October 18, 2018

"Ships outfitted with sensors could provide the very information they need to travel more effectively."

arctic today: Each ship would collect information on oceans, atmosphere, ecosystems, pollutants and more. As the ships traverse the ocean, they would help improve existing maps and information about the waters they tread. By Melody Schreiber

'Maps are becoming more important as shipping activity increases — both around the world and in the Arctic. In August, the Russian research ship Akademik Ioffe ran aground in Canada’s Arctic. In 2015, the Finnish icebreaker Fennica ripped a three-foot gash in its hull — while sailing within the relatively better charted waters of Alaska’s Dutch Harbor.

'“The traditional way that we have supplied these ships with information — with nautical charts and predicted tides and tide tables, and weather over radio facts — are not anywhere near close to being what’s necessary,” said Rear Admiral Shep Smith, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.

'The “next generation of services” would go much further, predicting the water level, salinity, and other information with more precision and detail.'

"The Pando aspen grove, located in central Utah, is the largest organism on the planet by weight."

Science: From the surface, it may look like a forest that spans more than 100 U.S. football fields, but each tree shares the exact same DNA and is connected to its clonal brethren through an elaborate underground root system. By David Shultz

'Although not quite as large in terms of area as the massive Armillaria gallica fungus in Michigan, Pando is much heavier, weighing in at more than 6 million kilograms. Now, researchers say, the grove is in danger, being slowly eaten away by mule deer and other herbivores—and putting the fate of its ecosystem in jeopardy.

'“This is a really unusual habitat type,” says Luke Painter, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis who was not involved with the research. “A lot of animals depend on it.”

'Aspen forests such as the Pando grove and many others reproduce in two ways. The first is the familiar system in which mature trees drop seeds that grow into new trees. But more commonly, aspen and some other tree species reproduce by sending out sprouts from their roots, which grow up through the soil into entire new trees. The exact amount of time it took the Pando grove to reach its modern extent is unknown, says Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University in Logan. “However, it’s very likely that it’s centuries old, and it’s just as likely that it’s millennia old.”'

"Everyone's getting in on the eerie Halloween mood these days, even the ice in Antarctica."

usa today: Using special instruments, scientists have discovered weird sounds at the bottom of the world. The noise is actually vibrating ice, caused by the wind blowing across snow dunes, according to a new study. by Doyle Rice

'“It's kind of like you're blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf,” study lead author Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at Colorado State University, said in a statement.

'Another scientist, glaciologist Douglas MacAyeal of the University of Chicago, likened the sounds to the buzz of thousands of cicadas. The sounds are too low in frequency to be heard by human ears unless sped up by the monitoring equipment.

'The original reason for the study was not to record sounds down there but to research what's happening to the continent's ice shelves: In 2014, scientists buried 34 seismic sensors under the snow on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in order to monitor its structure and movement.'

"One second NASA astronaut Nick Hague was on his way to space for the first time, the next he was being violently jostled side-to-side as the Soyuz crew capsule he shared with Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin abruptly separated from the rocket booster beneath and shot to the side."

cnet: The dramatic procedure took place automatically as safety systems detected an anomaly with the Russian rocket, triggering the midascent, sideways escape maneuver to clear the crew of the failing booster. BY ERIC MACK

'In his first interviews since surviving the largely uncontrolled "ballistic descent" back to Earth that followed, Hague told reporters on Tuesday that the launch felt normal for the first two minutes but that it became clear "something was wrong pretty quick."

'"Your training really takes over," Hague said, adding that he and Ovchinin had practiced what to do in case of just such a launch-abort scenario.

'Hague also credited years of flight training, going back to his days as a US Air Force pilot.'

"In Chengdu, there is reportedly an ambitious plan afoot for replacing the city’s streetlights: boosting the glow of the real moon with that of a more powerful fake one."

guardian: The south-western Chinese city plans to launch an illumination satellite in 2020. According to an account in the People’s Daily, the artificial moon is “designed to complement the moon at night”, though it would be eight times as bright. by Elle Hunt

'The “dusk-like glow” of the satellite would be able to light an area with a diameter of 10-80km, while the precise illumination range could be controlled within tens of metres – enabling it to replace streetlights.

'The vision was shared by Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of the private space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (Casc), at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held in Chengdu last week.'