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That Was the Week that Was, March 14-18, 2011. . . Best of Goddard People, Science, & Media and the blogpodcastotwittersphere

March 21st, 2011 Comments off


Tsunami Damage, Rikuzentakata, Japan

Tsunami Damage, Rikuzentakata, Japan


Japan Earthquake
After the March 12 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it’s as if the world collectively gasped — and then what followed was almost a feeling of disbelief as the harsh facts begin to register. Entire seaside communities erased from existence. . . tens of thousands of lives feared lost. . . giant ocean swells flooding the coastline. . . cars and houses looking like toys bobbing in the water. And then there are the satellite images, which provide a critical wide-angle perspective.

NASA’s Earth-observing fleet has helped to reveal the full scope and power of the catastrophe. As Mark Imhoff, the Terra satellite project scientist at Goddard, said in a report by West Virginia Public Broadcasting:

“It’s been heart wrenching seeing some of these images because the first set images that we got in on the day after the earthquake on March 12, even though the resolution from of the satellite wasn’t very good, the data from the Miser instrument at Jet Propulsion’s Laboratory showed that there were a large area of coastline that really weren’t there anymore and so you could really get an impression that a lot of villages and agricultural areas had really been severely impacted by the ocean.”


NASA released a web feature on March 17, five days after the quake, showing tsunami after-effects documented by Landsat 7.

NASA Earth Observatory has compiled a gallery of earthquake-related images from various NASA spacecraft, including EO-1, Terra, Aqua, and astronaut photos from the International Space Station.

As usual, EO’s in-depth captions provide context and explanations for the various destructive effects of the earthquake on coastal Japan. An even larger selection of imagery is available in this NASA web feature about the disaster.


lola_trio_600

New LRO Data
On March 15, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission released the final set of data from the mission’s exploration phase, along with the first measurements from its new life as a science satellite. The press release explains the details. The slideshow below takes a look back at some of the coolest imagery from the mission so far. All the images in the slideshow, and many more, are archived here on the NASA LRO website, which includes detailed captions.




Messenger Makes It
The third major story out of Goddard this week was the arrival in Mercury orbit of the Messenger spacecraft. After three spectacular fly-bys earlier (see slideshow below), Messenger is now in position to really dig into its science mission to reveal the nature and history of the first rock from the sun. An earlier post discusses some of the research being conducted on Mercury’s thin “exosphere” of atoms and ions wispily clinging within the planet’s gravity.


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was the Week that Was, February 21-25, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

February 25th, 2011 Comments off

feb24 solar prominence close up imageCLICK TO SEE THE PROMINENCE IN SUPERDUPER CLOSE-UP!

Our spewing sun: the star next door loosed a projectile vomitus of plasma on Thursday February 24. The Solar Dynamics Observatory was there to capture the drama in glorious HD.

Here’s what the SDO Pick of the Week had to say:

When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft . Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, we can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show.


mosaic of images and art associated with glory mission

Speaking of Glory,
the other leading Goddard news of the week was the serial delays in the launch of the latest NASA earth-observing satellite, Glory. Engineers are still troubleshooting a problem with ground support equipment for the Taurus XL rocket. Gogblog had a few words to say earlier this week about the importance of the Glory mission to climate science.

Here’s the latest status of the mission:

Preparations for the launch of NASA’s Glory mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California have been suspended temporarily. Engineers continue to troubleshoot a malfunction in ground support equipment associated with the Taurus XL rocket. . . . “The Glory spacecraft is doing fine,” reported Bryan Fafaul, Glory project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight in Greenbelt, Md. “We are continuing to slow charge the battery until we have a new launch date.”



GOGBLOG’S PICKS OF THE BEST GODDARD LINKS ‘O THE WEEK. . .

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog features a spectacular satellite image of a volcano in the Kuril Archipelago from NASA Earth Observatory.

NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up features Sara and Maggie’s picks of the coolest astronomy and space stuff of the week.

MODIS Image of the Day features massive tropical cyclone Dianne and its galaxy-like swirliness.

The ASTER instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite imaged the earthquake-stricken Christchurch region in New Zealand.

