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Why This Matters: This is believed to be the largest hole ever to have formed above the Arctic. While a hole in the ozone layer is an annual occurrence in the southern hemisphere (though it is getting smaller in recent years), a hole in the northern hemisphere is quite rare. It is still only 1 million sq km, which is much smaller than the Antarctic hole, which can reach a size of around 20 to 25 million sq km, and this hole will last only about a month as compared with a normal duration of around 3 to 4 months for the Antarctic hole.
Why Do Ozone Holes Form?
According to LiveScience, holes form in the ozone layer, which is a sheet of gas in Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs much of the harmful ultraviolet light emitted by the sun, due to a combination of cold temperatures and pollution. During the winter, clouds form due to the cold and HFCs and CFCs and other chemical pollutants containingchlorine andbromine trigger reactions in these clouds that eat away at the surrounding ozone gas. The Arctic is not as cold as the Antarctic and so it does not typically have the same conditions that trigger ozone depletion there. However, this year powerful winds trapped cold air in a “polar vortex” above the Arctic., which created the colder conditions leading to more high-altitude clouds than normal. That is also the reason why the winter was milder here in the northern hemisphere.
Pentagon scientists have successfully tested a small solar panel that, when launched into space, can collect solar power and beam it to any place on earth. The special panel is called a Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM) and was launched last May attached to a drone that circles the earth once every 90 minutes. If scaled up, scientists say that these orbital solar panels could work 24/7 and collect more sunlight than those on earth, and provide power to remote areas of the globe and major power grids alike.
To many companies, space is the new “Wild West,” a “final frontier” of resources to be exploited for profit. To avoid a “land rush” in space, nations and space companies will need to agree on what they can claim to own or even begin to extract from outer space before their competitors beat them to it.
Why this Matters: Tesla and Amazon are working to make space travel and resource extraction for private citizens and companies possible.
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