Sci/tech

NASA's GRAIL mission sheds light on the origin of the Procellarum basin on the Moon
October 1, 2014 02:24 PM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

New data obtained by NASA's GRAIL mission reveals that the Procellarum region on the near side of the moon - a giant basin often referred to as the "man in the moon" - likely arose not from a massive asteroid strike, but from a large plume of magma deep within the moon's interior. The Procellarum region is a roughly circular, volcanic terrain some 1,800 miles in diameter - nearly as wide as the United States. One hypothesis suggested that it was formed by a massive impact, in which case it would have been the largest impact basin on the moon. Subsequent asteroid collisions overprinted the region with smaller - although still large - basins.

Dog waste contaminates our waterways
October 1, 2014 10:50 AM - American Chemical Society

Americans love their dogs, but they don't always love to pick up after them. And that's a problem. Dog feces left on the ground wash into waterways, sometimes carrying bacteria — including antibiotic-resistant strains — that can make people sick. Now scientists have developed a new genetic test to figure out how much dogs are contributing to this health concern, according to a report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Cornell finds molecule in space that connotes life origins
September 26, 2014 05:36 PM - Cornell University via EurekAlert

Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule — one with a branched structure — contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

Study calculates that water on Earth is actually older than our Sun!
September 26, 2014 07:36 AM - Carnegie Institution, via EurekAlert

Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work from a team including Carnegie's Conel Alexander found that much of our Solar System's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Their work is published in Science. Water is found throughout our Solar System. Not just on Earth, but on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury. Water has been found included in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon, and Mars.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast
September 26, 2014 06:37 AM - Oregon State University

Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets — instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

Amazing maps of what Antarctica looks like under all that ice
September 25, 2014 08:01 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New maps of the sub-ice features in Antarctica and the Arctic, featured in the new edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World published on 25 September 2014, reveal an unseen world of canyons, lakes, trenches and mountains. The 14th edition of the Atlas also includes a new double page map of the Arctic Ocean, which highlights the dramatic long-term decline of Arctic sea ice cover. The sub-ice maps draw on bedrock data, provided by the British Antarctic Survey, to show physical features which are obscured by ice cover. In the Antarctic, one of the most striking features is the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, which are as large as the Alps but are currently completely covered by ice.

The Future of Vertical Farming
September 19, 2014 06:15 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

From big company agricultural farming, to communal farming or even personal agronomy, the business of growing crops for an expanding global population will be crucial in the near future. The two most important resources needed to run these farms are one, water, and two, land. But these resources often come at a premium, especially with growing populations and increased food demand. Farmers and researchers have already started leaning towards genetic engineering and industrial processing to help with their crop yields, but a new solution in agribusiness is emerging. Vertical farming.

Finding Nemo
September 18, 2014 08:47 AM - The University of Exeter

Clownfish spend their entire lives nestling in the protective tentacles of host anemones, but new research shows that as babies they sometimes travel hundreds of kilometres across the open ocean. Although the process of long-distance dispersal by reef fish has been predicted, this is the first time that the high level exchange of offspring between distant populations has been observed. Dr Steve Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology and Global Change in Biosciences at the University of Exeter, and colleagues from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC COE CRS), Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France) have published their findings on the dispersal of Omani clownfish larvae in the journal PLOS ONE.

Clouds of water found on "near" planet
September 14, 2014 07:32 AM - Ken Croswell, Science

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth-less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns. Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, recently discovered the nearby object by using images from NASA’s WISE infrared space telescope, which scanned the sky from 2010 to 2011. A brown dwarf is a failed star and has so little mass that it can't sustain nuclear reactions, so after its birth it fades and cools. This brown dwarf, named WISE J0855-0714, is the coldest known. Its temperature is slightly below the freezing point of water, so it's colder than Earth's mean temperature but warmer than Jupiter’s.

Northern Lights Dazzle Skies Tonight
September 12, 2014 10:20 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

If you live in one of the visible areas on this map, you may be in for a treat tonight! According to AccuWeather.com, the solar flares of the Northern Lights are ranked as an X-class tonight, the highest class for a solar flare which may make the Northern Lights display as far south as Maryland on the East Coast, and as far down as Nebraska, further west.

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