The Koyal Group InfoMag: You’ve Never Seen a Coral Reef like This Before

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A hard piece of coral transforms into a flexible creature, its finger-covered tendrils extended toward the ocean currents. Alien surfaces morph and flex in shimmering iridescence. Worm-like “mouths” gape and grab at anything in their proximity.

This is the world seen through the eyes of Daniel Stoupin, a Ph.D. student researching marine biology at the University of Queensland in Australia. He spent nine months working with 150,000 photos to make a video just over three minutes long.

Titled “Slow Life,” the video focuses on a series of corals, sponges and other marine creatures. Their daily functions are photographed over a period of several hours, then sped up into a time-lapse sequence.

“Their speeds happen to be out of sync with our narrow perception,” Stoupin explains in an essay accompanying the video. “Our brains are wired to comprehend and follow fast and dynamic events better, especially those very few that happen at speeds comparable to ours. In a world of blazingly fast predators and escaping prey events where it takes minutes, hours, or days to notice any changes are harder to grasp.”

“These animals build coral reefs and play crucial roles in the biosphere, yet we know almost nothing about their daily lives,” he adds in a separate essay.

Stoupin says he hopes the painstakingly produced video will raise awareness of the devastating impact humans have had on marine life. He focuses particularly on those who remove parts of the reef for the “outrageously expensive hobby” of maintaining private aquariums. “I’m not asking to throw away your passions and hobbies, but please think carefully about what you really love, protect, and invest in,” he writes. “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger and you have the power and finances to change its fate instead of scavenging what’s left of it.”

High-resolution, large-format prints from the video can be purchased on Stoupin’s website.

A 27-year study of the health of the Great Barrier Reef which concluded in 2012 revealed an ecosystem in steep decline, with 50 percent of the reef having died in that time. Two of the major factors negatively impacting the reef are warming sea temperatures due to climate change, and nutrient-rich agricultural runoff, which feeds the growth of coral-eating starfish.

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The Koyal Group InfoMag – NASA To Engage United Nations On Asteroid Initiative

The Koyal Group Science Discoveries Information Magazine - NASA Experts Continue To Engage United Nations On Asteroid Initiative

 

In June of last year, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden spoke to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and shared with the international community what NASA is doing to detect and track asteroids. He also engaged the United Nation’s support for NASA’s mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid to lunar orbit, and then send humans to explore it by 2025. Following Bolden’s presentation, Mazlan Othman, director of the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs, offered support for NASA’s asteroid initiative and noted that near-Earth objects (NEO) have long been a concern for COPUOS.

 

This week at the COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) in Vienna, Austria, two NASA experts provided an update about additional efforts NASA is taking to support the global effort to find, characterize, and monitor near-Earth asteroids. Jason Kessler, program executive for the Asteroid Grand Challenge, gave a presentation on the grand challenge to the subcommittee. Kessler spoke about the critical need for international cooperation in order to meet the grand challenge, which is to find all asteroid threats to human population and know what to do about them.

 

At their 2013 meeting, COPUOS endorsed expanded efforts for an International Asteroid Warning Network. IAWN is a global network of telescopes and tracking stations from different parts of the world searching all parts of the sky to provide a more comprehensive picture of how many asteroids exist and where they are. The IAWN provides a way for additional nations to join the effort. Lindley Johnson, the program executive for the Near-Earth Object Observations (NEOO) program, spoke to the subcommittee about the progress accomplished in the last year on the IAWN and the hazardous NEO Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG), which COPUOS also endorsed in 2013. The SMPAG is a new forum for space capable nations to discuss ways to deflect an asteroid that might impact the Earth.

 

NASA supported the first IAWN Steering Committee meeting in January, as well as the first SMPAG meeting held in early February. The IAWN and the SMPAG are independent of the United Nations, but keep the STSC updated on their activities. NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes. The NEOO program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers these objects, characterizes a subset that are of interest and plots their orbits into the future to determine whether any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.