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Topic: Satellites

NASA’s Van Allen Probes data reveals new insights into Earth’s Radiation Belts

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – About 600 miles from Earth’s surface is the first of two donut-shaped electron swarms, known as the Van Allen Belts, or the radiation belts. Understanding the shape and size of the belts, which can shrink and swell in response to incoming radiation from the sun, is crucial for protecting our technology in space.

The harsh radiation isn’t good for satellites’ health, so scientists wish to know just which orbits could be jeopardized in different situations.

NASA’s Van Allen Probes artist concept. (NASA)

NASA’s Van Allen Probes artist concept. (NASA)

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NORAD plots Santa Claus’ route on Christmas Eve

 

Norad Tracks SantaPeterson Air Force Base, CO –  NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight for more than 50 years,

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.”

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NASA to use two CubeSats to test multiple Satellite Networking and Communications

 

Written by Julianna Fishman
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s two Nodes small satellites hitched a ride to the International Space Station on the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission, which launched on December 6th. Once aboard the station, the satellites will settle in for a two-to-three month stay until deployed into low-Earth orbit in early 2016.

The Nodes mission, which consists of two CubeSats weighing just 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches, will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.

NASA Small Satellites to Demonstrate Swarm Communications and Autonomy. (NASA)

NASA Small Satellites to Demonstrate Swarm Communications and Autonomy. (NASA)

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NASA prepares Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket for first test flight

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is hard at work building the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems needed to send astronauts into deep space. The agency is developing the core capabilities needed to enable the journey to Mars.

Orion’s first flight atop the SLS will not have humans aboard, but it paves the way for future missions with astronauts. Ultimately, it will help NASA prepare for missions to the Red Planet. During this flight, currently designated Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the spacecraft will travel thousands of miles beyond the moon over the course of about a three-week mission.

NASA¹s Space Launch System rocket will launch with Orion atop it from Launch Complex 39B at NASA¹s modernized spaceport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

NASA¹s Space Launch System rocket will launch with Orion atop it from Launch Complex 39B at NASA¹s modernized spaceport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

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NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) helps Track Earth’s Ocean Currents

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A team of NASA and university scientists has developed a new way to use satellite measurements to track changes in Atlantic Ocean currents, which are a driving force in global climate. The finding opens a path to better monitoring and understanding of how ocean circulation is changing and what the changes may mean for future climate.

In the Atlantic, currents at the ocean surface, such as the Gulf Stream, carry sun-warmed water from the tropics northeastward. As the water moves through colder regions, it sheds its heat. By the time it gets to Greenland, it’s so cold and dense that it sinks a couple of miles down into the ocean depths.

NASA's GRACE satellites (artist's concept) measured Atlantic Ocean bottom pressure as an indicator of deep ocean current speed. In 2009, this pattern of above-average (blue) and below-average (red) seafloor pressure revealed a temporary slowing of the deep currents. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s GRACE satellites (artist’s concept) measured Atlantic Ocean bottom pressure as an indicator of deep ocean current speed. In 2009, this pattern of above-average (blue) and below-average (red) seafloor pressure revealed a temporary slowing of the deep currents. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA takes a look at the positive and negatives of Algae

 

NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Algae are complicated. The little plants can be both good and bad.

Single-celled algae called phytoplankton are a main source of food for fish and other aquatic life, and account for half of the photosynthetic activity on Earth—that’s good.

But certain varieties such as some cyanobacteria produce toxins that can harm humans, fish, and other animals. Under certain conditions, algae populations can grow explosively — a spectacle known as an algal bloom, which can cover hundreds of square kilometers. For example, in August 2014, a cyanobacteria outbreak in Lake Erie prompted Toledo, Ohio, officials to ban the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents.

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NORAD now tracking Santa Claus this Christmas Eve

 

Norad Tracks SantaPeterson 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.”

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NASA to investigate Climate change with Airborne Campaigns

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Five new NASA airborne field campaigns, including one managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, will take to the skies starting in 2015 to investigate how long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters and fires in Africa affect our climate.

These studies into several incompletely understood Earth system processes were competitively selected as part of NASA’s Earth Venture-class projects. Each project is funded at a total cost of no more than $30 million over five years. This funding includes initial development, field campaigns and analysis of data.

The tide coming in over ice in Greenland. (National Snow and Ice Data Center/Andy Mahoney)

The tide coming in over ice in Greenland. (National Snow and Ice Data Center/Andy Mahoney)

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NASA developing ECOSTRESS instrument to analyze plant reactions to heat and water stress

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

NASA's ECOSTRESS will monitor how plants react to heat and water stress. (Wikimedia Commons)

NASA’s ECOSTRESS will monitor how plants react to heat and water stress. (Wikimedia Commons)

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NASA reports Small Asteroid 2014 RC to Pass Close, but Safely past Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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