After months of analysis, NASA has posted this ScienceCasts report of a large meteoroid impact on the Moon on March 17, 2013. Lunar impacts aren't uncommon - hundreds occur each year - but this one was the brightest flash recorded in the eight year span of the agency's lunar monitoring program. NASA estimates that a 40 kg space rock slamming into the Mare Imbrium region caused the visible-to-the-naked-eye explosion. The bright flash wasn't produced by combustion - the Moon has no atmosphere - but by the glow of hot vapors and molten lunar rock heated up by the tremendous kinetic force of the impact.
Courtesy © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.chIt's one flight down and four more to go for Solar Impulse, the completely solar airplane that's soaring its way across the USA. Solar Impulse flew from San Francisco to Phoenix on May 3, taking a shade over 18 hours to complete the trip. Over the next couple months, it will fly legs to Dallas, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and New York City with the New York trip scheduled to conclude in early July.
For the stat freaks, the solar plane averaged a speed of 40 miles an hour at an average altitude of 10,000 feet. It soared to a maximum altitude of 21,000 feet over the 650 mile trip. And yes, it took off and landed in the dark.
More information about the Solar Impulse project can be found at its website here and to follow its progress flying across the country.
So how does a solar airplane work exactly?
Made of carbon fiber, the plane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (208 feet) and the weight of a small car (3,527 lbs). It is the result of seven years of intense work by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10 horsepower electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night. Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and the driving forces behind Solar Impulse.
The plane made its first night flight in 2010 and has a record endurance flight of 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds.
Solar Impulse wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible throughout its journey across America. “We want to show that with clean technologies, a passionate team and a fa-reaching pioneering vision one can achieve the impossible.” said Piccard, adding “If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society’s biggest challenges.”
Here's some more nitty gritty about the plane's specs and future:
• The electricity produced by the solar panels is about the same as needed to run a scooter for 24 hours.
• The light plane is sensitive to turbulence. Winds cannot exceed 11.5 miles per hour at take off and crosswinds at takeoff can be no more than 4.6 miles per hour.
* A second plane is now being constructed.
* Solar Impluse has a goal of making an around-the-world trip in 2015, with 2-3 day flights over continents and 4-6 day legs over oceans.
And just to prove it actually flies, here's video shot in the San Francisco skies before Solar Impulse began its USA journey.
Courtesy Captain Budd Christman, NOAA CorpsHow does Minnesota factor into the recent judgment against political genocide actions in Guatemala? The findings that have brought justice in the case relied on "The Minnesota Protocol." The full report on how the protocol was used in Guatemala can be found in this article in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
Work on the protocol started in Minnesota 30 years ago by a team of lawyers concerned with growing international strife. They created a format for neutral scientific third parties to investigate claims of assassination and genocide after it was becoming apparent that in many offending countries, those investigations were being done by groups sympathetic to the leaders being accused of the crimes. The concepts were adopted by the United Nations in 1989 as a global standard to use to investigate such situations.
In the Guatemalan case, former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt was recently found guilty of ordering actions that claimed the lives of at least 1,700 indigenous people during the 17 months after he seized power in a military coup in 1982. A key pieces of evidence were found in a mass grave of 50 bodies found underneath a soccer field that were eventually examined by Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala using principles of the Minnesota Protocol.
Similar investigations using the Minnesota Protocol have led to genocide convictions in other corners of the globe such as Rwanda and Bosnia.
What happens if you start 32 metronomes at different times on a stable surface? Not much. They'll tick-tock out of sync until the cows come home. But what happens when you start the same 32 metronomes on an unfixed surface? You get to witness a nifty (and mesmerizing) example of coupled oscillations. Watch and learn.
Work with bulldozers and backhoes to collect materials for a road building project has destroyed an ancient Maya pyramid in Belize. You can read all the details here. And then you can wipe away your tears.
According to researchers in Australia the answer could be 'yes'. But probably not the way you think. The study, which appears online at BMC Ecology, suggests that different plant species actually communicate with each other by sending nano-scale signals through the soil. It makes you wonder if the rhubarb doesn't have some dirt on the begonias.
Talking plants!? That's ridiculous!
I tried posting a similar clip to this a couple weeks ago and the YouTube clip was pulled down. Now this weird combination of wind, long-lasting lake ice and warming temperatures are causing these ice spikes to surge out of lakes.
In this video, Chris Hadfield, the commander on the International Space Station, takes a few moments to reflect on his time orbiting the Earth via a re-working of singer David Bowie's 1969 classic song "Space Oddity". There's been a lot of space imagery set to music over the decades but I imagine this must be the first music video actually recorded in space by an astronaut. Commander Hadfield, by the way, is the same guy who gave us some pointers on how everyday activities are done in a zero gravity environment in an earlier Buzz post.
Courtesy Ellen LucastWe've all probably folded paper cranes or those little fortune-teller things where you open a flap to learn that you have cooties or are going to marry that smelly kid from your third-grade class. But the science and math of folding has significant engineering implications as well. One notable example is the James Webb Space Telescope, whose mirror and giant sunshield will be folded in order to fit on the rocket that launches it, and will unfold once it's in space. (You can watch the telescope being built here).
You can see more examples of folded sheets at this cryptic site, and print and fold your own, as I did in the photographs at right, from here (click on "Foldable Cylinders" and "Wrapping Fold Pattern"). By the way, I recommend snipping the center out of the circular model like I did, since I found that the tiny folds around it are hard to manage.
Mountain climbing is dangerous. Mountain climbing on a volcanic mountain is extra dangerous. A team of mountain climbers in the Philippines found that out today, five with very tragic results.