Tag Archives: satellites

‘Standing on a comet’: Rosetta mission will contribute to space weather research

ANN ARBOR — A comet-bound spacecraft that’s been in sleep mode for more than two years is scheduled to wake up on the morning of Jan. 20—beginning the home stretch of its decade-long journey to a mile-wide ball of rock, dust and ice.

If all goes as planned, Rosetta—a European Space Agency-led mission that involves University of Michigan engineers and scientists—will be the first craft to actually land on a comet as well as track it for an extended period of time. (more…)

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How did a third radiation belt appear in the Earth’s upper atmosphere?

Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts in in the Earth’s upper atmosphere in 1958, space scientists have believed that these belts consisted of two doughnut-shaped rings of highly charged particles — an inner ring of high-energy electrons and energetic positive ions, and an outer ring of high-energy electrons.

However, in February of this year, a team of scientists reported in the journal Science the surprising discovery of a previously unknown third radiation ring. This narrow ring had briefly circled the Earth between the inner and outer rings in September 2012 and then almost completely disappeared.

How did this temporary radiation belt appear and dissipate? (more…)

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Planck Mission Brings Universe into Sharp Focus

PASADENA, Calif. — The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins.

Planck is a European Space Agency mission. NASA contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck’s science instruments, and U.S., European and Canadian scientists work together to analyze the Planck data. (more…)

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‘House Hunters Walrus’

UD camera system records sea ice, identifies ideal walrus habitats

About the video: A University of Delaware research team led by Chandra Kambhamettu has developed a novel camera system to map the surface topography of Arctic sea ice, identifying the best “homes” for walrus.

Walrus use sea ice as a reproductive, migration and resting habitat. However, as sea ice melts and recedes, this marine mammal increasingly is threatened. (more…)

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Space Weather Forecast: Sunspotty, With an Increasing Chance of Solar Storms

The past few months have seen a spate of solar flares – bringing spectacular views of the northern lights as far south as Seattle – along with media speculation that the electrical activity could disrupt power grids, satellites or ground airplanes.

John Sahr, a UW professor of electrical engineering who studies the upper atmosphere, is the regional go-to guy for such questions. We found some time in Sahr’s busy schedule (he’s also the UW’s associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs and a part-time zombie hunter) to get his read on the space weather forecast. (more…)

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The Emperor’s New Close-Up

U researchers map emperor penguin colonies by satellite

Emperor penguins may be icons of the Antarctic, but they aren’t immune to disturbances in their environment.

As climatic and other changes unfold, emperors may dwindle in numbers. But how to tell, when researchers can’t access all the emperor colonies dotting the Antarctic ice shelves and count heads every year?

Satellites, that’s how. (more…)

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NASA Map Sees Earth’s Trees in a New Light

PASADENA, Calif. – A NASA-led science team has created an accurate, high-resolution map of the height of Earth’s forests. The map will help scientists better understand the role forests play in climate change and how their heights influence wildlife habitats within them, while also helping them quantify the carbon stored in Earth’s vegetation.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; the University of Maryland, College Park; and Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Mass., created the map using 2.5 million carefully screened, globally distributed laser pulse measurements from space. The light detection and ranging (lidar) data were collected in 2005 by the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System instrument on NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat). (more…)

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