NASA News: NASA, NOAA Data Show Significant Antarctic Ozone Hole Remains

WASHINGTON -- The Antarctic ozone hole, which yawns wide every
Southern Hemisphere spring, reached its annual peak on Sept. 12. It
stretched to 10.05 million square miles, the ninth largest ozone hole
on record. Above the South Pole, the ozone hole reached its deepest
point of the season on Oct. 9, tying this year for the 10th lowest in
this 26-year record.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
use balloon-borne instruments, ground-based instruments and
satellites to monitor the annual Antarctic ozone hole, global levels
of ozone in the stratosphere and the manmade chemicals that
contribute to ozone depletion.

"The colder than average temperatures in the stratosphere this year
caused a larger than average ozone hole," said Paul Newman, chief
scientist for atmospheres at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md. "Even though it was relatively large, the area of this
year's ozone hole was within the range we'd expect given the levels
of manmade ozone-depleting chemicals that continue to persist in the

The ozone layer helps protect the planet's surface from harmful
ultraviolet radiation. Ozone depletion results in more incoming
radiation that can hit the surface, elevating the risk of skin cancer
and other harmful effects.

"The manmade chemicals known to destroy ozone are slowly declining
because of international action, but there are still large amounts of
these chemicals doing damage," said James Butler, director of NOAA's
Global Monitoring Division in Boulder, Colo.

In the Antarctic spring (August and September) the sun begins rising
again after several months of darkness and polar-circling winds keep
cold air trapped above the continent. Sunlight-sparked reactions
involving ice clouds and manmade chemicals begin eating away at the
ozone. Most years, the conditions for ozone depletion ease before
early December when the seasonal hole closes.

Levels of most ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere have been
gradually declining as the result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an
international treaty to protect the ozone layer. That international
treaty caused the phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals, which had
been used widely in refrigeration, as solvents and in aerosol spray cans.

However, most of those chemicals remain in the atmosphere for decades.
Global atmospheric computer models predict that stratospheric ozone
could recover by midcentury, but the ozone hole in the Antarctic will
likely persist one to two decades longer, according to the latest
analysis in the 2010 Quadrennial Ozone Assessment issued by the World
Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme,
with co-authors from NASA and NOAA.

NASA currently measures ozone in the stratosphere with the
Dutch-Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument, or OMI, on board the Aura
satellite. OMI continues a NASA legacy of monitoring the ozone layer
from space that dates back to 1972 with launch of the Nimbus-4
satellite. The instrument measured the 2011 ozone hole at its deepest
at 95 Dobson units on Oct. 8 this year. This differs slightly from
NOAA's balloon-borne ozone observations from the South Pole (102
Dobson units) because OMI measures ozone across the entire Antarctic region.

That satellite-monitoring legacy will continue with the launch of
NASA's National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite
System Preparatory Project, known as NPP, on Oct. 28. The satellite
will carry a new ozone-monitoring instrument, the Ozone Mapping and
Profiler Suite. The instruments will provide more detailed daily,
global ozone measurements than ever before to continue observing the
ozone layer's gradual recovery.

It will take a few years of averaging yearly lows in Antarctic ozone
to discern evidence of recovery in ozone levels because seasonal
cycles and other variable natural factors -- from the temperature of
the atmosphere to the stability of atmospheric layers -- can make
ozone levels dip and soar from day to day and year to year.

NOAA has been tracking ozone depletion around the globe, including the
South Pole, from several perspectives. NOAA researchers have used
balloons to loft instruments 18 miles into the atmosphere for more
than 24 years to collect detailed profiles of ozone levels from the
surface up. NOAA also tracks ozone with ground-based instruments and
from space.

For the updates on the status of the Antarctic ozone layer, visit:


For more information on the Antarctic ozone hole, visit:



NASA Television to Air Next Space Station Crew Rotation

HOUSTON -- NASA Television will broadcast the launch of three new
International Space Station residents and the return of three crew
members in November.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Russian
Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin are scheduled
to launch aboard their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:14 p.m. CST on Nov. 13 (10:14 a.m.
local time on Nov. 14).

The new crew will receive a six-day handover from Expedition 29
Commander Mike Fossum of NASA and Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa
of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russian cosmonaut
Sergei Volkov. Expedition 30 begins when the current crew undocks.

Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov launched in June and are scheduled to
return to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft at 8:25 p.m. on
Nov. 21 (8:25 a.m. local time on Nov. 22).

NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and
European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are scheduled to launch
to the station in late December, when they will join Expedition 30 as
flight engineers.

NASA TV's scheduled coverage includes (all times Central):

Monday, Oct. 24
2 p.m. -- Video file of Soyuz TMA-22 crew news conference in Star
City, Russia, and visit to Red Square in Moscow

Monday, Oct. 31
11 a.m.-- Video file from Star City of crew departure for Baikonur,

Thursday, Nov. 10
11 a.m.-- Video file of crew activities in Baikonur

Friday, Nov. 11
11 a.m.-- Video file of rocket rollout to the launch pad in Baikonur

Saturday, Nov. 12
2 p.m.-- Video file of final prelaunch crew news conference and
Russian State Commission meeting in Baikonur

Sunday, Nov. 13
8:45 p.m.-- Video file feed of the crew prelaunch activities in
9:30 p.m.-- Launch coverage (launch scheduled for 10:14 p.m.),
including launch replays

Monday, Nov. 14
1 a.m. -- Video file of prelaunch, launch and postlaunch interviews

Tuesday, Nov. 15
11 p.m. -- Docking coverage (docking scheduled for 11:37 p.m.),
followed by the post-docking news conference from Mission Control in
Korolev, Russia
2:30 a.m. -- Hatch opening and welcoming ceremony (hatch opening
scheduled for 2:45 a.m.)
4:30 a.m. -- Video file of docking, hatch opening and welcoming

Monday, Nov. 21
8 a.m. -- Replay of change of command ceremony (occurs on Nov. 20)
1:15 p.m. -- Coverage of Soyuz TMA-02M farewells and hatch closure
(hatch closure scheduled for 1:45 p.m.)
4:30 p.m. -- Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 4:58 p.m.)
7 p.m. -- Deorbit burn (deorbit burn scheduled for 7:31 p.m.) and
landing (landing scheduled for 8:25 p.m.) coverage
11 p.m. -- Video file of landing and post-landing activities

Tuesday, Nov. 22
11 a.m. -- Video file of landing and post-landing activities including
interviews and return to Chkalovsky Airfield near Star City

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:


For more information about the International Space Station and its
crew, visit:



NASA Sets Media Opportunities for Undersea Mission (Update)

HOUSTON -- Journalists will have the opportunity to cover the 15th
NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, from up close
or afar. The mission was originally scheduled to start Oct. 17, but
tropical storm conditions in the area of the undersea laboratory
required a delay.

Journalists are invited to visit the Mobile Mission Control Center,
which supports the underwater crew of the NEEMO mission aboard the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Undersea
Laboratory. The laboratory is located in the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo. Arrangements for reporters to visit
the mobile control center must be made at least one day prior to the
visit by contacting NASA's Johnson Space Center Newsroom in Houston
on 281-483-5111.

On Oct. 24, the NEEMO crew will be available for satellite interviews
from 3 to 4 p.m. CDT. On Oct. 26, astronaut/aquanaut Shannon Walker
will conduct interviews during an underwater simulated spacewalk from
1 to 1:30 p.m. Other interview slots are available on a limited basis
with Walker, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takuya
Onishi, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and
Steven Squyres of Cornell University.

To participate in interview opportunities, reporters should contact
Lynnette Madison at lynnette.b.madison@nasa.gov, or the Johnson Space
Center Newsroom on 281-483-5111, no later than 5 p.m. Oct. 21.

The live satellite interviews will air on NASA's Live Interview Media
Outlet channel. The channel is a digital satellite C-band downlink by
uplink provider Americom. It is on satellite AMC3, transponder (9C,
located 87 degrees west, downlink frequency 3865.5 MHz based on a
standard C-band, horizontal downlink polarity. FEC is 3/4, data rate
is 6.0 Mbps, symbol rate is 4.3404 Msps, transmission DVB-S, 4:2:0.
The interviews also will be simulcast on NASA Television.

The 2011 NEEMO mission will be the first to simulate humans visiting
an asteroid. A six-member crew, led by Walker, will spend 13 days
beneath the surface in the Aquarius habitat, the world's only
underwater laboratory. They will test concepts and techniques for
asteroid exploration.

Other crew members include James Talacek and Nate Bender of the
University of North Carolina in Wilmington.

In addition, NASA astronauts Stan Love, Richard Arnold and Mike
Gernhardt will participate in the mission as pilots of the DeepWorker
submersible, a small submarine that will serve as an underwater
stand-in for the Space Exploration Vehicle, which may someday be used
to explore the surface of an asteroid.

For information about the NEEMO 15 mission, visit:


To follow the mission via Twitter, visit:


For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:



NASA Releases Visual Tour Of Earth's Fires

WASHINGTON -- NASA has released a series of new satellite data
visualizations that show tens of millions of fires detected worldwide
from space since 2002. The visualizations show fire observations made
by the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS,
instruments onboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.

NASA maintains a comprehensive research program using satellites,
aircraft and ground resources to observe and analyze fires around the
world. The research helps scientists understand how fire affects our
environment on local, regional and global scales.

"What you see here is a very good representation of the satellite data
scientists use to understand the global distribution of fires and to
determine where and how fire distribution is responding to climate
change and population growth," said Chris Justice of the University
of Maryland, College Park, a scientist who leads NASA's effort to use
MODIS data to study the world's fires.

One of the new visualizations takes viewers on a narrated global tour
of fires detected between July 2002 and July 2011. The fire data is
combined with satellite views of vegetation and snow cover to show
how fires relate to seasonal changes. The Terra and Aqua satellites
were launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

The tour begins by showing extensive grassland fires spreading across
interior Australia and the eucalyptus forests in the northwestern and
eastern part of the continent. The tour then shifts to Asia where
large numbers of agricultural fires are visible first in China in
June 2004, then across a huge swath of Europe and western Russia in
August. It then moves across India and Southeast Asia, through the
early part of 2005. The tour continues across Africa, South America,
and concludes in North America.

The global fire data show that Africa has more abundant burning than
any other continent. MODIS observations have shown that some 70
percent of the world's fires occur in Africa. During a fairly average
burning season from July through September 2006, the visualizations
show a huge outbreak of savanna fires in Central Africa driven mainly
by agricultural activities, but also driven by lightning strikes.

Fires are comparatively rare in North America, making up just 2
percent of the world's burned area each year. The fires that receive
the most attention in the United States -- the uncontrolled forest
fires in the West -- are less visible than the wave of agricultural
fires prominent in the Southeast and along the Mississippi River
Valley. Some of the large wildfires that ravaged Texas this year are
visible in the animation.

NASA maintains multiple satellite instruments capable of detecting
fires and supports a wide range of fire-related research. Such
efforts have yielded the most widely used data records of global fire
activity and burned area in the world. NASA-supported scientists use
the data to advance understanding about Earth's climate system,
ecosystem health, and the global carbon cycle.

NASA's Applied Sciences Program seeks out innovative and practical
benefits that result from studying fires. For example, the program
has found ways to integrate space-based wildfire observations into
air quality models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
that help protect public health.

NASA will extend the United States' capability to monitor and study
global fires from space with the launch this month of the National
Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory
Project, known as NPP. The satellite is the first mission designed to
collect data to increase our understanding of long-term climate
change and improve weather forecasts.

One of NPP's new, state-of-the-art science instruments will provide
scientists with data to extend the long-term global fires data
record. The satellite is targeted to launch from Vandenberg Air Force
Base in California on Oct. 28. The mission is managed by NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the Earth Science
Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in

MODIS data are processed by the MODIS Advanced Processing System at
Goddard. The algorithm and product validation is done by scientists
at the University of Maryland. The visualizations were created at
Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio. The fire, vegetation and
snow data all come from the MODIS instruments on Terra and Aqua.

