A Total Eclipse of the Sun (Abstract Science: Aug. 14-18)
News dispatches on the celestial event: An astronomer discusses the science behind the shadow, bacteria in outer space, solar panel disruptions and shifting animal behavior.
(The Verge, Alessandra Potenza, 8/15/2017)
Can Bacteria survive on Mars? Scientists have a golden opportunity to test this theory on Monday when the Total Solar Eclipse passes across the US, an event not seen here in over a 100 years. As the moon blocks the sun’s light completely next week, more than 50 high-altitude balloons in over 20 locations across the US will soar up to 100,000 feet in the sky containing metal tags coated with Paenibacillus xerothermodurans. The strain was first isolated from soil outside a spacecraft-assembly facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 1973 and forms shields of spores that allow them to survive even when conditions turn deadly On board the balloons will be Raspberry Pi cameras, weather sensors, and modems to stream live eclipse footage.
(Time, Melissa Chan, Aug. 17, 2017)
Millions of humans will be fixed on the skies on Monday when a total solar eclipse sweeps across the U.S. But how will animals react? It may depend upon their intelligence. While crickets will chirp, cows will march back to their barns and swarms of once-busy honeybees will fly hurriedly home to their hives.
(Space.com, Samantha Mathewson, Aug. 17, 2017)
Throughout history, solar eclipses have transformed from terrifying omens into the subject of scientific study, inspiring eclipse chasers to travel the world to witness the natural phenomenon. Astronomist and physics professor Ryan Nordgren, who has been following these celestial events for over 30 years, and has published a book about the history of solar eclipses, talks about the science behind the shadow in this interesting Q&A.
(Wired Science, Eric Niiler, Aug. 17, 2017)
Nationwide, solar only accounts for 1 to 2 percent of the total energy supply, but the total solar eclipse will, nonetheless, create a substantial dimming in solar power generation, according to an analysis by the North American Reliability Corporation, an agency that works with electric grid operators. And not just in the darkest part of the shadow, but across swaths of the country hit by partial totality.