The other day I posted a video showing GOES space imagery of the severe storms that blasted across the United States on April 27. NASA has other satellites that observe the Earth as well, including Aqua, which captured the image below of the aftermath of the storms. The picture is centered on Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and you can clearly see the tracks in the ground left by the killer tornadoes that swept through the state.
The videos people took of the tornadoes are absolutely terrifying. The Red Cross was in the area immediately after the storms went through; if you have a mind to, they are as always accepting donations.
Images like this help meteorologists track down and understand the conditions for such storms to form. Obviously, the better we understand those conditions the more prepared we can be. And the farther in advance we can predict these storms — even by minutes — the more lives we can save.
Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC.
I’m scratching my head over the reactions of some Congresscritters about the successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket by SpaceX on Friday. Given that NASA has several billion dollars it will be giving to commercial transport systems over the next few years, you’d think that Congress would be happy that a private company was able to get a medium-lift rocket into orbit on their first try.
But then, you wouldn’t be Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. This Texas Republican — that’s important, hang on — gave a short statement after the launch that was at best tepid, and in reality a slap in the face to SpaceX and all the other private space companies:
This first successful test flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is a belated sign that efforts to develop modest commercial space cargo capabilities are showing some promising signs. While this test flight was important, the program to demonstrate commercial cargo and crew transport capabilities, which I support, was intended to enhance not replace NASA’s own proven abilities to deliver critical cargo and humans to low Earth orbit. Make no mistake, even this modest success is more than a year behind schedule, and the project deadlines of other private space companies continue to slip as well. This test does not change the fact that commercial space programs are not ready to close the gap in human spaceflight if the space shuttle is retired this year with no proven replacement capability and the Constellation program is simultaneously cancelled [sic] as the President proposes.
Senator — with all due respect — that’s baloney. Plain and simple.