Hurricane Florence | International Space Station

ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst: “Watch out, America! Hurricane Florence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide angle lens from ISS, 400 km directly above the eye. Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you.”

“This is why the big picture matters, and listening to the official evacuation orders. Please stay safe down there!”

Follow Alexander and his Horizons mission: and on

Credit: ESA/NASA
Image Date: September 12, 2018

#NASA #Space #ISS #Science #Earth #Hurricane #Florence #UnitedStates #Atlantic #Ocean #Weather #Storm #Meteorology #Astronaut #AlexanderGerst #Horizons #Europe #Germany #Deutschland #DLR #Expedition56 #Human #Spaceflight #Spacecraft #Photography #STEM #Education #OrbitalPerspective #OverviewEffect


2018 Lunar Eclipse & Mars

Credit: ManuelJ
Release Date: August 1, 2018

Technical details:
Samyang 135 F/2 @ F/2.8
Moravian G3 11002 + Astrodon LRGB E series gen 2
Astro Physics 1200

#Astronomy #Space #Science #Earth #Sun #Moon #Mars #MilkyWay #Galaxy #Stars #Lunar #Eclipse #LunarEclipse #LunarEclipse2018 #SolarSystem #Skywatching #Astrophotography #Photography #Art #STEM #Education

A Former NASA Astronaut’s Plea for Earth

Image: British-American astronaut Piers Sellers (1955-2016) during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.
Astronaut and scientist Piers Sellers is no longer with us, but his words still resonate. A posthumous plea from Sellers arrived this week in the form of an article in the latest issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America):

The topic was one that he cared deeply about: building a better space-based system for observing and understanding the carbon cycle and its climate feedback.

As NASA’s Patrick Lynch reported, Sellers wrote the paper along with colleagues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma. Work on the paper began in 2015, and Sellers continued working with his collaborators up until about six weeks before he died. They carried on the research and writing of the paper until its publication in July 2018.

The carbon cycle refers to the constant flow of carbon between rocks, water, the atmosphere, plants, soil, and fossil fuels. Climate change feedbacks—natural effects that may amplify or diminish the human emissions of greenhouse gases—are one of the most poorly understood aspects of climate science.

Here is how Sellers and colleagues characterized the current state of the carbon cycle in the PNAS article:

“It is quite remarkable and telling that human activity has significantly altered carbon cycling at the planetary scale. The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have dramatically exceeded their envelope of the last several million years.”

They also explain in detail how we have altered the carbon cycle:

“The perturbation by humans occurs first and foremost through the transfer of carbon from geological reservoirs (fossil fuels) into the active land–atmosphere–ocean system and, secondarily, through the transfer of biotic carbon from forests, soils, and other terrestrial storage pools (e.g., industrial timber) into the atmosphere.”

Scientists understand the broad outlines of how this works relatively well. What worried Sellers was the potential curve balls the climate might throw at us with unanticipated feedbacks. They addressed some of the the challenges in understanding how climate change might affect concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane through feedbacks.

For carbon dioxide:

“While experimental studies consistently show increases in plant growth rates under elevated CO2 (termed carbon dioxide fertilization), the extrapolation of even the largest-scale experiments to ecosystem carbon storage is problematic, and some ecologists have argued that the physiological response could be eliminated entirely by restrictions due to limitation by nutrients or micronutrients. However, there is recent evidence from the atmosphere that suggests increasing CO2 enhances terrestrial carbon storage, leading to the continued increase in land uptake paralleling CO2 concentrations.”

As we detailed in a separate story, the situation is even more complicated for methane. Sellers and his colleagues explained some of the challenges in understanding the feedbacks that affect that potent greenhouse gas this way:

“Atmospheric methane is currently at three times its preindustrial levels, which is clearly driven by anthropogenic emissions, but equally clearly, some of the change is because of carbon-cycle–climate feedbacks. Atmospheric CH4 rose by about 1 percent per year in the 1970s and 1980s, plateaued in the 1990s, and resumed a steady rise after 2006. Why did the plateau occur? These trends in atmospheric methane concentration are not understood. They may be due to changes in climate: increases in temperature, shifts in the precipitation patterns, changes to wetlands, or proliferation in the carbon availability to methane-producing bacteria.”

The consequences of the gaps in understanding could be significant.

“Terrestrial tropical ecosystem feedbacks from the El Nino drove an ∼2-PgC increase in global CO2 emissions in 2015. If emissions excursions such as this become more frequent or persistent in the future, agreed-upon mitigation commitments could become ineffective in meeting climate stabilization targets. Earth system models disagree wildly about the magnitude and frequency of carbon–climate feedback events, and data to this point have been astonishingly ineffective at reducing this uncertainty.”

Sellers and his colleagues do offer a solution. It has much to do with satellites.

“Space-based observations provide the global coverage, spatial and temporal sampling, and suite of carbon cycle observations required to resolve net carbon fluxes into their component fluxes (photosynthesis, respiration, and biomass burning). These space-based data substantially reduce ambiguity about what is happening in the present and enable us to falsify models more effectively than previous datasets could, leading to more informed projections.”

