NASA Headline News

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-mission-reveals-asteroid-has-big-surprises">NASA Mission Reveals Asteroid Has Big Surprises</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">441821</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-19T12:33:00-04:00">Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 12:33</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/3_lauretta_bennu_particle_jets_0.jpg?itok=Ii3xTUky">Asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 19, created by combining two images from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/solar-system" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Solar System</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-add-this field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style addthis-article-top" addthis:title="Aerocapture Technologies are Ready for Future Mission Use - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/technology/technology-stories/aerocapture-technologies-are-ready-for-future-mission-use"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_reddit"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_print"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even" property="content:encoded"><p>This blog post originated in the <a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/atoms/files/NASA_SMDReport2017_final_highres3.pdf">2017 Science Mission Directorate Technology Highlights Report</a> (33 MB PDF).</p> <h3>Technology Development</h3> <p>Aerocapture technologies have the potential to enable orbital missions to the outer planets and their satellites by the judicious use of aerodynamic forces in a planetary atmosphere. These forces can be used to guide a spacecraft from an inbound approach trajectory to its final desired orbit. During the past few decades, SMD has sponsored several technology development efforts to advance aerocapture capabilities. In 2017, SMD’s Planetary Science Division commissioned the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to execute a research activity focused on assessing the readiness of aerocapture for NASA’s future exploration missions. The investigation examined the state of the art for thesemissions with an emphasis on identifying any technology or risk reduction investments that would be most beneficial (or required) for robotic science missions.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17288:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture-1.jpg" title="aerocapture-1.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture-1.jpg?itok=VJ_vwRIC" width="480" height="351" alt="Diagram of the phases of an aerocapture maneuver" title="aerocapture-1.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17288 --></div><div class="dnd-caption-wrapper">The phases of a typical aerocapture maneuver sequence.</div></div> <p>Using aerocapture rather than a propulsive orbital insertion is beneficial for three primary reasons. First, given a particular launch vehicle, the use of aerocapture can deliver more payload mass to orbit. The reduced mission mass results in more available spacecraft resources for the science application at the final destination. Second, the use of aerocapture can reduce the time required to travel from Earth to the final exploration destination. Finally, aerocapture is associated with cost savings that result from the use of a more affordable launch vehicle.Advanced technologies necessary to implement a successful aerocapture mission include aeroshells; thermal protection systems (TPS); guidance, navigation, and control; and communications capabilities. Previous SMD technology development efforts such as the refinement of atmospheric models and the maturation of aeroshell and TPS materials have directly contributed to the current readiness of the aerocapture capability.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17289:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture2.jpg" title="aerocapture2.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture2.jpg?itok=K8FNS5p_" width="480" height="388" alt="Photo of the Curiosity Rover aeroshell" title="aerocapture2.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17289 --></div><div class="dnd-caption-wrapper">SMD investments in aeroshell and TPS technologies contributed to the successful Mars Science Laboratory mission (whose aeroshell with the Curiosity Rover inside are shown above) and will enable future aerocapture missions. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)</div></div> <p>The JPL team conducted an extensive review of the available technologies for implementing aerocapture at multiple solar system destinations, from Venus to Neptune. The effort included a detailed examination of the timing sequence for an aerocapture maneuver and an assessment of the potential risks throughout aerocapture execution. The overwhelming conclusion from the review is that NASA is technologically ready to incorporate aerocapture for missions to Titan, Mars, and Venus. The team further concluded that there is no need to complete an aerocapture flight demonstration prior to implementing an aerocapture approach into a flight mission.</p> <h3>Impact</h3> <p>This study demonstrated that NASA’s investments to mature aerocapture technologies have resulted in mission-ready capabilities that will enable and enhance future orbital missions to several important destinations in our solar system. Implementation of aerocapture techniques may reduce the cost and increase the scientific potential of these missions, which are designed to expand our understanding about the content, origin, and evolution of the solar system.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17290:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture3.jpg" title="aerocapture3.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture3.jpg?itok=JLhA8F8d" width="480" height="435" alt="Image of Saturn&#039;s moon Titan" title="aerocapture3.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17290 --></div><div class="dnd-caption-wrapper">Aerocapture technologies can enable orbital missions to destinations such as Saturn’s moon Titan, which is shown in this image acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 13, 2015.