Jump to content

Announcing Earth observation hackathon winners


Recommended Posts

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      NASA-supported scientists have examined the long and intricately linked history of microbial life and the Earth’s environment. By reviewing the current state of knowledge across fields like microbiology, molecular biology, and geology, the study looks at how microorganisms have both shaped and been shaped by chemical properties of our planet’s oceans, land, and atmosphere. The study combines data across multiple fields of study and discusses how information on the complicated history of life on our planet from a single field cannot be viewed in isolation.
      An artist interpretation of the hazy atmosphere of Archean Earth – a pale orange dot. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Francis Reddy The first life on Earth was microbial. Today the vast majority of our planet’s biomass is still made up of tiny, single-celled microorganisms. Although they’re abundant, the history of microbes can be a challenge for astrobiologists to study. Microbes don’t leave bones, shells or other large fossils behind like dinosaurs, fish or other large organisms. Because of this, scientists must look at different evidence to understand the evolution of microbial life through time.
      In order to study ancient microbes on Earth, astrobiologists look for isotopic fingerprints in rocks that can be used to identify the metabolisms of ancient communities. Metabolism refers to the conversion of food into energy, and happens in all living things. Many elements (think carbon (C), nitrogen (N), Sulfur (S), iron (Fe)) are involved in microbial metabolism. As microbes process these elements, they cause isotopic changes that scientists can spot in the rock record. Microbes also help to control how these elements are deposited and cycled in the environment, affecting geology and chemistry at both local and global scales (consider the role of microbes in the carbon cycle on Earth today).
      This photograph shows a section of the Marble Bar formation in the Pilbara region of north-western Western Australia. The bands of color in the rock are the result of high amounts of certain minerals, including iron, that may have resulted from microbial activity on the ancient Earth. NASA Astrobiology/Mike Toillion For an example of geological evidence of microbial metabolism, we can consider the formation of banded iron formations (BIFs) on the ancient seafloor. These colorful layers of alternating iron- and silicon-rich sediment were formed from 3.8 billion to 1.8 billion years ago and are associated with some of the oldest rock formations on Earth. The red colors they exhibit are from their high iron content, showing us that the ocean of Earth was rich in iron during the 2 billion years in which these rocks were forming.
      Another way to study ancient microbial life is to look back along the evolutionary information contained in the genetics of life today. Combining this genetic information from molecular biology with geobiological information from the rock record can help astrobiologists understand the connections between the shared evolution of the early Earth and early life.
      In the new study, the team of researchers provide a review of current knowledge, gleaning information into the early metabolisms used by microbial life, the timing of when these metabolisms evolved, and how these processes are linked to major chemical and physical changes on Earth, such as the oxygenation of the oceans and atmosphere.
      Over time, the prevalence of oxygen on Earth has varied dramatically, in the ocean, in the atmosphere, and on land. These changes impacted both the evolution of the biosphere and the environment. For instance, as the activity of photosynthetic organisms raised oxygen levels in the atmosphere, creating new environments for microbial life to inhabit. Different nutrients were made accessible to life to fuel growth. At the same time, microbes that couldn’t survive in the presence of oxygen had to adapt, perish, or find a way to survive in environments where oxygen didn’t persist, such as deep in the Earth’s subsurface.
      Rocks along the shoreline of Lake Salda in Turkey were formed over time by microbes that trap minerals in the water. These microbialites were once a major form of life on Earth. The new study explains our understanding of how oxygen levels have changed over time and spatial scales. The authors map different types of microbial metabolism, such as photosynthesis, to this history to better understand the “cause-and-effect relationship” between oxygen and the evolution of life on Earth. The paper provides important context for major changes in the course of evolution for the biosphere and the planet.
      By carefully considering the history of different types of microbial metabolisms on Earth, the review paper shows how biogeochemical cycles on our planet are inextricably linked through time over both local and global scales. The authors also discuss significant gaps in our knowledge that limit interpretations. For instance, we do not know how large the young biosphere on Earth was, which limits our ability to estimate the global effects of various metabolisms during Earth’s earliest years. Similarly, when using genetic information to look back along the tree of life, scientists can estimate when certain genes first appeared (and thereby what types of metabolisms could have been used at the time in living cells). However, the evolution of a new type of metabolism at a point in history does not necessarily mean that that metabolism was common or had a large enough effect in the environment to leave evidence in the rock record.
      According to the authors, “The history of microbial life marched in step with the history of the
      oceans, land and atmosphere, and our understanding remains limited by how much we still do not know about the environments of the early Earth.”
      This is an illustration of exoplanet WASP-39 b, also known as Bocaprins. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope provided the most detailed analysis of an exoplanet atmosphere ever with WASP-39 b analysis released in November 2022. Webb’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) showed unambiguous evidence for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while previous observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, as well as other telescopes, indicate the presence of water vapor, sodium, and potassium. The planet probably has clouds and some form of weather, but it may not have atmospheric bands like those of Jupiter and Saturn. This illustration is based on indirect transit observations from Webb as well as other space and ground-based telescopes. Webb has not captured a direct image of this planet. NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI) The study also has wider implications in the search for life beyond Earth. Understanding the co-evolution of life and the environment can help scientists better understand the conditions necessary for a planet to be habitable. The interconnections between life and the environment also provide important clues in the search for biosignature gases in the atmospheres of planets that orbit distant stars.
      The study, “Co‐evolution of early Earth environments and microbial life,” was published in the journal Nature Reviews. Additional information on the study is available from the University of California, Riverside.
      Click here to return to the NASA Astrobiology page.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 Min Read NASA Celebrates 20 Years of Earth-Observing Aura Satellite
      The Aura spacecraft, shown in this artist’s concept, is a NASA atmospheric chemistry mission that monitors Earth’s protective atmosphere. Credits:
      NASA Earth (ESD) Earth Home Explore Climate Change Science in Action Multimedia Data For Researchers From monitoring the hole in the ozone above the Antarctic to studying air quality around the entire planet, NASA’s Aura satellite has provided scientists with essential measurements during its two decades in orbit.
      “The Aura mission has been nothing short of transformative for scientific research and applied sciences,” said Bryan Duncan, project scientist for NASA’s Aura satellite mission. “The mission’s data have given scientists and applied scientists an unparalleled view of air pollution around the world.”
      Aura has revealed the effects of industrialization, environmental regulations, wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other aspects of the air we breathe. The satellite paved the way for recent missions to study the atmosphere and its inner workings, including PACE and TEMPO. As the Aura mission team celebrates its launch anniversary of July 15, 2004, here are a few of the many highlights from the last 20 years.
      Aura Eyes Ozone Hole over Antarctica
      The first publicly released image from the Aura mission (autumn 2004) showed dramatically depleted levels of ozone in the stratosphere over Antarctica.
      NASA Study: First Direct Proof of Ozone Hole Recovery Due to Chemicals Ban
      In a 2018 study, scientists showed for the first time through direct satellite observations that levels of chlorine in the atmosphere declined, resulting in less ozone depletion. Because of an international ban on chlorine-containing manmade chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, there was about 20% less ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter in 2016 than there was in 2005. 
      New NASA Satellite Maps Show Human Fingerprint on Global Air Quality
      This global map shows the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the troposphere as detected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument aboard the Aura satellite, averaged over 2014. NASA Using high-resolution global maps of air quality indicators made with data from the Aura satellite, NASA scientists tracked air pollution trends between 2005 and 2015 in various regions and 195 cities around the globe. The study found that the United States, Europe, and Japan saw improved air quality due to emission control regulations, while China, India, and the Middle East, with their fast-growing economies and expanding industry, saw more air pollution.
      How NASA is Helping the World Breathe More Easily
      Many of NASA’s Earth-observing satellites, including Aura, can see what the human eye can’t — including potentially harmful pollutants lingering in the air we breathe. These satellites help us measure and track air pollution as it moves around the globe and have contributed significantly to a decades-long quest for cleaner air. For example, data from Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument helped the EPA and NASA identify a drop in nitrogen dioxide that researchers cited as evidence of the success of the Clean Air Act.
      Air Quality: A Tale of Three Cities
      Air quality in Beijing, Los Angeles, and Atlanta — like air quality across the globe — is dynamic. This video describes how scientists use instruments like Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument to study questions including what causes ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide emissions. It also explores why reductions in volatile organic carbon pollution worked to reduce ground-level ozone in Los Angeles, but not in Atlanta.
      Seeing the COVID-19 Pandemic from Space
      Economic and social shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to noticeable changes in Earth’s environment, at least in the short term. NASA researchers used satellite and ground-based observations – including nitrogen dioxide levels from Ozone Monitoring Instrument – to track these impacts on our air, land, water, and climate. 
      A Satellite’s View of Ship Pollution
      With natural-color satellite imagery of the atmosphere over the ocean, scientists have observed “ship tracks” — bright, linear trails amidst the cloud layers that are created by particles and gases from ships. Scientists used Ozone Monitoring Instrument data to detect the almost invisible tracks of nitrogen dioxide along several shipping routes from 2005 to 2012.
      First Global Maps of Volcanic Emissions Use NASA Satellite Data
      Volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions from Indonesia’s many volcanoes are shown in shades of orange. The data was produced from observations from NASA’s Aura satellite. With the Ozone Monitoring Instrument data, researchers compiled emissions data from 2005 to 2015 create the first global inventory for volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions. The data set helped refine climate and atmospheric chemistry models and provided more insight into human and environmental health risks.
      Scientists Show Connection Between Gas Flaring and Arctic Pollution
      Flaring of excess natural gas from industrial oil fields in the Northern Hemisphere was found to be a potentially significant source of nitrogen dioxide and black carbon emissions polluting the Arctic, according to a 2016 NASA study that included data from Aura.
      2023 Ozone Hole Ranks 16th Largest, NASA and NOAA Researchers Find
      Researchers continue to rely on Aura data to monitor the Antarctic ozone hole, two decades after the satellite launched. Each Southern Hemisphere spring, NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) use satellite and balloon-based measurements to measure the maximum size of the ozone hole. The story above notes the 2023 result; stay tuned for what Aura helps us discover in 2024 and beyond.
      This map shows the size and shape of the ozone hole over the South Pole on Sept. 21, 2023, the day of its maximum extent that year, as calculated by the NASA Ozone Watch team. Moderate ozone losses (orange) are visible amid widespread areas of more potent ozone losses (red). By Erica McNamee and Kate Ramsayer
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Share








