Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Covering an area of about 8.1 million square miles over the South Pole, the man-made hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere appears to have shrunk this year, researchers say. The shrinkage, although small, represents a 6 percent decline from the hole’s average size since 1990.
Scientists aren’t prepared to say that the ozone situation, which first surfaced in the 1980s, is getting better. But they can confirm that it isn’t getting worse. In the words of James Butler, director of the global monitoring division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab, it’s ‘‘sort of encouraging news.”
This year’s change was mostly driven by local weather. Warm air in the upper atmosphere in September and October lead to the formation of fewer stratospheric clouds which, according to the researchers, eat away at ozone “like the Pac-Man eating cookies.”
They were unable to say whether another man-made process — global warming — was responsible.
Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email email@example.com.More Lindsay Abrams.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.