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  • richardmitnick 5:44 pm on October 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA Science, Sea Levels   

    From NASA Science: “Study Finds Earth’s Ocean Abyss Has Not Warmed “ 

    NASA Science Science News

    Oct. 6, 2014
    Credits:
    Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

    The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years.

    Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.

    “The sea level is still rising,” Willis noted. “We’re just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details.”

    deep
    Deep sea creatures, like these anemones at a hydrothermal vent, are not yet feeling the heat from global climate change. Although the top half of the ocean continues to warm, the bottom half has not increased measurably in temperature in the last decade. Image credit: NERC

    In the 21st century, greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, just as they did in the 20th century, but global average surface air temperatures have stopped rising in tandem with the gases. The temperature of the top half of the world’s oceans — above the 1.24-mile mark — is still climbing, but not fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures.

    Many processes on land, air and sea have been invoked to explain what is happening to the “missing” heat. One of the most prominent ideas is that the bottom half of the ocean is taking up the slack, but supporting evidence is slim. This latest study is the first to test the idea using satellite observations, as well as direct temperature measurements of the upper ocean. Scientists have been taking the temperature of the top half of the ocean directly since 2005, using a network of 3,000 floating temperature probes called the Argo array.

    “The deep parts of the ocean are harder to measure,” said JPL’s William Llovel, lead author of the study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. “The combination of satellite and direct temperature data gives us a glimpse of how much sea level rise is due to deep warming. The answer is — not much.”

    The study took advantage of the fact that water expands as it gets warmer. The sea level is rising because of this expansion and the water added by glacier and ice sheet melt.

    world
    While the upper part of the world’s oceans continue to absorb heat from global warming, ocean depths have not warmed measurably in the last decade. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.) Image credit: NASA

    NASA Terra satellite
    NASA Terra sattelite

    To arrive at their conclusion, the JPL scientists did a straightforward subtraction calculation, using data for 2005-2013 from the Argo buoys, NASA’s Jason-1 and Jason-2 satellites, and the agency’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. From the total amount of sea level rise, they subtracted the amount of rise from the expansion in the upper ocean, and the amount of rise that came from added meltwater. The remainder represented the amount of sea level rise caused by warming in the deep ocean.

    NASA Jason-1
    NASA Jason 1

    The remainder was essentially zero. Deep ocean warming contributed virtually nothing to sea level rise during this period.

    Coauthor Felix Landerer of JPL noted that during the same period warming in the top half of the ocean continued unabated, an unequivocal sign that our planet is heating up. Some recent studies reporting deep-ocean warming were, in fact, referring to the warming in the upper half of the ocean but below the topmost layer, which ends about 0.4 mile (700 meters) down.

    Landerer also is a coauthor of another paper in the same journal issue on 1970-2005 ocean warming in the Southern Hemisphere. Before Argo floats were deployed, temperature measurements in the Southern Ocean were spotty, at best. Using satellite measurements and climate simulations of sea level changes around the world, the new study found the global ocean absorbed far more heat in those 35 years than previously thought — a whopping 24 to 58 percent more than early estimates.

    Both papers result from the work of the newly formed NASA Sea Level Change Team, an interdisciplinary group tasked with using NASA satellite data to improve the accuracy and scale of current and future estimates of sea level change. The Southern Hemisphere paper was led by three scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

    See the full article here.

    NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. NASA’s science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all:

    This is NASA’s science vision: using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. At every step we share the journey of scientific exploration with the public and partner with others to substantially improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide.

    NASA

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  • richardmitnick 1:51 pm on August 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Science,   

    From SPACE.com: “Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa: Best Bet for Alien Life?” 

    space-dot-com logo

    SPACE.com

    August 22, 2014
    Nola Taylor Redd

    Jupiter’s moon Europa doesn’t look like a particularly inviting place for life to thrive; the icy satellite is nearly 500 million miles (800 million kilometers) from the sun, on average.

    europa
    Under a thick crust of ice, Europa might have an ocean warmed by tidal interactions with Jupiter. This tidal flexing could also produce a geologically active core that might in turn create hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk

    But beneath its icy crust lies a liquid ocean with more water than Earth contains. This ocean is shielded from harmful radiation, making Europa one of the solar system’s best bets to host alien life.

