geological-time

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Our Dawn mission to the asteroid belt is no ordinary deep space expedition. 

Instead of traditional chemical rockets, the spacecraft uses sophisticated ion engines for propulsion. This enabled Dawn to become the first mission to orbit not one, but two different worlds — first the giant asteroid Vesta and now the dwarf planet Ceres. Vesta and Ceres formed early in the solar system’s history, and by studying them, the mission is helping scientists go back in time to the dawn of the planets. To mark a decade since Dawn was launched on Sept. 27, 2007, here are 10 things to know about this trailblazing mission.

1. Ion Engines: Not Just for Sci-Fi Anymore

Most rocket engines use chemical reactions for propulsion, which tend to be powerful but short-lived. Dawn’s futuristic, hyper-efficient ion propulsion system works by using electricity to accelerate ions (charged particles) from xenon fuel to a speed seven to 10 times that of chemical engines. Ion engines accelerate the spacecraft slowly, but they’re very thrifty with fuel, using just milligrams of xenon per second (about 10 ounces over 24 hours) at maximum thrust. Without its ion engines, Dawn could not have carried enough fuel to go into orbit around two different solar system bodies. Try your hand at an interactive ion engine simulation.

2. Time Capsules 

Scientists have long wanted to study Vesta and Ceres up close. Vesta is a large, complex and intriguing asteroid. Ceres is the largest object in the entire asteroid belt, and was once considered a planet in its own right after it was discovered in 1801. Vesta and Ceres have significant differences, but both are thought to have formed very early in the history of the solar system, harboring clues about how planets are constructed. Learn more about Ceres and Vesta—including why we have pieces of Vesta here on Earth.

3. Portrait of a Dwarf Planet

This view of Ceres built from Dawn photos is centered on Occator Crater, home of the famous “bright spots.” The image resolution is about 460 feet (140 meters) per pixel.

Take a closer look.

4. What’s in a Name? 

Craters on Ceres are named for agricultural deities from all over the world, and other features carry the names of agricultural festivals. Ceres itself was named after the Roman goddess of corn and harvests (that’s also where the word “cereal” comes from). The International Astronomical Union recently approved 25 new Ceres feature names tied to the theme of agricultural deities. Jumi, for example, is the Latvian god of fertility of the field. Study the full-size map.

5. Landslides or Ice Slides? 

Thanks to Dawn, evidence is mounting that Ceres hides a significant amount of water ice. A recent study adds to this picture, showing how ice may have shaped the variety of landslides seen on Ceres today.

6. The Lonely Mountain 

Ahuna Mons, a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain, puzzled Ceres explorers when they first found it. It rises all alone above the surrounding plains. Now scientists think it is likely a cryovolcano — one that erupts a liquid made of volatiles such as water, instead of rock. “This is the only known example of a cryovolcano that potentially formed from a salty mud mix, and that formed in the geologically recent past,” one researcher said. Learn more.

7. Shining a Light on the Bright Spots 

The brightest area on Ceres, located in the mysterious Occator Crater, has the highest concentration of carbonate minerals ever seen outside Earth, according to studies from Dawn scientists. Occator is 57 miles (92 kilometers) wide, with a central pit about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. The dominant mineral of this bright area is sodium carbonate, a kind of salt found on Earth in hydrothermal environments. This material appears to have come from inside Ceres, and this upwelling suggests that temperatures inside Ceres are warmer than previously believed. Even more intriguingly, the results suggest that liquid water may have existed beneath the surface of Ceres in recent geological time. The salts could be remnants of an ocean, or localized bodies of water, that reached the surface and then froze millions of years ago. See more details.

8. Captain’s Log 

Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, Marc Rayman, provides regular dispatches about Dawn’s work in the asteroid belt. Catch the latest updates here.

9. Eyes on Dawn 

Another cool way to retrace Dawn’s decade-long flight is to download NASA’s free Eyes on the Solar System app, which uses real data to let you go to any point in the solar system, or ride along with any spacecraft, at any point in time—all in 3-D.

10. No Stamp Required

Send a postcard from one of these three sets of images that tell the story of dwarf planet Ceres, protoplanet Vesta, and the Dawn mission overall.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

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yuribeletsky Airglow ocean. Majestic view at the colors of the night above Pacific ocean and Atacama desert in Chile. Have a look at this timelapse video. I captured it at Carnegie Las Campamas observatory. The red airglow waves totally dominated the night sky and you can see how they change over the period of few hours. It’s quite remarkable ! Have you seen anything like that ? I hope you’ll enjoy the view ! Music by © Czarek Zieliński. 

anonymous asked:

Why do so many resources say that mammals are the dominate animals? Is there anyway bird superiority more prominent ?

This phrase is fairly difficult to define because, realistically, the dominant phylum is, and has been basically forever, the arthropods. With estimates of 1 to 10 million species and population numbers that are just staggering to think about, quantitatively they are the winners by several thousand landslides made up of primarily beetles.

