NASA News Digest: Space Science For 7 April – 16 April 2015

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA Joins Forces To Put Satellite Eyes On Threat To U.S. Freshwater

RELEASE 15-058 (Click here for the full article) – 7 April 2015

IDL TIFF fileNASA has joined forces with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Geological Survey to transform satellite data designed to probe ocean biology into information that will help protect the American public from harmful freshwater algal blooms.

Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.

The new $3.6 million, multi-agency effort will use ocean color satellite data to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and an information distribution system to aid expedient public health advisories.

“The vantage point of space not only contributes to a better understanding of our home planet, it helps improve lives around the world,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We’re excited to be putting NASA’s expertise in space and scientific exploration to work protecting public health and safety.”

For more information on NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/earth

NASA, USGS Begin Work On Landsat 9 To Continue Land Imaging Legacy

RELEASE 15-061 (Click here for the full article) – 16 April 2015

15-061NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have started work on Landsat 9, planned to launch in 2023, which will extend the Earth-observing program’s record of land images to half a century.

The Landsat program has provided accurate measurements of Earth’s land cover since 1972. With data from Landsat satellites, ecologists have tracked deforestation in South America, water managers have monitored irrigation of farmland in the American West, and researchers have watched the growth of cities worldwide. With the help of the program’s open archive, firefighters have assessed the severity of wildfires and scientists have mapped the retreat of mountain glaciers.

The President’s fiscal year 2016 budget calls for initiation of a Landsat 9 spacecraft as an upgraded rebuild of Landsat 8, as well as development of a low-cost thermal infrared (TIR) free-flying satellite for launch in 2019 to reduce the risk of a data gap in this important measurement. The TIR free flyer will ensure data continuity by flying in formation with Landsat 8. The budget also calls for the exploration of technology and systems innovations to provide more cost effective and advanced capabilities in future land-imaging missions beyond Landsat 9, such as finding ways to miniaturize instruments to be launched on smaller, less expensive satellites.

For more information on NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/earth

For more information on the Landsat program, visit: landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov and landsat.usgs.gov

NASA Spacecraft Achieves Unprecedented Success Studying Mercury

RELEASE 15-067 (Click here for the full article) – 16 April 2015

2015april16_messengerstillAfter extraordinary science findings and technological innovations, a NASA spacecraft launched in 2004 to study Mercury will impact the planet’s surface, most likely on April 30, after it runs out of propellant.

NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft will impact the planet at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second) on the side of the planet facing away from Earth. Due to the expected location, engineers will be unable to view in real time the exact location of impact.

On Tuesday, mission operators in mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, completed the fourth in a series of orbit correction maneuvers designed to delay the spacecraft’s impact into the surface of Mercury. The last maneuver is scheduled for Friday, April 24.

“Following this last maneuver, we will finally declare the spacecraft out of propellant, as this maneuver will deplete nearly all of our remaining helium gas,” said Daniel O’Shaughnessy, mission systems engineer at APL. “At that point, the spacecraft will no longer be capable of fighting the downward push of the sun’s gravity.”

For a complete listing of science findings and technological achievements of the mission visit: www.nasa.gov/messenger

NASA Spacecraft Achieves Unprecedented Success Studying Mercury

RELEASE M15-061 (Click here for the full article) – 16 April 2015

m15-061bNASA is celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary with a variety of events highlighting its groundbreaking achievements and scientific contributions with activities running April 20-26.

Hubble, the world’s first space telescope, was launched on April 24, 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. In its quarter-century in orbit, the observatory has transformed our understanding of our solar system and beyond, and helped us find our place among the stars.

Starting at midnight EDT on Monday, April 20, and running through Sunday, April 26, images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope will be broadcast several times each hour on the Toshiba Vision dual LED screens in Times Square, New York.

The IMAX movie Hubble 3D is playing at select theatres across the United States throughout April. Hubble images come to vast, three-dimensional life, taking audiences through the telescope’s 25-year existence and putting them in orbit with astronauts during the latest servicing mission. For more information and the trailer, visit: hubblesite.org/hubble_20/imax_hubble_3d/

For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more Hubble 25th Anniversary events, visit: www.hubble25th.org

For more information about NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

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