Recently in the Earth Science Category


This Envisat image captures Asia's diverse topography, altitude and climate with the snow-sprinkled Himalayan Mountains marking the barrier between the peaks of the Tibetan Plateau (top) in Central Asia and the plains of Nepal, Buthan and India in the Indian subcontinent.

A NASA observatory that will make the most precise, highest-resolution and most complete, space-based measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere to date has marked a key milestone in preparation for its planned July 2014 launch.

Analogs: Finding Alien Worlds on Earth

Have you ever wondered which places on Earth most resemble other planets? For some of us, imagining the landscape of other worlds might just be for fun, but scientists and engineers wonder about what the otherworldly places on Earth can tell us about neighbours like the Moon and Mars.

How did life on Earth get started? Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth's first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans.

The floor of a NASA hangar and an adjacent laboratory in Southern California's high desert have been in constant motion this month as scientists prepare their instruments for installation on two of the agency's specialized science aircraft that will begin a major NASA airborne science campaign in early August.

The time period of satellite observations of the ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic is still too short to be able to say whether the accelerated loss of ice measured today will persist in the future.

Defying 30 mph gusts and temperatures down to minus 22 F, NASA's new polar rover recently demonstrated in Greenland that it could operate completely autonomously in one of Earth's harshest environments.

After nearly 11 years of helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict weather and climate patterns and save lives in search and rescue operations, NOAA announced today it has turned off the NOAA-17 Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite (POES).

One of the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station photographed this image featuring the Southern High Plains of northwestern Texas, directly south of the city of Amarillo (off the image to the north).

The Colorado Plateau spans northern Arizona, southern Utah, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. This physiographic province is well known for its striking landscapes and broad vistas--an impression that is enhanced by the view from the orbital perspective of the International Space Station. This astronaut photograph highlights part of the Utah-Arizona border region of the Plateau, and includes several prominent landforms.

Part of the Amazon Basin in northern Brazil is pictured in this image from the Japanese ALOS satellite. Along the left side of the image and running along the bottom, the Nhamunda River creates the border between the Brazilian states of Para (north) and Amazonas (south).

NASA successfully launched a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital rocket at 5:50 p.m. EST this evening from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. During the flight, two red-colored lithium vapor trails were produced. Reports from those viewing the launch or vapor trails came from as far away as the Outer Banks, N.C.; eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Testing time for Proba-V

"ESA's Proba-V microsatellite is now assembled and midway through testing to ensure it is fully spaceworthy. The miniature Earth-observer, designed to chart global vegetation every two days, will be launched in April. The testing at the specialised Intespace facility in Toulouse, France, includes rigorous simulations of Proba-V's take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and temperature extremes it must endure in orbit. It comes after Proba-V's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month. Building it was a complex operation. Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellites carries a wide-angle telescope for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe." More

On Oct. 28, 2011, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite successfully blasted into orbit in a spectacular night launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Photo: Downtown Dubai As Seen From Orbit

This image from the Pleiades satellite shows part of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Located south east of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert. The city is a major business hub, and its revenues come from tourism, real estate and financial services.

Crowdsourcing for Earthquake Monitoring

"Technology is creating a new breed of scientist. I'm talking about citizen scientists - ordinary people and volunteers from all walks of life coming together to help monitor, and possibly mitigate, the next big earthquake through an innovative program called NetQuakes. A play off the popular company Netflix - a movie company that allows users to rent movies through the mail - NetQuakes allows ordinary people to volunteer as a kind of host "family" for one of the program's many blue seismometers. This grassroots movement, an innovative effort between the USGS, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) and regular people, is forming an intricately advanced network of data that could help scientists, emergency experts and the general public become more aware of the dangers involved with earthquakes." More

"DigitalGlobe (DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, today announced an agreement with the Enough Project to continue providing unrivaled imagery and analysis services to monitor evidence of bombings, razed villages and possible threats to civilians in Sudan in an effort called the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). In addition to the imagery and analysis provided under the terms of this new agreement, DigitalGlobe will also contribute additional in-kind services." More

Firefly Cubesat

"Imagine a fully-instrumented satellite the size of a half-gallon milk carton. Then imagine that milk carton whirling in space, catching never-before-seen glimpses of processes thought to be linked to lightning. The little satellite that could is a CubeSat called Firefly, and it's on a countdown to launch next year. CubeSats, named for the roughly four-inch-cubed dimensions of their basic building elements, are stacked with modern, smartphone-like electronics and tiny scientific instruments. Built mainly by students and hitching rides into orbit on NASA and U.S. Department of Defense launch vehicles, the small, low-cost satellites recently have been making history. Many herald their successes as a space revolution."

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Aurora Australis As Seen From the ISS

The Expedition 32 crew onboard the International Space Station, flying an altitude of approximately 240 miles, recorded a series of images of Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, on July 15.

Suomi NPP Begins Direct Broadcast

Real-time data that will be used in everything from weather forecasts to disaster response is now being beamed down to Earth from a cone-shaped appendage aboard the nation's newest Earth-observing satellite.

Rio+20 Summit and Space Observations

The Rio+20 summit on promoting jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable use of our planet's resources closed today after three days of talks. During the summit, the role of Earth observation in sustainable development was highlighted.

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the High Park Fire in Colorado on June 10, 2012 at 2030 UTC (4:30 p.m. EDT) and captured this visible image of the thick pall of smoke blowing east, just north of Fort Collins.

