How can we know the size, composition, and atmospheric makeup of distant exoplanets? NASA explains the details in this Alien Atmospheres video.
By observing periodic variations in the parent star’s brightness and color, astronomers can indirectly determine an exoplanet’s distance from its star, its size, and its mass. But to truly understand an exoplanet astronomers must study its atmosphere, and they do so by splitting apart the parent star’s light during a planetary transit.
Watch more astronomy videos, including Measuring the Universe and The Hubble Ultra Deep Field.
via Boing Boing.
When you drill 364 meters (1194 feet) down into Antarctic ice, taking out a cylindrical section called an ice core, you can find out about the Earth’s temperature and carbon dioxide levels from over 20,000 years ago. Information is held within the oxygen atoms in the ice and the air bubbles that formed within it.
Measuring ice cores is an effective form of time travel for scientists like the British Antarctic Survey team, who are studying how the Earth’s climate is changing. And Antarctica is full of untapped information:
Antarctica is thought to have been covered by ice for over 30 million years. So far, scientists have drilled ice cores stretching back 800,000 years, and they are now working to extend their records back to 1.4 million years ago.
In this video, Ice Core Scientist Nerilie Abram explains the process. You can also read more about the team’s work here.
Brian Cox’s Favourite Wonder from Wonders of the Solar System:
Against the stunning backdrop of the glaciers of Alaska, Brian reveals his fourth Wonder. Saturn’s moon Titan is shrouded by a murky, thick atmosphere. He reveals that below the clouds lies a magical world. Titan is the only place beyond Earth where we’ve found liquid pooling on the surface in vast lakes, as big as the Caspian Sea, but the lakes of Titan are filled with a mysterious liquid, and are quite unlike anything on Earth.
I can’t be the only one obsessed with Saturn and its moons, right?
Related links: the Huygens Probe and the Matanuska Glacier.
The Landfill is a three minute film by documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit and director Jessica Edwards about how our different kinds of trash can be used as harvestable resources.
The United States produces 390 billion pounds of garbage every year, and finding places to dispose of it is a serious environmental and economic challenge. But what if we could change the way we think about garbage, from something to be disposed of to something to be harvested? THE LANDFILL profiles a small county landfill in Upstate New York, which is using a system of composting, recycling, and methane capture technology to operate sustainably while producing electricity for 400 homes in their area. By focusing on the people and ideas behind this innovative waste-to-energy initiative, THE LANDFILL shows the beauty and potential of the stuff we throw away.
Sustainability FTW! This is exactly the kind of problem solving that kids should see. For more information, visit focusforwardfilms.com/films/11/the-landfill