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UK Excels in Renewable Energy

Congratulations to the UK government on the great progress it’s making in renewable energy!

Ed Davey, the UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, released a statement saying, “The government’s investment in renewable energy is paying off: renewable electricity has more than doubled in just four years – with around 15 per cent of Britain’s electricity already coming from clean renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro.

“This massive investment in green energy is accelerating, with 2013 a record year, with almost £8 billion invested across range of renewable technologies. Having a strong UK renewable sector helps to reduce our foreign imports of energy, improving our energy security, as well as helping us tackle climate change and creating new hi-tech green jobs. A green energy future that once seemed impossible for Britain is fast becoming a reality.”

For more information, check out the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2014 here.


New Global Geologic Map of Mars

Mars_Geo_TopoA new global geologic map of Mars –the most thorough representation of the “Red Planet’s” surface – has been published by the U.S. Geological Survey. This map provides a framework for continued scientific investigation of Mars as the long-range target for human space exploration.

The new map brings together observations and scientific findings from four orbiting spacecraft that have been acquiring data for more than 16 years. The result is an updated understanding of the geologic history of the surface of Mars – the solar system’s most Earth-like planet and the only other one in our Sun’s “habitable zone.” The new geologic map of Mars is available for download online.

For hundreds of years, geologic maps have helped drive scientific thought. This new global geologic map of Mars, as well as the recent global geologic maps of Jupiter’s moons Ganymedeand Io, also illustrates the overall importance of geologic mapping as an essential tool for the exploration of the solar system.

“Spacecraft exploration of Mars over the past couple decades has greatly improved our understanding of what geologic materials, events and processes shaped its surface,” said USGS scientist and lead author, Dr. Kenneth Tanaka. “The new geologic map brings this research together into a holistic context that helps to illuminate key relationships in space and time, providing information to generate and test new hypotheses.”

Read more at the USGS Newsroommars geological map


Orbital’s Antares Rocket Launced from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility


Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A multitude of NASA research investigations, crew provisions, hardware and science experiments from across the country is headed to the International Space Station aboard Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Cygnus spacecraft. The cargo craft launched aboard Orbital’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 12:52 p.m. EDT Sunday.

The mission is the company’s second cargo delivery flight to the station through a $1.9 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Orbital will fly at least eight cargo missions to the space station through 2016.

The Orbital-2 mission is carrying almost 3,300 pounds of supplies to the station, which will expand the research capability of the Expedition 40 crew members. Among the research investigations headed to the orbital laboratory are a flock of nanosatellites designed to take images of Earth, developed by Planet Labs of San Francisco; and a satellite-based investigation called TechEdSat-4 built by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, which aims to develop technology that will eventually enable small samples to be returned to Earth from the space station.

Read more here.


“Our Ocean” Conference Program

Over three billion people around the world rely on fish as a major source of protein in their diet.  Do you eat fish? Help make sustainable seafood a priority on the global menu by joining #OurOcean2014:

The State Department has published the preliminary program for the Oceans Conference that was rescheduled from last October due to the government shutdown. The conference, which will be for invitees only (though portions may be available via the internet), will focus on issues of Sustainable Fisheries, Marine Pollution and Ocean Acidification.

If you’d like to read the draft program, click here.

Photo courtesy NOAA Flickr page.

Photo courtesy NOAA Flickr page.


World Water Day

World Water Day is this Saturday, March 22! To mark the occasion, the Department of State will host USTech H2.O tomorrow afternoon. USTech H2.O is an interactive event that will highlight some of the latest and most exciting new technologies in the American water sector, and feature speakers such as Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli, the President’s Science Advisor John Holdren, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones, and others.  BNET will stream the event live on their website at from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST.

Test your Energy Water Food Nexus Knowledge! What is the biggest user of freshwater on the planet?

  1. Agriculture
  2. Energy and Industry
  3. Municipalities
  4. Recreation

Can you guess the estimated annual value of the global water market?

