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By European Space Agency
As global temperatures records are smashed and greenhouse gas emissions reach new highs, a new report from the UN Environment Programme finds that current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on track for a 2.5–2.9°C temperature rise this century – pointing to the urgent need for increased climate action.
The report is timely as nearly 200 nations gather in the coming two weeks at the United Nations COP28 Climate Change Summit to conclude the world’s first ever ‘Global Stocktake’ on climate change. Swift and sustained climate action is needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Satellites are critical tools in the quest to tackle climate change and monitor progress towards a lower-emissions and more resilient world.
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NASA Administrator Bill Nelson delivers remarks before the ribbon cutting ceremony to open NASA’s Earth Information Center, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington. The Earth Information Center is new immersive experience that combines live data sets with cutting-edge data visualization and storytelling to allow visitors to see how our planet is changing. NASA/Joel Kowsky NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other agency leaders will participate in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) beginning Thursday, Nov. 30, through Tuesday, Dec. 12, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
This global conference brings together countries committed to addressing climate change, which is a key priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and NASA. For the first time, a NASA administrator will attend, joining an expected 70,000 participants, world leaders, and representatives from nearly 200 countries.
Throughout the conference, parties will review the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and, also for the first time, provide a comprehensive assessment of progress since adopting the Paris Agreement.
In addition to Nelson, NASA participants in the conference include:
Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate advisor Susie Perez Quinn, NASA’s chief of staff Karen St. Germain, director, NASA Earth Science Division Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, program scientist, ocean physics, NASA Earth Science Division Laura Rogers, associate program manager, ecological conservation, NASA Langley Research Center Wenying Su, senior research scientist, climate science, NASA Langley Research Center Ben Hamlington, research scientist, sea level and ice, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory During the conference, Nelson will participate in the first Space Agency Leaders’ Summit, which aims to demonstrate a collective commitment toward strengthening global climate initiatives and promoting sustainable space operations.
Throughout the conference, NASA leaders also will participate in additional events and presentations at the NASA Hyperwall, a main attraction at the U.S. Center showing how the agency’s climate science and research helps model and predict ocean health, heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts, among its other Earth-related research. NASA will provide a hyperwall presentation every day, some with interagency partners, between Sunday, Dec. 3, and Monday, Dec. 11.
Climate adaptation and mitigation efforts require robust climate observations and research. NASA’s unique vantage point from space provides critical information to advance understanding of our changing planet. With more than two dozen satellites and instruments in orbit, NASA’s climate data – which is openly and freely available to anyone – provides insight on how the planet is changing and measure key climate indicators, such as greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea level and clouds, and precipitation.
A full schedule of U.S. Center events at COP28 is available at:
Last Updated Nov 27, 2023 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
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NASA to Showcase Earth Science Data at COP28
This illustration shows the international Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite in orbit over Earth. SWOT’s main instrument, KaRIn, helps survey the water on more than 90% of Earth’s surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA/JPL-Caltech With 26 Earth-observing satellite missions, as well as instruments flying on planes and the space station, NASA has a global vantage point for studying our planet’s oceans, land, ice, and atmosphere and deciphering how changes in one drive change in others.
The agency will share that knowledge and data at the 28th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28), which brings international parties together to accelerate action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP28 will be held at the Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from Thursday, Nov. 30 to Tuesday, Dec. 12.
All U.S. events at COP28 are open to the local press and will be live-streamed on the U.S. Center at COP28 website and the U.S. Center YouTube channel.
NASA takes a full-picture approach to understanding all areas of our home planet using our vast satellite fleet and the data collected from their observations. The agency’s data is open-source and available for the public and scientists to study. NASA is showcasing the data at COP28 to share the different ways it can be used globally. The agency’s complete collection of Earth data can be found here.
The scientific research and understanding developed from NASA’s Earth observations are made into predictive models. Those models can be used to develop applications and actionable science to inform individuals including civic leaders and planners, resource managers, emergency managers, and communities looking to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
These satellites and models are augmented by the observations made from the International Space Station. The inclined, low Earth orbit from the station provides variable views and lighting over more than 90 percent of the inhabited surface of the Earth, a useful complement to sensor systems on satellites in higher-altitude polar orbits.
Closer to the surface, NASA’s aviation research is focused on advancing technologies for more efficient airplane flight, including hybrid-electric propulsion, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Technological advances in these areas have the potential to reduce human impacts on climate and air quality.
