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NASA’s Tiny Satellite Maps Global Ice Couds

A bread loaf-sized satellite has captured the first global picture of the small frozen particles inside clouds, normally called ice clouds, NASA has said

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NASA's Tiny Satellite Maps Global Ice Couds
NASA's Tiny Satellite Maps Global Ice Couds. Pixabay
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A bread loaf-sized satellite has captured the first global picture of the small frozen particles inside clouds, normally called ice clouds, NASA has said.

Ice clouds start as tiny particles high in the atmosphere. Absorbing moisture, the ice crystals grow and become heavier, causing them to fall to lower altitudes. Eventually, the particles get so heavy, they fall and melt to form rain drops. The ice crystals may also just stay in the air.

Like other clouds, ice clouds affect Earth’s energy budget by either reflecting or absorbing the Sun’s energy and by affecting the emission of heat from Earth into space. Thus, ice clouds are key variables in weather and climate models.

Representational image.
Representational Image, VOA

“Heavy downpours originate from ice clouds,” said Dong Wu, IceCube principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Measuring atmospheric ice on a global scale remains highly uncertain because satellites have been unable to detect the amount of small ice particles inside the clouds, as these particles are too opaque for infrared and visible sensors to penetrate.

The experimental small satellite, IceCube, deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2017, has filled this void, NASA said on Tuesday.

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To overcome that limitation, IceCube was outfitted with a submillimeter radiometer that bridges the missing sensitivity between infrared and microwave wavelengths.

Despite weighing only 10 pounds, IceCube is a bona fide spacecraft, complete with three-axis attitude control, deployable solar arrays and a deployable communications antenna.

Originally a 30-day technology-demonstration mission, IceCube is still fully operational in low-Earth orbit almost a year later, measuring ice clouds and providing data that’s “good enough to do some real science,” Wu said. (IANS)

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US Senators Want NASA To Extend The ISS Life Until At Least 2028

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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NASA ISS
Representational Image, VOA

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened the hearing on Wednesday, which was the first in a series of two hearings to examine the role of the space station.

In its 2019 budget request, the Donald Trump administration proposed ending direct government funding for the ISS by 2025, Florida Today, part of the USA Today network, reported on Wednesday.

“We’ve got this platform up there (worth) north of $100 billion, and it’s there,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, ranking member on the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, was quoted as saying.

“Abandoning this incredible orbiting laboratory where they are doing research, when we are on the cusp of a new era of space exploration, would be irresponsible at best and probably disastrous,” Nelson added.

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA to develop a plan to transition ISS from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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The space agency’s internal watchdog on Wednesday, however, said that private companies are unlikely to take on the more than $1 billion annual cost to run the International Space Station by 2025 as NASA hopes.

The report from NASA Inspector General provided a closing argument against the Trump administration’s proposal to privatise or abandon the orbiting laboratory so soon, the US senators said, according to the Florida Today report.

“The defence rests,” quipped Senator Cruz of Texas. (IANS)

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