All posts by Daniel

NASA Satellite Captures Images Of New Island Forming

Hey, remember that awesome island that formed off the coast of North Carolina last month? Well, NASA has just snapped some images of it from space.

The images were taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on NASAs Landsat 8, which orbits at an altitude of about 705 kilometers (438 miles). They revealhow by July of this year, an entirely new island had been created.

NASAs photos show that the island began forming as far back as November 2016. Another image in January 2017 showed waves were breaking in the region, where the island eventually formed.

The island shot to fame in June when Chad Koczera, a 30-year-old aerospace engineer from Connecticut, used a drone to capture images that were then widely shared. Locals named itShelly Island, as there were a large number of untouched seashells on it.

Its thought that a storm caused the island to appear, churning up the seabed and bringing in new sediment. Its not too unusual for a landmass like this to emerge, but one of this size more than a kilometerlong is quite rare. This location, Cape Point, is where the southbound Labrador Currenthits the warmer gulf stream, leading to rough waters and storms that can cause dramatic changes.

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The evolution of the island, seen by NASA’s Landsat 8. NASA

What exactly causes a shallow region to become exposed is a deep question and one that is difficult to speculate on without exact observations, said Andrew Ashton, a geomorphologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in a NASA statement.A likely process would be a high tide or storm-driven water elevation that piled up sediment to near the surface, and then water levels went down exposing the shoal. Waves then continue to build the feature while also moving it about.

NASA also noted that the shoreline here is in constant motion. Waves sculpt the appearance of the cape tips in this region, and sediment is constantly being carried up and down.

Shoals associated with the capes can also extend for tens of kilometers under the ground and can be just a few meters deep in places. So this place is ever-shifting, although that shouldnt make Shelly Island any less impressive.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/nasa-satellite-captures-images-of-new-island-forming/

FAA’s new drone rules could be very restrictive, report says

Drone3

Image: Flickr, Walter

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will soon release new rules on the use of drones in the U.S., and they might be more restrictive than the current ones, potentially making the use of a flying robot much more difficult.

Drone pilots will need a license, will only be able to fly during the day, and can only operate below 400 feet, and in the operator’s line of sight, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Monday. The FAA is reportedly also going to group all unmanned aerial vehicles — regardless of weight or size — under these rules, meaning that flying a small toy drone will be subject to the same restrictive rules as flying a bigger commercial one.

The drone licenses are likely to require “dozens of hours” flying traditional aircrafts, the WSJ reports citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the rule-making process. In other words, forget about buying a drone at Best Buy and flying it on your own for any commercial purpose. These restrictive rules will also affect companies like Amazon or Google, which have been long working on delivery drones.

As we have reported before, drones fly in a murky legal area right now, and the FAA is expected to issue new rules before the end of the year.

The nascent drone industry, as well as the large cadre of UAVs aficionados, probably won’t like these rules. Although it’s important to stress that the FAA hasn’t published any rules yet, and the details could still change before then. Moreover, these rules will just be a proposal, meaning they will still need to go through a public commenting period, after which the FAA will issue the final rules based on the feedback from the public and stakeholders. All in all, it could take one or two years until the final regulations are issued.

The FAA declined to comment on the report.

“Sorry, but we can’t discuss specifics of the upcoming proposed rule,” FAA spokesman Les Door told Mashable. “We can say that the proposed regulations and standards will make a start toward broader commercial use of UAS.”

BONUS: An animated history of drones

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/11/24/faa-new-drone-rules/

Astronauts Plant Trees in Russia That Tower Above Politics

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Trees line the path of Cosmonaut Grove at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia.
Image: Flickr, Eugene Kaspersky

In their last days on Earth before launching to the International Space Station, astronauts sees the same thing: two rows of trees that punctuate the otherwise austere landscape outside the space launch facility in Baikonur, Russia.

The trees that outline the T-shaped path are mismatched in size, but that’s for a reason. Each one was planted by an astronaut just before he or she launched to space, a tradition that Yuri Gagarin started 50 years ago when he planted the first tree just before he became the first human in space. His tree is the largest.

A fresh three-member crew — Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and European astronaut Alexander Gerst — will launch to the ISS on Wednesday. All three astronauts planted their trees last week.

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Expedition 40/41 crew (from left) NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Roscosmos commander Maxim Suraev and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst during the traditional tree-planting ceremony in the run-up to their launch to the ISS on May 28.