  1. $150 billion
  2. $300 billion
  3. $500 billion
  4. $1 trillion

How many people around the world live in areas of high water stress?

  1. 800 million
  2. 1.8 billion
  3. 2.8 billion
  4. 3.8 billion

Can you guess which continent has the largest freshwater reserves?

  1. South America
  2. North America
  3. Antarctica
  4. Asia

Leave your answers in the comments!


The Week in Space

NASA has had a very exciting couple of weeks.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

First and foremost, the Mars rover Curiosity, whose dramatic landing last year was followed by an enthusiastic crowd, has discovered a series of organic chemicals on the Martian surface that could lead to further proof that the planet once supported life or was at least capable of supporting life. They’ve also been able to use potassium-dating methods, similar to carbon-dating in an environment lacking much carbon, to determine the ages of rocks and clay.

Speaking of long-distance travel, on Tuesday NASA launched a Commercial Crew Program (CCP) in an attempt to return to its mission of getting astronauts onto the International Space Station from U.S. soil. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “Our American industry partners have already proven they can safely and reliably launch supplies to the space station, and now we’re working with them to get our crews there as well.”

Remaining in Earth orbit, NASA is helping support the future of science by launching four student-built CubeSat research satellites aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket!


3-D Printers Go Galactic


NASA 3D Printing

NASA is teaming with a Texas company to bring astronaut life one step closer to the age of the Jetsons.  The space agency recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Phase I contract to Austin, Texas based Systems and Materials Research Consultancy.  The contract will fund a feasibility study of the use of 3D printers in space to “print” food for astronauts, addressing a major logistical challenge mission planners face as technological progress makes lengthier space missions more plausible.  Additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is official known, in space is still far off, but the possibilities for the technology are exciting: aside from food, astronauts could also theoretically print tools or spare parts on-site and on-demand.


Office of Nuclear Energy Launches New Website





 The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is pleased to introduce our new, updated public website:

The new site was designed to help facilitate users’ access to NE documents, reports and program descriptions, with an emphasis on up-to-date, easily accessible information. The new homepage features our activities and initiatives, as well as links to most recent publications and press releases. The rest of the NE site is structured to match our organization — and enable easier navigation and more direct access to information about our programs.

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President’s 2014 Budget Proposal Makes Critical Investments in Innovation, Clean Energy and National Security Priorities

Obama Budget 2014

On April 10, 2013, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman detailed President Barack Obama’s $28.4 billion Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for the Department of Energy.  Poneman emphasized the President’s continued commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that prioritizes investments in innovation, clean energy technologies, and national security.  The Department’s budget request is part of the Administration-wide effort to strengthen the American economy with energy that is cleaner, cheaper and creates sustainable jobs.  The FY 2014 budget request represents tough choices aimed at focusing taxpayer resources on areas that will yield the greatest benefit over time.

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US Highlights – NASA, EPA Advancements, and NIH Updates

LDCM Prelaunch First Images Released From Newest Earth Observation Satellite: Turning on New Satellite Instruments is Like Opening New Eyes

 As we noted in last month’s blog the Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched on February 11. In mid-March the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) released its first images of Earth, collected at 1:40 p.m. EDT on March 18. The first image shows the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.

The two LDCM sensors collect data simultaneously over the same ground path. OLI collects light reflected off the surface of Earth in nine different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including bands of visible light and near-infrared and short-wave-infrared bands, which are beyond human vision. TIRS collects data at two longer wavelength thermal infrared bands that measure heat emitted from the surface. By looking at different band combinations, scientists can distinguish features on the land surface. These features include forests and how they respond to natural and human-caused disturbances, and the health of agricultural crops and how much water they use. Data from LDCM will extend a continuous, 40-year-long data record of Earth’s surface from previous Landsat satellites, an unmatched, impartial perspective that allows scientists to study how landscapes all across the world change through time.   Read more here.

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