NASA’s TESS Delivers New Insights Into an Ultrahot World

This illustration shows how planet KELT-9 b sees its host star. Over the course of a single orbit, the planet twice experiences cycles of heating and cooling caused by the star’s unusual pattern of surface temperatures. Between the star’s hot poles and cool equator, temperatures vary by about 1,500 F (800 C). This produces a “summer” when the planet faces a pole and a “winter” when it faces the cooler midsection. So every 36 hours, KELT-9 b experiences two summers and two winters. [Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA)]

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — Measurements from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have enabled astronomers to greatly improve their understanding of the bizarre environment of KELT-9 b, one of the hottest planets known.

“The weirdness factor is high with KELT-9 b,” said John Ahlers, an astronomer at Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s a giant planet in a very close, nearly polar orbit around a rapidly rotating star, and these features complicate our ability to understand the star and its effects on the planet.”

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USRA and NASA Scientists Set Another Fire Inside the Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft

This edge view of Saffire’s flame shows it developing over a one-centimeter thick sample of a plexiglass type material found on spacecraft. The blue color is typical of microgravity flames and moves from left to right at 20 cm per second. (Credits: NASA)

COLUMBIA, MD (USRA PR) — NASA has been conducting a series of space fire experiments called Spacecraft Fire Safety (Saffire) Experiments that investigate how fires grow and spread in space, especially aboard future spacecraft bound for Moon and Mars. Recently, another set of experiments were conducted when Saffire IV lit longer and stronger flames inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Cargo spacecraft.

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A Steaming Cauldron Follows the Dinosaurs’ Demise

A three-dimensional cross-section of the hydrothermal system in the Chicxulub impact crater and its seafloor vents. The system has the potential for harboring microbial life. (Illustration by Victor O. Leshyk for the Lunar and Planetary Institute)

Houston, Texas and Columbia, MD (USRA/LPI PR) — A new study reveals the Chicxulub impact crater may have harbored a vast and long-lived hydrothermal system after the catastrophic impact event linked to the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

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SwRI Scientist Modeled Mars Climate to Understand Habitability

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to record this eastward horizon view on the 2,407th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Oct. 31, 2010). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, May 11, 2020 (SwRI PR) — A Southwest Research Institute scientist modeled the atmosphere of Mars to help determine that salty pockets of water present on the Red Planet are likely not habitable by life as we know it on Earth. A team that also included scientists from Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the University of Arkansas helped allay planetary protection concerns about contaminating potential Martian ecosystems. These results were published this month in Nature Astronomy.

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Universities Space Research Association to Lead a DARPA Project on Quantum Computing

Columbia, MD and Washington DC, March 26, 2020 (USRA PR) — Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced that DARPA has awarded the organization and its partners Rigetti Computing and the NASA Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) to work as a team to advance the state of art in quantum optimization. USRA, as the prime contractor of the award, will manage the collaboration.

The collaboration will focus on developing a superconducting quantum processor, hardware -aware software and custom algorithms that take direct advantage of the hardware advances to solve scheduling and asset allocation problems. In addition, the team will design methods for benchmarking the hardware against classical computers to determine quantum advantage.

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The LPI’s Lunar South Pole Atlas — A New Online Reference for Mission Planners

Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute

HOUSTON and COLUMBIA, Md., May 17, 2019 (LPI/USRA PR) — The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), managed by Universities Space Research Association (USRA), has compiled and made available an atlas of the Moon’s south pole ( https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/lunar-south-pole-atlas/). Given NASA’s recent direction to implement Space Policy Directive-1 landing astronauts at the south pole by 2024, the LPI has compiled a series of maps, images, and illustrations designed to provide context and reference for those interested in exploring this area.

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NSF, CASIS Select 3 Combustion & Thermal Transport Experiments for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 9, 2017 (CASIS PR) –  The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced three projects have been selected from a joint solicitation focused on leveraging the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in the fields of combustion and thermal transport. In total, up to $900,000 will be awarded for these three investigations to support flight projects to the ISS National Laboratory.

Through this partnership, CASIS and NASA will facilitate hardware implementation and on-orbit access to the ISS National Laboratory.  NSF will fund the selected projects to advance fundamental science and engineering knowledge. CASIS is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing and promoting research onboard the ISS National Laboratory. NSF supports transformative research to help drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security and maintain America’s position as a global leader in innovation.

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Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers to Meet in February

Students performe an experiment in microgravity aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G plane.
Students performe an experiment in microgravity aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G plane.

CSF PRESS RELEASE

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC), which is being organized in conjunction with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

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