• Mars Water-Ice Clouds Key to Odd Thermal Rhythm

    Mars Water-Ice Clouds Key to Odd Thermal Rhythm

    06.12.13 - 
    Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found that temperatures in the Martian atmosphere regularly rise and fall not just once each day, but twice.

    Temperatures swing by as much as 58 degrees Fahrenheit (32 kelvins) in this odd, twice-a-day pattern, as detected by the orbiter's Mars Climate Sounder instrument.

  • Evidence of Planet Forming Far Away From Its Star

    Evidence of Planet Forming Far Away From Its Star

    06.13.13 - 
    Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found compelling evidence of a planet forming 7.5 billion miles away from its star, a finding that may challenge current theories about planet formation.

    Of the almost 900 planets outside our solar system that have been confirmed to date, this is the first to be found at such a great distance from its star. If the suspected planet were orbiting in our solar system, it would be roughly twice Pluto's distance from the sun.

  • Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in Arctic?

    Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in Arctic?

    06.11.13 - 
    Flying low and slow above the wild, pristine terrain of Alaska's North Slope in a specially instrumented NASA plane, research scientist Charles Miller of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., surveys the endless whiteness of tundra and frozen permafrost below. On the horizon, a long, dark line appears. The plane draws nearer, and the mysterious object reveals itself to be a massive herd of migrating caribou, stretching for miles.

  • Martian Dune Marks May Be Tracks of Dry-Ice Sleds

    Martian Dune Marks May Be Tracks of Dry-Ice Sleds

    06.11.13 - 
    NASA research indicates hunks of frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice -- may glide down some Martian sand dunes on cushions of gas similar to miniature hovercraft, plowing furrows as they go.

    Researchers deduced this process could explain one enigmatic class of gullies seen on Martian sand dunes by examining images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and performing experiments on sand dunes in Utah and California.

  • Astronomers Identify Black Holes With Chandra Data

    Astronomers Identify Black Holes With Chandra Data

    06.12.13 - 
    Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered an unprecedented bonanza of black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way.

    The black hole candidates belong to the stellar mass category, meaning they formed in the death throes of very massive stars and typically have masses five to 10 times that of our sun.

  • Shining a Light on Cool Pools of Gas in the Galaxy

    Shining a Light on Cool Pools of Gas in the Galaxy

    06.11.13 - 
    Newly formed stars shine brightly, practically crying out, "Hey, look at me!" But not everything in our Milky Way galaxy is easy to see. The bulk of material between the stars in the galaxy -- the cool hydrogen gas from which stars spring -- is nearly impossible to find.

    The discovery reveals that the reservoir of raw material for making stars had been underestimated before -- almost by one third -- and extends farther out from our galaxy's center than known before.

  • Black Hole Naps Amidst Stellar Chaos

    Black Hole Naps Amidst Stellar Chaos

    06.11.13 - 
    Nearly a decade ago, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory caught signs of what appeared to be a black hole snacking on gas at the middle of the nearby Sculptor galaxy. Now, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), which sees higher-energy X-ray light, has taken a peek and found the black hole asleep.

  • The Sun Emits an M5.9 Solar Flare

    The Sun Emits an M5.9 Solar Flare

    06.10.13 - 
    The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 6:49 p.m. on June 7, 2013. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours.

  • Climate Conditions Determine Amazon Fire Risk

    Climate Conditions Determine Amazon Fire Risk

    06.10.13 - 
    Using an innovative satellite technique, NASA scientists have determined that a previously unmapped type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest than has been lost through deforestation in recent years.

    In the southern Amazon rainforest, fires below the forest treetops, or "understory fires," have been hidden from view from NASA satellites that detect actively burning fires.

      › Amazon Forest Fire Risk to Increase in 2013

  • Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge

    Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge

    06.10.13 - 
    After two days of extensive competition, Team Survey of Los Angeles was awarded $5,000 in prize money after successfully completing Level 1 of the Sample Return Robot Challenge, a part of NASA's Centennial Challenges prize program.
    A WPI organized science and robotics festival attracted thousands of attendees, showcasing the teams and robots as well as NASA and WPI exhibits in science, robotics and space technology.

      › Photos: 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge