Sunday November 18, 2018
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NASA to intensify focus on Earth’s frozen regions

Together the two missions will make critical, complementary measurements of Earth's glaciers and ice sheets, NASA said. Both missions will also make other key observations

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NASA to research more about Earth's frozen surfaces. IANS
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  • NASA to conduct more research about Earth’s frozen surfaces
  • It will enhance their understanding of Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and permafrost
  • NASA will launch two new satellite missions for this purpose

To enhance understanding of Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and permafrost, NASA will launch two new satellite missions and conduct an array of field research in 2018, the US space agency said on Tuesday.

These missions come at a time when decades of observations from the ground, air and space have revealed signs of change in these frozen regions of our planet, called the “cryosphere.”

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA will conduct research by launching two new satellite missions. Pixabay

Ongoing changes with the cryosphere, while often occurring in remote regions, have impacts on people all around the world — sea level rise affects coastlines globally, more than a billion people rely on water from snowpack, and the diminishing sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean plays a significant role in Earth’s climate and weather patterns.

This spring, NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences are scheduled to launch the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, twin satellites that will continue the original GRACE mission’s legacy of tracking fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field in order to detect changes in mass, including the mass of ice sheets and aquifers.

Also Read: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot grows taller: NASA

And in autumn, NASA is scheduled to launch the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which will use a highly advanced laser instrument to measure the changing elevation of ice around the world, providing a view of the height of Earth’s ice with greater detail than previously possible.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
It will also help scientists understand about Cryosphere. IANS

Together the two missions will make critical, complementary measurements of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets, NASA said. Both missions will also make other key observations. For instance, GRACE-FO will measure groundwater reserves and deep ocean currents and ICESat-2 will measure sea ice thickness and vegetation height. NASA research shows that permafrost — permanently frozen ground in the Arctic that contains heat-trapping gases such as methane and carbon dioxide — is thawing at faster rates now than scientists have observed before. IANS

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The Aborted Mission To Relaunch In December: NASA

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched.

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Russian Rocket
Astronaut Anne McClain, left, is seen during training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas. VOA

The American astronaut who will hitch the first ride on a Russian rocket since last month’s aborted launch and dramatic emergency landing is confident that her scheduled trip in December on a rocket that she calls a “workhorse” will go smoothly.

Astronaut Anne McClain, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Canadian astronaut, will man the Dec. 3 mission. It will be the Russian-made Soyuz-FG’s first crewed flight since Oct. 11, when U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe after the rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff.

NASA, rocket
Specialists watch broadcasts from the Soyuz spacecraft showing astronaut David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and astronaut Anne McClain of the U.S. attending the final qualification training for their upcoming space mission in Star City near Moscow, Russia. VOA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, though the agency has announced plans for test flights carrying two astronauts on commercial rockets made by Boeing and SpaceX next April.

“I do see the incident that happened on Oct. 11 with our launch abort not as a failure but as a success,” McClain told Reuters in a telephone interview from Russia. “It actually bolsters my confidence in the rocket and in the processes that we have.

“We’re confident in the vehicle and getting back to it,” McClain said of the Soyuz rocket, which she called “the workhorse of the space program.”

After lifting off from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur last month, a damaged sensor caused one of the rocket’s three booster stages to separate improperly, falling inward on the rocket and jolting it off its ascent two miles above ground, Russian investigators announced earlier this month.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

During Assembly

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, their arms and legs flailing. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin can be heard saying, “That was a quick flight.”

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a crewed Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Also Read: NASA Grants $7 Mn For New Life Detection

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has said that it could have been made deliberately by someone during manufacturing or while the craft was in space.

McClain and two other crewmates will launch from the same launchpad in Baikonur, joining the space station’s current three-person crew. (VOA)