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Melting Ice In Western Antarctica Decreases Earth’s Gravity

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antarcticaThe Western portion of Antarctica has melted so much over the past few years that Earth’s gravity is weaker than it used to be. I’m just going to leave that here and let it sink in for a second.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has special satellites that it uses to measure variations in Earth’s gravitational field. Basically, the mission involves sending up two satellites that remain in orbit near one another. Because of their proximity, slight changes between their positions signify changes in gravity, which computer programs then interpret. From 2009-2013, the ESA conducted the “Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer” (GOCE) mission, which gave scientists thorough and accurate gravitational measurements on an unprecedented level. The program was able to map the predictable variations due to the planet’s rotation and other geological shifts, but the most recently measured shift is much more substantial than that.

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Crowdfunding Mission Seeks To Resurrect ISEE-3 Space Probe

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ISEE-3A long time ago (1978) in a galaxy…well, pretty close to us, NASA launched the ISEE-3 (International Sun/Earth Explorer 3) probe, sending it to space to study the magnetic field and solar winds of Earth. Since then, ISEE-3 has done NASA proud, accomplishing firsts such as flying through a comet’s tail. It collected data until 1999, when NASA decided it would party no more and switched it off. It’s been sleeping ever since, but if a crowdfunding project turns out to be successful, NASA may wake the ISEE-3 up as it passes near Earth later this year and put it back on the job.

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project, which is sponsored by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef, is currently running on RocketHub. It’s currently a third of the way to meeting its $125,000 goal, with 22 days left to fund the project. The idea is pretty simple, especially since a team has already been assembled, and they’ve got a radio telescope that can make contact with the probe. Scientists working on the project want to contact the probe, which is now generally known as the ICE (International Comet Explorer), fire it up, and get it back in orbit around the Earth where it can continue harvesting information and chasing comets.

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Listen To A Record Made Out Of Ice By The Shout Out Louds

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Music, perhaps more than any other form of media except literature, can often take second place to the way the artist gets that bit of music out to potential fans. Some bands are bringing cassettes back into the fold, and a few 8-tracks have popped up over the last few years. Remember when USB sticks were primed to take over our listening habits? I have my own album I was going to release in the form of a fireball in the event of planetary Armageddon, so that Earth’s ghost could enjoy my tunes. But a record made out of ice? Now that’s just crazy. Even crazier? Making it yourself. Get your hipster gloves on.

The Swedish group Shout Out Louds are one of those indie bands that are for people other than me. Their songs don’t speak to me, but it’s possibly because I’ve been hearing their production value crisp and clear. For their single “Blue Ice” off of their upcoming album Optica, the band
got together with ad agency TBWA Stockholm to produce ten DIY ice records for ten lucky fans. The kit comes with distilled water, used for it’s clarity, and a silicon freeze tray with a vinyl pattern inset for the wicked cold grooves to form. Six hours later, and you’ve got yourself a warbling, skippy, hissing track that has to be immediately removed from the turntable after being played, as to not damage anything. So be sure and take your bathroom breaks before listening.

Here’s the promo video for the making of the record, followed by the song itself, which in this format sounds like the background to one of David Lynch’s more mundane nightmares.