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The world's finest educators supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning for pre-kindergarten to post-graduate students using real-world applications from satellites and satellite data.

To enhance the education environment to excite students about science, technology, engineering, and math through space-based technology -- satellites and satellite data.

Share your knowledge. It is the way to achieve immortality.

Dalai Lama XIV

Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.

Ursula K. Le Guin


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Association News

by Mark McKay, President, Satellite Educators Association

A Former President's Vision for Space Exploration

Hello all.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a wonderful holiday season. I am, even though I won’t be able to return to California this year as I have too much work to do here. This will be our last newsletter of the year. We look forward to having another edition ready and published early in the new year.

By now all of you have heard of the passing of former president George H.W. Bush, our 41st president, earlier this week. President Bush is known as the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI). Among other ideas, he started to lay the groundwork for our return to the moon, our exploration of Mars, and ultimate sending astronauts to Mars. He had a strong vision of man’s desire to explore and expand. His vision was bold, and it would require the development of new technologies which in the long run benefits all of society. Unfortunately, his vison and plan would not survive the budgetary priorities of future administrations and congress. It did, however, form a set of goals which future leaders, both in the United States and internationally, which has been used to further develop space programs. President Bush will indeed be missed.

How can we carry that vision into the future? One way is to join other teachers, members of the aerospace industry, and representatives from both NOAA and NASA at Satellites & Education Conference XXXII. Since this will be my last communication with until later winter, I implore you to mark your calendars now and make plans to attend the Conference at Cal State L.A. August 1-2, 2019. As always, we will have a great line up of speakers and presentations. Putting on a conference such as this involves a great deal of time and effort. Those involved find it is really forth it for our teachers and their students. When registration opens in April, register for the conference online and register early. You may also sign up to give a presentation. Doing so shares your expertise with your colleagues, which is invaluable. Or you can join the incredible and hardworking volunteer conference staff.

So, until early next year, I wish you and your families a safe, restful and fun Holiday season. We look forward to seeing you next year.

Until next time,
Mark McKay

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By Ron Gird, Outreach Program Director, National Weather Service (Ret.)

The Reality of Climate Change: Decide for Yourself

On Friday November 23, 2018, the Federal Government released a report on Climate Change. The report was work of 13 federal agencies. The link below will guide you to more detailed information on climate change. Please note this report was written by agencies directly involved with climate science/change activities. The report was not intended to be a political document. After reading the report or parts of it, you can then decide if you believe climate change is occurring and what is causing climate change. This is a very complicated issue and requires much discussion to reach a consensus.

"A new federal report finds that climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, and human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories." (NOAA)

New Federal Climate Assessment for U.S. Released

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

November 23, 2018

A new federal report finds that climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, and human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories.

Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), released today by the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), focuses on climate change impacts, risks and adaptations occurring in the U.S. The report contains supporting evidence from 16 national-level topic chapters (e.g., water, oceans, energy, and human health), 10 regional chapters and two chapters that focus on societal responses to climate change. USGCRP also released the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2).

NOAA is one of 13 federal agencies that contributed significantly to the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Key findings of the NCA4, Vol. II


Agriculture and food production


Water and the coasts


To see official report summaries and read/download full chapters as well as access much, much more background information, please visit the USGCRP website at

The article was prepared by Ron Gird using information from NOAA News at

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Next Generation STEM...Working Towards Meeting Our National Goals

By John D. Moore, Executive Director, Insitute for Earth Obervations at Palmyra Cove, New Jersey

I had the privilege of attending a recent presentation by Dr. Jeff Weld, Senior Policy Advisor in STEM Education for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The National STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, 2018-2023 is scheduled to be released by the White House on December 4th. As I reviewed a draft of the document, it became apparent that the Satellite Educators Association (SEA) and satellite and remote sensing community at large continue to address these goals and recommendations head on. Highlighted key topics are Career and Technical Education (CTE) and building America’s workplace readiness skills. Computer science and computational thinking are emphasized as well. Others topics include building diversity within the STEM workforce, and working towards a STEM literate society -- also referred to as "data literacy.” You may recall “Big Data,” a concept that has been under research for several years now. You may also recall that the geoscience and remote sensing community is one, if not the largest, generator of data. As part of that community, SEA has worked towards the goals of the new Strategic Plan for decades: the acquisition, analysis, and application of satellite and remote sensing imagery and data and their applications in the classroom.

I have previously written about the NSF IUSE grant, for which I am a Co-PI on with Rowan University, and the NASA CAN GLOBE Mission Earth Project. That project is the Acquire –Analyze-Apply (A3). An introduction to that work can be seen in an online webinar at: Side note: You can also learn about the new and exciting “Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research campaign” which works with the recently launched ICESat2.

I have previously made the case that GeoSTEM and BioMedical STEM are the only two true comprehensive integrated STEM strategies. In these two fields, the nature of the “S” is by definition comprehensive and interdisciplinary. The robust “T” utilized and/or required is equally impressive. The “E” that accompanies all of the “S” and “T” is cross-cutting through many fields of engineering. The “M?” Well, in my mind that speaks for itself. As a former Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, I would to suggest that a common question in math classes is “how are we ever going to use this stuff?” These two fields provide an exhaustive list of “how”.

What is interesting to me is that both the GeoSTEM and BioMedical STEM fields are comprised of “systems of systems”. These are the two core requirements of our existence, (1) the health and functioning of our bodies as the human race, and (2) the planet we live on. Of course we are all familiar with investigating the earth as a system and understanding the complex relationships between them on Planet Earth...i.e. how the planet actually functions, in a fluid and dynamic state, and if you have ever had the misfortune of being in a hospital emergency room … enough said.

Since GeoSTEM (and BioMedical STEM) are by their very nature extremely diverse, it attracts a diverse audience. Scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians -- I am sure you have encountered these types of people in your journey, and I think you will agree with me that they are very different from each other. It has been my experience that when you bring together a group of people or create a team to address projects, or problems, the end result is a natural diversity. I attribute this to the fact that the problems and issues that must be addressed in both GeoSTEM and BioMedical STEM are often extremely complex.

Think about the history of the Satellites & Education Conference. Thirty-two years ago a diverse group of educators who were building satellite antennas for their classrooms, gathering data and imagery, and then applying it to their studies, came together in West Chester, Pennsylvania -- sounds like STEM to me, not to mention innovation. As Hal Walker told us at a past SEA conference, “we went to the moon with a stick (slide rule)”, the early adapters of using satellites in education developed instruments with little or no instruction, no internet and for the most part, extremely primitive computers by today’s standards. With a history like that, I am confident that we can lead the way in next generation of STEM Education.

It is my sincere wish that each of you have a blessed holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year…2019, wow, can you believe it!!

Foir now, I'm John...and this is my journey.

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Out 2 Lunch with ESIP

If you mised the Fall 2018 Out 2 Lunch with ESIP sessions, it's not too late to see them online.

The Satellite Educators Association is a member of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and includes ESIP as one of its Partners in Education.

The Education Committee of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) designed a series of 10 minute, informative webinars presented on Wednesdays at noon (CST). Each session demonstrates a cool Earth Science data tool or resource presented by an experienced expert. Each is followed by a 5 minute Q & A.

The following list of webinars were presented on the Fall 2018 schedule. Each was recorded for later viewing at

Check the Out 2 Lunch website often for future webinars and directions for joining the webinar in real-time.

Previous Webinars Also Available On-Demand

If you missed an Out 2 Lunch session, most are recorded, posted, and available for later viewing at You are invited tro explore the many topics available.

Share a Resource or Tool

If you have a resource or tool you would like to share in a future webinar, contact Margaret Mooney at

More information about the Out 2 Lunch series, please visit

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Edward Gonzales: What I Do as a NASA Engineer

From Career Spotlight, an interview series on Lifehacker that focuses on regular people and the jobs you might not hear much about--from doctors to plumbers to aerospace engineers and everything in between.

By Andy Orin

July 28, 2015

Mars rover Curiosity
Source: NASA

Space exploration, whether it be through telescopes watching the skies or probes sent to far away planets, is the culmination of thousands of people’s work, collaborating together to solve the innumerable problems that arise when you try to reach beyond what seems possible.

Being that there are so many aspects to the work, describing someone as a “NASA engineer” could mean a thousand different things of course. In this case, we had a chance to speak with Edward Gonzales, an electromagnetic compatibility engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Edward spoke with us about his experiences, his work, and how he ended up at NASA.

Tell us about your current position, and how long you’ve been at it.

My name is Edward Gonzales, and I’m an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. I’ve been here for a little less than a year, but in that short time I’ve had the chance to get my hands on a lot of amazing projects: electronics that will be on Hubble’s successor the James Webb Space Telescope, instruments on the Mars 2020 rover, the “flying saucer” LDSD, and earth observatories like Grace Follow-On and SWOT.

As an EMC engineer, my job is to make sure that all the electronics on a spacecraft don’t interfere with each other. We can see the effects of EMC in our daily lives when you turn on the blender and the lights dim or when your cell phone buzzes in your speakers just before getting a call. On a spacecraft, that kind of interference can mess with operations and scientific data, and in the worst cases it can be mission-ending! My job is to minimize the effect of interference by analyzing the electromagnetic environment (usually by hand calculation or computer simulation), writing requirements around that environment, ensuring appropriate spacecraft and component design based on those requirements, and ultimately making sure the whole thing works.

What drove you to choose your career path?

I actually wasn’t set on pursuing any kind of engineering until late in high school, and even then only begrudgingly. I played a lot of guitar in high school so I wanted to go to college for music recording, but the little voice in the back of my head wanted to make sure I got a job after graduating. I had heard a lot of music engineers were electrical engineers, so I chose that and figured I could minor in music recording. As I went through the degree, I started to love the beautiful math and physics that tied our thoughts to a quantifiable reality. Music recording became more of a hobby, and I ended up minoring in Philosophy instead.

After I graduated from college, the semiconductor company I had interned with in previous summers hired me full-time as a reliability engineer. Part of my degree was focused on semiconductor physics, so it was a great learning experience for the first few years. In three-and-a-half years there, I got lots of experience designing tests, writing requirements, and managing projects, teams, and budgets.

I eventually wanted to try something different and outside of the corporate world. To me, space exploration has always been one of the most beautiful expressions of human ambition. I remember watching videos of JPL’s Curiosity rover landing on Mars in 2012 and getting a little misty-eyed, so JPL came to mind first when I started my job search. I had taken lots of electromagnetics classes in college and thought that the EMC position would be a good fit when it came up. I didn’t know a whole lot about the specifics of working in EMC when I applied, but it sounded cool.

How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?

The odds of getting a job by applying through an official website are usually considered low, but that’s exactly what I did. I found the listing for an EMC engineer and applied through JPL’s career page. I found out later that my resume stuck out partly because of my work experience, but mostly because of the classes I took in college.

I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering (with an emphasis in electrophysics) in a five-year program at the University of Southern California. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification for engineering positions at JPL, and I would say a master’s degree is generally preferred. For many specialized positions, a PhD can be required (especially for science positions). In my case, I felt that the bachelor’s degree was the foundation for what I really wanted to learn in my master’s, and the master’s prepared me for the engineering rigor needed to hit the ground running.

While some people like to say (almost proudly) that you never use what you learn in school, it has been the complete opposite in my case. Everything from simple geometry (“soh-cah-toa” comes in handy more than you’d think) to Fourier Transforms of linear chirp functions, I’ve gone back to my class notes more times than I can count. It’s refreshing to see that all those decades of school and tuition money get put to good use!

That said, I would say that having a flexible mind and genuine curiosity for new things are among the most important traits for engineers at NASA. Each project has its own challenges, and a previous solution to a problem may not work (read: will not work) on the next one. Being willing to reach back into your high school math classes while also learning about Martian geology or superconductor magnetic flux-pinning helps to understand and ultimately solve those problems.

What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?

While I don’t spend the majority of my time doing any one thing, I do spend a quite a bit writing/reviewing procedures and reports, along with attending any associated meetings. Good documentation and information sharing is critical to avoid making the same mistake twice, duplicating work already done, and giving/receiving credit for work well-done.

What misconceptions do people often have about your job?

A previous Career Spotlight about aerospace engineering summed it up pretty well: people tend to believe engineers are smart people that spend most of their time in solitude. In reality, I frequently work with other engineers and managers to exchange information and make decisions about spacecraft requirements. Even when I work in lab, it’s almost always with a diverse group of engineers. It takes a collaborative effort to build and test a spacecraft successfully, on-schedule, and on-budget. Also, while many engineers at NASA are “smart,” a better description would be that they are very passionate people that happen to be interested in engineering and space. I think that tends to equate to “nerdy” for many in our culture, which is unfortunate because it can turn a lot of people off to a career path that they might otherwise find fascinating.

On that note, another misconception is that we’re all like characters in The Big Bang Theory. I’m not a huge fan of the the show for that reason...

Also on that train of thought, how do people usually react when they hear you work for NASA?

“Hey you’re pretty normal and not like the guys in Big Bang Theory!” At least as often though, people tend to be very excited to hear that I work for NASA and want to know about what the next big thing in space exploration will be. I’m an optimist, so I kind of take that to be a general excitement for what humanity is working towards.

What are your average work hours?

My schedule is flexible, but I’ve settled on being in the office from 8am to 5:30/6pm most days. If I have deadlines, an early call with international partners, or “flight hardware” qualification (testing the stuff that will actually fly on a mission), the hours can be longer, but it’s usually reasonable. People are pretty good about not sending too many emails after-hours, so I don’t usually have surprises in the morning.

I can’t speak for all NASA centers since JPL is managed by Caltech, but we also use the 9/80 work schedule: for any given two weeks, you work eight 9-hour days (lunch excluded), one 8-hour day (a Friday), and get every other Friday off. It’s pretty sweet.

What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?

For quick requests and clarifications, a call is usually better than email. I’ve found that dropping by somebody’s office works as well but it’s easy to get caught in long side conversations. Not that I don’t like chatting, but sometimes you just need to get things done!

Also, a little written planning goes a long way. It’s easy to want to skip drawing a simple diagram of what you’re going to set-up, what equipment or people it will take, when you’re going to do it, etc. When you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you’d be surprised at how many little things you’ll forget. Not that you won’t forget things if you plan ahead, but at least you’ve thought about most of it ahead of time.

What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession? What do they do instead?

When it comes to providing data to managers and vested engineering teams some engineers prefer to prepare a data package for their managers to present, but I prefer to present my own material whenever appropriate. After presenting regularly to VPs and SVPs in stressful situations at my previous job, I’ve gotten comfortable with presenting regardless of who is in the room.

What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?

I’ve noticed a bit more bureaucracy here than at my previous job. There’s a lot of paperwork leading up-to and out-of formal qualification tests, and most things are under change management. It can be time-consuming, but I understand the need to document everything considering the complexity of even smaller space programs. On the flip side, there is an attitude at JPL that if you have a crazy idea and need to do more-informal tests for it, people are pretty supportive. On balance, it’s a pretty good trade-off.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?

No two days are alike. An abbreviated list of things I might do (and have done) in a given week could be: work on a magnetic simulation of a spacecraft, build and test a prototype to validate the simulation, present the results to systems engineers, write reports, plan out a completely unrelated test on the rover testbed in JPL’s MarsYard, and help develop requirements for Mars 2020.

The people here are amazing. I’ve never seen so many people excited about what they do and eager to share what they are working on. Some of the people here are world-experts on things like planetary science or landing 1-ton objects on Mars, but you wouldn’t know it when you bumped into them in the cafeteria.

The biggest perk for me is the immense satisfaction that comes from knowing that what we do is in service not just to the nation but to humanity. Some of the spacecraft I work on will look back at Earth so that we can have the data to protect it through better legislation, business, and personal choices. Some spacecraft will explore other planets and celestial bodies so that we might know more about the context of our existence. The impact of projects at NASA and JPL is unparalleled, and I’m excited that I get to play even a small role in that.

What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?

The average starting salary for a person with a master’s in electrical engineering working in the tech industry in Southern California is about $75k - $85k. With good work performance, salary can get in the range of $90k - $100 within 3-5 years. It can be more if you hop between jobs or work somewhere like Silicon Valley.

How do you “move up” in your field?

In general there are at least two paths: management or technical expertise. Engineers and scientists hold the majority of management roles here. They range from line management that takes care of overseeing engineers of a certain type (ex: “EMC engineering”), to product delivery management that oversees the engineering of whole subsystems and instruments for a project (ex: “Europa magnetometer”), to project management that leads teams of all different stripes through the life-cycle of a specific project (ex: “Europa Clipper”). Having just started I can’t speak specifically as to how they get there. But besides the typical manager-y traits like “working well with people” and “seeing the big picture,” I do notice that most managers have a good understanding of space program development and a very broad understanding of diverse science/engineering concepts.

That said, if you really enjoy doing detailed engineering work, that’s a viable career path as well. My mentor at JPL stayed in the same line of work for 52 years (!!!) until he retired this year. He worked on everything from the Voyagers to the soon-to-be-launched InSight lander. Along the way he literally wrote the textbook on certain EMC topics and many other NASA technical handbooks that are still in wide distribution today. He was asked at some point to go into management, but after trying it out for a while he realized he didn’t like it and went back to doing technical work.

What do people under/over value about what you do?

If we do our job right, the spacecraft will work exactly as planned. Engineers know the consequences when EMC goes wrong (it’s usually pretty dire), but if everything goes right it’s the culmination of numerous engineering judgments, some of which are EMC-related. As a result, it can seem a little thankless, but mission success is pretty satisfying all its own.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?

If math, science and engineering sound interesting, then don’t let anyone or anything convince you that you’re not the right type for it because of your “intelligence,” socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or gender. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it (especially math, since it underpins almost everything).

I believe many more people are capable of pursuing STEM fields than they realize. Persistence is often mistaken for pure intelligence, and it’s unfortunate (if not tragic) that the two get confused so often. The reward is there if you stick with it; there’s obviously a financial reward, but more importantly, these fields are beautiful in a way not unlike art and music. There’s something inexplicably satisfying that comes with taking a mere idea, manipulating it in a way that preserves the truth of that idea (“math”) but also reveals a nugget of insight about the world, then turning that insight into reality.

I don’t think STEM is for everyone, but there could be more creative engineers and scientists than there are, and it would be a shame if those possibilities were ruled out and for the wrong reasons.

See this and other Career Spotlights on Lifehacker at

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Destructive 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Draws to an End

NOAA services before, during, after storms saved lives and aided recovery

From NOAA Ocean Service

November 28, 2018

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially concludes on November 30, and will be remembered most for hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused significant damage in the southeastern U.S. In total, the season produced 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes of which two were “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

“From the start of the 2018 hurricane season to its conclusion, NOAA and its dedicated staff of scientists, researchers, and forecasters have remained on the frontlines, saving countless American lives with critical and accurate data,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Time and again NOAA and NOAA resources have proven their value to the American people during the most urgent of circumstances.”

Storm-by-storm forecasts from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center were aided by the high-resolution imagery from NOAA’s new GOES-East satellite (GOES-16), and the American Global Forecast System (GFS) model, which produced accurate forecasts of landfall location and timing for both hurricane Florence and Michael. NOAA’s hurricane hunter aircraft flew more than 580 hours this season and provided valuable data in support of forecasting, research and emergency response.

2018 Atlantic hurricane season as seen from NOAA’s GOES-East (GOES-16) satellite.

“This season packed a strong punch, but its impacts could have been far worse had it not been for the services NOAA provided alongside our emergency management partners and the preparedness activities taken by individuals,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., NOAA assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction.

Strong coordination between the National Hurricane Center, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center and local weather and river forecast offices assisted decision-making among emergency managers at federal, state and local levels. Where needed, staffing surges allowed forecast offices to provide enhanced information to decision-makers, improving the local ability to carry out timely evacuations, close roads and protect vulnerable infrastructure without compromising forecast operations.

This season, NOAA and the U.S. Navy launched the most unmanned ocean gliders ever used in support of Atlantic hurricane forecasts. These gliders collected more than 40,000 temperature and salinity profiles that were fed into operational and experimental hurricane forecast models. NOAA scientists also flew an unmanned aircraft into the eyewall of Hurricane Michael and transmitted data to help researchers better understand this turbulent part of the storm to improve future hurricane prediction.

Additionally, NOAA's National Ocean Service provided water level forecasts and monitoring for areas in the path of the storm, supported the U.S. Coast Guard to reopen the nation's ports, helped to identify and safely remove pollutants from abandoned vessels, and collected aerial imagery to assess damage from the storm in order to speed recovery and response efforts.

A graphic showing 2018 Atlantic tropical cyclone names selected by the World Meteorological Organization. This year, there were 15 named storms, ending with Oscar.
Download Image

For the fourth consecutive year, hurricane activity began prior to the official June 1st start of the season, with Tropical Storm Alberto forming on May 25. Alberto made landfall in northern Florida and traveled as far north as the Great Lakes as a tropical depression.

A record seven named storms (Alberto, Beryl, Debby, Ernesto, Joyce, Leslie and Oscar) were classified as subtropical at some point. The previous record of five subtropical storms occurred in 1969. A subtropical storm is a named storm that has tropical and non-tropical characteristics. All subtropical storms this season eventually transitioned into a tropical storm, with three (Beryl, Leslie and Oscar) eventually becoming hurricanes.

The 2018 hurricane season was the first since 2008 to have four named storms active at the same time (Florence, Helene, Isaac and Joyce). Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding in portions of North and South Carolina. Several river forecast locations in the Carolinas approached or broke their record flood level in the days and weeks following the hurricane. It took two to three weeks for many river locations to fall below flood stage, and the final river crested one month after Florence made landfall.

OMAO Video of Hurricane Hunter airplane entering the eyewall of Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael, at a Category 4 intensity, was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the Florida panhandle. It was the third-most-intense hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. on record in terms of central pressure (919 mb) and the fourth-strongest in terms of maximum sustained winds (155 mph).

“The 2018 season fell within NOAA’s predicted ranges in our pre-season outlook issued in late May. However, the overall season was more active than predicted in the updated outlook issued in early August,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, a stronger west-African monsoon and the fact that El Nino did not form in time to suppress the season helped to enhance storm development.”

With lessons learned from the 2018 hurricane season still fresh in memory, now is the time to make note of ways to improve family hurricane plans for next year. The 2019 hurricane season will officially begin on June 1 and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will provide its initial seasonal outlook in May.

Read the original article at

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GOES-17 Drifts to New Operational Position

October 22, 2018 (adapted November 28, 2018)

NOAA’s GOES-17 satellite moved to its new vantage point at 137.2 degrees west longitude, allowing us to see the weather at high resolution in the western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii, and much of the Pacific Ocean.

On a warm, sunny evening in Cape Canaveral, Florida, NOAA launched its newest geostationary satellite, GOES-S, into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Eleven days after the March 1, 2018 launch, GOES-S reached its geostationary orbit 22,240 miles from Earth and officially became GOES-17.

For the past seven months, the satellite has been in a temporary position – at 89.5 degrees west longitude – known as its on-orbit checkout location. Since then, scientists have been testing and calibrating GOES-17’s instruments so it is ready for “prime time” when the satellite becomes operational.

But before that could happen, GOES-17 first had to move to its new orbital position over Earth’s equator at 137.2 degrees west longitude. This relocation process, known as “drift,” will take about three weeks to complete.

What happens during drift?

On October 24, at 1:40 p.m. EDT, GOES-17 began moving westward – at a rate of 2.5 degrees longitude per day – until it reached its new position on November 13.

During the drift period, five of GOES-17's instruments (ABI, GLM, SUVI, SEISS and EXIS) did not collect or send us any data. These are the high-tech sensors we use to see clouds at high resolution, map lightning flashes, or monitor solar flares from space. Other features, including the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system were also disabled.

How exactly do these satellites physically get moved from point A to point B thousands of miles above Earth?

NOAA's Office of Satellite Product and Operations team can plan all of these maneuvers using navigation software. For a satellite to change its orbital position, it follows a series of commands uploaded by the operations team to the spacecraft's memory. The mission operations center validates and rehearses these maneuver sequences on the ground using a satellite simulator.

Normally, satellites maintain the same distance from Earth while operational and transmitting data. During drift, however, GOES-17's altitude was actually raised slightly (by about 125 miles). This maneuver helped nudge the satellite to begin moving into its new orbital position. After GOES-17 finished drifting, NOAA's mission operations team lowered the satellite back to its normal operating altitude. This raising and lowering process is used any time a geosynchronous satellite needs to change orbital positions.

During drift, five of GOES-17’s instruments (ABI, GLM, SUVI, EXIS, and SEISS) will stop transmitting data.

When GOES-17 reached 137.2 degrees west on November 13, the satellite’s instruments were not turned on right away. First, a team of scientists had to calibrate the instruments to ensure everything is working properly. If everything checks out, the transmitters on-board the spacecraft will be turned back on.

The next big milestone came November 15, 2018. That’s when GOES-17 will started sending imagery and data via the GOES Rebroadcast System, and we’ll started seeing the first views of Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean from GOES-17’s new orbital position. It was an exciting day for all of us satellite enthusiasts, but the satellite wasn't officially operational just yet. First, GOES-17 will undergo three more weeks of testing to make sure it’s ready for “prime time.” If everything is working properly, GOES-17 will go into operations as NOAA’s GOES West satellite on December 10, 2018.

GOES-17 will considerably improve weather forecasting capabilities across the western United States, particularly in Alaska. “With GOES-17, we will have unprecedented coverage of Alaska from geostationary orbit. The GOES-17 imager has four times the resolution of the previous GOES imager, which will make a substantial difference in northern latitudes,” said Dan Lindsey, senior scientific advisor to the GOES-R Series Program. “GOES-17 is going to provide significant benefit for monitoring hazards often experienced in Alaska such as wildfires, volcanic ash, snow and sea ice.”

This maps shows the geographical coverage area of the GOES East and West satellites.

As the sister satellite to GOES-16, located in the GOES East position, GOES-17 will extend high-resolution satellite coverage from the west coast of Africa across much of the Pacific Ocean.

The GOES-15 drift

Shortly after GOES-17 started to drift, NOAA’s current GOES West satellite, GOES-15, also moved to a new orbital home in order to “make room” for the newcomer. GOES-15 has been keeping watch over the Western U.S. and the Pacific Ocean from 135 degrees west longitude. On October 29, GOES-15 started its own orbital relocation. This was a delay from October 23 due to a National Weather Service Critical Weather Day declaration. A Critical Weather Day is triggered by significant weather or events affecting the United States or its inhabited territories.

While GOES-17 moved west, GOES-15 moved east at a rate of 0.88 degrees longitude per day until it reached its new orbital position at 128 degrees west.

Because it won’t need to move as far as GOES-17, the GOES-15 drift only took nine days to complete. The latter satellite reached its new orbital position on November 7. Unlike GOES-17, all of GOES-15’s instruments will remain on during the drift, and the satellite will continue to capture and send data back to Earth.

Tandem operations

Although GOES-15 will hand its “GOES West” title to GOES-17 in mid-December 2018, the former satellite won’t fade into sunset right away. Due to the technical issues with GOES-17’s Advanced Baseline Imager (or ABI, the satellite’s primary instrument), NOAA plans to operate GOES-15 and GOES-17 in tandem for at least six months. This will allow scientists to see how well GOES-17 is working as the new GOES West operational satellite.

GOES-17’s Advanced Baseline Imager captured this view of Earth’s Western Hemisphere from its checkout position (89.5°W) at 12:00 p.m. EDT, May 20, 2018.

While GOES-17 will experience data outages from some of its infrared channels overnight during the warmest parts of the year (before and after the vernal and autumnal equinox, when the instrument absorbs the highest amount of solar radiation), a team of experts has made excellent progress optimizing the performance of the instrument through operational changes.

“The GOES-17 ABI is now projected to deliver more than 97 percent of the data it was designed to provide, a remarkable recovery,” said Pam Sullivan, System Program Director for the GOES-R Series Program. “We are confident the GOES constellation will continue to meet the needs of forecasters across the country.”

Looking ahead, NOAA is also implementing changes to the ABI on its future geostationary satellites, GOES-T and GOES-U, to reduce the risk of cooling system anomalies that were seen in GOES-17. The instrument radiator is being redesigned to improve its reliability. Due to this redesign, the planned launch of GOES-T in mid-2020 will be delayed. Once the new ABI radiator design is approved, NOAA will determine a new launch readiness date.

But before then, atmospheric scientists and weather enthusiasts can look forward to GOES-17’s next-generation imagery of developing storms, wildfires, and other environmental phenomena in Alaska, Hawaii, and much of the Pacific Ocean extending all the way to New Zealand. We started seeing these views shortly after GOES-17 completed the journey to its new orbital position at 137.2 degrees west – the future home of NOAA’s new GOES West satellite.

Looking for more details about the GOES-17 drift? Find them here.

Visit NOAA News & Articles at for the original story and interesting, informative links.

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Here’s How Satellite Data Helps Forecasters Issue Snow Squall Alerts

November 5, 2018

If you have a smartphone, you’ve likely received a severe weather alert warning of an impending flash flooding event, a tornado or a dangerous thunderstorm, and that’s in part thanks to information provided by the National Weather Service (NWS). Up until this year, however, the NWS didn’t have an alert system in place for a form of severe winter weather that is known to cause multi-car pile ups: snow squalls.

Snow squalls pose serious threats to personal safety and property, and produce costly transportation disruptions due to multi-vehicle pileups. Remember: There is no safe place on a highway when snow squalls are approaching.

On Nov. 1, 2018, the NWS expanded its winter weather warning program to include snow squalls. Snow squall alerts were primarily tested in the Northeast last year, but now any NWS office can issue alerts when conditions warrant.

What is a snow squall?

Snow squalls are short-lived bursts of heavy snowfall that result in the rapid onset of near-zero visibilities and are often accompanied by gusty winds, according to the NWS.

Randy Graham, the regional science officer at the NWS’s Central Region Headquarters, explained that snow squalls are different from a typical winter storm.

For instance, Graham noted that snow squalls typically last 30-60 minutes in one location, but winter snowstorms can last hours or even days.

The following are two conditions in which the NWS will issue snow squall warnings:

  1. When visibilities are at a quarter-mile or less of falling snow with gusty winds and sub-freezing road temperatures
  2. When temperatures drop behind a cold front and produce gusty winds that blow snow off the ground

How do satellites play a role in issuing snow squall warnings?

While recent improvements in doppler radar, increased supercomputing capacity, and more detailed weather models have contributed to making these snow squall warnings possible, Graham said satellite data offer some things that radar can’t.

In this NOAA-20 imagery from Jan. 18, 2016 (left) and Jan. 19, 2016 (right), you can see lake effect snow bands moving off the southern edge of Lake Ontario and blowing eastward into New York.

For example, radar beams are sometimes blocked by terrain or only catch a portion of a snow squall. Graham said that can sometimes make a snow squall appear less intense.

With satellite data, NWS forecasters can quickly identify rapidly cooling cloud tops within a snow squall, which Graham said indicates that it’s intensifying.

“You can really see the evolution of the event and see where the cloud tops are cooling,” Graham said, adding that imagery of that nature can help forecasters make a warning decision.

This infrared satellite imagery from GOES East, shows the cloud top temperatures. The cool colors indicate colder cloud tops and highlight areas where snow squalls would be more intense.

NWS forecasters can also use GOES East mesoscale sectors, which provide updated satellite imagery every minute, to monitor areas where there’s a chance snow squalls could occur in a given day.

Overall, Graham said satellite data “definitely plays a critical role in the snow squall warning program.”

What the new warnings tell you

Snow squalls move quickly, so the NWS wouldn’t issue a traditional winter storm warning or a winter weather advisory. Until recently, Graham said snow squalls were “a problem that wasn’t very well covered by any of our [the NWS’s] traditional warning products.”

These new snow squalls warnings fall into a category similar to severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings because they’re short-duration warnings.

This is an example of a social media graphic the National Weather Service would share when a snow squall warning is issued.

The new snow squall warnings, Graham explained, are meant to give anyone, but especially drivers, potentially life-saving information if they could be traveling into one of these “short-term blizzard situations.”

When an alert is issued, Graham recommends that those driving on an impacted interstate or highway slow down and turn on their headlights. Ideally, a driver should pull over and wait until the snow squall passes.

“There’s no safe way to go through these because the visibilities are near-zero and if there’s an accident there, you’re not going to see it until it’s too late,” Graham added.

The hope is that these warnings will deter people from driving in snow squall conditions, and thus prevent big chain reaction crashes from happening.

See the entire article at

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InSight Lands on Mars

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

November 26, 2018

Animation of InSight's Landing on Mars: InSight is the first mission dedicated to studying the deep interior of Mars
Full caption

Mars Landing

InSight touched down on Mars at 11:52:59 a.m. PT (2:52:59 p.m. ET) on Nov. 26, 2018. The lander plunged through the thin Martian atmosphere, heatshield first, and used a parachute to slow down. It fired its retro rockets to slowly descend to the surface of Mars, and land on the smooth plains of Elysium Planitia.

Entry, Descent, and Landing

InSight's entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase began when the spacecraft reached the Martian atmosphere, about 80 miles (about 128 kilometers) above the surface, and ended with the lander safe and sound on the surface of Mars six minutes later.

For InSight, this phase included a combination of technologies inherited from past NASA Mars missions such as NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander. This landing system weighed less than the airbags used for the twin rovers or the skycrane used by the Mars Science Laboratory. The lean landing hardware helped InSight place a higher ratio of science instruments to total launch mass on the surface of Mars.

Compared with Phoenix, though, InSight's landing presented four added challenges:

Some of the changes in InSight's entry, descent and landing system, compared to the one used by Phoenix, are:

The entry, descent and landing sequence breaks down into three parts:

Why is InSight Landing at Elysium Planitia?

InSight's goal is to study the interior of Mars and take the planet's vital signs, its pulse, and temperature. To look deep into Mars, the lander must be at a place where it can stay still and quiet for its entire mission. That's why scientists chose Elysium Planitia as InSight's home.

Read more about InSight’s landing site, Elysium Planitia.

Watch Recap Post-landing News Briefing

InSight is Catching Rays on Mars

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera's transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera's lens. This image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Raw Image and Caption

NASA's InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight's landing site.

"The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries," said Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission. "It's been a long day for the team. But tomorrow begins an exciting new chapter for InSight: surface operations and the beginning of the instrument deployment phase."

InSight's twin solar arrays are each 7 feet (2.2 meters) wide; when they're open, the entire lander is about the size of a big 1960s convertible. Mars has weaker sunlight than Earth because it's much farther away from the Sun. But the lander doesn't need much to operate: The panels provide 600 to 700 watts on a clear day, enough to power a household blender and plenty to keep its instruments conducting science on the Red Planet. Even when dust covers the panels — what is likely to be a common occurrence on Mars — they should be able to provide at least 200 to 300 watts.

The panels are modeled on those used with NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, though InSight’s are slightly larger in order to provide more power output and to increase their structural strength. These changes were necessary to support operations for one full Mars year (two Earth years).

In the coming days, the mission team will unstow InSight's robotic arm and use the attached camera to snap photos of the ground so that engineers can decide where to place the spacecraft's scientific instruments. It will take two to three months before those instruments are fully deployed and sending back data.

In the meantime, InSight will use its weather sensors and magnetometer to take readings from its landing site at Elysium Planitia — its new home on Mars.

About InSight

JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the InSight spacecraft, including its cruise stage and lander, and supports spacecraft operations for the mission.

A number of European partners, including France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. CNES and IPGP provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Switzerland, Imperial College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and JPL. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument, with significant contributions from the Space Research Center (CBK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Astronika in Poland. Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) supplied the wind sensors.

For more information about InSight, visit:

Visit the NASA MARS InSight Mission site at to find many images and informative links about the MARS InSight from pre-launch to launch to cruise to approach, landing, and surface operations.

