actual pictures of planets beyond our Solar System.Read More

Science

FINDER detects heartbeats beneath 30 feet of rubble

Sniffer dogs and fiber optic cameras may soon be getting some assistance, when it comes to locating people trapped beneath debris. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has joined forces with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to create a microwave radar-based system known as Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response – or FINDER. The new technology is able to detect a human heartbeat buried up to 30 feet (9 meters) under assorted rubble. Read More

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