Wildfire threatens nuclear facility


Wildfire threatens nuclear facility

The Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico spread dangerously close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory this week, causing the evacuation of the town and the shutdown of the lab, which is the headquarters for US military research. The laboratory was created during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project and houses highly sensitive materials. As a precaution, scientists are monitoring radioactivity in the air. The fire is the largest wildfire in the state’s history, covering more than 100,000 acres.(Editor’s Note: We will not post on Monday, July 4th, we’ll see you again on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.) –Leanne Burden Seidel (34 photos total)

A vicious wildfire burns near the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. The Las Conchas fire spread through the mountains above the northern New Mexico town, driving thousands of people from their homes as officials at the government nuclear laboratory tried to dispel concerns about the safety of sensitive materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Ella Gaffney, 7, and her mother. Jenni, listen to Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Thorpy give details about the Las Conchas fire. They were in the Red Cross evacuation center set up at the Santa Claran Hotel in Espanola, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

New Mexico National Guard member Pia Romero holds a map of the Las Conchas fire during a news conference in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011. The wildfire 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos was 3 percent contained after burning across nearly 61,000 acres or 95 square miles. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

A NASA image taken by a crew member aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 235 statute miles on June 27, 2011, shows the Las Conchas fire in the Jemez Mountains of the Santa Fe National Forest in north-central New Mexico. The fire is just southwest of Los Alamos National Laboratories. (NASA/Associated Press) #

A helicopter carrying water flies over the Los Alamos Laboratory as smoke rises from the Las Conchas fire in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)#

Carissa Pittman consoles her daughter, Emily, 15, while her husband, Pete, in the car, and son, Allen, 21, prepare to leave Los Alamos, N.M., because of the wildfire on June 27, 2011. Thousands of residents calmly fled Monday from the mesa-top town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, ahead of an approaching wildfire. (Jane Phillips/The New Mexican via Associated Press) #

Flames from the Las Conchas fire burn in Los Alamos, N.M. in the Jemez Mountains on the morning of June 28, 2011. Fire managers said it was a “make or break day” for ensuring flames from the wildfire don’t race into the northern New Mexico town that is home to a government nuclear laboratory that stores sensitive materials. (Eddie Moor/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

Los Alamos residents Ross Van Lyssel, left, and Steve Bowers watch flames from the Las Conchas fire in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. The vicious wildfire spread through the mountains above the northern New Mexico town, driving thousands of people from their homes as officials at the government nuclear laboratory tried to dispel concerns about the safety of sensitive materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Wind battered flags located at a fire station at Diamond and Range roads in Los Alamos, N.M., flap in the breeze on June 27, 2011, after the fast-moving wildfire broke out in New Mexico and forced officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to close the site as residents nearby evacuated their homes. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/The Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

A tree burns near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011, as crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community and as scientists sample the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Los Alamos, N.M., residents, evacuating due to an approaching wildfire, line up along Diamond Drive on June 27, 2011. (Adolphe-Pierre Louis/The Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

Smoke from the Las Conchas fire turns the setting sun red over the Jemez Mountains behind the town of Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

A firefighter walks through heavy smoke from the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Smoke from the Las Conchas fire fills the sky near the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

A wave of smoke billows and fills a canyon as the Las Conchas, N.M. fire creeps into the canyon. The wildfire threatening the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratory and a community in northern New Mexico was poised Thursday to become the largest fire in state history. (Morgan Petroski/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

Firefighter Chris Teters of Portland, Ore., mops up hot spots in Pajarito Mountain ski area near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Hotshot crew members walk in line as they prepare to mop up in Pajarito Mountain ski area near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

The top of a plume of smoke from the Las Conchas wildfire in the Jemez Mountains billows in the clouds, as seen from miles away in Rio Rancho, N.M., on June 26, 2011. Fire officials say the Las Conchas fire charred more than 3,500 acres since starting Sunday afternoon. Voluntary evacuations were issued for Los Alamos and White Rock. (Susan Montoya Bryan/Associated Press) #

Fire trucks patrol the western area of Los Alamos, N.M., a day after an evacuation order was issued because of the encroaching Las Conchas wildfire on June 28, 2011. New Mexico fire managers scrambled on Tuesday to reinforce crews battling a third day against an out-of-control blaze at the edge of one of the nation’s top nuclear weapons production centers. (Craig Fritz/Reuters) #

A time exposure taken late Monday night, June 27, 2011, shows the Las Conchas fire outside Los Alamos, N.M. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press)#

The bridge that separates the town of Los Alamos, N.M., from Los Alamos National Laboratory is shrouded in smoke from the Las Conchas wildfire on June 28, 2011. (Craig Fritz/Reuters) #

The Morrison family, Dee, top left, Taylor, 4, right, Bob, and Jeni, center, pack up their belongings following a mandatory evacuation ordered for Los Alamos, N.M., as the rapidly growing Las Conchas wildfire approaches on June 27, 2011. The blaze, which began Sunday, had already destroyed 30 structures south of Los Alamos and forced the closure of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory. (Craig Fritz/Associated Press) #

Gary Thayer takes out a cooler of food as he prepares to leave following the mandatory evacuation of Los Alamos, N.M., on June 27, 2011. Thousands of residents calmly fled the town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as the rapidly growing wildfire approached, sending up towering plumes of smoke, raining down ash and charring the fringes of the sprawling lab’s property. (Craig Fritz/Associated Press) #

The Las Conchas Fire burns through a canyon on June 29, 2011 in Los Alamos, N,M. The government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as a 110-square-mile wildfire burned at its doorstep, putting thousands of scientific experiments on hold for days. (Morgan Petroski/The Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

Firefighter Abraham Diaz of Apple Valley, Calif., sprays water on a hot spot while battling the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Threatened by the Las Conchas wildfire, residents wind their way by car along Diamond Drive following an evacuation order for Los Alamos, N.M., on June 27, 2011. Thousands of residents calmly fled the town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as a rapidly growing wildfire approached, sending up towering plumes of smoke, raining down ash, and charring the fringes of the sprawling lab’s property. (Craig Fritz/Associated Press) #

Felina Trujillo, from Los Alamos, left, and her daughter Jenna Trujillo, 15, who both evacuated Las Alamos on Sunday, look for groceries in the donated food at the Food Depot in Sante Fe, N.M. on June 29, 2011. The Food Depot is making direct donation to evacuees. (Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican via Associated Press) #

The sun filters through thick smoke from a wildfire burning near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 27, 2011. Thousands of residents calmly fled the town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as a rapidly growing wildfire approached, sending up towering plumes of smoke, raining down ash and charring the fringes of the sprawling lab’s property. The blaze, which began Sunday, had destroyed 30 structures south of Los Alamos and forced the closure of the lab. (Susan Montoya Bryan/Associated Press) #

Alex Lopez plays baseball with his sister Sugey while smoke generated by the Las Conchas fire covers the sky in Espanola, N.M. on June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Michael Morgan hangs out in the Red Cross evacuation center set up at the Santa Claran Hotel in Espanola, N.M., on June 28, 2011, after evacuating from Los Alamos because of the Las Conchas fire. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal via Associated Press) #

The Las Conchas fire burns trees and grass near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)#

A helicopter flies through the smoke from the Las Conchas fire in Los Alamos, N.M. on June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

Firefighters Tim Adams, right, and Abraham Diaz, both of Apple Valley, Calif., carry a fire hose while battling the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos, N.M., on June 29, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) #

The sun shines through smoke from the Las Conchas wildfire near the Los Alamos National Laboratory., on June 29, 2011. Thousands of residents calmly fled the town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory as the rapidly growing wildfire approached, sending up towering plumes of smoke, raining down ash, and charring the fringes of the sprawling lab’s property. The blaze, which began Sunday, had already destroyed 30 structures south of Los Alamos and forced the closure of the lab. (Eric Draper/Reuters) #

 

Government sues Apollo 14 astronaut over lunar camera


Government sues Apollo 14 astronaut over lunar camera

ReutersBy Terry Baynes | Reuters – Thu, Jun 30, 2011

he Apollo 14 capsule is on display at the Apollo Treasures Gallery at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex July 16, 2009 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government has sued a former NASA astronaut to recover a camera used to explore the moon’s surface during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission after seeing it slated for sale in a New York auction.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court on Wednesday, accuses Edgar Mitchell of illegally possessing the camera and attempting to sell it for profit.

In March, NASA learned that the British auction house Bonhams was planning to sell the camera at an upcoming Space History Sale, according to the suit.

The item was labeled “Movie Camera from the Lunar Surface” and billed as one of two cameras from the Apollo 14’s lunar module Antares. The lot description said the item came “directly from the collection” of pilot Edgar Mitchell and had a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000, the suit said.

Mitchell was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, which launched its nine-day mission in 1971 under the command of Alan Shepard. The sixth person to walk on the moon, Mitchell is now retired and runs a website selling his autographed picture.

He has made headlines in the past for his stated belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life.

“All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party,” the government suit said, adding NASA had no record of the camera being given to Mitchell.

The suit said the government had made repeated requests to Mitchell and his lawyer to return the camera but received no response.

Mitchell’s lawyer, Donald Jacobson, said NASA management was aware of and approved Mitchell’s ownership of the camera 40 years ago.

“Objects from the lunar trips to the moon were ultimately mounted and then presented to the astronauts as a gift after they had helped NASA on a mission,” Jacobson said.

Bonhams said in an emailed statement that the camera had been slated to be auctioned off in May when it learned about the ownership dispute from NASA. The auction house withdrew the camera from sale “pending further discussion between NASA and the consignor,” a Bonhams spokesperson said.

The government is asking the court to stop Mitchell from selling the camera to anyone, to order its return and to declare that the United States has “good, clean and exclusive title” to the camera.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

The Greatest Mysteries of Venus


The Greatest Mysteries of Venus

By Adam Hadhazy, Life’s Little Mysteries Contributor
17 June 2011 4:11 PM ET

 

This hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, and is centered on the planet’s North Pole. This composite image was processed to improve contrast and to emphasize small features, and was color-coded to represent elevation. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

Each Friday this summer, Life’s Little Mysteries presents The Greatest Mysteries of the Cosmos, starting with our solar system.

Although the second planet from the sun is named after the Roman goddess of love, Venus is anything but lovely, at least from a hospitality perspective. For starters, its surface temperature pushes 900 degrees Fahrenheit, making Venus the hottest planet in the solar system.

It gets worse: A thick shroud of carbon dioxide presses down with 92 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere on a bone-dry landscape. The opaque clouds that block our view of the world’s surface are laced with sulfuric acid.

As you might imagine, studying Venus has proved difficult. But bit by bit, scientists are learning more about Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. Here are some of the biggest mysteries regarding the brightest object in our sky after the sun and the moon.

Climate gone to ruin

Venus is sometimes referred to as Earth’s “evil twin.” In terms of size, composition and orbital location, hellish Venus is actually the planet that’s most similar to our own (that we know of). Early in Venus’ history, scientists think, the world was probably a lot like Earth, with oceans and a much cooler climate. [What If the Earth Were Twice as Big?]

But over a few billion years, a runaway greenhouse effect seems to have taken over. Venus is about a third closer to the sun than Earth, and so it receives twice the amount of sunlight. This extra heat caused greater evaporation of initial surface water. In turn, the water vapor trapped more heat, further warming the planet, triggering more evaporation, and so on, until the oceans were gone.

“This is a mechanism that makes sense to get from an early earthlike Venus to the Venus we know today,” said David Grinspoon, curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and an interdisciplinary scientist on the Venus Express mission, a spacecraft that has been orbiting Venus since 2006.

Figuring out exactly when and how Venus became a furnace will help with modeling Earth’s changing climate, as well as avoiding the possibility of sharing Venus’ fate.

Super-rotating atmosphere

Venus turns on its axis much more slowly than Earth — a single Venusian day lasts 243 Earth days, which is longer than Venus’ year, which takes 224 Earth days. Belying this gentle pirouette, the winds at Venus’ cloud tops can reach 220 miles per hour (360 kilometers per hour), or about 60 times the pace of the planet’s turning. (Winds are caused in part by planetary rotation.) Proportionally, if the same gusts blew on Earth, equatorial cloud winds would reach an astonishing 6,000 miles per hour (9,650 kilometers per hour).

The driver of Venus’ atmospheric super-rotation must ultimately be energy from sunlight, Grinspoon said, but the full workings of the phenomenon remain unknown.

Spinning backwards

All of the planets in the solar system orbit the sun in a counterclockwise direction when viewed from the sun’s north pole, and nearly all spin in this same direction on their axes. Not so on Venus, which has retrograde rotation (Uranus does this, too). On Venus, in other words, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

This clockwise spin is probably the result of a cosmic collision early in Venus’ history. Many large bodies hurtled about the young solar system then, and such an impact to Earth is thought to have gouged out the material that formed the moon. Further understanding of the structure and composition of Venus with data from future lander probes should reveal what it was that sent the planet into its backward revolution.

Flash, boom?

It’s still an open question if lightning indeed zaps from the Venusian clouds. Although the Venus Express spacecraft has “heard” the electromagnetic static that lightning characteristically produces on Earth, cameras have yet to capture a clear optical flash coinciding with these readings, Grinspoon said.

How this lightning might form is also mysterious. On Earth, a key role is played by ice crystals inside clouds, an ingredient that is in short supply in the hyper-arid atmosphere of Venus.

Bonus boggler: Alien life hot spot?

Although it’s a long shot, Grinspoon said, there is a plausible argument for Venusian life — not on the planet’s superheated surface, but in the clouds. Some 30 miles up, there should be a habitable niche where pressure and temperature are earthlike. For energy, floating creatures resembling bacteria could use ample sunshine or chemicals in the clouds. Of course, these beings would have to tolerate sulfuric acid, but so-called extremophiles on Earth have shown that life can thrive in even the harshest environments. [Could Extraterrestrials Really Invade Earth, and How?]

“It’s worth exploring the clouds for many reasons,” Grinspoon said, “and one of them is the possibility of some kind of exotic life.”

 

Will We Really Find Alien Life Within 20 Years?


Will We Really Find Alien Life Within 20 Years?

By Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
28 June 2011 1:41 PM ET

 

An artist’s impression of Gliese 581d, an exoplanet discovered by the Kepler spacecraft that is thought to be in its star’s habitable zone, and a speculative moon. Credit: Debivort | Wikimedia Commons

 

At a June 27 press conference, Russian astronomer Andrei Finkelstein said that extraterrestrials definitely exist, and that we’re likely to find them within two decades.

“The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms,” said Finkelstein, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Applied Astronomy Institute in St. Petersburg. He was speaking at the opening of an international symposium on the search for extraterrestrial civilizations that was being held at the institute.

“There are fundamental laws which apply to the entire universe,” Finkelstein was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. Because those fundamental laws allowed intelligent life to develop on Earth, they ought to engender intelligent life elsewhere, too, he reasoned.

Finkelstein pointed out that in recent years, astronomers have found more than 1,000 exoplanets —planets orbiting stars other than our own — some of which lie within their stars’ “habitable zones,” or the regions in which the temperature is right for water to exist as a liquid. Finkelstein said there will be life on such planets if there is water. Furthermore, he conjectures that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), a worldwide effort to detect radio and optical signals sent our way by extraterrestrials, will find examples of that life within two decades. (Some media sources have interpreted Finkelstein’s words to mean that we will communicate back and forth with aliens within that time. Actually, he only said that we will detect their signals.)

For Finkelstein’s striking prediction to come true, certain conditions must be met: There must be a planet with an alien civilization that is capable of transmitting high-power radio or optical signals our way. That civilization needs to exist within 20 light-years of Earth and have been broadcasting those signals starting today, or earlier, in order to reach Earth within 20 light-years of today. (Or, if the civilization is farther away, then it needs to have broadcast long enough ago that it could reach here within 20 years.)

Though detecting life elsewhere in the cosmos sounds difficult, as it turns out, several astronomers believe that Finkelstein’s 20-year prediction is realistic. In fact, they have an equation that takes into account all the conditions that must be met in order to find life on other planets, and according to the equation, 20 years is a pretty good estimate for when we’ll find it.

Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the most well-known SETI program, estimated that intelligent life would be found in 25 years in a paper he wrote five years ago. “Maybe Finkelstein read my paper,” Shostak told Life’s Little Mysteries. He agrees that we’ll detect alien signals within two decades.

One in a million

Shostak explained that the SETI Institute has aimed its radio telescopes at a few thousand star systems over the past 50 years. (They didn’t detect any “deliberate signals” sent by aliens.) Assuming that technology will continue to improve, he thinks we will be able to check out 1 million stars over the next two decades, and that one in that million will have a habitable planet that has intelligent life capable of transmitting signals that are strong enough for us to detect. While other planets in that million may have had life that was broadcasting radio or optical waves sometime in the past (but which has since been wiped out by an asteroid or some other cataclysm), or will broadcast signals in the future, approximately one of them will be doing so at just the right moment for us to hear or see them.

