Topic: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day.
The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You’re lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps).
But we might be on the cusp of a change. Just as going from dial-up to broadband revolutionized the Internet and made high-resolution photos and streaming video a given, NASA may be ready to undergo a similar “broadband” moment in coming years.
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – The first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in nearly 40 years takes place on August 21st, 2017. Beyond providing a brilliant sight in the daytime sky, total solar eclipses provide a rare chance for scientists to collect data only available during eclipses. NASA is funding 11 scientific studies that will take advantage of this opportunity.
“When the moon blocks out the sun during a total eclipse, those regions of Earth that are in the direct path of totality become dark as night for almost three minutes,” said Steve Clarke, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This will be one of the best-observed eclipses to date, and we plan to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn as much as we can about the sun and its effects on Earth.”
Written by Lori Keesey
Greenbelt, MD – A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises — collectively known as cetaceans — end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth’s magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way?
Although some have postulated this and other theories, no one has ever initiated a thorough study to determine whether a relationship exists — until now.
Written by Keith Koehler
Wallops Island, VA – An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar sky was successfully launched on a NASA sounding rocket at 8:45am EST, January 27th, 2017, from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska.
The Polar Night Nitric Oxide experiment or PolarNOx was launched on a Black Brant IX sounding rocket to an altitude of nearly 176 miles. Preliminary information shows that good data was collected.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new study of the first year of observational data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission is providing significant surprises that will help in modeling Earth’s climate, forecasting our weather and monitoring agricultural crop growth.
The findings are presented in a paper published recently in the journal Nature Geosciences by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. They used SMAP measurements to estimate soil moisture memory in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of Earth’s topsoils.
Written by John Leslie
Silver Spring, MD – GOES-16, the first spacecraft in NOAA’s next-generation of geostationary satellites, has sent the first high-resolution images from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. Included among them are a composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere captured on January 15th, 2017.
Created using several of the ABI’s 16 spectral channels, the full-disk image offers an example the satellite’s advanced technology.
Written by Sean Potter
Washington, D.C. – Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.
The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
Written by Hal Pierce/Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – Widespread flooding has recently caused the deaths of dozens of people in southern Thailand. Frequent and persistent downpours have resulted in record rainfall totals and NASA calculated rainfall over the region from January 5th to January 12th, 2017.
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite is part of a constellation of satellites that can measure rainfall from space. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the data is input into NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data product.
Written by Felicia Chou
Washington, D.C. – Searching for planets around other stars is a tricky business. They’re so small and faint that it’s hard to spot them. But a possible planet in a nearby stellar system may be betraying its presence in a unique way: by a shadow that is sweeping across the face of a vast pancake-shaped gas-and-dust disk surrounding a young star.
The planet itself is not casting the shadow. But it is doing some heavy lifting by gravitationally pulling on material near the star and warping the inner part of the disk. The twisted, misaligned inner disk is casting its shadow across the surface of the outer disk.
Written by Felicia Chou
Washington, D.C. – NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars.
Objects such as black holes can heat surrounding gases to more than a million degrees. The high-energy X-ray radiation from this gas can be polarized – vibrating in a particular direction.
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