Monday, 20 December 2010

Cryosat ice mission returns first science

The Cryosat-2 spacecraft has produced its first major science result.
Radar data from the European satellite has been used to make a map of ocean circulation across the Arctic basin.
Cryosat's primary mission is to measure sea-ice thickness, which has been in sharp decline in recent decades.
But its ability also to map the shape of the sea surface will tell scientists if Arctic currents are changing as a result of winds being allowed to blow more easily on ice-free waters.
"Nobody really knows how the Arctic is going to behave as the ice retreats, but we do anticipate that significant changes will occur," said Dr Seymour Laxon, a Cryosat science team member from University College London, UK.
"This is just the first data, and it shows we now have the tool to monitor what is happening," he told BBC News.

Space Pictures This Week: Cosmic Gem, Sun Burp, Vegas

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached the outside edge of the solar system.

A NASA space probe dispatched 33 years ago for the first close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn has entered the tail of the solar system, a place where the constant stream of charged particles flowing from the sun ebbs.

This final phase of solar system exploration should last another four years, computer models show, though scientists overseeing the two Voyager spacecraft really don't know what to expect.

Voyager 1 is now about 10.8 billion miles from the sun, traveling in a region of space known as the heliosheath, a turbulent area between the sphere of space influenced by the sun and magnetic forces from interstellar space that lies beyond.

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