Posts Tagged ‘Earth’

Dr. Garvin’s Solar System Picture Show

August 31st, 2010 Comments off

Hey kids — got a science report due on the solar system? Do I have a video for you: a guided tour of the inner rocky planets by Goddard’s James Garvin.

Chief Scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr. Jim Garvin, takes us on a journey of Earth, the moon, and our neighboring planets. Why does space matter? Why is exploring the inner solar system so crucial? Where will humans venture to next? In this video lecture, Dr. Garvin answers these questions and discusses NASA’s past, present, and future of discovery on our nearest neighbors in the solar system.

Click the image above to see the entire 55-minute presentation on Blip TV. This version, compressed to play in a continues clip, is a little grainy. That short-changes you a bit on the fantastic computer simulations and images packed into Garvin’s talk. You have the option of watching the presentation in six higher-resolution YouTube clips (below). Or you could download the high-res files from Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio site.

Garvin covers Mercury, Venus, the moon, asteroids, Earth (a wee bit), and then Mars (quite a bit). He covers the detailed history of what we’ve done and what we still want to do. Garvin scores big points with his enormous energy and enthusiasm, deep knowledge of the subject (he’s a planetary scientist), and a humorous touch.

Check it out if you want an update from the bleeding edge of NASA planetary science from a true insider. It’s watchable and packed with interesting science/tech tidbits.

If you have a fast Internet connection, set the video segments below to play back at 720p for the maximum High Def data blast.

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.

Blogolicious image of the day: Earth and its moon as seen from the MESSENGER spacecraft

August 20th, 2010 Comments off

Some images are so extraordinary you don’t have to say all that much. And you don’t even need color.

So, briefly, here is an image snapped by the MESSENGER spacecraft, now exploring Mercury. The big blob is us, the littler blob is our moon. MESSENGER snapped the image May 6, 2010, from 114 million miles away — greater than Earth’s average distance from the sun.

And that’s all I gotta say about that. Read more about it at OnOrbit.

Earth and its moon

Earth and its moon

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, August 1-6, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

August 6th, 2010 Comments off

snakey clouds

snakey clouds

SUNDAY AUGUST 1: The Modis Image of the Day shows serpentine vortices of air flow around and over the island of Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic.

STORMY SUN: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO spacecraft observe a complex disturbance on the sun. This releases a blast of magnetically charged plasma, heading toward Earth.

MONDAY AUGUST 2: Hubble Gotchu Guy “Milky J” airs his new video on the Jimmy Fallon show. Filmed at Goddard’s massive Building 7-10-15-29 complex, the video features gang-signing NASA scientists and Milky J’s signature dry wit as he confronts the looming threat of the Webb Telescope to his beloved Hubble.

AWESOME-O-LICIOUS: NASA Blueshift’s Weekly Awesomeness Round-Up sports a cool video tour of the lunar surface based on Clementine data and other morsels of image and video from NASA.

TUESDAY AUGUST 3: A coronal mass ejection from the sun slams into Earth’s magnetic field, igniting a significant geomagnetic storm. Aurora spotters in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Maine, Canada, and Alaska report Northern Lights shows. The show continues the following night.

Milky J Posse

Milky J posse

MILKY J PIX: A NASA Blueshift blog post by Maggie Masetti features a gaggle of behind-the-scenes photos of the filming of Milky J’s new Hubble Gotchu Guy video. . . ME TOO! And on the (ahem) Geeked On Goddard blog, writer and NASA web commando Robert Garner provides another perspective on Milky J’s history making visit to Goddard.

EGYPTIAN SKIES: Pyramids, the space station, the moon, and planets grace today’s Earth science picture of the day.

HERMEAN HOLIDAY: Six years ago today, NASA launched the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury.

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 4: Earth Observatory posts a Terra satellite image of the Pakistani city of Kheshgi, “awash in floodwater,” like other devastated areas of the country’s Northwest.

THURSDAY AUGUST 5: The Pinoy Achiever’s blog spotlights Josefino Comiso, a senior scientist at the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of the Goddard Space Flight Center. The blog celebrates the successes of Philippinos. (“Pinoy” is a word Philippinos use to refer to themselves.)

80 SMALL LEAPS: Happy 80th birthday, Neil Armstrong. On this day in 1930, you were born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. And during a notable field trip on July 20, 1969, you said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”



COSMIC MASH UP: A new video simultaneously shows two galaxies colliding, seen through the eyes of NASA’s three surviving “great” space observatories: the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope. (Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, R.I.P., was the fourth.)

FRIDAY AUGUST 6: wraps up this week’s wild solar shenanigans this way:

THE SHOW IS OVER . . . FOR NOW: Geomagnetic activity has subsided to low levels and the aurora show of August 3rd and 4th has come to an end. At the height of the display, Northern Lights descended as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa in the United States.

DON’T MISS the latest mindblowing SDO image of the August 1 solar disturbance — in fact, here it is below! This space observatory is truly living up to its promise as the Hubble Space Telescope of solar astronomy.


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, July 19-23, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwittersphere

July 23rd, 2010 Comments off

gamma blitz

gamma blitz

MONDAY JULY 19: A year ago, something hit Jupiter, the Hubble Space Telescope saw it, and Goddard scientists were part of the response.

SPRECHEN SIE GAMMA BLITZ? The website for the German magazine Der Spiegel has produced a cool video — it’s (duh) in German, by the way — about last week’s breaking news about a gamma-ray burst (GRB) that temporarily “blinded” the Swift observatory. In German, a GRB is called a “gamma blitz.” (Yup, they make you first watch a commercial, in German, before the gamma-ray blitz starts.)

AWESOME STATISTIC: The NASA Blueshift Weekly Awesomeness Round-up takes the prize this week for most blogolicious science statistic. NASA scientists helped discovered a black hole with massive jets blasting from its poles. “If the black hole were shrunk to the size of a soccer ball,” scientist Robert Scoria explained, “each jet would extend from the Earth to beyond the orbit of Pluto.”

TUESDAY JULY 20: Today in 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 Lander touched down safely on the surface of Mars. Also, a NASA mission called “Apollo 11″ landed two guys on the moons, whereupon one of them, named Neil Armstrong, went outside to take a giant leap for mankind. . . . The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Facebook page did a lusciously detailed and dramatic series of posts reenacting the mission.

UP FROM THE DEPTHS: The central peak of Aristarchus Crater on the moon has deep origins. Read about it on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) Featured Image website.

SLICK OPERATIONS: See the NASA satellite time-lapse video of the Gulf oil spill through July 14, 2010.

HOW HIGH THE FOREST? The NASA Earth Science News Team’s Adam Voiland features a first-of-its kind map of the height of the world’s forests — based on data collected by NASA’s ICESat, Terra, and Aqua satellites.

star power

star power

WEDNESDAY JULY 21: NASA-funded researcher Bo-wen Shen re-runs the formation of the Tropical Cyclone Nargis in a supercomputer. COOL SHIPS: On the What On Earth blog, NASA Earth Science News Team reporter Gretchen Cook-Anderson profiles NASA/Goddard scientist Charles Kironji, who discovered that the wakes of ocean-going ships have a local chilling effect on climate. ATTRACTIVE: Sparkley loopy new shot of our supermagnetic home star from the Solar Dynamics Observatory uploads to the Goddard Flickr site.

booted out

THURSDAY JULY 22: Today in 1962, NASA launched the ill-fated Mariner 1 spacecraft bound for Venus. The vehicle was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer 293 seconds after launch when it veered off course.

GIRLS IN SPACE: Ten Girl Scout teams nationwide, including two girls from Kansas, spent the week at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland as part of a NASA’s “Girls in Space” program. . . . This evening, members of the Goddard Astronomy Club held a special star party for the Scouts at the Visitor Center, featuring the moon, Venus, Saturn, and summer constellations.

COSMIC COOKERY: A new video explains how a powerful instrument called a mass spectrometer figures out the recipe of the universe.

FROZEN FLOW: NASA Earth Science News Team writer Kathryn Hansen reports on the Antarctic Surface Accumulation and Ice Discharge (ASAID) project. The project is making a new map of the “grounding line” where ice breaks off into the ocean.

AND STAY OUT! NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected two stars being tossed out of the Milky Way Galaxy.

FRIDAY JULY 23: The historic Landsat 1 satellite launched this day in 1972. Images from Landsat 1 demonstrated the usefulness of remote sensing data for land surveys, land management, water resource planning, agricultural forecasting, forest management, sea ice movement, and cartography.

HOT LINKS: The University of Virginia Engineering Department’s E-News Online for July profiles Alexandra Hoeft (Engr Sci, Math’11), a spring 2010 intern with NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP). Hoeft worked for 15 weeks at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with NASA mentor Stephen Waterbury. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 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.

Hidden Heroes: 80 percent of the time, Jim Foster thinks about snow. But the rest of the time is consumed by his joy and his jailor — the earth science picture of the day

July 22nd, 2010 6 comments
got moon?

got moon?

Jim Foster is a senior scientist at NASA Goddard who studies snow 80 percent of his work time. “I’m in the Hydrological Science Branch, and my research deals with snow hydrology, also related to snow and climate,” he explains. “I’m involved in projects trying to better derive how much water is stored in snowpacks — seasonal snow not glaciers.”

Less well known is what he does with the remaining 20 percent of his time: EPOD: the earth science picture of the day website.

After many months of following the EPOD site and re-posting its images on blogs and Facebook pages, I finally noticed that the guy running the show is right here at Goddard, over in Building 33 around the corner from me. So I called him.

Foster explained that 10 years ago, he was asked to manage a new website featuring images related to earth science. This became EPOD.

EPOD rocks

EPOD rocks

EPOD echoes APOD — the Astronomy Picture of the Day. To say that APOD is wildly popular is an understatement. It was founded in 1995 by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell. Jerry is a scientist here at Goddard.

In 2000, Foster and the rest of the (small) EPOD team launched the site and put out a call for images. It took a while for things to pick up. But now there is no shortage.

“They come from everywhere,” he says. “We’ve received contributions from each continent. Sometimes it’s scientists, but most of the time just people have an interest in science, or folks that don’t have an interest in science but have a camera.”


lightning strikes

Each EPOD entry includes a caption, links, time and date when the photo was taken, and latitude and longitude coordinates. Often Jim has to research the details before posting.

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) hosts the website on its server. (USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 105 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines.) At USRA, Stacy Bowles handles the technical aspects of the site and runs the relatively new EPOD Facebook page.  And a former newspaper marketing specialist in Seattle, Stu Witmer, contributes to EPOD as an unpaid volunteer. He provides grammar checks, proofreading, and other valuable support. “Stacy and Stu help things run smoothly,” Foster says.

ISS transit_epod_152

sun crosser

Since last fall, NASA’s Earth Observatory has provided funds to cover 20 percent of Foster’s salary to work on EPOD. But there’s more to it than that. There is the more intangible element of commitment.

Day after day for most of the past decade, the ravenous mouth of EPOD had to be fed with a new image and associated information and web links. And through rain, hail, sleet or snow, Foster has delivered. Before going on vacation or traveling for work, he had to build up a queue of EPODs. No exceptions.


cloudy weather

In this sense, EPOD has been Foster’s joy and his jailor. And I think it makes him one of the unsung heroes of science on the web. You know, the people who just do what they do, day after day, usually for only the satisfaction of doing it, often with minimal or no financial support at all — or in some cases, just the reward of feeding an obsession.

There are many such people on the web. But countless earth enthusiasts all over the planet can thank one man for sustaining EPOD for a decade: Jim Foster at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Got any cool earth science images? Send them to Foster. The contact form is on the EPOD website.
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.

Did I Forget To Mention? Happy 5 Years, Deep Impact Mission!

July 13th, 2010 2 comments
comet crash_202

This spectacular image of comet Tempel 1 was taken 67 seconds after it obliterated Deep Impact's impactor spacecraft.

In last week’s That Was The Week That Was, I neglected to celebrate a significant milestone: July 4, 2010, marked the 5th anniversary of the Deep Impact encounter with Comet 9P/Tempel. On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft hurled a heavy mass into the comet, excavating a crater and exposing fresh interior comet stuff to scientific analysis. Feel free to pause and feast on dramatic comet-smashing images and then catch up on the scientific findings.

Mike A’Hearn at the University of Maryland headed the Deep Impact science team, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California managed the project. So why is gogblog nattering on about Deep Impact?

One Goddard connection to Deep Impact is asteroid and meteorite scientist Lucy McFadden. She was a member of the Deep Impact science team and led the mission’s education and public outreach effort. She recently joined Goddard as Chief of University and Post-doctoral Programs. Although her job here is administrative, she remains an active researcher.

In Deep Impact’s present configuration, the Goddard links increase.

First, some brief background. The spacecraft is very much alive, and it’s still working for planetary science. The reincarnation of Deep Impact is called EPOXI. It’s actually two missions in one: the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) mission and the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI).

Deep Impact Earth-Moon_202EPOCh scrutinized a small number of stars in order to learn more about planets that we know are orbiting those stars, and to search for clues to other planets that might be orbiting the same stars. It also imaged Earth to get insights into how we might recognize an Earth-like world around another star. DIXI will study comet 103P/Hartley 2 during a November 2010 encounter.

McFadden is now working with EPOCh’s observations of Earth — more on this in a  future blog post. And Goddard’s Drake Deming, a leading exoplanet scientist, heads the EPOCh component of EPOXI.

Yep, that’s a lot of acronyms. A little confusing, even. But stay tuned, because you’ll be seeing them more often in the future in the science press and on gogblog.

cell_phone_moon_50***INFO UPDATE: There is a new way to get involved in International Observe the Moon Night: invite yourself on the Facebook Event Page.

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.

That Was The Week That Was: June 21-25. . . A Digest of Goddard Science and People In The Media This Week, Historical NASA Milestones, and FREE Stuff

June 25th, 2010 3 comments
Is there an echo in here?

Is there an echo in here?

On Monday June 21, “The Case of the Mylar Mystery” debuted on the History Detectives program. The detectives came to Goddard in January to figure out whether a scrap of silvery Mylar was could be traced back to Goddard’s Echo II satelloon project. . . . Well, gogblog won’t ruin it for you by revealing the answer, but you can download the transcript if you don’t have time to watch the show.

Lagrange points_152On Wednesday June 23, the Goddard Public Affairs Office (PAO) posted a mission update feature, ‘L2′ Will be the James Webb Space Telescope’s Home in Space. The orbital sweet spot is called L2 and it sits about 930,000 miles from Earth, where the gravitational tugs of the sun and Earth balance out . . . . .Why the way-out waystation? For one thing, the gravitational stalemate means it takes minimal energy to make the ‘scope stay put at L2. Also, the frigid temperature out there keeps Webb’s sensitive instruments frosty and sharp.  And L2 offers an unobstructed view of the cosmos.


The lunar farside

Also on Wednesday, Goddard PAO’s Andrew Freeberg chilled out on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s first birthday at the moon with Ten Cool Things Seen in the First Year of LRO. And the winning contestants are 1) the coldest place in the solar system ever measured, 2) astronaut footprints, 3) a near miss with Cone Crater, 4) a lost Soviet rover, 5) the lunar farside, 6) a bevy of boulders, 7) mountains, 08) rilles, 9) pits, and 10) frigid polar craters. Andy’s fine review features lots of blogolicious moon images.


Goddard Astronomy Club president Cornelis Dutoit keeps an eye on the sun as relentless shimmering waves of solar energy melt the faces off of everyone else attending Celebrate Goddard 2010.

On Thursday June 24, “Celebrate Goddard” took over the grassy mall near the main gate, spotlighting “the diverse skills and individual differences that have made our legacy of success possible.” Atta boy, Goddard! You go, major NASA center for research in astronomy, earth, and space science! Lookin’ sharp, kid! . . . . . The day featured exhibits by Goddard scientists, organizations, and clubs; a Center talent show; and the first-ever Celebrate Goddard parade, featuring the  DuVal High Marching Tigers. . . . . The weather: hot enough to melt your face off, with heat index up to 104 degrees.

Earth from the moon, LRO-style . . .Also on Thursday, NASA released a near-full disk image of Earth snapped by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team created it by assembling multiple scans captured by LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera. The image was originally posted on the Arizona State University LROC featured image site by Mark Robinson, LROC’s Principle Investigator.

***UPDATE: Friday June 25, 4:22 pm . . . NASA released another LRO image: Goddard Crater, located along the Moon’s eastern limb and named after the namesake of our beloved Center, pioneering rocket scientist Robert H. Goddard (1882-1945). The LOLA instrument that captured the image was built here.

Astronaut Sally K. Ride

Astronaut Sally K. Ride

Thursday marked 27 years since the space shuttle missionSTS-7, June 18-24, 1983 — that carried astrophysicist Sally K. Ride into space and into history as the first American woman in orbit. . . . . But the anniversary is bittersweet: STS-7 was a flight of the Challenger, which was lost with all hands about three years later, January 28, 1986. Two female astronauts died that day: Judith Resnik and Christa McAuliffe.

