Saturday, November 19, 2016

Weather 90% 'GO' For Atlas V Rocket Launch From Cape Canaveral


6th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:42 p.m

5th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:32 p.m

4th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:27 p.m

3rd UPDATE: New launch time is 6:22 p.m

2nd UPDATE: New launch time is 6:17 p.m

UPDATE: New launch time is 6:07 p.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Weather is 90% go for today's launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 configuration rocket carrying a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The mission has a one-hour launch window that is scheduled to open at at 5:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

A live broadcast of the launch can be seen online beginning at 4:45 p.m. at http://www.ulalaunch.com/ and https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public

GOES-R is the first of four satellites to be launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA in a new and advanced series of weather spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16.




The spacecraft will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring. 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.

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.

For more details about the GOES-R mission, visit NASA's website.

Image credit: NASA

Atlas V Rocket Launch Of GOES-R Satellite Set For November 19



6th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:42 p.m

5th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:32 p.m

4th UPDATE: New launch time is 6:27 p.m

3rd UPDATE: New launch time is 6:22 p.m

2nd UPDATE: New launch time is 6:17 p.m

UPDATE: New launch time is 6:07 p.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 configuration rocket carrying a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is scheduled to launch on Saturday, November 19, 2016.   The one-hour launch window opens at 5:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

GOES-R is the first of four satellites to be launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA in a new and advanced series of weather spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16.

The spacecraft will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring. 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.

For more details about the GOES-R mission, visit NASA's website.

Image credit: NASA

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Biggest Supermoon In 70 Years Tonight

Supermoon Tonight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- There will be a Full Moon tonight, Sunday, November 13, 2016 - but not just any Full Moon, this will be the biggest Supermoon in 68 years. This Supermoon will appear 15% larger and 30% brighter than regular Full Moons.


A Supermoon occurs because the Moon is in an elliptical orbit around the Earth.  When the Moon is closest to Earth, it is at its orbital perigee, which is why a Supermoon is also known as a Perigee Moon. The November 2016 Supermoon will be the closest approach to the Earth so far during this century.

When does the Supermoon begin?

The November 2016 Supermoon begins with a moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean on Florida's east coast at 5:11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, November 13, 2016.

The Moon will be at its fullest (99.6% full) the following morning at 8:52 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, November 14, 2016.  However, the Moon will set two hours beforehand at 6:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

When is the best time to watch the Supermoon?  

Low-hanging moons near the horizon appear the biggest to humans.  So the Supermoon will appear biggest to the naked eye on the Florida east coast:

During and just after the moonrise at 5:11 p.m. on November 13.

Just before and during the moonset at 6:35 a.m. on November 14.

During and just after the moonrise at 6:02 p.m. on November 14.



Will The Supermoon Cause Higher Tides? 


Yes. The Supermoon will cause higher than normal tides. For those planning a stroll along the beach to watch the moonrise over the ocean, this Supermoon will cause a nearly 5-foot high tide during the moonrises and moonset.


Why is a Full  Moon in November Called a Beaver Moon?

A Full Moon in November has seasonal names such as a "Beaver's Moon" or "Frosty Moon" to indicate that it was the last time to catch Beavers for their fur as winter approaches.

Photo credit: NASA

Friday, November 4, 2016

U.S. Navy's MUOS-5 Satellite Finally Reaches Orbit


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin announced that the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite has finally reached orbit following a propulsion anomaly that occurred after launch earlier this year.


Originally launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 24, MUOS-5 experienced an anomaly with its orbit raising propulsion system on its way to geosynchronous orbit on June 29. Out of caution, the Navy and Lockheed Martin engineering team immediately placed the satellite in a safe mode in transfer orbit as they investigated and examined their options.

“In the end, the Navy and Lockheed Martin engineering team were able to isolate the issue and develop a work-around using alternative propulsion,” said Mark Woempner, director of Narrowband Communications Systems at Lockheed Martin. “Once we had a plan together, in early October we carefully re-started orbit raising maneuvers.”

MUOS-5 completed orbit raising on October 22, and successfully deployed its solar arrays for power generation and its antennas for mission operations on October 30. The satellite will begin on-orbit testing on November 3 before being turned over to the Navy for further testing and eventual commissioning into service.

"We are very proud of the commitment our team members demonstrated," said Capt. Joe Kan, program manager for the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office. "Working together with industry, we were able to execute an alternative propulsion method to maneuver MUOS-5 to reach a position that is operationally suitable."

MUOS-5 will complete a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. Users with MUOS-capable terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid, as well as into the Defense Switched Network. MUOS’ capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.

The MUOS network provides near-global coverage, including communications reach deep into polar regions. Once fully operational, the network will provide users with 16 times more communications capacity than the legacy system it will eventually replace.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Biggest Super Moon In A Lifetime On November 13, 2016


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- There will be a Full Moon on the night of November 13-14, 2016, but not just any Full Moon, it will be the largest Supermoon in 68 years. This Supermoon will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal Full Moons.


A Supermoon occurs because the Moon is in an elliptical orbit around the Earth.  When the Moon is closest, it is at its orbital perigee, which is why a Supermoon is also known as a Perigee Moon. The November 2016 Supermoon will be the closest approach to the Earth so far during the 21st Century.

When does the Supermoon begin?

The November 2016 Supermoon begins with a moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean on Florida's east coast at 5:11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, November 13, 2016.

The Moon will be at its fullest (99.6% full) the following morning at 8:52 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, November 14, 2016.  However, the Moon will set two hours beforehand at 6:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

When is the best time to watch the Supermoon?  

Low-hanging moons near the horizon appear larger to humans.  So the Supermoon will appear biggest to the naked eye on the Florida east coast:

During and just after the moonrise at 5:11 p.m. on November 13.

Just before and during the moonset at 6:35 a.m. on November 14.

During and just after the moonrise at 6:02 p.m. on November 14.



Will The Supermoon Cause Higher Tides? 


Yes. The Supermoon will cause higher than normal tides. For those planning a stroll along the beach to watch the Supermoon rise over the ocean, this Full Moon brings along with it a nearly 5-foot high tide during the moonrises and moonset.


Why is November's Full  Moon Called a Beaver Moon?

A Full Moon in November has seasonal names such as a "Beaver's Moon" or "Frosty Moon" to indicate that it was the last time to catch Beavers for their fur as winter approaches.


Photo and video credit: NASA

Monday, October 31, 2016

NASA Captures Sun Looking Like A Halloween Jack-o'-Lantern

Halloween jack-o-lantern face on Sun

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was able to capture an image of active regions on the sun which combined to look something like a Halloween jack-o-lantern’s face two years ago.  SDO observes the sun at all times from its orbit in outer space.


According to NASA, the active regions in this image appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy.  

They are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. This image blends together two sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths at 171 and 193 Ångströms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance.

Image Credit: NASA/SDO

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 Harvest Moon Tonight Is A Supermoon


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- There will be a Full Moon tonight, Friday, September 16, 2016. But not just any Full Moon. This Full Moon is a Harvest Moon that also happens to be a Supermoon.

What Time Is The September 2016 Harvest Moon?

On the Florida's east coast, the Harvest Moon will rise over the Atlantic Ocean around 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 16 and set the following morning just before 8 a.m., with some slight time variation (+/- 20 minutes) depending on the viewer's exact location.  

When is the best time to watch the Supermoon?

Low hanging moons near the horizon appear larger to humans.  So, the Supermoon will appear biggest to the naked eye on the U.S east coast during and just after the moonrise.

Why is September's Full  Moon Called a Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture.  In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset.  It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market.  The Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox became "the Harvest Moon."

Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. This year, the Autumn Equinox and changing of the calendar seasons will occur on September 22, 2016. Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet.

Image credit: NASA

Thursday, September 8, 2016

WATCH LIVE: Countdown And Rocket Launch Of OSIRIS-REX From Cape Canaveral


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Watch live online the countdown and launch of NASA's  Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft from Florida to an asteroid that will bring a sample of the space rock back to Earth.

The 4,650-pound (2,110-kilogram) fully-fueled spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V 411 configuration  rocket at 7:05 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, September 8, 2016, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a two-hour window for each launch opportunity.



According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 90% percent chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Thursday's launch.

After a careful survey of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu to characterize the asteroid and locate the most promising sample sites, OSIRIS-REx will collect between 2 and 70 ounces (about 60 to 2,000 grams) of surface material with its robotic arm and return the sample to Earth via a detachable capsule in 2023.

Bennu is believed to be one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system. Scientists expect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.

Bennu may also harbor organic material from the young solar system. Organic matter is made of molecules containing primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms and is fundamental to terrestrial life. The analysis of any organic material found on Bennu will give scientists an inventory of the materials present at the beginning of the solar system that may have had a role in the origin of life.


Photo and video credit: NASA TV

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Returns First-Ever Images of Jupiter's North Pole

This infrared image gives an unprecedented view of the southern aurora of Jupiter, as captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on August 27, 2016. The planet's southern aurora can hardly be seen from Earth due to our home planet's position in respect to Jupiter's south pole. Juno's unique polar orbit provides the first opportunity to observe this region of the gas-giant planet in detail. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets.




“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. 

“It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to -- this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

One of the most notable findings of these first-ever pictures of Jupiter’s north and south poles is the discovery of a hexagon.

“Saturn has a hexagon at the north pole,” said Bolton. “There is nothing on Jupiter that anywhere near resembles that. The largest planet in our solar system is truly unique. We have 36 more flybys to study just how unique it really is.”

Juno obtained this image on August 27, 2016, about two hours before closest approach to Jupiter, when the spacecraft was 120,000 miles (195,000 kilometers) away. Unlike the equatorial region's familiar structure of belts and zones, the poles are mottled with rotating storms of various sizes, similar to giant versions of terrestrial hurricanes. Jupiter's poles have not been seen from this perspective since the Pioneer 11 spacecraft flew by the planet in 1974. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital flybys on August 27, 2016 when the spacecraft reached around 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the six-hour transit, from above Jupiter’s north pole to below its south pole, took one-and-a-half days. While analysis of this first data collection is ongoing, some unique discoveries have already made themselves visible.

Juno launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

Weather 80% 'GO' For Launch Of NASA Asteroid Sampling Spacecraft


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Weather is 80% 'GO' for the launch of NASA's  Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft to an asteroid that will bring a sample of the space rock back to Earth.

The 4,650-pound (2,110-kilogram) fully-fueled spacecraft will launch aboard an Atlas V 411 configuration  rocket and arrive at its asteroid target in 2018.








Launch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 8, 2016, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a two-hour window for each launch opportunity.

According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 80% percent chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Thursday's launch.  The primary weather concern for launch is cumulus clouds. If the launch is delayed until Friday or Saturday, weather chances decrease to 70%.

After a careful survey of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu to characterize the asteroid and locate the most promising sample sites, OSIRIS-REx will collect between 2 and 70 ounces (about 60 to 2,000 grams) of surface material with its robotic arm and return the sample to Earth via a detachable capsule in 2023.

Bennu is believed to be one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system. Scientists expect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.

Bennu may also harbor organic material from the young solar system. Organic matter is made of molecules containing primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms and is fundamental to terrestrial life. The analysis of any organic material found on Bennu will give scientists an inventory of the materials present at the beginning of the solar system that may have had a role in the origin of life.

Photo credit: NASA