Tag Archives: earth

European Union leads the world in renewable energy – achieves 100 GW of wind power

Renewable energy continues to surge in the European Union (EU). The latest achievement is 100 GW of wind power, the equivalent of 62 coal power plants. The growth has been fast, “it took twenty years to get the first 10 GW grid connected…only 13 years to add 90 GW.” And half of that was added in the last six years.

To produce the same amount of electricity with coal – in one year – would require the mining, transport and burning of 72 million tons of coal, at a cost of $6.48 billion.

For a broader perspective, the United States is also booming having recently achieved 50 GW of installed wind power. But the most important number is the total electricity used in the EU – 3.6 million GW. And this wind milestone only represents 0.003% of that. Like an ant standing at the foot of the mountain.

The good news is that growth is continuing at a rapid pace – 13-16% in each of the past 5 years – and only a tiny fraction of “Europe’s vast domestic wind energy resources” have been put to use. Follow the curve of this graph and you can see where the future is headed:

 

source: European Wind Energy Association

 

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Monitor global warming in real-time with new iPhone, Android app

Want to monitor the vital signs of planet Earth? View global warming trends, like ozone, CO2, and sea levels, on a 3D globe? Scan satellite data in real-time?

There’s an app for that. It’s called Earth Now and is available on both iPhone and Android.

Released by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory “to drive up excitement for their projects and put scientific data in the palm of anyone’s hand,” according to Pasadena Star-News.

If this interests you, there are 10 more smartphone apps from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

And many thanks to Max Huijgen for sharing this story.

 

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Crowdsource the launch of a nano-satellite into space – Kickstarter

We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm “1U” CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth’s equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world’s inhabited regions.

SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube’s balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You’ll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube’s balloon isn’t just for visibility. It will – within 3 weeks – bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery “grand finale” that avoids any buildup of space debris.

 

PLEDGES

$1 - Sponsors 10 seconds of the mission. You can broadcast one (1) 120-character message from the satellite.

$6 - Sponsors 1 minute of the mission. You can broadcast six (6) 120-character messages from space, and request one (1) image from the satellite.

$100 - Sponsors 15 minutes of the mission. An ideal family pack – we’ll send you two (2) SkyCube mission T-shirts! And you can broadcast one hundred (100) 120-character messages from the satellite, and request twenty (20) images from the satellite at any time during the mission.

$1,000 – Sponsors 2 hours of the mission – a great high school or university classroom sponsorship package. We’ll send you a radio receiver which you can use to detect transmissions from SkyCube and other satellites already in orbit! You’ll also get a flying SpaceX Falcon 9 model rocket, and twenty (20) SkyCube mission T-shirts. You can broadcast one thousand (1000) 120-character messages from space, and request up to two hundred (200) images from the satellite.

 

Learn more, join the project - SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You!

 

 

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International Space Station has a Large Hadron Collider – and it’s collected 18 billion cosmic rays

The largest-ever experiment in space has reported the collection of some 18 billion “cosmic ray” events that may help unravel the Universe’s mysteries.

Run from a centre at Cern, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aims to spot dark matter and exotic antimatter.

At the heart of the seven-tonne, $2bn machine is a giant, specially designed magnet which bends the paths of extraordinarily high-energy charged particles called cosmic rays onto a series of detectors, giving hints of what the particles are.

A series of ever-larger particle accelerators built here on Earth aim to drive particles to ever-higher energies, smashing them into one another to simulate the same processes that create them elsewhere in the cosmos.

But no Earth-bound experiment can match nature’s power as a particle accelerator – and Earth’s atmosphere absorbs incoming cosmic rays – so the AMS will catch some of these high-energy particles “from the source”, as a kind of complement to the likes of the Large Hadron Collider.

 

Learn more: BBC - Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer claims huge cosmic ray haul

 

 

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World scientists – we can’t raise the temperature by more than two degrees Celsius

The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can’t raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius.

Some context: So far, we’ve raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.)

Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees.

We’re not getting any free lunch from the world’s economies, either. With only a single year’s lull in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, we’ve continued to pour record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, year after year. In late May, the International Energy Agency published its latest figures – CO2 emissions last year rose to 31.6 gigatons, up 3.2 percent from the year before.

  • America had a warm winter and converted more coal-fired power plants to natural gas, so its emissions fell slightly
  • China kept booming, so its carbon output (which recently surpassed the U.S.) rose 9.3 percent
  • Japanese shut down their fleet of nukes post-Fukushima, so their emissions edged up 2.4 percent.

