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August 22, 2007

It’s Not Rocket Science

BY: nikki

From the agency that entertained us with headlines of drunken and diaper-wearing astronauts comes this latest headline that sounds more like a sequel to that David Lynch film in the ’80s: Operation Dark Dune.

While the original Dune may have been a quest for the precious spice mélange in a galaxy far, far away – or something like that, the movie came out the year I was born – Operation Dark Dune takes place here on Earth as the quest to preserve and protect sea turtle nesting beaches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Sea turtles face a range of threats from impacts on nesting beaches to hazards in the water. Nests are easily crushed by vehicles driving on dunes and are subject to predation by raccoons and other animals that dig up the nests to eat the eggs.  

Once out of the nests, sea turtle hatchlings use light cues to find the sea; artificial lighting near the beach can disorient hatchlings leading to dehydration and death.

Lighting over the launch pads is causing this very problem at Kennedy. So what’s a solution that’s cheap and handy? Members of NASA’s environmental management team racked their brains and came up with boxcars.

Here’s to hoping this endeavor doesn’t hit any snags … or foam insulation. Or ice.