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NASA Launches International Mission to Survey Earth’s Water

A satellite built for NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to observe nearly all the water on our planet’s surface lifted off on its way to low-Earth orbit at 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) spacecraft onboard, Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Jointly developed by NASA and Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and United Kingdom Space Agency, SWOT is the first satellite mission that will observe nearly all water on Earth’s surface, measuring the height of water in the planet’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and the ocean. Photo Credit: (NASA/Keegan Barber)

A satellite built for NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to observe nearly all the water on our planet’s surface lifted off on its way to low-Earth orbit at 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) spacecraft also has contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency.

The SWOT spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California with a prime mission of three years. The satellite will measure the height of water in freshwater bodies and the ocean on more than 90% of Earth’s surface. This information will provide insights into how the ocean influences climate change; how a warming world affects lakes, rivers, and reservoirs; and how communities can better prepare for disasters, such as floods.

After SWOT separated from the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ground controllers successfully acquired the satellite’s signal. Initial telemetry reports showed the spacecraft in good health. SWOT will now undergo a series of checks and calibrations before it starts collecting science data in about six months.

“Warming seas, extreme weather, more severe wildfires – these are only some of the consequences humanity is facing due to climate change,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The climate crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and SWOT is the realization of a long-standing international partnership that will ultimately better equip communities so that they can face these challenges.”

SWOT will cover the entire Earth’s surface between 78 degrees south and 78 degrees north latitude at least once every 21 days, sending back about one terabyte of unprocessed data per day. The scientific heart of the spacecraft is an innovative instrument called the Ka-band radar interferometer (KaRIn), which marks a major technological advance. KaRIn bounces radar pulses off the water’s surface and receives the return signal using two antennas on either side of the spacecraft. This arrangement – one signal, two antennas – will enable engineers to precisely determine the height of the water’s surface across two swaths at a time, each of them 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide.

“We’re eager to see SWOT in action,” said Karen St. Germain, NASA Earth Science Division director. “This satellite embodies how we are improving life on Earth through science and technological innovations. The data that innovation will provide is essential to better understanding how Earth’s air, water, and ecosystems interact – and how people can thrive on our changing planet.”

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Among the many benefits the SWOT mission will provide is a significantly clearer picture of Earth’s freshwater bodies. It will provide data on more than 95% of the world’s lakes larger than 15 acres (62,500 square meters) and rivers wider than 330 feet (100 meters) across. Currently, freshwater researchers have reliable measurements for only a few thousand lakes around the world. SWOT will push that number into the millions.

Along the coast, SWOT will provide information on sea level, filling in observational gaps in areas that don’t have tide gauges or other instruments that measure sea surface height. Over time, that data can help researchers better track sea level rise, which will directly impact communities and coastal ecosystems.

Such an ambitious mission is possible because of NASA’s long-standing commitment to working with agencies around the world to study Earth and its climate. NASA and CNES have built upon a decades-long relationship that started in the 1980s to monitor Earth’s oceans. This collaboration pioneered the use of a space-based instrument called an altimeter to study sea level with the launch of the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in 1992.

“This mission marks the continuity of 30 years of collaboration between NASA and CNES in altimetry,” said Caroline Laurent, CNES Orbital Systems and Applications director. “It shows how international collaboration can be achieved through a breakthrough mission that will help us better understand climate change and its effects around the world.”

SWOT measurements will also help researchers, policymakers, and resource managers better assess and plan for things, including floods and droughts. By providing information on where the water is – where it’s coming from and where it’s going – researchers can improve flood projections for rivers and monitor drought effects on lakes and reservoirs.

“SWOT will provide vital information, given the urgent challenges posed by climate change and sea level rise,” said Laurie Leshin, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) director. JPL developed the KaRIn instrument and manages the U.S. portion of the mission. “That SWOT will fill gaps in our knowledge and inform future action is the direct result of commitment, innovation, and collaboration going back many years. We’re excited to get SWOT science underway.”

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More Mission Information

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA is providing the KaRIn instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, a two-beam microwave radiometer, and NASA instrument operations. CNES is providing the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, the dual frequency Poseidon altimeter (developed by Thales Alenia Space), the KaRIn radio-frequency subsystem (together with Thales Alenia Space and with support from the UK Space Agency), the satellite platform, and ground control segment. CSA is providing the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA is providing the launch vehicle and the agency’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is managing the associated launch services.

To learn more about SWOT, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/swot

Source: NASA

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New York Students to Hear from NASA Astronaut Aboard Space Station

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GMT004_09_21_Koichi Wakata_1003_Josh in Node 2

Students from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9 in Rochester, New York, will have an opportunity this week to hear from a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

The space-to-Earth call will air live at 9:55 a.m. EST Friday, Feb.10, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, who earned a doctorate in experimental high-energy physics from the University of Rochester, will answer prerecorded questions from elementary school students. The event, hosted by the Rochester Museum & Science Center, and its Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center, will offer students an opportunity to learn first-hand what it is like to live and work in space. U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle will deliver opening remarks.

Media interested in covering the event need to RSVP no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, to Lyndsay Houghton at: [email protected] or 585-503-4457.

For more than 22 years, astronauts have continuously lived and worked aboard the space station, testing technologies, performing science, and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. Astronauts living in space aboard the orbiting laboratory communicate with NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston 24 hours a day through the Near Space Network Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS).

As part of Artemis, NASA will send astronauts to the Moon to prepare for future human exploration of Mars. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.

See videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station at:

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https://www.nasa.gov/stemonstation

Source: NASA

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Space Station Cargo Launch, Docking

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(June 3, 2022) — The Progress 81 cargo craft approaches the International Space Station for a docking to the Zvezda service module’s rear port. In the foreground, is the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship docked to the Prichal docking module on the orbiting lab’s Russian segment.
Credits: NASA Johnson

NASA will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Roscosmos cargo spacecraft carrying about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 68 crew aboard the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Progress 83 spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 1:15 a.m. EST (11:15 a.m. Baikonur time) Thursday, Feb. 9, on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Coverage will begin at 1 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Progress will be placed into an orbit for a two-day journey to the space station, culminating in an automatic docking to the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 3:47 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 3 a.m.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology, and human innovation, enabling research and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth. NASA recently recognized 22 years of continuous human presence aboard the orbiting laboratory, which has hosted 263 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next steps in exploration including Artemis missions to the Moon and ultimately, human exploration of Mars.

Learn more about the International Space Station, its research, and crew, at:

https://www.nasa.gov/station

Get breaking news, images, and features from the space station on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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Source: NASA

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Science

NASA Awards Millions to Historically Black Colleges, Universities

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NASA awards 11.7 million to HBCUs to conduct data science research that will contribute to the agency’s Science Mission Directorate missions.
Credits: NASA/Cory Huston

NASA is awarding $11.7 million to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through the new Data Science Equity, Access, and Priority in Research and Education (DEAP) opportunity. These awards will enable HBCU students and faculty to conduct innovative data science research that contributes to NASA’s missions.

“We’re pleased to make progress through awards like this to intentionally build the STEM pipeline of the future, especially in communities of color,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “It’s fitting during Black History Month that we make this tangible step to build on the talent pool at HBCUs in our ongoing work to bring to the table all the talents and perspectives we’ll need to send humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond, and do amazing science throughout the solar system.”

Technology advancements in the field of data science, including the growth of artificial intelligence and machine learning, are poised to significantly impact the work of data scientists and analysts. The awarded projects have up to three years to establish institutes and partnerships to increase the number and research capacity of STEM students at HBCUs, accelerate innovation in a wide range of NASA science, technology, engineering, and mathematic research areas, and prepare the future workforce for data-intensive space-based Earth sciences.

“The increasing use of data science at NASA and beyond really drives home the need for a future workforce with data science knowledge,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, which manages MUREP. “With our newest collaboration, NASA created an exciting pathway to find new talent at HBCUs.”

The agency’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and the Science Mission Directorate collaborated on the DEAP opportunity, and selected the following institutions and their proposed projects:

Bethune-Cookman University Inc., Daytona Beach, Florida

NASA MUREP DEAP Institute of Environmental Intelligence for Advanced Space-based Earth Sciences

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The project will establish a DEAP Institute focusing on machine learning-based development of a virtual constellation of satellites that will capture changing water levels, from events such as storm flooding to multi-decadal time scales, such as sea level rise. NASA tracks sea level changes and its causes from space.

Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Institute for Multi-agent Perception through Advanced Cyberphysical Technologies (IMPACT)

The IMPACT project will build on existing capacity and collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Silicon Valley, California, to engage students and faculty in using data science to address scientific questions as one of the key factors to manage NASA’s Earth mission research.

Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, Florida

Effects of Gravity on Creeping Salts and Salt Mixtures: Developing Image-based and AI-enhanced Diagnostics for Determining Chemical Compositions

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This project will rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand the science of concentrated salt solutions and the formation of ring-like deposits called evaporites. Understanding the science of salt concentrations and formation of evaporites will bring new insight into identifying where water may have existed. Water is a critical source NASA researches and explores to better understand other planets’ surface geology and the potential future of lunar and Martian exploration.

Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri

Using Data Science to Understand Soil, Wildfire, & Social Disparity of Climate Change and Air Pollution

This project aims to provide data science problem-solving, skill development, and professional development of minority and underserved students. Students will utilize existing state-of-the-art ML methods to develop new data analytic approaches to solve some of the core problems in Earth science research.

Morgan State University, Baltimore

Long-Term, High-Resolution Urban Aerosol Database for Research, Education and Outreach

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Through innovative data analysis algorithms, including ML/AI methods, this project will produce a high-resolution, open-access, and user-friendly urban aerosol database focusing on the Baltimore-Washington area. The database will also be used in both classroom teaching and scientific outreach, accompanied by online tools and educational materials bringing new, authentic Earth science education to local schools and communities.

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina

DEAP Institute: Harnessing Data Science for Flood Monitoring and Management

Three North Carolina-based HBCUs will work together on this project developed to harness data science for flood monitoring and management.

North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

Capacity Building to Support the Machine Learning-Based Detection of Floods and other Natural Hazard Impacts in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences at North Carolina Central University

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This project will create training, data resources, and opportunities to use machine learning/artificial intelligence to identify and measure the impact of flood events and other natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, wildfires, and more.

Prairie View A & M University, Prairie View, Texas

DEAP Institute in Research and Education for Science Translation via Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation

This project aims to build an AI-based system that can share interactive, instantaneous, and user-relevant Earth science information, making NASA science more discoverable and accessible to a broad audience.

“NASA is tackling how to use the latest techniques in data science combined with the volumes of data produced by our missions to answer questions about our changing planet,” said Steven Crawford, senior program executive for scientific data and computing. “Working with students from HBCUs will not only engage the generation that will be most affected by these subjects but will help NASA scientists and engineers address these challenges.”

Administered by OSTEM, MUREP supports and invests in the research, academic, and technology capabilities of Minority Serving Institutions. For more information about NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, visit:

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https://stem.nasa.gov

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