      Details
      Last Updated Jul 16, 2024 Editor Erica McNamee Contact Erica McNamee erica.s.mcnamee@nasa.gov Location Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Aura Earth Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) Explore More
      5 min read Alphabet Soup: NASA’s GOLD Finds Surprising C, X Shapes in Atmosphere


      Article


      3 weeks ago
      4 min read NASA Announces New System to Aid Disaster Response


      Article


      1 month ago
      2 min read North Carolina Volunteers Work Toward Cleaner Well Water
      When the ground floods during a storm, floodwaters wash bacteria and other contaminants into private…


      Article


      1 month ago
      Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Aura


      Earth Orbiter


      Earth


      Your home. Our Mission. And the one planet that NASA studies more than any other.


      Climate Change


      NASA is a global leader in studying Earth’s changing climate.


      PACE


      PACE will help us better understand our ocean and atmosphere by measuring key variables associated with cloud formation, particles and…

      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) will return to Earth on 19–20 August, with flight controllers guiding the spacecraft first past the Moon and then past Earth itself. This ‘braking’ manoeuvre will take Juice on a shortcut to Jupiter via Venus.
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      Image: The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over the Hainan Strait in southern China. View the full article
    • By NASA
      A few days before they left Skylab on Feb. 8, 1974, the final crew to occupy the station raised its altitude, hoping to keep it in orbit until a future space shuttle could revisit it. But higher than predicted solar activity caused the Earth’s atmosphere to expand, increasing drag on the large vehicle, causing its orbit to decay faster than expected. In 1978, controllers reactivated the station and changed its attitude, hoping to keep it in orbit as long as possible by reducing atmospheric drag. In the meantime, delays in the space shuttle’s development eventually made it impossible for a shuttle to revisit Skylab before it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. On July 11, 1979, Skylab reentered, with debris landing over the Indian Ocean and Australia. Lessons learned from deorbiting large spacecraft like Skylab and others will inform the eventual deorbiting of the International Space Station.

