During the week of May 13th, the CO2 level at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii topped 400 ppm repeatedly. Daily levels of CO2 can vary due to weather, and there are seasonal trends as well. The level of atmospheric greenhouse gases continues to increase, now over 120 ppm since the Industrial Revolution began. For more on the Keeling Curve, see http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/. Find out more about greenhouse gases and warming.
The week of May 19 brings dozens of tornadoes to Tornado Alley in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. On May 20th, a massive tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, devastating communities - destroying over 100 homes and hitting two elementary schools and a hospital - with many casualties and deaths. Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues suffering from these storms. For more on the May 20th storms, see the NOAA Storm Prediction Center Storm Report.
LRO and LCROSS were launched together on the same rocket in June 2009. LRO maps the Moon from lunar orbit. LCROSS crashes (on purpose!) near the South Pole. Images courtesy of NASA.
LRO and LCROSS are two space missions sent by NASA to Earth's Moon. LRO and LCROSS were launched from Florida in June 2009. The two spacecraft were launched together on one rocket.
LRO stands for "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter". LRO is in orbit around the Moon. It is taking very detailed pictures of the Moon's surface. These pictures will be used to make a better new map of the Moon. That map will help scientists plan other Moon missions that are coming up in the next few years. LRO is also searching for signs of water ice near the Moon's North and South Poles. LRO is also studying radiation near the Moon. That will be important to know about when astronauts go back to the Moon.
LCROSS stands for Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. LCROSS will crash into the Moon on purpose! It will hit the Moon near the South Pole on October 9, 2009. LCROSS is trying to detect signs of water ice in craters near the Moon's South Pole, if any is there. The Centaur upper stage of the rocket that launched LRO and LCROSS will crash into a crater near the South Pole. Scientists think there might be water ice in that crater. The crash will create a large plume of material when the Centaur explodes upon impact. LCROSS will use instruments to search for signs of water molecules within the plume. The LCROSS spacecraft will also smash into the Moon soon after the Centaur rocket. Telescopes on Earth will watch both crashes.
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