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Retired NASA Earth Radiation Budget Satellite Reenters Atmosphere



NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. EST on Jan. 8, 2023.
Credits: NASA
NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. EST on Jan. 8, 2023.
Credits: NASA

As of January 9, 2023, NASA has confirmed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite’s reentry.

NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 8, after almost four decades in space. For 21 of its years in orbit, the ERBS actively investigated how the Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the Sun, and made measurements of stratospheric ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols. 

The Department of Defense confirmed that the 5,400-pound satellite reentered the atmosphere over the Bering Sea. NASA expected most of the satellite to burn up as it traveled through the atmosphere, but for some components to survive the reentry.

NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 8, after almost four decades in space.

Launched from the Space Shuttle Challenger on Oct. 5, 1984, the ERBS spacecraft was part of NASA’s three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) mission. It carried three instruments, two to measure the Earth’s radiative energy budget, and one to measure stratospheric constituents, including ozone.  

The energy budget, the balance between the amount of energy from the Sun that Earth absorbs or radiates, is an important indicator of climate health, and understanding it can also help reveal weather patterns. Ozone concentrations in the stratosphere play an important role in protecting life on Earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation. 

ERBS far exceeded its expected two-year service life, operating until its retirement in 2005. Its observations helped researchers measure the effects of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance. NASA has continued to build on the success of the ERBE mission with projects including the current Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite instruments.  

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II (SAGE II) on the ERBS made stratospheric measurements. SAGE II collected important data that confirmed the ozone layer was declining on a global scale. That data helped shape the international Montreal Protocol Agreement, resulting in a dramatic decrease around the globe in the use of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons. Today, SAGE III on the International Space Station collects data on the health of the ozone layer. 

Article link: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/retired-nasa-earth-radiation-budget-satellite-to-reenter-atmosphere

Source: NASA



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NASA’s 5th Biennial Asteroid Threat Exercise: Safeguarding the Planet

NASA’s 5th Biennial Asteroid Threat Exercise simulated responses to a hypothetical asteroid impact threat. Findings and recommendations will be discussed in a virtual media briefing. Protecting our planet is NASA’s mission! #PlanetaryDefense #AsteroidThreatExercise



NASA's 5th Biennial Asteroid Threat Exercise - Safeguarding the Planet" virtual media briefing.
Representatives from NASA, FEMA, and the planetary defense community participate in the fifth Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise on April 2 and 3, 2024, to discuss the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the threat of a potentially hazardous asteroid or comet. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL/Ed Whitman

NASA, the renowned space agency, recently hosted the fifth biennial Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise. This exercise aimed to simulate national and international responses to a hypothetical asteroid impact threat. The outcomes of this event, which took place at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), on April 2 and 3, 2024, will be discussed in a virtual media briefing.

NASA’s Commitment to Planetary Defense:
In collaboration with FEMA and the U.S. Department of State Office of Space Affairs, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office organized this exercise. The primary objective was to assess our ability as a nation to respond effectively to potential asteroid or comet hazards. This exercise aligns with NASA’s planetary defense strategy, which focuses on protecting our planet and leveraging innovation for the betterment of humanity.

What to Expect at the Virtual Briefing:
Diving into the details of the tabletop exercise, a virtual media briefing will take place on Thursday, June 20, at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The briefing will be led by key participants, each bringing unique perspectives to the topic. Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer Emeritus, Leviticus “L.A.” Lewis, FEMA detailee to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and Terik Daly, planetary defense section supervisor at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, will share their insights.

Streaming and Registration Details:
For those interested in witnessing this informative event, the briefing will be streamed live on NASA TV and NASA’s YouTube channel. Media representatives planning to attend the briefing should RSVP to Alise Fisher at alise.m.fisher@nasa.gov no later than two hours before the event. Media accreditation policy can be found on NASA’s website.

The Significance of Simulated Exercises:
While there are no known significant asteroid impact threats in the foreseeable future, these hypothetical exercises play a crucial role in preparing our response capabilities. By conducting these simulations every two years, the United States gains valuable insights into how to effectively respond to a potential asteroid impact threat. This proactive approach ensures that we are adequately equipped in the event of such a crisis.

Notable Inclusions in this Year’s Exercise:
This year’s tabletop exercise was particularly significant as it saw the participation of NASA’s international collaborators in planetary defense. By engaging global partners, NASA aims to enhance and strengthen cooperative efforts to protect our planet. Additionally, the exercise benefited from real data obtained from NASA’s successful DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission. DART is the world’s first space technology demonstration focused on defending Earth against potential asteroid impacts.

Since its establishment in 2016, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has diligently worked towards managing the agency’s efforts in protecting our planet from asteroid hazards. The outcome of the fifth biennial Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise will provide valuable insights and recommendations for future preparedness. Together, with collaborative international efforts and continuous innovation, we can confidently safeguard our planet.

To learn more about planetary defense at NASA, visit: 


Source: NASA

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Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Preserves Access to Widely Used Abortion Medication



Supreme Court Decision

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously preserved access to mifepristone, a medication used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the United States last year. This ruling is the court’s first major abortion decision since the conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago. The nine justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal standing to challenge the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval and regulation of the drug.

The Case and Its Implications

The ruling came as a relief to many in the medical community and those advocating for reproductive rights. The case had the potential to restrict access to mifepristone nationwide, even in states where abortion remains legal. Currently, abortion is banned at all stages of pregnancy in 14 states and is heavily restricted after six weeks in three others.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who authored the majority opinion, emphasized that federal courts are not the appropriate venue for contesting the FDA’s decisions. His opinion, which managed to unite a deeply divided court, focused narrowly on the legal issue of standing, avoiding any broader judgments on the FDA’s actions or the drug’s safety.

