Daily Archives: February 1, 2012

Views from the Solar System (23)


                                                                                                                                        
SPACE WATCH

Western Europe at Night
NASA – With hardware from the Earth-orbiting International Space Station appearing in the near foreground, a night time European panorama reveals city lights from Belgium and the Netherlands at bottom center. the British Isles partially obscured by solar array panels at left, the North Sea at left center, and Scandinavia at right center beneath the end effector of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2. This image was taken by the station crew on Jan. 22, 2012.

Closest Dione Flyby
Flying past Saturn’s moon Dione, Cassini captured this view which includes two smaller moons, Epimetheus and Prometheus, near the planet’s rings.

The image was taken in visible light with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera during the spacecraft’s flyby of Dione on Dec. 12, 2011. This encounter was the spacecraft’s closest pass of the moon’s surface, but, because this flyby was intended primarily for other Cassini instruments, it did not yield Cassini’s best images of the moon. Higher resolution images were obtained during earlier flybys (see PIA07638).

Dione (698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across) is closest to Cassini here and is on the left of the image. Potato-shaped Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers across) appears above the rings near the center top of the image. Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers across) is on the right.

This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from less than one degree above the ring plane. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers) from Dione. Image scale is 2,122 feet (647 meters) per pixel on Dione. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cloud Streets Off of the Aleutian Islands
Cloud Streets Off of the Aleutian IslandsStrong winds polished the snow of southwestern Alaska and stretched marine stratocumulus clouds into long, parallel streets in early January, 2012. After crossing Bristol Bay, the winds scraped the clouds across the tall volcanic peaks of the Aleutian Islands. As the wind impacted the immobile mountains, the airflow became turbulent, swirling in symmetric eddies and carving intricate patterns into the clouds on the leeward side of the islands.

At the top of this image, the bright white color indicates a thick layer of snow overlying the land of southwestern Alaska. The pristine white is broken by the rugged Ahklun Mountain Range in the east, which is partially covered by a bank of clouds.

Off the coast of Alaska, sea ice floats in Bristol Bay, cracked and chipped by the flow of the waters which lie underneath. A few cloud streets – parallel lines of clouds – can be seen in the far northwest over land. The clouds increase over the sea ice and become thick over open water, where row upon row of clouds lie close in perfectly parallel formation.

The Aleutian Islands stretch from northeast to southwest across the image. Sea ice, which is bright white here, lies on the windward side of the islands. A few of the tallest volcanic peaks can be seen rising from the icy islands.

The character of the cloud streets change as they impact the Aleutians, especially near the center of the image, where two rows of beautifully symmetric swirls of eddies in the clouds stretch across the sky. These swirling formations are known as von Karman vortex streets. This true-color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on January 11, 2012. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

Opportunity’s Eighth Anniversary View From ‘Greeley Haven’ (False Color)
Opportunity's Eighth Anniversary View From 'Greeley Haven' (False Color)This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named “Greeley Haven.”

Opportunity’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) took the component images as part of full-circle view being assembled from Greeley Haven.

The view includes sand ripples and other wind-sculpted features in the foreground and mid-field. The northern edge of the the “Cape York” segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater forms an arc across the upper half of the scene.

Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time and EST (Jan. 24, PST). It has driven 21.4 miles (34.4 kilometers) as of its eighth anniversary on the planet. In late 2011, the rover team drove Opportunity up onto Greeley Haven to take advantage of the outcrop’s sun-facing slope to boost output from the rover’s dusty solar panels during the Martian winter.

Research activities while at Greeley Haven include a radio-science investigation of the interior of Mars, inspections of mineral compositions and textures on the outcrop, and monitoring of wind-caused changes on scales from dunes to individual soil particles.

The image combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

Comparing U.S. and Euro Crises


By Elliott Morss – And I ask you: after all the experience the IMF has had, how could it have been roped into pushing a German austerity plan in Greece so severe and complex that it had no chance of working? And as I have reported, the strong Euro nations are now angry because the IMF is finally saying austerity in the “weak sister” Euro countries won’t work. Why did it take so long for the IMF to catch on?

For better or worse, we have a useful frame of reference for what is now happening in Europe – the US bank collapse followed by the global recession. In Table 3, indicates what happened then to the global economy. more> http://is.gd/qi0bBN

Despite low solar activity, Earth’s energy budget out of whack


R&D Mag – A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity—not changes in solar activity—are the primary force driving global warming.

The study offers an updated calculation of the Earth’s energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth’s surface and the amount returned to space as heat. The researchers’ calculations show that, despite unusually low solar activity between 2005 and 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy than it returned to space.

The calculated value of the imbalance (0.58 W of excess energy per square meter) is more than twice as much as the reduction in the amount of solar energy supplied to the planet between maximum and minimum solar activity (0.25 W per square meter). more> http://is.gd/RMiIa8

Priceless Davos Moments


English: Davos, Graubünden

Image @Wikipedia

By Michael Liebreich – Friday was filled with the sort of incidents that can only happen in Davos.

Everything is going swimmingly, we are cracking through the agenda, great discussions, and then, bam, the moderator invites Viktor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, to say a few words. Instead of the three minute comment he was supposed to have prepared, he unloaded a 25-minute Soviet-style speech. In Russian. After 15 minutes I felt the caffeine in my bloodstream being overwhelmed, so I slipped out for a coffee. more> http://is.gd/D7kGip

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CONGRESS WATCH Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-05): Stop the Madness: National Debt Threatens Our Prosperity; The Foundry, January 24. Rep. Sandy Adams (FL-24): 1,000 Days Later, No Budget from Senate; The Orlando Sentinel, January 24. Rep. Paul Broun (GA-10): Obama’s ‘Blueprint … Continue reading

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CONGRESS WATCH Thornberry reacts to President’s 2012 State of the Union Speech, US Congress Mac’s Video Mailbox: Week of January 30, YouTube [VIDEO 5:37] How the Proposals of the September 2, 2011 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Would Impact the … Continue reading

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CONGRESS WATCH The president plays small ball, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post National Income and Product Accounts Gross Domestic Product, 4th quarter and Annual 2011 (advance estimate), Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)/U.S. Dept. of Commerce Camp Opening Statement: Meeting of the … Continue reading