This Week at NASA | Sat Launch; Record Global Temps; more
On Jan. 17, Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission is led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency, CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. After a six-month checkout period, Jason-3 will start full science operations – continuing a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, direction of ocean currents and amount of solar energy stored by oceans – all, key data to understanding changes in global climate and more accurately forecasting severe weather.
According to data released by NASA and NOAA on Jan. 20, the surface temperature of our planet hit a record high – for the second year in a row. Global temperatures for 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 (twenty-three hundredths) degrees Fahrenheit – the second-largest increase for a new record year. Our planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 °F since the late 19th-century. Increases in carbon dioxide and other human-produced emissions are believed to be contributing to the rise in global temperatures.
Jan. 19 marked the 10-year anniversary of the launch of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. The spacecraft reached Pluto last year – making its closest approach to the distant dwarf planet on July 14. Reconnaissance of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt is giving us unprecedented insight into the makeup of worlds at the edge of our solar system. The imagery returned by New Horizons has included many unexpected features on Pluto – including a recently released view of what might be the largest ice volcano discovered in the outer solar system.
One of the reasons Earth images seen from space turn out to be some of the coolest things we’ve ever seen sometimes, is because of what we see when we look a little harder. Case in point – these images on NASA’s Earth Observatory site that are part of an ABCs from space feature. All twenty-six letters of the English alphabet are represented. The Earth Observatory site is managed at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.
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