 

Keep reading: Rolling Stone - Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

 

 

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Astronomers discover a close new planet – covered in oceans of magma

In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”

Thirty-three light years away, “we have a sub-Earth-sized planet that’s slightly larger than Mars and essentially right around the corner, at least on a cosmic scale,” said Kevin Stevenson, a planetary scientist now at the University of Chicago

UCF-1.01 is about 5,200 miles (8,400 kilometers) wide, making about a quarter the volume of Earth. And with a year that lasts only 1.4 Earth days, the new planet’s orbit takes UCF-1.01 searingly close to its star.

“It could be a thousand degrees Fahrenheit [540 degrees Celsius]. That may be hot enough to make an ocean of molten rock.”

Researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope essentially stumbled upon the new planet while studying a hot, Neptune-size planet called GJ 436b.

 

Learn more: National Geographic - New Planet Found: Molten “Mars” Is “Right Around the Corner”

 

 

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High-tech archaeologist uses radar, thermal-imagery, & UAV’s to explore sacred sites

Many Mongolians consider the tomb (of Genghis Khan) an extremely sacred place and believe any desecration of it could trigger a curse that would end the world.

“Using traditional archeological methods would be disrespectful to believers,” Albert Yu-Min Lin says. “The ability to explore in a noninvasive way lets us try to solve this ancient secret without overstepping cultural barriers.

Lin investigates sites with a high-tech tool kit that leverages photographs taken firsthand on the ground, images gathered from satellites and unmanned aircraft, GPS tracks from expeditions, and geophysical instruments. “There are many ways to look under the ground without having to touch it,” he observes. Thermal-imaging systems show what lies below by detecting heat signals and patterns emitted from the Earth. Magnetometry uses the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint subterranean clues as microscopic as bacteria in decaying wood. Ground-penetrating radar bounces back images revealing subsurface objects or disturbances. Tiny remote wireless sensors collect data from places no human can go.

“These new approaches could benefit all kinds of projects, from gaining a whole new view of regions like Mongolia to tracking animal migrations to mapping the brain,” notes Lin. “The real trick is synthesizing the vast amounts of information we collect into something that can be understood. My colleagues and I use visualization techniques to sort, relate, and cross-link billions of individual data bits. We program it all into a file that allows us to re-render it into a digital 3-D world.”

 

Keep reading to learn how they cast that data into a 3-D room that you can move around in and explore the archaeology site - National Geographic - Albert Yu-Min Lin

 

 

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Researchers discover our twin solar system, GJ676A – where everything is 4x larger

Astronomers have detected our “grotesque” twin: A planetary system arranged much like our own solar system, a new study says.

Dubbed GJ676A, the system has two rocky planets orbiting close to its host star, and two gas giants orbiting far away. This means the system is arranged like our system—though in GJ676A, everything is much larger.

For instance, the smallest rocky planet in GJ676A is at least four times the mass of Earth, while the largest gas giant is five times the size of Jupiter.

Other multiple-planet systems have been discovered, such as HD10180, which has been called the richest exoplanetary find ever because of the seven to nine planets orbiting its host star.

But HD10180′s planets are all gas giants in relatively close orbits, while GJ676A has both rocky and gas planets—and its “Neptune-like” planet takes 4,000 days to make one orbit.

The long orbits of GJ676A’s gas giants and the short orbits of its close-in, extremely hot super Earths are what led the astronomers to dub GJ676A our solar system’s twin.

 

Source: National Geographic News - Solar System’s “Grotesque” Twin Found

 

 

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The Millennium Development Goals – wiping out disease, famine, and poverty on Earth

By Bill Gates

People sometimes say that the United Nations doesn’t do enough to solve the big problems of the world. I’ve never really agreed with that point of view, but if anyone is looking for evidence of the UN’s impact, a good place to start is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

They were agreed to in 2000 by all 193 UN member countries and 23 international organizations. Creating that kind of consensus is—by itself—a significant achievement.

The great thing about the MDGs is that they provide clear targets and indicators of progress in key areas, including:

  • Ending poverty and hunger
  • Universal education
  • Gender equality
  • Child and maternal health
  • Combatting HIV/AIDS
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Global development

Although a number of countries won’t be able to achieve all of the goals by the target date of 2015, the MDGs have been helpful in getting everyone to really think about their part, the progress they’re making, and what they can learn from others. The goals have focused political attention in developing countries, encouraged UN groups to work together, and inspired wealthy and fast-growing donor countries to coordinate their efforts.

In February, the World Bank announced that the MDG goal of cutting extreme poverty by half had been achieved five years early. A week later, UNICEF and the World Health Organization announced that the goal of halving the number of people without access to safer drinking water was also reached five years early.
Source: The Gates Notes - A Report Card on Helping the World’s Poor

 

 

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