February 11, 2013 |
At 10:02 a.m. Monday, if all goes as planned at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the latest generation Earth-observation satellite, Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a.k.a. Landsat 8, will get a boost into space atop an Atlas 5 rocket. Since 1972, seven satellites have documented Earth's continents and coastlines in images of telling and often astonishing detail. Forty years of Landsat data, what the government calls a "visible, long-term record of natural and human-induced changes on the global landscape," is archived and available online, free for anyone to use. And it does get used.
February 6, 2013 |
Al Gore hails from Tennessee, but when he comes to California next week, he'll be coming back to his spiritual home. In 2000, Californians gave him a double-digit lead - 1.3 million votes - over George W. Bush for president. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Oscar. California's GOP governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed the nation's most groundbreaking greenhouse-gases law. Californians buy the Prius; the rest of the country buys Ford trucks. Gore arrives amid the hoo-hah over the half-billion-dollar sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera, and touting a hefty new book magisterially titled "The Future.
February 6, 2013 |
Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said Wednesday morning that an "Earth-like" planet -- that is, a small rocky planet warm enough to have liquid water on its surface and potentially capable of hosting life -- could be as close as 13 light-years away. It's hardly "next door" (as a press release touting the announcement put it), in any traditional sense: 13 light-years is something like 76 trillion miles away. But across the vast distances of the Milky Way, said Harvard astronomer Courtney Dressing, 13 light-years amounts to "a stroll in the park.
February 4, 2013 |
Mayan apocalypse? Avoided. Y2K anarchy? Suppressed. Gigantic asteroid hurled by the sun's gravity toward Earth? Well … Close but no cigar. Better go to Vegas, Earthlings, you're on a winning streak of avoiding disaster. In what NASA officials are calling the closest near-Earth fly-by in at least a generation, Asteroid 2012 DA14 , is expected to buzz by our blue marble on Feb. 15. The 150-foot space rock will cross from south to north in the afternoon, coming within 22,200 miles of Earth.
February 3, 2013 |
Those belonging to the camps of the eight movies not titled "Argo" that are competing for this year's best picture Oscar went to bed last night with one film title on their minds: "Apollo 13. " Like Ben Affleck and "Argo," Ron Howard's 1995 space drama blitzed through the awards season, winning honors from the Producers Guild and Directors Guild, as well as the Screen Actors Guild's newly minted film ensemble award. And on Oscar night, it lost best picture to "Braveheart. " Affleck won the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film award Saturday night the same way Howard did in 1996 -- without the benefit of an Oscar nomination.
January 28, 2013 |
A team of storm-chasing scientists sampling rarefied air has found a world of bacteria and fungi floating about 30,000 feet above Earth. The findings, detailed Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that microbes have the potential to affect the weather. Scientists have long studied airborne bacteria, but they typically do so from the ground, often trekking to mountain peaks to examine microbes in fresh snow. Beyond that, they don't know much about the number and diversity of floating microbes, said study coauthor Athanasios Nenes, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech.
January 20, 2013 |
The cold, dead asteroid Vesta might have had a very active inner life early in the solar system's history, according to an unusual analysis of a Saharan meteorite. Vesta might have had a magma ocean underneath its rocky exterior, allowing bits of mineral to rise and fall between softer and harder layers of material, according to a study published online Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience. If confirmed, that would make it more like Earth and the solar system's other rocky planets than scientists had realized.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 19, 2013 |
The environmental group Friends of the Earth made its case to federal regulators last week that Southern California Edison should be barred from restarting the San Onofre nuclear plant unless it goes through a trial-like hearing process. The meeting between Friends of the Earth and a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission review board on Wednesday was the latest step in a dispute that has lasted for more than six months. San Onofre has been closed for nearly a year because of unusual wear on tubes at the plant, which resulted in a small leak of radioactive steam last January.
January 11, 2013 |
Star Wars' forest moon of Endor might be fiction, but astronomers say they're hot on the trail of real-life alien moons -- which could also potentially be viable candidates for habitable worlds, researchers say. Astronomers have found roughly 850 known alien worlds. And as announced at this week's American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, the Kepler spacecraft has picked up 2,740 candidate planets since its 2009 launch. Scientists are looking for the slice of this population that lies in what's known as the habitable zone, a region just close enough to the home star for liquid water to potentially exist.
January 11, 2013 |
NASA is preparing to launch the eighth observation satellite in the Landsat remote sensing program that has chronicled changes in the Earth's land cover for four decades. Landsat 8, set for a Feb. 11 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will be equipped with instruments capable of more sensitive data collection than its predecessors. “This will be the best Landsat satellite ever in terms of quality and quantity,” said NASA project scientist Jim Irons. The satellite will circle the Earth about 14 times a day, 438 miles above the planet, recording observations in different wavelengths along a 115-mile-wide swath and orbiting over the same point every 16 days.