Tag Archives: earth

NASA Is Seeking Help In Potentially Finding Life On Jupiter’s Moon Europa (Video)

NASA is confident that underneath Jupiter’s moon Europa there could be more water than in our oceans here on Earth. So naturally, Europa has attracted a lot of attention, encouraging the curious to ask, “Could there be life on Europa?”.

Currently, NASA is aiming to send a new mission to Europa by 2025. The White House’s 2015 federal budget allocates $15 million towards making this Europa mission a reality.

Europa has recently become one of NASA’s main focuses because,  out of all the other planetary bodies in our solar system, it has arguably the greatest chance of harboring life.

From Space.com…


“Every 10 years, the U.S. National Research Council, a nonprofit organization that advises the government, issues a report that recommends a planetary exploration strategy for NASA and the National Science Foundation. The current report (which covers 2013 to 2022) ranks an exploration of Europa among the highest priority missions. According to the report, the future mission should focus on taking a closer look at the ocean that scientists suspect lies below the surface; characterizing its icy crust and looking for any subsurface liquid water; determining the surface composition and chemistry; examining surface features and identifying landing areas for future missions; and understanding the purpose of its magnetosphere — the magnetic field surrounding the celestial body. NASA officials said the instrument proposals should focus on at least one of these exploration goals. The announcement calls for instruments designed for a spacecraft that will orbit Europa or complete several flybys, since astronomers do not yet have enough data to pinpoint safe landing sites on the icy moon.”


The video below describes Europa in more detail.

NASA hopes that by providing monetary incentives to private parties, they will encourage competition and innovation, leading to affordable development processes for the instruments necessary for new missions like the upcoming one to Europa.

Two of the main challenges for teams developing instruments are overcoming Jupiter’s high levels of radiation and making sure that no organic material from Earth (like microorganisms, for example) is introduced to Europa’s potentially habitable surface.

The competition ends in April 2015. NASA will select the top 20 proposals, rewarding $25 million to each of the selected teams to further advance their designs for their instruments. NASA will also select eight winners whose instruments will be developed and actually used in NASA’s mission to Europa.

This competition is included in NASA’s budget to get to Europa, according to Space.com…

“NASA is in the process of designing a mission that will cost less than $1 billion and will still meet as many of the exploration goals as possible.”

Check out NASA’s full guidelines for Europa mission science instrument ideas here.

You can also learn more about how Europa works in this infographic from Space.com (click to enlarge):

NASA: “In the Next 20 Years We Will Find Out We Are Not Alone in the Universe”

The search for extra-terrestrial life has been one NASA’s most important missions in recent years. NASA has estimated that in our galaxy alone, there are 100 million planets that cold possibly host alien life.

Speaking at their Washington headquarters on Monday, NASA outlined new plans to use current telescope technology to help in the search. They also announced that they would be launching the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017 to aid in the search.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,”

said Matt Mountain, who serves as director at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. The Institute will be launching the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 to help in the search as well.

Mountain also added,

“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone… It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden also weighed in on the announcement:

“Do we believe there is life beyond Earth? I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.”

Read the original story from CBS News here.

2-Foot-Long American Bullfrog Sparks Concern In British Columbia (Photos)

Recently a man named Russ Schut was fishing in Sproat Lake, which is on Vancouver Island (Canada), just northeast of Washington state.

With just a worm as bait, Russ was able to haul in a 2-foot-long American bullfrog (which he released).

Russ Schut poses with massive bullfrog. Photo courtesy of Russ Schut

Schut posted this picture with the enormous frog thinking that it wasn’t particularly exceptional, other than being impressively large.

But according to GrindTV.com the photograph was noticed and has fueled concern that the,

 “…voracious amphibians are spreading unchecked across the British Columbia island’s landscape. Because they’re not native to the Canadian southwest and have few natural predators, such as alligators, water snakes, and kingfishers in their native American southeast, some of the bullfrogs are growing to abnormally large sizes.”