At the U.S. Center at COP28, in-person visitors can see the NASA Hyperwall where NASA scientists will provide live presentations showing how the agency’s work supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s agenda to encourage a governmentwide approach to climate change. During the hyperwall talks, NASA leaders, scientists and interagency partners will discuss the agency’s end-to-end research about our planet. This includes designing new instruments, satellites, and systems to collect and freely distribute the most complete and precise data possible about Earth’s land, ocean, and atmospheric system. A full schedule of NASA’s hyperwall talks is available.
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NASA’s Deep Space Optical Comm Demo Sends, Receives First Data
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is shown in a clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 8, 2022. DSOC’s gold-capped flight laser transceiver can be seen, near center, attached to the spacecraft.NASA/Ben Smegelsky DSOC, an experiment that could transform how spacecraft communicate, has achieved ‘first light,’ sending data via laser to and from far beyond the Moon for the first time.
NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment has beamed a near-infrared laser encoded with test data fromnearly 10 million miles (16 million kilometers) away – about 40 times farther than the Moon is from Earth – to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California. This is the farthest-ever demonstration of optical communications.
Riding aboard the recently launched Psyche spacecraft, DSOC is configured to send high-bandwidth test data to Earth during its two-year technology demonstration as Psyche travels to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California manages both DSOC and Psyche.
The tech demo achieved “first light” in the early hours of Nov. 14 after its flight laser transceiver – a cutting-edge instrument aboard Psyche capable of sending and receiving near-infrared signals – locked onto a powerful uplink laser beacon transmitted from the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory at JPL’s Table Mountain Facility near Wrightwood, California. The uplink beacon helped the transceiver aim its downlink laser back to Palomar (which is 100 miles, or 130 kilometers, south of Table Mountain) while automated systems on the transceiver and ground stations fine-tuned its pointing.
Learn more about how DSOC will be used to test high-bandwidth data transmission beyond the Moon for the first time – and how it could transform deep space exploration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU “Achieving first light is one of many critical DSOC milestones in the coming months, paving the way toward higher-data-rate communications capable of sending scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video in support of humanity’s next giant leap: sending humans to Mars,” said Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Test data also was sent simultaneously via the uplink and downlink lasers, a procedure known as “closing the link” that is a primary objective for the experiment. While the technology demonstration isn’t transmitting Psyche mission data, it works closely with the Psyche mission-support team to ensure DSOC operations don’t interfere with those of the spacecraft.
“Tuesday morning’stest was the first to fully incorporate the ground assets and flight transceiver, requiring the DSOC and Psyche operations teams to work in tandem,” said Meera Srinivasan, operations lead for DSOC at JPL. “It was a formidable challenge, and we have a lot more work to do, but for a short time, we were able to transmit, receive, and decode some data.”
Before this achievement, the project needed to check the boxes on several other milestones, from removing the protective cover for the flight laser transceiver to powering up the instrument. Meanwhile, the Psyche spacecraft is carrying out its own checkouts, including powering up its propulsion systems and testing instruments that will be used to study the asteroid Psyche when it arrives there in 2028.
First Light and First Bits
With successful first light, the DSOC team will now work on refining the systems that control the pointing of the downlink laser aboard the transceiver. Once achieved, the project can begin its demonstration of maintaining high-bandwidth data transmission from the transceiver to Palomar at various distances from Earth. This data takes the form of bits (the smallest units of data a computer can process) encoded in the laser’s photons – quantum particles of light. After a special superconducting high-efficiency detector array detects the photons, new signal-processing techniques are used to extract the data from the single photons that arrive at the Hale Telescope.
The DSOC experiment aims to demonstrate data transmission rates 10 to 100 times greater than the state-of-the-art radio frequency systems used by spacecraft today. Both radio and near-infrared laser communications utilize electromagnetic waves to transmit data, but near-infrared light packs the data into significantly tighter waves, enabling ground stations to receive more data. This will help future human and robotic exploration missions and support higher-resolution science instruments.
The flight laser transceiver operations team for NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration works in the Psyche mission support area at JPL in the early hours of Nov. 14, when the project achieved “first light.” NASA/JPL-Caltech DSOC ground laser transmitter operators pose for a photo at the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory at JPL’s Table Mountain Facility near Wrightwood, California, shortly after the technology demonstration achieved “first light” on Nov. 14.NASA/JPL-Caltech “Optical communication is a boon for scientists and researchers who always want more from their space missions, and will enable human exploration of deep space,” said Dr. Jason Mitchell, director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies Division within NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. “More data means more discoveries.”
