#ESA; #EuropeNextGenerationMission; #EGSCC; #OPSSATSpaceLab
New York/Canadian-Media: A spacecraft with Europe’s next-generation mission control system has been successfully operated for the first time by European Space Agency (ESA), ESA reports said.
In the years to come the ‘brain’ of all European spaceflight operations would be the powerful software, named the 'European Ground System - Common Core' (EGS-CC), with promising new possibilities for how future missions.
On 26 June 2021, ESA’s OPS-SAT space lab became the first spacecraft to be monitored and controlled using the EGS-CC, developed by ESA – proving that this software of the future is ready to be extended across current and future missions flown from Europe.
European National Space Agencies and space industry, and will be freely available to all European entities, ensuring the continents’ place at the competitive forefront of space exploration.
Space lab tests Europe’s new brain
ESA’s OPS-SAT ‘Space Lab’ is a CubeSat developed with the sole intention of being a guinea pig for new operational software, too risky to test on other missions. And it is open for the public to experiment with!
“During ESA’s recent test, the space lab became the first ever mission to fly with Europe’s new space brain,” explained Dave Evans, OPS-SAT Mission Manager.
OPS-SAT: ESA’s flying lab, open to all
#GlobgalWarming; #ESA; #CarbonBudget; #CarbonStocks; #CarbonCounting
New York/Canadian-Media: A target for global warming not to exceed 1.5°C was adopted by the Paris Agreement setting a limit on the additional carbon we can add to the carbon budget, European Space Agency (ESA) reported.
Counting Carbon. Image credit: ESA
Only around 17 percent of the carbon budget is now left, which counts to about 10 years at current emission rates.
After each country reports its annual greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations (UN), scientists then use the bottom-up approach to calculate the carbon budget by setting these emissions against estimates of the carbon absorbed by Earth’s natural carbon sinks.
About a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions directly relies on the way we utilize our lands. Forests, being the largest store of carbon on the land, fire acts as a pipeline for carbon to pass from the land to the atmosphere, where as ocean color serves as an important carbon sink.
ESA’s Regional Carbon Cycle Analysis and Processes (RECCAP) project is using this information to reconcile the differences between the bottom-up and top-down approaches.
Phase 2 (RECCAP-2) is coordinated by the Global Carbon Project, and collects and synthesizes regional data for 14 large regions of the globe subject to sufficient harmonization to enable scaling these budgets to the globe and to compare different regions.
Combining these observations with atmospheric and biophysical computer models to deduce carbon fluxes at the surface not only improves the precision of each greenhouse gas budget but also helps separate natural fluxes from agricultural and fossil fuel emissions. This work will help us gauge whether we can stay within the 1.5°C carbon budget, or if more warming is in store.
#EuropeanSpaceAgency; #Peru; #EarthFromSpace; #UNESCO; #WorldHeritageSite
Peru/Canadian-Media: The commercial and industrial centre of Peru, Lima is located on the mostly flat terrain in the Peruvian coastal plain, within the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers. The city is bordered on the east by the foothills of the Andes Mountains and on the west by the Pacific Ocean, https://phys.org/news.
Lima can be seen directly on the south bank of the Rímac River, which flows for around 200 km through the Lima Region, before emptying near Callao – a seaside city and port in the Lima metropolitan area (the largest metropolitan area of Peru).
Although Lima is located at a tropical latitude, the cool offshore Humboldt Current (also known as the Peru Current) produces a year-round temperate climate. The cooling of the coastal air mass produces thick cloud cover throughout winter and the dense sea mist, known locally as garúa, often rolls in to blanket the city. In this image, captured on 20 April 2020, several cloud formations can be seen dotted along the coast.
Callao is Peru’s main seaport and home to its main airport, Jorge Chávez International Airport. Several small boats and vessels can be seen near the port. Callao has several islands: San Lorenzo Island (currently used as a military base), El Frontón (a former high security prison), the Cavinzas Islands, and the Palomino Islands, where numerous sea lions and sea birds live.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission consists of a pair of twin satellites that orbit Earth once every 100 minutes, together imaging a path on Earth’s surface 580 kilometres wide. The satellites observe in 13 spectral bands – from visible to infrared light – giving various perspectives on land and vegetation. This means that the mission can be used to retrieve a wealth of different information about Earth’s surface.
#ESA; #FeelTheForce; #HigherFidelityTesting; #BiAxialTesting; #EuropeanSpacecraft
New York/Canadian-Media: Going to space equals stress. As launcher propellant tanks are filled with fuel, or spacecraft structural panels experience the strain of orbital ascent, they undergo major force loading in multiple directions at once, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported.
Image: Feel the Force pillar. Image credit: ESA
ESA’s new Bi-Axial Test Facility – installed at the Agency’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory at its ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands – replicates the bi-directional application of load, allowing higher-fidelity testing of candidate materials for space missions.
