Animation sheds light on black holes


Click on image for the animation

Black holes are dubbed “black” because their inescapable tug of gravity on light renders them invisible to the naked eye. Scientists can, however, look at the distorted spacetime around a black hole to determine its size and rotation. In many cases, black holes, also surround themselves in superheated clouds of spinning material that warps like a “carnival mirror” when viewed. In this new NASA animation, the US space agency demonstrated how the gravitational warping distorts our views of black holes.

Go full screen. It rocks!

Fire cloud — up close


Click to enlargeNOAA/NASA

❝ On August 8, 2019, a team of atmospheric scientists got an exceedingly rare look at fire clouds as they were forming. NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory passed directly through a large pyrocumulonimbus that day as it was rising from a fire in eastern Washington. The flight was part of a joint NOAA and NASA field campaign called FIREX-AQ. Scientists are studying the composition and chemistry of smoke to better understand its impact on air quality and climate…

❝ The photograph above, shot from roughly 30,000 feet (9 kilometers), shows the setting Sun shining through thick smoke at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Particles in the smoke reflect light in ways that make the Sun appear orange…

The flight was the most detailed sampling of a pyrocumulonimbus in history, explained Peterson. A second research aircraft flew over the plume a few hours earlier in the day, and mobile labs on the ground also made detailed measurements.

Amazing photos. Quality and timing should offer useful analysis, learning for future events and their global effect.

Corporate crooks falsified tests on rocket materials = 2 failed missions + $700 million loss

❝ An aluminum manufacturer charged with crimes and civil claims of fraud has agreed to pay $46.9 million to NASA, the Department of Defense, and many commercial customers. This comes after a NASA investigation uncovered a 19-year scheme by Sapa Profiles, Inc. that involved faked test results and the selling of faulty materials — actions which eventually led to two failed NASA missions and more than $700 million in losses… “Corporate and personal greed perpetuated this fraud against the government and other private customers, and this resolution holds these companies accountable for the harm caused by their scheme.”

More detail in the article. The feds seem satisfied. I’m not. Long ago, in another time and place, I performed MILSPEC tests – for a metals producer – that required periodic personal witnessing by an inspector representing the Pentagon. You can be certain there was no fudging of results. I imagine there was some “cost-saving” lie out of Congress that subverted that process.

NASA discovers massive hole melted away under Antarctic glacier

❝ A gigantic cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.

❝ Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole, however, surprised them. It’s big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years…

❝ About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost.

RTFA. Nice of the French and Germans to help us out with this research. Our government thinks we need more aircraft carriers and the beginnings of a whole new project to redesign rifles for the whole US Army.

A view of the cloud surface of Jupiter

Every 53 days NASA’s Juno probe completes a close flyby of Jupiter. On Tuesday October 24, Juno successfully completed its eighth science flyby out of a planned twelve before the scheduled mission end in July next year. After NASA uploaded the new data to its JunoCam website, citizen scientists have been optimizing the images to create some of the most mind-blowing and spectacular pictures of the giant planet seen to date.

Click on the photo and wander through the gallery. Stunning.

Simulation of 2017 Hurricanes and Aerosol Tracking

How can you see the atmosphere? By tracking what is carried on the wind. Tiny aerosol particles such as smoke, dust, and sea salt are transported across the globe, making visible weather patterns and other normally invisible physical processes.

❝ This visualization uses data from NASA satellites, combined with mathematical models in a computer simulation allow scientists to study the physical processes in our atmosphere. By following the sea salt that is evaporated from the ocean, you can see the storms of the 2017 hurricane season.

NASA Data Visualization Lets You Visit the Red Planet


Click to enlarge

❝ Have you ever wished you could go to Mars without taking on the long-term commitment and risks associated with spaceflight? Now you can explore the surface of Mars without leaving the comfort of planet Earth, thanks to troves of imagery from NASA spacecraft and a cool data-visualization software called OpenSpace.

With OpenSpace, you can fly over Martian mountaintops and swoop through the deep canyons of Valles Marineris with the highest-resolution views from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), creating sort of a Google Earth for Mars. And that’s just the beginning; the makers of OpenSpace said they aim to ultimately map the entire known universe with dynamic and interactive visualizations created from real scientific data.

❝ Using data and images from the Context Camera (CTX) on MRO and the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, researchers have already mapped 90 percent of the Red Planet’s surface down to a resolution of about 20 feet (6 meters) per pixel. Incorporating high-resolution images from the spacecraft’s HiRISE camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), OpenSpace has allowed researchers to image parts of Mars down to a resolution of about 25 centimeters (10 inches) per pixel. That’s 24 times sharper than before.

Way cool. As close as I’m ever gonna get!

Thawing Permafrost — Quantified


False color image: red = vegetation, blue = waterNASA Earth Observatory

❝ Permafrost — subsurface soil that remains frozen year-round — covers nearly 19 million square kilometers of the circumpolar Arctic and is thought to contain around 1700 billion tons of organic carbon [Schuur and Abbott, 2011]. However, there is high risk of permafrost thaw under projected anthropogenic climate change.

❝ The general processes that would lead to thaw of this vast carbon store are well understood. Increase in length of above-freezing air temperatures leads to boost in microbial activity and release of carbon. Significant releases could promote a vicious cycle, as higher atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) enhances anthropogenic warming. What’s less well understood are abrupt changes, the accuracy of predictive models, and requirements for long-term monitoring…The processes of carbon release are intertwined with multiple factors, including microbial community composition, stability of old carbon, physical soil structure, and relative fraction of leaching to atmospheric emission.

❝ Because this event signifies potential large carbon cycle feedbacks, the Arctic has become a region of intense scientific study in recent years. Scientists expect the top three meters of permafrost is likely to thaw by the end of this century…but significant uncertainties remain on timing, magnitude, and mechanisms. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences and other journals have seen a number of papers published recently that shed significant new light on many features of this dramatically changing landscape.

RTFA. Less sensational in intent than any transliteration into journalism for the masses, Ankur Rashmikant Desai explains some of the broad swath of research in process. While ideologues try to ignore science, scientists continue their work of examining reality and trying to explain to their peers – and the mass of civilization who would rather just all the bad bits would go away on their own.

Which rarely happens.