NASA News Digest: Space Science For 8 June – 11 June 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA Selects Eight Projects for 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge

RELEASE 15-114 (Click here for the full article) – 8 June 2015

2015june16_15_114NASA is working with eight U.S. universities on new technology projects for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars, as part of the 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.

The challenge, which is led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation, has teams designing systems, concepts and technologies that will help improve NASA’s exploration capabilities and provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in technology development.

“These strategic collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge in architectural design trades, capabilities and technology risk reduction related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division.

For more information about previous challenges and current challenge requirements, visit: go.nasa.gov/x-hab and www.spacegrant.org/xhab/

For information about NASA and its programs, visit: www.nasa.gov

NASA Spacecraft Detects Impact Glass On Surface Of Mars

RELEASE 15-118 (Click here for the full article) – 8 June 2015

2015june16_15_118NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has detected deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, such deposits might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.

During the past few years, research has shown evidence about past life has been preserved in impact glass here on Earth. A 2014 study led by scientist Peter Schultz of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, found organic molecules and plant matter entombed in glass formed by an impact that occurred millions of years ago in Argentina. Schultz suggested that similar processes might preserve signs of life on Mars, if they were present at the time of an impact.

Fellow Brown researchers Kevin Cannon and Jack Mustard, building on the previous research, detail their data about Martian impact glass in a report now online in the journal Geology.

For more information about CRISM, visit: crism.jhuapl.edu/

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: www.nasa.gov/mro

NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections

RELEASE 15-115 (Click here for the full article) – 9 June 2015

2015june16_15_115NASA has released data showing how temperature and rainfall patterns worldwide may change through the year 2100 because of growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

The dataset, which is available to the public, shows projected changes worldwide on a regional level in response to different scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models. The high-resolution data, which can be viewed on a daily timescale at the scale of individual cities and towns, will help scientists and planners conduct climate risk assessments to better understand local and global effects of hazards, such as severe drought, floods, heat waves and losses in agriculture productivity.

“NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,” said Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist. “With this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”

Additional information about the new NASA climate projection dataset is available at: nex.nasa.gov/nex/projects/1356/

The dataset is available for download at: cds.nccs.nasa.gov/nex-gddp/

OpenNEX information and training materials are available at: nex.nasa.gov/opennex

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/earth

NASA Hosts Media For Update On Asteroid Grand Challenge, Robotics Tour

RELEASE M15-091 (Click here for the full article) – 11 June 2015

2015june16_m15_091aMedia and social media are invited to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland Tuesday, June 16 for an update on the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge and the robotic systems that will be used on asteroid exploration missions.

To attend Tuesday’s 9:30 a.m. EDT event, reporters and social media representatives must pre-register with Dewayne Washington of NASA Goddard Public Affairs at dewayne.a.washington@nasa.gov or 301-286-0040 by 3 p.m. Monday, June 15.

In addition to an update on the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, participants will hear from Benjamin Reed, deputy project manager of Goddard’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO), and tour the facilities newest lab, dubbed The Cauldron. The SSCO is developing robotic systems for the agency’s Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission (ARRM) and other NASA missions using space robotics.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope Detects ‘Sunscreen’ Layer On Distant Planet

RELEASE 15-121 (Click here for the full article) – 11 June 2015

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected a stratosphere, one of the primary layers of Earth’s atmosphere, on a massive and blazing-hot exoplanet known as WASP-33b.

The presence of a stratosphere can provide clues about the composition of a planet and how it formed. This atmospheric layer includes molecules that absorb ultraviolet and visible light, acting as a kind of “sunscreen” for the planet it surrounds. Until now, scientists were uncertain whether these molecules would be found in the atmospheres of large, extremely hot planets in other star systems.

These findings will appear in the June 12 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

“Some of these planets are so hot in their upper atmospheres, they’re essentially boiling off into space,” said Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a co-author of the study. “At these temperatures, we don’t necessarily expect to find an atmosphere that has molecules that can lead to these multilayered structures.”

For images and more information about Hubble, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

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