Earth Gamma Ray Blasters

From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has been catching brief outbursts of high-energy light that are mysteriously produced above thunderstorms. The outbursts, known as terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), last only a few thousandths of a second, but their gamma rays rank among the highest-energy light that naturally occurs on Earth. The enhanced GBM discovery rate helped scientists show most TGFs also generate a strong burst of radio waves, a finding that will change how scientists study this poorly understood phenomenon.

Lightning emits a broad range of very low frequency (VLF) radio waves, often heard as pop-and-crackle static when listening to AM radio. The World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), researchers routinely detect these radio signals and use them to pinpoint the location of lightning discharges anywhere on the globe to within about 20 km.

Scientists have known for a long time TGFs were linked to strong VLF bursts, but they interpreted these signals as originating from lightning strokes somehow associated with the gamma-ray emission.

The researchers identified much weaker radio bursts that occur up to several thousandths of a second before or after a TGF. They interpret these signals as intracloud lightning strokes related to, but not created Continue reading Earth Gamma Ray Blasters

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Remembering Apollo

The Apollo program was a true testament of the human race’s ability to dream, overcome, and achieve the impossible. It was first conceived during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Kennedy later declared the national goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” By the end of 1960’s, the goal had been achieved.

On the 40th anniversary of the final flight, Apollo 17 in December 1972, we offer this video as a tribute to these historic missions. The video is a journey through each manned Apollo mission, from the most tragic to the most triumphant. Actual astronaut photography and audio will put you in the footsteps of the astronauts who risked their lives for the advancement of science and exploration.

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Rover Curiosity: Landing sequence breakdown

This video steps viewers through the final portion of the choreography needed to land NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars.

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Curiosity’s Revolutionary Experiments

When the Rover Curiosity landed on Mars, space and science fans all over the world rejoiced. But it is not there just to take pictures. This incredible piece of machinery is a one-ton, all-inclusive laboratory, capable of analyzing all aspects of the Martian surface and atmosphere.

It’s primary goals include investigation of the climate and geology, assessment of whether or not Gale Crater has ever offered life-sustaining environmental conditions, investigating the role of water on mars, and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration.

This video incorporates photography and video from the Mars Rover as well as CGI animations of the many components at work. Watch as Curiosity stretches its legs in preparation for the truly revolutionary experiments on its calendar for the weeks and years ahead.

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A Comet Grazing the Sun

Fascinating news from NASA’s efforts to understand and track the dynamics of our sun. On December 15, 2011, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this footage of Come Lovejoy approaching the sun. An hour later, it watched as Lovejoy came around the far side of the sun and began its long trip back to the outer reaches of the solar system.

Other NASA spacecraft, such as SOHO and STEREO, also saw Lovejoy’s close encounter. Lovejoy marked one of the few times that orbiting telescopes have been able to watch a so-called “sun grazing” comet survive its trip around the sun. Most are not so lucky. Besides being interesting to watch, the images and data collected by NASA’s solar observing fleet can also help scientists learn more about the sun itself. One of the biggest features that comets help reveal is the sun’s magnetic field.

Since magnetic fields are invisible, we can only observe them indirectly, like using iron filings over a bar magnet. On the sun, astronomers can look at where hot plasma in the sun’s atmosphere is trapped by fields to see their complicated loop structure. But farther away from the sun, where the plasma is less dense, this approach Continue reading A Comet Grazing the Sun

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Earth Morphing Before Our Eyes

The world is changing before our eyes. See Earth in transition, as viewed from space, with images courtesy of the Landsat mission and NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. Feel free to cry over what’s lost as well as what’s gained. These images provide a powerful snapshot of a planet that’s rapidly being shaped by both natural and human events. Haunting music by DigitalR3public.

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From Space: The Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

Data in this video comes from Global Insight’s report to the United States Conference of Mayors and The Council on Metro Economies and the New American City. According to the report, economic growth in US metropolitan areas in the coming decades will test their infrastructures. Employment and population are two major drivers for congestion-related costs.

Over the next decade, the 15 metros with the largest increases in employment will be adding at least a quarter of a million jobs each. The strain on current transportation infrastructure cannot be understated as 12 of these 15 metros already rank among the 15 highest in congestion per commuter.

In addition to employment growth, which will put further strain on rush hour commutes, general population gains will also contribute to congestion. Population growth will be highest in the South, including Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami – four of the top five largest population gainers through 2020.

Over the longer-term, the picture is not any better. Total metro area population will grow by 32% from 2012-2042 and will be especially fast in some of the nation’s largest metros. Population will advance by over 50% in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Tampa, Denver, San Antonio, and by over 80% in Phoenix, Continue reading From Space: The Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

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The Quantum Guide – Pulsars

Unknown to the general populace, young men and women from around the globe are being raised in a secret, underground facility. Using a library of alien knowledge that was uncovered early in the 21st century—code name: The Quantum Guide—these future astronauts prepare for the day when they will set out to colonize the galaxy. They must learn to decode the myriad of enigmas that exist in the great beyond if there is to be any hope of the human race becoming an interstellar power.

Jarl Quarkson is one such student. His first lesson starts now.

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