Monday, November 17, 2008

Aura Spies California Wildfires

Smoke from the recent outbreak of fires in Southern California can clearly be seen via NASA satellites. On the left, a red-green-blue (RGB) image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the smoke being blown to the west from the Los Angeles basin to the waters of the Pacific Ocean on November 16, 2008. On the right, measurements of the Aerosol Index taken by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) onboard NASA's Aura satellite are overlayed on top of the MODIS image. As can be seen in this image, the Aerosol Index, which measures the difference in the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light the atmosphere scatters back at given place and time to the amount of UV light that the atmosphere would scatter back if it were totally clear, can effectively detect smoke that is otherwise hard to detect via MODIS imagery as that smoke is transported over bright surfaces such as the low level marine stratocumulus clouds just off the coast. As a result, UV measurements from instruments such as OMI can be used to help detemine the effect such aerosols have on clouds.

MODIS image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response web site.
OMI AI image courtesy Colin Seftor, NASA Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Schools all over the world will wish NASA a happy birthday as part of an all-day virtual birthday party through NASA's Digital Learning Network on Thursday, Nov. 13.

The virtual party begins at 9 a.m. EST with live videoconferences occurring every hour on the hour until 6 p.m. Schools from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico City, India, Slovenia and New Zealand will participate in the live digital connection.

During each webcast, international schools will connect with a U.S. school and one of NASA's 10 field centers. Each Digital Learning Network site will host a 45-minute videoconference featuring a unique program in NASA's 50 years of discovery and exploration in science, aeronautics and space.

Webcast topics for NASA's 50th birthday party include (all times EST):

- Space shuttle, hosted at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m.

- Project Mercury, hosted at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at 10 a.m.

- The Viking Project, hosted at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., at 11 a.m.

- Hubble Space Telescope, hosted at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., at noon.

- Project Gemini, hosted at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston at 1 p.m.

- Stennis Space Center history, hosted at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi at 2 p.m.

- X-43, hosted at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., at 3 p.m.

- Icing Tunnel, hosted at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland at 4 p.m.

- Arc Jet Facility, hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., at 5 p.m.

- Phoenix Mars Lander, hosted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., at 6 p.m.

The birthday party is being held through a partnership among NASA, Discovery Education of Silver Spring, Md., the U.S. Distance Learning Association of Boston and Polycom of Pleasanton, Calif.

NASA's Digital Learning Network began in the spring of 2004 with three hub sites at Langley, Glenn and Johnson and now extends to all 10 field centers. Through interactive videoconferencing, the network allows the next generation of explorers to connect with scientists, engineers and researchers without leaving the classroom. The distance-learning events are designed to educate through demonstrations and live interactions with NASA experts.

To view the live webcasts on Nov. 13, visit:

For more information about NASA's education programs, visit: