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Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #350 on: August 18, 2020, 07:53:34 PM »
Northrop Grumman just launched its second satellite rescue mission
Loren Grush Aug 17, 2020
Quote
On Saturday, a Northrop Grumman spacecraft, designed to give a dying satellite a new lease on life, launched into space. Its objective is to latch onto an aging satellite that’s been in space for 16 years and prolong the old robot’s life in orbit by giving it a new set of engines and fuel.

The spacecraft is named MEV-2, for Mission Extension Vehicle 2. MEV-2’s predecessor was the groundbreaking MEV-1 satellite, which launched in October 2019. MEV-1 made history in February when it successfully grabbed hold of another satellite already in orbit, marking the first time that two commercial satellites had docked in space. MEV-1’s target was an out-of-commission communications satellite called Intelsat 901, which has been in space for nearly 20 years. After docking with Intelsat 901, MEV-1 nudged the satellite into a new orbit, allowing the spacecraft to start operating again and extending its life for at least five more years.

MEV-2 will try a few new things during its time in space
MEV-1 successfully demonstrated a concept known as satellite servicing — an emerging industry that is focused on sending handy satellites into space in order to fix, repair, or upgrade other satellites already in orbit. Now, with MEV-2, Northrop Grumman is going to try again. “It’s very similar,” Joe Anderson, vice president of operations and business development at Space Logistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman that oversees the MEV missions, tells The Verge. “MEV-2 is essentially a carbon copy of MEV-1 from a design standpoint.”

However, MEV-2 will try a few new things during its time in space. For one thing, it’s targeting a different type of satellite than the one MEV-1 wrangled. Intelsat 901 was no longer functioning and was located in an orbit above Earth often referred to as the “graveyard orbit.” Satellites orbiting many thousands of miles above the planet are moved to the graveyard orbit when they run out of fuel so that they don’t get in anyone’s way when they become inoperable. MEV-1 plucked Intelsat 901 out of the graveyard orbit and put it back in a coveted region known as geosynchronous orbit — a path above Earth where satellites match the rotation of the planet and seemingly hover over the same patch of sky at all times. The geosynchronous belt is a fairly critical orbit for satellites, home to many communications and Earth-observing probes.

““We will simply dock to them, and then take over the orbit and attitude control.”” …

Anderson says that these satellite servicing missions are a “business growth area” for Space Logistics and Northrop Grumman. Moving forward, the company is focusing on a new type of servicer called the Mission Robotic Vehicle, or MRV, which should take satellite tune-ups to a whole new level. Thanks to a partnership with DARPA, MRV will be able to do what the MEV satellites can do, but it will also be able to attach “pods” onto satellites that provide propulsion on their own, extending the life of a satellite by up to six years. Anderson notes the MRV will really be a multiservice satellite, capable of doing various types of repairs apart from providing extra propulsions. “That robotic vehicle can do other types of services such as detailed inspections, full repair missions,” he says. “So if someone has a stuck solar array, or antenna, for example, we may be able to use our robotic system to do those deployments. It can also grab onto the client vehicles and tug them and relocate them to other orbits as well.” …
https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/17/21366674/northrop-grumman-space-logistics-mev-2-satellite-servicing-life-extension
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #351 on: August 19, 2020, 02:10:40 AM »
Oops.  :o

A car-size asteroid flew within 1,830 miles of Earth over the weekend — the closest pass ever — and we didn't see it coming
Quote
A car-size asteroid flew within about 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) of Earth on Sunday.

That's a remarkably close shave — the closest ever recorded, in fact, according to asteroid trackers and a catalog compiled by Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Italy.

Because of its size, the space rock most likely wouldn't have posed any danger to people on the ground had it struck our planet. But the close call is worrisome nonetheless, since astronomers had no idea the asteroid existed until after it passed by. ...
https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/a-car-size-asteroid-flew-within-1830-miles-of-earth-over-the-weekend-the-closest-pass-ever-and-we-didnt-see-it-coming/articleshow/77603002.cms
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Sebastian Jones

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #352 on: August 19, 2020, 07:55:16 AM »
Oops.  :o

A car-size asteroid flew within 1,830 miles of Earth over the weekend — the closest pass ever — and we didn't see it coming
Quote
A car-size asteroid flew within about 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) of Earth on Sunday.

That's a remarkably close shave — the closest ever recorded, in fact, according to asteroid trackers and a catalog compiled by Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Italy.

Because of its size, the space rock most likely wouldn't have posed any danger to people on the ground had it struck our planet. But the close call is worrisome nonetheless, since astronomers had no idea the asteroid existed until after it passed by. ...
https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/a-car-size-asteroid-flew-within-1830-miles-of-earth-over-the-weekend-the-closest-pass-ever-and-we-didnt-see-it-coming/articleshow/77603002.cms

To place how close this is into some context, Low Earth Orbit, where most man-made objects orbit, is anywhere below 1,200mi. So, had it's approach path and speed been different, it could have been captured by Earth's gravity and become a new moon!

Tom_Mazanec

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #353 on: August 19, 2020, 12:46:38 PM »
Quote
To place how close this is into some context, Low Earth Orbit, where most man-made objects orbit, is anywhere below 1,200mi. So, had it's approach path and speed been different, it could have been captured by Earth's gravity and become a new moon!
Umm, no. If it had been a bit closer, it could have hit one of those near-Earth satellites, but if not it would have just passed us by, as it actually did, even though it was a lot closer than actual geosynchronous satellites. To be captured you would need a third body to interact and slow it down. The best you could get would be a slowdown in the atmosphere to allow the Earth's gravity to capture it, but then it would go through the atmosphere again and crash.
SHARKS (CROSSED OUT) MONGEESE (SIC) WITH FRICKIN LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

crandles

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #354 on: August 19, 2020, 01:33:32 PM »
To place how close this is into some context, most close approaches are measured in lunar distances  of ~239000 miles. It isn't uncommon to have closest approach less than 1LD, there is one at .3LD due on 1 Sept.

This one is less than 0.01LD

At this distance it probably makes more sense to say close approach was 0.23 earth diameters. Close enough to say we will be hit every so often, but then we know that anyway.

It is shown as a disconcerting 0LD at https://www.spaceweather.com/ because they only show .1LD precision


Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #355 on: August 21, 2020, 08:44:04 PM »
UAE Mars mission
Quote
Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) 8/17/20, 7:02 AM
The #HopeProbe has successfully completed its first trajectory correction manoeuvre - a major milestone in its journey to #Mars. This marks the first firing of the probe’s six Delta-V thrusters, for course correction that will see the probe directly targeting Mars’ capture orbit.
https://twitter.com/hopemarsmission/status/1295314981198716928
Two images at the link.
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #356 on: August 21, 2020, 10:35:39 PM »
Exploding Stars May Have Caused Mass Extinction On Earth, Study Shows
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-stars-mass-extinction-earth.html

A team of researchers led by professor Brian Fields hypothesizes that a supernova about 65 light-years away may have contributed to the ozone depletion and subsequent mass extinction of the late Devonian Period, 359 million years ago.

A new study led by University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign astronomy and physics professor Brian Fields explores the possibility that astronomical events were responsible for an extinction event 359 million years ago, at the boundary between the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.

The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team concentrated on the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary because those rocks contain hundreds of thousands of generations of plant spores that appear to be sunburnt by ultraviolet light—evidence of a long-lasting ozone-depletion event.

"To put this into perspective, one of the closest supernova threats today is from the star Betelgeuse, which is over 600 light-years away and well outside of the kill distance of 25 light-years," said graduate student and study co-author Adrienne Ertel.

... A supernova delivers a one-two punch, the researchers said. The explosion immediately bathes Earth with damaging UV, X-rays and gamma rays. Later, the blast of supernova debris slams into the solar system, subjecting the planet to long-lived irradiation from cosmic rays accelerated by the supernova. The damage to Earth and its ozone layer can last for up to 100,000 years.

However, fossil evidence indicates a 300,000-year decline in biodiversity leading up to the Devonian-Carboniferous mass extinction, suggesting the possibility of multiple catastrophes, maybe even multiple supernovae explosions. "This is entirely possible," Miller said. "Massive stars usually occur in clusters with other massive stars, and other supernovae are likely to occur soon after the first explosion."

Supernova triggers for End-Devonian extinctions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020)
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/08/17/2013774117
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #357 on: August 27, 2020, 08:29:13 PM »
Waterworld: Meteorite Study Suggests Earth May Have Been Wet Since It Formed
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-meteorite-earth.html

A new study finds that Earth's water may have come from materials that were present in the inner solar system at the time the planet formed—instead of far-reaching comets or asteroids delivering such water. The findings published Aug. 28 in Science suggest that Earth may have always been wet.

Researchers from the Centre de Recherches Petrographiques et Geochimiques (CRPG, CNRS/Universite de Lorraine) in Nancy, France, including one who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, determined that a type of meteorite called an enstatite chondrite contains sufficient hydrogen to deliver at least three times the amount of water contained in the Earth's oceans, and probably much more.

Enstatite chondrites are entirely composed of material from the inner solar system—essentially the same stuff that made up the Earth originally.

... Enstatite chondrites are rare, making up only about 2 percent of known meteorites in collections.

But their isotopic similarity to Earth make them particularly compelling. Enstatite chondrites have similar oxygen, titanium and calcium isotopes as Earth, and this study showed that their hydrogen and nitrogen isotopes are similar to Earth's, too. In the study of extraterrestrial materials, the abundances of an element's isotopes are used as a distinctive signature to identify where that element originated.

"If enstatite chondrites were effectively the building blocks of our planet—as strongly suggested by their similar isotopic compositions—this result implies that these types of chondrites supplied enough water to Earth to explain the origin of Earth's water, which is amazing!" Vacher said.

The paper also proposes that a large amount of the atmospheric nitrogen—the most abundant component of the Earth's atmosphere—could have come from the enstatite chondrites.

L. Piani el al., "Earth's water may have been inherited from material similar to enstatite chondrite meteorites," Science (2020).
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6507/1110

Anne H. Peslier, "The origins of water", Science (2020).
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6507/1058
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #358 on: September 08, 2020, 07:34:13 PM »
Preventing muscle wasting in microgravity (and on earth)

Mutant "mighty mice" stay bulked up in space but untreated mice lose muscle and bone mass, scientists say
September 8, 2020
Quote
Bulked-up, mutant "mighty mice" held onto their muscle during a monthlong stay at the International Space Station, returning to Earth with ripped bodybuilder physiques, scientists reported Monday. The findings hold promise for preventing muscle and bone loss in astronauts on prolonged space trips like Mars missions, as well as people on Earth who are confined to bed or need wheelchairs.

A research team led by Dr. Se-Jin Lee of the Jackson Laboratory in Connecticut sent 40 young female black mice to the space station in December, launching aboard a SpaceX rocket.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lee said the 24 regular untreated mice lost considerable muscle and bone mass in weightlessness as expected - up to 18%.

But the eight genetically engineered "mighty mice" launched with double the muscle maintained their bulk. Their muscles appeared to be comparable to similar "mighty mice" that stayed behind at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

In addition, eight normal mice that received "mighty mouse" treatment in space returned to Earth with dramatically bigger muscles. The treatment involves blocking a pair of proteins that typically limit muscle mass.

A SpaceX capsule brought all 40 mice back in good condition, parachuting into the Pacific off the California coast in January. Some of the ordinary mice were injected with the "mighty mice" drug after returning and quickly built up more muscle than their untreated companions, Lee said. …
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mighty-mice-keep-muscle-space-scientists/

Article has the (CBS version of the) 11-min webcast video of the [mousetronauts’] 5 December 2019 SpaceX CRS-19 launch, up to the moment of Dragon deploy:  https://www.cbsnews.com/video/spacex-launches-dragon-cargo-ship-to-space-station/
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #359 on: September 08, 2020, 10:35:41 PM »
Sensors of World's Largest Digital Telescope Camera Snap First 3,200-Megapixel Images at SLAC
https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2020-09-08-sensors-world-largest-digital-camera-snap-first-3200-megapixel-images-slac.aspx

Crews at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have taken the first 3,200-megapixel digital photos—the largest ever taken in a single shot—with an extraordinary array of imaging sensors that will become the heart and soul of the future camera of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope at the  Vera C. Rubin Observatory.



Its data will feed into the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) – a catalog of more galaxies than there are living people on Earth and of the motions of countless astrophysical objects. Using the LSST Camera, the observatory will create the largest astronomical movie of all time and shed light on some of the biggest mysteries of the universe, including dark matter and dark energy.





Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST)
https://www.lsst.org/

https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/the-worlds-largest-astronomical-movie
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #360 on: September 09, 2020, 11:01:08 PM »
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Observes an Asteroid in Action
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/osiris-rex-observes-an-asteroid-in-action

... Since arriving at the asteroid, the team has observed and tracked more than 300 particle ejection events on Bennu. According to the authors, some particles escape into space, others briefly orbit the asteroid, and most fall back onto its surface after being launched. Ejections most often occur during Bennu’s local two-hour afternoon and evening timeframe. 

During a number of observation campaigns between January and September 2019 dedicated to detecting and tracking mass ejected from the asteroid, a total of 668 particles were studied, with the vast majority measuring between 0.5 and 1 centimeters (0.2-0.4 inches), and moving at about 20 centimeters (8 inches) per second, about as fast – or slow – as a beetle scurrying across the ground. In one instance, a speedy outlier was clocked at about 3 meters (9.8 feet) per second.

"To give you an idea, all of those 200 particles we observed during the first event after arrival would fit on a 4-inch x 4-inch tile," he said. "The fact that we can even see them is a testament to the capabilities of our cameras."



Using data collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, this animation shows the trajectories of particles after their emission from asteroid Bennu’s surface. The animation emphasizes the four largest particle ejection events detected at Bennu from December 2018 through September 2019. Additional particles, some with lifetimes of several days, that are not related to the ejections are also visible.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/toc/10.1002/(ISSN)2169-9100.Explore1
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sidd

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #361 on: September 10, 2020, 07:50:59 AM »
Re: OSIRIS-REx

Charming. Thanks.

sidd

Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #362 on: September 10, 2020, 10:08:56 PM »
Quote
Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) 9/10/20, 10:02 AM
NASA says it will purchase between 50g and 500g of lunar soil from commercial providers. 80 percent of funds to be paid only on delivery. This is a big deal!
beta.sam.gov/opp/7772617761…
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1304057566318800896

They don’t even return it to earth!  “Delivery” via contract takes place there on the moon.
Contract(s) will be awarded to the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable offer
 
NASA wants to buy Moon rocks from private companies
Can you prove you’ve bagged lunar dirt? NASA will pay you
Loren Grush September 10, 2020 9:40 am
Quote
NASA is officially in the market for Moon rocks — and it’s willing to pay any company that’s capable of scooping them up.

Today, the space agency is putting out a call for proposals from companies, challenging them to snag small samples of rocks on the Moon’s surface. The companies will have to prove that they have collected lunar samples in some kind of small container by sending pictures and data to NASA. If satisfied, NASA pledges to purchase the samples for between $15,000 and $25,000. Eventually, NASA will retrieve the rock samples and bring them back to Earth.

NASA ultimately wants the exchange to happen before 2024 — the agency’s current deadline for sending people back to the Moon. For companies that can pull this off, NASA will pay a small portion of the money when awarding the contract and during launch. The rest of the funds will be received when the sample is bagged. NASA says it may also make multiple awards to separate companies that can grab Moon rocks. …
https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2020/9/10/21429850/nasa-moon-rocks-sampling-commercial-space-transaction-lunar-marketplace

Quote
Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) 9/10/20, 12:24 PM
Quick and dirty legal analysis of today's NASA announcement, the Outer Space Treaty, and international law:
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1304093383581937665
Prof. Chris Newman (@ChrisNewman1972) 9/10/20, 12:20 PM

…. It’s the only way to get meaningful international law: let’s act in accordance with the Treaty (which this does) and let anyone who objects put up or shut up.
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #363 on: September 13, 2020, 03:51:41 PM »
—-  Camera & sound from Space Shuttle Booster!
Quote
Julia (@julia_bergeron) 9/9/20, 11:44 AM
Way back Wednesday.
Riding the Booster with Shuttle with enhanced sound from Skywalker Sound. Truly an amazing experience.
https://twitter.com/julia_bergeron/status/1303720863867514881

"Riding the Booster" Never Sounded Better

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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #364 on: September 14, 2020, 01:44:35 AM »
... we've got company ...

Signs of Life Found On Venus. Phosphine Gas On Venus Indicates That Microbes Exist There.
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dUWrpm80WHsJ:https://earthsky.org/%3Fp%3D343883+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Image: https://preview.redd.it/wx4yza3qrum51.jpg?auto=webp&s=67a3b605fec12978a30acae05367e290682420b5

Earth & Sky accidentally broke a press embargo two days early.

Scientists have detected trace amounts of the gas phosphine in the clouds of Venus, a potential indicator of life on Earth's inhospitable neighbor because on our planet this molecule is produced by microbes that inhabit oxygen-free environments.

Co-author Janusz Petkowski noted:

This means either this is life, or it’s some sort of physical or chemical process that we do not expect to happen on rocky planets.

We really went through all possible pathways that could produce phosphine on a rocky planet. If this is not life, then our understanding of rocky planets is severely lacking.

PH3 gets destroyed by ultraviolet light-related chemistry, and so has a short lifetime in planetary atmospheres. This means if phosphine is detected, there must be an ongoing process generating or replenishing it.

William Bains at MIT, who led the work on trying to assess other natural ways to make phosphine on Venus. Some ideas included sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes, or lightning, but none of these could make anywhere near enough of it. These kinds of sources could only make, at most, one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw. So something is producing a lot more of the gas. According to Paul Rimmer at Cambridge University, terrestrial organisms would only need to work at about 10% of their maximum productivity in order to produce the amount of phosphine found on Venus.



Pre-release: Nature Astronomy, embargoed: September 14, 2020
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1174-4
https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/news/hints-life-venus

----------------------------------------------

For 3 billion years, ending about 750 million years ago, Venus was likely hospitable, leaving the tantalizing possibility that we’ve detected the last vestiges of an ancient ecosystem.

-----------------------------------------------



------------------------------------------------

Phosphine Could Signal Existence of Alien Anaerobic Extraterrestrial Life
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-smelly-poisonous-molecule-sure-fire-extraterrestrial.amp

Most life on Earth, specifically all aerobic, oxygen-breathing life, wants nothing to do with phosphine, neither producing it nor relying on it for survival.

Now MIT researchers have found that phosphine is produced by another, less abundant life form: anaerobic organisms, such as bacteria and microbes, that don't require oxygen to thrive. The team found that phosphine cannot be produced in any other way except by these extreme, oxygen-averse organisms, making phosphine a pure biosignature—a sign of life (at least of a certain kind).

In a paper recently published in the journal Astrobiology, the researchers report that if phosphine were produced in quantities similar to methane on Earth, the gas would generate a signature pattern of light in a planet's atmosphere. This pattern would be clear enough to detect from as far as 16 light years away by a telescope such as the planned James Webb Space Telescope. If phosphine is detected from a rocky planet, it would be an unmistakable sign of extraterrestrial life.

... "It's a really toxic molecule for anything that likes oxygen. But for life that doesn't like oxygen, it seems to be a very useful molecule."

Phosphine, they found, has no significant false positives, meaning any detection of phosphine is a sure sign of life. The researchers then explored whether the molecule could be detectable in an exoplanet's atmosphere. They simulated the atmospheres of idealized, oxygen-poor, terrestrial exoplanets of two types: hydrogen-rich and carbon dioxide-rich atmospheres. They fed into the simulation different rates of phosphine production and extrapolated what a given atmosphere's spectrum of light would look like given a certain rate of phosphine production. ...

Clara Sousa-Silva et al. Phosphine as a Biosignature Gas in Exoplanet Atmospheres, Astrobiology (2019)
https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.05224

--------------------------------------------

Could There Be Life In the Cloudtops of Venus?
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-life-cloudtops-venus.amp

In a paper just published in the journal Astrobiology, Sara Seager from MIT and colleagues suggest a way that microbial life could permanently reside in the lower atmosphere of Venus. The idea that microbes might exist in the Venusian clouds, at an altitude of 50 to 65 kilometers above ground level, was proposed more than 50 years ago by the late Carl Sagan, and has since been advanced by many other authors.

