"In mid-October 2011, NASA scientists working in Antarctica discovered a massive crack across the Pine Island Glacier, a major ice stream that drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Extending for 19 miles (30 kilometers), the crack was 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 195 feet (60 meters) deep. Eventually, the crack will extend all the way across the glacier, and calve a giant iceberg that will cover about 350 square miles (900 square kilometers). This image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NAS's Terra spacecraft was acquired Nov. 13, 2011, and covers an area of 27 by 32 miles (44 by 52 kilometers), and is located near 74.9 degrees south latitude, 101.1 degrees west longitude."Source: NASA
Editor’s Note: Pamela Greyer is a K-12 science educator, STEM education consultant and NASA solar system ambassador. She is the former site director of NASA’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy Chicago Program and continues to mentor and engage youths in NASA engineering competitions and contests.
In 2004, I became a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educator. At the time, STEM was an emerging concept in the education landscape and just another acronym used by NASA condensed from a series of words.
I had no idea the influence that teaching in the STEM fields would have on my life – as an educator, on my ability to inspire my students to develop a love of science and most importantly, to introduce my students to and engage them in engineering.
As an inner-city high school science teacher from Chicago, I am always looking for new opportunities to involve my students in STEM learning. I am ecstatic this year because I have a team of high school students entered in NASA’s 19th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race.FULL STORY
Editor's note: David Frum, a CNN contributor, was a special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. He is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again."
Newt Gingrich has absorbed a fair degree of ridicule for his campaign proposal to build an American colony on the moon. Before focusing the laughter solely on Gingrich, however, let's recall that it is the declared policy of the U.S. government to return a human being to the moon by 2020, in preparation for sending a human astronaut to Mars. If Gingrich is wrong (and he is), he's not wrong alone.
As you read this, an international space station is orbiting Earth, staffed by a crew of six (currently, three Russians, two Americans and one astronaut from the European Union). Cost to date: $100 billion.
FULL STORY from CNN.com
CNN's John Zarrella shares his insights into what's going on with politics and the space program:
Newt Gingrich got a lot of mileage out of his comments on building a moon colony by 2020. Whether you think that should get him a one-way ticket to the moon on the first flight or you believe his vision is an inspiration, he did accomplish one big thing.
Gingrich got the conversation started. What kind of space program do we want? What kind can we afford? Had Gingrich not said what he said, the space program might have been totally ignored, as it has been so often in the past.
But it came up at the CNN debate Thursday night in Jacksonville. And it came up again Friday afternoon.
Eight former space executives threw their support behind Mitt Romney Friday, hoping to boost the candidate in a state with enormous stakes in America's space program.
In an open letter, the leaders said Romney was the candidate best positioned to reignite a program they said had languished under President Barack Obama.
In the first few weeks of 2012, we have certainly seen some strange occurrences throughout the U.S.: Snowmageddon and drenching rains for the Pacific Northwest, wildfires in Nevada and Texas, high temperatures across the central and Southern U.S. ranging between 15˚and 20˚F or more above normal, and snow amounts in Alaska as much as 160 inches above normal for this season.
All this makes me think Mother Nature is trying to take the "Extreme Weather of 2011" and rebrand it as the "Extreme Weather of 2012." Chicago saw one of the slowest starts to its snow season in the past 30 years, and the Northeast hasn’t really seen much snow at all, or even winter weather for that matter.
What in the world could be contributing to this unusually mild winter? There may be a few factors we have to consider: La Nina and the Arctic Oscillation.
First, let’s talk about the effects of La Nina, which NASA so affectionately referred to as “the diva of drought.” On January 18, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory released sea surface height and temperature data collected from their Jason-1 and -2 satellites. These are altimetric satellites, meaning they can detect sea-level heights and thus determine the temperatures of the water. How can sea surface heights tell us what the water temperatures are? Think about how air expands when it heats up. Water does the same thing, so when these satellites see higher sea levels, it means those waters are warmer.
"Strong winds polished the snow of southwestern Alaska and stretched marine stratocumulus clouds into long, parallel streets in early January, 2012. After crossing Bristol Bay, the winds scraped the clouds across the tall volcanic peaks of the Aleutian Islands. As the wind impacted the immobile mountains, the airflow became turbulent, swirling in symmetric eddies and carving intricate patterns into the clouds on the leeward side of the islands.
At the top of this image, the bright white color indicates a thick layer of snow overlying the land of southwestern Alaska. The pristine white is broken by the rugged Ahklun Mountain Range in the east, which is partially covered by a bank of clouds.
Off the coast of Alaska, sea ice floats in Bristol Bay, cracked and chipped by the flow of the waters which lie underneath. A few cloud streets – parallel lines of clouds – can be seen in the far northwest over land. The clouds increase over the sea ice and become thick over open water, where row upon row of clouds lie close in perfectly parallel formation.
The Aleutian Islands stretch from northeast to southwest across the image. Sea ice, which is bright white here, lies on the windward side of the islands. A few of the tallest volcanic peaks can be seen rising from the icy islands.
The character of the cloud streets change as they impact the Aleutians, especially near the center of the image, where two rows of beautifully symmetric swirls of eddies in the clouds stretch across the sky. These swirling formations are known as von Karman vortex streets. This true-color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on January 11, 2012."Source: NASA
Scientists' list of verified planets is now more than two dozen planets longer, thanks to NASA's Kepler space telescope team.
The Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 verified planets in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, NASA said Thursday.
This nearly triples the number of verified multiple-planet stars that the Kepler mission has discovered, now standing at 17. And it nearly doubles the number of verified planets it has discovered, which now is 61.
Before the Kepler satellite was launched in 2009, scientists knew about perhaps 500 planets outside our solar system "across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA.
"Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates," Hudgins said in a news release. "This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."
Researchers at Stanford University reported a breakthrough in X-ray laser technology in this week's Nature: a super-powerful free-electron X-ray laser that can be used to measure change in matter over tens of hundredths of a second, faster than they've ever been able to measure before.
X-ray lasers aren't a new thing. In fact, this laser is based on an existing X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford, which has been in operation for two years.
In order to produce this new X-ray laser, researchers focused the light from LCLS through neon gas, which produced a laser that's not quite as bright as the LCLS, but is also a single frequency, unlike the LCLS. What makes this particular laser special is that single frequency, as it makes the laser capable of much more precise measurements than the LCLS, over much shorter spans of time, says physicist Jon Marangos of London's Imperial College.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA personnel, and others, participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration."Source: NASA