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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #50 on: February 17, 2019, 12:28:38 AM »
Wouldn't want to get closer than 100 light-years of that puppy when it blows.

https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/supernove-distance
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #51 on: February 20, 2019, 12:04:35 AM »
And Now For the Weather On Mars 
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-weather-mars-courtesy-nasa-lander.html



NASA's newest lander is offering daily reports on the red planet's frigid winter. 

Starting Tuesday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is posting the highs and lows online , along with wind speed and atmospheric pressure from the InSight lander.

On Sunday, InSight recorded a high of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius) and a low of minus 138 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 95 Celsius).

Scientists need to know the local Mars weather to determine if InSight's seismometer is registering real marsquakes or simply wind or pressure changes.

https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/weather/

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Citizen Scientists Invited To Join Quest for New Worlds 
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-citizen-scientists-quest-worlds.html


Nearby Y dwarf WISE 0855 before and after the reboot. The brown dwarf (moving red dot, upper left) moves farther and faster in the reboot flipbook (right), and the stars dance less. 

The Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project re-launches this week, with a call to volunteer citizen scientists to join the search for cold worlds near the Sun.

With its newly revamped online interface and equipped with twice as much data as before, the project offers new opportunities to discover planets lurking yet unseen in the outer reaches of the Solar System (e.g., Planet 9, Planet X) as well as cold nearby "failed stars" (a.k.a. brown dwarfs).

The re-launch coincides with the publication of the project's latest discovery: a record-setting white dwarf star encircled by mysterious dusty rings that challenge astronomers to rethink the long-term evolution of planetary systems. 

https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/marckuchner/backyard-worlds-planet-9
« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 01:34:07 AM by vox_mundi »
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #52 on: February 20, 2019, 08:19:21 PM »
With the Best Air Pressure Sensor Ever On Mars, Scientists Find a Mystery
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/some-weird-things-are-happening-with-air-pressure-on-mars/

This feature is repetitive, and "slightly strange."

Since InSight landed in November of last year, Banfield and other scientists have been eagerly studying data from the air pressure sensor, and they've made a few discoveries. Some were expected, such as gravity waves in the Martian atmosphere. The instrument has measured these repetitive oscillations in the atmosphere most evenings. Such gravity waves are also observed in Earth's atmosphere, particularly when a uniform air mass is perturbed by a mountain or island.

But scientists have also found something of a mystery in the pressure data on the surface of Mars. Twice a Martian day, at around local 7am and 7pm, there are hiccups in what otherwise should be a smooth rise and fall in surface pressures. Initially, the scientists believed this must be caused by something on the lander, but eventually they were able to rule out a cause due to an instrument anomaly or heating source on InSight.


Martian hourly weather data for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Note the kinks in the air pressure curve at 07:00 and 19:00 daily.

This feature is repetitive and "slightly strange," said Banfield. It wasn't predicted in any of the global or regional weather models for Mars. Currently, the scientists believe the feature must be some kind of atmospheric wave related to sunrise and sunset on Mars. Perhaps there are downslope air flows moving off steep topography, related to the Sun's movement, that briefly upset the atmospheric changes.


Sandworms?

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Neptune’s Newly Discovered Moon May Be the Survivor of an Ancient Collision
https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/20/18233029/neptune-moon-hippocamp-proteus-hubble-space-telescope

A newly discovered small moon of Neptune is coming into clearer focus as astronomers have now pinpointed this tiny rock’s orbit and where it might have come from. The moon’s existence heightens the possibility that there are even more tiny worlds around Neptune that we just haven’t seen yet.

Astronomers first spotted this moon in 2013 by combing through images of Neptune that were taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The discoverers have now dubbed the world Hippocamp, the name of a horse-like sea monster from Greek mythology.

... Based on its orbit, Showalter and his team now have a pretty good idea of where this moon came from. Hippocamp’s orbit brings the moon very close to a much bigger moon of Neptune called Proteus, which is 130 miles across. And based on their analysis, Showalter believes that Hippocamp is probably a piece of Proteus that was broken off billions of years ago by a passing comet. “Now we see a very real example of what happens when a comet hits a moon,” he says. “In the case of Proteus, it doesn’t quite break it apart but breaks off a piece and there’s the Hippocamp we see today.”

... 4 billion years ago, after the birth of the Solar System, Proteus was probably about 10,000 kilometers closer to Neptune than it is now. “If you look at the system today and play it back 4 billion years, suddenly Hippocamp and Proteus are practically on top of each other,” says Showalter.

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Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter
https://www.sciencealert.com/12-new-moons-discovered-orbiting-jupiter-valetudo-collision-sheppard-et-al

This brings the total of known Jovian moons to 79. The newly discovered satellites increase Jupiter's lead in the Solar System as the planet with the most moons - although the space around Saturn is pretty crowded, too.



Nine of them, found in the most distant orbits of Jupiter, are in three distinct groups, taking around two Earth years to orbit Jupiter.

They also have a retrograde orbit, or the opposite direction to the spin of Jupiter on its axis. This is not unusual - in fact, most of Jupiter's known moons are retrograde, and are thought to be asteroids or comets originally formed near the gas giant and captured when they got too close.

"These moons are the last remnants of the building blocks of the giant planets as all other material in the giant planet region likely fell into the planets to help form them," Sheppard said.

"We think there were originally only three retrograde moons and they were each broken apart through collisions with other objects. What these other objects were has been a mystery."

« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 08:40:02 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 #53 on: February 22, 2019, 01:37:34 AM »
Research Creates DNA-like Molecule to Aid Search for Alien Life 
https://m.phys.org/news/2019-02-dna-like-molecule-aid-alien-life.html

In a research breakthrough funded by NASA, scientists have synthesized a molecular system that, like DNA, can store and transmit information. This unprecedented feat suggests there could be an alternative to DNA-based life, as we know it on Earth – a genetic system for life that may be possible on other worlds.



The synthetic DNA includes the four nucleotides present in Earth life – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine – but also four others that mimic the structures of the informational ingredients in regular DNA. The result is a double-helix structure that can store and transfer information.

Benner's team, which collaborated with laboratories at the University of Texas in Austin, Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis, and DNA Software in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dubbed their creation "hachimoji" DNA (from the Japanese "hachi," meaning "eight," and "moji," meaning "letter"). Hachimoji DNA meets all the structural requirements that allow our DNA to store, transmit and evolve information in living systems.

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Signs of Ancient Flowing Water on Mars
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-ancient-mars.html



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Japan Probe Hayabusa2 Set for Asteroid Landing 
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-japan-probe-hayabusa2-asteroid.html



The Hayabusa2 probe is scheduled to touch down at 8:25am local time (2325 GMT Thursday) on the Ryugu asteroid, some 300 million kilometres from the Earth, according to officials at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

If the landing is successful, Hayabusa2 will fire a projectile at Ryugu's surface to stir up surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on Earth.

The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 01:46:19 AM 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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oren

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #54 on: February 22, 2019, 03:44:43 AM »
The Israeli Moon Lander has just been deployed to space. Actual landing expected in 8 weeks.

https://www.space.com/spacex-israeli-moon-lander-satellites-launch-success.html

Quote
A used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched an Israeli moon lander along with an Indonesian communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida tonight (Feb. 21). After deploying its two payloads into orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth and aced a landing (the third for this booster) on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Liftoff occurred at 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 Feb. 22 GMT) just as the moon rose above the horizon here.

Although the primary payload for this mission was Indonesia's satellite, named Nusantara Satu, the tiny moon lander that hitched a ride with the satellite as a secondary payload stole the show today. It became not only the first Israeli spacecraft to venture beyond Earth's orbit, but also the first-ever privately funded moon mission.

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #55 on: February 24, 2019, 07:33:56 PM »
Virgin Galactic Spaceplane Reaches Space With First Passenger On Board
https://qz.com/1557225/virgin-galactic-flies-three-astronauts-in-test-flight/



Today’s flight marks the fifth powered flight test of VSS Unity, and Virgin Galactic plans to continue with these flights throughout the year. Eventually, the company will move to a new location in New Mexico called Spaceport America where it will conduct its future commercial flights. An official date for that move hasn’t been set yet. However, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has said he hopes to fly on VSS Unity by the summertime, potentially on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July.

Cool Video: https://twitter.com/TheSpaceshipCo/status/1099109560910921728

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NASA Gives SpaceX the Okay to Launch New Passenger Spacecraft on Uncrewed Test Flight
https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/22/18236771/nasa-spacex-dragon-commercial-crew-dm-1-test-flight



It’s official: the first uncrewed flight of SpaceX’s new passenger capsule, the Crew Dragon, is set to launch on March 2nd out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Both NASA and SpaceX agreed to move forward with the flight today after doing a full day of reviews, determining that the vehicle was ready to see space and travel to the International Space Station. If the capsule successfully makes it to orbit, SpaceX will be one crucial step closer to putting the first humans on board its spacecraft.
“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 #56 on: February 25, 2019, 10:54:03 PM »
Reminds me of something from an old Sci-fi short story ...

Backing Up Human History: Thirty-million Page Copy of Our Achievements to be Placed on the Moon 
http://www.parabolicarc.com/2019/02/25/arch-mission-foundation-announces-launch-lunar-library-aboard-beresheet-lander/

The Arch Mission Foundation today announced the launch of the first installment of their Lunar Library™, a 30 million page archive of civilization, created as a backup to planet Earth. The library will be delivered to the Moon as part of SpaceIL’s lunar mission, which was launched on Thursday, February 21st aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Lunar Library is an instance of The Billion Year Archive™ initiative, which aims to build a solar-system wide library system that can preserve, connect, and share humanity’s knowledge for billions of years.
https://www.archmission.org/billion-year-archive

In addition to the English version of the Wikipedia (approximately 7.5M printed pages), the Library contains more than 25,000 books and other resources, including collections from Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, and the Long Now Foundation Rosetta and PanLex datasets, which provide a linguistic key to 5000 languages with 1.5 billion cross-language translations. The Library also holds a long-duration duplicate of SpaceIL’s Israeli Time Capsule, and several other private archives and special collections.

