Tuesday, 16 May 2017

NASA Just Released Spectacular Photos of Jupiter

Saturn has been getting a lot of attention in recent times, what with Cassini diving inside its rings and returning some magnificent pictures. However, spare a thought for Jupiter, which is similarly captivating. NASA has currently got the Juno spacecraft in orbit around it, and it too has been sending back some spectacular snaps. NASA actually inspires members of the public to take the pictures and spruce them up a bit, with featured pictures then posted on the JunoCam website. Therefore, you can also vote on what features the spacecraft looks at next, such as the Great Red Spot. So, without further ado, let's look at some of the best recent images from Juno. Take it away, Jupiter. You’ve earned it. Source: CP

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Exclusive Green Moss Balls of Lake Myvatn and Lake Akan

You might be wondering what on earth a lake ball is? The species itself is called Moss Balls of Lake Myvatn and Lake Akan is a species of filamentous green algae named Aegagropila linnaei that grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance. Moss Balls is also called marimo (In Japanese for "ball seaweed"), also known by several names such as Cladophora ball and Lake ball. These beautiful Moss balls grow in sizes of 12 to 30 cm across, subject on where you find them. However, “Marimos” are rare and is known to occur only in Iceland, Scotland and Japan, primarily Lake Akan in Japan and Lake Mývatn in Iceland. Recently, moss balls appeared in a large numbers on Dee Why Beach, in Sydney, the first such spotting of this alga in the southern hemisphere. It is currently believed to be one of only two locations where it exists in the world. Around two years ago that the marimo had decreased to such an extent that there are hardly any left, the remaining balls are scattered over a rather small area and their condition is not good. “They look rather limp, not firm and beautiful as they should be and hollow inside.


Marimo doesn’t grow around a core, such as a pebble. In its place, the algal filaments grow in all directions from the centre of the ball, continuously branching and thereby laying the foundation for the spherical form. Surprisingly, the ball is green all through, although light only reaches very short distance into the ball. The chlorophyll inside the ball remains dormant in the dark, but becomes active when uncovered to light if the ball breaks apart. Moreover, moss balls are found submerged in the lake’s bed where the mild wave action often turns them over maintaining its spherical shape, at the same time ensuring that they can photosynthesize no matter which side is turned upwards. In Japan the Marimo is well protected and revered, and officially a natural treasure since 1920. Hence, at Lake Akan a boundless effort is spent on the conservation of the lake balls that includes an annual 3 day Marimo festival. Where small hand rolled balls of free-floating filaments is sold in shops as souvenirs. Moreover, Marimo is also a staple in many Japanese aquariums.


Meanwhile in Lake Myvatn, lake balls are gradually vanishing. Around ten years ago, the lake balls in Lake Mývatn were two to three layers thick on the lake bottom. Nowadays, they’re mostly gone, and their disappearance is attributed to pollution caused by mining operation in the area that commenced in the 1960s. Therefore, the big amount of phosphorous and nitrogen dumped into the lake has radically increased the lake’s bacteria that feed on those nutrients, swarming so compactly that they blocked the sunlight that reached down to the lake’s bottom. Thus, in the less sunlight, the algae start to die off, revealing more of the lake bottom’s loose sediment. Furthermore, the wind and the waves that once rolled the balls into their shape stirred the loose sediment covering the left behind algae, further depriving them of sunlight. The Marimo was given a status of protected species in Iceland in 2006, but it was already too late. In Japan the marimo is a natural treasure while in Iceland they are a protected species.
Source: Charismatic Planet

Friday, 5 May 2017

Soviet-era Shuttles Left to Rust in an Abandoned Deseret of Kazakhstan

This must be called as “Ghosts of the USSR” as eerie photographs show Soviet-era space shuttles left to rust in an abandoned desert hangar in Kazakhstan. Two test shuttles were found inside a derelict Soviet warehouse near the Cosmodrome Baikonur, 125 miles east of the Aral Sea. The both were developed as part of Moscow's Buran programme which was shut down in 1993 - but neither of the craft was sent to space. Another vast Energia rocket was designed to propel the Buran, an unmanned space plane, into orbit. The main purpose of rocket to compete with Nasa's Saturn V, the super-lift launch vehicle that supported the Apollo mission to the moon. The Energia weighs in at a huge 2,400,000kg in spite of being made of super-light metals. The massive hangar that houses the rocket was actually an assembly complex and, measuring 433ft long by 203ft in height, it is the largest building at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The Russian Alexander Kaunas said, he walked almost 24 miles through the desert to reach the hangar once a hub of activity but now left derelict and picture the unused shuttles and rocket. Therefore, just like Nasa's Space Shuttles, the Buran vehicles had engines located at the back, and two wings for a controlled landing back on Earth. The Russian model had conspicuous external similarities to the US Space Shuttle Columbia sparking suggestions Cold War espionage may have played a part in its development. So, the both US Space Shuttles and Buran had the same shape and size, the same vertical tail structures and even alike colors in white with a black trim. A documents of 1990s revealed, the KGB stole the designs for the US shuttle in the 1970s and 1980s enabling the Kremlin to build a carbon copy of the American system. Documents acquired dealt with airframe designs, materials, flight computer systems, and propulsion systems. This information allowed Soviet military industries to save years of scientific research and testing time as well as millions of rubles as they developed their own very similar space shuttle vehicle.'
Moreover, development of the Buran programme started in 1976, with the recyclable spacecraft capable of performing operations in orbit before returning to Earth. But after one unmanned spaceflight of the Orbiter 1K1 in 1988, the scheme was scrapped following the dissolution of the USSR in 1993. Orbiter 1K1 was crushed and destroyed in the same complex - but in a different hangar - in 2002. The collapse killed eight workers. The rocket Kaunas was to act as a heavy-lift launch system and booster for the Buran spaceplane.  Thus, it has been left abandoned in the disused hanger since 1991.