Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

March 23, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to get up-close and personal with Mars , check out this incredible video recently released by NASA that shows the Red Planet’s surface in stunning detail. Entitled “A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars,” the video is a composite made from about 33,000 of the 50,000 high-resolution stereo images of the planet’s terrain made over the past 12 years by the powerful camera used in NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). These stereogram images depict the planet’s surface in incredible detail, which can only truly be appreciated in still images by using 3D glasses—or when merged together into an active, three dimensional, fly-over view, as was done by Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman when creating this video. As Wired notes, Mars’ dusty atmosphere obfuscates its surface with massive storms so regularly that the only way to get a decent look at the planet is through imaging technology. So that’s what NASA did. “The best way to see the planet’s surface would be to take a digital image and enhance it on your computer, said planetary geologist and principal investigator for HiRISE, Alfred McEwen. Related: The UAE joins the race to build first city on Mars https://vimeo.com/207076450 Enter Fröjdman, who assembled the flyover shots piece by piece and colorized the monochrome images captured by the HiRISE camera. He was also responsible for identifying features like craters, canyons and mountains, then matching them between pairs of images. The 3D panning effect was the result of a painstaking process that involved stitching the images along reference points and then rendering them as frames in a video. Fröjdman spent three months working on the project, during which time he picked and stitched by hand more than 33,000 images. The result of his work is worth the effort—a truly stunning video. Via Wired Video and image via Jan Fröjdman , Vimeo

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Incredible video of Mars stitched together by hand from 33,000 images

Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

March 22, 2017 by  
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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law a new plan for NASA’s future . The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 calls for a $19.5 billion annual budget for the agency – not a major change from the agency’s $19.3 billion budget in 2016 – but the document seems to leave out the agency’s earth science division entirely. Trump claims this is simply a way of reaffirming the agency’s “core mission” of human space exploration, space science, and technology, but given how aggressively the new administration has gone after any agencies involved in atmospheric research, climate change denial is likely the underlying motive for the shift. Under the new act, Congressional Republicans have outlined a new roadmap for the agency’s future. The law calls on NASA to create a plan for humans to reach the surface of Mars by the 2030s, and to continue developing its Orion space capsule and its Space Launch System. The administration has also expressed a desire for NASA to return to the moon in the 2020s. Related: NASA releases startling new images showing 30 years of change on Earth What’s unclear is exactly how the new law will affect NASA’s earth science research. Trump’s proposed budget , however, may offer some clues. He hopes to cut the earth science budget by $102 million, potentially terminating a number of programs, including the   Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem  (PACE),  Orbital Carbon Observatory-3  (OCO-3),  Deep Space Climate Observatory  (DISCOVR), and  CLARREO Pathfinder missions. These four satellites help scientists monitor the Earth’s climate, weather, and oceans. While Trump may claim climate change is outside of the scope of NASA’s original research mission, that’s simply untrue. When NASA was formed in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act explicitly called on the new agency to contribute to the “expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere.” The loss of these resources would be devastating to the larger scientific world, which often relies on NASA data for research. Related: Gov. Jerry Brown pledges to launch California’s “own damn satellite” if Trump blocks climate research It’s still far too early to know what might happen: the funding requested would be for the 2018 fiscal year, so any cuts wouldn’t be felt immediately. The proposed budget also has to be reviewed and approved by Congress before anything is set in stone. Hopefully, lawmakers will see the value in maintaining some of these programs, even if Trump doesn’t. Via Business Insider Images via   NASA

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Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

