AFTER WHAT HAS been a quiet 2015, Etna saw one of its first paroxysms of the year. Over the last few weeks, the Voragina crater on Etna has been restless, with low level Strombolian activity that was mainly confined to the crater. However, last night, the Voragine crater unleashed a lava fountainthat reached 1 kilometer (~3,200 feet) over the volcano with an accompanying ash plume that topped 3 kilometers (~9,800 feet). Even with all that intensity of eruption, the paroxysm was over in only 50 minutes.
This was Etna’s first significant eruption since May 2015, when the activity was centered at the New Southeast Crater, but the Voragine Crater had been sputtering lava occasionally since the start of the year.
Turns out if you want to find out where the water is on Earth, gravity can help. Specifically, if you want to find out where water is below the Earth’s surface, satellites can use the force of gravity to figure that out… from space. Which is SO COOL.
If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, be a scientist. this stuff is so cool.
-Rachel Maddow introducing new studies about NASA research about water aquifers.
Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks with Rachel Maddow about new research using satellites to detect underground water around the world and finding startling deficiencies in the global water supply.
The Potsdam Gravity Potato Image Credit: CHAMP, GRACE, GFZ, NASA, DLRExplanation: Why do some places on Earth have higher gravity than others? Sometimes the reason is unknown. To help better understand the Earth’s surface, sensitive measurements by the orbiting satellites GRACE andCHAMP were used to create a map of Earth’s gravitational field. Since a center for studying these data is in Potsdam, Germany, and since the result makes the Earth look somewhat like a potato, the resulting geoid has been referred to as the Potsdam Gravity Potato. High areas on this map, colored red, indicate areas where gravity is slightly stronger than usual, while in blue areas gravity is slightly weaker. Many bumps and valleys on the Potsdam Gravity Potato can be attributed to surface features, such as the North Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Himalayan Mountains, but others cannot, and so might relate to unusually high or low sub-surface densities.Maps like this also help calibrate changes in the Earth’s surface including variable ocean currents and the melting of glaciers. The above map was made in 2005, but more recent and more sensitive gravity maps of Earth were produced in 2011.
Recently, the Smithsonian stopped by the White House to take a 3D portrait of President Obama, in what will be be the highest resolution digital model of a head of state. Take a look at the process, and the 3D rendering created from this technology.
Demonstrating Rosetta’s Philae lander on the Space Station
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst performs a demonstration of how ESA’s Rosetta mission will attempt to put a lander, called ‘Philae’ on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Alexander narrates the story of the Rosetta mission and performs a demonstration that visualises the difficulties of landing on an object that has little gravitational pull. Using the weightless environment of the Space Station, Alexander attempts to land ‘Philae’ (an ear plug) onto the surface of the ‘comet’ (an inactive SPHERES robot) with increasing levels of difficulty: a rotating comet that is not moving to one that is both rotating and moving.
This video is one of the six experiments and demonstrations in the Flying Classroom, Alexander will use small items to demonstrate several principles of physics in microgravity to students aged 10–17 years.
The Rosetta mission’s lander, Philae, will be deployed on 12 November at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET from a distance of 22.5 km from the centre of the comet. It will land about seven hours later, with confirmation expected to arrive at Earth at around 16:00 GMT/17:00 CET.