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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Strange Layer of Venus Surprisingly Cold

enus may be closer to the sun than Earth, but its typically hellish atmosphere has a surprisingly cold layer that's chillier than any part of our own planet's atmosphere, a new study reveals.

This region may be cool enough for carbon dioxide snow or ice to form, according to new observations from Europe's Venus Express satellite. This is surprising for a planet with normally oven-hot temperatures, scientists say.

"The finding is very new and we still need to think about and understand what the implications will be," Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express project scientist at the European Space Agency, said in a statement today (Oct. 1).

Scientists discovered the cold layer by measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide gas molecules at various altitudes along the dividing line between day and night on Venus (called the terminator). Combing these data with the known atmospheric pressure at each height, the researchers were able to derive the temperatures of various layers of the planet's atmosphere.



Weather On Mars Surprisingly Warm, Curiosity Rover Finds

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is enjoying some nice, warm weather on the Red Planet — and spring hasn't even come to its landing site yet.

Curiosity's onboard weather station, which is called the Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS), has measured air temperatures as high as 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon. And temperatures have climbed above freezing during more than half of the Martian days, or sols, since REMS was turned on, scientists said.

These measurements are a bit unexpected, since it's still late winter at Gale Crater, the spot 4.5 degrees south of the Martian equator where Curiosity touched down on Aug. 5.

"That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," Felipe Gómez, of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, said in a statement.



Obama to establish Cesar Chavez National Monument in California

Source: LA Times

LAS VEGAS -- President Obama next week will mark the creation of a new national monument at the home and grave site of civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Obama is slated to travel to Keene in California's San Joaquin Valley on Oct. 8 to formally establish the new monument at the property known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, or Our Lady Queen of Peace.

The site includes several structures linked to the United Farm Workers leader, including the mission-style building where he held meetings and worked to organize farm laborers. Chavez also lived at the La Paz complex from the early 1970s until he died and was buried there in 1993.

The monument has been a project long in the works, but the White House announced the president’s plans on Monday, as Obama was in Las Vegas preparing for a debate Wednesday with Republican Mitt Romney. The president on Sunday rallied supporters in a Latino neighborhood of the city where his campaign is trying to boost turnout and enthusiasm.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-cesar-chavez-national-monument-20121001,0,533529.story

Just good politics. And justified.

Big rig slams into Amtrak train in Central Valley

Source: SF Gate

(10-01) 14:49 PDT Hanford -- At least 20 people were injured Monday when a big-rig truck slammed into the side of an Amtrak train on a rural Kings County roadway rail crossing, authorities said.

No serious injuries were reported in the wreck just south of Hanford, authorities said. The train, which left from Oakland and was bound for Bakersfield, was carrying 169 passengers.

It is unclear why the big-rig driver crashed into the train near the intersection of 10th and Kansas at 12:15 p.m. The intersection is marked with gates, gongs and flashing lights.

The truck is lying on its side across the railroad tracks and three of the five railroad cars have jumped off the tracks, authorities said.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Big-rig-slams-into-Amtrak-train-in-Central-Valley-3910064.php

Duke Energy Says Crystal River Nuclear Repair Could Exceed $3 Billion

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Returning the damaged Crystal River nuclear unit in Florida to service could cost $3 billion and take eight years, according to an independent review of repair options commissioned by Duke Energy as it pursued a merger with Progress Energy earlier this year, the utility said in a filing Monday.

The three-year shutdown of the 838-megawatt Crystal River reactor became an issue in the weeks before the merger was completed in July and played a role in the surprise ouster of Bill Johnson, the Progress executive who had been slated to lead the merged companies, executives and board members have said.

Progress Energy Florida supplied the Crystal River report prepared by Zapata to Florida regulators Monday, said incoming utility president Alex Glenn, adding that no decision has been made whether to fix Crystal River or to retire the unit.

Progress said the review found that a repair plan developed by Progress "appears to be technically feasible, but significant risks and technical issues" remain unresolved.


Barry Commoner dies: Scientist, Candidate and Planet Earth’s Lifeguard

Source: NYT

Published: October 1, 2012 43 Comments

Barry Commoner, a founder of modern ecology and one of its most provocative thinkers and mobilizers, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 95 and lived in Brooklyn Heights.

His wife, Lisa Feiner, confirmed his death.

Dr. Commoner was a leader among a generation of scientist-activists who recognized the toxic consequences of America’s post-World War II technology boom, and one of the first to stir the national debate over the public’s right to comprehend the risks and make decisions about them.

Raised in Brooklyn during the Depression and trained as a biologist at Columbia and Harvard, he came armed with a combination of scientific expertise and leftist zeal. His work on the global effects of radioactive fallout, which included documenting concentrations of strontium 90 in the baby teeth of thousands of children, contributed materially to the adoption of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/us/barry-commoner-dies-at-95.html?hp

Monday Toon Roundup 3-The Rest








Monday Toon Roundup 2- The Bomb

Monday Toon Roundup 1- The Stench

Latest Titan Flyby Images


On September 26-27 Cassini executed its latest flyby of Titan, T-86, coming within 594 miles (956 km) of the cloud-covered moon in order to measure the effects of the Sun’s energy on its dense atmosphere and determine its variations at different altitudes.

The image above was captured as Cassini approached Titan from its night side, traveling about 13,000 mph (5.9 km/s). It’s a color-composite made from three separate raw images acquired in red, green and blue visible light filters.
Titan’s upper-level hydrocarbon haze is easily visible as a blue-green “shell” above its orange-colored clouds.

Cassini captured this image as it approached Titan’s sunlit limb, grabbing a better view of the upper haze. Some banding can be seen in its highest reaches.
The haze is the result of UV light from the Sun breaking down nitrogen and methane in Titan’s atmosphere, forming hydrocarbons that rise up and collect at altitudes of 300-400 kilometers. The sea-green coloration is a denser photochemical layer that extends upwards from about 200 km altitude.

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/97654/pictures-from-t-86-cassinis-latest-flyby-of-titan/#ixzz280KayJwL

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