THE National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.
NASA is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space programme and for aeronautics and aerospace research.
NASA in a statement made available to The Guardian from Washington yesterday said the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft carrying Curiosity “can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars’ atmosphere.”
Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft’s perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process.
Meanwhile, for several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick centre, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.
On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July.