Image: European Space Agency

“There’s a whole wealth of Russian traditions,” NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, who planted a tree before his mission in 2012, told Mashable. “Some are funny, some are beautiful.”

Marshburn-Hadfield-Tree

t the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 34 crew members Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency (left), Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko (center) and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn (right) pose for pictures Dec. 13, 2012 at the site of their tree planting.

Image: NASA

Many Russian traditions are based on the success of what a cosmonaut did before. “In a lot of ways, it’s about honoring the person who came before you,” Marshburn said.

The simple ceremony always takes place shortly before launch, no matter the environment. Be it a harsh Russian winter or an even colder political standoff, the tree will be planted.

But given the current political climate between the U.S. and Russia, these trees have a deeper meaning within the space community, which, until very recently, has been able to operate above bureaucratic squabble.

As the U.S. continues to unleash sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the crisis in Ukraine, both nations have put targets on the backs of each other’s space programs.

In April, NASA sent a memo to employees stating that it was cutting all ties with Russia, except for when it comes to the space station — as the U.S. depends on Russia to launch its astronauts to the ISS.

At the same time, NASA made a grandiose public statement that it would return spaceflight to the U.S. by 2017, completely nixing the need for Russian involvement at all.

“We’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017,” NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel told Mashable in April. “The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple.”

Although NASA, at the time, said politics wouldn’t make it to the space station, Russia unveiled a different plan just weeks later. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters on May 13 that Moscow would deny U.S. requests to use the ISS after 2020. He also said he would prevent the U.S. from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites.

Astronauts, however, have subtly voiced their continued commitment to teamwork — a seemingly passive protest to the two countries’ efforts to drag the ISS into their battle.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who planted his own tree alongside Marshburn, is among the most vocal. In an April interview with RT, the ISS commander condemned weaponizing space.

And just hours after the news broke that Russia wanted to ban the U.S. from the ISS — coincidentally, that was on the same day a crew of both American and Russian astronauts was returning to Earth — Hadfield tweeted this:

And just on day after the U.S. issued its first round of sanctions against Russia, NASA released the photo below before a scheduled launch, showing the two flags together.

Russia-US-Space

The flags of the countries representing the crew members of Soyuz TMA-12M are seen at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, Russia on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Image: NASA

“Living in space really does break down barriers,” Marshburn said. “It is a family up there. We have to survive.”

Even NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in March — around the time Russia invaded Crimea — that the space station has been the cornerstone of peaceful relations.

During a press conference, Bolden, who commanded the first U.S.-Russian space shuttle mission in 1994, told the story of flying with Russian cosmonauts only a few years after the Cold War. The men talked of their families and of their aspirations for the world over dinner.

“I found that our relationship with the Russians in the space program has been the same ever since,” Bolden said. “We have weathered the storm through lots of contingencies.”

For his part, Marshburn, who is currently training in Houston for a future ISS mission, said he will continue to work as though the next trip will be with Russia. He’ll still study Russian, and he’ll work with Russian cosmonaut colleagues on site.

“We are well padded from the political goings on,” said Marshburn. “So, I just don’t think about it because who knows where it’s going to go.”

And as long as NASA astronauts climb into a Russian spacecraft, they’ll continue to add their tree to the growing grove around the Baikonur Cosmodrome as well.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/05/28/nasa-russia-tree-cosmodrome/

Thousand Of Migrating Snow Geese Die After Landing In Toxic Mine

Several thousand snow geese have been found dead after taking a pit stop on a Montana mine contaminated with high levels of acid and heavy metals.

The piles of dead snow geese were spotted early last week in the abandoned Berkeley Pit mine of Butte, Montana. The nearby area has also been scattered withcarcassesaround parking lots and roadsides. Using drones, telescopes, and people on foot, officials began counting up the death toll last week, which could be upwards of 10,000 snow geese, local news Billings Gazette reports.

Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for mine company Montana Resources, told theAssociated Pressthat the scene was like 700 acres of white birds.

The geese were migrating down from the Arctic through the Central Flyway, a bird migration route thatcrosses over the Great Plains in the US.When they stopped for a break in Montana on this marathon journey, many of the lakes and ponds they usually pick where frozen over, most likely because the warming temperatures of their Arctic habitat allowed them to stay later into the season than usual. So the flock headed to a nearby water body located in an abandoned mine, where they drunk and floated in its toxic wastewater, which is high in sulfuric acid and contaminated with heavy metals.

The Berkeley Pit mine of Butte, Montana in 2004. Rob Crandall/Shutterstock.

