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  • richardmitnick 8:35 am on November 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Earth Observation, JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 when it reaches its final orbit, , , Observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture clouds sea-surface temperature ocean color sea ice cover volcanic ash and fire detection, The data will improve weather forecasting such as predicting a hurricane’s track   

    From NASA: “NASA Launches NOAA Weather Satellite Aboard United Launch Alliance Rocket to Improve Forecasts” 


    NASA

    Nov. 18, 2017

    Steve Cole
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0918
    stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

    John Leslie
    NOAA, Silver Spring, Md.
    202-527-3504
    john.leslie@noaa.gov

    NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)

    NASA has successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of four highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites, equipped with next-generation technology and designed to improve the accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts out to seven days.

    The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST Saturday.

    Approximately 63 minutes after launch the solar arrays on JPSS-1 deployed and the spacecraft was operating on its own power. JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 when it reaches its final orbit. Following a three-month checkout and validation of its five advanced instruments, the satellite will become operational.

    “Launching JPSS-1 underscores NOAA’s commitment to putting the best possible satellites into orbit, giving our forecasters — and the public — greater confidence in weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the potential for severe, or impactful weather,” said Stephen Volz, director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

    JPSS-1 will join the joint NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite in the same orbit and provide meteorologists with observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection. The data will improve weather forecasting, such as predicting a hurricane’s track, and will help agencies involved with post-storm recovery by visualizing storm damage and the geographic extent of power outages.

    “Emergency managers increasingly rely on our forecasts to make critical decisions and take appropriate action before a storm hits,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Polar satellite observations not only help us monitor and collect information about current weather systems, but they provide data to feed into our weather forecast models.”

    JPSS-1 has five instruments, each of which is significantly upgraded from the instruments on NOAA’s previous polar-orbiting satellites. The more-detailed observations from JPSS will allow forecasters to make more accurate predictions. JPSS-1 data will also improve recognition of climate patterns that influence the weather, such as El Nino and La Nina.

    The JPSS program is a partnership between NOAA and NASA through which they will oversee the development, launch, testing and operation all the satellites in the series. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA. JPSS-1 launch management was provided by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    “Today’s launch is the latest example of the strong relationship between NASA and NOAA, contributing to the advancement of scientific discovery and the improvement of the U.S. weather forecasting capability by leveraging the unique vantage point of space to benefit and protect humankind,” said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division.

    Ball Aerospace designed and built the JPSS-1 satellite bus and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite instrument, integrated all five of the spacecraft’s instruments and performed satellite-level testing and launch support. Raytheon Corporation built the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Common Ground System. Harris Corporation built the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument.

    To learn more about the JPSS-1 mission, visit:

    http://www.jpss.noaa.gov/

    and

    https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jpss-1

    See the full article here .

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

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  • richardmitnick 10:27 am on November 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Earth Observation, Habitable Worlds, Life in the Ocean, , , , Our Living Planet Shapes the Search for Life Beyond Earth, Water in Space   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Our Living Planet Shapes the Search for Life Beyond Earth” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    November 15, 2017
    Alan Buis
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0474
    alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

    Elizabeth Landau
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6425
    Elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Carol Rasmussen
    NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    1
    Left, an image of Earth from the DSCOVR-EPIC camera. Right, the same image degraded to a resolution of 3 x 3 pixels, similar to what researchers will see in future exoplanet observations. Credit: NOAA/NASA, Stephen Kane

    As a young scientist, Tony del Genio of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City met Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.

    “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a one-time opportunity,'” del Genio said. “I’ll never meet anyone else who found a planet.”

    That prediction was spectacularly wrong. In 1992, two scientists discovered the first planet around another star, or exoplanet, and since then more people have found planets than throughout all of Earth’s preceding history. As of this month, scientists have confirmed more than 3,500 exoplanets in more than 2,700 star systems. Del Genio has met many of these new planet finders.

    Del Genio is now co-lead of a NASA interdisciplinary initiative [NEXSS] to search for life on other worlds. This new position as the lead of this project may seem odd to those who know him professionally. Why? He has dedicated decades to studying Earth, not searching for life elsewhere.

    We know of only one living planet: our own. But we know it very well. As we move to the next stage in the search for alien life, the effort will require the expertise of planetary scientists, heliophysicists and astrophysicists. However, the knowledge and tools NASA has developed to study life on Earth will also be one of the greatest assets to the quest.

    Habitable Worlds

    There are two main questions in the search for life: With so many places to look, how can we focus in on the places most likely to harbor life? What are the unmistakable signs of life — even if it comes in a form we don’t fully understand?

    “Before we go looking for life, we’re trying to figure out what kinds of planets could have a climate that’s conducive to life,” del Genio said. “We’re using the same climate models that we use to project 21st century climate change on Earth to do simulations of specific exoplanets that have been discovered, and hypothetical ones.”

    Del Genio recognizes that life may well exist in forms and places so bizarre that it might be substantially different from Earth. But in this early phase of the search, “We have to go with the kind of life we know,” he said.

    Further, we should make sure we use the detailed knowledge of Earth. In particular, we should make sure of our discoveries on life in various environments on Earth, our knowledge of how our planet and its life have affected each other over Earth history, and our satellite observations of Earth’s climate.

