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This Week at NASA | JPL’s Climate Observatory; Moons of Pluto; more

Uploaded 11/13/2015

JPL’s Climate Observatory; Moons of Pluto; more

New observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is providing insight into how Earth is responding to rising levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, and what this means for our future climate. Earth’s land and ocean currently absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but it’s uncertain whether the planet can keep this up in the future. Later this month, a United Nations climate meeting in Paris will focus on setting limits on future levels of human-produced carbon emissions. OCO-2 is NASA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide. Also, New Horizons science update, NASA at Bay Area Science Festival, Anniversary of first spacecraft landing on a comet, Cygnus being prepared for launch, and Girls Rising in Math and Science.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Carbon and Earth’s future climate

New observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is providing insight into how Earth is responding to rising levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, and what this means for our future climate. Earth’s land and ocean currently absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but it’s uncertain whether the planet can keep this up in the future. Later this month, a United Nations climate meeting in Paris will focus on setting limits on future levels of human-produced carbon emissions. OCO-2 is NASA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide.

New Horizons science update

The ongoing “waterfall of data” from the July flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has yielded more than 50 discoveries discussed at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland. Among them – 3-D imagery indicating two of Pluto’s most distinctive mountains could be ice volcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past, the lack of smaller surface craters on Pluto and its large moon Charon could mean objects in the nearby Kuiper Belt are actually “born” larger than previously thought, and interesting details about Pluto’s smaller moons. Hydra — its most distant moon — rotates an unprecedented 89 times during one orbit around Pluto.

NASA at Bay Area Science Festival

NASA Associate Administrator for Science, John Grunsfeld was among the agency officials who participated in the recent Bay Area Science Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two-week event featured several NASA displays and activities highlighting the agency’s efforts in science and technology. NASA’s Chief Technologist David Miller was the featured guest of a technology podcast during Nerd Night at Alcatraz. He discussed NASA technologies being developed to help the next generation of explorers make the next giant leap into deep space.

Anniversary: Philae lands on comet

Nov. 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the first successful landing on a comet by a spacecraft. After sailing through space for more than a decade, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft sent its Philae robotic probe to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. NASA has three instruments on the Rosetta spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the comet. Rosetta is expected to swoop down to within four miles of the comet in February. It will be the spacecraft’s closest pass of the comet during its prime mission.

Cygnus being prepared for launch

Processing is underway at Kennedy Space Center of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft loaded with cargo and research for delivery to the International Space Station. Launch of the unpiloted Cygnus is targeted for Dec. 3 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This will be Orbital ATK’s fourth cargo mission to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Girls Rising in Math and Science

Lola The Muppet:
“Tell us about your super powers.”

Diana Trujillo, NASA Engineer:
“I don’t have super powers, Lola.”

Lola The Muppet:
“Of course you do! You know about science and math!”

NASA engineers Diana Trujillo and Sandra Cauffman participated in the Nov. 10 launch of a joint educational initiative between Sesame Workshop and Inter-American Development Bank, called Great Explorers: Girls Rising in Math and Science. The program is designed to improve the educational experiences in math and science for children in Latin America — with a special focus on empowering girls. NASA encourages programs like this that help young people develop the skills needed for the Journey to Mars.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.

 

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