Reactions to the Decision

President Joe Biden praised the decision, highlighting its significance in maintaining access to a safe and effective medication. He noted, however, that the ruling does not change the broader challenges women face in accessing abortion services in many states. Biden signaled that Democrats will continue to emphasize abortion rights in their campaign efforts leading up to the November elections.

On the other side, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, expressed disappointment but directed her criticism towards the Democrats, accusing them of pushing for unrestricted access to abortion.

Public Opinion and Future Legal Battles

Public opinion on mifepristone reflects a divided nation. According to a KFF poll conducted in February, about two-thirds of U.S. adults oppose banning the use of mifepristone nationwide, while about one-third support such a ban.

The Supreme Court’s decision has not quelled the ongoing legal battles over abortion access. Another case before the court involves whether a federal law on emergency medical treatment overrides state abortion bans in cases where a pregnant patient’s health is at serious risk.

Mifepristone: A Safe and Effective Option

Since its approval in 2000, over six million people have used mifepristone. The drug works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which prepares the uterus to respond to a second drug, misoprostol, that induces contractions. This two-drug regimen is effective through the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Healthcare providers have expressed concern that if mifepristone becomes unavailable or difficult to obtain, they would have to rely solely on misoprostol, which is less effective on its own.

The FDA’s Role and Broader Implications

Biden’s administration and drug manufacturers argued that siding with abortion opponents in this case could undermine the FDA’s authority and drug approval process, potentially leading to increased judicial interference in scientific judgments. Abigail Long, a spokeswoman for Danco Laboratories, which manufactures mifepristone, highlighted that the decision safeguards access to a drug with a long track record of safety and efficacy.

Looking Ahead

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the push to restrict access to abortion pills is likely to continue. Erin Hawley, an attorney for the group Alliance Defending Freedom, suggested that future lawsuits might arise, potentially involving states like Idaho, Kansas, and Missouri, which have shown interest in challenging the FDA’s regulations.

As the nation navigates the complex landscape of abortion rights post-Roe, this unanimous Supreme Court decision represents a significant, albeit narrow, victory for reproductive rights advocates. The ruling underscores the importance of the upcoming 2024 elections and the potential impact of future FDA leadership on access to reproductive healthcare.


Source: AP


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Debunking the Myths: California’s New Minimum Wage Law and Its Real Impact on Fast-Food Jobs



cook standing in food truck and giving burger
Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

Recently, a narrative has emerged in the media, suggesting that California’s new minimum wage law is devastating the fast-food industry, leading to massive job losses. However, this claim, largely propagated by the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) and certain conservative media outlets, fails to stand up to scrutiny. In fact, the data tells a very different story.

The Controversial Claim

CABIA placed a full-page ad in USA Today, asserting that nearly 10,000 fast-food jobs had been lost since Governor Gavin Newsom signed the minimum wage increase into law in September. The ad claimed that various fast-food chains were either cutting jobs or raising prices in response to the wage hike, which raised the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 from $16 starting April 1. Business lobbyist Tom Manzo pointed to these figures as evidence of the law’s negative impact.

The Reality Check

The truth, however, diverges significantly from these claims. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Federal Reserve, fast-food employment in California actually increased from September through January. Furthermore, employment continued to rise after January, reaching nearly 7,000 more jobs in April 2024 compared to April 2023.

Misleading Statistics and Misrepresentation

The source of the 10,000 job loss figure can be traced back to an article in the Wall Street Journal, which reported a 1.3% decline in fast-food employment between September and January. However, this figure was derived from non-seasonally adjusted data, which is problematic for tracking jobs in industries like fast-food that experience seasonal employment fluctuations. Seasonally adjusted data provides a more accurate picture and, when examined, does not support the claim of massive job losses.

The Broader Economic Context

It’s crucial to consider the broader economic landscape of the fast-food industry. While labor costs are certainly a significant expense, they are not the sole challenge facing these businesses. Inflation in food costs, for instance, has been a more pressing issue in recent years. For example, Chipotle Mexican Grill reported an increase in costs for food, beverages, and packaging from $2.6 billion in 2022 to $2.9 billion in 2023. Despite higher labor costs, Chipotle and other chains like El Pollo Loco have managed to maintain or even reduce their labor costs as a percentage of revenue.

The Rubio’s Coastal Grill Case

One notable case often cited in discussions about the minimum wage law is Rubio’s Coastal Grill, which closed 48 of its California locations. While rising operational costs were a factor, the primary driver behind these closures was the chain’s significant debt burden. Acquired by the private equity firm Mill Road Capital in 2010, Rubio’s faced mounting debt that led to its bankruptcy filing in 2020 and again in 2023. This high debt load, a common feature of private-equity takeovers, complicated the company’s path to profitability far more than the minimum wage increases.

The Real Impact

The claim that the new minimum wage law is costing jobs in the fast-food sector is not supported by the available data. Employment in California’s fast-food industry has actually grown, and the broader economic context suggests that other factors, such as food cost inflation and debt burdens from private equity ownership, play a more significant role in the financial health of these businesses.

In conclusion, while the fast-food industry does face challenges, the narrative that California’s minimum wage law is leading to massive job losses is a misleading one. It is important to rely on accurate, seasonally adjusted data and consider the full economic picture when evaluating the impact of such legislation.

Check out the article about the topic of California’s Minimum Wage law and the false narratives that have sprung up regarding it that was posted in the LA Times.


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