eruption plume

Ocean Worlds Beyond Earth

We’re incredibly lucky to live on a planet drenched in water, nestled in a perfect distance from our sun and wrapped with magnetic fields keeping our atmosphere intact against harsh radiation and space weather.

We know from recent research that life can persist in the cruelest of environments here on Earth, which gives us hope to finding life thriving on other worlds. While we have yet to find life outside of Earth, we are optimistic about the possibilities, especially on other ocean worlds right here in our solar system.  

So…What’s the News?!

Two of our veteran missions are providing tantalizing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further enhancing the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond!

Cassini scientists announce that a form of energy for life appears to exist in Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.

The Two Missions: Cassini and Hubble

Cassini

Our Cassini spacecraft has found that hydrothermal vents in the ocean of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus are producing hydrogen gas, which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life.

Cassini discovered that this little moon of Saturn was active in 2005. The discovery that Enceladus has jets of gas and icy particles coming out of its south polar region surprised the world. Later we determined that plumes of material are coming from a global ocean under the icy crust, through large cracks known as “tiger stripes.” 

We have more evidence now – this time sampled straight from the plume itself – of hydrothermal activity, and we now know the water is chemically interacting with the rock beneath the ocean and producing the kind of chemistry that could be used by microbes IF they happened to be there.

This is the culmination of 12 years of investigations by Cassini and a capstone finding for the mission. We now know Enceladus has nearly all the ingredients needed for life as we know it.

The Cassini spacecraft made its deepest dive through the plume on Oct. 28, 2015. From previous flybys, Cassini determined that nearly 98% of the gas in the plume is water and the rest is a mixture of other molecules, including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia. 

Cassini’s other instruments provided evidence of hydrothermal activity in the ocean. What we really wanted to know was…Is there hydrogen being produced that microbes could use to make energy? And that’s exactly what we found!

To be clear…we haven’t discovered microbes at Enceladus, but vents of this type at Earth host these kinds of life. We’re cautiously excited at the prospect that there might be something like this at Enceladus too!

Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope has also been studying another ocean world in our solar system: Europa!

Europa is one of the four major moons of Jupiter, about the size of our own moon but very different in appearance. It’s a cold, icy world with a relatively smooth, bright surface crisscrossed with dark cracks and patches of reddish material.

What makes Europa interesting is that it’s believed to have a global ocean, underneath a thick crust of ice. In fact, it’s got about twice as much ocean as planet Earth!

In 2014, we detected evidence of intermittent water plumes on the surface of Europa, which is interesting because they may provide us with easier access to subsurface liquid water without having to drill through miles of ice.

And now, in 2016, we’ve found one particular plume candidate that appears to be at the same location that it was seen in 2014. 

This is exciting because if we can establish that a particular feature does repeat, then it is much more likely to be real and we can attempt to study and understand the processes that cause it to turn on or off. 

This plume also happens to coincide with an area where Europa is unusually warm as compared to the surrounding terrain. The plume candidates are about 30 to 60 miles (50 to 100 kilometers) in height and are well-positioned for observation, being in a relatively equatorial and well-determined location.

What Does All This Mean and What’s Next?

Hubble and Cassini are inherently different missions, but their complementary scientific discoveries, along with the synergy between our current and planned missions, will help us in finding out whether we are alone in the universe. 

Hubble will continue to observe Europa. If you’re wondering how we might be able to get more information on the Europa plume, the upcoming Europa Clipper mission will be carrying a suite of 9 instruments to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions favorable for life. Europa Clipper is slated to launch in the 2020s.

This future mission will be able to study the surface of Europa in great detail and assess the habitability of this moon. Whether there’s life there or not is a question for this future mission to discover!

