Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Ideas and $5 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!!!

Hey everyone! Wow it’s been almost a year since my last blog entry. Though I wasn’t posting I haven’t been completely quiet over since the last time I've posted. Recently in May 2014 I graduated from Howard University with a Masters in Atmospheric Science. My thesis is entitled “The Economic Value of Air Quality Forecasting” which focuses on how vital air quality forecasting is and how more forecasting and policies can help to prevent hospitalizations and deaths caused by poor air quality. My research was even presented at the 47th Annual American Geophysical Union Conference. I also took some time to take care of my very active and growing daughter and come up with new ideas for the blog.

I started the blog in 2009 as a platform for sharing knowledge about what I was learning in school and the world of Earth Science. Back then I was just starting my Bachelor’s in Earth Science at Kean University. Since then the blog grew to include events with  NASA social as well. I want to further include many new outlets to this blog such as polls, discussions and product reviews, as a way to get my readers more engaged. I also plan to post more entries and feature guest posts, especially about the environment and atmospheric phenomena both locally and around the globe. Occasionally I'll be running  giveaways too.

The world is ever changing and the climate is set for major changes in the very near future, such as reducing crop yields. Science is truly spectacular and voices should be heard. I want to thank everyone who has come to this blog and read some of my earlier postings. I’ve stayed pretty active on Twitter. Thanks for following me on there as well. Thanks again for coming to my blog and to show my appreciation I'm running my first giveaway, a  $5 Amazon Gift Card! Look for more giveaways soon!! Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:  Contest ends August 9th at 12:00 AM EDT. Must be 18+ years or older to enter. This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Twitter, Amazon or Blogger. The winner drawn will have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail or another winner will be chosen. Prize will be emailed to the winner via a gift card code. Winner will be chosen via, which is drawn randomly. There will only be one (1) winner of the $5 Amazon e-gift card code. Open Worldwide.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test

The NASA social crew at the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA with the Orion Spacecraft in the background. (Credit: @NASASocial)

 Back in July, I applied for the NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test. If you aren't familiar with what NASA Social is, it's a program that allows NASA social media followers, an inside look at what goes on at NASA. This may include tours of facilities, talking to astronauts and more. This social was the 4th social I've applied too. The three others where with Astronaut Joe Abaca, Astronaut Rob Garan, and the STS-135 talk with crew members Christopher Ferguson and Sandy Magnus. The latter being my first one. All of these previous social events were at the headquarters in Washington, DC.

I applied for the social because I also was very interested in what the social was to offer. The social included a tour of the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton,VA, the  NASA Langley Research Center also in Hampton and a view of the Orion Spacecraft Stationary Recovery Test in Norfolk,VA as well as a tour of the USS Arlington. I was a little apprehensive because only 30 of NASA's social media followers would be selected. The previous ones I've went to included over 100 social media followers. The selections are random.  I wasn't really worried about the drive. The NASA Langley Research Center is about 3 hours and 8 minutes from my home in Maryland, though this social was the farthest I've applied too.

A few days after I applied I got an email saying I was on the wait list. This wasn't the first time I had been put on the wait list. I was put on the wait list for the very first one I went too, the STS-135 talk. When I saw I was on the wait list for this event I was a little upset because I knew the limit was much smaller than before, but I still kept my fingers crossed. About two days after that, I got an email saying the I was off the wait list. I was in! I was so happy!

The dates were August 14 and 15th for the event. Unfortunately my husband wasn't able to schedule off for the 14th and 15th. So I decided I'd leave the morning of the 14th and leave after the events on the 15th. It was hard leaving our daughter. That night was the first time I spent a night away from her. My husband stayed with her while I was gone and I know they had some good  father/daughter bonding :-) The ride down to Hampton was good. I meet up with a couple of social media followers who were selected for the event for a late lunch. We went ate at the SurfRider. After the lunch we all went to the Virginia Air and Space Center. There we got to tour to facility after hours and to see an IMAX movie, Elysium, at a discounted price. Here are some pictures from the center:

 The Apollo 12 Command Module.

