Recently in Earth Science Category

DSCOVR Is Finally Poised for Liftoff, extending critical space weather alerts, forecasts, NOAA

"Formerly known as Triana, DSCOVR was initially planned in the late 1990s as a NASA Earth science mission that would image Earth in 10 spectral bands and measure how much energy was being reflected and emitted from Earth. Seven years later, NOAA and the Air Force worked with NASA to remove DSCOVR from storage so the spacecraft and instruments could be tested to verify their flight readiness. NOAA funded NASA to refurbish the DSCOVR satellite and instruments. The U.S. Air Force is funding and overseeing the launch of the spacecraft."

- GoreSat Lives - Again and Again and Again (Chronology)
- GoreSat Is Back
- Earlier Goresat postings

Preparing for Hurricanes

Media Day at Wallops for NASA Hurricane Airborne Mission

"As the Atlantic Ocean's hurricane season hits its peak, media are invited to visit NASA's latest airborne hurricane research mission using remotely piloted aircraft on Thursday, Sept. 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The presentation to the media will be streamed online live beginning at 10 a.m.  at:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-tv-wallops"

Another Blue Marble Image

Earth: Blue Marble, Eastern Hemisphere, NASA

"Of all the planets NASA has explored, none have matched the dynamic complexity of our own. Earth is constantly changing, and NASA are working constantly to explore and understand the planet on scales from local to global."

Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists, NASA Research Shows [With Video], NASA

"NASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide."

Use of Space-Based Earth Remote Sensing Data In Support of Scientific and Societal Needs - AIAA Space 2014, SpaceRef [Watch]

"In this session, representatives of agencies, organizations, and communities that make use of space-based remote sensing data in support of scientific and societal needs will discuss those uses, including both those now carried out using existing data, as well as potential future uses based on the data that are anticipated to become available in the future. Uses will cover topics such as operational forecasting/prediction, resource management, policy development, scientific assessment, and commercial product development."

Landsat's Global Perspective Over 40 Years, NASA

"On July 23rd, 1972, the first Landsat spacecraft launched into orbit. At the time, it was called "Earth Resources Technology Satellite," or ERTS, and was the first satellite to use a scanning spectrophotometer.

...

Celebrating this anniversary, this video is a "greatest hits" montage of Landsat data. Throughout the decades, Landsat satellites have given us a detailed view of the changes to Earth's land surface."

NNASA Launches New Carbon-Sensing Mission to Monitor Earth's Breathing [Watch], SpaceRef

"NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 a.m. EDT) Wednesday."

"The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit. The spacecraft then performed a series of activation procedures, established communications with ground controllers and unfurled its twin sets of solar arrays. Initial telemetry shows the spacecraft is in excellent condition."

NASA Prepares to Launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2

The spacecraft will sample the global geographic distribution of the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and allow scientists to study their changes over time more completely than can be done with any existing data. Since 2009, Earth scientists have been preparing for OCO-2 by taking advantage of observations from the Japanese GOSAT satellite. OCO-2 replaces a nearly identical NASA spacecraft lost because of a rocket launch mishap in February 2009.

NASA Releases Orbiting Carbon Observatory Accident Summary, earlier post

"A NASA panel that investigated the unsuccessful Feb. 24 launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO, has completed its report."

Earth Before Earth Day

Earth Before Earth Day

"Long before man journeyed to the moon and looked back at the tiny, fragile planet that houses humanity, remote orbiters were sending back pictures of home. Sent to scope out potential landing sites on the Moon, the series of five Lunar Orbiters also sent back the earliest views of Earth from another celestial body. This image, taken in 1966 by Lunar Orbiter 1, is among the first views of Earth from the Moon. In the black-and-white image, a crescent Earth floats majestically behind the lumpy surface of the Moon."

B612 Foundation Earth Day Impact Video, Press Conference and Webcast

"The B612 Foundation will hold a press conference today which will be webcast from the Seattle Museum of Flight today. The press conference will feature the following new video of data from a nuclear-test-ban-treaty organization showing multiple atomic-bomb-scale asteroid impacts on Earth since 2001. You can watch the press conference below starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT."

Keith's note: @NASASocial is retweeting lots of selfies today (this is one of the ones they decided to retweet). Instead of trying to raise issues relevant to Earth Day, NASA is turning the #Globalselfie thing into posting selfies of people and their pets. They could have easily tweeted a little guidance to people and ask them to highlight issues that affect Earth, the environment, climate change. They could also post links to specific projects that NASA is doing in this regard ... or organizations working to address these issues - but no, that takes strategic thought.  Why think too hard, @NASASocial? Just post selfies.

A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction, 2012, (PDF) as submitted.

Keith's 20 March update: (The University of Maryland has pulled this 2012 paper offline - summary/excerpts below). This is apparently the newer 2014 paper - submitted on 18 March - on the same topic - with a nearly identical summary: "Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies".

Excerpts from both versions of the paper are included below - after the link.

NASA Statement on Sustainability Study

"A soon-to-be published research paper 'Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies' by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota's Jorge Rivas was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. "As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions."

Keith's 20 March update: The paper claims that it was partially funded by NASA - and mentions a specific NASA grant i.e. "NASA/GSFC grant NNX12AD03A". NASA seems to be saying that it was not funded by NASA.

Keith's 21 March update: NASA responded to my questions on this topic:

NASAWATCH: Did NASA money support this work and if so how much and who (program, project, directorate) paid for it?

NASA: In 2010, NASA funded a small pilot project at the University of Maryland to adapt a physical climate simulation model for use at the University. A small secondary task, valued at less than $30,000, was used to couple the climate model with a population model. The resulting model, the "Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model is a simplified model of human-climate interactions.

NASAWATCH: If NASA funds were used why has it been pulled offline? Is not such work a matter of public record?

NASA: NASA has not pulled the paper offline or directed it to be done. Questions regarding the paper itself should be directed to the University of Maryland.

NASAWATCH: Did NASA solicit this research - and if so what specific program solicited and funded it?

NASA: NASA did not solicit the research in this paper. The HANDY model was part of a pilot study funded as part of Goddard's Modeling, Analysis and Prediction program.

NASAWATCH: Is there a statement of work/proposal to accompany this paper?

NASA: Yes. There was a Statement of Work that covered the development of the model.

NASAWATCH: Does NASA endorse the findings?

NASA: No.

NASAWATCH: Will NASA be publishing/promoting this paper and its findings?

NASA: No.

Snowstorm Update

Monster Snow Storm As Seen From Space

"The monster winter storm that brought icing to the U.S. southeast moved northward along the Eastern Seaboard and brought snow, sleet and rain from the Mid-Atlantic to New England on February 13. A new image from NOAA's GOES satellite showed clouds associated with the massive winter storm stretch from the U.S. southeast to the northeast."

@NASA_Marshall Marshall will resume operations & reopen Friday, Feb 14. Only Gates 9, 7, 1 will be open for early commute. Watch for ice; travel carefully!

OPM Status

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN under 2 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive.

Mars on Earth

Winnipeg deep freeze as cold as uninhabited planet, CBC

"The Manitoba Museum is reporting Winnipeg's temperatures on Tuesday were actually as cold as the surface of Mars. According to the Curiosity Rover, Mars reached a maximum temperature of -29 C on Tuesday, a temperature Winnipeg only reached shortly before 3 p.m. The deep freeze over much of Southern Manitoba prompted extreme wind chill warnings in the area and most of the north. In Winnipeg, the daytime high temperature for Tuesday was only expected to reach -31 C, but the windchill made it feel more like -40 to -50. That means exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes."

Judge Orders NASA to Release Climate Change-Related Documents, Allgov

"Among the materials NASA withheld were two electronic directories referred to as the "Steve" and "alternate cleaning" directories, media inquiries about the data corrections, and two email accounts of Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a NASA scientist who teaches at Columbia University and contributes to a blog called RealClimate.org. Although CEI wanted all that and more, Judge Rothstein ordered NASA to release only the "Steve" directory and one of Dr. Schmidt's email accounts, finding that the other materials either held no responsive documents or fell within a valid FOIA exemption. Declining to go further, Rothstein rejected CEI's contention that that NASA had acted in bad faith. "CEI"s request for discovery is not justified here because CEI has not provided any evidence that the agency acted in bad faith and the outstanding issues of fact do not suggest bad faith on the part of NASA," Judge Rothstein ruled."

Antarctic Ozone Hole Slightly Smaller than Average This Year

"The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers)."

Planning and Implementation of Caretaker Status for U.S. Antarctic Program

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) is responsible for managing and coordinating the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) on behalf of the nation. This includes providing support personnel and facilities and coordinating transportation and other logistics for scientific research. Due to the lapse in appropriation, funds for this support will be depleted on or about October 14, 2013. Without additional funding, NSF has directed its Antarctic support contractor to begin planning and implementing caretaker status for research stations, ships and other assets. The agency is required to take this step as a result of the absence of appropriation and the Antideficiency Act."

Keith's note: There is a Change.org petition titled "Congress: Shutdown Exemption for the United States Antarctic Program".

New NASA Climate Models

NASA Data Shows Potential 21st Century Temperature, Precipitation Changes [Watch], NASA

"New data visualizations from the NASA Center for Climate Simulation and NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., show how climate models used in the new report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate possible temperature and precipitation pattern changes throughout the 21st century."

Also released today: Climate report by international panel says warming 'extremely likely' man-made, Washington Post

"Scientists can now say with extreme confidence that human activity is the dominant cause of the global warming observed since the 1950s, a new report by an international scientific group said Friday.

Calling man-made warming "extremely likely," the (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used the strongest words yet on the issue as it adopted its assessment on the state of the climate system."

- Key Science Points from the 2013 IPCC Report, NASA Earth Observatory Blog

- Ranking Member Johnson's Statement on the Release of the IPCC Climate Change Report

- Lamar Smith (R-Texas) Statement on IPCC Climate Change Report

Subcommittees Review Looming Gap in Weather Satellite Coverage Call for Better Prioritization to Ensure Consistent Weather Data, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified a high probability in degraded weather satellite coverage starting as early as next year, and has designated this data gap as a new high-risk area in a report earlier this year. Given this potential gap in weather satellite coverage, today's hearing addressed questions about the administration's priorities in funding weather satellites and research as compared to climate change-monitoring satellites and research."