American Bullfrogs grow to an average length of around 7 inches and weigh up to 1.5 pounds, so the 2-foot-long Bullfrog caught by Russ Schut was defintly abnormal.

Gail Wallin works with the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia. She told Alberni Valley Times that these frogs are,

“Big and voracious…And when you’ve got a species like that, that can basically out-eat some of the native species; it will take away the forage that native species would use and at times they can be aggressive on other smaller-sized, earlier life-cycle frogs.”

A current study at the University of Victoria is mapping the rate of the bullfrogs’ spread. Wallin has theorized that they were initially introduced to the area by people emptying their aquariums, unaware of the environmental consequences.

A bullfrog with its eggs

According to National Geographic, American bullfrogs can lay as many as 20,000 eggs, with tadpoles sometimes reaching lengths of 7 inches. These bullfrogs populate quickly and with few natural predators in the area they also populate effectively. Suitably, a group of bullfrogs is called an army, or colony.

Though native to the American southwest, they now range throughout the continuous U.S., as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico and Cuba. Their presence also has been documented in Europe, South America, and Asia.

As of now there is no plan to rid the region of the American bullfrog. Check out some images of the American bullfrog below.

The “ISSpresso”: Coffee In Space (Video)

This November Samantha Cristoforetti, the first female Italian astronaut in space, will deliver the “ISSpresso” to the International Space Station (ISS).

For the first time astronauts aboard the ISS will be able to enjoy freshly brewed cups of coffee. It’s amazing to believe that despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone into the ISS, astronauts still don’t have access to a simple cup of Joe.

Thankfully this is going to soon change, according to The Independent

“the ISSpresso: a specially designed machine created by Italian coffee manufacturer Lavazza and aerospace specialist Argotec that is capable of producing an “authentic Italian espresso” in space.”

Aside from the tremendous costs associated with anything that goes to or from the ISS, one of the main challenges for making coffee in space is overcoming the lack of gravity on the ISS. The last thing you want is scolding coffee droplets floating around in the morning.

Fortunately the “ISSpresso” has been designed to overcome zero gravity and according to The Independent,

“The ISSpresso weighs 20kg and includes “back-ups of all the critical components,” with a heavily-modified design tackling the unique problems of making coffee in a microgravity environment as the ISS hurtles through space nearly 400km above Earth.”

Check out the video below to learn more about the “ISSpresso” …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPohtbijBGE 

NASA Made an Amazing Mosaic of Earth Using Over 36,000 Selfies Taken All Across the Globe

Last month, NASA set out to create a “global selfie”. First, they asked people around the world to take pictures of themselves with a little NASA placard saying where they were. They then compiled the 36,422 selfies they got into a stunningly accurate mosaic of the Earth.

A close up of part of the mosaic (Courtesy of NASA)

For Earth Day (April 22), NASA used social media to pose the question, “Where are you on Earth right now?”, encouraging fans and followers to take selfies and post them using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

Selfies were taken on every continent (including Antarctica), and 113 different countries and regions were represented. Each picture was used as a tile on the earth, creating a fully zoomable global mosaic that you can view by clicking the image below.

Everybody got in on the fun, including Elmo, a lego pilot, an astronaut and even a lazy cat. Check out some of the coolest selfie submissions below.

(h/t RT)

Our Resources Are Running Out. How Much Is Left For the New Generation? (Infographic)

Our modern society here on Earth depends heavily on just a handful of resources. These resources include fossil fuels like oil and coal, as well as raw minerals like copper, lead and zinc. With the rapid advancement of technology and industry worldwide in the last half century or so, our demand for these raw goods has skyrocketed.

This cool infographic lists some of our most widely-used resources, showing how much of each was left in 2010 and where the remaining resources are located.

For the top graph, the longer portion in the middle of each bar predicts the number of years until the resource runs out if it keeps being used at current rates.

However, most resources are being used more each year than the year before, so the shorter outer portion of each bar predicts the number of years left if our demand and production continues to increase. Click the image to see the full size version.

