Thursday, January 31, 2013

How close are we to mapping extra-solar planets?

"Astronomers could one day create rough maps of far-away planets using information taken from starlight reflection, determining the balance of oceans, lands and overhanging clouds."

The process isn't exact.  They liken it to trying to figure out what's on a muted TV in another room based on the reflection of the light on the opposite wall.

Below is a test image of Earth from NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft.  With the information from the spacecraft, they were able to discern three distinct surface types - land, ocean and cloud.

So we're not going to have a topo map of Gliese 581 c anytime soon, but we might be able to find out a little more about it.

Read the whole article:  Live Science: Mapping Distant Planet Surfaces

The Chicago Gun Trail

The New York times recently ran a map showing where 50,000 guns recovered in violent crime riddled Chicago came from.

"The Chicago Police Department traced the origins of about 50,000 guns that it recovered between 2001 and March 2012. More than half of those guns came from outside the state."

I think it's interesting to note that the states where most of the guns came from are directly bordering it, with the exception of Mississippi.  There is a blurb about the MS connection below the map.  I would really like to see more about this relationship.

NY Times: Where 50,000 Guns Recovered in Chicago Came From 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Australia is so hot, meterologists have to get creative

Australia has gotten so hot recently that meteorologists have had to add colors to their heat maps.  Previously, temperature gradations were capped at 50c (122f), but they've had to increase the cap to 54c (130f).

Australia's "dome of heat" has become so intense that the temperatures are rising off the charts – literally.