- Subcommittees Discuss Remediation and Avoidance of Crucial Weather Forecasting Gaps, Status Report, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
- Environmental Satellites: Focused Attention Needed to Improve Mitigation Strategies for Satellite Coverage Gaps, GAO
- Geostationary Weather Satellites: Progress Made, but Weaknesses in Scheduling, Contingency Planning, and Communicating with Users Need to Be Addressed, GAO
- Polar Wather Satellites: NOAA Identified Ways to Mitigate Data Gaps, but Contingency Plans and Schedules Require Further Attention, GAO

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 20, 2013

Question: According to NASA, what is the largest living organism visible from Earth orbit? Answer: Australia's Great Barrier Reef

"The Great Barrier Reef extends for 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) along the northeastern coast of Australia. It is not a single reef, but a vast maze of reefs, passages and coral cays (islands that are part of the reef). The white calcium carbonate that coats the living coral reflects light, making the water above the reef appear bright blue from space. This phenomenon allows the reef to be the largest living organism visible in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite photos and videos ..."

Keith's note: Wrong. Coral reefs are collections of lots of organisms of many different species - not a single organism. "The largest living organism visible from Earth orbit" is most likely Pando - although larger examples may be awaiting discovery.

Pando (tree), Wikipedia

"Pando (Latin for "I spread"), also known as The Trembling Giant, is a clonal colony of a single male quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) determined to be a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system. The plant is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000,000 kg (6,600 short tons), making it the heaviest known organism. The root system of Pando, at an estimated 80,000 years old, is among the oldest known living organisms."

NASA to Debut Water Falls Movie this Fall [Watch Trailer], SpaceRef

"This fall coming to select theatres, is a movie about water, one that NASA thinks will change how you view our watery world. Water Falls, A Science on a Sphere Film is a different type of movie.

According to NASA, the movie is designed for playback specifically on spherical screens and "the project immediately demanded an abstract, poetic presentation of its subject."

Marc's note: Goddard has set up an excellent web site to complement the movie with educational resources for teachers.

Has CubeSats Time Come?

Can CubeSats do quality science? For one group, yes NewSpace Journal

"While interest in CubeSats--spacecraft as small as ten centimeters on a side and weighing one kilogram--has grown in recent years, one challenge facing the community of CubeSat developers is whether such spacecraft can perform useful missions, beyond education (many satellites are built by student groups) and technology development and demonstration. For one group at the University of Colorado, it appears that CubeSats can carry out research worthy of publication in scientific journals."

NRC Warns Landsat-Type Data Not Sustainable Under Current Practices, Space Policy Online

"The National Research Council (NRC) today issued its much-anticipated report on how to ensure continuity of Landsat-type land imaging data. The bottom line is that a sustained program is not viable under current mission development and management practices. Instead, the NRC calls for a "systematic and deliberate program" instead of the "historical pattern of chaotic programmatic support and ad hoc design and implementation of spacecraft and sensors" that has characterized the Landsat program to date.

... In short, the report calls for a "systematic and deliberate program with the goal of continuing to collect vital data within lower, well-defined, manageable budgets" to "replace the historical pattern of chaotic programmatic support and ad hoc design and implementation of spacecraft and sensors in the Landsat series.""

Tropical Storm Flossie Headed for Hawaii, NASA

"The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite acquired this image of Tropical Storm Flossie at 1:10 p.m. local time (23:10 Universal Time) on July 28, 2013. The storm was moving westward across the Pacific Ocean, headed for the Hawaiian Islands. It is expected to be the first tropical storm to make landfall on the islands in nearly 20 years."

NASA Discusses First IRIS Solar Images in Media Teleconference, NASA

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT today to present the first images from NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), which was launched June 27 on a mission to study the sun."

The panelists for the briefing are:

-- John Grunsfeld, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- S. Pete Worden, director, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator, Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif.
-- Gary Kushner, IRIS project manager, Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif.
-- Bart DePontieu, IRIS science lead, Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif.

- Supporting information will be available online just before the briefing at: http://www.nasa.gov/sunearth

- You can listen to audio here.

North American Climate Change in the Coming Century [Watch], SpaceRef

"NASA has released two videos showing projected precipitation and temperature changes in North America by 2100."

Long-Running NASA/CNES Ocean Satellite Takes Final Bow

"The curtain has come down on a superstar of the satellite oceanography world that played the "Great Blue Way" of the world's ocean for 11 1/2 years. The successful joint NASA and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Jason-1 ocean altimetry satellite was decommissioned this week following the loss of its last remaining transmitter.

Jason-1 has been a resounding scientific, technical, and international success," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "The mission met all of its requirements, performed an extended mission and demonstrated how a long-term climate data record should be established from successively launched satellites. Since launch, it has charted nearly 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) of rise in global sea levels, a critical measure of climate change and a direct result of global warming. The Jason satellite series provides the most accurate measure of this impact, which is felt all over the globe."

Marc's note: While Jason-1 is decommissioned, Jason-2 continues operation and Jason-3 will be launched sometime in 2015.

Blog Post: Protecting Planet Earth by Charles Bolden, NASA Blog Post

"Having looked back at Earth from outer space, I have seen just how fragile our home planet is - and I'm committed to doing everything I can to help protect it.

Yesterday, President Obama announced an ambitious Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and put us on a more environmentally sustainable course. At NASA, where one of our primary goals is to improve life for everyone on the planet, I'm pleased to say that we have a number of missions already supporting this important work through our robust Earth Science program."

Planet Labs Reveals First Images from Space, SpaceRef Business

"Planet Labs, a space and analytics company, announced plans to launch the world's largest fleet of Earth imaging satellites to image the changing planet and provide open access to that information. Today, they revealed the first images from their first two satellites.

"Planet Labs will create an entirely new data set, with both humanitarian and commercial value," said Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. "We've become used to having imagery of the entire Earth. What we haven't yet understood is how transformative it will be when that imagery is regularly and frequently updated." Everyone from ecologists to citizen journalists will be able to track frequent changes to any place on the planet -- a frequency and coverage greater than ever seen before."

Detailed Satellite Imagery of Severe Storm (Large image and video), NASA

"A powerful storm swept across the Midwestern U.S. late on June 12, 2012 and is continuing to move across the Mid-Atlantic. Around 0700z (3am EDT), the Suomi NPP satellite passed over the storm as the most intense areas were along the Ohio-West Virginia-Pennsylvania border."

NASA Flooding Google Plus Hangout, NASA

"A soggy 2013 spring, with near record rainfall in some areas, has led to flood warnings in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. With the floodwaters come questions as millions brace for the next wave of thunderstorms: Will this be another multi-billion dollar flood like the ones that hammered the Midwest in 1993 and 2008? How much rainwater will fall into rivers, and where will those rivers flood into towns? Just how good are those flood predictions, and could they be better?"

Marc's note: Watch an archived version of the Hangout.

Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?, NASA JPL

The Arctic permafrost contains vast amount off organic carbon stored over millennia. A NASA program, CARVE, is testing a hypotheses that Arctic carbon reservoirs are vulnerable to climate warming. Will these reservoirs be released? And what happens if these vast amount of stored carbon are released?

Early results: "The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they're finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling."

NOAA Returns a Healthy GOES-13 to Normal Operations as GOES-East, NOAA

"NOAA today officially returned the GOES-13 spacecraft to normal operations, after tests showed a micrometeoroid, likely hit the arm for the solar array panel on May 22, knocking the spacecraft off its delicate, geostationary balance."

NASA Satellite Sees Strong Thunderstorms in Developing Gulf Low, NASA

"NASA's Aqua satellite passed over low pressure System 91L in the Gulf of Mexico and captured infrared imagery that revealed a lot of uplift and strong thunderstorms in the eastern part of the storm despite a poorly organized circulation. NOAA's GOES-East satellite showed the large extent of the low pressure area stretching from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to Florida.

System 91L is a tropical low pressure area that has been lingering in the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico for several days. The low pressure area is located in the central Gulf of Mexico and covers a large area. It has a large area of disorganized thunderstorms and strong gusty winds over the southeastern Gulf."

Update: NASA Sees Heavy Rainfall in Tropical Storm Andrea, NASA Goddard

NASA's IceBridge Mission Contributes to New Map of Antarctica (Video), NASA

"A new dataset called Bedmap2 gives a clearer picture of Antarctica from the ice surface down to the bedrock below. Bedmap2 is a significant improvement on the previous collection of Antarctic data--known as Bedmap--that was produced more than 10 years ago."

Satellite shelved after 2000 election to now fly

"Obama proposed Wednesday spending nearly $35 million in his 2014 budget to refurbish a satellite, nicknamed GoreSat by critics, that's been sitting in storage after it was shelved in 2001, months after Bush took office. It cost about $100 million by then with NASA's internal auditors faulting its cost increases."

- Vice President Gore challenges NASA to build a new satellite to provide live images of Earth from outer space, 13 March 1998

"Vice President Gore proposed today that NASA scientists and engineers design, build and operate a satellite that will make available a live image of earth 24 hours a day on the Internet."

- Triana Mission Selected, 27 October 1998

"Triana is a $75 million mission to be launched by December 2000 from the Space Shuttle cargo bay."

Climate Maverick to Quit NASA

"Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times. But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. "It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the 'sideshow' would exit," Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail."

- Why Does NASA Treat James Hansen Differently Than Other Employees?, earlier post
- Jim Hansen Arrested For Yelling or Something (Again), earlier post

Earlier posts

Top NASA scientist arrested (again) in White House protest, Fox

"NASA's top climate scientist and government official James Hansen was arrested Wednesday outside the White House -- at least the fourth arrest now for the scientist. Hansen, a controversial and highly vocal proponent of the argument that man's actions have dramatically affected the planet's climate, is the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- a position for which he earns a $180,000 taxpayer-paid salary ... a NASA spokesman told FoxNews.com after a 2011 arrest that what Hansen does in his own time is none of the government's business. "The agency doesn't comment on personnel matters," Ed Campion, a spokesman for parent organization Goddard Space Flight Center, told FoxNews.com."

James Hansen Arrested For Yelling, earlier post

Keith's note: Hansen must have a lot of unused annual leave ...

Editorial on NASA Planetary R&A Programs, Mark V. Sykes, Planetary Science Institute

"At a minimum, this year's decline needs to be reversed to ensure that selection rates are improved to stop the imminent loss of the younger generation of planetary scientists as well as many seasoned researchers. The cost is frankly small and demands high priority. Multi-year budget planning is essential. We also face significant negative consequences from the effective collapse of the Discovery program combined with the termination of the Mars Scount program."

- NASA SMD Responds to Community Budget Priority Concerns, earlier post
- Losing a Generation of Planetary Scientists, earlier post
- Independent Look at NASA Planetary Science Budgets, earlier post

First Image From Europe's MSG-3 Weather Satellite

"Today, the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on MSG-3 captured its first image of the Earth. This demonstrates that Europe's latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 5 July, is performing well and is on its way to taking over operational service after six months of commissioning."

DigitalGlobe and Enough Project Formalize Partnership to Monitor Mass Violence in Sudan

"DigitalGlobe (DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, today announced an agreement with the Enough Project to continue providing unrivaled imagery and analysis services to monitor evidence of bombings, razed villages and possible threats to civilians in Sudan in an effort called the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). In addition to the imagery and analysis provided under the terms of this new agreement, DigitalGlobe will also contribute additional in-kind services."

GoreSat Is Back

Once-derided climate-change satellite may launch with new goal

"An Earth observation satellite conceived by former Vice President Al Gore -- but banished to a Maryland warehouse by foes of climate change after George W. Bush beat Gore for the presidency -- could get a ride into space as early as 2014. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants about $23 million next year to continue a quiet reboot of the satellite, and spending bills circulating in Congress show that lawmakers -- so far -- are willing go along with it."

Keith's note: First it was called "Triana". NASAWatch called it "GoreSat". Then it was "Deep Space Climate Observatory" (DSCOVR). If this spacecraft is eventually launched, you can be absolutely certain that NASA (or NOAA) will not be able to figure out what Triana has cost since its inception in 1998 and various reincarnations since then. Try and get a consistent cost number out of NASA for Mars Phoenix, for example.

Earlier Goresat postings

Nasa says study open to inspection, Bangkot Post

"After fears were raised that the plan might be a cover for a "spying mission", Hal Maring, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's lead planner for the project, issued the invitation. He told the Bangkok Post Sunday that Nasa had already explained in detail the aircraft and sensors to be used in the SEAC4RS project."

NASA cancels climate study project after Thailand delays decision to OK use of key air base

"NASA said it canceled the mission Tuesday "due to the absence of necessary approvals by regional authorities in the time frame necessary to support the mission's planned deployment and scientific observation window," according to the project's website."

Impacts of Delays and Cost Overruns on Nation's Weather Satellites

"Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) and Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) held a hearing yesterday on the status of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) polar-orbiting and geostationary weather satellites. Two Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on the respective satellite systems were released at the hearing."

- Geostationary Weather Satellites: Design Progress Made, but Schedule Uncertainty Needs to be Addressed

- Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: Changing Requirements, Technical Issues, and Looming Data Gaps Require Focused Attention

Brattle Group Economists Estimate Value of NASA's Global Solar And Meteorological Data Services To Be Up To $790 M

"A report prepared for the NASA Applied Science Program and authored by economists at The Brattle Group finds that the use of NASA's solar and meteorological data services has greatly contributed to the U.S. and international goals of achieving greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. The study, which was presented today at a workshop hosted by IEEE's Committee on Earth Observation, finds the economic value of the datasets to be between $79 million and $790 million worldwide, with higher ranges possible."

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA Applied Science Program website they make no mention of this report. This rather odd given that they paid for the report - one that has been released and makes some rather important assessments about the value of what NASA does.

Keith's note: This email/memo was sent from Christopher Strickland's official NASA email account at 10:57 am EDT today to more than 30 individuals - all at their official NASA email addresses. No request for anonymity was requested of me. Nor did I solicit this memo. As far as I am concerned Mr. Strickland made this memo public. I cannot vouch for anything that is contained in the email but he has gone out of his way - in his official capacity at NASA - to tell people about this issue - and does so in a rather cogent fashion. Here is the memo, verbatim.

"To Whom It May Concern:

Due to the culmination of abusive behavior by the Mission Systems Engineer over the past year, including hostile treatment in front of project and division management during a review, and continued assault in the parking lot later that same day; I resign my position as Lead of the High Gain Antenna System for the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite at Goddard Space Flight Center effective immediately.

NASA Budget Would Be More of the Same ... on the Surface, National Journal

"Unfortunately, the Committee has lost confidence in NOAA's ability to control procurement costs or articulate reliable funding profiles. Therefore, we have taken the unprecedented step of transferring responsibility for building our Nation's operational weather satellites from NOAA to NASA," [Mikulski] said."

U.S. could lose aging eyes in the sky, CNN

"Of 23 such satellites now aloft -- carrying dozens of instruments that help weather forecasters produce storm warnings and measure pollution, ocean winds and sea levels -- only six are expected to remain in operation by 2020, and efforts to replace them have stalled, the National Research Council reports."

Satellites at risk, Washington Post

"The NRC proposes restoring NASA's earth observation satellite funding to the level seen in the late 1990s -- before President George W. Bush reprogrammed money from those satellites into things such as manned spaceflight to Mars. That level stands at about $2 billion."

NASA's James Hansen Slams Obama's Failure to Lead on Climate, Rolling Stone

"President Obama can't catch a break: Just when he gets right with the gays, the greens come after him. In today's New York Times NASA's leading climate scientist James Hansen takes the president to task for not doing jack on climate change. "President Obama speaks of a 'planet in peril,'" Hansen fumes, "but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world's course."

From a Boy Who Loved NASA: How 49 Heroes Lost the Right Stuff and Sullied Their Names, Huffington Post

"I guess it shouldn't have surprised me these gentlemen -- 49 out of tens of thousands of former NASA employees (more than 18,000 people currently work for NASA, so this is about 0.27% of current employees) would next move into the emotional language. It shouldn't have surprised me, but it disappointed me just the same."

On Astronauts, NASA, and Climate Concerns, NY Times

"Here's the note I received from Russell Schweickart after I alerted him about the letter (he was unaware of it): To my knowledge most of the signatories on this letter are in fact engineers (or former engineers). Some are (or were) scientists... But none, to my limited knowledge, are what I would consider qualified climatologists. AND... they have every right to state and argue for their opinion, and I fully support their right on that score."

Former NASA scientists, astronauts admonish agency on climate change position, Science and Public Policy Institute

"49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week admonishing the agency for it's role in advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change while neglecting empirical evidence that calls the theory into question. The group, which includes seven Apollo astronauts and two former directors of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, are dismayed over the failure of NASA, and specifically the Goddard Institute For Space Studies (GISS), to make an objective assessment of all available scientific data on climate change."

Keith's note: This press release/group letter should have been titled "Former NASA [JSC] scientists, astronauts admonish agency on climate change position" since virtually everyone who signed it seems to live in Texas or once worked at JSC. In addition, more than 90% of the signers have no apparent "science" background - and this letter is about science (I guess). That said, a lot of the names are very recognizable from NASA's history, and they seem to be upset about something. Oh yes, guys (I only see one female signer): SMD AA John Grunsfeld (also a former JSC employee) has a perfectly good Ph.D.

Note: if comments go off topic and degenerate into a Democrat Vs Republican food fight (as they always seem to do on this topic) I will shut them off.

Response from NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati to Letter on NASA Climate Studies

"NASA sponsors research into many areas of cutting-edge scientific inquiry, including the relationship between carbon dioxide and climate. As an agency, NASA does not draw conclusions and issue 'claims' about research findings. We support open scientific inquiry and discussion."

NASA Successfully Launches Five Rockets from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia

"NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets this morning from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream. Each of the rockets released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space. The launches and clouds were reported to be seen from as far south as Wilmington, N.C.; west to Charlestown, W. Va.; and north to Buffalo, N.Y."

Image: Suomi NPP's View of North America

"Suomi NPP's VIIRS instrument returned this hi-resolution full-disc image of the Earth from several passes made Jan. 4, 2012. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) mission represents a critical first step in building the next-generation Earth-observing satellite system that will collect data on both long-term climate change and short-term weather conditions."

Republicans Send Deficit Reduction Recommendations to Select Committee (NASA excerpts)

"Cancellation of OCO-2 mission ... Reduce by 20% "Other Missions and Data Analysis" account within the Earth Systematic Missions ... Reduce by 20% "Venture Class Missions" account within the Earth System Science Pathfinder Missions ... "

Photo: Ron Garan's Last Day in Space

@ASTRO_RON: "How I spent my last day in space.

That's me in the cupola of the International Space Station off the coast of Australia taking my last of over 25,000 pics that I still want to share w/ everyone."

Keith's note: I am confused. Astronaut Ron Garan flies to the International Space Station and sends a non-stop stream of personal - and cool - photos back to Earth via Twitter and Twitpic. Well, these photos usually do not always end up on NASA's Human Spaceflight website but some of them appear on his personal (?) website at fragileoasis.org (the domain is registered to some anonymous individual in Bellveue, Washington) - a website that never seems to use the word "NASA" - unless you scroll to the small text at the bottom of the page with a micro NASA logo. Guess what - that link is to http://nasa.gov . Try it. It does not work. It should say http://www.nasa.gov which does work. Looks like no one bothered (or cared) to check.

Are NASA funds used to run this website? If so, then why the lack of coordination with NASA.gov?. If not, then why isn't NASA running such a high profile site that highlights such a prominent activity that its own official website seems to not want to highlight? Some (but not all) of these photos and commentary by Ron Garan also appear at NASA's blog site.

Ron Garan is a NASA civil servant who was on official duty at taxpayer expense on the ISS. We paid his airfare. We should all be seeing everything he sends back to Earth, without having to hop around various websites, right? NASA should endeavour to collect all that he sends back to Earth - in one place - so as to maximize this dissemination of information to the public. But that is not the case.

These "NASA" sites do not even link to each other. Who is in charge here? NASA PAO?, HEOMD? Ron Garan? Until NASA figures out how to coordinate its "messages" it will be hobbled by stove piping and hobby shop approaches to education and public outreach. The scattered nature of this otherwise inspiring series of photos and operations exposes just how uncoordinated NASA is these days when it comes to telling the taxpaying public what it is doing and why. And then they have the nerve to complain when the public does not seem to understand what they are doing.

Cool stuff Ron. You done good. Some of your stuff is jaw dropping. As a result, perhaps the rest of the agency can learn how to work together as one cohesive and cooperating entity in the future?

This is an awesome image worth spreading across our planet. Is it featured at NASA.gov?

No.

Keith's note: From what I have been able to piece together HEOMD's Beth Beck (the creator of the failed NASA BuzzRoom) is behind this site. Elyse David is the "Executive Producer and Founding Crewmemeber" of Fragile Oasis according to her Twitter page. Beth Beck does more or less whatever she wants to do on this website with near zero coordination with NASA PAO. Despite multiple requests in the past for metrics and a plan for education and public outreach Beth has been unwilling/unable to provide me with anything. Yes, Ron Garan's photos and commentary have been amazing - but when they are not coordinated with NASA.gov's much larger distribution system, they suffer from less than full visibility they might otherwise attain. The net result is that NASA's limited funding for such things is not being spent in the best way possible. Once again one part of NASA simply does not care to coordinate with the other.

Photo: Algal Bloom In The Barents Sea As Seen From Space

"The phytoplankton bloom pictured in this Envisat image stretches across the Barents Sea off the coast of mainland Europe's most northern point, Cape Nordkinn. The southern area of this deep shelf sea - with an average depth of 230 m - remains mostly ice-free due to the warm North Atlantic Drift. This contributes to its high biological production compared to other oceans of similar latitude."

