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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 laser remote-sensing Lidar technology used to uncover History

 

Written by Naomi Seck
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Some 10,500 years ago, hunters gathered each year near the Beaver River in what is now western Oklahoma. There, they funneled bison into narrow, dead-end arroyos — steep gullies cut into the hillside by the river — where they killed them en masse, sliced off the choicest meat and left behind piles of skeletons.

Walk through western Oklahoma today and there is little visible evidence of that ancient landscape, much less the hunting expeditions it hosted. Few bison remain, and dirt and rocks have filled in many of the arroyos.

An archaeological team led by University of Oklahoma’s Lee Bement excavates a 10,500-year-old bison kill site near the Beaver River. Using lidar scanning, the team was able to narrow down sites to search further for prehistoric artifacts. (Lee Bement)

An archaeological team led by University of Oklahoma’s Lee Bement excavates a 10,500-year-old bison kill site near the Beaver River. Using lidar scanning, the team was able to narrow down sites to search further for prehistoric artifacts. (Lee Bement)

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NASA launches Geostationary Weather Satellite for NOAA

 

Written by Sean Potter
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) lifted off at 5:42pm CST on its way to boost the nation’s weather observation capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings.

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA's most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA’s most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)

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NASA reports 2015 Warm Cyclone thinned Arctic Sea Ice

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A large cyclone that crossed the Arctic in December 2015 brought so much heat and humidity to this otherwise frigid and dry environment that it thinned and shrunk the sea ice cover during a time of the year when the ice should have been growing thicker and stronger, a NASA study found.

The cyclone formed on December 28th, 2015, in the middle of the North Atlantic, and traveled to the United Kingdom and Iceland before entering the Arctic on December 30th, lingering in the area for several days.

This image shows the winds and warm mass of air associated with a large cyclone that swept the Arctic in late December 2015-early January 2016, thinning and shrinking the sea ice cover. (NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/Alex Kekesi, data visualizer)

This image shows the winds and warm mass of air associated with a large cyclone that swept the Arctic in late December 2015-early January 2016, thinning and shrinking the sea ice cover. (NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Alex Kekesi, data visualizer)

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NASA says November Supermoon to be extra Super

 

Written by Sarah Schlieder
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The moon is a familiar sight in our sky, brightening dark nights and reminding us of space exploration, past and present. But the upcoming supermoon — on Monday, November 14th — will be especially “super” because it’s the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. We won’t see another supermoon like this until 2034.

The moon’s orbit around Earth is slightly elliptical so sometimes it is closer and sometimes it’s farther away. When the moon is full as it makes its closest pass to Earth it is known as a supermoon.

This image approximates the look of the November 14th, 2016, full moon with data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio)

This image approximates the look of the November 14th, 2016, full moon with data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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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 researchers observe Arctic losing it’s older Sea Ice

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, has been hit with a double whammy over the past decades: as its extent shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

“What we’ve seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA'S Scientific Visualization Studio)

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA’S Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA identifies alternate way to collect data from Aura spacecraft’s TES instrument

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, are evaluating an alternate way to collect and process science data from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on NASA’s Aura spacecraft following the age-related failure of a critical instrument component.

TES is an infrared sensor designed to study Earth’s troposphere, the lowermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere, which is where we live. Launched in July 2004 and designed to fly for two years, the TES mission is currently in an extended operations phase.

NASA's Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument, one of four instruments on NASA's Aura spacecraft. (Northrop Grumman)

NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument, one of four instruments on NASA’s Aura spacecraft. (Northrop Grumman)

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observes Superhot Balls of Gas ejected from dying Star

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Great balls of fire! NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected superhot blobs of gas, each twice as massive as the planet Mars, being ejected near a dying star.

The plasma balls are zooming so fast through space it would take only 30 minutes for them to travel from Earth to the moon. This stellar “cannon fire” has continued once every 8.5 years for at least the past 400 years, astronomers estimate.

The fireballs present a puzzle to astronomers, because the ejected material could not have been shot out by the host star, called V Hydrae.

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the binary-star system V Hydrae is launching balls of plasma into space. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the binary-star system V Hydrae is launching balls of plasma into space. (NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI))

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NASA tracks Hurricane Matthew as it Heads for the Bahamas

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Satellites from NASA and NOAA have been tracking and analyzing powerful Hurricane Matthew since its birth just east of the Leeward Islands on September 28th.

On October 4th, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on southwestern Haiti as a category-4 storm—the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean nation in more than 50 years. Just hours after landfall, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a natural-color image that showed the western extent over the eastern tip of Cuba and the eastern-most extent over Puerto Rico.

On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on southwestern Haiti as a category-4 storm—the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean nation in more than 50 years. Just hours after landfall, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image. At the time, Matthew had top sustained winds of about 230 kilometers (145 miles) per hour. Credits: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on southwestern Haiti as a category-4 storm—the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean nation in more than 50 years. Just hours after landfall, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image. At the time, Matthew had top sustained winds of about 230 kilometers (145 miles) per hour.
Credits: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens

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