Report: NOAA Errors Led to Diminished Weather Satellites

GOES-17 satellite during processing by Astrotech. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NOAA’s poor management of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R (GOES-R) program has resulted in less accurate meteorological data from the GOES-16 and GOES-17 weather satellites now in orbit, according to an audit by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General (IG). [Full Report]

NOAA’s failure to properly address an overheating problem discovered during ground testing in 2017 led to the degraded performance of GOES-17’s main instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). The GOES-16 satellite, which was already in orbit at the time, is also suffering from overheating of its ABI to a lesser degree, the report found.

(more…)

NASA Goddard Creates CGI Moon Kit as a Form of Visual Storytelling

This color map, available as 24-bit RGB TIFFs of various sizes, is centered on 0° longitude. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Scientific Visualization Studio)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A new NASA out-of-this-world animation allows humanity to experience their closest galactic neighbor as never before through an online “CGI Moon kit.”

(more…)

NASA Science Experiments to be Delivered to Moon by Commercial Landers

The SEAL team spent a week in a warehouse near NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center rummaging through old boxes in search of hardware that would allow them to resurrect the spectrometer for flight to the Moon on a commercial lander. From left to right: Brian M. Leiter, SEAL test engineer; Steven H. Feng, SEAL electrical systems engineer (formerly on Nozomi); John W. Westberg, SEAL administrative support (formerly Nozomi); Dan N. Harpold, original sensor lead on the Nozomi; Mitchell Hamann, SEAL mechanical engineer. (Credit: Mehdi Benna/NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. (NASA PR) — After sitting in a vacuum chamber for 15 years, a gas-sniffing instrument will finally get its chance to fly. 

The device, a neutral mass spectrometer dubbed SEAL, is one of four instruments from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland that will fly on the first set of private landers scheduled to begin delivering science instruments to the Moon starting in the early 2020s.

(more…)

Asteroid Bennu’s Features to be Named After Mythical Birds

This image shows boulder formations on asteroid Bennu’s surface. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on April 11, 2019 from a distance of 2.8 miles (4.5 km). (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

Greenbelt, Md. (NASA PR) — Working with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team, the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) approved the theme “birds and bird-like creatures in mythology” for naming surface features on asteroid (101955) Bennu.

(more…)

Data Rate Increase on Space Station Supports Future Exploration

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

By Matthew D. Peters
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA recently doubled the rate at which data from the International Space Station returns to Earth, paving the way for similar future upgrades on Gateway, NASA’s upcoming outpost in lunar orbit, and other exploration missions. This new data rate will enable the space station to send back more science data faster than ever before. 

(more…)

Lawrence Livermore Develops Innovative CubeSats

Engineers and scientists complete the installation of the laser heterodyne radiometer (LHR) into the MiniCarb cube satellite, or CubeSat. Clockwise from bottom left is Lance Simms from Lawrence Livermore and AJ DiGregorio, Guru Ramu, and Jenny Young from NASA. (Not pictured: Emily Wilson, Darrell Carter, and Vincent Riot.) (Credit: Randy Wong)

LIVERMORE, Calif. (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory PR) — The population of human-made satellites orbiting Earth has skyrocketed over the past 60 years. Launches nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and a significant contributor to this growth has been the development and implementation of small satellites that are easier and less expensive to build and more cost efficient to launch than conventional ones. Today, the hottest destination for these spacecraft is low-Earth orbit (LEO)—in the range of a few hundred kilometers above the planet’s surface.

(more…)

The Moon and Mercury May Have Thick Ice Deposits

Mercury (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Earth’s Moon and Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought, according to a new analysis of data from NASA’s LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft.

The potential ice deposits are found in craters near the poles of both worlds. On the Moon, “We found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon, and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits,” said lead author Lior Rubanenko of the University of California, Los Angeles.

(more…)

New Acting Director of NASA Goddard Named

George Morrow

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Morrow has been serving as Goddard’s deputy center director since April 2015 and previously served as both director and deputy director of the Flight Projects Directorate at Goddard. He began his career at Goddard in 1983 as the Lead Spacecraft Battery Systems Engineer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia and Masters of Engineering Administration degree from George Washington University.

Scolese is leaving NASA after 32 years of service. He has served as Goddard’s center director for seven years, before which he was the agency’s associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, which included six months as acting NASA administrator in 2009. Scolese’s career also included tenures as NASA chief engineer and Goddard’s deputy center director.