Goddard’s crack Webb Telescope media team releases an extremely cool interactive tour of the next game-changing NASA space telescope. Take a look under the hood!


THIS WEEK’S PARADE OF BEAUTY SHOTS:

photo of cyclone dianne storm


image of x2 solar flare


satellite image of volcano in kuril archipelago


photo of feb 24 2011 launch of space shuttle

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was the Week that Was, February 6-11, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

February 11th, 2011 Comments off



full disk view of sun from space

SUNDAY February 6: On February 6th, NASA’s twin STEREO probes moved into position on opposite sides of the sun, and they are now beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star—front and back.









MONDAY February 7: NASA Blueshift’s Awesomeness Round-Up highlights a clockwork solar system you can watch move either in Sun-centered Copernican mode or in Tycho Brahe’s hybrid system. PLUS a set of stunning solar exclipse images and other interesting astro-stuff of the week.


The Solar Dynamics Observatory sees a massive coronal “hole” on the sun:


TUESDAY February 8: Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent for January: See it on NASA Earth Observatory.

WEDNESDAY February 9: In communities all across the U.S., seeds went to the moon and back with the Apollo 14 mission are living out their quiet lives. The whereabouts of more than 50 are known. Goddard’s resident astro-Lorax, Dave Williams, speaks for the Moon Trees.

Snowfall: Satellite images created by NASA provide a snowy panorama of a major storm’s aftermath.

Goddard holds an “Ask A Scientist” Twitter event about the STEREO spacecraft milestone.


tweet


NEW VIDEO: Laser ‘Footprints’ on the Moon. As the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) circles the moon, a sophisticated instrument bounces laser light off the moon’s surface 28 times per second. An array of five sensors arranged in an X-shape detects the reflected light. The amount of time it takes the light to travel to the surface and back to the sensors tells the instrument how far away the surface is. Over time, this instrument, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, builds up a complete elevation map of the moon.


THURSDAY February 10: Engineers and technicians at Vandenberg Air Force base, Calif., are preparing the Earth-observing satellite Glory for launch on Feb. 23. In orbit, the satellite’s two science instruments will study key aspects of the climate that will help make it possible to produce more accurate global and regional climate models.

Tune in: Listen to how Glory satellite will help solve the “particle puzzle” of climate change.

Whoosh! New activity at Shiveluch Volcano. See it on NASA Earth Observatory.


FRIDAY February 11: One year ago today, the Solar Dynamics Observatory launched.


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



That Was the Week that Was, January 24-28, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 28th, 2011 Comments off



voyager image of planet uranusMONDAY January 24: Twenty-five years ago today, in 1986, Voyager 2 made its closest approach – within 81,500 kilometers (50,600 miles) of the cloud tops of Uranus.

MABEL’s maiden voyage: An instrument team from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is using the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL) to test a technique that will someday fly on a satellite to measure Earth’s surface with great precision.

More awesomeness: The NASA Blueshift blog comments on wintry weather at Goddard, the Optimus Prime video contest, blazing galaxies, and the latest 2012 apocalypse foolishness.


TUESDAY January 25: On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan made an Apollo-like announcement to build a Space Station within a decade as part of the State of the Union Address before Congress. What came to be called Space Station Freedom evolved into a new program: the International Space Station, now complete after $100 billion and 11 years of construction — and 27 years since Reagan’s announcement. Early concepts for the station look nothing like today’s ISS.

“America has always been greatest when we dared to be great. We can reach for greatness again. We can follow our dreams to distant stars, living and working in space for peaceful, economic, and scientific gain. Tonight, I am directing NASA to develop a permanently manned space station and to do it within a decade.”— President Ronald Reagan, 1984.



MD_spacestation_PANORAMA

satellite image of arkhangelsk in russia New eyes on the sky: On this day in 1983, NASA launched the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) mission. During its ten months of operation, IRAS scanned more than 96 percent of the sky four times, discovering a half-million new infrared sources for subsequent exploration and discovery.

Go to the SORCE: On this day in 2003, NASA launched the SOlar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite to mske precise measurements of the amount of energy Earth receives from the sun.

Russian beauty: The ASTER Featured Image released today shows Arkhangelsk (or Archangel in English), the administrative capital of Archangelsk Oblast, Russia. It is situated on both banks of the Dvina River near where it flows into the White Sea.

My darling Clementine: On this day in 1994, NASA launched the joint Department of Defense/NASA Clementine mission. It mapped most of the lunar surface at a number of resolutions and wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared.


WEDNESDAY January 26: The leading NASA science news of the week: The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the most distant object ever seen in the universe.

Bright idea: Beautiful night shining clouds grace the NASA Earth Observatory Featured Image today.


chart of distant galaxy discoveries by hubble space telescope

THURSDAY January 27: Today NASA holds a Day of Remembrance for the space explorers who died in the line of duty on Apollo 1 and the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 crew of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire in the Apollo Command Module during a preflight test at Cape Canaveral. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. On February 1, 2003, the shuttle Columbia was lost shortly before landing.

“The last week of January every year brings us the opportunity to reflect on the sobering realities of our space exploration enterprise. Each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement. Today, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA Family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.” — Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator



red rover cartoon referring to deceased astronauts


FASTSAT update: Two of FASTSAT’s three instruments are collecting data; a third comes online February 1.

A blast: NASA Earth Observatory features the latest image of the eruption of Mexico’s Colima Volcano.


FRIDAY January 28: See the latest images and video of this week’s East Coast snow storm!
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



That Was The Week that Was, January 17-21, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 21st, 2011 Comments off

artist's concept of mars science laboratory on mars
technicians at work on SAM instrument package in clean roomTUESDAY January 18: Read about Sample Analysis at Mars, the largest instrument on NASA’s next Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory “Curiosity.” SAM was built and tested right here at Goddard Space Flight Center. “It has been a long haul getting to this point,” said Paul Mahaffy, the scientist in charge of SAM. “We’ve taken a set of experiments that would occupy a good portion of a room on Earth and put them into that box the size of a microwave oven.”

Amino acids in space: A wider range of asteroids were capable of creating the kind of amino acids used by life on Earth, according to new NASA research.

WEDNESDAY January 19: On this day in 2006, the New Horizons mission launched from Cape Canaveral, beginning its nine-year trek toward Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. The first spacecraft to visit Pluto, New Horizons was the first in NASA’s New Frontiers program of medium-class planetary missions. The spacecraft is now more than halfway to its target. Only 1634 days until closest approach to Pluto!

artist's concept of active galactic nucleusPrime contest: NASA has opened online voting for the agency’s OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award student video contest. The public is invited to vote for their favorite videos, made by students in grades three through eight, developed to help educate America’s youth about the benefits of NASA’s technologies.

Missing in action: NASA science solves the mystery of the missing galaxies.

On View: The new Goddard View newsletter is available, featuring the SOHO birthday, Webb Telescope model builders, and Goddard Web Producer Holly Zell’s Halloween and Christmas hijinks.





THURSDAY January 20: The NASA Earth Observatory Picture of the Day is an orbital portrait of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, captured by NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite.

Glorious: Get ready for NASA’s next major earth science mission to launch: Glory.


satellite image of st john in virgin islands
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was The Week that Was, January 10-14, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 14th, 2011 Comments off

image of coronal hole on sunOn January 10, the Solar Dynamics Observatory snapped this image of the sun in extreme ultraviolet light, capturing a dark coronal hole.

image of hanny's voorwerpMONDAY January 10: Observations of distant galaxies help solve a centuries-old molecular mystery.

Gateway to space: Goddard scientist Harley Thronson, University of Texas partner Dan Lester, and aerospace industry colleague Ted Talay explain today in the Space Review how the United States can maintain a presence in space after the Shuttle and the ISS programs conclude.

Hanny’s what? You probably can’t pronounce it correctly, but the Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a picture of Hanny’s Voorwerp.

Hubble says: Tiny red dwarf stars, smaller than our sun, can unleash powerful eruptions that may release the energy of more than 100 million atomic bombs.

Fermi surprise: Thunderstorms spew antimatter into space!


