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Topic: Atmosphere

NASA’s Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory to monitor Plant Health from Space

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected a first-of-its-kind Earth science mission that will extend our nation’s lead in measuring key greenhouse gases and vegetation health from space to advance our understanding of Earth’s natural exchanges of carbon among the land, atmosphere and ocean.

The primary goals of the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCARB), led by Berrien Moore of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, are to monitor plant health and vegetation stress throughout the Americas, and to probe, in unprecedented detail, the natural sources, sinks and exchange processes that control carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere.

From an orbit 22,000 miles above the Americas, the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory will monitor plant health and vegetation stress and probe the natural sources, sinks and exchange processes of key greenhouse gases. (NASA)

From an orbit 22,000 miles above the Americas, the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory will monitor plant health and vegetation stress and probe the natural sources, sinks and exchange processes of key greenhouse gases. (NASA)

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NASA advances Exploration Objectives in 2016

 

Written by Bob Jacobs / Allard Beutel
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2016, NASA drove advances in technology, science, aeronautics and space exploration that enhanced the world’s knowledge, innovation, and stewardship of Earth.

“This past year marked record-breaking progress in our exploration objectives,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We advanced the capabilities we’ll need to travel farther into the solar system while increasing observations of our home and the universe, learning more about how to continuously live and work in space, and, of course, inspiring the next generation of leaders to take up our Journey to Mars and make their own discoveries.”

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft takes first look at Saturn’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn’s atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including the planet’s intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.

Cassini began its new mission phase, called its Ring-Grazing Orbits, on November 30th. Each of these weeklong orbits — 20 in all — carries the spacecraft high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere before sending it skimming past the outer edges of the planet’s main rings.

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was obtained about half a day before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn's main rings during its penultimate mission phase. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was obtained about half a day before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn’s main rings during its penultimate mission phase. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft completes first dive into outer edges of Saturn’s Rings

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has made its first close dive past the outer edges of Saturn’s rings since beginning its penultimate mission phase on November 30th.

Cassini crossed through the plane of Saturn’s rings on December 4th at 5:09am PST (8:09am EST) at a distance of approximately 57,000 miles (91,000 kilometers) above Saturn’s cloud tops. This is the approximate location of a faint, dusty ring produced by the planet’s small moons Janus and Epimetheus, and just 6,800 miles (11,000 kilometers) from the center of Saturn’s F ring.

This graphic shows the closest approaches of Cassini's final two orbital phases. Ring-grazing orbits are shown in gray (at left); Grand Finale orbits are shown in blue. The orange line shows the spacecraft's Sept. 2017 final plunge into Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This graphic shows the closest approaches of Cassini’s final two orbital phases. Ring-grazing orbits are shown in gray (at left); Grand Finale orbits are shown in blue. The orange line shows the spacecraft’s Sept. 2017 final plunge into Saturn. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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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 to launch Six Small Satellites in new approach to studying Earth

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Beginning this month, NASA is launching a suite of six next-generation, Earth-observing small satellite missions to demonstrate innovative new approaches for studying our changing planet.

These small satellites range in size from a loaf of bread to a small washing machine and weigh from a few to 400 pounds (180 kilograms). Their small size keeps development and launch costs down as they often hitch a ride to space as a “secondary payload” on another mission’s rocket — providing an economical avenue for testing new technologies and conducting science.

Artist's concept of the TROPICS mission, which will study hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats flying in formation. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

Artist’s concept of the TROPICS mission, which will study hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats flying in formation. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Satellite data used to make Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Maps

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have produced the first global maps of human emissions of carbon dioxide ever made solely from satellite observations of the greenhouse gas.

The maps, based on data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite and generated with a new data-processing technique, agree well with inventories of known carbon dioxide emissions.

No satellite before OCO-2 was capable of measuring carbon dioxide in fine enough detail to allow researchers to create maps of human emissions from the satellite data alone. Instead, earlier maps also incorporated estimates from economic data and modeling results.

Human carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning and other sources have been mapped from OCO-2's global dataset. Traffic and pollution, Cairo, Egypt. (World Bank/Kim Eun Yeul)

Human carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning and other sources have been mapped from OCO-2’s global dataset. Traffic and pollution, Cairo, Egypt. (World Bank/Kim Eun Yeul)

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft goes back online, completes minor burn

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter has left safe mode and has successfully completed a minor burn of its thruster engines in preparation for its next close flyby of Jupiter.

Mission controllers commanded Juno to exit safe mode Monday, October 24th, with confirmation of safe mode exit received on the ground at 10:05am PDT (1:05pm EDT). The spacecraft entered safe mode on October 18th when a software performance monitor induced a reboot of the spacecraft’s onboard computer. The team is still investigating the cause of the reboot and assessing two main engine check valves.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter.  (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft observes Changes of Seasons on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As southern winter solstice approaches in the Saturn system, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been revealing dramatic seasonal changes in the atmospheric temperature and composition of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Winter is taking a grip on Titan’s southern hemisphere, and a strong, whirling atmospheric circulation pattern — a vortex — has developed in the upper atmosphere over the south pole. Cassini has observed that this vortex is enriched in trace gases — gases that are otherwise quite rare in Titan’s atmosphere. Cassini’s observations show a reversal in the atmosphere above Titan’s poles since the spacecraft arrived at Saturn in 2004, when similar features were seen in the northern hemisphere.

Slipping into shadow, the south polar vortex at Saturn's moon Titan still stands out against the orange and blue haze layers that are characteristic of Titan's atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Slipping into shadow, the south polar vortex at Saturn’s moon Titan still stands out against the orange and blue haze layers that are characteristic of Titan’s atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft sees what could be Clouds on Pluto

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The next target for NASA’s New Horizons mission — which made a historic flight past Pluto in July 2015 — apparently bears a colorful resemblance to its famous, main destination.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope data suggests that 2014 MU69, a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) about a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, is as red, if not redder, than Pluto. This is the first hint at the surface properties of the far-flung object that New Horizons will survey on January 1st, 2019.

Pluto's present, hazy atmosphere is almost entirely free of clouds. However, scientists from NASA's New Horizons mission have identified some cloud candidates -- suggestive of possible, rare condensation clouds -- in images taken during the spacecraft's July 2015 flight through the Pluto system. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Center)

Pluto’s present, hazy atmosphere is almost entirely free of clouds. However, scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission have identified some cloud candidates — suggestive of possible, rare condensation clouds — in images taken during the spacecraft’s July 2015 flight through the Pluto system. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Center)

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