    That’s one of the reasons Europa is so alluring to scientists. It has all the elements thought to be key for the origin of life: water, energy, and organic chemicals, the carbon-containing building blocks of life, scientists said at an event called “The Lure of Europa,” held here last month.

    “All the ingredients are there to make us think Europa is the next place to go,” NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan said at the event, which was organized by the Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization headed by scientist and TV host Bill Nye.

    Looking for life

    Just as a layer of ice over a pond allows the water beneath it to stay liquid through the freezing winter, Europa’s icy crust shields its enormous ocean despite the moon’s great distance from the sun. As Europa travels around Jupiter, the massive planet bends and flexes the satellite, generating interior heat that keeps its water from freezing completely.

    Beneath Europa’s surface, active volcanoes may also heat the water, providing vents where bacterial life may thrive as it does on Earth.

    “With that combination of volcanism and water, good things are going to happen,” Stofan said.

    bn
    Bill Nye Discusses Possible Europa Missions
    Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ prepares to discuss why a trip to Europa could change the way humans view themselves.
    Credit: Nola Taylor Redd

    Further, it may be possible for a probe to get through Europa’s crust, and into the ocean below. A space mission should be able to get through ice a few kilometers thick, Robert Pappalardo, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Space.com after the event. Europa’s variable ice shell may be that thin in places.

    In addition to Europa’s ocean, a second potential site for life exists in the moon’s subsurface lakes. Some bubbles of energy from beneath the surface don’t make it all the way through the crust but instead melt some of its ice. The lakes that form from the meltwater last hundreds of thousands — or perhaps millions — of years, and scientists estimate that some of these lakes contain more water than all of North America’s Great Lakes.

    At the end of last year, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovered a third region where scientists could search for the ingredients for life: geysers of water vapor erupting from Europa’s southern hemisphere, possibly allowing a flyby probe to sample the moon’s subsurface sea from afar.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    “The seawater is spewing into space,” Nye said.

    He urged scientists to fly by and “look at what’s collecting on the windshield.”
    An upcoming mission

    info
    Scientists are eager to learn if Europa’s huge subsurface ocean harbors alien life. See how Jupiter’s icy moon Europa works in this SPACE.com infographic.
    Credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

    Every 10 years, the U.S. National Research Council issues a Planetary Science Decadal Review. The 2011 report ranked the exploration of Europa as one of the highest-priority missions. But budget cuts to NASA’s Planetary Science program and a focus on the inner solar system have so far kept any mission concept from coming to fruition.

    However, NASA’s 2015 budget request includes funding to help plan a potential Europa mission. The same week as the Planetary Society’s conference, the agency asked researchers to propose scientific instruments for a mission to the icy moon.

    According to John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, a flyby spacecraft would most likely be easier to implement than a Europa orbiter. Grunsfeld was not part of the panel but was in the audience, and he answered several questions after the session.

    Another mission option could include a vehicle that would transport a number of tiny “CubeSats” (mini satellite payloads) to the moon and deposit them on the surface to do a variety of experiments, Grunsfeld said.

    Nye emphasized that getting to Europa requires long-term planning — not only for the mission itself, but also for the voyage to the outer solar system.

    “There is a lot of space in space,” he said, pointing out that it would take a number of years for any probe to get to Europa.

    Funding the voyage

    The cost of doing planetary science at Europa is less than $2 billion — a small amount when compared to many government expenditures, Nye noted. He compared it to the cost of each taxpayer purchasing a single cup of coffee.

    “If we found evidence for life on another world, you would be part of it,” he said.

    In general, robotic missions have a relatively low cost and a high return in planetary science, Nye said.

    Spinoff science and technology resulting from the study of Europa would also be a benefit, he added. Space exploration has already brought a number of technological advances. In addition to the amazement and wonder that would come with the discovery of life elsewhere in the solar system, finding a new ecosystem would likely have a profound effect on medical science, Nye said.

    Exploring Europa doesn’t mean that life would be discovered immediately. In fact, in a discussion after the conference, Stofan said that pinning down the discovery of life unambiguously would probably not be possible with only a fly-through of Europa’s plumes. What could be definitively measured, however, is whether the water vapor spewing from the planet contains amino acids, the building blocks of life.

