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"The Neck", Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia by JJ Harrison

© Copyright 2009 JJ Harrison. All Rights Reserved.
"The Neck" connects the two halves of Bruny Island and is an important breeding site for Short-tailed Shearwater and Fairy Penguins.

"The Neck", Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia by JJ Harrison

© Copyright 2009 JJ Harrison. All Rights Reserved.

"The Neck" connects the two halves of Bruny Island and is an important breeding site for Short-tailed Shearwater and Fairy Penguins.

— 2 years ago with 7 notes
#Bruny Island  #Tasmania  #Australia  #JJ Harrison  #The Neck  #Isthmus  #Earth  #Geology  #Wikipedia  #Photography  #Photographer 
Northern lights mystery may be solved at last

Electrons for auroras likely accelerated to incredible speeds in  Earth’s magnetosphere
By Space on MSNBC.com

Scientists may have solved a longstanding mystery about the  origin of the energetic particles that cause Earth’s dramatic aurora  displays.
The electrons responsible for the auroras — also known as the northern and southern lights —  are likely accelerated to incredible speeds in an active region of  Earth’s magnetosphere, according to a new study. This region is 1,000  times larger than scientists had thought possible, providing enough  volume to generate lots of the fast-moving electrons, the study reports.
"People have been thinking this region is tiny," lead author Jan  Egedal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement.  But now, he added, "we’ve shown it can be very large, and can  accelerate many electrons."
Egedal and his colleagues analyzed data gathered by various  spacecraft, including the European Space Agency’s four Cluster probes.  They also performed simulations using a supercomputer called Kraken at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Kraken has 112,000 processors working in parallel. The team used  25,000 of these processors for 11 days, following the motions of 180  billion simulated particles in space to map out how aurora-generating  electrons move.
The researchers determined that these electrons are likely being  rocketed to their tremendous speeds in the magnetotail, a portion of Earth’s protective magnetosphere that has been pushed far into space by the solar wind.
As the solar wind — the million-mph stream of charged particles  coming from the sun — stretches Earth’s magnetic-field lines, the field  stores energy like a rubber band being stretched, Egedal said. When the  normally parallel field lines reconnect, that energy is released like a  rubber band being snapped, and electrons are propelled back toward our  planet at fantastic speeds.
When these fast-moving electrons hit molecules in Earth’s upper  atmosphere, the impact generates the phenomenon that we know as the  northern and southern lights.
Some physicists had viewed this origin story for the aurora-causing  electrons as improbable, because they didn’t think the active  magnetotail region was big enough to generate the huge numbers of  electrons that slam into Earth’s atmosphere.
Egedal and his team found, however, that the region is likely plenty  big — roughly 1,000 times larger, in fact, than theorists had thought  possible.
"It used to be people said this was a crazy idea," Egedal said. "I don’t get that anymore."
In addition to creating a beautiful glow at Earth’s higher latitudes,  these super-energetic electrons can damage or destroy spacecraft. So a  better understanding of their behavior may help operators better protect  their satellites, researchers said.
The study is detailed in Sunday’s edition of the journal Nature Physics.
Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Northern lights mystery may be solved at last

Electrons for auroras likely accelerated to incredible speeds in  Earth’s magnetosphere

By Space on MSNBC.com


Scientists may have solved a longstanding mystery about the origin of the energetic particles that cause Earth’s dramatic aurora displays.

The electrons responsible for the auroras — also known as the northern and southern lights — are likely accelerated to incredible speeds in an active region of Earth’s magnetosphere, according to a new study. This region is 1,000 times larger than scientists had thought possible, providing enough volume to generate lots of the fast-moving electrons, the study reports.

"People have been thinking this region is tiny," lead author Jan Egedal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement. But now, he added, "we’ve shown it can be very large, and can accelerate many electrons."

Egedal and his colleagues analyzed data gathered by various spacecraft, including the European Space Agency’s four Cluster probes. They also performed simulations using a supercomputer called Kraken at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Kraken has 112,000 processors working in parallel. The team used 25,000 of these processors for 11 days, following the motions of 180 billion simulated particles in space to map out how aurora-generating electrons move.

The researchers determined that these electrons are likely being rocketed to their tremendous speeds in the magnetotail, a portion of Earth’s protective magnetosphere that has been pushed far into space by the solar wind.

As the solar wind — the million-mph stream of charged particles coming from the sun — stretches Earth’s magnetic-field lines, the field stores energy like a rubber band being stretched, Egedal said. When the normally parallel field lines reconnect, that energy is released like a rubber band being snapped, and electrons are propelled back toward our planet at fantastic speeds.