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Saturn’s Moon, Enceladus, Is Our Closest Great Hope For Life Beyond Earth

“Cassini provided scientists with a wealth of data about Enceladus’ surface and the composition of its powerful plumes. This data showed evidence of a deep saltwater ocean with an energy source beneath Enceladus’ surface. The presence of water, warmth, and organic molecules are the necessary requirements for sustaining life as we know it. Water is proven to exist, while the tidal forces from Saturn provide the necessary heat. Based on observations of other bodies in the Solar System, Enceladus likely contains the raw ingredients for life as well. The suspected existence of all three hints at the possible presence of the precursors to amino acids in this vast subsurface ocean. Should we find extraterrestrial life on Enceladus – or in the geyser-like plumes erupting into space – the implications are almost incomprehensible.”

When you think about life beyond Earth, you likely think of it occurring on a somewhat Earth-like planet. A rocky world, with either a past or present liquid ocean atop the surface, seems ideal. But that might not even be where life on Earth originated! Deep beneath the Earth’s surface, geologically active hydrothermal vents currently support diverse colonies of life without any energy from the Sun. Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus, has a subsurface ocean unlike any other world we’ve yet discovered. The tidal forces of Saturn itself provide the necessary heat, and also create cracks in the Enceladean surface, enabling massive geysers. This subsurface ocean rises hundreds of kilometers high, regularly resurfaces the world with a coat of fresh ice, and even creates the E-ring of Saturn. But most spectacularly, it may house actively living organisms, and could be the next-best world for life, after Earth, in the Solar System today.

Come get the full story on Enceladus, and welcome Starts With A Bang’s newest contributor, the remarkable Jesse Shanahan!

Mt. Etna has been erupting for hundreds of thousands of years. Located in Sicily, Italy, the volcano produces lava fountains over one kilometer high. Mt. Etna is not only one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, it is one of the largest, measuring over 50 kilometers at its base and rising nearly 3 kilometers high!! Pictured in mid-March, a spectacular lava plume erupts upwards, dangerous molten volcanic bombs fly off to the sides, while hot lava flows down the volcano’s exterior. The Earth’s rotation is discernable on this carefully time, moon-lit, long duration image as star trails. 

Image Credit & Copyright: Dario Giannobile

Astronomy From 45,000 Feet

What is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, up to?

SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, as our flying telescope is called, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a 2.5-meter telescope to altitudes as high as 45,000 feet. Researchers use SOFIA to study the solar system and beyond using infrared light. This type of light does not reach the ground, but does reach the altitudes where SOFIA flies.

 Recently, we used SOFIA to study water on Venus, hoping to learn more about how that planet lost its oceans. Our researchers used a powerful instrument on SOFIA, called a spectrograph, to detect water in its normal form and “heavy water,” which has an extra neutron. The heavy water takes longer to evaporate and builds up over time. By measuring how much heavy water is on Venus’ surface now, our team will be able to estimate how much water Venus had when the planet formed.

We are also using SOFIA to create a detailed map of the Whirlpool Galaxy by making multiple observations of the galaxy. This map will help us understand how stars form from clouds in that galaxy. In particular, it will help us to know if the spiral arms in the galaxy trigger clouds to collapse into stars, or if the arms just show up where stars have already formed.

We can also use SOFIA to study methane on Mars. The Curiosity rover has detected methane on the surface of Mars. But the total amount of methane on Mars is unknown and evidence so far indicates that its levels change significantly over time and location. We are using SOFIA to search for evidence of this gas by mapping the Red Planet with an instrument specially tuned to sniff out methane.

Next our team will use SOFIA to study Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, searching for evidence of possible water plumes detected by the Hubble Space Telescope. The plumes, illustrated in the artist’s concept above, were previously seen in images as extensions from the edge of the moon. Using SOFIA, we will search for water and determine if the plumes are eruptions of water from the surface. If the plumes are coming from the surface, they may be erupting through cracks in the ice that covers Europa’s oceans. Members of our SOFIA team recently discussed studying Europa on the NASA in Silicon Valley Podcast.

This is the view of Jupiter and its moons taken with SOFIA’s visible light guide camera that is used to position the telescope.  

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Io - Moon of Jupiter.
Hell in the solar system

Io is full of highly active volcanism. The surface is a hellish place. It’s hot and constantly errupting. It’s believed that the moon is super hot because of the force of Jupiter’s gravity constantly pulling on it, creating heat.
The eruptions glow bright colors because it’s shooting ions into space. Now that’s cool.

