What is Blizzard?

The term "blizzard" is often tossed around when big winter storms blow in. But the National Weather service has an official definition of blizzard:

A blizzard is a storm with "considerable falling or blowing snow" and winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for at least 3 hours.

While blizzard conditions may occur for shorter periods of time, the weather service is particular about its warning system:

When all the blizzard conditions are expected, the National Weather Service will issue a "blizzard warning." When just two of the above conditions are expected, a "winter storm warning" or "heavy snow warning" may be issued.

Blizzard conditions often develop on the northwest side of an intense storm system, meteorologists explain. The difference between the lower pressure in the storm and the higher pressure to the west creates a tight pressure gradient, or difference in pressure between two locations, which in turn results in very strong winds.

The strong winds blow falling snow and pick snow up from the ground, cutting visibility and creating big snow drifts.

Where did the term "blizzard" come from?

It had been used to describe a canon shot or a volley of musket fire. It first showed up to describe a snowstorm in an Iowa newspaper in the 1870s, according to the weather service.

Blizzards are most common in the upper Midwest and Great Plains, but they can occur anywhere strong snowstorms strike.

Credit : Live Science 

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What are the fun facts of vicuna?

Vicuna is a South American member of the camel family, Camelidae, that is closely related to the alpaca and llama.

It has large eyes, triangular ears, a small wedge shaped head, and a long neck and legs. Its body is covered with long, fine, soft, and lustrous coat that varies in colour from light cinnamon to pale white.

It grazes on low grasses and ruminates when resting. They live in family-based groups and use communal dung heaps to mark our territorial boundaries. . When in danger, it emits a high, clear whistle.

These animals are herbivores, which means they eat only plants. While their cousins to the south feed on both grasses and shrubbery, Vicunas only graze on grasses.

They have long teeth that grow continuously, much like those of the rodent family. These teeth allow them to crop short grasses without grinding their teeth down. This species also utilizes mineral deposits, like salt licks.

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What are the fun facts of emu?

Emu is a flightless bird endemic to Australia. It is the second largest bird after ostrich.

It has a long neck, sharp beak and small wings. Its body is covered with light-brown feathers. Each foot has three forward-facing toes that allow it to grip the ground while running. Also, it uses its legs for kicking the predators when faced with danger.

It feeds on fruits, seeds, plant shoots, small animals, animal droppings, and insects. It can survive long periods without food.

It swallows small rocks and pebbles to facilitate grinding of food and accelerate digestion. Females lay large, emerald-green eggs and males incubate the eggs for about seven weeks without drinking, feeding, defecating, or leaving the nest.

What they lack in wing size emus make up for with leg power. On top of the sheer size of their legs, a few special features help boost their strength. Emus are unique among all bird species, for example, in having a gastrocnemius. This powerful muscle, located on the back of the lower leg, forms part of what's known as the calf muscle in humans.

Emus have capitalized on the presence of people in Australia's inland, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) explains. Farmers and ranchers set up water sources the birds can exploit, which has let emus expand into habitats that were once too dry. Fences can help fend off emus, but not all farmers want to keep emus away. Some farmers see the birds as beneficial because they eat the burrs that entangle sheep wool as well as caterpillars and grasshoppers.

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Which are five participating agencies in International Space Station?

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. Its main construction was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments. It has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000.

The ISS is not owned by one single nation and is a “co-operative programme” between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). 

As of April 2021, 244 individuals from 19 countries have visited the International Space Station. Top participating countries include the United States (153 people) and Russia (50 people). Astronaut time and research time on the space station is allocated to space agencies according to how much money or resources (such as modules or robotics) that they contribute. The ISS includes contributions from 15 nations. NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia) and the European Space Agency are the major partners of the space station who contribute most of the funding; the other partners are the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Current plans call for the space station to be operated through at least 2024, with the partners discussing a possible extension until 2028. Afterwards, plans for the space station are not clearly laid out. It could be deorbited, or recycled for future space stations in orbit.

Crews aboard the ISS are assisted by mission control centers in Houston and Moscow and a payload control center in Huntsville, Ala. Other international mission control centers support the space station from Japan, Canada and Europe. The ISS can also be controlled from mission control centers in Houston or Moscow. 

Credit : Space.com

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How many member states are there in European Space Agency?

European Space Agency (ESA), French Agence Spatiale Européenne (ASE), European space and space-technology research organization founded in 1975 from the merger of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), both established in 1964. ESA has 22 Member States. Members include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an associate member. Cooperative agreements have been signed by various countries, including Canada (1981), which participate in some ESA projects. Headquarters of the agency are in Paris.

Representatives of ESA’s member nations form the agency’s policy-making council. A science program committee established by convention deals with matters related to the mandatory science program; other such bodies may be formed by the council to assist in decision making. The chief executive and legal representative of ESA is the director general, assisted by an inspector general and the directors of various departments.

The principal components of the organization are (1) the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), located in Noordwijk, Netherlands, which houses the satellite project teams and testing facilities and is the agency’s main space science and technological research centre, (2) the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), located in Darmstadt, Germany, which is concerned with satellite control, monitoring, and data retrieval, (3) the European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), located in Frascati, Italy, which supports the ESA Information Retrieval Service and the Earthnet program, the system by which remote sensing images are retrieved and distributed, (4) the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), located in Cologne, Germany, which is a training centre, and (5) the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), located in Villafranca del Castillo, Madrid, Spain, which holds scientific operations centres as well as archives. ESA also operates the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), a launch base in French Guiana.

Credit : Britannica 

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