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Immortalize your name among the stars

In the old 1950s Honeymooners television sitcom, bus-driver character Ralph Cramden, played by actor Jackie Gleason, often threatened to send his independent-minded wife Alice, played by actress Audrey Meadows, to the Moon Bang, zoom, to the Moon, Alice! Well, now you can follow Ralphs one small step and send your wife, even your husband or your kids into space, too. NASA invites you to submit your name to be included on a microchip that will be rocketed into space as part of NASA's Glory Mission, scheduled to launched in June 2009. Glory is the first mission dedicated to understanding the effects of particles in the atmosphere and the Sun's variability on Earth's climate. The Send Your Name Around the Earth web site enables anyone young and old to take part in the science mission and place his or her name in orbit for years to come. Participants can print out a color certificate from NASA, too, thats suitable for framing. You must act quickly do it today! since the deadline for submitting names is Nov. 1. To submit your family and friends names to go into space, visit polls.nasa.gov.. Theres an easy form to fill out and submit. Simply repeat filling out the form for each name you want to send into space. The Earth's energy balance and the effect on climate requires measuring black carbon soot and other aerosols, and the total solar irradiance. Glory is a low Earth orbit scientific research satellite designed to achieve several major goals, as outlined by NASA: Collect data on the properties of aerosols, including black carbon, in the Earth's atmosphere and climate system. It will enable a greater understanding of the seasonal variability of aerosol properties. Black carbon particles appear to some scientists to be causing changes in precipitation and temperatures, thus contributing to some localized droughts and floods. While we may think of fossil-fuel carbon footprints (carbon derived from human activities), it isnt the only kind of carbon being placed into the atmosphere for example, some tens of tons of outer space carbon falls to Earth in every 24-hour period in the form of meteorites and meteoric dust. Collect data on solar irradiance for the long-term effects on the Earth climate record. Understanding whether the temperature increase and climate changes are by-products of natural events or whether the changes are caused by man-made sources is of primary importance. Indeed, the jury is still out on this controversial climate change topic in the opinions of many researchers not connected to a political or environmental policy agenda. According to a recent NASA news conference, An accurate description of Earth's energy budget is important for scientists in order to anticipate changes to our climate. Shifts in the global climate and the associated weather patterns impact life by altering landscapes and changing the availability of natural resources. Scientists are working to better understand exactly how and why this energy budget changes. NASAs Glory mission will likely change the way we look at how our planets complex atmosphere is affected by both terrestrial and extraterrestrial forces and events. Whats in the Sky: The constellation Capricorn, the sea-goat, is visible in the southern evening sky during this time of year. The goats bright stars align to form a vast triangle. Look due south after sunset light fades. The constelaltion sets before sunrise. Lou Varricchio is a former NASA senior science writer and is currently affiliated with the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program in Vermont. His science radio documentaries have been broadcast via Public Radio International.

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