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Posts tagged: NASA

Stopping a Winged Purveyor of Disease and Death

The mosquito Aedes aegypti can spread several diseases as it travel from person to person. Only the females feed on blood. In this photo, the mosquito is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti can spread several diseases as it travel from person to person. Only the females feed on blood. In this photo, the mosquito is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine.  For example, researching mosquitoes that spread diseases that threaten human health worldwide.

Today is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is vector-borne diseases—those diseases spread by organisms like insects, ticks and snails.  Significant vector-borne diseases in the Americas include dengue fever, malaria, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis.

One of the most egregious offenders is the mosquito, and the scientists of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are taking aim at this winged attacker with weapons ranging from traditional remedies to computer modeling and satellite images. Read more »

Southwestern Climate Hub Helps Producers Cope with an Uncertain and Changing Climate

The Thompson Ridge Fire in the Sante Fe National Forest approximately 10 miles north of Jemez, NM consumed over 29,903 acres. Photo by Valess Calera Trust Kristin Honig.

The Thompson Ridge Fire in the Sante Fe National Forest approximately 10 miles north of Jemez, NM consumed over 29,903 acres. Photo by Valess Calera Trust Kristin Honig.

Those of us living and working in the Southwestern U.S. have recently experienced a prolonged, extreme drought persisting over several years. We have witnessed large, destructive and catastrophic wildfires that have taken both lives and property, observed expansive areas of forest tree death as a result of massive insect outbreaks, and seen our water supplies in reservoirs and dams across the region decline to previously unseen levels. Yet, what can we realistically do in the face of these climatically driven changes that will likely continue and intensify into the future?

Changing climatic conditions in the southwest that impact temperatures, alter growing seasons, increase plant moisture stress, and trigger extreme events directly contribute to these recent regional catastrophes and water scarcities.  Recently, a highly respected, third generation public land cattle rancher in our region put it this way: “I believe that the climate is changing.  But I can’t accept it.  If I do I would just go out of business.  I have to cope and go on.”  So we are left to look around us and ask what information, tools, and technology can we reach for when it gets tough? Read more »

At the U.S. Forest Service, Climate Change is Going 3D

The NASA Hyperwall, a huge monitor connected to the agency’s climate super computer will be used in assessing data from the GPM Core Observatory. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert Hudson Westover)

The NASA Hyperwall, a huge monitor connected to the agency’s climate super computer will be used in assessing data from the GPM Core Observatory. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert Hudson Westover)

Understanding the effects of global climate change, especially the amount of precipitation contained in clouds, has been limited by the use of decades-old satellite technology. But now a soon-to-be launched NASA satellite, the GPM Core Observatory, will literally add another dimension to seeing into the complexity of clouds and the precipitation they may or may not contain.

“The new GPM satellite will give scientists much clearer and more concise data on rainfall estimates with more continuous areal coverage giving us a three-dimensional visual understanding of the effects climate change is having on the planet as far precipitation is concerned,” said Dave Cleaves, the Forest Service’s Climate Change Advisor. Read more »

Where the Moon Trees Grow

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Official NASA portrait of Stuart Roosa (Courtesy NASA)

Many space enthusiasts know that one of the U.S. Forest Service’s most famous former employees was astronaut Stuart Roosa. The smokejumper circled the moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 14 mission more than 40 years ago.

However, what most folks don’t know is that Roosa brought a group of tiny travelers along for the ride. After all these years, they’re still among us today, living quietly across the United States. Their names – Douglas fir, sequoia and loblolly pine – are familiar to most everyone because they were seeds from these and other well-known tree species. Read more »

It’s a Great Weekend to go to a National Forest to Watch for Meteors

The Perseid meteor showers put on a fantastic light show for star gazers. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Perseid meteor showers put on a fantastic light show for star gazers. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Earlier this year, approximately 80 people oohed and ahhed as meteors streaked across the sky from all directions over Shasta Lake during the Perseid meteor showers. In partnership with the Shasta Astronomy Club, the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area provided visitors with expert information on celestial objects and events and a guided tour through the night sky.

This weekend, you have an opportunity to do the same when the 2013 Leonid meteor shower peaks on the night of Saturday, Nov. 16 into the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 17.  According to NASA, Leonids are bits of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves debris in its wake. Many of these have drifted across the November portion of Earth’s orbit. Whenever our planet hits one, meteors appear to be flying out of the constellation Leo.  Unfortunately for meteor watchers, this year a full moon will likely wash out all but the very brightest Leonids. Read more »

Global Event Hatches Backyard Poultry Software

A screen shot from the winning app.

A screen shot from the winning app.

Coming one day to a smartphone or tablet computer near you: An application that helps backyard poultry farmers protect their birds from disease. It might even help make them profitable, if you want.

That’s the plan after a team of Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) officials announced the winner of NASA’s 2013 International Space Apps Challenge. Billed as “the largest hackathon ever” to solving a range of problems in space – and here on Earth – the April event drew more than 9,000 people in 83 cities across 44 countries and all seven continents. Read more »