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