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Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching in five years – CTV News

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has likely experienced its most widespread bleaching event on record, according to a U.S. government scientist who monitors the world’s coral reefs.

This marks the third mass bleaching event on the reef in just the last five years.

And scientists say that the rapid warming of the planet due to human emissions of heat-trapping gases are to blame.

On the heels of severe bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 that left half of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef dead, scientists fear this one could be a devastating blow.

“If we do not deal with climate change quickly … we are going to continue to see more severe and more frequent bleaching, and we are going to see the loss of coral reefs in much of the world,” said Dr. C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch.

The mass bleaching conditions were observed by Coral Reef Watch, which uses remote sensing and modeling to predict and monitor for signs of bleaching.

Eakin says that the bleaching in 2016 and 2017 was extremely intense, but severe damage was concentrated in a few hotspots in the northern and central parts of the reef.

Early indications show that this latest event was not as damaging, but that much a larger area of reef experienced at least some bleaching.

Past bleaching events have typically occurred in years with a strong El Nino-Southern Oscillation, a climate phenomena that can increase the odds of a host of extreme weather events around the globe.

El Nino is characterized by warmer waters in the Pacific ocean, which makes bleaching events in the region more likely. But there is no El Niño currently, which Eakin says makes this bleaching that much more surprising — and frightening.

“The upper ocean has absorbed a tremendous amount of heat in recent years, and it has really put coral reefs around the globe much closer to their upper thermal limits.”

 

Why the Great Barrier Reef is so critical

Coral reefs are some of the most vibrant marine ecosystems on the planet — between a quarter and one-third of all marine species rely on them at some point in their life cycle.

And none is more vital than the Great Barrier Reef.

Covering nearly 133,000 square miles, it is the world’s largest coral reef and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals and dozens of other species.

It’s also a vital resource to Australia’s economy, contributing more than US$5.6 billion annually and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

The abnormally hot ocean temperatures that led to this year’s bleaching began in February and stretched all the way into early March. As you can see from the animation below, almost the entire reef was under a bleaching alert from mid-February until mid-March.

Temperatures have since cooled and the bleaching has subsided, but scientists in Australia are currently assessing the damage to the reef’s health.

A fuller picture should come into focus in the coming weeks. Though initial reports indicate that this year’s bleaching may not be as severe as in 2016 or 2017, Eakin says it appears few parts of the reef have been spared.

“This time it is not as intense, but it’s much more widespread, so we’re seeing it all over the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

 

The future of coral reefs looks grim

Warm ocean temperatures are the main driver of coral bleaching.

Corals turn white as a stress response to warm water temperatures by expelling the algae that grows inside them, which is their main energy source and gives them their color.

Bleaching doesn’t kill coral immediately. But if temperatures remain high, eventually the coral will die, destroying a natural habitat for many species of marine life.

“When they’re bleached, corals are starving, injured and more susceptible to disease, so [recovery] is really a question of how long and intense the heat stress is and how healthy the coral was to begin with,” Eakin said.

For the Great Barrier Reef to fully recover from bleaching that has occurred would take decades, Eakin says.

But because of the massive amounts of heat the world’s oceans have already absorbed, the reef likely won’t have the chance to recover before it bleaches again.

“If it takes decades for a reef to recover … what chance do we have for reefs recovering when events are coming back this fast?” he said.

Though researchers around the world are exploring ways to revive reefs, Eakin says those efforts will not be enough if we don’t address the root cause of their demise — human-caused climate change.

“We have to address climate change if we want to have coral reefs in the future.”

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Apollo 13 Movie Was Engineers' "Failure is Not an Option" Moment in the Spotlight – DesignNews

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Image source: Universal Pictures

April 11, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Apollo 13 lunar mission, and this year is also the 25th anniversary of the 1995 film version, directed by Ron Howard. It is this theatrical version of events that is the definitive story of Apollo now for many people, an outcome that was predicted at the time of the movie’s filming by Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott, who served as a consultant on the film.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to go to the moon for a long time,” Howard recalled Scott telling him. Speaking for the bonus features on the Collector’s Edition DVD, Howard told the story of Scott’s prediction that future moon voyagers would look back at the film as documentation of the Apollo era.

“Everybody involved is going to be dead and all you’re going to have is some of this archival footage and you’ve seen how incomplete that is,” Howard said, speaking for Scott. “But you know what they’re going to be able to do? They’re going to be able to look at this movie, Apollo 13, and say ‘That’s how they went to the moon.’”

The film scored nine Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture, with Tom Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell, Kevin Bacon as Backup Lunar Module Pilot Jack Swigert, the late Bill Paxton as Command Module Pilot Fred Haise, Gary Sinise as grounded Prime Lunar Module Pilot Ken Mattingly and Ed Harris as Flight Director Gene Kranz. It won two Academy Awards, for Best Sound and for Film Editing and grossed 174 million 1995 dollars at the box office.

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Hollywood isn’t known for its keen study of the outside world, but a book proposal by astronaut Lovell caught the attention of people who brought the story to director Howard. “The more I kept learning about the actual mission,” he said, “the more I realized just how dramatic the truth, in this particular instance, is.”

He soon recruited A-lister Hanks to play Lovell. “There’s something about the story of getting back home, which is one of the seven great stories of literature: How do you get back home? And that’s what this is,” Hanks said.

As a longtime space geek, Hanks was already predisposed to favoring the film. “I’ve always wanted to play an astronaut. I’ve always wanted to shoot a vast section of a movie completely encapsulated by nothing but metal, glass and switches, and I finally had a chance to do that,” he said. “This is real dream-come-true stuff here.”

1995 marked the dawn of computer-generated animation, and Apollo 13 uses the early technology to good effect to create some flight scenes. Fortunately, the production crew recognized the shortcomings of CGI and limited its use. For the dramatic splashdown scene near the end of the film, they employed a scale model of the command module on real parachutes, dropped from a helicopter to provide the necessary realism.

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But the real challenge was replicating the zero-gravity environment inside the spacecraft during the flight. To gain some insight into this, the cast and crew arranged for a flight in NASA’s zero-g simulating KC-135 cargo aircraft. The experience motivated Howard to investigate actually building sets inside the plane and shooting the movie inside it during zero-g flights. 

“If we really would have had to try to create the weightlessness with wires (on the actors), I sort of shudder to think what the movie would have really looked like,” Howard said.

Instead, the cast flew 612 25-second cycles in the Vomit Comet, totally 3 hours and 54 minutes of weightlessness. “The KC135 was used for most shots where you see our whole bodies,” explained Bacon. “Then we did a lot of the closeups on the ground, and they cut amazingly well. I can’t even remember if this is a KC135 shot or this is a ground shot.”

“Nobody wanted to let this story down,” Howard stated. “Not the actors, not the crew members, no one. I didn’t have to make any motivational speeches on this one. People were coming to work every day ready to give a hundred and fifty percent.”

“I had an acute sense of anxiety that I would be the one who became violently ill and totally incapacitated and a failure to the group,” said Paxton.

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Further, with expert advice available, the actors could be confident that they weren’t doing anything grossly unrealistic. “I’m really impressed with the authenticity of how we’re doing this,” observed Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott. “They are interested in getting this accurate and precise, down to not only the word, but the inflection of the word, and the meaning behind the word.”

“With Dave Scott from Apollo 15 here every day,” said Hanks, “we don’t have to do that thing that can happen in films where the director says, ‘Flick some switches.’” 

“Working on the film was kind of like cramming for your final exam or something,” said Ed Harris. “You’ve got all this information in your head, you’re really focused on it, you’re doing your homework the night before about the scene you’re going to do the next day.”

Nevertheless, the film’s defining characteristic turned out not to be the heroism of the astronauts, but that of the engineers on the ground who fought to find a way to save the astronauts. Apollo 13 made stars of engineers and brought the phrase “Failure is not an option,” into popular culture.

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“One of the first things that we did once we committed to making the movie was go to Houston, see mission control,” said Howard. “And I realized just how intense it was. How personally they took it. And I began to try to find ways to tell their story too.”

“Once the rocket leaves the launch pad, the flight director, he’s God,” Harris noted. “He’s got more power than the President of the United States at that point. He calls the shots.”

