Blog about NASA activities

The Cygnus spece cargo ship blasting off atop an Antares rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A little while ago Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its eighth official mission, called Orbital-8 or simply Orb-8 but also CRS OA-8, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

Vera Rubin Ridge panorama (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU)

NASA has published a series of images taken by its Mars Rover Curiosity in the Gale Crater area of Mars called the Vera Rubin Ridge created putting together photos taken using filters that allow the mission scientists to identify some minerals. The instruments that have this capability are the MastCam (Mast Camera) and ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera). On this occasion, the MastCam allowed to highlight an iron oxide called hematite.

Artist's concept of Mars' magnetic tail (Image Anil Rao/Univ. of Colorado/MAVEN/NASA GSFC)

During the 49th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, the results were presented of a research that led to the discovery that the planet Mars has a magnetic tail, called magnetotail, twisted by the interaction with the solar wind. A team led by Dr. Gina DiBraccio of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center used data from the MAVEN space probe to discover this phenomenon that according to the researchers is linked to the process known as magnetic reconnection.

The Ernutet crater and the organic materials (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/ASI/INAF/MPS/DLR/IDA)

In the course of the Conference of the American Astronomical Society’s 49th Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting, SwRI (Southwest Research Institute) scientist Simone Marchi presented the results of a study on the origin of the organic compounds discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres by NASA’s Dawn space probe. There were some doubts about the possibility they had formed on Ceres but according to Marchi and his team the evidence they collected that’s the most likely theory.