An ancient forest has thawed from under a melting glacier in Alaska and is now exposed to the world for the first time in more than 1,000 years.
Stumps and logs have been popping out from under southern Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier — a 36.8-square-mile (95.3 square kilometers) river of ice flowing into a lake near Juneau — for nearly the past 50 years. However, just within the past year or so, researchers based at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau have noticed considerably more trees popping up, many in their original upright position and some still bearing roots and even a bit of bark, the Juneau Empire first reported last week.
"There are a lot of them, and being in a growth position is exciting because we can see the outermost part of the tree and count back to see how old the tree was," Cathy Connor, a geology professor at the University of Alaska Southeast who was involved in the investigation, told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet. "Mostly, people find chunks of wood helter-skelter, but to see these intact upright is kind of cool."
The team has tentatively identified the trees as either spruce or hemlock, based on the diameter of the trunks and because these are the types of trees growing in the region today, Connor said, but the researchers still need to further assess the samples to verify the tree type.
A protective tomb of gravel likely encased the trees more than 1,000 years ago, when the glacier was advancing, Connor said, basing the date on radiocarbon ages of the newly revealed wood. As glaciers advance, Connor explained, they often emit summer meltwater streams that spew aprons of gravel beyond the glacier’s edge.
Preparing NASA’s next solar satellite for launch
Orbital Sciences team members move the second half of the payload fairing before it is placed over NASA’s IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit. The work is taking place in a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where IRIS is being prepared for launch on a Pegasus XL rocket.
Scheduled for launch from Vandenberg on June 26, 2013, IRIS will open a new window of discovery by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the chromospheres and transition region into the sun’s corona using spectrometry and imaging. IRIS fills a crucial gap in our ability to advance studies of the sun-to-Earth connection by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through the foundation of the corona and the region around the sun known as the heliosphere.
Image credit: NASA/Tony Vauclin
WHAT IF other planetary bodies orbited our world at the same distance as the moon?
I look up — many people feel small because they’re small and the Universe is big — but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity.
That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant, you want to feel like a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you.
That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…
- Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson [ x ]
Our home planet, making a spectacle of itself. Photographed by a human living and working on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Super Typhoon Bopha
This still image of Super Typhoon Bopha was taken by Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford on Sunday, Dec. 2 from the International Space Station, as the storm bore down on the Philippines with winds of 135 miles per hour. Parts of the orbital outpost are seen in the picture — the Permanent Multipurpose Module on the left, and Mini-Research Module 1 on the right.
Image credit: NASA
Another one of my favourite space images - the ISS high above the Earth, as seen from a Soyuz on the final Space Shuttle Mission. [Edit, I don;t know how I got the two craft mixed up. Must be one of those days.]
In 1960, U.S. Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger flew thirty kilometers straight up into the sky using a pressurized, high-altitude balloon. This very nearly made him the first man in space.
Mr. Kittinger free-fell for over twenty kilometers - at which point he was moving so fast that he broke the sound barrier.
He had all but left the earth’s atmosphere; the sky around him was pitch black; he could see the outlines of entire continents; and the haiku-like abstraction of his available reference points – earth, balloon, space – made it impossible to tell if he was really falling.
Does this sound like fiction? Luckily, there’s a film.