Don’t forget that a 1,300 foot asteroid, about the size of an aircraft carrier, will fly by Earth tomorrow even closer to us than the moon. Don’t worry, it won’t hit. It’ll be tricky to catch a glimpse, but you might spot it if you have a telescope with at least a 6-inch mirror, says Scott Fisher, the director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences.
Did you know — in the 1970s, NASA’s Ames Research Center gathered artists and tasked them with designing space colonies able to accomodate 10,000 people. High resolution versions are available at NASA’a Space Settlements page.
Peak season to see the northern lights is nearly over, and Terje Sorgjerd, an amazing Norwegian photographer, spent a week chronicling their movement in and around Norway’s Kirkenes and Pas National Park on the border of Russia recently.
MSNBC’s photo blog caught up with Sorgjerd via Skype (see the video above) to talk about his work. Sorgjerd told MSNBC that he spent every night from sunset to sunrise “hunting” the Northern Lights. He took roughly 22,000 shots while there and turned it into this stunning video.
The kicker? They set the video to “Now We Are Free” from “Gladiator”.
This is a demo reel for a future IMAX film called Outside In, which recreates a journey through the solar system using only images taken from actual spaceflights - made by satellites visiting our neighboring planets. Effects artist and cinematographer Stephen Van Vuuren animated thousands of still shots from Cassini spacecraft’s Saturn flyby, knitting them together to create a seamless journey toward the gas giant, past one of its moons and through its awe-inspiring rings. It’s one of the most mind-blowing, beautiful space movies I’ve ever seen - especially when you consider that the entire thing was shot on location by a satellite zooming around Saturn.
I don’t know if it is the coolest video you will see in whatever amount of time, but if the sheer awesomeness of this doesn’t leave you breathless, then you have no soul.
For the last few years the sun has been kicking back and relaxing. A lot. Although a huge solar flare recently made headlines, the surface of the sun has been quiet lately. Sunspots have been more scarce than they’ve been in the last 200 years. All solar activity is low. And it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a while. The sun is likely in an 11-year cycle that will bottom out in 2013 or 2014. But why is the sun being so very cool lately?
Now two groups of scientists have announced theories that directly contradict each other…
Let’s start with what they agree on. Both groups believe that this cooling is the work of the meridional flow. At the north side of the sun’s equator, the hot plasma flows up towards the north pole. At the pole it sinks down into the interior of the sun and flows back to the equator. The same thing (in reverse) happens just south of the equator. This is the meridional flow.
Over at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, researchers postulate that a fast flow at the beginning of a solar cycle followed by a slow flow at the end leads to a weak polar magnetic field and generates a weak sun cycle. Meanwhile the Marshall Space Flight Center believes just the opposite. A slow flow followed by a fast one creates a weak field and a weak sun.
Both theories are hard to test, since there’s only one sun, it’s 93 million miles away, powered by nuclear explosions, and everyone on earth is using it. The contradiction shows the complexity of the problem. One thing both centers do agree on: the low in solar activity won’t last forever. It’s been helping the earth stay cool, despite increased greenhouse gases. When it stops, things may get very warm around here.
Read more at: Discovery
When the Sun’s atmosphere explodes, it can have explosive consequences on Earth. The X-rays and UV radiation released by these solar flares are capable of interfering with everything from radio communication to our whole electrical grid. If that sounds a little scary, well, it should. That’s why scientists held a session at AAAS 2011 to talk about space weather and how Earthlings can prepare for the damage it could cause. Jeff Foust of The Space Review was there. In an article for that website he explains why space weather is so dangerous to human civilization, what scientists are doing to improve space weather forecasts, and how freaked out we all really ought to be.
As the Sun goes through another peak in activity over the next few years, increasing the number and severity of solar storms, it raises the question of just how prepared we are for disruptions that could result from such storms. The conference session indicated that such planning is, in many cases, quite limited.
One particularly significant vulnerability is the growing reliance on satellite navigation systems like GPS, whose signals are used by a wide variety of industries for highly accurate timing data. A solar flare, though, would ionize the upper atmosphere and thus affect propagation of GPS signals through it, increasing errors or even causing outages. How are companies that rely on GPS prepared to react to its interruption in the event of a solar storm?
Stephan Lechner of the Institute for the Protection of the Citizen, a European Commission Joint Research Centre, discussed one industry in particular, telecommunications, that uses GPS for time synchronization. “Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer,” he said of an analysis of the industry’s vulnerability. Many GPS receivers used by telco companies, he said, simply assume GPS signals will always be there.
Scientists discuss what sort of life could be found in the eleventh dimension. With talk of world of lightning bolts, electricity, unstable atoms and more, this video from BBC show ‘Parallel Universe’ is full of mind-bending theories to set your imagination racing.