The sea ice cover blanketing the Arctic Ocean and nearby seas thickens and expands during the fall and winter each year. It reaches its maximum yearly extent in February or March. This year (2018), on March 17, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at only 5.59 million square miles (14,478,033.54 km2), the 2nd lowest max on record. It is only about 23,200 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) larger than the record low maximum reached in last year, on March 7, 2017.
This continues a trend of shrinking sea ice, with the four lowest Arctic sea ice maximum extents on record in the last four years. In the video published by the NASA Goddard Channel, Climatologist, and NASA Aqua Project scientist Dr. Claire Parkinson explains how and why NASA studies Arctic sea ice. Dr. Parkinson has been studying sea ice from space for the past four decades.
Continue reading 2018 Arctic Wintertime Sea Ice Extent is the Second Lowest On Record
This week, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover celebrated its 2,000th Martian day (or Sol) on the Red Planet. The nuclear-powered rover was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. A Mars day is slightly longer than a day here on Earth: a sidereal day is 24 hours, 37 minutes, and 22 seconds (on Earth, it is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds) and a solar day is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds (on Earth, 24 hours).
Continue reading Mars Curiosity Rover Celebrates Sol 2,000
Will we ever visit other stars? Maybe, in the distant future, if humans won’t become extinct, our grand grand … (insert a hundred or a thousand grands here) children can stand on an exoplanet’s surface someday. But, we don’t have to wait. NASA has opened a new web page, an “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”, and we can, at least, see the artists’ imaginations of what an exoplanet surface look like, based on available data. NASA warns, there are no actual images of the exoplanets, obviously. With interactive 3D images, it is still an exciting experience.
Continue reading Exoplanet Travel Bureau by NASA – Interactive 3D Images
NASA APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) published an amazing video showing a rotating Moon. In fact, no one sees the Moon rotate like this. We see only one side of the moon, because the Moon is tidally locked to Earth. But, thanks to modern digital technology combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high-resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has been composed.
Continue reading Watch: Rotating Moon from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
A great short science fiction film, “Others Will Follow”, created and directed by Andrew Finch and published on Vimeo, tells the story of a manned Mars mission. An accident occurs and the spacecraft breaks apart, the last survivor (we don’t see what happens to the rest of the crew, but presumably they have died) manages to send an inspirational message back to Earth. A must-watch.
Continue reading Watch: Others Will Follow (Short Sci-Fi Film)
According to a new study, microbes like those found in Earth’s deep ocean could potentially thrive in the underground ocean of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Both molecular hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) already have been detected in the plume. Researchers have shown that Methanothermococcus okinawensis, a methanogenic archaeon first isolated from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent on the western Pacific Ocean, can produce methane under conditions known to exist on Enceladus.
Continue reading We May Have Already Detected Signs of Alien Microbes on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully tested Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket that the American company ever built. When lifted off, it became also the most powerful operational rocket in the world. Powerful rockets like Falcon Heavy may one day carry humans to the Moon or Mars. But there might be an even more important use of powerful rockets like SpaceX’ Falcon Heavy and BFR, Blue Origin’s New Glenn or NASA’s SLS: asteroid mining.
Continue reading Asteroid Mining: We Need Powerful Rockets like Falcon Heavy
NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured a new Earth-Moon image on Jan. 17, 2018, from a distance of 39.5 million miles (63.6 million kilometers). Spacecraft used its NavCam1 imager to take this photo, as part of an engineering test. In the image, The Earth and the moon are just two bright dots against the vastness of black space – which reminds us of Carl Sagan’s famous speech: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
Continue reading OSIRIS-REx Captures New Earth-Moon Image from 39.5 Million Miles
As a result of the global warming, the seas warm and ice melts. Naturally, Earth’s oceans have risen steadily – or at least, it was thought so. According to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data, rather than increasing steadily, global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades. If this trend continues, by the year 2100, sea level rise will be around 65 cm (25.6 in), twice as big as previously thought. This is more than enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities.
Satellite altimetry Notes 1 has shown that since 1993, global mean sea level has been rising at a rate of ∼3 ± 0.4 millimeters per year. Researchers show that this rate is accelerating at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2, which agrees well with climate model projections. This acceleration is driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica because of global warming. If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, sea-level rise by 2100 (∼65 cm ± 12 cm, compared with 2005) will be more than double the amount if the rate was constant at 3 mm/y, researchers conclude.
Continue reading Global Sea Level Rise Accelerating, New Study Finds
A breathtakingly beautiful photo of a historical moment: NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart untethered above the Earth during the first Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) exercise. The photo was taken on February 7, 1984, during the EVA 1 (Extravehicular activity) of STS-41-B, the tenth NASA Space Shuttle mission and the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The total duration of the spacewalk was 5 hours 55 minutes. Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart tested a nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled backpack device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). In this EVA, Bruce McCandless II broke the untethered spacewalking record with a distance of 98 meters (320 feet).
Continue reading Astronaut Robert Stewart untethered above the Earth during Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) Exercise