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NASA developing ECOSTRESS instrument to analyze plant reactions to heat and water stress

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.

When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.

NASA's ECOSTRESS will monitor how plants react to heat and water stress. (Wikimedia Commons)

NASA’s ECOSTRESS will monitor how plants react to heat and water stress. (Wikimedia Commons)

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SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft launches taking NASA’s RapidScat to International Space Station

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of NASA science investigations and cargo now on their way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.

The cargo ship launched on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:52pm PDT Saturday, September 20th (1:52am EDT Sunday, September 21st).

At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40, the nine rocket engines roar to life on the Falcon launch vehicle. (NASA)

At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40, the nine rocket engines roar to life on the Falcon launch vehicle. (NASA)

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NASA researchers using Air Campaigns to study Arctic Climate

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region’s summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at work studying how rising temperatures are affecting the Arctic.

NASA researchers this summer and fall are carrying out three Alaska-based airborne research campaigns aimed at measuring greenhouse gas concentrations near Earth’s surface, monitoring Alaskan glaciers, and collecting data on Arctic sea ice and clouds. Observations from these NASA campaigns will give researchers a better understanding of how the Arctic is responding to rising temperatures.

Changes in more than 130 Alaskan glaciers are being surveyed by scientists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in a DHC-3 Otter as part of NASA's multi-year Operation IceBridge. (Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

Changes in more than 130 Alaskan glaciers are being surveyed by scientists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in a DHC-3 Otter as part of NASA’s multi-year Operation IceBridge. (Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

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NASA ready to Launch ISS-RapidScat on Saturday, September 20th

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, September 20th, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station’s partners and managers.

Artist's rendering of NASA's ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which will launch to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. It will be installed on the end of the station's Columbus laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s ISS-RapidScat instrument (inset), which will launch to the International Space Station in 2014 to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction and help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring. It will be installed on the end of the station’s Columbus laboratory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johnson Space Center)

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NASA’s RapidScat scatterometer to be robotically assembled at International Space Station

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s ISS-RapidScat wind-watching scatterometer, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than September 19th, will be the first science payload to be robotically assembled in space since the space station itself.

This image shows the instrument assembly on the left, shrouded in white. On the right is Rapid-Scat’s nadir adapter, a very sophisticated bracket that points the scatterometer toward Earth so that it can record the direction and speed of ocean winds. The two pieces are stowed in the unpressurized trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

RapidScat's two-part payload is shown in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

RapidScat’s two-part payload is shown in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

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NASA’s Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar to be used to Survey Napa Valley Quake Area

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists are conducting an airborne survey of earthquake fault displacements in the Napa Valley area of Northern California using a sophisticated radar system developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

A modified C-20A aircraft from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center carrying JPL’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) flew a five-hour data-collection mission on Friday, August 29th, over the area that experienced a major quake during the pre-dawn hours on Sunday, August 24th.

NASA's C-20A Earth science research aircraft with the UAVSAR slung underneath its belly lifts off the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on a prior radar survey mission. (NASA Armstrong)

NASA’s C-20A Earth science research aircraft with the UAVSAR slung underneath its belly lifts off the runway at Edwards Air Force Base on a prior radar survey mission. (NASA Armstrong)

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NASA reports Snow Cover on Sea Ice in the Arctic has thinned significantly in last 50 years

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New research led by NASA and the University of Washington, Seattle, confirms that springtime snow on sea ice in the Arctic has thinned significantly in the last 50 years, by about a third in the Western Hemisphere and by half near Alaska.

The new study, published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, tracks changes in snow depth over decades. It combines data from NASA’s Bromide, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) field campaign, NASA’s Operation IceBridge flights, and instrumented buoys and ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Matthew Sturm of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a co-author of this study, takes a snow measurement on sea ice in the Beaufort Sea in March 2012 during the BROMEX field campaign. (U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory)

Matthew Sturm of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a co-author of this study, takes a snow measurement on sea ice in the Beaufort Sea in March 2012 during the BROMEX field campaign. (U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to help Farmers manage Drought conditions

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – About 60 percent of California is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the U.S. Drought Monitor’s most dire classification. The agency issued the same warning to Texas and the southeastern United States in 2012. California’s last two winters have been among the driest since records began in 1879. Without enough water in the soil, seeds can’t sprout roots, leaves can’t perform photosynthesis, and agriculture can’t be sustained.

Currently, there is no ground- or satellite-based global network monitoring soil moisture at a local level. Farmers, scientists and resource managers can place sensors in the ground, but these only provide spot measurements and are rare across some critical agricultural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For several months, California has been in a state of "exceptional drought." The state's usually verdant Central Valley produces one-sixth of the U.S.'s crops. (White House via Wikimedia Commons)

For several months, California has been in a state of “exceptional drought.” The state’s usually verdant Central Valley produces one-sixth of the U.S.’s crops. (White House via Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 achieves final orbit and begins sending data

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Just over a month after launch, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) — NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide — has maneuvered into its final operating orbit and produced its first science data, confirming the health of its science instrument.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, one of five new NASA Earth science missions set to launch in 2014, and one of three managed by JPL. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, one of five new NASA Earth science missions set to launch in 2014, and one of three managed by JPL. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s AcrimSat spacecraft has quit responding after 14 years of service

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After 14 years of monitoring Earth’s main energy source, radiation from the sun, NASA’s Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor satellite has lost contact with its ground operations team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and its mission has been declared completed.

AcrimSat’s ACRIM 3 instrument was the third in a series of satellite experiments that have contributed to a critical data set for understanding Earth’s climate: the 36-year, continuous satellite record of variations in total solar radiation reaching Earth, or total solar irradiance.

Artist's rendering of the AcrimSat spacecraft. (NASA)

Artist’s rendering of the AcrimSat spacecraft. (NASA)

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