science tech space natural_resources mining alternative_energy robots spacecraft satellites moon earth rare_earth_elements
Mine The Moon For Valuable Resources?

by Michael Keller

We heard yesterday from analysts who are wringing their hands over a coming mineral supply problem. A family of metals called rare earth elements and several others are critical for the machines that power the fledgling green economy. From the neodymium needed for the magnets in wind turbines and electric motors to the lithium at the heart of rechargeable batteries, geopolitical factors and a lack of recycling could combine to mean supplies don’t meet demand in the years to come.

But some scientists, engineers and others say they have a solution that’s out of this world. Their idea? Mine the moon.

Bernard Foing, who led Europe’s first mission to the moon and is now head of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, says the idea is tantalizing because the moon’s composition is very similar to Earth’s. Because some places always receive sunlight, he says, a program could land a purely solar-powered mission there. “One day, we are going to have a fleet of satellites in orbit around the moon and also rovers on the surface that can mine it,” he says.

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Trance Of Wind

These mesmerizing, swirling patterns—reminiscent of those seen in Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night—are visualizations of wind across several regions of Earth.

They come from a project called “earth” by Cameron Beccario, which depicts near-real-time global weather conditions processed by supercomputers and updated every three hours. The wind patterns above happened early last week and are created from U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. 

The top three gifs visualize wind conditions near the surface of the Earth. The bottom gif, with its brighter colors and more energetic wind movements, are visualizations of the jet stream about 6.5 miles above the planet’s surface.

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Saturn As A Jewel And The Earth As A Tiny Dot 

by Txchnologist staff

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been taking some amazing pictures of Saturn ever since it arrived at the gas giant in 2004. Here are two of the most recent, which are mind-blowing for their beauty but also for what they represent. 

The top picture was taken on July 19, 2013, when Saturn blocked the sun’s rays. The craft recorded the planet and its inner rings, seven of its moons and a little tiny dot in the lower right that is planet Earth. The image is actually a mosaic of 141 pictures taken by Cassini’s wide-angle camera. Click here to see the natural color image in full size

Cassini flew up above Saturn and looked back down to capture the lower image on Oct. 10, 2013. The picture is natural color, which means this is what Saturn would look like if you were passing by on a cruise of the outer solar system. At the planet’s north pole, you can see the standing weather pattern known as the Hexagon, which we have written about previously.  Click here to see the image in all its glory (hint: it’s worth it).

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Our Eyes In The Sky For Four Decades

by Txchnologist staff

Since 1972, NASA’s Landsat program, or Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) as it was originally called, has been beaming essential (and sometimes beautiful) overhead data about our planet.

While many are familiar with Landsat pictures, today we’re reversing the view to bring you photographs of the first satellite in the Earth observation program.

These pictures show the original Landsat-1, or ERTS-1, as well as the first piece of information ever received from the satellite. Click through the photoset to learn more about a NASA program which, to date, has completed more than 200,000 orbits and three million images of the Earth.

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