China has just landed the first spacecraft on the moon in 37 years. Here’s the video of the Chang’e 3 descent (touchdown happens about 6 minutes in). Check out Emily Lakdawalla’s blog at the Planetary Society for in-depth coverage and lots more images!
Zhangye Danxia - Geology From a Storybook
Long ago, colorful sediments were deposited in western China, layer after layer, century after century. If you were there at the time, you would have seen unremarkable ground, a single hue of dirt no different from a thousand other places on Earth.
But after thousands and thousands of years subject to the forces of pressure and tectonic movement, the total of those layers has been pushed upward, letting us peek at a rainbow-hued slice of Earth’s past perhaps unmatched on this planet. The planet looks more like the cross-section of a jawbreaker candy than layers of rock in these photos, near Zhangye, China.
The Zhangye formation, not to be confused with this danxia, a UNESCO heritage site, reminds us how our crust is heaved and hurled throughout the ages, a slow evolution that will continue into the distant future. It’s yet another story of Earth’s past, written in stone, but perhaps with the same pen as a fantasy storybook.
As captured from the Landsat 3 satellite, this infrared-range image shows the loss of vegetation due to urban growth around China’s Pearl River Delta over a 30 year period.
What’s with the colors? Vegetation shows up as red in images like these thanks to the expanded infrared spectrum, and urban areas as gray. You can even see a completely new man-made island pop up in the bottom center! Today this region is home to over 36 million people.
More shots of urban growth from space at Wired Science.
"If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?"
- Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. She accomplished the feat on this day, June 16, 1963.
"I believe in persevering. If you persevere, success lies ahead of you."
- Liu Yang, China’s first female astronaut, who was carried into the cosmos today, June 16, 2012, 49 years later. Coincidence? I think not.
In case you needed proof that attacking pollution should be a truly international effort, peep this study of ozone days on the west coast:
Under the current US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Ambient Air Quality Standards, ozone should not exceed 75 parts per billion of the atmosphere. Lin and her colleagues found that on days when ozone levels in US cities were higher than the maximum, Asian emissions pushed them over the top more than half the time.
That means that merely pressuring growing nations like China and India for their own good is not enough. It’s also not enough to pressure them for the long-term future of our climate.
Pollution affects us all globally, and now.
A wild panda was caught on a remote camera eating an uncharacteristic meal recently: meat. A wildebeest carcass (of natural causes) was used as a feeding lure to see what sort of animals in the Wanglong Nature Reserve might be interested in a wilde-snack, and the remote camera they set up captured this adult panda.
It’s not unusual, considering that pandas are members of the bear family. This means that they have the ancestral digestive system of an animal that eats meat.
This evolutionary “throwback” actually isn’t that surprising. We’ve known for a long time that the giant panda is one of the most inefficient eaters in the animal kingdom. Because its digestive system has such a hard time breaking down its meal of choice - bamboo - it loses most of its food as waste and must spend up to 16 hours a day eating just to get enough nutrients to survive.
Nearly 40 years after humans last set foot on the moon, China has announced formal plans to develop a return mission. The most striking part of this announcement is not that they want to go back, but that they plan to do it by developing their own technology and support systems, essentially recreating a half century of NASA’s achievements by themselves.
And all this while the U.S. still has no vessel of its own to get people to space. Will this be the sign of a shift in space power? Or a call to arms to get our manned space program back on track to lead?
(via The Guardian, above: Chinese character for “moon” along with artist’s interpretations)
Q:What are your opinions on those crazy Chinese things you posted about earlier? Weird.
If you missed it, she’s referring to these strange satellite images.
My opinion? China is a big, odd place with lots of big, odd things going on. We have only been invited inside the sitting room of that country over the past 10-15 years, and there’s a lot going on in the back rooms and basements of the house that we don’t know about. Whether it’s organized computer espionage, covering up rampant toxic pollution, systemic exam cheating to get into foreign graduate programs, or an alleged hidden arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons, China certainly has plenty of secrets.
It’s probably something military that our intelligence departments already know about, but is causing Google Earthaholics to clutch their pearls in despair.