In the absolute silence of space, a special group of satellites circles our planet in a fast, low earth orbit, their cameras and sensors point toward Earth as they record endless data and images of storm systems and weather patterns moving across the globe below.

Back on the ground, hidden in a D.C. suburb, Maj. Jonathan Whitaker squints against the sun and points to Marine One, the U.S. president's dedicated helicopter, as it arches its way across the horizon of the nation's capital.
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Capt. Melissa Bierma stands in front of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 25, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Bierma is satellite operator and executive officer with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations G…

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Maj. Jonathan Whitaker stands in front of the he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Whitaker is the commander of Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group, a small unit of …

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Capt. Tyson Johnson stands in front of the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facilitySept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Johnson is the ground flight commander with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. Th…

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Capt. Nathaniel Sharkey stands in front of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Sharkey is the director of operations for Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The g…

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Capt. Melissa Bierma stands next to an engineering model of a GOES sounder satellite component Sept. 26, 2014, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility in Suitland, Md. The GOES sounder is a radiometer de…

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Civilian satellite operators work in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 25, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Detachment 1 of the 50th Space Operations Group, a small unit of four Air Force officers, works …

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Capt. Tyson Johnson stands in the satellite operations center Sept. 25, 2014, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility in Suitland, Md. Johnson is the ground flight commander with Detachment 1, 50th Space…

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U.S. Special Operations Command finished atop the medal standings with nine medals after the second day of competition at the 2014 Warrior Games.

The first medals of the Games were awarded at the cycling competition held at Fort Carson. Athletes com…

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A few days after autumn showed up on the calendar in the Northern Hemisphere, it showed up on the landscape of North America. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of fall colors around the Great Lakes on Sept. 26, 2014.

The changing of leaf color in temperate forests involves several causes and reactions, but the dominant factors are sunlight and heat. Since temperatures tend to drop sooner and sunlight fades faster at higher latitudes, the progression of fall color changes tends to move from north to south across North America from mid-September through mid-November.

In late summer and autumn, tree and plant leaves produce less chlorophyll, the green pigment that harvests sunlight for plants to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. The subsidence of chlorophyll allows other chemical compounds in the leaves—particularly carotenoids and flavonoids—to emerge from the green shadow of summer. These compounds do not decay as fast as chlorophyll, so they shine through in yellows, oranges, and reds as the green fades. Another set of chemicals, anthocyanins, are associated with the storage of sugars and give the leaves of some species deep purple and red hues.

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Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz

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