This Groovy Sea Lion Is the First Non-Human Mammal Proven To Keep A Beat (Video)

If you know me well, you know that one of my favorite groups of all time is Earth, Wind and Fire, and one of my favorite songs is Boogie Wonderland. There’s just something truly infectious about that song- it’s nearly impossible to hear it and not want to move with the beat.

Last year, a team of researchers from the University of California- Santa Cruz decided to test the widely spread notion that only humans and animals capable of vocal mimicry (like parrots) were capable of keeping a beat. Their weapon: Boogie Wonderland. Even the most solemn of sea lions couldn’t resist this musical kryptonite.

Their test subject was a sea otter named Ronin. By playing the 1979 classic at a number of different tempos, they were able to prove that Ronin was not only aware of the beat but able to nod his head with it. The finding suggests that animals may be much more cognizant of rhythm and beat than we once thought.

The best part of the video is Ronan’s reaction when the music stops- it’s so much like our own. Every time he starts to really feel the new tempo they cut it off and he looks up like ‘Hey, why no music?’

It made me laugh every time! I don’t blame him though. That’s exactly how I would react if somebody cut off Boogie Wonderland while I was in mid-boogie.

[h/t IFL Science]

BONUS: Boogie Wonderland Official Video… ooooh yeah!

There’s No Politics In Space: ISS Astronauts Dismiss Ukraine Issues By Taking Selfies Together

The three-man crew of American astronaut Reid Wiseman, German Astronaut Alexander Gerst, and commander Maksim Suraev of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency departed from Earth yesterday (5/28) headed for the ISS.

Ahead of the launch, the astronauts took questions from the media. One member of the media asked how the recent events in Ukraine affected the astronauts, seeing as Russia’s relations with Germany and the U.S. have been very strained since the turmoil began.

The astronauts response was awesome:

The three men have built a strong friendship over the years while training together.

“I think it means a lot if you look at our crew as not just a team of three different guys from three different nationalities or continents – we are actually a group of friends… Space is without borders, we fly to an international space station where we do experiments that come back to Earth and benefit all of us – they benefit all humankind,”

said Gerst in response to a question from a German journalist. They took this selfie during the interview to reiterate their unity.

The three colleagues and friends have actually taken a number of other awesome pictures together over the years, including these two.

The crew will spend six months aboard the ISS and will return in November.

Read more from RT here.

The Coolest Places On Earth: The Rock of Guatapé, Colombia (Pictures)

The Rock of Guatapé is a massive monolithic rock structure made up of quartz, feldspar and mica. It is located in the small Colombian city of Guatapé.

The monolith is estimated to weigh around 11 million tons, and is 7,005 feet above sea level at its highest point. There are also a number of breaks in the rocks- one of these breaks was used for the construction of the 650 stairs which lead to the top. From there, it’s another 90 steps to reach the top viewing point.

Check out some pictures below:

At the top of the rock are a few small souvenir shops, a restaurant, and the viewing platform, which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

The rock is located near the border of the neighboring town of El Peñol, and both towns claim the rock as their own. At one point, residents of Guatapé decided they would settle the argument by painting the name of their town in giant white letters on the rock.

However, residents of El Peñol quickly noticed, and a mob gathered to stop the painting. Only the G and part of the U were completed.

How to Watch the First Ever Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Tonight (Live Stream)

Starting at around 11 p.m. Eastern time tonight, the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower will be peaking in the night sky. The meteors are the debris left behind by the comet P/209 LINEAR almost two centuries ago.

On May 23/24, Earth will be passing through this trail of debris, which is why the meteors will be visible to us here on Earth tonight for the first time ever. The comets will appear to be coming from the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper).

Astronomers are predicting that the shower could be pretty spectacular, with some estimating as many as 200 meteor sightings per hour. The shower will peak between 2 and 4 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow morning.

If visibility in your area is limited, not to worry. Slooh will be live-streaming the whole event- you can check it out below: