Open water lead above Canada, Arctic Ocean on Flickr.
To boldly go where no furry, adorable blue monster has gone before.
Our GROVER has a Grover!
NASA’s new Earth-bound rover began testing on the Greenland ice sheet this week. GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, is an autonomous, solar-operated robot that carries a ground-penetrating radar to examine the layers of Greenland’s ice sheet.
Measuring how much it rains in your backyard can be done with a plastic rain gauge. But if you were to add up all the official meteorological rain gauges throughout the world, they would cover the area of about two basketball courts. Scientists need more data, more frequently, over more of Earth’s surface. Enter the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, a joint effort between NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other international partners.
Most climate models predict that in a warming world, wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier. But scientists will need comprehensive rain observations going into the future to see what changes are taking place. The GPM mission will ultimately swarm Earth with nine satellites and be able to measure nearly all global rainfall every three hours. The GPM Core satellite, which will unify the measurements into one global dataset, is scheduled to launch in 2014.
During and after World War II, the military spent a lot of time studying the atmosphere for its effects on planes, rockets, missiles, and communication signals. In the process, they learned a lot about the behavior of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases. They never set out to research the “greenhouse effect,” but their understanding of those gases and their behavior paved the way for modern research on global warming.
For more about Earth’s atmosphere and climate, visit: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/EnergyBalance/
How much and how fast will sea level rise in the coming decades? What makes sea level rise hard to predict? Who will be affected?
Join NASA experts and guests to discuss how sea level has risen an average of about seven inches around the globe since 1900, and has been accelerating in recent…
GOES Satellite Captures Spring Equinox
It is that time of year again (it happens twice) when the relative angle of Earth is perpendicular to the Sun, causing equal incoming solar energy to the Northern and Southern hemispheres - as well as equal day and nighttime. At 7:20 ET on March 20, 2013, Earth was at its equinox. At 7:45 ET, the GOES-13 satellite captured this full disk image of Earth. The visible imagery sensor on GOES requires sunlight to “see” clouds, and so it provides a useful example of the equinox. In this image the GOES imagery extends to each of the poles since the entire hemisphere is equally lit. After the equinox passes today, the Northern Hemisphere will be more lit than the Southern Hemisphere – causing the seasons.
(Note: the Sun in this image is artificially created, though the GOES spacecraft does have sensors continually monitoring the Sun for solar activity.)
Vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south.
The trend toward a greener North is evident in this visualization – based on land surface and satellite data – that shows how plant growth changed across the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands during the past 30 years.
Of the North’s total vegetated land area, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow).
The changes are driven by enhanced warming and longer growing seasons in the North, which have led to large patches of vigorously productive vegetation that now span a third of the northern landscape, or more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers). This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometers) to the south in 1982.
“It’s like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years,” said co-author Compton Tucker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in NASA story describing the research published March 10 in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Visualization credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
New Earth-Observing Instrument Installed on the International Space Station
In January 2013, a new Earth-observing instrument was installed on the International Space Station (ISS). ISERV Pathfinder consists of a commercial camera, a telescope, and a pointing system, all positioned to look through the Earth-facing window of ISS’s Destiny module. ISERV Pathfinder is intended as an engineering exercise, with the long-term goal of developing a system for providing imagery to developing nations as they monitor natural disasters and environmental concerns.
The image above is the “first light” from the new ISERV camera system, taken at 1:44 p.m. local time on February 16, 2013. It shows the Rio San Pablo as it empties into the Golfo de Montijo in Veraguas, Panama. It is an ecological transition zone, changing from agriculture and pastures to mangrove forests, swamps, and estuary systems. The area has been designated a protected area by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) of Panama and is listed as a “wetland of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention. (Note that the image is rotated so that north is to the upper right.)
Read more: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/8540216464
Hubble Finds Birth Certificate of Oldest Known Star
You can’t be older than your parents. But there is a nearby star that at first glance looks like it is older than the universe! Hubble Space Telescope astronomers are coming to grips with this paradox by improving the precision of the observations used to estimate the age of this “Methuselah star.”
Around the year 2000, estimates for the star’s age were about 16 billion years. But the universe is about 13.8 billion years old, based on a meticulous calibration of the expansion of space and analysis of the microwave afterglow from the big bang. Hubble data and improved theoretical calculations were used to recalculate the star’s age and lower the estimate to 14.5 billion years, within a measurement uncertainty of plus or minus 800 million years. This places the star within a comfortable range to be younger than the universe. Astronomers have to collect a lot of information to deduce a star’s age because it doesn’t come with a birth certificate. They have to take into account where the star is in its life history, the detailed chemistry of the star, and its intrinsic brightness. Hubble’s contribution was to reduce the uncertainty on the star’s true distance. With that improved accuracy, the intrinsic brightness of the star is better known. The ancient star is still spry for its age. It is speeding past us at 800,000 miles per hour. Its orbit can be traced back to the halo of our galaxy, which is a “retirement home” for stars that were born long before the Milky Way was even fully assembled.
To read more go to: http://bit.ly/XVAYS6
Great job opportunity at NASA Goddard!
WANTED: NASA Video Producer for Planetary and Mars Science Missions
We are looking for a full-time multimedia producer with a passion for science storytelling. This is a chance to work with a team of world class producers, science writers, animators, and data visualizers to create mind-bending video and multimedia content for some of NASA’s most exciting new space science missions: MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, LRO, Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover. This position is located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. Click here for details:http://bit.ly/14lSuim