Antarctica from space. Via NASA.
Posts tagged space.
A NASA satellite snapped this shot today of snow covered U.S. east coast.
The first winter storm of 2014 swept across the northeastern United States on January 1–3, bringing as much as 24 inches (61 centimeters) of snow to the hardest hit areas. The center of the storm was over the North Atlantic Ocean when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image at 10:55 a.m. Eastern Time on January 3.
Lines of clouds over the ocean indicate that strong winds were blowing from the north toward the center of the low-pressure system. The winds pushed the clouds away, leaving a clear view of fresh snow across most of the Northeast.
“Phytoplankton swirls in water surrounding Sweden’s Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea, evoking the look of Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting "Starry Night." This masterpiece was acquired by the Landsat 7 satellite in 2005, and ranks as one of the top five images from the 41-year-long Landsat Earth observation program.
Plankton blooms like the one seen here occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the proliferation of the tiny marine plants. This Swedish sea scene is one of more than 150 satellite vistas offered in "Earth From Space," a coffee-table book assembled by environmentalist photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.”
I came across a photograph on Thursday and set it as my desktop wallpaper. I’ve been staring at it for three days. No, that’s not quite true. I’ve stared at it for maybe a total of seven minutes, looking at it seconds at a time, catching glimpses when browser windows close and open in between work on the novel and a talk I’m giving in Portland next week. You’ve seen the photograph too, I bet. It’s made an appearance on ESPN’s Around the Horn, even though it has nothing to do with sports.
One series of thoughts: How fast is it going? Where does it land? Do frogs land on their feet? What’s that frog thinking, at that moment? Probably something like: ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew, because it’s a frog, and frogs are pretty much always thinking ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew.
Another series: Rocket launches don’t happen in black, featureless voids. They happen in wetlands. Sudden light heat noise in a place of dark cool calm. The silhouette of the frog also brings to relief to the bits of wild grass threshed about in the smoke.
Man’s ambition. His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars. The perfect geometry of the heavens. The Vitruvian geometry of the figure; it’s almost … human.
It brings to mind another photograph, taken twelve years prior, nearly to the day: a photograph of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The photograph ran on page seven of The New York Times and in hundreds of newspapers around the world, then virtually disappeared. Until two years later, when it became the subject of Tom Junod’s Esquire piece, "The Falling Man".
But Junod’s piece is really about Looking. It’s about what we see when we look, but also what, when we have the freedom to look, we individually and collectively choose not to look at. And what that says about us.
An analogy for a significant life event. Hopes. Horrors. Aversion. The fear of loss. The frame-obliterating nature of an act beyond routine. One moment you’re thinking about flies from your lilypad in the cool still night. You’re thinking about the book you’re writing and the speech you’re going to give. You’re thinking about how sore your feet are and your wife asleep in bed and the order at table five. And then …
This is a lovely meditation on what it means to really look at something and how it feels to actually see what you’re looking at. But my favorite part is the bit about how this photo is a reminder that space flight starts in the swamps of Florida, and how this one little unfortunate frog reminded us all of how little we are and how big we are reaching.
"His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars."
NOAA retires GOES-12, an important weather satellite that monitored major hurricanes over the years.
NOAA’s GOES-12 satellite was decommissioned on August 16th, 2013 after 3,788 days in service.
From April 2003 — May 2010, GOES-12 served as GOES East, providing “eye in the sky” monitoring for such memorable events as the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and the series of blizzards during the winter of 2009-2010. After suffering thruster control issues, GOES-12 was taken out of normal service and moved to provide greater coverage of the Southern Hemisphere as the first-ever GOES South. During that time it provided enhanced severe weather monitoring for South America.
This animation shows one image from each day of the satellite’s life — a total of 3,641 full disk visible images.
Note, this doesn’t show sea ice in the Arctic…
- History of the Space Shuttle
- Hubble Telescope Discoveries
- Webb Telescope (Webb will replace Hubble)
- Dressing for Altitude: U.S. Aviation Pressure Suits
- Ikhana: Unmanned Aircraft System (basically, the history of a drone named Ikhana)
- Earth as Art looks particularly promising.
There’s also NASA magazine and an app. Who knew?
This list of 30 issues that the independent Govt Accountability Office (GAO) analyzed is mind-boggling. The U.S. Federal Government, says the GAO, is embarrassingly underprepared to deal with the volume and increasing frequency of climate related disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, droughts in the southwest, super tornadoes in Oklahoma, etc. They conclude(!) that funding for disaster response and post-disaster planning is completely inadequate and in need of an overhaul.
The GAO’s list also points out that the nation’s weather satellites, operated by NOAA, are near the end of their useful life spans and are in dire need of replacement.
(The satellite) systems are critical to weather forecasters, climatologists, and the military to map and monitor changes in weather, climate, the oceans, and the environment.
Federal agencies are currently planning and executing major satellite acquisition programs to replace existing polar and geostationary satellite systems that are nearing the end of their expected life spans. However, these programs have troubled legacies of cost increases, missed milestones, technical problems, and management challenges that have resulted in reduced functionality and slips to planned launch dates. As a result, the continuity of satellite data is at risk.
The GAO’s High Risk Report is absolutely worth clicking through. Each of the 30 items are categorized and easy to read. The two above on climate and satellites also include video summaries.
The outage of an important weather satellite demonstrates the ongoing degradation in U.S. observing systems.
Astronauts Snag Dramatic Photographs of Alaska’s Erupting Volcano
“Astronauts living on board the International Space Station managed to get these dramatic pictures of the Pavlof Volcano as it erupted over the weekend. The volcano began acting up last Monday, the 13th, its first eruption since 2007.”
See more images at The Atlantic.
Definitely click through!
Incredible shots tweeted by the rock-star astronaut from the International Space Station
Wow. Absolutely must see.
Chris Hadfield’s Mission Reflections.
I’m going to make a real effort to have a beer/30 minute convo with this man by the end of 2014. Committed!