NASA media events at 2006 Fall American Geophysical Union Meeting

NASA researchers will present findings to the media on Earth and space science topics during the 2006 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The meeting runs Mon., Dec. 11 through Fri., Dec. 15 at the Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco. All press briefings will take place in the AGU Press Room, Moscone Center South, Room 232 (747 Howard Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets).

The following events are open to registered media:

SCIENTISTS PREDICT REDUCED DENSITY OF THE OUTER ATMOSPHERE AS EARTH WARMS
TIME: Mon., Dec, 11, Noon EST (9 a.m. PST)
SESSION: SH22A

In a sign of the far-reaching impacts of climate change, new research shows that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels will produce a three percent reduction in the density of Earth's outermost atmosphere by 2017. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) produced this estimate using a computer model of the outer atmosphere that incorporates the solar cycle as well as the gradual increase of carbon dioxide.

"WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE, BUT...": TRACKING EARTH'S WATER STORAGE WITH GRACE
TIME: Tues., Dec. 12, Noon EST (9 a.m. PST)
BASED ON SESSIONS: G11B/G12A/G13A/G13B/G13C

A key focus of the joint U.S.-German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) global gravity mapping mission is to study Earth's water cycle at our planet's mid latitudes, where it can make vital contributions to global management of Earth's most precious natural resource: fresh water. The hydrological community has used GRACE data for a broad range of recent water storage observations around the globe. In this press briefing, NASA presents selections from the most recent and important applications, including evidence of sharp water storage decreases in the Congo, Zambezi, Mekong, Parana and Yukon river basins and significant increases in the Niger, Lena and Volga basins.

PREDICTING THE NEXT SOLAR CYCLE
TIME: Tues. Dec. 12, 2006 4 p.m. EST (1 p.m. PST)
BASED ON SESSIONS: SH21A -0331, SH24A, SA24A-01

NASA and NOAA scientists will discuss how they are working with international organizations to formulate an official solar cycle forecast to be issued by NOAA in April 2007. Forecasts include onset, duration, and intensity of space weather. This press briefing will give an inside look at the possibility of weak and intense cycles and the science behind both. Accurate predictions are important because space weather disrupts communications, transportation, and security.

SEEING THE "UPS AND DOWNS" ON THE SURFACE OF SATURN'S MOON TITAN
TIME: Tues., Dec. 12, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)
SESSIONS: P11A/P12A/P13A/P21B

Cassiniís infrared instrument has given scientists their highest-resolution look at never-before-seen surface features, including a mountain range reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Researchers will discuss how this, combined with previous data, is providing more clues on Titanís geologic processes.

EARLY RESULTS FROM THE MARS RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER
TIME: Wed., Dec. 13, 12 p.m. EST (9 a.m. PST)
BASED ON SESSION: P33A

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began the main science phase of its mission in November, after more than half a year of adjusting its orbit and checking out its gear and operations. Observations show selected places on the planet in unprecedented detail. Briefing participants will present some of the first findings from this newest spacecraft orbiting Mars.

SPIRIT AND OPPORTUNITY: LATEST DISCOVERIES OF THE MARS ROVERS
TIME: Wed., Dec. 13, 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST)
BASED ON SESSIONS: P43A and P44A

NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still exploring the Martian surface more than 34 months into what was planned as a three-month mission. Opportunity has begun examining a crater that was the rover's destination for more than two years, observing rock layers exposed in the crater wall. Spirit recently finished a campaign of experiments from a slope where it parked for more than six months of limited solar energy and has resumed driving to targets such as bright, salty soil. Briefing participants will describe the latest findings and the rovers' status.

FIRST RESULTS OF THE STARDUST MISSION
TIME: Thurs., Dec. 14, 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST)
BASED ON SESSION: P52B

Researchers will present the first peer-reviewed results of NASA's Stardust Discovery Mission, providing data and analysis of comet samples collected during the spacecraft's encounter with Comet Wild 2 in January 2004 and returned to Earth in January 2006. Wild 2 is a Jupiter-family comet, believed to have formed in the Kuiper Belt of objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. Stardust has brought to Earth materials that are known to have originated in the outer regions of the solar system. These materials are the first solid samples to be delivered to Earth from outside the Earth-moon system.

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