Just two days ago, I posted a spectacular picture from the most powerful telescope orbiting Mars showing a fresh blast zone and crater gouged into the surface of Mars by an impacting space rock.
Now, comes this spectacular composite image, acquired around the same time.
You’re looking at Earth and the Moon, as seen on Nov. 20, 2016 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The Mars orbiter was 127 million miles from our home planet when HiRISE captured the images that were composited to produce this view.
The bright blob at the bottom-left of Earth is Antarctica. Other bright white areas are clouds. Meanwhile, the reddish feature toward the middle is Australia. And Southeast Asia is at upper left. The lushly green region appears red because this is a false color image. Read More
On the heels of a study confirming that there had been no slowdown in global warming, there is now this news: 2016 was indeed the warmest year on record. The analysis was announced Thursday by the the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Scientists have been predicting for quite some time that 2016 would achieve this dubious distinction.
The announcement follows preliminary findings in December from the Japan Meteorological Agency also showing that 2016 would be the warmest year.
Two U.S. government agencies, NASA and NOAA, will follow soon with their own analyses. While they may differ somewhat in the details, there is no doubt that they will concur about 2016’s record-setting status.
In its analysis, the Copernicus Climate Change Service found that this past year was warmer than 2015 by close to 0.2°C. “Global temperatures reached a peak in February 2016 around 1.5°C higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution,” according to a press release from Copernicus.
As the graphic above shows, the Arctic was especially warm. And no part of the Arctic was warmer in 2016 than the island archipelago of Svalbard, which sits more than 500 miles north of Norway in the high Arctic. Read More
Small asteroids and chunks of cometary debris frequently slam into the surface of Mars, gouging out new craters. Thanks to a high resolution camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists can often spot such impacts relatively soon after they occur.
The image above, acquired by the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is a compelling example. It shows a crater and blast zone from an impact that likely occurred as recently as this past August, and no later than January 2014, according to HiRISE scientists.
Maybe you’ve seen stories about the comet that will supposedly provide some fireworks on New Year’s Eve, as it appears low on the western horizon?
As USA Today put it:
Apart from the traditional fireworks and illuminated ball in Times Square, look for a blazing comet to light the night sky on New Year’s Eve.
“Light the night sky”? Uhm, no. Not even remotely close. But if you’re properly equipped, and in the right place, Comet 45P may well put on a pretty — albeit subtle — show for you. Read More
Speaking of the wild western side of the Bears Ears buttes in Utah, Wallace Stegner wrote in 1969:
To start a trip at Mexican Hat, Utah, is to start off into empty space from the end of the world.
And now, 47 years later, a huge chunk of of this empty space — some 1.35 million acres of it, an area nearly as large as Delaware — has been set aside by President Barack Obama as the new Bears Ears National Monument.
I do have to respectfully disagree with Stegner on one point: This land is not at all empty space. In addition to some of the most spectacular geological features on Earth, it is filled with stunning rock art, ancient cliff dwellings, ceremonial sites, caches of untouched cultural remains, and countless other artifacts — much of it at increasing risk from vandals and looters.
As President Obama put it in his proclamation establishing the monument:
Rising from the center of the southeastern Utah landscape and visible from every direction are twin buttes so distinctive that in each of the native languages of the region their name is the same: Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe, or “Bears Ears.” For hundreds of generations, native peoples lived in the surrounding deep sandstone canyons, desert mesas, and meadow mountaintops, which constitute one of the densest and most significant cultural landscapes in the United States.
“The reason we are where we are now is because of the dignity and integrity of the tribal leaders,” says Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado Law School. Wilkinson consulted with five tribes — the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe — as they produced the proposal for the monument that President Obama has now created, under authority granted by the Antiquities Act. Read More
Just hours after the winter sosltice this month, particles blowing in the solar wind slammed into Earth’s magnetic field and kicked up quite the auroral ruckus.
The Suomi NPP spacecraft, orbiting 512 miles overhead — more than twice as high as the International Space Station — recorded all the action over Canada on December 22. The image above is based on the data that the spacecraft’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRs, gathered that night.
Click on the thumbnail at right for an annotated image that can help you get your geographic bearings.
There are more than 6,900 distinct languages, and thus at least that many ways for us humans to express freedom from war, violence, and disturbance, and the presence of quiet, tranquility and serenity.
The headline expresses these ideas in ten different languages: English, of course, plus Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, French, Hindi, Spanish, Navajo, Russian, Chinese, Malay, and Xhosa.
Will the fast-approaching New Year bring peace? Or more strife and violence? Will we see an outbreak of tranquility and serenity? Or, as Pope Francis put it in his annual Christmas address, yet more horrors for children in war-torn regions, “hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants”?
Call me naive, but images like the one of the War and Peace Nebula above give me faith that the better angels of our nature can overcome. It is a composite, created by NASA using data from three telescopes in space, and one atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. Read More
Super Typhoon Nock-ten is swirling toward a Christmas Day landfall as a Category 3 or 4 storm on the Philippine island of Catanduanes. With winds gusting as high as about 140 miles per hour, Nock-ten could have a devastating impact.
After landfall, Nock-ten is forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to churn westward and pass close to Manila on December 26. It should rake the city and the highly populous island of Luzon with heavy rainfall and sustained winds of about 90 miles per hour.
The quote in the headline is from a Tweet this morning from Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, following release of his institute’s monthly climate analysis.
It found that November was the second warmest such month in 136 years of modern record-keeping. It was edged out only by November of 2015, which was 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.126 degrees F) warmer. As Schmidt’s Tweet suggests, despite November’s second-place status, and today’s frigid cold, the full year of 2016 is firmly on track to end as the very warmest on record.
If you’re wondering what goes into the analysis, according to NASA:
…it is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.
For more details about how the analysis is carried out, including how adjustments are made to account for the urban heat island effect, see the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, or GISTEMP, pages — here.
If you have been shivering today under the massive blast of Arctic air that is surging south across large parts of the United States — and wondering why anyone would talk about record warmth — keep in mind that what you are experiencing today is weather. That’s the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and a particular time.
And the state of the atmosphere today in much of the United States is, well, polar. Here is what’s producing these conditions: Read More
Over the past week, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft watched a massive coronal hole rotate into view as the Sun spun on its axis.
Click on the screenshot above to bring up a video I posted to my Youtube channel showing all the action as seen by SDO between December 2nd and 9th.
Such holes occur in areas of the solar atmosphere, called the corona, where the Sun’s magnetic field is open to space, rather than closed in on itself. This allows charged particles to stream out at high speed, lowering the density and temperature of material in the parts of the corona where this occurs.
The result: When the Sun is viewed in x-ray wavelengths, as it is above, we see a dark region, or “hole,” in the corona.