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Commit to Launch: An ETE "Weather-or-Not?" Good Idea
Image of a space shuttle taking off for space.Situation
Ask your students to predict the weather for an upcoming Space Shuttle launch. They will be using the ETE "Weather-or-Not?" module and applying the NASA Space Shuttle weather criteria to the:

1. Shuttle launch
2. Emergency landings at off-site locations
3. End-of-mission landing criteria

They will be using the actual weather guidelines for Space Shuttle launches. Their weather outlooks should begin at launch minus 5 days. These should include weather trends and their possible effects on launch day.

In addition to the sites suggested in the "Weather or Not?" module, you can print out any of the pages provided at the links below, or you can give the students the URLs and have them visit these sites for themselves.

What Students Will Need to Know
A list of
NASA Space Shuttle Launches. From this site, students can access information about Shuttle launches from 1981 to the present and into the future from the Kennedy Space Center. They can also get information about Orbiter Vehicles or Pre STS-1 missions or access the JSC's Shuttle Image Library, Ames Graphical Image Index, or the Dryden's Shuttle Landing Archive.

NASA weather instrumentation. The equipment used by the forecaster to develop the downrange and launch clearance forecast are located here.

Weather criteria for launch, contingency landings, and end-of-mission. The following are excerpted from a Kennedy Space Center news release for October 4, 1995.

Space Shuttle Weather Launch Commit Criteria

Contingency Landing Criteria
Weather conditions for a Return To Launch Site Abort (RTLS) or for emergency landings at other off-site locations.

End-of-Mission Landing Weather Criteria

How to Tell When the Data Was Gathered
Satellites take many pictures. How do you know you are looking at the most recent one? How long ago was the picture taken? Most satellite images have the time written on them, but it is in a form that may be difficult to read. Here is a guide to finding the time.

As you know, there are many different time zones around the globe. The one generally used on satellite images is universal time (U.T.), also known as zulu time (Z), and Greenwich mean time (GMT). All three refer to the time in London along the Greenwich Meridian. When a satellite picture is taken, it is logged according to traditional military notation for time (that is, the 24-hundred hour notation). So if you see a picture taken at 0830 U.T., this means it was taken at 8:30 a.m. universal time. You can use a chart to convert a U.T., Z, or GMT time to the zone where you live.

To convert to standard time in North America, subtract the appropriate number of hours from the chart below. To convert to zones outside North America, use the U.S. Naval Observatory's World Time Zones page.

Newfoundland 3.5 hours
Atlantic zone 4 hours
Eastern zone 5 hours
Central zone 6 hours
Mountain zone 7 hours
Pacific zone 8 hours
Most of Alaska 9 hours
Hawaii and Alleutian Islands 10 hours

To get daylight saving time, add one hour to your answer. Thus, if the satellite image was made Friday at 1500 hours (fifteen hundred hours) Greenwich mean time, then the time on the East Coast of the United States was 1000 hours (10 hundred hours). If daylight saving time was in effect, add one hour.

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What Students Will Need to Know
NASA Space Shuttle Launches

NASA weather instrumentation

Space Shuttle Weather Launch Commit Criteria

Contingency Landing Criteria

End-of-Mission Landing Weather Criteria


Online Weather Resources

Latest KSC Area Weather

Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) Realtime Data

Penn State University Weather Pages

Current US Weather

The NOAA Weather Page

WebWeather

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Last updated November 10, 2004
   

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