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NASA, ULA Successfully Launch Weather Satellite, Re-entry Tech Demo

NASA successfully launched the third in a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 1:49 a.m. PST Thursday, as well as an agency technology demonstration on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 civilian polar-orbiting weather satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) tech demo lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:49 a.m. PST (4:49 a.m. EST) Nov. 10, 2022.
Credits: United Launch Alliance

NASA successfully launched the third in a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at 1:49 a.m. PST Thursday, as well as an agency technology demonstration on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

In addition to the newest Joint Polar Satellite System or JPSS-2, also aboard was NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator, or LOFTID, a test of inflatable heat shield technology that could one day help land astronauts on Mars.

Mission managers for NOAA’s JPSS-2 confirm the satellite is now in Sun acquisition mode (initial operations mode) with the solar array fully deployed. The operations team will continue to evaluate an earlier solar array deployment issue, but at this time, the satellite is healthy and operating as expected. The team has resumed normal activities for the JPSS-2 mission.

“NOAA is an important partner for NASA in providing essential data about climate change, weather prediction, and environmental modeling for the benefit of citizens both in the U.S. and around the world,” said NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. “Our Launch Services Program has successfully launched its 100th primary mission, and on this same flight enabled us to test a new technology for atmospheric re-entry with the LOFTID demonstration.”  

JPSS-2 will circle the globe 14 times a day 512 miles above Earth, providing forecasters the benefit of three polar-orbiting satellites operating simultaneously, joining its predecessors Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and NOAA-20.

“Exploring the unknowns of our planet to the benefit of our fellow citizens is in our DNA,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “The data that JPSS-2 will send back to our NASA and NOAA scientists on the ground will be critical in saving lives both on Earth and in space.”

The JPSS fleet will assist with weather forecasting, help predict extreme weather events, and help track and monitor climate change. JPSS-2 will be renamed NOAA-21 when it reaches its final orbit. The instruments will start collecting data about a month after launch.

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“As partners, NOAA and NASA have successfully launched more than 60 satellite missions that have significantly improved weather forecasts, solar monitoring, and climate prediction,” said Steve Volz, director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “Launching JPSS-2 is just the latest example of what our collective agencies can achieve for the benefit of the Nation and the world at large.”

Following JPSS-2’s deployment, the LOFTID heat shield autonomously inflated and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, splashing down about 500 miles off the coast of Hawaii just over two hours and ten minutes after launch.

Inflatable heat shields – also known as aeroshells – could enable landing heavier payloads on worlds like Mars, Venus, and Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as returning large components and samples to Earth. Inflatable aeroshells are not limited by the diameter of a launch vehicle fairing, so they can be made much larger than conventional rigid aeroshells. Larger aeroshells provide more drag, allowing them to slow heavier payloads for atmospheric entry – such as the many tons of equipment required for crewed missions to Mars.

“Proving new technologies through flight test is one of the main ways we expand capabilities for future missions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “We were pleased to work with our ULA, NASA science, and NOAA colleagues to perform this technology demonstration in conjunction with JPSS-2’s launch.”

The LOFTID team will review detailed data from the demonstration following the recovery of the aeroshell and ejectable data module to evaluate how the aeroshell performed. Results of the demonstration will be shared when available.

NOAA funds and manages the JPSS Program, operations, and data products. On behalf of NOAA, NASA develops and builds the instruments and spacecraft and launches the satellites. NASA developed the ground system, which NOAA operates and maintains. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the launch service.

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LOFTID is a partnership between NASA and ULA. The mission is dedicated to the memory of Bernard Kutter, manager of advanced programs at ULA, who passed away in August 2020 and was an advocate for technologies like LOFTID that can lower the cost of access to space.

The LOFTID project is managed and funded through NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The project is led by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, with contributions from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Source: NASA

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F-22 Safely Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon Off South Carolina Coast

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A U.S. Air Force fighter safely shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a written statement.

President Joe Biden ordered the action on Wednesday, but it was delayed until the balloon was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed. 

“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” Austin said.  

The action was taken in coordination and support of the Canadian government. “We thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through [North American Aerospace Defense Command] as it transited North America,” Austin said. “Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Austin said referring to the Peoples Republic of China. 

U.S. officials first detected the balloon and its payload on January 28 when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, Canada and re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho. “President Biden asked the military to present options and on Wednesday President Biden gave his authorization to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to us civilians under the balloon’s path,” said a senior defense official speaking on background. “Military commanders determined that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was overland.” 

An F-22 Raptor fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon.  

