Share

NASA Launches Communications Satellite

Sean Breslin | TWC
Published: January 31, 2013

AP Photo/Florida Today, Craig Bailey

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Wednesday evening, Jan. 30, 2013 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA launched a new communication satellite Wednesday to stay in touch with its space station astronauts and relay more Hubble telescope images.

An unmanned Atlas V rocket blasted into the starry night sky carrying the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

This is the 11th TDRS satellite to be launched by NASA. The space agency uses the orbiting network to communicate with astronauts living on the International Space Station.

The first TDRS spacecraft flew in 1983; it recently was retired along with No. 4. The second was lost aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1986; Monday marked the 27th anniversary of the launch disaster.

This newest third-generation TDRS carries the letter K designation. Once it begins working, it will become TDRS-11. It will take two weeks for the satellite to reach its intended 22,300-mile-high orbit. Testing will last a few months.

NASA estimates the satellite costs between $350 million and $400 million.

Another TDRS spacecraft, L in the series, will be launched next year.

NASA wants at least seven TDRS satellites working in orbit at any one time. The one launched Wednesday will make eight.

Patchy Frosted Dunes

Patchy Frosted Dunes

NASA

Frosted crescent-shaped dunes in the Martian North Pole are dotted with bare patches of sand where warming springtime temperatures have vaporized the frost.

  • Patchy Frosted Dunes
  • A Pine Tree Farm on Mars?
  • Growing Frost in Late Fall
  • Summer Ice at the South Pole
  • Thawing Richardson Crater Dunes
  • Frost-Slickened Slopes
  • Frosted Gully Landforms
  • Fans of Sand on Ice
  • Winter Gullies
  • Ribbony Layers at the North Pole

Featured Blogs

The Record Quiet Hurricane Season of 1914: Could it Happen Again in 2014?

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 25, 2014

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the slowest Atlantic hurricane season on record--1914, which had no hurricanes and only one tropical storm. Is it possible that the 2014 hurricane season could match 1914 for the lowest activity ever recorded, with Hurricane Arthur ending up as our only named storm? I think that is highly unlikely, even though the atmospheric and oceanic conditions in the Atlantic are looking hostile for development for the coming two weeks.

Warmest Days of the Year for the U.S.

By Christopher C. Burt
July 9, 2014

NOAA recently produced an interesting map showing when the hottest day of the year is likely to occur in the contiguous U.S. Complimenting this map is one produced by Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific, LLC, which illustrates the date of summer’s midpoint (peak of summer average temperatures) which was reproduced in my blog posted last August. Brian has also produced maps of such for the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. There is also some other great material from Brian herein.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.