But I digress. When we say the Cenozoic is the “Age of Mammals” or the Devonian is the “Age of Fishes”, it’s used more in terms of which clades exploded after the previous mass extinction (or, in earlier periods, diversified with massive geologic or climatic shifts) and took over a majority of the available ecological niches during that era/period/etc.

For example, after the Late Permian decided it preferred the Earth empty and told everyone to get rekt, the way was paved for the ancestors of dinosaurs to diversify and take over - hence the Mesozoic being known as the “Age of the Reptiles”. The same thing then happened with the K-Pg extinction event (with the exception being that the Cretaceous was generally less dramatic about the whole affair), opening up those niches for the mammals to expand into and diversify through the Cenozoic. 

To go off track for a hot second, it’s a very interesting cycle of extinction-diversification that happens repeatedly. The species that are most susceptible to extinction are those that are too specialized to adapt to change (looking directly at you, Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Conversely, those that are most able to survive and then take advantage of a sudden availability of niches following an extinction event are those that are generalists (in terms of range, habitat, feeding, and the like). Various populations of these generalists will then adapt into new species as they diverge from other populations in different niches, which eventually leads to each having a very specialized lifestyle as they evolve to further take advantage of the niche. This then puts them firmly in the category of “too specialized to adapt to change” and they are now susceptible to the next major shift. SUPER COOL, RIGHT???

Anyway, to get back on track, claiming any one class/phylum/order/species (Anthropocene, anyone?) of species is “dominant” during a period of geologic time is reductive, biased, and does paleontology as a whole a disservice. There are so many interesting clades that are left out when people assume the whole world at the time was populated by one small set of species (where are my extinct Ordovician hexacorallian fans at, amirite). We could just as easily call the Mesozoic the Age of Ammonites, or the Age of Conifers, and be just as accurate. 

The Essays that got me into Berkeley: Part 1

PROMPT: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
Sitting on my desk in front of me are seven battered Moleskine softcover sketchbooks, each one representing six months of my life in collage, graphs, personal anecdotes, ticket stubs, and thousands of sketches representing thousands of reality-tv obsessions, seasonal decorations, and countless profiles of strangers that I’ve seen in cafes and on trains in the last three years. Not only can I trace my artistic development since my freshmen year, these notebooks also serve as a personal roadmap, tracing the backstory of one [my full name]. Take, for example, sketchbook #7. There is a sticker for a coffee shop in Spokane, Washington affixed to the front and a map of Tahiti’s main island taped to the back. This journal starts in the June before Senior year, continuing on until this very moment. That particular summer was especially tumultuous, with a then undiagnosed mental illness coloring my artwork in chaotic shades of panic, my writing dripping with despair that stumbled into unbridled rage that freefell into hopelessness, leaving me shattered at the bottom of a dismal pit. Really, cheery stuff. But as green watercolor blobs accompanied by white charcoal capsules cut with element number three waltz out of their clear orange bottles and across this depiction of my subconscious, hope emerges. On a slightly less bleak note, #2 contains some portrayal of Jared Padalecki, my favorite actor when I was fifteen, for every day of the year. I was utterly obsessed, given over losing myself in a pop culture oblivion. #4 has more than its fair share of raunchy fanfiction involving Oscar Wilde and Robert Baldwin Ross. My favorite part of #6 is a massive two-page spread that traces the entirety of geological time from the Early Cambrian to the Holocene. Each one is a quantifiable reflection of the hundreds of different people that I have been in the last four years.

Rough timespan of the history of Sornieth

Subject to alteration because when have I ever been consistent with lore. Mostly for my own reference, but hey, feel free to use this if you’re also having trouble with timespans. Might edit it or even make a chart later because the way I’ve kept track of the years is nonintuitive.

My math is awful and big numbers make my eyes swim, so there might be some discrepancies.

Pre-First Age + Notes

- Universe is 9 billion years (Ga) old when Sornieth begins to form.
- Sornieth is 4705 million years (Ma) old.

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It’s time for Trilobite Tuesday! Back in the Paleozoic seas, trilobites more often than not found themselves as the preeminent life form within their chosen marine ecosystem. Especially during the initial stages of their lengthy run through geologic time, certain trilobite species, such as this 10-inch Isotelus latus from the Ordovician of Ontario, were frequently the biggest, baddest bullies on the tidal bay block. Oh sure, the occasional menacingly meandering jawed fish or giant sea scorpion could put just about any trilobite in its place within the Paleozoic pecking order. But for a hefty segment of their quarter-billion year passage through deep time, trilobites generally ruled over their aquatic domain.

the slow pace of geologic time

Title: the slow pace of geologic time
Author: westernredcedar
Rating: Teen and Up Audiences
Warnings: None Apply. Aftermath of Bad Coming Out. Unsupportive Parents.
Completed: Yes
Word count: 4258
SummaryJack looks at her and then puts her luggage down and leans in, grabs her into a full-body hug, right there on the sidewalk, holding her so close. She can’t remember when he last hugged her this hard. “He told his parents. About being gay. About us,” he says into her shoulder. “They were awful.”