TUESDAY January 11: The latest Earth-observing satellite developed by NASA, Glory, arrived Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for a Feb. 23 launch.

Tropical storm warning: NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the low pressure area known as System 93P in the Southern Pacific Ocean early today and saw rainfall already occurring over Vanuatu.


photo of snow on plant stemWEDNESDAY January 12: Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record. And also get the science behind the news: Do annual temperature rankings matter?

Inconstant Crab: X-ray emission from the Crab Nebula is weakening.

Magnificent magnification: As many as 20 percent of the most distant galaxies currently detected appear brighter than they actually are because of the magnifying effect of gravity from other galaxies.

Comet rendezvous: On this day in 2005, NASA launched Deep Impact, the first space mission to probe beneath the surface of a comet. Six months later, on July 3, the spacecraft jettisoned an impactor that crashed into comet Tempel 1. The crash provided the most up-close data and images of a comet in the history of space exploration.

The white stuff: Goddard gets a light dusting of the white stuff. It was no Snowpocalypse, but it was pretty.


photograph of technician and webb telescope mirrorsTHURSDAY January 13: On this day in 1997, NASA scientists announced the discovery of three black holes in three normal galaxies, suggesting that nearly all galaxies may harbor supermassive black holes.

La Nina: A new Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite image of the Pacific Ocean captures stronger La Nina cooling in the Pacific.

Two-faced: Hubble Space Telescope captures two radically different views of the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Not-so-heavy metal video: Learn about beryllium, the wonder metal at the heart of the Webb Telescope.

ICESat away: On this day in 2003, NASA launched the ICESat mission. It was the first mission specifically designed to study Earth’s polar regions with a space-based laser altimeter. The mission led to advances in measuring changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, polar sea ice thickness, vegetation-canopy heights, and the heights of clouds and aerosol particles. The ICESat mission ended in February 2010 with the failure of the last of its three lasers. After a controlled maneuver to bring the craft out of orbit, ICESat entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Barents Sea on August 30, 2010. A follow-on mission, ICESat-2, is slated for launch in 2015.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was The Week that Was, January 3-7, 2011. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 7th, 2011 Comments off

NASA season's greeting logoMONDAY January 3: Meet Wendy Moore Morgenstern, an engineer with the Solar Dynamics Observatory mission.

Last Year’s Awesomeness: NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up features the final list of the coolest-stuff-of-the-last-week-of-2010, including season’s greetings from NASA’s chief, Charlie Bolden, and a talk about the Webb Telescope and the search for alien planets by Goddard’s Mark Clampin.

Border blow: NASA Earth Observatory features a dust storm blowing from northern Mexico across the borders of Texas and New Mexico. NASA’s Aqua satellite caught all the dusty details from orbit.

PlumeWatch: NASA Earth Observatory features Kizimen Volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The Terra satellite watched at Kizimen belched a plume of ash and steam on December 30, 2010.

image of partial solar eclipseMars Polar Lander (not): On this day in 1999, NASA launched the Mars Polar Lander. Communication with the craft was lost just before it was to begin reentry into the planet’s atmosphere on December 3 that same year.

That’s the Spirit! On this day in 2004, the first Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, landed on Mars. On May 1, 2009 (5 years, 3 months, 27 Earth days after landing), Spirit became stuck in soft soil, although it continued to conduct observations in place.


TUESDAY January 4: 2011’s first partial solar eclipse thrills observers in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. Check out a gallery of eclipse images on the Goddard Flickr page or watch the time-lapse video of images captured by Geeked On Goddard guest blogger Dr. Phil Evans.

photo of paper snowflakeWEDNESDAY January 5: See the winners of the space-themed snowflake contest sponsored by NASA Blueshift. Those Blueshift fans are crafty devils!

Shuttle dreams: On this day in 1972, NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher met with President Richard M. Nixon to discuss the future of the space program. After the meeting, they issued a statement to the media announcing the decision to “proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and ’90s.” This was a reference to the Space Shuttle, first flown in April 1981.


image of solar spiculeTHURSDAY January 6: Find out why giant plumes of gas zooming up from the sun’s surface at 150,000 mph may play a key role in heating its sizzling outer atmosphere, the corona.