On June 25, 1997, the Russian resupply vessel Progress collided with the science module Spektor on the Mir space station while attempting to dock. The blow punctured and decompressed Spektor, and knocked out its solar panels. . . . . The two cosmonauts and one American astronaut (Michael Foale) on Mir were not harmed. . . . . The Russian space agency refused to abandon ship, and kept Mir alive until it could be repaired. Foale stayed aboard, too. . . . . Watch the animated recreation of this near-catastrophe on YouTube to get a sense of just how bad it was — and how lucky the astro/cosmonauts were to make it through alive!

On June 26, 1978, NASA launched Seasat-A, the first satellite to make global observations of Earth’s oceans. The satellite carried the first spaceborne synthetic aperture radar. After 105 days of returning data, Seasat was crippled by an electrical fault. . . . . Now here is a blogolicious Seasat-A science fact: While not anticipated by the satellite’s designers, Seasat-A was actually able to detect the waves of SUBMERGED submarines!

remembering giants_202FREE STUFF
Gogblog loves space tech, and here is a massive dose of it for like-minded technophiles. Remembering the Giants: Apollo Rocket Propulsion Development, Monographs in Aerospace History, No. 45 (NASA SP-2009-4545), edited by Steven C. Fisher and Shamim A. Rahman. . . . . This monograph is the proceedings from a series of lectures on Apollo propulsion development hosted by NASA’s Stennis Space Center. . . . . Request a copy of this monograph by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the NASA History Division, Room CO72, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20546. Or just download a PDF of the report.

Gogblog gratefully credits the NASA History Division website as the source of the historical tidbits this week.

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.

Highs and Lows from Ten Years of Terra, Flagship of the NASA Earth Observing System

May 18th, 2010 1 comment
oil spill_304

The Terra satellite watches from orbit as an oil spill drifts toward the Louisiana Delta.

Change, as the old saying goes, is the only constant thing in the universe. Just over a decade ago, NASA launched a satellite called Terra to watch Earth’s surface and atmosphere. How is the planet changing and what are the consequences of change for life down here?

Last week, the Terra folks at Goddard held a private bash at our Visitor’s Center to celebrate Terra’s many accomplishments to date. Here are some of the various highs and lows of the mission that caught my eye:

HIGH: On December 18, 1999, Terra blasted off to a typical Earth-observing orbit 435 miles above the surface . . . It is 22 feet long and 11.5 feet wide, or about the size of a small school bus. Did I mention it weighed 5 tons (10,506 lbs) at launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base? . . In contrast, its high-tech lightweight solar panel weighed just 371 pounds because it was made up of solar cells fixed to a flexible blanket that unfurled in orbit. (Thanks to Eric Moyer, EOS Mission Director, for looking up that blogolicious science fact about Terra.)

The Terra spacecraft

The Terra spacecraft

LOW:  Millions of people grounded in Europe by drifting ash from Iceland’s (deep breath) Eyjafjallajokull Volcano. On May 13, Terra’s MODIS instrument observed the irritatingly unpronounceable volcano mixing it up with a local weather system.

HIGH:  Terra’s CERES instrument package measures how much solar energy Earth absorbs and how infrared radiation and heat is emitted back into space. Such sky-high measurements mean a lot for us puny groundlings, since Earth’s “energy balance” affects global climate.

LOW:  Terra told us that gases and particle that drag down air quality can be Asian imports transported long distances by the wind. The MOPITT instrument on Terra sniffs out carbon monoxide; the MODIS and MISR gizmo’s track tiny aerosol particles. Both carbon monoxide and aerosols influence air quality.

station fire_202HIGH:  Terra’s MISR instrument showed that large wildfires inject particles ands gases high into the atmosphere. This enables the smoke to drift long distances. For example, smoke from the high-flying plumes of the 2009 Station Fire drifted as far as Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Carbon monoxide from the fire traveled at least as far as Louisiana.

mudslides_202LOW:  Terra’s ASTER instrument has proven a valuable tool for imaging mudslides, a notoriously murderous natural hazard sometimes unleashed by the combination of volcanic ash eruptions and heavy rainfall. In this image captured December 12, 2006, mudslides are black against a red background of plant-covered land. The populated towns Legazpi and Daraga are gray with white highlight from reflective surfaces.

Scientists and supporters of the Terra mission whoop it up at the Goddard Visitor Center.

Scientists and supporters of the Terra mission whoop it up at the Goddard Visitor Center.

Gogblog gratefully tips his blogolicious hat to Kathryn Hansen and Mike Carlowicz from NASA’s Earth Science News Team for their detailed account of Terra’s scientific accomplishments, from which much of this blog post was adapted.

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.