The Environmental Protection Agency said that fines could be dished out towards the mine company for negligence.

The toxic waters of the mine have been a hotspot for migrating geese before and each year the odd dead goose is found floating in the waters. Twenty-one years ago, 342 geese were found floating in there. Necropsies of these geese showed that they had extremely high levels of heavy metals in their kidneys.

Since then, the area has employed numerous techniques to ward off the geese, such as spotlights and noise makers. However, just by sheer volume, this years snow geese visit appears to have overwhelmed them.

I cant underscore enough how many birds were in the Butte area that night, Thompson added. Numbers beyond anything weve ever experienced in our 21 years of monitoring by several orders of magnitude.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/thousand-of-migrating-snow-geese-die-after-landing-in-toxic-mine/

Viral Video Recap: Tiger Chases a Toddler and More

Warning: Dressing up like a tiger might make the fierce felines think you’re one of them.

In this week’s viral video recap, a captive tiger behind glass chases after a giggling child wearing a tiger suit. But that’s not the first time a fearless tyke has gotten attention from a jungle animal. Remember the video of a lion trying to eat a baby in a zebra-like hoodie (albeit through a glass window)? We’re starting to notice a pattern here.

Other viral videos this week include a man getting up-close to a group of sharks, puppies playing with bowling pins and a cat being silly in a box. Watch them all in the video, above.

Image: YouTube, Marshall Shaffer

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/11/10/viral-video-recap-a-tiger-chasing-a-toddler-and-more/

Top 10 Memes of The Week – Cheezburger Users Edition #7

It’s a tradition now, and it keeps getting better and better. Here are the top 10 from last week (6/3/17 – 6/9/17), you’re welcome to browse our LolCats category to rate the ones from this week.

  • 1

    The cat

    By Unknown


  • 2

    Happiness is having a cat who loves you!

    By Unknown


  • 3

    KIT: Kuppykakes Institute of Technology

    By Unknown


  • 4

    Admit it.

    By Unknown


  • 5

    Sniff!

    By Unknown


  • 6

    Uh huh.

    By Unknown


  • 7

    So pretty

    By Unknown


  • 8

    The Good, The Bad, & The Angries

    By Unknown (Picture by: cvf)


  • 9

    Two fishies to go pleeze !

    By Unknown


  • 10

    The sun rises and sets on kitty

    By Unknown

    (recaption http://tinyurl.com/y73vl9xo

Read more: http://cheezburger.com/2420229/top-10-memes-of-the-week-cheezburger-users-edition-7

NASA Sent One Identical Twin Brother To Space For A Year And Studied How It Changed Him Here Are The First Results

Last March, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending nearly one year in space. During his 340 days aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, scientists were also observing Scott’s identical twin brother Mark Kelly while he hung out on Earth. The goal was to look at the changes in the human body that might be connected to spaceflight.

Scott and Mark made perfect subjects for this experiment because they have the same DNA. This means scientists have had the rare opportunity to directly compare changes in Scott’s genes with changes in Mark’s over the same time period.

Scientists already know that living in a weightless environment for six months or less can have negative effects on the human body, like stretching your spine, shrinking your muscles, or messing up your sleep cycle. But the effects of long-term exposure to space are less well-known.

The results from NASA’s Twin Study, which were first released at the end of January, can be used to prepare for future deep-space missions.

Researchers are still combing through the data after taking biological samples from each twin before, during, and after Scott’s space mission. It might be some time before the full results of the Twin Study are published due to the amount and the sensitivity of the information, some of which the twins may want to keep private, according to Nature.

Some of the most interesting results so far:

  • Scott’s telomeres got longer, then shrunk back to normal. Scott’s telomeres, or the caps at the end of chromosomes, became longer than his brother’s while he was in space, but quickly returned to their normal length once he returned home.”That is exactly the opposite of what we thought, Susan Bailey, a radiation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, told Nature. That’s because shorter telomeres are generally associated with getting older. Scientists are still studying what this means, but it could be linked to more exercise and eating fewer calories while in space, according to NASA.
  • Scott’s methylation levels decreased. The level of methylation, a process that can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing its sequence, decreased in Scott’s white blood cells during flight and increased in Mark half-way through the study. “These results could indicate genes that are more sensitive to a changing environment whether on Earth or in space,” according to NASA.
  • The twins hosted different gut bacteria. Scott and Mark hosted different gut bacteria, or the “bugs” that aid in digestion, throughout the year-long study. This was probably a result of their different diets and environments, NASA writes.
  • Scientists are looking for what they’re calling a “space gene.” By sequencing the RNA in the twins’ white blood cells, researchers found more than 200,000 RNA molecules that were expressed differently between the brothers. It is normal for twins to have unique mutations in their genome, but scientists are “looking closer to see if a ‘space gene’ could have been activated while Scott was in space,” according to NASA.

