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  • richardmitnick 12:18 pm on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator", , CSIROscope, Going back to the future, , SS Carlisle, SS Macumba, The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland   

    From CSIROscope: “Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    RV Investigator Australia

    1
    The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland. Because of how new the SS Queensland was, we don’t have a photo of what it looked like. But this is where we come in.

    The year was 1876. The University of Adelaide began classes that year and the Melbourne Cup was run for the first time on the first Tuesday of November.

    It was also the year that SS Queensland sank off Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, after colliding with the steamer Barrabool in the early morning of 3 August.

    SS Queensland was en route to Fuzhou, China from Melbourne, and was heading towards Sydney with a cargo of Chinese tea.

    But the second mate of Barrabool mistook the masthead light of Queensland for the Wilson’s Promontory lighthouse. It was going full speed ahead until it struck Queensland’s starboard (or right) side.

    Queensland was so badly damaged that it sank in only 35 minutes.

    143 years later in 2019, our research vessel (RV) Investigator is using the wreck of SS Queensland to give us higher quality maps for safe navigation, and test other equipment ahead of a program of historic shipwreck surveys in the area. The survey program brings together experts from the Australian National Maritime Museum, Heritage Victoria and the Australian Hydrographic Office, who will work with our team on board to search for other ships whose resting location is currently unknown.

    3
    The seafloor map of SS Queensland from our multibeam echo sounders

    Going back to the future

    The Australian coastline is dotted with shipwrecks, some known and others yet to be discovered. One part of the mission of our RV Investigator is to help fill in the gaps in our seafloor maps to aid in ensuring safe shipping and navigation.

    On many voyages, we also seek to work with maritime heritage agencies to solve the mystery and pinpoint the location of long-lost ships.

    This brings our super science ship to the Bass Strait on a voyage to map the seafloor and survey for historic shipwrecks.

    The wreck site of SS Queensland, which is nearly 100m long and was found in 2005, provides RV Investigator with the perfect location to use, calibrate and test its multibeam echo sounders on a known target. This equipment delivers colourful images of the seafloor and its surrounding structures, as well as showing the unexpected and tell-tale shapes of possible shipwrecks.

    But it only gives a rough image of what the wreck and the area surrounding it looks like. The image is so rough that it sometimes looks like it has icicles on the boat! Definitely not correct when we’re off the Victorian coast. To fix this, the scientists on our ship have to clean up this interference which often takes days.

    There’s nothing like taking a closer look though!

    4
    The camera gives us a closeup look of the wreck to aid in identification and wreck site mapping.

    Getting the drop on history

    Once the initial mapping of SS Queensland is complete, a drop camera is then lowered from RV Investigator to take a closer look at the wreck. This special underwater camera is lowered to sit just above the wreck. Investigator then sailed parallel to the wreck at low speed to capture close up vision of the ship and build a composite picture of the whole site.

    Doing multiple passes over a site allows mapping technicians to build more detailed maps of features and objects, which can then be used to confirm if that unexpected something is a shipwreck.

    Along the way, the drop camera also captures footage of a lot of curious fish and other marine life.

    With these surveys completed and equipment tested, Investigator departed to begin its program of shipwreck surveys in Bass Strait.

    With proven successes in the past, including the discoveries of SS Macumba and SS Carlisle in 2017, Investigator’s freshly calibrated mapping systems have all on board excited about what they might find.

    We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with the fish and ships they find in the deep!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CSIROscope, Mapping the deep dark seafloor, Marine Geophysics, , Microbial Science, , , The Ship's Doctor, The Ship’s Captain, Vessel construction, Voyage Management,   

    From CSIROscope: Women In STEM-“Seafaring superstars: Six women shining on our national science ship” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    8 March 2019
    Kate Cranney

    1
    Toni Moate lead the construction of the massive research vessel, Investigator. Image: Chris McKay

    This International Women’s Day, we’d like you to meet the talented women on board our research vessel Investigator.

    Investigator travels from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge, delivering up to 300 research days a year. And on each voyage you’ll find female scientists, ship’s crew and support staff answering big questions, whether they’re studying ancient microbes or they’re ensuring the health and well-being of the people on board.

    The six women you’ll meet include an oceanographer, a doctor, a marine geophysicist, a voyage manager, a captain and—last boat not least!—a leader who oversaw the construction of the ship itself. Some of these women knew, when they were young, that science floated their boat. Others took a more sea-nic route. But one thing’s for shore: they’re all smart, adventurous, competent, courageous and hard-working.

    So steady your sea legs, you bunch of landlubbers, and let’s meet the women on board!

    Martina Doblin studies the first organisms on the planet
    2
    Martina Doblin studies microscopic organisms called microbes – the first organisms on the planet. Image: Doug Thost

    “When I was studying in Hobart I had the opportunity to volunteer on a voyage to Antarctica. I was really moved to see this pristine part of the planet. It changed me. I came back and the world looked different. I knew I’d chosen the right career path.”

    Martina is a biological oceanographer. She looks at microscopic organisms called microbes—the first organisms on the planet. As she points out, “If there were no microbes on the planet there’d be no people!” It’s important science, especially in the face of a changing climate: Martina seeks to understand what climate change and a warmer ocean will mean for these microbes.

    Martina has been on Investigator several times, including as the ship’s Chief Scientist. For Martina, “the Chief Scientist helps to make sure the scientists leave the ship with the data that they need to solve the big questions.”

    But it’s not just about her science. “I’ve been able to train several female biological oceanographers, which has been really satisfying, partly because it’s still a pretty male-dominated profession,” she says. “For young female scientists, it’s a very empowering thing to be able to do experiments on a big ship, to work at sea and use the equipment. It can be life changing”. Learn more about tiny organisms and big voyages!

    Fun fact: Martina’s identical twin also works in environmental science—she’s a plant biologist!

