Posts Tagged ‘satellite’

Modelling catastrophic dam collapse and natural disasters

// June 24th, 2011 // Comments Off on Modelling catastrophic dam collapse and natural disasters // Recent Research, Science Communication

One of the biggest dams in the world, Geheyan Dam in China holds more water than five Sydney Harbour’s, a massive 3.12 billion cubic metres worth.

What would happen if it failed?

Models of Geheyan town before and after dam collapse

Australian CSIRO scientists collaborated with China’s Satellite Surveying & Mapping Application Centre (SASMAC) to model the region and apply six different dam failure scenarios.

“Our simulations show where the water would go, how fast it would reach important infrastructure such as power stations and the extent of inundation in major townships downstream,” said Dr Mahesh Prakash from CSIRO in the press release.

Dam failure is a real possibility, as many parts of China are prone to earthquakes. We’ve seen plenty of natural disasters over the past year, highlighting the need to prepare for such events.

Modelling and data visualisation can inform emergency procedure development and ensure new infrastructure is built protected areas.

“The modelling technique we developed for this work is really powerful,” Dr Prakash said. “It gives us very realistic water simulations including difficult-to-model behaviours such as wave motion, fragmentation and splashing.”

This video shows a dam failure simulation, and explains how the model was created. I enjoyed the delicious hundreds and thousands demonstration to show how water acts as a group of particles. Yummy!

The same software has been used to model other catastrophic events, including tsunamis and volcanoes. They also modeled the 1928 St Francis dam break in California. The simulation was very similar to the real event, suggesting the technique is accurate.

New images of the sun from NASA’s SDO

// April 25th, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Just for Fun, Recent Research

The SunThis is one of the first images sent to Earth from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) last week. The SDO satellite collects data and images of the sun, producing enough material to fill a CD every 36 seconds.

Most satellites share ground stations, but because of the monster processing power needed to store all this data, the SDO has one all to itself. Located in New Mexico, the ground station is in constant communication with the satellite. The satellite is in geosynchronous orbit, which means it rotates at the same speed as Earth and is always directly above the ground station.

In its voyage of five years, the SDO hopes to understand how and why the sun’s magnetic field changes. From that they hope to predict the solar winds near Earth, which can have drastic effects on technology. They might also learn to forecast the weather in space, potentially lifesaving for astronauts.

The images it has received so far are stunning. Even if the SDO doesn’t unveil all the mysteries of the sun, the mission will not be a failure. Click through for more images from the SDO.






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