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Topic: Satellite

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes test, produces First Global Maps

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its antenna now spinning at full speed, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully re-tested its science instruments and generated its first global maps, a key step to beginning routine science operations next month.

SMAP launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. The mission will help scientists understand the links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; help reduce uncertainties in predicting weather and climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards such as floods and droughts.

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP's radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP’s radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA reports Researchers looking into United States Methane “Hot Spot”

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers from several institutions are in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest with a suite of airborne and ground-based instruments, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane “hot spot” detected from space.

“With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,” said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA’s part of the effort.

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane "hot spot" can be seen from space. Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane “hot spot” can be seen from space. Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes spin-up procedure

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have commanded the 20-foot (6-meter) reflector antenna on NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory to begin spinning for the first time. The partial spin-up is a key step in commissioning the satellite in preparation for science operations.

Last week, mission controllers sent commands to release the locking mechanism that prevented the observatory’s spun instrument assembly — the part that spins — from rotating during launch and deployment of the reflector. The spun instrument assembly includes the spin control electronics, radiometer instrument and reflector antenna.

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’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes instruments test

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Fresh off the recent successful deployment of its 20-foot (6-meter) reflector antenna and associated boom arm, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully completed a two-day test of its science instruments.

The observatory’s radar and radiometer instruments were successfully operated for the first time with SMAP’s antenna in a non-spinning mode on February 27th and 28th.

The test was a key step in preparation for the planned spin-up of SMAP’s antenna to approximately 15 revolutions per minute in late March.

First image from a test of the radar instrument on NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite Feb. 27-28, 2015. The test was performed with SMAP's antenna in a non-spinning mode, which limits measurement swath widths to 25 miles (40 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

First image from a test of the radar instrument on NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite Feb. 27-28, 2015. The test was performed with SMAP’s antenna in a non-spinning mode, which limits measurement swath widths to 25 miles (40 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA monitors Frigid Temperatures moving across Eastern United States

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Some of the coldest air of the 2014-2015 winter season was settling over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. on February 13th, 2015. That Arctic air mass brought wind chills from below zero to the single numbers from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic.

Despite the cold on the surface, infrared NASA satellite imagery revealed even colder temperatures in cloud tops associated with the air mass.

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite provided a visible and infrared picture of the clouds associated with the Arctic air mass, as they stretched from the eastern Dakotas to the Mid-Atlantic region.

This false-colored infrared image from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite at 7:29 UTC (2:29 a.m. EST) shows cloud top temperatures over New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire near 245K/-28C/-18F (greenish to blue shading). (NASA JPL, Ed Olsen)

This false-colored infrared image from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite at 7:29 UTC (2:29 a.m. EST) shows cloud top temperatures over New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire near 245K/-28C/-18F (greenish to blue shading). (NASA JPL, Ed Olsen)

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NASA reports NOAA to launch Deep Space Climate Observatory to measure the Sun’s Solar Wind

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – There’s a fascinating spot some 932,000 miles away from Earth where the gravity between the sun and Earth is perfectly balanced. This spot captures the attention of orbital engineers because a satellite can orbit this spot, called Lagrange 1 just as they can orbit a planet.

But the spot tantalizes scientists as well: Lagrange 1 lies outside Earth’s magnetic environment, a perfect place to measure the constant stream of particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, as they pass by.

In early February, the United States Air Force will launch a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite called Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, into orbit around this spot.

The solar arrays on NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, are unfurled in the Building 1 high bay at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

The solar arrays on NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, are unfurled in the Building 1 high bay at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

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NASA launches Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory into orbit around Earth

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA successfully launched its first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, a mission with broad applications for science and society, lifted off at 6:22am PST (9:22am EST) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory lifts off from Space Launch Complex 2 West at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, beginning a three-year mission to map Earth's vital moisture hidden in the soils beneath our feet. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory lifts off from Space Launch Complex 2 West at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, beginning a three-year mission to map Earth’s vital moisture hidden in the soils beneath our feet. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s SMAP instrument ready to measure Earth’s Soil Moisture

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA satellite that will peer into the topmost layer of Earth’s soils to measure the hidden waters that influence our weather and climate is in final preparations for a January 29th dawn launch from California.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will take the pulse of a key measure of our water planet: how freshwater cycles over Earth’s land surfaces in the form of soil moisture.

The mission will produce the most accurate, highest-resolution global maps ever obtained from space of the moisture present in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of Earth’s soils.

Artist's rendering of the SMAP instrument. (NASA)

Artist’s rendering of the SMAP instrument. (NASA)

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NASA study shows Tropical Forests may remove more Carbon Dioxide from Atmosphere than expected

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas.

The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.

A new NASA study suggests that tropical forests, like this one in Malaysia, absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide than is absorbed by forests in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. (Wikimedia Commons)

A new NASA study suggests that tropical forests, like this one in Malaysia, absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide than is absorbed by forests in Alaska, Canada and Siberia. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA takes a look back at 2014

 

Written by David Weaver
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.

“We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond.”

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