This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do heat waves extend to outer space? And, EVA the space-flying cow.

Two members of the launch and recovery team
point to EVA the cow where she landed
in Death Valley. Photo from the
Facebook.com reference.
"Earth to Sky Calculus" is a group of middle and high school science enthusiasts based in Bishop, California. Since 2011 they have launched 30 balloons into the stratosphere, with 18 recording temperatures at the tropopause, the boundary between the tropopause and the stratosphere. They are hoping to do a satellite launch in 2013.
       Last month, when a heat wave swept across the U.S. Southwest, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching as high as 129 F, the students decided to find out if the heat wave extended all the way into space, that is, up into the stratosphere. On June 30, when it was 108 in Bishop, they launched a research balloon that had onboard a cryogenic thermometer and measured temperature up to 90,000 set. The thermometer registered a "low" temperature of -64.4 C, where the balloon passed through the tropopause. The troposphere is the coldest part of the atmosphere, and it was just as cold as usual on that day. Their measured temperatures ranged from about -68 C (-90 F) to -55C (-67 F).** The answer was: heat waves to not extend up to the tropopause.

A Google search about the Earth to Sky program reveals a video of  EVA the cow (from Tauranga, New Zealand) who, on April 22, 2013, they sent on a weather balloon to the edge of space. EVA successfully parachuted back into Death Valley. It took the students 18 hours to find her! This is a truly cool video!

The students have launched other items including a bobblehead of President Barack Obama on the day before Election Day in 2012. These kids look like they are having a lot of fun and learning a lot as well. Kudos to them, their families and teachers!

**This material from their Facebook page.

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