Most memorable line: “Eric, hearing you say that is my favorite thing in the entire world.”

vimeo

This is rather neat - in 2015 a couple submarine volcanoes popped out of the ocean to create new volcanic islands. This explorer traveled to one of them for 11 days and was able to videotape the early evolution of this volcanic landscape and capture the beginnings of occupation of the island by plant and animal life.

If you want to come out as nonbinary and you think it’ll take a “long time” for you to do it, that’s completely fine.

A “long time” is very subjective. In the life of a fly, most of what you do takes a lot of time. In geological terms, your entire existence could be less than a blink of an eye.

Come out when, or if, you’re ready. Your time is the only time that matters.

Reach Up, Grab the Chain

Written for @chargetransfer, who asked for Foggy watching Matt at the gym.

Donate to the ACLU and get fic!


There was a smell at Fogwell’s that rubbed damply against the inside of the windows and lolled out of open doors like a tongue. Inside, the air had a sort of texture, like all the exhales made by all the fighters like Matt–grunts of exertion, cries of victory, sighs of defeat–never quite dissipated, but hung thickly around in the rafters.  

Foggy had a lever-arch binder open on his lap, a pen in one hand, and an empty paper coffee cup balanced on the face-down pages. He was before a judge in a measly three days, and his trial strategy amounted to little more than pointing at the rich douchebag suing their client, his former housecleaner, and saying, “asshole say what?” So while Matt hit the heavy-bag, Foggy did some legal heavy-lifting.

Foggy had a weird relationship with Matt’s gym time. On the one hand, it took him away from the office and made their respective workloads ever more imbalanced. There were days Foggy didn’t even go to the bathroom because the hits kept coming, and Matt somehow made time to exercise. On the other hand, it helped keep Matt alive when he was out on the streets. It was work–just not billable work.

On yet another (possibly mutant) hand, while it was good for Matt’s continued health and well-being, it was terrible for Foggy’s because it was 3D, surround sound, high-definition, hardcore porn.

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We once thought we could fathom the vastness of the sea
from the shallow lap of an island shore:
we would watch the ships fade from sight and agree
that nothing could survive
the fall past the edge of the world.

We did not see how, deep beyond the continental margins, submarine
canyons channeled secret rivers onto underwater plains, or how
the abyssal fish slowly went blind, their unseen lights
speckling the endlessly cavernous dark.

In our sleep we hear
the seabed groan with the weight of all its shipwrecks,
lift its hem, and settle into a hot embrace
around the mantle, the sulfide pools simmering through its cracks
where it presses close to the magma light.

Here I chance upon the sparkling clasp of a coral reef necklace
tracing an invisible line from one atoll to the next.
Following it I leapfrog dashed borders, beginning
to contrive an idea of you
from the contours of these countless coasts.

The geological record says we are five centimetres closer
every year. In geologic time—perhaps
if you were a reef and I, an archipelago—we’d meet
at a faultline in the next eon and crumble together, leaving
a new continent where we were before.

Today, we stand knee deep in the shoals, losing ships
to the horizon between us. Salt sifts
between our toes.

When you laugh, it almost feels
like those ten million years have already passed.

BTS as things my family has said in our group chat

Seokjin: I had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, a cheeseburger and curly fries for lunch, and a chicken quesadilla and carrot cake for dinner

Yoongi: I’m glad I don’t have many Facebook friends

Hoseok: I’m too happy right now. You can’t hurt me

Namjoon: “The effect is of movement and stillness, human time and geologic time, collapsed” 

Jimin: I love the sky, don’t you just love the sky, cause I just love the sky

Taehyung: Dogs are superior to humans and every other creature on earth

Jungkook: I still have to take two math classes *crying emoji* *skull emoji* *coffin emoji*

I love my job at the museum as I get to educate visitors on science and history all day. The only problem arises when I get yelled at for talking about Egyptian gods and religion. Most people are good with it because of the iconic mummies but occasionally, parents do not want their children learning about other gods. Today, as for example, the moment I began talking about the Ankh and how gods like Anubis held it due to its meaning of life and good luck, the mother’s face immediately changed to basically say, “Stop talking.” I quickly finished the interpretation as many coworkers have been told off before.

We used to have tons of stuff about religion until many people became angry that they were being “forced” to learn about gods that weren’t theirs when, most of the time, they asked in the first place. We have a cart on geologic time and the same thing has happened there where arguments ensue about the age of the earth. And, don’t get me started on when I teach kids about evolution in birds.

I do not mind who you worship or what you believe but I just wish I could teach you about another belief and the speculated history of the world with actual evidence without being yelled at…