      Left: Skylab as it appeared to the final crew upon its departure. Middle: Illustration of a proposed Skylab boost mission by the space shuttle. Right: A more whimsical depiction of the Skylab reboost by the space shuttle, as drawn by a cartoonist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
      When the Skylab 4 astronauts departed the station on Feb. 8, 1974, they left it in a 269-by-283-mile orbit. Just one day after the crew left the station, operators in the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston ran a few final systems checks, oriented Skylab in a gravity-gradient attitude – meaning the heavier workshop faced the Earth – vented its atmosphere, and turned off its power. In this attitude, and based on predictions of the Sun’s activity in the upcoming solar cycle that would increase atmospheric drag and reduce Skylab’s altitude, scientists estimated that the station would remain in orbit until March 1983. However, the solar cycle intensified into the second most active one in a century and atmospheric perturbations shifted Skylab out of the gravity-gradient attitude, increasing its drag. By 1977, revised estimates projected Skylab’s reentry occurring as early as mid-1979. Although the space shuttle had yet to fly, NASA devised a plan for astronauts on one of its early missions to attach a rocket stage to Skylab and use it to either boost the station into a higher storage orbit or deorbit it in a controlled fashion into the Pacific Ocean. At 169,000 pounds, Skylab represented the heaviest spacecraft to reenter up to that time, and engineers believed that some of its components would survive the entry. Keeping the debris away from populated areas remained a priority.

      Left: Plot of Skylab’s altitude from launch until reentry. Right: Illustration of the five ground stations used during the reactivation and tracking of Skylab.
      To ensure that Skylab stayed aloft long enough for this shuttle mission to reach it, NASA needed to reactivate it. Because Skylab had no ability to reboost itself, its rate of decay could only be slightly controlled by changing the station’s attitude. Between March and June 1978, using the limited communications afforded by five ground stations, a small team of controllers methodically reactivated Skylab after a more than four-year passive period. Remarkably, the station’s systems, including its all-important batteries, had survived the intervening period in good condition. When controllers fully reactivated Skylab on June 11, 1978, its altitude had decreased to 250 miles, and to prolong its life NASA decided to keep the station activated to control its attitude. Using its Thruster Attitude Control System, operators commanded Skylab into an End On Velocity Vector (EOVV) minimum drag attitude, with its forward end pointing in the direction of flight. Skylab remained in the EOVV attitude until Jan. 25, 1979, and engineers estimated that this extended the station’s orbital life by 3.5 months. By late 1978, with slips in the shuttle schedule, saving Skylab seemed no longer feasible. In a Dec. 19, 1978, press conference, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Transportation Systems John F. Yardley announced the cancellation of the shuttle reboost mission and the end of efforts to control Skylab’s attitude. Yardley emphasized the low likelihood of an uncontrolled Skylab reentry resulting in debris hitting populated areas, citing the example of the spent second stage of the Saturn V rocket that launched Skylab. That empty stage, larger in size although at 83,000 pounds less massive than Skylab, reentered out of control on Jan. 11, 1975, falling harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles west of Gibraltar.

      Left: Illustration of Skylab in the End On Velocity Vector minimum drag attitude. Middle: Cartoon of “Skylab is falling” fever. Image credit: courtesy Chicago Tribune. Right: Ground track of Skylab’s final orbit and the debris footprint in the Indian Ocean and Australia.
      On Jan. 25, 1979, controllers maneuvered Skylab from EOVV to solar inertial attitude, the orientation it maintained during its operational life, to ensure its solar arrays remained pointed at the Sun to keep the station’s batteries charged. Studies indicated that as Skylab descended below 161 miles, aerodynamic torques would make it difficult to maintain the solar inertial attitude. On June 20, with Skylab at 163 miles, controllers commanded it into a high-drag Torque Equilibrium Attitude (TEA). This gave controllers the ability to select the best orbit to execute the final reentry, one that overflew mostly water to minimize any potential harm to people and property. Orbit 34,981 on July 11 met those criteria. On that orbit, after Skylab passed over North America, it flew southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, round the southern tip of Africa, then northeast across the Indian Ocean before passing over the next major landmass, mainly sparsely populated areas of Australia. On the planned day of reentry, controllers commanded Skylab into a slow tumble at an altitude of 93 miles to better aim the entry point to the east of the southern tip of Africa, causing the breakup over the Indian Ocean. After this point, the ground no longer controlled the station. With a debris footprint possibly 3,500 miles long, some debris landing in Australia remained a possibility.

      Left: Skylab’s entry path over Western Australia, showing sites that recovered debris from the station. Middle and right: The museum in Esperance, Western Australia, displays an oxygen tank and a titanium tank from Skylab. Image credits: courtesy Ben Cooper.

