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This Week at NASA | Closest Rocky Exoplanet Confirmed; Calif. is 1 Full Year Short on Rainfall Since 2012; more

Uploaded 07/31/2015

Closest Rocky Exoplanet Confirmed; Calif. is 1 Full Year Short on Rainfall Since 2012; more

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has helped astronomers confirm the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system. The planet, called HD 219134b, is a bit larger than Earth and located a mere 21 light-years away in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star. While HD 219134b orbits too close to its star to sustain life, it is the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star – which makes it perfect for extensive scientific research. The results of this discovery are the subject of a study accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Also, Exoplanet found far from its central star, Orion fairing separation tests, NEEMO 20 mission, California’s “rain debt” and Unmanned Air Traffic Management.

 

TRANSCRIPT

Closest rocky exoplanet confirmed

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has helped astronomers confirm the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system. The planet, called HD 219134b, is a bit larger than Earth and located a mere 21 light-years away in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star. While HD 219134b orbits too close to its star to sustain life, it is the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star – which makes it perfect for extensive scientific research. The results of this discovery are the subject of a study accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Exoplanet found far from its central star

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have made independent confirmations of an exoplanet orbiting far from its central star. The finding, made through a technique called gravitational microlensing, opens a new piece of discovery space in the hunt for extrasolar planets: to uncover planets as far from their central stars as Jupiter and Saturn are from our sun. The Hubble and Keck Observatory results will appear in the July 30 edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

Orion fairing separation tests

NASA’s prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft – Lockheed Martin – conducted its second successful ground-based test recently, to evaluate how the fairing panels on Orion will separate on its way to space. The massive panels help the spacecraft endure the aerodynamic forces encountered during launch – then are jettisoned several minutes into flight. The testing incorporated several design changes to reduce spacecraft mass and better prepare Orion for its first test mission on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to a distant lunar orbit.

NEEMO 20 mission

The 20th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations or NEEMO mission got underway July 20 in the Florida Keys – about 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. NASA astronaut Serena Aunon and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano are among the NEEMO crew of the Aquarius habitat, the world’s only undersea science station. The 14-day mission is designed to test tools and techniques for use during possible future spacewalks on asteroids and the surfaces of Mars and its moons.

California’s “rain debt”

According to a NASA study published in the July 30 Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, California accumulated a “rainfall debt” of about 20 inches between 2012 and 2015 – that’s equivalent to the state’s average amount of rainfall in a year. The majority of the precipitation loss is the result of a high-pressure system in the eastern Pacific Ocean that has hindered water vapor-rich air currents, called atmospheric rivers, from reaching the California coast since 2011.

Unmanned Air Traffic Management

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Convention kicked off July 28 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California. The three-day event featured a keynote speech from Jaiwon Shin, the agency’s associate administrator for aeronautics. It also included demonstrations of the latest developments in unmanned aircraft systems technology, safety and security; solutions for privacy concerns and issues; and discussion about the future impact of low-altitude flight on the emerging business sector.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.

 

 

 

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