An international research satellite intended to help improve the monitoring of climate change issues has been successfully launched from the Central Coast.

Tens of thousands of people in the region were able to see the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base Saturday morning.

(NASA Image)

Central and South Coast residents could have a spectacular, front row seat this weekend to the launch of a satellite intended to help us learn more about the impacts of climate change.

The Sentinel-6 satellite is a global project involving a half dozen organizations including the European Space Agency and NASA.

(NASA photo)

We are surrounded by different types of life, but researchers say we are still scratching the surface of what exists.  Imagine what it would be like to discover some new forms of life. 

Photo by Dan Kasen (Berkely/LBNL)

Astronomers on the South Coast were part of an international team of scientists who made some important observations about a supernova.

NASA’s Kepler satellite caught a rare glimpse of a supernova, which is the explosion of a star. And Goleta-based Las Cumbres Observatory – known as LCO -- used its network of 21 robotic telescopes around the world to observe it.

It’s been six decades since NASA was created, and more than five decades since America’s first manned space flight gave the U.S. a firm stake in what was dubbed the “space race.” Now, a Ventura County man who spent nearly three decades as an Air Force, and NASA historian has co-authored an ambitious new book looking at the history of man in space. Michael Gorn’s new book is called “Spacecraft: 101 Iconic Rockets, Shuttles, and Spacecraft That Put Us In Space."

Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

A NASA scientist, who will be visiting the South Coast, runs a mission that studies asteroids and comets approaching Earth.

Amy Mainzer is a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. She’s the principal investigator of NEOWISE, which is an orbiting space telescope that surveys for asteroids and comets that get close to Earth.

Photo by NASA New Horizons

Fran Bagenal is one of the team leaders for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, and she will share her discoveries at Cal Poly this week. 

She says it took nine years for the spacecraft to finally make a flyby and 15 more months to beam images back to Earth. She says the data far exceeded her expectations.

Someday in the future, NASA hopes to send a swarm of autonomous rovers to explore Mars. But, before they can do so, they need to create a computer code so that these robots can run on their own and work together. Some computer science students on the South Coast are among those across the nation who are working on code that could revolutionize space exploration.