A Photo Prompts a Post
My Photo taken at the Buffalo Museum of Science. This is a very large, spinning world in the center of a large room, not as intriguing as the photo of the real Earth taken from space and seen below. But it lit a spark…
The Earth is 4.5 Billion years old.
Looks like I had a nice space flight, doesn’t it? We live in a remarkable time. We have the technology to make unlikely dreams a reality. We see as no humans before us have seen. I would love to travel the Universe and see the wonders and vastness of space, but thank the tax dollars that allowed NASA to do it for us.
Ever wonder what it would be like to travel the Universe? Here is a fantastic interactive visualization of the scale of the universe. It shows a large selection of things you recognize and those you don’t in the universe that are arranged according to size and scale; from very small (theoretically small) to very large (that which is observable in the universe). The unique visualization was created by Cary and Michael Huang. It is a great tool for learning for kids, it gives perspective on things. Just use the scroll bar at the bottom of the window to travel the Universe.
I think this rainbow of gases in space beats out the ones I see of water at Niagara Falls any day.
NASA image of the Orion Rainbow
The Universe is approximately 14.7 Billion years old.
Did you know that an abundant compound in space is WATER? Unfortunately, most of it is frozen, but not all. Big problem though, it is inaccessible to us. But read on, we do have a huge supply here, but considering global warming trends, do we really want to see it in such extraordinary abundance?
Artist Rendering of Massive Water Cloud at Black Hole in Space, NASA
Quasars are black holes at the centers of galaxies and are very active and bright. They gravitationally consume all that they snare surrounding them, including light, all the while spewing out energy that may produce water vapor and dust particles. But let an expert explain what you are seeing above…
“As this disk of material is consumed by the central black hole, it releases energy in the form of x-ray and infrared radiation, which in turn can heat the surrounding material, resulting in the observed water vapor,” said study co-author Eric Murphy, an astronomer with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California.
The vapor around this particular quasar represents enough water “to fill all the oceans on the Earth over 140 trillion times—that’s a lot of water.” The above quote was published here at National Geographic if you want to read more about space water.
Water is an amazing substance and plentiful the universe over. It is responsible and necessary for all life.
Did you know that March 22 was World Water Day?
I didn’t, but saw it on a photography blog that I subscribe to, Duck Cove Photography. His post is Running Water. Considering the inequity of dispersal on this planet, it really is something to think deeply about. It is pretty unlikely we will be harvesting it from space anytime soon. I have written on water many times, and was wondering why my older posts were being actively searched recently. World Water Day, who knew it would popularize my post, It’s a Tiny Planet.
This image is also from NASA and it is of water geysers of Saturn.
Can you imagine if water being sprayed out into space could have been responsible for the beginning of life? Religion and absolutes aside, there is a branch of science suggesting this. Just to think, everything we see on Earth, could have gotten a start somewhere far, far away. It makes you realize just how accidental we might have been. Even by grand design, it really was like winning the lottery because everything had to come together just right.
The term is panspermia. Literally, it means the seeds of life. Rather than life starting ‘in house’ in the primordial soup of Earth’s beginning, life could have been transported frozen, deep inside asteroids, from tiny, simple crystals to the size of icy mountains.
To survive in a new environment, the organisms need to have that which all life (or at least what we know as life) needs. They need a source of energy. Once they have food, replicate and evolve, the building blocks for the chain of life really begin. But what is probably the most necessary element for all of life? Water; the key to all known forms of life.
But water can take life away too. Many of us know that first hand, unfortunately, so life, if it wants to survive, must prove a need and willingness to. A life, any life, needs to find the way in which water benefits and avoid the ways in which it destroys.
And to be just right with liquid water for life, the planet needs to be in the Goldilocks Zone, not too hot or not too cold. That is really a short distance circling our sun. It only includes us and Mars. I guess you can say we got the ultimate lucky break here on Earth, like winning the celestial lottery. The first green (?) organism to grace the planet. Who knows what lies in galaxies beyond, planets revolving around far distant suns?
Mars seems not to have been quite as lucky being further away from the Sun in the long haul though, but science has postulated that Mars was similar to Earth supporting oceans and rivers. NASA has seen images sent back from robot explorers since the 1970s that shows drainage patterns and erosion possibly formed by oceans and rivers. White salts were found indicating contact with water. Or are they. It can be explained differently with this report. Plus the Rover Eye View Three Year Study video is on this site with 309 images of Mars surface. They are still looking for definitive proof of past or present life though. Just maybe, the ‘seeds of life’ could have ridden in via Mars.
Even though water is very common throughout the Universe, it is still a precious commodity here. You have to think of how lucky we are to have had it on Earth in the first place, to realize that we, ourselves are 60+ percent water (newborns about 78%), and that someday in the future water will likely disappear here too like it did on Mars.
Viking View of Mars (source)
It gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation on something so simple, plentiful, yet often wasted. It really gives you pause thinking of a planet without water. Could this be us in time? NASA original image from source.
The image below is also from NASA. It is such a remarkable image of a remarkable place, our place, inhabited by each and every one of us, as we float in space, fight over space, displace space, destroy space, pollute space, and waste space – space on Earth that is. We are destructive and polluting up in space too. We do leave a mess where ever we go it seems. There is an estimated 6000 tons of space debris in orbit around the Earth now, and NASA and the U.S. military’s Space Surveillance Network regularly track about 20,000 pieces of this debris. (source) An average of one object each day reenters Earth’s atmosphere. So what goes around, comes around and down.
Water surrounding our place in this world, and seen from this view, is so blue and visually amazing. If you want to be amazed by water and ice here on Earth and at Earth level, see the series Frozen Planet on the Discovery station, Sunday at 8 pm. Check your local listings.
It explores the frozen world through the seasons of the coldest places on Earth. The frozen icecaps provide 80 percent of the fresh water here on Earth, and glaciers move in rivers, it is amazing to see this pristine landscape. One third of our Earth is frozen which is as alien to us as those images shown from outer space.
The photography and scenery in this special is the best I have ever seen on TV. Don’t miss this special event, it really makes you appreciate our blue marble, with wonderment equal to that found in the spacial beyond. Here is the link to Frozen Planet on the web with video clips from the TV show.
- Sunday, April 1, 5:00 to 7:00 pm “The Ends of the Earth” The First Episode on March 18th and second, “Spring”
- Sunday April 1, 7:00 to 8:00 pm “Summer” Last Week
- Sunday April 1, 8:00 to 9:00 pm “Winter” NEW!
- Sunday April 8, 8:00 to 9:00 pm “The Making of Frozen Planet”
- Sunday April 15, 7:00 to 8:00 pm “On Thin Ice”
- Sunday April 15, 8:00 to 9:00 pm “Life in the Freezer”
Planet Earth, Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
Click the Earth image and get taken to the Flickr image and the background on this amazing NASA shot.
This post preceded Spring in the Blink of an Eye, because… I wanted you to see the Sunday Discovery Channel special Frozen Planet. If (WHEN) you see it, let me know if you did not think this is the most awesome program you have seen of late. Spring is the Blink of an Eye is up next…I promise.