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Topic: Pasadena CA

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory’s Radar fails

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission managers for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory have determined that its radar, one of the satellite’s two science instruments, can no longer return data.

However, the mission, which was launched in January to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed, continues to produce high-quality science measurements supporting SMAP’s objectives with its radiometer instrument.

The SMAP mission is designed to help scientists understand the links between Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts.

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will produce high-resolution global maps of soil moisture to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Scientists are moving closer to answering the question, What happened to Mars’ Atmosphere

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists may be closer to solving the mystery of how Mars changed from a world with surface water billions of years ago to the arid Red Planet of today.

A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars suggests that the original Martian atmosphere may have already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of valley network formation.

“The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere,” said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena.

Researchers estimating the amount of carbon held in the ground at the largest known carbonate deposit on Mars used data from five instruments on three NASA Mars orbiters, including physical properties from THEMIS (left) and mineral information from CRISM (right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/JHUAPL)

Researchers estimating the amount of carbon held in the ground at the largest known carbonate deposit on Mars used data from five instruments on three NASA Mars orbiters, including physical properties from THEMIS (left) and mineral information from CRISM (right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/JHUAPL)

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NASA conceives Comet Hitchhiker spacecraft for exploring Asteroids and Comets

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn’t easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids and comets, which have low gravitational pull.

A concept called Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, puts forth a new way to get into orbit and land on comets and asteroids, using the kinetic energy — the energy of motion — of these small bodies. Masahiro Ono, the principal investigator based at JPL, had “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in mind when dreaming up the idea.

This artist concept shows Comet Hitchhiker, an idea for traveling between asteroids and comets using a harpoon and tether system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornelius Dammrich)

This artist concept shows Comet Hitchhiker, an idea for traveling between asteroids and comets using a harpoon and tether system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornelius Dammrich)

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NASA begins Study into Rapid Climate Change in Alaska and Northwestern Canada

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As part of a broad effort to study the environmental and societal effects of climate change, NASA has begun a multi-year field campaign to investigate ecological impacts of the rapidly changing climate in Alaska and northwestern Canada, such as the thawing of permafrost, wildfires and changes to wildlife habitats.

The Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) will bring together on-the-ground research in Alaska and northwestern Canada with data collected by NASA airborne instruments, satellites and other agency programs, including the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), and upcoming Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) and NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) missions.

NASA's ABoVE campaign will combine field work, airborne surveys, satellite data and computer modeling to study the effects of climate change on Arctic and boreal ecosystems, such as this region at the base of the Alaska Range south of Fairbanks. (NASA/Ross Nelson)

NASA’s ABoVE campaign will combine field work, airborne surveys, satellite data and computer modeling to study the effects of climate change on Arctic and boreal ecosystems, such as this region at the base of the Alaska Range south of Fairbanks. (NASA/Ross Nelson)

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NASA is developing 3-D Camera that can take images inside the Brain

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead to faster, safer procedures.

An endoscope with such a camera is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. MARVEL, which stands for Multi Angle Rear Viewing Endoscopic tooL, has been honored this week with the Outstanding Technology Development award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. An endoscope is a device that examines the interior of a body part.

A laboratory prototype of MARVEL, one of the world's smallest 3-D cameras. MARVEL is in the center foreground. On the display is a 3-D image of the interior of a walnut, taken by MARVEL previously, which has characteristics similar to that of a brain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Skull Base Institute)

A laboratory prototype of MARVEL, one of the world’s smallest 3-D cameras. MARVEL is in the center foreground. On the display is a 3-D image of the interior of a walnut, taken by MARVEL previously, which has characteristics similar to that of a brain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Skull Base Institute)

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NASA studies the Oceans looking for answers to how fast they will rise in the future

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Seas around the world have risen an average of nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) since 1992, with some locations rising more than 9 inches (25 centimeters) due to natural variation, according to the latest satellite measurements from NASA and its partners.

An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

The question scientists are grappling with is how quickly will seas rise?

Waves crash against rocks. (Franklin O'Donnell)

Waves crash against rocks. (Franklin O’Donnell)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captures clearest photos yet of Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The closest-yet views of Ceres, delivered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, show the small world’s features in unprecedented detail, including Ceres’ tall, conical mountain; crater formation features and narrow, braided fractures.

“Dawn is performing flawlessly in this new orbit as it conducts its ambitious exploration. The spacecraft’s view is now three times as sharp as in its previous mapping orbit, revealing exciting new details of this intriguing dwarf planet,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA reports Valley Land in California sinking due to Drought

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As Californians continue pumping groundwater in response to the historic drought, the California Department of Water Resources today released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever before, nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) per month in some locations.

“Because of increased pumping, groundwater levels are reaching record lows — up to 100 feet (30 meters) lower than previous records,” said Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin. “As extensive groundwater pumping continues, the land is sinking more rapidly and this puts nearby infrastructure at greater risk of costly damage.”

Total subsidence in California's San Joaquin Valley for the period May 3, 2014 to Jan. 22, 2015, as measured by Canada's Radarsat-2 satellite. Two large subsidence bowls are evident, centered on Corcoran and south of El Nido. (Canadian Space Agency/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Total subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley for the period May 3, 2014 to Jan. 22, 2015, as measured by Canada’s Radarsat-2 satellite. Two large subsidence bowls are evident, centered on Corcoran and south of El Nido. (Canadian Space Agency/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft takes one last close flyby of Saturn’s moon Dione

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A pockmarked, icy landscape looms beneath NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in new images of Saturn’s moon Dione taken during the mission’s last close approach to the small, icy world. Two of the new images show the surface of Dione at the best resolution ever.

Cassini passed 295 miles (474 kilometers) above Dione’s surface at 11:33am PDT (2:33pm EDT) on August 17th. This was the fifth close encounter with Dione during Cassini’s long tour at Saturn. The mission’s closest-ever flyby of Dione was in December 2011, at a distance of 60 miles (100 kilometers).

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft looks toward Saturn's icy moon Dione, with giant Saturn and its rings in the background, just prior to the mission's final close approach to the moon on August 17, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looks toward Saturn’s icy moon Dione, with giant Saturn and its rings in the background, just prior to the mission’s final close approach to the moon on August 17, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover leaves Marias Pass heading Southwest on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is driving toward the southwest after departing a region where for several weeks it investigated a geological contact zone and rocks that are unexpectedly high in silica and hydrogen content. The hydrogen indicates water bound to minerals in the ground.

In this “Marias Pass” region, Curiosity successfully used its drill to sample a rock target called “Buckskin” and then used the camera on its robotic arm for multiple images to be stitched into a self-portrait at the drilling site.

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called “Buckskin.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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