</div></div> <h3>Future Plans</h3> <p>The study team concluded that the technology is sufficiently mature for the use of aerocapture at several planetary destinations of interest. NASA may incorporate the use of aerocapture on upcoming flagship missions as appropriate.</p> <h3>Sponsoring Organization</h3> <p>SMD’s Planetary Science Division commissioned this technology study, which was performed by a team at NASA JPL.</p> <p>Read more <a href="/technology-stories">Technology Stories</a></p> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-add-this-below field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis-article-bottom" addthis:title="Aerocapture Technologies are Ready for Future Mission Use - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/technology/technology-stories/aerocapture-technologies-are-ready-for-future-mission-use"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-master-image field--type-image field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Master Image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/aerocapture3.jpg" width="846" height="767" alt="Image of Saturn&#039;s moon Titan" /></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-host-media-teleconference-on-asteroid-sample-return-mission">NASA to Host Media Teleconference on Asteroid Sample Return Mission</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">441555</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-14T12:00:00-04:00">Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 12:00</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">NASA is hosting a media teleconference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, March 19, to announce new science from the agency’s first mission to return to Earth an asteroid sample that may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/osirisrextagprint2016_1.jpg?itok=BKuxzyrb">Illustration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu to retrieve a surface sample to return back to Earth</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/solar-system" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Solar System</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/what-scientists-found-after-sifting-through-dust-in-the-solar-system">What Scientists Found After Sifting Through Dust in the Solar System</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">441395</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-12T10:00:00-04:00">Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 10:00</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">Two recent studies report discoveries of dust rings in the inner solar system: a dust ring at Mercury&#039;s orbit, and a group of never-before-detected asteroids co-orbiting with Venus, supplying the dust in Venus&#039; orbit.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/dust_ring_illo_final.jpg?itok=Rij9tSvS">Illustration of circumsolar dust rings at Mercury, Earth, and Venus's orbit, with co-orbital asteroids in Venus's orbit</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/sun" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Sun</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/nasas-solar-dynamics-observatory-catches-lunar-freeze-frame">NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory Catches Lunar Freeze Frame</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">441121</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-07T14:00:00-05:00">Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 14:00</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">On March 6, NASA&#039;s Solar Dynamics Observatory watched a lunar transit in space — one in which the satellite&#039;s path made the Moon appear to stand still.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/171transitslowpause3.gif?itok=jbhIx_le">animation of lunar transit observed by SDO March 2019</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/sun" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Sun</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/discovering-bonus-science-with-nasa-s-magnetospheric-multiscale-spacecraft">Discovering Bonus Science With NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">441070</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-07T11:00:00-05:00">Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 11:00</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">MMS is flying out of its element to take ground-breaking measurements of something it was not originally designed for — turbulence in the solar wind.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/nightsidemms-apr422_1280_59.94_youtube_hq.jpg?itok=VNPqGitI">artist concept of one MMS satellite</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/sun" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Sun</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-add-this field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style addthis-article-top" addthis:title="What&#039;s Up in the Solar System - March 2019 - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/news-article/whats-up-march-2019"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_reddit"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_print"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even" property="content:encoded"><p>What can you see in the March sky? Jupiter and other planets in the morning, a change of seasons and an open star cluster called the Beehive.