NASA's Hansen Arrested Outside White House at Pipeline Protest, Bloomberg

"James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was arrested outside the White House as he joined protesters in urging President Barack Obama to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)'s $7 billion pipeline. Before he was taken into custody today, Hansen took a megaphone and implored Obama to act "for the sake of your children and grandchildren." "If Obama chooses the dirty needle it will confirm that the president was just green-washing all along," Hansen, 70, who took a vacation day from his job at the New York based institute to participate in the protest, said in an e-mailed statement."

Keith's note: James Hansen certainly must have a lot of vacation time to burn on these public stunts. I am certain OSTP loves having a NASA employee shouting back at them across the White House lawn over policy. Oh well, at least Hansen speaks his mind - but the way he does these things using his NASA affiliation tends to leave the impression that he says is what everyone at NASA thinks - and that is not accurate. Obviously he does not care.

Oh yes, as I have stated before, while I think Hansen is inappropriately allowing his NASA affiliation to be factored into the public perception of his personal views, I usually agree with Hansen's personal views (but not in this one particular instance).

Photo: Hurricane Irene Seen in a Planetary Context From Orbit

"NASA / NOAA GOES-13 satellite image showing earth on August 26, 2011 at 14:45 UTC (10:45 a.m. EDT). Hurricane Irene can been seen on the U.S. East Coast. Irene Almost 1/3 the Size of East Coast. Irene has become a major hurricane, and NASA satellite data shows its diameter is now about 510 miles -- roughly 1/3 the length of the U.S. Atlantic coastline. Hurricane watches are in effect for much of the East Coast."

Photos from Today's Space Station Flyover Of Hurricane Irene

This afternoon, starting at approximately 3:45 pm EDT, the International Space Station flew over Hurricane Irene. The flyover lasted approximately 6 minutes. At one point a member of the crew reacted to the sheer size of this storm by saying "We are used to travelling long distances - but this storm stretches from Cuba to Carolinas -- this is a huge scary storm". The flyover was shown live on NASA TV. Below are screen grabs made during the flyover taken from different cameras aboard the ISS.

Irene As Seen From Orbit

Photo: Hurricane Irene As Seen From The International Space Station

"This panoramic view of recently-formed Hurricane Irene was acquired by the crew of the International Space Station early Monday afternoon from a point over the coastal waters of Venezuela. At the time Irene was packing winds of 80mph and was just north of the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Although no eye was visible at this time, the storm was strengthening and exhibited the size and structure of a classic "Cape Verde" hurricane as it tracked west-northwestward towards the southern Bahamas."

Today's Cool Space Pix

Photo: One Last Visit To The Cupola

"Backlit by Earth's "day time" light, NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus, STS-135 mission specialist, gets one last visit to the Cupola onboard the International Space Station. on July 18, 2011."

NOAA SEC Space Weather Bulletin #11- 1: Geomagnetic Storm Expected

"NOAA Region 1261, very active over the past few days, produced the third of a sequence of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and Solar Radio Blackout Events early today. The net effect of that activity is convergent CMEs expected to disturb the geomagnetic field in the early hours, Universal Time (UTC) of August 5. G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm conditions are likely as well as a distinct chance of S2 (Moderate) Solar Radiation Storm levels being surpassed. NOAA 1261 is still in a prime position, relative to Earth, for more geoeffective activity in the next few days."

Space Weather Message Code: WARK07 WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 7 or greater (G3 or greater)

"WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 7 or greater expected
Valid From: 2011 Aug 05 2200 UTC
Valid To: 2011 Aug 06 0300 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
NOAA Scale: G3 or greater - Strong to Extreme"

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 5 August 2011

"IIB. Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to reach minor to major storm levels with a chance for severe storm periods on 06 August. Heightened activity is expected due to continued effects from the CMEs of 02, 03, and 04 August. Activity is expected to decrease to unsettled to active levels on 07 August. Quiet to unsettled conditions are expected on 08 August."

Marc's Note: Follow SpaceRef's SpaceWeather Twitter account for updates (http://twitter.com/SpaceWeather).

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

"NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed."

Climate-change politics: The sceptic meets his match, Nature

"Joe Bast and his libertarian think tank are a major force among climate sceptics -- but they just can't win the battle over science."

NASA Flights Seek To Improve View Of Air Pollution From Space

"Initial test flights are planned for the week of June 27, with up to 14 science flights starting as early as July 1. The P-3B, a four-engine turboprop, will carry nine instruments. The two-engine UC-12 will carry two instruments. Sampling will focus on an area extending from Beltsville, Md., to the northeastern corner of Maryland in a pattern that follows major roadway traffic corridors. The flight path passes over six ground measurement sites operated by the Maryland Department of the Environment."

NASA overflights postponed, Baltimore Sun

"NASA's plans to send low-flying aircraft over the Baltimore-Washington area to measure air pollution levels have been postponed to allow more time to increase public awareness of the flights."

NASA Scientist Accused of Using Celeb Status Among Environmental Groups to Enrich Himself. Fox

"In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a group claims NASA is withholding documents that show James Hansen failed to comply with ethics rules and financial disclosures regarding substantial compensation he earned outside his $180,000 taxpayer-paid position as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. ... Mark Hess, chief of communications for the Goddard Space Center, sent Fox News NASA's response to Horner's FOIA request. It said in many cases the documents Horner requested did not exist. Horner claims they should, if Hansen was complying with the law."

ATI Law Center Asks Court to Force NASA to Produce Ethics and Outside Employment Records of Dr. James Hansen

"NASA argues the release of the records would constitute a "clearly unwarranted violation of Hansen's privacy rights," and says ATI's lengthy explanation of Dr. Hansen's outside work "had not made the requisite showing that the documents requested would contribute to the public's understanding of the activities of the Government, or how it would shed light on NASA's performance of its statutory duties."

Aquarius/SAC-D Launched

Aquarius/SAC-D Launched

"With a burst of light, the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft lifted off June 10, 2011 at 7:20 a.m. PDT (10:20 a.m. EDT) from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California."

NASA Launches Space-Based Saline Solution, OSTP

"Aquarius is the product of an international collaborative effort between NASA and the Argentine space agency, with contributions by Canada, France, Brazil, and Italy. This new capability will enhance and complement the European Space Agency's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite designed primarily to measure soil moisture."

Keith's note: There is a memorial banner on the launch tower that reads "In memory of our colleague and friend Hal Chase - the ULA Team". Hal Chase was a ULA employee at VAFB and passed away recently.

NASA GSFC Solicitation: The Climate at Home Project

"NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ("GSFC") is looking to enter into a non-funded Space Act Agreement partnership for the development of a climate simulation system referred to hereafter as the "Climate@Home(TM) project." The Climate@Home(TM) project will build a virtual climate simulation supercomputer with contributions from citizens for both their idle computing cycles and local knowledge about climate change."

NASA Terra Images: Flooding from Tsunami near Sendai, Japan

"NASA's Terra satellite's first view of northeastern Japan in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami reveal extensive flooding along the coast. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired the top image of the Sendai region on March 12, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. The lower image, taken by Terra MODIS on February 26, 2011, is provided as a point of reference."

- DLR Disaster Extent Map: Japan, Sendai Airport - Earthquake/Tsunami
- NOAA Animation: Honshu Tsunami Propagation Across The Pacific Basin
- Image: NOAA Model of Honshu Tsunami Event
- NASA Shows Topography of Tsunami-Damaged Japan City

NASA Schedules Next Glory Mission Launch Attempt

"The launch of NASA's Glory spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is currently planned for no earlier than Friday, Feb. 25 at 5:09 a.m. EST. Engineers from NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. continue to troubleshoot a technical issue that arose during Wednesday's initial launch attempt. The target launch date also will ensure personnel get the required rest before entering another countdown."

Reps Posey, Adams and Bishop Join Colleagues in Calling on House Leaders to Reprioritize NASA for Human Space Flight Missions, Drop Climate Change

"We write today to assert the importance of maintaining our nation's human spaceflight program. Our constituents spoke loudly and clearly in the last election and sent a wave of new and reelected Members with a mandate to reduce federal spending. Moreover, each of us understands that our nation is on an untenable economic path and spending must be reduced. In getting our fiscal house in order, however, we must focus carefully on ensuring that we preserve critical capabilities and guarantee that agencies are focused on their primary mission. For NASA, that mission is human space exploration, and we ask that NASA funding be allocated in a way that refocuses NASA on this core mission."

Keith's note: As one reader notes: From the NASA Act of 1958 sec 102(d):

"The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space; ... (3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space"

Note that the FIRST item in the act is studying the Earth, atmosphere, and related space phenomena (such as space weather). Human spaceflight is a subset of the THIRD item. Earth Science, broadly defined, is not a new or strange activity for NASA."

Photo: Monster Winter Storm Affecting 30 States

NASA image release January 31, 2011. This visible image was captured by the GOES-13 satellite and shows the low pressure area bringing snowfall to the Midwest Jan. 31, 2011. Heavy snow is expected today in portions of northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Snowfall from the system extends from Michigan west to Montana, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. A mix of rain and snow also stretches into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and it is all moving east. This system appears to be as large as 1/3rd of the Continental U.S. The image was created on Jan. 31 at 12:45 p.m. EST (1745 UTC)

Technoarchaeology: Tiros-1

Technoarchaeology: Where is the True "First" Picture taken by Tiros 1?

"The NASA Goddard Library has a rare and unique collection of 26 bound volumes of TIROS 1 photography prepared by the Navy in 1961 specifically for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This talk will highlight the collection, attempts contemplated to preserve it, and revelations that the "first" image from TIROS, widely distributed around the internet (and even by NOAA and NASA), was not the first photo, nor even taken on the first day of operations!"

Photo: Region Around Mt. Everest As Seen From Orbit

Keith's note: This image was aquired by the ISS crew on 6 January 2011. Although the summit if Everest itself is just out of frame, you can see Everest Base Camp where Scott Parazynski lived and most of the lower portion of Scott's climb to the summit. Basecamp is about half a kilometer from the bottom of the Khumbu icefall and is located in the lower right hand portion of this image, to the right of the "e" in "Khumbutse" (where the red dot is).

NASA's Hansen prefers rule by decree to fight 'global warming', Washington Times

"NASA laboratory head James Hansen's anti-democracy rants were published while he was on a November junket in China, but they didn't get much attention until recently. On Jan. 12, the hyperprolific blogger Marc Morano put them on his Climate Depot site, and within hours, the post went viral. In a former life, Mr. Morano was chief global-warming researcher for Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican."

