NASA is working on a new instrument for the International Space Station that will create a 3-D map of the Earth’s forests, in order to measure the role of trees in scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere.
The new instrument will use lidar, a laser system for measuring distance between the space-based instrument and the surface. Called the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar, the system will be put together at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
A Deep Look into a Dark Sky
"Can you count the number of bright dots in this picture? This crowded frame is a deep-field image obtained using the Wide Field Imager (WFI), a camera mounted on a relatively modestly sized telescope, the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre located at the La Silla Observatory, Chile.
This image is one of five patches of sky covered by the COMBO-17 survey (Classifying Objects by Medium-Band Observations in 17 filters), a deep search for cosmic objects in a relatively narrow area of the southern hemisphere’s sky. Each one of the five patches is recorded using 17 individual colour filters. Each one of the five COMBO-17 images covers an area of the sky the size of the full Moon. [read more]”
Japetella is a genus containing one or two species of entirely pelagic octopods. They spend their whole life swimming in the ocean’s mesopelagic zone, surrounded by twilight gloom.
They tend to be entirely transparent so that they cast no shadow that could be seen by sharp-eyed predators. But when bioluminescence strikes them, they instantly become a red-brown colour so as to disappear into the darkness.
In happier times, females develop a ring of photophores around the mouth to attract males. It’s light-up lipstick!
…Images: NOAA/MBARI/Sarah Zylinski, Duke University/Michael Vecchione
Internet-Connected Machines Might Find Their Voices With This Chip
A future covered with data-beaming sensors just got a little closer. Stanford engineers say they have produced miniscule chips that cost just pennies to make. These silicon-based components can process and relay commands, making them ant-sized controllers that can send and receive information wirelessly. Developers say the chips bridge the communication gap between sensors, machines and computers and will let them communicate back and forth.
Electrical engineer Amin Arbabian says the devices he has created are powered by the radio signals they are tuned to receive, so they don’t need any external power sources.
"The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the web," said Arbabian. "How do you put a bi-directional wireless control system on every lightbulb? By putting all the essential elements of a radio on a single chip that costs pennies to make."
"We’re ultimately talking about connecting trillions of devices."
Today in Science: On this day in 1940, four teenagers followed their dog down a hole left in the ground after the fall of a large pine tree. After squeezing through the narrow opening and tumbling down a large pile of rocks, they made one of the most famous discoveries in archaeological history.
Entering a large chamber, now called the Great Hall of the Bulls, the teen boys found prehistoric paintings, drawings, and engravings of animal figures and symbols drawn with great detail on the walls of the cavern. They had stumbled upon the now-famous Cave of Lascaux, the most renowned of about 130 Upper Paleolithic caves in the western edges of the Massif Central and the northern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains.
Introducing a new app from Science NetLinks, Classify It! Does your budding biologist know the differences between a dolphin and a shark? How about the similarities between poison ivy and a firefly? Test their knowledge with Classify It!, a new app that teaches kids about the different ways organisms can be sorted and grouped. Find it today on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Mapping the Milky Way. William Herschel’s galaxy maps (facsimile), 2009 (originals 1784–85).
William Herschel and his sister Caroline made the first maps of the structure of our galaxy. For two years they surveyed thousands of stars, using their brightness to estimate distance from Earth.