NASA, NOAA Satellites Track Hurricane Irma’s Path

Record-setting Hurricane Irma barreled over the Caribbean islands of St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla early Wednesday, destroying buildings with its sustained winds of 185 mph (297 kph) and rains and storm surges causing major flooding. The US National Hurricane Center listed the Category 5 Irma as the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded north of […]

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New Age in Weather Forecasting Begins with Spectacular 1st Images from NASA/NOAA GOES-16 Observatory

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A new age has begun in the nations weather forecasting capabilities with the release today (Jan. 23) of the spectacular first images gathered by the recently launched NASA/NOAA GOES-16 observatory.

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In the Cleanroom with Game Changing GOES-R Next Gen Weather Satellite – Launching Nov. 19

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After an ironic detour due to Hurricane Matthew, liftoff of the game changing NASA/NOAA next generation GOES-R geostationary weather observation satellite offering a “dramatic leap in capability” is finally on track for this weekend on Nov. 19 from the Florida Space Coast.

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Imminent Impact of Deadly Cat 4 Hurricane Matthew Forces Closure of Kennedy Space Center and Mass Coastal Evacuations

Cat 4 Hurricane Matthew track during the late evening of 6 Oct 2016.  Credit: NASA/NOAA

The imminent impact of the already deadly Category 4 Hurricane Matthew along the Florida Space Coast tonight, Thursday, October 6, has forced the closure of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and mass evacuations along the US East coast from Florida, to Georgia to the Carolinas.

“Hurricane Matthew, currently an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, continues to bear down on the southeastern United States,” says NASA in an update today.

NASA has closed KSC for today and tomorrow, at a minimum and the center has entered HurrCon 1 status.

“Under the current storm track, peak winds are forecast to be 125 mph sustained with gusts to 150 mph, however a shift in the track even slightly could improve the wind forecast somewhat,” wrote NASA’s Brian Dunbar.

“The Kennedy Space Center is closed today, Oct. 6, and Friday for Hurricane Matthew. Kennedy Space Center is now in HurrCon 1 status, meaning a hurricane is imminent.”

The Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast is home to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – the most well know building at NASA – as well as Launch Complex’s 39 A and B which launched American astronauts to Moon and thereafter Space Shuttles for three decades.

“Across the spaceport, essential personnel are preparing facilities for the storm’s arrival,” according to George Diller, NASA Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs Officer.

“Hurricane Matthew is expected to make its closest approach to the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy area overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds.”

Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the US East Coast right now at Florida’s Peninsula and is tracking north.

Herein is the latest satellite imagery from NASA and NOAA of this evening.

Mass evacuations have been ordered and States of Emergencies declared by the Governors of Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

The high winds, storm surge of potentially 5 to 11 feet, and extensive flooding is expected to cause massive damage and devastation to homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Hundreds of thousands of folks have left their home over the past 2 days. Many gas stations are dry and grocery store shelves emptied.

Matthew will cause a wide swath of destruction and potentially deaths along hundreds of miles of US shoreline and inland areas as the massive storm hugs the coast like none before in recorded history.

Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of folks are expected to lose power as well, for days and perhaps weeks.

Hundreds of deaths and massive destruction in Haita, Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean can already be blamed on Hurricane Matthew – a storm like none other and by far the worst since Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

After the storm passes KSC will evaluate all its facilities.

“Once the storm has passed, center facilities and infrastructure will be assessed and employees will be cleared to return when it is safe to do so,” Diller.

Indeed NASA was preparing to launch America’s newest and most advanced weather satellite on Nov 4. It’s named GOES-R and was slated for blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a ULA Atlas V on Nov. 4.

The launch facilities will have to be thoroughly inspected before the launch can proceed.

The satellite is in the final stages of preparation at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility in Titusville, FL as I recently observed during an up close visit in the High Bay cleanroom.

Titusville and Astrotech could suffer a direct hit from Matthew. But the satellite has been secured.

Here is the latest Advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) as of 8 PM EDT Oct 6.

At 800 PM EDT (0000 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located over the western end of Grand Bahama Island near latitude 26.6 North, longitude 78.9 West. The hurricane is moving toward the northwest near 13 mph (20 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue tonight with a turn toward the north-northwest early Friday. On the forecast track, the eye of Matthew should move away from Grand Bahama Island during the next few hours, and move close to or over the east coast of the Florida peninsula through Friday night.

Reports from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 130 mph (210 km/h) with higher gusts.Matthew is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely while the hurricane moves toward the coast of Florida.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). Settlement Point in the Bahamas recently reported a sustained wind of 79 mph (128 km/h) with a gust of 105 mph (169 km/hr). The Lake Worth Pier near Palm Beach, Florida, recently reported a sustained wind of 46 mph (74 km/h) and a wind gust of 60 mph (96 km/h).

The minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA Hurricane Hunter data is 939 mb (27.73 inches).

…….

The latest weather briefing indicates that “tropical storm force winds beginning at Cape Canaveral tonight at midnight with hurricane force winds starting at starting about 6 a.m.

A hurricane ride-out crew of 116 has arrived at KSC this evening to prepare for Matthew.

“All facilities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have been secured.”

SpaceX is currently renovating and refurbishing pad 39A to launch their commercial Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets as well the Crew Dragon with astronauts on mission to the ISS.

The eye of the storm is barreling towards KSC at this moment. Stay tuned for the outcome.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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Gorgeous Views of Earth from Space Ring in New Year 2016 From the Space Station and Beyond

#HappyNewYear! NOAA’s GOES East satellite captured this image of our home on the first day of #2016.   Credit: NOAA

Happy New Year 2016 from the International Space Station (ISS) and Beyond!

Behold Earth ! Courtesy of our Human and Robotic emissaries to the High Frontier we can ring in the New Year by reveling in gorgeous new views of our beautiful Home Planet taken from the space station and beyond.

The Americas come to life in the Happy New Year image (above) captured by NOAA’s GOES East satellite “of our home on the first day of #2016.”

And the six person multinational crew of Expedition 46, led by Station Commander Scott Kelly of NASA sends hearty greetings and spectacular imagery to all Earthlings while soaring some 250 miles (400 kilometers) above us all.

“Happy New Year to all the people of Planet Earth,” wished Kelly in a special New Year’s 2016 video message beamed down from the massive orbiting science complex.

Kelly was accompanied in the short video by two of his fellow Expeditions 46 crewmembers with well wishes for into the inhabitants of Earth: Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency.

https://youtu.be/9SY7ojOx6mo

Video Caption: Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency wished the people of Earth a Happy New Year. Credit: NASA/ESA

Kelly is now three quarters of the way through his year-long mission on the ISS. Kelly comprises one half of the first ever ‘1 Year ISS crew’ – along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Indeed New Years Day marked Day 280 for Kelly aboard the ISS and he snapped the photo of Earth below to celebrate the occasion of passing of 2015 into 2016.

“We’d like to say what a privilege it is to serve on board the International Space Station. And how grateful we are for all the teams on the ground that support our flying in space, and the science that’s on board,” Kopra added.

Kopra and Peake just arrived at the station barely two weeks ago following a flawless launch on Dec. 15 in their Russian Soyuz TMA-19M capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Along with six time Russian space flyer Yuri Malenchenko they are begining a six-month mission aboard the complex.

“I’d like to wish everyone down on our beautiful planet Earth a very happy New Year, and a fantastic 2016,” said Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to journey to the ISS.

Here’s stunning view of an Aleutian island volcano blowing off some steam taken today, Jan. 2, by Scott Kelly.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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US Braces for Cat 4 Hurricane as ‘Joaquin’ Barrels to East Coast and ULA Readies 100th Launch on Oct. 2

Video caption: This animation of images captured from September 29 to October 1, 2015 from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite shows Hurricane Joaquin become a major hurricane in the Bahamas. Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project NEW JERSEY – A wide swath of the US East Coast is bracing for impact in the coming days as ‘Hurricane Joaquin’ strengthened […]

How to (Hopefully) Find Clear Skies for Tonight’s Total Lunar Eclipse

We’ve arrived at eclipse day, so now the big question is, will it be clear? My favorite forecast for major astronomical events reads something like this: Fair skies tonight with light winds and lows in the middle 50s.While I hope that’s exactly what’s predicted for your town, in my corner of the world we’re expecting “increasing […]

Danny – First Atlantic Hurricane of 2015 as Seen from Space Station by Scott Kelly

Hurricane Danny, The first Atlantic Ocean hurricane of the 2015 season has been caught on camera by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, in a beautiful image taken on Thursday, August 20 at 6 a.m. EDT from his glorious perch aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Poking majestically down at the hurricane is the stations Canadian-built robotic […]

NASA and NOAA Satellites Image Crippling Blizzard of 2015 Pounding New England

Record breaking snow from the ‘Blizzard of 2015’ hit vast regions of the US Northeast today, Jan. 27, 2015, stretching from Long Island to New England. NASA and NOAA Earth orbiting satellites are keeping track of the storm. (…)Read the rest of NASA and NOAA Satellites Image Crippling Blizzard of 2015 Pounding New England (416 […]

Cat 4 Hurricane Gonzalo Threatens Bermuda and Delays Antares Launch to Space Station

Hurricane Gonzalo, the first major Atlantic Ocean basin hurricane in three years, has strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 storm, threatening Bermuda and forcing a postponement of the upcoming launch of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket to the space station from the Virginia shore to no earlier than Oct. 27.(…)Read the rest of Cat 4 […]