Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.
When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A small asteroid, designated 2014 RC, will safely pass very close to Earth on Sunday, September 7th, 2014.
At the time of closest approach, based on current calculations to be about 2:18pm EDT (11:18am PDT / 18:18 UTC), the asteroid will be roughly over New Zealand.
From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about 60 feet (20 meters) in size.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT) Wednesday.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket’s second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit.
NASA uses satellites, aircraft, and high-altitude balloons to investigate California’s extreme drought
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – California is supposed to be the Golden State. Make that golden brown.
The entire west coast of the United States is changing color as the deepest drought in more than a century unfolds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NOAA, dry conditions have become extreme across more than 62% of California’s land area—and there is little relief in sight.
Peterson Air Force Base, CO – For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.”
Washington, D.C. – According to NASA, the Comet ISON will flyby Mars on October 1st as continues toward our Sun.
Around the world, astronomers are buzzing with anticipation over the approach of Comet ISON. On Thanksgiving Day 2013, the icy visitor from the outer solar system will skim the sun’s outer atmosphere and, if it survives, could emerge as one of the brightest comets in years.
First, though, it has to fly by Mars.
Washington, D.C. – Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19th show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.
Washington, D.C. – High above our planet in the realm of satellites and space stations, the familiar rules of Earth do not apply. The midday sky is as black as night. There is no up and no down. Dropped objects do not fall, and hot air does not rise.
Of all the strange things that happen up there, however, it is possible that the strangest happens to coffee.
Physics professor Mark Weislogel of Portland State University has given a lot of thought to coffee (and other fluids) in space, and he describes what happens.
Pasadena, CA – Using an innovative satellite technique, NASA scientists have determined that a previously unmapped type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest than has been lost through deforestation in recent years.
In the southern Amazon rainforest, fires below the forest treetops, or “understory fires,” have been hidden from view from NASA satellites that detect actively burning fires. The new method has now led to the first regional estimate of understory fire damages across the southern Amazon.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – For eons, Earth has felt the tremors of asteroids striking our planet. From the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago to the felled forests around Tunguska in 1908, the space rocks keep coming.
This week, Earth strikes back. When asteroid 2014 DA14 makes a record close approach to our planet on February 15th, the space rock could be the one feeling tremors.
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