Previous papers didn’t elaborate on what life in the clouds means, and how it might interact with the atmosphere. A 2004 paper pointed out that sulfur (specifically a compound called cyclooctasulfur) could be used by microbes as a UV sunscreen and a means for converting ultraviolet light to other wavelengths of light that could be used for photosynthesis. It was speculated that this could be the basis for an ecosystem at Venus, where certain chemotrophic organisms complete the nutrient cycling.

Seager and her colleagues have come up with a much more elegant solution. They suggest that the droplet habitat in which the microbes reside would inexorably grow, and would be forced by gravity to settle in the hotter, uninhabitable layer below the Venusian clouds. As the droplets evaporate during settling, the microbes would dry out, and the lower haze layer would become a depot for desiccated, dormant life. But upward drafts would regularly lift the dormant microbes back into the clouds, where they would be rehydrated and become active again.



Sara Seager et al. The Venusian Lower Atmosphere Haze as a Depot for Desiccated Microbial Life: A Proposed Life Cycle for Persistence of the Venusian Aerial Biosphere, Astrobiology (2020)
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2020.2244

-----------------------------------------------

Unidentified ‘Absorbers’ Soak Up Solar Energy in Upper Cloud Layer of Venus
http://www.sci-news.com/space/unidentified-absorbers-venus-07560.html

... Venusian clouds contain strange, dark patches, called “unknown absorbers” because they absorb large amounts of solar radiation.

No one has yet determined what these dark patches are, but scientists have speculated that they might be forms of sulfur, ferric chloride or even microscopic life.

Now, a team of scientists led by Yeon Joo Lee, a researcher in the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Technical University of Berlin, has shown that the unknown absorbers are affecting Venus’s weather

By studying more than a decade of data from Venus Express, Akatsuki, Messenger and the Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers found a relationship between Venus’ clouds and its winds. The clouds absorb solar radiation, which causes temperature changes that affect wind patterns. The unknown absorbers seem to play a role in this process by affecting the planet’s albedo, or how much energy is reflected back to space.

“It is hard to conceive of what would cause a change in the albedo without a change in the absorbers,” said Sanjay Limaye, a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and paper co-author.

In part because it is difficult to explain the absorbers’ changes inorganically, Limaye has explored the possibility that they might be microorganisms. He’s in good company. The idea of life in the Venusian atmosphere dates back to a 1967 paper co-authored by Carl Sagan.

Limaye observed that the particles making up the dark patches in Venus’s clouds resemble microorganisms in Earth’s atmosphere. “Since there are few species which have physical, chemical and spectral properties that are consistent with the composition of the Venus clouds, they may have evolved independently on Venus.”

Yeon Joo Lee et al. . Long-term Variations of Venus’s 365 nm Albedo Observed by Venus Express, Akatsuki, MESSENGER, and the Hubble Space Telescope[/b], Astronomical Journal, 2019
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/ab3120
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 03:51:54 PM by vox_mundi »
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #365 on: September 14, 2020, 03:49:41 PM »
^ ... we are not alone ...

Watch today’s major announcement from the Royal Astronomical Society
https://astronomynow.com/2020/09/14/watch-todays-major-announcement-from-the-royal-astronomical-society/

The Royal Astronomical Society is hosting a news conference today to announce a groundbreaking astronomy result. Tune in here at 4pm BST (1500 GMT) to watch the news conference. (11AM EST)

.

-----------------------------------

Sign of Life On Venus Discovered With Hawaii Telescope
http://astrobiology.com/2020/09/phosphine-detected-in-the-atmosphere-of-venus---an-indicator-of-possible-life.html

Phosphine Detected In The Atmosphere of Venus - An Indicator of Possible Life?

The presence of phosphine is seen by many astrobiologists as a "biosignature" i.e. an indicator of the possible presence of life. The detection was made by the Atacama (ALMA) array located in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell telescope located in Hawaii. The research team includes members from the University of Manchester, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cardiff University. A paper will appear in the 14 September issue of Nature Astronomy.

From what we're told the researchers have concluded that abiotic mechanisms (i.e. ones that do not involve life) that might produce phosphine cannot account for the large amount that they have detected. The phosphine has been detected in the region within the atmosphere of Venus that is considered by some to be potentially habitable. As to what spin the researchers put on this, we'll have to wait for reporters who have the press release or are allowed to participate in the Zoom press conference thing tomorrow at 15:00 GMT to let us know

An international team of scientists using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii island has discovered the potential for life on Venus.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 04:10:55 PM by vox_mundi »
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #366 on: September 14, 2020, 05:47:16 PM »
Scientists Find Gas Linked to Life in Atmosphere of Venus
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/sep/14/scientists-find-gas-linked-to-life-in-atmosphere-of-venus

Phosphine, released by microbes in oxygen-starved environments, was present in quantities larger than expected

Astronomers detected phosphine 30 miles up in the planet’s atmosphere and have failed to identify a process other than life that could account for its presence.

The discovery raises the possibility that life gained a foothold on Earth’s inner neighbour and remnants clung on – or floated on, at least – as Venus suffered runaway global warming that made the planet hellish.

-------------------------------------------

Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus,
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1174-4

Abstract
Measurements of trace gases in planetary atmospheres help us explore chemical conditions different to those on Earth. Our nearest neighbour, Venus, has cloud decks that are temperate but hyperacidic. Here we report the apparent presence of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venus’s atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms. Single-line millimetre-waveband spectral detections (quality up to ~15σ) from the JCMT and ALMA telescopes have no other plausible identification. Atmospheric PH3 at ~20 ppb abundance is inferred. The presence of PH3 is unexplained after exhaustive study of steady-state chemistry and photochemical pathways, with no currently known abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery. PH3 could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of PH3 on Earth, from the presence of life. Other PH3 spectral features should be sought, while in situ cloud and surface sampling could examine sources of this gas.


PH3 1–0 spectrum of the whole planet, with 1σ errors (here channel to channel) of 0.11 × 10−4 per 1.1 km s−1 spectral bin.

... We conclude that the candidate detection of PH3 is robust, for four main reasons. First, the absorption has been seen, at comparable line depth, with two independent facilities; second, line measurements are consistent under varied and independent processing methods; third, overlap of spectra from the two facilities shows no other such consistent negative features; and fourth, there is no other known reasonable candidate transition for the absorption other than PH3.

... derived abundances range from ~20 ppb (using our theoretical estimate) up to ~30 ppb

The presence of even a few parts per billion of PH3 is completely unexpected for an oxidized atmosphere (where oxygen-containing compounds greatly dominate over hydrogen-containing ones).
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 06:41:50 PM by vox_mundi »
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late

kassy

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #367 on: September 14, 2020, 08:05:25 PM »
Cool find.
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Sebastian Jones

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #368 on: September 15, 2020, 12:55:47 AM »
Scientists Find Gas Linked to Life in Atmosphere of Venus
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/sep/14/scientists-find-gas-linked-to-life-in-atmosphere-of-venus

Phosphine, released by microbes in oxygen-starved environments, was present in quantities larger than expected

Astronomers detected phosphine 30 miles up in the planet’s atmosphere and have failed to identify a process other than life that could account for its presence.
..........................................
The presence of even a few parts per billion of PH3 is completely unexpected for an oxidized atmosphere (where oxygen-containing compounds greatly dominate over hydrogen-containing ones).

Twitter, at least one corner of it, has been noting that penguin guano can emit phosphine, and that maybe penguins colonized Venus....
However, given the terribly hot conditions, it is more likely that Pernese dragons have been visiting, and leaving traces of Firestone.
https://pern.fandom.com/wiki/Firestone

Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #369 on: September 15, 2020, 04:20:58 PM »
Quote
Twitter, at least one corner of it, has been noting that penguin guano can emit phosphine, and that maybe penguins colonized Venus....

Quote
Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 9/14/20, 5:21 PM
Don't get me wrong. I for one welcome our new Venusian floating penguin overlords.
https://twitter.com/planet4589/status/1305617803630739456
Jonathan McDowell: For those confused by the penguin ref: penguins are a major sources of phosphine on Earth. Therefore, Occam's razor implies that they are also the most likely source of phosphine of Venus. Right??
< Venus has a denser atmosphere suited for tiny little wings. Theory checks out.
<< Yes the venusian penguin is the only logical answer. Sulphuric rain would just roll off their sleek feathers
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #370 on: September 15, 2020, 04:34:54 PM »
I'm convinced ... Now how do I get this news to Q-what's-its-name?  :P
[Please don't believe me.]
Arctic ice is healthy for children and other living things.

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #371 on: September 15, 2020, 04:59:50 PM »
...more stellar science from the Univ. of Bremen [re: penguins and phosphine] ...



Calculating the True Pressure Required to Propel Penguin Feces
https://phys.org/news/2020-07-true-pressure-required-propel-penguin.amp

... and the answer is—a little more than 10 to 60 kilopascals.

Projectile Trajectory of Penguin's Faeces and Rectal Pressure Revisited
https://arxiv.org/abs/2007.00926v1

... don't stand behind them!
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #372 on: September 16, 2020, 01:50:39 AM »
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late

kassy

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #373 on: September 16, 2020, 01:18:49 PM »
And we shall call the cloud city Bespin.  ;)

I bet a drone space ship that flies there and samples some of the clouds will be cheaper...
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

interstitial

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #374 on: September 16, 2020, 01:54:54 PM »
And we shall call the cloud city Bespin.  ;)

I bet a drone space ship that flies there and samples some of the clouds will be cheaper...
I agree if you can't go outside a probe makes more sense.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #375 on: September 16, 2020, 08:09:54 PM »
Hints of life renew interest in Venus, and a private mission could lead the way
Stephen Clark
Quote
The announcement Monday of the discovery of phosphine gas in the clouds of Venus — an indicator of possible life — has raised hopes among scientists for new robotic missions to renew exploration of Earth’s planetary neighbor.

If Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck gets his way, a privately-funded mission could get the next crack at probing Venus’s soupy atmosphere. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also tweeted Monday: “It’s time to prioritize Venus.”

Putting together a private mission to Venus
The mission Beck is planning would send an entry probe in the atmosphere of Venus. It wouldn’t answer all the questions scientists have about Venus, but could open doors to new ways of exploring the solar system, Beck said.

With its light-class Electron rocket and Photon spacecraft platform, Rocket Lab could deliver nearly 60 pounds — about 27 kilograms — of useful payloads to Venus, according to Beck.

“It might not sound a lot, but 27 kilograms is a lot of radio. That’s a lot of science instrument,” Beck said. “It’s a lot of really good stuff. So we can do some pretty incredible things with that.”


NASA last year selected four proposals from scientists for the next mission in the agency’s Discovery program, a line of cost-capped robotic interplanetary probes.

The DAVINCI+ mission would send a descent probe into the atmosphere of Venus to precisely measure its composition down to the surface, according to NASA. The mission would help scientists understand how the atmosphere formed and evolved, and accumulate more information about the history of water at Venus.

A hardened “sphere” will carry the instruments to the surface of Venus, measuring atmospheric composition and conditions at various altitudes throughout a gradual hour-long descent. Cameras on the descent sphere and an orbiter component to the mission will map surface rock types, according to NASA.

The VERITAS mission would carry a synthetic aperture radar instrument on an orbiting spacecraft to survey nearly the entire surface of the Venus, according to NASA. The VERITAS orbiter would collect data on the types of rock that make up Venus’s crust, and like DAVINCI+, would pursue signs of ancient water on the planet.

The European Space Agency is also weighing a selection of its next medium-class, cost-capped science mission. One of the European finalists, named EnVision, is a proposed orbiter that would launch to Venus in 2032 with similar objectives as VERITAS — to map the planet in unprecedented detail with radar.

Russia’s Venera-D mission is in the early stages of development. Venera-D would consist of an orbiter and a lander, with a launch no earlier than the late 2020s. …
https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/09/14/hints-of-life-raises-interest-in-venus-missions-and-a-privately-funded-probe-could-lead-the-way/

Images below: 
- Artist’s illustration of Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite bus.
- Artist’s concept of an entry probe like the one being designed for NASA’s proposed DAVINCI+ mission.
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #376 on: September 17, 2020, 10:14:00 PM »
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late