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Topic: Antarctica

NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) 3D maps of the atmosphere improve weather forecasts worldwide

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Accurate weather forecasts save lives. NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument, launched on this date 15 years ago on NASA’s Aqua satellite, significantly increased weather forecasting accuracy within a couple of years by providing extraordinary three-dimensional maps of clouds, air temperature and water vapor throughout the atmosphere’s weather-making layer.

Fifteen years later, AIRS continues to be a valuable asset for forecasters worldwide, sending 7 billion observations streaming into forecasting centers every day.

Besides contributing to better forecasts, AIRS maps greenhouse gases, tracks volcanic emissions and smoke from wildfires, measures noxious compounds like ammonia, and indicates regions that may be heading for a drought. Have you been wondering how the ozone hole over Antarctica is healing? AIRS observes that too.

A visualization of AIRS measurements of water vapor in a storm near Southern California. AIRS' 3D maps of the atmosphere improve weather forecasts worldwide. (NASA)

A visualization of AIRS measurements of water vapor in a storm near Southern California. AIRS’ 3D maps of the atmosphere improve weather forecasts worldwide. (NASA)

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NASA uses Chemical Laptop to detect life in Chile’s excessively dry Atacama Desert

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Few places are as hostile to life as Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s the driest non-polar desert on Earth, and only the hardiest microbes survive there. Its rocky landscape has lain undisturbed for eons, exposed to extreme temperatures and radiation from the sun.

If you can find life here, you might be able to find it in an even harsher environment — like the surface of Mars. That’s why a team of researchers from NASA and several universities visited the Atacama in February. They spent 10 days testing devices that could one day be used to search for signs of life on other worlds. That group included a team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, working on a portable chemistry lab called the Chemical Laptop.

Chile's Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert on Earth -- and a ready analog for Mars' rugged, arid terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert on Earth — and a ready analog for Mars’ rugged, arid terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA studies Mt. Erebus Ice Caves to prepare for exploration of Icy Worlds in our Solar System

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mt. Erebus is at the end of our world — and offers a portal to another.

It’s our planet’s southernmost active volcano, reaching 12,448 feet (3,794 meters) above Ross Island in Antarctica. Temperatures at the surface are well below freezing most of the year, but that doesn’t stop visits from scientists: Erebus is also one of the few volcanoes in the world with an exposed lava lake. You can peer over the lip of its main crater and stare straight into it.

It’s also a good stand-in for a frozen alien world, the kind NASA wants to send robots to someday.

Aaron Curtis, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL, surveys frost growing in an ice cave under Mt. Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica. (Dylan Taylor)

Aaron Curtis, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL, surveys frost growing in an ice cave under Mt. Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica. (Dylan Taylor)

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NASA’s Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project provides near real time view of Glacier movement

 

Written by Kate Ramsayer
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Glaciers and ice sheets move in unique and sometimes surprising patterns, as evidenced by a new capability that uses satellite images to map the speed of flowing ice in Greenland, Antarctica and mountain ranges around the world.

With imagery and data from Landsat 8, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists are providing a near-real-time view of every large glacier and ice sheet on Earth.

The NASA-funded Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction project, called GoLIVE, is a collaboration between scientists from the University of Colorado, the University of Alaska, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The texture on the surface of flowing ice, such as Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, allows Landsat 8 to map nearly all the flowing ice in the world. (NASA/John Sonntag)

The texture on the surface of flowing ice, such as Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, allows Landsat 8 to map nearly all the flowing ice in the world. (NASA/John Sonntag)

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NASA’s Space Exploration could discover planets similar to ones in “Star Wars: Rogue One”

 

Written by Arielle Samuelson
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the “Star Wars” universe, ice, ocean and desert planets burst from the darkness as your ship drops out of light speed. But these worlds might be more than just science fiction.

Some of the planets discovered around stars in our own galaxy could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.

Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars film "Rogue One" wade through the water of an alien ocean world. NASA scientists believe ocean worlds exist in our own galaxy, along with many other environments. (Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.)

Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars film “Rogue One” wade through the water of an alien ocean world. NASA scientists believe ocean worlds exist in our own galaxy, along with many other environments. (Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.)

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NASA looks to use Satellite Observations of Earth’s Magnetic Fields to Measure Ocean Heat

 

Written by Kate Ramsayer
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – As Earth warms, much of the extra heat is stored in the planet’s ocean — but monitoring the magnitude of that heat content is a difficult task.

A surprising feature of the tides could help, however. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean.

NASA scientists are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA scientists are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) Spacecraft sees Noctilucent Cloud Season begin over Antarctica

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Data from NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, spacecraft shows the sky over Antarctica is glowing electric blue due to the start of noctilucent, or night-shining, cloud season in the Southern Hemisphere – and an early one at that.

Noctilucent clouds are Earth’s highest clouds, sandwiched between Earth and space 50 miles above the ground in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

An artist's rendition of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) spacecraft in orbit above Earth. (NASA)

An artist’s rendition of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) spacecraft in orbit above Earth. (NASA)

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NASA’s Antarctica Long Duration Balloon Flight Campaign launches Second Balloon

 

Written by Keith Koehler
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationChincoteague Island, VA – The second of three missions as part of NASA’s Antarctica Long Duration Balloon Flight Campaign was successfully launched at 8:10am EDT, December 2nd, 2016.

The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) from the University of Hawaii at Manoa was launched from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf near McMurdo Station with support from the National Science Foundation’s United States Antarctic Program.

NASA launches Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf on December 2nd, 2016 at 8:10am ET.

NASA launches Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf on December 2nd, 2016 at 8:10am ET.

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NASA reports new study reveals Intense Melting beneath West Antarctic Glaciers

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two new studies by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine (UCI), detect the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented direct view of intense ice melting from the floating undersides of glaciers.

The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the glacier’s evolution, with implications for understanding future ice loss from Antarctica and global sea level rise.

A view from Operation IceBridge's aircraft of Crosson Ice Shelf, foreground. Mt. Murphy is in the background. (NASA/OIB/Michael Studinger)

A view from Operation IceBridge’s aircraft of Crosson Ice Shelf, foreground. Mt. Murphy is in the background. (NASA/OIB/Michael Studinger)

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NASA Study reveals reasons for Sea Ice Changes at the Arctic, Antarctica

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Why has the sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica been increasing slightly, in sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean? A new NASA-led study finds the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are responsible.

A NASA/NOAA/university team led by Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used satellite radar, sea surface temperature, land form and bathymetry (ocean depth) data to study the physical processes and properties affecting Antarctic sea ice.

Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in Oct. 2007, within the sea ice shield surrounding Antarctica. The ice in this region is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) thick. (M.J. Lewis)

Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in Oct. 2007, within the sea ice shield surrounding Antarctica. The ice in this region is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) thick. (M.J. Lewis)

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