    Sheri Newman is the Ship’s Doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, counsellor…
    3
    Dr Sheri Newman was a ship doctor during a voyage to Antarctica, aboard RV Investigator.

    “As the Ship’s Doctor, I have to be the doctor, the dentist, the physiotherapist, the mental health counsellor and of course all the science roles. It’s a huge responsibility and one that I cherish.”

    When Sheri Newman was young, she knew she wanted to be a doctor and a surgeon. Jump ahead to 2016, and Sheri is a doctor and a surgeon. In Australia, women accounted for 50 per cent of all medical graduates, but women make up just 12 per cent of all surgeons—the smallest proportion of any medical speciality.

    But Sheri was resolute. “Going through the training is particularly intense, brutal even! The hours you have to put in, the mental and physical fatigue, can be quite a difficult and challenging career.” Mid-way through her training, Sheri decided that she “hadn’t had enough adventure” in her life at that point, so she took a year off and went to Antarctica as medical officer. “The experience was incredible.”

    The Antarctic experience got under skin. After her time on Investigator, she decided to become a wilderness doctor. She’s since been the Ship’s Doctor on many vessels in remote and exciting locations: she’s been to more than 17 countries, as a doctor, medical student and intrepid traveller.

    “[Through my work] I get the opportunity to work in a place that’s so isolated and so untouched … And my role is so varied: I get to be around the science crew, to be involved in what they do. And there are fabulous vistas … and whales! It’s truly special.”

    Tara Martin maps the deep, dark, mysterious seafloor
    4
    Tara Martin’s work links her back to the explorers: she maps the deep dark seafloor, as a marine geophysicist aboard RV Investigator.

    “I get immense satisfaction in my job. It’s not a normal job—I like that.”

    Tara is a marine geophysicist. She maps the deep ravines, plateaus and peaks of our uncharted seafloor, up to 11 000m below the ocean’s surface.

    “We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor … Australia has the third largest ocean zone in the word, and we’ve only mapped 25 per cent of it,” she explains. Each time Investigator goes to sea, Tara’s team maps more of this underwater world. Recently, Tara’s team revealed a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400km east of Tasmania. “Our job links us back to the explorers,” she remarks.

    But Tara wasn’t always so keen on science. “It wasn’t until I was much older that I looked at changes of career [and studied marine geophysics]. I didn’t know what physics was before then … so I worked hard at university. I worked really, really hard!”

    When she started working, life at sea wasn’t as female-friendly as it is now. “Over my 20 year career, I’ve certainly experienced moments where I’ve not been allowed to do work that my male colleagues were doing out on the back-deck, because I’m a woman. Things have changed.”

    Working at sea isn’t for everyone: Tara talks of long shifts, seven days a week. But then, she says, she’ll get to work with cutting edge science, or someone will make an exciting new discovery. For Tara, “Those are the moments you go to sea for!”

    Tegan Sime keeps the voyage science on course
    5
    Tegan Sime is a Voyage Manager aboard RV Investigator. She keeps the crew and scientists singing from the same sea-shanty songbook.

    “I’ve never really followed the same path as everybody else. Being a late bloomer isn’t necessarily a bad thing … I’ve just taken my time to really figure out what I want to do. And I’m there now. I’ve got a great job, a great career, and I love it.”

    When Tegan finished Year 12, she didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she volunteered at a sailing school. She loved the adrenaline and excitement of sailing, so volunteered on Young Endeavour. It was her first taste of tall ship sailing. “Being out on the middle of the ocean, in the quiet, on a creaky ship that was designed hundreds of years ago—there’s a romance to it. And it was so much fun! I just loved it.”

    At 23, Tegan was eager to study marine biology at university, but she hadn’t done so well the first time around at school. Determined, she did Year 12 again, got her high school certificate, started university, and did her honours aboard our former research vessel, Southern Surveyor.

    Years on, Tegan is a Voyage Manager on Investigator. She is the key liaison between the crew of the ship and the scientists—she brings their work together. She also plays a key role in the mood of the people aboard the ship: “I guess I’m a bit of an amateur counsellor and I try to help people get through the tougher times when we’re out there.”

    There’s no typical day at sea. She tells a story about her recent birthday. “We were down near the ice-edge in the Antarctic. I woke up at 3am, it was pitch black, but when I peeked through my curtains I could see the Aurora lighting up the sky! I raced up the bridge and there were a couple of people taking photos and footage, and they all started singing happy birthday to me under the Aurora. It was a really special experience.”

    Madeleine Habib is the captain of our ship (aye, aye!)
    6
    Madeleine Habib is a Ship’s Captain. She is part of a very small group of women seafarers in Australia: less than 1% of the workforce.

    “I am drawn to working on ships that have a purpose—I want my work to have purpose. Being a captain…it’s not always easy. There are times when you are literally making decisions that affect the survival of the people on board the vessel.”

    Madeleine is a Ship’s Captain. She began her seafaring career at 22: “I was enchanted—suddenly I’d found this mix between a physical and mental challenge and I felt really confident that that’s what I wanted to pursue.” But she had to break down some entrenched gender biases. “Everybody just assumed I was a cook, and I really resented that—just because I was a young woman on a boat, that shouldn’t be the only role open to me. So when I returned to Australia, I went for my first Captain’s licence. I wanted to be taken seriously in the maritime industry.”

    Women currently represent less than 1 per cent of the total number of seafarers in Australia. Madeleine is part of this pioneering group. “To young women I’d like to say that a life at sea is a viable career. It’s so important to believe in your own potential, and only be limited by your own imagination.”

    Toni Moate oversaw the building of our world-class research vessel Investigator
    7
    Toni Moate stands proud in front of Investigator. She oversaw the creation of this $120 million state-of-the-art research vessel.

    “Like many women, when I was first offered the opportunity to lead the project, I didn’t think I had the skill set. Now, when I see the Investigator, I feel incredible pride.”

    Not many people can say they were responsible for building Australia’s biggest state-of-the-art research vessel.

    In 2009, Toni was chosen to lead the build of Investigator. She spent the next five years propelling the creation of the $120 million ship. It took 3 million (wo)man hours, and some tense discussions in a male-dominated industry to build the ship. Toni is so familiar with Investigator that it “feels like I’m walking around my house!”

    Toni left school at 15, at the end of Year 10. At that stage, she’d never left Tasmania. She went into the public service, and hoped to be a secretary one day.

    Through her leadership role with the ship-build project, she’s shown her young daughters “that women can do a lot more than they think they can do.” As Toni says, “My daughters took away a lot of life lessons—I think they learned that hard work pays off; that you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. They feel as proud of that ship as I do.”

    And we couldn’t be prouder of Toni. In 2017, she was awarded the Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year. She is now our Director, National Collections & Marine Infrastructure. Her ambit includes RV Investigator, so she can still step on board and walk around her second home!

    Women and science—why do we need to rock the boat?

    If we’re going to build a healthy, prosperous Australia, we need all of the talented women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) to be part of the team.

    But women in STEMM face a number of barriers in their careers, some obvious, some covert. In STEMM fields, only 18 per cent of leadership positions are held by women. Since the 1980s, more than half of all students graduating with a Bachelor of Science or a life science PhD are women, but women make up less than 20 per cent of lead researchers at senior levels in universities and research institutes.

    So what are we doing to get more women on board … and on boards?

    So what are we doing to address gender equity?

    We’re part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot and the Male Champions of Change (MCC) initiative.

    We were one of the first cohort members of Australia’s SAGE Athena Swan pilot program, and were recently awarded an Institutional Bronze Award. And we’re continuing to roll out our SAGE Action Plan, designed to drive systemic, long-term change towards gender equity within our organisation. You can read it here.

    And it’s not just an internal mission. We’re also addressing gender inequality in the research and projects that we deliver in developing nations.
    Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using technology to better understand our Antarctic marine life", AAD-Australian Antarctic Division of Australian Antarctic Program, Antarctic blue whales, “We’ve now got so much more information about the fine-scale three-dimensional structure of krill swarms that we can start to get a better idea of the sort of swarms Antarctic blue whales hunt”, Can you imagine living life without your phone? But mobile technology isn’t confined to our cities: it’s also helped scientists working in some of the most remote places on Earth, CSIROscope, For the first time on an Australian research vessel echo sounders were used to construct three-dimensional pictures of giant krill swarms., More than 250 underwater listening devices were deployed during the voyage. They were used to detect the low frequency calls of the whales, One was an old friend: the researchers spotted a whale which had been recorded on an expedition six years ago, Over 300 hours of whale watching led to 36 encounters with these magical creatures leading to the identification of 25 individual whales., Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program were looking at the complex relationship between krill and whales and their roles in maintaining the health of the Southern Ocean, Several swarms extended over one kilometre in length and hundreds of metres across containing many millions of krill, The first challenge for the team of scientists on this epic 13000 kilometre journey was to find the Antarctic blue whales in the vast waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, The technology used in this research has gathered data that will lead to ecosystem-based management of Antarctic krill and conservation of endangered species such as Antarctic blue whales, This is the first time a survey of Antarctic blue whales has been conducted together with a structured survey of their prey- tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill, We monitored over 750 hours of underwater recordings and measured over 33000 bearings to blue whale calls which enabled us to home in on whale ‘hotspots’   

    From CSIROscope: “Using technology to better understand our Antarctic marine life” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    6 March 2019
    Kashmi Ranasinghe

    1
    Researching these endangered Antarctic blue whales could improve future conservation efforts © Elanor Miller AAD

    Can you imagine living life without your phone?

    If you think about it, it was only about a decade ago when smartphones entered our lives, changing forever how we interact with each other and the world around us.

    But mobile technology isn’t confined to our cities: it’s also helped scientists working in some of the most remote places on Earth. Like a team of scientists on our RV Investigator, who have just returned to Hobart after a seven-week voyage across 200,000 square kilometres of the icy Southern Ocean.

    RV Investigator Australia

    Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program were looking at the complex relationship between krill, whales, and their roles in maintaining the health of the Southern Ocean.

    Krill ecologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr So Kawaguchi, said this is the first time a survey of Antarctic blue whales has been conducted together with a structured survey of their prey, tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill.

    But how do you measure data in such a large area for two species in a short amount of time? This is where technology comes into the picture— a team of scientists have used innovative technology to uncover the distribution of endangered blue whales and krill.

    2
    The krill team in action © AAD

    Listening in while they drone on

    Antarctic blue whales may be big … but the Southern Ocean is bigger! The first challenge for the team of scientists on this epic 13,000 kilometre journey was to find the Antarctic blue whales in the vast waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

    Lead whale acoustician, Dr Brian Miller, said that more than 250 underwater listening devices were deployed during the voyage. They were used to detect the low frequency calls of the whales.

    “We monitored over 750 hours of underwater recordings and measured over 33,000 bearings to blue whale calls, which enabled us to home in on whale ‘hotspots’,” Dr Miller said.

    Over 300 hours of whale watching led to 36 encounters with these magical creatures, leading to the identification of 25 individual whales. One was an old friend: the researchers spotted a whale which had been recorded on an expedition six years ago.

    3
    A sonobuoy is deployed to listen in to Antarctic blue whales © Peter Shanks CSIRO

    For the first time on an Australian research vessel, echo sounders were used to construct three-dimensional pictures of giant krill swarms. Several swarms extended over one kilometre in length and hundreds of metres across, containing many millions of krill.

    “We’ve now got so much more information about the fine-scale three-dimensional structure of krill swarms that we can start to get a better idea of the sort of swarms Antarctic blue whales hunt,” Dr Kawaguchi said.

