Explosion on the Moon!
Pock-marked with craters and splotched with long-cold beds of dark lava, our moon holds thousands of footprints from its violent past. But we don’t really think of it having a violent present.
Well, it still gets its fair share of action. On March 17, 2013, NASA astronomers captured video of a meteorite striking the moon. It made an explosion bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, like a temporary star drawn on the lunar surface. It turns out that these collisions are not that rare.
Most of the moon’s many meteor marks date from a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment. That, combined with a magma-riffic adolescence gave the moon the special look we know today. Of course, none of that is as violent as the moon’s birth.
Anyway, make sure to watch that video above and see the meteor strike live. You’ll never look at the moon the same way again.
You guys like Saturn, right? Here’s a whole gallery of Saturn GIFs, from rings to moons, captured by the Cassini spacecraft. They’re part modern art and part science.
Next to the Voyager twins, I think Cassini might be the best satellite NASA ever launched. Certainly takes the best pictures. Tumblr’s own staceythinx has an iPad app called Cassini HD that features even more photos, plus color, plus science.
(GIFs by framesandflames)
Yes, unfortunately the Velociraptor mongoliensis is more like a very aggressive roadrunner than a man-eating murder machine. But those aren’t the ‘raptors from the movies.
The “velociraptors” of Jurassic Park fame are actually Deinonychus, a (slightly) taller, equally roadrunnerish combination of tail and sickle-shaped toe claw. D-nikes (I made that name up) were not huge, but that claw could easily split you open like a bag of spaghetti.
There’s no real confirmation that they were “clever girls” or hunted in packs, and the insistence of JP’s directors on not adding feathers to these almost-certainly feathered death-chickens is kind of like a claw-toed slap in the face to paleontology.
Just like the great T. rex (which we talked about last week), our image of these dinos changes with new science, and will continue to change. Our fiction needs to change with them.
Edit: Several people have noted that Utahraptor is a close match in size to the movie ‘raptors (a death-ostrich, if you will), but that’s a lucky coincidence since it wasn’t discovered until after Jurassic Park was released (or at least close enough that they weren’t willing to change the movie).
(Dino images via Colin Douglas Howell on Wikipedia)