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August 6, 2011 By smadget

The IT behind Alan Shepard's space flight

Alan Shepard became the first U.S. astronaut 50 years ago today. The mission set off a 50-year string leading to companies like Space-X and Virgin Galactic that are aiming to commercialize space. Here's a look at the computers behind NASA in 1961 and what counted as "high-speed" data transmission.

May 4, 2011

Exploring Mars with Java

At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco, James Gosling, Sun Microsystems vice president and fellow, talks to Arizona State University geological sciences professor Phil Christensen about the school's geospatial software, JMARS. The open-source project is available to the public and used by NASA to find and gather scientific data for analysis.

May 9, 2008 by

NASA chief: Air safety data needs to be scrubbed before release

You might remember that NASA conducted a survey on airline safety and the results were so upsetting that the space agency opted not to make the results public. NASA refused the AP's Freedom of Information Act request for the results, saying:Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey.

November 1, 2007 by

Under pressure, NASA vows to release air safety data

NASA's damage control machine has been reeling since the Associated Press reported Monday that the space agency conducted an extensive survey of pilots but is refusing to release the data. According to the AP, the survey found that near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized but the information is being withheld out of fear it would upset air travelers and hurt airline profits.

October 23, 2007 by

NASA checks coastal waters from space

Using NASA satellite imagery, researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) in St. Petersburg have found that it is possible to monitor coastal water quality. This means that water quality can be checked daily rather than monthly as done by traditional methods which involves expensive boat surveys. This information can be crucial for resource managers devising restoration plans for coastal water ecosystems. According to the researchers, this method can be applied to coastal waters worldwide with little changes -- providing that resource managers have access to data from NASA satellites.

August 30, 2007 by

When crops talk to farmers

A technology developed for NASA to conserve water for plant growth during long-term space flights has been adapted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) to serve another purpose. Now, crops can tell farmers they need water. The farmers just need to clip a tiny sensor to their potato or corn leaves. When the plant feels it needs some moisture, data from the leaves will be sent wirelessly over the Internet to computers linked to irrigation equipment. This should save millions of dollars per year in Colorado only, and it will also be eco-friendly by reducing the amounts of water used for irrigation.

June 17, 2007 by

NASA paints Google Earth with near real-time information

NASA is now providing some interesting KML files that add near real-time overlays to Google Earth.  The information they are using comes from MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) -- some data from this source (updated daily) can be viewed on Google Earth by clicking here.

February 24, 2007 by

A 150-km panoramic image of New Mexico

Even NASA knows that it can't always rely on satellite imaging when a natural disaster strikes. This is why Igor Carron, Assistant Director of the Spacecraft Technology Center at Texas A&M University (TAMU), recently used a stratospheric balloon with several of his students. They've used a simple point-and-shoot digital camera to record hundreds of images over New Mexico. And by using inexpensive commercial software, they've stitched together these images to create large panoramas of up to 150 km which are as accurate as the more expensive maps produced by NASA or companies such as DigitalGlobe which sells data to Google. Igor predicts that "traditional GIS will be replaced by user fed data and applications" and that his project is just the beginning of "remote sensing for the people by the people." Here are some excerpts of a conversation I had with him.

December 28, 2006 by

NASA satellites track the growth of forests

NASA satellites have been tracking the growth and the 'productivity' of U.S. forests. Even if satellite data doesn't permit to predict how future climate change will affect forests, the U.S. and Canadian researchers who used it found very interesting results. But read more...

August 30, 2006 by

Where's all the ice?

Using the latest satellite data NASA produced "A Tour of the Cryosphere: Earth's Frozen Assets." This is a dramatic and colorful look at our planet from high above, and the changes that are taking place. Captions in this video may be illegible in small video window.

December 8, 2005 by

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