This article was adapted from

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NASA Hears MarCo CubeSats Loud and Clear from Mars

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took this image of Mars from about 4,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) away during its flyby of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018. MarCO-B was flying by Mars with its twin, MarCO-A, to attempt to serve as communications relays for NASA's InSight spacecraft as it landed on Mars.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Full image and caption

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California Wildfires and Satellite Remote-Sensing

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

An image of the Camp Fire on Nov. 8 from the Landsat 8 satellite.
Image credit: USGS/NASA/Joshua Stevens
Larger view

NASA's ARIA Maps California Wildfires from Space

November 12, 2018

The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created these Damage Proxy Maps (DPMs) depicting areas in California likely damaged by the Woolsey and Camp Fires.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Full image and caption

California continues to be plagued by wildfires - including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in Northern California, now one of the deadliest in the state's history. NASA satellites are observing these fires - and the damage they're leaving behind - from space.

The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, produced new damage maps using synthetic aperture radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites. The first map shows areas likely damaged by the Woolsey Fire as of Sunday, Nov. 11. It covers an area of about 50 miles by 25 miles (80 km by 40 km) - framed by the red polygon. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasing ground surface change, or damage.

Updated NASA Damage Map of Camp Fire from Space

By Carol Rasmussen

November 19, 2018

NASA's ARIA team produced this map of damage to Paradise, California, from the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the state's history.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Larger view

As firefighters continue to battle the destructive Camp Fire in Northern California, the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has produced a new map showing damage as of Nov. 16.

The map was developed using synthetic aperture radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites operated by the European Space Agency. The map covers an area of 48 miles by 48 miles (78 by 77 kilometers), outlined in red on left. A closeup view of damage to the town of Paradise is inset on right, outlined in white. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant changes in the ground surface.

The ARIA team creates its maps by comparing before-and-after satellite images of the fire region to see the extent of change between the two images. For this map, they compared the data for the image to a Cal Fire map for preliminary validation.

Although the maps may be less reliable over vegetated terrain, like forests, they can help officials and first responders identify heavily damaged areas and allocate resources as needed.

Sentinel-1 data were accessed through the Copernicus Open Access Hub. The image contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018), processed by ESA and analyzed by the NASA-JPL/Caltech ARIA team. This research was carried out at JPL and funded by NASA.

For more about ARIA, visit

More information about all of NAS's disaster-response efforts is available at and

See the original articles at and

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Camp Fire Adds Another Scar to 2018 Fire Season

From NASA Earth Observatory

By Kasha Patel

November 25, 2018
Credit: Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA ESODIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview

CThe 2018 fire season in California has been record-breaking. The Mendocino Complex in July was California’s largest fire by burned area on record, destroying nearly half a million acres. The Camp Fire in November was the deadliest and most destructive in state history, completely wiping out the town of Paradise.

The image above shows the charred land—known as a burn scar—from the Camp Fire, which has destroyed more than 18,000 structures and caused at least 85 deaths. The fire, which has burned more than 153,000 acres, is now fully contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on November 25, 2018.

November 25, 2018
Credit: Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA ESODIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview
Download image

The second image shows a wide view of Northern California, where burn scars from nine major 2018 fires are visible from space. The image was acquired by Terra MODIS on November 25, 2018.

“Every year, we keep hearing fires labeled as ‘the biggest’, ‘worst’, and ‘deadliest’,” said Amber Soja, a wildfire scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “We keep hearing that this is the ‘new normal.’ Hopefully it’s not true for long, but right now it is.”

California’s fire activity in 2018 is part of a longer trend of larger and more frequent fires in the western United States. Of the total area burned in the West since 1950, 61 percent of it has occurred in the past two decades, according to Keith Weber, GIS Director at Idaho State University and principal investigator of the NASA project RECOVER. “The 2018 fire year is going to fit right in to what's been going on the last decade or two. In fact, it might be a taller spike in the overall trend.”

High temperatures, low relative humidity, high wind speed, and scarce precipitation have increased dryness and made live and dead vegetation in western forests easier to burn. “Those fire conditions all fall under weather and climate,” said Soja. “The weather will change as Earth warms, and we’re seeing that happen.”

Soja also noted that California had a really wet winter in 2017, which helped build up grass and brush in rural and forested areas. The vegetation was an abundant fuel source as California headed into the 2018 dry season, which was exceptionally dry and lasted into late October.

As fires are becoming more numerous and frequent, NASA’s Disasters Program has been working with disaster managers to respond to the blazes. For California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, NASA scientists and satellite analysts have been producing maps and damage assessments of the burned areas, including identifying areas that will be more susceptible to landslides in the upcoming winter.

Find the original story plus references & resources links about California wildfires and climate (all current as of November 27, 2018) at

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NOAA GOES-17 Shares First Images of Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific

From NOAA NESDIS News & Articles

November 15, 2018

The GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) has sent its first images from the satellite's new vantage point over the Pacific Ocean.

The Hawaiian Islands, seen from GOES-17 at 6:30 a.m. EST, on Nov. 13, 2018.

NOAA's GOES-17 satellite has reached an exciting new milestone: On November 13, 2018, the satellite began transmitting its first high-definition images of Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Ocean. The new imagery became available shortly after GOES-17 finished moving to its new orbital position at 137.2 degrees west longitude, where it will become NOAA's operational GOES West satellite on December 10, 2018.

With GOES-17's coverage area now centered over the Pacific Ocean, we now have high-resolution geostationary satellite coverage of Alaska, Hawaii and much of the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.

Launched March 1, 2018 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, GOES-17 is the second in a series of NOAA's next-generation geostationary weather satellites. Like GOES-16, its sister satellite operating as GOES East, GOES-17 is designed to provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth from 22,300 miles above the equator.

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on-board GOES-17 is identical to the instrument on GOES-16. The GOES-17 ABI will offer the same high-resolution visible and infrared imagery in GeoColor and 16 different channels, allowing us to track and monitor cloud formation, atmospheric motion, convection, land surface temperatures, fire and smoke, volcanic ash, sea ice, and more.

