Soil moisture satellite launched
February 2, 2015 08:59 PM - NASA JPL
NASA successfully launched its first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet.
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, a mission with broad applications for science and society, lifted off at 6:22 a.m. PST (9:22 a.m. EST) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages SMAP for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, with instrument hardware and science contributions made by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
About 57 minutes after liftoff, SMAP separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 411- by 425-mile (661- by 685-kilometer) orbit. After a series of activation procedures, the spacecraft established communications with ground controllers and deployed its solar array. Initial telemetry shows the spacecraft is in excellent health.
Jet Fuel from Algae?
January 29, 2015 08:52 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study published in the journal Energy & Fuels. The researchers, led by Greg O’Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, exploited an unusual and untapped class of chemical compounds in the algae to synthesize two different fuel products, in parallel, from a single algae.
Study Analyzes Variability of Climate Models
January 27, 2015 03:05 PM - Duke University
A new Duke University-led study finds that most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth’s atmosphere warms. The models also provide inconsistent explanations of why this variability occurs in the first place. These discrepancies may undermine the models’ reliability for projecting the short-term pace as well as the extent of future warming, the study’s authors warn. As such, we shouldn’t over-interpret recent temperature trends.
Rosetta Comet releasing more water as it gets closer to the Sun
January 27, 2015 08:41 AM - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
There has been a significant increase in the amount of water "pouring" out of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet on which the Rosetta mission's Philae lander touched down in November 2014.
The 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) comet was releasing the earthly equivalent of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) of water into space every second at the end of August 2014. The observations were made by NASA's Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft. Science results from the MIRO team were released today as part of a special Rosetta-related issue of the journal Science.
ENN Announces Release of New Mobile App!
January 26, 2015 08:39 AM - ENN Editor
This week ENN launches a new mobile app making it easier for you to connect with us and stay up to date with groundbreaking environmental news. The Environmental News Network (ENN) is recognized as the most comprehensive and dependable online environmental news source. With almost twenty years of experience aggregating and producing original content for environmental experts and novices alike, ENN's mission is to inform, educate and inspire environmental discussion and action among its readers and contributors.
Because ENN recognizes that there is no lack of environmental news content but rather an overabundance of it, ENN gathers, filters and streamlines environmental news from affiliate networks and other news streams so as to consolidate and support better environmental decisions for an ever changing world. ENN’s core sources include major wire services, research institutions, and freelance and citizen journalists from around the world.
Click to the rest of the story for downlad links, or visit the App store on your iPhone.
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer sets its sights on habitable planets
January 21, 2015 05:53 PM - JPL/California Institute of Technology
The NASA-funded Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, or LBTI, has completed its first study of dust in the "habitable zone" around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. Dust is a natural byproduct of the planet-formation process, but too much of it can block our view of planets.
The findings will help in the design of future space missions that have the goal of taking pictures of planets similar to Earth, called exo-Earths.
"Kepler told us how common Earth-like planets are," said Phil Hinz, the principal investigator of the LBTI project at the University of Arizona, Tucson, referring to NASA's planet-hunting Kepler mission, which has identified more than 4,000 planetary candidates around stars. "Now we want to find out just how dusty and obscured planetary environments are, and how difficult the planets will be to image."
How do atmospheric rivers and aerosols impact California rainfall?
January 17, 2015 08:48 AM - Scripps Institution of Oceanography
In the midst of the California rainy season, scientists are embarking on a field campaign designed to improve the understanding of the natural and human-caused phenomena that determine when and how the state gets its precipitation. They will do so by studying atmospheric rivers, meteorological events that include the famous rainmaker known as the Pineapple Express.
CalWater 2015 is an interagency, interdisciplinary field campaign starting January 14, 2015. CalWater 2015 will entail four research aircraft flying through major storms while a ship outfitted with additional instruments cruises below. The research team includes scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NOAA, and NASA and uses resources from the DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility—a national scientific user facility.
How does rain cause that earthy odor?
January 14, 2015 07:14 AM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
Ever notice an earthy smell in the air after a light rain? Now scientists at MIT believe they may have identified the mechanism that releases this aroma, as well as other aerosols, into the environment.
Using high-speed cameras, the researchers observed that when a raindrop hits a porous surface, it traps tiny air bubbles at the point of contact. As in a glass of champagne, the bubbles then shoot upward, ultimately bursting from the drop in a fizz of aerosols.
The team was also able to predict the amount of aerosols released, based on the velocity of the raindrop and the permeability of the contact surface.
Britain brings back the battery-powered train
January 13, 2015 08:14 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
The first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than half a century is to enter passenger service this week. The pioneering engine marks an important milestone in the project to demonstrate the viability of an eco-friendly battery-powered train for the twenty-first century.
Why is the water found on comet Comet 67P/Churyumov—Gerasimenko so different from Earth water?
January 11, 2015 08:00 AM - European Space Agency
ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet’s oceans.
The measurements were made in the month following the spacecraft’s arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 6 August. It is one of the most anticipated early results of the mission, because the origin of Earth’s water is still an open question.
One of the leading hypotheses on Earth’s formation is that it was so hot when it formed 4.6 billion years ago that any original water content should have boiled off. But, today, two thirds of the surface is covered in water, so where did it come from?