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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission coming to a close

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With one of its twin satellites almost out of fuel after more than 15 years of chasing each other around our planet to measure Earth’s ever-changing gravity field, the operations team for the U.S./German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission is making plans for an anticipated final science collection.

On September 3rd, one of 20 battery cells aboard the GRACE-2 satellite stopped operating due to an age-related issue. It was the eighth battery cell loss on GRACE-2 since the twin satellites that compose the GRACE mission launched in March 2002 on a mission designed to last five years. The following day, contact was lost with GRACE-2.

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA uses resources to help Agencies Provide Hurricane Harvey Response

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is using its assets and expertise from across the agency, including from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to help respond to Hurricane Harvey — now Tropical Storm Harvey — which has been a disaster of unprecedented proportions for those who live and work in Southeast Texas.

With no atmospheric steering mechanism to move the storm once it made landfall, Harvey has been producing rainfall totals measured in feet, rather than inches, presenting exceptional challenges to local, state and federal emergency managers and first responders.

JPL's Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team created this Flood Proxy Map showing areas of Southeast Texas likely flooded from Hurricane Harvey (light blue). The map is derived from radar images from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 satellite before and after landfall. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/METI/Google Earth)

JPL’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team created this Flood Proxy Map showing areas of Southeast Texas likely flooded from Hurricane Harvey (light blue). The map is derived from radar images from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 satellite before and after landfall. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/METI/Google Earth)

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NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer shows Amazon triggers it’s own Rainy Season

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study gives the first observational evidence that the southern Amazon rainforest triggers its own rainy season using water vapor from plant leaves. The finding helps explain why deforestation in this region is linked with reduced rainfall.

The study analyzed water vapor data from NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) on the Aura satellite, along with other satellite measurements, to show that at the end of the dry season, clouds that build over the southern Amazon are formed from water rising from the forest itself. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Amazon rainforest. (Center for International Forestry Research)

The Amazon rainforest. (Center for International Forestry Research)

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NASA announces Jason-2 Satellite to undertake new Science Mission

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A venerable U.S./European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that has expanded our knowledge of global sea level change, ocean currents and climate phenomena like El Niño and La Niña will take on an additional role next month: improving maps of Earth’s sea floor.

The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite, a partnership among NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the French Space Agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), marked its ninth year in orbit on June 20th, 2017.

Illustration of the U.S./European Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite in orbit. OSTM/Jason-2 will soon take on an additional role to help improve maps of Earth's sea floor. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the U.S./European Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite in orbit. OSTM/Jason-2 will soon take on an additional role to help improve maps of Earth’s sea floor. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA’s Jason-2 Satellite to help improve Maps of Earth’s Sea Floor

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A venerable U.S./European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that has expanded our knowledge of global sea level change, ocean currents and climate phenomena like El Niño and La Niña will take on an additional role next month: improving maps of Earth’s sea floor.

The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite, a partnership among NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the French Space Agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), marked its ninth year in orbit on June 20th.

Illustration of the U.S./European Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite in orbit. OSTM/Jason-2 will soon take on an additional role to help improve maps of Earth's sea floor. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the U.S./European Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite in orbit. OSTM/Jason-2 will soon take on an additional role to help improve maps of Earth’s sea floor. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA says Scientists use new Technology to increase Tsunami Detection

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A team of scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has developed a new approach to assist in the ongoing development of timely tsunami detection systems, based upon measurements of how tsunamis disturb a part of Earth’s atmosphere.

The new approach, called Variometric Approach for Real-time Ionosphere Observation, or VARION, uses observations from GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to detect, in real time, disturbances in Earth’s ionosphere associated with a tsunami.

The ionosphere is the layer of Earth’s atmosphere located from about 50 to 621 miles (80 to 1,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. It is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation and is best known for the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights).

Real-time detection of perturbations of the ionosphere caused by the Oct. 27, 2012, Queen Charlotte Island tsunami off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, using the VARION algorithm. (Sapienza University/NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Real-time detection of perturbations of the ionosphere caused by the Oct. 27, 2012, Queen Charlotte Island tsunami off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, using the VARION algorithm. (Sapienza University/NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA Study suggests decreased Hydroxyl levels maybe the cause of recent Methane increases

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA- and the U.S. Department of Energy-funded study finds that recent increases in global methane levels observed since 2007 are not necessarily due to increasing emissions, but instead may be due to changes in how long methane remains in the atmosphere after it is emitted.

The second most important human-produced greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, methane is colorless, odorless and can be hard to track. The gas has a wide range of sources, from decomposing biological material to leaks in natural gas pipelines.

Rice paddy fields in India. Agriculture is one source of global methane emissions. (Flickr user sandeepachetan.com travel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

Rice paddy fields in India. Agriculture is one source of global methane emissions. (Flickr user sandeepachetan.com travel (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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NASA reports Solar Storms can drain Electrical Charge from Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth’s poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles.

The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.

A team of researchers from Denmark, the United States and Canada made the discovery while studying a solar storm that reached Earth on February 19th, 2014.

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

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NASA says 2016 Quake Study may alter Earthquake Hazard Models

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Last November’s magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand was so complex and unusual, it is likely to change how scientists think about earthquake hazards in plate boundary zones around the world, finds a new international study.

The study, led by GNS Science, Avalon, New Zealand, with NASA participation, is published this week in the journal Science. The team found that the November 14th, 2016, earthquake was the most complex earthquake in modern history. The quake ruptured at least 12 major crustal faults, and there was also evidence of slip along the southern end of the Hikurangi subduction zone plate boundary, which lies about 12 miles (20 kilometers) below the North Canterbury and Marlborough coastlines.

Two ALOS-2 satellite images show ground displacements from the Nov. 2016 Kaikoura earthquake as colors proportional to the surface motion in two directions. The purple areas in the left image moved up and east 13 feet (4 meters); purple areas in the right image moved north up to 30 feet (9 meters). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA)

Two ALOS-2 satellite images show ground displacements from the Nov. 2016 Kaikoura earthquake as colors proportional to the surface motion in two directions. The purple areas in the left image moved up and east 13 feet (4 meters); purple areas in the right image moved north up to 30 feet (9 meters). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA)

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NASA prepares for future Satellite by studying Coral Reefs of Hawaii

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA pulled off a scientific double play in Hawaii this winter, using the same instruments and aircraft to study both volcanoes and coral reefs. Besides helping scientists understand these two unique environments better, the data will be used to evaluate the possibility of preparing a potential future NASA satellite that would monitor ecosystem changes and natural hazards.

The advantages of studying active volcanoes from the air rather than the ground are obvious. Coral reefs may not offer the same risks in a close encounter that volcanoes do, but there’s another good reason to study them by remote sensing: they’re dotted across thousands of square miles of the globe.

NASA coral reef studies in Hawaii this winter will help scientists understand this unique environment. (NOAA)

NASA coral reef studies in Hawaii this winter will help scientists understand this unique environment. (NOAA)

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