Jan 15 2003

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NASA announced that scientist David Atlas of NASA's GSFC and University of Colorado scientist Christopher Williams had created the first “full-body scan” of an evolving tropical thunderstorm, using data collected from an unusual storm over the Amazon rain forest, which had occurred in February 1999. At that time, a team of scientists from NASA, NOAA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and several universities had used sensitive radar equipment, such as scanning Doppler and vertically oriented Doppler, to detect and measure different types of particles from the storm's base to its top, approximately 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) above the rainforest floor. Participants from the University of North Dakota had operated a jet aircraft to gather some of the data. One of the study's goals had been validating the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite measurements, to help plan the TRMM's successor, the Global Precipitation Mission. TRMM had provided data about how such storms operate, thus enabling scientists to understand how wind circulates in the upper atmosphere. The research, which Atlas and Williams had published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, provided new insight into the intense and hazardous conditions within storms. Scientists expected the research to improve forecasts, helping aircraft avoid dangerous storms and making air travel safer, and to improve satellite measurements of precipitation. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, “NASA Scientists Take First 'Full-Body Scan' of Evolving Thunderstorm,” news release 03-07, 15 January 2003, http://www.GSFC.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-07.htm (accessed 28 July 2008); Reuters, “NASA Takes First 'Full-Body Scan' of Thunderstorm,” 15 January 2003; Lee Bowman for Scripps Howard News Service, “Probing the Inner Workings of Storm Clouds,” 16 January 2003.

As part of Expedition 6, American astronauts Donald D. Pettit and Kenneth R. Bowersox undertook a spacewalk outside the ISS, each spacewalking for the first time, while their Russian colleague Nikolai M. Budarin monitored their work from inside the station. Pettit had replaced Budarin in the spacewalk lineup because NASA doctors were concerned about Budarin's known cardiovascular issues. In the summer of 2003, Pettit had served as backup for another astronaut in an ISS mission, because NASA doctors were worried about that astronaut's radiation exposure. NASA had decided to replace Budarin even though Russian doctors disagreed, because NASA was in charge of this spacewalk. During the 7-hour spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully completed their primary tasks~ releasing locks on a recently installed radiator and cleaning a docking ring. However, they were unable to erect a light on a boom, because a protruding pin prevented the boom from swinging out of its stowed position. (Associated Press, “Astronauts Take Spacewalk, Including a Late Substitute Who Frees the Space Station's Sticky Hatch,” 15 January 2003.

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