“This is a new add-on to our existing Instron hydraulic test system, which is able to apply up to 250 kilonewtons of force in a single direction,” explains ESA materials engineer Donato Girolamo, who commissioned the design of the new facility to fulfill space material testing requirements.
Such bi-axial testing is especially valuable for composite structures, widely used in space, which can possess differing material properties along different directions.
The custom-made tooling for the new facility was designed and built by Enduteq in the Netherlands.
The Bi-Axial Test Facility will begin by investigating the performance of solid rocket motor cases. It would also be suited to testing materials making up structural panels, as well as those for pressure chambers of all kinds, from propellant tanks to crewed modules.
“This expansion of our capabilities allows us to reproduce the real load conditions facing our test materials and structures more closely than ever,” remarks Tommaso Ghidini, heading ESA’s Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division.
#MexicoYucatánPeninsula; #Tsunami, #GulfOfMexico
Mexico/Canadian-Media: When a giant space rock struck the waters near Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago, it sent up a blanket of dust that blotted out the Sun for years, sending temperatures plummeting and killing off the dinosaurs, www.sciencemag.org/news reported.
Some 66 million years ago an asteroid slammed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico, triggering the dinosaurs’ extinction—and a massive tsunami. Image credit: Mark Garlick/Science Source.
he impact also generated a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico that some modelers believe sent an initial tidal wave up to 1500 meters (or nearly 1 mile) high crashing into North America, one that was followed by smaller pulses. Now, for the first time, scientists have discovered fossilized megaripples from this tsunami buried in sediments in what is now central Louisiana.
“It’s great to actually have evidence of something that has been theorized for a really long time,” says Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin. Gulick was not involved in the work, but he co-led a campaign in 2016 to drill down to the remains of the impact crater, called Chicxulub.
To look for ancient buried structures, researchers rely on seismic imaging techniques to “see” underground. They set off explosives or use industrial hammers to send seismic waves into the earth, and listen for reflections from the layers of sediment and rock below. Companies use the technique to search for oil and gas, and they have mountains of data—especially in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 10 years ago, Gary Kinsland, a geophysicist at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, obtained seismic imaging data for central Louisiana from Devon Energy. At the time of the dino-killing impact, sea levels were higher, and Kinsland thought information from this region would hold clues to what happened in the shallow seas off the coastline.
When Kinsland and his colleagues analyzed a layer about 1500 meters underground—one associated with the time of the impact--they saw fossilized ripples. These “megaripples” were spaced up to 1 kilometer apart and were an average of 16 meters tall, they reported in an Earth & Planetary Science Letters study posted online on 2 July.
Seismic images of underground layers in Louisiana revealed megaripples associated with a tsunami. Image credit: Kaare Egedahl
Kinsland believes the ripples are the imprint of the tsunami waves as they approached the shore in waters about 60 meters deep, disturbing the seafloor sediments. (Tidal waves gain their massive height only when they reach the ramp of the coastline.)
Kinsland says the orientation of the ripples was also consistent with the impact. When he drew a line perpendicular to their crests, he says, it went right to Chicxulub. He adds that the location was perfect for preserving the ripples, which would have eventually been buried in sediment. “The water was so deep that once the tsunami had quit, regular storm waves couldn’t disturb what was down there.”
The discovery is the latest in a flurry of research about the Chicxulub impact, which was first hypothesized in the 1980s. Cores from the 2016 drilling expedition helped explain how the impact crater was formed and charted the disappearance and recovery of Earth’s life. In 2019, researchers reported the discovery of a fossil site in North Dakota, 3000 kilometers north of Chicxulub, that they say records the hours after the impact and includes debris swept inland from the tsunami.
“We have small pieces of the puzzle that keep getting added in,” says Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza, a paleontologist at the University of Vigo who was not involved with the new study. “Now this research is another one, giving more evidence of a cataclysmic tsunami that probably inundated [everything] for thousands of miles.”
#Washington; #NASA; #TropicalStormElsa; #ISS; #MeganMcArthur
Washington/Canadian-Media: As tropical storm Elsa made its way through the Caribbean Sea, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur shared a series of four images of the storm taken from her vantage point aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on July 4, 2021. She wrote, "Tropical Storm Elsa from the @Space_Station today. Stay safe everyone."
Image credit: NASA
The series of four images shared by Megan McArthur are shown below
Image credit: NASA.
#Washington; #humanmadeGreenhouseGasEmissions; #NASASatelllites
Washington/Canadian-Media: The sky isn’t falling, but scientists have found that parts of the upper atmosphere are gradually contracting in response to rising human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Combined data from three NASA satellites have produced a long-term record that reveals the mesosphere, the layer of the atmosphere 30 to 50 miles above the surface, is cooling and contracting. Scientists have long predicted this effect of human-driven climate change, but it has been difficult to observe the trends over time.
“You need several decades to get a handle on these trends and isolate what’s happening due to greenhouse gas emissions, solar cycle changes, and other effects,” said Scott Bailey, an atmospheric scientist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and lead of the study, published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. “We had to put together three satellites’ worth of data.”
Together, the satellites provided about 30 years of observations, indicating that the summer mesosphere over Earth’s poles is cooling four to five degrees Fahrenheit and contracting 500 to 650 feet per decade. Without changes in human carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers expect these rates to continue.
Since the mesosphere is much thinner than the part of the atmosphere we live in, the impacts of increasing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, differ from the warming we experience at the surface. One researcher compared where we live, the troposphere, to a thick quilt.
“Down near Earth’s surface, the atmosphere is thick,” said James Russell, a study co-author and atmospheric scientist at Hampton University in Virginia. “Carbon dioxide traps heat just like a quilt traps your body heat and keeps you warm.” In the lower atmosphere, there are plenty of molecules in close proximity, and they easily trap and transfer Earth's heat between each other, maintaining that quilt-like warmth.
That means little of Earth's heat makes it to the higher, thinner mesosphere. There, molecules are few and far between. Since carbon dioxide also efficiently emits heat, any heat captured by carbon dioxide sooner escapes to space than it finds another molecule to absorb it. As a result, an increase in greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide means more heat is lost to space — and the upper atmosphere cools. When air cools, it contracts, the same way a balloon shrinks if you put it in the freezer.
This cooling and contracting didn’t come as a surprise. For years, “models have been showing this effect,” said Brentha Thurairajah, a Virginia Tech atmospheric scientist who contributed to the study. “It would have been weirder if our analysis of the data didn’t show this.”
While previous studies have observed this cooling, none have used a data record of this length or shown the upper atmosphere contracting. The researchers say these new results boost their confidence in our ability to model the upper atmosphere’s complicated changes.
The team analyzed how temperature and pressure changed over 29 years, using all three data sets, which covered the summer skies of the North and South Poles. They examined the stretch of sky 30 to 60 miles above the surface. At most altitudes, the mesosphere cooled as carbon dioxide increased. That effect meant the height of any given atmospheric pressure fell as the air cooled. In other words, the mesosphere was contracting.
Earth’s Middle Atmosphere
Though what happens in the mesosphere does not directly impact humans, the region is an important one. The upper boundary of the mesosphere, about 50 miles above Earth, is where the coolest atmospheric temperatures are found. It’s also where the neutral atmosphere begins transitioning to the tenuous, electrically charged gases of the ionosphere.
Even higher up, 150 miles above the surface, atmospheric gases cause satellite drag, the friction that tugs satellites out of orbit. Satellite drag also helps clear space junk. When the mesosphere contracts, the rest of the upper atmosphere above sinks with it. As the atmosphere contracts, satellite drag may wane — interfering less with operating satellites, but also leaving more space junk in low-Earth orbit.
The mesosphere is also known for its brilliant blue ice clouds. They’re called noctilucent or polar mesospheric clouds, so named because they live in the mesosphere and tend to huddle around the North and South Poles. The clouds form in summer, when the mesosphere has all three ingredients to produce the clouds: water vapor, very cold temperatures, and dust from meteors that burn up in this part of the atmosphere. Noctilucent clouds were spotted over northern Canada on May 20, kicking off the start of the Northern Hemisphere’s noctilucent cloud season.
Because the clouds are sensitive to temperature and water vapor, they’re a useful signal of change in the mesosphere. “We understand the physics of these clouds,” Bailey said. In recent decades, the clouds have drawn scientists’ attention because they’re behaving oddly. They’re getting brighter, drifting farther from the poles, and appearing earlier than usual. And, there seem to be more of them than in years past.
“The only way you would expect them to change this way is if the temperature is getting colder and water vapor is increasing,” Russell said. Colder temperatures and abundant water vapor are both linked with climate change in the upper atmosphere.
Currently, Russell serves as principal investigator for AIM, short for Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, the newest satellite of the three that contributed data to the study. Russell has served as a leader on all three NASA missions: AIM, the instrument SABER on TIMED (Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics), and the instrument HALOE on the since-retired UARS (Upper Atmospherics Research Satellite).
TIMED and AIM launched in 2001 and 2007, respectively, and both are still operating. The UARS mission ran from 1991 to 2005. “I always had in my mind that we would be able to put them together in a long-term change study,” Russell said. The study, he said, demonstrates the importance of long-term, space-based observations across the globe.
In the future, the researchers expect more striking displays of noctilucent clouds that stray farther from the poles. Because this analysis focused on the poles at summertime, Bailey said he plans to examine these effects over longer periods of time and — following the clouds — study a wider stretch of the atmosphere.