Water, water, anywhere? On this day in 1998, Lunar Prospector was launched on a one-year mission to explore the moon, especially whether or not water ice is buried inside the lunar crust. Developed as part of the Discovery program of frequent, low-cost missions, Lunar Prospector carried a small payload of only five instruments.


FRIDAY January 7: The Solar Dynamics Observatory Pick of the Week is a gorgeous color portrait of an elongated dark filament of plasma on the sun’s surface. The feature appears reddish-purple when imaged in three different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light.

image of solar filament
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was The Week (Year) That Was, December 27-31, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

January 3rd, 2011 Comments off

satellite image of 2010 christmas snow storm

MONDAY December 27: GOES-13 satellite snaps image of the snowblower storm that brought blizzard conditions to the U.S. East Coast from northern New Jersey to Maine over Christmas weekend.

apollo8 image of earthBlue marble: On this day in 1968, the Apollo 8 return capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after making 10 orbits of the moon. On the outbound leg of the journey, crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders focused a portable television camera on Earth. For the first time, human beings saw their home from afar – a lovely and vulnerable “blue marble” hanging in the blackness of space. When it arrived at the Moon on Christmas Eve, the crew beamed images of the planet back while reading from the Book of Genesis and sent Christmas greetings to humanity.

Special service: In 1999, Shuttle Discovery’s seven-astronaut crew to performed three space walks on December 19-27 on the third mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.


artist's concept of soho spacecraftTUESDAY December 28: Today, the Goddard Flickr page got its 5 millionth hit! Kudos to Rebecca Roth, Goddard’s hard-working Flickrmistress.

Too grand! The SOHO spacecraft spots its 2000th comet — or should we say, SOHO took the picture but Polish amateur astronomer Michal Kusiakon found the comet in the SOHO image and reported it December 26, 2010.

Snowy scene: The Terra satellite captures an image of the snow-blanketed Northeastern United States today, featured on NASA Earth Observatory.

FASTSAT update: Get an update on the three instruments launched on the FASTSAT mission November 19, 2010.


image of jupiter from cassini space craftWEDNESDAY December 29: On the Modis Image of the Day, NASA’s Terra satellite scans a snow-covered Emerald Isle.

THURSDAY December 30: On this day 10 years ago, the Cassini spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter on its way to orbiting Saturn. The main purpose was to use Jupiter’s powerful gravity to slingshot Cassini towards Saturn, its ultimate destination. But the encounter with Jupiter also gave the Cassini project a perfect lab for testing its instruments and evaluating its operations plans for its tour of the ringed planet, which began in 2004.

Happy birth RXTE: Today is the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). Read all about it in Maggie Massetti’s blog at NASA Blueshift.

Frozen science: Meet Goddard’s Bob Benson and hear his tales of chilly research to understand Earth’s mysterious ionosphere.

Nice shot! Revisit GOES satellite surveillance of Planet Earth in 2010.

GOES full disk image of earth

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.




That Was The Week That Was, December 13-17, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

December 17th, 2010 Comments off



photo of goddard employeesMONDAY December 13: Hey good looking! See a week in the life of Goddard people: the slideshow.

Heat islands: Why summer land surface temperatures are rising in the Northeast.

NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round Up spotlights SDO’s latest stunning solar images, sneak attacks from the sun, an update on its coverage of alleged “arsenic-based life,” the latest technological tour-de-force from the Webb Telescope project, and other astro-news of the week.


artist concept of mariner 2TUESDAY December 14: On this day in 1962, Mariner 2 passes within 22,000 miles of Venus and transmits data back to Earth, becoming the world’s first successful interplanetary spacecraft. Mariner 2 recorded the planet’s temperature for the first time, revealing its very hot atmosphere of about 500 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit). The spacecraft’s solar wind experiment was the first to measure the density, velocity, composition and variation over time of the solar wind. . .On this same day in 1978, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter went into orbit around Venus and relayed data until its systems failed.


image of supernova remnant shellHungry: Research by Goddard’s Marc Imhoff and colleagues finds that humans are consuming an increasing amount of the Earth’s total annual land plant production.