GMES Masters Competition

GMES Masters competition 2012

"Following its debut in 2011, the GMES Masters competition is open once again. As one of seven challenges in Europe's innovation competition for Earth observation, the Agency is staging the ESA App Challenge with a prize worth E 60 000. The GMES Masters competition awards prizes for the best projects and business ideas involving commercial Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) applications. Its purpose is to support the development of market-oriented applications that use data from the programme. This year's App challenge will give the entrant behind the most innovative smartphone App, based on the use of GMES data, the opportunity to begin an incubation programme to the value of O60 000 at one of the six ESA Business Incubation Centres in Europe."

The border region of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania - with a small portion of south eastern Uganda - is pictured in this Envisat image. Lake Victoria straddles all three countries.

A new National Research Council report says that budget shortfalls, cost-estimate growth, launch failures, and changes in mission design and scope have left U.S. earth observation systems in a more precarious position than they were five years ago.

Envisat's Mission Ends

Just weeks after celebrating its tenth year in orbit, communication with the Envisat satellite was suddenly lost on 8 April. Following rigorous attempts to re-establish contact and the investigation of failure scenarios, the end of the mission is being declared.

Contact Lost With Envisat

After 10 years of service, Envisat has stopped sending data to Earth. ESA's mission control is working to re-establish contact with the satellite. Although this landmark mission has been in orbit twice as long as it was designed for, ESA hopes to keep the satellite in service until the launch of the successor Sentinel missions.

First plants caused ice ages

New research reveals how the arrival of the first plants 470 million years ago triggered a series of ice ages. Led by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford, the study is published today (1 February 2012) in Nature Geoscience.


CryoSatApp: Ice Data at Your Fingertips, ESA

"Discover ESA's ice mission, track it in real time and obtain the latest measurements with the new CryoSat application. CryoSat is measuring the thickness of polar sea ice and monitoring changes in the ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica. The CryoSat iPhone and iPad application - or CryoSatApp - is now available at Apple's App Store. "

ESA Updates Envisat iPhone/iPad App

Planet Earth in your pocket ... and on your tablet

"ESA has updated its application for iPhone and iPad. With the launch of the ESA App V2, users can see ESA's latest satellite imagery from Envisat in near-real time, complementing the latest news and discoveries in space exploration and Earth observation. Making full use of the iPhone and iPad touch features, ESA App V2 puts videos, images, facts and figures, ESA's Twitter feeds, YouTube links and other information in a convenient mobile package. The ten latest satellite images of our planet are also now at your fingertips. One of the newest features is the automatic update of satellite images from ESA's MIRAVI website, which generates acquisitions in near-real time from the world's largest Earth observation satellite, Envisat."

Cubesat-based Earth Science Pathfinders

NASA Request for Information (RFI) - Future Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies

"ESTO is funding several CubeSat-based technology validations as part of a pathfinder process. ESTO is now interested in defining the parameters of a possible future competitive program to space validate selected Earth science technologies. That future program is the focus of this RFI. The program may consist of one or two parts. The first part would be a continuation of the current CubeSat-based validations or validation using suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLV). The second part would be a somewhat more robust program, expanding the class of possible technologies to validate. NASA is issuing this RFI to seek the high-level details of various projects which might fit in either one or the other of these classes."

Citizen Science - Recreating Eratosthenes

SPACE brings Project 'Paridhi' on Equinox Day

"Starting on 23rd September on the Autumnal Equinox Day, Project 'Paridhi' initially will span across all the Asian countries in this Equinox. There will be a participation from India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Russia. The observation base will be extended to the whole globe by Winter Solstice in December 2011. This project is a showcase for proving that science can be best learnt by doing. On this day, SPACE has invited school students to witness the Autumn Equinox as it is one of the best occasions for all of us to celebrate this wonderful phenomenon using the ancient instruments at Jantar Mantar."

The Climate at Home Project

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ("GSFC") is looking to enter into a non-funded Space Act Agreement partnership for the development of a climate simulation system referred to hereafter as the "Climate@Home(TM) project." The Climate@Home(TM) project will build a virtual climate simulation supercomputer with contributions from citizens for both their idle computing cycles and local knowledge about climate change. The Climate@Home(TM) effort will be a major step towards developing a new quantitative system for prioritizing and designing a climate simulation system. It will spur a closer relationship between the climate science hypothesis (a climate model) and the design of the simulation system used to test that hypothesis. Additionally, it will allow for prior assessment of measurements against specific accuracy, coverage and biases we will be able to constrain within model parameterizations. The Climate@Home(TM) project will also contribute to the national and international effort to better understand climate change, prepare citizens for climate change, and support regional to global climate related policy and decision making. More

NASA will launch a Virginia Tech University experiment to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere this winter from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. The Polar Night Nitric Oxide experiment will be launched on a suborbital flight aboard a NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket. The launch is scheduled for no earlier than January 30. Scott Bailey, assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, is leading the experiment called "Polar NOx." The experiment is designed to measure the intensity of nitric oxide in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere in the polar region.

A Space Act Agreement signed between NASA's Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program (RSESTeP) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) will allow certified Earth science teachers nationwide to continue to bring NASA Remote Sensing resources into their classrooms.

RSESTeP, located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, provides science teachers the opportunity to expose students in 4th through 12th grades to NASA cutting edge resources and technologies. Members of the AMA can now partner with local schools to fly NASA remote sensing payloads, collecting Earth science data needed to complete classroom projects.