The launch gantry is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite aboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
When we think about space missions, we tend to look toward the stars to planets like Mars where robotic rovers roam, gathering data and sending it back to Earth. Rarely do we think about missions closer to home. But a view of Earth from 426 miles above is helping us monitor droughts, predict floods, improve weather forecasts and assist with crop productivity.
This year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new satellite called SMAP (Soil Moisture Active-Passive) with the help of a team that included U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hydrologist Susan Moran at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Southwest Watershed Research Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, and physical scientist Wade Crow and hydrologist Thomas Jackson at ARS’s Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Read more »
Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) new monthly digital magazine, AgResearch, launches today. Check it out!
Today, I am proud to announce the launch of the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) new digital AgResearch magazine. AgResearch is a monthly product designed to highlight short features on the scientific research discoveries occurring at the 90-plus ARS research laboratories across the Nation and abroad.
The new magazine replaces the previous print edition of the agency’s Agricultural Research magazine, which debuted in early 1953 and published its last print edition in 2013. Back then, the bimonthly publication focused on agricultural research stories that addressed the growing food, fiber and agricultural needs of post-World War II America. Today, we still have that same commitment to bring our readers the research discoveries that have an impact on their everyday lives. Read more »
Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)
Forest managers in the western United States often face difficult choices when it comes to reducing wildfire hazards while also maintaining wildlife habitat in forests that have changed dramatically in the last century.
The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and partners are working to find the balance between forest restoration and habitat conservation in a new era of forest management. Read more »
Healthy seagrass meadows prevent erosion on coasts, store carbon, and provide marine animals with food and habitat. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency)
Just off Florida’s 8,000 miles of coastline and tidal areas, in shallow sunlit waters, over two million acres of seagrass meadows waft in the ocean currents.
Besides providing food and habitat for manatees, sea turtles, shellfish, and other animals, seagrasses protect coasts from erosion and store vast quantities of carbon dioxide.
“Seagrasses grow off the coast of many other U.S. states, including North Carolina and Virginia, as well as around the world,” said U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Zanethia Choice. “Globally, their economic value is nearly $4 trillion.” Read more »
February 7 marks the first anniversary of the Agriculture Act of 2014, commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill. This milestone provides an opportunity to report on the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) efforts during the last year to implement the many provisions of relevance to the agency. Here are a few of the more significant provisions that have been implemented: Read more »
A timber rattlesnake captured in a tube will be fitted with a transmitter in order to discover and protect new dens. (U.S. Forest Service)
Throughout history, literature and movies, snakes have taken a hit in the public relations department. Think of Cleopatra and the legend of the deadly asp, or the various snakes so feared by a seemingly fearless Indiana Jones in a series of movies by the same name. Then, there is “Snakes on a Plane,” a horrifying look at being stuck on an airplane thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean as hundreds of deadly and poisonous snakes crawl about.
Not surprisingly, ophidiophobia is rather common. But the fear of snakes in many cases is unwarranted and based on misinformation. Read more »