September 25, 2011

Danger Planet

This is a nice little animation about a space explorer who runs into and ultimately fights to save another explorer (female) on an alien planet. It's very Wall-E-ish in its art design. Be careful about the sound, though: the video starts off loud and becomes very loud toward the end.

September 20, 2011

Flying Over the Earth

A rare time-lapse clip showing a bird’s-eye view of our planet from outer space in one minute has surfaced on the Web.

The video shows a collection of 600 images downloaded from NASA’s astronaut database and merged together by science blogger James Drake.

During the clip, storms over the Pacific Ocean, the Earth’s ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars in our galaxy are illustrated as the International Space Station (ISS) orbits the Earth.

Heavily populated urban areas can be seen beautifully lit up in the dark of night.

The 62-second montage begins over the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 220 miles and continues over North and South America before sunrise near Antarctica.

Mr. Drake notes in order of appearance a few of the places that can be seen in the stunning clip, including Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, the Amazon, Peru and Chile.

The images were hand-picked from the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth which contains over a million snaps of the planet dating back to the 1960’s.

Text credit: Yahoo! News; video credit: NASA/James Drake

September 18, 2011

Four Corners

There is only one place in the United States where four states come together: the four corners area in the western United States. At a barren, desert location, the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico share a common point. Due to surveying inaccuracies in 1875, the coordinates of the junction are 36.999 degrees north latitude and 109.045 degrees west longitude. The image covers an area of 16.3 by 17.6 kilometers, and was acquired on June 11, 2001.

Note: Although I lived in Arizona for 20 years, I have never visited the Four Corners Monument. However, with the help of Wikipedia and Google Maps, I can give some information about the above picture and the exact location of the four corners. First, the river that flows through this picture is the San Juan River, which flows from the southeast to the northwest (north is up in this photo). The long thin line that runs from the south toward the northeast is US 160. South of the river, there is a very fine black line (a road) that extends toward the northwest from US 160; the end terminus of that line is the Four Corners Monument. Colorado, of course, is to the northeast, New Mexico to the southeast, Utah to the northwest and Arizona to the southwest.

Photo credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team