Pushing it: humans are using an increasing amount of the Earth’s total land plant production each year for food, fiber, building and packaging materials and biofuels.

Hubble bubble: space observatory sees supernova shell that looks like an ornament.


illumination map of the moon south polar areaWEDNESDAY December 15: New illumination map of the moon’s south pole shows which areas are dark and which are in the light.

Keeps on ticking: Today, Mars Odyssey becomes the all-time longest-running spacecraft at Mars. Launched in 2001, the probe begins its 3,340th day in Martian orbit at 8:55 p.m. EST on Wednesday to break the record set by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, which orbited Mars from 1997 to 2006.

No way! Goddard science report says amino acids found in an “impossible” place.

Losing it: Why West Antarctica ice is shrinking.


THURSDAY December 16, 2010: Behold the chirping, pulsating Norwegian aurora on the What On Earth blog this week.

In a new video, meet Carrie Anderson, a member of the NASA team probing Titan with the CIRES instrument.




FRIDAY December 17: NASA Earth Observatory’s Image of the Day spotlights a land surface temperature map showing that the first week of December was exceptionally cold in northern Europe and the eastern United States. Blame it on the “Arctic Oscillation.”

It’s a whole new moon: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LOLA instrument is charting a exquisitely detailed — and colorful — new view of our luminous natural satellite.


image of moon made with lola instrument data

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



That Was The Week That Was, December 5-10, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

December 10th, 2010 Comments off

image of Chatham island plankton bloomSUNDAY December 5: The Smithsonian AirSpace blog features Robert Goddard, the namesake of our center.

Ocean bloom: A large springtime bloom colored the ocean near the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. The Aqua satellite captured a stunning image of this colorful event today.


MONDAY December 6: On the NASA What On Earth blog, a new “what on Earth is that?” puzzler to solve.

Northern jewel: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Turns 50 today. Here’s NASA Earth Observatory’s Image of the Day: a NASA/Aqua portrait of this unique wildlife area.


photo of goddard employees at film festivalTUESDAY December 7: On this day 15 years ago, the Galileo spacecraft released a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere. Also today, in 2001, NASA launched the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission. TIMED is studying a region of Earth’s upper atmosphere that has never been the subject of a comprehensive, long-term scientific investigation.

Sneaky sun: Harvard scientists use STEREO spacecraft to count space weather “sneak attacks” from sun.

Snowy isle: NASA’s Aqua satellite images a snow-blanketed Ireland after a powerful winter storm hit much of northern Europe in early December

Oh Snap! A Week in the Life of Goddard: Here are some of the more than 700 photographs submitted by Goddard employees, documenting life and work “on Center.”

Cool finding: Computer model shows tree growth could help cool a world with doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.


NASA image of the sun captured December 8, 2010WEDNESDAY December 8: Solar Dynamics Observatory snaps the spaced out smiley face of our home star.

Goddard filmfest: Employees use ballots to vote for their favorite NASA science and mission videos.

Diamond planet: Scientists announce discovery of a carbon-rich, possibly diamond-littered world previously hypothesized by Goddard exoplanet researcher Marc Kuchner and others.

Good attitude: Read a Q&A with Goddard’s Melissa Vess, an engineer who worked on the attitude control system for Solar Dynamics Observatory mission.

Midwest mantle: Snow covers the U.S. Midwest in this new Terra satellite image.

Deadly flood: Goddard scientists use their satellite fleet to map the heavy rainfalls in Venezuela, Colombia, and Costa Rica in late November and early December 2010 that killed more than 190 people.


artist concept of carbon-rich planetsTHURSDAY December 9: Try to focus: A new video takes viewers behind the Webb’s mirrors to investigate “actuators,” one component that will help Webb focus on some of the earliest objects in the universe.


FRIDAY December 10: On this day in 1974, NASA launches Helios 1, a joint project of Goddard Space Flight Center and the Federal Republic of Germany — NASA’s first such project with that nation.

What’d he call it? On the NASA Blueshift blog, Goddard astrophysicist Koji Mukai writes about the mystery of Hanny’s Voorwerp.
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



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