NASA In Brief -- Technology measures glaciers; telescopes spot distant galaxy

From NASA Reports
This view of the Langjökull Ice Cap was captured from the cockpit of NASA's C-20A research aircraft. Image: NASA.
This view of the Langjökull Ice Cap was captured from the cockpit of NASA's C-20A research aircraft. Image: NASA.

NASA AIRCRAFT MAPS GLACIERS: The cold of an Icelandic winter did not stop one NASA science aircraft from completing a mission to map glaciers on the island.

    NASA's C-20A, based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., flew four radar missions from Keflavik International Airport near Reykjavik, Iceland. The aircraft carries a precision NASA synthetic aperture radar -- developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. -- that can detect and measure subtle deformations on the Earth's surface.
    The Icelandic mission is designed to study how movement of glaciers in the winter differs from movement in the summer when there is considerable meltwater that reaches the bed of the glacier, according to principal investigator Mark Simons, a professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
   "This study will help scientists better understand the basic processes that control the fate of glaciers as climate changes. In so doing, this study contributes to our understanding of glacier behavior worldwide and will aid in improving our estimates of rising sea levels," Simons said.

DISTANT GALAXY SPOTTED: NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have spotted what might be one of the most distant galaxies known, harkening back to a time when our universe was only about 650 million years old. (For the record, our universe is 13.8 billion years old.)
   The galaxy, known as Abell2744 Y1, is approximately 30 times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy and is producing about 10 times more stars than galaxies in our universe. The distance to this galaxy, if confirmed, would make it one of the farthest known.
    Astronomers say it has a redshift of 8, which is a measure of the degree to which its light has been shifted to redder wavelengths due to the expansion of our universe. The farther a galaxy, the higher the redshift. The farthest confirmed galaxy has a redshift of more than 7. Other candidates have been identified with redshifts as high as 11.
   "Just a handful of galaxies at these great distances are known," said Jason Surace, of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.


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