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NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite shows toxic sludge from the Ajkai Timföldgyar alumina (aluminum oxide) plant in western Hungary

 Toxic Sludge in Hungary

Toxic Sludge in Hungary    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html

On Oct. 4, 2010, an accident occurred at the Ajkai Timföldgyar alumina (aluminum oxide) plant in western Hungary, when a corner wall of a waste-retaining pond broke, releasing a torrent of toxic red sludge down a local stream. Several nearby towns were inundated, including Kolontar and Devecser, where the sludge was up to 6.5 feet deep in places. Four people were killed immediately, several more were missing and dozens of residents were hospitalized for chemical burns.

On Oct. 9, 2010, the Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite captured this natural-color image of the area.

Image Credit: NASA

NASA photo – three storms in the Atlantic on August 30!

This was taken on August 30,2010. Three storms out there. Yikes!


 Three Storms

Three Storms

The current Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite GOES-13 captured this image of Hurricane Danielle heading for the north Atlantic (top center), Hurricane Earl with a visible eye hitting the Leeward Islands (left bottom) and a developing tropical depression 8 (lower right) at 1:45 p.m. EDT on Aug. 30.

Image Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

James Cameron Shares NASA’s Exploration of Earth in ‘Avatar’ Videos

James Cameron Shares NASA’s Exploration of Earth in ‘Avatar’ Videos

See at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/avatar.html

James Cameron, director of “Avatar,” the most successful film ever released, is featured in a series of new NASA public service announcements that describe the many contributions of the agency’s Earth science program to environmental awareness and exploration of our home planet.

“When NASA ventures into space, it remembers to keep a steady eye on home,” Cameron said. “Its fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites constantly reveals our whole planet: its remotest places, its mysteries and the powerful influence of humans.”

Cameron’s 3-D epic, based on the fictional planet of Pandora is coming back to theaters this week. The story centers on a beautiful planet threatened by forces that want to exploit its natural resources.

The public service announcements feature “Avatar” film imagery and include computer animations and data from NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites. NASA has 14 science satellites in orbit making cutting


Massive Attack Massive Attack

This image shows the eruption of a galactic “super-volcano” in the massive galaxy M87, as witnessed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NSF’s Very Large Array (VLA). At a distance of about 50 million light years, M87 is relatively close to Earth and lies at the center of the Virgo cluster, which contains thousands of galaxies.
The cluster surrounding M87 is filled with hot gas glowing in X-ray light (and shown in blue) that is detected by Chandra. As this gas cools, it can fall toward the galaxy’s center where it should continue to cool even faster and form new stars.

However, radio observations with the VLA (red) suggest that in M87 jets of very energetic particles produced by the black hole interrupt this process. These jets lift up the relatively cool gas near the center of the galaxy and produce shock waves in the galaxy’s atmosphere because of their supersonic speed. The interaction of this cosmic “eruption” with the galaxy’s environment is very similar to that of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland that occurred in 2010. With Eyjafjallajokull, pockets of hot gas blasted through the surface of the lava, generating shock waves that can be seen passing through the grey smoke of the volcano. This hot gas then rises up in the atmosphere, dragging the dark ash with it. This process can be seen in a movie of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano where the shock waves propagating in the smoke are followed by the rise of dark ash clouds into the atmosphere.

In the analogy with Eyjafjallajokull, the energetic particles produced in the vicinity of the black hole rise through the X-ray emitting atmosphere of the cluster, lifting up the coolest gas near the center of M87 in their wake. This is similar to the hot volcanic gases drag up the clouds of dark ash. And just like the volcano here on Earth, shock waves can be seen when the black hole pumps energetic particles into the cluster gas.

Ghosts in outer space.

Into the Night

Researchers do not yet know what is lighting up IRAS 05437+2502, a small, faint nebula that spans only 1/18th of a full moon toward the constellation of the Taurus. Particularly enigmatic is the bright upside-down V that defines the upper edge of this floating mountain of interstellar dust.

This ghost-like nebula involves aIRAS 05437+2502 small star-forming region filled with dark dust that was first noted in images taken by the IRAS satellite in infrared light in 1983. This recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows many new details, but has not uncovered a clear cause of the bright sharp arc.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, R. Sahai (JPL)

NASA photo shows Western Russia burning.

 Smoke over Western Russia

Smoke over Western Russia

Hundreds of fires burned across western Russia on August 2, 2010, but it is the smoke that conveys the magnitude of the disaster in this true-color image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Dense gray-brown smoke extends across the width of this image, a distance of about 1,700 kilometers (1,000 miles). The smoke clearly continues both east and west beyond the edge of the image, and is visible in both previous and successive orbits of the Terra satellite. The smoke is so thick that it is not possible to see the ground beneath it.

Image Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response


How do you go to the bathroom in space?

Several people have asked this question, so here is some information. There’s even a book. How Do You Go To The Bathroom In Space? [Paperback] William R. Pogue (Author) at Amazon.com

Toilet Use: http://space.about.com/cs/spaceshuttles/a/bathroominspace.htm

Since there is no gravity to either hold a toilet bowl full of water in place or pull human wastes down, designing a toilet for zero-gravity was not an easy task. NASA had to develop a way to use air flow to make the urine or feces go where they wanted.