Keith's note: Alas, the global warming deniers continue to villify Hansen (armed with little more than vitriol and arm waving) - and Hansen continues to say whatever he wants where he wants. Yet every time Hansen is quoted the word "NASA" is included - even if he is quoted when not speaking for NASA in an official capacity. No one else at the agency can do that when talking about their day job. I wonder why?

Photo: GOES-13 Satellite Captures Blizzard Leaving New England

"Snows are finally winding down in New England today, Dec. 27, as a powerful low pressure system brought blizzard conditions from northern New Jersey to Maine over Christmas weekend. The GOES-13 satellite captured an image of the low's center off the Massachusetts coast and saw the snowfall left behind."

Gazing Out The Window

Photo: In The Cupola, Gazing Down at Earth From Orbit

Astro_Wheels: Wanted to share this view out of the Cupola. We said farewell to our teammates Sasha, Misha and Tracy this weekend and they are safely back on planet Earth. Tracy in quiet reflection of an incredible journey...homeward bound...

Nile Delta at Night As Seen From Orbit

"From 220 miles above Earth, one of the Expedition 25 crew members on the International Space Station took this night time photo featuring the bright lights of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. The Nile River and its delta stand out clearly as well. On the horizon, the airglow of the atmosphere is seen across the Mediterranean. The Sinai Peninsula, at right, is outlined with lights highlighting the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba."

NASA Scientist Urges Canada Not To Touch Oil Sands, AHN

"Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada (AHN) - Another nail was driven into Alberta's oil sands industry on Tuesday after a top NASA scientist advised the province to leave the tar fields alone. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies gave the advice to a panel reviewing the proposed Total E&P $9-billion plan to build the Joslyn North Mine."

Oil sands should be left in the ground: NASA scientist

"One of NASA's top scientists has told a panel reviewing a proposed oil sands mine in northern Alberta that the resource should simply be left in the ground. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies says allowing new developments such as Total E&P Canada's $9-billion plan to build the Joslyn North mine would make it too hard to manage the impact of climate change."

NASA scientist tells hearing that oilsands should be left in ground, Oilweek

"One of NASA's top scientists has told a review panel considering a new oilsands mine that the resource should simply be left in the ground. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies says allowing new developments such as Total's $9-billion Joslyn mine would make it too hard to keep climate change impacts manageable."

Keith's note: I don't dispute anything that Hansen says about this issue, global warming etc. And I do appreciate his enthusiasm and dedication. BUT I am just wondering why he is able to openly flaunt his "NASA" employment in every article that he gets mentioned in, without qualification or exception, as he makes these statements in an overtly public fashion. When other NASA employees do this they get slapped down.

A setting last quarter crescent moon and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere are photographed by an Expedition 24 crew member as the International Space Station passes over central Asia.

high res (1.2 M) low res (40 K)

'Avatar' Director and NASA Focus on Earth Science Exploration in PSA Campaign

"James Cameron, director of "Avatar," the most successful film ever released, is featured in a series of new NASA public service announcements that describe the many contributions of the agency's Earth science program to environmental awareness and exploration of our home planet. "When NASA ventures into space, it remembers to keep a steady eye on home," Cameron said. "Its fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites constantly reveals our whole planet: its remotest places, its mysteries and the powerful influence of humans."

NASA Balloon Suffers Mishap in Australia, NASA

"Upon release, the balloon's payload hit the ground and was dragged approximately 150 yards before hitting a fence and sports utility vehicle. No one was injured. A mishap investigation board is being convened."

NASA balloon crashes on take-off in Australia, destroying telescope, USA Today

"A towering NASA science balloon bearing a gamma-ray telescope crashed on liftoff today in Australia, according to reports from the Outback. The gondola carrying the multimillion-dollar package overturned an SUV and narrowly missed several onlookers. The Nuclear Compton Telescope, which was developed by the University of California, was destroyed. The telescope "came off the launch vehicle badly and hit the ground several times as the abort completed," team member Eric Bellm, a graduate astronomy student at the UC-Berkeley, wrote on the mission's blog [now blocked]."

Earth Day Activities

Challenger Center and Green Trail Energy Bring Power to Washington (updated with new photos)

"This week in Washington, DC thousands of people will descend on the National Mall to see a variety of clean energy ideas as part of Earth Day. One of the pieces of technology on display is co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Formally known as the GSW-7000 this device is a self-contained trailer that is capable of generating up to 4.4 kilowatts of power from the sun and 2.4 kilowatts of power from wind energy."

NASA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Earth Day Nationwide

"NASA centers across the nation invite journalists and the public to see and hear about the agency's contributions to exploring and protecting our home planet during this year's Earth Day celebrations. A highlight of this year's activities is a weeklong series of exhibits and talks on the National Mall in Washington."

Senators Demand Explanation of NASA's Flawed Climate Data, Fox

"Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to NASA chief Charles Bolden demanding answers to questions surrounding newly uncovered irregularities in the space agency's climate data. Not everyone is sipping the global warming Kool-Aid. Concerns about the validity of NASA's climate research are being raised following revelations that the space agency admitted its data was less accurate than other weather trackers'. Disturbed by these reports, as well as the growing Climate-gate scandal that has left global-warming theorists reeling, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to space agency chief Charles Bolden demanding answers."

NASA Dives Into Its Past to Retrieve Vintage Satellite Data, Science (subscription)

"Last month, researchers working out of an abandoned McDonald's restaurant on the grounds of NASA Ames Research Center recovered data collected by NASA's Nimbus II satellite on 23 September 1966. The satellite soared over Earth in a polar orbit every 108 minutes, taking pictures of cloud cover and measuring heat radiated from the planet's surface, and creating a photo mosaic of the globe 43 years ago. The resulting image is the oldest and most detailed from NASA's Earth-observing satellites. It's also the latest success story in what researchers call techno-archaeology: pulling data from archaic storage systems. Once forgotten and largely unreadable with modern equipment, old data tapes are providing researchers with new information on changes in the surfaces of Earth and the moon."

"... They cleaned, rebuilt, and reassembled one drive, then designed and built equipment to convert the analog signals into an exact 16-bit digital copy. "It was like dumpster diving for science," says Cowing, co-team leader at LOIRP. In November 2008, the team recovered their first image: a famous picture of an earthrise taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on 23 August 1966. The team's new high-resolution version was so crisp and clear that it revealed many previously obscured details, such as a fog bank lying along the coast of Chile."

Google Earth Images From 1966

Technoarcheology and Earth Sciences, the Recovery of Nimbus II High Resolution Infrared Radiometer Data

"In 2008 the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) began a NASA ESMD sponsored project to resurrect 43+ year old Ampex FR-900 instrumentation tape drives for the purpose of recovering, before the capability to do so becomes impossible, the last surviving master tapes from the five Lunar Orbiter spaceraft that orbited the Moon in support of Apollo in 1966-67. Our project is proceeding on our task to do so. During our research on the Ampex tape drives we scoured the NASA Technical Reports Server as well as any other source we could get our hands on.

One of the things that the LOIRP team is going to do is to take the Nimbus II HRIR data from August 23rd 1966 and overlay that with the Lunar Orbiter 1 data on the same date for a composite mosaic. There is potential for a significant synergy between Lunar Orbiter, Apollo, and Nimbus II and III data sets. This type of synergy could provide many benefits to the Earth sciences community."

Techno-Archaeology Rescues Climate Data from Early Satellites, National Snow and Ice Data Center

"Starting with the methods developed for the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) at NASA Ames Research Park, a team at NSIDC worked with Dennis Wingo at LOIRP to search NASA archives for the original Nimbus tapes containing raw images and calibrations. Their first goal was to read and reprocess the data at a higher resolution, removing errors resulting from the limits of the original processing."

Judicial Watch Uncovers NASA Documents Related to Global Warming Controversy, Judicial Watch

"According to the NASA email, NASA's incorrect temperature readings resulted from a "flaw" in a computer program used to update annual temperature data. [James] Hansen, apparently frustrated by the attention paid to the NASA error, labeled McIntyre a "pest" and suggests those who disagree with his global warming theories "should be ready to crawl under a rock by now." Hansen also suggests that those calling attention to the climate data error did not have a "light on upstairs."

NASA Caught in Climate Data Manipulation; New Revelations Headlined on KUSI-TV Climate Special

"In a new report, computer expert E. Michael Smith and Certified Consulting Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo discovered extensive manipulation of the temperature data by the U.S. Government's two primary climate centers: the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in Ashville, North Carolina and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University in New York City. Smith and D'Aleo accuse these centers of manipulating temperature data to give the appearance of warmer temperatures than actually occurred by trimming the number and location of weather observation stations."

Keith's note: At a time when substantial job cuts loom for the Florida economy due to Shuttle retirement, and Recovery Act money is flowing steadily elsewhere in the U.S., one would think that NASA would be looking at ways to offset some of the post- Shuttle economic impact. Guess again.

In July 2008, scientists at the University of Central Florida proposed the $50 million "Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk" (GOLD) mission to NASA's Explorer program. After NASA and scientific community peer review this experiment was selected for Phase A development and funding as a mission of opportunity under its Explorer science space program.

Despite getting excellent ratings, and a recommendation by its own Explorer review panel to proceed, NASA Science Mission Dorectorate AA Ed Weiler decided not to select the mission for full development due lack of funds. Once again, it would seem that SMD's inability to cover cost overruns on large projects such as the Mars Science Laboratory continues to have a negative ripple effect on new science missions. Oh yes, there is another large MSL overrun that will be announced soon.

Rep. Susan Kosmas (D-FL) has taken this mission's plight under her wing and has been working hard to get some face time with NASA on this topic. Alas, the office of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has not done anything of consequence to probe this matter further. This inaction on Nelson's part is rather odd given his rhetoric on other issues facing Florida's workforce.

Researcher: NASA hiding climate data, Washington Times

"Mark Hess, public affairs director for the Goddard Space Flight Center which runs the GISS laboratory, said they are working on Mr. Horner's request, though he couldn't say why they have taken so long. "We're collecting the information and will respond with all the responsive relevant information to all of his requests," Mr. Hess said. "It's just a process you have to go through where you have to collect data that's responsive." He said he was unfamiliar with the British controversy and couldn't say whether NASA was susceptible to the same challenges to its data. The White House has dismissed the British e-mails as irrelevant."

Researcher Reportedly Threatens to Sue NASA Over Climate Data, Fox

"The Washington Times reported Thursday that Christopher Horner, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has given NASA until the end of the year to grant his two-year-old Freedom of Information Act request for research detailing NASA's climate data and explaining why the agency has altered its own figures."

Global warming e-mails prompt Republican letter to EPA

"The e-mails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus . . . that tells us the Earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity," Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a House committee. She said that the e-mails don't cover data from NOAA and NASA, whose independent climate records show dramatic warming.

On-Orbit Space Party

Poetic Social Mission Global Webcast and Broadcast

"Actors Matthew McConaughey and Salma Hayek, singers Joss Stone and Elisapie Isaac, musical group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Nicolai Tsiskaridze and poet Touria Ikbal join former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, U2, and others in the effort to tackle the global water crisis. A 120-minute global event featuring musical performances by major international artists and the reading of a poetic tale by well-known celebrities, the Poetic Social Mission seeks to raise awareness through artistic illustration of the humanitarian struggles and solutions associated with water."

NASA OIG on Landsat

NASA OIG: The Landsat Program Is Not Meeting the Goals and Intent of the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992

"We found that LDCM Project management had ensured that the acquisition plan and subsidiary documents prepared for LDCM followed applicable interagency agreements, policies, regulations, and best practices. In addition, we found that LCDM Project management effectively identified, reported, and mitigated LDCM acquisition risks and had implemented an effective Earned Value Management System to improve management of cost and schedule risks. However, NASA's efforts to comply with the goals outlined in the LRSP Act of 1992 needed improvement. Specifically, NASA and the Nation's efforts to develop, launch, and operate a land remote sensing system to maintain long-term data continuity is in jeopardy because no Federal agency has been given overall responsibility for the Landsat Program and LDCM baseline requirements changed after the contract award for the spacecraft, resulting in increased Project costs and possible launch schedule delays."

Today's Video: Bella Gaia

BELLA GAIA(TM) (Beautiful Earth) is a 'Living Atlas' journey of our world, expressing the deeply moving beauty of planet Earth as seen through the eyes of astronauts. Created by award winning director and classically trained violinist Kenji Williams, BELLA GAIA(TM) features live performances by Williams and world music artists against a large-screen backdrop of orbiting visualizations of Earth from space.

Video below

NASA and NOAA's GOES-14 Satellite Takes First Full Disk Image

"The latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-14, provided its first visible full disk image of Earth on July 27, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The prime instrument on GOES, called the Imager, is taking images of Earth with a 1 kilometer (km) or 0.62 mile resolution from an altitude of 36,000 km (22,240 miles) above Earths surface, equivalent to taking a picture of a dime from a distance of seven football fields."

Keith's note: This press release - a release that announces an image - contains five web addresses that readers are supposed to visit. At the time I am posting this, none of those 5 web addresses has the image that this press release is announcing. So .... why issue the release?

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO someone had a web problem. The image is now online here.

GoreSat Is Back

Keith's note: According to the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 Triana (aka "DSCOVR" or "GoreSat") is back: "The Air Force is very interested in the space weather information and is part of an interagency team looking at the possibility of refurbishing DSCOVR and launching it to an orbit referred to as L1, about one million miles from Earth on a line with the Sun. If the team determines that the satellite can be refurbished and launched, they will make a recommendation to the President. Notionally, NOAA and NASA would pay for refurbishing the satellite, the Air Force would pay for the launch, and all agencies would receive the data."

Full report excerpt below:

Why OCO's Launch Failed

NASA Releases Orbiting Carbon Observatory Accident Summary

"A NASA panel that investigated the unsuccessful Feb. 24 launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO, has completed its report. NASA's OCO satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide launched aboard a Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Feb. 24 at 4:55 a.m. EST, but it failed to reach orbit. The Mishap Investigation Board led by Rick Obenschain, deputy director at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., verified that the Taurus launch vehicle fairing failed to separate upon command. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere. The failure to shed the fairing mass prevented the satellite from reaching its planned orbit and resulted in its destruction."

Does NASA's James Hansen Still Matter in Climate Debate?, NY Times

"Last week, House Democrats who supported the bill appeared less than enthusiastic about Hansen's recent advocacy. Asked whether Hansen wields influence, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said, "I think he has an opinion." Rep Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who was a key player in the passage of the House bill, called Hansen's appearance on the Hill "irrelevant," adding, "the debate about the science is over." Markey said Hansen held "moral influence." But, said the co-author of the House cap-and-trade bill, a carbon tax simply cannot win enough votes to make it through both chambers of Congress."


NASA Celebrates Earth Day Across the Country, NASA

"NASA centers across the nation invite journalists and the public to see and hear about the agency's efforts and contributions to understanding and protecting Earth.

Begun in 1970, Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess work still needed to protect the natural resources of our planet. The agency maintains the largest contingent of dedicated Earth scientists and engineers in leading and assisting other agencies in preserving the planet's environment. "

Editor's note: A list of events at each center is included in the press release.

NASA, Cisco Partnering For Climate Change Monitoring Platform

"NASA and Cisco Inc. announced Tuesday a partnership to develop an online collaborative global monitoring platform called the "Planetary Skin" to capture, collect, analyze and report data on environmental conditions around the world. Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement, NASA and Cisco will work together to develop the Planetary Skin as an online collaborative platform to capture and analyze data from satellite, airborne, sea- and land-based sensors across the globe. This data will be made available for the general public, governments and businesses to measure, report and verify environmental data in near-real-time to help detect and adapt to global climate change."

NASA's Launch Of Carbon-Seeking Satellite Is Unsuccessful

"NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff Tuesday from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Preliminary indications are that the fairing on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere. A Mishap Investigation Board will be immediately convened to determine the cause of the launch failure."

NASA satellite mission to monitor carbon dioxide fails, AFP

"The satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Taurus XL rocket, at 1:55 am (0951 GMT), live images on NASA TV showed. It was the first time NASA has used a Taurus rocket, built by Orbital Science Corp., the US space agency said in a statement posted Monday on its website."

Former astronaut speaks out on global warming, Boston Herald

"Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn't believe that humans are causing global warming. "I don't think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York. Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels. "They've seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven't gone along with the so-called political consensus that we're in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said."

NOAA-N Prime Environmental Satellite Successfully Launched

"NOAA-19 is in a nominal orbit with all spacecraft systems functioning properly," stated Wayne McIntyre, the NASA POES Project Manager. "The NASA/NOAA partnership continues to produce enormous results with environmental missions, now exceeding more than three decades."

NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released

"Proximate Cause: The NOAA N-PRIME satellite fell because the LMSSC operations team failed to follow procedures to properly configure the TOC, such that the 24 bolts that were needed to secure the TOC adapter plate to the TOC were not installed."

Video Below: NOAA-N Prime (NOAA 19) Mission

NOAA-N Launch Delayed Again

NOAA-N Prime Launch Rescheduled for Friday

"The launch of the NOAA-N Prime weather satellite for NASA and NOAA aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket has been postponed for an additional 24 hours. A payload fairing air conditioning compressor at the launch pad has failed. This unit provides cool, dry air inside the fairing prior to launch."

Troubled NOAA-N Prime Ready For Launch, earlier post
NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released, earlier post

Busy Day For Google

NASA and Google Launch Virtual Exploration of Mars, NASA

"NASA and Google announced Monday the release of a new Mars mode in Google Earth that brings to everyone's desktop a high-resolution, three-dimensional view of the Red Planet. Besides providing a rich, immersive 3D view of Mars that will aid public understanding of Mars science, the new mode, Google Mars 3D, also gives researchers a platform for sharing data similar to what Google Earth provides for Earth scientists."

Google Earth 5 Released - 3D Ocean and More!, Google

"Today Google has released a major new version of Google Earth - Version 5. Clearly this new release merits moving up to the next version number. It contains a wealth of new data and features and has substantial new interface changes. This is exciting stuff!!"

NOAA-N Prime Atop Delta II Rocket Ready For Launch Feb. 4

"The launch of the NOAA-N Prime polar-orbiting weather satellite for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 4."

NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released

"Proximate Cause: The NOAA N-PRIME satellite fell because the LMSSC operations team failed to follow procedures to properly configure the TOC, such that the 24 bolts that were needed to secure the TOC adapter plate to the TOC were not installed."

Earth Science Missions Anomaly Report: GOES/POES Program/POES Project: 6 Sep 2003

"As the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft was being repositioned from vertical to horizontal on the "turn over cart" at approximately 7:15 PDT today, it slipped off the fixture, causing severe damage. (See attached photo). The 18' long spacecraft was about 3' off the ground when it fell."

Editor's note: I'd be willing to bet that this satellite operates flawlessly ....

Salmond's energy plan is too risky, Scotsman

Exclusive: Man From Nasa Slams Salmond Coal Plan As 'Sham', iStockAnalyst

"One of the world's leading climate change experts yesterday called into question the green credentials of the First Minister, branding his energy policy a "sham". Nasa scientist Dr James Hansen called for Alex Salmond to abandon any plans to allow new coal-fired power stations to be built in Scotland. .. Opposition parties responded by criticising the First Minister's green credentials, and environment groups called for Mr Salmond to act on Dr Hansen's advice."

Science Group Erred Giving Hansen Top Honor, Washington post

"By honoring Hansen, the AMS has raised questions about the proper role of scientists in a world that is facing complex challenges that mix science and politics. A key issue is whether it is appropriate for prominent scientists to serve dual roles as researchers and advocates for political change, or if must there be a clear separation between the two."

Editor's note: The climate change issue aside (I totally agree with Hansen on that topic, FWIW) is it proper for a NASA employee to go off and create their own policy effort - on an international scale - dragging the word "NASA" into the discussion every time? In this case he is inserting himself into the politics of a foreign country. Would any other NASA employee be allowed to do this - on any topic of their choosing?

Editor's note: The Obama administration is clearly interested in Earth science and has focused most of NASA's stimulus package funds on climate and Earth science issues. Right now a volcano (Mount Redoubt) is about to erupt in Alaska with the potential to disrupt life in the region. With this renewed focus on Earth science you'd think that NASA SMD would take a little time to gather all the things their various satellites can do with regard to this volcano and put it online - if for no other reason to show that they are paying attention to the White House. Alas, a look at SMD's news page shows nothing. Nor is there anything on SMD's home page or NASA.gov for that matter.

Ed, there was no telescope or planetary spacecraft money in the science portion of that package - just "critical Earth science missions".

Redoubt Activity, Alaska Volcano Observatory

Inlet volcano keeps geologists on alert, AP

President 'has four years to save Earth', The Guardian

"Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added."

Editor's note: Hmmm. Not 3.8 years. Not 4.2 years. But exactly 4 years - which is exactly the length of one presidential term. What a coincidence.

Climate change policies failing, Nasa scientist warns Obama, Guardian

"With less than three weeks to go until Obama's inauguration, Prof James Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, asked the recently appointed White House science adviser Prof John Holdren to pass the missive directly to the president-elect. .. The letter, from Hansen and his wife Anniek, is a personal plea to the first couple. It begins: "We write to you as fellow parents concerned about the Earth that will be inherited by our children, grandchildren, and those yet to be born ... Jim has advised governments previously through regular channels. But urgency now dictates a personal appeal."

"Dr. Worden will survey NASA'a activities in Earth science, climate modeling, and environmental technology. He will also discuss the information technology under development (some in partnership with Google) for disseminating and analyzing the massive data generated by these activities."

Video below

Gore Talks Climate Change With Obama and Biden

"All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over," Obama told reporters as he sat between Gore and Biden at the transition headquarters after the meeting. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now," Obama said, "that this is a matter of urgency and national security, and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That is what I intend my administration to do."

Obama says climate change a matter of national security, Reuters

"Obama hopes addressing climate change can create the kind of jobs that will help pull the U.S. economy out of a deepening recession. He has begun to lay out plans for a massive recovery program to help stimulate the U.S. economy and create about 2.5 million jobs."

NASA Chief Questions Urgency of Global Warming (2007), NPR

"I have no doubt that ... a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Editor's note: Ok, so how would Griffin fit in with the Obama team on this issue? Not well, it would seem.

NASA and USAID Bring Earth-Observation Benefits to Africa

"NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and their international partners cut the ribbon Friday in Nairobi, Kenya, for SERVIR-Africa. The SERVIR-Africa system integrates the satellite resources of the United States and other countries into a Web-based Earth information system. This effort puts previously inaccessible information into the hands of local scientists, government leaders and communities to help address concerns related to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, biodiversity and climate change."

Dude, Where's My Space Program?, earlier post

"Kutcher: We send things to Mars. But there are thousands of children that are sold into the sex slave trade every single day. But we send stuff to Mars instead of solving that problem. There's Africa where people are dying of Malaria. There's a quantifiable solution to the problem - and yet we send stuff to Mars - instead of getting bed nets for these people."

Editor's note: Gee Ashton, imagine that, yet another example of how space technology is being applied to real problems on Earth - something that has been going on for 50 years. Alas, this news item will never get past your agents, handlers, and hair stylists before you go on air again and make a fool of yourself.

The world has never seen such freezing heat, Telegraph

"So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running."

NOAA-N Prime Satellite Arrives At Vandenberg For Launch

"The latest polar-orbiting operational environmental weather satellite developed by NASA for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, called NOAA-N Prime, arrived Tuesday by C-5A military cargo aircraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in preparation for a Feb. 4, 2009, launch. NOAA-N Prime, built by Lockheed Martin, is similar to NOAA-N launched on May 20, 2005."

NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released

"Proximate Cause: The NOAA N-PRIME satellite fell because the LMSSC operations team failed to follow procedures to properly configure the TOC, such that the 24 bolts that were needed to secure the TOC adapter plate to the TOC were not installed."

Earth Science Missions Anomaly Report: GOES/POES Program/POES Project: 6 Sep 2003

"As the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft was being repositioned from vertical to horizontal on the "turn over cart" at approximately 7:15 PDT today, it slipped off the fixture, causing severe damage. (See attached photo). The 18' long spacecraft was about 3' off the ground when it fell."

NASA Duck Flotilla Deployed

Baffin Island residents watch for rubber ducks in NASA study, CBC

"Fishing crews, pilots and residents of eastern Baffin Island are being asked to watch for rubber duckies -- not bobbing in their bathtubs, but drifting in the Davis Strait as part of a NASA study on climate change. Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's jet propulsion laboratory have placed 90 rubber ducks in the Jakobshavn Glacier near Ilulissat in western Greenland. The researchers hope to track the toy ducks' journey away from the moving, melting glacier. They're asking for help from Nunavummiut, who they believe will eventually start seeing the ducks floating in Baffin Bay. "Just send us an e-mail with the subject 'Found rubber duck, please contact,' and we'd be very happy to get those," NASA researcher Alberto Behar told CBC News on Wednesday."

50% Substance, 50% Ego

Nasa scientist appears in court to fan the flames of coal power station row, Independent

"The Nasa scientist who first drew attention to global warming 20 years ago appeared in a British court yesterday as a key witness in support of climate change activists charged with damaging a power station. Professor James Hansen gave evidence at Maidstone Crown Court in the case of six Greenpeace members who scaled a 630ft chimney at the Kingsnorth plant in Hoo, Kent, last October in protest against plans to build new coal-fired units there."

NASA Watch on ABC

Global Warming 20 Years Later, ABC News

Editor's note: I did an interview for ABC news today in this piece on Jim Hansen.

Editor's note 10:26 am EDT : Hansen is on the Diane Rehm show right now at WAMU at FM 88.5 Listen

Hansen will be testifying today at 3:00pm EDT today before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist, The Guardian

"James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer." ....

"He is also considering personally targeting members of Congress who have a poor track record on climate change in the coming November elections. He will campaign to have several of them unseated. "

Editor's note: I'd love to see PAO's talking points on this one ... meanwhile, isn't using one's position at NASA like this a potential violation of the Hatch Act? Does Hanesen give these overtly political, partisan interviews and make these campaign suggestions while sitting at his desk?

Editor's update: I was on cue to ask a question - but the show ended just before I was called upon. This is what I submitted by email and would have asked:

Editor's note: Word has it that a $400 million earmark for a climate research center is being prepared on behalf of Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) who is retiring. Think of this as legacy pork.

This climate change research center would not run be run by NASA or NOAA or EPA. Nor will there be any competitive bidding. Instead it would be run through the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) which runs Los Alamos National Laboratory located in Domenici's home state of New Mexico.

With all the arm waving and complaints about NASA not doing enough on the issue of climate change you'd think that this effort would go to NASA or if not NASA, then to NOAA. That is, if climate change research was really the prime overarching intent of this proposed allocation.

One mechanism whereby this pork might begin to work its way into the funding que is via the Supplemental Intelligence Authorization Bill which is due for mark-up this week. If this does not work then other approaches are under consideration. Scott O'Malia, a minority staffer on the Senate Appropriations Committee is reportedly taking the lead on pushing this legacy pork through.

Sen. Domenici serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is chairman of that committee. Domenici is also Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Talk about a one-two punch.

Apparently other members of the Senate and key House appropriators only learned of this activity in the past few days.

The National Nuclear Security Administration and the Supplemental Intelligence Authorization Bill are such logical places to put climate change funding, right?

Happy EarthPork Day.

NASA Earth Scientist to Head Programs Office in Science Directorate

"Michael R. Luther has been named deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the directorate, made the announcement Wednesday."

PM urged to veto new coal-fired generators, The Age

"Dr Hansen's letter, written as a private citizen rather than in his capacity as NASA's top climate scientist and Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute, is similar to the one he sent British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this year. In 2006 he accused the Bush Administration of trying to gag calls for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and has urged colleagues to speak up in communicating their observations of the changing planet."

Editor's update: Hmmm ... if Dr. Hansen was really interested in expressing his views - as a "private citizen" - then why not use a pseudonym on this letter? This is all kind of silly. No one would really care what he had to say were it not for his obvious public connection to NASA. This way he gets listened to because of his NASA notoriety and yet he can also say that he is not representing NASA. Neat trick!

Remarks by NASA Administrator Griffin to the 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

"Talking about the Space Act reminds me of the kerfluffle that ensued, a couple of years ago, when I changed our mission statement to be consistent with our legislated responsibilities. I thought the ensuing squabble was "Much Ado About Nothing", and that a larger point was missed."

Senators Collins and Lieberman Raise Concerns about Changes to NASA Mission Statement (August 2006)

"Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin expressing concerns about the organization's elimination from its mission statement of the phrase "to understand and protect the home planet."

Editor's note: Mike, I am confused. If NASA's legislated responsibilities do not include the task "to understand and protect the home planet" then why did you recently expand NASA's Earth Science mission portfolio (with White House approval)? Shouldn't you be decreasing or shrinking Earth science research and missions if such things are not within NASA's purview?

2007 Was Tied as Earth's Second Warmest Year, NASA GISS

"As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases," said James Hansen, director of NASA GISS."

Changes at NOAA

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate four individuals to serve in his Administration, White House

"The President intends to nominate William J. Brennan of Maine, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Dr. Brennan currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Affairs and Acting Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program."

Editor's note: "Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming" by Mark Bowen is out. Early reports (no I have not read it) suggest that the book does not shy away from name calling, whining, and finger pointing. Indeed, one NASA person is referred to as the "Anti-christ". Oh well. The author has written some really good books - so I am certain that the book is entertaining, if nothing else.

Mark Bowen's website

Cramer Family Planning, Government-Censored Science: Book Buzz, Bloomberg

"Another academic likely to be making the January chat-show circuit is James Hansen. Mark Bowen's ``Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming'' ($25.95) hits the shelves on Dec. 27."

Attention NASA Earth Science: Can You Help These Folks?, SpaceRef

"I'm not sure if 'suggest a story' is the right heading, but here goes anyway. I live on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and found your site while trying to find recent pictures of our Island from space, on the net. ... Most of theses fires have destroyed conservation parks, and probably incinerated thousands of our native animals, plus burnt onto several farms, killed about 800 sheep, and taken the precious life of one of our young local men. About 700 firefighters from around Australia and a number of water bombers were sent to fire the fires, which are now said to be 'contained'."

Bob & Lorraine Zinnack, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Editor's 17 Dec update: Response (with images) from Matt Hancher, Lead, NASA/Google Planetary Content Team, NASA Ames Research Center: "In response to your question on SpaceRef and NASAWatch about additional NASA imagery of the Kangaroo Island fire: this is actually something that NASA (specifically the Earth Observatory team at Goddard in conjunction with the University of Maryland) has been doing quite well for years through the MODIS Rapid Response (MRR) project."

Great beasts peppered from space, BBC

"Startling evidence has been found which shows mammoth and other great beasts from the last ice age were blasted with material that came from space. Eight tusks dating to some 35,000 years ago all show signs of having being peppered with meteorite fragments."

GOES-12 Problems

NOAA SATOPS Morning Report: Friday, December 07, 2007, SEC

"Engineers have confirmed the cause of the attitude disturbances on GOES-12 that started after the North/South maneuver. We believe there is a leak in the oxidizer line of thruster 2B. We were successful yesterday in isolating the thruster. This evening, we are planning to go into normal attitude control mode. Engineers will be monitoring the spacecraft through out the weekend. On Monday we will determine whether to begin normal imaging and sounding operations. GOES-10 continues to support the East satellite imaging and sounding operations. Since yesterday GOES-10 GVAR and all auxiliary services, including EMWIN, were broadcast simultaneously through GOES-10 and GOES-12."

