U.K. Tests World’s First High Definition Color Satellite

When student Alex Pietrow photographed Jupiter with a Game Boy, it was just a matter of time until a new satellite came around. Beating NASA to the punch, British companies Earth-i and and Surrey Satellite Tech built a complete and total gem. At only 100 kilograms, the CARBONITE-2 can capture HD images of Earth — in color!

We can collect up to 50 frames per second which is a lot of information,” Richard Blain, CEO of Earth-i [said]… “That allows us to stack the individual images and increase our effective resolution, achieving somewhere around 65 centimeters to 75 centimeters [25 to 29 inches].”

What makes the seemingly perfect machine even more impressive is that it’s just a prototype. Yes, it’s successor will be far more advanced, sending images back in mere minutes.

“The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before including full-color video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and our lives on Earth,” Josef Aschbacher, director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA), said.

Sure, HD satellites may seem trivial, like enjoying a film in 720p instead of the usual 360. But hey, if the world won’t be holding up for much longer, a pretty good selfie wouldn’t hurt.

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Scientists Discover Snow On Mars

Most discoveries are a pleasant surprise. For two Florida students, unearthing vintage NASA suits was a jackpot find. The New Jersey Liberty Hall Museum is proudly boasting a wine older than the United States. But for planetary scientist Aymeric Spiga, discovering snow on Mars was beyond unexpected.

Mars is dry compared to Earth: Its cold nature makes it unlikely that any of the ice on the Red Planet’s surface would melt, and its extremely thin atmosphere would cause any liquid water on the surface to vaporize nearly immediately. Still, Mars’ atmosphere does possess clouds of frozen water.

Snowstorms on Mars are similar to Earthly microbursts, in which dense air zips downward from a cloud. Any snow landing on Mars would be quick to disappear. More often than not, Martian snow turns to vapor before even hitting the surface.

“This is something observed on Earth sometimes, with something called virga — streaks of rain falling from the clouds can vaporize before reaching the surface,”

What, then, does this phenomenon mean for how we depict Mars? Besides the fact that the little red planet continues to surprise us, its atmosphere is more dynamic than we thought. With a constant slew of new findings making an appearance, it seems we may get to know Mars on a more personal level.

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Earth-like Planet Is Only 11 Lightyears Away

Since the discovery of four Earth-sized planets along Tau Ceti, Mars-like community simulations are being set in motion. While space studies are progressing, new intergalactic breakthroughs may be calling for NASA to pick up the pace. The planet may not look much like Earth, but it appears to be the most potentially habitable — and it’s only 11 lightyears away.

“Those flares can sterilize the atmosphere of the planet,” said Xavier Bonfils of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France… “Ross 128 is one of the quietest stars of the neighborhood.”

The planet’s mother star, Ross 128, is significantly calmer than most others, and minimally eruptive. Though astronomers have only managed to observe the planet with a telescope, the facts don’t lie. The planet is warm enough to sustain liquid water, and has since stabilized in its billions of years of existence.

The star may have been more turbulent in its youth. But even if solar flares billions of years ago stripped away the planet’s atmosphere, it could have been replenished by gases emanating from the planet’s interior.

Whatever the case, I’m glad to know that if our own planet bites the dust, there are others to hold future generations.

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Carbon Calculator Helps Reduce Harmful Footprints

The rise of eco-friendly household devices is allowing people to become less wasteful within the comfort of their home. You can host a guilt-free barbecue with a biodegradable grill. You can even sustain a high-tech home garden. Some of our actions, however, aren’t always considerate towards the environment. This carbon calculator by Conservation International allows you to adjust every aspect of your lifestyle for the benefit of the planet.

Using [the device], you can calculate your carbon footprint based on a number of personal behaviors and find how much or how little carbon you are producing – and how you make that number smaller and, therefore, better for the planet.

Don’t let the extent of climate change fool you — our individual contributions are capable of making a difference. In fact, the carbon calculator suggests that simply reducing the consumption of animal-based products can be highly impactful. It works using a simple mechanism.

Once you calculate your carbon footprint and find your offset option, the tool also gives you a comparison of your footprint to the averages by country and quick tips on how to decrease the number, for example, related to your fuel economy, clothing choices, and thermostat settings.

Nowadays, it seems we are more equipped to maintain our planet than ever. We are tackling challenges head-on, one app at a time.

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Floating Islands To Sustain Rising Sea Levels

According to recent studies, by 2100, parts of Asia may be too hot to live in. With climate change a harsh truth, we’re doing everything we can to reverse it. We’re planting a record-breaking number of trees and even manufacturing food from energy. But others are preparing for the reality that a potential apocalypse is soon to come. In fact, a team at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands has built prototypes for floating islands to sustain rising sea levels.

“As sea levels rise, raising dikes and reclaiming land are perhaps no longer an effective solution. An innovative alternative that fits with the Dutch maritime tradition is floating ports and cities.”

The flexible island can generate and store sustainable energy, cultivate food, and support houses. So far, it has been tested to withstand varying types of weather and succeeded.

The next set of technical challenges the Marin team faces includes working out how islands will be able to withstand winds and currents, how they can best be interconnected and anchored, and the effect of wave motion on those living on it.

Seeing that 70% of the planet’s surface area is water, floating islands make a lot of sense. With the impending rise of Earth’s heat index, perhaps it’s time to get over our sea sickness and jump aboard.

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