Aug. 4, 1999 NASA/JPL astronomers are demonstrating their flower power by using an infrared camera to monitor temperature changes as the world's largest, smelliest flower blooms at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, CA. A live Internet webcam shows the flower as observed by the infrared camera, installed temporarily at the Huntington Gardens, at the following JPL website:
The flower, expected to bloom over the next few days, is the dark, vertical structure in the center of the image, with other objects and people seen around it.
The flower, Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the "corpse flower," is the largest and most odorous in the world. When the flower blooms, it emits a very foul smell comparable to the stench of rotting flesh. In addition, as it blooms, the flower's temperature rises. Because infrared photography is ideal for measuring temperature variations, a blossoming relationship developed between JPL astronomers and botanists at Huntington Gardens.
Flowers of this type, which are native to the rainforests in Sumatra, Indonesia, have blossomed only 10 times previously in the United States. The specimen on display at Huntington is nearly 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall; the tallest ever observed measured 3 meters (10 feet) tall.
The infrared camera is operated by astronomers with NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), an orbiting observatory scheduled for launch in 2001 on a mission to study the early universe and hunt for planets hidden in dust debris around nearby stars; heat emitted by dust-shrouded planets can be seen in the infrared. JPL manages SIRTF for NASA.
At the Huntington Botanical Gardens, visitors of all ages are flocking to see the flower bloom and catch a whiff of its unique odor, and JPL's infrared camera monitor enables them to witness the temperature fluctuations.
Additional information on the flower is available at the Huntington website: http://www.huntington.org
Additional information on the Space Infrared Telescope Facility is available at the following website:
JPL manages SIRTF for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
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The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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