Landsat 5 update: Thematic Mapper incommunicado
Jun05

Landsat 5 update: Thematic Mapper incommunicado

End of routine acquisitions for the Thematic Mapper, secondary sensor is still sending data. [update, March 2014: the Landsat 8 mission launched successfully last year and the new satellite is sending great data back home. USGS decommissioned Landsat 5 in 2013.] By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer. The US Geological Survey’s Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper has been a faithful friend to ecologists. Recoding image data in seven bands...

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Increase in magnitude 3+ earthquakes likely caused by oil and gas production (but not fracking)

by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer WE don’t typically think of the middle of the US as earthquake country, but small earthquakes, many just on the edge of perception, send shock waves through the prairies and southlands more than twenty times a year, on average,  and have done so since regular monitoring began circa 1970. They are becoming more common. Over the last few years, earthquakes in the magnitude 3-6 range have...

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Wintering pythons? Unlikely, but not impossible

This post contributed by Terence Houston, ESA Science Policy Analyst A commonly held sentiment is that cold winters prevent established non-native constrictors like the Burmese python in southern Florida from extending north. However, a recent report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests that adaptability may eventually punch a hole in this notion. The FWS report studied the impacts of the January 2010 winter on the Burmese...

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Goodbye, Landsat 5
Dec15

Goodbye, Landsat 5

This post contributed by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Four hundred miles above the Earth’s surface, a satellite slides into lonely oblivion. After collecting and broadcasting earthly imagery for a remarkable quarter century past its expected 3-year lifespan, Landsat 5 is failing. Over the years, US Geological Survey engineers have contrived quite a few patches and work-arounds for malfunctions on board their distant charge,...

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A look at agencies responsible for suppressing a real world ‘contagion’

Recent blockbuster films, including “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Contagion” have featured zoonotic diseases that spread into (spoiler alert) deadly pandemics. If the respective films didn’t give you a case of hypochondria, statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will: Approximately 75 percent of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are diseases of animal origin and approximately 60...

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Low oil concentrations impact Gulf fish, Jellyfishes’ rising ecosystem status and the importance of bees

Miniscule oil amounts, major biological ramifications for fish: Trace amounts of oil from a spill can have harmful and lasting biological effects, according to Andrew Whitehead, a biologist with the Louisiana State University (LSU). Whitehead, along with Fernando Galvez (also an LSU biologist), led a study examining the biological effects of low concentrations of oil on fish in the Gulf of Mexico.  Their research has previously shown...

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9/11 dust study, gypsy-moth caterpillar killer, and hummingbird courtship

Studying the 9/11 WTC dust: Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently published a blog highlighting the agency’s study of the environmental and potential health risks of the massive dust cloud that swept across New York City as a result of the collapse of the World Trade Center. The dust was particularly dense, coating outdoor surfaces in a...

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Persevering pikas, herbicide inhalation in farm states and prehistoric pathogens

Southern Rockies picas unaffected by climate change: A new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that American pikas, despite being temperature-sensitive animals, have not been adversely impacted by climate change. The researchers who conducted the study assessed 69 historical sites known to host pikas within the southern Rockies ranging from southern Wyoming through Colorado and into northern New Mexico. The...

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