Part of Celestial Reconnaissance Bodies of the Solar System series. :)
CLICK HERE for the series.

This Week @ NASA--April 14, 2017

Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope, two of our long-running missions, are providing new details about the ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Hubble’s monitoring of plume activity on Europa and Cassini’s long-term investigation of Enceladus are laying the groundwork for our Europa Clipper mission, slated for launch in the 2020s. Also, Shane Kimbrough returns home after 171 days aboard the Space Station, celebrating the first Space Shuttle mission and more!

Ocean Worlds

Our two long-running missions, Cassini and the Hubble Space Telescope,  are providing new details about “ocean worlds,” specifically the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. 

The details – discussed during our April 13 science briefing – included the announcement by the Cassini mission team that a key ingredient for life has been found in the ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. 

Meanwhile, in 2016 Hubble spotted a likely plume erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa at the same location as one in 2014, reenforcing the notion of liquid water erupting from the moon.

These observations are laying the groundwork for our Europa Clipper mission, planned for launch in the 2020s.

Welcome Home, Shane!

Shane Kimbrough and his Russian colleagues returned home safely after spending 173 days in space during his mission to the International Space Station.

Meet the Next Crew to Launch to the Station

Meanwhile, astronaut Peggy Whitson assumed command of the orbital platform and she and her crew await the next occupants of the station, which is slated to launch April 20.

Student Launch Initiative

We’ve announced the preliminary winner of the 2017 Student Launch Initiative that took place near our Marshall Space Fight Center, The final selection will be announced in May. The students showcased advanced aerospace and engineering skills by launching their respective model rockets to an altitude of one mile, deploying an automated parachute and safely landing them for re-use.

Langley’s New Lab

On April 11, a ground-breaking ceremony took place at our Langley Research Center for the new Systems Measurement Laboratory. The 175,000 square-foot facility will be a world class lab for the research and development of new measurement concepts, technologies and systems that will enable the to meet its missions in space explorations, science and aeronautics.

Yuri’s Night

Space fans celebrated Yuri’s Night on April 12 at the Air and Space Museum and around the world. On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagrin became the first person to orbit the Earth.

Celebrating the First Space Shuttle Launch

On April 12, 1981, John Young and Bob Crippin launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-1 a two-day mission, the first of the Shuttle Program’s 30-year history.

Watch the full episode:

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amorverus  asked:

also add a sword arcing through some demons as he swings his bike in a circle

its path is a hot glowing streak of scarlet against the onyx night. the pierced demons erupt into decadent plumes of black smoke, whirling into a tornado around the spin of his bike. as the demon debris fizzles and the dismembered carcasses plop against the cement, he swings the roaring vehicle back down the highway. the studs spanning the broad of his back, lining his leathered shoulders and spine not unlike a skeleton, act as the night’s stars, glittering under passing street lights. his hair stands tall and dangerous, fluttering only slightly against the blazing speed.

he dips down into a sleeping city off an exit ramp and his hellish pups emerge from underground to join him, sprinting happily alongside the buzzing bike for three blocks.

and at three blocks and a quarter past four, neon red spills over them and they pull into the backside parking lot of a weary roadside inn. the word ‘motel’ sits high above in a large vertical sign but, apart from m, the letters have given up light a long time ago. 

the bike sputters to a stop, as do the panting pups, in front of room 104. the painted numbers are melting and the door is falling off its hinges. there’s broken glass along the path, glistening vermillion and not just from blood. the room window, however, is still intact.

the bloodied shards crunch under leather boots and there against the mess stands magnus’ husband, encased in his favorite hue, shielding the orange flame of a lighter against the cool kiss of wind. 

“need a light?” magnus quips, swinging off his resting vehicle. his smile could devour the sun.

alec’s eyes are brighter than day as he looks up, smirk wide, cigarette dangling. 

“yeah, you.”


anyway maia should be arrested

New insights into 'ocean worlds' in our solar system

Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.

In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.

“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA’s science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.”

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All that surrounds you is a forest,
where the birds sing in a foreign language and their plumes erupt into chaos
or are shot down by metal ended ignorance,
a heavenly choir brutally diminished.
In the light, the shrubs bloom dusty pink,
as skies on a summer evening,
but in the dark poison spikes
deep into flesh and explodes in veins
it strangles you, a python around your neck
from the foxgloves and belladonna berries,
as both will blind you or maybe kill you
or perhaps bring lunacy from the uncertainty
and so you won’t see the man in the mask,
laughing at your grave,
a stack of pure paper joy in his hand
and gold woven threads in his suit
wrists entwined with silver, like swinging vines,
because the green spark left his eyes,
so long ago.
But your left brain and the words your say,
they don’t match here, like they should,
here, we polish the truth
until we see our distorted reflections,
we breathe out and rub the blemishes
with silk cloth and a heavy hand,
your eloquence does not belong here
and though you dream of castles
we knocked them all down
to build our own mansions
and you should join us
whilst you still can.
—  hold your tongue

New Tenno Reinforcements!

Slice through your enemies with the Guandao, a towering polearm, or take them out from a distance with the Zakti pistol and its lethal toxicity. Adding the Mozi Syandana will ensure your enemies only see a flash of red before their last moments, if they see anything at all…

The Guandao Collection includes:


Guandao Polearm - Harvest the enemy with this towering polearm. 

Zakti Pistol - Fires razor-sharp darts that anchor themselves in their target before erupting in a plume of toxic gas. 

Mozi Syandana - Windswept ribbons of crimson evoke the war-kites of ancient Earth.


Visit the Market today to claim this Collection for 345 Platinum!

As always, donations to our designers are welcome! :)

Watch on the-earth-story.com

Flying over an ash plume erupting from Sakurajima volcano, Kagoshima Bay, Japan. That volcano sits on the edge of a larger caldera and is attached to the mainland by a small isthmus.

youtube

In a spectacular bit of coincident timing, on Tuesday night a webcam observing the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica captured this video of a shooting star - a meteor, a small piece of solar system debris entering our atmosphere - flying over the plume of the erupting volcano.

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Learn all about the end of the Rosetta Mission and more about the weather on Mars, the Moon’s colorful palette.

1. Rosetta’s Last Dance

The Rosetta mission was one of firsts: the first to orbit a comet and the first to dispatch a lander to a comet’s surface. Rosetta transformed our understanding of these ancient wanderers, and this week, mission controllers will command the spacecraft to execute a series of maneuvers to bring it out of orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Watch live on Sept. 30 from 6:15-8 a.m. EDT, the Rosetta mission’s 12-year odyssey in space reaches its conclusion. Rosetta will descend to make a planned impact on the comet’s surface with its instruments recording science data during descent.

+Watch live as Rosetta crash lands on NASA TV, recording data along the way

+More on the mission’s final descent

+Mission highlights

2.  Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter’s Moon Europa

On Monday, Sept. 26, our scientists announced what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

+Learn the latest on Europa

3. Not So Impossible After All

Scientists have found an “impossible” ice cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan. The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud prompted our researchers to suggest that a different process than previously thought could be forming clouds on Titan. The process may be similar to one seen over Earth’s poles. Today, the Cassini spacecraft will perform a targeted Titan flyby, skimming just 1,079 miles (1,736 kilometers) above its hazy surface. Several of Cassini’s instruments will be watching for clouds and other phenomena in the atmosphere, as well as taking measurements of the surface.

+Learn more about Titan’s clouds

4. Lunar Intrigue

Earth’s moon is a colorless world of grays and whites, right? Not really. As seen in these images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, some landscapes on the moon reveal a whole range of color. One such place is the mountainous complex of ancient lava flows known as the Lassell Massif, one of the moon’s so-called “red spots.”

+Take a look

5. Weather Report: Mars

A camera aboard our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter monitors global weather patterns daily. The most recent report includes the remains of a large dust storm in the Noachis region, and smaller tempests spotted along the edge of the south polar ice cap and water-ice clouds over the volcano Arsia Mons.

+ Learn more and see Mars weather videos

Discover the full list of 10 things to know about our solar system this week HERE.

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         Amazing Photography of Gayser in Iceland by  Marco Evaristti

The Danish-Chilean artist Marco Evaristti was arrested in Iceland after local landowners accused him of vandalism for dyeing the Strokkur geyser pink.The artist poured red fruit-based food coloring into the famous hot springs located 70 miles northeast of Reykjavik, causing the geyser to erupt in plumes of bright pink water and steam. Unfortunately for Evaristti, Icelandic authorities landed                the Copenhagen-based artist behind bars for two weeks. 

              Travel Gurus - Follow for more Nature Photographies!

NASA’s Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes Erupting on Jupiter's Moon Europa

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.

“Europa’s ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa’s subsurface.”

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Solar System: 10 Things to Know This Week

The solar system is huge, so let us break it down for you. Here are the top 10 things you should know this week:

1. Big “Wows” from Small Worlds

Our robotic explorers continue to send truly spectacular pictures and data from deep space. Our New Horizons mission to Pluto and Dawn mission to dwarf planet Ceres are revealing never-before-seen landscapes on a regular basis. If you missed it, check out the most recent images from Pluto and Ceres.

2. Deep Waters

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has intrigued many with its geysers that erupt continuously in spectacular plumes. Our Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists with data that is allowing them to determine the source of those plumes. New evidence points to a global ocean of liquid water hidden beneath the moon’s icy shell!

3. A Super Eclipse

This weekend a “supermoon” lunar eclipse will be visible in the night sky. Supermoons  occur when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear slightly larger. This one is extra special because it will also undergo a lunar eclipse! Beginning at 9:07 p.m. EDT on Sept. 27, make sure you get outside and look up! For more information visit: What’s Up for September.

4. All Things Equal

Sept. 23 marks the autumnal equinox, which is the official beginning of the Fall season in the northern hemisphere. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin for “equal night,” meaning day and night will be of equal length on that day.

5. Explore Goddard Space Flight Center

This weekend, Goddard Space Flight Center will be offering tours, presentations and other activities for children and adults. The theme this year is “Celebrating Hubble and the Spirit of Exploration”. This event is free and open to the public, and will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join in HERE.

6. Titan’s Haze

This week, our Cassini spacecraft will observe Saturn’s hazy, planet-sized moon Titan. Scientists will use these images to look for clouds across Titan’s exotic regions. Explore HERE.

7. New Horizons Team on Pluto

Ever wondered what it was like to be part of the team that explored Pluto for the first time? If you’ll be near the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC on Sept. 22 you’re invited to a free lecture and Q&A to find out! Get the details HERE.

8. Martian Weather Report

Every day, our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter delivers a global view of the planet and its atmospheric activity. The most recent report included lots of water-ice clouds in the afternoon, with dust storms developing along the south polar region. Get the latest HERE.

9. Imagine: The View from Pluto

If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like to stand on the icy terrain of Pluto, you’re not alone. Artist Karl Kofoed created a series of digital paintings that render scenes from the dwarf planet based on data from the New Horizons July 14 Pluto flyby. View them HERE.

10. What’s the Big Idea?

We’re giving university students a chance to help us come up with solutions for our journey to Mars. This Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge will look for creative solutions for generating lift using inflatable spacecraft heat shields on Mars. Enter your BIG Idea.

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Cassini Flyby Shows Enceladus Venting
What’s happening on the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus? Enormous ice jets are erupting. Giant plumes of ice have been photographed in dramatic fashion by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during this flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Pictured above, numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus’ craggy surface. Several ice jets are even visible in the shadowed region of crescent Enceladus as they reach high enough to scatter sunlight. Other plumes, near the top of the above image, appear visible just over the moon’s sunlit edge. That Enceladus vents fountains of ice was first discovered on Cassini images in 2005, and has been under close study ever since. Continued study of the ice plumes may yield further clues as to whether underground oceans, candidates for containing life, exist on this distant ice world.

Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI; Mosaic: Emily Lakdawalla