Community Letter to NASA and NOAA Regarding Concerns Over NPOESS Preparatory Project VIIRS Sensor

"We have become increasingly concerned that VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite), the ocean color sensor on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) mission, will be incapable of providing imagery for climate science applications. VIIRS on NPP was supposed to be the next ocean color mission to follow SeaWiFS and MODIS on Aqua and extend key biological and biogeochemical oceanographic observations. Importantly, this requirement of continuing the EOS-level climate science observations across all Earth Science disciplines was built into the recommendations of the NRC's Decadal Survey committee."

Hansen Responds

The Exxon funded swift boating of James Hansen, Deltoid

"James Hansen replies to the deceitful IBD editorial: The latest swift-boating (unless there is a new one among seven unanswered calls on my cell) is the whacko claim that I received $720,000.00 from George Soros. Here is the real deal, with the order of things as well as I can remember without wasting even more time digging into papers and records. ..."

Google Flight Simulator

Google Flight Simulator Lets You Fly Big G Style, Gizmodo

"If you were thinking, "Those guys at Google are going to pack in a secret flight simulator into the new edition of Google Earth," pat yourself on the back, as that is exactly what they have done. Users have the choice of commanding either an F-16 jet fighter or a Cirrus SR22 prop plane."

A Question Of Priorities


Space program lunacy, opinion, LA Times

"It's easy to be mesmerized by the promise of deep-space exploration by astronauts in otherworldly space suits. After all, the "Star Trek" franchise didn't hook its followers with tales of white-coat scientists crunching numbers over slide rules. But NASA's idealism is seriously endangering the world's ability to track its own changing and more dangerous climate. Indeed, one of the most popular complaints about space exploration is that it wastes billions of dollars that could be better spent on problems here. With global warming an increasing threat, NASA has a chance to prove what it has long asserted that a space program provides practical benefits to Earth-bound humanoids."

NASA Solicitation: Disaster Roundtable

"NASA Headquarters (HQ), Science Mission Directorate, Office of Applied Science Program, plans to continue it's participation in the National Academies, Disasters Roundtable (DR). The DR provides a multi-disciplinary forum for discussions of urgent and important issues related to natural, technological, and other disasters. It emphasizes the exchange of ideas and facilitates personal working relationships between the federal agencies, the private sector, and experts in related fields of science, engineering, and health."

Scientific secrecy is a danger to all, editorial, Boston Herald

"The number changes dont greatly affect worldwide averages - but they reveal a disturbing arrogance among scientists in the community of global-warming true believers. ... Science is not supposed to work by secrecy. Stonewalling by NASA will only increase the number and fervor of the skeptics."

Editor's note: I have to wonder NASA hasn't hammered back on this topic. Oh wait, I already know why. Every time something like his pops up - and NASA sits on its hands - the critics are emboldened when the next chance to slap the agency emerges (usually a week later). Indeed, they go out looking for more things to throw at NASA - and it is hard to blame them for doing so since NASA makes itself into such a good target. And when something really bad gets out into the blogosphere/news arena and NASA does manage to complain - no one listens. Or if they do listen they just respond by heaping more upon NASA since they know NASA will just sit there and take it - or try some sort of limp spin control.

Where is the 'strategic' communications we've all been promised? Why isn't anyone using that nifty new Message Construct?

Doesn't this agency have a spine any more? Or has NASA just decided to give up as it turns 50?

Reader note: "Funny you should use that word to describe the new communication strategy!Ian Murphy used that same description on Friday during an interview for the SpaceTaskForce podcast. Check it out at http://www.spacetaskforce.com/2007/08/sft-episode-13.html"

Our Spin is Better Than Yours: NASA's Hype Gets the Third Degree, Wired

"Let's say the temperature average for the last decade is 14.438 degrees celsius, roughly the average temperature of the last five years of the 1990s. Obviously it's going to be higher, but this works to illustrate the degree of NASA's error. That temperature of 14.438 degrees celsius becomes becomes 14.443. That's how important NASA's error is. That's the difference between a fraudulent hype and and total irrelevance. Point zero zero five degrees. I think my "spin" is a whole lot more truthful than Greg's."

NASA Weather Error Provokes Tempest in a Teapot, Wired

"In short, it wasn't a big deal. The changes were not, as described by DailyTech.com and repeated by the Wall Street Journal, "truly astounding." There was a legitimate, small mistake that NASA, when notified, quickly corrected. End of story."

NASA Revisions Create a Stir in The Blogosphere, Washington Post

"NASA has slightly revised its record of average annual temperatures in the United States since 2000 -- modifications that researchers say are insignificant but that some conservative commentators and bloggers have seized upon to assert that global warming has been hyped as a problem. The revisions, which were first posted on the Web site of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, stemmed from an error noticed by Canadian blogger and global warming skeptic Stephen McIntyre. James Hansen, director of the institute, said McIntyre brought the error to the institute's attention, and the error was corrected."

Red faces at NASA over climate-change blunder, The Star

"But the revisions have been seized on by conservative Americans, including firebrand radio host Rush Limbaugh, as evidence that climate change science is unsound. Said Limbaugh last Thursday: "What do we have here? We have proof of man-made global warming. The man-made global warming is inside NASA ... is in the scientific community with false data." However Stephen McIntyre, who set off the uproar, described his finding as a "a micro-change. But it was kind of fun."

1934 and all that, RealClimate.org

"Another week, another ado over nothing. Last Saturday, Steve McIntyre wrote an email to NASA GISS pointing out that for some North American stations in the GISTEMP analysis, there was an odd jump in going from 1999 to 2000. On Monday, the people who work on the temperature analysis (not me), looked into it and found that this coincided with the switch between two sources of US temperature data. There had been a faulty assumption that these two sources matched, but that turned out not to be the case. There were in fact a number of small offsets (of both sign) between the same stations in the two different data sets. The obvious fix was to make an adjustment based on a period of overlap so that these offsets disappear."

New NASA Layer Incorporated into Google Earth, Nano2Sol

"Posted the other day on the Google Lat Long Blog is mention of a new NASA layer being added to Google Earth. It incorporates Astronaut Photography of Earth, Satellite Imagery, and Earth City Lights."

Squeeze on NASA Earth Science Budget Causing Alarm, Congressional Quarterly

"A squeeze on funding for satellites to look down on the Earth's environment at a time of growing need for research into the effects of climate change is creating alarm among scientists and on Capitol Hill. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, renowned for its pioneering role in science, is seeing its science budget shrink and its satellite Earth observation capacity endangered even as the agency's overall mission grows."

Missed Opportunity, Planetary Society

"It might be reasonable to accept that this was only a faux pas by a blunt, bright guy who likes to be unconventional. Indeed, Griffin has expressed regret about his comments. But that misses a greater point - this was a major opportunity to promote his agency, the U.S. space program and their value to the public at large. He downplayed one of NASA's most valued and widely recognized functions - teaching us about our own planet and monitoring it from the unique vantage of space. In doing so, Griffin also undermined public support for his most cherished program - the Vision for Space Exploration."

Editor's note: NASA's response? Well, their Strategic Communications operation just hopes things like this will go away. If you look at their NASA Message Construct all you get are partial, generic ideas contained in stilted sentences - including what to say in a proverbial "Elevator Speech" with someone (I am guessing here) who wants to know what NASA does. After reading this, I have to say that if I were just a regular person off the street, I'd be confused (and a little nervous) if someone from NASA just started talking about this stuff in an elevator. I wonder what this NASA person's response would be to a question from a taxpayer about Mike Griffin's dumb comments about global warming? If they adhere to this agency guidance, they'd have no answer.

- David A. Powner
- Rep. Nick Lampson
- John Marburger
- Susan Mashiko

Hearing Charter: Status Report on the NPOESS Weather Satellite Program

Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites: Restructuring Is Under Way, but Technical Challenges and Risks Remain, GAO

"The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is a tri- agency acquisition--managed by the Departments of Commerce and Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration--which experienced escalating costs, schedule delays, and technical difficulties. "

Editor's note: Stephen Colbert has refered to Mike Griffin's global warming comments twice this week. This is what he said on Tuesday. This is from 'Colbert Report: Mission Control' on Comedy Central's MotherLoad, (broadband video channel).

NASA head regrets global warming remarks, AP

"NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that "unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it." "All I can really do is apologize to all you guys ... I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this," he said."

Pentagon to pare climate satellites, AP

"The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world that the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago."

Ignorance on global warming, Boston Globe

"Berrien Moore, director of the Institute for the Study of Earths, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire, said Griffin's comments were "bizarre," "baffling," and "mind-boggling." "It is such a strong statement based on such a high level of ignorance," Berrien said yesterday in a phone interview. He has been a lead author in past reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "It indicates he doesn't have any knowledge on the topic he's talking about. Even a cursory reading [of the research] would not support what he said."

Hot Enough in Here?, editorial, NY Times

"Michael Griffin, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is renowned for speaking bluntly so it was no surprise when he stuck his foot in his mouth during a recent interview. The disturbing element is that he may have inadvertently revealed one reason the space agency has been cutting back on satellite missions to study global warming."

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): What are the agency plans to respond to the NRC Decadal Survey "Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond"? Is there a general opinion of this report and the impacts to NASA at this early stage? From:Steve Ambrose,Headquarters

NASA chief downplays threat of warming, Washington Post/AP

"It's pretty obvious that the NASA administrator was speaking about his own personal views and by no means representing or attempting to represent the administration's views or broader policy," Marburger said. "He's got a very wry sense of humor and is very outspoken."

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming, Washington Post

"White House science adviser John H. Marburger distanced the administration from Griffin, saying that "nobody should think that he was speaking for anyone but himself."

NASA chief not worried about climate, AP

"White House science adviser Jack Marburger said he was not disturbed by Griffin's remarks, but distanced them from President Bush, who on Thursday announced an international global warming proposal."

Rush Limbaugh applauds Griffin's global warming comments

"This is pretty big news here. The NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, I don't know if this guy is a dittohead or not, but if not, he could be. ... Michael Griffin, NASA administrator appeared on NPR and he told them that while he has no doubt that a trend of global warming exists, quote, "I'm not sure it's fair to say it's a problem we have to wrestle with." In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep that aired today, administrator Griffin said, "I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

Bush Calls for Global Emissions Goals, AP

"So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce the most greenhouse gasses, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China. "Each country would establish midterm management targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs," he said. "In the course of the next 18 months, our nations will bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation, and alternative fuels and transportation."

Full NPR Interview Transcript: NASA Administrator Michael Griffin Not Sure That Global Warming Is A Problem

"DR. GRIFFIN: I have no doubt that global - that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change."

Editor's Note: It would certainly seem that Mike Griffin thinks that what President Bush is proposing is "not worth westling with".


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