Space Events

Radio Shield

Earth appears to be protected from space radiation by a type of radio signal mainly used by the military and government agencies.

Very Low Frequency (VLF) signals have been transmitted since the 1960s, some with the intense power necessary to reach submarines in the oceans.

But they also radiate past Earth’s atmosphere, creating a protective “bubble” that extends to the innermost edges of the Van Allen Radiation Belts, which also shield against harmful radiation.

The VLF bubble seems to add additional protection to Earth’s surface from potentially dangerous space weather, such as bursts of charged particles ejected during solar storms.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118.0 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius) in Nawabshah, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 89.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.2 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Space Events

Nuclear Explosions and Submarine Comms Distort Space Weather Near Earth

Space weather typically refers to charged particles ejected by the sun that can interact with Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. However, a new study shows that humans also can change the near-Earth space environment.

According to the study, examples of human activity that can cause these changes include the use of very-low-frequency radio communications, and nuclear explosions detonated high in the atmosphere.

Most space weather comes from the influence of the sun, which sends out a steady stream of high-energy particles called the solar wind. The sun can also release bursts of highly energetic charged particles, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Near Earth, most of these particles are deflected by the magnetosphere, the protective magnetic field that surrounds the planet. These powerful particles, particularly those from CMEs, can cause satellites to short out or even create currents in the magnetic field that can reach the ground and damage power grids.

Similar effects were observed when both the United States and the Soviet Union denotated nuclear bombs at altitudes of between 16 miles and 250 miles (26 kilometers and 402 kilometers) between 1958 and 1962. Both countries ran high-altitude nuclear tests for military purposes, but the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty put an end to the tests in 1966.

Newly declassified information about these tests is included in the new study, in an effort to understand how the tests affected the space environment near Earth.”Upon detonation, a first blast wave expelled an expanding fireball of plasma, a hot gas of electrically charged particles,” NASA said in the statement. “This created a geomagnetic disturbance, which distorted Earth’s magnetic-field lines and induced an electric field on the surface.”

The Van Allen radiation belts are large, doughnut-shaped rings of highly energetic charged particles, trapped in their respective loops by magnetism, that loop outward from the Earth. NASA’s Van Allen Probes are currently studying these belts. Surprisingly, they found that some of the nuclear tests created artificial belts that stayed in place for weeks and, in a single case, years.

The charged particles left from the explosions caused some satellites to fail, which is similar to what can happen during a space weather event.

While the effect of the nuclear explosions has passed, very-low-frequency (VLF) signals can still be observed by the Van Allen Probes. These VLF signals, emitted by ground stations, are transmitted “at huge powers,” so they can reach submarines deep below the ocean’s surface, according to a second statement from NASA. They also extend up beyond the planet’s atmosphere, “shrouding Earth in a VLF bubble.”

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The Earth’s Van Allen belts (shown in blue and purple) are massive loops of magnetically controlled, highly energetic charged particles.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.0 degrees Fahrenheit (46.0 degrees Celsius) in Kaédi, Mauritania.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 103.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 75.0 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118.0 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius) in Sibi, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 74.4 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116.0 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in Matam, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 74.4 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Space Events

Eta Aquarid meteor shower 2017

A major annual meteor shower is forecast to peak at the weekend.

You better look up, because the Eta Aquarid shower is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere and one of the best observation spots is New Zealand.

The shower is usually most active between April 19 and May 28 and is one of two showers created by dust debris from the Halley’s comet as it orbits the Sun. The other shower is the Orionoid.

The peak hourly rate for meteors in the Aquarid shower is 60 on May 5 and May 6.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Mystery of Antarctica’s Blood Falls

It’s a mystery that has baffled scientists for more than a century; how salty, blood-red water is able to ooze out from a million-year-old glacier in a region known for its freezing temperatures.

When explorer and geoscientist Griffith Taylor discovered a 54-kilometre long glacier in Antarctica that released a deep red liquid in 1911, he attributed the strange phenomenon to red algae colouring the moving water.

The outflow was quickly dubbed “Blood Falls” for the water’s creepy, red hue contrasting against its icy, white surroundings.

It was later discovered, however, that the mysterious water was not related to blood or algae at all. In fact, the colour is the result of iron-rich salt water that turns into a reddish-brown shade or oxidizes (like rust) when it comes into contact with the air. Scientists call the water “brine” because of the incredible amount of salt in it.

And now, that saltiness has offered an important clue into one of Blood Fall’s final mysteries – how the brine travels from within the frozen glacier to the waterfall in sub-zero temperatures. Researchers have found that the glacier has its own unique network of pressurized channels that move the iron-rich water to the top of Blood Falls through the frozen glacier.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 114.0 degrees Fahrenheit (45.6 degrees Celsius) in Tillabery, Niger.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 97.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 71.7 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Tree stump on Mars?

NASA reports that the image was taken by the Mastcam onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. Although it may be just one of the many rocks found on the Red Planet, it has been suggested that it could be the petrified remnants of a Martian tree.

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Environment

Out of Thin Air

A new device that can harvest water out of air with humidity as low as 20 percent, using only sunlight for energy, could revolutionize life in remote, arid regions.

The new invention uses an extremely porous material called a metal-organic framework that absorbs 20 percent of its weight in water from even low-humidity air.

Sunlight heats the substance, releasing water vapor that condenses into ample water per day for household use. Developers say the invention could be upscaled to also irrigate fields or greenhouses in areas otherwise too arid to grow crops.