Tag Archives: Climate Change

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 4 November – 12 November 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 announcements from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to: hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

Be An Astronaut: NASA Seeks Explorers For Future Space Missions

RELEASE 15-216 (Click here for the full article) – 4 November 2015

In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars, NASA announced it will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. With more human spacecraft in development in the United States today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.

The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at: http://www.usajobs.gov

The next class of astronauts may fly on any of four different U.S. vessels during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

From pilots and engineers, to scientists and medical doctors, NASA selects qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds.

The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at:

For more information about a career as a NASA astronaut, and application requirements, visit: www.nasa.gov/astronauts

NASA Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere

RELEASE 15-217 (Click here for the full article) – 5 November 2015

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.

MAVEN data have enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. The findings reveal that the erosion of Mars’ atmosphere increases significantly during solar storms. The scientific results from the mission appear in the Nov. 5 issues of the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters.

“Mars appears to have had a thick atmosphere warm enough to support liquid water which is a key ingredient and medium for life as we currently know it,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Understanding what happened to the Mars atmosphere will inform our knowledge of the dynamics and evolution of any planetary atmosphere. Learning what can cause changes to a planet’s environment from one that could host microbes at the surface to one that doesn’t is important to know, and is a key question that is being addressed in NASA’s journey to Mars.”

To view an animation simulating the loss of atmosphere and water on Mars: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4370

For more information and images on Mars’ lost atmosphere, visit: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?4393

For more information about NASA’s MAVEN mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven

Four Months After Pluto Flyby, NASA’s New Horizons Yields Wealth Of Discovery

RELEASE 15-214 (Click here for the full article) – 9 November 2015

From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA’s New Horizons science team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week’s 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland.

“The New Horizons mission has taken what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It’s why we explore — to satisfy our innate curiosity and answer deeper questions about how we got here and what lies beyond the next horizon.”

For one such discovery, New Horizons geologists combined images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D maps that indicate two of Pluto’s most distinctive mountains could be cryovolcanoes — ice volcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past.

To view more images and graphics being presented by New Horizons scientists at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, visit: pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/Press-Conferences/November-9-2015.php

For more information on NASA’s New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, videos and images, visit: www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

As Earth Warms, NASA Targets ‘Other Half’ Of Carbon, Climate Equation

RELEASE 15-219 (Click here for the full article) – 12 November 2015

During a noon EST media teleconference today, NASA and university scientists will discuss new insights, tools and agency research into key carbon and climate change questions, as the agency ramps up its efforts to understand how Earth’s ocean, forest, and land ecosystems absorb nearly half of emitted carbon dioxide today.

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by human activities influences the amount of the sun’s energy trapped by Earth’s atmosphere. These emissions are the subject of a United Nations climate conference in Paris later this month. To improve the information available to policymakers on this issue, scientists are grappling with the complex question of whether Earth’s oceans, forests and land ecosystems will maintain their capacity to absorb about half of all human-produced carbon dioxide emissions in the future.

“NASA is at the forefront of scientific understanding in this area, bringing together advanced measurement technologies, focused field experiments, and cutting-edge research to reveal how carbon moves around the planet and changes our climate,” said Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. “Understanding how the planet responds to human carbon emissions and increasing atmospheric CO2 levels will position our nation to take advantage of the opportunities and face the challenges that climate changes present.”

To learn more about NASA’s efforts to better understand the carbon and climate challenge, visit: www.nasa.gov/carbonclimate

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission To International Space Station

RELEASE 15-224 (Click here for the full article) – 20 November 2015

2012nov22_39a_aerial1NASA took a significant step Friday toward expanding research opportunities aboard the International Space Station with its first mission order from Hawthorne, California based-company SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil.

This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May.

“It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.”

For the latest on Commercial Crew progress, bookmark the program’s blog at: blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 8 June – 11 June 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 Selects Eight Projects for 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge

RELEASE 15-114 (Click here for the full article) – 8 June 2015

2015june16_15_114NASA is working with eight U.S. universities on new technology projects for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars, as part of the 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.

The challenge, which is led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation, has teams designing systems, concepts and technologies that will help improve NASA’s exploration capabilities and provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in technology development.

“These strategic collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge in architectural design trades, capabilities and technology risk reduction related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division.

For more information about previous challenges and current challenge requirements, visit: go.nasa.gov/x-hab and www.spacegrant.org/xhab/

For information about NASA and its programs, visit: www.nasa.gov

NASA Spacecraft Detects Impact Glass On Surface Of Mars

RELEASE 15-118 (Click here for the full article) – 8 June 2015

2015june16_15_118NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has detected deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, such deposits might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.

During the past few years, research has shown evidence about past life has been preserved in impact glass here on Earth. A 2014 study led by scientist Peter Schultz of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, found organic molecules and plant matter entombed in glass formed by an impact that occurred millions of years ago in Argentina. Schultz suggested that similar processes might preserve signs of life on Mars, if they were present at the time of an impact.

Fellow Brown researchers Kevin Cannon and Jack Mustard, building on the previous research, detail their data about Martian impact glass in a report now online in the journal Geology.

For more information about CRISM, visit: crism.jhuapl.edu/

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: www.nasa.gov/mro

NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections

RELEASE 15-115 (Click here for the full article) – 9 June 2015

2015june16_15_115NASA has released data showing how temperature and rainfall patterns worldwide may change through the year 2100 because of growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

The dataset, which is available to the public, shows projected changes worldwide on a regional level in response to different scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models. The high-resolution data, which can be viewed on a daily timescale at the scale of individual cities and towns, will help scientists and planners conduct climate risk assessments to better understand local and global effects of hazards, such as severe drought, floods, heat waves and losses in agriculture productivity.

“NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,” said Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist. “With this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”

Additional information about the new NASA climate projection dataset is available at: nex.nasa.gov/nex/projects/1356/

The dataset is available for download at: cds.nccs.nasa.gov/nex-gddp/

OpenNEX information and training materials are available at: nex.nasa.gov/opennex

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

NASA Hosts Media For Update On Asteroid Grand Challenge, Robotics Tour

RELEASE M15-091 (Click here for the full article) – 11 June 2015

2015june16_m15_091aMedia and social media are invited to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland Tuesday, June 16 for an update on the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge and the robotic systems that will be used on asteroid exploration missions.

To attend Tuesday’s 9:30 a.m. EDT event, reporters and social media representatives must pre-register with Dewayne Washington of NASA Goddard Public Affairs at dewayne.a.washington@nasa.gov or 301-286-0040 by 3 p.m. Monday, June 15.

In addition to an update on the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, participants will hear from Benjamin Reed, deputy project manager of Goddard’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO), and tour the facilities newest lab, dubbed The Cauldron. The SSCO is developing robotic systems for the agency’s Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission (ARRM) and other NASA missions using space robotics.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope Detects ‘Sunscreen’ Layer On Distant Planet

RELEASE 15-121 (Click here for the full article) – 11 June 2015

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected a stratosphere, one of the primary layers of Earth’s atmosphere, on a massive and blazing-hot exoplanet known as WASP-33b.

The presence of a stratosphere can provide clues about the composition of a planet and how it formed. This atmospheric layer includes molecules that absorb ultraviolet and visible light, acting as a kind of “sunscreen” for the planet it surrounds. Until now, scientists were uncertain whether these molecules would be found in the atmospheres of large, extremely hot planets in other star systems.

These findings will appear in the June 12 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

“Some of these planets are so hot in their upper atmospheres, they’re essentially boiling off into space,” said Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a co-author of the study. “At these temperatures, we don’t necessarily expect to find an atmosphere that has molecules that can lead to these multilayered structures.”

For images and more information about Hubble, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

NASA Space Place – Old Tool, New Use: GPS and the Terrestrial Reference Frame

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in March, 2014.

By Alex H. Kasprak

2013february2_spaceplaceFlying over 1300 kilometers above Earth, the Jason 2 satellite knows its distance from the ocean down to a matter of centimeters, allowing for the creation of detailed maps of the ocean’s surface. This information is invaluable to oceanographers and climate scientists. By understanding the ocean’s complex topography—its barely perceptible hills and troughs—these scientists can monitor the pace of sea level rise, unravel the intricacies of ocean currents, and project the effects of future climate change.

But these measurements would be useless if there were not some frame of reference to put them in context. A terrestrial reference frame, ratified by an international group of scientists, serves that purpose. “It’s a lot like air,” says JPL scientist Jan Weiss. “It’s all around us and is vitally important, but people don’t really think about it.” Creating such a frame of reference is more of a challenge than you might think, though. No point on the surface of Earth is truly fixed.

To create a terrestrial reference frame, you need to know the distance between as many points as possible. Two methods help achieve that goal. Very-long baseline interferometry uses multiple radio antennas to monitor the signal from something very far away in space, like a quasar. The distance between the antennas can be calculated based on tiny changes in the time it takes the signal to reach them. Satellite laser ranging, the second method, bounces lasers off of satellites and measures the two-way travel time to calculate distance between ground stations.

Weiss and his colleagues would like to add a third method into the mix—GPS. At the moment, GPS measurements are used only to tie together the points created by very long baseline interferometry and satellite laser ranging together, not to directly calculate a terrestrial reference frame.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of serious effort to include GPS directly,” says Weiss. His goal is to show that GPS can be used to create a terrestrial reference frame on its own. “The thing about GPS that’s different from very-long baseline interferometry and satellite laser ranging is that you don’t need complex and expensive infrastructure and can deploy many stations all around the world.”

Feeding GPS data directly into the calculation of a terrestrial reference frame could lead to an even more accurate and cost effective way to reference points geospatially. This could be good news for missions like Jason 2. Slight errors in the terrestrial reference frame can create significant errors where precise measurements are required. GPS stations could prove to be a vital and untapped resource in the quest to create the most accurate terrestrial reference frame possible. “The thing about GPS,” says Weiss, “is that you are just so data rich when compared to these other techniques.”

You can learn more about NASA’s efforts to create an accurate terrestrial reference frame here: space-geodesy.nasa.gov/.

Kids can learn all about GPS by visiting http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/gps and watching a fun animation about finding pizza here: spaceplace.nasa.gov/gps-pizza.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

2014mar15_jason2

Caption: Artist’s interpretation of the Jason 2 satellite. To do its job properly, satellites like Jason 2 require as accurate a terrestrial reference frame as possible. Image courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/