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Tesseract2 via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

NASA Puts the Planet Up for Adoption in Time for Earth Day

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Tesseract2 via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re looking to feel a deeper connection to the planet you call home, NASA has good news. As Smithsonian.com reports, the space agency is putting Earth up for adoption one 55-mile-wide section at a time.

The project launched on April 6 in anticipation of Earth Day on April 22. Unlike other programs that invite you to symbolically adopt a panda or a star, this process doesn’t require a donation. Just type in your name and NASA will assign you one of 64,000 adoptable locations that cover the globe. The areas are divided into hexagonal tiles, each accompanied by Earth science data gathered on NASA missions. “With instruments in orbit, scientists get data for the entire planet in detail that they can't get anywhere else,” NASA states on the webpage. After receiving their block, users can click on the Explore Map link to take a more in-depth look at it from NASA’s Worldview tool. NASA writes:

“In Worldview you will be able to view images that highlight the amount of vegetation on land or view air quality measurements. You can see how far air pollution and soot from fires or volcanoes have traveled from land to the ocean or how much sea ice is present in the Arctic and Antarctic.”

Each section of Earth comes with a personalized certificate for the adopter to download. But the virtual arrangement won’t stay exclusive for long: If NASA cycles through all 64,000 locations, they’ll go through the list again for anyone who missed out the first time.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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environment
How Overfishing Threatens the World's Oceans—and What We Can Do About It
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Fish populations around the globe are in serious trouble, thanks to the modern fishing industry. Instead of simply using poles and intuition, factory ships employ radar, sonar, helicopters, and even spotter planes to hunt down schools of fish, which they catch using massive nets and lines studded with hundreds of hooks. These technologies allow us to snare all kinds of deep-water delicacies—but they come with an ecological cost, according to TED-Ed’s video below.

Learn how overfishing harms the environment—and what we can do to protect our oceans—by listening to marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and environmental studies scholar Jennifer Jacquet’s lesson below.

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environment
Nearly 100 Volcanoes Discovered Under Antarctic Ice Sheet
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iStock

We’re used to the ocean depths holding a significant number of surprises, but not all of us stop to think about what might be lurking under the thick sheet of ice covering real estate in the Antarctic.

One recent revelation: volcanoes. A lot of them.

Research recently published in Geological Society indicates that 91 newly discovered volcanoes are buried in West Antarctica. Scientists had already identified 47, so the sharp uptick makes for one of the largest concentrations of the formations in the world. The volcanoes were found in the West Antarctic Rift System, a 2200-mile long stretch housing volcanoes as small as 326 feet to as large as 12,600 feet—all completely encased under the ice.

The discovery was unearthed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, where a third-year student suggested the study after examining radar maps of the region and finding evidence of volcanism. The underside of the ice was surveyed for basalt rock; radar detected the volcanoes' sizes and locations.The finding is significant, as the thick ice sheet makes spotting and identifying geological formations difficult.

It’s not currently known which of these volcanoes, if any, might be active or whether they could exacerbate the effects of climate change in the area by melting the underside of the ice sheet, causing it to become unstable. For that reason, finding out their status is considered urgent. Glacier expert Robert Bingham told The Guardian that the potential for eruption is "something we need to determine as quickly as possible."

[h/t Gizmodo]

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