A big team of astronomers studying Venus’ atmosphere have found a new type of heavier carbon dioxide molecule that absorbs more heat than the one more commonly found on Mars or Earth. The molecule, which is believed to have two additional neutrons in one of its oxygen atoms, allows it to absorb an additional infrared wavelength of 3.3 microns, which is what tipped the teams off to the discovery. They believe this is part of the reason Venus has such a hot atmosphere – the bigger percentage of these molecules creates an even bigger Greenhouse Gas effect than normal CO2.
As soon as I read this article comparing Mars’ cold atmosphere to Venus’ hot one in relation to the quantities of this new molecule, I immediately thought of Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Red Mars’. If this gas contributes more global warming than normal CO2, in the future it may be a very valuable tool if we ever came to terraform our red neighbour.
[link and image via ScienceDaily]
According to NASA-funded research on drill-cores from Australia, Earth’s atmosphere contained significant amounts of oxygen nearly 2.5 billion years ago, millions of years earlier than previously assumed. Let’s see the Young Earth Creationists spin that one.
[tags]science, Earth, atmosphere, oxygen[/tags]
Photo Credit: NASA (via Wikimedia Commons)
DigitalGlobe, provider of imagery for Google Earth, will be launching a new satellite dubbed WorldView I next Tuesday, that will boost the accuracy of its satellite images to half-meter resolution. With that type of accuracy the satellite will now be able to pinpoint objects on the Earth at three to 7.5 meters, or 10 to 25 feet. Using known reference points on the ground, the accuracy could rise to about two meters. Additionally the satellite will be able to collect over 600,000 square kilometers of imagery each day, up from the current collection of that amount each week.
It seems that we are getting much closer to the CIC Earth application as envisioned by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash, which was able to present real time satellite imagery.