NASA’s Earth Observatory Captures Image of Remote Island
There is perhaps no better place to get away from it all than Norway’s Bouvet Island. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa, South America, and Antarctica, this uninhabited, 49-sq-km (19-sq-mi) shield volcano is one of the most remote islands in the world. The nearest large land mass is the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica—1,700 km (1,100 mi) to the south. The nearest inhabited place is Tristan da Cunha, a remote island 2,260 km (1,400 mi) to the northwest that is home to a few hundred people.
On May 26, 2013, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this natural-color image of Bouvet Island. Thick ice covers more than 90 percent of the island year round. Christensen glacier drains the north side; Posadowsky glacier drains the south side. A ring of volcanic black sand beaches encircles most of the island. (Download the large image to see them). In many areas, the thick layer of ice stops abruptly at the island’s edge, forming steep ice cliffs that plunge to the beaches and oceans below…
Lunar distance is a measurement of the distance from the Earth to the Moon. This diagram shows the distance, averaging 384,400 km (238,900 mi), to scale, as well as the Earth and the Moon (scroll to see the entire image).
Line below Earth represents distance of Earth’s centre from the system barycentre. Line below the Moon represents perigee and apogee with the moon at the semi‐major axis position. Moon shown with correct side facing earth, but without any pretty shading.
The below information refers to the original version of this file, which was twice the size of the current version (i.e. it’s now 14.25 km/px). Sorry but Photoshop wasn’t saving them very well, so I had to switch to GraphicConverter, which is limited to 16,000 pixels across.
Earth-Moon system at a scale of 7.1224 km/px (0.140402 px/km)
Earth polar diameter = 12,713.5 km (893px) ⇒ 7.1224 km/px
Moon equatorial diameter = 3,476.2 km (244px)
Lunar apogee = 405696 km (28480px)
Lunar semi‐major axis = 384400 km (26985px)
Lunar perigee = 363104 km (25490px)
System barycenter = 4700 km (330px)
Scale chosen because Photoshop only supports images 30,000 pixel in width, and scaling the Earth by 50% just about fits with this, all other measurements derived from there.
There’s a longstanding theory which says oxygen-rich oceans were a key requirement for complex life to emerge on Earth. But a new study involving sea sponges upsets this notion, showing that primitive animals may have been able to survive with hardly any oxygen at all.
The first microbes appeared on Earth about 3.6 billion years ago, but it took an exceptionally long time for complex multicellular life to emerge — another three billion years. Perhaps not coincidentally, this also happened to be the time when levels of oxygen in the atmosphere escalated to present day concentrations of about 20%. Many scientists have thus concluded that animals needed the higher levels to survive, thrive, and evolve.
But a new study by Daniel Mills of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense suggests this may not be the case. By studying modern breadcrumb sponges, Mills has threatened this assumption, while simultaneously strengthening another.
200 Times Less…
Sea sponges may not seem animal-like, but they are among the planet’s earliest animals. They’re always multicellular and they grow from an embryo. They’ve also got complex physiological structures, including a network of channels that help draw food and water through their bodies. And based on the paleontological evidence, modern sea sponges aren’t too far removed from their ancient brethren…
In the foothills of the Andes Mountains lives a bat the size of a raspberry. In Singapore, there’s a nematode worm that dwells only in the lungs of the changeable lizard.
The bat and the worm have something in common: They are both new to science. Each of them recently received its official scientific name: Myotis diminutus for the bat, Rhabdias singaporensis for the worm.
These are certainly not the last two species that scientists will ever discover. Each year, researchers report more than 15,000 new species, and their workload shows no sign of letting up. “Ask any taxonomist in a museum, and they’ll tell you they have hundreds of species waiting to be described,” says Camilo Mora, a marine ecologist at the University of Hawaii.