Howard put the same attention to detail that went into shooting authentic weightless scenes into recreating NASA’s mission control in Houston. “Ron is an absolute fanatic about every little detail being correct,” said Apollo 13 flight dynamics officer Jerry Bostic, who consulted on Apollo 13 and worked on the set daily. “I spend 14 hours a day here and I leave and I go look for the elevator,” he laughed. “Because the real control center in Houston was up on the third floor, and I forget because this thing is so real.

“You have a great story and you have all this incredible technology and you have something that was very important historically,” observed Bacon. “This moment was, in so many ways, NASA’s finest hour.”

For engineers, the film Apollo 13 might have been their finest hour too.

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Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

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Apollo 13’s most famous quotes originated in Hollywood – 680 News

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Apollo 13’s best known quotes originated not in space or Mission Control, but in Hollywood.

Their moon-bound spacecraft wrecked by an oxygen tank explosion on April 13, 1970, the astronauts urgently radioed, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Screenwriters for the 1995 film “Apollo 13? wanted to punch that up. Thus was born “Houston, we have a problem.”

Even more artistic license was taken with NASA flight director Gene Kranz’ mobilizing speech to his team in Houston.

Kranz never declared, “Failure is not an option.”

Ask Kranz what he actually told flight controllers, and he rattles it off without a moment’s hesitation a half-century later.

“I have never lost an American in space, sure as hell aren’t going to lose one now. This crew is coming home. You got to believe it. Your team must believe it. And we must make it happen.”

Kranz said the moviemakers came up with “Failure is not an option.”

Does he wish he’d said it? “No — I’m satisfied with what I said.”

Kranz constantly finds himself setting the record straight — “in fact, every time I speak.”

“I try not to plagiarize,” he said with a laugh.

He did borrow the phrase for the title of his 2000 autobiography.

Director Ron Howard’s film starring Ed Harris as Kranz and Tom Hanks as mission commander Jim Lovell was based on Lovell’s 1994 autobiography, “Lost Moon.” Actors Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon portrayed Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise and Jack Swigert.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

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'Houston, we've had a problem': Remembering Apollo 13 at 50 – CTV News

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CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. —
Apollo 13’s astronauts never gave a thought to their mission number as they blasted off for the moon 50 years ago. Even when their oxygen tank ruptured two days later — on April 13.

Jim Lovell and Fred Haise insist they’re not superstitious. They even use 13 in their email addresses.

As mission commander Lovell sees it, he’s incredibly lucky. Not only did he survive NASA’s most harrowing moonshot, he’s around to mark its golden anniversary.

“I’m still alive. As long as I can keep breathing, I’m good,” Lovell, 92, said in an interview with The Associated Press from his Lake Forest, Ill., home.

A half-century later, Apollo 13 is still considered Mission Control’s finest hour.

Lovell calls it “a miraculous recovery.”

Haise, like so many others, regards it as NASA’s most successful failure.

“It was a great mission,” Haise, 86, said. It showed “what can be done if people use their minds and a little ingenuity.”

As the lunar module pilot, Haise would have become the sixth man to walk on the moon, following Lovell onto the dusty gray surface. The oxygen tank explosion robbed them of the moon landing, which would have been NASA’s third, nine months after Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humanity’s first footsteps on the moon.

Now the coronavirus pandemic has robbed them of their anniversary celebrations. Festivities are on hold, including at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the mission began on April 11, 1970, a Saturday just like this year.

That won’t stop Haise, who still lives in Houston, from marking what he calls “boom day” next Monday, as he does every April 13.

Lovell, Haise and Jack Swigert, a last-minute fill-in who died in 1982, were almost to the moon when they heard a bang and felt a shudder. One of two oxygen tanks had burst in the spacecraft’s service module.

The tense words that followed are the stuff of space — and movie — fame.

“OK, Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” radioed Swigert, the command module pilot.

“This is Houston. Say again, please.”

“Houston, we’ve had a problem,” Lovell cut in.

Lovell reported a sudden voltage drop in one of the two main electrical circuits. Within seconds, Houston’s Mission Control saw pressure readings for the damaged oxygen tank plunge to zero. The blast also knocked out two electrical power-generating fuel cells and damaged the third.

As Lovell peered out the window and saw oxygen escaping into the black void, he knew his moon landing was also slipping away. He shoved all emotions aside.

“Not landing on the moon or dying in space are two different things,” Lovell explained, “and so we forgot about landing on the moon. This was one of survival. How do we get home?”

The astronauts were 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometres) from Earth. Getting back alive would require calm, skill and, yes, luck.

“The explosion could not have happened at a better time,” Lovell said.

Much earlier, he said, and the astronauts wouldn’t have had enough electrical power to make it around the moon and slingshot back to Earth for a splashdown. A blast in lunar orbit or, worse still, while Lovell and Haise were on the surface, “that would be the end of it.”

“I think we had some divine help in this flight,” Lovell said.

The aborted mission went from being so humdrum that none of the major TV networks broadcast the astronauts’ show-and-tell minutes before the explosion, to a life-and-death drama gripping the entire world.

As flight director Gene Kranz and his team in Houston raced to come up with a rescue plan, the astronauts kept their cool. It was Lovell’s fourth spaceflight – his second to the moon – and the first and only one for Haise and Swigert.

Dark thoughts “always raced through our minds, but silently. We didn’t talk about that,” Lovell said.

Added Haise: “We never hit the point where there was nothing left to do. So, no, we never got to a point where we said, `Well, we’re going to die.”‘

The White House, less confident, demanded odds. Kranz refused, leaving it to others to put the crew’s chances at 50-50. In his mind, there was no doubt, no room for failure — only success.

“Basically that was the name of the game: I’m going to get them home. My team’s going to get them home. We will get them home,” Kranz recalled.

For the record, Kranz never uttered “failure is not an option.” The line is pure Hollywood, created for the 1995 movie “Apollo 13” starring Ed Harris as Kranz and Tom Hanks as Lovell.

The flight controllers went into crisis mode. They immediately ordered the command module Odyssey shut down to conserve what little power remained, and the astronauts to move into the lunar module Aquarius, now a lifeboat.

One of the low points, Lovell said, was realizing they’d be cramped together in the lander.

“It was designed for two people for two days. We were three people for four days.”

The carbon dioxide overload, from breathing, threatened to kill them.

Engineers scrambled to figure out how to convert the square air-purifying canisters in the dead capsule into round ones that would fit in their temporary home.

Their outside-the-box, seat-of-the-pants solution, using spacecraft scraps, worked. But it was so damp and cold that the astronauts couldn’t sleep. Condensation covered the walls and windows, and the temperature was close to freezing.

Dehydrated and feverish, Haise had the roughest time during the six-day ordeal. Despite the sky-high stress, Haise recalls no cross words among the three test pilots. Even Swigert fit in, despite joining the crew a scant three days before liftoff. He replaced command module pilot Ken Mattingly, who with his crewmates had been exposed to German measles, but unlike them didn’t have immunity.

Rumours swirled that the astronauts had poison pills tucked away in case of a hopeless situation. Lovell dispelled that notion on page one of his 1994 autobiography, “Lost Moon,” the basis for the “Apollo 13? film.

Splashdown day finally arrived April 17, 1970 — with no guarantees.

The astronauts managed to power up their command module, avoiding short circuits but creating a rainfall inside as the spacecraft decelerated in the atmosphere.

The communication blackout lasted 1 1/2 minutes longer than normal. Controllers grew alarmed. Finally, three billowing parachutes appeared above the Pacific. It was only then, Lovell said, that “we knew that we had it made.”

The astronauts had no idea how much their cosmic cliffhanger impacted the world until they reached Honolulu. President Richard Nixon was there to greet them.

“We never dreamed a billion people were following us on television and radio, and reading about us in banner headlines of every newspaper published,” Lovell noted in a NASA history.

The tank explosion later was linked to damage caused by electrical overheating in ground tests.

Apollo 13 “showed teamwork, camaraderie and what NASA was really made of,” said Columbia University’s Mike Massimino, a former shuttle astronaut.

In the decades since, Lovell and his wife, Marilyn, of nearly 68 years have discussed the what-ifs and might-have-beens.

“The outcome of everything is, naturally, that he’s alive,” she said, “and that we’ve had all these years.”

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content,

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