Category Archives: Nature

Views from the Solar System (230)


Astronaut Reid Wiseman on the First Spacewalk of Expedition 41

NASA – On Oct. 7, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman (pictured here) and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst completed the first of three spacewalks for the Expedition 41 crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacewalkers worked outside the space station’s Quest airlock for 6 hours and 13 minutes, relocating a failed cooling pump to external stowage and installing gear that provides back up power to external robotics equipment. Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore of NASA operated the Canadian robotic arm, maneuvered Gerst during the course of the spacewalk and served as the spacewalk coordinator.

A second U.S. spacewalk is set for Oct. 15. Wilmore will don a U.S. spacesuit and follow Wiseman outside the Quest airlock for a 6-1/2 hour excursion. Gerst will serve as the spacewalk choreographer. The goal of the excursion is to replace a failed voltage regulator component on the starboard truss of the station. They will also move external camera equipment in advance of a major reconfiguration of station modules next year for the arrival of new docking adapters for commercial crew vehicles.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst

Blue LED breakthrough for efficient electronics


R&D – OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) are the latest and greatest in television technology, allowing screens to be extremely thin and even curved, with little blurring of moving objects and a wider range of viewing angles. In these “RGB” displays, each pixel contains red, green and blue modules that shine at different relative brightness to produce any color desired.

But not all OLEDs are created equal.

Phosphorescent OLEDs, also known as PHOLEDs, produce light through a mechanism that is four times more efficient than fluorescent OLEDs. Green and red PHOLEDs are already used in these new TVs—as well as in Samsung and LG smartphones—but the blues are fluorescent. more> http://tinyurl.com/ng4l8uk

Views from the Solar System (229)


Fall Colors Arriving

NASA – A few days after autumn showed up on the calendar in the Northern Hemisphere, it showed up on the landscape of North America. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of fall colors around the Great Lakes on Sept. 26, 2014.

The changing of leaf color in temperate forests involves several causes and reactions, but the dominant factors are sunlight and heat. Since temperatures tend to drop sooner and sunlight fades faster at higher latitudes, the progression of fall color changes tends to move from north to south across North America from mid-September through mid-November.

In late summer and autumn, tree and plant leaves produce less chlorophyll, the green pigment that harvests sunlight for plants to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. The subsidence of chlorophyll allows other chemical compounds in the leaves—particularly carotenoids and flavonoids—to emerge from the green shadow of summer. These compounds do not decay as fast as chlorophyll, so they shine through in yellows, oranges, and reds as the green fades. Another set of chemicals, anthocyanins, are associated with the storage of sugars and give the leaves of some species deep purple and red hues.

> More information

Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz

Mindless


By Adam Gopnik – It turns out that it’s very rare for any mental activity to be situated tidily in one network of neurons, much less one bit of the brain.

When you think you’ve located a function in one part of the brain, you will soon find that it has skipped town, like a bail jumper. And all of the neuro-skeptics argue for the plasticity of our neural networks.

We learn and shape our neurology as much as we inherit it. Our selves shape our brains at least as much as our brains our selves. more> http://tinyurl.com/mwfxlt3

Galactic Views (139)



SPACE WATCH

Milky Way Viewed From the International Space Station

NASA – NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image from the International Space Station and posted it to social media on Sept. 28, 2014, writing, “The Milky Way steals the show from Sahara sands that make the Earth glow orange.”

Aboard the space station, the six-person Expedition 41 crew is currently preparing for two spacewalks set for Oct. 7 and 15. During the first six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, slated to begin on Oct. 7 around 8:10 a.m. EDT, Wiseman and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst will transfer a previously uninstalled pump module from its temporary stowage location to the External Stowage Platform-2. The two spacewalkers also will install the Mobile Transporter Relay Assembly that adds the capability to provide “keep-alive” power to the system that moves the station’s robotic arm between worksites. NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore will join Wiseman for the second Expedition 41 spacewalk on Oct. 15.

Image Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman

Updates from BOEING



Boeing – The updated Next-Generation 737 interior offers improvements in passenger comfort and design elements to modernize the cabin.

The package can include new LED lighting, updated forward and aft entry coves, Boeing Sky Interior sidewall panels and air grilles, and larger-capacity stow bins. The upgrades create a greater sense of spaciousness at the ceiling. more> buildsomethingbetter.com/

Global Living Planet Index


By Tom Randall – If animals were stocks, the market would be crashing.

To say the index of animals is underperforming humans is an understatement. More than half of the world’s vertebrates have disappeared between 1970 and 2010.

Humans are currently drawing more from natural resources than the Earth is able to provide. It would take about 1.5 planet Earths to meet the present-day demands that humanity currently makes on nature, according to the WWF (pdf).

If all the people of the world had the same lifestyle as the typical American, 3.9 planet Earths would be needed to keep up with demand. more> http://tinyurl.com/mdb9wjg