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28 June 2015

Sols 1027-1029: Resuming tactical operations

  Mars has passed through solar conjunction, and reliable communication with the spacecraft at Mars is possible again.  As planning started this morning, we were still waiting for more data to be relayed by the orbiters to confirm that MSL is ready to resume science planning, but proceeded with tactical planning so that we would be ready when the data arrived.  The Sol 1027 plan starts with Mastcam observations of …

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9 June 2015

New Tool Could Track Space Weather 24 Hours Before Reaching Earth

Our sun is a volatile star: explosions of light, energy and solar materials regularly dot its surface. Sometimes an eruption is so large it hurls magnetized material into space, sending out clouds that can pass by Earth’s own magnetic fields, where the interactions can affect electronics on satellites, GPS communications or even utility grids on the ground.

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6 June 2015

Amazing Greenland

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Greenland twice, and it is truly a place of amazing beauty. A friend who lives just a couple of blocks away from me here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland just got back from the 2015 operation Ice Bridge mission where the video below is from. Ice Bridge is filling in data on the changes in the ice sheets to cover the loss of …

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31 May 2015

Sol 1000-1002: Photometry

  by Ken Herkenhoff We’re planning 3 sols of MSL activities today, starting with Sol 1000!  As we continue to prepare for solar conjunction, arm motion is allowed in this plan, but no contact science.  The plan starts with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of a platy rock called “Newland” and a Navcam search for dust devils.  Then the first of several Mastcam/Navcam photometry observations is planned.  The goal of these …

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28 May 2015

Sol 999: Last MAHLI images before conjunction

by Ken Herkenhoff Today is the last day we can plan MAHLI activities before the operational stand-down for solar conjunction, to ensure that we have time to confirm that MAHLI’s dust cover is safely closed.  So we worked to include as many MAHLI images as possible in the Sol 999 plan, making for a rather hectic day for me as MAHLI uplink lead.  The plan includes a full set of …

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NASA Earth Observation Satellites See Floods in Oklahoma and Arkansas

These two images from the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites are almost exactly 2 years apart. You can easily see the difference the flooding rains have had in the Arkansas River, especially around Fort Smith. More flooding rains are likely over the next 3-4 days across the Plains of Texas and Oklahoma.    

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27 May 2015

Sol 998: Contact Science at Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar A short bump on Sol 997 put Curiosity in a great position to investigate a few different rock units in Marias Pass, using the instruments on the rover’s arm.  The 2.5 m drive brings our total odometry to 10,599 m.  With the upcoming solar conjunction (Mars will be on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth, so we can’t communicate with the rover for most …

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25 May 2015

Sols 993-996: A long weekend at Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar  On Sol 992 Curiosity took a short drive into Marias Pass to get a better look at the terrain ahead.  The 6 m drive on Sol 992 brought our total odometry to 10,562 m.  It also put Curiosity in a great position for targeted science over the long holiday weekend. The 4 sol plan includes some large Mastcam mosaics to characterize the terrain and the contact between …

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19 May 2015

Sol 990: ChemCam Autofocus Software

by Ken Herkenhoff Testing of the new ChemCam automatic focusing software continues to go well–the instrument is returning well-focused data of the quality we got used to early in the mission.  The MAHLI test data acquired on Sol 989 are also looking good; here’s an image of the penny in the MAHLI calibration target on the rover.  Having completed the most urgent arm activities needed before conjunction, MSL is ready …

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Sol 987-989: Back at Jocko Butte

by Ryan Anderson The backwards drive on sol 986 was successful, and over the weekend, Curiosity drove back toward “Jocko Butte”. Before the drive on sol 987, ChemCam had a 5×1 observation of the target “Mill”, accompanied by a Mastcam image. Mastcam also took a small 2×2 mosaic of our tracks. The drive back toward Jocko Butte was about 43 m, bringing our total odometry to 10,697 m. After the …

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16 May 2015

Sol 986: Finding a Path

by Ryan Anderson We’ve been having trouble with the path we originally wanted to take through the sand toward the interesting geology at “Mt. Stimson”, so in today’s plan we are going to take a careful look around to identify better routes. Mastcam has a 13×3 mosaic in the direction we want to go, as well as a 5×3 mosaic of Mt. Stimson and a 2×2 mosaic to fill a …

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14 May 2015

NASA: Warmest Jan.-April on Record. 2015 May be New Hottest Year On Record

The previous 12 month period was also the hottest on record and this breaks that record which was set just last month. With the daily increasing signs that a significant El Nino is brewing, we seem to be on track for another warmest year on record as well. El Nino’s really heat the atmosphere, and they tend to be among the warmer years almost always. Add in the rising greenhouse …

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Here is The Chance of A Major Hurricane Hitting The U.S. Coast this Year

This is really a great video from NASA, but what I like the most about it is how they explain a subtle fact of statistics that almost everyone, especially gamblers, basketball, and baseball players get wrong. With an El Nino brewing, we may see a quiet Atlantic tropical cyclone season. Like 1992, when we only had one storm make landfall on the coast of North America. Hurricane Andrew, a Category …

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NASA Image Shows Ground Motion from First Nepal Quake

Also See more from fellow AGU blogger Dr. Dave Petley. From NASA:  Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, analyzed interferometric synthetic aperture radar images from the PALSAR-2 instrument on the ALOS-2 satellite operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to calculate a map of the deformation of Earth’s …

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8 May 2015

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana Taking on Tropical Storm Characteristics

Pretty cool shot no? NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly took that photo on-board the ISS. Here is a view (below) from this afternoon from the NASA Aqua satellite (just a little higher up from the ISS). If the convection can wrap around the center, this system may become mainly a tropical cyclone. It appears to be a hybrid storm as of now. Satellite images this afternoon indicate that it is taking …

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7 May 2015

You Really Cannot Imagine How Far Away Pluto Is, But This May Help.

  I aired a story tonight I have wanted to share for over 20 years. It has to do with the New Horizons mission which will fly by Pluto in July and allow us to see what it looks like for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, but I want to give you an idea of how very, very far away Pluto is. You will likely see some news reports in …

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3 May 2015

Sol 973-975: Albert, Bigfork, and Charity

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL is in a good position for contact science observations on an interesting outcrop of sedimentary rock, so the rover will be busy this weekend!  We had to change the timing of the arm activities a bit to optimize the illumination of MAHLI targets, so it was a busy morning for me as SOWG Chair but I’m happy with the way the plan turned out.  On …

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29 April 2015

Sol 971-972: Approaching outcrop

  by Ken Herkenhoff This morning the MSL science team used all of the available data to decide whether to approach one of the nearby outcrops or drive away.  Ultimately we decided to approach the closer of the large outcrops in front of the rover to set up for contact science this weekend.  Planning is still “restricted,” so we planned two sols of activities today.  ChemCam and Mastcam will observe …

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13 April 2015

Spring Marches North: The View from Space

This is from the NASA Aqua satellite. You can see the green of spring moving into Virginia, while snow remains in the Adirondacks. High resolution, color imagery from polar orbiting satellites allows folks like me to better tell the story of our planet to our TV audience and to our online viewers as well.  

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2 April 2015

The California Drought from Space

The animated GIF image below shows the snow pack on the Sierra on April 3 2013, and today April 2, 2015. Keep in mind that California was in serious drought even in 2013 but it’s a whole lot worse now.

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