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Topic: Satellites

NASA’s Twin GRACE-FO Satellites moved to Launch Site

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A pair of advanced U.S./German Earth research satellites with some very big shoes to fill is now at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to begin final preparations for launch next spring.

Following a year-long test campaign by satellite manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space at IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany, the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were loaded aboard an air freighter at Munich airport December 11th and arrived at the launch site on California’s central coast Tuesday, December 12th. GRACE-FO will provide continuity to the Earth climate data record of the extremely successful predecessor GRACE, which completed its science mission in October after more than 15 years in orbit.

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

A crate containing one of the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites is offloaded from an air freighter at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base December 12th following a transcontinental flight from Germany. GRACE-FO is scheduled for launch next spring. (USAF)

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NASA to test CubeSat Weather Satellite

 

Written by Samson Reiny
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Behind every weather forecast—from your local, five-day prediction to a late-breaking hurricane track update—are the satellites that make them possible. Government agencies depend on observations from weather satellites to inform forecast models that help us prepare for approaching storms and identify areas that need evacuating or emergency first responders.

Weather satellites have traditionally been large, both in the effort needed to build them and in actual size. They can take several years to build and can be as big as a small school bus. But all of that could change in the future with the help of a shoebox-sized satellite that will start orbiting Earth later this month.

The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite, a 3U CubeSat, is shown with solar panels fully deployed, flanking the body of the spacecraft, which has a circular aperture at the top for the microwave radiometer antenna, used for atmospheric science measurements. There are also two small, thin tape-measure antennas on the top, used for UHF radio communication with the ground station. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite, a 3U CubeSat, is shown with solar panels fully deployed, flanking the body of the spacecraft, which has a circular aperture at the top for the microwave radiometer antenna, used for atmospheric science measurements. There are also two small, thin tape-measure antennas on the top, used for UHF radio communication with the ground station. (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

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NASA’s GRACE-1 and GRACE-2 satellites end operations

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – After more than 15 productive years in orbit, the U.S./German GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission has ended science operations. During their mission, the twin GRACE satellites have provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing by tracking the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.

GRACE made science measurements by precisely measuring the distance between its twin satellites, GRACE-1 and GRACE-2, which required that both spacecraft and their instruments be fully functional.

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Illustration of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites in orbit. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA reports small Asteroid to pass close but safely past Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On October 12th EDT (October 11th PDT), a small asteroid designated 2012 TC4 will safely pass by Earth at a distance of approximately 26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers). This is a little over one tenth the distance to the Moon and just above the orbital altitude of communications satellites.

This encounter with TC4 is being used by asteroid trackers around the world to test their ability to operate as a coordinated international asteroid warning network.

2012 TC4 is estimated to be 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) in size. Orbit prediction experts say the asteroid poses no risk of impact with Earth.

This image depicts the safe flyby of small asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth on Oct. 12, 2017. While scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close the 50 to 100 foot (15 to 30 meter) wide space rock will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from Earth's surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image depicts the safe flyby of small asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth on Oct. 12, 2017. While scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close the 50 to 100 foot (15 to 30 meter) wide space rock will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from Earth’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA observes Hurricane Maria before it makes Landfall

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Satellite data is enabling forecasters to look inside and outside of powerful Hurricane Maria. A NASA animation of satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria’s first landfall on the island of Dominica.

NASA’s GPM satellite provided a 3-D look at the storms within that gave forecasters a clue to Maria strengthening into a Category 5 storm, and NASA’s Aqua satellite gathered temperature data on the frigid cloud tops of the storm.

This image of Category 5 Hurricane Maria moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea was taken on Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. EDT from NOAA's GOES East satellite. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

This image of Category 5 Hurricane Maria moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea was taken on Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. EDT from NOAA’s GOES East satellite. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

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NASA and NOAA Satellites observe Hurricane Irma strengthen to Category 5

 

Written by Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA and NOAA satellites have been providing valuable satellite imagery to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center, and revealed that Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane on September 5th, 2017 around 8:00am EDT (1200 UTC).

On September 4th at (1:24pm EDT) 17:24 UTC, NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured this view of Hurricane Irma as a Category 4 hurricane approaching the Leeward Islands. The VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite flew over Hurricane Irma on September 4th at 04:32 UTC (12:32am EDT) when it was a Category 3 hurricane.

The VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite flew over Category 3 Hurricane Irma at approximately on Sept. 4 at 04:32 UTC (12:32 a.m. EDT). Cloud top temperatures were near -117.7F/-83.5C in the western quadrant. (UWM/SSEC/CIMSS, William Straka III)

The VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite flew over Category 3 Hurricane Irma at approximately on Sept. 4 at 04:32 UTC (12:32 a.m. EDT). Cloud top temperatures were near -117.7F/-83.5C in the western quadrant. (UWM/SSEC/CIMSS, William Straka III)

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NASA along with European Space Agency observe how Solar Storms move through Space

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Our Sun is active: Not only does it release a constant stream of material, called the solar wind, but it also lets out occasional bursts of faster-moving material, known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

NASA researchers wish to improve our understanding of CMEs and how they move through space because they can interact with the magnetic field around Earth, affecting satellites, interfering with GPS signals, triggering auroras, and — in extreme cases — straining power grids.

While we track CMEs with a number of instruments, the sheer size of the solar system means that our observations are limited, and usually taken from a distance.

ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observed a coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun on Oct. 14, 2014. Scientists went on to track this coronal mass ejection through the solar system using 10 NASA and ESA spacecraft. (The bright light appearing at roughly 2 o'clock is the planet Mercury.) (ESA/NASA/SOHO)

ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observed a coronal mass ejection erupting from the Sun on Oct. 14, 2014. Scientists went on to track this coronal mass ejection through the solar system using 10 NASA and ESA spacecraft. (The bright light appearing at roughly 2 o’clock is the planet Mercury.) (ESA/NASA/SOHO)

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NASA to study Earth’s Ionosphere during Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On August 21st, 2017, the Moon will slide in front of the Sun and for a brief moment, day will melt into a dusky night. Moving across the country, the Moon’s shadow will block the Sun’s light, and weather permitting, those within the path of totality will be treated to a view of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona.

But the total solar eclipse will also have imperceptible effects, such as the sudden loss of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, which generates the ionized layer of Earth’s atmosphere, called the ionosphere. This ever-changing region grows and shrinks based on solar conditions, and is the focus of several NASA-funded science teams that will use the eclipse as a ready-made experiment, courtesy of nature.

The Moon’s shadow will dramatically affect insolation — the amount of sunlight reaching the ground — during the total solar eclipse. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

The Moon’s shadow will dramatically affect insolation — the amount of sunlight reaching the ground — during the total solar eclipse. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA’s Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX) will try to improve Weather Forecasts

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A NASA-funded field campaign getting underway in Florida on May 25th has a real shot at improving meteorologists’ ability to answer some of the most fundamental questions about weather: Where will it rain? When? How much?

Called the Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX), the campaign is using NASA’s DC-8 airborne laboratory outfitted with five complementary research instruments designed and developed at NASA.

The plane also will carry small sensors called dropsondes that are dropped from the plane and make measurements as they fall.

Convective storm clouds over Fort Lauderdale, Florida, preceding Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Flickr user John Spade, CC BY 2.0)

Convective storm clouds over Fort Lauderdale, Florida, preceding Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Flickr user John Spade, CC BY 2.0)

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NASA reports Solar Storms can drain Electrical Charge from Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth’s poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles.

The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.

A team of researchers from Denmark, the United States and Canada made the discovery while studying a solar storm that reached Earth on February 19th, 2014.

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

A solar eruption on Sept. 26, 2014, seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. If erupted solar material reaches Earth, it can deplete the electrons in the upper atmosphere in some locations while adding electrons in others, disrupting communications either way. (NASA)

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