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Topic: Atmosphere

NASA Scientists use Global Hawk aircraft to track atmosphere changes that affect the climate of Earth

 

Written by Rachel Hoover
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – NASA’s uncrewed Global Hawk research aircraft is in the western Pacific region on a mission to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate.

Deployed from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA, the Global Hawk landed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam Thursday at approximately 5:00pm EST and will begin science flights Tuesday, January 21st. Its mission, the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX), is a multi-year NASA airborne science campaign.

NASA's Global Hawk 872 on a checkout flight from Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, in preparation for the 2014 ATTREX mission over the western Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Tom Miller)

NASA’s Global Hawk 872 on a checkout flight from Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, in preparation for the 2014 ATTREX mission over the western Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Tom Miller)

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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft has it’s Parachute Jettison system tested

 

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – Engineers testing the parachute system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft increased the complexity of their tests Thursday, January 16th, adding the jettison of hardware designed to keep the capsule safe during flight.

The test was the first to give engineers in-air data on the performance of the system that jettisons Orion’s forward bay cover. The cover is a shell that fits over Orion’s crew module to protect the spacecraft during launch, orbital flight and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft floats through the sky about the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona under the two drogue parachutes that precede the release of its three main parachutes. (NASA)

A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft floats through the sky about the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona under the two drogue parachutes that precede the release of its three main parachutes. (NASA)

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NASA field study shows possible Mercury increase in the sea due to cracks in Arctic Ice

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans.

Scientists measured increased concentrations of mercury near ground level after sea ice off the coast of Barrow, Alaska, cracked, creating open seawater channels called leads. The researchers were in the Arctic for the NASA-led Bromine, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) in 2012.

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NASA reports Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) begins studying distant planets

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After nearly a decade of development, construction and testing, the world’s most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

The instrument, called the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), was designed, built, and optimized for imaging giant planets next to bright stars, in addition to studying dusty disks around young stars.

This image taken by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) shows a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. In addition to the image, the GPI obtains spectral information from every pixel element in the field of view, allowing scientists to study the planet in great detail. (Gemini/Christian Marois, NRC Canada)

This image taken by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) shows a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. In addition to the image, the GPI obtains spectral information from every pixel element in the field of view, allowing scientists to study the planet in great detail. (Gemini/Christian Marois, NRC Canada)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observations reveal possible Stormy Weather on Brown Dwarfs

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs may have swirling, stormy clouds present. New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter’s “Great Red Spot.”

“As the brown dwarfs spin on their axis, the alternation of what we think are cloud-free and cloudy regions produces a periodic brightness variation that we can observe,” said Stanimir Metchev of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. “These are signs of patchiness in the cloud cover.”

This artist's concept shows what the weather might look like on cool star-like bodies known as brown dwarfs. These giant balls of gas start out life like stars, but lack the mass to sustain nuclear fusion at their cores, and instead, fade and cool with time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook University)

This artist’s concept shows what the weather might look like on cool star-like bodies known as brown dwarfs. These giant balls of gas start out life like stars, but lack the mass to sustain nuclear fusion at their cores, and instead, fade and cool with time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Western Ontario/Stony Brook University)

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NASA reports very small Asteroid discovered with potential to impact Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Early Wednesday morning (January 1st, 2014), while New Year’s 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, AZ, collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid — 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size — on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroid discovery of 2014, the track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated.

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. (CSS/LPL/UA)

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. (CSS/LPL/UA)

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NASA’s New Orion Spacecraft work continues with 2014 target launch

 

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Orion’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1, is less than a year away now, and the team building the spacecraft is meeting milestones left and right as they prepare the vehicle for its debut.

The Orion crew module that will fly 3,600 miles above Earth on the spacecraft’s first mission is continuing to come together inside the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Delta IV Heavy Lift rocket that will be used for Orion’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, is in the final assembly area at United Launch Alliance’s factory in Decatur, AL. (NASA)

The Delta IV Heavy Lift rocket that will be used for Orion’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, is in the final assembly area at United Launch Alliance’s factory in Decatur, AL. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft catches Saturn and it’s Moons dressed for Christmas

 

Written by Jia-Rui Cook
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -This holiday season, feast your eyes on images of Saturn and two of its most fascinating moons, Titan and Enceladus, in a care package from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. All three bodies are dressed and dazzling in this special package assembled by Cassini’s imaging team.

“During this, our tenth holiday season at Saturn, we hope that these images from Cassini remind everyone the world over of the significance of our discoveries in exploring such a remote and beautiful planetary system,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader, based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO. “Happy holidays from all of us on Cassini.”

The globe of Saturn, seen here in natural color, is reminiscent of a holiday ornament in this wide-angle view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The globe of Saturn, seen here in natural color, is reminiscent of a holiday ornament in this wide-angle view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows seasonally changing surface near Mar’s equator

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed to scientists slender dark markings — possibly due to salty water – that advance seasonally down slopes surprisingly close to the Martian equator.

“The equatorial surface region of Mars has been regarded as dry, free of liquid or frozen water, but we may need to rethink that,” said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona in Tucson, principal investigator for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows how the appearance of dark markings on Martian slope changes with the seasons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows how the appearance of dark markings on Martian slope changes with the seasons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft provides view of Earth as it flies by

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on October 9th, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 3.9 kilometers per second), which set it on course for a July 4th, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.

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