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*** SEPTEMBER 2007 ***

...NASA-funded astrobiologists have found evidence of oxygen present in Earth's atmosphere earlier than previously known, pushing back the timeline for the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere. Two teams of researchers report that traces of oxygen appeared in Earth's atmosphere from 50 to 100 million years before what is known as the Great Oxidation Event. This event happened between 2.3 and 2.4 billion years ago, when many scientists think atmospheric oxygen increased significantly from the existing very low levels.
Scientists analyzed a kilometer-long drill core from Western Australia, representing the time just before the major rise of atmospheric oxygen. They found evidence that a small but significant amount of oxygen was present in Earth's oceans and atmosphere 2.5 billion years ago. The findings appear in a pair of research papers in the issue of the journal Science.
"We seem to have captured a piece of time during which the amount of oxygen was actually changing -- caught in the act, as it were," said Ariel Anbar, an associate professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, and leader of one of the research teams.
The goal of both research teams was to learn more about the environment and life in the oceans leading up to the Great Oxidation Event. The researchers did not expect to find evidence of oxygen earlier than what was previously known.

...Updates include new content from the Apollo missions, including dozens of embedded panoramic images, links to audio clips and videos, and descriptions of the astronauts' activities during the missions. The new content is overlaid on updated, higher-resolution lunar maps. Also added are detailed charts of different regions of the moon suitable for use by anyone simulating a lunar mission.
"NASA's objective is for Google Moon to become a more accurate and useful lunar mapping platform that will be a foundation for future web-based moon applications, much like the many applications that have been built on top of Google Maps," said Chris C. Kemp, director of strategic business development at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "This will make it easier for scientists everywhere to make lunar data more available and accessible."
Google Moon's visible imagery and topography are aligned with the recently updated lunar coordinate system and can be used for scientifically accurate mission planning and data analysis. The new site is designed to be user-friendly and encourage the exchange of data and ideas among scientists and amateur astronomers.
This announcement closely follows the release of new NASA content in Google Earth, including photographs taken by NASA astronauts and imagery from NASA's Earth observing satellite sensors, such as the Sea-viewing Wide Field of View Sensor, Landsat and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer...

...The Ikhana is expected to take off from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., at about 6 p.m. PDT, observe several wildfires while flying north, and then will fly above the Lick fire for 30 to 40 minutes beginning at about 8:30 p.m. PDT, according to NASA officials. After that, the plane will fly north through Oregon and Washington, almost to the Canadian border to observe 10 wildfires during the mission, officials added. NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is planning to send several
researchers to the Lick fire incident command center to help firefighters obtain aerial images.
"Imagery will be delivered to the incident command center in Gilroy, Calif. via the Web in real time from the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)," said the project principal investigator, Vince Ambrosia of NASA Ames, who was flying to Boise, Idaho, to coordinate the 20-hour mission from the National Interagency Fire Center there. NASA Ames developed the Autonomous Modular Sensor-Wildfire to look through the smoke to see hot spots, flames and temperature differences. The data will be overlaid on maps and downlinked in near-real time to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, and made available to fire incident commanders to assist them in allocating their fire-fighting resources.
"We collect the images onboard Ikhana, and then the pictures are processed on the plane," said Jim Brass, a member of the Ikhana mission management team at NASA Ames. Brass will travel to the Lick fire incident command center in Gilroy, Calif., to assist firefighters with fire mapping. "After processing, the images are transmitted through a communications satellite to NASA Ames where the imagery is placed on an Ames Web site. Then the imagery is combined with Google Earth maps," he said...