Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth’s surface.
The observation — by the Hyperion spectrometer on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) — is an important breakthrough in our ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.
In a new paper accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team with scientist David R. Thompson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, detailed the observation, which occurred over Aliso Canyon, near Porter Ranch, California.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – In 1936, the young star FU Orionis began gobbling material from its surrounding disk of gas and dust with a sudden voraciousness. During a three-month binge, as matter turned into energy, the star became 100 times brighter, heating the disk around it to temperatures of up to 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit (7,000 Kelvin). FU Orionis is still devouring gas to this day, although not as quickly.
This brightening is the most extreme event of its kind that has been confirmed around a star the size of the sun, and may have implications for how stars and planets form. The intense baking of the star’s surrounding disk likely changed its chemistry, permanently altering material that could one day turn into planets.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – After decades of research to discern seasonal patterns in Martian dust storms from images showing the dust, but the clearest pattern appears to be captured by measuring the temperature of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.
For six recent Martian years, temperature records from NASA Mars orbiters reveal a pattern of three types of large regional dust storms occurring in sequence at about the same times each year during the southern hemisphere spring and summer. Each Martian year lasts about two Earth years.
“When we look at the temperature structure instead of the visible dust, we finally see some regularity in the large dust storms,” said David Kass of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Written by Francis Reddy
Greenbelt, MD – LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) with contributions from NASA, has successfully tested a key technology needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting gravitational waves.
These tiny ripples in the fabric of space, predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, were first seen last year by the ground-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
Seismic, thermal and other noise sources limit LIGO to higher-frequency gravitational waves around 100 cycles per second (hertz).
Clarksville, TN – Give Austin Peay State University student Dominic Critchlow a balloon and a camera and he can quite literally show you the world.
A senior in APSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and a 2015-16 Presidential Research Scholar, Critchlow has spent quite a bit of time researching a simple solution for the complex problem of computer assisted image remote sensing through high altitude balloons.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – On May 11th, a sealed capsule containing fungi and bacteria fell from the sky and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran could hardly wait to see what was inside it.
At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Venkateswaran, who goes by Venkat, studies microbial life — the wild world of organisms too small for us to see with our eyes. Among his many research endeavors, Venkat has leading roles on two microbial experiments that recently returned from the International Space Station.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX – On Monday, June 6th, astronaut Jeff Williams will enter the first human-rated expandable module deployed in space, a technology demonstration to investigate the potential challenges and benefits of expandable habitats for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications.
Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston expanded the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) by filling it with air during more than seven hours of operations Saturday, May 28th.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s new COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) field campaign kicks off its data-gathering phase with an operational readiness test on Oahu, Hawaii, starting the week of June 6th. Over the next year, CORAL will conduct airborne and in-water surveys of representative coral reefs from Hawaii to Australia.
By focusing on entire reef ecosystems, CORAL scientists will get state-of-the-art insights into how biological, physical and chemical processes shape and affect the ecosystems. These data will help them answer fundamental questions about how reefs are changing globally due to the effects of climate change and human activities.
Written by Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Baltimore, MD – Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than expected.
“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation,” said study leader and Nobel Laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland.
NASA’s Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) can observe Coastal Waters in detail never before possible
Written by Carol Rasmussen
Pasadena, CA – A coastal scene with deep blue seas and a coral reef is beautiful to look at, but if you try to record the scene with a camera or a scientific instrument, the results are almost always disappointing. Most cameras can’t “see” underwater objects in such scenes because they’re so dim and wash out the glaring seashore.
These problems don’t just ruin vacation photos. They’re a serious hindrance for scientists who need images of the coastline to study how these ecosystems are being affected by climate change, development and other hazards.
To the rescue: the new Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer, created at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. PRISM is an airborne instrument designed to observe hard-to-see coastal water phenomena.
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