      Left: Operators in Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston during the Skylab reentry. Right: Managers and flight controllers monitor Skylab’s reentry.
      Tracking at the Bermuda station indicated Skylab’s large solar array still attached to the workshop. Controllers at Ascension Island in the South Atlantic made contact with Skylab as it flew 66 miles overhead, its large solar array beginning to detach from the workshop, itself already heating from the reentry. Once the disintegrating station passed out of range of Ascension, it continued its reentry unmonitored. Skylab finally broke apart at an altitude of 10 miles, slightly lower than expected, moving the impact footprint further east than planned. Pieces of Skylab falling on Western Australia created sonic booms heard by the inhabitants of the few towns in the Outback. The actual documented debris footprint stretched 2,450 miles. A museum in Esperance houses some of the recovered debris. Skylab Flight Director Charles S. Harlan said in a news conference after the event, “The surprise is over. No more suspense. Skylab is on the planet Earth.”

      Left: The Salyut 7-Kosmos 1686 complex photographed by the last departing crew. Middle: Reentry trajectory of the Salyut 7-Kosmos 1686 complex. Image credit: courtesy H. Klinkrad. Right: A piece of Salyut 7 recovered in Argentina. Image credit: courtesy Carlos Zelayeta.
      In contrast to the partially controlled Skylab entry, the Salyut 7-Kosmos 1686 complex made an uncontrolled reentry over Argentina on Feb. 7, 1991. At 88,491 pounds, the complex had about half the mass of Skylab. Although controllers had sent all previous Salyut stations on controlled reentries into the Pacific Ocean, they lost communications with Salyut 7 more than two years before its reentry. A crew last occupied the Salyut 7-Kosmos 1686 complex in June 1986. In August 1986, engines on the Kosmos 1686 module raised the complex’s orbit by 84 miles to 295 miles, with an anticipated reentry in 1994. Like Skylab, controllers considered a possible retrieval of Salyut 7 by a Buran space shuttle before that program’s cancellation. The last communications with Salyut 7 occurred in December 1989. Again, like Skylab, higher than anticipated solar activity in the late 1980s accelerated its descent. The station initially entered a gravity gradient attitude with the heavier Kosmos 1686 facing the Earth, but that attitude degraded significantly as the station encountered denser atmosphere in January 1991. And although said to be uncontrollable, apparently on Feb. 5, ground teams commanded it into a head on attitude to reduce drag and direct entry to an orbit that overflew less populated areas. Fuel depletion did not allow completion of the maneuver and atmospheric drag torqued the vehicle away from this attitude. Although planned for reentry over the south Pacific Ocean, Salyut 7 overshot the target and came down over Argentina, with a few fragments recovered.

      Left: The Mir complex in 1998. Middle: The March 2001 reentry of Mir photographed from Fiji. Right: The reentry trajectory of Mir in March 2001.
      Lessons learned from the earlier reentries of large space stations led controllers to devise a three-stage process to deorbit the Mir space station in a controlled fashion into the Pacific Ocean in March 2001. In the first stage, controllers allowed orbital drag to bring the 285,940-pound station, at the time the heaviest object to reenter, down to an average altitude of 140 miles. For the second stage, on March 23, the docked Progress M1-5 fired its engines twice to lower Mir’s orbit to 103 by 137 miles. Two orbits later, the Progress fired its engines for 22 minutes to bring Mir out of orbit. It burned up on reentry over the South Pacific Ocean, with observers in Nadi, Fiji, watching its final moments.

      The International Space Station, the largest spacecraft in orbit.
      In anticipation of the eventual controlled disposal of the International Space Station, on June 26, 2024, NASA selected SpaceX to develop and deliver the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle. The vehicle will safely deorbit the space station, the largest and, at over 900,000 pounds, by far the heaviest spacecraft in orbit, after the end of its operational life, currently expected in 2030. Past experiences can provide useful lessons learned.
      Explore More
      8 min read 30 Years Ago: STS-65, the Second International Microgravity Lab Mission
      Article 1 day ago 11 min read Fourth of July Holidays in Space
      Article 1 week ago 9 min read 40 Years Ago: STS-41D – First Space Shuttle Launch Pad Abort
      Article 2 weeks ago View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

×
×
  • Create New...