    Above all else, that means liquid water. Every cell we know of — even bacteria around deep-sea vents that exist without sunlight — requires water.

    Life in the Ocean

    Research scientist Morgan Cable of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is looking within the solar system for locations that have the potential to support liquid water. Some of the icy moons around Saturn and Jupiter have oceans below the ice crust. These oceans were formed by tidal heating, that is, warming of the ice caused by friction between the surface ice and the core as a result of the gravitational interaction between the planet and the moon.

    “We thought Enceladus was just boring and cold until the Cassini mission discovered a liquid water subsurface ocean,” said Cable. The water is spraying into space, and the Cassini mission found hints in the chemical composition of the spray that the ocean chemistry is affected by interactions between heated water and rocks at the seafloor. The Galileo and Voyager missions provided evidence that Europa also has a liquid water ocean under an icy crust. Observations revealed a jumbled terrain that could be the result of ice melting and reforming.

    As missions to these moons are being developed, scientists are using Earth as a testbed. Just as prototypes for NASA’s Mars rovers made their trial runs on Earth’s deserts, researchers are testing both hypotheses and technology on our oceans and extreme environments.

    Cable gave the example of satellite observations of Arctic and Antarctic ice fields, which are informing the planning for a Europa mission. The Earth observations help researchers find ways to date the origin of jumbled ice. “When we visit Europa, we want to go to very young places, where material from that ocean is being expressed on the surface,” she said. “Anywhere like that, the chances of finding evidence of life goes up — if they’re there.”

    Water in Space

    For any star, it’s possible to calculate the range of distances where orbiting planets could have liquid water on the surface. This is called the star’s habitable zone.

    Astronomers have already located some habitable-zone planets, and research scientist Andrew Rushby, of NASA Ames Research Center, in Moffett Field, California, is studying ways to refine the search. Location alone isn’t enough. “An alien would spot three planets in our solar system in the habitable zone [Earth, Mars and Venus],” Rushby said, “but we know that 67 percent of those planets are not very habitable.” He recently developed a simplified model of Earth’s carbon cycle and combined it with other tools to study which planets in the habitable zone would be the best targets to look at for life, considering probable tectonic activity and water cycles. He found that larger rocky planets are more likely than smaller ones to have surface temperatures where liquid water could exist, given the same amount of light from the star.

    Renyu Hu, of JPL, refined the search for habitable planets in a different way, looking for the signature of a rocky planet. Basic physics tells us that smaller planets must be rocky and larger ones gaseous, but for planets ranging from Earth-sized to about twice that radius, astronomers can’t tell a large rocky planet from a small gaseous planet. Hu pioneered a method to detect surface minerals on bare-rock exoplanets and defined the atmospheric chemical signature of volcanic activity, which wouldn’t occur on a gas planet.

    Vital Signs

    When scientists are evaluating a possible habitable planet, “life has to be the hypothesis of last resort,” Cable said. “You must eliminate all other explanations.” Identifying possible false positives for the signal of life is an ongoing area of research in the exoplanet community. For example, the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere comes from living things, but oxygen can also be produced by inorganic chemical reactions.

    Shawn Domagal-Goldman, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, looks for unmistakable, chemical signs of life, or biosignatures. One biosignature may be finding two or more molecules in an atmosphere that shouldn’t be there at the same time. He uses this analogy: If you walked into a college dorm room and found three students and a pizza, you could conclude that the pizza had recently arrived, because college students quickly consume pizza. Oxygen “consumes” methane by breaking it down in various chemical reactions. Without inputs of methane from life on Earth’s surface, our atmosphere would become totally depleted of methane within a few decades.

    Earth as Exoplanet

    When humans start collecting direct images of exoplanets, even the closest one will appear as a handful of pixels in the detector – something like the famous “blue dot” image of Earth from Saturn. What can we learn about planetary life from a single dot?

    Stephen Kane of the University of California, Riverside, has come up with a way to answer that question using NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging camera on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).

    NASA/DSCOVR

    These high-resolution images — 2,000 x 2,000 pixels – document Earth’s global weather patterns and other climate-related phenomena. “I’m taking these glorious pictures and collapsing them down to a single pixel or handful of pixels,” Kane explained. He runs the light through a noise filter that attempts to simulate the interference expected from an exoplanet mission.

    DSCOVR takes a picture every half hour, and it’s been in orbit for two years. Its more than 30,000 images are by far the longest continuous record of Earth from space in existence. By observing how the brightness of Earth changes when mostly land is in view compared with mostly water, Kane has been able to reverse-engineer Earth’s rotation rate — something that has yet to be measured directly for exoplanets.

    When Will We Find Life?

    Every scientist involved in the search for life is convinced it’s out there. Their opinions differ on when we’ll find it.

    “I think that in 20 years we will have found one candidate that might be it,” says del Genio. Considering his experience with Tombaugh, he added, “But my track record for predicting the future is not so good.”

    Rushby, on the other hand, says, “It’s been 20 years away for the last 50 years. I do think it’s on the scale of decades. If I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d go for Europa or Enceladus.”

    How soon we find a living exoplanet really depends on whether there’s one relatively nearby, with the right orbit and size, and with biosignatures that we are able to recognize, Hu said. In other words, “There’s always a factor of luck.”

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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    • stewarthoughblog 11:20 pm on November 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      “Every scientist involved in the search for life is convinced it’s out there.” This is wishful, faith-based speculation motivated by continued funding prospects. The aphorism of human behavior that we are compelled to trivialize what we do not understand applies. A consensus-driven likelihood of life on other planets does not fair well against the lack of understanding of how life began on Earth but more importantly the true scientific revelations of intractable naturalistic inadequacies and failings to properly specify and empirically verify all required conditions and steps in earth’s origin of life. Speculation about science fiction alternatives cannot be taken seriously.

      Like

    • richardmitnick 7:41 am on November 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 9:56 am on November 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Earth Explorer 9, Earth Observation, , FORUM, SKIM   

    From ESA: “Two new Earth Explorer concepts to understand our rapidly changing world” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    15 November 2017

    1
    A new era for science and society
    Released 17/11/2015
    Copyright ESA
    Earth observing satellites play a fundamental role in understanding our planet and how humankind is affecting Earth’s delicate balance. Using cutting-edge technology, Earth Explorer missions reveal new insights into how the oceans, cryosphere, atmosphere, land and Earth’s interior work as a system. While science continues to reap the benefits of these missions, we are now in a new era where Earth observation is benefiting society at large.

    ESA has chosen two concepts, FORUM and SKIM, to be developed further and compete to be the ninth Earth Explorer mission.

    Thanks to new technical developments, the Far-infrared Outgoing Radiation Understanding and Monitoring (FORUM) candidate would measure radiation emitted from Earth across the entire far-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Significantly, it measures in the 15–100 micron range, which has never been done from space before.

    These observations are important because Earth emits infrared radiation to space, which is affected by water vapour and cirrus clouds, which, in turn, play key roles in Earth’s temperature.

    FORUM’s benchmark measurements would improve our understanding of the greenhouse effect and, importantly, contribute to the accuracy of climate change assessments that form the basis for policy decisions.

    2
    FORUM far-infrared
    Released 15/11/2017
    Copyright INO–CNR
    The candidate Earth Explorer FORUM mission aims to measure radiation emitted from Earth across the entire far-infrared range. This is important because processes associated with water vapour and cirrus clouds, which play a key role in the greenhouse effect, influence the way Earth emits infrared radiation to space.

    The Sea-surface Kinematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) candidate would carry a novel wide-swath scanning multibeam radar altimeter to measure ocean-surface currents. Uniquely, it uses a Doppler technique, which offers more direct measurements than conventional satellite altimeters.

    These new measurements would improve our understanding of vertical and horizontal ocean–surface dynamics over the global ocean every few days. This would lead to better knowledge of how the ocean and atmosphere interact – for example, how atmospheric carbon dioxide is drawn down into the ocean.

    SKIM would have particular relevance for understanding the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean, and for observing equatorial regions where conventional satellite altimeters are unable to provide useful measurements of currents.

    3
    Simulating SKIM
    Released 15/11/2017
    Copyright CLS/CNES–C. Ubelmann
    Simulated high-resolution ocean-surface currents as expected from the candidate Earth Explorer SKIM mission. The simulated data is over a modelled Gulf Stream ring.

    ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, said, “As part of our effort to realise cutting-edge missions, Earth Explorers are built to answer some of the most pressing scientific questions about our planet.

    “Out of the 13 concepts that we received following our call for proposals last year, the Earth Science Advisory Committee recommended that FORUM and SKIM enter a competitive feasibility phase.

    “With this recommendation now accepted, these two candidates will spend the next two years being studied thoroughly. In 2019, a User Consultation Meeting will be held, after which a decision will be taken by ESA’s Member States as to which of the two contenders will be implemented.

    “We foresee Earth Explorer 9 being launched in 2025.”

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Earth Observation, , , Three years of successful operations of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 constellation   

    From ESA: “Earth from Space: special edition” Video 

    Published on Nov 9, 2017

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    Discover more about our planet with the Earth from Space video programme. This special edition celebrates three years of successful operations of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 constellation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:18 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics is headquartered at UC Davis, Earth Observation, Earth’s magnetic field is an essential part of life on our planet, , , UC Davis egghead blog   

    From UC Davis egghead blog: “Supercomputer Simulates Dynamic Magnetic Fields of Jupiter, Earth, Sun 

    UC Davis bloc

    UC Davis

    UC Davis egghead blog

    November 9th, 2017
    Becky Oskin

    As the Juno space probe approached Jupiter in June last year, researchers with the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics’ Dynamo Working Group were starting to run simulations of the giant planet’s magnetic field on one of the world’s fastest computers.

    NASA/Juno

    While the timing was coincidental, the supercomputer modeling should help scientists interpret the data from Juno, and vice versa.

    “Even with Juno, we’re not going to be able to get a great physical sampling of the turbulence occurring in Jupiter’s deep interior,” Jonathan Aurnou, a geophysics professor at UCLA who leads the geodynamo working group, said in an article for Argonne National Laboratory news. “Only a supercomputer can help get us under that lid.”

    Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics is headquartered at UC Davis.

    2

    The CIG describes itself as a community organization of scientists that disseminates software for geophysics and related fields. The CIG’s Geodynamo Working Group, led by Aurnou, includes researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Boulder, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, the University of Alberta, UW-Madison and Johns Hopkins University.

    Earth’s magnetic field is an essential part of life on our planet — from guiding birds on vast migrations to shielding us from solar storms.

    3
    Representation of Earth’s Invisible Magnetic Field. NASA

    Scientists think Earth’s magnetic field is generated by the swirling liquid iron in the planet’s outer core (called the geodynamo), but many mysteries remain. For example, observations of magnetic fields encircling other planets and stars suggest there could be many ways of making a planet-sized magnetic field. And why has the field has flipped polarity (swapping magnetic north and south) more than 150 times in the past 70 million years?

    “The geodynamo is one of the most challenging geophysical problems in existence — and one of the most challenging computational problems as well,” said Louise Kellogg, director of the CIG and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

    The working group was awarded 260 million core hours on the Mira supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory – rated the sixth-fastest in the world — to model magnetic fields inside the Earth, Sun and Jupiter.

    ANL ALCF MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    The CIG project was funded by the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment, or INCITE, program, which provides access to computing centers at Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories. Researchers from academia, government and industry will share a total of 5.8 billion core hours on two supercomputers, Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Mira at Argonne.

    ORNL Cray XK7 Titan Supercomputer

    Video: Simulation of magnetic fields inside the Earth

    More information

    The inner secrets of planets and stars (Argonne National Lab)

    Juno Mission Home (NASA)

    Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics

    About INCITE grants

    Videos by CIG Geodynamo Working Group/U.S. Department of Energy Argonne National Lab.

    See the full article here .

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    About Egghead

    Egghead is a blog about research by, with or related to UC Davis. Comments on posts are welcome, as are tips and suggestions for posts. General feedback may be sent to Andy Fell. This blog is created and maintained by UC Davis Strategic Communications, and mostly edited by Andy Fell.

    UC Davis Campus

    The University of California, Davis, is a major public research university located in Davis, California, just west of Sacramento. It encompasses 5,300 acres of land, making it the second largest UC campus in terms of land ownership, after UC Merced.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:32 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (RO)-radio occultation, , Earth Observation, If MiRaTA’s technology validation is successful Kerri Cahoy said she envisions an eventual constellation of these CubeSats orbiting the entire Earth, MiRaTA- Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NASA Earth Sciences   

    From NASA Earth Sciences: “NASA CubeSat to Test Miniaturized Weather Satellite Technology” 

    NASA Earth Sciences

    Nov. 8, 2017
    Samson Reiny
    samson.k.reiny@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    Behind every weather forecast—from your local, five-day prediction to a late-breaking hurricane track update—are the satellites that make them possible. Government agencies depend on observations from weather satellites to inform forecast models that help us prepare for approaching storms and identify areas that need evacuating or emergency first responders.


    Weather satellites have traditionally been large, both in the effort needed to build them and in actual size. A NASA-funded CubeSat, called Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA), which will be launched into Earth’s orbit from the rocket carrying the next big U.S. weather satellite (NOAA’s JPSS-1) into space, was designed to demonstrate that a small satellite can carry instrument technology that’s capable of reducing the cost and size of future weather satellites and has the potential to routinely collect reliable weather data. Credits: Willaman Creative/NASA
    Earth Science Technology Office.

    Weather satellites have traditionally been large, both in the effort needed to build them and in actual size. They can take several years to build and can be as big as a small school bus. But all of that could change in the future with the help of a shoebox-sized satellite that will start orbiting Earth later this month.

    The NASA-funded CubeSat, called Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA), will be launched into Earth’s orbit from the rocket carrying the next big U.S. weather satellite (NOAA’s JPSS-1) into space. MiRaTA is designed to demonstrate that a small satellite can carry instrument technology that’s capable of reducing the cost and size of future weather satellites and has the potential to routinely collect reliable weather data.

    Microwave radiometers are one of the workhorse instruments aboard today’s weather satellites. These sensitive instruments measure radio frequency signals related to the thermal radiation emitted by atmospheric gases, such as molecular oxygen and water vapor, and also detect particles such as cloud ice. These data are key inputs for models that track storms and other weather events. Calibrating these radiometers is important for keeping them from drifting so their data can be used for accurate weather and climate models. Therefore, a calibration target is usually included in the satellite to help the radiometer maintain its accuracy.

    Miniaturizing microwave radiometer instruments to fit on a CubeSat leads to the challenge of finding a calibration instrument that is not only accurate but also compact, said Kerri Cahoy, principal investigator for MiRaTA and an associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “You don’t have room for the bulky calibration targets that you would normally use on larger satellites,” Cahoy said. “Microwave radiometer calibration targets on larger satellites can be the size of a toaster, but for CubeSats, it would have to be the size of a deck of cards.”

    2
    The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite, a 3U CubeSat, is shown with solar panels fully deployed, flanking the body of the spacecraft, which has a circular aperture at the top for the microwave radiometer antenna, used for atmospheric science measurements. There are also two small, thin tape-measure antennas on the top, used for UHF radio communication with the ground station. Credits: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

    Cahoy and her colleague William Blackwell, the microwave radiometer instrument lead at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, have come up with a solution based on a technique she studied in graduate school called radio occultation (RO), whereby radio signals received from GPS satellites in a higher orbit are used to measure the temperature of the same volume of atmosphere that the radiometer is viewing. The GPS-RO temperature measurement can then be used for calibrating the radiometer.

    “In physics class, you learn that a pencil submerged in water looks like it’s broken in half because light bends differently in the water than in the air,” Cahoy said. “Radio waves are like light in that they refract when they go through changing densities of air, and we can use the magnitude of the refraction to calculate the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere with near-perfect accuracy and use this to calibrate a radiometer.”

    4
    Credits: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

    In 2012 NASA’s In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST) program issued a request for technology demonstration proposals, which prompted Blackwell and Cahoy, who was then teaching at MIT, put their theory to the test by offering a project to Cahoy’s students in her sensors and instrumentation class to determine if the idea was feasible. When two students demonstrated through computer modeling that radio occultation could indeed function for radiometer calibration, Cahoy and Blackwell asked The Aerospace Corporation’s Rebecca Bishop, who has developed GPS-RO receivers for CubeSats, to join the team. They then submitted a full proposal for MiRaTA to NASA, which gave the greenlight for funding in the spring of 2013.

    Building MiRaTA was a team effort. Bishop modified an off-the-shelf, low-cost GPS receiver to make the radio occultation measurements for calibration; MIT Lincoln Laboratory and University of Massachusetts Amherst applied their engineering skills to further miniaturize the microwave radiometer; and Cahoy and her student team, guided by expert mentors at MIT Lincoln, built the satellite that would house everything.

    “Building a CubeSat can be hard because you have to put batteries, a radio, a computer, your instruments, wheels that you spin to tip and turn your satellite, and folded solar panels and antennas all into a very small space,” Cahoy said. “And you’re using the space equivalent of scotch tape and super glue to constrain this mess of wires and connectors and get it into its housing.

    “But,” Cahoy added, “the hard work will really pay off in great science data if it all goes as planned.”

    In the best-case scenario, three weeks after launch MiRaTA will be fully operational, and within three months the team will have obtained validation data from both the radiometer and the GPS receiver. The big goal for the mission—declaring the technology demonstration a success—would be confirmed a bit farther down the road, at least half a year away, following the data analysis.

    If MiRaTA’s technology validation is successful, Cahoy said she envisions an eventual constellation of these CubeSats orbiting the entire Earth, taking snapshots of the state of the atmosphere and weather every 15 minutes—frequent enough to track storms, from blizzards to hurricanes, in real time. “Our goal is to have our radiometers perform just as well as those on current weather satellites and be able to provide the kind of data that helps agencies and people in the path of a natural disaster prepare early and wisely,” she said.

    “This is a very exciting mission as it will be the first on-orbit demonstration of an all-weather, three-frequency radiometer CubeSat using atmospheric GPS-RO-based calibration,” said NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Charles Norton, a program associate in NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) and the task manager for MiRaTA. “It’s a true testament to the creativity and innovation of the teams involved that they’re advancing measurement technologies for future small satellite constellation missions,” he said, while adding that Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory and NASA Wallops Flight Facility are supporting ground station and mission operations for the CubeSat.

    MiRaTA and other Earth science InVEST missions are funded and managed by NASA’s ESTO program in NASA’s Earth Science Division. ESTO supports technologists at NASA centers, industry and academia to develop, refine and demonstrate new methods for observing Earth from space, from information systems to new components and instruments.

    Small satellites, including CubeSats, are playing an increasingly larger role in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research and educational investigations at NASA, including: planetary space exploration; Earth observations; fundamental Earth and space science; and developing precursor science instruments like cutting-edge laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement capabilities.

    For NASA’s ESTO program, visit: https://esto.nasa.gov/

    See the full article here .

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    NASA Earth Science

    Earth is a complex, dynamic system we do not yet fully understand. The Earth system, like the human body, comprises diverse components that interact in complex ways. We need to understand the Earth’s atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere as a single connected system. Our planet is changing on all spatial and temporal scales. The purpose of NASA’s Earth science program is to develop a scientific understanding of Earth’s system and its response to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards.

    A major component of NASA’s Earth Science Division is a coordinated series of satellite and airborne missions for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. This coordinated approach enables an improved understanding of the Earth as an integrated system. NASA is completing the development and launch of a set of Foundational missions, new Decadal Survey missions, and Climate Continuity missions.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:08 am on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Copernicus, Earth Observation, , Eumetsat,   

    From ESA: “Shared vision strengthens Europe’s space strategy” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    8 November 2017

    1
    Earth seen by Meteosat
    Released 22/04/2015
    Copyright Eumetsat

    This full-disc image of Earth was acquired by the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on MSG-3 (now Meteosat-10 in operation) on 22 April 2015.

    Working together for three decades, ESA and Eumetsat have been instrumental in positioning Europe as a leader in observing Earth from space. Continuing to share a vision, the two organisations have signed a statement that will strengthen Europe in meteorology and climate monitoring, and that will help to take the Copernicus programme into the future.

    Thanks to the long-standing cooperation between ESA and Eumetsat, Europe has a fleet of meteorological satellites, both in geostationary orbit hovering 36 000 km above the equator and in polar orbit circling Earth.

    From their different orbital perspectives, these two types of satellite mission provide essential information for weather forecasts and to understand climate change.

