PANELLING IS A THEME BY MIRANDA
posts tagged "earth:"
The canyons in the southwestern United States photographed by ESA astronaut André Kuipers onboard the International Space Station.
“Most Powerful Storms of the Solar System”
- Great White Spot on Saturn. Credit: Carolyn Porco and CICLOPS; NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
- Neptune’s Great Dark Spot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
- Hurricane Irene Grows Ominous. Credit: NASA via Ron Garan/@Astro_Ron
- Jupiter’s Great Red Spot as Seen by Voyager. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
- Solar Prominence Sun ‘Twister’ - Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA/SDO/GSFC
Our planet’s proper-noun Moon, the one we call Luna, has been hanging out around Earth for about 4 billion years. A new simulation says that at any moment, Luna is not alone.
University of Helsinki researchers used a massive supercomputer to simulate 10 million tiny asteroids, just a few feet across, passing Earth. Between the gravitational pull of the Sun, Moon and Earth, tens of thousand were captured. As a result of these calculations, which would have taken your home computer six years, they estimate that at any moment Earth is joined by at least one “mini-moon”.
These tiny asteroids can orbit for years, undetected, before being pulled back into a path around the Sun. If we could capture one, imagine what we could discover about the early Solar System!
(via NASA Lunar Science Institute)
In this illustration, the blue ball represents the volume of all the water on earth, relative to the size of the earth. The tiny speck to the right of the blue ball represents Earth’s fresh water. CREDIT: David Gallo/WHOI
If Earth was the size of a basketball, all of its water would fit into a ping pong ball.
How much water is that? It’s roughly 326 million cubic miles (1.332 billion cubic kilometers), according to a recent study from the U.S. Geological Survey. Some 72 percent of Earth is covered in water, but 97 percent of that is salty ocean water and not suitable for drinking.
“There’s not a lot of water on Earth at all,” said David Gallo, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts.
1. Tissue slurry — Ontario, Canada This man-made lake in Terrace Bay, Ontario, Canada, is more than 500 metres long. It’s an aeration pond, part of the waste-treatment system at a factory that produces pulp for Kimberly-Clark tissues. “The treated water is returned to its source — often a river,” says Fair. Each yellow cone is an “agitator” that aerates and churns the liquid, assisting its breakdown. According to Worldwatch Institute figures, if recycled paper was used instead, 64 per cent less energy would be needed.and churns the liquid, assisting its breakdown. According to Worldwatch Institute figures, if recycled paper was used instead, 64 per cent less energy would be needed.
2. Fertiliser — Louisiana, US This emerald-tinted lake near Geismar, Louisiana, includes gypsum, uranium and radium. These chemicals result from manufacturing phosphorous fertiliser and are dumped into this impoundment to solidify. The world’s supplies of phosphates are dwindling and most are located in the US, China and Morocco. Unlike oil, however, there is no known renewable alternative for making fertiliser. “You think the resource crisis is in oil?” says Fair. “Think again.”
3. Spilled oil — Gulf of Mexico, US Fair captured this shot over the BP Deepwater Horizon spill at the Macondo well in June 2010, when 750m litres of oil leaked into the Gulf. “The stuff that was coming out of that well was all different colours,” says Fair. “We think of crude oil as being black — it’s all kinds of different colours and consistencies.” The bright red is the crude on the surface, reflecting light. The less viscous oil below the surface is purple-brown.
4. Liquid sulphur — Alberta, Canada At Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, a blood-red vein of liquid sulphur is pumped on to a bed of solidified yellow sulphur. The element is one of the major by-products of tar-sand upgrading and there is now an abundance of stocks globally. With prices low, producer Syncrude isn’t selling — it’s storing it in giant pyramids. Liquid sulphur, at around 200°C (its melting point is 115°C), is pumped into fenced-off compounds and left to harden.
5. Aluminium sludge — Louisiana, US This slurry pit is where the solid and liquid by-products of aluminium manufacture are separated. The process involves refining bauxite ore, which produces alumina. The waste includes bauxite impurities, heavy metals and sodium hydroxide (one of the chemicals used during processing). Fair estimates that the red-brown sludge has a pH of about 13, “meaning if you touch it, it burns the skin off”.
6. Fertiliser slurry — Louisiana, US This wintry-looking scene is a mix of lead, ammonia, mercury and ethanol — by-products of phosphate fertiliser production. “It’s a giant lake of waste,” says Fair, who shot the image 80km west of New Orleans in 2005. Owned by Mosaic Fertilizers, the plant, called Uncle Sam, has violated the US Clean Water Act nine times. The slurry pit is less than 3km from the banks of the Mississippi.
Elements for Clean Energy
Because of its high reactivity and low mass, lithium is used as the charge carrier in the lightest and most energy-dense rechargeable batteries on the market. Ignore talk of “peak lithium.” The element is abundant and environmentally benign.
Used in battery electrodes, superalloys for jet turbines, and magnets, cobalt is relatively abundant. The problem is, 49 percent of the world’s annual supply is mined in the Congo, which is consistently plagued by conflict.
Layers of the rare semimetal tellurium allow cadmium-tellurium solar panels to absorb more light with far less material than conventional silicon panels. Unfortunately, tellurium is produced only in tiny quantities, as a by-product of copper refining.
Neodymium and many of the 16 other rare-earth elements have unusual electron configurations that produce strange but useful magnetic and optical properties. Rare earths have long been ignored and are produced in extremely small quantities.
Perhaps no metal is more resistant to corrosion at high temperatures than rhenium, which, like cobalt, is used in superalloys for highly efficient jet engines. But hardly any metal is rarer than rhenium, which is five times as scarce as gold.
Platinum is highly resistant to corrosion and an excellent catalyst, essential for air-pollution scrubbers such as catalytic converters. Most of the world’s supply comes from just two countries, Russia and South Africa.
Earth is getting 50,000 tonnes lighter every year, even while 40,000 tonnes of space dust fall on our planet’s surface during the same period. So, why are we losing so much weight?
• Earth gains about 40,000 tonnes of dust every year, the remnants of the formation of the solar system, which are attracted by our gravity and become part of the matter in our planet. Our planet is actually made from all that starstuff.
• NASA says that Earth gains about 160 tonnes of matter a year because the global temperature is going up: “If we are adding energy to the system, the mass must go up.” (thermodynamics.)
• Of course, having more people or building stuff doesn’t add any mass to the planet. Humans and things are made with the matter that is already in the planet. It’s just being transformed.
• Most of the rockets and satellites that we launch to Earth orbit eventually fall down back to Earth, so no real effect here.
• Earth’s core loses energy over time. It’s like a giant nuclear reactor that burns fuel. Less energy means less mass. 16 tonnes of that are gone every year. Not much.
• And here’s the big mass loss: about 95,000 tonnes of hydrogen and 1,600 tones of helium escape Earth every year. They are too light for gravity to keep them around, so they get lost. Gone into space.
The result: the rough estimate is -50,000 tonnes every year. Which is about 0.000000000000001% less mass every year.
Should we be worried about Earth disappearing into thin air? No, you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t worry about losing hydrogen. There’s plenty and it will take trillions of years to deplete it.
Helium, on the other hand, is a different matter. It represents 0.00052% of the volume in our atmosphere, but it’s mainly harvested from natural gas using a process called fractional distillation. Helium is becoming scarce in our planet. In fact, Cornell University physicist andNobel Prize-winner Robert Richardson once said that each floating party balloon should have a $100 price tag, who campaigned against the US Government decision to sell the country’s helium stockpile by 2015 to keep prices down. (BY
Dynamo maker ready to roll:
Two rotating spheres separated by thousands of kilograms of liquid sodium aim to mimic Earth’s interior.
Ten years in the making, the US$2-million project is nearly ready for its inaugural run. Early next year, the sphere will begin whirling around while loaded with 13,000 kilograms of molten sodium heated to around 105 °C. Researchers hope that the churning, electrically conducting fluid will generate a self-sustaining electromagnetic field that can be poked, prodded and coaxed for clues about Earth’s dynamo, which is generated by the movement of liquid iron in the outer core. If it works, it will be the first time that an experiment that mirrors the configuration of Earth’s interior has managed to recreate such a phenomenon.
The University of Maryland set-up consists of two concentric spheres. The inner sphere, at 1 metre across, stands in for Earth’s solid inner core; the outer sphere the edge of Earth’s mantle. The space between the two is filled with liquid sodium, mimicking the liquid outer core. Each sphere is powered by a separate motor so that it can rotate independently of the other. By spinning the spheres across a range of matched and unmatched velocities — up to 4 revolutions per second for the outer sphere and 12 for the inner — Lathrop and his team will study how heat and rotation might affect the movement of the molten iron in Earth’s core.
Lathrop and others hope that their work will shed light on how rotational forces in Earth’s core deflect flows of electrically conducting liquid into a configuration that produces a magnetic field with north and south poles. It might also help to explain what triggers changes in Earth’s magnetic field such as north–south pole reversals, which occur on average every few hundred thousand years, but can happen after a few tens of thousands of years or a few million. The last reversal was some 780,000 years ago. Over the past century and a half, the magnetic field has weakened by about 10%, leading some researchers to suggest that another pole-reversal is in the offing.
(via Nature News)
Asteroid Impact Craters on Earth as Seen From Space
Asteroid impact craters are among the most interesting geological structures on any planet. Many other planets and moons in our solar system, including our own moon, are pock-marked with loads of craters. But because Earth has a protective atmosphere and is geologically active — with plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions, mostly relatively young oceanic crust, and harsh weathering from wind and water — impact structures don’t last long and can be tough to come by.
But on a few old pieces of continent, especially in arid deserts, the marks of asteroids have been preserved. One well-known example is our own Barringer crater, also known as Meteor Crater, in Arizona. The images here show some of the biggest, oldest and most interesting impact craters on the planet.
The Earth stripped of its water. All of the Earth’s ocean water (middle) and freshwater (right).
Solar Prominence & Earth Size Comparison
A solar prominence is a feature from the Sun’s surface that reaches out to space. It is often shaped as a loop and, although actually very large, cannot be seen without the aid of a strong telescope and some filters. Just how large they really are? Well, the largest ever to be observed, which was captured by SOHO, was estimated to be 350,000 km long. That’s nearly ten times the entire circumference of the Earth.
This image shows the approximate size of the Earth compared to the Sun. The Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter and the Sun is 865,000 miles in diameter.