Shostak’s number, 1 in a million, follows from what is known as the Drake Equation. It is a formula created by Frank Drake (also of the SETI Institute) that takes various factors into account to determine the number of intelligent and signal-transmitting civilizations in our galaxy. Drake and Shostak both calculate that there are 10,000 such civilizations transmitting signals at any given moment. Because there are 100 billion stars in the galaxy, the math says 1 in 10 million stars will be sending radio signals our way. “Because you can throw out a lot of stars,” Shostak said, making smart choices about which ones are likely to have life, we should be able to find someone or something by searching just 1 million stars.

“If we haven’t succeeded once we’ve done 10 million or 100 million stars by around 2050, then we’ve grossly overestimated the strength of their transmitters, or some other factor,” Shostak said. “One reason we could fail is that there’s nobody out there, but I would consider that a last resort.”

Candidate planets

SETI can narrow down its search by directing its attention to stars that astronomers discover to have planets in their habitable zones. So far, 1,235 exoplanets have been found by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, a probe that surveys regions of space, collecting data from stars and their planets which scientists then analyze. [How Do Astronomers Find Alien Planets?]

Credit: NASA, ESA G. Bacon (for STScI)

According to Bill Borucki, a planetary astronomer at NASA Ames Research Center and the principal investigator of the Kepler mission, about 50 of the exoplanets that have been found so far are intheir stars’ habitable zones, and five of those could be rocky rather than gaseous. (“To have life, you probably have to have a solid surface to walk on,” Borucki said.)

By induction — what’s true of a subset of stars is likely to be true of the rest — “there must be on the order of a billion planets in our galaxy in the habitable zones of their stars,” Borucki said. When he and his team identify habitable planets, they tell SETI to point its radio telescopes their way.

Borucki isn’t as bold when it comes to specifying when life will be found, but he is optimistic: “I think there’s a good chance that there’s life in our galaxy. With so many habitable planets, it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be. And I think that at some point we’ll probably discover it. I hope that SETI does that soon.”

Even more likely than finding intelligent life far off in the galaxy, Borucki thinks we’ll find much simpler, bacterial life much closer to home. “NASA has a number of missions to Mars, and there may be primitive life there. They’re talking about missions to Enceladus [a moon of Saturn] and Europa [a moon of Jupiter], both of which probably have subsurface oceans,” he said. “I think those are wonderful places to look. I think we might find life in our solar system first.”

The Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM), a mission to Jupiter and its icy moon, is proposed for a launch in 2020.

Little green men?

Finklestein made one other suggestion — that intelligent alien life forms would be humanoid. He reasoned that, because the laws of nature led life on Earth to evolve in the way it did, alien life forms would develop similarly. Like humans, they probably have two arms, two legs and a head, he said, adding that “they may have different color skin, but even we have that.”

Are aliens really little green — or blue or red — men, as Hollywood and Finkelstein suggest?  Shostak doesn’t think so. “All you have to do is go down to the zoo and look around. There aren’t too many critters there that look a lot like us,” he said. “The fact that we have two arms and two legs is a consequence of our evolutionary past: We happened to evolve from a four-lobed fish. Among critters on Earth, the most popular number of appendages is six, not four; they’re called bugs.”

Intelligent aliens probably do have heads and appendages, though. “Having a head seems to be a good thing. Lots of organisms have heads and it seems to be a very efficient model. Having appendages is also important,” Shostak said. “If they were dolphins then they wouldn’t build radio transmitters.”

New UFO Watch Tool? UrtheCast Open Source HD Real-Life EarthView Streaming from Space


New UFO Watch Tool? UrtheCast Open Source HD Real-Life EarthView Streaming from Space

Posted on July 1, 2011  http://thetruthbehindthescenes.wordpress.com

UrtheCast (pronounced “EarthCast”) is a company created around a unique vision: to provide the world’s first ever, live HD video feed of Earth from space.

Working in an exclusive relationship with world-famous Russian Aerospace giant RSC Energia, UrtheCast is building, launching, installing, and operating two cameras on the Russian module of the International Space Station. Starting in mid-2012, video data of the Earth collected by our cameras will be down-linked to ground stations around the planet and then displayed in near real time on the UrtheCast web platform or distributed directly to our exclusive partners and customers.

UrtheCast is launching the world’s first ever high definition, streaming video platform of planet Earth. The camera will be installed on the outside of the International Space Station through a joint effort with the Russian Space Agency. The camera will provide a 40 km wide, high resolution, color image down to as close as 1.1 metres.

