NASA - Water's Family Tree: Where Did It Come From?

NASA - Water's Family Tree: Where Did It Come From?

If we want to learn something about our ancestry, we can consult a number of sources for clues: the stories of family members; public records, such as birth certificates and census reports; and DNA sequencing. Scientists who study Earth’s water also rely on a number of sources to try to explain where water came from. However, since no storyteller existed when Earth was forming into our blue planet, they must rely on the geologic record, and chemistry. (See full story for image gallery.)

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NASA - Reading a Rain Gauge

NASA - Reading a Rain Gauge

Reading a rain gauge is simple. We can look at the measurement marks on the side of a rain-capturing device, and find the level of water collected from a passing storm. Depending on what system is used where we live, we can read inches or millimeters and say how much rain has fallen. But the device collects a volume of liquid, doesn’t it? Why do rain gauges measure rain in millimeters or inches, which are units of length, instead of in pints or liters, which are units of volume? (See full story for image gallery.)

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NASA - Examining Precipitation on a Globe of Blue

NASA - Examining Precipitation on a Globe of Blue

When you shake a snow globe, white flakes are suspended in the enclosed environment until they begin to fall on the miniature buildings and people. Because we are located outside that little world, we can observe the entire weather system taking place—where the biggest accumulations of flakes are occurring, and how long it takes until the storm clears. We have a similar view of our planetary globe from satellites located above the Earth and beyond our weather systems that can see where precipitation is falling. (See full story for gallery of images.)

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NASA - Earth's Water Delivery: No Passport Required

NASA - Earth's Water Delivery: No Passport Required

Free of countries’ borders, our planet’s water goes where it wants. This seems obvious, but many of us don’t give much thought to the transport of this vital resource that makes life possible. Because we do not have control over weather that brings global water deliveries, we try to manipulate water resources once they are on, or under, the ground. Problems arise when we limit our focus to our immediate needs (time), and the needs of our local area (place).

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NASA - Precious Freshness: Water, The Way We Like It

NASA - Precious Freshness: Water, The Way We Like It

As far as we know, all life on Earth depends on water. As humans, we need freshwater to survive. Many of us in the United States don’t spend a lot of time thinking about water. When we’re thirsty, we grab a glass and it is always available. When we want to shower, we turn on the faucet and out it flows, in a seemingly unlimited amount. When we want to eat, we buy groceries—food from crops that farmers have grown, often by using irrigation. We charge our electronic devices with electricity created by waterpower or cooled by water. You might be surprised to know that in the U.S., we use almost half of our freshwater to create electricity! We don’t have to lug containers down to a muddy stream or community well to haul water back home for drinking, cooking, and keeping clean. Most of the time, we aren’t worried about water unless there’s too much, as in a flood, or not enough, as in a drought. Yet this precious and essential resource isn’t distributed evenly across our planet. (See full story for image gallery.)

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NASA - Testing CATS in Space: Laser Technology to Debut on Space Station

NASA - Testing CATS in Space: Laser Technology to Debut on Space Station

While felines in space may be what you’re thinking, the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) is a much more helpful accompaniment planned for the International Space Station. CATS will study the distribution of aerosols, the tiny particles that make up haze, dust, air pollutants, and smoke.

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NASA - New GPM Video Dissects the Anatomy of a Raindrop

NASA - New GPM Video Dissects the Anatomy of a Raindrop

When asked to picture the shape of raindrops, many of us will imagine water looking like tears that fall from our eyes, or the stretched out drip from a leaky faucet. This popular misconception is often reinforced in weather imagery associated with predictions and forecasts.

Raindrops are actually shaped like the top of a hamburger bun, round on the top and flat on the bottom. A new video from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission explains why.

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NASA - Of stars and stripes: NASA satellites used to predict zebra migrations

NASA - Of stars and stripes: NASA satellites used to predict zebra migrations

One of the world's longest migrations of zebras occurs in the African nation of Botswana, but predicting when and where zebras will move has not been possible until now. Using NASA rain and vegetation data, researchers can track when and where arid lands begin to green, and for the first time anticipate if zebras will make the trek or, if the animals find poor conditions en route, understand why they will turn back. Researchers used cues gleaned from GPS tracking of the zebras and satellite data to predict when the zebras will be on the move, a powerful tool for conservation.

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INTERPRETIVE NARRATIVE FOR GOLDENDALE OBSERVATORY - Washington State Parks

INTERPRETIVE NARRATIVE FOR GOLDENDALE OBSERVATORY - Washington State Parks

In south-central Washington, near the Columbia River Gorge, lies the community of Goldendale. It is dry and roughly 1,600 feet high. Forty miles to the west, a long, volcanically-built, glacier-clad barrier—that keeps most drenching Pacific storms in the western part of the state—shapes the cloud-free days in this land that sits in a rain shadow. This topographical barrier, known as the Cascade Range, is a gift to stargazers who are drawn to Goldendale’s observatory for its remarkable telescope, and its equally remarkable clear skies.

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NASA - Landsat Satellites Find the 'Sweet Spot' for Crops

NASA - Landsat Satellites Find the 'Sweet Spot' for Crops

Farmer Gary Wagner walks into his field where the summer leaves on the sugar beet plants are a rich emerald hue -- not necessarily a good color when it comes to sugar beets, either for the environment or the farmer. That hue tells Wagner that he's leaving money in the field in unused nitrogen fertilizer, which if left in the soil can act as a pollutant when washed into waterways, and in unproduced sugar, the ultimate product from his beets.

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