Posts Tagged ‘NASA

Martian Chiaroscuro

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Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface.

Recorded on January 24 by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers across a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was just 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests are caught in full sunlight. With the long, cold winter approaching the red planet’s southern hemisphere, bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Habitable Worlds

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Is Earth the only known world that can support life?

In an effort to find life-habitable worlds outside our Solar System, stars similar to our Sun are being monitored for slight light decreases that indicate eclipsing planets. Many previously-unknown planets are being found, including over 700 worlds recently uncovered by NASA’s Kepler satellite.

Depicted above in artist’s illustrations are twelve extrasolar planets that orbit in the habitable zones of their parent stars. These exoplanets have the right temperature for water to be a liquid on their surfaces, and so water-based life on Earth might be able to survive on them. Although technology cannot yet detect resident life, finding habitable exoplanets is a step that helps humanity to better understand its place in the cosmos.

If you’re thinking about leaving town, escaping whichever nutso nation you find yourself encapsulated within – consider a truly long-range journey.

I have no idea how to get there.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

March 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Pic of the Day

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Click to enlargeNASA/JPL-Caltech/U of Arizona

From the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter…The image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released Wednesday shows a crater about 100 feet in diameter at the center of a radial burst painting the surface with a pattern of bright and dark tones, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported.

The impact that excavated this crater threw some material as far as 9.3 miles, JPL said.

The scar on the Red Planet’s surface appeared some time between imaging of this location by the orbiter’s Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012.

I surely wish I was there. My idea of real adventure travel.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

No relief for Earth’s warming trend in 2013

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The average temperature of Earth maintained its warming trend in 2013, despite seasonal and regional variations that included a shrinking ice cap in the Arctic and a massively growing one in the southern hemisphere, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

NASA said the planet’s average temperature in 2013 was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit – 14.6 degrees Celsius – tying 2006 and 2009 for the seventh warmest year since 1880 when global climate record-keeping began.

Using the same data but different analysis processes, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2013′s average temperature was 58.12 degrees Fahrenheit, which tied what NOAA considers to be the fourth hottest year on record.

The agencies differ in their analysis techniques. NASA for example uses more temperatures from Antarctica, but said the overall trend remains what has been measured every year since 1976 when global temperatures first surpassed the 20th Century’s global average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit – 13.9 degrees Celsius…

Global temperatures began climbing in the late 1960s, a phenomena that has been tied to heat-trapping greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

NASA…said the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is higher now than at other time in the last 800,000 years.

Carbon dioxide levels were about 285 parts per million in 1880, the first year in the global temperature record. By 1960, levels reached 315 parts per million. In 2013, the amount of carbon dioxide peaked at more than 400 parts per million.

The long term trends in climate are extremely robust,” Gavin Schmidt said. “There are times, such as today, when we can have snow, even in a globally warmed world [winter ain't dead - yet]. But the long-term trends are very clear. They are not going to disappear. It isn’t an error in our calculations.”

The question of climate change is one of those boundary layers separating ignorant from stupid. Climate is long-term phenomena. Meteorology is about weather, localized and regional phenomena – even when global forces are causative.

Given that most climate change-deniers barely understand the United States comprises only 6% of the Earth’s surface – and their interpretation of “climate” is characterized by the nearest FOX “news” broadcast – the operative word tends to remain “Stupid”.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

Meet the contestants in the DARPA Robotics Challenge trial

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Starting later today, some of the most capable humanoid robots in the world will congregate in Miami, where 17 teams will spend two days competing to prove they have built the machine to trust in a natural or man-made disaster situation. Up to eight winners will move on to the finals next year, where they will have a chance at winning $2 million.

The robots will compete in eight tasks that measure how they would perform in an unpredictable disaster situation.

More waiting for you over at the GigaOm article by Signe Brewster.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 21, 2013 at 2:00 am

NASA Iris satellite shows sun in amazing detail

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The region located between the surface of the sun and its atmosphere has been revealed as a more violent place than previously understood, according to images and data from NASA’s newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS.

Solar observatories look at the sun in layers. By capturing light emitted by atoms of different temperatures, they can focus in on different heights above the sun’s surface extending well out into the solar atmosphere, the corona. On June 27, 2013, IRIS, was launched, to study what’s known as the interface region – a layer between the sun’s surface and corona that previously was not well observed.

Over its first six months, IRIS has thrilled scientists with detailed images of the interface region, finding even more turbulence and complexity than expected. IRIS scientists presented the mission’s early observations at a press conference at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 9, 2013.

The quality of images and spectra we are receiving from IRIS is amazing,” said Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, Calif. “And we’re getting this kind of quality from a smaller, less expensive mission, which took only 44 months to build.”

Click through the link [above] and discover details, photos and a snazzy video. Enjoy!

Written by Ed Campbell

December 13, 2013 at 2:00 am

Saturn’s hexagon jet stream captured by NASA’s Cassini camera

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The jet stream, which is a storm at the planet’s north pole, has 200-miles-per-hour winds and is twice the size of the largest hurricane recorded on Earth.


Written by Ed Campbell

December 7, 2013 at 2:00 am

Trail of a Minotaur

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Click to enlargeChris Cook Photography

Star trails arc above a moonlit beach and jetty in this serene sea and night skyscape. Captured on November 19, the single time exposure looks south down the Atlantic coast from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. But the longest and brightest trail is a Minotaur 1 rocket, a stage separation and exhaust plume visible along the rocket’s fiery path toward low Earth orbit.

The multi-stage Minotaur was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at 8:15 pm Eastern Time in Virginia, about 400 miles away. On board were a remarkable 29 satellites destined for low Earth orbit, including a small cubesat built by high school students…

Lovely photo, great technique, praiseworthy mission.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 24, 2013 at 2:00 am

Saturn snapped as Earth smiled

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The US space agency (NASA) has released a spectacular new picture of the Planet Saturn, acquired by the Cassini spacecraft in July. The image was produced as part of The Day The Earth Smiled Project, which was led by Dr Carolyn Porco. She describes how and why the picture was put together.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Congress bans Chinese scientists from space telescope conference — scientists around the world start boycott

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Cold War Congress in NASA

Nasa is facing an extraordinary backlash from US researchers after it emerged that the space agency has banned Chinese scientists, including those working at US institutions, from a conference on grounds of national security.

NASA officials rejected applications from Chinese nationals who hoped to attend the meeting at the agency’s Ames research centre in California next month citing a law, passed in March, which prohibits anyone from China setting foot in a NASA building.

The law is part of a broad and aggressive move initiated by congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the House appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA. It aims to restrict the foreign nationals’ access to NASA facilities, ostensibly to counter espionage.

But the ban has angered many US scientists who say Chinese students and researchers in their labs are being discriminated against. A growing number of US scientists have now decided to boycott the meeting in protest, with senior academics withdrawing individually, or pulling out their entire research groups.

The conference is being held for US and international teams who work on NASA’s Kepler space telescope programme, which has been searching the cosmos for signs of planets beyond our solar system. The meeting is the most important event in the academic calendar for scientists who specialise in the field…

Geoff Marcy, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been tipped to win a Nobel prize for his pioneering work on exoplanets, or planets outside the solar system, called the ban “completely shameful and unethical”.

In an email sent to the conference organisers, Marcy said: “In good conscience, I cannot attend a meeting that discriminates in this way. The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications,” he wrote.

“It is completely unethical for the United States of America to exclude certain countries from pure science research,” Marcy told the Guardian. “It’s an ethical breach that is unacceptable. You have to draw the line…”

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2013 at 11:00 am


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