GOES-17 will significantly enhance our ability to forecast the weather in the western United States, especially in Alaska and Hawaii. With its expanded satellite coverage at high latitudes, GOES-17 will provide a significantly clearer view of the state of Alaska, where it will improve our ability to track environmental conditions, such as sea ice, volcanic ash, snow cover and wildfires. GOES-17 will also provide more and better data over the northeastern Pacific Ocean, where many weather systems that affect the continental U.S. begin.

Now that GOES-17 is broadcasting data from its permanent home at 137.2 degrees West, look out for some spectacular new satellite imagery from the Last Frontier and the Aloha State. Here are the first stunning new images GOES-17 shared with us this week:

NOAA GOES-17 shares first view of Hawaii

GOES-17's Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) captured this GeoColor view of high-level clouds moving over low clouds above the Hawaiian Islands on Nov. 13, 2018. Convective clouds can be seen forming on the windward side of the mountain slopes of the islands.

GOES-17 captures Woolsey Fire in Southern California

This GOES-17 GeoColor imagery shows an area of clouds streaming over a thick plume of brown smoke from the Woolsey Fire in southern California, on Nov. 13, 2018.

GOES-17 shares first full-disk imagery from GOES West position

This GeoColor view of Earth, seen from more than 22,000 miles out in space, was captured by the GOES-17 ABI at 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 13, 2018.

GOES-17 captures infrared imagery of Alaska storm

This infrared imagery, from GOES-17's ABI Channel 13, shows a broad area of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska on Nov. 13, 2018.

GOES-17 sees southern Alaska

GOES-17 saw the snow-covered peaks of southern Alaska, in this Nov. 14, 2018 image, seen at 4 p.m. ET, from the satellite’s “red visible” channel (ABI Band 2).

GOES-17 shares first multi-channel imagery

This 16-panel image shows a snapshot of northeastern Pacific Ocean and western U.S. on Nov. 13, 2018, seen from the 16 channels on GOES-17's Advanced Baseline Imager. Clouds and atmospheric moisture can be seen stretching from the central Pacific toward the U.S. West Coast.

Credit: NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS)

Please note: All GOES-17 data is considered preliminary and non-operational until December 10, 2018.

See this and related articles at

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Kepler Telescope Bids 'Goodnight' with Final Commands

NASA's Kepler space telescope discovered thousands of planets outside our solar system, and revealed that our galaxy contains more planets than stars.
Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech

On the evening of Thursday, Nov. 15, NASA's Kepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The "goodnight" commands finalize the spacecraft's transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA's announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

Coincidentally, Kepler's "goodnight" falls on the same date as the 388-year anniversary of the death of its namesake, German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion and passed away on Nov. 15, 1630.

The Kepler space telescope has had a profound impact on our understanding of the number of worlds that exist beyond our solar system. Through its survey, we've discovered there are more planets than stars in our galaxy. As a farewell to the spacecraft, we asked some of people closest to Kepler to reflect on what Kepler has meant to them and its finding of "more planets than stars."

The final commands were sent over NASA's Deep Space Network from Kepler's operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. LASP runs the spacecraft's operations on behalf of NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado.

Kepler's team disabled the safety modes that could inadvertently turn systems back on, and severed communications by shutting down the transmitters. Because the spacecraft is slowly spinning, the Kepler team had to carefully time the commands so that instructions would reach the spacecraft during periods of viable communication. The team will monitor the spacecraft to ensure that the commands were successful. The spacecraft is now drifting in a safe orbit around the Sun, 94 million miles away from Earth.

The data Kepler collected over the course of more than nine years in operation will be mined for exciting discoveries for many years to come.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from LASP.

For the Kepler press kit, which includes multimedia, timelines and top science results, visit:

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

To read the original article with all associated links, please go to

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Marsbound Series--
Soda Straw Rocket

AIf gravity pulls everything on the Earth towards the center of the Earth, how do astronauts get to the International Space Station? How was the Hubble Space Telescope moved from the Earth’s surface to an orbit around the Earth? How did any of the Mars exploration robots get from Earth to Mars? The answer, of course, is rockets. Some sort of rocket propulsion has been known since 400 BCE when a Greek propelled a wooden bird along a string using steam. The first true rockets were developed by the Chinese and Mongols using tubes of gunpowder tied to arrows. In these rockets, the fuel was burning chemicals. The arrow’s straight shaft, pointed tip and fletching (the feathered “fins”) helped the rocket fly to its intended target. In this activity, learners will explore rocket stability and flight by constructing and flying small paper rockets for indoor use. Working individually and in teams, they will conduct an experiment, analyze the data, interpret the results, and then design new experiments based on results.

More Lessons from the Sky is pleased to spotlight the Soda-Straw Rocket activity, an existing lesson that contributes to our understanding of satellites and satellite technologies. The Soda-Straw Rocket activity was presented at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has been adapted and published by multiple authors.

Grade Level:5-8 (adaptable to other gradelevels)
Time Requirement:1 class period minimum
Relevant Disciplines:Physical Science, Engineering

If you are a teacher that used this lesson with students or just reviewed it, please share your impressions through out secure feedback form. Visit, and use the Feedback link.

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Share your satellite-based lesson ideas with the teaching comunity.

Send us a full lesson plan, or simply suggest a lesson idea. If you found the idea online, please share the source as well. The lesson can be about anything that helps connect learners with satellite-based technology - any grade level K-12 - any STEM subject area or geography.

"Satellite-technology" includes any part of the science, math, engineering, or technology of satellites, rockets, and remote sensing instruments as well as the use of any environmental satellite data to explore questions related to aspects of global change and local impacts in the long term, short term, and catastrophic time frames. Of special interest are lessons providing oppotunities for learners to inquire, experiment, and apply mathematics.

Perhaps you designed a lesson yourself - we will happily prepare it for future publication in More Lessons from the Sky and inclusion in the SEA Lesson Plan Library. Perhaps you found a worthy lesson plan published elsewhere - we can research it inclusion in a lesson plan spotlight. In either case, you will receive full credit for developing and/or brining theless to the attendtion of the teaching community. Don't forget to share your insights if you tried the lesson with students.

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