“Our goal is to provide a backup of human civilization,”



The Library is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick, that were made for the Arch Mission Foundation by NanoArchival.
https://nanoarchival.com

The first four layers contain more than 60,000 analog  images of pages of books, photographs, illustrations, and documents - etched as 150 to 200 dpi, at increasing levels of magnification, by optical nanolithography.

The first analog layer is the Front Cover and is visible to the naked eye. It  contains 1500 pages of text and images, as well as holographic diffractive logos and text, and can be easily read with a 100X magnification optical microscope, or even a lower power magnifying glass.

The next three analog layers each contain 20,000 images of pages of text and photos at 1000X magnification, and require a slightly more powerful microscope to read. Each letter on these layers is the size of a bacillus bacterium.

Also in the analog layers of the Library is a specially designed “Primer” that teaches over a million concepts in pictures and corresponding words across major languages, as well as the content of the Wearable Rosetta disc, from the Long Now Foundation, which teaches the linguistics of thousands of languages.

Following the Primer, are a series of documents that teach the technical specifications, file formats, and scientific and engineering knowledge necessary to access, decode and understand, the digital information encoded in deeper layers of the Library.



Beneath the analog layers of the Library are 21 layers of 40 micron thick nickel foils, each containing a DVD master.

Collectively, the digital layers contain more than 100GB of highly compressed datasets, which decompress to nearly 200GB of content, including the text and XML of the English Wikipedia, plus tens of thousands of PDFs of  books — including fiction, non-fiction, a full reference library, textbooks, technical and scientific handbooks, and more.

The digital layers also contain the Panlex datasets from the Long Now Foundation, a linguistic key to 5000 languages, with 1.5 billion translations between them.

All the necessary specifications for extracting the file formats and content within the digital layers are provided in the analog layers above.

But this is only the beginning of the story - there is in fact much more in the Lunar Library. This will be revealed in coming months and years.

https://www.archmission.org/spaceil
« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 11:06:38 PM by vox_mundi »
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vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2019, 05:03:10 PM »
More Support for Planet Nine
https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/more-support-planet-nine

Corresponding with the three-year anniversary of their announcement hypothesizing the existence of a ninth planet in the solar system, Caltech's Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are publishing a pair of papers analyzing the evidence for Planet Nine's existence.

The papers offer new details about the suspected nature and location of the planet, which has been the subject of an intense international search ever since Batygin and Brown's 2016 announcement.



... Based on the new models, Batygin and Brown—together with Fred Adams and Juliette Becker (BS '14) of the University of Michigan—concluded that Planet Nine has a mass of about five times that of the earth and has an orbital semimajor axis in the neighborhood of 400 astronomical units (AU), making it smaller and closer to the sun than previously suspected—and potentially brighter. Each astronomical unit is equivalent to the distance between the center of Earth and the center of the sun, or about 149.6 million kilometers.

"At five Earth masses, Planet Nine is likely to be very reminiscent of a typical extrasolar super-Earth," says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science and Van Nuys Page Scholar. Super-Earths are planets with a mass greater than Earth's, but substantially less than that of a gas giant. "It is the solar system's missing link of planet formation. Over the last decade, surveys of extrasolar planets have revealed that similar-sized planets are very common around other sun-like stars. Planet Nine is going to be the closest thing we will find to a window into the properties of a typical planet of our galaxy."

Konstantin Batygin et al, The planet nine hypothesis, Physics Reports (2019)

Michael E. Brown et al. Orbital Clustering in the Distant Solar System, The Astronomical Journal (2019)

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-02-planet.html#jCp

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

Astronomers Just Discovered 'Farout,' the Most Distant Known Object in the Solar System
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181217120054.htm

A team of astronomers has discovered the most extreme trans-Neptunian object in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Dubbed “Farout,” the object is more than 120 times farther from the Sun than Earth is (120AU). Excitingly, given preliminary estimates about its size, it could actually be a dwarf planet—but it’s still too small to qualify as the elusive Planet X.



Farout is so far out that light from the Sun takes 16 hours and 40 minutes to travel the 11-billion-mile (18-billion-kilometer) distance. Based on its brightness and distance, it is likely about 500 to 600 km (310 to 372 miles) in diameter.

2018 VG18 is the first object found beyond 100 AU in our Solar System,” Sheppard told Gizmodo. “It moves so slow, that it will take a few years to see enough motion of the object to determine its orbit around the Sun.” Sheppard and his colleagues wouldn’t be surprised if a single year on Farout lasts more than 1,000 Earth years.

In October, the same group of researchers announced the discovery of another distant Solar System object, called 2015 TG387 and nicknamed "The Goblin," because it was first seen near Halloween. The Goblin was discovered at about 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with it being influenced by an unseen Super-Earth-sized Planet X on the Solar System's very distant fringes.
https://gizmodo.com/astronomers-just-discovered-farout-the-most-distant-kn-1831152968

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FarFarOut: The New Most Distant Object In Our Solar System
https://www.sciencealert.com/astronomers-have-discovered-an-even-farther-outer-object-than-dwarf-planet-farout

The newly discovered object is called, appropriately, Farfarout. It replaces Farout as the furthest known object in our solar system. The previous record holder orbited the sun at about 120 AU (one AU, or astronomical unit, is the distance from the Earth to the sun). Farfarout is a stunning 140 AU away.



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

Spacecraft Spots Evidence That Groundwater Once Saturated Mars
https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/First_evidence_of_planet-wide_groundwater_system_on_Mars

Scientists report finding evidence for an ancient planet-wide groundwater system on Mars, according to a new study. The clues appeared in images taken by Mars orbiters.

The researchers analyzed a sample of images of impact craters in Mars’ northern hemisphere taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. They identified 24 craters 1.4 to 3.1 kilometers (0.9 to 1.9 miles) deep, which they analyzed for evidence of groundwater’s influence.

Several lines of evidence appeared in the analysis. Some of the craters had valleys that appeared to be formed by erosion from water. Some had channels carved into their walls. Some had “terraces,” platforms that could have been formed by the presence of standing water. Fifteen of the craters had fan shapes that looked like river deltas. Some had cones that looked like branching tributaries. Their floors were flat, possibly from the settling of sediments from water. Sixteen of the craters had debris piles that looked like they were caused by landslides.

Taken together, these data points all occurring at similar depths made the researchers infer that the features they saw in these craters “contained water that progressively receded, leaving behind landforms in a specific chronological order,” according to the study. More importantly, the same features seen across the planet’s northern hemisphere suggested to the researchers that Mars could have been saturated with groundwater in order to produce the results seen in the paper. The water level also aligns with existing evidence of an ancient Martian ocean.



Open Access: F. Salese, et.al., Geological Evidence of Planet‐Wide Groundwater System on Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets  21 January 2019
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 06:07:57 PM by vox_mundi »
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oren

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #58 on: March 01, 2019, 01:32:32 PM »
I would be very surprised if we don't eventually find some trace of past microbial life on Mars.

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #59 on: March 01, 2019, 06:20:04 PM »
I would be very surprised if we don't eventually find some trace of past microbial life on Mars.

We may already have ...

NASA: Curiosity Rover Spots Weird Tube-Like Structures on Mars
https://www.space.com/39294-mars-rover-curiosity-weird-tube-structures.html

Have trace fossils been found on Mars?



In browsing the first new batch of 2018 photos taken by the Curiosity rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), researcher Barry DiGregorio speculated on whether the Red Planet robot found trace fossils on Mars. DiGregorio is a research fellow for the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology in the United Kingdom and author of the nonfiction books "Mars: The Living Planet" and "The Microbes of Mars."
Quote
... "They look remarkably similar to Ordovician trace fossils I have studied and photographed here on Earth,"


DiGregorio told Inside Outer Space. "If not trace fossils, what other geological explanations will NASA come up with?"



... Vasavada reported that the eye-catching features are very small, probably on the order of a millimeter or two (0.04 to 0.08 inches) in width, with the longest of the features stretching to roughly 5 millimeters (0.2 inches). "So, they are tiny"

Examples of Ordovician trace fossils [from Earth]...



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On Mars, Atmospheric Methane—A Sign of Life on Earth—Changes Mysteriously with the Seasons
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/curiosity-finds-mars-methane-changes-seasons

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence that methane in Mars’ thin atmosphere varies during the year. Higher concentrations appear in late summer and early autumn in the northern hemisphere and lower concentrations in the winter and spring, researchers report in the June 8 Science.

What’s more, Curiosity also spotted organic molecules previously unseen on Mars preserved in mudstone, some of the same researchers report in another study in the same issue of Science. Although neither methane nor organics alone are signs of life, the implications for astrobiology are “potentially huge,” says planetary scientist Michael Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not involved in the studies.



Finding methane in Mars’s atmosphere is intriguing because chemical reactions should destroy the gas after about 300 years. Its presence today suggests that something on the planet is still sending the gas into the atmosphere. The source could be geological processes, such as reactions between certain types of rock and water — or, more intriguingly, buried microbes or other forms of life. Most of the methane in Earth’s atmosphere comes from living things.

A set of geological results recently delivered courtesy of Curiosity's drill bit provides a deeper understanding of the organic chemistry of the 300-million-year-old mudstone in two separate parts of Gale crater.

The samples were found to contain thiophene, 2- and 3-methylthiophenes, methanethiol, and dimethylsulfide.

These chemicals might not mean a great deal to most of us, but to areologists (that's Martian geologists) it's an indication that the organic chemistry in Martian mudstone is extremely similar to our own.

With water, clay, and seasonal methane spikes it's possible that microbial life is currently resident on the Red Planet

“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 #60 on: March 02, 2019, 10:19:45 AM »
A while ago i read an article in which exobiologists complained that the devices we send to Mars are all for exogeology. We can send a rover with much better devices for detecting current life there.

I think we should send one of those over before people go there to visit.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #61 on: March 02, 2019, 10:16:44 PM »
NASA’s Commercial Crew program takes off.  Docking with the ISS occurs tomorrow morning.

Elon Musk & Team Discuss SpaceX Dragon 2 Launch Success - YouTube
Some of the most important discussion occurs towards the end of the video.

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

b_lumenkraft

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #62 on: March 05, 2019, 09:29:49 AM »
An Asteroid the Size of a Jumbo Jet Just Buzzed Safely By Earth

Quote
An asteroid as big as a jumbo jet made a close flyby of Earth today (March 4).

The space rock, named asteroid 2015 EG, posed no threat during the encounter as it passed by at a safe distance of about 274,400 miles (441,600 kilometers), or 1.1 times the average distance between Earth and the moon, at 4:03 p.m. EST (2103 GMT).

As its name implies, asteroid 2015 EG was discovered in 2015. NASA estimates that the space rock measures between 63 and 141 feet (19 to 43 meters) across and is currently barrelling through the solar system at 21,545 mph (9.63 km/h). It's actually one of five near-Earth asteroids on NASA's radar today, but asteroid 2015 EG made the closest approach of them all, according to NASA's Asteroid Watch.
Link >> https://www.space.com/asteroid-2015-eg-earth-flyby-march-2019.html

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #63 on: March 11, 2019, 10:19:17 PM »
Traces of Giant, 2,700-Year-Old Solar Storm Detected in Greenland Ice   
https://gizmodo.com/traces-of-giant-2-700-year-old-solar-storm-detected-in-1833205336

Evidence of an unusually strong solar storm that hit Earth in 660 BCE has been detected in Greenland ice cores—a finding which shows we still have lots to learn about these disruptive events.

An extreme form of solar storm, known as a solar proton event (SPE), struck our planet 2,679 years ago, according to new research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If an event of such magnitude were to happen today, it would likely wreak havoc on our technological infrastructure, including communications and navigation. Lund University geologist Raimund Muscheler and his colleagues presented evidence in the form of elevated levels of beryllium-10 and chlorine-36 isotopes embedded within ancient Greenland ice cores.

It’s now the third massive SPE known to scientists, the others occurring 1,245 and 1,025 years ago. This latest discovery means solar storms of this variety are likely happening more frequently than we thought—perhaps once every 1,000 years—but more data is required to create more reliable estimates. 

https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1815725116
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 11:06:21 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

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #64 on: March 14, 2019, 12:03:10 AM »
Geologic Evidence Supports Theory that Major Cosmic Impact Event Occurred Approximately 12,800 Years Ago   
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-geologic-evidence-theory-major-cosmic.html



... in a paper published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, Kennett and colleagues, led by Chilean paleontologist Mario Pino, present further evidence of a cosmic impact, this time far south of the equator, that likely lead to biomass burning, climate change and megafaunal extinctions nearly 13,000 years ago.

"We have identified the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) Impact Hypothesis layer at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere at near 41 degrees south, close to the tip of South America," Kennett said. This is a major expansion of the extent of the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) Impact Hypothesis event." The vast majority of evidence to date, he added, has been found in the Northern Hemisphere.

Investigators recognized changes known to be associated with YDB impact event. They included a "black mat" layer, 12,800 years in age, that coincided with the disappearance of South American Pleistocene megafauna fossils, an abrupt shift in regional vegetation and a disappearance of human artifacts.

... the group decided to run analyses of impact-related proxies in search of the YDB layer," Kennett said. This yielded the presence of microscopic spherules interpreted to have been formed by melting due to the extremely high temperatures associated with impact. The layer containing these spherules also show peak concentrations of platinum and gold, and native iron particles rarely found in nature.

"Among the most important spherules are those that are chromium-rich," Kennett explained. The Pilauco site spherules contain an unusual level of chromium, an element not found in Northern Hemisphere YDB impact spherules, but in South America. "It turns out that volcanic rocks in the southern Andes can be rich in chromium, and these rocks provided a local source for this chromium," he added. "Thus, the cometary objects must have hit South America as well."



"The plant assemblages indicate that there was an abrupt and major shift in the vegetation from wet, cold conditions at Pilauco to warm, dry conditions," Kennett said. According to him, the atmospheric zonal climatic belts shifted "like a seesaw," with a synergistic mechanism, bringing warming to the Southern Hemisphere even as the Northern Hemisphere experienced cooling and expanding sea ice.

The rapidity—within a few years—with which the climate shifted is best attributed to impact-related shifts in atmospheric systems, rather than to the slower oceanic processes, Kennett said. 


Open Access: Mario Pino et al, Sedimentary record from Patagonia, southern Chile supports cosmic-impact triggering of biomass burning, climate change, and megafaunal extinctions at 12.8 ka, Scientific Reports (2019)
“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 #65 on: March 14, 2019, 02:59:00 PM »
Astronomers Have Detected an 'Impossible' Dust Ring at The Heart of Our Solar System

Our Solar System is filled with dust from crumbling asteroids and comets, but only some planets are honoured with a grainy ring to call their own. Both Venus and Earth have this pleasure, escorted around the Sun by a band of cosmic matter.

The little planet of Mercury, on the other hand, was once thought to be all alone. Pressed right up against the Solar System's only heat source, scientists didn't even dream that dust could survive here. But it turns out we were wrong.

A new study has now identified a vast trail of fine cosmic dust in Mercury's orbit, forming a ring nearly 15 million kilometres wide (9.3 million miles).

Unbeknownst to us, it appears that Mercury has been wading through this sea of ancient matter, three times bigger than itself, for likely billions of years.

...

Using pictures of interplanetary space from NASA's STEREO satellite, the team built a model that separates both kinds of light, calculating how much dust there really is out there.

What they noticed was an enhanced brightness circling all the way around Mercury's orbit, implying "an excess dust density of about 3 percent to 5 percent at the centre of the ring."

The results have pushed our understanding right to the brink. Because if Mercury really does wade through cosmic dust, then this material must be able to get far closer to the Sun than we ever thought possible.

...

The massive dust ring that co-orbits Venus is a good start. Just this month, a new paper claims to have figured out the true source of Venus's massive dust ring, which is made up of grains no bigger than coarse sandpaper.

Using dozens of different modelling tools and simulations, the researchers think the dust comes from a group of previously unseen asteroids co-orbiting with the planet.

What's more, the authors argue that this population of crumbling asteroids has been feeding Venus's dust ring ever since the Solar System's infancy.

https://www.sciencealert.com/our-inner-solar-system-has-been-hiding-a-dust-ring-in-an-unepx

kassy

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #66 on: March 15, 2019, 02:36:31 PM »
XTE J1810–197 is back!


A Strange, Sleeping Magnetar Just Woke Up After a Decade of Silence

...

This particular magnetar is called XTE J1810–197. It's one of only 23 magnetars and one of just four radio magnetars ever discovered, and it first turned up in 2004. Then, in late 2008, it went dormant and no longer emitted radio waves. On Dec. 8, 2018, it woke up again, and it''s a bit changed. The researchers who spotted its awakening reported their finding in a paper uploaded March 6 to the preprint server arXiv.

...

When XTE J1810–197 last flashed across human telescopes, it acted erratically, wildly shifting its pulse profile over relatively short time periods. Now, its behavior is more stable, the astronomers reported. At the same time, the torque spinning the star has seemed to increase significantly — a trait the researchers said is common to pulsars after their dormant periods.

https://www.livescience.com/64999-sleeping-magnetar-wakes-up.html

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #67 on: March 15, 2019, 03:40:00 PM »
NASA spacecraft Explored the Edges of an Early Mars Sea in 1997
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-nasa-spacecraft-explored-edges-early.html



NASA's first rover mission to Mars, the Pathfinder, imaged an extraterrestrial marine spillover landscape 22 years ago, according to a new paper by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Alexis Rodriguez.

... "The basin is covered by sedimentary deposits with a distribution that precisely matches the inferred extent of inundation from potential catastrophic floods, which would have formed an inland sea," Rodriguez said. "This sea is approximately 250 kilometers upstream from the Pathfinder landing site, an observation that reframes its paleo-geographic setting as part of a marine spillway, which formed a land barrier separating the inland sea and a northern ocean.

"Our simulation shows that the presence of the sea would have attenuated cataclysmic floods, leading to shallow spillovers that reached the Pathfinder landing site and produced the bedforms detected by the spacecraft," Rodriguez said.

The team's results indicate that marine spillover deposits contributed to the landscape that the spacecraft detected nearly 22 years ago, and reconcile the mission's in situ geologic observations and decades of remote-sensing outflow channel investigations.

The sea bears an uncanny resemblance to the Aral Sea on Earth in that in both instances they lack distinct shoreline terraces. Its rapid regression over shallow submerged slopes resulted in rates of shoreline front retreat too fast for the terraces to form. The same process could partly account for the long-recognized lack of northern plains shorelines.

... "Unlike on Earth, this sea was likely groundwater fed. If the ancient source aquifers hosted life, the proposed marine sedimentary materials at the Pathfinder landing site might contain a record of that life, a location easily accessible by future missions," Rodriguez said.

"An exciting observation is that the inland sea and the previously proposed northern plains ocean share a maximum paleo-shoreline elevation, implying a subsurface connection, perhaps through conduits, between the two marine bodies soon after they formed. This elevation match forms a new powerful observation that strongly favors the northern ocean hypothesis," said PSI Senior Scientist Dan Berman, a co-author in the paper.

Open Source: J. A. P. Rodriguez et al. The 1997 Mars Pathfinder Spacecraft Landing Site: Spillover Deposits from an Early Mars Inland Sea, Scientific Reports (2019)
“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 #68 on: March 16, 2019, 04:02:20 PM »
We're going to need a Bigger Bomb ...

Asteroids are Stronger, Harder to Destroy than Previously Thought
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-asteroids-stronger-harder-previously-thought.html

A popular theme in the movies is that of an incoming asteroid that could extinguish life on the planet, and our heroes are launched into space to blow it up. But incoming asteroids may be harder to break than scientists previously thought, finds a Johns Hopkins study that used a new understanding of rock fracture and a new computer modeling method to simulate asteroid collisions.



... The new model showed that the entire asteroid is not broken by the impact, unlike what was previously thought. Instead, the impacted asteroid had a large damaged core that then exerted a strong gravitational pull on the fragments in the second phase of the simulation.

The research team found that the end result of the impact was not just a "rubble pile—a collection of weak fragments loosely held together by gravity. Instead, the impacted asteroid retained significant strength because it had not cracked completely, indicating that more energy would be needed to destroy asteroids.


Armageddon (1998) - RockHound

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

There May Be 50 Billion Rogue Planets in Our Galaxy
https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/deep-space/a26788244/milky-way-rogue-planets/

According to a new simulation of star behavior, a staggering number of planets aren’t orbiting any star at all. Instead, there could be 50 billion rogue planets are adrift in the Milky Way.

Rogue planets have been known to science for a while. Astronomers for centuries have suspected that rogue planets exist, and in recent years we’ve even found a few of them. But as a class, rogue planets are still somewhat of a mystery.



To get past these hurdles, a group of astronomers at the University of Leiden built a simulation of 1,500 stars in a real place called the Orion Trapezium star cluster. About 500 of these simulated stars contained between four and six planets, giving the sim a grand total of 2,522 planets. When the scientists ran the simulation forward, they found that gravitational effects from the closely packed stars kicked about 350 of those planets outside their respective star systems.

If that’s the case, and you extrapolate that result across the Milky Way, then there could be billions of rogue planets careening throughout the galaxy undetected.

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

Exiled Planet Linked to Stellar Flyby 3 Million Years Ago
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190228093551.htm

Two binary star systems narrowly missed one another, but left behind a smoking gun

Paul Kalas of UC Berkeley was puzzled by the tilted but stable orbit of a planet around a binary star -- an orbit like that of our solar system's proposed Planet Nine. He calculated backwards in time to see if any of the 461 nearby stars ever came close enough to perturb the system. One star fit the bill. The stellar flyby 2-3 million years ago likely stabilized the planet's orbit, keeping it from flying away.

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

Astronomers Just Discovered Two Rogue Planets in Our Galaxy
https://www.sciencealert.com/these-lonely-planets-drift-through-space-without-orbiting-stars

Polish astronomers just discovered two new planets in our galaxy. That's cool news on its own, but these planets are different from most. Unlike almost all known planets, New Scientist reports, these two planets don't orbit a star.

To spot these two new wanderers, Warsaw University astronomers used a technique called gravitational microlensing.

Their research, published last week on the preprint server ArXiv, describes how they used the technique to find points where the light of faraway stars was warped and distorted by the gravitational pull of a planet that had drifted in that light's path.

Because the evidence of these two planets is so circumstantial, scientists aren't sure how large they are. Depending on how far away they are, New Scientist noted that one of the planets could be anywhere from two to 20 times the mass of Jupiter.

The other one is anywhere from 2.3 to 23 times more massive than Earth.

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

This Massive "Rogue" Planet is Our Solar Neighbor
https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a22705121/this-massive-rogue-planet-is-our-solar-neighbor/

In 2016, scientists discovered a massive floating object in our galactic neighborhood. It was more than 12 times the size of Jupiter (the biggest planet in our solar system), with a magnetic field that was 200 times more powerful. The mass lived just 20 light years outside of our solar system. Unlike Jupiter and other planets that orbit around a parent star, this space oddity was completely rogue.

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

... and because you always wanted to know ...

What Would It Feel Like On the Surface of Earth if It were to Collide with Another Planet?
https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/40193/what-would-it-feel-like-on-the-surface-of-a-planet-while-it-collides-with-anothe



Cool Video - Discovery Channel - Large Asteroid Impact Simulation:


Assumption: A planet the size of Mars slams into the Earth:

The slowest possible approach of the rogue to the earth would occur with a Hohmann transfer orbit, and in this case orbital energies dictate a closing speed of about 3 km/sec. However, this ignores the gravitational attraction between the earth and the rogue, which will boost this closing speed to about 9.5 km/sec. Time to contact from 10 times the moon's orbit is about 14 days. At this distance, the area of the rogue's disk is about 1/50 that of the moon. Time to impact from crossing the moon's orbit is about 27 hours. A this point tides are about 8 times greater than normal. So, no massive tsunamis until a few hours before impact, and this will affect only small part of the earth. There will be a tidal bulge at impact of about 100 km.

Furthermore, since the orbit is essentially tangent to the earth's orbit, it will appear in the sky at 90 degrees from the sun, directly overhead at dusk, and will present a "half-moon" appearance.

Since the earth's atmosphere is about 30 km deep, the rogue will not appreciably affect the earth's atmosphere until less than 5 seconds before impact. No vortex. With a relative velocity near 10 km/sec, a tangent path from sea level to 30 km is about 2,000 km, so for a near-miss the atmosphere will be affected for a duration of (at most), about 3 minutes. No hoovering. Just an enormous shock wave.

Since Mars' surface gravity is about 40% that of earth, just at contact the apparent gravity at ground zero will be reduced to about 27% of normal. No floating. And on the other side of earth things get heavier by about 3%. No crushing gravity, I'm afraid.

Centrifugal force will be irrelevant, and there will be no swirling water. A head-on collision (well, head to tail) will simply liquefy the two bodies. The collision zone will be, especially at first, expanding hypersonically away from the point of impact. The folks on the far side of the planet will not have to wait a day to feel things, as the shock wave will propagate through the planet in less than 20 minutes.

Well, OK, everybody dies.


If, somehow, the rogue is thrown into an orbit which meets the earth head-on, the closing speed will be about twice the earth's orbital velocity (plus a bit for gravitational attraction), or about 60 km/sec. This is even quicker and more spectacular. But in the end, everybody dies.

Since the actual impact will only last minutes, on the far side it will be kinda like this as the shockwave approaches:

T-10 minutes: 20C and sunshine
T-5 minutes: 20C and sunshine
T-4 minutes: 20C and sunshine
T-3 minutes: 20C and sunshine
T-2 minutes: 20C and sunshine
T-1 minute: 20C and sunshine (is that a shadow on the horizon?)
T-0 minutes: 4,000 C and death.


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

http://universesandbox.com/


11 minutes post impact                                         29 minutes post impact
« Last Edit: March 16, 2019, 04:31:18 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

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2019, 04:04:41 PM »
How the Dinosaurs Went Extinct: Asteroid Collision Triggered Potentially Deadly Volcanic Eruptions
https://phys.org/news/2019-02-dinosaurs-extinct-asteroid-collision-triggered.html



Two of the largest mass extinctions in the geological record both coincide with the largest exposed continental flood basalt events in the past 542 million years. They are the end of the Permian 251 million years ago, and – as today's Science paper highlights – the dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago.

In understanding the link between flood volcanism, meteorite impacts and extinctions, timing is everything.

In the new Science paper, a team from the United States and India present some of the most precise dates yet for the enormous eruptions in India, in a unit known as the Deccan Traps—an enormous flood basalt province in Western India that covers more than 500,000km2 and in places is more than 2km thick.

They found that the best date for the Chicxulub impact – at 66.052 million years ago – was within 50,000 years of the peak eruption period of the Deccan Traps, meaning that the impact, and the ramp-up in volcanism, were essentially simultaneous.

At the same time as the Deccan volcanic ramp-up, the global mid-ocean ridge system in the Pacific and Indian Oceans seems to have experienced increased activity.

Analysis of global gravity has indicated anomalously thick crust at the K-Pg boundary, formed due to excess volcanic activity. This effect is only seen in the fastestspreading, and thus most volcanically active, systems in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Together, these observations suggest a global pulse of volcanic input at the time of the Cretaceous mass extinction, driven by the shock wave of the Chicxulub impact.

Volcanism can warm the Earth, due to eruption of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon-dioxide. It can, along with impacts, also cool the atmosphere by adding sulfur aerosols or dust, respectively.

It's not precisely clear how all these combined to decimate terrestrial and marine ecosystems, but an accurate timeline of events is critical to unravelling these interactions.

Courtney J. Sprain, et.al., The eruptive tempo of Deccan volcanism in relation to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, Science  22 Feb 2019

« Last Edit: March 16, 2019, 04:30:20 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

vox_mundi

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Re: Astronomical news
« Reply #70 on: March 18, 2019, 08:04:00 AM »
US Detects Huge Meteor Explosion 
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47607696



A huge fireball exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.

The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.


But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.

At about noon local time on 18 December, the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere at a speed of 32km/s, on a steep trajectory of seven degrees.

Measuring several metres in size, the space rock exploded 25.6km above the Earth's surface, with an impact energy of 173 Kilotons. 


Military satellites picked up the blast last year; Nasa was notified of the event by the US Air Force.



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

See what it would do to a city near you ...
https://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEarth/ImpactEffectsMap/
https://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEarth/ImpactEffects/

https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 01:45:12 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