Scientists have named and cataloged 1.3 million species. How many more species there are left to discover is a question that has hovered like a cloud over the heads of taxonomists for two centuries…
Scientists solve a decades-old mystery in the Earth’s upper atmosphere
(PhysOrg) - New research published in the journal Nature resolves decades of scientific controversy over the origin of the extremely energetic particles known as ultra-relativistic electrons in the Earth’s near-space environment and is likely to influence our understanding of planetary magnetospheres throughout the universe.
Discovering the processes that control the formation and ultimate loss of these electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts—the rings of highly charged particles that encircle the Earth at a range of about 1,000 to 50,000 kilometers above the planet’s surface—is a primary science objective of the recently launched NASA Van Allen Probes mission.
Understanding these mechanisms has important practical applications, because the enormous amounts of radiation trapped within the belts can pose a significant hazard to satellites and spacecraft, as well astronauts performing activities outside a craft…
The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 66 m, (216ft) and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all.
If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 27C (80F) instead of the current 14.5 C (58F).
While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean. So, how big is it? As of 2013, it takes up 71% of the Earth’s surface, houses 99% of the biosphere, and contains some of Earth’s grandest geological features. Scott Gass reminds us of the influence humans have on the ocean and the influence it has on us.
Lesson by Scott Gass, animation by Sandro Katamashvili.
Three European satellites launched Friday on a mission to study why the magnetic field surrounding Earth appears to be weakening.
The four-year study will collect data and map the field, which protects the planet (and us) from solar radiation.
Scientists say the field’s strength has weakened by about 15 percent in the last 200 years.
The weakening could be a sign of “polarity reversal" - when the field flips end-to-end, turning north into south. The phenomenon occurs every 200,000 to 300,000 years. But the last time the field flipped was almost 800,000 years ago.
The magnetic field is believed to be generated by the Earth’s molten iron core. The field reaches thousands of miles into space and creates a bubble around the earth. It’s what makes compasses work, and aids everything from navigation systems to animal migrations…
… is a projection of a world map onto the surface of an icosahedron, which can be unfolded and flattened to two dimensions. The projection depicts the Earth’s continents as “one island,” or nearly contiguous land masses. The arrangement heavily interrupts the map in order to preserve shapes and sizes.
The map was created by Buckminster Fuller. The March 1, 1943, edition of Life magazine included a photographic essay titled “Life Presents R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion World”. The article included several examples of its use together with a pull-out section that could be assembled as a “three-dimensional approximation of a globe or laid out as a flat map, with which the world may be fitted together and rearranged to illuminate special aspects of its geography.”
The 1954 version published by Fuller, the Airocean World Map, used a modified but mostly regular icosahedron as the base for the projection, which is the version most commonly referred to today. The name Dymaxion was applied by Fuller to several of his inventions.
The Dymaxion projection is intended only for representations of the entire globe. It is not a gnomonic projection, whereby global data expands from the center point of a tangent facet outward to the edges. Instead, each triangle edge of the Dymaxion map matches the scale of a partial great circle on a corresponding globe, and other points within each facet shrink toward its middle, rather than enlarging to the peripheries…
A team of researchers may have finally solved a long-standing mystery surrounding the formation of the solar system—one that has puzzled scientists since 40 years ago when a meteorite exploded over Mexico. In these stony meteorites, which contain some of the oldest materials formed in the solar system, researchers found an odd mix of oxygen isotopes. Unlike terrestrial rocks from the Earth and moon, the rate at which the isotopes are incorporated into the minerals forming these meteorites was independent of mass.
Chakraborty et al. have now conducted a series of experiment to explain this oddity. They first created silicon dust by mixing oxygen with varying amounts of silicon monoxide and hydrogen—gases that formed the earliest solid materials in the solar system. Upon analyzing the dust, the researchers saw an oxygen isotopic composition that matched that of the meteorites. By recreating the conditions in the early solar system, the team showed that the anomaly may be due to a simple physical chemical principle called symmetry.
Like previous installments in series, this latest video commemorates the late, great astrophysicist by setting narration from his television show, Cosmos, to beautiful music and powerful footage of our world. It’ll give you chills.