When these fast-moving electrons hit molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, the impact generates the phenomenon that we know as the northern and southern lights.

Some physicists had viewed this origin story for the aurora-causing electrons as improbable, because they didn’t think the active magnetotail region was big enough to generate the huge numbers of electrons that slam into Earth’s atmosphere.

Egedal and his team found, however, that the region is likely plenty big — roughly 1,000 times larger, in fact, than theorists had thought possible.

"It used to be people said this was a crazy idea," Egedal said. "I don’t get that anymore."

In addition to creating a beautiful glow at Earth’s higher latitudes, these super-energetic electrons can damage or destroy spacecraft. So a better understanding of their behavior may help operators better protect their satellites, researchers said.

The study is detailed in Sunday’s edition of the journal Nature Physics.

Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

— 2 years ago with 3 notes
#MSNBC  #Space  #Space.com  #Astronomy  #Aurora  #Northern Lights  #Mystery  #Electron  #Earth  #Magnetosphere  #Southern Lights  #Science  #Space Science  #Earth Science  #MIT  #Massachusetts Institute of Technology  #Jan Egedal  #ESA  #European Space Agency  #Kraken  #Kraken Supercomputer  #U.S. Department of Energy  #Oak Ridge National Laboratory  #Tennessee  #Solar Wind 

ISS Video: NASA Releases ‘Up The East Coast Of North America’ (Time-Lapse VIDEO)

This is what North America looks like from about 220 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The video, composed of a series of pictures taken aboard the International Space Station in January, begins as the ISS travels over the Gulf of Mexico, according to NASA. As it makes its way along the Gulf coast, lights from New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. can be seen before the Florida panhandle becomes visible.

As the ISS continues up the East Coast of the U.S., Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York City and the Massachusetts coastline come into view. An amazing aurora borealis display becomes visible as the video comes to a close near Newfoundland, Canada.

The ISS orbits at a speed of around 17,000 miles per hour. To give you an idea of how fast that is, the still images used to make this video were taken between 12:33 a.m and 12:48 a.m. EST. Yes, that’s only 15 minutes.

NASA has released many time-lapse videos taken from the ISS, but parts of this video are supposed to be more representative of the space station’s speed.

From the NASA-Johnson Space Center:

Some of these sequences of frames were taken at the rate of one frame per second, therefore the slower speed of the video represents a closer resemblance to the true speed of the International Space Station than previous videos.

Interested in more views from the International Space Station? Check out the Milky Way over Africa and The Journey Home.

What else can you see in the video?
— 2 years ago with 1 note
#Huffington Post  #NASA  #National Aeronautics and Space Administration  #ISS  #International Space Station  #East Coast  #Time-lapse  #Video  #Photography  #Time-lapse Video  #Time-lapse Photography  #Space  #Astronomy  #Earth  #North America  #Gulf of Mexico  #Gulf Coast  #New Orleans  #Mobile  #Florida  #Washington  #Baltimore  #New York City  #Massachusetts  #Canada  #Mexico  #Yucatan Peninsula  #Yucatan  #Newfoundland  #Orbit 
Russians “Close” to Drilling Into Antarctica’s Lake Vostok

Christine Dell’Amore | National Geographic NewsPublished February 6, 2012



Russian scientists are “very, very close” to reaching the surface of a freshwater lake 2.3 miles (3,768) meters under the Antarctic ice, news reports say. It would be the first time anyone has penetrated a subglacial lake on the frozen continent.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported today that the team has in fact breached the Lake Vostok.
However Mahlon C. Kennicutt II,  a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University who leads  several Antarctic research groups, said the report should be viewed with  skepticism until an official announcement is made.
"I would be  surprised if it was announced officially this quiet. Also, the one  source [in the article] is unnamed, so it is hard to tell," he said.
Montana State ecologist John Priscu echoed Kennicutt’s caution. “There are a lot of rumors going around  about penetrating the lake, and we  need the Russian program to make the  official announcement,” Priscu told National Geographic News via email.
Scientists  have been drilling this shaft toward Lake Vostok—one of the world’s  largest freshwater lakes—since the lake was discovered in 1996. This  field season, the Russian team has been drilling since the beginning of  January.
As of February 6, the team was within 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters) of reaching the under-ice lake, Priscu told BBC News.
With  the Antarctic summer rapidly coming to a close, it’s now or next year  for the scientists, who are hoping to probe the Great Lake-size water  body for the first time in 25 million years.
Once it happens, “it’ll be a big splash, and I mean that metaphorically,” Texas A&M’s Kennicutt said.
Race to the Lake
Lake  Vostok is the largest of more than 145 subglacial lakes—most of them  several kilometers long—that have been discovered under the Antarctic  ice in past decades.
These subglacial lakes may open a new window  onto our planet, for example by offering new insights into climate  history or revealing unknown life-forms.
Montana State’s Priscu, for instance, has found evidence that microbes could live in the subglacial lake, deriving energy from minerals—”eating rocks,” as he told National Geographic News in 2007.
Regardless  of what they find, if the Russian team succeeds, “their efforts will  transform the way we do  science in Antarctica and provide us with an  entirely new view of what  exists under the vast Antarctic ice sheet,”  Priscu said Monday.
(See "Antarctica May Contain ‘Oasis of Life.’")
The water bodies’ discoveries have also prompted a “race to the lakes”—similar to the early 20th-century race to the South Pole—from various research teams vying to be the first to penetrate a subglacial lake, Texas A&M’s Kennicutt said.
The British, for example, plan to drill into another Antarctic lake, Lake Ellsworth, in the 2012-13 summer season, he said.
The  Russian effort has been slowed by efforts to insure the drilling won’t  contaminate the lake water. The team, for example, was to use a  hot-water drill during the last few meters to prevent any foreign  material from entering the lake environment, Kennicutt said.
Reaching  Lake Vostok “has become more than a scientific question—this is the  centerpiece of the Russian Antarctic program,” Kennicutt said.
"There’s national pride, and the first-entry moniker is very important nationally to the Russians."

Russians “Close” to Drilling Into Antarctica’s Lake Vostok

Christine Dell’Amore | National Geographic News
Published February 6, 2012

Russian scientists are “very, very close” to reaching the surface of a freshwater lake 2.3 miles (3,768) meters under the Antarctic ice, news reports say. It would be the first time anyone has penetrated a subglacial lake on the frozen continent.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported today that the team has in fact breached the Lake Vostok.

However Mahlon C. Kennicutt II, a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University who leads several Antarctic research groups, said the report should be viewed with skepticism until an official announcement is made.

"I would be surprised if it was announced officially this quiet. Also, the one source [in the article] is unnamed, so it is hard to tell," he said.

Montana State ecologist John Priscu echoed Kennicutt’s caution. “There are a lot of rumors going around about penetrating the lake, and we need the Russian program to make the official announcement,” Priscu told National Geographic News via email.

Scientists have been drilling this shaft toward Lake Vostok—one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes—since the lake was discovered in 1996. This field season, the Russian team has been drilling since the beginning of January.

As of February 6, the team was within 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters) of reaching the under-ice lake, Priscu told BBC News.

With the Antarctic summer rapidly coming to a close, it’s now or next year for the scientists, who are hoping to probe the Great Lake-size water body for the first time in 25 million years.

Once it happens, “it’ll be a big splash, and I mean that metaphorically,” Texas A&M’s Kennicutt said.

Race to the Lake

Lake Vostok is the largest of more than 145 subglacial lakes—most of them several kilometers long—that have been discovered under the Antarctic ice in past decades.

These subglacial lakes may open a new window onto our planet, for example by offering new insights into climate history or revealing unknown life-forms.

Montana State’s Priscu, for instance, has found evidence that microbes could live in the subglacial lake, deriving energy from minerals—”eating rocks,” as he told National Geographic News in 2007.

Regardless of what they find, if the Russian team succeeds, “their efforts will transform the way we do science in Antarctica and provide us with an entirely new view of what exists under the vast Antarctic ice sheet,” Priscu said Monday.

(See "Antarctica May Contain ‘Oasis of Life.’")

The water bodies’ discoveries have also prompted a “race to the lakes”—similar to the early 20th-century race to the South Pole—from various research teams vying to be the first to penetrate a subglacial lake, Texas A&M’s Kennicutt said.

The British, for example, plan to drill into another Antarctic lake, Lake Ellsworth, in the 2012-13 summer season, he said.

The Russian effort has been slowed by efforts to insure the drilling won’t contaminate the lake water. The team, for example, was to use a hot-water drill during the last few meters to prevent any foreign material from entering the lake environment, Kennicutt said.

Reaching Lake Vostok “has become more than a scientific question—this is the centerpiece of the Russian Antarctic program,” Kennicutt said.

"There’s national pride, and the first-entry moniker is very important nationally to the Russians."

