Earth

Earth Spun Faster in 2009 Due to Ocean Current?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 22, 2012   View Article

Did it feel like time flew in November 2009? It turns out the days were actually going a wee bit faster for part of that month, according to a team of NASA and European scientists.

Earth spun about 0.1 millisecond faster for a two-week stretch, said study co-author Steven Marcus, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The planet’s speedier spin appears to have been due to a slowdown in an ocean current that whips around Antarctica.

See ancient Earth from space

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 21, 2011   View Article

Over the past 750 million years, our blue marble has gone through remarkable changes— continents have shifted, ice ages have come and gone, sea levels have risen and fallen, and one-time deserts have turned green, allowing creatures to crawl out of the oceans and live off the land.

These changes are now being made visible by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. The first set of the Visible Paleo Earth visualizations are being released today, on Earth DAy, and more will be available in coming weeks.

Device may find Martians in us all

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 23, 2011   View Article

Life as we know it has a common ancestor— somewhere. Is it a Martian? A new device under development to fly on a future mission to Mars to find and sequence bits of genetic material could provide an answer, according to MIT and Harvard scientists.

“Given what we know about meteorite impacts and transfer of material between Earth and Mars, we are hoping that life may in fact exist on Mars and that it may in fact be related to us,” Christopher Carr, a MIT research scientist who is leading the project, told me today.

Ancient rocks hold climate forecast

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 2, 2011   View Article

What will the planet’s climate be like by the end of this century? The answer may lie in really, really old rocks, according to a new report that urges a coordinated research effort to study them.

Scientists have already pieced together a comprehensive record of Earth’s changing climate from studies of rocks and ice that stretches back about 2 million years. The problem is that the amount of carbon dioxide already pumped into the atmosphere is 25 to 30 percent higher than at any point in that record.

First Truly Habitable Planet Discovered, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 29, 2010   View Article

Astronomers studying a nearby star say they’ve found the first potentially habitable planet—likely a rocky place with an atmosphere, temperate regions, and crucially, liquid water, considered vital for life as we know it.

Other extrasolar planets have been called Earthlike, but, astronomer Paul Butler assured, “this is really the first Goldilocks planet”—not too hot, not too cold.

Earth Day at 40: How it Began, Where It’s Going

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 22, 2010   View Article

From grassroots beginnings in 1970, Earth Day—which celebrates its 40th anniversary today—has blossomed into a global tradition.

Organizers expect more than a billion to honor Earth Day in 2010—but many will do so with Facebook rather than megaphones.

As part of the Billion Acts of Green, an initiative organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Day Network’s Green Generation campaign, more than 30 million people will use social media to encourage green activities. One commenter on the Earth Day Network Web site named “Elroy,” for example, plans to “shower with a friend”—presumably to conserve water and electricity.

See the world from the space station

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: February 6, 2010   View Article

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have used hand-held cameras to take more than 450,000 photographs of Earth as seen from their orbiting outpost about 220 miles up in the skies since November 2000.

The flexibility to look off to the side, change lenses and choose interesting features to photograph are some of the advantages over stationary Earth-observing cameras on satellites, noted Cindy Evans at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston where the database of images is maintained.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach