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A total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. on August 21

  • On Monday, Aug. 21, a rare total solar eclipse will take place in an event NASA dubbed the Eclipse Across America.
  • This special eclipse will be visible in the daytime across North America from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina.
  • An eclipse iswhat happens when “one heavenly body, such as a moon or planet, moves into the shadow of another heavenly body.”
  • While big cities like New York and Chicago will get a glimpse of the partial eclipse, the total eclipse will only be viewable in cities and towns along a diagonal slash from the West Coast through St. Louis and down to South Carolina. Read more (7/19/17)

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The world’s most detailed scan of the brain’s internal wiring has been produced by scientists at Cardiff University.

Not only does the scan show the direction of the messaging, but also the density of the brain’s wiring. Conventional scans clearly show lesions - areas of damage - in the brain of MS patients.But this advanced scan, showing axonal density, can help explain how the lesions affect motor and cognitive pathways - which can trigger movement problems and extreme fatigue.

Prof Derek Jones, CUBRIC’s director, said it was like getting hold of the Hubble telescope when you’ve been using binoculars. “The promise for researchers is that we can start to look at structure and function together for the first time,” he said.

Let Us See Jupiter Through Your Eyes

Our Juno spacecraft will fly over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot on July 10 at 10:06 p.m. EDT. This will be humanity’s first up-close and personal view of the gas giant’s iconic 10,000-mile-wide storm, which has been monitored since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350 years.

The data collection of the Great Red Spot is part of Juno’s sixth science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops. Perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) will be July 10 at 9:55 p.m. EDT. 

At the time of perijove, Juno will be about 2,200 miles above the planet’s cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later…Juno will have covered another 24,713 miles and will be directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft will pass about 5,600 miles above its clouds. 

When will we see images from this flyby?

During the flyby, all eight of the spacecraft’s instruments will be turned on, as well as its imager, JunoCam. Because the spacecraft will be collecting data with its Microwave Radiometer (MWR), which measures radio waves from Jupiter’s deep atmosphere, we cannot downlink information during the pass. The MWR can tell us how much water there is and how material is moving far below the cloud tops.

During the pass, all data will be stored on-board…with a downlink planned afterwards. Once the downlink begins, engineering data from the spacecraft’s instruments will come to Earth first, followed by images from JunoCam.

The unprocessed, raw images will be located HERE, on approximately July 14. Follow @NASAJuno on Twitter for updates.

Did you know you can download and process these raw images?

We invite the public to act as a virtual imaging team…participating in key steps of the process, from identifying features of interest to sharing the finished images online. After JunoCam data arrives on Earth, members of the public can process the images to create color pictures. The public also helps determine which points on the planet will be photographed. Learn more about voting on JunoCam’s next target HERE.

JunoCam has four filters: red, green, blue and near-infrared. We get red, green and blue strips on one spacecraft rotation (the spacecraft rotation rate is 2 revolutions per minute) and the near-infrared strips on the second rotation. To get the final image product, the strips must be stitched together and the colors lined up.

Anything from cropping to color enhancing to collaging is fair game. Be creative!

Submit your images to Juno_outreach@jpl.nasa.gov to be featured on the Mission Juno website!

Check out some of these citizen-scientist processed images from previous Juno orbits: 

Credit: Sean Doran (More)

Credit: Amelia Carolina (More)

Credit: Michael Ranger (More)

Credit: Jason Major (More)

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Scientists just spotted an adorable star that barely even qualifies as one

  • Sometimes, scientists’ categories for things can be a little demeaning. For example: the “failed star” designation for objects that are larger than planets but smaller than stars.
  • About 600 light-years away, EBLM J0555-57Ab just barely missed the failed star category. But as will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, it’s just a hair over the boundary, making it one of the smallest stars we know of.
  • “Failed star” is actually a factual statement — it just means something isn’t large enough to manage to bang hydrogen atoms together to form helium, the basic process at the heart of a burning star.
  • EBLM J0555-57Ab looks a bit like it shouldn’t have made the cut: It’s only a tiny bit larger than Saturn, or about one-twelfth the size of our sun. Read more (7/12/17)

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That Time We Flew Past Pluto…

Two years ago today (July 14), our New Horizons spacecraft made its closest flyby of Pluto…collecting images and science that revealed a geologically complex world. Data from this mission are helping us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system.

The spacecraft is now venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt…a relic of solar system formation…to reach its next target. On New Year’s Day 2019, New Horizons will zoom past a Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69.

The Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region of icy bodies – including dwarf planets such as Pluto – and comets beyond the orbit of Neptune. It extends from about 30 to 55 Astronomical Units (an AU is the distance from the sun to Earth) and is probably populated with hundreds of thousands of icy bodies larger than 62 miles across, and an estimated trillion or more comets.

Nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto, you may be asking how the spacecraft will function for the 2014 MU69 flyby. Well, New Horizons was originally designed to fly far beyond the Pluto system and explore deeper into the Kuiper Belt. 

The spacecraft carries extra hydrazine fuel for the flyby; its communications system is designed to work from beyond Pluto; its power system is designed to operate for many more years; and its scientific instruments were designed to operate in light levels much lower than it will experience during the 2014 MU69 flyby.

What have we learned about Pluto since its historic flyby in 2015?

During its encounter, the New Horizons spacecraft collected more than 1,200 images of Pluto and tens of gigabits of data. The intensive downlinking of information took about a year to return to Earth! Here are a few things we’ve discovered:

Pluto Has a Heart

This image captured by New Horizons around 16 hours before its closest approach shows Pluto’s “heart.” This stunning image of one of its most dominant features shows us that the heart’s diameter is about the same distance as from Denver to Chicago. This image also showed us that Pluto is a complex world with incredible geological diversity.

Icy Plains

Pluto’s vast icy plain, informally called Sputnik Planitia, resembles frozen mud cracks on Earth. It has a broken surface of irregularly-shaped segments, bordered by what appear to be shallow troughs.

Majestic Mountains

Images from the spacecraft display chaotically jumbled mountains that only add to the complexity of Pluto’s geography. The rugged, icy mountains are as tall as 11,000 feet high.

Color Variations

This high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. The surface of Pluto has a remarkable range of subtle color variations. Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story.

Foggy Haze and Blue Atmosphere

Images returned from the New Horizons spacecraft have also revealed that Pluto’s global atmospheric haze has many more layers than scientists realized. The haze even creates a twilight effect that softly illuminates nightside terrain near sunset, which makes them visible to the cameras aboard the spacecraft.

Water Ice

New Horizons detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. Scientists are eager to understand why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places.

Stay updated on New Horizons findings by visiting the New Horizons page. You can also keep track of Pluto News on Twitter via @NASANewHorizons.

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An ice shelf the size of Delaware is about to break from Antarctica

  • A giant chunk of ice the size of Delaware is threatening to cleave itself from one of the largest ice shelves in Antarctica, and its imminent collapse could further threaten the landscape of the region.
  • On July 5, researchers at the European Space Agency’s CryoSat mission announced in a report that a large crack running along the Larsen C ice shelf now measures 200 km, leaving just five kilometers — or three miles — between in the bottom of the crack and the ocean.
  • The iceberg that could result from the break would be around 2,300 square miles in size, which, as CNN reports, is roughly seven times the size of New York City. Read more (7/6/17)

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