Information for Developers: The UrtheCast web platform will be open source, allowing developers to create and implement applications based on the video data the camera collects.

How It Will Work

The International Space Station (ISS) is a low Earth human-inhabited satellite, by far the largest and most ambitious ever built. The station travels at 26,000 km per hour and orbits the Earth 16 times a day at an altitude of approximately 350 km. The ISS travels around the Earth in a wave pattern from approximately 52 degrees latitude north to 52 degrees south. It is a research facility that is a partnership between the Russian, European, Canadian, Japanese and US space agencies.

The UrtheCast web platform will allow Users to constantly track the location of the ISS, anticipating when it will pass over a particular geographic location of interest. The two Urthecast cameras, one medium resolution and one high resolution, will be built by the UK’s world-famous Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL) and will be installed on the Russian module of the ISS.

The imagery collected by our cameras will be compressed, down-linked to various ground-based reception stations around the globe, and then transmitted to our operations center. Once there, the data stream will be uncompressed, streamed to servers around the planet, and then uploaded to the UrtheCast web platform where it can be viewed, downloaded and manipulated by Users around the world.

UrtheCast web platform Users will be able to search for videos of a particular location, type or theme. Like a personal video recorder, the web platform will allow Users the ability to interact with the HD video feed in real time as it is fed from our servers. Users will be able to zoom in and out, to “virtually” steer the camera from side to side, to rewind, and to fast forward as they check out areas and things of interest on the Earth.

Website: http://urthecast.com/

Source:  (youtube)

Composition of strange UFO’s flying over southeast Denver Colorado (Night Vision)


Composition of strange UFO’s flying over southeast Denver Colorado (Night Vision)

Posted on July 1, 2011 by the truth behind the scenes

Magnetflipper: This is a composition of strange UFO’s flying over southeast Denver Colorado, over a period of six months, 2010-2011. I (AL) have filmed and recorded this…

UFO’s are fly overhead here in south Denver. I film at night from 11:00 pm to 4:am as it is very dark by them, I like to have a Moonless sky for the best contrast. As always I have no idea as to what these objects are!!! What I do is record and post, these are “VERY REAL UFO CLIPS” of what I have recorded and not fake!

This was made by using a Xenonics Corp. “SuperVision” device, they make.
“Nightvision” device is a digital (star)light amplifier. Its hooked up to a Casio digital camera, that records HD video. Supervision a starlight amplifier that amplifies light and allows you to see a very dark sky, it’s like daylight, except you can see all stars.

Source and author:  (youtube)

Mysterious exploding ball of light in space – June 22, 2011


Mysterious exploding ball of light in space – June 22, 2011

Posted on July 1, 2011

Mysterious exploding ball of light in space

Footage of this incredible bubble-like burst of light in the night sky was captured by cameras at an astronomical observatory in Hawaii.

Sky watchers have been flooding internet forums with speculation about the burst, filmed by a webcam mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea.

What is your opinion about this event.

Source and author:  *  (youtube)

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster


By Ed Grabianowski

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster

What is the Loch Ness Monster? No one knows, but that hasn’t stopped legions of armchair cryptozoologists from formulating one theory after another on the subject of the world’s most famous lake creature.

Ok, it isn’t entirely true that we don’t know anything about what Nessie is – a lot of evidence indicates that the beast was born of the marriage between a compelling local legend and the imaginations of hoaxers and excitable eyewitnesses alike. The cold, murky waters of that massive lake must surely take on an ominous, mysterious quality during long Scottish nights – is it any surprise that the region generated the Greatest Fish Story Ever Told? Since the first publicized sighting in 1933, the adventurous and the curious have been trying to figure out what it is that people keep seeing in those turbid grey waters.

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster
Theory One: Nessie is a Plesiosaur.

This theory might not seem weird because it’s been around almost since the original sighting. There are even a few oddly plausible aspects of this theory. Plesiosaurs (specifically, long-necked elasmosaurs) may have been warm-blooded, which would allow one to live in the chilly loch waters. In the early 90s, a Discovery Channel expedition learned that the loch’s fish population was much greater than previously known – enough to support a population of evolved plesiosaurs? Maybe.
There are two huge problems with this theory, though. The biological problem is that elasmosaurs were not physically able to raise their heads and necks above the water in the swan-like fashion virtually every photo and eyewitness account indicates. The geological problem is more severe: in between the supposed extinction of plesiosaurs and the formation of Loch Ness was a period of glaciation that left the entire region encased in ice several miles thick. And if you’re about to propose some kind of Encino Man scenario, let me just stop you before you say it out loud. No, just stop.

Theory Two: Nessie is an elephant.

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster
All of the photos of Nessie appear to show objects bearing a vague resemblance to a Loch Ness Monsterish shape, but all of them could easily be something else. There are a lot of plausible theories, like native otters or elephant seals that have been known to venture into the loch from time to time. A few scientists have proposed that the head and neck shape is actually the trunk of an elephant held aloft, with the elephant’s back forming the humps of Nessie’s…uh, humps. Whether the elephant photos were taken elsewhere and claimed to be from Loch Ness, or some circus elephants escaped and took a swim in a frigid Scottish loch is anyone’s guess. But that’s cryptozoology for you, where “swimming elephant” can seem perfectly logical.

Theory Three: Nessie is a standing wave from a boat wake.

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness is really long and narrow, plus extremely deep with sheer sides. This causes waves to do weird things sometimes. If a boat heads down the loch’s center, the wake hits the sides and returns to the center to form a standing wave long after the boat has left. A lot of sightings are simply weird wakes in the middle of the loch with no wind or boats nearby, and the standing wave theory would account for these. It’s a weird theory because it’s so prosaic. I kind of love the idea that all this fuss is over a simple matter of fluid dynamics.

Theory Four: Nessie is tree gas.
This is my personal favorite. The idea is that the loch is surrounded by huge stands of pine trees which fall into the loch when they die. Of course, maybe they just float, and the branches sticking up look like Nessie. Fine. You can even argue that nearby lochs with pine trees have their own monster stories, while non-piney lochs will brook no such nonsense.

But we can create a much weirder theory than that. Suppose some of these logs are covered in sticky pine resin. As they decompose, they fill with gas, but the resin keeps the gases sealed inside. At some point, though, they decompose too much and the seal breaks. All that stored up, pressurized gas jets out one end of the log, propelling the log (and its Nessie-headed branches) along the surface at some speed, creating a wake and, to some witnesses, a terrifying monster. Rocket log!

Theory Five: Nessie is dead.

The very weirdest theories about the Loch Ness Monster
There are two parts to this theory, one hilarious, one tragic. In part one, a team of Yorkshire zoologists head to the loch in 1972 on a monster-hunting adventure. Locals soon direct them to a massive carcass floating in the water, which they retrieve and load into a van for further research. Alarming descriptions of the beast emerge (a bear’s head, scales, claws). However, police stop the van and confiscate the corpse under a law forbidding removal of unknown creatures from Loch Ness. The stunning find is ameliorated when one of the zoologist’s colleagues admits to dumping the intentionally disfigured corpse of a bull seal into the loch to fool them, never expecting the police to get involved.

In part two, Robert Rines spends several decades of his life and no small amount of money hunting the Loch Ness Monster. After seeing the beast in person in 1971, all he got for years of effort was a variety of odd sonar contacts. When even those stop showing up in the mid-2000s, Rines finally gives up. But despite the mountain of evidence against the existence of Nessie, and the fact that he himself was unable to find anything in the loch, he refuses to give up his belief in the creature’s existence. Rines simply claims that it had become extinct due to global warming.

An honorable mention must go to the “Surgeon’s Photo” hoax. You can see the Surgeon’s Photo in black and white above. It was a major piece of evidence for years, until one of the perpetrators revealed that it was a toy submarine with a sculpted monster head on top. The best part is that the whole thing was done at the urging of a big-game hunter/adventurer named Marmaduke Wetherell, who had been humiliated in the newspapers a few years earlier by fake Nessie tracks made with a rhino foot umbrella stand. The hoaxed photo was to be his revenge. I’m surprised that they weren’t foiled by a group of teenagers and their dog traveling around in a brightly colored van.

If those theories weren’t weird enough for you, you can always try the five strangest theories about Sasquatch on for size.

Sources:

Dow, Bob. “Veteran Loch Ness Monster Hunter Gives Up.” Daily Record.

National Geographic. “Was Loch Ness Monster an Elephant?”

Museum of Hoaxes. “The Body of Nessie Found.”