Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

Off-topic => The rest => Topic started by: Pmt111500 on November 17, 2018, 02:46:17 PM

Title: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on November 17, 2018, 02:46:17 PM
Thought "The Rest"-section of ASIF could use some science, astrometrical data has revealed a new companion galaxy to Milky Way, located on the far side, south of Vela constelllation. Very dim of course:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on November 22, 2018, 02:05:01 PM
Couldn't find astronomy-thread so might use this thread for extraterrestrial news  8) ::). Just thought some might find it fun to read of other scientics than those related to climate. Similar threads for genetics, archeology, inorganic chemistry, medicine could be made here. The threads for science that is little to none related to climate change, that is. The wolf-rayet thread can be deleted so it won't be a single post thread.

Supernova candidate re-interpreted as potential gamma-ray burster by Aussie astronomers. The cone of the burst is not expected to hit earth:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 22, 2018, 03:12:05 PM
We can either go with multiple threads or change the thread title to something more general and keep it in one thread.

I think Neven should pick because it is his site.  ;)

I do like your idea.

We found a new Tabbies-star like star:

stronomers Have Detected a New 'Alien Megastructure' Star, And It Might Give Us The Missing Answers

Between Earth and the galactic core, there's an old, faint star that appears to have something orbiting it, something that's confusing astronomers.


Astronomers first noticed VVV-WIT-07's odd periodic flickering during a 2012 survey of the inner Milky Way using the VISTA telescope in Chile. Now they're reporting their find, without being all that sure of what's causing it.


In 2012, VVV-WIT-07's amplitude was found to dim slowly for around 11 days, and then rapidly fade to next to nothing over the next 48 days.

The eclipse blocked a whopping 80 percent of the measured light, providing the astronomers with a real mystery. None of the usual explanations accounted for the eclipse.


The media attention might well come in handy, but Boyajian dismisses notions that alien ingenuity might be behind it.

"The new data shows that different colours of light are being blocked at different intensities," she said recently.

"Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure."

That could mean it's a megastructure with tinted windows. Or maybe it's just time to let the idea go. Sorry.

and more on

BTW i like the last cited bit. I really dislike the idea of advanced alien societies building Dyson spheres.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Neven on November 22, 2018, 04:20:39 PM
Thought "The Rest"-section of ASIF could use some science, astrometrical data has revealed a new companion galaxy to Milky Way, located on the far side, south of Vela constelllation. Very dim of course:

Perfect, thanks!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: icefisher on November 23, 2018, 11:05:24 PM
Changing light densities may indicate light being reflected by rings of ice crystals (similar to Saturn but much larger) prior to passage of a large gas giant 2-3 times the size of Jupiter.  Another possibility is a binary system with one of them being a young dim star.  Taking gravity, tilt, rotational speed, mass ... etc into account.  Lots and lots of possibilities.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on November 25, 2018, 02:55:45 PM
One of the oldest stars found. According to some theories old stars were massive and short-lived, this star is way smaller than most population III stars yet found, so it presents some problems for some models of the early universe.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on November 25, 2018, 07:56:57 PM
pmt, thanks for starting this thread and keeping us updated. It's not ASI or geophysical sciences, but it's interesting.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 26, 2018, 10:06:58 PM
NASA's InSight lander has touched down on Mars

NASA InSight lander nails Mars touchdown after scary six minutes

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 27, 2018, 02:39:43 PM
New simulation of a black hole by astrophysicist Jordy Davelaar:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: magnamentis on November 27, 2018, 05:40:57 PM
to all german speakers i recommend to to watch all those videos to get an idea:

there are many more of those on the initial page, a great crash course in astronomy and astro-physics for noobs and those who love it always like myself, watching every night since 16 years LOL
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 30, 2018, 03:48:51 PM
Scientists Have Measured All the Photons Ever Produced in the Observable Universe

The team found that the amount of starlight, or the number of photons (particles of visible light) that stars have emitted throughout the history of the observable universe is 4×10^84 photons. Or, alternatively, 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 photons.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on November 30, 2018, 09:38:35 PM
The team found that the amount of starlight, or the number of photons (particles of visible light) that stars have emitted throughout the history of the observable universe is 4×10^84 photons. Or, alternatively, 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 photons.

Big universe, I found a figure for the observable universe volume as roughly 4×10^32 cubic light-years. Also a cubic light year is is a cube that is 10 trillion kilometers on each side. That is 8.23x10^38 cubic kilometers.
Life of the universe (so far)   13,800,000,000

Doing a bit of arithmetic says (if I got it right)

Photons emitted over life of the universe                                         4E+084
Size of observable universe in Km3                                               3.3E+071
Photons emitted over life of the universe per km3                12,150,668,286,756
Photons emitted over life of the universe per m3                                   12,151
Average Photons emitted per annum by the universe per km3                880
Average Photons emitted per annum by the universe per m3            0.00000088

Isn't the universe a dark place.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 05, 2018, 05:32:02 PM
Dark matter mystery solved? Oxford University scientists may have solved one of the biggest questions in the universe


Dr Farnes suggests that both dark energy and dark matter are a fluid that possess "negative mass". That means in effect that it would be the inversion of normal mass: if you pushed it, it would be propelled towards you.

"We now think that both dark matter and dark energy can be unified into a fluid which possesses a type of 'negative gravity', repelling all other material around them," said Dr Farnes. "Although this matter is peculiar to us, it suggests that our cosmos is symmetrical in both positive and negative qualities."

That proposed fluid appears to work exactly as dark energy does.

"The outcome seems rather beautiful: dark energy and dark matter can be unified into a single substance, with both effects being simply explainable as positive mass matter surfing on a sea of negative masses," he said.

Not sure if this will work but it would be nice to fill in the darks.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 05, 2018, 06:59:42 PM
Add this to the Black Sea Deluge Hypothesis ( for scientific support of biblical myths (

Exploding Meteor 3,700 Years Ago, May Have Obliterated Communities Near the Dead Sea

A meteor that exploded in the air near the Dead Sea 3,700 years ago may have wiped out communities, killed tens of thousands of people, and provided the kernel of truth to an old Bible story. The area is in modern-day Jordan, in a 25 km wide circular plain called Middle Ghor. Most of the evidence for this event comes from archaeological evidence excavated at the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam located in that area, which some scholars say is the city of Sodom from the Bible.

Archaeologists have been digging at the Tall el-Hamman site for 13 years, and have unearthed some pretty convincing evidence supporting the air-burst idea. The findings were presented on November 15th at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, by archaeologist Phillip Silvia of Trinity Southwest University.

Tall el-Hammam was a thriving city state occupying Middle Ghor. The civilization had occupied the area for over 2,500 years. The city itself held the administrative center of the kingdom, and was protected by a perimeter wall up to 30m (100 ft) thick and up to 15m (50 ft.) high, for a linear distance of over 2.5km. The wall held multiple gates, towers, and likely other defensive features. But all that was obliterated when the meteor pierced the atmosphere and exploded over the area.

Evidence gathered at the Tall el-Hammam site tells the story of the event. When the meteor air-burst occurred, there was an intensely hot and powerful shock wave. The shock wave wiped out all settlements in the area and destroyed an area of 500 sq. km. And the area remained uninhabited for a remarkable 700 years after the event. Several lines of evidence support the likelihood of this event.
Silvia and Collins say in their paper that the destruction and the damage on walls and other structures in the city is directional, supporting the idea of a shock wave. In the past, archaeologist have wondered if an earthquake could have caused the collapse of the region, but an earthquake would not have caused the type of directional damage that the remaining structures and fortifications display.

A pottery shard was found in the city that had one side melted to glass. Only extreme heat can do that. Examination revealed zircon crystals inside a bubble in the glass which could only have been formed by temperatures over 4000 Celsius. Additionally, the layer of melted clay that turned to glass is only 1 mm, not the entire depth of the shard. This indicates only a short burst of intense heat, rather than long exposure from something like burning petro-chemical eruptions. The research team concluded that the shard was exposed to temperatures between 8,000°C and 12,000°C for less than a few milliseconds. That certainly supports the idea of an airburst.

Signature markers of an airburst event include high levels of platinum, typically 600% above normal background levels, and a high platinum-palladium ratio. (Both of these occur in asteroids and meteors, but are not common on Earth.)

Researchers at the site also found what's called a "melt rock" weighing over 600 grams. It's an agglomeration of three different rocks melted together by extreme heat and covered with a layer of glass. This also contained zirconium crystals, and further analysis of the melt rock concluded that it had probably been exposed to 12,000 degree Celsius temperatures for a few seconds.

The final piece of evidence concerns what happened to the Tall el-Hammam area after the destruction. This region is considered the best-watered agricultural area in the region, yet after the Tall el-Hammam city-state was destroyed, the area remained unoccupied for about 700 years. What could have caused this, if the extreme heat from the air burst lasted only a few seconds?

The answer lies in the soil, according to the researchers. Six samples from above, through, and below the soil layer from the time of the event were analyzed geochemically. The results showed "salt and sulfate levels > 6 percent (60,000 ppm) in the ash layer and > 5 percent (50,000 ppm) in the soil layers immediately above and below the ash layer," according to the paper. The source of these contaminants had to be the Dead Sea, which borders the Middle Ghor area.

The two scientists say that the massive shockwave and heat wave not only destroyed the settlements, but the shock wave deposited a layer of salts onto the top soil, destroying it and making it unable to support agriculture for hundreds of years. It only takes a salt content of 12,800 ppm to prevent wheat from germinating, and a salt content of 17,900 ppm to prevent barley from growing. Those thresholds were easily exceeded.

The researchers concluded that an airburst with a yield equivalent to a 10 mt nuclear warhead occurred about 1 km above northeast corner of the Dead Sea. They say this adequately explains all of the evidence gathered at Tall el-Hammam.

Open Source: Steven Collins, Phillip Silvia, The Civilization-Ending 3.7KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications. (,

The Bible is interesting from a historical perspective, because it sometimes interweaves actual events from history with the Christian mythology. Now that it seems reasonable that a meteor airburst did destroy the area that may have contained Sodom, we can lay to rest the idea that the Christian God sent down fireballs to punish homosexuality. It looks like once again, it was a perfectly natural event that led to an apocalyptic, mythological story, and that what people once attributed to Gods and Goddesses is just nature.

And maybe god was really an alien that gave Lot the heads-up about some 'incoming' heading his way. Who knows?

also BBC: The Mystery Of The Egyptian Desert Glass - BBC Documentary (

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on December 05, 2018, 07:59:40 PM
Dark matter mystery solved? Oxford University scientists may have solved one of the biggest questions in the universe

That proposed fluid appears to work exactly as dark energy does.

"The outcome seems rather beautiful: dark energy and dark matter can be unified into a single substance, with both effects being simply explainable as positive mass matter surfing on a sea of negative masses," he said.

Not sure if this will work but it would be nice to fill in the darks.

Popular press never gets the explanations right.  The actual paper is here: (

Seems completely bonkers.  Dark matter exhibits a kind of negative gravity here, repelling ordinary matter.  But nevertheless moves towards normal matter, because its motion is opposite to gravity.  It exerts a positive gravitational *force* on other dark matter, but direction of motion/acceleration is again opposite to that force. 

A theoretical dense dark matter object and ordinary object would accelerate in the same direction, without bound, by gravity.  Bonkers.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on December 05, 2018, 09:33:56 PM
Yes, negative mass is a wonderful thing, we covered this example in class many decades ago. The paper lays it out quite clearly.

"One of the more bizarre properties of negative mass is that which occurs in positive–negative mass particle pairs. If both masses have equal magnitude, then the particles undergo a process of runaway motion. The net mass of the particle pair is equal to zero. Consequently, the pair can eventually accelerate to a speed equal to the speed of light, c . Due to the vanishing mass, such motion is strongly subject to Brownian motion from interactions with other particles. In the alternative cases where both masses have unequal magnitudes, then either the positive or the negative mass may outpace the other – resulting in either a collision or the end of the interaction."

Heeheehee. I like it. I don't believe the paper will hold, but I like it.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: pikaia on December 06, 2018, 09:54:45 AM
A physicist talks about the hypothesis and its implications here:-
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 06, 2018, 04:55:19 PM
Not knowing what 96% of the universe is made of is kind of bonkers too.

We will see.

In this way mass is more like the other stuff with a positive and negative side and that makes sense on the idea level. Bit hard to think about because we only live in the positive side here.

PS: Nice summary by notFritz.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 06, 2018, 07:18:15 PM
... There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Shakespeare - Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

And yet Quantum Physics is bonkers relative to classical physics. Somehow I think we haven't exhausted all there is to know in physics  ...

Cosmologists Prove Negative Mass Can Exist In Our Universe

University of Rochester: Device Creates Negative Mass — and a Novel Way To Generate Lasers

University of Rochester researchers have succeeded in creating particles with negative mass in an atomically thin semiconductor, by causing it to interact with confined light in an optical microcavity.

... “By causing an exciton to give up some of its identity to a photon to create a polariton, we end up with an object that has a negative mass ( associated with it,” Vamivakas explains. “That’s kind of a mind-bending thing to think about, because if you try to push or pull it, it will go in the opposite direction from what your intuition would tell you.”

Other research groups have been experimenting with similar devices, Vamivakas says, but this is the first device to produce particles with negative mass.

The research was funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on December 06, 2018, 10:00:08 PM
I should note here that there are many examples of excitations which can have momentum in a different direction than (group) velocity. One famous example is rotons in liquid helium. Another is phonons in a crystal. But that takes us rather far afield.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on December 10, 2018, 07:20:42 PM
Voyager 2 has exited heliosphere, reports NASA. The interstellar probe no longer observes the solar wind. Still, it's a very long way away from the gravitational borders of Sol System. The 41 years old, still working, instrument, that measures the energy and direction of the plasma particles hitting it, has noted the expected change in the direction as the galactic winds of particles start to hit it.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 11, 2018, 06:05:56 PM
Supernovae May Have Killed Off Large Ocean Animals at Dawn of Pleistocene

About 2.6 million years ago, an oddly bright light arrived in the prehistoric sky and lingered there for weeks or months. It was a supernova some 150 light years away from Earth. Within a few hundred years, long after the strange light in the sky had dwindled, a tsunami of cosmic energy from that same shattering star explosion could have reached our planet and pummeled the atmosphere, touching off climate change and triggering mass extinctions of large ocean animals, including a shark species that was the size of a school bus.

The effects of such a supernova—and possibly more than one—on large ocean life are detailed in a paper just published in Astrobiology.

A supernova 2.6 million years ago may be related to a marine megafaunal extinction at the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary where 36 percent of the genera were estimated to become extinct. The extinction was concentrated in coastal waters, where larger organisms would catch a greater radiation dose from the muons.

Melott said recent papers revealing ancient seabed deposits of iron-60 isotopes provided the "slam-dunk" evidence of the timing and distance of supernovae.

"As far back as the mid-1990s, people said, 'Hey, look for iron-60. It's a telltale because there's no other way for it to get to Earth but from a supernova.' Because iron-60 is radioactive, if it was formed with the Earth it would be long gone by now. So, it had to have been rained down on us. There's some debate about whether there was only one supernova really nearby or a whole chain of them. I kind of favor a combo of the two—a big chain with one that was unusually powerful and close. If you look at iron-60 residue, there's a huge spike 2.6 million years ago, but there's excess scattered clear back 10 million years."

Melott said cancer and mutations would be the most obvious consequences for Earth's biology of a supernova's cosmic rays.

"There isn't a mass extinction, but there is kind of a lot of extinction going on at that time and species turnover," he said. "It's not quite severe enough to call it a mass extinction."

Adrian L. Melott et al, Hypothesis: Muon Radiation Dose and Marine Megafaunal Extinction at the End-Pliocene Supernova (, Astrobiology (2018).


According to the team, other evidence for a series of supernovae is found in the very architecture of the local universe.

"We have the Local Bubble in the interstellar medium," Melott said. "We're right on its edge. It's a giant region about 300 light years long. It's basically very hot, very low-density gas—nearly all the gas clouds have been swept out of it. The best way to manufacture a bubble like that is a whole bunch of supernovae blows it bigger and bigger, and that seems to fit well with idea of a chain. When we do calculations, they're based on the idea that one supernova that goes off, and its energy sweeps by Earth, and it's over. But with the Local Bubble, the cosmic rays kind of bounce off the sides, and the cosmic-ray bath would last 10,000 to 100,000 years. This way, you could imagine a whole series of these things feeding more and more cosmic rays into the Local Bubble and giving us cosmic rays for millions of years."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: uniquorn on December 21, 2018, 04:57:37 PM
Mars Express beams back images of ice-filled Korolev crater
A composite picture of the Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of Mars, made from images taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera overlaid on a digital terrain model. Photograph: Björn Schreiner/FU Berlin/DLR/ESA

The stunning Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of Mars is filled with ice all year round owing to a trapped layer of cold Martian air that keeps the water frozen.
The 50-mile-wide crater contains 530 cubic miles of water ice, as much as Great Bear Lake in northern Canada, and in the centre of the crater the ice is more than a mile thick.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 27, 2018, 05:38:26 PM
New Evidence Suggests a Ninth Planet Lurking At the Edge of the Solar System (

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it "Planet Nine."

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth.

...  They have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a "massive perturber." The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
... Brown notes that the putative ninth planet—at 5,000 times the mass of Pluto—is sufficiently large that there should be no debate about whether it is a true planet. Unlike the class of smaller objects now known as dwarf planets, Planet Nine gravitationally dominates its neighborhood of the solar system. In fact, it dominates a region larger than any of the other known planets—a fact that Brown says makes it "the most planet-y of the planets in the whole solar."

Researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet (
Batygin and Brown realized that the six most distant objects from Trujillo and Shepherd's original collection all follow elliptical orbits that point in the same direction in physical space. That is particularly surprising because the outermost points of their orbits move around the solar system, and they travel at different rates.

"It's almost like having six hands on a clock all moving at different rates, and when you happen to look up, they're all in exactly the same place," says Brown. The odds of having that happen are something like 1 in 100, he says. But on top of that, the orbits of the six objects are also all tilted in the same way—pointing about 30 degrees downward in the same direction relative to the plane of the eight known planets. The probability of that happening is about 0.007 percent. "Basically it shouldn't happen randomly," Brown says. "So we thought something else must be shaping these orbits."
After examining the orbital periods of these six Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) – Sedna, 2010 GB174, 2004 VN112, 2012 VP113, and 2013 GP136 – they concluded that a hypothetical planet with an orbital period of about 17,117 years (or a semimajor axis of about 665 AU), would have the necessary period ratios with these four objects. This would fall within the parameters estimated by Batygin and Brown for the planet's orbital period (10,000 – 20,000 years).

Their analysis also offered suggestions as to what kind of resonance the planet has with the KBOs in question. Whereas Sedna's orbital period would have a 3:2 resonance with the planet, 2010 GB174 would be in a 5:2 resonance, 2994 VN112 in a 3:1, 2004 VP113 in 4:1, and 2013 GP136 in 9:1. These sort of resonances are simply not likely without the presence of a larger planet.

"For a resonance to be dynamically meaningful in the outer Solar System, you need one of the objects to have enough mass to have a reasonably strong gravitational effect on the other," said the research team. "The extreme Kuiper belt objects aren't really massive enough to be in resonances with each other, but the fact that their orbital periods fall along simple ratios might mean that they each are in resonance with a massive, unseen object."

Estimates of Planet Nine’s “possible” and “probable” zones. by French scientists based on a careful study of Saturn’s orbit and using mathematical models.
Constraints on the location of a possible 9th planet derived from the Cassini data 


Planet 9 Takes Shape (


... “For me candidate Planet Nine is a close object, although it is about 700 times further away as the distance between the Earth and the Sun,” noted Linder in a statement. The “ideal” Planet Nine, according to the models, features a mass ten times heavier than Earth, and a radius 3.7 times wider than our planet. Similar to Uranus and Neptune, it has an outer envelope of helium and hydrogen, a layer of gas (also consisting of helium and hydrogen), a water ice layer, a silicate mantle, and an iron core.

The models also projected a temperature of 47 Kelvin (-374 degrees Fahrenheit, -226 degrees Celsius). Planet Nine is bitterly cold—but this data suggests that it’s being heated from the inside.

This means that the planet’s emission is dominated by the cooling of its core, otherwise the temperature would only be 10 Kelvin,” explained Linder.“Its intrinsic power is about 1,000 times bigger than its absorbed power.


Was Planet Nine Captured By The Sun During The Cluster Phase? (


Video ( Through a computer-simulated study, astronomers at Lund University in Sweden show that it is highly likely that the so-called Planet 9 is an exoplanet. This would make it the first exoplanet to be discovered inside our own solar system. The theory is that our sun, in its youth some 4.5 billion years ago, stole Planet 9 from its original star.

An extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, is by definition a planet located outside our solar system. Now it appears that this definition is no longer viable. According to astronomers in Lund, there is a lot to indicate that Planet 9 was captured by the young sun and has been a part of our solar system completely undetected ever since.

"It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there's probably one hiding in our own backyard", says Alexander Mustill, astronomer at Lund University.

Stars are born in clusters and often pass by one another. It is during these encounters that a star can "steal" one or more planets in orbit around another star. This is probably what happened when our own sun captured Planet 9.

In a computer-simulated model, Alexander together with astronomers in Lund and Bordeaux has shown that Planet 9 was probably captured by the sun when coming in close contact while orbiting another star.

( ( (

Simulations show that the glancing flyby shown here in a computer image best explains the current structure of our outer solar system. As the star and sun drew nearer, gravity began to take hold of objects in both systems. As the sun and passing star approach each other, gravity can yank small objects from one solar system to the other. Once the stellar encounter is complete, the disk of each solar system contains a mixture of indigenous and captured dust and planets, as shown in the final computer image. Credit: University of Utah and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

"Planet 9 may very well have been 'shoved' by other planets, and when it ended up in an orbit that was too wide around its own star, our sun may have taken the opportunity to steal and capture Planet 9 from its original star. When the sun later departed from the stellar cluster in which it was born, Planet 9 was stuck in an orbit around the sun", says Alexander Mustill.

"This is the only exoplanet that we, realistically, would be able to reach using a space probe", he says.

Alexander J. Mustill et al. Is there an exoplanet in the Solar system? (, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (2016).

Two Planets Beyond Pluto? (

Some Stars Capture Rogue Planets (

Grand Theft Sedna: How the Sun Might Have Stolen a Mini-Planet (

Over four billion years ago, our sun stole hundreds of frozen mini-planets from a passing star – and the peculiar planetoid Sedna is one of them.

With its extremely elongated orbit taking it 200 times further from the sun than Neptune every 11,400 years, Sedna has been a mystery ever since its discovery in 2003. Its nearest neighbours, the thousand-plus “ice dwarfs” that populate the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, are believed to be the frozen remnants of our solar system’s formation.

But Sedna, and a dozen other objects with similarly wonky orbits, are harder to explain. A gravitational kick from a planet in our solar system could never have thrown them into such orbits.

One idea was that Sedna could have been jolted out of place by a passing star, but there was little evidence to back it up.

... Using a low-cost, custom-built supercomputer, the team simulated over 10,000 possible encounters to find out which combination of a star’s mass, fly-by distance and velocity would lead to ice dwarfs being gravitationally captured into Sedna-like orbits.

They conclude that the passing star would have been 80 per cent more massive than the sun, and that it came as close as 34 billion kilometres – 51 times Neptune’s distance. The encounter probably took place when the sun was very young and still a member of a newly born star cluster.

The passing star would itself have stolen hundreds of ice dwarfs from the sun’s Kuiper belt, and flung hundreds more into interstellar space.

Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who together with Ben Bromley of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City was one of the first to propose the idea, says the simulations are “pretty convincing”.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: ivica on December 27, 2018, 05:53:37 PM
We are entering the greatest era of discovery in human history, an age of exploration that the thousands of Kepler planets, both confirmed and candidate, only hint at.

Exoplanet Imaging from Space: EXCEDE & Expectations (
by Paul Gilster on December 26, 2018
at Centauri Dreams

< long read >
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 27, 2018, 06:09:29 PM
NASA Wants You — To Find a Missing Planet (

Want to work for NASA from the comforts of your couch? The space agency is looking to fulfill an amateur astronomer's dream — credit for the discovery of a new planet.

NASA is looking for help to find the mysterious and as-yet undiscovered Planet 9, which astronomers think may be the most distant planet in our solar system.

A new website — Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 ( — lets people comb through footage captured by the agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer ( (WISE) mission a few years ago.

The footage shows objects gradually moving across the sky. "There are too many images for us to search through by ourselves," NASA said.

In this case, people are better than computers at spotting and identifying objects, such as a planet, in the footage. Human eyes can easily recognize the important moving objects while ignoring the background stars and other objects that computer programs would flag.


If an average citizen spots something that leads to a discovery, he or she will get shared credit with the professional astronomers.

Hunt for Ninth Planet Reveals New Extremely Distant Solar System Objects (

...The new objects they have submitted to the Minor Planet Center for designation include 2014 SR349, which adds to the class of the rare extreme trans-Neptunian objects. It exhibits similar orbital characteristics to the previously known extreme bodies whose positions and movements led Sheppard and Trujillo to initially propose the influence of Planet X.

Another new extreme object they found, 2013 FT28, has some characteristics similar to the other extreme objects but also some differences. The orbit of an object is defined by six parameters. The clustering of several of these parameters is the main argument for a ninth planet to exist in the outer solar system. 2013 FT28 shows similar clustering in some of these parameters (its semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, and argument of perihelion angle, for angle enthusiasts out there) but one of these parameters, an angle called the longitude of perihelion, is different from that of the other extreme objects, which makes that particular clustering trend less strong.

Another discovery, 2014 FE72, is the first distant Oort Cloud object found with an orbit entirely beyond Neptune. It has an orbit that takes the object so far away from the Sun (some 3000 times farther than Earth) that it is likely being influenced by forces of gravity from beyond our Solar System such as other stars and the galactic tide. It is the first object observed at such a large distance.



Curious Tilt of the Sun Traced to Undiscovered Planet (


Planet Nine—the undiscovered planet at the edge of the Solar System that was predicted by the work of Caltech's Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016—appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the sun, according to a new study.

The large and distant planet may be adding a wobble to the solar system, giving the appearance that the sun is tilted slightly.

"Because Planet Nine is so massive and has an orbit tilted compared to the other planets, the solar system has no choice but to slowly twist out of alignment," says Elizabeth Bailey, a graduate student at Caltech and lead author of a study announcing the discovery.

All of the planets orbit in a flat plane with respect to the sun, roughly within a couple degrees of each other. That plane, however, rotates at a six-degree tilt with respect to the sun—giving the appearance that the sun itself is cocked off at an angle. Until now, no one had found a compelling explanation to produce such an effect. "It's such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don't talk about it," says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy.

Brown and Batygin's discovery of evidence that the sun is orbited by an as-yet-unseen planet—that is about 10 times the size of Earth with an orbit that is about 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune's—changes the physics. Planet Nine, based on their calculations, appears to orbit at about 30 degrees off from the other planets' orbital plane—in the process, influencing the orbit of a large population of objects in the Kuiper Belt, which is how Brown and Batygin came to suspect a planet existed there in the first place.

"It continues to amaze us; every time we look carefully we continue to find that Planet Nine explains something about the solar system that had long been a mystery," says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science.

More Evidence for Ninth Planet Roaming Solar System's Outer Fringes (

... In their paper, "Corralling a Distant Planet with Extreme Resonant Kuiper Belt Objects (," Malhotra and her co-authors, Kathryn Volk and Xianyu Wang, point out peculiarities of the orbits of the extreme KBOs that went unnoticed until now: they found that the orbital period ratios of these objects are close to ratios of small whole numbers. An example of this would be one KBO traveling around the Sun once while another takes twice as long, or three times as long, or four times as long etc., but not, say, 2.7 times as long.

According to the authors, such ratios could arise most naturally if the extreme KBOs' orbital periods are in small whole number ratios with a massive planet, which would help to stabilize the highly elliptical orbits of eKBOs

The findings bolster previous work by other scientists that showed that six of those bodies travel on highly eccentric orbits whose long axes all point in the same direction. This clustering of orbital parameters of the most distant KBOs suggested a large, planetary size body shepherding their orbits.

"Our paper provides more specific estimates for the mass and orbit that this planet would have, and, more importantly, constraints on its current position within its orbit," Malhotra said.

The team's calculations also suggest two likely orbital planes for the planet: one moderately close to the mean plane of the solar system and near the mean plane of the four eKBOs at about 18 degrees, and one steeper plane, inclined at about 48 degrees.

The four longest period Kuiper Belt objects have orbital periods close to integer ratios with each other. A hypothetical planet with an orbital period of ~17,117 years and a semimajor axis ~665 au would have N/1 and N/2 period ratios with these four objects. The orbital geometries and dynamics of resonant orbits constrain the orbital plane, the orbital eccentricity, and the mass of such a planet as well as its current location in its orbital path.

Newly Discovered Solar System Objects Resonate with Neptune (

In their paper, the team members describe the discovery of the two new objects, and how these two new objects have very distant perihelia but don't have extreme semi-major axes or eccentricities like the other high-perihelion extreme trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) such as Sedna and 2012 VP113. In fact, these newly found worlds occupy a region of space just beyond what is known as the "Kuiper Belt edge," which lies about 50 AU from the Sun. Until this most recent discovery, only one object was known to have a low-to-moderate semi-major axis and a perihelion beyond this edge. The team discovered several more of these objects with high perihelion but moderately eccentric orbits. Their semi-major axes are in the range of about 60 to 100 AUs.

What was surprising is that these new objects are all near Neptune Mean Motion Resonances (that is, the locations of their orbits have specific period ratios with respect to that of Neptune). One of the new objects goes around the Sun once every time Neptune goes around 4 times, while the other new objects go around once every time Neptune goes around 3 times. The new objects also have significant inclinations in their orbits and thus are affected by the Kozai resonance, which was first shown to affect high inclination objects by Yoshihide Kozai in 1962. This finding suggests these worlds were captured into this rare orbital region through interactions with Neptune while that planet was migrating outwards in the solar system in the distant past. Neptune was born much closer to the Sun than its current position, and its migration outwards disturbed other, smaller objects into these distant orbits we see today. Thus, these objects give us insights into the movement of Neptune during the very early history of the solar system.

Beyond Neptune, a 200 Km Chunk of Ice is Orbiting the Sun In the Wrong Direction (

... Whatever the cause of Niku's strange orbit (or those TNOs that share its orbital pattern) may be, it is clear that there is more going on in the outer solar system than we thought. And with every new discovery, and every new object catalogued by astronomers, we are bettering our understanding of the dynamics that are at work out there.


Is Planet Nine a Rogue Planet?  (

Researchers testing whether a much-mythologized object called Planet Nine might indeed be a captured rogue planet found it certainly looks like one. They also performed simulations of various different kinds of rogue encounters with our solar system; they found that if the rogue had a mass equal to or greater than that of Jupiter, it could subsequently leave a physical impact on the configuration of the entire system. James Vesper of New Mexico State University presented the research Friday at the 229th American Astronomical Science meeting in Grapevine, Texas. 

Vesper said their data showed 60 percent of all rogue encounters being “slingshotted” into the galaxy — they come in close to the sun and then shoot right back out. About ten percent of these encounters take one or more planets out with them. If two or more planets are knocked out — but the rogue is captured — Vesper refers to the exchange as a “kick and stay.”


New Wrinkles in the Search for “Planet X”: Unseen 'Planetary Mass Object' Signalled by Warped Kuiper Belt (


... An unknown, unseen "planetary mass object" may lurk in the outer reaches of our solar system, according to new research on the orbits of minor planets to be published in the Astronomical Journal. This object would be different from—and much closer than—the so-called Planet Nine, a planet whose existence yet awaits confirmation.

In the paper, Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, or LPL, present compelling evidence of a yet-to-be- discovered planetary body with a mass somewhere between that of Mars and Earth. The mysterious mass, the authors show, has given away its presence—for now—only by controlling the orbital planes of a population of space rocks known as Kuiper Belt objects, or KBOs, in the icy outskirts of the solar system.

While most KBOs—debris left over from the formation of the solar system—orbit the sun with orbital tilts (inclinations) that average out to what planetary scientists call the invariable plane of the solar system, the most distant of the Kuiper Belt's objects do not. Their average plane, Volk and Malhotra discovered, is tilted away from the invariable plane by about eight degrees. In other words, something unknown is warping the average orbital plane of the outer solar system.

... A possible alternative to an unseen object that could have ruffled the plane of outer Kuiper Belt objects could be a star that buzzed the solar system in recent (by astronomical standards) history, the authors said.

"A passing star would draw all the 'spinning tops' in one direction," Malhotra said. "Once the star is gone, all the KBOs will go back to precessing around their previous plane. That would have required an extremely close passage at about 100 AU, and the warp would be erased within 10 million years, so we don't consider this a likely scenario."


Evidence is Growing for Existence of Planet Nine (

Astronomers announced in 2016 that a Planet 9 might exist. Their theory was based on the way some trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs behave.

The new research announced on October 17 works with the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects, too. It’s led by Juliette Becker, a graduate student in the Department of Astronomy at University of Michigan. Becker’s work consists of a large set of computer simulations, which, the researchers say, uncovered two findings about trans-Neptunian objects, also known as TNOs. Their statement explained:
First, the researchers established a version of Planet 9 that would most likely cause our solar system to look the way it currently does, by preventing the TNOs from being destroyed or thrown out of the solar system.

Second, the simulations predict that there is a process that they call resonance hopping by which a TNO jumps between stable orbits. This process can prevent the TNOs from being ejected from the solar system.
There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet 9. If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet 9 does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them.

… it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet 9 than with one.

Evaluating the Dynamical Stability of Outer Solar System Objects in the Presence of Planet Nine (,
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 27, 2018, 06:15:08 PM
A Million Years From Now, Another Star Will Visit Our Solar System


This may be a problem for any humans still around.

Dwarf star Gliese 710, which we've known about for some time, could now arrive in 1.29 million years, instead of the previously calculated 1.36 million years.

Berski and Dybczyński found that Gliese 710 would enter the Oort cloud to pass by the Sun a distance of about 13,365 astronomical units (each astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun).

According to the new research, it will graze us at a distance of 4,303 AU. That's not actually very close - it's over 100 times the distance to Pluto, which orbits the Sun at an average of 39.5 AU. But it still has the potential to disrupt the Solar System.

That'll put it 24 light days, or 400 billion miles, away from us, 4,300 times farther from Earth than the sun. But that's close enough to have an impact. At that time, Gliese 710 will shine three times brighter than Mars. More importantly, its gravity could shoot comets and frozen planet into our solar system, putting them on a potential collision course with Earth.

And that's not everything. Gliese 710 is not the only star that’s coming our way. Gaia, launched in 2013, has measured the positions and trajectories of millions of stars. Using this data, we now know that out of 300,000 trajectories, 16 will travel within 37 trillion miles around the sun
 (1 light year) in the next 1,000,000 years, close enough to have an impact on our solar system. And there are many trajectories yet to be measured. Calculations show the systems are massive enough to give the Oort Cloud a good stir.

That's the sort of thing that caused the Late Heavy Bombardment (

A Visiting Star Jostled Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago


Around the same time our ancestors left Africa, a dim red dwarf star came to within 0.8 light-years of our Sun, marking the closest known flyby of a star to our Solar System. New research suggests Scholz’s Star, as it’s known, left traces of this interstellar encounter by perturbing some comets in the outer Oort Cloud.

Though Scholz’s Star ( visited the outer reaches of our Solar System some 70,000 years ago, awareness of this celestial meet-and-greet first emerged three years ago in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

According to this research, a dim red dwarf star, along with its even dimmer brown dwarf companion—a kind of bloated gas giant that failed to ignite into a full-blown star—came to within 0.8 light-years of our Sun (4.7 trillion miles, or 50,600 AU, where 1 AU is the average distance of the Earth to the Sun), and possibly as close as 0.6 light-years (3.53 trillion miles, or 37,900 AU). That’s a close shave, at least by cosmological standards. By comparison, MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that will be visited by the New Horizons spacecraft on New Year’s Day 2019, is about 43 AU from the Sun.


A Newly Discovered Solar System Object Hints at Hidden Planet Nine (

Astronomers found a strange dwarf world that provides even more evidence that a giant planet is lurking at the edge of our solar system.


... observations suggests the gravitational influence of another planet is altering the distant objects' orbits. Now additional findings of a newly discovered planetary object with an odd orbit support the case for an undiscovered Planet Nine. The new object, called 2015 BP519, takes an elliptical journey around the Sun spanning from 35 to 862 times the radius of Earth’s own orbit. 2015 BP519 orbits at a 54 degree angle compared to nearly everything in the inner solar system, and the theory is that Planet Nine is responsible.
In the new paper, they describe how they ran many simulations of the object within the known solar system, letting the clock run forward and backward 4.5 billion years at a time. Nothing could explain how the object landed in such a tilted orbit. It wasn’t until they added in a ninth planet — a planet with characteristics that perfectly match Batygin and Brown’s predictions — that the wacky orbit finally made sense.The second you put Planet Nine in the simulations, not only can you form objects like this object, but you absolutely do,” said Juliette Becker, a graduate student at Michigan and the lead author on the new paper. A strong and sustained interaction with Planet Nine appears to be the only way to pump up the object’s inclination, pushing it away from the plane of the solar system.There is no other reasonable way to populate the Kuiper belt with such highly inclined bodies,” Batygin said. “I think the case for the existence of Planet Nine is now genuinely excellent.” 



Search for Planet X Gets a Boost with the Discovery of a Super Distant Object (

Massively elongated orbit suggests object is influenced by theoretical giant Planet Nine in Oort Cloud region

An extremely distant dwarf planet, named The Goblin, has been discovered in observations that are redefining the outer reaches of the solar system.

Astronomers made the discovery while hunting for a hypothetical massive planet, known as Planet Nine, that is suspected to be in orbit far beyond Pluto in a mysterious region known as the Oort Cloud. Planet Nine has not yet been seen directly, but The Goblin appears to be under the gravitational influence of a giant unseen object, adding to astronomers’ certainty that it is out there.
... “Each time we find another one of these smaller objects, it will lead us to constrain where the bigger planet could be”
The newly discovered icy world, estimated to be just 300km across, is in an extremely elongated orbit. At its closest, it gets about two and a half times as far from the sun as Pluto. Then it heads off to the outermost fringes of the solar system, to almost 60 times further out than Pluto, taking an astounding 40,000 years to loop once around the sun. For 99% of its orbit, it would be too faint to see.

The tiny rock — eloquently named TG387 and nicknamed “The Goblin” — was spotted by astronomers at the Carnegie Institution of Science using a giant Japanese observatory in Hawaii called Subaru.


Intriguingly the orbits of the three objects discovered so far appear to be clustered together, suggesting that they are being shepherded by a giant, unknown object. This has pointed astronomers to the existence of a ninth, super-Earth sized planet.

Right now, there are 14 far-out space rocks that all share similar orbit patterns, suggesting that this planet is out there. Their paths are all super elongated, and they all cluster together in the same area when they approach the Sun. Plus, their orbits are all tilted alike, and they point in the same general direction, as if something big has pushed them into similar places. These objects are the strongest lines of evidence astronomers have for Planet X, and finding a new one that matches this pattern reinforces that idea that this planet is more than just a theory.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 27, 2018, 07:59:31 PM
NASA Is Taking a New Look at Searching for Life Beyond Earth (

... Technosignatures are signs or signals, which if observed, would allow us to infer the existence of technological life elsewhere in the universe. The best known technosignature are radio signals, but there are many others that have not been explored fully.

In April 2018, new interest arose in Congress for NASA to begin supporting the scientific search for technosignatures as part of the agency's search for life. As part of that effort, the agency is hosting the NASA Technosignatures Workshop ( in Houston on Sept. 26-28, 2018, with the purpose of assessing the current state of the field, the most promising avenues of research in technosignatures and where investments could be made to advance the science.

The Search for Directed Intelligence:

Plenty of places to visit close by ...

73 exoplanetary host stars sorted by distance from our Sun. Spectral types are indicated by the color key at lower right. The inner circle has a radius of 5 parsecs, and each successive ring represents an increment of 5 parsecs.

Our Neighborhood: (


Number of ExoPlanets - Range: 20 Parsecs


Say Goodbye to Saturn’s Rings: Saturn is Losing Its Rings at 'Worst-Case-Scenario' rate

... The new research suggests that the rings are recent and temporary. Like some previous studies, it suggests a much younger age for the rings than 4 1/2 billion years. The new research indicates that they are unlikely to be older than 100 million years. Research suggests an even shorter timeframe for the rings survival, giving them less than 100 million years to live.

Maybe it played at part in the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 28, 2018, 02:14:46 PM
Ice and dust particles from Saturns ring...i don´t see how.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 29, 2018, 04:52:30 PM
Ice and dust particles from Saturns ring...i don´t see how.

Let's look at it backwards.

65 million years ago a 6 mile chuck whacked the Yucatan and that was an E.L.E. for the dominant species, dinosaurs.

That chunk came from somewhere.

The dinosaur killer might have arrived from the main asteroid belt, though NOT from the Baptistina asteroid family (http://Baptistina).

Ejection from the asteroid belt is thought to normally take many tens of millions of years. Resonances ( are areas in the main belt where gravity nudges from Jupiter and Saturn can act like a pinball machine to fling asteroids out of the main belt and into the region near Earth from time to time.

Or, it might have arrived from farther out

Here's my hypothesis with a couple of cognitive leaps thrown in.

Based on the the recent article, Saturn didn't have rings prior to 100 (+/- 20) million years ago. So where did 3 × 10^19 kg of ice and dust come from?

Based on Voyager observations, the total current mass of the rings are estimated to be about 3 × 10^19 kg (3 quintillion kg). Wikipedia

First, based on the rate of erosion of the rings, the mass of the rings was 3-5 times larger 100 million years ago (e.g. 1.0-1.5 x 10^20 kg - close to the mass of Enceladus)

Enceladus is about 500 kilometers (310 mi) in diameter - mass = 1.1×10^20.

Second; to end up with 1.0-1.5 x 10^20 kg of rock and ice particles (~ mass of Enceladus) we would need to slam 2 objects with ~ mass of Enceladus together with enough force such that both are pulverized and have enough deltaV to avoid reconstituting into another moon.

Why 2?

Because ~ 1/3 of the debris of the resulting collision will be aimed (down) at Saturn's gravity well and fall onto the planet; 1/3 of the debris will retain the orbital path of the original moon; and 1/3 of the debris the will be aimed away (up) from Saturn and leave the system.

That leaves a lot of debris that has the potential to make it's way sun-ward (toward Earth), even if 99.99999% of it is not heading in our general direction.

So maybe one of those chucks had our name on it and, after 20-40 million years, it fell into Earth's gravity well.

The rest is history. Or not.  ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 30, 2018, 02:38:03 PM
Fair enough although i don´t think there is a way to prove or disprove the hypothesis or my rival one that it was just a rock from space.  ;)

The new year will bring the first close up pictures from a Kuiper belt object...if the camera is pointed correctly:

History will be made on Tuesday when Nasa's New Horizons probe sweeps past the icy world known as Ultima Thule.

Occurring some 6.5 billion km (4 billion miles) from Earth, the flyby will set a new record for the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object by a spacecraft.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 30, 2018, 03:40:27 PM
Just like with the Pluto flyby, the New Horizons mission team is gathered at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where they will monitor the spacecraft from the facility’s mission operations center.

“It’s ironic: NASA is doing the farthest exploration in its history and they got their hands tied behind their back by being caught in the government shutdown,” Alan Stern, the principal investigator for the New Horizons mission, said. “We have malfunction procedures for almost everything, but we didn’t think of a malfunction procedure for the government shutting down during the flyby.”

In a last minute win, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Twitter that the events will be shown on NASA TV

NASA's Live Stream

New Horizons won’t send a signal back to Earth until a few hours after it whizzes past the rock, called Ultima Thule. So sometime between 9:45 and 10:45AM ET, January 1, the mission team should receive that signal confirming a success.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 31, 2018, 10:45:03 PM


7 hours to intercept
400,000 km to intercept
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 01, 2019, 05:16:43 PM
New Horizons: Nasa Probe Survives Flyby of Ultima Thule

The US space agency's New Horizons probe has made contact with Earth to confirm its successful flyby of the icy world known as Ultima Thule.

The encounter occurred some 6.5bn km (4bn miles) away, making it the most distant ever exploration of an object in our Solar System.

New Horizons acquired gigabytes of photos and other observations during the pass.

It will now send these home over the coming months. 

Images taken during the spacecraft's approach — which brought New Horizons to within just 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of Ultima at 12:33 a.m. EST — revealed that the Kuiper Belt object may have a shape similar to a bowling pin, spinning end over end, with dimensions of approximately 20 by 10 miles (32 by 16 kilometers).


Flyby data have already solved one of Ultima's mysteries, showing that the Kuiper Belt object is spinning like a propeller with the axis pointing approximately toward New Horizons. This explains why, in earlier images taken before Ultima was resolved, its brightness didn't appear to vary as it rotated.


Hi-res images will be downloaded over the next 20 month's.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 02, 2019, 10:31:50 PM
NASA's New Horizons Mission Reveals Entirely New Kind of World

We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time 

The new images — taken from as close as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) on approach — revealed Ultima Thule as a "contact binary," consisting of two connected spheres. End to end, the world measures 19 miles (31 kilometers) in length. The team has dubbed the larger sphere "Ultima" (12 miles/19 kilometers across) and the smaller sphere "Thule" (9 miles/14 kilometers across).

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: johnm33 on January 07, 2019, 11:04:18 PM
Eugene Bagashov on Oumuamua, it's curious trajectory amongst other things.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 17, 2019, 06:56:22 PM
Some diversions until NASA government shutdown is over...

... Interesting list of papers written for Defense Intelligence Agency’s Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program ( program. The list was declassified at the request of the Federation of American Scientists:


- Traversable Wormholes, Stargates and Negative Energy;
- Anti-gravity for Aerospace Applications;
- Positron (Anti-matter) Aerospace Propulsion;
- Concepts for Extracting Energy from the Quantum Vacuum;
- Aerospace Applications of Programmable Matter;
- Negative Mass Propulsion
- Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion;
- Cognitive Limits on Simultaneous Control of Multiple Unmanned Spacecraft
- Invisibility Cloaking


What U.S. Submariners Actually Say About Detection Of So-Called Unidentified Submerged Objects

... “I was sitting there zoning out a little because I was sea sick and all of a sudden the sonar kid shouts 'fast mover, fast mover' and I’m jolted awake – thinking ‘What’s happening? Is it a torpedo?’

“The executive officer comes out and the operator shows him the path of the object and the officer says 'How fast is that going?'

And the kid said 'several hundred knots'. I start to lean forward to listen in – and the officer said ‘Can you confirm it?’

“So he goes to another sonar machine and confirmed it wasn’t a machine anomaly - it was real. I thought ‘Wow that is incredible’.

“When the sonar guy said ‘What do I do with this?’ the officer said ‘log it and dog it’ - in other words log it and bury it.”

Four years later Marc said he was doing some more contract work for the Navy when he spoke to a senior naval figure about what he saw.

“I asked him ‘Can you tell me about the Fast Mover Programme?'" Marc explained.

“He looked at me and said 'Sorry Marc I can’t talk about that programme'.

“So he basically confirmed to me that the programme exists - he said everything without seeing anything.

“What that told me was that USOs are common – we even have a programme in place to classify and log and determine the speed of them and it goes into a vault.” ...


Swarms of Tiny Satellites Could Act Like One Giant Space Telescope

New research suggests that in the near future giant telescopes like the Webb might be replaced (or at least augmented) by swarms of tiny spacecraft working in concert.

... As documented in a paper published today in Optica, the team leapfrogs existing methods in an interesting way. Two satellites move in synchrony around the edge of a circle, collecting data as they go and beaming it to a third stationary one; this circle describes the synthetic aperture the two cameras are creating.

“We found that you only need a small part of a telescope lens to obtain quality images,” explained BGU grad student Angika Bulbul, who led the research, in a news release. “Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, we managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems.”

In other words, they were basically able to get the results of a camera 50 times the size. That would be impressive anywhere, but up in space it’s especially important.



New paper Indicates Potential for Primitive Life on Icy Barnard b Super-Earth Planet if Geothermal Activity Exists


Habitable Planets Around Red Dwarf Stars Might Not Get Enough Photons to Support Plant Life


Citizen Scientists Find New World with NASA Telescope

Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star's habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet's surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets—planets beyond our solar system.


TESS Discovers Its Third New Planet


Scientists Predict Sun Will One Day Turn Into Giant Crystal Ball


Elon Musk Shows Off Prototype of Mars-Bound Rocket, Starship

( (

Musk noted that the final rocket has a pointier tip................................................... 1947 ... all aboard!


Steam-Propelled Spacecraft Prototype Can Theoretically Explore Celestial Objects "Forever"

UCF planetary research scientist Phil Metzger worked with Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California, which developed the World Is Not Enough spacecraft prototype that extracts water from asteroids or other planetary bodies to generate steam and propel itself to its next mining target.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: johnm33 on January 17, 2019, 10:11:55 PM
"Elon Musk shows off -----" Very Dan Dare (
 Interesting read on Venus, nice animations too.
added link
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 18, 2019, 01:15:29 AM
Very 'Dan Dare' ...

? ... I had to look that up.


On this side of the pond it's more Flash Gorden and Rocketship Ajax ...

Flash! Ah-aah
Savior of the universe
Flash! Ah-aah
He'll save everyone of us…


Re: Venus - Interestng (but I like our weather here)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 23, 2019, 05:05:37 PM
Planetary Scientists Puzzle Over the Mysterious Slope Streaks on Mars

Since they were first observed in the 1970s by the Viking missions, the slope streaks that periodically appear along slopes on Mars have continued to intrigue scientists.

Despite the progress that has been made in studying these features, the scientific community remains divided into two camps when it comes to what causes Martian slope streaks. Those who belong to the "wet" mechanism school of thought believe that liquid water could be responsible for their creation, possibly as a result of groundwater springs, melting surface ice, or the formation of brines (salt solutions).

In contrast, those who fall into the "dry" mechanism school theorize that dust avalanches are responsible. These, in turn, could be caused by air fall deposits, subsurface melting, or localized disturbances – ranging by rockfalls, meteorite impacts, or tectonic activity ("marsquakes"). Both of these explanations have limitations when it comes to explaining observed slope streaks.


Using a terrestrial analog from Bolivia, a research team from Sweden recently conducted a study that explored the mechanisms for streak formation and suggest that wet mechanisms appear to account for more, which could have serious implications for future missions to Mars.

The subject of what causes these streaks and other transient surface features is important for many reasons, not the least of which has to do with planetary protection. In Sept. 2016, the Curiosity rover encountered dark streaks while driving along the sloping terrain of Mount Sharp, which required that it alter its path to avoid contact and possible contamination of the site.

This decision was based on the possibility that subsurface water was responsible for the streak, and could be an indication of subsurface life. If slope streaks are indeed linked to seasonal water flows, then we proper measures will need to be put in place for future missions, especially crewed ones.

The study, titled "Are Slope Streaks Indicative of Global Scale Aqueous Processes on Contemporary Mars? (http://)" recently appeared in the Reviews of Geophysics
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on January 23, 2019, 08:18:10 PM
Mysterious Galaxy Measured Exquisitely, And Contains No Dark Matter At All


DF2 is strange, even for a dwarf galaxy. For starts, it’s ultra-diffuse, with no central core, no spiral arms, and no beehive-like elliptical structure. An instrument like Dragonfly is optimized for finding structures like this one with such low surface brightnesses; DF2 is one of only three or four known ultra-diffuse galaxies. It looks like a puffed-up ball of stars, and nothing more.

It is surrounded by a halo that’s populated with globular clusters, except its globular clusters are weird: they’re twice as large as the globulars we see in other galaxies. They’re also old: at least 9 billion years have passed since new stars have formed in them. But the strangest thing of all is that the motions of the stars inside of it, as well as the motions of the globular clusters around it, are so small. If dark matter were abundant, they’d move around at speeds of ±30 km/s, give or take a little. But that’s not what we see at all.


The stars and the globular clusters aren’t moving at ±16 km/s, as the prior team indicated, but at a mere ±7-or-8 km/s. By measuring the stars directly, they found a stellar velocity dispersion of ±8.4 km/s, while the globular clusters gave a slightly lower value of ±7.8 km/s. These values are consistent with what you’d expect from the mass of stars inside the galaxy alone; there appears to be no dark matter present inside this galaxy at all.

The globular clusters are found farther out than the stars by about a factor of 4, which is where the effects of a dark matter halo should be more significant. The fact that the the velocity dispersion remains unchanged between the stars and globular clusters, at least to the best resolution of our instruments, indicates that this galaxy may be the first example of a new population whose existence was predicted by theory: of ultra-diffuse, dark-matter-free galaxies.

For details and pictures:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 24, 2019, 05:15:07 PM
Top Half of SpaceX's Mars Test Rocket Blew Over and Will Take 'A Few Weeks to Repair'

SpaceX is facing a bit of a setback in the development of its Martian rocket prototype, after high winds blew over the top half of the vehicle.

... It's just a flesh wound

CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet Wednesday that winds of 50 miles per hour "broke the mooring blocks late last night" and blew over the rocket's "fairing" – the large nosecone at the top of the rocket. The damage "will take a few weeks to repair," Musk added.

What would Dan Dare do? ...


A ball peen hammer and a little Bondo®, and she'll be right as rain.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 02, 2019, 02:49:51 PM
Meteorites Strike Western Cuba

Havana, Cuba (CNN) A meteor broke apart over western Cuba on Friday, hurtling numerous pieces of various sizes to the ground in several towns in Pinar del Rio province, the state-run Granma newspaper reported.

One meteorite landed with a "loud explosion" in the town of Viñales, Granma said.

Researchers from several Cuban agencies, including the Institute of Geophysics and Astronomy, confirmed the meteorite strikes, Granma reported.

 radar may have detected the meteor that affected western Cuba earlier today. At 121 pm, a signature was detected near Viñales, Cuba, at a height of over 26,000 ft above ground level.


In the video below, what seems to be a sonic boom can be heard at 0:46. Objects moving faster than the speed of sound produce these loud shockwaves, which are powerful enough to break glass
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 08, 2019, 05:30:06 PM
Fireball Over Cuba Exploded With the Energy of 1,400 Tons of TNT, NASA Says

... According to new data posted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies and flagged by CNET, the object’s collision with the atmosphere released the energy of around 1.4 kilotons (1,400 tons) of TNT.

the detonation over Cuba was one of the more notable fireballs since the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia near the nation’s border with Kazakhstan in 2013. Scientists say that explosion detonated with the force of over 470 kilotons of TNT, or nearly as strong as the MK-18 “Ivy King” in 1952, the largest pure-fission bomb ever tested by the U.S. at 500 kilotons. According to a Tulane University fact sheet, the Chelyabinsk object was probably around 56-65 feet (17-20 meters) in diameter.

The object that exploded over Cuba was likely much smaller, probably around the size of a van. Only minor property damage such as shattered windows—probably from the sonic boom generated by the object surpassing the speed of sound—was reported to have resulted, with no injuries.

Ivy King - 1952
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 11, 2019, 08:08:00 PM
NASA Finds Possible Second Impact Crater Under Greenland Ice

A NASA glaciologist has discovered a possible second impact crater buried under more than a mile of ice in northwest Greenland.

His follows the finding, announced in November 2018, of a 19-mile-wide crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier - the first meteorite impact crater ever discovered under Earth's ice sheets. Though the newly found impact sites in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, at present they do not appear to have formed at the same time.

If the second crater, which has a width of over 22 miles, is ultimately confirmed as the result of a meteorite impact, it will be the 22nd largest impact crater found on Earth.

... Following the finding of that first crater, MacGregor checked topographic maps of the rock beneath Greenland's ice for signs of other craters. Using imagery of the ice surface from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, he soon noticed a circular pattern some 114 miles to the southeast of Hiawatha Glacier. The same circular pattern also showed up in ArcticDEM, a high-resolution digital elevation model of the entire Arctic derived from commercial satellite imagery.

To confirm his suspicion about the possible presence of a second impact crater, MacGregor studied the raw radar images that are used to map the topography of the bedrock beneath the ice, including those collected by NASA's Operation IceBridge. What he saw under the ice were several distinctive features of a complex impact crater: a flat, bowl-shaped depression in the bedrock that was surrounded by an elevated rim and centrally located peaks, which form when the crater floor equilibrates post-impact. Though the structure isn't as clearly circular as the Hiawatha crater, MacGregor estimated the second crater's diameter at 22.7 miles. Measurements from Operation IceBridge also revealed a negative gravity anomaly over the area, which is characteristic of impact craters.

"The only other circular structure that might approach this size would be a collapsed volcanic caldera," MacGregor said. "But the areas of known volcanic activity in Greenland are several hundred miles away. Also, a volcano should have a clear positive magnetic anomaly, and we don't see that at all."

Although the newly found impact craters in northwest Greenland are only 114 miles apart, they do not appear to have been formed at the same time. From the same radar data and ice cores that had been collected nearby, MacGregor and his colleagues determined that the ice in the area was at least 79,000 years old. The layers of ice were smooth, suggesting the ice hadn't been strongly disturbed during that time. This meant that either the impact happened more than 79,000 years ago or -- if it took place more recently -- any impact-disturbed ice had long ago flowed out of the area and been replaced by ice from farther inland.

Open Access: Joseph A. MacGregor et al. A Possible Second Large Subglacial Impact Crater in Northwest Greenland (, Geophysical Research Letters (2019).

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on February 13, 2019, 11:19:38 AM
G-objects may have come from supermassive black hole, study reports

Strange celestial structures that look like dust clouds but act like stars may have been created by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, according to unpublished research set to be presented at the American Astronomical Society.

Scientists have spent a lot of time studying the odd bodies -- known as G-objects -- in order to figure out how they operate. In the recent analysis, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles discovered three additions to the class and may have shed light on how the odd objects first formed.

Scientists first noticed two of the objects in 2004 and 2012. Further study revealed the bodies, which produce red light and appear to be quite cool, are likely surrounded by dust.

However, the first two G-objects have wandered near the Milky Way's supermassive black hole without being torn apart. As a result, they have to be denser than a dust cloud. That property is why scientists believe they are actually stars surrounded by gas.

"They're weird because they are not gas nebulae, they're not stars, so we think they're something in the middle, a stellar object surrounded by gas and dust," study author Anna Ciurlo, an astronomer at the University of California Los Angeles, told Newsweek, "like a star that's been puffed up."

As the objects sit so close to the black hole, astronomers also believe that is where they came from. Previous research suggests black holes can encourage closely-paired stars to collide more quickly than they would normally. It is possible such collisions create G-objects.

and more on

A interesting new class of objects.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 15, 2019, 05:22:05 PM
From Chelyabinsk to Cuba: The Meteor Connection

... According to the reconstruction made by the Colombian astronomers, the object producing the meteor over Cuba starts its trajectory inside the atmosphere at an altitude of about 76.5 km above the caribean sea, over a point 26 km to the southwest of the San Felipe Keys (Cuba).

The speed of the rock at its contact with the atmosphere was 18 km/s (64,800 km/h). With such a velocity, the thin air of the high atmosphere was not enough to stop the object, although it was enough to heat it until the rock became bright.


The rock continued its path in an almost straight line until a height of around 27.5 km. It was at about that altitude that the smoke trail, observed by thousands in Cuba and in satellite images, started to develop. Zuluaga and coauthors estimate that the cloud seen in Pinar del Rio corresponds to a small part of the trajectory of the meteor (corresponding to altitudes between 26 and 22.5 km). According to the footage on that city and the reconstruction of the Colombians, the airburst ended at about 22 km.

After reconstructing the trajectory in the atmosphere, the Colombian astronomers played back the impact and found that the culprit, a rock with an estimated size of several meters and a weight of about 360 tons, came from an eccentric orbit around the sun with an average distance of 1.3 astronomical units (1 astronomical-unit = 150 million km). Before impacting the Earth, the rock completed a turn around the sun every 1.32 years. All that came to an end on February 1, 2019, when the rock and the Earth found themselves at the same point in space at the same time.

... "We should be prepared for the next projectile."

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on February 16, 2019, 07:35:15 PM
Nice GIF.  :)

The method the researchers use is pretty interesting.

From the article above:

In GRT, the Earth is not hit by asteroids but it is a source of them. Many rocks are launched (in a simulated environment) into thousands of directions in the sky and with different speeds, from a certain geographical location (a beach in the northwest of Cuba or a valley on the moon). The rocks that end up in orbits around the sun, similar to already discovered asteroids, are flagged as potential impactors. The rocks with orbits that are not typical of near-Earth objects (NEOs) are flagged as unnatural objects.

Read more at:

Tunguska and Chelyabinsk impact events occurred inside a geographical area of only 3.4 per cent of the Earth's surface. Although two events hardly constitute a statistically significant demonstration of a geographical pattern of impacts, their spatial coincidence is at least tantalizing. To understand if this concurrence reflects an underlying geographical and/or temporal pattern, we must aim at predicting the spatio-temporal distribution of meteoroid impacts on Earth. For this purpose we designed, implemented, and tested a novel numerical technique, the ‘Gravitational Ray Tracing’ (GRT) designed to compute the relative impact probability (RIP) on the surface of any planet.


Locations at 60–90° from the apex are more prone to impacts, especially at midnight. Counterintuitively, sites close to apex direction have the lowest RIP, while in the antapex RIP are slightly larger than average. We present here preliminary maps of RIP at the time of Tunguska and Chelyabinsk events and found no evidence of a spatial or temporal pattern, suggesting that their coincidence was fortuitous.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on February 16, 2019, 07:46:38 PM
First evidence discovered of a gigantic remnant around an exploding star

A San Diego State University astrophysicist has helped discover evidence of a gigantic remnant surrounding an exploding star--a shell of material so huge, it must have been erupting on a regular basis for millions of years.

When a white dwarf, the core of a dead star, is in a close orbit with another star, it pulls gas from the other star. The gas becomes heated and compressed, eventually exploding to create a nova. This explosion causes the star to brighten by a millionfold and eject material at thousands of miles per second. The ejected material forms a remnant or shell surrounding the nova.

Allen Shafter and former SDSU postdoc. Martin Henze, along with a team of astrophysicists led by Matthew Darnley at Liverpool John Moores University in England, have been studying a nova in the nearby Andromeda galaxy known as M31N 2008-12a. What makes the nova unusual is that it erupts far more frequently than any other known nova system.

"When we first discovered that M31N 2008-12a erupted every year, we were very surprised," said Shafter. A more typical pattern is about every 10 years.


Type Ia supernovae are among the most powerful and luminous objects in the universe and are believed to occur when a white dwarf exceeds its maximum allowable mass. At that point, the entire white dwarf is blown apart instead of experiencing explosions on the surface as other novae do. These are relatively rare and unseen in our own galaxy since the early 1600s.

Theoretical models show that novae experiencing frequent explosions surrounded by large remnants must harbor massive white dwarfs that are nearing their limit. This means M31N 2008-12a is behaving precisely the way astronomers believe a nova does before it potentially explodes as a supernova.

and more on:

So there is a thin line between being blown apart and blowing huge bubbles. The donor star must be huge and the process gradual enough to not cross that line.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 17, 2019, 12:28:38 AM
Wouldn't want to get closer than 100 light-years of that puppy when it blows.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 20, 2019, 12:04:35 AM
And Now For the Weather On Mars


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.


Citizen Scientists Invited To Join Quest for New Worlds

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 20, 2019, 08:19:21 PM
With the Best Air Pressure Sensor Ever On Mars, Scientists Find a Mystery

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.



Neptune’s Newly Discovered Moon May Be the Survivor of an Ancient Collision

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.


Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

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."

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 22, 2019, 01:37:34 AM
Research Creates DNA-like Molecule to Aid Search for Alien Life

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.


Signs of Ancient Flowing Water on Mars



Japan Probe Hayabusa2 Set for Asteroid Landing


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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on February 22, 2019, 03:44:43 AM
The Israeli Moon Lander has just been deployed to space. Actual landing expected in 8 weeks. (

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 24, 2019, 07:33:56 PM
Virgin Galactic Spaceplane Reaches Space With First Passenger On Board


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:


NASA Gives SpaceX the Okay to Launch New Passenger Spacecraft on Uncrewed 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi 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

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.

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.

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 28, 2019, 05:03:10 PM
More Support for 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:


Astronomers Just Discovered 'Farout,' the Most Distant Known Object in the Solar System

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.


FarFarOut: The New Most Distant Object In Our Solar System

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

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,, Geological Evidence of Planet‐Wide Groundwater System on Mars (, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets  21 January 2019
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi 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

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."
... "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]...



On Mars, Atmospheric Methane—A Sign of Life on Earth—Changes Mysteriously with the 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

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on March 05, 2019, 09:29:49 AM
An Asteroid the Size of a Jumbo Jet Just Buzzed Safely By Earth

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 >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 11, 2019, 10:19:17 PM
Traces of Giant, 2,700-Year-Old Solar Storm Detected in Greenland Ice

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 14, 2019, 12:03:10 AM
Geologic Evidence Supports Theory that Major Cosmic Impact Event Occurred Approximately 12,800 Years Ago


... 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)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 15, 2019, 03:40:00 PM
NASA spacecraft Explored the Edges of an Early Mars Sea in 1997


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)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi 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

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

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

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

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

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?


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.


11 minutes post impact                                         29 minutes post impact
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 16, 2019, 04:04:41 PM
How the Dinosaurs Went Extinct: Asteroid Collision Triggered Potentially Deadly Volcanic Eruptions


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,, The eruptive tempo of Deccan volcanism in relation to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (, Science  22 Feb 2019


Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 18, 2019, 08:04:00 AM
US Detects Huge Meteor Explosion


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 ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on March 22, 2019, 07:58:15 AM
A solar storm hits Earth this week, pushing northern lights south

After a prolonged quiet period, the sun let off an explosion Wednesday when a new sunspot fired a small solar flare lasting over an hour.

The high-energy blast caused disruptions for some radio operators in Europe and Africa, but it was accompanied by a slower-moving, massive cloud of charged particles known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) that will deliver Earth a glancing blow this weekend.

All those particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field could turn up the range and the intensity of the aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights. Aurora are caused by particles from the sun that are constantly flowing toward our planet, but a CME delivers an extra large helping that can really amp up the display.

In North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the aurora borealis could be visible as far south as New York and Chicago on Saturday, likely in the early morning hours.
Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 25, 2019, 09:17:04 PM

A meteor that snuck by the world's telescopes and exploded over the Bering Sea was caught on camera after all.

Two instruments on NASA's Terra satellite caught images of the fireball explosion on Dec. 18, 2018. The meteor's trail is visible in the top portion of the photo as a dark, streak-like shadow on the cloud tops. Toward the lower right of the image is an orange cloud of superheated air created by the explosion.

NASA scientists estimate that the meteor was 32 feet (10 meters) in diameter and weighed 1,500 tons (1,360 metric tons). It blasted through the atmosphere at 71,582 mph (115,200 km/h) and exploded 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) above the surface of the ocean. It exploded with the power of 173 kilotons of TNT, 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States over Hiroshima in 1945.


Jupiter's Unknown Journey Revealed

It is known that gas giants around other stars are often located very near their sun. According to accepted theory, these gas planets were formed far away and subsequently migrated to an orbit closer to the star.

Now researchers from Lund University and other institutions have used advanced computer simulations to learn more about Jupiter's journey through our own solar system approximately 4.5 billion years ago. At that time, Jupiter was quite recently formed, as were the other planets in the solar system. The planets were gradually built up by cosmic dust, which circled around our young sun in a disk of gas and particles. Jupiter was no larger than our own planet.

The results show that Jupiter was formed four times further from the sun than its current position would indicate.

... According to the calculations, Jupiter's migration went on for around 700 000 years, in a period approximately 2-3 million years after the celestial body started its life as an ice asteroid far from the sun. The journey inwards in the solar system followed a spiralling course in which Jupiter continued to circle around the sun, albeit in an increasingly tight path. The reason behind the actual migration relates to gravitational forces from the surrounding gases in the solar system.

The simulations show that the Trojan asteroids were drawn in when Jupiter was a young planet with no gas atmosphere, which means that these asteroids most probably consist of building blocks similar to those that formed Jupiter's core. In 2021, NASA's space probe Lucy will be launched into orbit around six of Jupiter's Trojan asteroids to study them.

The authors of the study also suggest that the gas giant Saturn and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune could have migrated in a similar way.


S. Pirani et al, Consequences of planetary migration on the minor bodies of the early solar system[/b]]Consequences of planetary migration on the minor bodies of the early solar system (http://[b), Astronomy & Astrophysics (2019)


Kazakh Meteorite Reveals Signs of Ancient Solar 'Superflare'

Scientists have found evidence of an ancient solar “superflare” hidden in a meteorite that was first found in Kazakhstan in 1962, according to a new paper.

Meteorites here on Earth can be useful for telling the story the Solar System’s history, specifically through the elements they contain. By analyzing the Efremovka meteorite, a pair of researchers determined that a superflare that occurred around 500,000 years after the Sun’s birth could have emitted as many x-rays as the largest solar flare each second, but for perhaps an entire year.

Specifically, the study focused on how meteorites ended up containing beryllium-10, a radioactive isotope with a half life of 1.386 million years, where after one half life, half of the radioactive material decays. This isotope is thought to arise either from oxygen or carbon breaking up from increased solar energy, or from low-mass stars exploding in a supernova.

On analyzing a calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion from the Efremovka meteorite, the researchers found an excess of two other isotopes, called beryllium-9 and lithium-7. These elements signal the former presence another isotope called beryllium-7, which has a half life of only 53 years. They reasoned that in order to recreate the radioactive signature they were seeing and to explain the beryllium-10, the meteorites must have been hit with a series of short, quick pulses of solar radiation.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on March 28, 2019, 01:32:16 PM
In a follow up to number 41 in this thread the team has found another galaxy without dark matter.

Unusual galaxies defy dark matter theory


In the first study, the team confirmed their initial observations of NGC 1052-DF2, or DF2 for short, which show dark matter is practically absent in the galaxy. Using W. M. Keck Observatory’s Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI), they gathered more precise measurements and found that the globular clusters inside the galaxy are indeed moving at a speed consistent with the mass of the galaxy’s normal matter. If there were dark matter in DF2, the clusters would be moving much faster.

“KCWI is unique because of the combination of its large survey area,” said lead author Danieli. “The instrument not only allows us to see the whole galaxy at once, its high spectral resolution also enables us to measure the mass accurately. There is no other instrument in the world that has those two properties!”

In the second study, the team used Keck Observatory’s Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS) to find another galaxy devoid of dark matter, named NGC 1052-DF4, or DF4 for short.

“Discovering a second galaxy with very little to no dark matter is just as exciting as the initial discovery of DF2,” said van Dokkum, who is the lead author on the DF4 paper. “This means the chances of finding more of these galaxies are now higher than we previously thought. Since we have no good ideas for how these galaxies were formed, I hope these discoveries will encourage more scientists to work on this puzzle.”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sam on March 28, 2019, 06:34:25 PM
It is important to remember the origins of the theories of "dark matter" and "dark energy". These are claimed to exist not based on their discovery, but rather solely as a curve fitting exercise using Newtonian dynamics (Keplerian) and the universal law of gravitation as applied to the velocity curves of galaxies and the estimated masses of the visible objects in those galaxies.

The most notable case is M31, the Andromeda galaxy. The light curve for Andromeda shows a central region (the bulge), a transitional region, a region containing the bulk of the galactic disk, and then the region beyond the seeming edge of the galaxy as viewed by human minds.

The central region behaves with a velocity curve that is linear with distance from the center. The transitional region includes a narrow band rotating retrograde to the rest of the galaxy. The main disk shows a velocity curve that looks like a superposition of a linear velocity with distance (with a much lower slope than the bulge) combined with a keplerian falloff with distance added on top of that. In other words, the inner half of the disk portion has a bulge somewhat faster than a linear relation would suggest. The region beyond the visible edge transitions to a velocity curve of near constant value for considerable distance that then falls off slowly with increasing distance. See page 617 of "Exploration of the Universe" by George Abell, 1969 edition for example.

More distant galaxies are harder to resolve their detailed velocity profiles. The inner details are entirely lost.  Most often then, they show velocity curves that rise to a maximum value (disk region), then flatten for considerable distance before falling off.

This is not at all what would be expected from keplerian considerations.

It is these descrepancies that led to the postulation that there must be unseen "dark matter". As that theory was refined, it was realized that "dark matter" alone did not make the velocity curves fit keplerian requirements. Something seemed to be pushing the stars and objects faster. This led to the theory of "dark energy". Today, under the combination of these theories (cold dark matter or CDM), the vast majority of the "mass" of galaxies is proposed to be "dark energy". A minority of the "mass" is "cold dark matter", and a very small portion is the known actual mass of stars, nebulae, gas clouds,  etc...

This theory though widely held and "studied" is pure speculation. No direct evidence of "dark matter" or "dark energy" has ever been found, despite intense efforts to find them. It is only inferred. What most scientists have not done is to consider that some other physical law or difference in physical laws are implied. Also, there is no basis at all in all of physics for a force exemplied by "dark energy", or for particles to support "dark matter", or the force of "dark energy". Adding these would break all of the theories of particle physics. Yet, rather than being taken as a fantasy theory, CDM is often taken as true none the less.

But that is not universally true. One group of scientists and researchers proposed modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) to explain it all. MOND is likewise not a proven theory, and lacks an original explanation as well. However, tests of CDM versus MOND have not ruled either out.  There are other theories as well. MOND does accurately predict the velocity curves of thousands of galaxies using a single parameter change in its theory compared to universal gravitation.  CDM requires the a priori development of an inferred dark matte distribution for each galaxy to work. I.e. Curve fitting.

As theories go, MOND better fits the data with less fiddling. Occam's razor would suggest that of the two MOND is likely right. And MOND has the added benefit of fitting into existing theories. The background acceleration proposed in MOND may well be a measure of the stretching of space-time itself, or viewed differently as the growth of the universe, or ...., or as the integration constant in relativity, the C constant that Einstein added.

DF2 and DF4 are interesting low mass diffuse galaxies that put both theories to the test. And as it turns out, they don't rule either out.

What none of the current theories explain is the rotational curves of M31 and our own Milky Way in the visible light region of the galaxies.

There is much more to be learned about how the universe actually works.

We humans repeatedly make the same errrors through time of assuming that we know everything important to know (to explain everything), and that we as individuals, we as a species, our home - the Earth, our sun, our galaxy, our theories, our philosophies, our deities are the center of everything, and that everything depends on us.

We assume too that we are the peak and end goal of the process that led to us, whatever that process is. On the one hand this is simply pure hubris. On another, it is pure arrogance, ignorance and stupidity. On yet another it is a complete failing to apply the things we know such as logic, physics, ...  We never seem to generalize these lessons or to learn from them. We fall into the same holes time after time, not even understanding we have fallen into a hole, and utterly refusing to listen to people outside the hole trying to tell us we have fallen into a hole, even though it is they who are trying to help us extricate ourselves.

The application of that to human caused climate change and the disasters rapidly crashing in on us at accelerating speed is just one more exemplar. A large portion of humanity has fallen into their comfortable holes. They cannot see out. Worse, they do not want to see out. They like their cozy holes. As far as they are concerned, the people trying to warn them of the impending catastrophes are crazy. From their perspective in their cozy little holes, they both literally and figuratively cannot see the problem. Note here that seeing isn't just a matter of the optics of they eye, but is rather that plus the entire brain process that goes into building our internal map of what we think we "see". Much of what we "see" is a construct created in our brains. It is all too easy for a system built in this way to suffer aberrations in what we "see".

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 29, 2019, 02:33:33 AM
New Evidence of Deep Groundwater on Mars


In mid-2018, researchers supported by the Italian Space Agency detected the presence of a deep-water lake on Mars under its south polar ice caps. Now, researchers at the USC Arid Climate and Water Research Center (AWARE) have published a study that suggests deep groundwater could still be active on Mars and could originate surface streams in some near-equatorial areas on Mars.

The researchers at USC have determined that groundwater likely exists in a broader geographical area than just the poles of Mars and that there is an active system, as deep as 750 meters, from which groundwater comes to the surface through cracks in the specific craters they analyzed

"The experience we gained from our research in desert hydrology was the cornerstone in reaching this conclusion. We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars," said Abotalib Z. Abotalib, the paper's first author.

The two scientists concluded that fractures within some of Mars' craters, enabled water springs to rise up to the surface as a result of pressure deep below. These springs leaked onto the surface, generating the sharp and distinct linear features found on the walls of these craters. The scientists also provide an explanation on how these water features fluctuate with seasonality on Mars. ...

A deep groundwater origin for recurring slope linea on Mars (, Nature Geoscience (2019


Rivers Raged on Mars Until 1 Billion Years Ago

A new study by University of Chicago scientists catalogued these rivers to conclude that significant river runoff persisted on Mars later into its history than previously thought. According to the study, published March 27 in Science Advances, the runoff was intense—rivers on Mars were wider than those on Earth today—and occurred at hundreds of locations on the red planet.

This means that there were rivers throughout Mars' history, rather than at certain moments, and that they survived even as shallow seas and lakes dried up. That lasted right up until the end of Mars' more wet era, which ended around a billion years ago   

... The size of the rivers implies the water was flowing continuously, not just at high noon, so climate modelers need to account for a strong greenhouse effect to keep the planet warm enough for average daytime temperatures above the freezing point of water.

The rivers also show strong flow up to the last geological minute before the wet climate dries up. "You would expect them to wane gradually over time, but that's not what we see," Kite said. The rivers get shorter—hundreds of kilometers rather than thousands—but discharge is still strong. "The wettest day of the year is still very wet."


Open Access: E.S. Kite el al., "Persistence of intense, climate-driven runoff late in Mars history, (" Science Advances (2019)


NASA Is Working With Blue Origin on a Lunar Lander

In October, NASA signed a previously unreported Space Act Agreement “for the purpose of collaboration with Blue Origin to advance medium-to-large commercial lunar surface lander systems.”

Under the agreement, Blue Origin promised to pay NASA nearly US $50,000 to “leverage the unique capabilities, expertise, and knowledge of NASA in multiple technology areas to help to optimally design and develop such capabilities for both NASA and commercial missions.”

Blue Origin revealed its plans for a robotic lunar lander, called Blue Moon, in early 2017. Jeff Bezos has long dreamed of shifting heavy industry into space and wrote last October that “the next logical step in this path is a return to the moon. To do this we need reusable access to the lunar surface and its resources.”

In the Space Act arrangement, NASA would provide Blue Origin with the in-space trajectory analysis software called Copernicus, to help plan Blue Moon’s journey. The agency would also supply reports and studies about a return to the moon, including surveys of potential landing sites.

This was not the first agreement between NASA and Blue Origin concerning spacecraft beyond Earth orbit. In late 2017, the two organizations signed a vaguely worded $750,000 agreement to “[accelerate] the development and testing of critical technologies for emerging space system capabilities.” Although the agreement itself did not specify the work involved, a spreadsheet summarizing NASA’s contracts describes the project as a liquid oxygen/methane “lander propulsion collaboration.”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on April 01, 2019, 02:35:37 AM
Meteor Lights Up the Night Sky Over Northern Florida


A meteor was caught on GOES Lightning Mapper (GLM) around 3:52Z or 11:52 PM ET!


The National Weather Service said it heard unconfirmed reports that the meteor landed near Perry, Florida, some 55 miles southeast of Tallahassee.

Zoom in on box at center right
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on April 02, 2019, 09:16:17 PM
DOOMED!!! WE ARE ALL DOOMED !!!!                    (perhaps not)
Asteroid to hit Earth in August 2046 - Emergency IPCC UN panel formed
Posted on 1 April 2019 by scaddenp
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on April 04, 2019, 06:37:25 PM
Life on Mars?

Researchers from Hungary have discovered embedded organic material in a Martian meteorite found in the late 1970s. The scientists were able to determine the presence of organic matter in mineralised form such as different forms of bacteria within the meteorite, suggesting that life could have existed on the Red Planet.

Officially named ALH-77005, the Martian meteorite was found in the Allan Hills on Antarctica during the mission of the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research between 1977 and 1978. The new study proposes the presence of active bacteria on Mars. Their research also suggests that there may have been life on other planets.

Open Access: Ildikó Gyollai et al, Mineralized biosignatures in ALH-77005 Shergottite - Clues to Martian Life? (, Open Astronomy (2019)

Who knew they had Fox News on Mars.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on April 05, 2019, 07:37:46 AM (
Beresheet, Israel’s privately funded, engineered and launched mission to the Moon’s surface, has successfully entered lunar orbit after a month and a half in transit. The craft will now adjust its orbit in preparation for landing on April 11.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on April 10, 2019, 06:43:30 PM
The image is a bit fuzzy but it's been on the way for 53,5 million years. For that it's of astonishing quality and by that it in part shows how little there's stuff between galaxies. SagA* image might be coming too but as this M87 one is in active phase this, i guess, was easier to process from the background noise which is significant in the nucleai of galaxies.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on May 09, 2019, 03:59:24 PM
Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water

A new experiment confirms the existence of “superionic ice,” a bizarre form of water that might comprise the bulk of giant icy planets throughout the universe.
Link >>

The day the Arctic is going ice-free, i'll call it 'black, hot ice' too.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 10, 2019, 03:44:53 PM
Scientists have been delving into the galaxy with no black matter i posted about in #40 and look what they found:

In this study the researchers, perplexed because all the parameters that depended on the distance of the galaxy were anomalous; have revised the available distance indicators. Using five independent methods to estimate the distance of the object they found that all of them coincided in one conclusion: the galaxy is much nearer than the value presented in the previous research.

The original article published in Nature stated that the galaxy is at a distance of some 64 million light years from Earth. However, this new research has revealed that the real distance is much less, around 42 million light years.

Thanks to these new results, the parameters of the galaxy inferred from its distance have become "normal" and fit the observed trends traced by galaxies with similar characteristics.

The most relevant datum that has been found via the new distance analysis is that the total mass of this galaxy is around a half of the mass estimated previously, but the mass of its stars is only about quarter of the previously estimated mass. This implies that a significant part of the total mass must be made up of dark matter.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on June 10, 2019, 06:04:29 PM
Summer Solstice 21st June 16hrs :54mins GMT (UTC is a vile invention by a bunch of mad, evil scientists)

For those who will be dancing around the fire before genuflecting to the rising sun, here is how to make woad.

You can make a beautiful blue woad dye from the leaves of the woad plant.

Woad belongs to the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc). It is a biennial plant, which means it grows for 2 years before dying off.

In the first year it grows as a small cluster of broad leaves and in the second year large sprays of yellow flowers form on its long woody stems. After flowering, a woad plant will produce seeds and then die back. You can harvest these seeds for sowing the next crop.

However – for our purpose – we need to harvest the woad plant in it’s first year, as it is these leaves that give us the beautiful blue dye extracted from woad.

Creating Woad Dye
Woad plants are ready for harvest in the summer months.

Take the leaves from the base of the plant and then cut them into small pieces. Submerge the torn or cut leaves in a stainless steel pan of water and bring up to a temperature of 175F (80C). Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Cool the woad dye down as quickly as possible, so that the leaves don’t breakdown too much. If they do, they will go through the strainer and pollute your dye bath. Partially submerging your saucepan in cold or icy water is the easiest way to do this.

Strain off the liquid and – whilst wearing gloves – gently squeeze as much liquid as possible from the leaves.

When you are sure your woad dye is below 120F (50C), add 3 teaspoons of soda ash. At this stage your lovely blue dye will be a greeny-brown color.

Aerate the liquid with an electric or hand-held beater. You will notice it foam up a fair bit. Leave the – now bluey-green – woad dye for a few hours, during which time the foam will evaporate and any pigment will settle.

Gently scoop or siphon off all the water, leaving only the pigment in the bottom of your saucepan. If you are having trouble seeing the sediment in your contained, pour the dye into a glass jar.

Fill with water again and repeat 2 or 3 times. Soon you will have clear water at the top and thick pigment in the bottom.

This is your blue woad dye!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on June 10, 2019, 06:55:41 PM

James Webb telescope undergoes vacuum testing, finally moving toward launch

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 21, 2019, 09:08:15 PM
Now You See It; Now You Don't: Mysterious Glowing Light on Mars Captured by Nasa's Curiosity Probe

A photograph taken by Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars has captured a mysterious bright glow on a distant Martian hillside.

The black and white photograph shows the desert landscape with high rocky hills in the background.

In front of the larger rock formations, a tiny elongated white blob appears to be streaking past.

Nasa has previously admitted to similar anomalies in pictures taken by the probe. This image was taken on 16 June, and while conspiracy theorists have said the photograph is evidence of extra-terrestrials on the Red Planet, it appears more likely to have been a cosmic ray, some kind of camera lens flare or sunlight reflecting on rocks. (... or maybe swamp gas reflected off a weather balloon rising on Venus)

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 3:53:46 UTC, June 16, 2019 or Sol 2438 (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The navcam snapped the picture at 03:53:59 UTC, June 16, 2019 or Sol 2438 (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was snapped by Curiosity at 03:54:12 UTC, June 16, 2019 or Sol 2438 (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Trump, Senators Receive Classified Briefing on UFO Sightings

Washington (CNN) A group of US senators, including the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence committee, received a classified briefing Wednesday about a series of reported encounters by the US Navy with unidentified aircraft, according to a congressional aide.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 22, 2019, 06:53:47 PM
Life on Mars? NASA Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility of Life

In a measurement taken on Wednesday, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered startlingly high amounts of methane in the Martian air, a gas that on Earth is usually produced by living things. The data arrived back on Earth on Thursday, and by Friday, scientists working on the mission were excitedly discussing the news, which has not yet been announced by NASA.

... “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment,” Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, wrote to the science team in an email that was obtained by The Times.

The mission’s controllers on Earth sent new instructions to the rover on Friday to follow up on the readings, bumping previously planned science work. The results of these observations are expected back on the ground on Monday...



Curiosity Detects Unusually High Methane Levels

This week, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover found a surprising result: the largest amount of methane ever measured during the mission - about 21 parts per billion units by volume (ppbv).   

The SAM team organized a different experiment for this weekend to gather more information on what might be a transient plume. Whatever they find - even if it's an absence of methane - will add context to the recent measurement.

Curiosity's scientists need time to analyze these clues and conduct many more methane observations. They also need time to collaborate with other science teams, including those with the European Space Agency's Trace Gas Orbiter


NASA Rover May Have Just Discovered Life on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has detected high levels of methane output during its mission on the Martian surface, the New York Times reports. The discovery, found during a measurement taking on Wednesday by the robot and observed by NASA researchers, could indicate that microbial lifeforms may have taken up residence underground on Mars.

...  For now, NASA has instructed Curiosity to put all its other duties on the back burner while it continues to examine the areas where the methane was registered.

Scientists expect the findings returned to Earth by Monday so they can start analyzing and making further determinations.

Curiosity was tasked with searching for methane when it initially landed on Mars in 2012, and the following year saw a small spike that soon dissipated.

The recent readings are apparently 3x higher than the first, so scientists are excited about the possible implications.

Any measurable amount of methane detected by Curiosity would be a tripwire for Mars researchers, since the gas would likely have to have been produced recently by an organism if the reading is accurate, because otherwise it would’ve naturally broken down in a relatively short timespan into its component parts. 



Experiments with Salt-Tolerant Bacteria in Brine have Implications for Life on Mars

... While parched, Mars' surface has abundant sulfate salts of calcium, iron, and magnesium which could form saturated brines--even at some of the frigid temperatures that prevail on the red planet's surface--that could be compatible with terrestrial microorganisms, or that could harbor Martian microbes.

Despite the red planet's apparent aridity, humidity is thought to reach 80% to 100% at night and then plummet during the daytime as temperatures rise.

"The likelihood is high that at times surface salts may be able to attract sufficient water to form brines that can support microbial growth," said Dr. Schneegurt. "The current research may also help redefine what constitutes a habitable zone,
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 29, 2019, 07:24:47 PM
With a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone


... Curiosity’s keepers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, canceled the rover’s weekend plans to repeat the experiment, hoping for clues that might point to the existence of life on the planet. But the second reading indicated that the methane had fallen to its normal level in the Martian air — less than one part per billion, all but nonexistent.

Only a few days earlier, the methane level had spiked to 21 parts per billion, according to the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars experiment.

“A plume came and a plume went,” Paul Mahaffy, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said on Sunday during a presentation at an astrobiology meeting in Bellevue, Wash. ...“The methane mystery continues,” ...


Dragonfly: Drone Helicopter to Fly on Saturn's Moon, Titan

... The eight-rotor drone will be launched to the Saturnian moon in 2026 and arrive in 2034. It will take advantage of Titan's thick atmosphere to fly to different sites of interest.

The average temperature of -179C (-290F) means that mountains are made of ice, and liquid methane assumes many of the roles played by water on Earth.

Dragonfly will first land at the "Shangri-La" dune fields, which are similar to the linear dunes found in Namibia in southern Africa.

The drone will explore this region in short flights, building up to a series of longer "leapfrog" flights of up to 8km (5 miles), stopping along the way to take samples.

"Flying on Titan is actually easier than flying on Earth," said the mission's principal investigator Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle, from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. "The atmosphere is four times denser at the surface than the atmosphere at the surface of Earth and the gravity is about one-seventh of the gravity here on Earth."

She added: "Its the best way to travel and the best way to go long distances so that we can make measurements in a variety of different geologic environments."


Docs Show Navy Got 'UFO' Patent Granted By Warning Of Similar Chinese Tech Advances

The United States Secretary of Navy is listed as the assignee on several radical aviation technologies patented by an aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) headquarters in Patuxent River, Maryland. One of these patents describes a "hybrid aerospace-underwater craft" claimed to be capable of truly extraordinary feats of speed and maneuverability in air, water, and outer space alike thanks to a revolutionary electromagnetic propulsion system.

Sound far fetched? You’re not alone.

A primary patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) thought so too. But then the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of the Naval Aviation Enterprise personally wrote a letter addressed to the examiner claiming that the U.S. needs the patent as the Chinese are already “investing significantly” in these aerospace technologies that sound eerily similar to the UFOs reported by Navy pilots in now well-known encounters.
This raises the question, are the Chinese developing or even already flying craft leveraging similar advanced technology and is the Navy now scrambling to catch up?

... Pais, an aerospace engineer for NAWCAD at Naval Air Station, is named as the inventor on four separate patents for which the U.S. Navy is the assignee: a curiously-shaped “High Frequency Gravitational Wave Generator;” a room temperature superconductor; an electromagnetic ‘force field’ generator that could deflect asteroids; and, perhaps the strangest of all, one titled “Craft Using An Inertial Mass Reduction Device.” While all are pretty outlandish-sounding, the latter is the one that the Chief Technical Officer of the Naval Aviation Enterprise personally vouched for in a letter to the USPTO, claiming the Chinese are already developing similar capabilities.

The hybrid aerospace-underwater craft in Pais’ patent, is described as being capable of incredible feats of speed and maneuverability and can fly equally well in air, water, or space without leaving a heat signature. This is possible, Pais claims in the patent, because the craft is able to “engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level” by exploiting the laws of physics.

... The unorthodox circumstances surrounding the approval of this patent have us wondering why the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Naval Aviation Enterprise, Dr. James Sheehy, personally vouched for the legitimacy of this beyond-revolutionary aerospace technology in the Navy’s appeal to the USPTO. Sheehy assured the patent examiner in charge of this application that the aircraft propulsion method described in the patent is indeed possible or will be soon based on experiments and tests NAWCAD has already conducted.


Remarkably, it seems to boil down to the ol' "we must not allow an Inertial Mass Reduction Device gap!"
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 29, 2019, 07:37:32 PM
claiming that the U.S. needs the patent

Why not patent the Cure for Cancer while we are at it +2 happy citizens do wonders.  ::)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 29, 2019, 08:13:16 PM

Project Greenglow and the Battle with Gravity

When, in the late 1980s, the aerospace engineer Dr Ron Evans went to his bosses at BAE Systems and asked if they'd let him attempt some form of gravity control, they should probably have offered him a cup of tea and a lie down. Gravity control was a notion beloved of science fiction writers that every respectable theoretical physicist said was impossible.

Pushing against gravity with wings and jets was BAE's multi-billion pound business, why dabble in scientific heresy? Because, as Evans puts it: "The potential was absolutely enormous. It could totally change aerospace."


Some theorists are now breaking ranks to offer radical explanations, among them Dr Dragan Hajdukovic at Cern, who has developed a theory that gravitational polarity does exist.

... In the US, NASA aerospace engineer Marc Millis began a parallel project - the Breakthrough Physics Propulsion Program ( Nasa had committed to getting beyond the solar system within a generation, but knew conventional rockets would never get them there.

Popular Mechanics - Taming Gravity (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 29, 2019, 08:49:21 PM
Since we don´t have anything for gravity control but huge masses i wonder what else you would use. Second page did not help.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on June 29, 2019, 09:20:00 PM
claiming that the U.S. needs the patent

Why not patent the Cure for Cancer while we are at it +2 happy citizens do wonders.  ::)
Civ 2?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 29, 2019, 09:27:02 PM
And 3. Loved the Hoover Dam on Continents map too...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 29, 2019, 09:54:04 PM
Aw, c'mon kassy;  ;) Don't you want to believe they're hiding the truth.

Would the Cigarette Smoking Man ( lie?


Anyway - back on topic.

OBTW, I saw one.


Planet Seeding and Panspermia


Planets are formed in protoplanetary disks, mostly made of gas and dust. The dust grains are thought to grow into pebbles, coagulate into bigger planetesimals, and finally, form planets. Once the objects reach km-size, they can survive and eventually coagulate and accrete smaller rocks/pebbles as to form planetary embryos and full-fledged planets. The main obstacle for such growth appears to occur before km-size objects form, in the stage when smaller rock and pebbles initially form. Indeed, several culprits conspire to destroy pebbles and meter-sized boulders before they can ever grow into larger planetesimals. Such pebbles and rocks move through the gaseous disk in which they are initially embedded, and experience a headwind that slows them down.

The continuous push of the headwind might eventually lead them to quickly spiral inward into the Sun and be destroyed. In addition, collisions between small pebbles can lead to their fragmentation into smaller pieces halting their growth into larger planetesimals. In other words, pebbles and small rocks encounter a so-called "meter-size barrier" in their ability to grow into even larger planetesimals.

Several models were suggested as to overcome the meter-size barrier, but these typically require fine-tuned conditions that are unlikely to exist in most planetary systems; nevertheless, it is common knowledge that most if not all stars host planetary systems. The question is than how this came to be.

In their recently published paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Grishin and collaborators showed that interstellar objects are the key. They suggested that most systems do not need to go through the difficult stage of forming km-size planetesimals. Instead, most systems can capture interstellar km-size planetesimals that were originally ejected from other planetary systems. But how can an object moving at tens of km per second velocity through a Solar system be captured? It turns out the answer is simple—the same headwind that drives small rocks to inspiral into their sun can slow down bigger, km-size interstellar planetesimals and thereby capture them into a newly formed protoplanetary disk.

In this way, even a single planetary system can eject km-size planetesimals that then serve as seeds for the formation of many new planetary systems. As a result, even a very small number of planetary systems can seed the formation of many other systems—all it requires is just a few lucky rare cases to begin the process, and then these systems can spawn planetesimal "seeds" across the galaxy, which in turn can be captured into a newly forming protoplanetary disks and provide them the basic km-size building blocks needed for planetary growth.

Planet formation no longer occurs in isolation; no planetary system is an island, but rather the reservoir of ejected rogue interstellar planetesimals serves to continuously initiate the birth of new planetary systems. In turn, any newly formed planetary systems ejects its own rogue planetesimals and help rebuild the reservoir of interstellar planetesimal seeds. The question the becomes: what are the odds of capturing these planetesimals, and how many successful formations are required to populate the entire birth cluster with planetesimals?

... The researchers summarize that only a small fraction of the stars in a cluster (less then 1 percent) are required to form the primordial planetesimals, which eventually seed the entire birth cluster of ~1000 stars. Roughly similar numbers are expected also for field environments. Both estimates are conservative. The interstellar reservoir therefore works in tandem with the main planet formation models, providing the initial seeds for many of the planetesimal formation models.

Another interesting side aspect is that biologically active material, in the form of bacteria, can survive the tough interstellar environment if the rock in which it is embedded is large enough (larger than a few cm scale). Although only a minute fraction of ejected rocks might harbor these hardcore bacteria, a large number of such potentially biologically active rocks can be captured. This gas-assisted capture is far more efficient mechanism for widespread panspermia, and most systems have probably gained their first life building blocks from somewhere else.

Evgeni Grishin et al. Planet seeding through gas-assisted capture of interstellar objects (, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019).


Tunguska Revisited: 111-Year-Old Mystery Impact Inspires New, More Optimistic Asteroid Predictions


... "Because there are so few observed cases, a lot of uncertainty remains about how large asteroids break up in the atmosphere and how much damage they could cause on the ground," said Lorien Wheeler, a researcher from Ames, working on NASA's Asteroid Threat Assessment Project. "However, recent advancements in computational models, along with analyses of the Chelyabinsk and other meteor events, are helping to improve our understanding of these factors so that we can better evaluate potential asteroid threats in the future."

... Aided by computer resources and the records from surveys of the devastated region made in the previous century, instead of predicting the likelihood of impact rates based on size alone, modelers performed a statistical study of over 50 million combinations of asteroid and entry properties that could produce Tunguska-scale damage when breaking apart at Tunguska-like altitudes.

Some of these new models focused on scenarios that could reproduce the Tunguska treefall pattern plus tree and soil burn distribution. A second looked at combining the recorded atmospheric pressure waves with the seismic signals recorded on the ground at the time.

These new approaches, alongside the validation of the models when applied to the Chelyabinsk event, led to revised estimates of what may have happened on that fateful day in 1908. Four different computer modeling codes led to similar conclusions, strengthening confidence in understanding how rocks break apart in our atmosphere.

The most promising candidate was a stony (not icy) body, between 164 and 262 feet in diameter, entering the atmosphere at around 34,000 miles per hour, depositing the energy of a 10 to 30 megaton explosion, equivalent to the blast energy of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, at 6 to 9 miles altitude.

When combined with the most recent asteroid population estimates, the researchers concluded the average interval between such impacts to be on the order of millennia—not centuries as had been thought previously, based on prior population and smaller size estimates.


Earth is approaching the same "meteor swarm" that may have caused an entire forest to explode in 1908

A swarm of meteors heading toward Earth could have the potential to cause a catastrophic impact, a new study from Western Ontario University says. The so-called Taurid swarm is a recurring event that some scientists believe could have played a role in the biggest Earth impact of modern times, in 1908, when a space rock slammed into Siberia with enough force to destroy an entire forest.

What has become known as the Tunguska explosion of 1908 was so powerful that the blast leveled 80 million trees over an 800-square-mile area. It's considered to be a one-in-1,000-year event, according to Western Ontario University. But while the Tunguska explosion occurred just over a century ago, another such phenomenon could occur much sooner than its 1,000-year expectancy, the researchers say. That's why they're focusing new attention on the Taurid swarm.

... This summer, Earth will approach within 30,000,000 km of the center of the Taurid swarm, the study says. That would be Earth's closest encounter with the swarm since 1975 and the best viewing opportunity we'll have until the early 2030s.

This closeness will not only benefit star-gazers, but it also allows the researchers to study the Taurid swarm and its potentially risks.

"There is strong meteoric and NEO evidence supporting the Taurid swarm and its potential existential risks, but this summer brings a unique opportunity to observe and quantify these objects," said David Clark, a Western Ontario University graduate student and first author of the study.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on June 30, 2019, 05:21:38 PM
Delta Flight captured in video flying past a Lunar Eclipse

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 30, 2019, 06:14:33 PM
Kool!  :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on June 30, 2019, 06:38:06 PM
Kool!  :)

Indeed! This might be one of the coolest things i've ever seen. :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on July 05, 2019, 06:03:09 PM
cross post...
I saw an alarmist story on an asteroid in the Express and looked up this year's possible problems.

The above is actually a very high number, with European scientists estimating a 1 in 7300 chance of impact (1 in 9100 other estimate).

I couldn't find an asteroid thread so I figured this was probably the next best fit. An exceedingly unlikely event, but we will apparently have a better idea of trajectory by the end of this month, so something to keep an eye on. The body is only 100 feet wide but that would still make quite a bang if it did end up impacting.
[Hint:  anybody can cross post an article to another thread, if you're so inclined.  1st: "Quote" button the original, copy all, then close thread without posting.  2nd: open destination thread, "Reply" button, type "cross post" and paste.  Post.    Added step if there are attached images/gifs in the original.  Copy them to your hard drive and attach to the cross post.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 05, 2019, 06:47:01 PM
Added step if there are attached images/gifs in the original.  Copy them to your hard drive and attach to the cross post.

Or just put the link of the media into img tags.

Like this (;topic=2449.0;attach=125049)

No need for duplicates on the forum harddrive. :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on July 05, 2019, 07:15:00 PM
Sometimes, B_, that doesn't work for me, for some reason.  Other times, the 'original' gets removed and the image is 'lost forever'.  (View the Arctic Maps thread (,417.msg204835.html#msg204835) for examples.) Although this happens for off-site images more than previously posted ones.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 05, 2019, 08:29:05 PM
Shouldn't happen with on-site files unless Neven deletes them manually.

For off-site files, of course, there can never be a guarantee unless it's your own server.

What do people do when Imgur or or whatever public service close their doors? Half of the internet would be borken. :(
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 07, 2019, 03:35:53 PM
This one blew my mind.

Are Alien Civilizations Sending Signals in Bacteria? with Dr. Robert Zubrin
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on July 07, 2019, 04:29:13 PM
This one blew my mind.

Are Alien Civilizations Sending Signals in Bacteria? with Dr. Robert Zubrin

If they are, they are even dumber than wot we is.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 07, 2019, 04:33:33 PM
LOL! ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: pikaia on July 07, 2019, 05:01:41 PM
Jodrell Bank becomes World Heritage site. About time, too.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on July 07, 2019, 06:09:25 PM

Regarding the bacteria you would have to send generalized bacteria everywhere which precludes adding extra info and you cannot really edit stuff when you do not know what is there.

The mind was blown by the colorfulness of the theory?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on July 07, 2019, 07:04:56 PM

Regarding the bacteria you would have to send generalized bacteria everywhere which precludes adding extra info and you cannot really edit stuff when you do not know what is there.

The mind was blown by the colorfulness of the theory?

It strikes me as quite plausible that life was seeded across the galaxy, possibly naturally, possibly intentionally.  A life form could use amino acids of the D-isomer variety, but all life here uses L isomers.  Similar handedness preference applies to sugar molecules.  All life here uses the C-A-T-G alphabet for DNA coding, but other "languages" are perfectly feasible.

If life arose on Earth in multiple places, one might expect descendants to have competing alphabet systems.  There's no sign of that today. 

As mirror-image building blocks would likely have toxic effects on consumers of plant life, any eater of plants (or higher on the food chain) would have trouble surviving.  Only those having the same "language" as plants would likely survive.  But why should today's plants be uniform?  Either life arose only once (or maybe a few times), or the planet was seeded with organisms having our currently universal "language."

It's quite remarkable that some life forms (e.g., tardigraves) are well-adapted to survive in space, and resume life functions when in a suitable environment.  Why should evolution favor such traits?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on July 07, 2019, 09:49:49 PM
All life that evolved here came from the same source so that is why they are uniform, they have a shared ancestor somewhere.

Chemical mirroring is very different from processes like matter antimatter destruction.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: uniquorn on July 11, 2019, 09:18:47 PM
Marine scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Insti­tution who explore Earth’s hydrothermal vents have been working with NASA to devise autonomous underwater vehicles that could work on both Earth and Europa. The agency just announced a $7.6 million, five-year collaboration with WHOI to have space and ocean researchers brainstorm the science and technology needed for future Europa missions.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 11, 2019, 09:30:32 PM
Wow, that's great! \o/
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: b_lumenkraft on July 13, 2019, 01:28:51 PM
Today (July 11), the Hayabusa2 spacecraft performed a 2nd touchdown on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The touchdown occurred at 10:06 JST at the onboard time and was successful. Below we show images taken before and after the touchdown. As this is a quick bulletin, more detailed information will be given in the future.
Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 22, 2019, 05:57:22 PM
Astronomers Map Vast Void In Our Cosmic Neighborhood


An astronomer from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) and an international team published a new study that reveals more of the vast cosmic structure surrounding our Milky Way galaxy.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 25, 2019, 05:12:33 PM
India Farmers Shocked as 15 kg Meteorite Crashes into Rice Paddy

MADHUBANI/PATNA: Farmers working in a paddy field at a village in Madhubani district were left shaken when a meteorite-like object weighing around 15kg fell from the sky, leaving a crater at the spot where it crashed.

Madhubani DM Shirsat Kapil Ashok told TOI that the incident took place around 2.30pm on Monday. “Agriculture labourers working the paddy field where the meteorite struck claimed that they saw a fireball-like object coming down from the sky and made a deep crater where it hit the ground. The farmers also saw smoke coming out from the spot in the water-filled agriculture field,” Shirsat said.



Researchers Seeking Fragments of Fireball in Ontario

Researchers are seeking the public's help in locating fragments of a fireball that shone as bright as the full moon observed by Western's All-Sky Camera Network across at 2:44 a.m. ET this morning.

Initial analysis of the video data by Steven Ehlert at the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office suggests the recent meteorite fragments are likely to have fallen to the ground near Bancroft, Ont.

"This fireball likely dropped a small number of meteorites in the Bancroft area, specifically near the small town of Cardiff. We suspect meteorites made it to the ground because the fireball ended very low in the atmosphere just to the west of Bancroft and slowed down significantly. This is a good indicator that material survived," Brown said.


Cosmic Pearls: Fossil Clams in Florida Contain Evidence of Ancient Impact

Researchers picking through the contents of fossil clams from a Sarasota County quarry found dozens of tiny glass beads, likely the calling cards of an ancient meteorite.

Analysis of the beads suggests they are microtektites, particles that form when the explosive impact of an extraterrestrial object sends molten debris hurtling into the atmosphere where it cools and recrystallizes before falling back to Earth.

They are the first documented microtektites in Florida and possibly the first to be recovered from fossil shells.


Open Access: Mike Meyer et al, A first report of microtektites from the shell beds of southwestern Florida (, Meteoritics & Planetary Science (2019)


An Asteroid Just Missed Earth, and We Barely Noticed in Time

A 100-metre-wide asteroid passed just 70,000km from Earth on Thursday, Australian time. It was discovered by the Brazilian SONEAR survey just days ago, and its presence was announced mere hours before it zoomed past our planet. The lack of warning shows how quickly potentially dangerous asteroids can sneak up on us.

The asteroid, reassuringly designated 2019 OK, is not a threat to Earth right now. However, 2019 OK and other near-Earth asteroids do pose a genuine risk.

Both 2019 OK and Apophis are far larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor, which was just 20m across. The risk of them hitting Earth may be small, but they would be devastating if they did.

Other near-Earth asteroids are also on track to make close approaches to our planet. The 400m-wide Apophis will pass roughly 30,000km from Earth on Friday April 13, 2029, which will only come as bad news if you're particularly superstitious.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on July 25, 2019, 05:58:21 PM
India Farmers Shocked as 15 kg Meteorite Crashes into Rice Paddy

Not too surprising.  We are in the midst of the annual meteor peak:


"June to mid-July has fair rates. The last half of July has rates increasing steadily as the Delta Aquariids (July 29/30) and Alpha Capricornids (July 27-28) have maxima at month’s end. Even the Perseids are beginning to show a little.

Overall, late July to mid-August is very rich in meteors. The Perseid maximum, just before mid-August (August 12/13), is fairly prolonged and quite rich."

So, if meteorology is the study of weather, what is the study of meteors?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 31, 2019, 09:31:04 PM
TESS Satellite Uncovers 'First Nearby Super-Earth'

An international team of astronomers led by Cornell's Lisa Kaltenegger has characterized the first potentially habitable world outside of our own solar system.

Located about 31 light-years away, the super-Earth planet—named GJ 357 d—was discovered in early 2019 owing to NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets, according to their new modeling research in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"This is exciting, as this is humanity's first nearby super-Earth that could harbor life.

The exoplanet is more massive than our own blue planet, and Kaltenegger said the discovery will provide insight into Earth's heavyweight planetary cousins. "With a thick atmosphere, the planet GJ 357 d could maintain liquid water on its surface like Earth, and we could pick out signs of life with telescopes that will soon be online," she said.

R. Luque et al. Planetary system around the nearby M dwarf GJ 357 including a transiting, hot, Earth-sized planet optimal for atmospheric characterization (, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Gumbercules on August 04, 2019, 07:34:37 PM
India Farmers Shocked as 15 kg Meteorite Crashes into Rice Paddy

Lol, meteorites of that size don't smoke. If anything they would be ICE cold. Meteorites of that size go through something called a dark phase, after they stop ionizing the air around them because they are slow enough for that to stop. Unless the rock is HUGE, the fireball phase stops miles up.

During entry through the atmosphere, the parts of the rock that get hut, ablate away, and that carries away almost all of the heat of re-entry. The interior is of the temperature it was when it was in space. So likely very cold.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Rod on August 08, 2019, 05:50:49 AM
Well ...... That was unfortunate! 😝


IT WAS JUST before midnight on April 11 and everyone at the Israel Aerospace Industries mission control center in Yehud, Israel, had their eyes fixed on two large projector screens. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped. Mission control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter.

Half a world away, Nova Spivack watched a livestream of Beresheet’s mission control from a conference room in Los Angeles. As the founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to create “a backup of planet Earth,” Spivack had a lot at stake in the Beresheet mission. The spacecraft was carrying the foundation’s first lunar library, a DVD-sized archive containing 30 million pages of information, human DNA samples, and thousands of tardigrades, those microscopic “water bears” that can survive pretty much any environment—including space.

But when the Israelis confirmed Beresheet had been destroyed, Spivack was faced with a distressing question: Did he just smear the toughest animal in the known universe across the surface of the moon?

In the weeks following the Beresheet crash, Spivack pulled together the Arch Mission Foundation’s advisers in an attempt to determine whether the lunar library had survived the crash. Based on their analysis of the spacecraft’s trajectory and the composition of the lunar library, Spivack says he is quite confident that the library—a roughly DVD-sized object made of thin sheets of nickel—survived the crash mostly or entirely intact. In fact, the decision to include DNA samples and tardigrades in the lunar library may have been key to its survival.

“For the first 24 hours we were just in shock,” Spivack says. “We sort of expected that it would be successful. We knew there were risks but we didn’t think the risks were that significant.”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on August 08, 2019, 04:17:10 PM
Well ...... That was unfortunate! 😝


Tardigraves, and a few other identified organisms, have a mind-boggling ability to survive dehydration, vacuum, radiation, and extreme cold.  Their existence is part of why I favor panspermia as an explanation for life on earth.

However, they weren't released into deep space, where they might eventually find their way to Proxima Centauri (or wherever), they were deposited on the moon.  "Daytime the temperature can reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius)."  Poor little water bears will be cooked.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: crandles on August 08, 2019, 05:00:10 PM

However, they weren't released into deep space, where they might eventually find their way to Proxima Centauri (or wherever), they were deposited on the moon.  "Daytime the temperature can reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius)."  Poor little water bears will be cooked.

maybe not quite cooked?
They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations. Research has found that tardigrades can withstand environments as cold as minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 Celsius) or highs of more than 300 degrees F (148.9 C), according to Smithsonian magazine.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on August 08, 2019, 05:10:56 PM

maybe not quite cooked?
They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations. Research has found that tardigrades can withstand environments as cold as minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 Celsius) or highs of more than 300 degrees F (148.9 C), according to Smithsonian magazine.

Dang, the little beasts are even tougher than I realized.  They just need to be kicked to lunar escape velocity by some meteorite, and next stop is Proxima Centauri!!  (in maybe a million years or so).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: crandles on August 08, 2019, 06:29:01 PM
IIUC, we have revived them after 10 years of dehydration but not longer. While techniques might improve, after 100 years of high radiation, I think chances of revival would be low and natural revival after randomly arriving at some planet other than Earth with liquid water are remote enough.  ;) :D

More risk of Aliens visiting Earth and Moon and deciding that some long lost civilisation either worshipped such creatures for some unknown reason or decided they were the Earth species most worth attempting to save for prosperity.  ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on August 08, 2019, 08:26:38 PM
Nicely said Crandles!  After getting the Strictly Germ-proof ( treatment, they may turn into some super-creature wherever they land, worthy of saving.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 14, 2019, 05:40:35 PM
How Many Earth-Like Planets are Around Sun-Like Stars?

... Based on their simulations, the researchers estimate that planets very close to Earth in size, from three-quarters to one-and-a-half times the size of earth, with orbital periods ranging from 237 to 500 days, occur around approximately one in four stars. Importantly, their model quantifies the uncertainty in that estimate. They recommend that future planet-finding missions plan for a true rate that ranges from as low about one planet for every 33 stars to as high as nearly one planet for every two stars.


Danley C. Hsu et al. Occurrence Rates of Planets Orbiting FGK Stars: Combining Kepler DR25, Gaia DR2, and Bayesian Inference (, The Astronomical Journal (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on August 14, 2019, 08:20:32 PM
So, where is everybody?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Renerpho on August 14, 2019, 08:34:23 PM
A 100-metre-wide asteroid passed just 70,000km from Earth on Thursday, Australian time. It was discovered by the Brazilian SONEAR survey just days ago, and its presence was announced mere hours before it zoomed past our planet. The lack of warning shows how quickly potentially dangerous asteroids can sneak up on us.

While approaches like that of 2019 OK are quite a routine occurrence (happening many times per year with no consequence), this one had some unusual characteristics. It revealed some flaws with our asteroid detection systems, which have already led to changes made by the big asteroid surveys. I wrote about it here: (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: SteveMDFP on August 14, 2019, 08:43:58 PM
So, where is everybody?

Probably in quite a few places.  But possibly the other intelligent species hadn't evolved with hands.  It's hard to develop an industrial civilization with only paws or tentacles or flippers.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: petm on August 14, 2019, 09:25:00 PM
Don't you guys read? They're everywhere!  ;D
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on August 14, 2019, 09:56:24 PM
But possibly the other intelligent species hadn't evolved with hands.  It's hard to develop an industrial civilization with only paws or tentacles or flippers.

Yes, one perfectly fine answer to the Fermi paradox. We are missing us in time.

But then there is the big number of possibilities and you start thinking again...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Renerpho on August 14, 2019, 10:13:17 PM
Yes, one perfectly fine answer to the Fermi paradox. We are missing us in time.

But then there is the big number of possibilities and you start thinking again...

My favourite solution to the Fermi paradox was given by Terry Bisson, in his short story "They're Made Out of Meat".
The universe is full of intelligent species, but the aliens find us so disgusting, they have decided to forget about humanity, and marked the Solar System "unoccupied". (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Grubbegrabben on August 14, 2019, 10:34:40 PM
But possibly the other intelligent species hadn't evolved with hands.  It's hard to develop an industrial civilization with only paws or tentacles or flippers.

Yes, one perfectly fine answer to the Fermi paradox. We are missing us in time.

But then there is the big number of possibilities and you start thinking again...

The lower probability, an earth-like planet in 1 out of 33 star systems, yields about 3 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy...

Even if there are a million explorers out there that travel at near light speed, they will only look in our solar system once every 15-50 000 years or so (avg distance between stars is 5 light years, 3 billion places to look, yes my calculation is probably wrong).

The number of possibilities is so large that another intelligent spieces out there is very likely. However, the vastness of space makes it unlikely to meet them anytime soon. A bit sad, who wouldn't like to shake the flipper or tentacle of another species?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: petm on August 14, 2019, 10:46:24 PM
There's a lot more than size and sun distance that may be required for life to evolve. Water. Magnetosphere. Even our unusual (large, close-in) moon may have had an important role (tides). Just to name a few.

Earth has only just evolved a species capable of interstellar communication. Say, ~100 years / 5 billion years of Earth's existence. And we've almost wiped ourselves out already with nukes, and here comes global environmental devastation... Seems to me that the great filter is highly plausible.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on August 15, 2019, 04:46:18 AM
So, where is everybody?
So obvious IMHO. They ran out of their planet's finite resources and/or polluted it to extinction, before they managed to create a true spacefaring civilization.
The Fermi paradox is not a paradox, but a warning that humanity disregards.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Renerpho on August 15, 2019, 04:52:36 AM

Kurzgesagt have made an interesting video about the Great Filter. If you don't know their Youtube channel, it's worth checking out. The idea they present in this video is that the discovery of alien life would spell doom for our own - for reasons that are not at all obvious...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: TerryM on August 15, 2019, 01:06:08 PM
So, where is everybody?
So obvious IMHO. They ran out of their planet's finite resources and/or polluted it to extinction, before they managed to create a true spacefaring civilization.
The Fermi paradox is not a paradox, but a warning that humanity disregards.
We quite recently polluted the moon with lifeforms - and we haven't even set up an outpost!
We're a filthy species that will die in our own pollution. :-[
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: budmantis on August 17, 2019, 07:45:19 AM
I wish that it was not so, but I have to agree with you Terry!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on August 17, 2019, 09:30:25 AM
A Massive Star Completely Destroyed by a Supernova is Puzzling Scientists

In November of 2016, the sharp-eyed Gaia spacecraft spied a supernova that exploded some billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers followed up with more telescopes, and quickly realized that this supernova – dubbed SN2016iet – was an odd one in many ways.

And this star was extremely massive, starting life as some 200 times the mass of the sun, near the upper limit of what scientists think is possible for a single star to weigh.

The supernova itself also left what appeared to be the signature of two explosions, separated by about 100 days. Astronomers think this isn’t actually due to multiple explosions, but from the explosion hitting different layers of material the star lost in the years leading up to its death and left scattered around it in a diffuse cloud.

The star meets many of the criteria for something called a pair instability supernova, a kind of explosion that some extremely massive stars should theoretically undergo. Such an event leaves the star completely destroyed, leaving nothing behind. But finding examples of these rare stellar explosions has been difficult, and this is still one of the first scientists have discovered. And even in that rare company, SN2016iet remains an oddball find.

and more on:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gandul on August 17, 2019, 09:45:09 PM
So, where is everybody?
So obvious IMHO. They ran out of their planet's finite resources and/or polluted it to extinction, before they managed to create a true spacefaring civilization.
The Fermi paradox is not a paradox, but a warning that humanity disregards.
We quite recently polluted the moon with lifeforms - and we haven't even set up an outpost!
We're a filthy species that will die in our own pollution. :-[
I did not come for the astronomy, but sir, please, cheer up! We can colonize Siberia, Sahara, and the North American Southwest without polluting more than we already pollute. Plus, there's oxygen and we do not need CO2 increasing rockets.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 21, 2019, 05:02:30 PM
A Step Closer to Solving Methane Mystery on Mars

Last year, scientists learned that methane concentrations changed over the course of the seasons with a repeatable annual cycle.

"This most recent work suggests that the methane concentration changes over the course of each day,"
Dr. Moores said.

"We were able—for the first time—to calculate a single number for the rate of seepage of methane at Gale crater on Mars that is equivalent to an average of 2.8 kg per Martian day."

Dr. Moores said the team was able to reconcile the data from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover, which appeared to contradict each other with wildly different detections of methane.

"We were able to resolve these differences by showing how concentrations of methane were much lower in the atmosphere during the day and significantly higher near the planet's surface at night, as heat transfer lessens," he said.

John E. Moores et al. The methane diurnal variation and micro‐seepage flux at Gale crater, Mars as constrained by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Curiosity observations (, Geophysical Research Letters (2019)


The upper bound of 50 parts per trillion by volume (pptv) for Mars methane above 5 km established by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, substantially lower than the 410 pptv average measured overnight by the Curiosity Rover, places a strong constraint on the daytime methane flux at the Gale crater. We propose that these measurements may be largely reconciled by the inhibition of mixing near the surface overnight whereby methane emitted from the subsurface accumulates within meters of the surface before being mixed below detection limits at dawn. A model of this scenario allows the first precise calculation of micro‐seepage fluxes at Gale to be derived, consistent with a constant 1.5 x 10‐10 kg m‐2 sol (5.4 x 10‐5 tonnes km‐2 year‐1) source at depth. Under this scenario, only 2.7 x 104 km2 of Mars’ surface may be emitting methane, unless a fast destruction mechanism exists.

Key Points
- Night‐time SAM‐TLS seasonal cycle enrichment measurements and TGO sunset/sunrise measurements are not in opposition
- Micro‐seepage fluxes must be local to Gale, range from 0.82 to 4.6 kg per sol, and are consistent with a constant source at depth
- Little of Mars experiences micro‐seepage unless a fast destruction mechanism exists or Gale is very unusual

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 30, 2019, 12:47:51 AM

This animated flyover of each of the four candidate sample collection sites on asteroid Bennu, selected by NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, was produced using close-range data from the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), an instrument contributed by the Canadian Space Agency. It illustrates the location of each site on Bennu, the topography of each site, and the potential sampling regions that the spacecraft will target, which are 10 meters in diameter.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on September 01, 2019, 03:29:28 PM
The pulse of the gas thrusters on SpaceX's Falcon 9, as the rocket's boost stage guides it back to Earth

via reddit/r/space

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on September 08, 2019, 06:59:16 PM
Not news per se but a sundays light reading suggestion:

Are We All Wrong About Black Holes?

A philosopher of science worries that the analogy between black holes and thermodynamics has been stretched too far.

I think he makes some strong points.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on September 08, 2019, 08:48:32 PM
I was disappointed to find the wired interview with callender did not touch upon Jacobson's work in deriving GR from thermo/stat mech.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 08, 2019, 09:18:41 PM
It was in the Quanta article I read yesterday
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on September 09, 2019, 05:58:49 AM
I looked at the qunta article, found no mention of jacobson.

Here is his 1995 paper deriving the Einstein equation as an equation of state (like Boyle's law)

"it may be no more appropriate to canonically quantize the Einstein equation than it would be to quantize the wave equation for sound in air."

"For sufficiently high sound frequency or intensity one knows that the local equilibrium condition breaks down, entropy increases, and sound no longer propagates in a time reversal invariant manner. Similarly, one might expect that sufficiently high frequency or large amplitude disturbances of the gravitational field would no longer be described by the Einstein equation, not because some quantum operator nature of the metric would become relevant, but because the local equilibrium condition would fail. It is my hope that, by following this line of inquiry, we shall eventually reach an understanding of the nature of “non-equilibrium spacetime”."

And here he is from 2015 on entanglement entropy and the Einstein equation , also on arxiv but i dont have the reference handy

"Entanglement Equilibrium and the Einstein Equation"

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 11, 2019, 07:47:44 PM
First Water Detected on Potentially 'Habitable' Planet


K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is now the only planet orbiting a star outside the Solar System, or 'exoplanet', known to have both water and temperatures that could support life.

The discovery, published today in Nature Astronomy, is the first successful atmospheric detection for an exoplanet orbiting in its star's 'habitable zone', at a distance where water can exist in liquid form.

... The planet orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18, which is about 110 light years from Earth in the Leo constellation. Given the high level of activity of its red dwarf star, K2-18b may be more hostile than Earth and is likely to be exposed to more radiation.

Co-author Dr. Ingo Waldmann (UCL CSED), said: "With so many new super-Earths expected to be found over the next couple of decades, it is likely that this is the first discovery of many potentially habitable planets. This is not only because super-Earths like K2-18b are the most common planets in our Galaxy, but also because red dwarfs—stars smaller than our Sun—are the most common stars."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on September 11, 2019, 10:56:13 PM
First Water Detected on Potentially 'Habitable' Planet

This is still interesting don't get me wrong, but this kind of info belongs to any mention of so called "earth-like" exoplanets.

IMO this kind of exoplanet is not even worth to mention in the context of finding "Earth II" or habitability. It's clearly NOT habitable because it's obvious for several reasons that it is not suitable for the kind of life we're ultimately looking for and habitable means "FOR US HUMANS" and not for germs and bacteria etc.

It takes way more than the right temps and then gravitation eight times earth level would crush all things we know are necessary for intelligent and/or human life.

A planet so close to it's sun cannot even considered inside the habitable zone, despite perhaps the right temps.

Further planets that are to close to their sun usually stopped rotating long ago and therefore would have very small band of "right" temps while the rest would be burning or freezing and in the process produce extremely strong winds, way beyond what we consider strong on planet earth.

And what you said, radiation without being protected due to lack of magnetic field due to lack of rotation etc. etc.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 11, 2019, 11:35:59 PM
Do Super-Earths Trap the Civilizations On Them?

Super-Earths are massive, but that doesn't mean their gravity is crushing. In fact, bigger planets may be even better for space travel than Earth is.

... the formula for calculating a planet’s surface gravity: mass divided by the radius squared. That is, SG=M/R^2.

Let’s try it with HD 40307g, using data from the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog. Mass, 8.2 Earths. Radius, 2.4 times that of Earth. That gets you a surface gravity of 1.42 times Earth.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? How can a planet be so much more massive than Earth yet have only 1.42 times the gravity at the surface? The answer lies in the radius. The further you are from the planet’s center, the less its gravity pulls at you. Another way of putting it is that the greater the planet’s radius is for its mass, the less dense it is.

So it’s all about the radius.

That just leaves tornado-like winds and UV & radiation from flares. Which may not be a 'given'

It doesn't follow that a tidally-locked planet would not have a magnetic field. If anything, it would have a very strong field.

Exoplanet, Mass, Radius, Surface Gravity

Gliese 581g    2.60   1.4   1.33

Gliese 581d    6.90   2.2  1.43

Gliese 667Cc  4.90  1.9   1.36

Kepler 22b      6.40   2.1   1.45

HD40307g      8.20   2.4    1.42

HD85512b      4.00    1.7    1.38

Gliese 163c    8.00    2.4    1.39

Fictional Planet 8.00  2.83   1.00

Escape velocity, however, would be higher.

It’s a function of both mass and size. If Fictional Planet was four times Earth’s mass and had two Earth radii, its surface gravity would still be 1g, but you’d need to go only 41% faster to get away from it permanently.

Surface gravity and escape velocity are both related to size and mass, but differently. Fictional Planet would be just as comfortable as Earth in terms of gravity, but more expensive to leave.

Far from being gravitational traps, super-Earths should be positive incubators of spacefaring civilizations. They have 8 times the resources.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gandul on September 11, 2019, 11:46:15 PM
First Water Detected on Potentially 'Habitable' Planet

This is still interesting don't get me wrong, but this kind of info belongs to any mention of so called "earth-like" exoplanets.

IMO this kind of exoplanet is not even worth to mention in the context of finding "Earth II" or habitability. It's clearly NOT habitable because it's obvious for several reasons that it is not suitable for the kind of life we're ultimately looking for and habitable means "FOR US HUMANS" and not for germs and bacteria etc.

It takes way more than the right temps and then gravitation eight times earth level would crush all things we know are necessary for intelligent and/or human life.

A planet so close to it's sun cannot even considered inside the habitable zone, despite perhaps the right temps.

Further planets that are to close to their sun usually stopped rotating long ago and therefore would have very small band of "right" temps while the rest would be burning or freezing and in the process produce extremely strong winds, way beyond what we consider strong on planet earth.

And what you said, radiation without being protected due to lack of magnetic field due to lack of rotation etc. etc.
Agree to your comment (well 8 times earth mass does not imply 8g at surface).
But I think water is important.
Problem with Mars, water is not there in quantities, so why don’t we colonize Sahara? As hard but no need of space travel...
If we cannot even fill Sahara with massive viable solar energy plants...
Billionaire dreams ... space travel.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 12, 2019, 12:46:47 AM
Have Astronomers Just Spotted Another Interstellar Object?

An amateur astronomer named Gennady Borisov first spotted the object on August 30, using a telescope he built himself. Other observations (and hype) have followed. Today, the Minor Planet Center at the Center for Astrophysics released an official circular on the object, now provisionally called C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). If scientists confirm its interstellar nature, it will receive a new name that begins with 2I, denoting it as the second interstellar object.

... Initial observations already reveal that the object is an active comet with a big temporary atmosphere, or coma, Holman said.

“Absent an unexpected fading or disintegration, this object should be observable for at least a year,” according to the circular.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on September 12, 2019, 08:36:56 AM
this object should be observable for at least a year,

Hmmm, a very slow interstellar object, meaning it's traveling somehow in the same direction than our solar system, right?

That would be amazing!

No, it's not. :)

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 13, 2019, 05:41:17 PM
Newly Discovered Comet is Likely Interstellar Visitor


The comet is currently 260 million miles (420 million kilometers) from the Sun and will reach its closest point, or perihelion, on Dec. 8, 2019, at a distance of about 190 million miles (300 million kilometers).

Currently on an inbound trajectory, comet C/2019 Q4 is heading toward the inner solar system and will enter it on Oct. 26 from above at roughly a 40-degree angle relative to the ecliptic plane. That's the plane in which the Earth and planets orbit the Sun.

"The comet's current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance," said Farnocchia. "The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space."

Observations completed by Karen Meech and her team at the University of Hawaii indicate the comet nucleus is somewhere between 1.2 and 10 miles (2 and 16 kilometers) in diameter.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 18, 2019, 01:46:59 AM
U.S. Air Force Warns There's a Chance an American and Russian Satellite Could Collide Overnight

Earlier today, the private American firm Bigelow Aerospace was notified by the U.S. Air Force that its Genesis II spacecraft has a slim chance of smashing into a dead Russian spy satellite.

... “Today, we were notified by the US Air Force that there is a 5.6% chance that Genesis II will collide with dead Russian satellite Cosmos 1300 in 15 hours,” says the tweet. “Although this is a relatively low probability, it brings to light that low Earth orbit is becoming increasingly more littered.”

Bigelow Aerospace posted its tweet at 1:30 p.m. ET. The collision, should it happen, would occur around 4:05 a.m. ET tomorrow (September 18, 2019), according to the company.

The defunct Kosmos 1300 surveillance satellite, built and operated by the former Soviet Union, dates back to 1981.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: pikaia on September 18, 2019, 11:38:49 AM
There have already been a number of collisions:-
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 18, 2019, 09:48:13 PM
Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event: Asteroid Dust Cloud Sparked Explosion in Primitive Life on Earth


About 466 million years ago, long before the age of the dinosaurs, the Earth froze. The seas began to ice over at the Earth's poles, and the new range of temperatures around the planet set the stage for a boom of new species evolving. The cause of this ice age was a mystery, until now: a new study in Science Advances argues that the ice age was caused by global cooling, triggered by extra dust in the atmosphere from a giant asteroid collision in outer space.

When the 93-mile-wide asteroid between Mars and Jupiter broke apart 466 million years ago, it created way more dust than usual. "Normally, Earth gains about 40,000 tons of extraterrestrial material every year," says Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum, associate professor at the University of Chicago, and one of the paper's authors. "Imagine multiplying that by a factor of a thousand or ten thousand." To contextualize that, in a typical year, one thousand semi trucks' worth of interplanetary dust fall to Earth. In the couple million years following the collision, it'd be more like ten million semis.

The levels stayed high for 2m-4m years. “The grains come with the dust so when you see an increase in these, you know there’s been an increase in the dust,” said Schmitz.

Further tests on the ancient limestone revealed a similar spike in levels of an isotope of helium that streams out of the sun in the surge of particles known as the solar wind. The researchers believe that the helium was brought to Earth when it became embedded in the finer space dust particles as they travelled through the solar system.


Open Access: B. Schmitz el al., "An extraterrestrial trigger for the Mid-Ordovician ice age: Dust from the breakup of the L-chondrite parent body," (  ) Science Advances (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on September 18, 2019, 10:03:49 PM
Great read. There is a mature planetary system with millions of times our dust level... implying collision of Earth sized planets.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 18, 2019, 10:27:13 PM
Great read. There is a mature planetary system with millions of times our dust level... implying collision of Earth sized planets.
What 'read' are you talking about?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on September 18, 2019, 11:22:48 PM
I was talking about the article you posted right above me.
The system I meant was BD +20 307.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on September 19, 2019, 12:27:47 PM
Within Months, 6 Quiet Galaxies Became Blazing Quasars And Scientists Don't Know How


when a team of astronomers led by astronomer Sara Frederick of the University of Maryland went over the first nine months' worth of data from the Zwicky Transient Facility automated sky survey, they found six LINER galaxies doing something… odd.

"For one of the six objects, we first thought we had observed a tidal disruption event, which happens when a star passes too close to a supermassive black hole and gets shredded," Frederick said.

"But we later found it was a previously dormant black hole undergoing a transition that astronomers call a 'changing look,' resulting in a bright quasar. Observing six of these transitions, all in relatively quiet LINER galaxies, suggests that we've identified a totally new class of active galactic nucleus."

New data set immediately gives us a new puzzle.  :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 22, 2019, 02:26:34 AM
Mysterious Magnetic Pulses Discovered on Mars

At midnight on Mars, the red planet’s magnetic field sometimes starts to pulsate in ways that have never before been observed. The cause is currently unknown.

That’s just one of the stunning preliminary findings from NASA’s very first robotic geophysicist there, the InSight lander, since touching down in November 2018.

In addition to the odd magnetic pulsations, the lander’s data show that the Martian crust is far more powerfully magnetic than scientists expected. What’s more, the lander has picked up on a very peculiar electrically conductive layer, about 2.5 miles thick, deep beneath the planet’s surface. It’s far too early to say with any certainty, but there is a chance that this layer could represent a global reservoir of liquid water.

If these results bear out, a liquid region at this scale on modern Mars has enormous implications for the potential for life, past or present.


InSight’s magnetometer, the first placed on the Martian surface, gave scientists their best look yet at the crustal magnetic field, and it gave them a bit of a shock: The magnetic field near the robot was around 20 times stronger than what had been predicted based on past orbital measurements.

Perhaps even more puzzling, InSight also found that the crustal magnetic field near its location jiggled about every now and then. These pulses are fluctuations in the strength or direction of the magnetic field, and they are not entirely unusual.

What’s strange is that these Martian wobbles happen at local midnight, as if responding to the demands of an unseen, nocturnal timer.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 22, 2019, 03:44:38 PM
Edgar Rice Burroughs might have been on to something ...


Could Venus Have Been Habitable?

( (
Venus in its halcyon days?

Venus may have been a temperate planet hosting liquid water for 2-3 billion years, until a dramatic transformation starting over 700 million years ago resurfaced around 80% of the planet. A study presented today at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 by Michael Way of The Goddard Institute for Space Science gives a new view of Venus's climatic history and may have implications for the habitability of exoplanets in similar orbits.

To see if Venus might ever have had a stable climate capable of supporting liquid water, Dr. Way and his colleague, Anthony Del Genio, have created a series of five simulations assuming different levels of water coverage.

In all five scenarios, they found that Venus was able to maintain stable temperatures between a maximum of about 50 degrees Celsius and a minimum of about 20 degrees Celsius for around three billion years. A temperate climate might even have been maintained on Venus today had there not been a series of events that caused a release, or 'outgassing', of carbon dioxide stored in the rocks of the planet approximately 700-750 million years ago.

Although many researchers believe that Venus is beyond the inner boundary of our Solar System's habitable zone and is too close to the Sun to support liquid water, the new study suggests that this might not be the case.

... "Venus currently has almost twice the solar radiation that we have at Earth. However, in all the scenarios we have modelled, we have found that Venus could still support surface temperatures amenable for liquid water"

... "Something happened on Venus where a huge amount of gas was released into the atmosphere and couldn't be re-absorbed by the rocks. On Earth we have some examples of large-scale outgassing, for instance the creation of the Siberian Traps 500 million years ago which is linked to a mass extinction, but nothing on this scale. It completely transformed Venus," said Way.

Open Access: Michael Way and Anthony Del Genio, A view of the possible habitability of ancient Venus and similar exoplanetary worlds (, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 25, 2019, 11:59:29 PM
NASA Visualization Shows a Black Hole's Warped World


This new visualization of a black hole illustrates how its gravity distorts our view, warping its surroundings as if seen in a carnival mirror. The visualization simulates the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disk. The black hole's extreme gravity skews light emitted by different regions of the disk, producing the misshapen appearance.

Seen nearly edgewise, the turbulent disk of gas churning around a black hole takes on a crazy double-humped appearance. The black hole's extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disk, producing the warped image. The black hole's extreme gravitational field redirects and distorts light coming from different parts of the disk, but exactly what we see depends on our viewing angle. The greatest distortion occurs when viewing the system nearly edgewise.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on September 27, 2019, 09:35:17 PM
‘Planet Nine’ may actually be a black hole

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on September 27, 2019, 10:34:12 PM
‘Planet Nine’ may actually be a black hole

Link >>

There is a critical mass for black holes to be stable and that makes the idea linked above far fetched to say it nicely.

As per now the most probably smallest black hole would have between 3.8 and 5 times the mass of our sun that is XTE J1650-500.

Smaller masses are possible but have not yet been found somewhere in the 2.x sun masses.

The smallest theoretically possible black holes would be non-stellar and there existence in the wild is not realistically possible due to the age of the universe, it would take more time for them to come into existence (in theory) and then they would not be stable.

Chances that the solar system contains a black hole with a size larger than the sun is negligible (speak: impossible) and the existence of a black hole that is smaller than 2.x sun masses is "not probable" (speak: impossible at this moment in time) as well.

The 2.x sun masses black hole would hardly form from a collapsing star (super nova) but in theory could form from two merging neutron stars (in theory)

Should we ever want to find significantly smaller than 2.x sun mass "natural" black holes we have to give them way more time to form.

Black holes lose mass over time! Because of the fact that the Universe is quantum in nature, producing particle-antiparticle fluctuations all the time both inside, outside and on the event horizon of black holes, these objects aren’t completely static in time. Although it happens very slowly, black holes evaporate thanks to a process known as Hawking radiation!
This isn’t a stream of particles and/or antiparticles that emanate from black holes, but rather some very low-energy, almost constant flux of blackbody radiation.

Over huge timescales — something like 10^68 or 10^69 years — these lowest mass black holes will evaporate, decreasing in mass slowly at first and then incredibly rapidly, losing the last few tonnes in just microseconds!

So if you want to see an even smaller black hole than what we’ve got in the Universe today, stick around for a while. And if you want them to be smaller NOW, no way.

The absolute minimum thinkable mass of a black hole should be not much greater than the Planck mass
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on September 27, 2019, 11:33:49 PM
One dark horse way you could have a Black Hole less than two solar masses in the present universe is if they are primordial...compressed local inhomogeneities in the Big Bang.
But even if they are possible, they would almost certainly not be in orbit around a present day star.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on September 28, 2019, 03:15:08 AM
One dark horse way you could have a Black Hole less than two solar masses in the present universe is if they are primordial...compressed local inhomogeneities in the Big Bang.
But even if they are possible, they would almost certainly not be in orbit around a present day star.

The absolute minimum thinkable mass of a black hole should be not much greater than the Planck mass but as mentioned above that would not be stable, hence to say it can exist in the present universe is correct in one way but as you correctly pointed out, in short, not really in the common meaning of "existing" in a form that could be observed other than under laboratory conditions like i.e. the LHC would be one.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on September 28, 2019, 03:56:20 PM
A Planck Mass BH lasts for a Planck Time. A solar mass BH lasts for something like a google ages of the universe. Nor BH is "stable".
I believe the minimum primordial mass BH that could still exist now is one that was about the mass of a typical asteroid at the Big Bang.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 30, 2019, 03:26:43 AM
Life on Mars Could be Found Within Two Years But World is ‘Not Prepared’, NASA’s Chief Scientist Says

NASA is close to finding life on Mars but the world is not ready for the “revolutionary” implications of the discovery, the space agency’s chief scientist has said.

Dr Jim Green has warned that two rovers from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) could find evidence of life within months of arriving on Mars in March 2021.

Dr Green compared the potential discovery to when the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun in the 16th century.

“It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don’t think we’re prepared for the results,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “I’ve been worried about that because I think we’re close to finding it and making some announcements.”

... “What happens next is a whole new set of scientific questions. Is that life like us? How are we related?” he said. “Can life move from planet-to-planet or do we have a spark and just the right environment and that spark generates life – like us or do not like us – based on the chemical environment that it is in?”

Earlier this year, scientists discovered that there may be a vast and active system of water running underneath the surface of Mars.

... “There is no reason to think that there isn’t civilisations elsewhere, because we are finding exoplanets [planets outside the solar system] all over the place,” he said.


We Should Deliberately Contaminate Mars With Our Microbes, Controversial Study Argues

A research team is proposing a major philosophical shift in our thinking about the spread of Earthly microbes in space and on Mars in particular. Believing interplanetary contamination to be “inevitable,” the team argues that future Martian colonists should use microorganisms to reshape the Red Planet—a proposition deemed grossly premature by some experts.

In a paper published last month in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, microbiologist Jose Lopez, a professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, along with colleagues W. Raquel Peixoto and Alexandre Rosado from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, proposed a “major revision” to current philosophies behind space exploration and planetary protection policies as they pertain to the spread of microorganisms in space.

...“Microbial introduction should not be considered accidental but inevitable.”

Rather than worry about contaminating foreign celestial bodies—something NASA and other space agencies take great care to avoid—Lopez and his co-authors make the case that we should deliberately send our germs to outer space and that the dissemination of our microbes should be part of a larger colonization strategy to terraform the climate on Mars. A key argument proposed by the researchers is that the prevention of contamination is a “near impossibility,” as the authors phrase it in the study.

Open Access: Jose V Lopez,, "Inevitable future: space colonization beyond Earth with microbes first" (, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 95, Issue 10, October 2019


Resistance is futile!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on September 30, 2019, 06:26:31 AM
This seems quite irresponsible. Our microbes might wipe out life native to other planets. I suppose it's a version of Manifest Destiny.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: etienne on September 30, 2019, 06:36:15 AM
Irresponsible but difficult to avoid if you send humans on mars. Maybe it would be a good reason not to do it.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Aporia_filia on September 30, 2019, 12:21:53 PM
"Manifest Destiny" You're one of my idols here Sidd. But this is an idea where I'm not that sure. Why? Because we cannot know how free our free will is. We're always talking as if our brains could rationalise everything, but we know that our behavior is more hormone based than rational. How unnatural that Manifest Destiny behavior is?
Probably very unnatural if you think of individuals, but how about Humanity?
We are so proud of our free will and our intelligence that we don't consider what is a must when studying other spicies: the effects and behavior of the Superorganism.
And I bring back something that even had a thread in this forum (if remembered correctly); we should consider the size of human groups as a fundamental characteristic  of its nature.
This could be applied to nanning hypothesis; we are evolving, we are not equal (no one better than other), but those who are selfish have easier time into big groups of people than into 'tribes'.
There are so many evolutionary studies with pigeons, foxes, daisys... about all this, why not about us?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on September 30, 2019, 12:30:02 PM

We Should Deliberately Contaminate Mars With Our Microbes, Controversial Study Argues

Since we are doing the best we can to wipe out life on Earth, we might as well make sure the rest of the Solar System is dead as well.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: TerryM on September 30, 2019, 08:14:48 PM

+ a Martian Marshall Plan, to keep Intergalactic Corporations from gaining an appendage hold in "our" solar system. 8)

Terry, & the Planetary Pirates INC.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 02, 2019, 12:34:09 AM
Scientists Are Starting to Take Warp Drives Seriously, Especially One Specific Concept

Warp drive, as Star Trek fans know, is the ability to fly through space at speeds faster than light. A report on University of Alabama in Huntsville student Joseph Agnew’s work succinctly explained the value of speeds like that: Unless we can do it, we’re not going very far from home.

In recent years, the scientific community has become understandably excited and skeptical about claims that a particular concept – the Alcubierre Warp Drive – might actually be feasible.


This was the subject of a presentation made at this year's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Propulsion and Energy Forum, which took place from August 19th to 22nd in Indianapolis.

This presentation ( was conducted by Joseph Agnew – an undergraduate engineer and research assistant from the University of Alabama in Huntsville's Propulsion Research Center (PRC).

As part of a session titled "The Future of Nuclear and Breakthrough Propulsion", Agnew shared the results of a study he conducted titled "An Examination of Warp Theory and Technology to Determine the State of the Art and Feasibility (".

... "Mathematically, if you fulfill all the energy requirements, they can’t prove that it doesn’t work"

"Warp drive theory is at the point where the mathematics needs more development and the technologies need more development," Agnew says.

The field is where radio, television, radar, microwaves, computing, cellular communications, human flight, space exploration and travel by automobile all once were. It’s ahead of the current cutting edge, theoretically possible, but limited by its prodigious energy requirements and scalability issues as well as the current state of supporting technologies.

But even if it has doubters, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

... Engage!

J. Agnew, An Examination of Warp Theory and Technology to Determine the State of the Art and Feasibility (, AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2019 Forum


Maybe they could tap into the energy all around us ...

Physicist Suggests 'Quantum Foam' May Explain Away Huge Cosmic Energy

... Conventional theory suggests that spacetime should be filled with a huge amount of energy—perhaps as much as 10120 more than seemingly exists. Over the years, many theorists have suggested ideas on why this may be—most have tried the obvious approach, trying to figure out a way to make the energy go away. But none have been successful. In this new effort, Carlip suggests that maybe all that energy really is there, but it does not have any ties to the expansion of the universe because its effects are being canceled out by something at the Planck scale.

The new theory by Carlip is based very heavily on work done by John Wheeler back in the 1950s—he suggested that at the smallest possible scale, space and time turn into something he called "spacetime foam." He argued that at such a small scale, defining time, length and energy would be subject to the uncertainty principle. Since then, others have taken a serious look at spacetime foam—and some have suggested that if a vacuum were filled with spacetime foam, there would be a lot of energy involved. Others argue that such a scenario would behave like the cosmological constant.

Thus, to explain their ideas, they have sought to find ways to cancel out the energy as a way to make it go away. Carlip suggests instead that in a spacetime foam scenario, energy would exist everywhere in a vacuum—but if you took a much closer look, you would find Planck-sized areas that have an equal likelihood of expanding or contracting. And under such a scenario, the patchwork of tiny areas would appear the same as larger areas in the vacuum—and they would not expand or contract, which means they would have a zero cosmic constant. He notes that under such a scenario, time would have no intrinsic direction.


S. Carlip. Hiding the Cosmological Constant (, Physical Review Letters (2019).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on October 02, 2019, 05:39:11 AM
Warp drive, as Star Trek fans know, is the ability to fly through space at speeds faster than light.

Well, as a Star Trek fan, i know warp drive does nothing of sorts. It wraps the space and therefore moves the vessel relative in space. Nothing is faster than light. ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on October 02, 2019, 08:25:58 AM
First alien gases detected from interstellar comet

Just weeks after the discovery of the second-ever comet from outside of our solar system (the first was the cigar-shaped ‘Oumuamua), astronomers have detected gas emitted from its surface—the first hint of what an interstellar traveler is made of.

Sadly, it’s not kryptonite, or even unobtanium, but cyanogen, a simple but toxic molecule made up of two carbon and two nitrogen atoms. The comet, dubbed 2I/Borisov, was first spotted on 30 August by Ukrainian astronomer Gennadiy Borisov. Later observations showed it was moving in an orbit not bound by the sun’s gravity. Since then, many astronomers have studied the object including a team using the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope (WHT) in Spain’s Canary Islands.

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 02, 2019, 05:19:25 PM
Warp drive, as Star Trek fans know, is the ability to fly through space at speeds faster than light.

Well, as a Star Trek fan, i know warp drive does nothing of sorts. It wraps the space and therefore moves the vessel relative in space. Nothing is faster than light. ;)

... There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

 Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167

Both a STNG 'Warp Drive' and the 'Alcubierre Drive' use a 'Warp Bubble' within which, as you say, the speed of light (c) is not violated (no local space/time violation). However, the 'Warp bubble' can move through space at faster than light speed. This does not violate general relativity.

The most credible way of sending signals faster than light is via negative matter. You can do this by compressing the space in front of you and expanding the space behind you, so that you surf on a tidal wave of warped space. You can calculate that this tidal wave travels faster than light if driven by negative matter. (... this is the method I posted, and the way the Enterprise apparently travels.)  ;)

Negative Matter Propulsion

Cosmologists Prove Negative Mass Can Exist In Our Universe

Negative Mass Bubbles In De Sitter Space-Time

Faster Than the Speed of Light: New Model Proposes Jets Go Superluminal in Gamma-Ray Bursts

Superluminal Light Pulse Propagation

Gain-Assisted Superluminal Light Propagation

Testing the Speed of ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’


Hypothetical Speed & Energy Constraints of Warp Drive ...




Black Holes As We Know Them May Not Exist

K. S. Croker, J. L. Weiner, Implications of Symmetry and Pressure in Friedmann Cosmology. I. Formalism (, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 882, Number 1, Aug. 2019

... Researchers were looking at Friedmann's equations, which are simplified from Einstein's theory of general relativity. (Relativity describes how mass and energy warp space-time.) Physicists use Friedmann's equations to describe the expansion of the universe, in part because the math is simpler than in Einstein's body of equations describing relativity. The team found that, in order to properly write down Friedmann's equations, ultradense and isolated regions of space, like neutron stars and black holes, had to be treated in the same mathematical way as all other areas. Previously, cosmologists believed it was reasonable to ignore the internal details of ultradense and isolated regions, such as the inside of a black hole.

"We showed there's only one way to [construct these equations] correctly," Croker told Live Science. "And if you do it that one way, which is the correct way to do it, you find some interesting things."

The new results suggest that all the dark energy required for the accelerated expansion of the universe could be contained in these alternatives to black holes. The researchers discovered this in the math, after they had corrected the way to write out Friedmann's equations. And in a follow-up paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal and posted Sept. 7 on the preprint journal arXiv, they showed that these alternatives to black holes, called Generic Objects of Dark Energy (GEODEs), could also help explain peculiarities in gravitational-wave observations from 2016.

The math from Friedmann's equations showed that over time, these ultradense objects gain weight simply due to the expansion of the universe, even when there is no nearby material for them to consume. Just as light traveling through expanding space loses energy — an effect known as redshift — matter also loses weight as space expands. The effect is usually so tiny it cannot be seen. But in ultradense material with very strong pressures inside, known as relativistic material, the effect becomes noticeable. Dark energy is very relativistic, and its pressure acts oppositely to normal matter and light — so objects made of it (like these hypothetical GEODEs) gain weight over time.

"Light is sort of a weird thing. It behaves counterintuitively, in many ways," Croker said. "People didn't expect that this behavior could also be exhibited in other objects. But we showed, yes, you can see it in another object," namely inside GEODEs.

it turns out these weird objects could also provide a simple explanation for observed large black hole mergers. In 2016, members of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)-Virgo collaboration announced they had the first-ever observations of a black hole merger, but the calculated masses of the supposed black holes was unexpected — scientists expected the masses to be either much higher or lower.

But GEODEs, unlike traditional black holes, gain weight over time. If two GEODEs that had formed in the younger universe eventually collided, by the time they collided, they would have grown larger than typical black holes. By that point, the GEODEs' masses would match the masses seen in the collision observed by LIGO-Virgo. Instead of having to conceive of a highly specific situation that led to the merger, GEODEs could provide a simpler solution to explain the observations. (See also: Occam's razor)

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 02, 2019, 05:34:55 PM
Add this to the pile Terry ...

New Research Supports Hypothesis that Asteroid Contributed to Mass Extinction During the Younger Dryas


A team of scientists from South Africa has discovered evidence partially supporting a hypothesis that Earth was struck by a meteorite or asteroid 12 800 years ago, leading to global consequences including climate change, and contributing to the extinction of many species of large animals at the time of an episode called the Younger Dryas.

The team, led by Professor Francis Thackeray of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered evidence of a remarkable "platinum spike" at a site called Wonderkrater in the Limpopo Province, north of Pretoria in South Africa. Working with researcher Philip Pieterse from the University of Johannesburg and Professor Louis Scott of the University of the Free State, Thackeray discovered this evidence from a core drilled in a peat deposit, notably in a sample about 12 800 years old. This research was published in Palaeontologia Africana.

Noting that meteorites are rich in platinum, Thackeray said "Our finding at least partially supports the highly controversial Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis (YDIH).

... Human populations may have been indirectly affected at the time in question. In North America there is a dramatic termination of the stone tool technology of Clovis people. Remarkably, archaeologists in South Africa have detected an almost simultaneous termination of the Robberg stone artifact industry associated with people in some parts of the country, including the area around Boomplaas near the Cango Caves in the southern Cape, close to the town of Oudshoorn.

... "We cannot be certain, but a cosmic impact could have affected humans as a result of local changes in environment and the availability of food resources, associated with sudden climate change."

At Wonderkrater, the team has evidence from pollen to show that about 12 800 years ago there was temporary cooling, associated with the "Younger Dryas" drop in temperature that is well documented in the northern hemisphere, and now also in South Africa. According to some scientists, this cooling in widespread areas could at least potentially have been associated with the global dispersal of platinum-rich atmospheric dust.

This is the first evidence in Africa for a platinum spike preceding climate change. Younger Dryas spikes in platinum have also been found in Greenland, Eurasia, North America, Mexico and recently also at Pilauco in Chile. Wonderkrater is the 30th site in the world for such evidence.

A large crater 31 kilometers in diameter has been discovered in northern Greenland beneath the Hiawatha Glacier. "There is some evidence to support the view that it might possibly have been the very place where a large meteorite struck the planet earth 12 800 years ago."


Open Access: Thackeray, J. Francis; Scott, Louis; Pieterse, P, The Younger Dryas interval at Wonderkrater (South Africa) in the context of a platinum anomaly (, Palaeontologia Africana 2019-10-02
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on October 02, 2019, 07:40:37 PM
How would we store the negative matter and what would that do to the ship?

The warp drive was wasted in the first series. All that tech for some intergalactic womanizing. Worst episode was when they beamed down to Olympus. But at least the rest was a lot better (until the timewarp in the prequel series).

Thanks for the GEODE and YD articles.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on October 03, 2019, 08:23:20 PM
Already posted and sicussed in #160 and on.

Aside that graphic in post #159 is really cool.  8)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 03, 2019, 08:50:33 PM
Sorry, kassy.
How do I get to post #159 (or whatever #)?
Also, could you translate your signature?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 03, 2019, 09:34:32 PM
If you observe closely (under the title), your last reply was #179. The one above it was #178, ergo, Q.E.D.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on October 04, 2019, 10:37:24 AM
For the sigs text see:,416.1500.html
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 05, 2019, 01:46:41 AM
Double Protostar Caught in Process of Forming

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have captured a stunning image of two circumstellar disks in which two protostars are growing, fed by a complex network of filaments of gas and dust.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 06, 2019, 08:38:50 PM
Building a Galaxy: Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey

In a paper published on Wednesday in Nature, the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey team describes uncovering some of our nearest galactic neighbor's violent past. The paper shows that Andromeda was built in part by two major collisions that have left clusters of stars occupying two perpendicular orbits. In the process of writing their paper, the researchers also uncover a bit of a mystery about an unexpected alignment between some of these clusters and Andromeda's satellite galaxies.

... The researchers identified 92 globular clusters in the halo of the galaxy, orbiting at least 25,000 parsecs from its core. These were imaged to determine their motion relative to Earth using the Doppler shift. That information could be converted to the clusters' local motion relative to the rest of Andromeda.

The analysis indicated there were two distinct populations. One group of clusters was associated with previously identified structures within Andromeda during its orbits. A second group, orbiting in a plane that's 90° off from this one, doesn't appear to be associated with anything in the galaxy itself. Notably, neither of these planes match that of Andromeda's disk.

... Structures like the ones here have to be a product of a relatively recent event—an event like a galaxy merger. "These clearly represent debris from one or more accretions that must have occurred relatively recently," the authors write, "in order for the underlying structures to be still coherent."

This, they suggest, may be related to a merger with a relatively large galaxy that occurred about a billion years ago ("recent" means something different in astronomy.)

The orbit of the older group of globular clusters roughly lined up with the orbits of many of Andromeda's satellite galaxies. That makes sense if we assume these globular clusters were stripped from some of the satellites. But it makes less sense when you consider that the satellites shouldn't stay in the same plane for long, as gravitational interactions among themselves and with Andromeda's dark matter halo should skew them out of the plane they started in.

The authors are at a loss to explain this part of their results

Two major accretion epochs in M31 from two distinct populations of globular clusters Nature, 2019


Not Long Ago, the Center of the Milky Way Exploded

A titanic, expanding beam of energy sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way just 3.5 million years ago, sending a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the Galaxy and out into deep space.

The phenomenon, known as a Seyfert flare, created two enormous 'ionisation cones' that sliced through the Milky Way—beginning with a relatively small diameter close to the black hole, and expanding vastly as they exited the Galaxy.

In Galactic terms, that is astonishingly recent.


A schematic diagram modelling the ionizing radiation field over the South Galactic Hemisphere of the Milky Way, disrupted by the Seyfert flare event.

The blast, the researchers estimate, lasted for perhaps 300,000 years—an extremely short period in galactic terms.


Could this have impacted life on Earth?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 06, 2019, 08:44:35 PM
Jonathan McDowell: "After an 11 year mission the Jason 2 oceanographic altimetry satellite was retired on Oct 1 and will be finally turned off on Oct 10. Its orbit is 1305 x 1317 km x 66 deg (lowered from 1332 x 1344 km in Jul 2017)"

Like its two predecessors, OSTM/Jason-2 used high-precision ocean altimetry to measure the distance between the satellite and the ocean surface to within a few centimeters. These very accurate observations of variations in sea surface height—also known as  ocean topography—provide information about global sea level, the speed and direction of ocean currents, and heat stored in the ocean.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on October 06, 2019, 09:26:42 PM
Building a Galaxy: Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey

Thanks for all the extremely interesting posts of yours.

Beside anything sea-ice related they are, for me at least, the most interesting input found on this forum, well worth a forum of it's own, because after all that's about the greatest possible picture and IMO astronomy and astrophysics should be compulsory subjects in everyone's education plan,
so to give every human being an impression/clue about self-non-importance and what it really is
that matters and moves the world(s).

The part I like most about astrophysics is that fact that there is no way to negotiated with
laws of nature/physics. People cannot discuss facts to death like they do all over the place
and in the process put an endless number of obstacles in any possible path to solutions.

What we end up with are an endless loop of self-destructive/destructive workarounds just to
find confirmed that there is nothing to be negotiated, live with the facts or pay the price.

For the religious among us I would recommend to change "The word of god" into "the laws of nature" and there we go, but without killing each other.

Interestingly to understand that, would keep people from fighting each other because there is nothing to fight because laws of physics are the boundaries non of us can breach.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 07, 2019, 05:54:18 PM
Thanks philopek


Extreme Solar Storms May Be More Frequent Than Previously Thought

New research in AGU's journal Space Weather indicates storms like the Carrington Event ( are not as rare as scientists thought and could happen every few decades, seriously damaging modern communication and navigation systems around the globe.


Depending on a coronal mass ejection's strength and trajectory, they can significantly distort Earth's magnetic field, causing an intense magnetic storm, global auroras and damaging any technology that relies on electromagnetic waves.

... newly recovered historical documents suggest the Carrington sunspot group had probably launched multiple outbursts from early August to early October, including a preceding solar storm in late August 1859. The researchers estimate this event happened around August 27th, 1859 and sent out separate coronal mass ejections that were strong enough to impact Earth's magnetic field. The August storm may have played a role in making the September Carrington Event so intense.

After reconstructing the storms around the Carrington Event, the researchers compared the solar storm to other storms in 1872, 1909, 1921, and 1989 and found two of them—those in 1872 and 1921—were comparable to this event. The 1989 event caused a serious blackout throughout all of Quebec, Canada. This means events like the Carrington may not be as legendary and elusive as once thought, and scientists need to consider the hazards of such events more seriously than before, according to Hayakawa.

"The Carrington Event was considered to be the worst-case scenario for space weather events against the modern civilization… but if it comes several times a century, we have to reconsider how to prepare against and mitigate that kind of space weather hazard," said Hisashi Hayakawa, lead author of the new study and an astrophysicist at Osaka University in Osaka, Japan and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

Hisashi Hayakawa et al. Temporal and Spatial Evolutions of a Large Sunspot Group and Great Auroral Storms around the Carrington Event in 1859 (, Space Weather (2019)


A Massive Solar Storm Could Cost the US Economy $40 Billion per Day

The new report, aptly titled “Space Weather,” seeks to determine the total economic losses to the United States in various scenarios, ranging from an indirect strike to a geomagnetic storm capable of disrupting the power grid across the United States. As we’ve discussed before, the power grid in America is potentially quite vulnerable to this type of disruption, since the grid literally isn’t designed to handle this type of problem and doesn’t contain any safeguards that would protect directly against it. In fact, some of the strategies you use to mitigate against certain terrestrial problems in the power grid are exactly the opposite of what you might want to do if the power grid was hit by a geomagnetic storm.

The US is vulnerable to some of these disruptions because we make heavy use of high-voltage, low-resistance power lines, with transmission voltages in the 200-700 kV range. These types of lines are more vulnerable to geomagnetically induced current, or GIC.


The long restoration periods for damage to EHV transformers arise from the average lead time for a bespoke domestically manufactured transformer of 5 to 12 months and for internationally manufactured transformers, of around 6 to 16 months… Moreover, there can be a protracted lead time before their manufacture and delays in physically installing them in place due to their size and weight, which require specialist transport and permits to move them along their chosen route.

The secondary effect of transformer damage, including delayed failure in the weeks or months following an event… would cause problems in energy-constrained economies, since the transformers most likely to be affected are generator step-up units and the generator capacity will not be available until the transformer is replaced. In addition to having to replace damaged transformers within the region of the extreme GMD, transformers beyond the region might also be damaged. Units in which damage has been initiated will degrade over weeks or months until they fail, well after the GMD event is over. The failure of these transformers in adjacent regions will increase the pressure on manufacturing replacement transformers.

In short, it could take five to 16 months to completely restore electrical service after a major solar flare. The economic consequences of such an event could bring US GDP to a near-standstill. It might be tempting to write off the prospect of another solar flare as just another example of doom-and-gloom projections that aren’t likely to happen, like the idea of a huge meteor striking Earth.

This, I think, would be a mistake. Unlike civilization-destroying meteors, which don’t show up very often, massive solar flares are well represented in the historical record.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 07, 2019, 06:34:47 PM
We almost had a solar apocalypse in 2012, vox_mundi:
Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012
July 23, 2014: If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.
Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn't mention it. The "impactor" was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.
"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 08, 2019, 12:37:40 AM
Saturn Overtakes Jupiter as Planet With Most Moons

Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet with the most moons, according to US researchers.

A team discovered a haul of 20 new moons orbiting the ringed planet, bringing its total to 82; Jupiter, by contrast, has 79 natural satellites.


Each of the newly discovered objects in orbit around Saturn is about 5km (three miles) in diameter; 17 of them orbit the planet "backwards".

This is known as a retrograde direction. The other three moons orbit in a prograde direction - the same direction as Saturn rotates.

Two of the prograde moons take about two years to travel once around the ringed planet. ... The more-distant retrograde moons and one of the prograde moons each take more than three years to complete an orbit.

Scientists think the retrograde and prograde moons are the broken up remnants of at least three larger bodies. These bigger objects were smashed up by collisions, either between distinct moons or with outside objects such as passing asteroids

... The team has initiated a contest to name the moons. They have to be named after giants from Norse, Gallic or Inuit mythology, corresponding to the three different clusters

Rules at:

Tweet your suggested moon name to @SaturnLunacy and tell us why you picked it. Photos, artwork, and videos are strongly encouraged. Don't forget to include the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 08, 2019, 12:55:10 AM
Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars

Looking across the entirety of Curiosity's journey, which began in 2012, the science team sees a cycle of wet to dry across long timescales on Mars.

... Given that Earth and Mars were similar in their early days, Rapin speculated that Sutton Island formation in Gale Crater might have resembled saline lakes on South America's Altiplano. Streams and rivers flowing from mountain ranges into this arid, high-altitude plateau lead to closed basins similar to Mars' ancient Gale Crater. Lakes on the Altiplano are heavily influenced by climate in the same way as Gale.

... Up until now, the rover has encountered lots of flat sediment layers that had been gently deposited at the bottom of a lake. Team member Chris Fedo, who specializes in the study of sedimentary layers at the University of Tennessee, noted that Curiosity is currently running across large rock structures that could have formed only in a higher-energy environment such as a windswept area or flowing streams.

Wind or flowing water piles sediment into layers that gradually incline. When they harden into rock, they become large structures similar to "Teal Ridge," which Curiosity investigated this past summer.

"Finding inclined layers represents a major change, where the landscape isn't completely underwater anymore," said Fedo. "We may have left the era of deep lakes behind." ...

This animation demonstrates the salty ponds and streams that scientists think may have been left behind as Gale Crater dried out over time. The bottom of the image is the floor of Gale Crater, with the peak being the side of Mount Sharp.

An interval of high salinity in ancient Gale crater lake on Mars (, Nature Geoscience (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 08, 2019, 10:39:51 PM
Re: Building a Galaxy
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Planet Factory Floor
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones on October 09, 2019, 07:48:43 AM
Aaah, Earth Mark 2. I wonder how far back in time they can reset it?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 13, 2019, 04:07:55 AM
Astronomy in a Low-Carbon Future
(A White Paper prepared for the Canadian Long Range Plan 2020)

The global climate crisis poses new risks to humanity, and with them, new challenges to the practices of
professional astronomy. Avoiding the more catastrophic consequences of global warming by more than 1.5
degrees requires an immediate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the 2018 United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel report, this will necessitate a 45% reduction of emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Efforts are required at all levels, from the individual to the governmental, and every discipline
must find ways to achieve these goals. This will be especially difficult for astronomy with its significant reliance
on conference and research travel, among other impacts. However, our long-range planning exercises provide
the means to coordinate our response on a variety of levels. We have the opportunity to lead by example, rising
to the challenge rather than reacting to external constraints.
We explore how astronomy can meet the challenge of a changing climate in clear and responsible ways, such
as how we set expectations (for ourselves, our institutions, and our granting agencies) around scientific travel,
the organization of conferences, and the design of our infrastructure. We also emphasize our role as reliable
communicators of scientific information on a problem that is both human and planetary in scale.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 26, 2019, 06:00:45 PM
US Army Will Study ‘Metamaterials’ Collected by UFO Study Group

The Army Combat Capabilities Development Command recently partnered with the TTSA to study a wide variety of different technologies and materials, most of which sound like they were pulled straight from a sci-fi movie. The cooperative research and development agreement is set to last five years and could ultimately help the Army develop new capabilities for its fleet of ground vehicles. The service has pledged to spend $750,000 to examine the futuristic materials and technologies.

... Specifically, the Army wants to explore a handful of futuristic materials and technologies the group has either studied or has in its possession, including inertial mass reduction, quantum communications, beamed energy propulsion, active camouflage and directed photon projection. The Army also plans to study the “mechanical and [electromagnetic] sensitive” metamaterials—a type of synthetic material that can manipulate light and other waves—the group collected “as part of its field operations.”

... these metal samples displayed anti-gravitational or levitational properties when exposed to certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation.

Army Contract Aggrement:

The Army here is presenting as a simple statement that TTSA has "materiel and technology innovations," not that they might have them.

Halleaux was quick to dismiss any claims that the Army was studying “alien technology.” TTSA may purport the metamaterials and other tech in their possession came from UFOs, but for the Army, those claims are irrelevant, he said. ... “Speculation … as to the origin of materials really to our researchers isn’t what matters,” Halleaux said. “The reason TTSA was taken seriously is the credentials of the people on their team. These are folks that have backgrounds in industry and backgrounds in materials science and defense work. [They’re] serious professionals with respect to backgrounds.


U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Magazine - Fall 2019


Scientist Behind The Navy's "UFO Patents" Has Now Filed One For A Compact Fusion Reactor

... While Lockheed Martin’s compact fusion reactor designs have garnered quite a bit of media attention and internet buzz in recent years, it appears one of the Skunk Works' major clients is also hard at work in this field. The U.S. Navy has filed a potentially revolutionary patent application for a radical new compact fusion reactor that claims to improve upon the shortcomings of the Skunk Works CFR, and judging from the identity of the reactor’s inventor, it's sure to raise eyebrows in the scientific community.

This latest design is the brainchild of the elusive Salvatore Cezar Pais, the inventor of the Navy’s bizarre and controversial room temperature superconductors, high energy electromagnetic field generators, and sci-fi-sounding propulsion technologies that The War Zone has previously reported on. The patent for Pais’ “Plasma Compression Fusion Device” was applied for on March 22, 2018, and was just published on September 26, 2019.

... It is claimed in the patent application that this plasma compression fusion device is capable of producing power in the gigawatt (1 billion watts) to terawatt (1 trillion watts) range and above with input power only in the kilowatt (1,000 watts) to megawatt (1,000,000 watts) range. By comparison, America's largest nuclear power plant, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona, generates around 4,000 megawatts (4 gigawatts), and the A1B nuclear reactors designed for the Navy's Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers generate around 700 megawatts. The patent even claims that the device can "possibly lead to ignition plasma burn, that is self-sustained plasma burn without need for external input power."

... The Navy has vouched for some of his designs in the past going so far as to claim these inventions actually exist in an operable form and that they are needed for national security purposes, most notably to keep pace with adversaries like China. But unlike some of Pais’ patents, this application sailed through the United States Patent and Trademark Office without rejection and subsequent appeal.

Curiously, the patent states that “the invention will be discussed in a space, sea, or terrestrial environment” but notes that “this invention can be utilized for any type of application that requires the use of energy generation.” It is unclear what type of application may exist other than space, sea, or land.

... With all this in mind, is the Navy building some sort of incredible craft based on science that remains foreign to the larger scientific community? Did they already do this years ago and are just slowly lifting the veil now? Are they clumsily trying to emulate what their pilots are seeing in the field, but can not yet fully explain? Could these patents just represent gross mismanagement of resources on the Navy's behalf? Or is this all some sort of elaborate disinformation play by the Navy—one that seems to have emerged right in step the rise of major peer-state competition from the likes of Russia and China, and the biggest expansion of advanced aerospace development programs in decades?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 26, 2019, 06:44:45 PM
New Research on Giant Radio Galaxies Defies Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom tells us that large objects appear smaller as they get farther from us, but this fundamental law of classical physics is reversed when we observe the distant universe.

Astrophysicists at the University of Kent simulated the development of the biggest objects in the universe to help explain how galaxies and other cosmic bodies were formed. They expected to find that as they simulated objects farther into the distant universe, they would appear smaller, but in fact they found the opposite.

Professor Smith said: "When we look far into the distant universe, we are observing objects way in the past—when they were young. We expected to find that these distant giants would appear as a comparatively small pair of vague lobes. To our surprise, we found that these giants still appear enormous even though they are so far away."

Professor Smith said: "We already know that once you are far enough away, the Universe acts like a magnifying glass and objects start to increase in size in the sky. Because of the distance, the objects we observed are extremely faint, which means we can only see the brightest parts of them, the hot spots. These hot spots occur at the outer edges of the radio galaxy and so they appear to be larger than ever, confounding our initial expectations."

Michael D Smith et al, The morphological classification of distant radio galaxies explored with three-dimensional simulations (, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019)


Strange 'Methuselah' Star Appears Older Than the Universe

For more than 100 years, astronomers have been observing a curious star located some 190 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra. It rapidly journeys across the sky at 800,000 mph (1.3 million kilometers per hour). But more interesting than that, HD 140283 — or Methuselah as it's commonly known — is also one of the universe's oldest known stars.

In 2000, scientists sought to date the star using observations via the European Space Agency's (ESA) Hipparcos satellite, which estimated an age of 16 billion years old. Such a figure was rather mind-blowing and also pretty baffling. As astronomer Howard Bond of Pennsylvania State University pointed out, the age of the universe — determined from observations of the cosmic microwave background — is 13.8 billion years old. "It was a serious discrepancy," he said.

... Matthews believes the answers lie in greater cosmological refinement. "I suspect that the observational cosmologists have missed something that creates this paradox, rather than the stellar astrophysicists," he said, pointing to the measurements of the stars being perhaps more accurate. "That's not because the cosmologists are in any way sloppier, but because age determination of the universe is subject to more and arguably trickier observational and theoretical uncertainties than that of stars."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 28, 2019, 05:32:54 PM
ESO Telescope Reveals What Could Be the Smallest Dwarf Planet Yet In the Solar System

Astronomers using ESO's SPHERE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed that the asteroid Hygiea could be classified as a dwarf planet. The object is the fourth largest in the asteroid belt after Ceres, Vesta and Pallas. For the first time, astronomers have observed Hygiea in sufficiently high resolution to study its surface and determine its shape and size. They found that Hygiea is spherical, potentially taking the crown from Ceres as the smallest dwarf planet in the Solar System.

The team used the SPHERE observations to constrain Hygiea's size, putting its diameter at just over 430 km. Pluto, the most famous of dwarf planets, has a diameter close to 2400 km, while Ceres is close to 950 km in size.

P. Vernazza, A basin-free spherical shape as an outcome of a giant impact on asteroid Hygiea (  ), Nature Astronomy (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on October 29, 2019, 02:51:48 PM
Even Independet reports of this, so it is pretty much settled, i guess
Hygiea to become a dwarf planet, skipping larger Pallas and Vesta, which have had a more battered past, Hygiea is sufficiently rounded and smooth, I guess. I'd promote also Vesta in this class since it's just malformed currently... Then all sections of asteroid belt would have their own dwarf planet. I've not seen good photos of Pallas, but maybe even it is one.

Note: thsnk you vox_mundi for the correction below, it turns out Hygiea might have been battered too.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 30, 2019, 12:33:50 AM
Collision Liquified the 4th-Largest Asteroid, Turning It Into a Dwarf Planet

... To figure out how the asteroid family could have formed, the researchers built a model that allowed them to try out different collisions, testing different impactor sizes and angles of impact. After using these collision models to generate debris, the researchers let gravity take over and figure out what the re-formed Hygiea and its remaining debris (which would go on to form the asteroid family) would look like.

Rather than forming a large crater, the collisions that worked instead completely shattered the asteroid. This could be done either by a head-on collision with a 75km object or an off-center collision with a 150km object. The off-center collisions, however, tended not to leave any large bodies in the debris (other than Hygiea itself); since some members of the resulting asteroid family are larger, the researchers conclude that a head-on collision is most likely.

In addition to liberating a debris field, the collision turned the remains of Hygiea into a fluid, which underwent large-scale oscillations for about four hours after the event. This allowed the debris to evenly mix and equilibrate, producing the body's current spherical shape. This was probably enabled by the relatively low density of the material; the researchers estimate that Hygiea is less than twice as dense as water.

This is similar to the density of Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt. The authors suggest that the two formed further out than the "snow line" of water, the point where material was far enough from the Sun for water to remain frozen.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 30, 2019, 05:01:12 PM
Cosmic Triangles Open a Window to the Origin of Time

Like fossils, astronomical objects are not randomly strewn throughout space. Rather, spatial correlations between the positions of objects such as galaxies tell a detailed story of the ancient past.

... One curious pattern cosmologists have known about for decades is that space is filled with correlated pairs of objects: pairs of hot spots seen in telescopes’ maps of the early universe; pairs of galaxies or of galaxy clusters or superclusters in the universe today; pairs found at all distances apart. You can see these “two-point correlations” by moving a ruler all over a map of the sky. When there’s an object at one end, cosmologists find that this ups the chance that an object also lies at the other end.

The simplest explanation for the correlations traces them to pairs of quantum particles that fluctuated into existence as space exponentially expanded at the start of the Big Bang. Pairs of particles that arose early on subsequently moved the farthest apart, yielding pairs of objects far away from each other in the sky today. Particle pairs that arose later separated less and now form closer-together pairs of objects. Like fossils, the pairwise correlations seen throughout the sky encode the passage of time — in this case, the very beginning of time.


Cosmologists believe that rare quantum fluctuations involving three, four or even more particles should also have occurred during the birth of the universe. These presumably would have yielded more complicated configurations of objects in the sky today: triangular arrangements of galaxies, along with quadrilaterals, pentagons and other shapes.

Theorists have found it challenging even to calculate what the signals would look like — until recently. In the past four years, a small group of researchers has approached the question in a new way. They have found that the form of the correlations follows directly from symmetries and other deep mathematical principles. The most important findings to date were detailed in a paper by Arkani-Hamed and three co-authors that took its final form this summer.

... Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the work, Silverstein and others said, is what it implies about the nature of time. There’s no “time” variable anywhere in the new bootstrapped equation. Yet it predicts cosmological triangles, rectangles and other shapes of all sizes that tell a sensible story of quantum particles arising and evolving at the beginning of time.

... This suggests that the temporal version of the cosmological origin story may be an illusion. Time can be seen as an “emergent” dimension, a kind of hologram springing from the universe’s spatial correlations, which themselves seem to come from basic symmetries. In short, the approach has the potential to help explain why time began, and why it might end.

As Arkani-Hamed put it, “The thing that we’re bootstrapping is time itself.”


A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics


Physicists have discovered a jewel-shaped geometric object that challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental constituents of nature.

The amplituhedron reconceptualized colliding particles — ostensibly temporal events — in terms of timeless geometry. When it was discovered in 2013, many physicists saw yet another reason to think that time must be emergent — a variable that we perceive and that appears in our coarse-grained description of nature, but which is not written into the ultimate laws of reality.

The new geometric version of quantum field theory could facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes. The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics: locality and unitarity.

Locality is the notion that particles can interact only from adjoining positions in space and time. And unitarity holds that the probabilities of all possible outcomes of a quantum mechanical interaction must add up to one. The concepts are the central pillars of quantum field theory in its original form, but in certain situations involving gravity, both break down, suggesting neither is a fundamental aspect of nature.

In keeping with this idea, the new geometric approach to particle interactions removes locality and unitarity from its starting assumptions. The amplituhedron is not built out of space-time and probabilities; these properties merely arise as consequences of the jewel’s geometry. The usual picture of space and time, and particles moving around in them, is a construct.

... Recently, a strange duality has been found between string theory and quantum field theory, indicating that the former (which includes gravity) is mathematically equivalent to the latter (which does not) when the two theories describe the same event as if it is taking place in different numbers of dimensions. No one knows quite what to make of this discovery. But the new amplituhedron research suggests space-time, and therefore dimensions, may be illusory anyway.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 31, 2019, 02:05:44 PM
Did it hit a sand worm? :o

The 'Mole' on NASA's Mars Lander Just Popped Out Of Its Hole (and That's Not Good)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 01, 2019, 02:23:04 PM
Devon Island: Mars on Earth ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 05, 2019, 12:01:27 AM
Look Far Enough and You'll See the Back of Your Head: The Universe Might Be a Giant Loop

Everything we think we know about the shape of the universe could be wrong. Instead of being flat like a bedsheet, our universe may be curved, like a massive, inflated balloon, according to a new study.

If the universe is curved, according to the new paper, it curves gently. That slow bending isn't important for moving around our lives, or solar system, or even our galaxy. But travel beyond all of that, outside our galactic neighborhood, far into the deep blackness, and eventually — moving in a straight line — you'll loop around and end up right back where you started. Cosmologists call this idea the "closed universe."


That's the upshot of a new paper published today (Nov. 4) in the journal Nature Astronomy, which looks at data from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the faint echo of the Big Bang.

... There's an anomaly in the CMB. The CMB is the oldest thing we see in the universe, made of ambient microwave light that suffuses all of space when you block out the stars and galaxies and other interference. It's one of the most important sources of data on the universe's history and behavior, because it's so old and so spread throughout space. And it turns out, according to the latest data, that there's significantly more "gravitational lensing" of the CMB than expected — meaning that gravity seems to be bending the microwaves of the CMB more than existing physics can explain.

To explain that extra lensing, the Planck Collaboration has just tacked on an extra variable, which the scientists are calling "A_lens," to the group's model of the universe's formation, "This is something that you put there by hand, trying to explain what you see. There's no connection with physics," Melchiorri said, meaning there's no A_lens parameter in Einstein's theory of relativity. "What we found is that you can explain A_lens with a positively curved universe, which is a much more physical interpretation that you can explain with general relativity."

Melchiorri pointed out that his team's interpretation isn't conclusive. According to the group's calculations, the Planck data point to a closed universe with a standard deviation of 3.5 sigma (a statistical measurement that means about 99.8% confidence that the result isn't due to random chance). That's well short of the 5 sigma standard physicists usually look for before calling an idea confirmed.

Eleonora Di Valentino, Planck evidence for a closed Universe and a possible crisis for cosmology, ( Nature Astronomy (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on November 05, 2019, 01:21:41 AM
And I thought the universe was like a Möbius strip, well actually a kleinbottle.  Nevin's response to the question "Is the universe like a Möbius strip? (" - (3rd response quoted)
Craig Nevin - Answered Jan 13, 2017

A Mobius strip has one edge. Does the universe have an edge? Probably not. Two Mobius strips of opposite chirality, however, can be combined into an edgeless surfce known as a kleinbottle. A kleinbottle has no inside nor outside. Therefore you can never be outside such an universe. Since the word universe means everything in space without edge, this makes logical sense. A model of the universe that imagines it as a sphere or torus or topological equivalent, raises the issue of there being a place outside of the universe, which quite frankly deflates the everday notion of the word “universe”. My answer is therefore definitely YES.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 05, 2019, 02:56:46 AM
I'm going with multidimensional brane cosmology ...


or multiverse ...


Of course, both of them are as easy to illustrate as a Klien bottle.

Maybe it's turtles all the way down.  ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: wili on November 05, 2019, 05:03:22 AM
"Look Far Enough and You'll See the Back of Your Head"

This is not a new idea. I remember talking about it with my nerdy friends in HighSchool in the very early '70s (friends who went on to  become astrophysicists, mathematicians, and computer program designers, while I wallowed in the humanities :) ).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on November 05, 2019, 02:38:35 PM
I remember a children's story about some siblings, one with eyesight so keen, their eyes could see things clearly a few times 'round the world.  Or something like that.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: wili on November 05, 2019, 03:01:54 PM
Me too. I remember them being animals. The rabbit, as I recall, could also hear things from a very far distance. The moral of the story is now lost to me, though.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: johnm33 on November 05, 2019, 03:21:58 PM
We're clearly inside a black hole watching the energetic em storm being brought to order by integration of all it's information and the shock into conciousness that the phase shift to singularity caused. Give it another week, in outside time, and it'll all start to make sense. Though from here we should be able to see the axis of rotation if not the backs of our heads.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Ranman99 on November 06, 2019, 01:36:18 PM
;-) It will happen but no sense is true sense ;-)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 06, 2019, 06:25:28 PM

A new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 07, 2019, 04:13:40 PM
Galactic Order Emerges from Chaos

Scientists from Germany and the United States have unveiled the results of a newly-completed, state of the art simulation of the evolution of galaxies. TNG50 is the most detailed large-scale cosmological simulation yet. It allows researchers to study in detail how galaxies form, and how they have evolved since shortly after the Big Bang. For the first time, it reveals that the geometry of the cosmic gas flows around galaxies determines galaxies' structures, and vice versa. The researchers publish their results in two papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

... In a simulated cube of space that is more than 230 million light-years across, TNG50 can discern physical phenomena that occur on scales one million times smaller, tracing the simultaneous evolution of thousands of galaxies over 13.8 billion years of cosmic history.

The formation of a single massive galaxy through time, from early cosmic epochs until the present day, in the TNG50 cosmic simulation. The main panel shows the density of the cosmic gas (high in white, low in black). Insets show large-scale dark matter and then gas (lower left), and small-scale stellar and gaseous distributions (lower right). This TNG50 galaxy will be similar in mass and shape to Andromeda (M31) by the time the movie reaches the current epoch. Its progenitor experiences rapid star formation in a turbulent gas reservoir which settles into an ordered disc after a couple of billion years of cosmic evolution. A rather quiet late time assembly history without major mergers allows the galaxy to relax into an equilibrium balance of gas outflows from supernova explosions and gas accretion from its surroundings

Annalisa Pillepich et al. First results from the TNG50 simulation: the evolution of stellar and gaseous discs across cosmic time, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019)

Dylan Nelson et al. First results from the TNG50 simulation: galactic outflows driven by supernovae and black hole feedback, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 08, 2019, 05:39:50 PM
Researchers Investigate Interstellar Bodies Originating from Beyond Our Solar System

The Dynamics of Interstellar Asteroids and Comets within the Galaxy: an Assessment of Local Candidate Source Regions for 1I/`Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov (


Hubble Captures a Dozen Sunburst Arc Doppelgangers

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a galaxy in the distant regions of the Universe which appears duplicated at least 12 times on the night sky. This unique sight, created by strong gravitational lensing, helps astronomers get a better understanding of the cosmic era known as the epoch of reionisation.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 12, 2019, 09:57:32 PM
With Mars Methane Mystery Unsolved, Curiosity Serves Scientists a New One: Oxygen


Over the course of three Mars years (or nearly six Earth years) an instrument in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) portable chemistry lab inside the belly of NASA's Curiosity rover inhaled the air of Gale Crater and analyzed its composition. The results SAM spit out confirmed the makeup of the Martian atmosphere at the surface: 95% by volume of carbon dioxide (CO2), 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1.9% argon (Ar), 0.16% molecular oxygen (O2), and 0.06% carbon monoxide (CO). They also revealed how the molecules in the Martian air mix and circulate with the changes in air pressure throughout the year. These changes are caused when CO2 gas freezes over the poles in the winter, thereby lowering the air pressure across the planet following redistribution of air to maintain pressure equilibrium. When CO2 evaporates in the spring and summer and mixes across Mars, it raises the air pressure.

Within this environment, scientists found that nitrogen and argon follow a predictable seasonal pattern, waxing and waning in concentration in Gale Crater throughout the year relative to how much CO2 is in the air. They expected oxygen to do the same. But it didn't. Instead, the amount of the gas in the air rose throughout spring and summer by as much as 30%, and then dropped back to levels predicted by known chemistry in fall. This pattern repeated each spring, though the amount of oxygen added to the atmosphere varied, implying that something was producing it and then taking it away.

... "We're struggling to explain this," ... "The fact that the oxygen behavior isn't perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it's not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics. It has to be some chemical source and sink that we can't yet account for."

- Melissa Trainer - planetary scientist - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

... They considered the possibility that CO2 or water (H2O) molecules could have released oxygen when they broke apart in the atmosphere, leading to the short-lived rise. But it would take five times more water above Mars to produce the extra oxygen, and CO2 breaks up too slowly to generate it over such a short time. What about the oxygen decrease? Could solar radiation have broken up oxygen molecules into two atoms that blew away into space? No, scientists concluded, since it would take at least 10 years for the oxygen to disappear through this process.

"We have not been able to come up with one process yet that produces the amount of oxygen we need, but we think it has to be something in the surface soil that changes seasonally because there aren't enough available oxygen atoms in the atmosphere to create the behavior we see," ... "We're beginning to see this tantalizing correlation between methane and oxygen for a good part of the Mars year," Atreya said. "I think there's something to it. I just don't have the answers yet. Nobody does."

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 13, 2019, 03:42:35 PM
NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils

Scientists with NASA's Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on Feb. 18, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites—rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

... "The orbiter's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars instrument, or CRISM, spotted carbonates here years ago, but we only recently noticed how concentrated they are right where a lakeshore would be," said the paper's lead author, Briony Horgan of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. "We're going to encounter carbonate deposits in many locations throughout the mission, but the bathtub ring will be one of the most exciting places to visit."

The possibility of stromatolite-like structures existing on Mars is why the concentration of carbonates tracing Jezero's shoreline like a bathtub ring makes the area a prime scientific hunting ground.

Color has been added to highlight minerals in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The green color represents minerals called carbonates, which are especially good at preserving fossilized life on Earth.

Jezero's former lake shoreline isn't the only place scientists are excited to visit. A new study in Geophysical Research Letters points to a rich deposit of hydrated silica on the edge of the ancient river delta. Like carbonates, this mineral excels at preserving signs of ancient life. If this location proves to be the bottom layer of the delta, it will be an especially good place to look for buried microbial fossils.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on November 13, 2019, 03:43:19 PM
Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has departed from a faraway asteroid and begun its yearlong journey back to Earth. (
The Hayabusa-2 is expected to return to Earth in December 2020, dropping a capsule containing the rock samples in the South Australian desert.
While asteroids are some of the oldest objects in space, Ryugu ( belongs to a particularly primitive type of space rock, and may contain clues about the conditions and chemistry of the early days of the Solar System - some 4.5 billion years ago.
[1st link to BBC article; 2nd link to Wikipedia article]
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on November 13, 2019, 07:53:47 PM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 16, 2019, 03:10:41 PM
Would be good to have the capability for multiple flexible intercept missions for events such as this....

Galactic Curiosity (@GalacCuriosity) 11/13/19, 9:44 PM
Near miss of earth and moon of asteroid apophis in 10 years
Image below. Gif at the link.
The blue dot is earth, the yellow dot is the moon.

Tip: read “Seven Eves.”  And/or the Twitter comments.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 16, 2019, 05:13:26 PM
NASA Is Building a 3D Printer in Space!

NASA announced that it has awarded a $73.7 million contract to Made in Space, Inc to “demonstrate the ability of a small spacecraft, called Archinaut One, to manufacture and assemble spacecraft components in low-Earth orbit.”
NASA says benefits would include:

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 18, 2019, 06:17:28 PM
Hibernating Astronauts Need Smaller Spacecraft

In movies from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Event Horizon, Alien to Passengers, fictional astronauts get put into "suspended animation" to cross the vastness of space. Now ESA has investigated how real life crew hibernation would impact space mission design.

Human hibernation has been the subject of initial research within the Discovery element of ESA's Basic Activities, then recommended as a key "enabling technology" for space by the Agency's Future Technology Advisory Panel, resulting in a dedicated "Topical Team" on hibernation.

Now the Agency's SciSpacE team has called in ESA's Concurrent Design Facility—a multimedia facility enabling expert teams to perform initial evaluations of proposed future missions—to assess the advantages of human hibernation for a trip to a neighboring planet, such as Mars.


... "We looked at how an astronaut team could be best put into hibernation, what to do in case of emergencies, how to handle human safety and even what impact hibernation would have on the psychology of the team. Finally we created an initial sketch of the habitat architecture and created a roadmap to achieve a validated approach to hibernate humans to Mars within 20 years."

The study found the spacecraft mass could be reduced by a third by removing the crew quarters with a similar reduction in consumables, equivalent to several tons of saved mass. Hibernation would take place in small individual pods that would double as cabins while the crew are awake.

The assumption was that a drug would be administered to induce "torpor"—the term for the hibernating state. Like hibernating animals, the astronauts would be expected to acquire extra body fat in advance of torpor. Their soft-shell pods would be darkened and their temperature greatly reduced to cool their occupants during their projected 180-day Earth-Mars cruise.

... With all the crew incapacitated for extended periods of time, the mission would have to be designed for largely autonomous operations, with optimum use of artificial intelligence and "fault detection, isolation and recovery" to maintain a minimum level of system performance until the crew could be revived.


... and we all know how that worked out for the crew of the Prometheus ... Sleep tight

G. Petit et al. Hibernation and Torpor: Prospects for Human Spaceflight, Handbook of Life Support Systems for Spacecraft and Extraterrestrial Habitats ( (2018)

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on November 18, 2019, 07:49:40 PM
Just 'do away' with the people, and send just AI-bots to Mars - thus room for more technology or redundancy.  There is not much that we can do wearing a space suit that a robot cannot do. (Or, in fact, without one.)

And if you want pictures of people on Mars, fake it; the naysayers will say it's fake anyway!   :o ::)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on November 18, 2019, 09:35:15 PM
Hibernating Astronauts Need Smaller Spacecraft

They should know better:

Hybernation is only needed for very long interstellar flights and under such conditions shielding from radiation is one of the most important and most difficult tasks because mass/weight is needed to achieve it meaningfully/effectively and therefore, no matter what the disconnected task of hybernation asks for, smaller spacecraft can impossibly perform as far as protection from radiation is concerned.

In fact spacecraft for interstellar space travel at current tech standards have to be much larger and much heavier to shield the crew. Opinions differ but something around 2M of Rock or an equivlalent is needed and everyone can imagine the mass that means to accelerate as well as to decelerate, not even mentioning the ever larger amounts of fuel needed for every excess ton.

In case those guys try to be serious, they are a good example for what happens if we pick a problem and solve it without considering all other tasks/needs/problems that have to be
taken care of simultaneously.

Of course in case that we take another matierial than rock, the necessary volume would shrink not significantly so the mass/weight because all materierials that shield better than rock are heavier than rock.

My english skills do not allow to go much deeper into this, those who are more privy with the terms needed, like for example "specific weight" and more, can easily reproduce how heavy a shilding from i.e. lead would be, compared to rock/stone, not much difference in weight, only in volume.

Other solutions than "heavy matter" will consume huge amounts of energy, i.e. plasma or magnetic shielding, hence mass of matter will be taken by mass for fuel, no matter what kind and further going tech is not yet ready which is why i mentioned above "at current tech standards"

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on November 18, 2019, 10:10:13 PM
With our current technology, I still reckon that for humankind - there is no Planet B
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 18, 2019, 11:14:50 PM
Visit Mars; come back a drooling idiot...

A Mission to Mars Could Cause Serious Brain Damage

Space is a dangerous place. A new report shows just how dangerous it could be to human brains. Radiation exposure from a Mars missions could cook brain cells, causing chronic dementia and memory loss, and leaving astronauts with debilitating anxiety levels, the study has found. This could throw off their thinking and judgment, impairing decision-making and multi-tasking.

The results, published in Scientific Reports, are based on experiments in rodents. Radiation oncologist Charles Limoli and his colleagues at the University of California Irvine bombarded mice and rats with low-doses of ionized oxygen or titanium. These charged particles have similar energies to those of cosmic rays that can pass right through the shielding on spacecraft. The dosage levels that the researchers used were similar to what astronauts would be exposed to during a three-year round-trip mission to Mars, Limoli says.

... Going to Mars is a whole different beast than a trip to the moon or the ISS. NASA has been researching the risks of long-haul missions to the red planet and beyond. Limoli’s US $9 million project to investigate how cosmic radiation affects astronauts’ cognition is part of NASA’s Human Research Program.

A six-week study done by the group last year showed similar results. The latest findings, 12 and 24 weeks of measurement, show the long-term nature of brain damage from space travel. “What’s most surprising is how persistent some of the changes to the structure of neurons are,” Limoli says. He adds that his group has unpublished data showing that these effects last for a year.


NASA Hiring Engineers to Develop “Next Generation Humanoid Robot”

NASA Hep Wanted Ad:
... Work directly with NASA Johnson Space Center in designing the next generation of humanoid robot.

Join the Valkyrie humanoid robot team in NASA’s Robotic Systems Technology Branch.

Build on the success of the existing Valkyrie and Robonaut 2 humanoid robots and advance NASA’s ability to project a remote human presence and dexterous manipulation capability into challenging, dangerous, and distant environments both in space and here on earth.

Valkyrie humanoid robot on Mars

Valkyrie humanoid robot on board spacecraft
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 19, 2019, 01:15:59 AM
Hibernating Astronauts Need Smaller Spacecraft

Astronauts on the International Space Station exercise aggressively for two hours every day to prevent muscle, bone and circulatory wasting that occurs even with moderate daily activity during extended stays in weightlessness.  After a few months in space hibernation, I imagine astronauts would essentially be invalids.  They certainly wouldn’t be able to handle planetary gravity.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 19, 2019, 01:30:22 AM
So drooling idiot - invalids, then.  :o. or ....


Artificial gravity
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 19, 2019, 04:40:12 AM
So drooling idiot - invalids, then.  :o. or ....

Artificial gravity

Better.  But even at 1G on earth, after being bed-ridden and comatose for months, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to jump up and handle an emergency on short notice....  Significant assistance and recuperation time would be required. 
Would probably need everyone to have a trial run of hibernation before leaving for space, to check their body’s reaction to it....
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: TerryM on November 19, 2019, 08:21:10 AM
With our current technology, I still reckon that for humankind - there is no Planet B
Raman !
It's not clear to me that manned interplanetary travel will ever take place. We've little time for the extravagant displays of technological showboating that drove the "Race to the Moon". A feat that hasn't been repeated since the Soviet's completed Egypt's Aswan Dam, gasoline cost $0.40/gal. and NPR began broadcasting.

Nixon was President, the Pentagon Papers were leaked eroding support for the Vietnam War, China was admitted to the UN and a new Dodge Charger cost $3,579.00. 1971 was an eventful year in Space, the Soviets and the US orbited Mars and the Soviets managed a short lived soft landing. The US completed their final manned moon mission, and the Soviets manned the world's 1st space station (and suffered their last space deaths).

AI and robotics have improved immeasurably since 1971. If we need to explore, or extract minerals, or do damn near anything else on another planet we can do it without the need for humans. Even an irradiated earth is vastly more hospitable to human life than any other planet.

Planet B simply isn't an option - at any time.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on November 19, 2019, 03:30:10 PM
Totally agree, Terry!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 19, 2019, 04:34:06 PM
AI and robotics have improved immeasurably since 1971. If we need to explore, or extract minerals, or do damn near anything else on another planet we can do it without the need for humans.

Humans don’t need to climb mountains, either.  But some do it anyway.  We don’t need to write more books, or compose more songs, or create more art.  Luckily, some artists and adventurers need new challenges, and they make life here on earth a bit more worthwhile.  Unless you believe we are living in a simulation, the human need to reach farther than they can currently grasp is an ingrained (and healthy) part of the species.,2582.msg237422.html#msg237422
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on November 19, 2019, 06:32:28 PM
With our current technology, I still reckon that for humankind - there is no Planet B
Raman !
It's not clear to me that manned interplanetary travel will ever take place.

This all depends what is meant with "ever"

While i think i get your meaning and ever is meant to say "any time soon" and i agree, ever is only right if mankind does not survive the next billion years.

I'm not trying to have an opinion, that would be somehow futile, whether mankind will be still around in 1 billion years, but IF "we" are still around we shall HAVE to go, before the great heat up and ultimate digestion of planet earth by the red giant the sun will become.

I'm not saying the number o 1B is a straight valid number, just an approximate time in time when we shall seriously have to do some building, developing and testing to be capable once we have to space travel to survive.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2019, 03:27:34 AM
The video is fun, and detailed; the article covers its main points....

How NASA will bake in space for the first time and why that’s a BIG deal!
On November 2nd, 2019, Northrop Grumman performed a spaceflight first, and launched an oven aboard their Cygnus Cargo Ship on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft contained just over 3,700 kg of scientific experiments, vehicle hardware, and crew supplies, along with a variety of other important space stuff.

But included on this flight was a space first. An oven. And not just any oven, but a custom zero g oven developed by Nanoracks, a leading provider of commercial access to space, that will be used to bake the first food in space – the DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie.

So today, I thought we should do a history of space food, figure out why we haven’t ever baked anything in space before, and learn from the experts on how DoubleTree by Hilton, the sponsor of this article, will actually bake their cookies on the International Space Station. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: TerryM on November 21, 2019, 04:36:37 AM
I don't believe we've a lot of time left before were faced with a horrific catastrophe. I don't think it kills everyone, but I do believe it's the end of the of the civilization cycle that we're in. By the time hominids again reach a stage where space travel is possible they won't be Homo Sapiens any longer. Evolution leaps about after a "Great Die Off", and I think we're just about due for one.

Whatever succeeds us will have a much harder time making 'progress' than our ancestors had, simply because we've picked all of the low hanging fruit. It took us ~ 10k yrs. to get from the end of the old stone age (paleolithic), to where we are in an "information" age, but we did it with abundant coal, copper, and oil that was pooling on the surface, ready for use to seal early sailboats - before we discovered how valuable it could become as liquid fuel. The beasties that we father may even be brighter than ourselves, but they'll have none of our advantages and it will take them much longer (if ever) to reach our stage of development.

I think they'll reach a paleolithic level with no particular problems. (We did leave plenty of knappable rocks). :) But the neolithic will be more difficult with the lack of diverse species, the poisoning of large swaths of land, and much of the oceans still (hopefully) recovering. The copper age, bronze age and iron ages are steps that they'll need to circumvent, and it's difficult to imagine an industrial age without coal, copper or iron.

If they do follow our lead and look quizzically towards space, it will take many eons to get there, many more that it took our species, and we probably wouldn't recognize them as our descendants. We certainly wouldn't view them as being human.

Sorry about the rambling, but I craved a distraction from Spacex. ::)

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: nanning on November 21, 2019, 07:51:21 AM
Thanks for that Terry. That view for the most part is my view as well. Great that you can think like that :).
A good prepper has to learn paleolithic skills. Not just the technology but also all knowledge of living nature.

I think this whole space travel dream is just that. High tech dreams (nightmares) everywhere ;). After collapse, humans or another lifeform will never again venture into space in my view. It has been a short, interesting and insanely destructive period.

Is civilisation able to return to the age of reason and enlightenment? It is moving away from that at interstellar speed. It has seen the ultimate cliff up ahead and chose to shut it's eyes and it's ears to dream of space travel and robot servants.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on November 21, 2019, 06:54:56 PM
I don't believe we've a lot of time left before were faced with a horrific catastrophe. I don't think it kills everyone, but I do believe it's the end of the of the civilization cycle that we're in. By the time hominids again reach a stage where space travel is possible they won't be Homo Sapiens any longer. Evolution leaps about after a "Great Die Off", and I think we're just about due for one.

Whatever succeeds us will have a much harder time making 'progress' than our ancestors had, simply because we've picked all of the low hanging fruit. It took us ~ 10k yrs. to get from the end of the old stone age (paleolithic), to where we are in an "information" age, but we did it with abundant coal, copper, and oil that was pooling on the surface, ready for use to seal early sailboats - before we discovered how valuable it could become as liquid fuel. The beasties that we father may even be brighter than ourselves, but they'll have none of our advantages and it will take them much longer (if ever) to reach our stage of development.

I think they'll reach a paleolithic level with no particular problems. (We did leave plenty of knappable rocks). But the neolithic will be more difficult with the lack of diverse species, the poisoning of large swaths of land, and much of the oceans still (hopefully) recovering. The copper age, bronze age and iron ages are steps that they'll need to circumvent, and it's difficult to imagine an industrial age without coal, copper or iron.

If they do follow our lead and look quizzically towards space, it will take many eons to get there, many more that it took our species, and we probably wouldn't recognize them as our descendants. We certainly wouldn't view them as being human.

Sorry about the rambling, but I craved a distraction from Spacex.

Agree 99% except that i'm an hopeless optimist ;)

hence I rarely lose hope entirely and certainly don't tend to give up on worthy goals.

Now the question remains, is our survival a worthy goal? I've got my doubts about that too unfortunately and this is not due to our environmental sins alone, but due to the reasons behind
our attitudes and doings.

Somehow we are the only animal that is smart enough to circumvent to many consequences for too long so that we not only are capable to extinct ourselves but the rest with us.

Hope dies last as most of times ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: nanning on November 21, 2019, 09:00:53 PM
Thanks for that philopek :). I'm thinking along the same lines.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: TerryM on November 22, 2019, 04:57:50 AM
Nothing the matter with hope.

Though we probably don't want any strong emotion clouding our intellect.
That's something that might prove helpful to pass on to the coming generations. They're liable to need to make a lot of clearly thought out decisions.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 22, 2019, 09:16:42 PM
Ufology: From Fringe Field To Serious Science

For decades, academic researchers have dismissed the study of UFOs as pseudoscience. But as the evidence becomes harder and harder to ignore, some organizations are finally taking steps to make the field legitimate.

... Take Richard Hoffman, a 25-year information technology expert on contract with the U.S. Army’s Material Command at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. As a Senior Lead Architect, he keeps the Army’s digital infrastructure running and safe from attack.

He’s also a UFO researcher.

“Many scientists do have interests in the phenomena, but are most often discouraged by others to embrace it so they hide it.”

Hoffman is one of three board members who run a nonprofit scientific organization known as the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU). Unknown or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) is the current rebranding of unidentified flying objects (UFO), a term that many believe to carry too much cultural baggage.

The SCU played a significant role in studying the Nimitz UFO Encounter, when it released a nearly 300-page report on the incident


The SCU paper examined the available public data and testimony available regarding the case and concluded that the “results suggest that given the available information, the AAV’s capabilities are beyond any known technology.”

To be clear, the SCU hasn’t concluded that some non-human intelligence is responsible. Fully aware of the significant gaps in data, the organization has suggested that “the public release of all Navy records associated with this incident to enable a full, scientific and open investigation is strongly recommended.”

So who makes up the 69 active members of the SCU, exactly? Mostly scientists, former military officers, and former law enforcement personnel with technical experience and investigative backgrounds, Powell says. And the credentials are impressive: Try “two current and one former NASA PhDs, and members with backgrounds that include Lockheed, NORAD, and the U.S. Space Command,” he says.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on November 22, 2019, 09:49:56 PM
Hoffman is one of three board members who run a nonprofit scientific organization known as the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU). Unknown or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) is the current rebranding of unidentified flying objects (UFO), a term that many believe to carry too much cultural baggage.
Just as UFO replaced "flying saucer" or "flying disk" back in the day.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: philopek on November 23, 2019, 01:36:15 AM
this would be a long one to be precise, hence i try to make it short.

- take the age of the univers

- discount the time needed for metals to be generated and spread throughout the univers
In astronomy, metallicity is used to describe the abundance of elements present in an object that are heavier than hydrogen or helium. ... These became commonly known as Population I (metal-rich) and Population II (metal-poor) stars

- discount the best-case number of years necessary to develop intelligent life

- discount the best-case number of years necessary for intelligent life-forms to develop the technology needed for space travel

- discount the best case number of years to for intelligent life-forms to develop the technology for interstellar space travel.

- discount the minimum years necessary to reach a significant number of potential earth like planets at close to light speed and calculate the time needed at realistic velocities how they are possible today or are at least a possible future technology and be aware that the fast the journey will be in your assumption the more time you will have to calculate for the time needed to develop the underlaying technology.

If you make above calculation only half very seriously, you will reach a result that tells us that there cannot be any UFOs visiting us, showing themselves on one hand but avoiding contact on the other hand.

All this can be considered proven to be not possible on the given time scale and that said, we can sit down and search for realistic explanations for all the unexplained stuff the makes some of us think that extraterrestrial life forms in space ships (aliens) are and have been visiting us for and since centuries.

I repeat, calculate minimum time needed and put the result into relation with the development of the universe, how many solar life cycles are necessary to provide the necessary elements, create rocky planets, create life on those and develop that life to a level that can achieve all that's needed to travel that long and that far and even then they can't be here at realistically achievable speeds.

Also you have to put into account that the faster a spaceship travels the heavier it becomes and then the thing has to be decelerated in time, over thousands of years to reach a manageable speed close to the target and then the target has to be KNOWN on launch.

As sure as I am that there are probably many many other life forms populating the universe, as sure am I, (and of course others who prefer maths and physics over wishful thinking), that even though aliens (life forms) most probably exist, they can't be here yet, even in case they would be on their way for a few hundred thousand years by now ;) ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 24, 2019, 12:48:16 PM
Earth could have been tagged as a planet with life billions of years ago by aliens with pretty good satellites.

There is enough wiggle room in points 3 to 5 not to rule that out.

But what then? Do you send a ´space cruiser´ with some ´scout saucers´with pilots to look at it detail?
Probably not because space travel takes a lot of time even if you are really quick.

So you can send probes. A solar sail and a tiny high tech computer with a quantum entangled transmitter and some scanning tech beyond our wildest dreams.

The travel time point is interesting. We would be more interesting as a research target if we move nearer to their planet over time.

So i don´t think we can rule out aliens but there is no reason why they would fly around in the atmosphere or visit in person so these UFOs are something else.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on November 24, 2019, 03:33:07 PM
The Fermi Paradox, as it is now usually considered, is why have we not been contacted by a probe which is both a Bracewell Probe and a Von Neumann Probe. Everything we have sent beyond the orbit of Saturn was a crude Bracewell Probe (the Pioneer plaque, the Voyager record, the New Horizons Message) and a Von Neumann Probe would just need an AI with the IQ of a bacterium and could reach every star in the Milky Way in an astronomical moment.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 25, 2019, 04:57:01 PM
NASA Rockets Study Why Tech Goes Haywire Near Poles
“Most of Earth is shielded from the solar wind,” said Mark Conde, space physicist as the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. “But right near the poles, in the midday sector, our magnetic field becomes a funnel where the solar wind can get all the way down to the atmosphere.”

These funnels, known as the polar cusps, can cause some trouble. The influx of solar wind disturbs the atmosphere, disrupting satellites and radio and GPS signals. Beginning Nov. 25, 2019, three new NASA-supported missions will launch into the northern polar cusp, aiming to improve the technology affected by it.

The three missions are all part of the Grand Challenge Initiative – Cusp, a series of nine sounding rocket missions exploring the polar cusp. Sounding rockets are a type of space vehicle that makes 15-minute flights into space before falling back to Earth. Standing up to 65 feet tall and flying anywhere from 20 to 800 miles high, sounding rockets can be aimed and fired at moving targets with only a few minutes notice. This flexibility and precision make them ideal for capturing the strange phenomena inside the cusp.

Two of the three upcoming missions will study the same anomaly: a patch of atmosphere inside the cusp notably denser than its surroundings. It was discovered in 2004, when scientists noticed that part of the atmosphere inside the cusp was about 1.5 times heavier than expected.

“A little extra mass 200 miles up might seem like no big deal,” said Conde, the principal investigator for the Cusp Region Experiment-2, or CREX-2, mission. "But the pressure change associated with this increased mass density, if it occurred at ground level, would cause a continuous hurricane stronger than anything seen in meteorological records.”

This additional mass creates problems for spacecraft flying through it, like the many satellites that follow a polar orbit. Passing through the dense patch can shake up their trajectories, making close encounters with other spacecraft or orbital debris riskier than they would otherwise be.

“A small change of a few hundred meters can make the difference between having to do an evasive maneuver, or not,” Conde said. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 25, 2019, 05:31:06 PM
Cool - there is so much we do not know.  :)

PS: Tom Von Neumann Probes are primitive swarmers and as thus frowned upon by all civilized species. Another general rule of etiquette is to not contact civilizations which have not figured it out yet which is why no one calls us. Now please look at the flashing pencil. 8)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 03, 2019, 04:55:57 PM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: BeeKnees on December 04, 2019, 11:06:16 PM
NASA have released results from Parker probe
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 06, 2019, 03:02:39 PM
Eruptions on Asteroid Bennu Hint at Causes of Space Rock Explosions


The three largest eruptions happened in the late afternoon on Bennu, in places where the sun was about to set. This finding suggests that heating may play a role in these outbursts, as surface temperatures on Bennu can vary by 180 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) every 4.3 hours, the scientists said. Although the researchers have not seen ice on Bennu, they have detected rich amounts of water-bearing minerals on its surface, and heat from the sun might lead to releases of gas. Another possibility is that such extreme temperature variations may lead boulders to crack and catastrophically burst. Finally, the researchers suggested that meteorite impacts might also cause these explosions.

These findings suggest that all carbonaceous asteroids may be active. "We didn't see this when [the Japanese space agency's spacecraft] Hayabusa2 arrived at the asteroid Ryugu, but maybe we didn't look close enough," Connolly said. "This may be a new way for meteorites to get to Earth."

The main purpose of OSIRIS-REx is to collect a sample from the surface of Bennu in 2020 and return it to Earth for analysis in 2023

3 more years before we get the sample. Space stuff is slow.  :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on December 08, 2019, 08:46:38 PM
New Research Explains Black Holes, Time Travel and White Holes
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 14, 2019, 12:02:52 PM
Astronomers have discovered 19 more galaxies missing their dark matter. Instead of dark matter, these strange galaxies are mainly filled with regular matter, like the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up everything we're familiar with.

The new find, published November 26 in Nature Astronomy, bolsters the controversial recent discovery of two other galaxies without dark matter. The mysterious substance accounts for most matter in the universe, and it's thought to be the primary component of all galaxies — as well as the main driver of galaxy formation in the first place. So, finding so many galaxies without the exotic matter suggests astronomers are missing something major about how galaxies form and evolve.

The new ones are dwarf galaxies. See posts 72 and 81 before.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: johnm33 on December 14, 2019, 05:56:19 PM
I can't help but think that had they only known about the heliospheric current sheet when founding the model for galaxies they may have elected for a more electrifying  design. That would be something like, oppositely charged plasma is ejected, in two streams, directly away from a rapidly spinning 'plasmoid' and continues on it's path contained by its self generated charge field, only slowing into apparent orbit once it coalesces and achieves a certain level of negative charge relative to it's containment 'arm'. Of course this would mean the search for dark matter has been and will remain a waste of resources.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 16, 2019, 04:57:36 PM
2017 Meteor was a 'Grazing Fireball'

Back in 2017, a meteor tore through the atmosphere over Australia. It was notable for its duration—it lasted for approximately a minute and a half. In this new effort, the researchers have found that the object was a meteor for just a short period of time—it never struck the Earth. Instead, the object headed back out into space. Such meteors are known as grazing fireballs because they only graze the Earth's atmosphere rather than plunge through it. This is possible due to the angle at which it approaches. Like a rock that skips off the surface of a lake rather than plunging in, a meteoroid can skip off the atmosphere if its angle is very small.

Long exposure images of event DN170707_01. The event lasted over 90 seconds and spanned four 30 second exposures (A, B, C, D). The fireball was first observed at 85 km altitude, reached as low as 58 km, and then was visible until 86 km before escaping the Earth’s atmosphere. The initial velocity was 16.1 km s−1 , and the exit velocity after passing through the atmosphere was about 14.6 km s−1 . The images are all oriented so that the fireball travels from left to right (west to east).

The researchers report that the 2017 grazing fireball traveled across the sky at approximately 35,000 miles per hour and lit up the sky for approximately 808 miles—and slowed by approximately 0.9 miles per hour during its time in our atmosphere. It also reached a minimum height of just 58.5 kilometers. They also estimated that the space rock had a diameter of approximately 12 inches and weighed approximately 60 kilograms. They noted that the scorching endured by the rock was enough to force some pieces of it to break off during its fiery trip. The researchers say that the space rock will likely remain in its orbit around the sun for approximately 200,000 years before being ejected from the solar system.


Physicist Proposes a New Approach in Modeling the Evolution of the Universe

A physicist from RUDN University has proposed a new theoretical model for the interaction of spinor and gravitational fields. He considered the evolution of the universe within one of the variants of the widespread Bianchi cosmological model. In this case, a change in the calculated field parameters led to changes in the evolution of the universe under consideration.

... "While a non-minimally coupled linear spinor field or a minimally coupled nonlinear spinor field in some cases give rise to an open universe, a non-minimally coupled nonlinear spinor field with the same parameters creates a model that is closed, that is, after reaching a certain maximum value, it begins to decrease, and finally, it shrinks down to the Big Crunch"

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on December 24, 2019, 10:41:31 AM
Hello, flare-stars. Or something else, cometary backlight, transneptunians, other? 100 unexplained disappearances of somethings among star catalogs made in various years.

Merry Christmas, happy new year, and let the rains down in Australia.

The 2016-7 study making rounds again in the net
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 24, 2019, 02:24:33 PM
Nice that they are doing that.

I think the whole idea of Dyson spheres is an idea which appeals to us (yet we have so little solar...) but it would be overkill for a really advanced civilization. And also it makes you really visible.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on December 25, 2019, 11:17:46 AM
Maybe brown dwarfs are the best places to look for extraterrestrial life:
Brown Dwarf Atmospheres as the Potentially Most Detectable and Abundant Sites for Life
We show that the total habitable volume in the atmospheres of cool brown dwarfs with effective temperatures of ̃250-350 K is possibly larger by 2 orders of magnitude than that of Earth-like planets. We also study the role of aerosols, nutrients, and photosynthesis in facilitating life in brown dwarf atmospheres. Our predictions might be testable through searches for spectral edges in the near-infrared and chemical disequilibrium in the atmospheres of nearby brown dwarfs that are either free-floating or within several au of stars. For the latter category, we find that the James Webb Space Telescope may be able to achieve a signal-to-noise ratio of ̃5 after a few hours of integration time per source for the detection of biogenic spectral features in ̃103 cool brown dwarfs.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on December 28, 2019, 08:01:25 AM
Betelgeuze has been dimming recently, researchers somewhat puzzled over this, proposing it's shedding clouds that capture some of the light.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on December 29, 2019, 06:41:15 PM
Are Dark Matter objects orbiting inside the Earth?
Gravimeter search for compact dark matter objects moving in the Earth
Dark matter could be composed of compact dark objects (CDOs). These objects may interact
very weakly with normal matter and could move freely inside the Earth. A CDO moving in the inner
core of the Earth will have an orbital period near 55 min and produce a time dependent signal in a
gravimeter. Data from superconducting gravimeters rule out such objects moving inside the Earth
unless their mass mD and or orbital radius a are very small so that mD a < 1.2 × 10−13M⊕R⊕.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on December 29, 2019, 07:18:26 PM
Musk et al and their myriads of satellites, a warning from the Astronomer Royal
Be wary of Elon Musk despoiling the ‘vault of heaven’
Martin Rees - Astronomer Royal
It’s feasible to flood space with flotillas of small satellites – but do we really want to?[/b]
Changing economics and advancing miniaturisation now enable flotillas of small satellites to be launched into space – up to a hundred on a single rocket. These microsatellites are already being deployed, by companies such as Planet Lab in California, to survey every point on the Earth every day, with sharp enough images to study building sites, road traffic, land use and so forth.

But a bigger leap is now in the offing. Elon Musk’s company SpaceX envisages the “Starlink” project. This entails launching up to 40,000 spacecraft into orbit in order to create a network that will enhance global broadband communication. Other companies, such as Amazon, say they have similar plans.

In principle, these are exciting and welcome developments, especially if they bring broadband internet to the whole of Africa and other parts of the developing world. But there is a downside. Starlink would involve launching more objects into space, in this single constellation, than all the satellites launched in the 60 years since the birth of the space age. There would be roughly one in every square degree over the sky (the area on the sky covered by a small coin held at arm’s length).

Skywatchers could find that their familiar starry sky was augmented by huge numbers of bright spots moving across it, especially soon after sunset and just before sunrise (the periods in the day when the sun is below our horizon but shining on to satellites hundreds of kilometres above us.) For professional astronomers looking steadily at a single celestial body, these rogue lights would only be a minor irritant. However, they would cause more confusion to projects that monitor or search large areas of sky to seek transient objects – exploding stars or even more exotic cosmic explosions. Especially confusing will be the cases when part of the satellite acts like a mirror, creating a specially bright and brief flash when it’s oriented so that it reflects the sun.

One particularly important project that could be impeded by these swarms of satellites is the search for asteroids. There are 2m asteroids, which are more than 50 metres across, whose orbits cross that of the Earth. Any of these could potentially hit Earth and would be big enough for its impact to destroy a large city. Even though most of the giant (dinosaur-killing) asteroids more than 1km across have been discovered, only 2% of these still dangerous smaller ones are known and there’s a strong motive to search for all the others, so that those with trajectories that could bring them dangerously close to our world can be deflected well in advance. In such searches, the “foreground” of unpredictably moving satellites would be a complication.

There are also concerns among astronomers making measurements in the microwave bands – trying to discover and understand young stars, protoplanets and such like, as well as their constituent gases and molecules. Such observations will be impeded if Starlink satellites’ uplinks or downlinks “pollute” observationally interesting wavebands.

Radio telescopes are constructed in “radio quiet” places to minimise artificial background, but there would be no hiding from the beams sent from these satellites.

In mitigation, this particular enterprise is motivated by a goal that we should acclaim: spreading the genuine benefit of broadband worldwide, especially to the developing world. And it’s a plus that the mega companies involved are genuinely aware of the downsides and will be doing all they can to minimise it by blackening the surfaces and choosing wavelengths carefully. These ventures are not as irresponsible as earlier (and fortunately quashed) proposals to build large advertising hoardings in space.

But we shouldn’t forget that it’s not just astronomers – a minority – who care about this issue. The night sky, the “vault of heaven”, is the one feature of our environment that has been shared, and wondered at, by all humanity through the ages. We should deplore anything that needlessly degrades its beauty and serenity, just as, more parochially, we don’t want tinsel or phone masts in our national parks.

• Martin Rees is the astronomer royal. His latest book is On the Future: Prospects for Humanity
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 29, 2019, 07:53:48 PM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 03, 2020, 11:28:38 PM
Scientists Find Evidence that Venus Has Active Volcanoes

New research led by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and published today in Science Advances shows that lava flows on Venus may be only a few years old, suggesting that Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

This figure shows the volcanic peak Idunn Mons (at 46 degrees south latitude, 214.5 degrees east longitude) in the Imdr Regio area of Venus. The colored overlay shows the heat patterns derived from surface brightness data collected by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS), aboard the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft.

"Present-day volcanism on Venus as evidenced from weathering rates of olivine" Science Advances (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 03, 2020, 11:54:20 PM
Of course the moon Io has erupting volcanoes up the wazoo.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 04, 2020, 12:10:37 AM
Sulfur melts at 115 °C, ​239 °F and volatizes at 160 °C, ​320 °F.

It's not in the same league.

Neither is water.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 04, 2020, 01:21:20 AM
Sulfur melts at 115 °C, ​239 °F and volatizes at 160 °C, ​320 °F.

It's not in the same league.

Neither is water.

Temperatures of Io's volcanoes reach 3,000˚ F or 1,649˚ C:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 04, 2020, 01:46:42 AM
... Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

Not moon.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 04, 2020, 10:28:42 AM
Yes, vox_mundi, that is why I bolded “moon” in my post above.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 06, 2020, 04:52:02 PM
New Evidence Shows Key Assumption Made in Discovery of Dark Energy is in Error

The most direct and strongest evidence for the accelerating universe with dark energy is provided by the distance measurements using type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) for the galaxies at high redshift. This result is based on the assumption that the corrected luminosity of SN Ia through the empirical standardization would not evolve with redshift.

New observations and analysis made by a team of astronomers at Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea), together with their collaborators at Lyon University and KASI, show, however, that this key assumption is most likely in error.

The team has performed very high-quality (signal-to-noise ratio ~175) spectroscopic observations to cover most of the reported nearby early-type host galaxies of SN Ia, from which they obtained the most direct and reliable measurements of population ages for these host galaxies. They find a significant correlation between SN luminosity and stellar population age at a 99.5 percent confidence level. As such, this is the most direct and stringent test ever made for the luminosity evolution of SN Ia. Since SN progenitors in host galaxies are getting younger with redshift (look-back time), this result inevitably indicates a serious systematic bias with redshift in SN cosmology.

Taken at face values, the luminosity evolution of SN is significant enough to question the very existence of dark energy. When the luminosity evolution of SN is properly taken into account, the team found that the evidence for the existence of dark energy simply goes away.

Luminosity evolution mimicking dark energy in supernova (SN) cosmology. The Hubble residual is the difference in SN luminosity with respect to the cosmological model without dark energy (the black dotted line). The cyan circles are the binned SN data from Betoule et al. (2014). The red line is the evolution curve based on our age dating of early-type host galaxies. The comparison of our evolution curve with SN data shows that the luminosity evolution can mimic Hubble residuals used in the discovery and inference of the dark energy (the black solid line)

... Our result illustrates that dark energy from SN cosmology, which led to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, might be an artifact of a fragile and false assumption."

Open Access: Yijung Kang, Early-Type Host Galaxies of Type Ia Supernovae. II. Evidence for Luminosity Evolution in Supernova Cosmology (, Astrophysical Journal 2020
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 07, 2020, 05:07:16 PM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 12, 2020, 09:08:33 PM
Amazing photos of the International Space Station (ISS).

ESA (@esa) 1/12/20, 3:00 AM
Just. Wow.
Photo taken by @astro_luca outside the @Space_Station on his first #SpacewalkForAMS on 15 November 2019. It shows the Japanese #Kibo module (left) and the Station's solar arrays with Earth behind
Photo at the link is not attached below, but read on…

Space Shuttle Almanac (@ShuttleAlmanac) 1/12/20, 3:06 AM
Looks better right side up. This image shows a rare view of the join between Unity and Destiny, which is rarely seen so clearly. View orientation is station forward to the right and along the central truss toward the port side. The JEM on the right with Leonardo in the middle.
[First image below!]

< Haha define "right side up"
Space Shuttle Almanac (@ShuttleAlmanac) 1/12/20, 3:48 AM
Easy. The ISS flies with the forward end facing direction of travel. Also the station has an up and down orientation. Internally there is a floor and a ceiling. The station flies with the floor facing the Earth as if flying over the Earth like a plane. So in my view this is up.

Space Shuttle Almanac (@ShuttleAlmanac) 1/12/20, 3:39 AM
Also two photos cross and you can throw in the Columbus module as well.
Second image below.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on January 14, 2020, 08:59:13 PM
In case your local astronomer seems agitated, the big dog gravitational wave detector
@LIGO just detected an ‘unknown or unanticipated’ burst of gravitational waves somewhere deep in space. 👀

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 15, 2020, 02:26:50 PM
Lots planned for space in 2020.  Here’s a review by Eric Berger.

This year may finally fulfill the promise of private human spaceflight
Big and small rockets. The Moon and Mars. Lots of asteroid stuff, too.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 16, 2020, 10:57:45 PM
In case your local astronomer seems agitated, the big dog gravitational wave detector
@LIGO just detected an ‘unknown or unanticipated’ burst of gravitational waves somewhere deep in space. 👀

Link >>

Here is the report:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 19, 2020, 04:09:32 PM
How to form planets around supermassive black holes: Graze a star nearby it.

Ionization and dissociation induced fragmentation of a tidally disrupted star into
planets around a supermassive black hole
We show results from the radiation hydrodynamics (RHD) simulations of tidal disruption of a star on a parabolic orbit by a supermassive black hole (SMBH) based on a
three-dimensional smoothed particle hydrodynamics code with radiative transfer. We
find that such a tidally disrupted star fragment and form clumps soon after its tidal
disruption. The fragmentation results from the endothermic processes of ionization and
dissociation that reduce the gas pressure, leading to local gravitational collapse. Radiative cooling is less effective because the stellar debris is still highly optically thick in
such an early time. Our simulations reveal that a solar-type star with a stellar density
profile of n = 3 disrupted by a 106
solar mass black hole produces ∼ 20 clumps of
masses in the range of 0.1 to 12 Jupiter masses. The mass fallback rate decays with
time, with pronounced spikes from early to late time. The spikes provide evidence for
the clumps of the returning debris, while the clumps on the unbound debris can be
potentially freely-floating planets and brown dwarfs. This ionization and dissociation
induced fragmentation on a tidally disrupted star are a promising candidate mechanism
to form low-mass stars to planets around an SMBH.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 26, 2020, 02:27:45 PM
The AMS experiment on the ISS was only supposed to last for three years.  It lasted six — and was then deemed so important that new tools and multiple spacewalks were designed to repair this space machine that was not designed to be repairable.
Recent spacewalk updates are at the top of the article; historical information is at the bottom.

NASA/ESA complete challenging Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer repair
NASA and ESA have concluded a series of four spacewalks to repair the Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment.  NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano completed the series with the AMS deemed to be in good health.

Never designed to be serviceable after it was installed outside the Station in May 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) required some unique thinking in order to bring it back to full operational capacity. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on January 26, 2020, 10:38:54 PM
For background:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on January 27, 2020, 01:20:32 PM
Curiosity after more than 7 years on Mars

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on January 29, 2020, 01:15:12 PM
A bit of light relief (emoji required showing groan at appalling joke)
Aurora enthusiasts discover new phenomenon in Finland

A new form of the northern lights has been captured by amateur enthusiasts, researchers have revealed.

The phenomenon of glowing green lights rippling across the night sky, also known as the aurora borealis, have long captivated the public and experts alike.

Some have suggested the lights are depicted in prehistoric cave paintings, while the Latin term is said to have been coined by the astronomer Galileo Galilei.

Auroras are produced when charged particles, such as electrons, are ejected by the sun and funnelled towards the Earth’s poles by our planet’s magnetic field. There they interact with gases in the atmosphere, including oxygen and nitrogen, increasing the energy of these gases – energy which is subsequently released as light.

“This is the same as neon lamps,” said Minna Palmroth, a professor of computational space physics at the University of Helsinki. “Basically we can say the auroras are celestial neon lamps.”

The northern lights have been seen in many forms, including “quiet arcs”, spirals and corona.

But now, thanks to the work of amateur enthusiasts, Palmroth and colleagues say they have discovered a previously unknown form, a pattern they claim resembles sand dunes.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 29, 2020, 06:21:36 PM
Likelihood of Space Super-Storms Estimated from Longest Period of Magnetic Field Observations

... By analysing magnetic field records at opposite ends of the Earth (UK and Australia), scientists have been able to detect super-storms going back over the last 150 years.

This result was made possible by a new way of analysing historical data, pioneered by the University of Warwick, from the last 14 solar cycles, way before the space age began in 1957, instead of the last five solar cycles currently used.

The analysis shows that 'severe' magnetic storms occurred in 42 out of the last 150 years, and 'great' super-storms, like the 'Carrington Event', occurred in 6 years out of 150. Typically, a storm may only last a few days but can be hugely disruptive to modern technology. Super-storms can cause power blackouts, take out satellites, disrupt aviation and cause temporary loss of GPS signals and radio communications.

In 2012 the Earth narrowly avoided trouble when a coronal mass ejection from the Sun missed the Earth and went off in another direction. According to satellite measurements if it had hit the Earth it would have caused a super-storm.

S.C. Chapman et al. Using the aa index over the last 14 solar cycles to characterize extreme geomagnetic activity (, Geophysical Research Letters (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 30, 2020, 02:19:21 PM
Two old, defunct satellites, IRAS and GGSE 4, had a near miss in space.  Live satellites can adjust their orbit to avoid mishaps — and do so, every day.  Space salvage operations are in development.
LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 1/29/20, 9:04 PM
Thankfully our latest data following the event shows no evidence of new debris. To be sure, we will perform a further assessment upon the next pass of both objects over Kiwi Space Radar occurring later tonight.

LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 1/30/20, 12:04 AM
We are pleased to report that in the first several radar passes of the two objects after the close approach, we see no evidence of new debris. This event has served to highlight the collision risks caused by derelict satellites in LEO.

LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 1/30/20, 12:04 AM
We will continue to monitor the space environment for these types of close approaches and provide updates when we see high risk scenarios.

‘Dangerously Close’ - Two Satellites At Risk Of Collision Tomorrow Could Create Thousands Of New Pieces Of Space Debris
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on January 30, 2020, 03:08:49 PM

No comment required - just click the link below and to my surprise it plays

Sun's surface seen in remarkable new detail

<iframe width="400" height="500" frameborder="0" src=""></iframe>

Behold the Sun's convulsing surface at a level of detail never seen before.

The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on Hawaii has released pictures that show features as small as 30km across.

This is remarkable when set against the scale of our star, which has a diameter of about 1.4 million km (870,000 miles) and is 149 million km from Earth.

The cell-like structures are roughly the size of the US state of Texas. They are convecting masses of hot, excited gas, or plasma.

The bright centres are where this solar material is rising; the surrounding dark lanes are where plasma is cooling and sinking.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 31, 2020, 07:19:52 AM
Space-time is swirling around a dead star, proving Einstein right again
The researchers noted that they used frame dragging to yield insight into the rotating star that caused it. In the future, they said, they can use a similar method to analyze binary neutron stars to learn more about their internal composition, "which, even after more than 50 years of observing them, we do not yet have a handle on," Venkatraman Krishnan said. "The density of matter inside a neutron star far exceeds what can be achieved in a lab, so there is a wealth of new physics to be learnt by using this technique to double neutron-star systems."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: johnm33 on January 31, 2020, 11:17:16 AM
I'm struck by the similarity between wave behaviour in the ocean and em generally, here the dunes look like overturning waves orthogonal to the incoming Birkland(?) current.
^275^sun the safire project has recently been working on a lab simulation of these forms, an experiment not a modelled simulation.
not conclusive (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 06, 2020, 12:28:15 AM
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still alive and talking to the Deep Space Network.
Shannon Stirone (@shannonmstirone)m2/4/20, 11:07 PM
I know everything is crazy but BOTH Voyager 1 AND Voyager 2 are talking to the DSN right now. This is very rare and not going to happen again for a very long time.
< Wow! They're both so far out into space, yet still operating and communicating with Earth.
- Yep! Almost every day too

- Oo! India's Chandrayaan-2 just showed up on DSS 26!   Fun night on the DSN
- Also something fun, the dishes don't just talk to spacecraft, they do science on their own. The dish 36 @CanberraDSN labeled GBRA is ground based radio astronomy.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Pmt111500 on February 08, 2020, 08:55:25 AM
American association of variable star observers selects α Orionis aka Betelgeuze as the star of the month and makes a summary article of the recent changes in various bands of EM radiation.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 24, 2020, 03:12:18 AM
Phobos sample return mission enters development for 2024 launch
February 20, 2020
Japan’s space agency has approved a robotic mission to retrieve a sample from the Martian moon Phobos for return to Earth to begin full development for a planned launch in 2024, officials said Thursday.

The Martian Moon eXploration, or MMX, spacecraft will attempt to return the first specimens from Phobos for analysis in laboratories on Earth, where scientists hope to trace the origins of the Martian moons to determine whether they were asteroids captured by Mars, or if they formed out of rocky debris generated from an ancient impact on Mars.

MMX builds upon JAXA’s two previous asteroid sample return missions.

The Hayabusa spacecraft launched in 2003 and collected microscopic samples from asteroid Itokawa in 2005. The probe returned the material to Earth in 2010, overcoming multiple technical malfunctions that threatened to prematurely end the mission.

Hayabusa 2 launched in 2014 and collected samples from Ryugu — a carbon-rich asteroid — during two touch-and-go landings last year. The spacecraft has departed Ryugu and is on track to return the samples to Earth late this year.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 26, 2020, 09:45:33 PM
New Scientist (@newscientist) 2/26/20, 11:29 AM
Earth has acquired a brand new moon that's about the size of a car

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 2/26/20, 2:25 PM
@newscientist It’s not mine

Earth has acquired a brand new moon that's about the size of a car
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 27, 2020, 02:50:59 PM
Mission Extension Vehicle success signals future space-debris cleanup.
Intelsat (@INTELSAT) 2/26/20, 4:09 PM
The successful docking of #MEV1 will help us extend the life of Intelsat 901, a satellite that provides service to our enterprise networks and mobility services customers in the Americas, Europe and Africa....
Gif of the docking at the link.

Northrop Grumman makes history, Mission Extension Vehicle docks to target satellite
The successful maneuver marked a groundbreaking change in how satellites are operated in orbit, with the Mission Extension Vehicle capable of not just extending a satellite’s life but also moving defunct satellites to safer orbits.

Under the terms of the contract with Intelsat, MEV-1 will provide five years of life extension services to the Intelsat 901 satellite before returning the spacecraft to a final decommissioning orbit in the GEO graveyard.

MEV-1 will then move on to provide mission extension services to a new client spacecraft.
The Mission Extension Vehicle was designed and built at the Northrop Grumman’s Dulles, Virginia, facility and utilizes a “low-risk” mechanical docking system that attaches to existing features on the client satellite.

Once docked, MEV takes over the attitude and orbit maintenance of the combined vehicle stack to meet the pointing and station keeping requirements of the customer.

The MEVs are designed for multiple dockings and undockings and can deliver over 15 years of life extension services. 

A second MEV (MEV-2) is in final build and checkouts ahead of its planned launch later this year. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on March 01, 2020, 11:22:47 PM
The force is strong in neutron stars


Now physicists at MIT and elsewhere have for the first time characterized the strong nuclear force, and the interactions between protons and neutrons, at extremely short distances.

They performed an extensive data analysis on previous particle accelerator experiments, and found that as the distance between protons and neutrons becomes shorter, a surprising transition occurs in their interactions. Where at large distances, the strong nuclear force acts primarily to attract a proton to a neutron, at very short distances, the force becomes essentially indiscriminate: Interactions can occur not just to attract a proton to a neutron, but also to repel, or push apart pairs of neutrons.


Less than a bag of quarks

The team made two additional discoveries. For one, their observations match the predictions of a surprisingly simple model describing the formation of short-ranged correlations due to the strong nuclear force. For another, against expectations, the core of a neutron star can be described strictly by the interactions between protons and neutrons, without needing to explicitly account for more complex interactions between the quarks and gluons that make up individual nucleons.

When the researchers compared their observations with several existing models of the strong nuclear force, they found a remarkable match with predictions from Argonne V18, a model developed by a research group at Argonne National Laboratory, that considered 18 different ways nucleons may interact, as they are separated by shorter and shorter distances.

This means that if scientists want to calculate properties of a neutron star, Hen says they can use this particular Argonne V18 model to accurately estimate the strong nuclear force interactions between pairs of nucleons in the core. The new data can also be used to benchmark alternate approaches to modeling the cores of neutron stars.


"People assumed that the system is so dense that it should be considered as a soup of quarks and gluons," Hen explains. "But we find even at the highest densities, we can describe these interactions using protons and neutrons; they seem to keep their identities and don't turn into this bag of quarks. So the cores of neutron stars could be much simpler than people thought. That's a huge surprise."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 05, 2020, 12:01:36 PM
Organic Molecules Discovered By Curiosity Rover Consistent With Early Life On Mars

Organic compounds called thiophenes are found on Earth in coal, crude oil and oddly enough, in white truffles, the mushroom beloved by epicureans and wild pigs.