Goddard is home to the nation’s largest organization of scientists, engineers and technologists who build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study Earth, the Sun, our solar system and the universe.

Learn more about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at:

https://www.nasa.gov/goddard

NASA’s TESS Mission Scores ‘Hat Trick’ With 3 New Worlds

This infographic illustrates key features of the TOI 270 system, located about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor. The three known planets were discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite through periodic dips in starlight caused by each orbiting world. Insets show information about the planets, including their relative sizes, and how they compare to Earth. Temperatures given for TOI 270’s planets are equilibrium temperatures, calculated without the warming effects of any possible atmospheres. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger)

By Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered three new worlds — one slightly larger than Earth and two of a type not found in our solar system — orbiting a nearby star. The planets straddle an observed gap in the sizes of known planets and promise to be among the most curious targets for future studies.

TESS Object of Interest (TOI) 270 is a faint, cool star more commonly identified by its catalog name: UCAC4 191-004642. The M-type dwarf star is about 40% smaller than the Sun in both size and mass, and it has a surface temperature about one-third cooler than the Sun’s. The planetary system lies about 73 light-years away in the southern constellation of Pictor.

(more…)

NASA’s TESS Mission Completes First Year of Survey, Turns to Northern Sky

llustration of L 98-59b, the smallest exoplanet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Ravyn Cullor)

By Ravyn Cullor
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 21 planets outside our solar system and captured data on other interesting events occurring in the southern sky during its first year of science. TESS has now turned its attention to the Northern Hemisphere to complete the most comprehensive planet-hunting expedition ever undertaken.

(more…)

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Illustration of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — 5:32 p.m. Eastern Time on June 18, 2019, marks 10 years since the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Its contributions to the fields of lunar science and exploration are unmatched: it has provided the largest volume of data ever collected by a planetary science mission.

(more…)











NASA Prepares to Launch Twin Satellites to Study Signal Disruption From Space

This visualization shows the relative density of certain particles in Earth’s ionosphere. The E-TBEx CubeSats will explore how signals from satellites to Earth can be disrupted as they pass through this region. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s twin E-TBEx CubeSats — short for Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment — are scheduled to launch in June 2019 aboard the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 launch. The launch includes a total of 24 satellites from government and research institutions. They will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(more…)











NASA Eyes Sounding Rocket Launches From Australia

A Black Brant IX sounding rockets lifts off from the Wallops Flight Facility with the ASPIRE experiment on board on Sept. 7, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil)

ADELAIDE, South Australia, 31 May 2019 (Australia Space Agency PR) — NASA is looking to Australian company Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) to conduct rocket launches.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Wallops Flight Facility has indicated it would like to progress discussions with ELA on their 2020 sounding rocket campaign. The campaign would provide temporary southern hemisphere launch facilities for sounding rockets for scientific investigations.

The proposed launch activities fall under the Space Activities Act 1998. The amended legislation to come into effect on 31 August 2019 (the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018). The Australian Space Agency is responsible for administering this legislation, including the relevant licenses and permits for launch sites and launch activities.

The Agency is also currently consulting with industry on draft rules under the amended Act. Ensuring the rules are in place for space activities is a priority for the Agency.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC said, “NASA’s interest in conducting a sounding rocket campaign in Australia shows the increasing importance of commercial launch activities from Australia.

“As these activities build momentum, the Agency will continue its focus on creating a supportive regulatory environment that fosters industry growth, while ensuring public safety and considering our international obligations.”











Censoring Science at NASA

I’m currently reading a very interesting book about NASA’s work on climate change. “Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth About Global Warming,” by Mark Bowen, is an eye-opening account of the Bush Administration’s handling of global warming science.

Bowen recounts how that the Administration was determined to distort or censor anything produced by government scientists about global warming that contradicted its official position that more study was required before mandatory carbon caps or other actions could be taken.

Although the book focuses on Dr. James Hansen, a noted climate scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center, the story is much broader. Bowen says this effort was part of a larger, tightly coordinated campaign run out of the White House to censor government climate scientists in NASA, NOAA, EPA and every other agency that deals with climate change. This censorship involved the heavy editing of NASA press releases, the denial of permission to scientists to give interviews to media outlets, threats to people’s jobs, and other coercive measures.

(more…)