Label: NASA

January 28, 2016

Martian peaks with streaks running down slopes

Did you see the recent announcement from NASA (America’s space agency) about finding evidence of water on Mars? Scientists have long thought that there may have been water on this desert planet in the past, but these latest images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are extraordinary because they show evidence of water flowing today.

Do you see the dark streaks in this image? These streaks are from the minerals left behind when briny (salty) water flows down the slopes in the Martian "summer."

Why is this important for us? If there is liquid water on Mars, then it makes it much more possible that we can travel there to explore Mars ourselves. The rocket needed to carry astronauts on the year-long trip to Mars will be much lighter if it doesn’t have to carry water. There is currently no Mars mission planned…but I bet there will be soon.


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona    


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, space, Mars, NASA   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 17, 2013

What does a NASA engineer do when he wants to try something new? Mark Rober left his job as a mechanical engineer working on projects like building the Mars Curiosity rover to use his engineering skills to design animated clothing that he calls "wearable technology."

Here is an example. That is Mark Rober wearing a Christmas sweater that has an animated fireplace complete with a burning yule log. To make it work, the person wearing the sweater installs Rober’s app on his or her smartphone and stashes the phone in a velcro pocket hidden inside the sweater.

"Nothing is as cool as spaceships," he said. "But I will say, the thing I liked most about working for NASA was the creative aspect, and doing things no one has done before. [Now], that’s what I get to do with clothing."

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, NASA, Engineering   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2013

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a magnificent shot taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been sending us photographs from Saturn for almost nine years. This one is particularly beautiful because we can see Venus - a tiny, bright speck - shining in the distance.

We often see Venus in the early morning here on Earth, shining like a bright "morning star." This is an entirely different view, since Venus is seen here from a distance of 884 million miles (1.42 billion kilometers) away from Saturn.  If you want to try to imagine how far 884 million miles is, it is TEN TIMES the distance our planet Earth is from the sun. That’s quite a camera on the Cassini probe!

The early Romans named the dazzling white planet Venus, after their goddess of love and beauty. Gazing at this lovely image, you can certainly see why.

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI

You can read more about both VENUS and SATURN in my newly updated eBooks, which are part of the StarWalk Kids streaming collection of digital books for schools and libraries. These "Read and Listen" books have top quality, professionally-recorded narration and come with "Teaching Links" to support Common Core use in the classroom. Educators: Click here to sign up for a free, 30-day trial for your school.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, eBooks, Cool Photo, Solar System, Exploration, Saturn, NASA, Venus   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 6, 2012

It’s finally happening! After 8 years of planning and a interplanetary journey from Earth to Mars that took eight months, the one-ton Curiosity rover came down for a soft landing on the surface of Mars.  


The landing spot was in the middle of  96-mile-wide Gale Crater. Curiosity immediately sent back this photo of its own shadow on the Martian soil. 

Curiosity will soon be sending back many full-color photos of Mars. After a number of weeks of tests, the rover will be rolling up the sides of a nearby mountain looking for traces of water and carbon in Mar’s history. Why water and carbon? Because the presence of water and carbon are good indicators that life may have once existed on Mars. 

Stay tuned for new developments about Mars and look forward to a new book on Mars that I’m writing now. Is there (or was there ever?) life on Mars? We’re going to find out soon!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Solar System, Exploration, Mars, NASA   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 4, 2010

Take a look at this great satellite photo of the beginning of a hurricane. Tropical Storm Colin became the third named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season yesterday morning as it strengthened from a tropical depression to a tropical storm. You can see that although the cloud formation hints at the spiral shape characteristic of hurricanes, it doesn’t (yet) have a distinct eye. The photo comes from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) at NASA’s Earth Observatory. Photography buffs may be interested in knowing that the natural color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Hurricanes, NASA   •  Permalink (link to this article)