The sun pillar & cosmic dust - This week on Dreamland, we're talking about strange earth phonomena and what may be causing so many storms and earthquakes, but a few weeks ago on Dreamland, Whitley mentioned seeing a strange "pillar of light" on a walk along the bluff near the ocean. To see an example of this, click here, and read NASA's explanation below. Does it have anything to do with space mysteries such as "cosmic dust?"
Scientists may have identified the first specks of interstellar dust in material collected by the NASA's Stardust spacecraft during a voyage that lasted 7 years. Cosmic dust flows through space and these tiny particles are the building blocks that make up the stars and planets. The NASA craft caught dust streaming from a comet and returned a capsule containing this precious sample was to Earth in 2006, where it was analyzed. NASA has now announced that they found two grains of this marvelous material in the comet's debris. The discovery was of the cosmic dust was actually made by a member of the public, using the Stardust@Home internet application on his computer, which invited people to search the comet medium for tiny particles of the dust. In BBC News, Paul Rincon quotes astronomer Andrew Westphal as saying, "There are two particles, but they are two components of the same particle. But they are very different from each other. That in itself is interesting, because if this does turn out to be interstellar dust, then it is a bit more heterogeneous than people thought.
"So far this particle is unique. "If we drop it on the floor, it will cost $300 million to get another one."
Meanwhile, NASA has an explanation for the "sun pillar" effect, which does not include cosmic dust: "Reddened light from the setting Sun illuminates the cloud banks hugging this snowy, rugged terrain. Inspiring a moment of quiet contemplation, the sunset scene included a remarkable pillar of light that seemed to connect the clouds in the sky with the mountains below. Known as a Sun pillar, the luminous column was produced by sunlight reflecting from flat, six-sided ice crystals formed high in the cold atmosphere and fluttering toward the ground.
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