Act Requiring Commercial Weather Data Program Passes House

The House of Representatives has approved a far-reaching measure designed to revamp NOAA’s weather forecasting operations that includes a pilot program for using commercial weather data.

The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 requires NOAA to develop a strategy for acquiring commercial weather data and to enter into at least one contract under a pilot program. The data can be obtained through contracts with commercial providers and the placement of instruments on co-hosted private or government payloads.

“The strategy shall assess the range of commercial opportunities, including public-private partnerships, for obtaining surface-based, aviation-based, and space-based weather observations,” the act stipulates. “The strategy shall include the expected cost-effectiveness of these opportunities as well as provide a plan for procuring data, including an expected implementation timeline, from these nongovernmental sources, as appropriate.”

The measure provides $6 million per year for the pilot program in Fiscal Years 2017 through 2020.

Three years after signing a commercial weather contract, NOAA would submit an assessment of the viability of commercial weather data to the House and Senate science committees. If the data are viable, the agency would be required to assess whether it needs to develop future weather satellites on its own or could rely on commercial purchases.

The act requires NOAA to conduct a simulation experiment to assess the value of radio occulation from the global navigation satellite system. The agency would also conduct an experiment “to assess the value of data from a geostationary hyperspectral sounder global constellation….

“Upon completion of all Observing System Simulation Experiments, the Assistant Administrator shall make available to the public the results an assessment of related private and public sector weather data sourcing options, including their availability, affordability, and cost-effectiveness,” the act reads.

The Resistance Will Be Tweeted


Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.


(more…)

See GOES-16 Satellite’s Spectacular Images of Earth

This composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere was captured from NOAA GOES-16 satellite at 1:07 pm EST on Jan. 15, 2017 and created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the satellite's sophisticated Advanced Baseline Imager. The image, taken from 22,300 miles above the surface, shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. (Credits: NOAA)
This composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere was captured from NOAA GOES-16 satellite at 1:07 pm EST on Jan. 15, 2017 and created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the satellite’s sophisticated Advanced Baseline Imager. The image, taken from 22,300 miles above the surface, shows North and South America and the surrounding oceans. (Credits: NOAA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NOAA PR) — GOES-16, the first spacecraft in NOAA’s next-generation of geostationary satellites, has sent the first high-resolution images from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. Included among them are a composite color full-disk visible image of the Western Hemisphere captured on January 15, 2017. Created using several of the ABI’s 16 spectral channels, the full-disk image offers an example the satellite’s advanced technology.

(more…)

NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

(more…)

Obama Administration Highlights Space Achievements in Exit Memo

Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let's Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let’s Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an exit memo highlighting the Obama Administration’s achievements in science and technology.  Excerpts covering achievements in space follows.
(more…)

The Year Ahead in Space

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.

(more…)

Will Trump Scrap NASA’s Climate Research Mission?

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

NASA does more than explore other planets; it studies our own.
Agency scientists worry Donald Trump will abort the work.

by Andrew Revkin
ProPublica, Dec. 12, 2016, 8 a.m.

The wonders of NASA 2014 Mars rovers, astronaut Instagram feeds, audacious missions probing distant galactic mysteries 2014 have long enthralled the American public. And, it turns out, the accomplishments have won the agency the public’s trust: Polls have consistently shown NASA to be the second-most trusted government institution, behind only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The public, however, probably has less appreciation for the work NASA has done on its home planet. NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change.

(more…)

Trump Adds Commercial Space Advocate to NASA Transition Team

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President elect Donald Trump has named commercial space backer Charles Miller to the NASA landing team amid reports that similar minded advocates will be added to transition group.

Miller is president of NexGen Space LLC, a company that advises clients on commercial, civil and national security space.  He previously served as NASA’s senior advisor for commercial space.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump officials are also working on appointing Alan Stern, chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and Alan Lindenmoyer, who formerly managed NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program. Both nominations are in the process of being vetted for conflicts of interest.

(more…)

Trump Assault on Climate Scientists Begins at Energy Department

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

UPDATE: Department of Energy officials have defied Trump and refused to answer the more intrusive questions on the questionnaire. Meanwhile, the president elect has selected former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to run the Energy Department. When Perry ran for president, he promised to eliminate three government agencies during a primary debate; he named two of them but could not remember the name of the Energy Department.

This whole year has just gotten stranger and stranger. I must be in a very surreal dream or a coma or hallucinating….or something.

With Donald Trump reportedly set to name the head of America’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, as the nation’s chief diplomat, the president elect’s “carbon today, carbon tomorrow, carbon forever” strategy is becoming ever clearer.

A man who believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese is filling his government with like-minded conspiracy buffs. It’s clear that it will be virtually impossible for the United States to address global climate change in any meaningful way over the next four to eight years.

Over at the Energy Department, Trump’s paranoid campaign has taken an interesting turn: the targeting of individual civil servants for doing their jobs.

Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.
(more…)

Harper, Trump & Science a la Carte: A Warning From Canada

Stephen Harper and cat.
Stephen Harper and cats.

Canadian science writer Graham Templeton says the election of Donald Trump and a Republican controlled Congress threatens a repeat of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s nine-year war on science.

Though Americans might be surprised to hear it, Canada offers a good example of why there is a very real need to worry, and of how the coming anti-science administration could realistically affect all of national research. My home and native land has been a fair ways down the road America is just now preparing to travel and, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the endpoint is absolutely disastrous….

(more…)

Atlas V Launches New NOAA GOES-R Weather Satellite

The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA's most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA’s most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

(more…)

GOES-R Will Revolutionize Weather Forecasting

Video Caption: NASA is preparing to launch GOES-R, a new tool that will revolutionize weather forecasting. It is the first in a series of next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites for NOAA — the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Atlas V Set to Launch Weather Satellite Saturday Evening

An Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA and NOAA’s GOES-R satellite stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)
An Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA and NOAA’s GOES-R satellite stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR)– Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the GOES-R spacecraft for NASA and NOAA.

The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Saturday, Nov. 19 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 5:42-6:42 p.m. EST.  Live launch broadcast will begin on NASA TV at 4:45 p.m. EST.

Mission Description

GOES-R is the first of four satellites to be launched for NOAA in a new and advanced series of spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16. Compared with today’s geostationary satellites, GOES-R will scan the Earth five times faster at four times image resolution and triple the number of channels scientists can tap into to observe global weather and climate. GOES-R will support short-term forecasts and severe storm watches and warnings, maritime forecasts, seasonal predictions, drought outlooks and space weather predictions. The satellite also will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve aviation flight route planning, and provide data for long-term climate variability studies.

In addition to weather forecasting, GOES-R carries a transponder to detect distress signals from emergency beacons on aircraft, boats/ships and carried by individuals as part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system.

Weather Forecast

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds
Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

New NASA Administrator Names: Bridenstine, Griffin, Collins & Albrecht

Rep. Jim Bridenstine
Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is a leading candidate  to replace Charlie Bolden as the new NASA Administrator when President Barack Obama’s term ends in January.

“He’s made it clear to the campaign that if asked to serve as NASA Administrator or Air Force secretary, he would be willing,” the official said. The person added that there would likely be “a clearer path to NASA” than the Air Force.

Other names that have been circulated include: former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who served under President George W. Bush; former astronaut Collins, who spoke during the Republican National Convention in support of Trump; and space veteran Mark Albrecht, who served as executive secretary of the National Space Council under President George H.W. Bush.

(more…)

NASA Smallsats to Take Fresh Look at Earth

TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)
TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Beginning this month, NASA is launching a suite of six next-generation, Earth-observing small satellite missions to demonstrate innovative new approaches for studying our changing planet.

These small satellites range in size from a loaf of bread to a small washing machine and weigh from a few to 400 pounds. Their small size keeps development and launch costs down as they often hitch a ride to space as a “secondary payload” on another mission’s rocket – providing an economical avenue for testing new technologies and conducting science.

(more…)