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Apparently there is a Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda California. Here is their first post, fossil-loaded

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Comet Lovejoy from the International Space Station

Astronaut Dan Burbank captured Comet Lovejoy from the International Space Station on December 21, 2011. Despite setting his Nikon D3S to an ISO of 12800, he still needed a steady hand for this 0.8-second exposure through an f/2.8 lens. The greenish ribbon, above the blue twilight band hugging Earth’s limb, is airglow from oxygen atoms about 60 miles (100 km) up.
    Credit: NASA / D. Burbank

A pair of CubeSats, with the Earth’s limb in the background, moments after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside of the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module on Wednesday, May 16, 2017. The tiny shoebox-sized satellites will orbit Earth observing the Earth’s upper atmosphere and interstellar radiation left over from the Big Bang. Over a dozen CubeSats were ejected into Earth orbit this week outside the Kibo module to study Earth and space phenomena for the next one to two years. 

Image Credit: NASA

CubeSats

Time And Space

Rain is a Good Thing

“Shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything!”
“Don’t care. Shut up.”

A fun dialogue prompt for Jacob. And, honestly, who else would he have this conversation with but Bowman Leafwing?


Jacob pursed his lips in an effort to school his expression. He’d definitely heard the sound of Bowman’s landing, though he hadn’t expected it at all. He tread carefully on grassy patches and whatever stones he could find until he could catch up, and then he squatted down so he could see.

Bowman sat up and lifted his arms and wings out of the mud he’d careened right into. Globs of soaked earth dropped from the limbs with tiny plops and Jacob bit determinedly on his lower lip. It wouldn’t do any good to laugh now.

Even covered head to toe in mud, it was very easy to tell when Bowman was about to boil over.

Wild, dark green hair matted down to his head and Bowman’s eyes shone especially bright in contrast with the mud dripping onto his face. Jacob could hardly even see his lower half stuck in the mud puddle.

Bowman whipped his gaze upward. “Shut up!”

“I didn’t say anything!” Jacob insisted, his voice shaking with laughter he refused to let out.

“Don’t care. Shut up.” Bowman’s word was final, though even Jacob could pinpoint the embarrassment in his voice.

“What even happened?” Jacob asked, his voice gentler than before. He hesitated to pick Bowman up and help him out of the mud until he got permission. With the tiny sprite’s pride, one couldn’t be too careful.

Bowman grumbled to himself and tried to brush more globs of mud off his arms. His wings were coated and heavy with the stuff. “Flew through a spiderweb,” he mumbled.

Jacob’s eyebrows shot up and he was caught somewhere between amused and concerned. “You’re not gonna get bit, are you? Got any passengers?”

Bowman shook his head and some drops of muddy water flew away from his hair. “I don’t think the spider was in the center. She’s probably upset that I took her net down, though.”

Jacob sighed and a low, quiet roll of thunder rumbled overhead. As if claiming its own innocence in the whole ordeal. The rain pattered lightly against the canopy above, but only a few drops here and there fell on him so far. Bowman had happened to land in the path of the small storm’s runoff.

“How about I get you to the stream?” Jacob offered, holding out a hand towards his small friend. The fall had been amusing, but poor Bowman’s wings were drooping and it was kind of pathetic.

Bowman shot him another glare. “Fine. But not a word to anyone else, do you hear me?”

Jacob shook his head. “Not a single one. Promise.”

Bowman nodded sharply in approval, and then leaned towards Jacob’s hand. His own tiny hands left smears of mud on Jacob’s fingers as he scrambled for purchase, and when he finally managed it he had to tug himself out of the mud as it tried to keep him. As soon as he could, Jacob curled his fingers up under Bowman’s middle to help tug his legs free.

Bowman crawled to Jacob’s palm, wings dragging and his clothes sopping wet.

“What would you do without me?” Jacob asked, lifting Bowman up and nudging him with his thumb. Bowman swatted at it and glared, so he was probably alright.

“I’d die of shame,” the sprite answered ruefully. “Just get me to the stream before I decide to throw mud in your hair.”

A pair of CubeSats, with the Earth’s limb in the background, moments after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside of the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module on Wednesday, May 16, 2017. The tiny shoebox-sized satellites will orbit Earth observing the Earth’s upper atmosphere and interstellar radiation left over from the Big Bang. Over a dozen CubeSats were ejected into Earth orbit this week outside the Kibo module to study Earth and space phenomena for the next one to two years.

@birthdaycakesandbattlestations: *Pushes that smooth Peridot picture towards chellodello, and has shiny, starry eye’s*

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE.

Peridot has never felt comfortable in her proverbial skin; never quite felt okay with the form that her gem projected, the form that all peridots shared. Getting limb enhancers had changed that and made her feel, well, big. They made her feel like her physical form matched the limitless possibilities that her mind had.

Naturally losing them had been devastating. But she was nothing if not capable and she does her best to make up for their lost. As it turns out she was just as impressive with or without her limb enhancers; she could engineer a geo-transactional drill with the best of them.

But being small was inconvenient at best and mortifying at worst. Especially when you’re entirely too aware that the gem you might, maybe, possibly, sort-of, wanted to ‘make out with’, Amethyst’s terms not hers, often had to hand you the box of cereal from the top of the fridge because you can’t reach.

It didn’t help that Pearl was so- statuesque, elegant, altitudinous -tall. And it certainly didn’t help knowing that Pearl seemed to prefer gems that were larger than herself. In fact it made her, again according to Amethyst who was her touch point for earth terminology, incredibly ‘salty’ about the whole affair. Peridot isn’t young by gem standards, isn’t even that small by gem standards, but on earth she feel like a child.

Which makes it all the more satisfying when she gets her limb enhancers back. The first thing Peridot does once they’re fastened to her extremities is make her own bowl of cereal on her own. The second is find Pearl.

The once servant gem is in the barn muttering to herself and tinkering away on a troubling circuit board when Peridot tracks her down.

“Hey!”

When Pearl turns around her first glance is about a foot too low to catch her gaze. Her second glance has her taking a step back in surprise sending her flush against the barn wall, her final glance has her meeting Peridot’s smug expression with a surprised look of of her own.

Peridot doesn’t really make a conscious decision to invade Pearl’s personal space and lean a robotic arm near her head, but she definitely doesn’t mind it now that she’s there. She really likes the fact that Pearl and her are at eye level, likes that her cheeks are blooming with blue, likes the foot that she props between her legs.

“How on earth-? Your limb-enhancers, you’re-” Pearl is visibly flustered by her height, looking her up and down several times to take it all in. Peridot briefly remembers how in most human sitcoms people that wind up in this kind of physical proximity usually end up doing that ‘making out’ thing. Not that she has any real knowledge on initiating that.

“Why yes Pearl, I have gotten taller. How correct of you to notice.”

Then again, Peridot has always been one for setting the learning curve.

Kissing is…odd, just a press of lips against lips, she’s not entirely sure why humans did it so much. But it’s kinda nice, tolerable. Being with Pearl on a level playing field is nice at least. Not being looked at like a human child is the nicest thing of all. Stars, she really missed being tall.

Peridot is riding so high on the confidence that her limb-enhancers provide her with that she never notices the long fingers that suddenly grip at her shoulders until they they are twisting her around and pushing her against the wall.

It’s Peridot’s turn to blush blue when Pearl smugly retorts, “Well, you know how I love to be correct.” and nudges a bony knee between her legs and nudges her mouth open with her lips and tongue and-

Oh.

This was definitely more than tolerable.

Even if she still ends up looking up to Pearl.

Earthrise : Whats that rising over the edge of the Moon? Earth. About 47 years ago, in December of 1968, the Apollo 8 crew flew from the Earth to the Moon and back again. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were launched atop a Saturn V rocket on December 21, circled the Moon ten times in their command module, and returned to Earth on December 27. The Apollo 8 missions impressive list of firsts includes: the first humans to journey to the Earths Moon, the first to fly using the Saturn V rocket, and the first to photograph the Earth from deep space. As the Apollo 8 command module rounded the farside of the Moon, the crew could look toward the lunar horizon and see the Earth appear to rise, due to their spacecrafts orbital motion. Their famous picture of a distant blue Earth above the Moons limb was a marvelous gift to the world. via NASA

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Forty-fifth anniversary of ‘Earthrise’ image

Forty-five years ago, in December of 1968, the Apollo 8 crew flew from the Earth to the Moon and back again. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were launched atop a Saturn V rocket on Dec. 21, circled the Moon ten times in their command module, and returned to Earth on Dec. 27. The Apollo 8 mission’s impressive list of firsts includes: the first humans to journey to the Earth’s Moon, the first to fly using the Saturn V rocket, and the first to photograph the Earth from deep space. As the Apollo 8 command module rounded the far side of the Moon on Dec. 24, the crew could look toward the lunar horizon and see the Earth appear to rise, due to their spacecraft’s orbital motion. Their famous picture of a distant blue Earth above the Moon’s limb was a marvelous gift to the world.

Image credit: NASA

Limbless life

This is not a snake, but a legless lizard. This particular specimen (Lialis burtonis) belongs to one of several groups that have either absent or reduced limbs: to the point of being non-functional in everyday locomotion. They are distinguishable from snakes by their possession of eyelids, external ear openings, lack of broad scales on the belly, and lack of forked tongue.

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