Posts tagged exploration

Posted 1 year ago

An Ocean of Stars - for those of us driven to explore space, the Earth’s ocean should seem a close cousin. In fact, so many aspects of ocean exploration are similar to the challenges of space, that some people have suggested our own oceans are the true final frontier. There are certainly still more accessible than the reaches of outer space, and even a modestly deep scuba dive can give you a vivid impression of what it may feel like to float in the blackness of space.

Want a fallback plan for when that final environmental catastrophe occurs? Underwater or floating habitats may offer fewer challenges than space colonies if you’re looking to quickly build a self-sustaining place to live when things cool down, warm up, dry out, or otherwise return to fitness for human habitation.

If you’re just looking for wide open spaces, the vastness of space may ultimately prove your final frontier, but Söhnlein has a very human take on the question: “For myself,” he says, “I’d probably go with the oceans. Humanity has millennia to explore the cosmos. But I have only decades or—depending on who you believe—centuries. And there’s plenty to discover down there to fill my lifetime.”

Posted 1 year ago

Living Ice - a great time lapse video of an icebreaker traveling the Antarctic waters. What really captured me was just how many different faces the ice can have, both in appearance and quality. Even today, there are still many corners of our own planet where the heart of an explorer can find some solace …

The Nathaniel B. Palmer is an icebreaker operated by the US National Science Foundation. Cassandra Brooks, one of the 37 scientists the ship can accommodate for missions of up to 75 days and deep in the Antarctic winter, shot this timelapse video of the ship doing its stuff over a two month period while traveling through the Ross Sea.

The video is the latest in a series of posts in which Brooks blogs about her experiences studying marine protection in the Antarctic at National Geographic. 

Posted 1 year ago

Polar Shield - this image which looks straight out of a scifi scenario is actually an engineering project to address the increasing loss of polar ice due to global climate change. The arctic skyscraper project combines novel power generation with desalination to protect and restore the polar ice caps, all while housing research teams and eco tourism to further raise visibility of the issue.

Through its desalinization and power facilities, this arctic skyscraper becomes a floating metropolis equipped with […] research laboratories, renewable power stations, dormitory-style housing units, eco-tourist attractions, and ecological habitats for wildlife.

Salt water is used to produce a renewable source of energy through an osmotic (salinity gradient power) power facility housed within the building’s core. In addition, the structure’s immense canopy allows for the reduction of heat gain on the arctic surface while harvesting solar energy.

There are additional images and schematics in the original article.

Posted 1 year ago

Ice World - this gorgeous photo of turquoises ice is the surface of lake Baikal, located in the southeast Siberia. The combination of low angle sunlight and glass like shards of ice makes for a stunningly beautiful place on Earth (if not the most hospitable). There are many more images on the original site.

Lake Baikal, located in the southern part of eastern Siberia in Russia, is an incredible natural wonder of the world that one can only hope to visit at least once in their lifetime. It’s not just the oldest freshwater lake on Earth, at 20 to 25 million years old, it’s also one of the largest and deepest, holding an astounding one-fifth of the world’s freshwater.

In the winter, for about five months or from January to May, the lake freezes over but the water is so clear that, from the surface, you can see an astounding 130 feet below you. A photographic worthy natural phenomenon occurs around a very specific time of year, March. Wind, temperature differences, frost and sun in the ice crust cause cracks and ice hummocks to form. Transparent and shining in a turquoise color, these masses of broken ice look like shards of glass rising into the sky.

Posted 1 year ago

Exploring Earth - This amazing Antarctic research station is a glimpse into what an off-planet permanent base could be like. Modular, mobile, and capable of supporting human life in a very harsh environment, it still doesn’t lack for style or creature comforts!

The new facility was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Department of Business Innovation and Skills. It replaces the 20-year-old Halley V. Construction teams worked around the clock over four 9-week Antarctic summers to build the Halley VI.