    “This opens a window into understanding the relationship between the world’s largest animal and one of the world’s most abundant organisms, Antarctic krill.”

    4
    A drone used in this research in flight © Paula Olson AAD

    If listening to the whales and 3D mapping of krill wasn’t enough, drones were also used overhead to measure whale size, capture their “blow” (the air exhaled explosively from their blowholes), and sample trace metals in surface water.

    5
    A drone flies over a blue whale, capturing its “blow” © AAD

    The technology used in this research has gathered data that will lead to the improvement of ecosystem-based management of Antarctic krill and conservation of endangered species such as Antarctic blue whales.

    This research was supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on February 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A data-driven energy future is NEAR", CSIROscope, NEAR-National Energy Analytics Research   

    From CSIROscope: “A data-driven energy future is NEAR” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    21 February 2019
    Claire Ginn

    1
    CSIRO’s NEAR Program is collecting, storing and analysing energy data to support Australia’s electricity system of the future.

    Summer is a time when our energy system is put to the test. Long, warm days mean air conditioners running at full force, and the high temperatures can put our electricity generation technologies under stress. Like the power running to our homes and businesses, streams of data about how these hot days translate into Australia’s energy use are pouring out. There’s a vast amount of incredibly useful data, but it’s stored in different formats, by different organisations, and sometimes it never sees the light of day.

    At the same time, we’re trying to figure out how the electricity system of the future will look. We’re seeing a rise in distributed energy technologies (like household solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles) and a growing complexity in the way we use energy (like air conditioners being switched on and off as temperatures wax and wane). So how can we stay on top of ongoing changes, and know where to invest in infrastructure? We’ve found a way to corral a lot of that data (and lots of smart research) into one central platform so the right information is available when it’s needed.

    We’re calling it the National Energy Analytics Research (NEAR) Program – a collaboration between us, the Australian Government and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

    2
    Dr Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh is part of the research team centralising Australia’s energy data into the NEAR Program.

    It’s all in the detail

    When we say ‘data platform’, what we really mean is a huge online warehouse. It contains energy consumption patterns, characteristics of buildings where we live and work, information on how we use fridges and clothes dryers, statistics about weather patterns, and much more! It’s a range of different data sources that can deliver answers to really complex energy problems. So it’s a data warehouse and a data workhorse.

    For example, using NEAR Program research, we could anticipate how a 35 degree day will drive air conditioner use across Victoria and where the energy will most need to flow as a result. Being able to marry that sort of information with statistics on which houses have solar panels or battery capabilities, for instance, means being able to direct funding for electricity infrastructure to the right place.

    3
    We’re shedding light on Australia’s energy use, with the NEAR Program.

    Centralised data, and then what?

    We’re currently undergoing a period of major energy transformation and the electricity network of the future will require billions of dollars of investment to get us to where we need to be. That’s why it’s so important that decisions about our energy future are underpinned by the very best data and research.

    Over periods of extreme heat or system stress, outputs from the NEAR Program will help identify areas of risk and provide evidence to support appropriate decisions (like whether to apply ‘load shedding’ – more commonly known as ‘rolling blackouts’). This will mean a better bird’s eye view of what happens on those 35+ degree days, helping make sure the lights stay on and we all stay cool and calm.

    The NEAR Program will also address increasing energy costs, linking consumer patterns with energy sector data to build a fuller picture of the modern Australian energy user. This will support research focused on simultaneously increasing comfort and lowering costs for Australian homes.

    Already plugged in

    Project leader Dr Adam Berry is a man who lives for data. He and the team are already off and running, contributing really important data to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Retail Electricity Prices Inquiry about how energy costs impact Australian households.

    The team will keep working with government, regulators, operators and distributors, to drive data innovation needed by industry, researchers and policy makers to secure the best energy future possible for Australia.

    We’re energised

    Do you want to contribute to our understanding of household energy use? Our CSIRO Energise app has collated a veritable stack of information about how you use your appliances and react to weather fluctuations. This anonymised data comprises part of the NEAR Program too. It provides us with rich insight into the experiences of modern Australian energy consumers. And it’s not too late to participate, in fact, you can download the app right here.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:18 am on January 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope : “Robots of the future: it’s about to get weird” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    9 January 2019

    The word “robot” was coined almost a hundred years ago by Czech writer Karel Čapek, to refer to the artificial life forms in his play “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. Ever since humanoid shaped robots have dominated concepts of what a robot should look like.

    Think of Star War’s C3PO, The Terminator, The Iron Giant, or even Marvin the Paranoid Android from “Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy”.

    In the real world there are also machines like Boston Dynamic’s incredibly agile “Atlas”. Or Sophia, the first robot to receive citizenship.

    More often than not though our shape isn’t the best one for robots faced with challenging assignments in extreme environments.

    In a just published paper [Nature Machine Intelligence] our scientists have offered a bold glimpse into what the robots of the future could look like – and it’s not “Robby the Robot”.

    Robot evolution revolution

    Our Active Integrated Matter Future Science Platform (AIM FSP) says that within 20 years robots could look unpredictably different. Scientific breakthroughs in areas like materials discovery, advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence will allow robots to be designed from the molecular level up to perform their specific mission. Resulting in unusual and unexpected shapes, limbs and behaviours.

    2
    An artist’s impression of a robot for use in the Amazon. Based on tree crawling lizards and gecko, it would have articulated legs for more flexibility and climbing.

    Central to this all is a concept known as Multi-Level Evolution (MLE). It argues that robots should be taking their engineering cues from the one tried and true design philosophy that’s survived millennia on Earth: evolution.

    Evolution has seen animals undergo incredibly diverse adaptation to survive challenging environments. It creates effective solutions that are often totally different to any a human engineer would come up with. Kangaroos, for instance, probably wouldn’t have made it off the drawing board but have survived and thrived for eons in Australia.

    How would MLE work?

    A robot’s mission, as well as details about the relevant terrain and environment, would be entered into a computer. It would then run algorithms based on evolution to automatically design robots.

    The computer would do this by exploring a diverse range of materials, components, sensors and behaviours. Advanced, computer based modelling could rapidly test prototypes in simulated, “real world” scenarios to decide which works best.

    Once that’s done 3D printing and other technologies would be used to create and physically test prototype robots.

    The end result? Small, simple, highly specialised robots that can automatically adapt to their environment and are tough enough to survive their mission.

    3
    An artist’s impression of an ocean, coastal or river based amphibious robot. It would travel in water like an eel, but have legs in order to crawl and climb.

    Do the robot

    Say, in the future, you need to design robots for environmental monitoring in extreme environments. They’d all need to move across difficult landscapes while gathering data. Eventually, to avoid polluting the environment, they’d have to return to base or degrade away to nothing. How could you do this?

    MLE would come up with remarkably different results, depending on the terrain, climate and other factors.

    To cope with the Sahara Desert a robot would need materials designed to survive punishing heat, sand and dust. Given the amount of sun the Sahara receives the robot could be solar powered, and slide across sand dunes. The harsh UV light could also be used as the trigger to eventually wear the robot away.

    In the Amazon a robot would have entirely different challenges to face. Thick, low lying vegetation and fallen trees would hamper its movement so it would need to be flexible enough to climb over or go round obstacles. It could perhaps be powered by biomass such as the leaves covering the jungle floor, and degrade with humidity.

    4
    An artist’s impression of an Antarctic based robot. Turtle like, it would be strong and robust for extreme conditions. It could also suit desert applications.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), , Australia and Antarctica, CSIROscope, Did a hotspot break up your relationship?, , Lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle), , , , , Seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains)., Smoke in the water,   

    From CSIROscope: “Did a hotspot break up your relationship?” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    7 January 2019
    Sophie Schmidt

    1
    Women make up 85% of scientists on this voyage of RV Investigator, which is being led by the University of Tasmania.

    RV Investigator Australia

    We’re back out on the waves on board RV Investigator serving up live science plucked fresh from the high seas – and what a voyage it’s been! Since departing Hobart just after Christmas, we’ve been busy sailing for science – not in pursuit of freaky abyssal fish, nor whale watching or shipwrecks – this time we’ve set out for the love of rocks.

    Yep, you read it correctly. The Chief Scientist, Dr Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania is leading a team of geologists on a two-week voyage to undertake research into one of those huge, soul-searching kind of break ups. Think less Ariana and Pete (hello, millennials, are you reading CSIROscope?) and more Australia and Antarctica.

    We’re hoping that we might get the closure we need by investigating an area hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Tasmania brimming with seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains).

    All of this drama went down like, 35 million years ago, so we should really be over it by now, but according to Jo, it’s vital that we understand what happened in Antarctica’s past in order to predict its future.

    2
    Jill, CSIRO summer scholar student (right) has been busy mapping seamounts as part of our Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM) team.

    Smoke in the water

    Seamounts are caused by mantle plumes – basically, the homewreckers of the lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle). Mantle plumes are an up-welling of extra-hot molten rock (magma) from the mantle below and they can seriously mess stuff up. They can cause the Earth’s crust to weaken and rise up through the sea floor, creating big structures such as seamounts and large underwater plateaus, like the Kerguelen Plateau in the Southern Ocean.

    While a mantle plume more or less stays put over time, tectonic plates can continue to drift over it, resulting in seamounts sprouting up in chains across the seafloor. A mantle plume can also cause the Earth’s surface to be uplifted.

    Jo thinks that if we can determine the age and the order in which the seamounts we are studying sprouted as a result of the Balleny mantle plume, we’ll get a better understanding of the role this plume played in this epic break-up.

    “Antarctica underwent a dramatic change 34 million years ago going from Tasmanian rainforests to a glaciated state,” says Jo.

    “Around the same time, it’s thought that the Tasman Gateway, separating Antarctica from Tasmania, opened up.”

    “This research is all about determining whether the mantle plume played a role in opening the Gateway.”

    3
    Voyage Chief Scientist Jo Whittaker inspects the contents of the latest geological treasure haul.

    Rockin’ n rollin’

    Faced with the prospect of a dry ship on New Years’ Eve and oscillating bouts of sea sickness – compounded by my baseline understanding of geology (which has marginally improved), it’s been a seamount-shaped learning curve catching up on the science above and below decks.

    RV Investigator operates 24 hours a day (eye-masks issued on board say “good science doesn’t sleep but good scientists do”) and being on board this world-class research vessel feels like living inside a big, heaving, cooperative sea creature, fuelled by the enthusiasm and smarts of the crew, scientists and support staff on board.

    2
    (In case you can’t tell) Tom, PhD student from University of Tasmania is excited to find some fresh basalt, because it will clue us in to the age of one of the seamounts.

    Much to one geologist’s delight, we occasionally dig up sediment. Popping this under the microscope can reveal a catalogue of million-year-old microfossils including the remnants of coral and plankton which can be dated.

    Everyone is connected on board by some advanced and not so advanced technology. It’s not unusual to wake up to a message from a scientist at 2am posting a photo from another ‘gorgeous dredge’ or to find napkins passionately scribbled with geological diagrams lying around the ship’s galley.

    4
    RV Investigator has advanced multibeam systems that can map to full ocean depth.

    Navigating the unknown is, of course, made much easier with detailed maps and our geospatial mapping team has been constantly collecting seafloor data in rotating 12-hour shifts. The maps are used to decide which part of the seamount we’d like to sample. The ship’s winch is then used to lower a dredge down to thousands of metres below the ocean surface to sample along the top of the seamount.

    Enough about us, though – let’s jump into a quick recap of why we’re here.

    Australia and Antarctica – a lava story
    When things were good, they were really good

    We don’t know how long Tasmania and Antarctica shacked up together before separating around 100 million years ago but their relationship goes back at least 500 million years (New Zealand came along for the ride too #itscomplicated).

    But their issues only became bigger and bigger

    At some point, maybe around 80 million years ago, tension rose to the surface. The Balleny mantle plume, a hotspot, appeared on the scene and fired up seamount after seamount in progressive chains. After being so close for so long, Antarctica and Tasmania started to drift apart.

    They decided their problems were just too big to solve

    At first, Tasmania started to back off slowly, at a rate of a few millimetres or so per year.

    Then, around 35 million years ago, rapid uplift of the crust saw Tasmania start zipping north at around 7 centimetres per year. It was time for Tasmania to move on, and leave the hotspot and Antarctica behind.

    Antarctica turned pretty frosty post-split

    Around 34 million years ago Antarctica became increasingly cold – icy, if you will – and the happy memories of the flora and fauna it once shared with Tasmania became a thing of the past. Perhaps Tasmania still carried a flame as it moved north – after all, its rocks, landforms, soils and vegetation are all by-products from a long-term relationship with Antarctica.

    As continental drift accelerated, the sea floor widened enough to form a gateway (opening) for colder waters to start circulating around Antarctica. We call this the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), which thermally isolates Antarctica and helps keeps it cold.

    It’s possible that the uplift of the seafloor could have led to the opening of the Tasman Gateway – and the related onset of the ACC. Determining how and when the seamounts formed in this region will help us better understand the evolution of the ACC.

    5
    Emily is an Australian teacher on board under our Educator on Board Program. When she’s not assisting scientists with preparing samples, she’s coming up with new geological slants for the school curriculum.

    Get your rocks off (the dredge and into the lab)

    Even though things have cooled off, we still have some lingering questions to be answered. Did continental drift alone cause the Tasman Gateway to open, leading to Antarctica’s progressively cold state? How drastically did the Balleny mantle plume affect the seafloor over time?

    Out here, Jo’s looking for those answers in the rock samples, which she describes as ‘geological time capsules’– they’ll be dated and analysed back at the lab.

    “All of the data we’re collecting will be used to train better models used to predict what will happen to Antarctica’s future coastline and the melting of its ice sheets.”

    “We’ll understand how the Tasman gateway opened – and whether or not the mantle plume played a major role in the glaciation of Antarctica.”

    6
    Scientists are seeking to join the dots to better understand this chain of seamounts that stretches across the Tasman Sea.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:58 pm on December 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIROscope, How to sift through the millions of galaxies buried within terabytes and terabytes of data, Meet our space sifter-Tim Galvin, , Tim’s role is trying to see how machine learning can help solve particular problems   

    From CSIROscope: “Meet our space sifter” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    20 December 2018
    Nikki Galovic

    1
    Tim Galvin has a big job ahead of him sifting through the masses of data generated by our world-leading ASKAP telescope

    One of our Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder [see below] (ASKAP) teams is preparing to produce a catalogue of 70 million galaxies. That’s a pretty solid number – it’s actually more data than has ever been detected by all radio telescopes across the entire history of radio astronomy. If you want to split hairs, it’s about 25 times the number of galaxies ever detected.

    ASKAP is actually a precursor to the SKA which is a big international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. Construction is due to start in the 2020s in Australia and South Africa. And that will mean even more data.

    What to do with all that data?

    So how to sift through the millions of galaxies buried within terabytes and terabytes of data? There’s a big project fittingly called The Evolutionary Map of the Universe (also known as EMU – cute!) and they have this challenge ahead of them.

    ASKAP EMU Evolutionary Map of the Universe

    All that data can’t be waded through by humans alone and that’s where Tim Galvin from our Astronomy and Space Science team comes in.

    Tim’s research group, which also involves the Western Sydney University and other institutions, is working to solve that data deluge with machine learning: training an algorithm to sift the supernovas from the Moon dust.

    “We’ve never been so deep across such a large surface of the sky. We’re going to have way too much data,” Tim said.

    Tim’s role is trying to see how machine learning can help solve particular problems. He’s working on an algorithm called ‘self-organising maps’ which will help organise different types of radio sources they’re seeing in the data surveys.

    “We only want to have to worry about the cool interesting stuff. But we’re still figuring out what the ‘important’ data will look like.

    “We’re at a special time where technology can do very cool things – that even ten years ago you would have said ‘no way’ to.

    “For example, the idea that you could get affordable disks to store 30 or 40 terabytes of data – or CPUs capable of churning through that data.

    “It’s a really cool time to be at CSIRO with big data instruments, because we’re getting to the point where we can make big strides in problems that we used to think were just too big to solve,” he said.

    Fields of vision

    ASKAP is made of 36 identical 12-metre wide dish antennas that all work together as one telescope. The antennas have unique CSIRO-designed phased array feed receivers – each one creates 36 individual beams on the sky – traditional receivers have one beam. These special receivers effectively give astronomers a wide-angle lens on the Universe with a field of view of 30 square degrees – huge!

    Tim’s vision is the opposite. He has a visual impairment called Choroideremia (sometimes abbreviated to CHM) which makes it like looking through a tunnel.

    “It’s a visual impairment that I’ve had all my life. It’s a progressive condition – so it gets worse over time.

    “My left eye is more or less gone – I can’t read or see with it, but thankfully my right eye has a really strong field of vision at the centre.

    “Day to day, I can still read a computer screen easily. I have large text and colour schemes to help recognise what I’m reading, and generally the accessibility tools on most systems are exactly what I need. I’m pretty lucky.

    “If I’m away from the computer, though – even doing simple things like walking around the office – that’s when I have to be quite careful.

    Long-term, there’s no formal treatment for Choroideremia, and Tim will likely go completely blind. The timeframe on that is not clear but there are some promising trials from different treatments happening around the world.

    2
    Don’t you hate it when you get so much data from your super-powerful telescopes that you have to build a fleet of robot brains to interpret it?! Credit: Alex Cherney/terrastro.com

    A room full of geniuses

    When we ask our staff what they love most about working at CSIRO, there’s a pretty common response: the people. You can be in a room full of geniuses any day of the week. Sometimes you might be the smartest person in that room and sometimes you’re learning new and amazing things. Tim is no different.

    “The more people I talk to, the more I realise how much there is that I just don’t know.

    “It’s pretty common for me to walk out of a talk – and think ‘Okay, there’s five words I’m going to need to look up on Wikipedia.’

    “Even within your field of expertise there’s going to be a hell of a lot of stuff you don’t fully grasp – it gives you something to work towards, and it makes me feel pretty hopeful.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:02 pm on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Climate change is intimately linked to our oceans, CSIROscope, Fish are helping feed a hungry world, industry and future research, , Oceans are the lungs of our planet, Piping hot marine research delivered to your door, The data we collect about biodiversity informs policy, We don’t know much about what dwells in the deep blue   

    From CSIROscope: “Piping hot marine research delivered to your door” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    1
    Every biodiversity surveys discovers new life in our oceans. Credit Asher Flatt.

    Did you order some world-class marine research? On 12 December 2014, our resolute research vessel Investigator was commissioned into service, delivering a flexible blue-water research platform for collaborative marine research in Australia.

    3
    RV Investigator

    Four years and forty voyages on, we‘re serving up four reasons why the marine research we deliver flavours your world.

    1) Oceans are the lungs of our planet

    Every breath you take, every move you make, the oceans have contributed more than half of your oxygen. In fact, marine photosynthesisers such as phytoplankton, are estimated to produce up to 80% of the world’s oxygen.

    The problem is, we don’t fully understand how changes in our oceans are impacting on phytoplankton populations. We know factors like ocean temperature and iron levels are important but we need better data on ocean inputs and dynamics to better understand ocean productivity.

    Research we deliver includes study of ocean properties to look at what makes for happy phytoplankton and, as a result, healthy ocean food webs and oxygen production.

    2) Fish are helping feed a hungry world

    Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he will contribute towards a global fish catch estimated at over 120 million tonnes per year. The global harvest of fish has increased dramatically to meet the demands of growing populations, with recent studies estimating that four million fishing boats ply our oceans.

    For effective and sustainable fisheries management, we need to know about the size, distribution and health of fish populations, something that is poorly understood for fisheries globally (but slightly better for Australian waters).

    Our research contributes to the better management of fisheries through study of population sizes, changes and movements. This helps inform government and industry to manage fisheries so our increasing demand for fish doesn’t outstrip what our oceans can sustainably supply.

    2
    Investigator delivers piping hot marine research from ice edge to equator.

    3) Climate change is intimately linked to our oceans

    When the winds of change blow, we need to look to our oceans for answers. Our oceans help regulate the global climate by absorbing heat (possibly 90% of heat from global warming) and chemicals such as carbon dioxide.

    To understand and predict climate change, we need to understand the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, including how currents move energy and regulate temperature, and how chemicals are absorbed into the ocean.

    The research we deliver helps plug gaps in our knowledge by enabling long term ocean monitoring as well as targeted research into complex ocean systems that are poorly understood. The end result, more and better data, leading to better models and better predictions.

    4) We don’t know much about what dwells in the deep blue

    Imagine if every time you walked out the door you discovered a new species! Well, that’s what happens nearly every time we undertake biodiversity surveys in our oceans. We find new fish new corals, new molluscs, new worms, new algae – you name it, we find it. And then name it!

    A good reason to study and understand biodiversity is because it influences productivity. Recent studies have found that diverse fish communities are more productive and resistant to the impacts of climate change. For effective and sustainable management of our marine environment, we first need to know what’s down there.

    The data we collect about biodiversity informs policy, industry and future research. A recent report into life found in the Great Australian Bight, including during biodiversity surveys by RV Investigator, found 400 new species. This knowledge is already being used to better inform planning for future development in the region.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on December 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIROSat-1 CubeSat, CSIROscope   

    From CSIROscope: “Good things come in small packages, satellites included” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    5 December 2018
    Tanya Griffiths

    1
    Artist Impression of CSIROSat-1 CubeSat. Credit: Inovor Technologies

    What’s roughly the size of a toaster but much more useful for Earth observation? Nanosatellites – aka CubeSats. Weighing in at just over one kilogram, CubeSats have a base size of 10cm x 10cm x 10cm. But because every scientist ever is a fan of Lego® building blocks, they’ve also made the cube base stackable so you can add expansion packs. And we’re adding a new breed of these miniature, low-cost satellites to our Earth observation capabilities.

    CubeStats are often used to demonstrate new technology to test new science, new concepts and new infrastructure. A customised selection of scientific instruments carry out specific research and miniaturised electronics conduct and communicate the scientific findings. What also makes these little cubes so versatile is that they can be grouped together into “constellations” to provide advanced mission concepts. Their size and weight also add to their appeal as they can piggy-back a ride with other larger cargo heading up to the International Space Station, where they are launched into orbit around Earth. They generally have a short life-span – lasting about a year or two before their power components fail, and they burn up when they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, but during their lifetime they provide a valuable science data collection. And this is where they punch well above their weight. CubeSats are rapidly evolving and pushing the research boundaries. Their “tech demonstrator” status means they are a viable option for trialling new scientific approaches and pilot infrastructure. And just recently two CubeSats did something no other CubeSat has done before – they travelled to another planet! In the recent InSight lander mission to Mars, two CubeSats developed by NASA accompanied the lander on its journey to the red planet. This was an amazing demonstration of their capability and potential to support the scientific exploration of interplanetary missions. It signalled a game changer for the scientific and technical scope of these low-cost, mini spacecrafts.

    Eye spy with my little space eye

    This week we took another step forward in expanding our stable of assets in Earth observation with the acquisition of a bespoke CubeSat with infrared sensing capability, the first of its kind in Australia.

    Known as CSIROSat-1, the new satellite will allow researchers to ‘see’ features that can’t otherwise be seen using optical satellites. This will be valuable for detecting bushfires through smoke, studying cloud formation and the development of tropical cyclones and much more. CSIROSat-1 is expected to support our approach to overcoming some of the challenges in monitoring the Australian landscape such as remote locations, areas of low population density and challenging environments. The development of our CSIROSat-1 is also a team effort – being built and assembled by South Australian space start-up Inovor Technologies. This research is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund and in-kind contributions from collaboration research partners UNSW Canberra Space, Australian National University and Defence Science and Technology Group.

    For Australia, and our fledgeling space industry, this technology, along with the recently launched NovaSAR satellite, will be a valuable asset to our space technology portfolio.

    Being an Australian designed, controlled and operated CubeSat, it will offer the advantages of an optimised data stream customised for Australian users and near-real-time data access via Australian receiving stations. Good things really do come in small packages.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:58 am on November 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC- Antarctic Circumpolar Current, , CSIROscope, ,   

    From CSIROscope: “Explainer: how the Antarctic Circumpolar Current helps keep Antarctica frozen” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    16 November 2018
    Helen Phillips
    Benoit Legresy
    Nathan Bindoff

    The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, or ACC, is the strongest ocean current on our planet. It extends from the sea surface to the bottom of the ocean, and encircles Antarctica.

    It is vital for Earth’s health because it keeps Antarctica cool and frozen. It is also changing as the world’s climate warms. Scientists like us are studying the current to find out how it might affect the future of Antarctica’s ice sheets, and the world’s sea levels.

    The ACC carries an estimated 165 million to 182 million cubic metres of water every second (a unit also called a “Sverdrup”) from west to east, more than 100 times the flow of all the rivers on Earth. It provides the main connection between the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

    The tightest geographical constriction through which the current flows is Drake Passage, where only 800 km separates South America from Antarctica. While elsewhere the ACC appears to have a broad domain, it must also navigate steep undersea mountains that constrain its path and steer it north and south across the Southern Ocean.

    1
    Scientists deploying a vertical microstructure profiler (VMP-2000), which measures temperature, salinity, pressure and turbulence, from RV Investigator in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, November 2018. Photo credit: Nathan Bindoff.

    What is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current?

    A satellite view over Antarctica reveals a frozen continent surrounded by icy waters. Moving northward, away from Antarctica, the water temperatures rise slowly at first and then rapidly across a sharp gradient. It is the ACC that maintains this boundary.

    2
    Map of the ocean surface temperature as measured by satellites and analysed by the European Copernicus Marine Services. The sea ice extent around the antarctic continent for this day appears in light blue. The two black lines indicate the long term position of the southern and northern front of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

    The ACC is created by the combined effects of strong westerly winds across the Southern Ocean, and the big change in surface temperatures between the Equator and the poles.

    Ocean density increases as water gets colder and as it gets more salty. The warm, salty surface waters of the subtropics are much lighter than the cold, fresher waters close to Antarctica. We can imagine that the depth of constant density levels slopes up towards Antarctica.

    The westerly winds make this slope steeper, and the ACC rides eastward along it, faster where the slope is steeper, and weaker where it’s flatter.

    Fronts and bottom water

    In the ACC there are sharp changes in water density known as fronts. The Subantarctic Front to the north and Polar Front further south are the two main fronts of the ACC (the black lines in the images). Both are known to split into two or three branches in some parts of the Southern Ocean, and merge together in other parts.

    Scientists can figure out the density and speed of the current by measuring the ocean’s height, using altimeters. For instance, denser waters sit lower and lighter waters stand taller, and differences between the height of the sea surface give the speed of the current.

    3
    Map of how fast the waters around Antarctica are moving in an easterly direction. It is produced using 23 years of satellite altimetry (ocean height) observations as provided by the European Copernicus Marine Services. Author provided.

    The path of the ACC is a meandering one, because of the steering effect of the sea floor, and also because of instabilities in the current.

    The ACC also plays a part in the meridional (or global) overturning circulation, which brings deep waters formed in the North Atlantic southward into the Southern Ocean. Once there it becomes known as Circumpolar Deep Water, and is carried around Antarctica by the ACC. It slowly rises toward the surface south of the Polar Front.

    Once it surfaces, some of the water flows northward again and sinks north of the Subarctic Front. The remaining part flows toward Antarctica where it is transformed into the densest water in the ocean, sinking to the sea floor and flowing northward in the abyss as Antarctic Bottom Water. These pathways are the main way that the oceans absorb heat and carbon dioxide and sequester it in the deep ocean.

    Changing current

    The ACC is not immune to climate change. The Southern Ocean has warmed and freshened in the upper 2,000 m. Rapid warming and freshening has also been found in the Antarctic Bottom Water, the deepest layer of the ocean.

    Waters south of the Polar Front are becoming fresher due to increased rainfall there, and waters to the north of the Polar Front are becoming saltier due to increased evaporation. These changes are caused by human activity, primarily through adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone hole is now recovering but greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.

    Winds have strengthened by about 40% over the Southern Ocean over the past 40 years. Surprisingly, this has not translated into an increase in the strength of the ACC. Instead there has been an increase in eddies that move heat towards the pole, particularly in hotspots such as Drake Passage, Kerguelen Plateau, and between Tasmania and New Zealand.

    We have observed much change already. The question now is how this increased transfer of heat across the ACC will impact the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet, and consequently the rate of global sea-level rise.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
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