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US, Europe and SpaceX launch a satellite to track rising global sea levels – Engadget

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Scientists should soon have an easier time studying rising sea levels as climate change takes hold. NASA and the ESA have partnered with SpaceX to launch the Sentinel 6 Michael Freilich ocean tracking satellite. The spacecraft will gauge sea levels worldwide and not only continue an unbroken 28-year record of ocean monitoring, but do so at extreme detail — down to the centimeter (0.4in) for over 90 percent of Earth oceans.

The satellite should also improve weather forecasts and help ships navigate by tracking worldwide ocean currents. It’s named after the late former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, a champion of Earth science and ocean studies.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will have a companion in the future. A twin satellite, Sentinel-6B, will launch in 2025. The combo should help maintain the climate record for “at least” another decade between the two vessels, NASA said. It’ll take about a year for the initial satellite to take over from its predecessor, Jason-3.

The timing might be ideal. The incoming US administration is expected to fully recognize climate science, and an advanced satellite could help the administration make better-informed policy decisions.

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Beaver moon eclipsed by Earth's shadow tonight | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly – Straight.com

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November’s full moon will undergo a partial eclipse after midnight Sunday (November 29) when it slides across the outer (penumbral) edge of Earth’s shadow during the early hours of November 30.

This moon—sometimes called the beaver moon because it comes at a time when beavers are stepping up activities to prepare for the cold winter months ahead—will rise in the east and climb the night sky until the start of the eclipse.

Because the full moon will not cross into the darkest part of our planet’s shadow (the umbra), the eclipse—which will affect about 83 percent of the satellite’s surface—will be seen as a darkening of the affected area.

The partial eclipse will start at 1:42 a.m., when the moon should be high overhead and to the southwest. The moon will take more than four hours to traverse the Earth’s penumbra.

When the moon sets, at 6:56 a.m. Vancouver time, it should be coloured orange.

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NOAA scientists discover new species of gelatinous animal near Puerto Rico – CTV News

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Scientists have discovered a new species of ctenophore, or comb jelly, near Puerto Rico.

The newly named Duobrachium sparksae was discovered two and a half miles below sea level by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries research team. It was found during an underwater expedition using a remotely operated vehicle in 2015 and filmed by a high-definition camera.

NOAA Fisheries scientists Mike Ford and Allen Collins spotted the ctenophore and recognized it as a new species. This is the first time NOAA scientists have identified a new species using only high-definition video, according to NOAA.

“The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot are able to get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects,” Collins said.

The scientists also said there was another unique quality to the discovery. During the expedition, they were not able to gather any samples, so the video evidence is all they have.

“Naming of organisms is guided by international code, but some changes have allowed descriptions of new species based on video — certainly when species are rare and when collection is impossible,” Ford said. “When we made these observations, we were 4,000 metres down, using a remote vehicle, and we did not have the capabilities to take a sample.”

There are between 100 and 150 species of comb jellies, and despite their name, they are not related to jellyfish at all, according to the NOAA. The species is carnivorous, and many are highly efficient predators that eat small arthropods and many kinds of larvae.

The researchers said that there did not initially get a long look at the animal, so there is still a lot about this new species that they do not know yet. Their findings were recently published in the journal Plankton and Benthos Research.

“We’re not sure of their role in the ecosystem yet,” Ford said.

“We can consider that it serves similar roles to other ctenophores near the ocean floor and it also has some similarities to other ctenophores in open ocean areas,” he said.

The videos are now part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Collection and publicly accessible.

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You might want to stay up late: lunar eclipse to coincide with November’s Beaver full moon early Monday morning – Toronto Star

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A special celestial event is set to grace Toronto skies early Monday morning.

The November full moon, which is traditionally called the Beaver moon, will coincide with a penumbral lunar eclipse.

This kind of eclipse event happens when the moon crosses Earth’s outer shadow, or penumbra, giving it a reddish brown hue.

Those in Toronto will be able to observe the phenomenon starting 2:29 a.m. ET. The eclipse will be at its peak at 4:42 a.m. ET.

Environment Canada predicts partly cloudy skies at that time, but stargazing enthusiasts may be able to get a glimpse of the moon.

Although the Canadian Space Agency notes lunar eclipses are usually among the most observable because you can see them — quite safely — with the naked eye, with the more subtle penumbral eclipse they recommend using binoculars or a small telescope for the best viewing experience.

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