NASA releases images of the world’s largest solar farm from space

February 24, 2017 by  
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China is home to the world’s largest solar farm , which is so immense, it is visible from space. With around four million solar panels , Longyangxia Dam Solar Park has a capacity of 850 megawatts (MW) – pushing the country closer to its ambitious renewable energy goals. NASA recently shared satellite images of the solar park as seen from space – and they are admittedly impressive. The award for world’s largest solar farm has switched hands rapidly in the last few years. In 2014, California’s 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm was the biggest, but a year later the state’s 579 MW Solar Star claimed victory. The next year, 2016, saw India’s 648 MW Kamuthi Solar Power Project topple the throne, only to be ousted by the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park this year. Related: India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes NASA Earth Observatory’s satellite images of the Chinese solar park reveal immense growth over four years. By early January of this year, the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, which is in the high desert of the Qinghai province, covered 10 square miles. China became the largest producer of solar power in the world after the country’s total installed capacity increased to around 77 gigawatts in 2016, even though other countries like the United States and Germany produce more solar energy per person. Rapid progress has marked China’s renewable energy industry in recent years. According to Climate Central, drawing on preliminary 2016 data released by Greenpeace’s Energydesk , the country “installed the equivalent of one and a half soccer fields of solar panels every hour.” Such advancement means China could hit their 2020 renewable energy targets as soon as 2018. NASA doesn’t expect the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park to retain the crown for long. The Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai is still growing – phase 3 will add 800 megawatts to the farm. And another solar farm planned for China’s Ningxia region in the northwest is slated to have a capacity of 2,000 MW. Via Climate Central Images via Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory

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NASA releases images of the world’s largest solar farm from space

Foldable, lightweight kayak assembles in 10 minutes

February 24, 2017 by  
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For all the joy they can bring out on the water, traditional kayaks are bulky, heavy and often cumbersome to transport. But that’s all about to change thanks to the Justin Case Kayak , a foldable, lighweight kayak design made with 3D-printed materials that can be assembled in just 10 minutes. Most kayaks are long, bulky and heavy, making transport extremely difficult. The Justin Case Kayak prototype is designed for water lovers by fellow adventurers who wanted to make kayaking easier, simultaneously enabling better access to nature and spontaneous adventure. Related: Modular kayak with an off-color name breaks down into three portable pieces  The team behind Justin Case developed their prototype based on optimal functionality. With the foldable design , kayakers of any level can easily carry their kayak folded up in its carry case, making impromptu water excursions easier than ever. The compact design is optimal for storage as well, easily hidden from view unlike most kayaks. The lightweight carbon fiber frame is held together with 3D printed connectors, and covered in a water and tear-proof ripstop skin. The prototype development process was green-minded throughout, focusing on using as little material as possible while providing a long-lasting product. Via Justin Case Kayak Images via Justin Case Kayak

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Foldable, lightweight kayak assembles in 10 minutes

Dakota Access Pipeline 99 percent finished, says Energy Transfer Partners

February 24, 2017 by  
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After months of protests by Native Americans and supporters worldwide, the Trump administration ignored the pleas of so many American citizens and gave permission for the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline to move forward. And Energy Transfer Partners didn’t waste much time doing just that. The group said in a recent statement that the oil pipeline is now 99 percent finished. Federal authorization came earlier in February and Energy Transfer Partners got to work. In March or April, oil could start flowing through the $3.8 billion pipeline, which will transport Bakken crude oil from North Dakota oilfields through the Midwest. The oil will end up at refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. The part of the pipeline that runs so close to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation is the last to be completed. Related: Standing Rock protesters evicted by police at gunpoint White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that the White House is communicating with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In a press briefing yesterday, a reporter asked if the President had been briefed on the Standing Rock situation, and Spicer replied, “Our team has been involved with both the tribe and the governor there, and so we are not only – we are constantly in touch with them. And I think we feel very confident that we will move forward to get the pipeline moving.” But tribe chair Dave Archambault II said Spicer’s claims aren’t true. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued a statement yesterday and quoted Archambault II as saying, “[Spicer’s] claim is absolutely false. We repeatedly asked for meetings with the Trump administration, and never received one until the day they notified Congress that they were issuing the easement. I was on a plane to Washington, D.C. when the easement was issued. It was an insult to me and to the Tribe. I cancelled the meeting upon hearing this news. We have since filed a lawsuit for the immoral and illegal issuance of the easement and suspension of the environmental impact study.” Via Reuters Images via Standing Rock Rising Facebook

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NASA discovers 7 Earth-sized planets outside our solar system

