The past year has been a momentous one in Earth and space science, featuring exciting and terrifying events alike. Devastating wildfires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis struck across the world, displacing millions and claiming many lives. These disasters were juxtaposed against the launch of an innovative cryosphere satellite, the end of a revolutionary exoplanet mission, the arrivals of multiple spacecraft at their destinations, and increasing levels of public engagement from the scientific community.
Take a look back at some of this year’s notable geoscience events captured on video.
An Icy Day in Hel(heim)
An iceberg approximately 6.5 kilometers long calved from Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland on 22 June. The video below captures the calving event over a span of 30 minutes and is sped up by a factor of 20. After the tabular iceberg calved, it floated down the fjord, collided with another iceberg, and flipped over. Measurements from the event showed that sea level rose after the iceberg broke off.
Red, Blue, and Ryugu Too
Break out your red and blue 3-D glasses for this one. Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft collected stereoscopic images of the asteroid Ryugu during its approach in late June. In July, mission scientists combined sequential images of the diamond-shaped body to create this animation showing the asteroid’s entire rotation. Ryugu’s rough and jagged surface pops out when viewed in three dimensions.
On a Dark and Stormy Day
Storm clouds bloomed over Isla de la Juventud in Cuba on 23 June. This animation shows satellite data covering roughly 12 hours, with a new frame every 15 minutes. Cumulus clouds slowly gathered and then rapidly expanded in a shockwave-like outflow.
— Dakota Smith (@weatherdak) July 24, 2018
The Stars Are Alive with the Sounds of Saturn
During Cassini’s final orbits around Saturn, it captured radio measurements of plasma wave interactions between the planet, its rings, and its icy moon Enceladus. In July, Cassini scientists converted the radio measurements into human auditory range and compressed the data to about 30 seconds, which you can listen to below. Additional measurements showed, for the first time, that plasma waves travel along magnetic field lines that connect Saturn and Enceladus.
Ground Flowing Like Water
On 28 September, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Central Sulawesi in Indonesia, 70 kilometers from the provincial capital, Palu. The earthquake, strong foreshocks and aftershocks, and a 7-meter-tall tsunami caused widespread devastation. More than 200,000 people are now refugees, and thousands were killed, injured, or remain missing. Part of the damage near Palu was caused by a phenomenon called liquefaction, where loose and saturated soil is abruptly shifted and begins flowing like a liquid. Some buildings shifted more than 600 meters, traveling across land as if on a conveyor belt. The video below compiles footage of this phenomenon taken by Palu residents during the disaster.
Wind Beneath My Solar Panels
NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander touched down on Mars on 26 November. Since then, InSight has been testing its suite of seismic and thermal instruments and selecting its data collection site. During a test of its seismometer and air pressure sensor on 1 December, InSight captured vibrations caused by Mars’s surface wind. The original audio sounds like a slow, low-pitched thrumming but was sped up and raised by two octaves to make the wind easier to hear. Take a listen in the video below.
Did you see other captivating geoscience videos this year? Share them with us online, and keep a lookout for more videos in 2019. Happy New Year!
—Kimberly M. S. Cartier (@AstroKimCartier), Staff Writer