Blog about NASA activities

SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket to start its CRS-10 mission (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-10 (Cargo Resupply Service 10) mission, also referred to as SPX-10. After almost ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the tenth mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

The Sun during a solar flare (Image NASA/NOAA)

NASA released an image of the solar flare occurred on January 21 captured by the GOES-16 satellite that the agency runs with NOAA using the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) instrument. It’s specifically aimed to observe the Sun and monitor phenomena such as solar storms, which can have consequences on the activity of satellites but also of power plants and other human activities.

Global soil moisture map (Image MIT/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” describes an analysis of data collected during the first year of NASA’s SMAP satellite’s mission. The results were surprising, especially because the data about the soil’s upper layer has a kind of memory of weather, more than you might think from theoretical models or from incomplete surveys carried out prior to this mission.

Section of Ceres with the materials at and just below its surface (Image Pierre Vernazza, LAM–CNRS/AMU)

An article published in “The Astronomical Journal” describes a research on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. Using infrared observations carried out with the SOFIA observatory a team of scientists of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, SETI and NASA’s JPL identified the presence of pyroxene, clay and carbonates that so far deceived the researchers, who thought the surface was rich in carbon compounds.

The big Mimas' mountain seen by the Cassini space probe

NASA has published a new photo taken by the Cassini space probe of Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons, which provides an excellent perspective view of the mountain in the center of Herschel crater, which is not huge in absolute terms but has a diameter which is almost a third of that of Mimas. The mountain is high even by Earth standards with at least 6 kilometers (4 miles) above the crater’s floor and stands out even more on the small moon.