— 2 years ago with 8 notes
#National Geographic  #Nat Geo  #Russians  #Antarctica  #Lake Vostok  #Vostok  #Christine Dell'Amore  #Freshwater  #Lake  #Antarctic Ice  #Ice Shelf  #Subglacial  #Frozen Continent  #RIA Novosti  #Science  #Earth 

Solar Blast Heading Our Way

By Alan Boyle | Cosmic Log on MSNBC.com

The sun has unleashed a blast in Earth’s direction, and that should cause brighter-than-normal auroral displays this weekend. Skywatchers won’t be the only ones monitoring the storm: The folks in charge of power grids and orbiting satellites will also be on guard to make sure the disturbance in the (geomagnetic) force won’t be disruptive.

Word of today’s blast, technically known as a coronal mass ejection or CME, comes via SpaceWeather.com’s Tony Phillips. NASA says the outburst sparked an M3.2-class solar flare, as well as a stream of electrically charged particles that is due to interact with Earth’s magnetic field on Saturday. “Viewers can be on the lookout for increased aurora,” NASA says.

M-class flares are capable of causing brief radio blackouts near the poles as well as minor radiation storms, but it’s unlikely that this one will disrupt communication or power transmission networks. The forecast would be different if it were an X-class storm heading our way. As the sun approaches the peak of its 11-year activity cycle in 2013 or so, we can expect to see more powerful solar outbursts. 

To keep tabs on the prospects for northern (or southern) lights, check SpaceWeather.com as well as the University of Alaska’s Aurora Forecast website. The higher your latitude, the better your chances of seeing the lights. If you miss them, never fear: SpaceWeather.com will surely update its January aurora gallery over the weekend. And if you snag a great picture that you’d like to share, pass it along via the Cosmic Log Facebook page or msnbc.com’s FirstPerson in-box.

Alan Boyle is msnbc.com’s science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by “liking” the log’s Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log’s Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.

— 2 years ago with 3 notes
#Alan Boyle  #Cosmic Log  #MSNBC.com  #Space  #Science  #Space Science  #Solar Science  #Planetary Science  #Astronomy  #Science Editor  #Twitter  #Google+  #Solar Flare  #Aurorae  #Solar Blast  #Earth  #Skywatch  #CME  #Coronal Mass Ejection  #Space Weather  #NASA  #National Aeronautics and Space Administration  #M-Class  #Aurora Forecast  #University of Alaska  #Facebook 
Derelict Russian space probe crashes to Earth

Military spokesman reports Phobos-Grunt re-entry over Pacific Ocean
By MSNBC.com Staff and News Service Reports
MOSCOW — A  failed probe that was designed to travel to a moon of Mars but got  stuck in Earth orbit has crashed into the Pacific Ocean, Russian  officials said Sunday.
The unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe was one of the heaviest and most  toxic space derelicts ever to crash to Earth, but there were no reports  of injury or damage. There’s a good chance that no one actually saw the  spacecraft’s fiery plunge.
"Phobos-Grunt fragments have crashed down in the Pacific Ocean," the  RIA-Novosti news service quoted Alexei Zolotukhin, a spokesman for  Russia’s aerospace defense forces, as saying. The debris zone was said  to be 775 miles (1,250 kilometers) west of Wellington Island in the  South Pacific. Re-entry was estimated to occur at about 12:45 p.m. ET,  based on the data received by the Russians.
In a Twitter update,  the European Space Agency said several sources confirmed that estimate  but added that experts were still checking the details. A later RIA-Novosti report quoted an unnamed source as saying the probe may have continued farther  along its orbital track and crashed in Brazil or into the Atlantic  Ocean.
Russia’s Roscosmos space agency predicted that only between 20 and 30  fragments of the Phobos probe with a total weight of up to 440 pounds  (200 kilograms) would survive the re-entry and plummet to Earth. Heiner  Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office,  agreed with that assessment, adding that about 100 metric tons of space  junk fall on Earth every year.
"This is 200 kilograms out of these 100 tons," he told The Associated Press.
Thousands of pieces of derelict space vehicles orbit Earth,  occasionally posing danger to astronauts and satellites in orbit, but as  far as is known, no one has ever been hurt by falling space debris.
Phobos-Grunt weighed 13.5 metric tons (14.9 English tons), and that  included a load of 11 metric tons (12 tons) of highly toxic rocket fuel  intended for the long journey to the Martian moon of Phobos. It was left  unused as the probe got stuck in orbit around Earth shortly after its  Nov. 9 launch.
Roscosmos said all of the fuel would burn up on re-entry, a forecast  Klinkrad said was supported by calculations done by NASA and ESA.
The space era has seen far larger spacecraft crash. NASA’s Skylab  space station that went down in 1979 weighed 85 tons (77 metric tons),  and Russia’s Mir space station that deorbited in 2001 weighed about 143  tons (130 metric tons). Their descent fueled fears around the world, but  the wreckage of both fell far away from populated areas.
The $170 million Phobos-Grunt mission was Russia’s most expensive and  the most ambitious interplanetary endeavor since Soviet times. The  spacecraft was intended to land on the crater-dented, potato-shaped  Martian moon, collect soil samples and fly them back to Earth, giving  scientists precious materials that could shed more light on the genesis  of the solar system.
Russia’s space chief has acknowledged the Phobos-Grunt mission was  ill-prepared, but said that Roscosmos had to give it the go-ahead so as  not to miss the limited Earth-to-Mars launch window.
Its predecessor, Mars-96, which was built by the same Moscow-based  NPO Lavochkin company, also suffered an engine failure and crashed  shortly after its launch in 1996. Its crash drew strong international  fears because there were 7 ounces (200 grams) of plutonium onboard. The  craft eventually showered its fragments over the Chile-Bolivia border in  the Andes Mountains, and the pieces were never recovered.
The worst-ever radiation spill from a derelict space vehicle came in  January 1978 when the nuclear-powered Cosmos 954 satellite crashed over  northwestern Canada. The Soviets claimed that the craft completely  burned up on re-entry, but a massive recovery effort by Canadian  authorities recovered a dozen fragments, most of which were radioactive.
Phobos-Grunt also contained a tiny quantity of radioactive cobalt-57  in one of its instruments, but Roscosmos said it posed no threat of  radioactive contamination.
The spacecraft also carried a small cylinder with a collection of  microbes as part of an experiment by the California-based Planetary  Society that designed to explore whether they can survive interplanetary  travel. The cylinder was attached to a capsule that was supposed to  deliver Phobos ground samples back to Earth.
It’s not clear whether or not that capsule could have survived  re-entry, but there’s virtually no chance that it will ever be found.
This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Derelict Russian space probe crashes to Earth

Military spokesman reports Phobos-Grunt re-entry over Pacific Ocean

By MSNBC.com Staff and News Service Reports

A failed probe that was designed to travel to a moon of Mars but got stuck in Earth orbit has crashed into the Pacific Ocean, Russian officials said Sunday.

The unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe was one of the heaviest and most toxic space derelicts ever to crash to Earth, but there were no reports of injury or damage. There’s a good chance that no one actually saw the spacecraft’s fiery plunge.

"Phobos-Grunt fragments have crashed down in the Pacific Ocean," the RIA-Novosti news service quoted Alexei Zolotukhin, a spokesman for Russia’s aerospace defense forces, as saying. The debris zone was said to be 775 miles (1,250 kilometers) west of Wellington Island in the South Pacific. Re-entry was estimated to occur at about 12:45 p.m. ET, based on the data received by the Russians.

In a Twitter update, the European Space Agency said several sources confirmed that estimate but added that experts were still checking the details. A later RIA-Novosti report quoted an unnamed source as saying the probe may have continued farther along its orbital track and crashed in Brazil or into the Atlantic Ocean.

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency predicted that only between 20 and 30 fragments of the Phobos probe with a total weight of up to 440 pounds (200 kilograms) would survive the re-entry and plummet to Earth. Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, agreed with that assessment, adding that about 100 metric tons of space junk fall on Earth every year.

"This is 200 kilograms out of these 100 tons," he told The Associated Press.

Thousands of pieces of derelict space vehicles orbit Earth, occasionally posing danger to astronauts and satellites in orbit, but as far as is known, no one has ever been hurt by falling space debris.

Phobos-Grunt weighed 13.5 metric tons (14.9 English tons), and that included a load of 11 metric tons (12 tons) of highly toxic rocket fuel intended for the long journey to the Martian moon of Phobos. It was left unused as the probe got stuck in orbit around Earth shortly after its Nov. 9 launch.

Roscosmos said all of the fuel would burn up on re-entry, a forecast Klinkrad said was supported by calculations done by NASA and ESA.

The space era has seen far larger spacecraft crash. NASA’s Skylab space station that went down in 1979 weighed 85 tons (77 metric tons), and Russia’s Mir space station that deorbited in 2001 weighed about 143 tons (130 metric tons). Their descent fueled fears around the world, but the wreckage of both fell far away from populated areas.

The $170 million Phobos-Grunt mission was Russia’s most expensive and the most ambitious interplanetary endeavor since Soviet times. The spacecraft was intended to land on the crater-dented, potato-shaped Martian moon, collect soil samples and fly them back to Earth, giving scientists precious materials that could shed more light on the genesis of the solar system.

Russia’s space chief has acknowledged the Phobos-Grunt mission was ill-prepared, but said that Roscosmos had to give it the go-ahead so as not to miss the limited Earth-to-Mars launch window.

Its predecessor, Mars-96, which was built by the same Moscow-based NPO Lavochkin company, also suffered an engine failure and crashed shortly after its launch in 1996. Its crash drew strong international fears because there were 7 ounces (200 grams) of plutonium onboard. The craft eventually showered its fragments over the Chile-Bolivia border in the Andes Mountains, and the pieces were never recovered.

The worst-ever radiation spill from a derelict space vehicle came in January 1978 when the nuclear-powered Cosmos 954 satellite crashed over northwestern Canada. The Soviets claimed that the craft completely burned up on re-entry, but a massive recovery effort by Canadian authorities recovered a dozen fragments, most of which were radioactive.

Phobos-Grunt also contained a tiny quantity of radioactive cobalt-57 in one of its instruments, but Roscosmos said it posed no threat of radioactive contamination.

The spacecraft also carried a small cylinder with a collection of microbes as part of an experiment by the California-based Planetary Society that designed to explore whether they can survive interplanetary travel. The cylinder was attached to a capsule that was supposed to deliver Phobos ground samples back to Earth.

It’s not clear whether or not that capsule could have survived re-entry, but there’s virtually no chance that it will ever be found.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

— 2 years ago with 25 notes
#Astronomy  #Science  #Space  #Space Science  #Military  #Russian  #Russia  #Space Probe  #Spacecraft  #Probe Crash  #Crash  #Earth  #Pacific Ocean  #Phobos-Grunt  #MSNBC  #Moscow  #Moon  #Mars  #Mars Mission  #Mars Moon  #Phobos Moon  #Orbit  #RIA-Novosti  #Alexei Zolotukhin  #Aerospace  #Aerospace Defense Forces  #Wellington Island  #South Pacific  #ESA  #European Space Agency 
Color of Milky Way? Red, Bright and Blue, Astronomers Find

By Irene Klotz | DiscoveryNews
Turns out the Milky Way is aptly named, with the overall color  of our galaxy resembling the shade of fine-grained spring snow in early  morning light.
Splitting the light into its component wavelengths, however, reveals a  redder-than-average color for the Milky Way’s core, and sky-blue spiral  arms.
The portrait, pieced together from 1,000 similar galaxies culled from  the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, shows the Milky Way as it would appear  from perspective of another galaxy, albeit one whose inhabitants have  vision similar to humans.
"Understanding the color of the Milky Way allows us to compare other  galaxies to it because for most galaxies all we can measure is how  bright they are and what color they are. It’s really frustrating that  that’s exactly what we can’t measure about the Milky Way from our  position inside it," astronomer Jeffrey Newman of the University of  Pittsburgh told Discovery News.
The research shows the Milky Way is among the reddest of spiral  galaxies, meaning that its star-forming days are coming to an end.
"It’s entering its retirement when it won’t make anything new," Newman said.
Based on the type and number of its stars, the Milky Way turns out to be a very typical galaxy, the analysis shows.
"We find that the color, the spectrum of the Milky Way is very close to the average of all the galaxies we see," Newman said.
That’s comforting to astronomers, who ascribe to an idea called the  Copernican Principle, which theorizes that just like the Earth isn’t the  center of the solar system and the sun isn’t the center of the galaxy,  we shouldn’t expect to live in a special galaxy — at least in terms of  the stars it contains.
For the analysis, scientists combined data from about 1,000 galaxies  that have a similar number of stars and similar star birthrates as the  Milky Way out of nearly 1 million galaxies in the Sloan survey.
"The Milky Way ended up being very bright for a red galaxy, but for  all galaxies overall, it seems to be a little less luminous than we  think it would be," Timothy Licquia, a graduate student in physics at  Pittsburgh, told Discovery News. "We’re not sure why."
Overall, the light from the Milky Way closely matches the color of a  standard incandescent light bulb, well within the range of what the  human eye perceives as white.
The research was unveiled Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin.

Color of Milky Way? Red, Bright and Blue, Astronomers Find

By Irene Klotz | DiscoveryNews

Turns out the Milky Way is aptly named, with the overall color of our galaxy resembling the shade of fine-grained spring snow in early morning light.

Splitting the light into its component wavelengths, however, reveals a redder-than-average color for the Milky Way’s core, and sky-blue spiral arms.

The portrait, pieced together from 1,000 similar galaxies culled from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, shows the Milky Way as it would appear from perspective of another galaxy, albeit one whose inhabitants have vision similar to humans.

"Understanding the color of the Milky Way allows us to compare other galaxies to it because for most galaxies all we can measure is how bright they are and what color they are. It’s really frustrating that that’s exactly what we can’t measure about the Milky Way from our position inside it," astronomer Jeffrey Newman of the University of Pittsburgh told Discovery News.

The research shows the Milky Way is among the reddest of spiral galaxies, meaning that its star-forming days are coming to an end.

"It’s entering its retirement when it won’t make anything new," Newman said.

Based on the type and number of its stars, the Milky Way turns out to be a very typical galaxy, the analysis shows.

"We find that the color, the spectrum of the Milky Way is very close to the average of all the galaxies we see," Newman said.

That’s comforting to astronomers, who ascribe to an idea called the Copernican Principle, which theorizes that just like the Earth isn’t the center of the solar system and the sun isn’t the center of the galaxy, we shouldn’t expect to live in a special galaxy — at least in terms of the stars it contains.

For the analysis, scientists combined data from about 1,000 galaxies that have a similar number of stars and similar star birthrates as the Milky Way out of nearly 1 million galaxies in the Sloan survey.

"The Milky Way ended up being very bright for a red galaxy, but for all galaxies overall, it seems to be a little less luminous than we think it would be," Timothy Licquia, a graduate student in physics at Pittsburgh, told Discovery News. "We’re not sure why."

Overall, the light from the Milky Way closely matches the color of a standard incandescent light bulb, well within the range of what the human eye perceives as white.

The research was unveiled Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin.

— 2 years ago with 6 notes
#Science  #Space  #Astronomy  #NASA  #National Aeronautics and Space Administration  #Space Science  #Milky Way  #Milky Way Galaxy  #Galaxy  #Irene Klotz  #Discovery News  #MSNBC  #Sloan Digital Sky Survey  #Jeffrey Newman  #University of Pittsburgh  #Sloan Survey  #Copernican Principle  #Earth  #American Astronomical Society  #AAS 

The Journey Home

A beautiful and mesmerizing series of time-lapse videos taken by astronaut Ron Garan during his last weeks aboard the International Space Station, this must-see montage is made all the sweeter by a score from Peter Gabriel and an intro from Ron himself.

Ron wrote in his blog entry on FragileOasis.org:

Although the International Space Station travels at 17,500mph, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, time-lapse photography speeds up our apparent motion considerably.

The flashes of light you see throughout the video is lightning captured by the individual frames of the photography. Yet, only a small percentage of the actual lightning is captured in the imagery. While the video is sped up, I think it still accurately captures the paparazzi-look of lightening storms as we see them from space.

While still onboard the ISS, Peter Gabriel and I brainstormed some ideas for using this type of imagery to help tell the Fragile Oasis story. The possibilities are truly exciting, and I can’t wait to see where this leads. I hope it will help people follow our missions not as spectators, but as fellow crewmembers, inspired to help improve life on our planet.

Be sure to visit the site for a full description of how the photos were taken!

Video: NASA/Ron Garan. Music courtesy of Peter Gabriel and Walt Disney Records (All rights reserved.)

Producing time-lapse video onboard the International Space Station while orbiting 250 miles above the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour helps people follow along on our missions, not as spectators, but as fellow crewmembers. — Ron Garan, NASA Astronaut, Expedition 27 & 28

For the whole story: fragileoasis.org

Photography from the International Space Station:
Expedition 28 Crew

Editing in Space: Ron Garan
Editing on Earth: Chris Getteau, Todd Sampsel, Dylan Mathis

Sequences:

1:06 Europe to the Indian Ocean
1:35 United States of America
2:01 Aurora Australis over Madagascar
2:26 Central Africa to Russia
2:44 Europe to the Middle East
3:00 Hurricane Katia
3:10 New Zealand to the Pacific Ocean
3:38 Northwest U.S. to South America
4:10 Aurora over Australia
4:34 North America to South America
5:05 Mexico to the Great Lakes
5:16 Hurricane Irene
5:22 California to Hudson Bay
5:38 Tanzania to Southern Ocean
6:00 Central Africa to the Middle East
6:15 Chile to Brazil
6:25 Africa to the Mediterranean Sea
6:37 Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

With sincere thanks:

“Downside Up”
Written by Peter Gabriel
Performed by Peter Gabriel (feat: Melanie Gabriel)
(P) 2011 Peter Gabriel Ltd
Published by Real World Music Ltd.
Courtesy of petergabriel.com

“Down To Earth”
Performed by Peter Gabriel
Music by Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman / Lyrics by Peter Gabriel
Published by: Wonderland Music Company, Inc. (BMI)/Pixar Music (BMI)
L.A. sessions Produced by Thomas Newman
Produced by Peter Gabriel
Recorded by Richard Chappell
Mixed by Tchad Blake
(P) 2008 Walt Disney Records/Pixar

— 2 years ago
#The Journey Home  #Fragile Oasis  #Time-lapse Video  #Time-lapse  #Video  #Vimeo  #ISS  #International Space Station  #NASA  #National Aeronautics and Space Administration  #Ron Garan  #Peter Gabriel  #Earth  #Space  #Science  #Time-lapse Photography  #Photography  #Walt Disney Records  #Pixar  #Expedition 27  #Expedition 28  #Chris Getteau  #Todd Sampsel  #Dylan Mathis  #Melanie Gabriel  #Down To Earth 
Giant Sunspot Turns to Face the Earth

by Nancy Atkinson | Senior Editor @ Universe Today
What has been billed as the largest sunspot observed in several years  has now rotated to the center of the Sun and is staring straight at  Earth. How large is it? Active Region 1339 and the group of sunspots  adjacent to it extends more than 100,000 km from end to end and each of  the several dark cores is larger than Earth. The now very active Sun has  already blasted out several medium- to large-sized solar flares and has  the potential to hurl out more.
And the Sun is now dotted with several smaller sunspots as well.   Above is an amazing image of all this activity, as captured by  astrophotographer Alan Friedman.  “This has been a glorious week for  solar observers!” Friedman said.  “Led by large sunspot region AR1339,  the sun’s disk is alive with activity… the most dynamic show in many  years.”
From all this activity, there may be a good chance for viewing aurorae.   On November 9 at around 1330 UT, a magnetic filament in the vicinity of  sunspot complex 1342-1343 erupted, producing a M1-class solar flare and  hurling a CME into space, which will probably deliver a glancing blow  to Earth’s magnetic field on Nov 11 or 12, according to SpaceWeather.com
Image caption: The full face of the Sun as seen on Nov. 6, 2011, showing AR 1339 and  several other sunspots. Credit: Alan Friedman.

Giant Sunspot Turns to Face the Earth

by Nancy Atkinson | Senior Editor @ Universe Today

What has been billed as the largest sunspot observed in several years has now rotated to the center of the Sun and is staring straight at Earth. How large is it? Active Region 1339 and the group of sunspots adjacent to it extends more than 100,000 km from end to end and each of the several dark cores is larger than Earth. The now very active Sun has already blasted out several medium- to large-sized solar flares and has the potential to hurl out more.

And the Sun is now dotted with several smaller sunspots as well. Above is an amazing image of all this activity, as captured by astrophotographer Alan Friedman. “This has been a glorious week for solar observers!” Friedman said. “Led by large sunspot region AR1339, the sun’s disk is alive with activity… the most dynamic show in many years.”

From all this activity, there may be a good chance for viewing aurorae. On November 9 at around 1330 UT, a magnetic filament in the vicinity of sunspot complex 1342-1343 erupted, producing a M1-class solar flare and hurling a CME into space, which will probably deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on Nov 11 or 12, according to SpaceWeather.com

Image caption: The full face of the Sun as seen on Nov. 6, 2011, showing AR 1339 and several other sunspots. Credit: Alan Friedman.

— 2 years ago with 161 notes
#Universe  #Science  #Astronomy  #Solar  #Sunspot  #Solar Activity  #Nancy Atkinson  #Universe Today  #Largest Sunspot  #Sun  #Earth  #AR 1339  #Alan Friedman  #AR1339  #Aurora  #Aurorae  #M1 Class  #Solar Flare  #CME  #Coronal Mass Ejection  #Magnetic Field  #Earth's Magnetic Field  #Space Weather 
Asteroid 2005 YU55 Approaches Close Earth Flyby

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at  11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the space rock was at 3.6  lunar distances, which is about 860,000 miles, or 1.38 million  kilometers, from Earth.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Asteroid 2005 YU55 Approaches Close Earth Flyby

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the space rock was at 3.6 lunar distances, which is about 860,000 miles, or 1.38 million kilometers, from Earth.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

— 2 years ago with 8 notes
#Asteroid  #Asteroid Watch  #YU55  #2005 YU55  #Flyby  #Close Approach  #Earth  #Space  #NEAR  #Radar Image  #Image  #NASA  #National Aeronautics and Space Administration  #JPL  #Jet Propulsion Labs  #Jet Propulsion Laboratory  #Caltech