Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Photographer Kerstin Langenberger
caught the Northern Lights
on camera during 300 hours she spent chasing the natural phenomenon in Iceland.
Her images reveal how the mystically beautiful landscape of the untouched Thingvellir National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - became cloaked in a multi-coloured explosion of light.
The curtains of green and purple light make the brightly lit snow-capped mountains and crystal clear fjords appear part of an alien world.
Ms Langenberger, 28, originally from Germany but currently living in Iceland, said: 'Northern lights could never be observed during the day. They're just not bright enough.
'But on nights when the moon lit up sky and land, the aurora was a fantastic sight.
'The aurora has to be bright and strong to be visible on the blue sky created by the moon. This does not happen so very often, which makes pictures like these extremely rare.'
the time exposure.
'The aurora bursts usually last for a few minutes, then it fades away. It might reappear again, it might not - one never knows.'
Auroras are caused by charged particles being blasted through space from the sun. These are attracted to Earth's magnetic field at the North and South poles.
The energy released by the particles striking the atmosphere around 90 miles above Earth causes the jaw-dropping displays of light.
The particles are protons fired into space by sun spots, which appear in regular 11-year cycles. The next big cycle is due to take place in 2012.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
It's not clear how far or how high it can fly – or even how big it is and what makes it take off.
But an aircraft created by scientists in Iran
is, they claim, the world’s first flying saucer.
Called the Zohal
- or Saturn
in English - it said the unmanned spaceship is designed for 'aerial imaging' but added it can be used for 'various missions'.
The hardline Fars news agency illustrated its story with a photo of a flying saucer, akin to one appearing in a 1950s Hollywood B-movie, hovering over an unidentified wooded landscape.
The reports gave no indication of the spaceship’s size. But they indicated it was small by claiming, somewhat bizarrely, that it can also fly indoors.
'Easy transportation and launch and flying, making less noise, are some of the advantages of the device,' said ISNA, Iran’s students’ news agency.
'The device belonging to the new generation of vertical flyers is designed for aerial photography.
'It is equipped with autopilot
, image stabilizer
and has a separate system for aerial recording with full HD quality
Iran, which prides itself on its 2,500 year-old civilization, is also keen to show that it is at the cutting edge of modern science.
Tehran’s ambitious space program alarms the West because the same technology used to send missiles into space can be used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Last year the country announced it had successfully fired a rocket that carried a mouse, a turtle and worms into space.
Tehran insists it will be able to send a man into space in nine years' time.
For president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the advances demonstrate the country's ability to push on with its science programdespite international sanctions over its nuclear
The flying saucer was said to have been unveiled at an exhibition of 'strategic technologies' attended by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
At the same time Iran’s Space Agency
launched a test spacecraft designed to sustain life in orbit.
The state IRNA news agency said the capsule was carried by a rocket called the Kavoshgar-4
(Explorer-4) 75 miles into orbit before returning to earth.
Iran’s often outlandish scientific claims usually prove difficult to confirm.
American naval forces in the Persian Gulf have yet to come across a 'super-modern' radar-evading flying boat Iran claimed to have tested four years ago.