Monthly Archives: August 2018

Mars, the Red Planet

YKstargazingHey, everyone.  It’s me, Yoko!

A few weekends ago, Kalea and I decided to go stargazing.  As I was admiring the night sky, Kalea suddenly grabbed my attention when he pointed at this HUGE red glowing dot.

“Look, Yoko!  That star is so bright!  And it’s red…just like you!” he said excitedly.

“My silly Kalea,” I couldn’t help but giggle, “that’s not a star.  That’s Mars!”

If you’ve looked up at the night sky lately, you may have seen it too.  Did you know that this is the first time in 15 years that Mars has come this close to Earth?  It’s not expected to get this close again for another 269 years!

If you haven’t had a chance to see Mars yet, don’t worry.  I hear that Mars will continue to shine bright throughout August into September, and you’ll still be able to see it, even without a telescope.

In the meantime, here are some fun Mars facts to share with your friends:

3D rendering planet Mars landscape

  • Mars is about half the size of Earth.  Mars has a diameter of 4,220 miles; smaller than Earth’s 7,926-mile diameter
  • You would think that because Mars is smaller, its years must be shorter too—but that is not the case! One Earth year lasts 365 days, and one Mars year lasts 687 days
  • Mars gets its red color from its dirt. Its rusty red color comes from the iron oxide dust that blankets the whole planet. (Fun fact: iron oxide is just a fancy word for rust!)
  • Mars is home to Olympia Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system at 15 miles high, as well as Valles Marineris, the longest canyon in the solar system, stretching 2,500 miles long and 4 miles deep.

So, the next time you think you see a big red star in the sky, just remember—it might not be a star after all, rather, our neighbor planet Mars!

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Turtles in Space!

turtle-in-space-flippers

Hi There, Kalea here!

I’ve always been fascinated with outer space.  When Yoko told me that those little lights in the nighttime sky were actually far-away planets and suns, it captured my imagination and made me want to know more.  I read as much as I could about rocket ships, space shuttles and famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  What amazing things they did!

But did you know that before men landed on the moon in 1969, two turtles had already been around the moon and back?  It’s true!

On September 15, 1968, a Russian spacecraft called ‘Zond 5’ took off into outer space with two turtles aboard.  It was the very first flight to ever carry live animals into deep space.  The space ship made a loop around the moon and safely returned to Earth five days later, splashing down in the Indian Ocean.  The turtles were fine but had lost a little weight while in space.  Also, they were really hungry when they returned!

And there were even more turtle astronauts!  In 1975, two turtles aboard a ship called the ‘Soyuz 20’ traveled in Earth’s orbit for 90 days, setting a record for the longest amount of time ANY animal has spent in space.

In 2010, more turtles blasted off into outer space—this time with a rat and a bunch of worms  aboard!

As recently as last year, a turtle astronaut by the name of ‘Little Cloud’ soared 13 miles above the Earth in a test craft that was part space ship and part balloon.  Space is cold and does not have breathable air, but don’t worry, Little Cloud was quite comfortable during his journey into space.  The oxygen levels, air pressure, and temperature in his capsule were all remotely controlled by scientists here on Earth.

In case you’re wondering, all the animals returned safely from their space adventures, and their brave missions helped scientists to better understand how space travel can affect human beings.

It made me so proud to know that turtles have made it all the way into outer space.  It’s incredible!  And who knows?  Maybe even one day, I’ll make it up there.  It’s my reminder to keep reaching for the stars!

National Water Quality Month

Hey, there!  It’s me, Kalea!

Did you know that August is National Water Quality Month?  This month, we are reminded of the importance of water conservation and protecting our water sources.

Water is not just important to honus like me, but to all living things on this planet, including you!  Unfortunately, not everyone has access to fresh water, and in some places, fresh water sources are depleting.  This is why learning about water conservation and quality is so important.

Lucky we live Hawaii—did you know that our volcanoes are a major factor in why we have access to fresh, clean water?  Beneath our islands are large slabs of volcanic rock.  These rocks, called aquifers, act as filters that naturally help to purify groundwater.

Here especially on Oahu, we have huge aquifers just underneath Pearl Harbor.  The process of a single rain drop making its way down into the ground and flowing through an extensive maze of volcanic rock that is the aquifer can take years!  It sounds like a lot of work and a long time for just a single drop of water, but don’t worry—an average of two BILLION gallons of water can fall on Oahu in a day!

As water is continuously flowing and collecting within the aquifer, sometimes fresh water can break through in the form of a spring.  Today, we have access to this fresh, purified water thanks to wells and tunnels.

The way that our island purifies water is very special, which is why it’s so important for us to conserve.  Our water is safe enough to drink straight from the tap, a luxury that many places around the world does not have.  Some places go through great measures just to get clean, safe drinking water.

Now that you know how we get our fresh water, here are some easy things you can do at home to make sure our fresh water can continue on for generations:

Grandmother and granddaughter washing utensil in kitchen sink

Turn the Tap Off
Whether you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, if you don’t need to use the water right then and there, turn the tap off!  The water doesn’t need to run while you’re brushing your teeth or scrubbing the dishes.  Turning the water back on just when you’re ready to rinse can save you from wasting water.

child watering a tree

Water Your Plants
Watering your plants is a great way to recycle water that you aren’t using or don’t need.  Say you need to clean out your fish tank.  Instead of dumping your fish tank water down a drain, water your plants!  Fish tank water is full of nutrients that are good for plants.

Is it time for your dog to have a bath?  Bathe your pets outdoors on your lawn.  Not only is your pet getting clean, but your lawn is getting watered at the same time!

Cleaning up after a party and looking for a place to dump your excess ice from the cooler?  You can dump your ice near your plants to help water them.

baby boy taking a bath

Take Showers Instead of Baths
Did you know that a full bathtub can hold up to 70 gallons of water?  That’s a lot!  If you don’t need to take a bubble bath, take a shower instead.  You can still get clean, and in a shorter amount of time too.

 

 Mother And Daughter Loading DishwasherConsolidate
Only wash full loads of laundry, and don’t run a dishwasher unless it’s full.  The less loads you have to do, the less water you will have to use.

Conserving water is so easy to do, you might already be doing these things yourself at home.  There are so many other ways to save water.  What else can you do to promote water conservation?