To watch the global tour of the world's fires, visit:


For regular updates on fires and their effects worldwide, visit:



NASA's Spitzer Detects Comet Storm In Nearby Solar System

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected signs of icy
bodies raining down in an alien solar system. The downpour resembles
our own solar system several billion years ago during a period known
as the "Late Heavy Bombardment," which may have brought water and
other life-forming ingredients to Earth.

During this epoch, comets and other frosty objects flung from the
outer solar system pummeled the inner planets. The barrage scarred
our moon and produced large amounts of dust.

Now Spitzer has spotted a band of dust around a nearby bright star in
the northern sky called Eta Corvi that strongly matches the contents
of an obliterated giant comet. This dust is located close enough to
Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision
took place between a planet and one or more comets. The Eta Corvi
system is approximately one billion years old, which researchers
think is about the right age for such a hailstorm.

"We believe we have direct evidence for an ongoing Late Heavy
Bombardment in the nearby star system Eta Corvi, occurring about the
same time as in our solar system," said Carey Lisse, senior research
scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
in Laurel, Md., and lead author of a paper detailing the findings.
The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. Lisse
presented the results at the Signposts of Planets meeting at NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Oct. 19.

Astronomers used Spitzer's infrared detectors to analyze the light
coming from the dust around Eta Corvi. Certain chemical fingerprints
were observed, including water ice, organics, and rock, which
indicate a giant comet source.

The light signature emitted by the dust around Eta Corvi also
resembles the Almahata Sitta meteorite, which fell to Earth in
fragments across Sudan in 2008. The similarities between the
meteorite and the object obliterated in Eta Corvi imply a common
birthplace in their respective solar systems.

A second, more massive ring of colder dust located at the far edge of
the Eta Corvi system seems like the proper environment for a
reservoir of cometary bodies. This bright ring, discovered in 2005,
looms at about 150 times the distance from Eta Corvi as the Earth is
from the sun. Our solar system has a similar region, known as the
Kuiper Belt, where icy and rocky leftovers from planet formation
linger. The new Spitzer data suggest that the Almahata Sitta
meteorite may have originated in our own Kuiper Belt.

The Kuiper Belt was home to a vastly greater number of these frozen
bodies, collectively dubbed Kuiper Belt objects. About 4 billion
years ago, some 600 million years after our solar system formed,
scientists think the Kuiper Belt was disturbed by a migration of the
gas-giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. This jarring shift in the solar
system's gravitational balance scattered the icy bodies in the Kuiper
Belt, flinging the vast majority into interstellar space and
producing cold dust in the belt. Some Kuiper Belt objects, however,
were set on paths that crossed the orbits of the inner planets.

The resulting bombardment of comets lasted until 3.8 billion years
ago. After comets impacted the side of the moon that faces Earth,
magma seeped out of the lunar crust, eventually cooling into dark
"seas," or maria. When viewed against the lighter surrounding areas
of the lunar surface, those seas form the distinctive "Man in the
Moon" visage. Comets also struck Earth or incinerated in the
atmosphere, and are thought to have deposited water and carbon on our
planet. This period of impacts might have helped life form by
delivering its crucial ingredients.

"We think the Eta Corvi system should be studied in detail to learn
more about the rain of impacting comets and other objects that may
have started life on our own planet," Lisse said.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the
Spitzer mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in
Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science
Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech
manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Spitzer, visit:



Alabama Students To Chat With Space Station Commander

WASHINGTON -- Students gathered at Carver High School in Birmingham,
Ala., will speak with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum aboard the
International Space Station at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 21.
Media representatives are invited to attend.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama also will join the students. The
event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and include video of
Fossum. To attend the event, reporters must contact Allison Abney in
Sewell's office at 202-225-1710 or allison.abney@mail.house.gov by 3
p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Carver High School is located at 3900 24th
St. N. in Birmingham.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grades will ask Fossum questions
about life, work and research in space. They have been taking part in
a series of activities leading up to the event, which is focused on
science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This in-flight education downlink is one in a series with educational
organizations in the United States and abroad to improve STEM
teaching and learning. It is an integral component of NASA's Teaching
From Space education program, which promotes learning opportunities
and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique
environment of space and NASA's human spaceflight program.

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:


For information about NASA's education programs, visit:


For information about the International Space Station, visit:



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