Satellite News

Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

Convective Weather

A prototype system could provide commercial airline pilots with key weather and turbulence forecasts when flying over remote regions of the ocean where little real- or near-real-time data is available now. The NASA-funded system, being developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), combines computer models and data from five operating NASA satellites with an artificial intelligence system to predict turbulence. The system is on track for testing next year, with the goal of ultimately giving pilots a regularly updated picture of potential storms over the ocean so that they can fly away from or around danger. This photograph, acquired in February 1984 by an astronaut aboard the space shuttle, shows a series of mature thunderstorms in southern Brazil.

Deep Convective Clouds

A 2009 astronaut photo from the International Space Station (ISS) of deep convective clouds, seen from above, over the Atlantic Ocean. Free standing and embedded towering convective clouds are particularly dangerous to aircraft flying over the open ocean.

Turbulence Waves and Deep Convection

NASA and NCAR are working to develop a near-real-time forecast that identifies turbulence from breaking gravity waves that are generated by rapidly rising deep convection. This image from NASA's MODIS instrument (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) shows gravity waves over the ocean. Atmospheric gravity waves (also called atmospheric internal waves) occur either when a uniform layer of air blows over a large obstacle, like a mountain or island or when rapidly rising, deep convection perturbs a stable layer from below, as in the oceanic case we have illustrated. When the air hits the obstacle or is disturbed by rising convection from below, the horizontal ribbons of uniform air are disturbed, which forms a wave pattern. This wave pattern in the air impresses itself onto sea waves when it touches the surface of the ocean. In addition to the surface mimicking the wave pattern, wave clouds can form as well, creating potential turbulence for aircraft.

Slicing through the Atmosphere

NASA uses advanced satellite instruments to study the atmosphere. One instrument, CALIPSO, uses a lidar system to make a 3-D view of clouds. CALIPSO data will be used as a source of precise validation and tuning for these NASA/NCAR applications under development. Click on the image or below to view an animation showing a series of CALIPSO curtain images from around the globe.

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