Posts Tagged ‘Space’

Scientists say it's a 50-50 bet that the thin Arctic sea ice will completely melt away at the geographic North Pole.

The North Pole may be briefly ice-free by September as global warming melts away Arctic sea ice, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

“We kind of have an informal betting pool going around in our center and that betting pool is ‘does the North Pole melt out this summer?’ and it may well,” said the center’s senior research scientist Mark Serreze.

It’s a 50-50 bet that the thin Arctic sea ice, which was frozen last autumn, will completely melt away at the geographic North Pole, Serreze said.

The ice retreated to a record level in September when the Northwest Passage — the sea route through the Arctic Ocean — opened up briefly for the first time in recorded history.

“What we’ve seen through the past few decades is the Arctic sea ice cover is becoming thinner and thinner as the system warms up,” Serreze said.

Specific weather patterns will determine whether the North Pole’s ice cover melts completely this summer, he said

Bloomberg: The existence of ice on Mars was confirmed today by NASA scientists, the first time frozen water has been sampled on another planet. Water in liquid form is an essential ingredient for life.

Whitish, dice-sized chunks, which were dug from the rocky red soil and warmed in the sun, vanished four days after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration‘s Phoenix probe dug them up June 15. They confirm what NASA satellites have suggested for years: Frozen water exists several centimeters beneath Mars’s surface.

Scientists believe ice exists on planets including Pluto, though Phoenix is the first probe to confirm it on the ground. The survey is part of NASA’s theme in Mars exploration: follow the water.

“We’ve hit what we’re looking for,” said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station and co-investigator on the NASA project. “The job now is to find out what’s mixed in with the ice.” He spoke at a press conference in Tucson, Arizona.

The Phoenix’s robotic arm also hit a hard surface yesterday while digging in a different spot, raising scientists’ hopes that they might uncover a larger ice layer to sample, NASA said.

“When I look over this flat plain of rock and dirt, it’s amazing what we’re looking at,” said principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson, which is co- managing the project. “If you got a giant broom and swept if off, it’s a big ice sheet.”

Ice Below Surface?

NASA satellites suggest about a quarter of Mars has ice beneath the surface, primarily at the polar regions.

The agency’s plan is to gather up ice and dirt, then deliver it to the Phoenix’s airtight ovens. The matchbox-size ovens will then bake the sample.

On Mars, the boiling point of water is just 4 degrees Celsius. Under the planet’s faint atmosphere, the water will quickly vaporize, Smith said.

Before it does, the probe will analyze the samples for any long-chain carbon molecules such as amino acids, the building blocks of life.

“That’s what you need to have for a habitable zone on Mars,” Smith said.

The University of Arizona team ruled out the possibility that the material might be dry ice or salt.

Salt wouldn’t vaporize, and dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, exists at much cooler temperatures than found at the Phoenix landing site.

The ground temperature at Phoenix’s location at this time of year falls to as cold as minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 80 degrees Celsius) at night and can warm up to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

The U.S. has declared the planet NASA’s ultimate destination in the agency’s newest effort, the Constellation program.

Gawker: Weezer’s new music video features web stars like Chris Crocker, “Evolution of Dance” guy, Gary Brolsma from “Numa Numa,” and Afroninja (who it turns out is a very good stuntman except for that ). And they actually do stuff! In most meme-collecting videos, everyone just shows up; in Weezer’s each web meme character is redeemed. The Diet Coke and Mentos guys get to rock out. Afroninja shows that despite that one famous screw-up, he really can kick ass. Chris Crocker is comforted. The narrative and the sheer number of web fads make this the best of its genre.

NewScientistSpace: New spots on Jupiter’s surface suggest its going through a bit of its own climate change.

People: Robert “Mutt” Lange left Shania Twain for THIS?

AP: With a strong finishing kick from American Idol, Fox captured the distinction of America’s most popular television network for the first time since it began operation in 1987.

Mad Architect: Burj Dubai is now the world’s tallest tower.

Sweet Home Potomac: First Lady Laura Bush will give the commencement address at the graduation ceremony Thursday at Enterprise High School, in Enterprise, Alabama, the White House announced this afternoon.

Eight students were killed in a March 2007 tornado that destroyed the school.