2014 is the Year of Earth.
This coming year, NASA will launch a trio of missions, all of which will have their scientific instruments pointed towards our home planet.
The three missions will allow scientists to measure water, wind and carbon dioxide with greater precision, and to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and climate change projections.
During a recent visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated that "Research on climate change will inevitably be part of any agency in the federal government."
The three missions are RapidScat, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.
First to launch will be RapidScat, set for April 2014. After being mounted to the International Space Station, it will measure the speed and direction of winds near the ocean surface to improve storm and hurricane tracking.
July will see the launch of Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, a satellite that will map carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Finally, in October, the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite will map the moisture levels of soil, which affects the formation of clouds and rainfall, and will also measure changes in the length of the growing season, an indication of how much carbon plants absorb from the atmosphere.
SMAP project system engineer Shawn Goodman said he is already looking forward to NASA’s Year of Earth missions.
“We’re the caretakers of this planet,” he said. “I can’t imagine anything more important for us to understand.” #NASA #Penny4NASA #JPL #ClimateChange #Earth
Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-nasa-charles-bolden-jpl-earth-20130814,0,5858792.story