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24 January 2016

A Storm That Will Be Remembered for Generations

Some are calling it Snowzilla, and having experienced it, the name fits! From DC to Baltimore, and up to New York have over 2 feet. Here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it varies but a foot is common in Central and Northern Delaware and near Denton in Maryland. On the coast, major coastal flooding has caused significant damage. I shot the image above (from the WBOC Ocean City Maryland …

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17 January 2016

No, The Planet Did Not Stop Getting Warmer. Here’s the Proof.

Depending on how you interpret the data, the warming of the air may have slowed somewhat (This is very unlikely though) for a few years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but the planet as a whole is still warming steadily. We know this, because the oceans hold almost all the heat, and they are continuing to warm. The graph below is proof, and you might want to study …

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14 January 2016

January Tropical Cyclones in The Atlantic & Pacific. At The Same Time!

This hasn’t happened before. Alex is the earliest tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic. Pali, in the Central Pacific, became the earliest hurricane there this week, only weakening to a tropical storm tonight. What’s going on you ask? Answer: The atmosphere and the oceans are on steroids. The world’s oceans are the warmest ever measured, and the strongest El Nino on record is underway in the Pacific. 2015 was …

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19 December 2015

NASA Releases Stunning Image of our Fragile Blue Ball

It was just after Christmas in 1968, when the famous image of Earth-rise taken by Apollo 8 was seen for the first time. Many believe that single image changed the way we humans look at our planet in a profound way, and there is a lot of evidence to support the claim. We have had some incredible images from NASA since but the image above has to rank among the greatest. This was not …

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15 December 2015

Space Engineers

Stanford University’s Miles Traer, once again, is cartooning from the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

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7 December 2015

Sols 1184-1187: Busy weekend at High Dune

The rover has arrived at the edge of “High Dune” and we have a very busy weekend plan studying the dune and then continuing to drive. On sol 1184 we will continue testing the AEGIS software that allows the rover to fine-tune its targeting for ChemCam. After that, ChemCam will analyze two targets “Barby” and “Kibnas” and Mastcam will take a 7×8 mosaic of a sand ripple. In the afternoon, …

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10 November 2015

Sol 1160-1161: Brandberg

The 68-meter drive planned for Sol 1158 completed as planned, placing the rover near a dark, circular feature named “Brandberg.”  The tactical operations team studied the images of Brandberg and discussed the value of contact science observations in this area, ultimately deciding to drive on toward the Bagnold Dunes.  But before leaving, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe targets “Hoba” and “Gibeon” on the Brandberg feature, which appears to be a …

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31 October 2015

Sols 1148-1152: Driving and Contact Science

Apologies for the lack of an update on Wednesday this week! Lauren and I were both in a training class, and Ken was traveling so none of us were able to post here. That means that today’s post covers five sols of planning!  The sol 1148 plan started off with a Mastcam observation of the target McLeod and a 10×1 mosaic to patch a gap in the mosaic from sol …

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29 October 2015

The amazing Tonzang landslides in Burma – NASA images

NASA EO-1 images have revealed the extent of the amazing Tonzang landslides in Burma, which occurred earlier this year. The largest landslide is 5.9 km long

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26 October 2015

Sol 1146-1147: A View of Meeteetse

The weekend drive was successful, placing us nicely on an overlook of the “Meeteetse” area. The focus for Sol 1146 is to get some good color stereo images of the whole area, including “Big Sky,” “Greenhorn,” and “Meeteetse”. Mastcam will take a 16×3 mosaic of the Meeteetse area, plus a 12×1 right-eye mosaic of some nearby resistant ridges. It will also measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere by …

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23 October 2015

Severe Hurricane Patricia Approaching Mexico Coast

Hurricane Patricia continues to maintain category 5 level, and hurricane hunters have measured the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. The hot waters from El Nino are probably playing a role here, and it now looks nearly certain that Patricia will cause severe flooding and destruction, with a deadly storm surge as it makes landfall tonight. Astronaut Scott Kelly (on the ISS) sent back this view of Patricia from low Earth …

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14 October 2015

The Hubble Telescope View of Jupiter is Amazing

From NASA: New imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is revealing details never before seen on Jupiter. High-resolution maps and spinning globes (rendered in the 4k Ultra HD format) are the first products to come from a program to study the solar system’s outer planets each year using Hubble. The observations are designed to capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric chemistry. These annual studies …

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28 September 2015

Why Running Water on Mars is a HUGE Discovery

On Earth, where you find water, you find life, so today’s announcement from NASA of flowing water on Mars is far more important than you might imagine. The photos from the Mar’s rovers look almost like the high desert of the American West, but remember  that Mars has only 1/100th of our atmosphere, and the temperature is well below zero most of the time. However, and this is key- when we …

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15 September 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches 4th Lowest Extent on Record

The summer sea ice melt has ended in the High Arctic, and the ice pack melted back to the 4th lowest extent on the satellite record. From the Nat. Snow Ice Data Center: On September 11, 2015, sea ice extent dropped to 4.41 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles), the fourth lowest minimum in the satellite record. This appears to be the lowest extent of the year. In response to …

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14 August 2015

Sols 1075-1077: Time for SAM!

We had another successful drive on sol 1074, putting us in a good position for the weekend! The main activity for the weekend is using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to analyze some of the recent drill sample that we collected. SAM activities will take up all of sol 1075. On sol 1076, we will use MAHLI to check on the health of our wheels, and SAM will …

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20 July 2015

Deep Space Climate Observatory Snaps Earth from a Million Miles Out

Forty-six years ago today I set beside my Great Grandmother, who walked to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) behind a covered wagon, and listened to Armstrong and Aldrin land on the Moon. While the photos of the Moon from the Apollo astronauts were dramatic, it was the pictures they took looking back at Earth that changed the way we think about our planet. Today, we got another one of those photos …

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17 July 2015

Sols 1046-1047: Wheel imaging

  The 8.5-meter Sol 1044 drive completed as planned, leaving the rover in a relatively flat and smooth area that is suitable for imaging of the wheels.  Wheel imaging is done periodically to assess wear, and it’s time to acquire new data, so the Sol 1046 includes 5 sets of MAHLI, Mastcam, and MARDI images separated by short rover bumps to allow the entire surfaces of the wheels to be …

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16 July 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson & Stephen Colbert Talk About Pluto

What happens when two of the best science communicators eat a Klondike Bar and talk about Pluto. Watch and see. Oh, and yes I called Colbert a great science communicator, and here is why.

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15 July 2015

NASA: June 2015 ties with 1998 as Hottest On Record

As greenhouse gases rise, we get more record hot months, but they are even more likely during an El Nino. Just like 1998, we have a strong one developing now. So far, this year is the warmest ever (Last year is currently the record holder), and 2015 has already seen a the hottest ever March and May, with January and February coming in as second hottest ever. Below is a …

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13 July 2015

This is Why You Have Not Seen A Bunch of Images of Pluto This Weekend

July 14, 2015 is going to be an important date in the history book of space exploration. At about 7:50 AM Tuesday, New York time,  the New Horizons probe will pass about 12,500 km from Pluto, and the most sophisticated set of instruments ever put in deep space will record high resolution images of the dwarf planet. Images of Pluto will be recorded in visible and infrared light, while other …

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