    But the first step is to find out if Europa is the kind of place that would support life, Pappalardo said. “Finding out if it does is a tougher thing to do,” he said.

    Figuring out whether Europa harbors life would probably require returning samples from the plumes or elsewhere on the moon to be studied on Earth, where they could be studied in depth. But humans have not yet managed to return samples from Mars, which is much closer than Europa, so accomplishing this for Europa may not happen until the more distant future.

    Stofan said she didn’t think human exploration on the surface of Europa is likely, given the high radiation levels there. Robotic studies of the icy moon, such as the proposed Europa Clipper mission, would be the primary method of study.

    “We are the first generation of humans who could send a mission to these extraordinary places — Mars and Europa — to search for life,” Nye said.

    See the full article, with video and other material, here.

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  • richardmitnick 5:02 pm on August 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Science   

    From NASA Science: “Exoplanet Measured with Remarkable Precision “ 

    NASA Science Science News

    August 18, 2014
    Dr. Tony Phillips

    Barely 30 years ago, the only planets astronomers had found were located right here in our own solar system. The Milky Way is chock-full of stars, millions of them similar to our own sun. Yet the tally of known worlds in other star systems was exactly zero.

    What a difference a few decades can make.

    As 2014 unfolds, astronomers have not only found more than a thousand “exoplanets” circling distant suns, but also they’re beginning to make precise measurements of them. The old void of ignorance about exoplanets is now being filled with data precise to the second decimal place.

    A team led by Sarah Ballard, a NASA Carl Sagan Fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, recently measured the diameter of a “super Earth” to within an accuracy of 148 miles total or about 1 percent — remarkable accuracy for an exoplanet located about 300 light years from Earth.

    “It does indeed seem amazing,” says Ballard. “The landscape of exoplanet research has changed to an almost unrecognizable degree since I started graduate school in 2007.”
    Auroras Underfoot (signup)

    To size up the planet, named “Kepler 93 b,” Ballard used data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes.

    NASA Kepler Telescope
    NASA/Kepler

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    NASA/Spitzer

    First, Kepler discovered the planet. As seen from Earth, Kepler 93 b passes directly in front of its parent star, causing the starlight to dim during the transit. That dimming, which occurs once per orbit, is what allowed Kepler mission scientists to find the planet in the first place.

    Next, both Spitzer and Kepler recorded multiple transits at visible and infrared wavelengths. Data from the observatories agreed: Kepler 93 b was really a planet and not some artifact of stellar variability. Ballard then knew that by looking carefully at the light curve she could calculate the size of the planet relative to the star.

    At that point, the only missing piece was the diameter of the star itself.

    “The precision with which we measured the size of the planet is linked directly to our measurement of the star,” says Ballard. “And we measured the star using a technique called asteroseismology.”

    Most people have heard of “seismology,” the study of seismic waves moving through the Earth. “We can learn a lot about the structure of our planet by studying seismic waves,” she says.

    Asteroseismology is the same thing, except for stars: The outer layers of stars boil like water on top of a hot stove. Those convective motions create seismic waves that bounce around inside the core, causing the star to ring like an enormous bell. Kepler can detect that “ringing,” which reveals itself as fluctuations in a star’s brightness.

    Ballard’s colleague, University of Birmingham professor Bill Chaplin led the asteroseismic analysis for Kepler-93 b. “By analyzing the seismic modes of the star, he was able to deduce its radius and mass to an accuracy of a percent,” she says.

    The new measurements confirm that Kepler-93 b is a “super-Earth” sized exoplanet, with a diameter about one-and-a-half times the size of our planet. Previous measurements by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii had put Kepler-93 b’s mass at about 3.8 times that of Earth. The density of Kepler-93 b, derived from its mass and newly obtained radius, suggests the planet is very likely made of iron and rock, like Earth itself.

    Keck Observatory
    Keck Observatory Interior
    Keck

    Although super-Earths are common in the galaxy, none exist in our solar system. That makes them tricky to study. Ballard’s team has shown, however, that it is possible to learn a lot about an exoplanet even when it is very far away.

    See the full article here.

    NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. NASA’s science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all:

    This is NASA’s science vision: using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. At every step we share the journey of scientific exploration with the public and partner with others to substantially improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide.

    NASA

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  • richardmitnick 9:39 pm on March 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Science   

    From Science@NASA: “NASA Announces Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment” 2011 

    NASA Science Science News

    [This is from 2011, but it just hit NASA's Twitter feed]

    May 4, 2011
    Dr. Tony Phillips

    [Albert Einstein] was right again. There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity.

    ae
    Dr. Albert Einstein, Nobel Laureate

    Researchers confirmed these points at a press conference today at NASA headquarters where they announced the long-awaited results of Gravity Probe B (GP-B).

    NASA Gravity Probe B
    Gravity Probe B (GP-B)

    “The space-time around Earth appears to be distorted just as general relativity predicts,” says Stanford University physicist Francis Everitt, principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B mission.

    vortex
    An artist’s concept of GP-B measuring the curved spacetime around Earth.

    “This is an epic result,” adds Clifford Will of Washington University in St. Louis. An expert in Einstein’s theories, Will chairs an independent panel of the National Research Council set up by NASA in 1998 to monitor and review the results of Gravity Probe B. “One day,” he predicts, “this will be written up in textbooks as one of the classic experiments in the history of physics.”

    Time and space, according to Einstein’s theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called “space-time.” The mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity, says Einstein, is simply the motion of objects following the curvaceous lines of the dimple.

    If Earth were stationary, that would be the end of the story. But Earth is not stationary. Our planet spins, and the spin should twist the dimple, slightly, pulling it around into a 4-dimensional swirl. This is what GP-B went to space in 2004 to check.

    The idea behind the experiment is simple:

    Put a spinning gyroscope into orbit around the Earth, with the spin axis pointed toward some distant star as a fixed reference point. Free from external forces, the gyroscope’s axis should continue pointing at the star–forever. But if space is twisted, the direction of the gyroscope’s axis should drift over time. By noting this change in direction relative to the star, the twists of space-time could be measured.

    In practice, the experiment is tremendously difficult.

    gyro
    One of the super-spherical gyroscopes of Gravity Probe B.

    The four gyroscopes in GP-B are the most perfect spheres ever made by humans. These ping pong-sized balls of fused quartz and silicon are 1.5 inches across and never vary from a perfect sphere by more than 40 atomic layers. If the gyroscopes weren’t so spherical, their spin axes would wobble even without the effects of relativity.

    According to calculations, the twisted space-time around Earth should cause the axes of the gyros to drift merely 0.041 arcseconds over a year. An arcsecond is 1/3600th of a degree. To measure this angle reasonably well, GP-B needed a fantastic precision of 0.0005 arcseconds. It’s like measuring the thickness of a sheet of paper held edge-on 100 miles away.

    “GP-B researchers had to invent whole new technologies to make this possible,” notes Will.

    They developed a “drag free” satellite that could brush against the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere without disturbing the gyros. They figured out how to keep Earth’s magnetic field from penetrating the spacecraft. And they created a device to measure the spin of a gyro–without touching the gyro. More information about these technologies may be found in the Science@NASA story “A Pocket of Near-Perfection.”

    Pulling off the experiment was an exceptional challenge. But after a year of data-taking and nearly five years of analysis, the GP-B scientists appear to have done it.

    “We measured a geodetic precession of 6.600 plus or minus 0.017 arcseconds and a frame dragging effect of 0.039 plus or minus 0.007 arcseconds,” says Everitt.

    For readers who are not experts in relativity: Geodetic precession is the amount of wobble caused by the static mass of the Earth (the dimple in spacetime) and the frame dragging effect is the amount of wobble caused by the spin of the Earth (the twist in spacetime). Both values are in precise accord with Einstein’s predictions.

    “In the opinion of the committee that I chair, this effort was truly heroic. We were just blown away,” says Will.

    bhy
    An artist’s concept of twisted spacetime around a black hole. Credit: Joe Bergeron of Sky & Telescope magazine.

    The results of Gravity Probe B give physicists renewed confidence that the strange predictions of Einstein’s theory are indeed correct, and that these predictions may be applied elsewhere. The type of spacetime vortex that exists around Earth is duplicated and magnified elsewhere in the cosmos–around massive neutron stars, black holes, and active galactic nuclei.