There is a toilet on each space shuttle which can be used by men or women. Although it is designed to be as much as possible like those on Earth, there are a number of changes. Straps are in place to hold feet against the floor. Pivoting bars swing across the thighs, ensuring the user remains seated. Since the system operates on a vacuum, a tight seal is essential.

Besides the main toilet bowl, there is a hose, which is utilized as a urinal by men and women. It can be used in a standing position or can be attached to the commode by a pivoting mounting bracket for use in a sitting position. A separate receptacle allows for disposal of wipes. All three units use flowing air instead of water to move waste through the system.

The human waste is separated and solid wastes are compressed and stored on-board, and then removed after landing. Waste water is vented to space, although future systems may recycle it. The air is filtered to remove odor and bacteria and then returned to the cabin.

Hopefully, there is sufficient reading material aboard for the task.

The Orbital Workshop waste management compartment

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC) A wide-angle view of the Orbital Workshop waste management compartment. The actual toilet's down the hall, to your right.

Other links:



Ladies can be Astronauts too.

The Mercury 13

From left: Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Rutley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice SteadmanMembers of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs, also known as the “Mercury 13”), these seven women who once aspired to fly into space stand outside Launch Pad 39B near the Space Shuttle Discovery in this photograph from 1995. The so-called Mercury 13 was a group of women who trained to become astronauts for America’s first human spaceflight program in the early 1960s. Although FLATs was never an official NASA program, the commitment of these women paved the way for others who followed. Visiting the space center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and later the first female shuttle commander, are (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Rutley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman.

Image credit: NASA


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s an … Asteroid.

Farewell LLutetiautetia

On its way to a 2014 rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, with NASA instruments aboard, flew past asteroid Lutetia on Saturday, July 10.

The instruments aboard Rosetta recorded the first close-up image of the biggest asteroid so far visited by a spacecraft. Rosetta made measurements to derive the mass of the object, understand the properties of the asteroid’s surface crust, record the solar wind in the vicinity and look for evidence of an atmosphere. The spacecraft passed the asteroid at a minimum distance of 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) and at a velocity of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second, completing the flyby injust a minute. But the cameras and other instruments had been working for hours and in some cases days beforehand, and will continue afterwards. Shortly after closest approach, Rosetta began transmitting data to Earth for processing.

Lutetia has been a mystery for many years. Ground telescopes have shown that it presents confusing characteristics. In some respects it resembles a ‘C-type’ asteroid, a primitive body left over from the formation of the solar system. In others, it looks like an ‘M-type’. These have been associated with iron meteorites, are usually reddish and thought to be fragments of the cores of much larger objects.


Space Photo of the day. July 10 2010. Greenland –

Speaking of the environment, here’s an article from NASA about global warming.


Jakobsahvn glacier before and after with notations

Images courtesy of Digital Globe

NASA-funded researchers monitoring Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier report that a 7 square kilometer (2.7 square mile) section of the glacier broke up on July 6 and 7, as shown in the image above. The calving front – where the ice sheet meets the ocean – retreated nearly 1.5 kilometers (a mile) in one day and is now further inland than at any time previously observed. The chunk of lost ice is roughly one-eighth the size of Manhattan Island, New York.

Research teams led by Ian Howat of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University and Paul Morin, director of the Antarctic Geospatial Information Center at the University of Minnesota have been monitoring satellite images for changes in the Greenland ice sheet and its outlet glaciers. While this week’s breakup itself is not unusual, Howat noted, detecting it within hours and at such fine detail is a new phenomenon for scientists.

“While there have been ice breakouts of this magnitude from Jakonbshavn and other glaciers in the past, this event is unusual because it occurs on the heels of a warm winter that saw no sea ice form in the surrounding bay,” said Thomas Wagner, cryospheric program scientist at NASA Headquarters. “While the exact relationship between these events is being determined, it lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica.”

The researchers relied on imagery from several satellites, including Landsat, Terra, and Aqua, to get a broad view of ice changes at both poles. Then, in the days leading up to the breakup, the team received images from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView 2 satellite showing large cracks and crevasses forming.

DigitalGlobe Inc. provides the images as part of a public-private partnership with U.S. scientists. Howat and Morin are receiving near-daily satellite updates from the Jakobshavn, Kangerlugssuaq, and Helheim glaciers (among the islands largest) and weekly updates on smaller outlet glaciers.

Jakobshavn Isbrae is located on the west coast of Greenland at latitude 69°N and has been retreated more than 45 kilometers (27 miles) over the past 160 years, 10 kilometers (6 miles) in just the past decade. As the glacier has retreated, it has broken into a northern and southern branch. The breakup this week occurred in the north branch.

Scientists estimate that as much as 10 percent of all ice lost from Greenland is coming through Jakobshavn, which is also believed to be the single largest contributor to sea level rise in the northern hemisphere. Scientists are more concerned about losses from the south branch of the Jakobshavn, as the topography is flatter and lower than in the northern branch.

In addition to the remote sensing work, Howat, Morin, and other researchers have been funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation to plant GPS sensors, cameras, and other scientific equipment on top of the ice sheet to monitor changes and understand the fundamental workings of the ice. NASA also has been conducting twice-yearly airborne campaigns to the Arctic and Antarctic through the IceBridge program and measuring ice loss with the ICESat and GRACE satellites.


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Mike Carlowicz