Mars Phoenix Lander

26 05 2008

This image shows a polygonal pattern in the ground near NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, similar in appearance to icy ground in the arctic regions of Earth.

Phoenix touched down on the Red Planet at 4:53 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53 p.m. Eastern Time), May 25, 2008, in an arctic region called Vastitas Borealis, at 68 degrees north latitude, 234 degrees east longitude.

Visit the websites of NASA and the University of Atizona‘s Phoenix website to keep up with all the latest photos and videos. The university site also offers screen savers and a mars weather widget for Macs.


Reunite Pangea!

18 05 2008

A week ago the Pangea Day took place. Actually, it had nothing to do with the ancient continent of Pangea, which, according to Wikipedia, was was the supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before each of the component continents were separated into their current configuration. THAT Pangea we celebrate every day at UnEarthedTees with a line of t-shirts and other goodies sporting a vintage politico-style design. Join the movement to reunite Pangea!

Reunite Pangea T-Shirt

Major Earthquake Devastates Chengdu, China

12 05 2008

A powerful earthquake that struck central China on Monday may have killed nearly 9,000 people, leveling most of the buildings in one county and trapping hundreds of students after a school collapsed, the country’s official news agency said.

The magnitude 7.9 quake was felt as far away as Vietnam and Thailand. It appears to be the most devastating earthquake to hit China in more than three decades.

The epicenter was located about 60 miles northwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan (四川省). Over 300 after-shocks followed the earthquake.

Approximately 80 percent of the buildings in Sichuan’s Beichuan County were flattened in the quake, the news agency reported. A chemical plant in Shifang city also was destroyed, burying hundreds of people and spilling tons of toxic liquid ammonia.

Outside the city of Dujiangyan, at least 50 students were killed and 900 trapped after the three-story Juyuan Middle School collapsed. Buried teenagers could be seen struggling to break loose from under the rubble of the three-story building, while others cried out for help.

Dozens of bodies of children were laid out on the ground, waiting for parents to identify them, Block said. Once claimed, the bodies were wrapped in shrouds and brought under plastic tarps. Hundreds of parents waited for hours in the rain for word of their children.

Students also were buried under five other toppled schools in Deyang city.

The earthquake struck in the middle of the day, around 2:28 p.m. local time. People flooded into the streets as the ground shook, and many were trapped in collapsed buildings.

In Dujiangyan, 45 miles north of Chengdu, a hospital collapsed with an estimated 100 people, NPR‘s Robert Siegel reported. Crane crews worked to rescue those trapped. Tents at a Red Cross center were set up to tend to the wounded as they waited for ambulances to take them to other hospitals.

The earthquake crashed telephone networks in Chengdu and plunged parts of the city of 11 million into darkness.

The devastation comes as China is preparing to host the Olympic Games, which begin in Beijing on Aug. 8

From NPR (Audio reports available.)

NPR’s “All Things Considered” will originate from Chengdu, China, the week of May 19-23.

May 12, 2008

Donating to International Charities

A number of people have posted questions in the blog’s discussion threads about how they can make donations to charities involved in the relief efforts. International charities are just beginning to ramp up their efforts in China, as well as in Myanmar. If you’re looking to give money to help these relief activities, here are some international charities to consider:

Meanwhile, there are a number of online tools available for evaluating charities and making donations to a broader range of NGOs, including and

How to Help Myanmar Cyclone Victims

6 05 2008

I don’t usually post about meteorology but the devastation in Myanmar is severe enough to warrant this post. At this time, many relief agencies are not allowed entry into the country by the Myanmar military government; while it is hoped that will change, for now UNICEF and Red Cross have access

  • Donate here to support UNICEF’s emergency response efforts for children in Myanmar.


NEW YORK, May 5, 2008:  A category-3 cyclone struck the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar on Friday, devastating the coastline and urban centers. After making landfall in the Irrawaddy delta region, the storm tracked inland, directly hitting the capital Yangon late the same night.

Thousands are reported dead, and the number of survivors in need of assistance will number in the hundreds of thousands. This is the largest natural disaster to hit the region since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

UNICEF is one of the few humanitarian organizations that has a permanent presence in Myanmar, and emergency assistance is already underway. Today, UNICEF has deployed five teams to the worst affected regions of Myanmar to get an accurate assessment of survivors’ immediate needs.

UNICEF and WHO both have field officers positioned throughout the country to ensure that assistance reaches those children and women for whom it is intended. Emergency medicine, nutrition, shelter, child protection and reunification efforts are already underway.
Limited information

Detailed information on the impact of the cyclone has not been available due to downed communications and blocked roads. Information on the situation outside Yangon is even more limited. What we do know is that many villages in the hardest hit areas have been completely flattened.

The cyclone caused widespread devastation in Yangon. Winds of over 120 mph tore down trees and power lines, while accompanying rain caused flooding in many areas. Telecommunications lines were cut. Buildings have been badly damaged throughout the city, and it expected that significant numbers have been left without adequate shelter.

Electricity is not likely to be restored for several days. Water supplies will also be a major problem. Many roads remain impassable, either due to flooding or fallen debris and the airport has been closed until further notice.

“The confirmed number is 3,934 dead, 41 injured and 2,879 missing within the Yangon and Irrawaddy divisions,” according to a recent government broadcast. It is expected that hundreds of thousands of people have, in fact, been rendered homeless and food and water are reported to be running short.

Urgent needs are expected to be plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits and food. Fuel shortages have also already been reported. Determining the impact in areas outside Yangon has been even more difficult, though it can be assumed to be critical, with shelter and safe water being the principal immediate needs.

DONATE HERE to UNICEF to help victims of the Myanmar cyclone.

“Dormant” Volcano Erupts in Chile

5 05 2008

The Chaiten volcano in the Patagonian area of southern Chile caused earthquakes and sent up fire, plumes of smoke and ash which tainted the local water supply on May 2. Most of the 4,500 people living in the Chaiten area, some of whom live on small islands, had to evacuate. As of today the ash continues to pour of the volcano and has covered the town.

The 3,550-foot high snow-covered volcano is not known to have erupted in recorded history.

A short aerial view captured on video:

News broadcast from Chile, in Spanish:

GeoBlogBytes has a nice list of news links on the topic.