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Topic: Stratosphere

NASA identifies alternate way to collect data from Aura spacecraft’s TES instrument

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, are evaluating an alternate way to collect and process science data from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on NASA’s Aura spacecraft following the age-related failure of a critical instrument component.

TES is an infrared sensor designed to study Earth’s troposphere, the lowermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere, which is where we live. Launched in July 2004 and designed to fly for two years, the TES mission is currently in an extended operations phase.

NASA's Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument, one of four instruments on NASA's Aura spacecraft. (Northrop Grumman)

NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument, one of four instruments on NASA’s Aura spacecraft. (Northrop Grumman)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft observes Mystery Cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud seemingly out of thin air has prompted NASA scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Located in Titan’s stratosphere, the cloud is made of a compound of carbon and nitrogen known as dicyanoacetylene (C4N2), an ingredient in the chemical cocktail that colors the giant moon’s hazy, brownish-orange atmosphere.

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The hazy globe of Titan hangs in front of Saturn and its rings in this natural color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA to use Spacecraft Orbiting Earth to track Air Pollution

 

Written by Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For more than three decades NASA has focused its space-faring skills and science chops CSI-like on an elusive global killer. Later this month, that pursuit takes us to East Asia. In a few years, part way to the moon.

We are getting close.

Air pollution causes an estimated 152,000 deaths a year across the Americas and more than 2 million deaths in the Western Pacific, according to the United Nations. Some parts of the world have a detailed view of local air quality from ground sensor networks and forecast models that generate public alerts. But for much of the world this type of information and warning are not available.

Satellites have documented that human-produced and natural air pollution can travel a long way. This 2014 NASA satellite image shows a long river of dust from western Africa (bottom of image) push across the Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

Satellites have documented that human-produced and natural air pollution can travel a long way. This 2014 NASA satellite image shows a long river of dust from western Africa (bottom of image) push across the Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

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NASA’s Aura spacecraft data reveals Background Ozone in U.S. West a real problem

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Levels of “background ozone” — ozone pollution present in a region but not originating from local, human-produced sources — are high enough in Northern California and Nevada that they leave little room for local ozone production under proposed stricter U.S. ground-level ozone standards, finds a new NASA-led study.

The researchers, led by Min Huang of George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, used a novel technique that combined data acquired from two instruments on NASA’s Aura spacecraft in the summer of 2008.

In parts of Northern California, background ozone levels already account for more than three-quarters of total ozone, leaving little room for local ozone production if stricter standards go into effect. (Flickr user Lisa Brettschneider, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In parts of Northern California, background ozone levels already account for more than three-quarters of total ozone, leaving little room for local ozone production if stricter standards go into effect. (Flickr user Lisa Brettschneider, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator ready for Monday, June 8th Launch

 

Written by Kim Newton
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The LDSD launch support team is go to report to stations tonight at 9:00pm HST to begin preparations for a Monday, June 8th, 7:30am HST (1:30pm EDT) launch attempt from the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

NASA Television and JPL’s Ustream channel will carry live coverage of the launch beginning at 7:00am HST (1:00pm EDT).

NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle is rolled out to the launch pad under moon light, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle is rolled out to the launch pad under moon light, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers Methane Ice Cloud in Stratosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA scientists have identified an unexpected high-altitude methane ice cloud on Saturn’s moon Titan that is similar to exotic clouds found far above Earth’s poles.

This lofty cloud, imaged by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, was part of the winter cap of condensation over Titan’s north pole. Now, eight years after spotting this mysterious bit of atmospheric fluff, researchers have determined that it contains methane ice, which produces a much denser cloud than the ethane ice previously identified there.

This cloud in the stratosphere over the north pole of Titan is similar to Earth's polar stratospheric clouds. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/LPGNantes)

This cloud in the stratosphere over the north pole of Titan is similar to Earth’s polar stratospheric clouds. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/LPGNantes)

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NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) completes Test Flight

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The balloon launch occurred at 8:45am HST (11:45am PDT/3:45pm CDT) from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. At 11:05am HST (2:05pm PDT/6:05pm CDT), the test vehicle dropped away from the balloon (as planned), and powered flight began.

The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35am HST (2:35pm PDT/6:35pm CDT), after the engineering test flight concluded.

The test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator rides on a balloon to high altitudes above Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator rides on a balloon to high altitudes above Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Engineers to test landing heavy payloads on Mars

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A saucer-shaped vehicle designed to test interplanetary landing devices hangs on a tower in preparation for launch at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

The saucer, which is part of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, will test two devices for landing heavy payloads on Mars: an inflatable tube and an enormous parachute.

The launch tower helps link the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle's rocket will take it to even higher altitudes, where the supersonic test begins. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The launch tower helps link the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle’s rocket will take it to even higher altitudes, where the supersonic test begins. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA prepares Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Saucer craft for Flight Test

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle, has completed final assembly at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

This experimental flight test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit future Mars missions, including those involving human exploration. Three weeks of testing, simulations and rehearsals are planned before the first launch opportunity on the morning of June 3rd. LDSD was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and shipped to Kauai for final assembly and preparations.

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua'i, Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua’i, Hawaii. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA scientists study changes to Earth’s Ozone levels

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New NASA research on natural ozone cycles suggests ozone levels in the lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere probably won’t be affected much by projected future strengthening of the circulating winds that transport ozone between Earth’s two lowest atmospheric layers.

The finding is good news, since human and plant health are harmed by exposure to ozone near the ground. Significant increases in ozone in Earth’s lowest atmospheric layer, the troposphere, would also lead to additional climate warming because ozone is a greenhouse gas.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this photograph of Earth's atmospheric layers on July 31, 2011, revealing the troposphere (orange-red) to the stratosphere and above. Earth-observing instruments in space allow scientists to better understand the chemistry and dynamics occurring within and between these layers. (NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth)

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this photograph of Earth’s atmospheric layers on July 31, 2011, revealing the troposphere (orange-red) to the stratosphere and above. Earth-observing instruments in space allow scientists to better understand the chemistry and dynamics occurring within and between these layers. (NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth)

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