The biggest merger yet between two black holes produced gravity waves that were detected by gravitational wave detection systems. This analysis is the latest to come out of the international LIGO-VIRGO collaboration, which operates three super-sensitive gravitational wave-detection systems in America and Europe (Information from BBC News, September 2). The systems consist of two interferometers at right angles to each other. The two American LIGO systems are located near Livingston, LA (left image) and near Hanford, WA (center image); the European VIRGO system is located near Pisa, Italy (right image). The three ASTER cutouts each cover an area of 6 by 6 km.
With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of about 50 to 300 feet (15 to 90 meters), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and data products.
The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.
The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.