    In addition, both organisations play a key role in the European Commission’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme where ESA develops the suite of Sentinel satellites, which make up the core of this monitoring network, and Eumetsat operates and delivers the data from a number of these missions.

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    Statement signature
    Released 08/11/2017
    Copyright ESA

    A statement, signed on 7 November 2017 by ESA’s Director General, Jan Woerner (middle right), and Eumetsat’s Director General, Alain Ratier (middle left), at the European Space Week in Tallinn, Estonia, sets out the organisations’ shared goals for the future and their continued cooperation. The agreement was signed in the presence of Norway’s Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Lars Jacob Hiim (left) and Spain’s Secretary General for Industry and SMEs, Begoña Cristeto Blasco (right).

    A statement, signed yesterday by ESA’s Director General, Jan Woerner, and Eumetsat’s Director General, Alain Ratier, at the European Space Week in Tallinn, Estonia, sets out the organisations’ shared goals for the future and their continued cooperation.

    Jan Woerner said, “We have been cooperating with Eumetsat since the 1980s to ensure an excellent source of satellite data for meteorology. We built the first and second generation series of the geostationary Meteosat missions and the series of polar-orbiting MetOp missions, which Eumetsat operates.

    “As our cooperative venture continues, we are now focusing on the two follow-on series, Meteosat Third Generation and MetOp Second Generation, which both offer enhancements and ensure the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to come.

    “As part of our United Space in Europe philosophy, the statement that we have signed is a declaration of our continued commitment to strengthening Europe’s strategy for space.”

    2
    MetOp Second Generation
    Released 08/11/2017
    Copyright ESA

    Building on the current series of MetOp weather satellites, the family of MetOp-Second Generation missions will comprise three pairs of satellites to secure essential data from polar orbit for weather forecasting through the decades beyond 2020.

    Meteosat Third Generation comprises six satellites working in pairs: four imaging and two sounding satellites. The Copernicus Sentinel-4 is to be carried on the sounder satellites.

    MetOp Second Generation is also a series of six satellites that work in pairs: the ‘A’ type carries optical instruments while the ‘B’ type focuses on microwave sensors. The Copernicus Sentinel-5 instrument is to be carried on type A.

    The agreement highlights the importance of space-based data to Europe’s economy and competitiveness. In addition, it will increase European autonomy in security, defence, climate monitoring, and the management of natural disasters.

    Alain Ratier added, “Our cooperation offers meteorological satellite systems that have the highest impact on weather forecasts and that therefore create socio-economic benefits of more than €5 billion a year in the EU.

    “This is the foundation for extending our partnership to atmospheric composition and ocean monitoring for Copernicus, together with the EC.”


    ESA Sentinels (Copernicus)

    For the EC’s Copernicus programme, ESA and Eumetsat seek to ensure a new standard of air-quality forecasting so that Europe can better protect the health of citizens with the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions.

    The current Sentinel-3 mission and the future Sentinel-6 mission, which are operated by Eumetsat, are expected to boost the development of operational oceanography, and a 10-year extension of the existing 25-year climate record in light of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

    In addition, both organisations will coordinate efforts to improve Copernicus data accessibility and user uptake to create new business and innovation opportunities.

    Finally, ESA and Eumetsat will implement plans with the EC on the deployment of additional Sentinel satellites to monitor the oceans and atmosphere, in particular to monitor carbon dioxide.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on November 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new NASA study adds evidence that a geothermal heat source called a mantle plume lies deep below Antarctica's Marie Byrd Land explaining some of the melting that creates lakes and rivers under the i, Earth Observation, Hot News from the Antarctic Underground,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Hot News from the Antarctic Underground” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    November 7, 2017
    Alan Buis
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
    818-354-0474
    Alan.Buis@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Carol Rasmussen
    NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    1
    Illustration of flowing water under the Antarctic ice sheet. Blue dots indicate lakes, lines show rivers. Marie Byrd Land is part of the bulging “elbow” leading to the Antarctic Peninsula, left center. Credit: NSF/Zina Deretsky

    Study Bolsters Theory of Heat Source Under West Antarctica

    A new NASA study adds evidence that a geothermal heat source called a mantle plume lies deep below Antarctica’s Marie Byrd Land, explaining some of the melting that creates lakes and rivers under the ice sheet. Although the heat source isn’t a new or increasing threat to the West Antarctic ice sheet, it may help explain why the ice sheet collapsed rapidly in an earlier era of rapid climate change, and why it is so unstable today.

    The stability of an ice sheet is closely related to how much water lubricates it from below, allowing glaciers to slide more easily. Understanding the sources and future of the meltwater under West Antarctica is important for estimating the rate at which ice may be lost to the ocean in the future.

    Antarctica’s bedrock is laced with rivers and lakes, the largest of which is the size of Lake Erie. Many lakes fill and drain rapidly, forcing the ice surface thousands of feet above them to rise and fall by as much as 20 feet (6 meters). The motion allows scientists to estimate where and how much water must exist at the base.

    Some 30 years ago, a scientist at the University of Colorado Denver suggested that heat from a mantle plume under Marie Byrd Land might explain regional volcanic activity and a topographic dome feature. Very recent seismic imaging has supported this concept. When Hélène Seroussi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, first heard the idea, however, “I thought it was crazy,” she said. “I didn’t see how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it.”

