Tag Archives: Climate Change

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/

Chasing Ice – A James Balog Documentary At The Palace Theatre On Earth Day, April 22

The following announcement for a special documentary screening came over the TACNY listserve recently. Regardless of your views of the origins of climate change, the ongoing change to the atmosphere means increasing unpredictability for amateur astronomers practicing their craft. Along with the movie screening, a climate panel is being held featuring Dave Eichorn, one of the most reliable meteorologists ever to interpret weather patterns in CNY.

Chasing Ice

“One of the Most Beautiful Films of the Year.” Huffington Post


On Monday, April 22, Earth Day, 7:00 p.m., GreeningUSA will bring Chasing Ice (www.chasingice.com), a 75 minute documentary by James Balog, National Geographic photographer, to The Palace Theatre, 2384 James St (google map below).


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Immediately following the film a Climate Impacts and Actions in CNY panel presentation will explore the documentary’s environmental implications from a local perspective. The panel will consist of Dave Eichorn, syracuse.com meteorologist; Chris Carrick, Energy Program Manager for the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board; and Yvonne Rothenberg, Founder of the CNY chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby. Moderating the panel will be Chris Bolt, WAER news and public affairs director.

The film follows nature photographer James Balog as he documents melting glaciers in Alaska, Iceland, Greenland and Montana. Using time-lapse cameras, his videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Called the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog sets up still cameras that have been programmed to take a picture, once every hour, for three years, of the same glacier, from a fixed spot.

The scale of the glaciers, and the almost hallucinogenic clarity of the images, make the resulting footage, based on three years’ shooting, most impressive. One piece of ice we see breaking off is said to be the size of lower Manhattan.

The visuals are riveting, and they drive home the point that the film makes in voice over narration by Balog, interviews with glaciologists and climate scientists and occasional charts and graphs: Ice is melting at an alarmingly unglacial pace.

Chasing Ice has won 23 awards at film festivals around the world, including: The Environmental Media Association’s 22nd Annual BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD.

“This is the climate change film we’ve been waiting for.” Caroline Libresco, Sundance Senior Programmer


“Stunning… Timely…. A solitary quest with global implications.” – Neil Genzlinger, NYT

Panel Presenters:

Dave Eichorn: Changes in Climate, Changes in Variability
Dave will address climate change from a meteorological perspective. How changes in the Arctic affect our climate, in particular the increased variability in our weather and the impact on CNY.

Currently Meteorologist for Syracuse.com, Dave was chief meterologist for WSYR for 20 years and has a M.S. degree in Environmental Science from SUNY ESF. While working on his master’s degree, he developed climate science courses for SUNY ESF under a NASA grant.

Chris Carrick – Climate Solutions in CNY
Chris will speak on regional efforts within Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego Counties geared at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering the adoption of clean energy technologies.

Chris manages the Energy Program at the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, a public agency. Chris is the founder and director of the Central New York Climate Change Innovation Program. C2IP provides financial and technical assistance to local municipalities to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Yvonne T. Rothenberg – Creating the Political Will for a Stable Climate
Why would a person leave a relaxed, comfortable retirement life style to take on the hard work of organizing and coordinating climate lobby groups first in Syracuse and than other cities in upstate N.Y. Yvonne will share why she felt compelled to organize for the Citizens Climate Lobby.

The Citizens Climate Lobby, www.citizensclimatelobby.org is a national non-partisan organization whose goal is to create the political will for a sustainable climate and to teach individuals how to exercise their political power.

Ticket prices: (suggested donations) At the door: Adults – $10, Seniors & Students – $5, Children 12 and under – Free. Advance sale tickets Adults only $7. For advance sale tickets go to www.greeningusa.org/chasing-ice/

Free parking in rear of Palace Theatre.

Green and energy related organizations will be staffing display tables in the lobby prior to and after the event.

For information on how to help sponsor this event contact Sam Gordon, 422.8276 ext.204, sgordon@cnyrpdb.org or Peter Wirth, 476-3396, pwirth2@verizon.net