    “If you tried to spin a gyroscope in the severely twisted space-time around a black hole,” says Will, “it wouldn’t just gently precess by a fraction of a degree. It would wobble crazily and possibly even flip over.”

    In binary black hole systems–that is, where one black hole orbits another black hole–the black holes themselves are spinning and thus behave like gyroscopes. Imagine a system of orbiting, spinning, wobbling, flipping black holes! That’s the sort of thing general relativity predicts and which GP-B tells us can really be true.

    The scientific legacy of GP-B isn’t limited to general relativity. The project also touched the lives of hundreds of young scientists:

    “Because it was based at a university many students were able to work on the project,” says Everitt. “More than 86 PhD theses at Stanford plus 14 more at other Universities were granted to students working on GP-B. Several hundred undergraduates and 55 high-school students also participated, including astronaut Sally Ride and eventual Nobel Laureate Eric Cornell.”

    NASA funding for Gravity Probe B began in the fall of 1963. That means Everitt and some colleagues have been planning, promoting, building, operating, and analyzing data from the experiment for more than 47 years—truly, an epic effort.

    What’s next?

    Everitt recalls some advice given to him by his thesis advisor and Nobel Laureate Patrick M.S. Blackett: “If you can’t think of what physics to do next, invent some new technology, and it will lead to new physics.”

    “Well,” says Everitt, “we invented 13 new technologies for Gravity Probe B. Who knows where they will take us?”

    This epic might just be getting started, after all….

    See the full article here.

    NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. NASA’s science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all:

    This is NASA’s science vision: using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. At every step we share the journey of scientific exploration with the public and partner with others to substantially improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide.

    NASA


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  • richardmitnick 2:44 pm on June 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NASA Science,   

    From NASA Science: “Strange Flames On The International Space Station” 

    NASA Science Science News

    June 18, 2013

    Enjoy this video.

    NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. NASA’s science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all:

    This is NASA’s science vision: using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. At every step we share the journey of scientific exploration with the public and partner with others to substantially improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide.

    NASA


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 4:02 pm on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Science, ,   

    From NASA 

    NASA Science Science News

    April 19, 2013

    Anticipation is building as Comet ISON plunges into the inner solar system for a close encounter with the sun in November 2013. Blasted at point-blank range by solar radiation, the sungrazer will likely become one of the finest comets in many years.

    When NASA’s Swift spacecraft observed the comet in January 2013, it was still near the orbit of Jupiter, but already very active. More than 112,000 pounds of dust were spewing from the comet’s nucleus every minute.

    NASA SWIFT Telescope
    NASA SWIFT

    It turns out, some of that dust might end up on Earth.

    Veteran meteor researcher Paul Wiegert of the University of Western Ontario has been using a computer to model the trajectory of dust ejected by Comet ISON, and his findings suggest that an unusual meteor shower could be in the offing.

    ‘For several days around January 12, 2014, Earth will pass through a stream of fine-grained debris from Comet ISON,’ says Wiegert. ‘The resulting shower could have some interesting properties.

    According to Wiegert’s computer models, the debris stream is populated with extremely tiny grains of dust, no more than a few microns wide, pushed toward Earth by the gentle radiation pressure of the sun. They will be hitting at a speed of 56 km/s or 125,000 mph. Because the particles are so small, Earth’s upper atmosphere will rapidly slow them to a stop.

    ‘Instead of burning up in a flash of light, they will drift gently down to the Earth below,’ he says.

    Don’t expect to notice. The invisible rain of comet dust, if it occurs, would be very slow. It can take months or even years for fine dust to settle out of the high atmosphere.

    See the full article here.

    And now, a neat video from NASA

    NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond. NASA’s science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all:

    This is NASA’s science vision: using the vantage point of space to achieve with the science community and our partners a deep scientific understanding of our planet, other planets and solar system bodies, the interplanetary environment, the Sun and its effects on the solar system, and the universe beyond. In so doing, we lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns, such as climate change and space weather. At every step we share the journey of scientific exploration with the public and partner with others to substantially improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide.

    NASA


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