Aerospace

For a government that likes military action but not losing American lives, drones are the next big thing.   Drones have been, and will continue to be, used in more and more applications outside the military, including citizen surveillance and natural disaster research. 

But military spending is what is driving optimization and the U.S. Department of Defense reports that drone accidents happen 50 times more often than mishaps involving human-operated aircraft. The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps reported 43 mishaps that involved human factors issues associated with drone ground control workstations and technology during the years 2006 and 2007. 


NASA is hosting a news teleconference to announce black hole observations from its newest X-ray telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray telescope.

This is obviously big news and has been hinted at for a while. Check it out.

The briefing participants are:

-- Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

-- Guido Risaliti, astronomer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics

-- Arvind Parmar, head of Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics Missions Division, European Space Agency

Infrasonic waves from the meteor that broke up over over Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural mountains last week were the largest ever recorded by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) International Monitoring System. The blast was detected by 17 infrasound stations in the CTBTO's network, which tracks atomic blasts across the planet. The furthest station to record the sub-audible sound was 15,000 km away in Antarctica. 


NASA has got the hang of it now. Creating an almost unbearable suspense before the launching of a new satellite, that is. Actually, the last time NASA tortured us with excitement was in connection with a landing, and not a launching. I am of course referring to Curiosity's landing on Mars. That went well, to put it mildly. Both the 'show' and now the results that are ticking in from the mission. Currently it is drill baby, drill mode on Mars!

Landsat 8 satellite

Some time this month, in Poker Flat, Alaska, a team of scientists from  The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif.and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center of Greenbelt, Md., will launch a sounding rocket up through the Northern Lights. 


A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust nebula NGC 1999 in the region of Orion. While these dense interstellar clouds seem dark and obscured to visible-light observations, APEX’s LABOCA camera can detect the heat glow of the dust and reveal the hiding places where new stars are being formed. But one of these dark clouds is not what it seems.

Low pressure areas that dropped more than a foot of snow in some Midwestern states have prompted many warnings and weather advisories. Satellite data recently got a look at a major snowstorm.

On Dec. 21st, 2012, at 0729 UTC (2:29 a.m. EST), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of the massive low pressure area that caused a major snowstorm in the Midwest and beyond. 


A team of astronomers have measured an excess of X-ray radiation in the first few minutes of collapsing massive stars, which may be the signature of the supernova shock wave first escaping from the star - new evidence that X-ray detectors in space could be the first to witness new supernovae that signal the death of massive stars.   


If you looked at the "Black Marble" images of Earth at night released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week, you may have noticed bright areas in the largely uninhabited western part of Australia.

What's the story?


The Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is now 10 times better at catching the brief outbursts of high-energy light, known as  terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs),mysteriously produced above thunderstorms.

Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes last only a few thousandths of a second but their gamma rays rank among the highest-energy light that naturally occurs on Earth. The enhanced GBM discovery rate helped scientists show most TGFs also generate a strong burst of radio waves, a finding that will change how scientists study this poorly understood phenomenon.