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Tropical Storm Alberto June 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, JAXA, NASA, People, Planets, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).
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Tropical Storm Alberto

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Alberto began as a tropical depression on the morning of June 10, 2006, having formed from an area of low air pressure over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. This depression moved generally northwestward through the Yucatan Channel between western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula and into the south-central Gulf of Mexico. The system was rather poorly organized as a result of southwesterly wind shear. This shear pulled the weather system from the rounded shape of a typical tropical storm and gave Alberto an elongated center of circulation. Nonetheless, hurricane hunter aircraft and ships reported strong winds, and on that basis, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified the system as a tropical storm and gave it the name Alberto at 11:00 a.m. EDT on June 11.

This visualization shows data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM) at 19:42 UTC (3:42 p.m. EDT) on June 11, 2006, soon after Alberto had become a tropical storm. It maps rain intensity as viewed by the TRMM satellite. Rain rates in the center swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar, and rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager. The rain rates are overlaid on infrared data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner. TRMM confirms that Alberto was poorly organized. The center of circulation is well to the southwest of the heavier rain areas (darker red and green areas). In fact, there is essentially no rain in the immediate vicinity of the center. This highly asymmetric structure results from wind shear. At the time of this image, Alberto was a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 kilometers per hour (45 miles per hour).

After these images were taken, however, the wind shear pushing the storm off center decreased, allowing Alberto to become better organized. On June 12, Alberto had become a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 km/hr (70 mph) according to the NHC, just below hurricane strength. The system was continuing to track to the northeast towards the coast of Florida, where a hurricane watch was in effect.

TRMM was launched in November 1997. From its low-earth orbit, TRMM has been providing valuable images and information on tropical weather systems using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, including the first precipitation radar in space. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA.


Akari‚Äôs views of galaxy M81 May 25, 2006

Posted by jtintle in AKARI, Deep Space, European Space Agency, JAXA, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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 Credits: JAXA

These infrared images of the galaxy M81 were taken by the near- and mid-Infrared Camera (IRC) on board Akari. The observed wavelengths are 3, 4, 7, 11, 15, and 24 microns, respectively. M81 is a spiral galaxy located at a distance of about 12 million light years from us.The images at 3 and 4 microns show the distribution of stars in the inner part of the galaxy without any obscuration from intervening dust clouds. At 7 and 11 microns it is possible to see the radiation from organic materials in the interstellar gas of the galaxy. The distribution of the dust heated by young hot stars is exhibited in the images at 15 and 24 micron, showing that the star forming regions sit along the spiral arms of the galaxy.

AKARI images of reflection nebula IC4954 May 25, 2006

Posted by jtintle in AKARI, Deep Space, JAXA, Space Fotos.
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These two images of the reflection nebula IC4954 were taken by the two instruments on board Akari – the Far-Infrared Surveyor (FIS) – on the left – and the near- and mid-Infrared Camera (IRC) – on the right. The observed wavelengths are 90 and 9 microns, respectively. The IC4954 region is situated at a distance of about 6000 light years from us and extends more than 10 light years across.In these first infrared images of this area it is possible to see individual stars that have recently been born. They are embedded in gas and dust and could not be seen in visible light. Is it also possible to see the gas clouds from which these stars are made.

Smooth Sections on Asteroid Itokawa December 28, 2005

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Asteroid, Deep Space, Hayabusa, ISAS, Itokawa, JAXA, NASA, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Credit & Copyright: ISAS, JAXA

Explanation: Why are parts of this asteroid’s surface so smooth? No one is yet sure, but it may have to do with the dynamics of an asteroid that is a loose pile of rubble rather than a solid rock. The unusual asteroid is currently being visited by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa that is documenting its unusual structure and mysterious lack of craters. Last month, Hayabusa actually touched down on one of the smooth patches, dubbed the MUSES Sea, and collected soil samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for analysis. Unfortunately, the robot Hayabusa craft has been experiencing communications problems and so its departure for Earth has been delayed until 2007. Computer simulations show that 500-meter asteroid Itokawa may impact the Earth within the next few million years.


The Missing Craters of Asteroid Itokawa November 22, 2005

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Asteroid, Hayabusa, ISAS, Itokawa, JAXA, NASA, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright: ISAS, JAXA Explanation: Where are the craters on asteroid Itokawa? No one knows. The Japanese robot probe Hayabusa recently approached the Earth-crossing asteroid and is returning pictures showing a surface unlike any other Solar System body yet photographed — a surface possibly devoid of craters. One possibility for the lack of common circular indentations is that asteroid Itokawa is a rubble pile — a bunch of rocks and ice chunks only loosely held together by a small amount of gravity. If so, craters might be filled in whenever the asteroid gets jiggled by a passing planet — Earth in this case. Alternatively, surface particles may become electrically charged by the Sun, levitate in the microgravity field, and move to fill in craters. Over the weekend, Hayabusa lowered itself to the surface of the strange asteroid in an effort to study the unusual body and collect surface samples that could be returned to Earth in 2007.

A Robot’s Shadow on Asteroid Itokawa November 17, 2005

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Asteroid, Hayabusa, ISIS, Itokawa, JAXA, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright: ISIS, JAXA

Explanation: What’s that unusual looking spot on asteroid Itokawa? It’s the shadow of the robot spacecraft Hayabusa that took the image. Japan‘s Hayabusa mission arrived at the asteroid in early September and has been imaging and maneuvering around the floating space mountain ever since. The above picture was taken earlier this month. Asteroid Itokawa spans about 300 meters. One scientific goal of the Hayabusa mission is to determine out how much ice, rock and trace elements reside on the asteroid’s surface, which should give indications about how asteroids and planets formed in the early Solar System. A can-sized robot MINERVA that was scheduled to hop around the asteroid’s surface has not, so far, functioned as hoped. Later this month, Hayabusa is scheduled to descend to asteroid Itokawa and collect surface samples in a return capsule. In December, Hayabusa will fire its rockets toward Earth and drop the return capsule down to Earth’s Australian outback in 2007 June.

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