One of the most difficult challenges of the green-minded is to survive the summer heat without seeing their energy bills go through the roof. After all, summer without air conditioning is downright brutal, and Americans simply cannot get past these few steamy months without turning down the thermostat. According to data from the National Climatic Data Center, 87 percent of all American homes – almost 100 million – are equipped with AC appliances, costing homeowners more than $ 11 billion annually.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is still the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels, but there’s real progress being made in developing alternative energy sources. At the moment, renewable power accounts for 9% of total energy used in America, but experts believe it could easily surpass natural gas as the world’s second most prevalent energy source within the next three years.
With all this in mind, Save On Energy put together an infographic that reflects the summer energy consumer trends of Americans. Here’s the complete look:
Many of us will be looking up at the sky tonight to see the backdrop of spectacular stars and fireworks in celebration of July Fourth. But what you won’t see is NASA’s high tech fleet of Earth Science satellites orbiting and also looking back at our planet. Most astronauts also agree that the view of Earth from space is as compelling as anything else they’ve ever seen on it! Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 astronaut who took the inspiring Earthrise photograph back in 1968 said, “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”
Almost a half-century later, studying Earth from space has become one of NASA’s most critical missions beyond the exploration of other planets and galaxies. There are currently 16 Earth-observing satellites floating in orbit around our planet! The oldest satellite, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) was launched in 1997; while the youngest, Landstat 8, was launched in February of 2013. The mission of the fleet is to monitor a wide range of environmental phenomenon concerning weather prediction, fire monitoring, climate change, and the health of vegetation.
NASA administrator and environmentalist Charles Bolden discussed the future of NASA’s Earth science fleet:
“Having looked back at Earth from outer space, I have seen just how fragile our home planet is—and I’m committed to doing everything I can to help protect it…
These cover a wide spectrum of Earth observations and join NASA’s seventeen Earth science missions [Editor’s Note: Jason-1 was decommissioned on July 3, 2013; the number is now sixteen] in space observing our planet’s atmosphere and oceans, its climate, weather patterns, and much more. The data we collect helps us understand our planet as a dynamic, unified system.”
You can read more about each of the ongoing 16 missions on the website of NASA’s Earth Observing System or from the mission list on NASA.gov.
Also, here are some captivating pictures of Earth returned from those satellites all the way up in space: