Aerospace

Tropical Storm Karina was weakening on August 20 when NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard Terra snapped a visible image of Tropical Storm Karina on August 20 at 19:40 UTC (3:40 p.m. EDT). The MODIS image showed that a thick band of strong thunderstorms spiraled into Karina's center from the southeast. The band of thunderstorms wrapped around Karina's eastern and northern quadrants, spiraling into the center from the west, making the tropical cyclone look like the number nine.


Soil moisture plays a major role in the environment/climate system because the transport of water within the land and at the land-atmosphere interface is strongly dependent on the state of soil water in a region.

Despite its importance, lack of soil moisture measurements at various spatial scales has limited our understanding of how individual physical factors control soil moisture dynamics.

AMUSED (A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study) is a project that will monitor soil moisture using cosmic-rays sensors in combination with land surface modeling, satellite remote sensing, model diagnostics and data assimilation methods.

The Venus Express spacecraft just spent a month of aerobraking that saw it surf in and out of the atmosphere of Venus at altitudes typically between 131 km and 135 km for a couple of minutes on each of its closest approaches to the planet. Why? Because after 8 years its propellant is getting low so it was time to do something new while it was still possible.

Before, normal operations involved an elliptical orbit every 24 hours that took Venus Express from 66,000 km over the south pole down to around 250 km at the north pole, just above the top of the atmosphere. The recent aerobraking campaign took the craft progressively lower into the atmosphere on its closest approaches and  directly explored previously uncharted regions of the atmosphere.

Where does the solar system end and interstellar space begin? There are no 'Now Leaving...' signs so it's somewhat subjective. If you think the argument over Pluto was confusing, you'll be intrigued that the argument over the solar system takes that to a whole new level.

Two years ago, it was announced that wherever the boundary of the solar system was, Voyager 1 had passed it, traveling further from Earth than any other manmade object. But some scientists insist it is still within the heliosphere – the region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles – and has not yet reached the 'space between the stars'. 


The Magnetometer instrument that will fly on NOAA's GOES-R satellite when it is launched in early 2016 has completed the development and testing phase and is ready to be integrated with the spacecraft. 
The GOES-R series will be more advanced than the current GOES fleet. The satellites are expected to more than double the clarity of today's GOES imagery and provide more atmospheric observations than current capabilities with more frequent images.


ESA’s spaceplane is getting ready to showcase reentry technologies. Instead of heading north into a polar orbit, as on previous flights, Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Final tests are being done on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV, launched in early November, to make sure that it can withstand the demanding conditions from liftoff to separation from Vega. IXV will flight test the technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry vehicles returning from low orbit.


IXV tests. Credit: ESA

A new type of telescope made by stitching together telephoto lenses recently discovered seven celestial surprises while probing a nearby spiral galaxy - previously undetected dwarf galaxies.
 
Pieter van Dokkum, chair of Yale's astronomy department, designed the robotic telescope with University of Toronto astronomer Roberto Abraham. Their Dragonfly Telephoto Array uses eight telephoto lenses with special coatings that suppress internally scattered light. This makes the telescope uniquely adept at detecting the very diffuse, low surface brightness of the newly discovered galaxies.


Researchers using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico discovered a split-second burst of radio waves, the first time that a so-called "fast radio burst" has been detected using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope in Australia.

Scientists using the Parkes Observatory have recorded a handful of such events but because no other facilities did, the assumption was that the Australian instrument was picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth.


ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is on the last leg of its epic voyage to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the first rendezvous with a comet.

Every kid has asked 'Are we there yet?' in the car.  It's hard to imagine how many times that question would be asked after 10 years and nearly 4 billion miles.

Now there is just a relatively short 12,000 miles to go a and it is expected to arrive August 6th. To commemorate the momentous milestone of reaching the comet, ESA is inviting you to take part in a photo contest celebrating journeys and arrivals. Up for grabs is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be at ESA’s operations center in Germany in November, for the VIP event celebrating the first landing on a comet.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Project (ESSP) mission designed to make precise, time-dependent global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from an Earth orbiting satellite.

But on February 24, 2009 and it failed to reach orbit.

5 years later, it was time to try again. In 2012, NASA awarded launch services contracts for three United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rockets. And OCO-2 flew on a Boeing Delta II 7320-10C, one of the most successful launch vehicles ever flown with well over 100 successful launches, rather than  on a Taurus XL.