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NASA Shares First Images from US Pollution-Monitoring Instrument

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NASA’s TEMPO instrument measured concentrations of nitrogen dioxide pollution over North America for the first time on August 2, 2023. The visualization shows six scans made hourly between 11:12 a.m. and 5:37 p.m., with closeups on the I-95 corridor in the US northeast, central and eastern Texas to New Orleans, and the southwest from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Areas of missing data indicate cloud cover.
Credits: Kel Elkins, Trent Schindler, and Cindy Starr/NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

On Thursday, NASA released the first data maps from its new instrument launched to space earlier this year, which now is successfully transmitting information about major air pollutants over North America. President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that all people have a right to breathe clean air. Data from the TEMPO mission will help decision makers across the country achieve that goal and support the Biden Administration’s climate agenda — the most robust climate agenda in history.

From its orbit 22,000 miles above the equator, NASA’s TEMPO, or Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, is the first space-based instrument designed to continuously measure air quality above North America with the resolution of a few square miles.

“Neighborhoods and communities across the country will benefit from TEMPO’s game-changing data for decades to come,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This summer, millions of Americans felt firsthand the effect of smoke from forest fires on our health. NASA and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to making it easier for everyday Americans and decisionmakers to access and use TEMPO data to monitor and improve the quality of the air we breathe, benefitting life here on Earth.”


Observations by TEMPO will significantly improve studies of pollution caused by rush-hour traffic, the movement of smoke and ash from forest fires and volcanoes, and  the effects of fertilizer application on farmland. In addition, TEMPO data will help scientists evaluate the health impacts of pollutants and aid in the creation of air pollution maps at the neighborhood scale, improving understanding of disparities in air quality within a community. Data will be shared with partner agencies that monitor and forecast air quality, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Launched in April aboard a Maxar Intelsat 40e satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, TEMPO makes hourly daytime scans of the lower atmosphere over North America from the Atlantic Ocean to Pacific coast and from roughly Mexico City to central Canada. The primary instrument is an advanced spectrometer that detects pollution normally hidden within reflected sunlight.

The science mission is a collaboration between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The first pollution maps released by NASA from the mission show concentrations of nitrogen dioxide gas from pollution around cities and major transportation arteries of North America. TEMPO measures sunlight reflected and scattered off Earth’s surface, clouds, and atmosphere. Gases in the atmosphere absorb the sunlight, and the resulting spectra are then used to determine the concentrations of several gases in the air, including nitrogen dioxide.


The visualizations show six scans made between 11:12 a.m. and 5:27 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2. Closeup views focus on the southwestern U.S. from Los Angeles to Las Vegas; from central and eastern Texas to New Orleans; and the Interstate 95 corridor between New York and Washington. The data were gathered during TEMPO’s “first light” period from July 31 to Aug. 2, when mission controllers opened the spectrometer to look at the Sun and Earth and start a variety of tests and solar calibrations.

“TEMPO is beginning to measure hourly daytime air pollution over greater North America,” said Kelly Chance, SAO senior physicist and TEMPO principal investigator. “It measures ozone, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, aerosols, water vapor, and several trace gases. There are already almost 50 science studies being planned that are based around this new way to collect data.”

The TEMPO instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and integrated with the Maxar-built Intelsat 40e. Since launch, teams from NASA, Ball Aerospace, and SAO have been checking and calibrating the satellite’s systems and components. The instrument will begin full operations in October, collecting hourly daytime scans, the first instrument to observe pollution over North America in this way.

“We are excited to see the initial data from the TEMPO instrument and that the performance is as good as we could have imagined now that it is operating in space,” said Kevin Daugherty, TEMPO project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “We look forward to completing commissioning of the instrument and then starting science research.” 

TEMPO is part of NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument program, which includes small, targeted science investigations designed to complement NASA’s larger research missions. The instrument also forms part of a virtual constellation of air pollution monitors for the Northern Hemisphere which also includes South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer and ESA’s (European Space Agency) Sentinel-4 satellite.

For more information on NASA’s Earth science research, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/earth

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Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth

Get ready for an exciting and safe encounter with asteroid Apophis as it zooms past Earth in 2029! Don’t miss this celestial event! #Apophis2029

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In just five years, on April 13, 2029, the world will witness the close encounter of a rather infamous asteroid named Apophis. This grand event, visible to the naked eye, has sparked curiosity among astronomers and captured the attention of the public. However, rest assured, there is no reason for alarm. Let’s delve into the fascinating story of the asteroid Apophis and shed light on its journey through the cosmos.

@stmblog

Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth https://stmdailynews.com/category/science/

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Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth

Location, Location, Location:
Apophis is an asteroid measuring about 1,100 feet (340 meters) in diameter. Extensive calculations have revealed that it will safely pass by Earth both in 2029 and 2036. During the 2029 flyby, Apophis will come within a nominal distance of 19,662 miles (31,643 km) from our planet’s surface, closer than the moon and many satellites in Earth’s orbit. As it traverses through Earth’s gravitational field, the passage of Apophis might even cause subtle asteroid-quakes and slightly alter its orbit.

Spectacular Viewing Opportunities:
Although not observable from everywhere, lucky viewers in Australia, southern Asia, southern Europe, and Africa will have a front-row seat to witness Apophis at its brightest in 2029. As the asteroid gradually moves away from Earth and dims, it will become visible in eastern South America. Furthermore, as evening falls along the east coast of North America, telescopes will reveal Apophis located approximately 15 degrees north of the Pleiades. An ephemeris for the asteroid can be found on our website to help astronomers and enthusiasts track its celestial journey.

The Discovery of Apophis:
On the remarkable evening of June 19, 2004, astronomers at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona made a thrilling discovery. Dave Tholen, Fabrizio Bernardi, and the late Roy Tucker stumbled upon an asteroid, later designated as 2004 MN4. What made this discovery even more extraordinary was the fact that the asteroid was unusually close to the sun, only 57 degrees away. Further observations revealed that Apophis had an orbit different from most asteroids, resembling that of an Aten-class asteroid.

Narrowing the Probability of Collision:
Initially, calculations showed that Apophis had a 2.7% chance of colliding with Earth on April 13, 2029, a date marked with superstition. This resulted in a media frenzy surrounding the potentially hazardous asteroid. However, over several years, astronomers meticulously observed Apophis, taking into account the influence of other celestial bodies and the Yarkovsky effect caused by sunlight. By 2006, these studies dispelled the notion of a collision in 2029, relieving the world of any imminent danger.

No More Worries for the Future:
Many eagerly awaited the subsequent close approach of Apophis in 2036. However, in 2013, after conducting radar observations using the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex and the Green Bank Observatory, NASA definitively ruled out any potential impact in 2036 and for the next 100 years. Apophis is now no longer on the Sentry Impact Risk Table, which lists potentially dangerous objects near Earth.

Unlocking the Scientific Opportunities:
With the new knowledge that Apophis poses no threat, astronomers can fully embrace the upcoming close encounter as a fantastic scientific opportunity. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, known for its historic mission to bring samples from asteroid Bennu back to Earth, is now en route to rendezvous with Apophis in April 2029. Renamed OSIRIS-APEX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Apophis Explorer), this mission will unlock further insights into the asteroid’s composition and characteristics.


As we eagerly anticipate the visit of the asteroid Apophis in 2029, let us celebrate the wonders of our universe. Apophis serves as a reminder of the dynamic nature of our cosmic neighborhood and the continuously advancing knowledge of our exceptional astronomers. So mark your calendars and join the world in witnessing this extraordinary celestial event, which promises to be a captivating spectacle for all.

https://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-99942-apophis-encounters-2029-2036-2068/?mc_cid=52a3b9aa14&mc_eid=3304aabd10

https://stmdailynews.com/category/science/

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12P/Pons-Brooks: Witness the ‘Mother of Dragons’ Comet in the Night Sky!

Witness the “Mother of Dragons” comet, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, in the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky – a rare celestial spectacle not to be missed!

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A bright green comet with a long tail streaking across a dark night sky.
More details 12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodiccomet with an orbital period of 71 years. It fits the classical definition of a Halley-type comet with an orbital period between 20 and 200 years, and is also one of the brightest known periodic comets, reaching an absolute visual magnitude ~5 in its approach to perihelion.=10.5px Comet Pons-Brooks was discovered at Marseilles Observatory in July 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons, and then later recovered in 1883 by William Robert Brooks.

Astronomical enthusiasts and stargazers have a limited window to behold the captivating spectacle of the “Mother of Dragons” comet, also known as Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. This celestial wanderer, gracing our skies once every 71 years, is currently making its grand appearance in the Northern Hemisphere.

Discovered in 1812 by French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons and British-American astronomer William Robert, this massive comet, larger than Mount Everest, is a breathtaking amalgamation of dust and ice. Its magnificent green tail, a result of the Sun’s heat interacting with its icy composition, paints a vivid picture across the cosmos.

What sets Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks apart is its classification as a cryovolcanic comet, harboring an icy volcano that releases dust, gases, and ice as it journeys through space. To catch a glimpse of this rare celestial visitor, observers are advised to look towards the western horizon in clear, dark skies post-dusk. While it may be visible to the naked eye, binoculars or a small telescope can enhance the viewing experience, particularly as its brightness can be unpredictable.

The highlight of this cosmic display is anticipated to be on April 21, marking the comet’s brightest phase before gradually fading from view as the days lengthen. Missing this astronomical event means waiting until the summer of 2095 for another chance to witness the “Mother of Dragons” comet in all its splendor. So seize the opportunity while you can, and marvel at the celestial wonder that graces our night sky in this fleeting moment of cosmic convergence.

About 12P/Pons-Brooks

12P/Pons-Brooks is a comet that returns every 71 years. It is one of the brightest periodic comets and can reach an absolute visual magnitude of about 5. The comet was first seen in July 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons at Marseilles Observatory, and again in 1883 by William Robert Brooks. Comets that have an orbital period of 20-200 years are called Halley-type comets. Some ancient records suggest that 12P/Pons-Brooks has appeared before.

The next time the comet passes the sun at its closest point will be on 21 April 2024. It will come the closest to Earth on 2 June 2024, at a distance of 232 million kilometers. During this time, it is expected to shine as bright as a 4.5 magnitude star. The comet’s nucleus is estimated to be around 30 kilometers in diameter, based on the 2020 measurements that were taken assuming it wasn’t producing too much gas or dust.

The December κ Draconids meteor shower, which occurs from November 29th to December 13th, is believed to originate from 12P/Pons-Brooks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12P/Pons%E2%80%93Brooks

https://stmdailynews.com/unveiling-the-mysteries-of-comet-12p-pons-brooks-the-devil-comets-rare-celestial-show/

2024 Passage

On June 10, 2020, the comet Pons-Brooks was discovered by the Lowell Discovery Telescope when it was located beyond Saturn’s orbit at a distance of 11.9 AU from the Sun. It underwent a significant outburst on July 20, 2023, brightening from magnitude 16-17 to 11-12, resulting in a horseshoe-shaped coma. This outburst was likely caused by the release of approximately 10 billion kilograms of dust and ice. By August 5, the coma had expanded to a diameter of 600,000 kilometers at a rate of 220 m/s. The comet experienced subsequent outbursts on October 5, November 1, and November 14, with the latter bringing its brightness to apparent magnitude 9.3. Additional outbursts were observed on December 14 and January 18, 2024.

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Unity and Support: Baltimore’s Response to the Key Bridge Collapse

“Baltimore’s Orioles and Ravens unite, donating $10M to Key Bridge Fund after tragic collapse. Community stands strong in the face of adversity.”

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"Orioles and Ravens logos side by side - Unity in support after Baltimore Key Bridge tragedy."
Dali 10 hours after the collapse with remnants of the bridge’s superstructure on its bow. Note the section of roadway. Wikipedia

In a display of unity and generosity, Baltimore’s major league franchises, the Orioles and the Ravens, have joined forces to donate $10 million towards the recovery efforts following the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. The donation will be channeled through the Baltimore Community Foundation’s “Maryland Tough Baltimore Strong Key Bridge Fund,” aiming to provide financial assistance to the families of victims, port workers, first responders, and others impacted by this devastating event.

New Orioles owner, David M. Rubenstein, emphasized the city’s resilience in the face of adversity, noting that the donation reflects a commitment to supporting those who play pivotal roles in maintaining the city’s operations. Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, expressed heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, acknowledging the bravery and dedication of the first responders involved in the rescue efforts.

The collapse, triggered by a container ship losing control and striking a pier, resulted in the tragic loss of six construction workers with two individuals fortunate to be rescued from the river. This catastrophe has undoubtedly shaken the community, but the response from the Orioles, Ravens, and the wider Baltimore community speaks volumes about their solidarity and determination to stand together during times of crisis.

As the city mourns the lives lost and works towards recovery, the support from these sports franchises serves as a beacon of hope and solidarity. The resilience and strength displayed by Baltimore and Maryland in the wake of this tragedy are a testament to the unwavering spirit of its people. Through collaboration and compassion, the community is coming together to heal and rebuild, showcasing the true essence of unity in the face of adversity.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/baltimore-ravens-orioles-donate-10-million-key-bridge/story?id=108945428#:~:text=The%20Baltimore%20Ravens%20and%20Baltimore,Baltimore%20Strong%20Key%20Bridge%20Fund.

About the Key Bridge Collapse

Key Bridge collapsed on March 26, 2024, at 01:27 EDT (05:27 UTC) due to a collision with a Singapore-registered container ship named MV Dali. The ship lost power and hit the southwest supporting pier of the main truss section. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that the bridge was built before the use of redundant support structures, which are now commonly used in modern bridges. The NTSB stated that these structures would have prevented the collapse.

During sonar exploration, it was discovered that several vehicles were submerged underwater, and two individuals were rescued alive from the river. Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency, acknowledging that the situation could have been much worse. However, the actions of the ship’s crew, who sent a distress signal, and the workers on the bridge, who prevented other vehicles from crossing the bridge moments before the collapse, helped to save many lives. Following the incident, insurers are expected to face multi-billion dollar losses due to damages, business disruptions, and liability claims.

An eight-worker repair crew was working on a bridge when a collision occurred. It is believed that the crew members are the only victims of the disaster. During the search and rescue operation, two of the victims were found inside a red pickup truck, submerged under 25 feet of Patapsco River water, near the mid-span of the collapsed bridge. Due to the unfavorable water conditions, further search operations have been suspended. (Wikipedia)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Scott_Key_Bridge_(Baltimore)

https://stmdailynews.com/

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