Posts Tagged ‘Pole’

Methane, a notorious greenhouse gas, is leaking from the permafrost under the Siberian seabed.

The apparent rapid decay of permafrost as a result of global warming.

The apparent rapid decay of permafrost as a result of global warming.

The permafrost has small holes in it leading to the surface.  Researchers found elevated levels of methane being emitted from the holes and even more in the water below the ground.  The seabed is the source of the gas.   

Methane is more than 20 times more efficient than carbon dioxide in trapping solar heat, so this is a huge problem.  It is also emitted from many bogs and swamps across the world as organic matter decays and decomposes.

Scientists fear that global warming may cause Siberia’s permafrost to thaw and thereby release even more amounts of methane into the atmosphere. The effects of global warming are already readily apparent in the Arctic region from the melting of the polar ice caps etc.


Read Full Post »

A study of Google Earth satellite images has revealed that herds of cattle tend to face in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines.
Bovines may know more about the earths magnetic fields than you do!

Bovines may know more about the earth's magnetic fields than you do!


It seems that bovines have a compass-esque 6th sense.  The teams who did this research also noticed the same of red and roe deer.

The data on 2,974 deer came from direct ground observations and photos in the Czech Republic. Researchers also examined fresh beds left by resting deer in the snow, where the animals had sought shelter deep in the forest away from the wind, so that was not a variable.

Wind and time of day did not offer better explanations for why 8,510 cattle in 308 locations around the world would mostly face north-south.  Both cattle and deer faced a more magnetic north-south direction rather than geographic north-south, (Earth’s magnetic poles do not line up perfectly with the North and South Poles).

Previous research has shown that animals including birds, turtles, certain bat species, and salmon migrate using this sense of magnetic direction.

However, the researchers suggest that the finding of large animals’ sense of north-south direction could raise other agricultural questions, such as how keeping cows in barns facing east-west might affect milk production.

Read Full Post »

The Northern (and Southern for that matter) Lights are now a bit less mysterious.  It turns out that they are caused by explosions of magnetic energy between Earth and the moon, according to NASA.

The Aurora Borealis in Alaska

The Aurora Borealis in Alaska

A network of five satellites on a mission known as THEMIS studied the phenomenon for a year to help gain this insight into the aurora borealis.  The energy explosions that take place a third of the way between Earth and the moon power substorms which cause the sudden brightening and rapid movements of the northern lights.

The substorms are caused by magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs when magnetic field lines around all matter quickly snap to a new shape.  This releases energy stored in the stretched magnetic field lines, sending charged particles toward the Earth.  When these hit our atmosphere…boom the glowing lights at the poles begin to move in their dazzling, spectacular light show.

Read Full Post »

NASA scientists plan to test out the process of shaving and collecting ice on the Phoenix, the Mars lander.  The first test was conducted on July 15.  The scrapings are being taken from a 5-centimeter deep hole informally known as Snow White.

A Color Photograph of “Snow White”

 The ice scrapings will be placed into a tiny oven in the lander’s Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, which heats up samples of Martian dirt and analyzes the vapors they give off.  Mission team members hope that  analysis of the ice samples will show that they are rich in water ice, which aids the argument that there still may be life on the red planet.  The mission is not to detect microbes, but to discover if the environment is suitable for them; water is a natural necessity.

The sample for the TEGA instrument will also be taken from this same trench. Mission controllers hope to collect and deliver the sample quickly and early in the Martian morning to minimize the amount of ice lost to sublimation, the process of solid (ice) going directly into a gaseous phase.

Read Full Post »

Scientists’ analysis of images from NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has them nearly completely convinced of there being ice near the Red Planet’s northern pole.

Small pieces of a bright material “have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago,” according to NASA.  This is consistent with the theory that the white material was ice that vaporized when Phoenix exposed it to the atmosphere.  There had been some question whether the bright material was salt, but this new information disproves the salt theory. 

The Possible Ice Found in the Phoenix’s Print

The bright bits of material were left in a pit scientists dubbed “Dodo-Goldilocks” and were not there when the lander took a new later image of the trench.  If you live under a rock and don’t already know, the three-month Phoenix mission is hoping to find evidence of the existence of water and life-supporting organic minerals in the polar region.

Read Full Post »

All is well on the Phoenix after its descent onto the pole of Mars.  All of the instruments are working to capacity.   Ever since its landing on the red planet on Sunday, the spacecraft has been filming and taking photographs of Mars’ Northern pole. 

A Photo of Mars’ Icy Ground.  The Polygonal Patterns are Probably Caused Due to the Ice Below the Ground.  Patters Like These are Found on Earth as Well.

As I already said, the Phoenix is on a three-month-long mission to dig in the soil and ice using a robotic arm.  These samples will be used to find out if the conditions on Mars can hold life.  The samples ought to contain organic compounds, the necessary  building blocks for life.

Before landing, a black and white image, aerial image of Mars was taken.   This is the first time any camera has imaged a descent through an atmosphere of another planet.  So far, so good.  Let’s hope there are no problems and we can get answers to some of these intriguing questions. 

Read Full Post »

A small unmanned spacecraft built and driven by NASA named the Phoenix landed on the icy northern pole of Mars at 4:53 PDT yesterday.  This is the first time that a spacecraft has landed on one of the poles.  This touchdown was particularly stressful as there were no cushioned landing gear on the craft unlike the previous Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers.

An Illustration of the Phoenix Landing

The craft, pulled by Mars’ gravity, screamed through space at somewhere around 12,700 mph before it hit the  atmosphere, allowing it to deploy a parachute to land safely on the ground.  Thus, the Phoenix ended its 10-month, 423 million-mile flight. 

NASA’s scientists discovered liquid water underneath the ice of the poles in 2002.  This mission was to sample the water and find out if life could be present in it.  NASA attempted a landing on Mars’ southern pole in 1999, but a problem (scientific calculations of distance are done with the metric meter, not feet NASA!) during the descent ended the mission with a bang.  The later Spirit and Opportunity rovers explored Mars’ equatorial region for signs of water existing in the past.  The Phoenix was built from parts of smashed up polar spacecraft.  Hopefully, we will finally find out if little green men (or bacterial life) can exist on Mars.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: