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Topic: Alan Buis

NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory starts three year mission

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed has begun science operations.

Launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission, SMAP will help scientists understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; reduce uncertainties in predicting climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts. SMAP data have additional practical applications, including improved weather forecasting and crop yield predictions.

High-resolution global soil moisture map from SMAP's combined radar and radiometer instruments, acquired between May 4 and May 11, 2015 during SMAP's commissioning phase. The map has a resolution of 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The data gap is due to turning the instruments on and off during testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

High-resolution global soil moisture map from SMAP’s combined radar and radiometer instruments, acquired between May 4 and May 11, 2015 during SMAP’s commissioning phase. The map has a resolution of 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The data gap is due to turning the instruments on and off during testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA study reveals Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf thinning rapidly

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and is likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs like this one before the end of the decade, according to a new NASA study. (NSIDC/Ted Scambos)

Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs like this one before the end of the decade, according to a new NASA study. (NSIDC/Ted Scambos)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes test, produces First Global Maps

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its antenna now spinning at full speed, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully re-tested its science instruments and generated its first global maps, a key step to beginning routine science operations next month.

SMAP launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. The mission will help scientists understand the links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; help reduce uncertainties in predicting weather and climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards such as floods and droughts.

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP's radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP’s radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA reports Jason-3 satellite set to launch in July

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – You can’t predict the outcome of a marathon from the runners’ times in the first few miles. You’ve got to see the whole race. Global climate change is like that: You can’t understand it if all you have is a few years of data from a few locations. That’s one reason that a fourth-generation satellite launching this summer is something to get excited about.

Jason-3, a mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that is currently scheduled to launch on July 22nd, is the latest in a series of U.S.-European satellite missions that have been measuring the height of the ocean surface for 23 years.

Artist's rendering of Jason-3. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendering of Jason-3. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Crowdsourced Smartphone Data could give advance notice for People in Earthquake Zones

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Smartphones and other personal electronic devices could, in regions where they are in widespread use, function as early warning systems for large earthquakes, according to newly reported research.

This technology could serve regions of the world that cannot afford higher quality, but more expensive, conventional earthquake early warning systems, or could contribute to those systems.

The study, led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), found that the sensors in smartphones and similar devices could be used to build earthquake warning systems.

Cell phones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives. ("Everyone Check Your Phones - NYC" by Jim Pennucci, used under CC BY.)

Cell phones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives. (“Everyone Check Your Phones – NYC” by Jim Pennucci, used under CC BY.)

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NASA reports Researchers looking into United States Methane “Hot Spot”

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers from several institutions are in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest with a suite of airborne and ground-based instruments, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane “hot spot” detected from space.

“With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,” said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA’s part of the effort.

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane "hot spot" can be seen from space. Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane “hot spot” can be seen from space. Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory data reveals California Tuolumne Snowpack 40 percent less water than 2014

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New NASA data find the snowpack in the Tuolumne River Basin in California’s Sierra Nevada — a major source of water for millions of Californians — currently contains just 40 percent as much water as it did near this time at its highest level of 2014, one of the two driest years in California’s recorded history.

The data was acquired through a partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts.

Spatial distribution of the total volume of water in the snowpack across the Tuolumne River Basin on March 25, 2015 (left) and April 7, 2014 (right) as measured by NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Spatial distribution of the total volume of water in the snowpack across the Tuolumne River Basin on March 25, 2015 (left) and April 7, 2014 (right) as measured by NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory antenna now rotating at full speed

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The 20-foot (6-meter) “golden lasso” reflector antenna atop NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful completion of a two-part procedure to spin it up to full speed.

Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Thursday, March 26th commanded SMAP’s spun instrument assembly – the part of the observatory that spins – to increase its rotation speed from the initial rate of 5 revolutions per minute achieved on March 23rd to its final science measurement rate of 14.6 revolutions per minute.

SMAP will produce global maps of soil moisture, which will help improve our understanding of Earth's water and carbon cycles and our ability to manage water resources. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

SMAP will produce global maps of soil moisture, which will help improve our understanding of Earth’s water and carbon cycles and our ability to manage water resources. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes spin-up procedure

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have commanded the 20-foot (6-meter) reflector antenna on NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory to begin spinning for the first time. The partial spin-up is a key step in commissioning the satellite in preparation for science operations.

Last week, mission controllers sent commands to release the locking mechanism that prevented the observatory’s spun instrument assembly — the part that spins — from rotating during launch and deployment of the reflector. The spun instrument assembly includes the spin control electronics, radiometer instrument and reflector antenna.

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA and University of Texas researchers find two seafloor troughs that could threaten East Antarctica Glacier

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, NASA and other research organizations have discovered two seafloor troughs that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest and most rapidly thinning glacier.

The discovery likely explains the glacier’s extreme thinning and raises concern about its impact on sea level rise.

This is the East Antarctic coastline. Icebergs are highlighted by the sunlight, and the open ocean appears black. (NASA)

This is the East Antarctic coastline. Icebergs are highlighted by the sunlight, and the open ocean appears black. (NASA)

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