Seattle-based Xplore has won a $670,111 award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to look into the feasibility of sending a solar observatory to a gravitational balance point that’s a million miles from Earth.
From that spot, known as the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange Point, Xplore’s multi-mission Xcraft probe would monitor the sun and provide early detection of solar storms that could disrupt power grids and telecommunications on Earth.
Based on the outcome of Xplore’s study, which is due for completion in December, NOAA would decide whether or not to provide further support for the concept that the company comes up with.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it has forged a new agreement with Vulcan Inc., the Seattle-based holding company created by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, to share data on ocean science and exploration.
The memorandum of understanding builds on an existing relationship between NOAA and Vulcan.
“The future of ocean science and exploration is partnerships,” retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator, said today in a news release. “NOAA is forging new collaborations, such as the one with Vulcan, to accelerate our mission to map, explore and characterize the ocean, which will help NOAA support the conservation, management and balanced use of America’s ocean and understand its key role in regulating our weather and climate.”
Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said the agreement furthers his company’s mission, which includes developing new technologies for conservation and addressing environmental challenges relating to the world’s oceans. Vulcan’s projects include the Allen Coral Atlas, which uses satellite imagery and other data sets to monitor the health of coral reefs; and Skylight, which provides real-time intelligence about suspicious maritime activity.
A next-generation GOES-S weather satellite, the second of its kind, rose into orbit at 2:02 p.m. PT (5:02 p.m. ET) today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
NASA assisted with the preparations for launch, but the satellite will be operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of a constellation that also includes GOES-R, now known as GOES-16. The acronym stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.
GOES-16 monitors the eastern United States, much of South America, the Caribbean region and the Atlantic Ocean from NOAA’s GOES-East orbital vantage point, 22,000 miles above Earth.
Once GOES-S is declared operational, late this year, it will occupy the GOES-West position as GOES-17.
NASA used a slightly different set of figures, including more readings from the Arctic, to determine that last year’s global average was 1.78 degrees above the 20th-century average and 0.22 degrees above 2015. By either measure, the average is the highest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.
Even the International Space Station’s commander is worried about Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever tracked by the National Hurricane Center.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is currently heading the station’s crew during his yearlong tour of orbital duty, passed along a picture showing the monstrous whirl of white clouds as it approached Mexico today: