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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NASA - Landsat Top Ten - Mount St. Helens: Volcanic Eruption and Recovery

NASA - Landsat Top Ten - Mount St. Helens: Volcanic Eruption and Recovery

Most of the geologic processes that shape our planet, such as the creeping movement of tectonic plates, are often too slow to see on human timescales, but every so often, geology produces a moment with in-your-face intensity. The explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State on May 18, 1980, was such a moment.

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NASA - Landsat Top Ten: Columbia Glacier - A Swift Retreat

NASA - Landsat Top Ten: Columbia Glacier - A Swift Retreat

Water, water everywhere. Our planet has more surface covered with water than land, and some of that water has been held in cold storage. Glaciers, such as the Columbia Glacier in Alaska, both record Earth's climate in their dense layers of ice and affect the climate itself when their white surfaces reflect solar radiation back into space.

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NASA - Landsat Top Ten: A Searing Summer--Yellowstone National Park Historic Fires of 1988

NASA - Landsat Top Ten: A Searing Summer--Yellowstone National Park Historic Fires of 1988

Yellowstone National Park—the world’s first national park created in 1872—was transformed into an apparent wasteland during the three months of summer 1988 when it seemed that its beauty, and carefully legislated and shepherded legacy, would all go up in smoke. On June 14, 1988, just north of the park boundary, a small fire started on Storm Creek. Then, more fires started, sparked by both lightning and humans, and they multiplied and merged: Shoshone Fire, Fan Fire, Red Fire, Lava Fire, Mink Fire, Clover Fire, North Fork Fire, Hellroaring Fire, Huck Fire.

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NASA - On Top of the Smokies, All Covered in Light Rain--The Real Story of Precipitation in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

NASA - On Top of the Smokies, All Covered in Light Rain--The Real Story of Precipitation in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

If you walk into a cloud at the top of a mountain with a cup to slake your thirst, it might take a while for your cup to fill. The tiny, barely-there droplets are difficult to see, and for scientists they, along with rain and snow, are among the hardest variables to measure in Earth Science, says Ana Barros, professor of engineering at Duke University. As part of the Science Team for NASA's Precipitation Measurement Missions (PMM) that measure rainfall from space, Barros and her research team trekked into the Great Smoky Mountains and other areas of the southern Appalachian Mountains, to learn more about where, when and how rain falls in the rugged terrain. What they found was eye-opening: much of the water people counted on falls as light rain, and no one knew about it.

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Checking the Range for Signs of Climate Change in the Past, Present, and Future

Checking the Range for Signs of Climate Change in the Past, Present, and Future

Imagine you have access to a machine that can make particles move faster and faster until they approach the speed of light, and essentially travel through time. The machine might look like the Large Hadron Collider—the particle accelerator below ground in Switzerland—but instead of producing teeny, tiny, short-lived, exotic particles no one’s ever seen before, it transports you, a person of ample curiosity, into the future. You disembark your time travel machine, look around, and though you believe you’re in the same geography, things don’t look quite the same. If you began your trip somewhere in the interior American West where familiar grasslands, shrublands, or deserts were found, you have reason to be perplexed. The ecosystems of the future world have changed. What does that future world look like? Scientists in the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD) – a unit of the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) – are not waiting for the future to arrive to have a look—they are working on revealing the story to us now.

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