Everything is energy, including Earth and everything in and on it. Awesome look at the interwoven energetic systems of our planet from TED-Ed.
Earth From Orbit - Happy Earth Day
Thank you NASA. I’m glad you’re up there looking out for all of us, whether its Cassini gazing back from Saturn at our pale blue dot, or the fleet of Earth-observing satellites that help us learn more about our one and only home.
One of my favorite GIFs of one of my favorite NASA visualizations to preview Monday’s It’s Okay To Be Smart and get you excited and all that jazz. Think you can guess what tomorrow’s vid is about?
Blue = sea salt
Green = organics
Red = dust
White = sulfates
Check out the full NASA video below, featuring simulated global “stuff in the air” over a two year period on Earth. Ain’t Earth beautiful? (Even if, as in this case, it’s a 3 million processor-hour computer animation)
A (mostly) real-time animated map of global ocean currents, from Cameron Beccario. Play with it here.
Also check out this great real-time map of America’s wind patterns.
This is what our planet would look like to visitors from another planet. Alternatively, this is also what the Death Star would have looked like shortly before it blasted Alderaan to pieces.
On October 9, 2013, NASA’s JUNO spacecraft swung by Earth, its home, for the last time, using our gravity as a slingshot to propel it toward its ultimate rendezvous with Jupiter in 2016.
Humming along at nearly four kilometers per second, it turned a special camera toward Earth, and captured the first-ever movie of the moon in orbit around its host planet - us.
Our moon stacks up as 27% smaller than Earth, takes up just 2% of our volume, and is only about 1% as massive, yet that’s still plenty to drag upon our oceans and deliver daily tides. In its elliptical orbit, the moon is, at any moment, an average of 384,000 kilometers from you. Juno, on the other hand, came within 600 kilometers of Earth during its recent visit, less than twice the altitude of the International Space Station.
We are the most creative, the most inventive, the most curious of the multitudes of small creatures that inhabit this planet, and in all the living history that has or ever will take place on this hazy blue marble, none save us have ever or will ever see sights such as these. There’s your significance.
Enjoy this video of the historic fly-by, with some special new music from Vangelis (yes, that Vangelis):
What if all the ice melted?
The ocean holds most of Earth’s water. After that, it’s ice. 5.7 million cubic miles of the stuff.
What if, thanks to natural and man-made climate change, it all melted? What if, by burning enough deep-Earth carbon (dead dinosaurs, prehistoric plants, or as we call it… fossil fuels) we raised Earth’s average temperature to around 80˚ F? What if that new normal caused the ocean’s now-warmer water to expand, rising even further?
Thanks to National Geographic we know: This is is what 216 feet (66 meters) of sea level change looks like.
The World Outside My Window
I have seen my fair share of orbital time-lapses, and this one, by David Peterson, had me frozen still in my seat, gazing at my screen in a state of happy contentment that can only be dutifully accompanied by a smile and maybe a goosebump or three.
What gets me about this one is how deep and textured some of the clouds look. So often, images of Earth from space make it look flat, like the painted blue marble it is so often compared to.
The International Space Station is currently zipping around at 7.7 kilometers per second above Earth, pretty fast considering it’s only 15 years old, and still a year away from getting a driver’s license.
NASA, JPL and the Cassini imaging team debuted a new view of Earth today.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s not Earth, that’s Saturn. Look closer.
Earlier this year, as Cassini happened to pass behind Saturn, eclipsing the sun, its camera was turned toward home. A new silhouette of the ringed planet was captured (you NEED to view it larger here), and just wow, man.
Amid dozens of background stars, four planets and a few million pixels worth of wonder, my favorite part is the hazy outer ring of water vapor, spewed out from the leaky moon Enceladus and its geysers.
Earth appears in the lower right, clear and blue, joined by our moon in this enlarged image:
There’s your new selfie.
Science truly begets beauty.
The solar eclipse of November 3, 2013, as seen from space.
Meteosat 10 captured the moon’s shadow as it traversed the eastern Atlantic and western Africa (hi-res version). You can see two distinct portions of the eclipse shadow. The dark area in the center is the umbra, where the sun is completely obscured by the passing moon. The intermediate shadow is the penumbra, where the sun is only partially eclipsed, a smoky gradient of fading light reaching out from the umbra. See Wikipedia for more umbrology, and check out Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy for more eclipse images.
Juno’s Earth Protrait
NASA’s Juno probe captured this stunning composite portrait of Earth (false-colored here) during its Oct. 9 fly-by, slingshotting past its home planet to gain speed for its journey to Jupiter.
We’re seeing part of South America and a thick blanket of clouds over the south Atlantic. As it passed, NASA made a final check of crucial instruments before watching Juno leave the nest for good. Amateur radio operators even sent Morse code messages to the probe saying “Hi Juno”, and NASA hopes to share that with us soon.
For more on Juno’s mission, check out NASA’s mission page, and this fine graphic from Chris Inton: