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Glowing Clouds Light Antarctic Sky

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by Txchnologist staff

An annual atmospheric phenomenon called noctilucent clouds returned in late November 2013 to settle over the South Pole.

The clouds, which glow an electric blue, are the highest on Earth. They typically form 52 miles above the planet at the edge of space, according to NASA. The agency is using a satellite called AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) to study the formations, which are the result of sunlight hitting the ice crystals that make up the clouds. They usually appear from November to February, during the Antarctic summer, and shift to the Arctic from May to August.

Watch the NASA video to find out more about noctilucent clouds and how climate change is increasing their range.

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Astronomers Find Clouds On Distant World

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by Txchnologist staff

University of Chicago astronomers have logged a record amount of time peering through the Hubble Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of a distant world. They’ve detected clear evidence of exotic clouds that may be composed of compounds like zinc sulfide or potassium chloride.

The planet, a super-Earth class world bigger than ours but smaller than Neptune, is called GJ 1214b and is a relatively close 40 light years from Earth. It is very close to its parent star, said astrophysics doctoral student Laura Kreidberg, and makes a full revolution in 38 hours. This proximity means that GJ 1214b might be as hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Kreidberg has more:

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Vapor Manipulations

by Michael Keller

In the 1940s, GE and government researchers were trying to figure out how to weaken the destructive power of hurricanes. Part of that work involved building an understanding of how ice crystals form in clouds. These animations come from a 1947 film showing scientists making snow in a lab freezer.

GE scientists including Nobel Prize winner Irving Langmuir, Vincent Schaefer and Bernard Vonnegut studied the science of snow. Their experiments with weather control provided Bernard’s brother, Kurt, the inspiration to write Cat’s Cradle.

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by Michael Keller

There are a number of references that might come to mind when looking at these gifs: Starry Night, a shaken snow globe, the atmosphere of another planet or, perhaps for those of a certain age, Biz Markie’s Vapors.

While these are all fine images to conjure up, the animations here all come from a film made around 1947 to show how scientists make snow in a lab. It was part of research called Project Cirrus that was undertaken by GE and the U.S. government to see if people could weaken the destructive power of hurricanes. Though the project failed, weather researchers learned much about tropical cyclones.

Click on the gifs for a brief description or watch the full video posted by the Museum of Innovation and Science.

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