Huntsville Stands Ready as NASA Johnson Space Center Rides Out Harvey

| August 29, 2017 @ 5:37 am

One of the areas impacted by Harvey is NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Located on relatively low ground on the west side of Galveston Bay, the center remains closed today, Monday, August 28 with only mission essential personnel on site. A ride-out team continues to support astronauts aboard the international space station from Mission Control Center in building 30. The visitors complex, Space Center Houston, also remains closed
According to the JSC office of Emergency Management, the main JSC entrance was flooded and flood waters from the initial band of rain coming through had topped sidewalks and were

Should conditions worsen, a backup mission control center stands ready in Huntsville, Alabama where science experiments aboard the station are already managed from 24/7. This backup site was first activated in 2008 when Hurricane Gustav caused evacuations of Houston and Galveston.

Like many emergency managers, NASA knows what buildings might flood and under what conditions. In collaboration with the University of Houston and UC Berkley, LIDAR studies have been made along the Texas coastline and around Galveston Bay. Landsat images have also been used.

This information has been used in collaboration with Rice University’s Center for Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) to generate WhatIf models of storm surge, flooding and hurricane impacts around the Galveston Bay area.

Those models have been used to prioritize projects to protect NASA assets ahead of impacts from climate change as well as hurricane and other severe weather events.

The Mission Control Center has already completed a flood mitigation project. The familiar mission control rooms have always been on upper floors of the building. Next door in building 31N, lunar rock samples returned by the Apollo missions was designed to withstand major hurricanes and tornadoes. The sample return vault is airtight and impervious to rising water and building floor level is already 27 feet above sea level.

Other critical research areas have been consolidated into Human Health Performance Facility on higher ground within the center.

Elsewhere in the sky, make note of the Moon and Saturn as they draw closer this week By the tomorrow night Aug 29, Saturn the Moon and bright red star Antares will form a triangle in the southern sky with Jupiter and Spica brightly shining low in the west.

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About the Author ()

Tony Rice is a Solar System Ambassador for NASA/JPL and the voice and brains behinds the weekly Astronomy Report on the WeatherBrains podcast. He grew up in Southern California with Space Shuttle landings and was hooked. He brings weather and space together to communicate the excitement of space exploration and promote a greater appreciation for Earth sciences.

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