About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, April 27, 2017

A LIDAR scan, taken inside a cave in Ocean View as a film is made to depict Mars.
KA`U HOSTS A FILM CREW,  DEPICTS MARS: A voyage to Mars may be only a fanciful dream. But when the BBC asked leading planetary scientists: “If you could go to Mars, where would you go first?” Brent Garry, a NASA geologist, was quick to reply “a lava tube.” That was the answer that brought a five-person British film crew flying half way around the world to Ka`u to film Garry demonstrating what could be done in a Martian lava tube.
    A Traveler’s Guide to Mars is the title of the TV show in the making. It will be part of the British Horizon series of documentaries, similar to the Nova series. Though mankind is no stranger to cave dwelling, and modern caving is a growing attraction among eco tourists, why go all the way to Mars to visit a lava tube?
     “I see lava tubes as pristine labs and havens,” explained Garry, “as on earth, lava tubes are important building components of volcanic mountains, in that they move erupting lava away from the summit and enable huge, shield-shaped mountains to grow on Mars, Venus and Earth. When I am in a lava tube on earth, I can learn a lot about the lava that was a component of the flow that created the tube. There is a lot of evidence. It’s like a snapshot of a bygone time.
NASA geologist, Brent Garry (yellow safety
vest) explains the tripod-mounted LIDAR to
Ocean View caver Ann Bosted. To the left 
is BBC cameraman Andrew Fleming. Next 
to him is crew director Toby Macdonald. 
To the right is Varaha Johnson of Hilo in 
orange. Photo by Norman R. Thompson
    “On Mars, lava tubes would be the only place to see pristine geology. The surface is covered by dust and has been impacted by craters and subjected to extreme heat and cold daily. We have known about lava tubes on Mars since the 1970’s since we were able to photograph long lines of deep pits, that could only have been made by underground collapses,” explained Garry. “We have satellites orbiting Mars with fantastic camera resolution and remote sensing data. We can see into these collapse pits and see piles of rubble up to 40 feet tall in the bottom of the pit. This likely means that the lava tube has a roof of about 40 feet thick. When the roof collapsed, it created a skylight. I find these skylights very intriguing – they are windows into the subsurface of Mars. I want to go into them, but since I can’t, I’d like to see robots go in.”
     Spelunking robots present enormous engineering challenges, over and above the usual problems of operating machinery on another planet. The robot would have to be as autonomous as possible and able to self-navigate. There would have to be a line of sight between the robot and a surface station, so that signals could be transmitted to an orbiting satellite and thence to earth. In a lava tube the robot would be unable to get energy from the sun to recharge its batteries. Gravity on Mars is 38 percent that of Earth’s, allowing Martian lava tubes to be much larger – probably hundreds of miles long and hundreds of feet wide.
     But the problems of putting a self-guiding, cave-exploring robot on Mars, pale in comparison with landing a human mission on the Red Planet. The atmosphere is about 100 times thinner than the Earth’s, so human visitors would need to bring their own oxygen. Then there is the intense ultra violet radiation and the temperature swings from 70 degrees F to -100 degrees at night. Lava tubes would protect humans from these hazards, as well as dust storms. So, the obvious question is, if humans could live in Martian lava tubes, what else can?
 
The camera rolls as NASA scientist, Brent Garry, 
makes sweeping arm gestures as he explains 
how lava tubes on Mauna Loa may resemble those 
on Mars. Back left, researcher Euan Smith 
holds the lights, Andrew Fleming runs the camera.
Director Toby MacDonald stands behind tripod-
mounted LIDAR. Photo by Norman R. Thompson
   “A lot of science could be done in a Martian lava tube,” explained Garry. “You could send in scientists from different disciplines – geology, chemistry, biology – and they would each come away with a different story”.
      The story that the BBC film crew wanted to leave Hawai`i with, was that of a fictional tour guide, Garry, leading his imaginary tour group, the TV audience, into and through a real lava tube in Ocean View. They chose a privately owned cave entrance with a skylight, and filmed Garry entering it via a steep, rubble-filled slope, climbing up and over boulder piles with his 50 pounds of gear, and eventually setting up the high tech equipment that is able to document even the most complex cave passage in an instant – a Light Detection and Ranging imager.
      A LIDAR imager is set up on a very sturdy tripod and then slowly rotates the imaging sensors in every direction as invisible beams of light are played on the surfaces and bounce back with the information from countless data points in rapid succession.
     “LIDAR records the big dimensions as well as the finest details. We can set up the LIDAR at various locations through the lava tube and then ‘stitch’ the images together to get a continuous image of the tube – it can make the viewers feel like they are flying through the three-dimensional cave. It is very realistic. I could see a LIDAR mounted on a robot, slowly going through a Martian lava tube and recording every detail – large and small – and then transmitting the images back to earth. It would be the next best thing to being there in person,” Garry enthused. “LIDAR is fast, accurate, and can capture data in every direction, including up and down.”
     Garry has been mapping lava tubes on three of Mar’s five biggest mountains, namely Ascraeus Mons, Arsia Mons and Pavonis Mons. Working with data from satellite images and other sources, he is able to create geologic maps showing volcanic flow features, including the location of lava tubes.
    “Mauna Loa is dwarfed by the volcanoes on Mars,” explains Garry. “There the ‘hot spot’ is not moving, as it is relative to the land in Hawai`i. So lava can flow out of the same volcano indefinitely. There is no ocean to stop it, as we have in Hawai’i. This means that the lava tubes can go on and on for hundreds of miles. Documenting them, really makes me want to go and see for myself.”
    The Director of A Traveler’s Guide to Mars, Toby MacDonald, who has been making science films for Horizons over the past seven years, said that it would be some months before the TV show would be complete. 

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A LARGE DEMAND FOR WATER AND WEATHER have led the County of Hawai`i Department of Water supply to issue a Water Conservation Notice for Na`alehu, Wai`ohinu to South Point. Dry weather and demand are the reason the DWS is requestinng consumers in the affected areas to "reduce your daily water usage by 10 percent," says the notice. Suggested ways to conserve water to reach the 10 percent goal are to:
Water for agriculture and home use is tight in Na`alehu, Wai`ohinu and
South Point where residents are urged to conserve.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Wash full loads of laundry only; wash full loads of dishes only; serve drinking water only when requested; do not let the faucet run unnecessarily; when bathing, use water only to wet and rinse off."
      DWS also suggests: "Do not fill the bathtub; use a glass when brushing your teeth; do not flush toilets unnecessarily; stop lawn sprinkling; stop car and boat washing; stop dust control watering; and use drinking water wisely."
     Department of Water Supply also notifies farmers and ranchers, saying: "All agricultural users should keep water usage to a minimum. Irrigate only at night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. This measure will reduce water loss due to evaporation, and minimize water system usage during peak demand."
     For more information, contact Department of Water Supply at 961-8790 between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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Hawaiian coral reefs are abundant with sealife as shown here with Randy Kosaki.
Photo from NOAA
A CORAL REEF SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH INNOVATION ACT was introduced to the U.S. Congress in both Houses today by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Colleen Hanabus. In response to increasing threats to coral reef ecosystems such as climate change, pollution, and direct damage from humans, this legislation directs federal agencies to establish a competitive prize to catalyze creative solutions to mitigate the decline or degradation of coral reefs.
      “As an island state, Hawai`i relies on healthy coral reef ecosystems to protect our communities from extreme weather events. These reefs are also home to marine life that feed our communities and support our local economy,” said Hirono. “By supporting innovative solutions to real-world issues, this bill creates an opportunity for individuals, government, and the private sector to partner together to protect our aquatic resources and coastal communities now and into the future. Collaborative, science-based partnerships are the kinds of efforts we need to address our common challenges, like climate change. Strong public support for this type of approach was on display last weekend, when people in Hawaii and across the country turned out to celebrate Earth Day by participating in the March for Science.”
Coral reefs in Hawai`i have a value of $34 billion annually,
Photo from NOAA
     Hanabusa said, “As guardians of our planet, we cannot afford to look back and wonder why we did not take steps to prevent the total loss of our coral reef ecosystem when we had notice of its impending demise. The time for action is now. As a Congress, we must take the steps necessary to inspire big thinkers to come up with real solutions that will protect our planet’s coral reefs.”
     In a joint statement, the two Hawai`i legislators said, "Threats to coral reef ecosystems due to climate change continue to increase. Just last week, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory reached record levels of 410 parts per million. At the same time, scientists are also continuing to understand the downstream implications of degraded coral ecosystems. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey last week published a study showing that the sea floor around degrading coral reefs is eroding, exposing coastal communities to harsher waves and deepening coastal waters. Out of the three locations studied, which included Maui, the Florida Keys, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the seafloor near Maui had suffered the most extreme erosion.
      "Coral reefs in Hawai`i alone are worth $385 million per year to the local economy and provide a total net present value of $10 billion."
     Aimed at fostering coral reef conservation and innovation research, this bill authorizes the 12 federal agencies on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to use existing cross-agency funding to carry out a competitive prize competition. Additionally, the legislation allows federal agencies to work with private entities to both fund and administer the prize competition.
      University of Hawai`i and the Ocean Conservancy both sent in supportive testimony. “The University of Hawai`i is thankful for Senator Hirono and Representative Hanabusa proposing innovative legislation to advance coral reef conservation and protection. The people of Hawai`i, and the world-class faculty and students of UH, are recognized globally for their efforts to understand, conserve, and protect living reef resources throughout the Pacific. As ocean temperatures rise and the oceans become more acidic, the science and conservation communities are rapidly working to assess the impacts of a changing climate on future coral reef health. 
The green sea turtle depends on coral reefs and Ocean Conservancy
is supporting legislation introduced today by Sen. Mazie Hirono
and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to protect reefs.
Photo from Ocean Conservancy
   "Utilizing the mechanisms proposed by Senator Hirono and Representative Hanabusa, we look forward to advancing new partnerships with government agencies, private industry, and the research community to advance the science and practice of coral reef conservation,” said Chris E. Ostrander, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives & External Relations of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa’s School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology.
     Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Acidification Program's directory Sarah Cooley, Ph.D., said that Hirono and Hanabusa  "have taken an important step to safeguard coral reefs today, in recognition of how much coral reefs do to sustain coastal communities all around the United States. Rich coral ecosystems in both warm and cold water support thousands of fishing jobs every day and lure millions of visitors from around the world every year. Ocean acidification and warming profoundly threaten coral reefs and the coastal communities that depend on them. We are optimistic that the Coral Reef Sustainability Through Innovation Act will help bring together new creative partnerships dedicated to finding solutions for the threats coral reefs face.

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Coffee Talk, Fri, April 28, 9:30 – 11 a.m., Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. A free monthly series of talks on various subjects. nps.gov/havo or 985-6011

Ocean View Community Development Corp. meeting, Fri, April 28, 5 p.m., Hawaiian Ranchos of
Office.