Cosmic Journeys – HyperEarth

Scientists are intensively tracking the workings of planet Earth with satellites that chart its winds, ocean currents, temperatures, plant growth, and more. They are constructing a new virtual Earth based on physical equations, satellite data, and computer codes that show the workings of our planet in whole new ways.

Our world, Earth, is changing before our eyes. Go back millions of years. Forests reached into polar regions, sea levels rose, and temperatures soared with high levels of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A long cooling period followed. But now CO2 is on the rise again. What will happen? How will we live in the New World that’s now emerging?

Scientists are intensively tracking the workings of planet Earth with satellites that chart its winds, ocean currents, temperatures, plant growth, and more. And with a new virtual Earth, shrunk down and converted into physical equations, satellite data, and computer codes they are able to show the workings of our planet in whole new ways..

This other Earth, a mirror of the one in which we live, is designed to follow the flow of heat through the complex, dynamic engine known as the climate… and to predict its future evolution. Continue reading Cosmic Journeys – HyperEarth

Flattr this!

Titan: The Mystery of the Missing Waves

Titan (or Saturn VI) is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere and the only object, other than Earth, for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found. However, these bodies of liquid are incredibly still, with no sign of wave activity. What is causing this incredible phenomenon?

Flattr this!

The Incredible Sungrazing Comets

A sungrazing comet is a comet that passes extremely close to the Sun at perihelion — sometimes within a few thousand kilometers of the Sun’s surface. While small sungrazers can be completely evaporated during such a close approach to the Sun, larger sungrazers can survive many perihelion passages. However, the strong evaporation and tidal forces they experience often lead to their fragmentation.

What can these comets tell us about our solar system? Perhaps they can even reveal some of the mysteries of the sun itself…

Flattr this!

Meteor Explodes Over Russia

From NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. Analysis of the meteor that flew in over Russia tells a surprising tale. Shortly after dawn on Feb. 15, 2013, a bolide measuring 18 meters across and weighing 11,000 metric tons, screamed into Earth’s atmosphere at 18.6 kilometers per second. Burning from the friction with Earth’s thin air, the space rock exploded 23.3 kilometers above Chelyabinsk, Russia.

The event led to the formation of a new dust belt in Earth’s stratosphere. Scientists used data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite along with the GEOS-5 computational atmospheric model to achieve the first space-based observation the long-term evolution of a bolide plume.

Flattr this!

Black Holes and Exploding Stars: FERMI at Five

From NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. In only five short years, the FERMI Space Telescope has observed and catalogued an astounding amount of phenomena, including some of the most high-energy events in our galaxy.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST), formerly called the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), is a space observatory being used to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit. Its main instrument is the Large Area Telescope (LAT), with which astronomers mostly intend to perform an all-sky survey studying astrophysical and cosmological phenomena such as active galactic nuclei, pulsars, other high-energy sources and dark matter. Another instrument aboard Fermi, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM; formerly GLAST Burst Monitor), is being used to study gamma-ray bursts.

Flattr this!

Polarizing Planets

A new type of exoplanet finder comes on line in the next year. Working with the giant telescopes of the Chilean outback, the Very Large Telescope on Mt Paranal, it will distinguish the polarized light of planet atmospheres from the light of their parent stars. This new planet detection system offers an ingenious new way to tease out the light of a planet with the overwhelming brightness of a star. Adapted from EsoCast, with Dr. J.

Flattr this!

Earth in 1000 Years – Preview

This is a preview of our upcoming episode of COSMIC JOURNEYS. Look for it in mid-October. It’s an ambitious attempt to explore the relevance of major past climate change to today. In particular, we look at the last interglacial, the Eemian, when sea levels rose to somewhere between four and eight meters higher than today. Interestingly, temperatures were only modestly higher than today and carbon dioxide levels were substantially lower. That’s an example of the many twists and turns in the tangled history of our dynamic planet.

Flattr this!

Voyager Leaves the Solar System

Thirty-six years ago this month, on Sept. 5, 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

On September 12, 2013, NASA officially confirmed that Voyager 1 had reached the interstellar medium in August 2012. This makes Voyager 1 the first spacecraft to exit our solar system, a mark in history to be remembered forever.

Hear what today’s leading Astro-celebs have to say about Voyager’s incredible landmark accomplishment!

Flattr this!

Space is exciting