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Landsat senses a disturbance in the forest

Jan. 14, 2013 — A new way of studying and visualizing Earth science data from a NASA and U.S. Geological Survey satellite program is resulting in, for the first time, the ability to tease out the small events that can cause big changes in an ecosystem.

Called LandTrendr, this computer program is able to find patterns previously buried within vast amounts of scientific data. Still in development, it's already led to seeing for the first time in satellite imagery an obscured, slow-moving decline and recovery of trees in Pacific Northwest forests.

Comparing satellite data to ground data, scientists uncovered the cause. "It was, as it turns out, bugs," says Robert Kennedy, a remote sensing specialist at Boston University...

Simulated Mars mission reveals body's sodium rhythms

Jan. 8, 2013 — Clinical pharmacologist Jens Titze, M.D., knew he had a one-of-a-kind scientific opportunity: the Russians were going to simulate a flight to Mars, and he was invited to study the participating cosmonauts.

Titze, now an associate professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University, wanted to explore long-term sodium balance in humans. He didn't believe the textbook view -- that the salt we eat is rapidly excreted in urine to maintain relatively constant body sodium...

Felix Baumgartner successfully lands after highest freefall from edge of space

Screens at the mission control shows Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria jump during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14, 2012. (Credit: Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool)

BestAstronomy (Oct. 14, 2012) — Austria's Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday (Oct. 14, 2012) after overcoming concerns with the power for his visor heater that impaired his vision and nearly jeopardized the...

Simulations uncover 'flashy' secrets of merging black holes

Supercomputer models of merging black holes reveal properties that are crucial to understanding future detections of gravitational waves. This still image is from a movie that follows two orbiting black holes and their accretion disk during their final three orbits and ultimate merger. Redder colors correspond to higher gas densities. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; P. Cowperthwaite, University of Maryland)

BestAstronomy (Sep. 27, 2012) — According to...

Mars-like places on Earth give new insights into Rover data and conditions for life

Felipe Gómez on field campaign at Deception island. (Credit: Felipe Gómez)

BestAstronomy (Sep. 24, 2012) — Life thrives on Planet Earth. In even the most inhospitable places -- the freezing Antarctic permafrost, sun-baked saltpans in Tunisia or the corrosively acidic Rio Tinto in Spain -- pockets of life can be found. Some of these locations have much in common with environments found on Mars, as discovered by orbiters and rovers exploring the surface...

High durability of nanotube transistors in harsh space environment demonstrated

A locally etched back-gated field effect transistor (FET) structure with a deposited dielectric layer. Thick dielectric layers are highly susceptible to radiation induced charge build-up, which is known to cause threshold voltage shifts and increased leakage in metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) devices. To mitigate these effects, the dielectric layer is locally etched in the active region of the back-gated FET. A gate dielectric material is then deposited (depicted in red) over the...

High-flying aircraft helps develop new science instruments

ER-2's arrival at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Is., Va. (Credit: NASA/Brea Reeves)

BestAstronomy (Sep. 17, 2012) — Over the next few weeks, an ER-2 high altitude research aircraft operating out of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will take part in the development of two future satellite instruments. The aircraft will fly test models of these instruments at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet to gather information researchers can use to...

High-flying NASA aircraft helps develop new science instruments

ER-2 arrival at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Is., Va. (Credit: NASA/Brea Reeves)

BestAstronomy (Sep. 17, 2012) — Over the next few weeks, an ER-2 high altitude research aircraft operating out of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will take part in the development of two future satellite instruments. The aircraft will fly test models of these instruments at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet to gather information researchers can use to...

Investigation of Earth catastrophes from the International Space Station: Uragan Program

BestAstronomy (Mar. 13, 2012) — The Uragan program aboard the Russian segment of the International Space Station uses digital photography to study Earth's natural resources by monitoring catastrophes, both natural and human made. Uragan, which means "hurricane" in Russian, began during the first days of habitation on the station and continues to be an important Earth observation program, with the primary goal of defining requirements for a ground-space system for disaster warning and...

Hearty bacteria help make case for life in the extreme

BestAstronomy (Jan. 19, 2012) — The bottom of a glacier is not the most hospitable place on Earth, but at least two types of bacteria happily live there, according to researchers.

The bacteria -- Chryseobacterium and Paenisporosarcina -- showed signs of respiration in ice made in the laboratory that was designed to simulate as closely as possible the temperatures and nutrient content found at the bottom of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers, said...

BestAstronomy (Jan. 19, 2012) — The bottom...

Big step forward for SKA radio telescope

BestAstronomy (July 8, 2011) — The discovery potential of the future international SKA radio telescope has been glimpsed following the commissioning of a working optical fibre link between CSIRO's Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia, and other radio telescopes across Australia and New Zealand.

The achievement will be announced at the 2011 International SKA Forum, taking place this week in Banff, Canada.

On 29 June, six...

BestAstronomy (July 8, 2011) — The...

Final countdown: Atlantis to carry next-generation vaccine candidate on last space voyage

BestAstronomy (July 6, 2011) — On July 8, at approximately 11:26 a.m. EDT, the space shuttle Atlantis will streak skyward from the Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, for one last mission. While the STS-135 flight marks the end of the space shuttle's glory days, its final trip may open a new era of research into infectious diseases, thanks to space bound experiments conducted by Dr's. Cheryl Nickerson, and Roy Curtiss III, along with their ...

BestAstronomy (July 6, 2011) — On July 8...

X-ray analysis technique helps scientists determine that black holes grew voraciously in young galaxies

— A Rutgers University astrophysicist is part of a scientific team that has unveiled evidence of black holes being common in the early universe. The discovery, made using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows that these young black holes grew more aggressively than scientists previously thought.

The finding has important implications for how astronomers understand the early cosmos, according to Eric Gawiser,...

— A Rutgers University astrophysicist is part of a scientific team that...

China starts building world's biggest radio telescope

THE largest and most famous radio telescope in the world - the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico - is about to be upstaged. In a remote part of Guizhou province in southern China, construction has begun on a true behemoth of engineering, the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), an instrument that promises to transform radio astronomy.

"FAST is an awesome project," says Subramaniam Ananthakrishnan of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics in Pune, India...