By Kaitlin MillerPosted 11.17.2011 at 11:55 am 7 Comments
This month, Mongolia will launch a project creating a huge manmade ice block to combat the sweltering summer in the capital city of Ulan Bator. As the ice melts, it will cool the city and provide fresh drinking water.
The $750,000 geoengineering project, one of the world’s largest ice-making experiments, seeks to artificially make “naleds,” ice sheets that form along frozen streams and rivers. In Mongolian river beds, layers build up as new water flows onto the surface and freezes, forming ice caps that can build up to more than seven meters thick.
According to some tricky calculations from Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Pluto may actually have a liquid ocean underneath its frigid, -230 °C exterior. It's mostly speculation, but the reasoning is pretty sound: if Pluto's rocky core has a certain level of potassium, "its decay could produce enough heat to melt some of the overlaying ice," says New Scientist. The assumption is that Pluto does, since the Earth has 10 times that amount despite being closer to the sun and therefore likely having much less potassium in its core than Pluto. We just hope having an ocean makes Pluto feel better about not being a planet anymore. [New Scientist]
Why does the universe look the way it does? Sarah T. Stewart thinks she knows the answer. “It all comes down to big things running into each other,” she says. Space is a collection of battered rocks, and Stewart studies their scars and shapes. A planet’s pockmarks can be used to predict its age—if it has many, it’s probably been around for a while—and its dimensions can hint at what might lie beneath the ground. “I use the way craters look,” she explains, “to learn about the planet they’re on.”
In a breakthrough so hot it's cool, Spanish researchers have figured out how to make water freeze at room temperature. By artificially manipulating the mechanisms by which water condenses in the atmosphere, the researchers found a means to trigger ice formation at far higher temperatures than water's usual freezing point, a development that could lead to better artificial snowmaking, more efficient ice skating rinks, and better freezer technology.
A thin film of water ice and organic materials coats the space rock named 24 Themis, according to a study released today. That discovery marks the first-ever direct detection of water ice on an asteroid, and adds evidence to theories about how asteroids could have brought water and organic material to a primordial Earth.
A NASA telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea helped scientists gauge the spectrum of infrared sunlight reflected by 24 Themis. Their findings revealed a spectrum consistent with both frozen water and organic material on the 124-mile-wide asteroid, which sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter.
When methane and freezing cold water fuse under tremendous pressure, they create a substance as paradoxical as it coveted: burning ice. Earlier in the year, a report from the National Research Council identified the combustible water, also known as methane hydrate, as a potential source of natural gas.
This month, an iceberg roughly the size of Luxembourg slammed into an Antarctic glacier known as the Mertz Ice Tongue. Then, last week, a Rhode Island-sized section of the Mertz Ice Tongue finally snapped off. Some scientists are excited about the new research opportunities this ice reconfiguration opens up, but others worry that the newly freed ice will significantly threaten life in the ocean.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has repeatedly taken the plunge into the icy jets of Saturn's sixth-largest moon, and all in the name of science. Now the U.S. space agency has released the latest stunning image from Cassini's November 21 flyby. Can you count the 30 jets in this image?
A massive iceberg twice the size of Manhattan is headed for Australia's southwestern coast, threatening shipping lanes in the Pacific.
The "superberg," called B17B, is roughly 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia and headed for warmer waters, where it will likely break up into many small pieces.
NASA's moon-smashing mission may not have provided a huge show for the folks on Earth, but now there's sweet vindication for scientists. The plume of lunar debris kicked up from ancient lunar crater kicked up 24 gallons of water, LCROSS mission staff reported today.