Read the original article on Tech Insider.

Read next: Here’s what happens to your body in space

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/nasa-sent-one-identical-twin-brother-to-space-for-a-year-and-studied-how-it-changed-him-here-are-the-first-results/

5 Things You Should Know About Your Cats Tail

The Tale your cat’s tail tells you. A cat tail is more than just a pretty appendage — and it’s more sensitive than you might think.

  • 1

    The cat tail is a balancing tool

    Via: flickr

    The cat tail acts as a counterweight when the cat walks along narrow surfaces like fence tops or chair backs. It also helps a running cat to stay standing as he makes sharp turns in pursuit of prey … or his favorite toy.


  • 2

    Tails are used as a communication tool

    Via: Funny misfit

    The position of the tail has meaning to other cats (and to us, if we are paying attention). Studies show that kittens and cats with a “tail up” posture are friendly and relaxed . Mother cats appear to signal to their kittens to follow them using their upright tails. Not only does tail position communicate things, but messages are sent with the movement as well. A twitching tail has meaning. When cats twitch just the tips of their tails, it can mean that they are alert and aroused, and when cats are hunting, they can wave their tails methodically. Cats thrash their tail firmly when they are feeling threatened, afraid, or aggressive.


  • 3

    Cat tail injuries can cause permanent damage

    Via: Attack of the cute

    Even though the spinal cord doesn’t extend all the way into the cat tail, an injury can still cause serious nerve damage. When the spinal cord ends, the nerves that help to control and provide sensation to the tail, hind legs, bladder, large intestine, and anus have to extend outward without the protection of the spine’s bones. Yanking on your cat’s tail can over-stretch or even tear these nerves and cause temporary (or permanent) inability to walk, inability to hold the tail upright, incontinence, or chronic pain.


  • 4

    Cats can live without tails

    Via: pinterest

    Cats born without tails never know what it’s like to have one. Their brains develop without the presence of the sensory input from the tail, but we know that the tail can serve a purpose in balance and psychological well-being. Sometimes injury or illness can require tail amputation in cats, and they adjust very well. Of course, if your cat has one, she should keep it unless its removal is medically necessary.


  • 5

    Tails can signal health issues

    Via: Catsmeouch

    Sometimes the tail can be literally flagging you down to notice an issue with your cat’s health. Certain disorders can show themselves through the tail. Flea allergy dermatitis can cause skin irritation on and around the tail and rump. Skin infections from other causes can also affect the tail. Some hormonal disturbances can manifest in and around tail. Long tails seem more likely to be damaged in accidents and can incur injury. They can be caught in doors and easily traumatized. Pay attention to your cat’s tail. If she is unable to move it, she’s dragging it on the ground, or you notice damage to the skin, be sure to ask your vet. Don’t delay because the tail has many nerve endings and issues with it are very painful.


  • 6

    14 Patterns of Cats’ Tail Movements That Tell You How They Feel

    Via: AnimaLive

Read more: http://cheezburger.com/2936325/5-things-you-should-know-about-your-cats-tail

Katy Perry’s Victorian Dreams Go Up in Flames in ‘Unconditionally’

Katy Perry has found an era that suits her perfectly — Victorian.

The pop star went retro-chic in a visually stunning music video for power ballad “Unconditionally,” the second single from her “Prism” album. There are gowns, snow, pearls, flower petals, an owl, underwater scenes and a bed on fire — so nothing really out of the ordinary for Perry.

The singer recently told MTV that this music video would be a departure from her other videos because it “doesn’t have a complete narrative.”

“I usually have quite a big story line,” she said. “This time I wanted to give a lot of gorgeous, beautiful looks, which I don’t usually go for. But it’s mostly just a beautiful video that is supposed to evoke this power of love.”

Mission accomplished, Katy.

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Image: Tumblr, iheartkatyperry

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Image: Tumblr, iheartkatyperry

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Image: Tumblr, myhouse-myrules-mypleasure

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Image: Tumblr, sttifler04

Perry also released a lyric video for the song in October, featuring models Janell Shirtcliff and Erika Linder.