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The balloon fell approximately six miles off the coast in about 47 feet of water. No one was hurt. 

Long before the shoot down, U.S. officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese. The senior defense official said the recovery of the balloon will enable U.S. analysts to examine sensitive Chinese equipment. “I would also note that while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us,” the official said. “I can’t go into more detail, but we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.” 

The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration. 

While Chinese officials admitted that the balloon was theirs, they said it was a runaway weather balloon. “The PRC has claimed publicly that the high-altitude balloon operating above the United States is a weather balloon that was blown off course. This is false,” the official said. “This was a PRC surveillance balloon. This surveillance balloon purposely traversed the United States and Canada, and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites.” 

The mission now transitions to one of recovery. There are a number of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels establishing a security perimeter around the area where the balloon came to Earth. They are searching for debris, said a senior military official also speaking on background.  

There is no estimate for how long the recovery mission will take, the military official said, but the fact that it came down in such a shallow area should make recovery “fairly easy”. 

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The military official gave some detail of the engagement. The F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.  

F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, supported the F-22, as did tankers from multiple states including Oregon, Montana, South Carolina and North Carolina. Canadian forces also helped track the overflight of the balloon. 

The Navy has deployed the destroyer USS Oscar Austin, the cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the USS Carter Hall, an amphibious landing ship in support of the effort. 

Source: US DoD

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The Media Trust Warns of Increased Digital Attacks Targeting Children and Elderly

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2023 outlook reveals growing assault on consumer expectations of digital trust and safety

MCLEAN, Va. (Newswire.com) – The Media Trust, the preeminent leader in digital trust and safety for websites and mobile apps, released a report detailing the harms experienced by consumers through their everyday use of websites and mobile apps. When accessing common online environments — news, entertainment, shopping, travel — children and the elderly were increasingly affected by malware, a 3.7X and 11X growth, respectively, throughout 2022. 

The report CYA 2023: 7 Digital Safety Trends for Uncertain Times highlights malware and ad-quality challenges facing brands, publishers, and platforms as they navigate consumer-loyalty concerns and the economic uncertainties of 2023. From poor security to inappropriate content, the consumer experience is under attack, which threatens monetization channels including commerce and online advertising. 

The report confirms:

  • 4,500+ active attacks targeting millions of consumers each month 
  • 1.3 billion malicious ads blocked on Fortune 1000 websites and apps
  • 2.2X growth in e-skimming attacks since 2020
  • 3X increase in just three months of an attack leveraging a particular corrupted JavaScript library
  • 16X rise in backdoors being installed on devices — personal, corporate, government

“Threat actors have greatly improved their ability to get their malicious wares in front of the most vulnerable consumers online,” explained Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust. “Every business with a digital channel — website, app, gaming console — needs to be aware of how these assets are used to target and harm your customers. You cannot simply look the other way and leave children and the elderly to fend for themselves. Your family, friends, and neighbors are all being hunted every time they use the internet.”

An informative, 30-minute webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Register for  CYA 2023: 7 Digital Safety Trends Webinar

About The Media Trust: 

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Today’s digital ecosystem relies on The Media Trust to safeguard the consumer experience. We fix the issues that harm your customers, drive data breaches, violate regulations, impede revenue, and tarnish your brand. Acting as your audience, our unique digital safety platform captures their true user experience and stops harmful activity so you can better monetize and govern your digital assets. Since 2005, hundreds of digital businesses have depended on The Media Trust to protect their strategic digital revenue channels. Why not yours? The Media Trust — your partner in digital trust and safety. Learn more at www.mediatrust.com.

Source: The Media Trust

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TODAY IS NATIONAL GROUNDHOG DAY

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It’s February 2nd and this is the day that Mr./Ms. Groundhog may or may not see his shadow. If he does, could there there be six more weeks of winter?

#GroundhogDay

Groundhog Day (Pennsylvania GermanGrund’sau dåkGrundsaudaagGrundsow DawgMurmeltiertagNova ScotiaDaks Day) is a popular North American tradition observed in the United States and Canada on February 2. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den, and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

While the tradition remains popular in the 21st century, studies have found no consistent association between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.

The weather lore was brought from German-speaking areas where the badger (German: Dachs) is the forecasting animal. This appears to be an enhanced version of the lore that clear weather on the Christian festival of Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter.

The Groundhog Day ceremony held at Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, centering on a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, has become the most frequently attended ceremony. Grundsow Lodges in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the southeastern part of the state observe the occasion as well. Other cities in the United States and Canada also have adopted the event. (wikipedia)

#GroundhogDay

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