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Topic: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive instrument looks to answer the question, “How does Weather influence Soil Moisture?”

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Anyone who spends time outdoors knows that weather influences soil moisture — the moisture locked in soils that allows plants to grow — through temperature, wind and, of course, rain and snowfall. But in our complex, interlocking Earth system, there are almost no one-way streets. How does soil moisture influence weather in return?

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument may help answer that question. Scheduled for launch on January 29th, 2015, SMAP was built and will be operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The U.S. Midwest is a soil moisture hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Midwest is a soil moisture hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA / NOAA’s GOES-East satellite provides image of United States in the grips of Bitter Cold Weather

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – As icy cold Canadian air settled over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. bringing snow and bitter cold, NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured this infrared view of what looks like a frozen blanket over the region.

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite provides visible and infrared images over the eastern U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean from its fixed orbit in space.

In an infrared image taken on November 18th at 12:30 UTC (7:30am EST), the cold air over the eastern and central U.S. appears to look like a blanket of white, but it’s not all snow.

In this NOAA's GOES satellite infrared image taken on November 18th at 7:30am EST, the cold air over the central and eastern U.S. appears to look like a blanket of white, but it's not all snow. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters)

In this NOAA’s GOES satellite infrared image taken on November 18th at 7:30am EST, the cold air over the central and eastern U.S. appears to look like a blanket of white, but it’s not all snow. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters)

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NASA’s Dawn Mission creates Geological Maps of Asteroid Vesta

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Images from NASA’s Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail. These maps are included with a series of 11 scientific papers published this week in a special issue of the journal Icarus.

Geological mapping is a technique used to derive the geologic history of a planetary object from detailed analysis of surface morphology, topography, color and brightness information.

This high-resolution geological map of Vesta is derived from Dawn spacecraft data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

This high-resolution geological map of Vesta is derived from Dawn spacecraft data. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

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NASA Spacecraft analyzes effects of Comet Flyby on Mar’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on October 19th, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

Data from observations carried out by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have revealed that debris from the comet added a temporary and very strong layer of ions to the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer high above Mars.

This artist's concept depicts the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA's MAVEN spacecraft scanning the upper atmosphere of Mars. IUVS uses limb scans to map the chemical makeup and vertical structure across Mars' upper atmosphere. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

This artist’s concept depicts the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft scanning the upper atmosphere of Mars. IUVS uses limb scans to map the chemical makeup and vertical structure across Mars’ upper atmosphere. (NASA/Univ. of Colorado)

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NASA keeps an eye on Largest Sunspot in 24 years

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An active region on the sun – an area of intense and complex magnetic fields – rotated into view on October 18th, 2014. Labeled AR 12192, it soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years, and fired off 10 sizable solar flares as it traversed across the face of the sun.

The region was so large it could be seen without a telescope for those looking at the sun with eclipse glasses, as many did during a partial eclipse of the sun on October 23rd.

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees Giant Sunspot erupting more Solar Flares from the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, an M6.6-class, peaking at 11:32pm EDT on October 28th, 2014 – the latest in a series of substantial flares from a giant active region on the sun that first erupted with a significant solar flare on October 19th.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly observes the sun, captured images of the event.

To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov , the U.S. government’s official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

A large active region erupts with a mid-level flare, an M6.6-class, in this image from NASA's SDO on the night of Oct. 27, 2014. The region will soon rotate over the right horizon of the sun and will no longer be facing Earth. (NASA/SDO)

A large active region erupts with a mid-level flare, an M6.6-class, in this image from NASA’s SDO on the night of Oct. 27, 2014. The region will soon rotate over the right horizon of the sun and will no longer be facing Earth. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA’S Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter takes photos of LADEE’s impact crater on the Moon

 

Written by Nancy Neal-Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’S Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has spied a new crater on the lunar surface; one made from the impact of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission.

“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team recently developed a new computer tool to search Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) before and after image pairs for new craters, the LADEE impact event provided a fun test, said Mark Robinson, LROC principal investigator from Arizona State University in Tempe. “As it turns there were several small surface changes found in the predicted area of the impact, the biggest and most distinctive was within 968 feet (295 meters) of the spot estimated by the LADEE operations team. What fun!”

LRO has imaged the LADEE impact site on the eastern rim of Sundman V crater. The image was created by ratioing two images, one taken before the impact and another afterwards. The bright area highlights what has changed between the time of the two images, specifically the impact point and the ejecta. (NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

LRO has imaged the LADEE impact site on the eastern rim of Sundman V crater. The image was created by ratioing two images, one taken before the impact and another afterwards. The bright area highlights what has changed between the time of the two images, specifically the impact point and the ejecta.
(NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

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NASA to host Social Media Event for Orion Spacecraft’s First Test Flight

 

Written by Courtney O’Connor
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA invites social media followers to apply for credentials to get a preview of the Orion spacecraft’s first flight test during NASA Social events December 3rd involving each of its 10 centers.

Orion will launch on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is targeted for 4:05am PST (7:05am EST) December 4th.

An artist's impression of the first Orion spacecraft in orbit attached to a Delta IV Upper Stage during Exploration Flight Test-1. (NASA)

An artist’s impression of the first Orion spacecraft in orbit attached to a Delta IV Upper Stage during Exploration Flight Test-1. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers Methane Ice Cloud in Stratosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists have identified an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan that is similar to exotic clouds found far above Earth’s poles.

This lofty cloud, imaged by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, was part of the winter cap of condensation over Titan’s north pole. Now, eight years after spotting this mysterious bit of atmospheric fluff, researchers have determined that it contains methane ice, which produces a much denser cloud than the ethane ice previously identified there.

This cloud in the stratosphere over the north pole of Titan is similar to Earth's polar stratospheric clouds. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/LPGNantes)

This cloud in the stratosphere over the north pole of Titan is similar to Earth’s polar stratospheric clouds. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/LPGNantes)

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NASA Earth Scientists to study Arctic Sea Ice losses effects on Clouds, Weather, Global Warming

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Climate change is a global phenomenon, yet Earth scientists are keeping a wary eye on one place in particular–the Arctic.

“Polar regions are important for us to study right now,” explains Tom Wagner of NASA’s Earth Science Division in Washington DC. “They are changing rapidly.”

One of the most visible of signs of warming is the retreat of Arctic sea ice. Every year, sea ice waxes and wanes in a normal response to the changing of seasons; the annual sea ice minimum occurs near the end of northern summer. Since the 1970s, researchers carefully watched to see if the rhythm of Arctic sea ice would respond to global warming.

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