    With few direct measurements existing from under the ice, Seroussi and Erik Ivins of JPL concluded the best way to study the mantle plume idea was by numerical modeling. They used the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM), a numerical depiction of the physics of ice sheets developed by scientists at JPL and the University of California, Irvine. Seroussi enhanced the ISSM to capture natural sources of heating and heat transport from freezing, melting and liquid water; friction; and other processes.

    To assure the model was realistic, the scientists drew on observations of changes in the altitude of the ice sheet surface made by NASA’s IceSat satellite and airborne Operation IceBridge campaign. “These place a powerful constraint on allowable melt rates — the very thing we wanted to predict,” Ivins said. Since the location and size of the possible mantle plume were unknown, they tested a full range of what was physically possible for multiple parameters, producing dozens of different simulations.

    They found that the flux of energy from the mantle plume must be no more than 150 milliwatts per square meter. For comparison, in U.S. regions with no volcanic activity, the heat flux from Earth’s mantle is 40 to 60 milliwatts. Under Yellowstone National Park — a well-known geothermal hot spot — the heat from below is about 200 milliwatts per square meter averaged over the entire park, though individual geothermal features such as geysers are much hotter.

    Seroussi and Ivins’ simulations using a heat flow higher than 150 milliwatts per square meter showed too much melting to be compatible with the space-based data, except in one location: an area inland of the Ross Sea known for intense flows of water. This region required a heat flow of at least 150-180 milliwatts per square meter to agree with the observations. However, seismic imaging has shown that mantle heat in this region may reach the ice sheet through a rift, that is, a fracture in Earth’s crust such as appears in Africa’s Great Rift Valley.

    Mantle plumes are thought to be narrow streams of hot rock rising through Earth’s mantle and spreading out like a mushroom cap under the crust. The buoyancy of the material, some of it molten, causes the crust to bulge upward. The theory of mantle plumes was proposed in the 1970s to explain geothermal activity that occurs far from the boundary of a tectonic plate, such as Hawaii and Yellowstone.

    The Marie Byrd Land mantle plume formed 50 to 110 million years ago, long before the West Antarctic ice sheet came into existence. At the end of the last ice age around 11,000 years ago, the ice sheet went through a period of rapid, sustained ice loss when changes in global weather patterns and rising sea levels pushed warm water closer to the ice sheet — just as is happening today. Seroussi and Ivins suggest the mantle plume could facilitate this kind of rapid loss.

    Science paper:
    Influence of a West Antarctic mantle plume on ice sheet basal conditions. Journal of Geophysical Research.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 3:30 pm on November 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: And yet there is also reason for optimism. The report documents how global carbon emissions may be leveling out despite continued global economic growth, , Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume I, Earth Observation, Mauna Loa Observatory, , Recent observations and investment in modeling and research have only strengthened the quality and amount of evidence collected, The Climate Risks We Face, To stabilize global temperature net carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to zero   

    From NYT : “The Climate Risks We Face” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    Radley Horton at Columbia University

    Katharine Hayhoe at Texas Tech University
    3
    Robert Kopp at Rutgers University

    Sarah Doherty at the University of Washington.

    1
    David Goldman/Associated Press

    Since the dawn of the industrial age, humans have been pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil and gas. Researchers at the Mauna Loa Observatory, perched on the side of a volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, have measured atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas since 1958.

    3
    Mauna Loa Solar Observatory, run by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Author University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

    That first year, carbon dioxide averaged 316 parts per million. In May, it reached 410 p.p.m. — an amount never before experienced in the history of our species. This atmospheric carbon dioxide — as well as other heat-trapping gases and other air pollutants emitted by humans — is affecting our planet profoundly.

    We helped write the Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I, released on Friday by the United States Global Change Research Program. This comprehensive report — the most up-to-date climate science report in the world — is an outstanding example of federal science in action, and is especially noteworthy given the current political climate.

    The majority of the report’s 51 authors were drawn from federal agencies, like NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Energy. Much of the foundational data and modeling that underpin the report rely on government investments in observational data and high-performance computing. The report was strengthened by an extensive review process involving the public, the National Academy of Sciences, and all relevant federal agencies, spanning two administrations.

    The report concludes that “global climate continues to change rapidly compared to the pace of the natural variations in climate that have occurred throughout Earth’s history.” It finds that “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” The bottom line is that this report confirms and strengthens what the vast majority of climate scientists have known for decades: that climate is changing and humans are primarily responsible.

    Recent observations and investment in modeling and research have only strengthened the quality and amount of evidence collected. As the report documents, each of the last three years has successively been the warmest on record based on observational data going back to the late 19th century, and 16 of the last 17 years have been among the 17 warmest years on record globally. Global sea level has risen by about 7 to 8 inches since 1900, with nearly half this rise occurring since 1993. A substantial component of this rise, which is accelerating the increased frequency of disruptive “nuisance” flooding in dozens of coastal American cities, is because of human activity. At the same time, the area of ocean covered by Arctic sea ice in September (the typical annual minimum) has decreased by about 50 percent, while its volume has decreased even more dramatically as the remaining ice thins.

    The report also highlights growing reasons for concern. For example, ocean acidification, which occurs when atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, is taking place at what is thought to be the fastest rate in at least 66 million years. Coupled with reductions in oxygen content in near-coastal American waters, this poses a significant threat to coastal fisheries and ecosystems. Much of the western United States is facing a growing threat of more severe drought and larger wildfires as higher temperatures, reduced snow pack and earlier spring snow melt reduce water availability during the warm season.

    To stabilize global temperature, net carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to zero. The window of time is rapidly closing to reduce emissions and limit warming to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the goal set in the Paris climate accord. The further we push the climate system beyond historical conditions, the greater the risks of potentially unforeseen and even catastrophic changes to the climate — so every reduction in emissions helps.

    While climate models incorporate many important processes, they cannot include all aspects of the climate system and all of the possible interactions within that system. Vicious cycles between these climate components may push the Earth into states much different from the past: for example, one with a much smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet and much higher sea level, or one without coral reefs and with greatly reduced marine biodiversity. Surprises can also come from compound extreme events like droughts, floods, heat waves, hurricanes and wildfires that may occur in multiple places at the same time, or sequentially in one place. What is clear is that, even though we cannot quantify all of the possible changes to every element of the climate system, the risks to things we care about — from the health of our children, to the future economic viability of our low-lying coastal cities and infrastructure — are real and growing.

    And yet, there is also reason for optimism. The report documents how global carbon emissions may be leveling out, despite continued global economic growth. News reports in just this past year show how the cost of clean energy sources such as wind and solar have decreased dramatically both here and in emerging economies such as China, India and even the Middle East, sending powerful signals to long-term investors and businesses about which way things are trending. And more and more businesses, whether by choice or in response to investor demand, are asking: What risks do we face, if we do not plan for a changing climate?

    All humans share this planet. We depend on it for the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the natural resources it provides and the places where we live. For that reason, all Americans need to understand the risks we face, and the impact our choices will have on our future.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:56 am on November 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aeolus will measure profiles of the world’s winds using novel laser technology, Earth Observation, ESA Aladin laser, ESA’s Aeolus satellite   

    From ESA: “Wind satellite vacuum packed” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    2 November 2017

    2
    ESA’s Aeolus satellite.

    3
    Aeolus ready for the chamber. Released 01/11/2017 Copyright ESA
    ESA’s Aeolus satellite ready to be put in the thermal–vacuum chamber for testing. Simulating the environment of space, the chamber is used to make sure the satellite will work in space. Aeolus will measure profiles of the world’s winds using novel laser technology. This will not only advance our knowledge of atmospheric dynamics, but also provide much-needed information to improve weather forecasts.

    With liftoff on the horizon, ESA’s Aeolus satellite is going through its last round of tests to make sure that this complex mission will work in orbit. Over the next month, it is sitting in a large chamber that has had all the air sucked out to simulate the vacuum of space.

    Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit: Aladin, which includes two powerful lasers, a large telescope and very sensitive receivers.

    1
    The ADM-Aeolus satellite’s second Aladin laser prior to closure showing the complexity of the 80 optical components contained within a relatively small space of 45 x 34 x 20 cm, about the size of a large shoe-box, and weighing around 30 kg. The mission will provide profiles of the world’s winds as well as information on aerosols and clouds. These profiles will not only advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics, but will also offer much-needed information to improve weather forecasts. Credit: Selex-ES

    These vertical slices through the atmosphere, along with information it gathers on aerosols and clouds, will improve our understanding of atmospheric dynamics and contribute to climate research.

    The laser generates ultraviolet light that is beamed down into the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds – a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space.

    4
    Aeolus sealed. Released 01/11/2017 Copyright ESA

    ESA’s Aeolus satellite is sealed in the thermal vacuum chamber at the Centre Spatial de Liège in Belgium to make sure it will work in space. The satellite will measure profiles of the world’s winds using novel laser technology. This will not only advance our knowledge of atmospheric dynamics, but also provide much-needed information to improve weather forecasts.

    As well as advancing science, Aeolus will play an important role in improving weather forecasts.

    Carrying such novel technology means there have been challenges during development – but advancing space technology is never easy.

    With these difficulties in the past, the satellite is now undergoing final testing in Belgium before it is shipped to French Guiana for liftoff, which is scheduled for the middle of next year.

    After having spent this spring at Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, where it was checked that it could withstand the vibration and noise liftoff and its ride into space, Aeolus has been at the Centre Spatial de Liège since May.

    Here, it has just been enclosed in the thermal–vacuum chamber for the next 30 days or so.

    With the satellite safely inside, the chamber door was closed a few days ago and the air was pumped out to create a vacuum.

    Denny Wernham, ESA’s Aladin instrument manager, said, “It takes some time for the air and outgassing from the satellite to be pumped out of the chamber, but Aeolus finally faced ‘hard vacuum’ on 31 October.

    “Tests are scheduled to run continuously over the next 33 days. We are particularly keen to see how well the laser transmits its pulses of ultraviolet light and the alignment of the instrument in this environment.

    “Since the vacuum simulates the space environment, these tests are crucial to giving us confidence that it will work properly when it’s orbiting 320 km above our heads.”

    Once these tests are done, the satellite will be transported back to Toulouse for final checks before being shipped across the Atlantic to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for launch on a Vega rocket.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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