Tag Archives: Sun

Organism Thriving in the Highly Radioactive Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor

In 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what was then Soviet Ukraine released massive amounts of radiation into the air, which proceeded to spread over much of Europe.

It is generally considered the worst nuclear disaster ever and radiation levels remain very high today; the Ukranian government has estimated that the area will not be habitable for another 20,000 years.

Which is why scientists were shocked when they sent a robot into the reactor and found a black slime-like fungus not only surviving but thriving in the extremely radioactive environment in the heart of Chernobyl.

Upon analyzing samples, the researchers discovered that the fungus is rich in melanin, the very same chemical in human skin. But the craziest part is that the fungus is using the melanin like a plant does chlorophyll, but rather than the UV radiation that plants use from the sun to make energy, the fungus uses all the gamma radiation left behind from the nuclear fallout.

Sample of the fungus (Wangiella dermatitidis)

In lab experiments, researchers found that the fungus grew significantly faster when it was exposed to levels of radiation 500 times greater than normal levels.

These fungi might be on the next shuttle to the space station as well. Since radiation like that leftover at Chernobyl is prevalent in space, astronauts could use the fungi as a limitless food source on long missions or even for colonizing other planets.

To read more, check out the full story here.

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Mind-Blowing Photos from Most Distant Human Made Object in Universe (Voyager 1)

NASA’s Mission Overview for “Voyager- The Interstellar Mission”

The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-35-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. Scientists hope to learn more about this region when Voyager 2, in the “heliosheath” — the outermost later of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar medium — also reaches interstellar space. Both spacecraft are still sending scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space Network, or DSN.

The primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn. After making a string of discoveries there — such as active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and intricacies of Saturn’s rings — the mission was extended. Voyager 2 went on to explore Uranus and Neptune, and is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets. The adventurers’ current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), will explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain. And beyond.”

VoyagerMission

The Voyager 1 is currently moving roughly 39,000 miles per hour and the Voyager 2 is moving nearly as fast at 35,000 miles per hour. The two spacecraft are the two furthest objects in history to have traveled from Earth. If you visit this link to http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/ you can see NASA’s live count for how far the two spacecraft are from Earth. Last time I checked Voyager 1 was 19,001,247,837 KM from Earth.

Check Out this Video to hear sounds from space captured by the Voyager 1:

The Birth of A Star Captured Like Never Before

This image is the result of combined observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) which was just recently constructed in Chile. The image shows the erratic throes of star birth as never before; the infant star object is known as HH 46/47.

The image shows  two twin supersonic jets emanating from the central star as they blast through and combust the surrounding gases to create the two bubbly lobes in the picture (the one coming forward that appears pointing to the right, and the one directly opposite, pointing backwards and to the left).

Here is a great diagram illustrating star formation. Click on the image to see the full size version and zoom in on in each step. (The star above is in between steps 3 and 4)

For more information, check out the link below (official NASA press release):

The Inevitable Fate of Planet Earth

A new study by a team led by astrobiologist Jack O’Malley-James, of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, focused on the question; “When will things get too hot for life to continue on Earth?”. According to their research in about 2.8 billion years, only hardy communities of microbes will be left behind to inherit the Earth.  And if that doesn’t sound like a big enough drag in around 5 billion years the sun will exhaust all of its nuclear fuel and bloat into a “red giant” star that may even engulf our planet.

Click the Link for the full story:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131028-earth-biosignature-doomsday-space-science/?source=hp_dl3_news-earths-doomsday_20131029

 

Giant Mirrors Bring Winter Sun to Norwegian Town for the First Time

Giant Mirrors Bring Winter Sun to Norwegian Town for the First Time

(click link above for full story)

Rjukan is a small town located at the bottom of a valley floor in the mountains of southern Norway. Because of it’s location in the valley, the town never received sunlight during the winter, when the sun would never rise above the peaks of the mountains on either side of the town. That is until July, when three giant mirrors were installed at the peak of one of the mountains to reflect sunlight down into the town. Each mirror is equipped with a sensor that allow the mirrors to change their angle as the sun moves so as to keep the sunlight concentrated on the town.