Several announcements in the past week report on advances in scientists’ understanding of the oceans, our galaxy, and the universe. New data collected using multibeam echo sounders, radio frequency observations, and even using a natural anomaly as a magnifying lens, is revealing the physical universe in ever-greater detail.
Earth’s Deepest Place More Accurately Sounded
On February 6, an announcement from the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center reported that its efforts to map the ocean have revealed new data about the deepest place on Earth, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific.
Using multibeam echo sounder technology, the researchers discovered four “bridges” that cross the trench. In addition, according to the release, the ocean mapping expedition measured the depth of the trench “with greater precision than ever before.”
For a deeper dive, check out the original release at http://www.unh.edu/news/cj_nr/2012/feb/bp06trench.cfm
Google Earth – Now with More Detailed Oceans
Earlier in the week, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced that the ocean terrain data in Google Earth had received a “major update.”
The original version of Google Ocean was a newly developed prototype map that had high resolution but also contained thousands of blunders related to the original archived ship data. UCSD undergraduate students spent the past three years identifying and correcting the blunders as well as adding all the multibeam echosounder data archived at the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.”
— David Sandwell, geophysicist, Scripps
The full release is available at http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1247&pass=364941
New, Jumbo Database of the Milky Way
On February 3, the Naval Research Laboratory announced that scientists from around the globe have shared their radio observations to create the most precise map of the Milky Way galaxy’s magnetic field.
The key to applying these new techniques is that this project brings together over 30 researchers with 26 different projects and more than 41,000 measurements across the sky. The resulting database is equivalent to peppering the entire sky with sources separated by an angular distance of two full moons.”
— Dr. Tracy Clarke, a member of the research team, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
To learn more about the Milky Way mapping efforts, see http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/scientists-chart-high-precision-map-of-milky-ways-magnetic-fields
Natural ‘Zoom Lens’ Revealing Contours of Time Itself
Maps have always implied an element of timing, but NASA’s February 2 announcement provides a look at how the contours of time itself are being revealed by cutting edge technology.
Using what the agency called “a natural ‘zoom lens’ in space,” Hubble Space Telescope, a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency, has produced close-up images of the brightest “magnified” galaxy to be discovered so far.
A so-called gravitational lens is produced when space is warped by a massive foreground object, whether it is the sun, a black hole or an entire cluster of galaxies. The light from more-distant background objects is distorted, brightened and magnified as it passes through this gravitationally disturbed region.”
According to NASA, the images derived using the natural zoom lens effect are helping scientists understand the way galaxies have evolved over the course of 10 billion years.
Explore the details at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/magnified-galaxy.html
© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.