Credit: Adam Voiland for NASA
Release Date: July 19, 2018

NASA Earth Observatory
NASA Goddard
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
NASA Johnson Space Center
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
American Meteorological Society
UK Space Agency
European Space Agency, ESA
Canadian Space Agency
Fragile Oasis

#NASA #Earth #Space #Satellites #ISS #Science #Earth #PiersSellers #Astronaut #Scientist #Humanity #Future #Climate #CarbonCycle #Environment #ClimateChange #ClimateFeedback #GreenhouseEffect #EarthObservation #RemoteSensing #Human #Spaceflight #Spacecraft #Photography #UK #England #UnitedStates #OrbitalPerspective #OverviewEffect #STEM #Education

Noctilucent Clouds over Denmark

Ruslan: “Wow! Absolutely spectacular display of NLCs this night at their brightest peak at 3:00. The whole sky was filled with the shining silver, stretching from West to East and even right above my head!”

Polar Mesospheric Clouds (also known as noctilucent clouds) are transient, upper atmospheric phenomena observed usually in the summer months at high latitudes (greater than 50 degrees) of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They are bright and cloud-like in appearance while in deep twilight. They are illuminated by sunlight when the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the darkness of the Earth’s shadow.

“At 80km above the earth, these are the highest clouds in the atmosphere and are composed of ice crystals. They can be seen in the late spring and summer only when the sun is below the horizon and at latitudes of 50-65 degrees north and south of the equator.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Credit: Ruslan Merzlyakov
Location: Nykøbing Mors, Denmark
Image Date: July 3, 2017

#Earth #Science #Planet #Atmosphere #Noctilucent #Polar #Mesospheric #Clouds #NLC #Photography #Astrophotography #Art #Panorama #NykøbingMors #Denmark #Danmark #Europe #STEM #Education

Our Moon Meets Jupiter

What’s that next to the Moon? Jupiter—and its four largest moons. Skygazers around planet Earth enjoyed the close encounter of planets and Moon during the predawn skies of July 15, 2012. And while many saw bright Jupiter next to the slender, waning crescent, Europeans also had the opportunity to watch the ruling gas giant pass behind the lunar disk, occulted by the Moon as it slid through the night. Clouds threaten in this telescopic view from Montecassiano, Italy, but the frame still captures Jupiter after it emerged from the occultation along with all four of its large Galilean moons. The sunlit crescent is overexposed with the Moon’s night side faintly illuminated by Earthshine. Lined up left to right beyond the dark lunar limb are Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, and Europa. In fact, Callisto, Ganymede, and Io are larger than Earth’s Moon, while Europa is only slightly smaller. Last week, NASA’s Juno became the second spacecraft ever to orbit Jupiter.

Image Credit & Copyright: Cristian Fattinnanzi
Cristian’s website:
Release Date: July 10, 2016

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD)  
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory  
NASA Goddard  
Lunar and Planetary Institute  
National Science Teachers Association  
STEM on Google+ Community  
PBS Parents  

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Jupiter #Planet #Moons #Callisto #Ganymede #Jupiter #Io #Europa #Earth #Occultation #Moon #Astrophotography #Art #Montecassiano #Italy #APoD

Earth Sunset | International Space Station

Earth sunset from the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams captured the photos for this composite of the sun falling slowly across the oceans of our planet.

Credit: NASA/JSC, U.S. Astronaut Jeff Williams
Date: June 8, 2016

NASA Johnson Space Center  

#NASA #Space #ISS #Earth #Sunset #Ocean #Planet #Technology #Science #Spacecraft #Astronaut #JeffWilliams #Photography #USA #UnitedStates #Expedition47 #JourneyToMars #OrbitalPerspective #OverviewEffect #STEM #Education

Planetary Solar Transits: Mercury vs. Venus

“In the days before the Mercury transit of May 9, 2016, many images of the Venus Transit of 2012 were published and people were told that the upcoming transit of Mercury would look similar.”

“Well not quite. Mercury has only 40% the diameter of Venus and lies at its nearest point to earth about twice as far away.”

“This means that the disk of Mercury had only 8% the area of Venus and was not visible to the naked eye.”

“While I missed the Venus transit of 2012, I was in a prime position for the 2004 transit and was able to catch it on film—yes, I am that old! I started photography in the film age… :-)”

“This image shows the Mercury transit of 2016, combined with the path of Venus in June 2004. The different size and transit path is obvious.”

Credit: Flickr user Skypointer
Release Date: May 12, 2016

Technical details:
Celestron NexStar 8GPS with Baader solar filter (it was brand new in 2004)

Vintage Pentax camera with Kodak Gold 200 ASA film for the Venus transit
Canon EOS 6D for the Mercury transit

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Science #Mercury #Venus #Transit #Sun #Solar #Orbit #Earth #SolarSystem #Astrophotography #Art #STEM #Education #Timelapse