NASA’s Latest News in August 2018

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Starts Asteroid Operations Campaign (Update: 24 August 2018)

NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) was launched on September 8m 2016, and last week the probe captured the first glimpse of asteroid Bennu from a distance of about 1.4 million miles while beginning its final approach toward its target. The image of Bennu was captured by spacecraft’s PolyCam camera.

The asteroid operations campaign of OSIRIS-REx commenced on August 17, with PolyCam Camera capturing a set of five images in one hour for calibration purpose and to help mission’s navigation team with optical navigation efforts.

​OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid. This spacecraft will survey the surface of the asteroid, collect a sample and deliver it safely back to Earth. In the past two years, the spacecraft has traveled a distance of about 1.1 billion miles. OSIRIS-REx is expected to arrive at Bennu on December 3, 2018. In the next few months, the mission team will try to learn about the size, shape and surface features of the asteroid.


NASA’s Terra Satellite Shows Typhoon Cimaron Making Landfall in Japan (Update: August 23, 2018)

NASA News:  On August 23, 2018, NASA’s Terra satellite passed over Typhoon Cimaron at 9:14 a.m. EDT (1314 UTC) and used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument to spot the strongest storms displaced from center and beginning a landfall in southeastern Japan.

According to NASA, Cimaron center was located near longitude 44.1 degrees west and latitude 34.9 degrees north at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) on August 23.

The circulation of the system appeared asymmetric tropical cyclone. A deep convection is obscuring the low level circulation center. The convection appears being suppressed to the west of the low level circulation center.

The movement of the storm is towards the north, with maximum sustained winds near 86 mph (75 knots/139 kph) with higher gusts.

According to the JTWC, the typhoon will move northeastward. It will pass quickly over Honshu before undergoing extratropical transition over the Sea of Japan.

The cyclone is expected to have completed extratropical transition by August 25, and then it will start merging with Tropical Storm Soulik into a mid-latitude cyclone.


NASA’s Aqua Satellite Examines Water Vapor in Typhoon Soulik (Update: August 22, 2018)

On August 22 at 12:50 a.m. EDT (0450 UTC), NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Typhoon Soulik and used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard to examine the water vapor content in the storm. The analysis revealed the highest concentrations and strongest storms north of the eye, ranging from northwest to northeast of the center.

According to NASA, the center of Soulik was located near 27.7 degrees north latitude and 137.0 degrees east longitude (245 nautical miles west-northwest of Iwo To Island, Japan) on August 21 at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC).  The movement of Soulik is toward the northwest. The maximum sustained winds are near 115mph (100 knots/185 kph) with higher gusts.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) notes that Soulik is expected to turn to the north and northeast and make landfall in southeastern South Korea on Aug. 23.


NASA GPM Observes Examines Hurricane Lane (Update: August 22, 2018)

NASA News: On August 22, 2018, NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core observatory satellite passed over the Central Pacific Ocean and Hurricane Lane, and provided valuable data about the rainfall rates and cloud heights.

According to American Space Agency, Hurricane Lane is one of the strongest tropical cyclones to move into the Hawaiian Islands. Warnings are currently in effect in the Hawaiian Islands.

Lane was located about 316 nautical miles (585.2 km) from Hilo, Hawaii at 1:48 a.m. EDT (0548 UTC/ 7:48 p.m. HST) on August 21, 2018, and was a category five on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale with winds of about 140 knots (161 mph).

The GPM’s Microwave Imager (GMI) revealed heavy rain occurring with powerful storms located in Hurricane Lane’s well defined eye wall. Moderate to heavy rainfall was also observed to cover a large area extending outward from Lane’s eye.

Estimated storm top heights were over 6.2 miles.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Central Oahu, Kauai Leeward, Kauai Mountains, Kauai Windward, Niihau, Oahu Koolau, Oahu North Shore, Oahu South Shore, Olomana, Waianae Coast, and Waianae Mountains, according to NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Big Island Interior, Big Island North and East, Big Island Summits, Haleakala Summit, Kahoolawe, Kohala, Kona, Lanai Makai, Lanai Mauka, Leeward Haleakala, Maui Central Valley, Maui Leeward West, Maui Windward West, Molokai Leeward, Molokai Windward, South Big Island, and Windward Haleakala.


NASA Uses GPM Data to Analyze Monsoon Rains in India (Update: 21 August 2018)

Some of the states in India are currently experiencing severe flooding due to heavy monsoon rains. Kerala, located in the southwestern part of India, is one such state where monsoon rains have created havoc, resulting in more than 350 deaths and relocation of thousands of people to safer places.

NASA has now provided estimates of monsoon rainfall in India from August 13 to 20. These estimates were derived through the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), which NASA scientists use to estimate precipitation from a combination of passive microwave sensors, including GPM’s (Global Precipitation Measurement) GMI microwave sensor and geostationary IR (infrared) data.

The data showed two bands of heavy rain across India from August 13 to August 20. The first band was linked with the general monsoon circulation. It extended across the northern part of the peninsula and appeared much broader and had weekly rainfall totals ranging from over 120 mm (towards the western half of the peninsula) to 350 mm (over parts of the eastern half towards the Bay of Bengal).

The second band was aligned with the southwest coast of India and the Western Ghats. This band was more intense and concentrated. For this band, weekly rainfall totals are over 250 mm with embedded areas exceeding 400 mm and having maximum estimated value of 469 mm.


AIRS Instrument Aboard NASA’s Aqua Satellite Sees a 50-Mile-Wide Eye in Typhoon Soulik (Update: August 21, 2018)

On August 21, 2018, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite observed a 50-mile-wide eye in Typhoon Soulik in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.

The AIRS uses infrared light to measure cloud top temperatures. The images revealed very strong thunderstorms with temperatures nearing minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit surrounding Soulik’s 50 mile wide eye. The location of Soulik was approximately 194 nautical miles north-northeast of Kadena Air Base at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) on August 21.

Scientists also saw a spiral banding of thunderstorms wrapping around the eye. The eye wall appeared partially eroded in the western side.

According to JTWC, Soulik will eventually lose its strength, turn north, and make landfall near Seoul.



NASA Observes Hurricane Lane in the Eye (Update: August 21, 2018)

On August 21, 2018, NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the Central Pacific Ocean and watched Hurricane Lane in the eye. Hurricane Lane had a large eye surrounded by powerful storms. The images confirmed strong thunderstorms capable of very heavy rainfall.

According to NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Major Hurricane Lane is expected to make a turn toward the Hawaiian Islands later this week.

On August 21, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Terra satellite found that the cloud top temperatures of strongest thunderstorms in the eyewall were about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC) on August 21, the eye of Hurricane Lane was located near latitude 14.0 degrees north and longitude 151.2 degrees west. The movement of Lane is toward the west.

On Wednesday, a gradual turn toward the northwest is expected.