</p> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-add-this-below field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style addthis-article-bottom" addthis:title="What&#039;s Up in the Solar System - March 2019 - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/news-article/whats-up-march-2019"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-news-article-type field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">News Article Type:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/news-article-type/homepage-articles" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Homepage Articles</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-05T13:24:00-05:00">Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 13:24</span></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/weighing-galactic-wind-provides-clues-to-evolution-of-galaxies">Weighing Galactic Wind Provides Clues to Evolution of Galaxies</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">440886</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-03-05T08:20:00-05:00">Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 08:20</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">The Cigar Galaxy&#039;s wind is aligned along a magnetic field and blowing huge amounts of material — the equivalent mass of 50 to 60 million suns.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/m82fig-vivid-cropped_final.jpg?itok=4U0d_pzc">Image of Cigar Galaxy with its magnetic field shown as streamlines over red outflow, yellow dust, and black and white stars</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/universe" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Universe</a></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-add-this field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style addthis-article-top" addthis:title="Conservation through Coding: 5 Questions with Viral Shah - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/applied-sciences/making-space-for-earth/5-questions-with-viral-shah"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_reddit"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_print"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even" property="content:encoded"><p>Earth’s human population—which now surpasses 7.5 billion—continues to grow, with the scale of our towns and cities following suit. As our communities grow, the habitats of our fellow creatures—animals like tigers, elephants and even squirrels—are shrinking.</p> <p>Despite protected areas, it is now more difficult for animals around the globe to move between habitats in search of food and mates, escape disease and, increasingly, escape the harsh realities of climate change on their homes.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17265:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20HEADSHOT.jpg" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC HEADSHOT.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20HEADSHOT.jpg?itok=MD3awrn3" width="480" height="350" alt="Photo of Viral Shah" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC HEADSHOT.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17265 --></div></div> <p>So how can we ensure animals are able to pass between habitats as our urban environments spread?</p> <p>Through computer science, which is the source of some of the most effective current conservation efforts.</p> <p>One such tool is <a class="external-link" href="https://circuitscape.org/">Circuitscape</a>, which uses algorithms from electrical circuit theory and NASA satellite imagery to model animal movement across landscapes the way electrical currents move through circuits. The tool is used in NASA <a class="external-link" href="https://appliedsciences.nasa.gov/content/16-eco4cast-0018">Ecoforecasting projects</a> and by conservationists and land managers across the globe.</p> <p>One of the creators of Circuitscape, Viral Shah, shares his thoughts on computer science-based conservation, why passion matters more than labels, and more.</p> <h3>How did you get into the field of computational conservation?</h3> <p>My childhood was spent in Mumbai, India, in a dense, urban area. It was only when I moved to Santa Barbara to pursue my Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Santa Barbara that I really got to experience living close to nature for the first time. The campus is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains.</p> <p>It was here that I met Brad McRae, who was doing postdoctoral research at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the time. Brad’s passion for conservation inspired me to build software for ecology. He taught me ecology, and I taught him computer science. Together we collaborated to create Circuitscape in its modern form.</p> <p>Unfortunately, Brad passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer, but our time together in Santa Barbara working on Circuitscape—and spending some time surfing—produced some of my most cherished memories.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17266:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20SURFING.jpg" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC SURFING.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20SURFING.jpg?itok=4dGWeBoP" width="480" height="350" alt="Photo of Viral Shah surfing" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC SURFING.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17266 --></div></div> <h3>How does Circuitscape work, and what is its biggest conservation success?</h3> <p>The key idea behind Circuitscape comes from Brad’s Ph.D. thesis. Brad observed that the way animals and plants move through fragmented landscapes can be modelled by how an electrical current flows through a circuit. Animals in a landscape take advantage of whatever pathways are available, much like current flows through all paths in a circuit. When animals encounter a barrier, like a road, their movement is reduced in much the same way as lesser current flows through materials of higher resistance.</p> <p>Circuitscape uses satellite imagery from NASA and other sources to simulate a virtual electrical network of resistors connecting every pixel in the landscape. The modeling of all possible paths an animal can take provides conservationists with a great understanding of the landscape, and how to best preserve it so animals can continue to migrate. Circuitscape is used to inform conservation planning efforts across the globe, and is used widely by conservation-focused groups like <a class="external-link" href="https://www.nature.org/en-us/">The Nature Conservancy</a>, a group Brad worked with for nearly a decade.</p> <p>My favorite example of Circuitscape at work comes from India, where conservationists used the program to influence the design of corridors that facilitate the movement of tigers, which would otherwise be impeded by the construction of a new national highway.