Tag Archives: Magnetic field

What Mars Looked Like When It Had Water, Courtesy of NASA (Video)

Today, we think of Mars as having  a cold, dry, and desolate environment (because it does).

But that was not always the case. Four billion years ago, while our Sun was still in its infancy, Mars was covered with water.

Back then, it had a much thicker atmosphere, which kept the planet warm enough for water to exist in its liquid form. Some estimates say that at one point, up to 1640 ft (about half a kilometer) of water covered the whole planet.

Many features on the surface of Mars hint at the existence of water in the past. The image above, for example, seems to show the dried-out remnants of a river delta. Click to enlarge

NASA will launch its  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) on November 18. MAVEN’s job is to determine exactly what happened to Mars’ atmosphere during those four billion years.

In the meantime, they had their Goddard Conceptual Image Lab create a video showing what Mars might’ve looked like four billion years ago and how it changed as the atmosphere thinned out over time:

There are a number of theories as to why Mars’ atmosphere disappeared, including a major asteroid impact and the loss of its magnetic field as a result of solar winds.

NASA hopes that the data collected by MAVEN will help them solve the issue once and for all.

(h/t IFL Science)

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A Few Reasons Why Tomorrow Might Be A Bit of a Strange Day…

Tomorrow will not be your ordinary Friday. For starters, tomorrow is the 13th, making tomorrow a Friday the 13th.

There will also be a full moon in the sky when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. The last time that happened? October 13, 2000. The next time it will happen? August 13, 2049.

I’m not one for superstitions, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. Our sun has been shooting off powerful solar flares the last few days, including this one captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory early Tuesday morning:

Three recent solar X-flares emitted by the Sun. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of NASA/SDO)

Solar flares are brief, high-radiation eruptions that happen on the surface of the Sun. The three flares emitted in the past two days (pictured above) have been X-flares, the most powerful classification of solar flare. X-flares emit radiation at virtually every wavelength, from radio waves, to the light we can see, to x-rays and gamma rays.

Because of all of the different electromagnetic waves that the flares emit, they can disrupt communications here on Earth. In fact, the flare in the video above caused a temporary radio blackout here on Earth, according to Space.com.

The electromagnetic spectrum. Click to enlarge

Did I mention CMEs? CME stands for coronal mass ejection. This occurs when a powerful solar flare emits a plasma burst along with the radiation. A plasma burst can cause polar geomagnetic storms which are capable of severely disrupting communications and satellite systems, including GPS.

Along with having the potential to cause low levels of radiation poisoning in humans, a strong CME would also create surges in electrical wires, destroying transformers and leaving millions without power.

Despite the scary stuff, CME’s are pretty fascinating. These plasma burst clouds actually compresses Earth’s own magnetic field, which is what causes so many of the potential issues.

Artist depiction of how a CME plasma burst interacts with Earth’s magnetoshpere (Courtesy of NASA)

At first, officials at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center didn’t think that the flare in the video above had emitted a CME, only to find later that it had actually produced two of them.

They are expected to give Earth a glancing blow when they reach Earth orbit…tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

Fox Uses Magnetic Field of Planet to Hunt Under Three Feet of Snow (Video)

This is an amazing theory by researches, stating that the Fox has nearly a 75% success rate when facing North. It is no doubt that animals contain amazing skills that humans do not possess, but maybe some we do? Maybe we just don’t realize we do, or maybe not? If a canine can tune into the magnetic field of our planet, maybe most animals (including humans) can.