While optical communication has been demonstrated in low Earth orbit and out to the Moon, DSOC is the first test in deep space. Like using a laser pointer to track a moving dime from a mile away, aiming a laser beam over millions of miles requires extremely precise “pointing.”
The demonstration also needs to compensate for the time it takes for light to travel from the spacecraft to Earth over vast distances: At Psyche’s farthest distance from our planet, DSOC’s near-infrared photons will take about 20 minutes to travel back (they took about 50 seconds to travel from Psyche to Earth during the Nov. 14 test). In that time, both spacecraft and planet will have moved, so the uplink and downlink lasers need to adjust for the change in location. “Achieving first light is a tremendous achievement. The ground systems successfully detected the deep space laser photons from DSOC’s flight transceiver aboard Psyche,” said Abi Biswas, project technologist for DSOC at JPL. “And we were also able to send some data, meaning we were able to exchange ‘bits of light’ from and to deep space.”
More About the Mission
DSOC is the latest in a series of optical communication demonstrations funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program within the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate.
The Psyche mission is led by Arizona State University. JPL is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Psyche is the 14th mission selected as part of NASA’s Discovery Program under the Science Mission Directorate, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center, managed the launch service. Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, provided the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.
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NASA Telescope Data Becomes Music You Can Play
For millennia, musicians have looked to the heavens for inspiration. Now a new collaboration is enabling actual data from NASA telescopes to be used as the basis for original music that can be played by humans.
Since 2020, the “sonification” project at NASA’s Chandra X-ray Center has translated the digital data taken by telescopes into notes and sounds. This process allows the listener to experience the data through the sense of hearing instead of seeing it as images, a more common way to present astronomical data.
A musical ensemble performs soundscape that composer Sophie Katsner created using data sonifications from NASA’s Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. Based in Montreal, Ensemble Éclat is dedicated to the performance of contemporary classical music and promoting the works of emerging composers. A new phase of the sonification project takes the data into different territory. Working with composer Sophie Kastner, the team has developed versions of the data that can be played by musicians.
“It’s like a writing a fictional story that is largely based on real facts,” said Kastner. “We are taking the data from space that has been translated into sound and putting a new and human twist on it.”
This pilot program focuses on data from a small region at the center of our Milky Way galaxy where a supermassive black hole resides. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and retired Spitzer Space Telescope have all studied this area, which spans about 400 light-years across.
The Galactic Center sonification, using data from NASA’s Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, has been translated into a new composition with sheet music and score. Working with a composer, this soundscape can be played by musicians. The full score and sheet music for individual instruments is available at: https://chandra.si.edu/sound/symphony.htmlComposition: NASA/CXC/SAO/Sophie Kastner We’ve been working with these data, taken in X-ray, visible, and infrared light, for years,” said Kimberly Arcand, Chandra visualization and emerging technology scientist. “Translating these data into sound was a big step, and now with Sophie we are again trying something completely new for us.”
In the data sonification process, computers use algorithms to mathematically map the digital data from these telescopes to sounds that humans can perceive. Human musicians, however, have different capabilities than computers.
Kastner chose to focus on small sections of the image in order to make the data more playable for people. This also allowed her to create spotlights on certain parts of the image that are easily overlooked when the full sonification is played.
“I like to think of it as creating short vignettes of the data, and approaching it almost as if I was writing a film score for the image,” said Kastner. “I wanted to draw listener’s attention to smaller events in the greater data set.”
The result of this trial project is a new composition based upon and influenced by real data from NASA telescopes, but with a human take.
“In some ways, this is just another way for humans to interact with the night sky just as they have throughout recorded history,” says Arcand. “We are using different tools but the concept of being inspired by the heavens to make art remains the same.”
Kastner hopes to expand this pilot composition project to other objects in Chandra’s data sonification collection. She is also looking to bring in other musical collaborators who are interested in using the data in their pieces.
Sophie Kastner’s Galactic Center piece is entitled “Where Parallel Lines Converge.” If you are a musician who wants to try playing this sonification at home, check out the sheet music at: https://chandra.si.edu/sound/symphony.html.
The piece was recorded by Montreal based Ensemble Éclat conducted by Charles-Eric LaFontaine on July 19, 2023 at McGill University.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
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