Me in front of the Apollo 12 Command Module. 

I didn't stay to watch the movie. I went back to the hotel to get some sleep. We went to the NASA Langley Research Center the next morning. The events started at 8am. It was nice tour and we got an overview of the facility.  There the center does a lot of aeronautics research and looks to improve the performance and safety of commercial air crafts. That includes reducing fuel burn by 50% and reducing noise. The center also does research to understand climate change and was effective in forming a policy to eliminate CFCs.  Here's a video further describing the center:

We got a tour the Landing Facility where they test airplanes and helicopters. The Landing Facility is also the place where the Orion Capsule was drop tested in the Hydro Impact Basin. The crew of the Apollo spacecraft trained at the Landing Facility as well. Here's some pictures:

 My badge.

 Crash dummies.

 Overview of the facility.

 The Hydro Impact Basin.

 The NASA Social crew in front of the Hydro Impact Basin. (Credit: @NASASocial)

After the Landing Facility, we went to the National Transonic Facility, where aeronautics are tested. That facility is one of two wind tunnels in the world that can achieve high Reynold's numbers (My college classes came back to me with that one.) Here's a few pics from the facility:

 Inside the control room.

We also got to tour another facility at the NASA Langley Research Center and go inside a space habitat.

 Little alien dude.

 Inside the space habitat.

After the tour of the space habitat, we ate lunch at the cafeteria were we heard more about LADEE which stands for Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer. LADEE is set to launch next month from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  After lunch we went to the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA. That's where the US Navy on the USS Arlington was to recover the Orion Spacecraft. The last time a recovery of a spacecraft done in the water was the Apollo spacecraft back in the 1970s! It was so cool to be there to watch the recovery. NASA, the US Navy and Lockheed Martin did a great job. The recovery was a success! Here are some pics:
 The Orion Spacecraft.

 Me with Orion in the background.

 Starting the recovery.
 All attached.

Lastly we got to tour the USS Arlington by some of the US Navy. Part of the heel of the ship is infused with a piece of the pentagon from 9/11. Here's those pics:

 Orion on the ship.

 Never forget.

 The landing pad.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. It was so nice meeting everyone and seeing the facilities and the recovery test. Thanks to everyone who made this opportunity possible. Here's to the launch of Orion in 2014!

My future scientist:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rainbow Over The Atlantic

Yesterday, my husband, our daughter, a couple of my in-laws and I, took a trip to Ocean City, MD. Not too long after we all go there, there was an isolated shower along the beach. The shower cleared within 15 minutes and not too long after that I saw a beautiful rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. Though the rainbow was faint, it was still a nice sight to see. Here's the picture below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore Tornado 2013

Yesterday a massive EF 5 tornado, struck Moore, Oklahoma and left behind major destruction. Reports are that the tornado reached a length of 1.3 miles wide at it's peak. The death is at 24, though that number is expected to rise and there are reports there are nearly 240  who are injured. Close to 100 have been pulled from the rubble, alive. This is not the first time, Moore has been struck by a tornado. There have been five in the past 15 years. Three, including yesterday's storm, have been of great magnitude. The first one was an EF 5 tornado on May 3, 1999, the other was back on May 8, 2003. That tornado was an EF 4.

This image from the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma shows the path of the May 20, 2013 tornado, with that of the May 3, 1999 tornado. That path is almost identical.

 At the time, the 1999 was the most costliest tornadoes in the United States to date and the death toll from that tornado was 36. In 2011 it was surpassed by the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The wind speed of the 1999 tornado was 302 mph, and was the highest wind speed ever measured in a tornado. Yesterday's storm had winds of over 200. 

Here's the satellite image showing the rotation of the systems, as they passed over the region:

There are also reports that residents had a 30 to 40 minute warning before the tornado hit. According to CNN, "As Gov. Mary Fallin had said Monday night, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said he believed residents had time to prepare for the storm. 'My understanding is that the warning system was good. It was adequate,' he said."

Below is a picture of some of the destruction caused by the tornado:

 Here's an aerial photo of the path:

In looking at the destruction, many homes where completely leveled from the winds. Schools and the town's only hospital were also in the direct path of the storm. Of the 24 reported killed, 9 were children.Oklahoma is known to be tornado prone, however tornadoes can occur anywhere. May is also a very active month for tornadoes. I wrote about tornado safety back in 2011 in this blog entry and in the wake of this tornado it is important to know the difference between tornado watches and warnings, as well as tips on how to stay safe.

Monday, March 4, 2013

'Snowquester/Saturn' Is On The Way

The Weather Channel has the storm named 'Saturn' and the rest of the DC metro is naming it 'Snowquester,' regardless, this winter storm is currently moving towards the region. The storm will be impacting the area Tuesday night into Wednesday night. I saw some television stations stating the DC metro area could be receiving anywhere from 2 to 10 inches from this system. I'm thinking that the overall total will be around 5 inches. So far the region has received 4.8 inches which is 13.9 inches below normal.  The record snowfall was on March 6, 1962 in which 10 inches fell.
Accuweather is predicting 3 to 6 inches for the metro area:

The total snowfall will vary due to the track of the storm. The NAM model shows a direct hit on the DC metro region, while the GFS has the system more on a southerly track.



Currently much of the area is under a winter storm watch, while more towards the Northwest is under a winter storm warning.
Wind will also accompany this system.  Tuesday night the region can expect winds from the east at 7 to 17 mph. The winds will be from the north Wednesday and Wednesday night at 18 to 23 mph. Stay safe and warm, DMV!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beijing's Air Quality Is Way Unsafe

A big area of research that I'm working on is air quality.  Recently I was browsing the web and saw a New York Times article stating that the quality of air for Beijing, China reached 755. That's 20 times over what is deemed safe. The EPA says the levels between 301 and 500 are “hazardous” and outdoor activity should be avoided. This is alarming that Beijing’s air quality is so high. In fact, in 2012 the American Lung Association State of the Air report stated that though there is an improvement in air quality in many places, “over 127 million people—41 percent of the nation—still suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe.” Air is what we need to survive and if the air is polluted, many people can get sick or die.

According to the article, Beijing’s embassy's Twitter called the reading “crazy bad” and that terminology was used back in November 2010. It was quickly deleted off the Twitter feed then. NASA released images of Beijing, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, on January 3 and January 14, 2013.

 January 3

 January 14

You can see the difference between the two days with significantly less visibility appearing on the latter date. This is really bad. People should not have to wear masks or like one man in the article said; he had air purifiers running at full power.

Much of the pollution is caused by particulate matter (PM) which is trapped in the air. This particulate matter can be caused by factories, cars and biomass burning, though the structure of the region can have effect on the air quality as well. Much of the particulate matter that is measured is PM 2.5. PM 2.5 refers to the diameter of matter itself is 2.5 microns or smaller. Here is a graph showing the comparison of PM 2.5 to a human hair.

PM 2.5 might seem small but this matter can get into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and other health problems. The matter can also contribute to premature deaths. In fact one article states that, "Hospitals have also reportedly admitted 20 to 30 percent more patients, who complained of respiratory issues that were likely caused by breathing heavily polluted air." Talk about visibility too. With that much particles hanging in the atmosphere, visibility can be little to none, which makes it hard for transportation like buses and planes. Here is a comparison of Beijing's skyline. The top is from August 29, 2010 and the bottom is January 14, 2013.

 According to the article, “Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Dec. 31 that Beijing’s air quality had improved for 14 years straight, and the level of major pollutants had decreased. A municipal government spokesman told Xinhua that the annual average concentration of PM 10, or particles 10 microns in diameter or smaller, had dropped by 4 percent in 2012, compared with one year earlier.” Through this statement and actuality however, something should really be done about Beijing’s air, as the pollution is a big danger for the people who live there. The article states there is an outcry for more data about the PM 2.5 levels in the area. The PM 2.5 data should be released as it can be more deadly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Change To Hurricane Warning System

Today the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a statement to begin before the start of the 2013 hurricane season, that changes the criteria for issuing hurricane warnings. These changes are to include hybrid/transitioning storms like Hurricane Sandy.

This is the new definition:
"An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical, sub-tropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force."
According to The Weather Channel:
"The changes come on the heels of an investigation into Hurricane Sandy, which became a post-tropical storm before making landfall in the Northeast. Tropical storm and hurricane warnings were not issued anywhere on the East Coast north of North Carolina, and a NOAA and FEMA investigation is underway to study the handling of the events surrounding Sandy, which is a customary occurrence for major weather events..."

Previously the hurricane warning definition was:

"An announcement that hurricane conditions are expected within the specified area.
Because outside preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NASA Social with Astronaut Joe Acaba

 Today was the NASA Social @NASASocial (previously NASA Tweetup) event with astronaut Joe Acaba @AstroAcaba, at NASA Headquarters in DC. I went with my husband. This is our third NASA Social. We were a tad bit late for this event. DC traffic got to us, not to mention I'm 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Even looking at the clock reading 9:58 am and knowing the event would start promptly at 10:00am, we were determined to get there.

When we finally got to the headquarters and sat quietly in the back and were able to catch some of Mr. Acaba's presentation about his four months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). From the NASA event website,"Acaba launched to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft May 15. He spent 123 days aboard the orbiting laboratory as a flight engineer of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews. He returned to Earth Sept. 17 after four months off the planet."

After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions and answers, and many of the attendees asked great questions. Mr. Acaba spent most of his time in the copula. He was the sole US crew member aboard the craft, with two Russians cosmonauts. He said his Russian isn't that good. In the presentation we saw that there was exercising aboard the ISS, which he would do in his free time. He talked about working the robotic arm and supporting two of his crewmates during their space walk. He worked on scientific research experiments and preformed maintenance aboard the ISS.  He also gave insight into skills for becoming an astronaut. He said that we are all scientists if we have asked a question and the mission involved improvising, as planning for things to work a certain way, don't always go that way and studying hard. Mr. Acaba also spoke about working on a car and working using your hands. He also said he is not a fault if we take apart our parents car.

He was very informative and had a great sense of humor. He spoke about losing his spoon on the first day and that things float away. Upon his return to Earth he mentioned that it was hard to walk for the first week (gotta love gravity) and that the astronauts plan to land on the ground but they do partake in water survival training. Mr. Acaba made many points about the future of the space program, in one instance he said, "We are looking at going further than we've ever been." He included that he sees in the future, we'll be walking on Mars and living there.

@MsLinda22 asked Mr. Acaba a question from one of her twitter followers about seeing the effects of climate change from space. My ears perked up when I heard that question. His response was that we are not seeing climate change in real time, but comparing pictures from space taken from the ISS years ago to now, do show that the Earth is warming. "It's easy to see from space where everything is interconnected," he stated.  Mr. Acaba also answer questions in Spanish.

The goodie bag included a paper NASA Smallsat, which you can cut out and transform to make it into a cube. We also received an autographed portrait of Mr. Acaba, an information bookmark, a little booklet about space, a NASA sticker, a sticker of the Expedition 32 Patch and a pin of the same expedition. Like I said before, this is our third NASA social event. The ones we attended have all been at the NASA Headquarters in DC. In the near future we hope to attend the social events at other locations like Florida, Virginia and possibly California. I enjoy the events because they give you a behind the scenes look at some of the operations at NASA and allows you to connect with astronauts and people who have the same interest as you. We also hope to participate in more after the Social meetups. If you'd like to catch this event, NASA has the recording on their Youtube page.

For more about the NASA Social events, check out this link.
For more about Astronaut Joe Acaba, click here.

These are my other NASA Social blog entries.
STS-135 in DC
Astronaut Ron Garan

 During the Presentation.

The lights are on!

 Astronaut Joe Acaba.

 Me and my big belly.


Thanks to @NASASocial and all who makes these events possible. Had a wonderful time!

***UPDATE*** I had my beautiful baby girl Dec 13!!!! She's into astronomy and knew she wanted to come during the Geminid meteor shower ;-)