Saudi academic to be first Arab member of NASA research team

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an American space agency, has accorded its relationship to a Saudi academic Dr. Majdah Aburass, making her the first Arab woman to join its research squad of scientists. Dr. Aburas holds a doctorate degree from the University of Surrey in environmental studies and biotechnology, concentrate in oil pollutions.

Arab Member of NASA

Aburas, who is currently a faculty member at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and researcher in environmental sciences, ecology, sustainable development ─ where she lectures on different disciplines such as microbiological pollution, physiology of microorganisms, industrial microbiology and ecological pollution ─ will join the team at NASA to support and create a series of projects for the development of the Gulf region. She was also appointed as a member of the science division at NASA’s regional office.

Muhammad Ibrahim al-Rashid, president of NASA affiliate the Gulf American Foundation for Space, Technology and Environment, told Arab News that Aburas was appointed as a member of the regional research team over her national initiatives to protect the environment. “It was the result of her continuous work for the environment to solve its problems,” he said.

Aburas told Al Arabiya that she is proud of this appointment and credits her achievements to King Abdullah. She says “King Abdullah’s reign is considered as the golden era for women in Saudi; he is a true leader and a visionary. His latest verdict to allow women to participate in the Shoura Council and the municipal polls was historical and ensures equitable and effective representation of women in decision-making structures,” she added.

As for her new role, she said her appointment came as a result of a collaboration with NASA on a project that she hopes will be implemented in the near future. She said she will be based at NASA headquarters for a month in The United States. where she will have the chance to work closely with other NASA researchers.


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NASA's SDO spacecraft captures solar eclipse in space

solar eclipse
A NASA spacecraft has detained footage of Tuesday's partial solar eclipse. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured images of the new Moon crossing part of the Sun's face in a incomplete eclipse that was visible only from space. For more information about solar eclipses, check out an online high school to find science classes that can teach you how solar eclipses happen and its significance to sun-earth interactions. reports that SDO snapped a video and photos of the solar eclipse which made the Sun look like a "huge celestial Pac-Man," from a position 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth. According to SDO , "The video shows today's Lunar Eclipse in a variety of wavelengths the AIA instrument observes. Each wavelength shows us a different temperature and layer of the Sun, allowing us to study the Sun and its activities."

SDO officials tweeted a message on the mission's mascot Twitter account, @Camilla_SDO: "It's a PacMan sun! The moon is transiting between @NASA_SDO and the sun today!"
The incident, according to SDO officials, caused a dip in EVE (extreme ultraviolet) output and gave scientists opportunity to calibrate the energy emitted by the active sunspot region AR1422 that has been emitting strong ultraviolet radiation into space. The AR1422 region was blocked in the Moon's passage across the face of the Sun.

An eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. A total eclipse occurs when there is an exact alignment between the Moon and the Sun as viewed from the Earth. When the alignment is not exact, we have a partial eclipse. reports a total eclipse will take place on November 13, but will be visible only from parts of northern Australia and the South Pacific. A partial eclipse will occur on May 20 and will be visible in much of Asia, the Pacific and western North America, says NASA.


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How NASA Makes Those Incredible High-Res Images of Earth

How were these highly thorough imagery created? The satellite flies 512 miles on top of the Earth, but the images appear as if they were taken from a much higher perspective: an altitude of 1,242 for the first image and 7,918 miles for the second. This little trick was accomplished by stitching together data from several orbits, creating an image that appears to be “pulled back.”

NASA launched the 4,600-pound Suomi in October to remotely sense variations in the Earth’s oceans, continents, and atmosphere and get a better understanding of climate change. It passes directly from pole to pole 14 times a day, imaging 1,865-mile swaths of our planet with each trip.

On board Suomi, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument takes pictures in red, green, and blue wavelengths. For the whole-Earth images, those wavelengths were combined to create a natural color photograph. It is not an exact representation of what an observer sitting in space would see, because particles in the atmosphere scatter short wavelengths of light, and our planet would actually appear more blue-tinged. The photos more accurately portray how the oceans and continents appear from the ground.

Oceanographer Norman Kuring, who compiled the two pictures, said the original image, showing North and Central America, was made as a favor to project scientist James Gleason who was looking for an ocean color image to show in a presentation. Word got out of the striking picture and NASA officials released it on Jan. 25, resulting in 3 million people viewing it in one week.