Entries in Mercury (3)


Mickey Mouse ‘Found’ on Planet Mercury

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington(HOUSTON) -- If Mickey Mouse were to be found in outer space an obvious place to look would be Pluto. But new photos from NASA have found a near identical rendering of the iconic Disney character on the planet Mercury.

The face and big ears are not Mickey’s, however, but just three overlapping craters in Mercury’s southern hemisphere.

The look-alike picture was snapped by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft probing the planet to collect images when the sun is near the horizon.  Images taken at that time help mapmakers see the planet’s small-scale surface features because of the long shadows that are created.

“The shadowing helps define the striking ‘Mickey Mouse’ resemblance, created by the accumulation of craters over Mercury’s long geologic history,” says NASA in the photo description on Flickr.

The crater configuration is on the planet’s south side, near a crater called Magritte, the space agency reports.

Messenger launched in March of last year as the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.  The spacecraft received a yearlong extension of its mission in order to acquire another 80,000 or so images of the planet on top of the 88,746 images it’s already collected.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oklahoma Town Fears Cancer, Asthma May Be Linked to Dump Site

Photodisk/Thinkstock(BOKOSHE, Okla.) -- Many residents of Bokoshe, Okla., have a common fear: a coal ash dump site.

"It's real distressing to have something like this in your backyard and not be sure if you're safe, if your kids are safe," Dub Tolbert said.

The mound of coal ash at the MMHF -- Making Money Having Fun -- dump site reaches six stories high; residents count 80 truckloads a day. The dump site has been in the town since 2001.

Residents say the toxic mix -- coal ash contains arsenic, mercury and lead -- contaminates the air they breathe and water they drink.

"It would be a cloud of dust that would engulf you," said Susan Holmes. "It would just choke you so you couldn't breathe."

Of the 20 homes in the immediate neighborhood, 14 have one or more cancer victims, residents told ABC News.

"She has cancer there," said Tolbert as he drove by houses. "He has cancer there. She passed away from cancer."

Shirley Holbert has incurable lymphoma. "For me, it's too late. But my children and grandchildren, I want them to be healthy and not have to breathe what I've been breathing," she said.

In the Bokoshe public school, teachers told ABC News that more than half of the students there had asthma.

"It's scary because you, you think you might, like, start coughing or something and that you could possibly die," said 12-year-old Shelby.

A link between exposure and specific diseases is difficult to prove but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that dumps that do not have protective liners present a high risk of human exposure to arsenic and other hazardous contaminants. Bokoshe's dump does not have a protective liner.

According to the EPA, if contaminants from coal ash sites get into drinking water, the cancer risk can increase from 20 to 2,000 times the EPA's targets.

In 2009 and 2010, the agency tested the water being discharged at the Bokoshe dump and found it to be toxic. MMHF was ordered to stop polluting the water but the EPA says the company has not complied. The case has now been referred to the Department of Justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


EPA Proposes Standards to Cut Power Plant Pollutants

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new standards to reduce mercury and other harmful emissions at power plants across the nation.

The agency announced the proposed guidelines Wednesday in response to a looming court deadline.

Toxic air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants have been shown to cause neurological damage, including a lower IQ, in children exposed in the womb and during early development.

Mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel also damage the environment and pollute lakes, streams, and fish.  The pollutants lead to premature death, heart disease and asthma.

Certain seafood can be high in mercury.  In such levels, it can be toxic, particularly to pregnant women.  Experts say it can damage an unborn baby or young child's central nervous system and has been linked to heart problems in adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio