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NASA Invented A Tool To Predict Floods Due To Ice Melt

It looks at the Earth's spin and gravitational effects to predict water "redistribution"

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Optimistic about Mars Opportunity rover, says NASA. Pixabay
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NASA scientists have developed a tool to forecast which cities are vulnerbale to flooding due to melting of ice in a warming climate.

It looks at the Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be “redistributed” globally, BBC reported.

“This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, (and) ice caps are of specific importance,” the researchers were quoted as saying.

The research, detailed in the journal Science Advances, could provide scientists a way to determine which ice sheets they should be “most worried about”.

The researchers explained that as land ice is lost to the oceans, both the Earth’s gravitational and rotational potentials are perturbed, resulting in strong spatial patterns in sea-level rise (SLR). The pattern of sea-level change has been termed sea-level fingerprints.

“We lack robust forecasting models for future ice changes, which diminishes our ability to use these fingerprints to accurately predict local sea-level (LSL) changes,” the researchers said.

So they set out to determine the exact gradient of sea-level fingerprints with respect to local variations in the ice thickness of all of the world’s ice drainage systems.

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NASA, Flickr

“By exhaustively mapping these fingerprint gradients, we form a new diagnosis tool, henceforth referred to as gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM), that readily allows for improved assessments of future coastal inundation or emergence,” the study said.

The researchers demonstrated that for Antarctica and Greenland, changes in the predictions of inundation at major port cities depend on the location of the drainage system.

For example, in London, local sea-level changes is significantly affected by changes on the western part of the Greenland ice sheet, whereas in New York, such changes are greatly sensitive to changes in the northeastern portions of the ice sheet, the tool showed. (IANS)

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NASA is Confident Regarding Mars Opportunity Rover

However, even after the first time engineers hear from Opportunity, it would take time to fully recover, NASA said

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Optimistic about Mars Opportunity rover, says NASA. Pixabay

There’s reason to be optimistic about Mars Opportunity rover that has been silent since June 10, after getting caught in a massive dust storm on the Red Planet that cut off solar power for the nearly 15-year-old rover, NASA said in a statement.

According to the scientists, the global dust storm is “decaying” — meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it. As a result, skies might soon clear enough for the solar-powered rover to recharge and attempt to “phone home.”

Studies on the state of batteries and temperatures at the location showed that they were relatively in good health before the storm, and there is not likely to be too much degradation.

Moreover, because dust storms tend to warm the environment — and the storm happened in summer — the rover should have stayed warm enough to survive, the US space agency noted.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are now looking for signs for recovery efforts.

According to them, Opportunity will need a tau — the veil of dust blowing around — of less than 2.0 before the solar-powered rover will be able to recharge its batteries.

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Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California are now looking for signs for recovery efforts. Flickr

The higher the tau, the less sunlight is available; the last tau measured by Opportunity was 10.8 on June 10. To compare, an average tau for its location on Mars is usually 0.5.

Several times a week, the engineers are using NASA’s Deep Space Network, which communicates between planetary probes and Earth, to attempt to talk with Opportunity.

The massive DSN antennas ping the rover during scheduled “wake-up” times, and then search for signals sent from Opportunity in response.

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In addition, JPL’s radio science group uses special equipment on DSN antennas that can detect a wider range of frequencies. Each day, they record any radio signal from Mars over most of the rover’s daylight hours, then search the recordings for Opportunity’s “voice.”

However, even after the first time engineers hear from Opportunity, it would take time to fully recover, NASA said. (IANS)