February 22, 2017 by  
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In a press conference today, NASA scientists revealed an extraordinary new discovery – the first known system of seven rocky, Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star. Three out of the seven planets are situated at the perfect distance from the sun to potentially harbor liquid water , making them habitable for life as we know it. This is the largest number of habitable-zone planets ever found around a single star outside our own solar system . It’s important to note that simply because these planets could potentially hold liquid water doesn’t mean that they do – but the likelihood is higher given their location. The planets are orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1, located about 40 light years (or 235 trillion miles) from Earth in the Aquarius constellation. The system is named after the TRAPPIST ( The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope ), located in an observatory in Chile. In May 2016, TRAPPIST researchers announced they’d discovered three planets in the system. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was able to confirm those exoplanets’ existence and that of four additional planets. The results of NASA’s study have been published in the journal Nature today. Related: Astronomers just discovered an alien planet with three suns that shouldn’t exist What’s especially interesting about the TRAPPIST-1 system is how different its habitable zone is from that of systems like our own. Because the star is much cooler than our sun, planets much closer to the sun than Earth could potentially have liquid water. In fact, all seven of TRAPPIST-1’s planets are closer to the star than Mercury is to our own sun, and each of the planets are so close to one another they would appear in one another’s skies the same way the moon appears in ours. NASA scientists also speculate the planets may be tidally locked , so that the same side of the planet is always facing the star, casting one half of the planet in permanent daylight and the other in perpetual night. This could cause weather patterns unlike anything we’ve ever seen before on Earth, and extreme differences in temperature from one side to the other. The Spitzer telescope was able to detect the presence of the planets by observing the infrared wavelengths emitted by the star over a period of 500 hours. Each time a planet crossed in front of the star, the telescope could detect changes in the star’s brightness. NASA also followed up with a study using the Hubble Space Telescope to determine whether the planets were rocky, or likely had a “puffy” atmosphere like those of our own system’s gas giants. There’s still much about these planets we simply do not know, but studies will continue to help NASA learn more about them. Right now, the Kepler space telescope is also recording observations about the system, which will reveal more properties about the exoplanets in March. NASA’s new James Webb Telescope will also be pointed toward TRAPPIST-1 after its launch in 2018, and will analyze the planets’ temperature, surface pressure, and atmospheric makeup – all key factors that will reveal whether these worlds can actually sustain life. Via NASA Images via NASA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnKFaAS30X8

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NASA discovers 7 Earth-sized planets outside our solar system

Ancient microbes survive inside massive cave crystals for 50,000 years

February 20, 2017 by  
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Scientists have found strange, ancient microbes in Mexico’s Naica crystal caves that could be around 50,000 years old. Although the caves are so hot they’ve been described as hell – while also being so magical they’ve been described as Fairyland – the microbes have survived for thousands of years trapped in crystals . A biologist who studied the microbes referred to them as super life. Scientists discovered 40 different microbe strains and some viruses in the caves. The microbes are so bizarre that even their closest relatives are genetically 10 percent different, which is about as far away as mushrooms and humans, according to NASA Astrobiology Institute director Penelope Boston, who recently presented the research. The dormant microbes survived on minerals like manganese and iron. Related: Researchers discover that architecture has an impact on which microbes thrive around you The Naica caves are a great example of an extreme environment. Found by miners only around 100 years ago, the caves were isolated from the rest of the world for centuries until a mining company commenced drilling. According to Phys.org, some of the caves are as colossal as cathedrals , and are covered in crystals. But the magnificent caves are so sweltering the researchers could work for just about 20 minutes before retreating to a cool room around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They wore inexpensive space suits and kept ice packs on their bodies. The find doesn’t claim the prize for oldest extreme life – years ago scientists wrote about living microbes trapped in salt and ice that may be around half a million years old. But Boston told the BBC the microbes her team found are extraordinary because “they are not very closely related to anything in the known genetic databases” and scientists can add the recently found microbes “to this atlas of possibilities that we can apply to different planetary settings.” The findings draw on nine years of research, but have not yet been published in a journal. Boston aims to run more genetic tests on the microbes, but did present the find at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston, Massachusetts late last week. Via the BBC and Phys.org Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient microbes survive inside massive cave crystals for 50,000 years

Rogue NASA Twitter account strikes back at Donald Trump

January 27, 2017 by  
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Yet another “rogue” Twitter account has cropped up in response to Donald Trump’s efforts to muzzle government agencies: this time, Rogue NASA is taking to social media to spread climate science. The new, unofficial account is one of a number of accounts purporting to be run by national park employees in their off hours. While the account makes clear in its bio that it’s not run by government employees, its mission is clear: to spread information about climate change in the event that Trump orders the agency to go silent.

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Rogue NASA Twitter account strikes back at Donald Trump

Greenpeace activists hang "Resist" banner above White House to protest Trump

January 27, 2017 by  
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This week seven Greenpeace U.S.A. members scaled a crane near the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s policies – and they unfurled a 70-by-35-foot-banner emblazoned with a single exhortation: “Resist.” The protestors had climbed the roughly 300-foot crane around 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and they came down close to 10 p.m., after which they were taken into custody. They are currently facing charges for “second-degree burglary, unlawful entry. and destruction of property,” a District of Columbia police spokeswoman told reporters on Thursday. Karen Topakian , chairwoman of the Greenpeace Inc. board and one of the climbers, said the protestors were there to “resist Trump’s attacks on environmental, social, economic, and educational justice to contribute to a better America.” Just days after taking office, the Trump administration has revived the dormant Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects , ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove climate change from its website, and suppressed communications between federal scientists and the public. Although some of these restrictions were loosened following a public backlash, many view these strikes as symptomatic of Trump’s anti-intellectual, anti-science agenda, one that is best encapsulated by the president’s previous insistence that climate change is a “hoax” perpetuated by the Chinese government. Related: Rogue national park tweets climate change facts in defiance of Donald Trump The fact that Trump has tapped Scott Pruitt , a climate-change denier with close ties to the fossil-fuel industry, to lead the EPA, does current optics few favors. In a meeting with automakers on Tuesday, Trump called himself “to a large extent, an environmentalist” but also said that regulations were “out of control.” Greenpeace isn’t about to let that behavior slide. “Greenpeace has been using nonviolence to resist tyrannical bullies since 1971, and we’re not going to stop now,” Topakian wrote in a blog post . “When Trump tries to weaken the Paris Climate Agreement so fossil fuel companies can profit on climate destruction, we will resist . When he tries to fast-track dangerous projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines with no regard for Indigenous sovereignty, we will resist . When he tries to block our communities from building the clean energy future we deserve, we will resist .” Viva la resistance. + Greenpeace Photos by Greenpeace

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Greenpeace activists hang "Resist" banner above White House to protest Trump

The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway

January 6, 2017 by  
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With the arrival of electric cars like the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming Tesla Model 3 , the Nissan Leaf hasn’t received the attention that it did when it first went on sale at the end of 2010. Nissan is getting ready to bring the spotlight back on the Leaf with an all-new model set to launch in the “near future.” While we’ve heard reports about a much longer driving range, Nissan’s CEO has also confirmed that the next Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway. Without going into to too much detail, Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show that the next-generation Leaf will feature the automaker’s new ProPILOT technology. Related: Nissan’s next-generation Leaf prototype can drive over 310 miles on a single charge “At Nissan, from the beginning, we work to bring the right technologies for the full spectrum of our vehicles and the most amount of people,” said Ghosn in his keynote. “This takes more than innovation. It takes ingenuity. And it’s exactly what we deliver through Nissan Intelligent Mobility.” Nissan’s autonomous driving technology, called “Seamless Autonomous Mobility,” or SAM has been co-developed with NASA. The technology partners in-vehicle artificial intelligence with human support to help autonomous vehicles make decisions in unpredictable situations. According to Nissan, the technology could potentially enable millions of driverless cars to co-exist with human drivers on an accelerated timeline. Ghosn also confirmed that Nissan is working with Microsoft to build the next generation of connected car technologies. Although Nissan says that the next Leaf will arrive in the near future, we don’t have an actual confirmed date. + Nissan All images @ Nissan

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The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway

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