</p> <div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-default type-image atom-align-center"><div class="dnd-atom-rendered"><!-- scald=17267:default {"additionalClasses":""} --><a href="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20TIGERS.jpg" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC TIGERS.jpg"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/styles/large/public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20TIGERS.jpg?itok=pNheOIWS" width="480" height="350" alt="population density chart" title="190225_NASA VIRAL SHAH BLOG GRAPHIC TIGERS.jpg" /></a><!-- END scald=17267 --></div></div> <h3>What is the biggest challenge to scientific discovery in your field?</h3> <p>In my field of scientific computing, the biggest challenge has been “the two-language problem.” It was widely believed that programming languages can either be easy to use or high performance, but never both at the same time. As a result, scientists would often prototype their programs in an easy language and then rewrite them in a different language to run fast— something I experienced firsthand in Circuitscape, where my scientific colleagues needed to work with easy programming tools, but users demanded the highest levels of performance.</p> <p>My colleagues and I have been working since 2009 on Julia 1.0, which was released in 2018 with contributions from more than 700 open-source programmers. Julia 1.0 solves the twolanguage problem and <a class="external-link" href="https://sinews.siam.org/Details-Page/january-prize-spotlight-jeff-bezanson-steven-l-brunton-jack-dongarra-stefan-karpinski-and-viral-b-shah">won</a> the prestigious <a class="external-link" href="https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.siam.org_Prizes-2DRecognition_Major-2DPrizes-2DLectures_Detail_james-2Dh-2Dwilkinson-2Dprize-2Dfor-2Dnumerical-2Dsoftware&amp;d=DwMGaQ&amp;c=ApwzowJNAKKw3xye91w7BE1XMRKi2LN9kiMk5Csz9Zk&amp;r=Nxofv9gD0GRj-0h6uQ2Flx2znnsmi9HWQGBWbKAC0fM&amp;m=-kihSK2jJsiftNp3DYGIUVggpPvMpu3wFnUPvDhxgIs&amp;s=4zN5pAk0y42o6_uCPA2yHQ7HYkvporwh9YKvLLlLR4M&amp;e=">James H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software</a> in 2019 in recognition of that fact.</p> <h3>What advice would you give to young people who want to become scientists?</h3> <p>Labels do not matter.</p> <p>Frequent concerns you might have—like what school you went to, what it was ranked, what grades you got and how much you will be paid—don’t matter. Focus on your work, on what you care about, on what is really important.</p> <h3>What is your favorite place on Earth and why?</h3> <p>A few years ago, my wife Swapnika and I went camping for a week in the Himalayas, in the Great Himalayan National Park in India. I was blown away by the amount of biodiversity and the scale of the mountains, never having had such an immersive experience in nature before. It left a lasting impact.</p> <p> </p> <p>Read more <a href="/earth-science/applied-sciences/making-space-for-earth/">Making Space for Earth blog posts</a></p> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-add-this-below field--type-addthis field--label-hidden"><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis-article-bottom" addthis:title="Conservation through Coding: 5 Questions with Viral Shah - Science Mission Directorate" addthis:url="https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/applied-sciences/making-space-for-earth/5-questions-with-viral-shah"><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> </div> </div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-master-image field--type-image field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Master Image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-pink/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/190225_NASA%20VIRAL%20SHAH%20BLOG%20GRAPHIC%20HEADSHOT.jpg" width="960" height="700" alt="Photo of Viral Shah" /></div></div></div>

<div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-url field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin URL:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2019/nasa-mission-reveals-origins-of-moons-sunburn">NASA Mission Reveals Origins of Moon's 'Sunburn'</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-origin-nid field--type-text field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal origin nid:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">440469</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-date field--type-datetime field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Published:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><span class="date-display-single" property="dc:date" datatype="xsd:dateTime" content="2019-02-27T15:30:00-05:00">Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 15:30</span></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-sticky field--type-list-boolean field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Featured (stick to top of list):&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">no</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-text-teaser field--type-text-long field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal text teaser:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even">Every object, planet or person traveling through space has to contend with the Sun&#039;s damaging radiation — and the Moon has the scars to prove it.</div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-portal-image field--type-link-field field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Portal image:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/2x1_cardfeed/public/thumbnails/image/reiner_gamma.jpg?itok=0lFecq71">LRO image of Reiner Gamma lunar swirl</a></div></div></div><div class="field field--name-field-science-categories field--type-taxonomy-term-reference field--label-above"><div class="field__label">Science Categories:&nbsp;</div><div class="field__items"><div class="field__item even"><a href="/science-categories/sun" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Sun</a></div></div></div>