Thiophenes were also recently discovered on Mars, and Washington State University astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch thinks their presence would be consistent with the presence of early life on Mars.

Schulze-Makuch and Jacob Heinz with the Technische Universität in Berlin explore some of the possible pathways for thiophenes' origins on the red planet in a new paper published in the journal Astrobiology. Their work suggests that a biological process, most likely involving bacteria may have played a role in the organic compound's existence in the Martian soil.

"We identified several biological pathways for thiophenes that seem more likely than chemical ones, but we still need proof," Dirk Schulze-Makuch said. "If you find thiophenes on Earth, then you would think they are biological, but on Mars, of course, the bar to prove that has to be quite a bit higher."

... Schulze-Makuch and Heinz recommend using the data collected by the next rover, the Rosalind Franklin, which is expected to launch in July 2020, to look at carbon and sulfur isotopes.

Organisms alter the ratios of heavy and light isotopes in the compounds they produce that are substantially different from the ratios found in their building blocks, which Schulze-Makuch calls "a telltale signal for life."


Jacob Heinz et al, Thiophenes on Mars: Biotic or Abiotic Origin? (, Astrobiology (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on March 11, 2020, 03:11:06 PM
Scientists find Earth and moon not identical oxygen twins


“Our findings suggest that the deep lunar mantle may have experienced the least mixing and is most representative of the impactor Theia,” said Erick Cano. “The data imply the distinct oxygen isotope compositions of Theia and Earth were not completely homogenized by the Moon-forming impact and provides quantitative evidence that Theia could have formed farther from the Sun than did Earth.”

To arrive at their findings, Cano, a research scientist, and along with colleagues Zach Sharp and Charles Shearer from UNM’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, conducted high-precision measurements of the oxygen isotopic composition on a range of lunar samples at UNM’s Center for Stable Isotopes (CSI). The samples included basalts, highland anorthosites, norites and volcanic glass, a product of uncrystallized rapidly cooled magma.

They found that the oxygen isotopic composition varied depending on the type of rock tested. This may be due to the degree of mixing between the molten Moon and vapor atmosphere following the impact. Oxygen isotopes from samples taken from the deep lunar mantle were the most different to oxygen isotopes from Earth.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on March 29, 2020, 06:52:46 PM
Yuri's Night (@YurisNight) 3/29/20, 2:50 AM
Yuri's Night Global Webcast Party
Sat, Apr 11, 4pm PST/7pm EST
Grateful Dead’s @BobWeir
-NASA Astronauts
Story Musgrave
-Korean Astronaut
JOIN US #SpaceParty2020
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on March 31, 2020, 03:23:23 PM
ESA Will Break COVID-19 Restrictions To Nudge BepiColombo Towards Mercury
Mar 30, 2020,
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, gravity and velocity wait for no man. Spacecraft en route to far-flung destinations within our solar system demand course corrections. That’s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is temporarily disregarding COVID-19 protocol to provide the European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft with one of the nudges it needs to reach Mercury orbit by late 2025.

Engineers will have to control the spacecraft maneuver at the agency’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany while complying with social distancing. 

Meanwhile, the BepiColombo spacecraft, launched in October 2018, will be doing some incredible social distancing of its own.

Although BepiColombo is currently orbiting the Sun at a similar distance as Earth, on April 10th at 6.25 A.M. (CEST), the spacecraft will approach Earth at the distance of only 12,700 km, says ESA. That’s less than half the altitude of Europe’s Galileo navigational satellites, says the agency. This maneuver will both slow the spacecraft down while bending and tightening its solar orbit, ESA says.

“This is the last time we will see BepiColombo from Earth,” Joe Zender, BepiColombo Deputy Project Scientist at ESA, said in a statement. “After that it will head deeper into the inner Solar System.” ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on April 01, 2020, 09:23:47 PM
Apparently this is not an April Fool’s joke.
”The U. S. Space Force declared the system operational on March 28, 2020.”

Space Force says its new 'Space Fence' will protect us in space
It wasn't so long ago that there were running jokes about the idea of the Trump administration creating something it called the "Space Force," but since its founding in December, we haven't heard too much about the military branch. Well, we now have an update for you, as the Space Force has announced something it calls the "Space Fence" is now operational. And no, it's not a space wall.

The Space Force announced at the end of last week that the Space Fence radar system, which is a new radar system that can track objects smaller than 10 centimeters in space, is now fully operational. The radar system is located on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and it is meant to improve the military's ability to track objects in space like depleted rocket boosters, military satellites and general space debris to protect U.S. assets.

Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force and commander of U.S. Space Command, said in a statement that this is about protecting America's national security and financial interests.

"Space Fence is revolutionizing the way we view space by providing timely, precise orbital data on objects that threaten both manned and unmanned military and commercial space assets," Raymond said. "Our space capabilities are critical to our national defense and way of life, which is why Space Fence is so important to enhance our ability to identify, characterize and track threats to those systems."

The radar system will track 26,000 orbital objects that we're already aware of and monitor any new objects that are discovered. Considering it can track much smaller objects than we've previously been able to track, that database should grow pretty quickly. We'll soon have a map of just about every object that is orbiting our planet.

The Space Fence was developed by Lockheed Martin, and it's actually been in the works since its nearly $1 billion contract was awarded in 2014. The Pentagon indicated in a report that was released in January that it would finally be ready to go online by the end of February, so the program isn't far off schedule. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on April 14, 2020, 08:10:34 PM
Jupiter photographed by NASA's Juno spacecraft last Friday

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on April 30, 2020, 10:32:18 PM

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity may look like a simple dual rotor drone, but it’s actually a groundbreaking piece of engineering that has to overcome significant technical challenges in order to complete its mission of performing short-altitude “hops” on Mars. That’s its sole goal, and the 4-lb craft doesn’t have any other instruments on board, as it’s essentially a demonstrator that will set up the design and development of future aerial exploration craft to help with the study of Mars.

Even flying the softball-sized main body of Ingenuity is an achievement, because flying on Mars requires much more lift than it does here on Earth due to the nature of the planet’s atmosphere. Accordingly, the helicopter’s test flights will only last around 90 seconds each, and climb to a height of just 16.5 feet — easy here at home, but roughly equivalent to flying at around 100,000 feet on Earth — much higher than most commercial aircraft.

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission is currently scheduled to launch between July 17 and August 5 this year, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has reiterated multiple times that the mission remains a top priority despite restrictions and workarounds necessitated by COVID-19, because the optimal window for making the trip to Mars only recurs once every two or so years.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 10, 2020, 08:47:06 PM
U.S. military tracking unguided re-entry Monday of large Chinese rocket 
A Chinese rocket measuring around 100 feet long that launched earlier this month will likely plunge back into Earth’s atmosphere some time Monday, becoming the most massive object in decades to fall out of orbit in an uncontrolled manner.

With the tanks empty, the Long March 5B’s core stage stage has a mass of roughly 20 metric tons. An exact mass figure has not been released by Chinese officials.

That makes the Long March 5B core stage the most massive object to make an uncontrolled re-entry since the Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station in 1991, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.

In the case of the Long March 5B, the core stage delivered its payload — a prototype Chinese crew capsule — into a low-altitude orbit. The heavy-lift Long March 5B is designed to directly inject payloads into low Earth orbit without an upper stage, meaning the core stage also ends up in orbit, instead of immediately falling back to Earth in a predetermined downrange drop zone.

China plans to launch at least three more Long March 5B rockets in 2021 and 2022 with modules for the country’s planned space station, so more uncontrolled rocket re-entries are expected in the next couple of years.

Dead satellites and old rocket stages regularly re-enter the atmosphere, but re-entering objects with masses of more than a few tons are rare.

There have been no reported human injuries or deaths from falling space junk. NASA in 2011 calculated a 1-in-3,200 chance of someone being hit by debris from the UARS satellite, which was less than one-third the mass of the Long March 5B core stage. A casualty risk estimate for the Long March 5B was not available. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on May 11, 2020, 01:53:19 AM
Russia Probes Explosion of One of Its Used Boosters in Orbit

Russia's Roscosmos state corporation, responsible for the country's space programme, has confirmed that part of a Frigate-SB booster block, which was used back in 2011 and was orbiting Earth, exploded on 8 May. The exact cause of the explosion, which happened between 08:00 and 09:00 Moscow time (between 05:00 and 06:00 GMT), remains unknown.

The exploded block was part of a carrier missile used to deliver the Spectrum-R astrophysical observatory into orbit. Such boosters are often used to take cargo to orbit or to stabilise the main carrier block in different stages of flight. After their fuel is depleted, these blocks separate from the carrier and remain in orbit until they finally decay.

In low-gravity conditions, even small pieces of debris can potentially damage other equipment deployed in orbit.


Russian Rocket Breaks Up In Earth Orbit: Space Agency

Russia's space agency on Sunday confirmed one of its rockets used in past launches and floating in space has broken up, leaving debris in orbit.

The disintegration of Fregat was reported on Saturday by the Twitter account of the 18th Space Control Squadron, a US Airforce unit which tracks space debris.

It said the rocket broke up into at least 65 pieces but there was no indication it was caused by collision.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 11, 2020, 08:35:31 PM
U.S. military tracking unguided re-entry Monday of large Chinese rocket 

Update: the core stage of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket has safely reentered over the Atlantic Ocean off Mauritania, west Africa, away from any populated areas.
Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 5/11/20, 2:16 PM
And the TIP message is out, showing reentry at 1534 UTC at location 20W 20N, just before the ground track passed over Nouakchott.
(Ground track image at the link.)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 17, 2020, 03:29:03 PM
Artemis Accords: NASA Unveils Rules for Conduct on Moon and in Space
NASA has revealed a series of principles that will govern the behavior of countries and companies on the moon and in space.

The new legal framework, called the Artemis Accords, also sets forth the creation of “safety zones” around lunar sites where future mining and exploration would take place.
Countries that sign off on the accord must also protect heritage sites and space artifacts, gather resources according to international agreements, avoid interference with other space missions and dispose of any debris or spacecraft responsibly. ...

Bridenstine ties international cooperation on Artemis to norms of behavior in space
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on May 21, 2020, 11:44:28 PM
ALMA discovers massive rotating disk in early universe

In our 13.8 billion-year-old universe, most galaxies like our Milky Way form gradually, reaching their large mass relatively late. But a new discovery made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of a massive rotating disk galaxy, seen when the universe was only ten percent of its current age, challenges the traditional models of galaxy formation.


"While previous studies hinted at the existence of these early rotating gas-rich disk galaxies, thanks to ALMA we now have unambiguous evidence that they occur as early as 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang," said lead author Marcel Neeleman of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.


In most galaxy formation scenarios, galaxies only start to show a well-formed disk around 6 billion years after the Big Bang. The fact that the astronomers found such a disk galaxy when the universe was only ten percent of its current age, indicates that other growth processes must have dominated.

"We think the Wolfe Disk has grown primarily through the steady accretion of cold gas," said J. Xavier Prochaska, of the University of California, Santa Cruz and coauthor of the paper. "Still, one of the questions that remains is how to assemble such a large gas mass while maintaining a relatively stable, rotating disk."


The Wolfe Disk was first discovered by ALMA in 2017. Neeleman and his team found the galaxy when they examined the light from a more distant quasar. The light from the quasar was absorbed as it passed through a massive reservoir of hydrogen gas surrounding the galaxy -- which is how it revealed itself. Rather than looking for direct light from extremely bright, but more rare galaxies, astronomers used this 'absorption' method to find fainter, and more 'normal' galaxies in the early universe.

"The fact that we found the Wolfe Disk using this method, tells us that it belongs to the normal population of galaxies present at early times," said Neeleman. "When our newest observations with ALMA surprisingly showed that it is rotating, we realized that early rotating disk galaxies are not as rare as we thought and that there should be a lot more of them out there."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on May 28, 2020, 02:29:48 PM
China outlines intense space station launch schedule, new astronaut selection
May 28, 2020
HELSINKI — China is preparing to carry out 11 missions in two years to construct a space station and will soon select a new batch of astronauts for the project.

The first module for the Chinese space station will launch next year, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program, on the sidelines of a political conference in Beijing Tuesday.

China will launch its Tianwen-1 Mars mission in July and Chang’e-5 lunar sample return in the fourth quarter before proceeding to launch the space station core module.

The three-module, 66-metric-ton space station will host three astronauts for six month rotations. Planned experiments include international projects in the areas of astronomy, space medicine, space life science, biotechnology, microgravity fluid physics, microgravity combustion and space technologies. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on May 28, 2020, 03:22:27 PM
ESPRESSO Confirms Presence of an 'Earth' Around Nearest Star


The existence of a planet the size of Earth around the closest star in the solar system, Proxima Centauri, has been confirmed by an international team of scientists including researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The results, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, reveal that the planet in question, Proxima b, has a mass of 1.17 Earth masses and is located in the habitable zone of its star, which it orbits in 11.2 days.

This breakthrough was possible thanks to radial velocity measurements of unprecedented precision using ESPRESSO, the Swiss-manufactured spectrograph, the most accurate currently in operation, which is installed on the Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The ESPRESSO spectrograph has performed radial velocity measurements on the star Proxima Centauri, which is only 4.2 light-years from the sun, with an accuracy of 30 centimetres a second (cm/s), about three times more precision than that obtained with HARPS, the same type of instrument but from the previous generation.

The measurements performed by ESPRESSO have clarified that the minimum mass of Proxima b is 1.17 earth masses (the previous estimate was 1.3) and that it orbits around its star in only 11.2 days.

... Although Proxima b is an ideal candidate for biomarker research, there is still a long way to go before we can suggest that life has been able to develop on its surface. In fact, the Proxima star is an active red dwarf that bombards its planet with X rays, receiving about 400 times more than the Earth.

... The team has also found evidence of a second signal in the data, without being able to establish the definitive cause behind it. "If the signal was planetary in origin, this potential other planet accompanying Proxima b would have a mass less than one third of the mass of the Earth. It would then be the smallest planet ever measured using the radial velocity method," says Professor Pepe.

Revisiting Proxima with ESPRESSO, arXiv:2005.12114 [astro-ph.EP]
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on May 30, 2020, 08:19:14 AM
This is interesting, they found the baryons:

"a direct measure of baryons in our present universe—determined through a census of stars, galaxies, and the gas within and around them—added up to only half of the predicted 5%. "

" these FRBs lasts for less a thousandth of a second and all the wavelengths start out in a tight clump ... But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down ... By the time an FRB has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths."

"the data fall right on the curve predicted by the 5% estimate. "

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2300-2

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on June 03, 2020, 08:32:24 PM
Map of Every Mars Landing Attempt, Ever
New and improved guide to all the places we've landed—or crashed

• June 3, 2020
It’s almost Mars launch season again! Once every 26 months, as Earth runs on its inside track around the Sun, physics favors launches from our planet toward Mars. There are 3 Mars-bound missions that plan to launch in July, and 2 of them hope to land. (The one that won’t land is just named Hope.) NASA will be launching the Perseverance rover, and China its Tianwen-1 orbiter and rover. There was to have been a 3rd rover launching this summer, but the European Space Agency had  to delay Rosalind Franklin and Kazachok’s mission until the next opportunity comes around in 2022.

Many years ago, as Spirit and Opportunity were readying for launch, I produced a map of all the locations of landed Mars missions, both failed and successful. Since then I’ve updated it with Phoenix, Curiosity, Schiaparelli, and InSight. Now that we have several new missions planned, I figured it was time for a complete do-over. Here it is! ...

Click to enlarge.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 04, 2020, 04:14:09 PM
Earth Twin: A Mirror Image of Earth and Sun


Among the more than 4,000 known exoplanets, KOI-456.04 is something special: less than twice the size of Earth, it orbits a sun-like star. And it does so with a star-planet distance that could permit planetary surface temperatures conducive to life.

In their new research article, the team of scientists from MPS, the Sonneberg Observatory, the University of Göttingen, the University of California in Santa Cruz, and from NASA now reports the discovery of a planet candidate less than twice the size of the Earth and with moderate illumination from a sun-like star. At a distance of just over 3000 lightyears from the solar system, the star Kepler-160 was located in the field of view of the Kepler primary mission and was continuously observed from 2009 to 2013. Its radius of 1.1 solar radii, its surface temperature of 5200 degrees Celsius (300 degrees less than the sun), and its very sun-like stellar luminosity make it an astrophysical portrayal of our own parent star.

Their new search algorithm was crucial for the discovery of the new transiting planet candidate KOI-456.04. "Our analysis suggests that Kepler-160 is orbited not by two but by a total of four planets," Heller summarizes the new study. One of the two planets that Heller and his colleagues found is Kepler-160d, the previously suspected planet responsible for the distorted orbit of Kepler-160c. Kepler-160d does not show any transits in the light curve of the star and so it has been confirmed indirectly.

The other planet, formally a planet candidate, is KOI-456.04, probably a transiting planet with a radius of 1.9 Earth radii and an orbital period of 378 days. Given its sun-like host star, the very Earth-like orbital period results in a very Earth-like insolation from the star—both in terms of the amount of the light received and in terms of the light color. Light from Kepler-160 is visible light very much like sunlight. All things considered, KOI-456.04 sits in a region of the stellar habitable zone—the distance range around a star admitting liquid surface water on an Earth-like planet—that is comparable to the Earth's position around the sun.

"KOI-456.01 is relatively large compared to many other planets that are considered potentially habitable. But it's the combination of this less-than-double the size of the Earth planet and its solar type host star that make it so special and familiar," Heller clarifies. As a consequence, the surface conditions on KOI-456.04 could be similar to those known on Earth, provided its atmosphere is not too massive and non-Earth-like. The amount of light received from its host star is about 93 percent of the sunlight received on Earth. If KOI-456.04 has a mostly inert atmosphere with a mild Earth-like greenhouse effect, then its surface temperature would be +5 degrees Celsius on average, which is about ten degrees lower than the Earth's mean global temperature.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 12, 2020, 08:56:54 AM
Scientists In Antarctica Didn’t Find A ‘Parallel Universe.’ Here’s What They Did Find


A cacophony of articles on the possibility of the discovery of a parallel Universe were published last month in the wake of a New Scientist article that contained some “out there” claims about some scientific research in Antarctica.

Now a new research paper provides a much more down-to-earth explanation for the two recent strange events that occurred in Antarctica—it was compacted snow and, possibly, underground lakes, that caused some unexpected radio pulses to be misinterpreted.

First, let’s examine the event that caused the “panic” about a parallel Universe in the first place. In both 2016 and 2018, high-energy neutrinos appeared to come up out of the Earth of their own accord and head skyward.


Cue the possibility of a parallel Universe because maybe, just maybe, something “exotic” is going on. Since the high-energy neutrinos were detected coming “up” from the Earth instead of “down” from space they may be traveling back in time and, therefore, could from a—you guessed it—parallel Universe. The Big Bang occurred, it formed two Universes; one that flows forward, the other in reverse.

A theory with zero evidence.

The new paper—published today in the journal Annals of Glaciology—thinks that the pulses were:

Specifically, unflipped reflections of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays that arrive from space, miss the top layer of ice, then enter the ground to strike deep, compacted snow.

In short, the culprit could be firn under the surface of the ice. “Firn is something between snow and glacial ice,” said lead author Ian Shoemaker, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and the Center for Neutrino Physics, both part of the Virginia Tech College of Science. “It’s compacted snow that's not quite dense enough to be ice.” Classified as crystalline or granular snow, it’s often found on the upper part of a glacier.

“When cosmic rays, or neutrinos, go through ice at very high energies, they scatter on materials inside the ice, on protons and electrons, and they can make a burst of radio, a big nice radio signal that scientists can see,” said Shoemaker. Cosmic rays are high-energy protons and atomic nuclei that move through space at nearly the speed of light. “The problem is that these signals have the radio pulse characteristic of a neutrino, but appear to be traversing vastly more than is possible given known physics.”

“Our idea is that part of the radio pulse from a cosmic ray can get deep into the ice before reflecting, so you can have the reflection without the phase flip. Without flipping the wave, in that case, it really looks like a neutrino.”

Ordinary neutrinos just don't do that, but cosmic rays at these energies are common. 


“Whatever ANITA has found, it is very interesting, but it may not be a Nobel Prize-winning particle physics discovery,” said Shoemaker, who thinks the scientists may nevertheless have found something interesting about glaciology. “It could be that ANITA discovered some unusual small glacial lakes,” he added.

It’s not known how many deep underground lakes there are under Antarctica; if, it turn out, there are lots, this discovery would be a big win for scientists.

So Shoemaker is proposing that instead of looking for high-energy neutrinos, his team will purposefully blast radio signals into the areas where the anomalies occurred to look for lakes.

It’s a plan that itself seems to have come straight from a parallel Universe, but that’s science for you.

So we can use ANITA for Antarctic science. Pretty cool.  :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on June 12, 2020, 09:18:28 AM
Scientists In Antarctica Didn’t Find A ‘Parallel Universe.

How very disappointing is that, eh?  :-\
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 12, 2020, 04:10:43 PM
Like all the hidden aliens it is probably in the US.  8)

Meanwhile more space oriented cool stuff:

New test of dark energy and expansion from cosmic structures

A new paper has shown how large structures in the distribution of galaxies in the Universe provide the most precise tests of dark energy and cosmic expansion yet.

A new paper has shown how large structures in the distribution of galaxies in the Universe provide the most precise tests of dark energy and cosmic expansion yet.

The study uses a new method based on a combination of cosmic voids -- large expanding bubbles of space containing very few galaxies -- and the faint imprint of sound waves in the very early Universe, known as baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), that can be seen in the distribution of galaxies. This provides a precise ruler to measure the direct effects of dark energy driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe.

This new method gives much more precise results than the technique based on the observation of exploding massive stars, or supernovae, which has long been the standard method for measuring the direct effects of dark energy.

The research was led by the University of Portsmouth, and is published in Physical Review Letters.


The results confirm the model of a cosmological constant dark energy and spatially flat Universe to unprecedented accuracy, and strongly disfavour recent suggestions of positive spatial curvature inferred from measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) by the Planck satellite.


Dr Florian Beutler, a senior research fellow at the ICG, who was also involved in the work, said that the study also reported a new precise measurement of the Hubble constant, the value of which has recently been the subject of intense debate among astronomers.

He said: "We see tentative evidence that data from relatively nearby voids and BAO favour the high Hubble rate seen from other low-redshift methods, but including data from more distant quasar absorption lines brings it in better agreement with the value inferred from Planck CMB data."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 15, 2020, 02:08:55 AM
New Horizons Conducts the First Interstellar Parallax Experiment

I’m sure you remember New Horizons’ encounters with Pluto in 2015 and the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth in 2019.

Now New Horizons spacecraft is sending us pictures from so far away (46.61 astronomical units, or 4,333,000,000 miles) that the nearest stars actually appear to be in different positions.  This is the first parallax experiment ever done from somewhere other than Earth.


... We sometimes imagine flying through space at “warp speed” and seeing stars go by.  Those of us who grew up with snow in the winter would pretend our car was a spaceship as snowflakes flew past the windshield.  Up to now that has been entirely imaginary, but this is the first glimpse we little humans have actually had of it for real.

The closest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, and we already know that its distance from us is 4.3 light-years (25,000,000,000,000 miles).  New Horizons, then, is 0.017% as far away as that.  It may not sound like much, but it’s enough to make Proxima Centauri, ANOTHER STAR, appear to shift its position.

​Here are two images, one from Earth, and one from New Horizons, carefully aligned.  Proxima Centauri is the only star that appears to move:


... Other images at the link.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on June 15, 2020, 03:22:45 PM
What do the red dots represent? Strong far away steady sources?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 16, 2020, 10:11:23 PM
As Many As Six Billion Earth-like Planets In Our Galaxy, According to New Estimates

To be considered Earth-like, a planet must be rocky, roughly Earth-sized and orbiting Sun-like (G-type) stars. It also has to orbit in the habitable zones of its star—the range of distances from a star in which a rocky planet could host liquid water, and potentially life, on its surface.

"My calculations place an upper limit of 0.18 Earth-like planets per G-type star," says UBC researcher Michelle Kunimoto, co-author of the new study in The Astronomical Journal. "Estimating how common different kinds of planets are around different stars can provide important constraints on planet formation and evolution theories, and help optimize future missions dedicated to finding exoplanets."

According to UBC astronomer Jaymie Matthews: "Our Milky Way has as many as 400 billion stars, with seven percent of them being G-type. That means less than six billion stars may have Earth-like planets in our Galaxy."

Michelle Kunimoto et al, Searching the Entirety of Kepler Data. II. Occurrence Rate Estimates for FGK Stars, The Astronomical Journal (2020)


Possibility of Dozens of Intelligent Civilizations in Our Galaxy


Is there anyone out there? This is an age-old question that researchers have now shed new light on with a study that calculates there could be more than 30 intelligent civilizations throughout our galaxy. This is an enormous advance over previous estimates which spanned from zero to billions.

... A new study led by the University of Nottingham and published today in The Astrophysical Journal has taken a new approach to this problem. Using the assumption that intelligent life forms on other planets in a similar way as it does on Earth these researchers have obtained an estimate for the number of intelligent communicating civilizations within our own galaxy, the Milky Way. They calculate that there could be over 30 active communicating intelligent civilizations in our home galaxy.

Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Nottingham, Christopher Conselice who led the research, explains: "There should be at least a few dozen active civilizations in our galaxy under the assumption that it takes 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, as on Earth." Conselice also explains that "The idea is looking at evolution, but on a cosmic scale. We call this calculation the Astrobiological Copernican Limit."

First author Tom Westby explains: "The classic method for estimating the number of intelligent civilizations relies on making guesses of values relating to life, whereby opinions about such matters vary quite substantially. Our new study simplifies these assumptions using new data, giving us a solid estimate of the number of civilizations in our galaxy.

"The two Astrobiological Copernican limits are that intelligent life forms in less than 5 billion years or anytime after about 5 billion years -- similar to on Earth where communicating civilizations formed after 4.5 billion years. In the strong criteria, whereby a metal content equal to that of the Sun is needed (the Sun is relatively speaking quite metal rich), we calculate that there should be around 36 active civilizations in our galaxy."

The research shows that the number of civilizations depends strongly on how long they are actively sending out signals of their existence into space, such as radio transmissions from satellites, television, etc. If other technological civilizations last as long as ours which is currently 100 years old, then there will be about 36 ongoing intelligent technical civilizations throughout our galaxy.

However, the average distance to these civilizations would be 17,000 light-years away, making detection and communication very difficult with our present technology. It is also possible that we are the only civilization within our galaxy unless the survival times of civilizations like our own are long.

Professor Conselice continues: "Our new research suggests that searches for extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations not only reveals the existence of how life forms, but also gives us clues for how long our own civilization will last. If we find that intelligent life is common then this would reveal that our civilization could exist for much longer than a few hundred years, alternatively if we find that there are no active civilizations in our galaxy it is a bad sign for our own long-term existence."

Conselice sums this up with "By searching for extraterrestrial intelligent life -- even if we find nothing -- we are discovering our own future and fate."

Tom Westby & Christopher J. Conselice, "The Astrobiological Copernican Weak and Strong Limits for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life," Astrophysical Journal, June 15, 2020

PBS NOVA: Alien Planets Revealed
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on June 17, 2020, 01:13:13 AM
Indeed. I have long thought the solution to the Fermi paradox is the short life span of advanced civilizations due to the finiteness of planetary resources and sinks.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 18, 2020, 02:42:49 AM
Fermi looked at extraterrestrial civilizations through an anthropomorphic lens. So did Stephen Hawking.

The path that humans are following towards interstellar civilization is probably not the only one.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 18, 2020, 02:43:55 AM
Extremely Sensitive Dark Matter Experiment Detects Something Weird

The excess observed in XENON1T in the electronic recoil background at low energies, compared to the level expected from known backgrounds indicated as the red line

A mysterious signal has appeared in an extremely sensitive dark matter-hunting experiment. And after more than a year of trying to convince themselves that they were looking at noise, scientists think they might have found something new.

Today, the scientists behind the XENON1T dark matter experiment are reporting the result of a search through its data for particles that interacted with the electrons in its detecting medium. They’ve spotted evidence of an excess, or more interactions with the detector than the Standard Model of particle physics would predict. They don’t know what’s causing the signal yet; it might be a rare but mundane event, or it could be evidence of some other unknown physics phenomenon.

... XENON1T data taken from February 2017 to February 2018 has revealed an unexpected excess of low-energy interactions with the xenon’s electrons—285 events instead of the expected 232 events, according to the paper posted today on the XENON1T website.

Physicists have hypothesized various potential sources of the excess, testing their ideas against the data. They arrived at three most likely sources: Perhaps an unobserved, theoretical particle called an axion struck the detector after traveling from the Sun. Maybe a property of the neutrino particle, called its magnetic moment, is higher than previously predicted. Or, perhaps they’d simply spotted an unaccounted-for background radioactive process, the decay of the hydrogen isotope called tritium. Just a few tritium atoms sprinkled into the two tons of otherwise ultra-pure xenon could have produced the signal.

Axions are a theorized, low-mass particle meant to solve a physics problem called the strong-CP problem, which asks why subatomic particles called quarks follow the same laws of physics when you replace them with their mirror image with the opposite charge, when there’s no reason that they have to. If axions did exist, then scientists predict that the Sun would produce them in its core, and we’d be possibly be able to detect them from Earth. Axions are also a proposed culprit to explain at least some of dark matter.

Solar axions passing through the detector would look most like the signals that the researchers observed, with a 3.5-sigma significance, meaning that there’s a 99.98% chance that the observed signal wasn’t caused by typical physics processes. However, introducing tritium decay as another background process decreases the significance to 2 sigma, or a 95% chance that typical physics interactions plus decaying tritium didn’t cause the signal, Baudis said. More data could easily wipe out such a fluctuation and has in the past. Particle physicists strive for a 5-sigma significance in order to proclaim a discovery.

... if hypothetical axion particles produced by the Sun were to create this signal, then it implies a stronger interaction between axions and electrons than theory predicts today.

... The solar axion properties implied by the XENON1T experiment would result in the Sun being hotter than astronomers predict and producing far more neutrinos than astronomers observe.

Observation of Excess Events in the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment


Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on June 18, 2020, 04:37:46 PM
Jupiter has Arctic sea ice "Goodbye Waves" , the red version

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 20, 2020, 03:41:43 AM
Are Planets With Oceans Common In the Galaxy? It's Likely, NASA Scientists Find


Does Intelligent Life Exist On Other  Planets? Technosignatures May Hold New Clues

Over the last decade, astronomers have expended great effort trying to find what traces of simple forms of life—known as "biosignatures"—might exist elsewhere in the universe. But what if an alien planet hosted intelligent life that built a technological civilization? Could there be "technosignatures" that a civilization on another world would create that could be seen from Earth? And, could these technosignatures be even easier to detect than biosignatures?

Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, has received a grant from NASA that will enable him to begin to answer these questions. The grant will fund his study of technosignatures—detectable signs of past or present technology used on other planets. This is the first NASA non-radio technosignature grant ever awarded and represents an exciting new direction for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

"SETI has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look," Frank says. "Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals? Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed."

The nature of the search has changed as well. A civilization, by nature, will need to find a way to produce energy, and, Frank says, "there are only so many forms of energy in the universe. Aliens are not magic."

Although life may take many forms, it will always be based in the same physical and chemical principles that underlie the universe. The same connection holds for building a civilization; any technology that an alien civilization uses is going to be based on physics and chemistry. That means researchers can use what they've learned in Earth-bound labs to guide their thinking about what may have happened elsewhere in the universe.

The researchers will begin the project by looking at two possible technosignatures that might indicate technological activity on another planet:

Pollution ...

Solar power ...

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: nanning on June 20, 2020, 09:33:01 AM
I did a search on how to differentiate between dark matter and neutrino's in experiments and found this paper which might also be of interest to others.   35 interesting pages
  by George Rajna

Neutrinos and Dark Matter


Three distinguished particle physicists have joined the lab over the past months to pursue research on two particularly mysterious forms of matter: neutrinos and dark matter. [10]

 New experimental results show a difference in the way neutrinos and antineutrinos behave, which could explain why matter persists over antimatter. [9]

 Over the past few years, multiple neutrino experiments have detected hints for leptonic charge parity (CP) violation—a finding that could help explain why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter. So far, matter-antimatter asymmetry cannot be explained by any physics theory and is one of the biggest unsolved problems in cosmology. [8]

 It could all have been so different. When matter first formed in the universe, our current theories suggest that it should have been accompanied by an equal amount of antimatter – a conclusion we know must be wrong, because we wouldn’t be here if it were true. Now the latest results from a pair of experiments designed to study the behaviour of neutrinos – particles that barely interact with the rest of the universe – could mean we’re starting to understand why. [7]

 In 2012, a tiny flash of light was detected deep beneath the Antarctic ice. A burst of neutrinos was responsible, and the flash of light was their calling card. It might not sound momentous, but the flash could give us tantalising insights into one of the most energetic objects in the distant universe. The light was triggered by the universe's most elusive particles when they made contact with a remarkable detector, appropriately called IceCube, which was built for the very purpose of capturing rare events such as this. [6]
 Neutrinos and their weird subatomic ways could help us understand high-energy particles, exploding stars and the origins of matter itself. [5]

 PHYSICS may be shifting to the right. Tantalizing signals at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, hint at a new particle that could end 50 years of thinking that nature discriminates between left and right-handed particles. [4] The Weak Interaction transforms an electric charge in the diffraction pattern from one side to the other side, causing an electric dipole momentum change, which violates the CP and Time reversal symmetry.

 The Neutrino Oscillation of the Weak Interaction shows that it is a General electric dipole change and it is possible to any other temperature dependent entropy and information changing diffraction pattern of atoms, molecules and even complicated biological living structures.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 24, 2020, 06:30:24 PM
Neptune-sized Planet Discovered Orbiting Young, Nearby Star

New research published today in Nature reports the discovery of a planet about the size of Neptune orbiting an especially young, nearby star. The planet, named AU Mic b, is orbiting AU Microscopii, which is relatively close to the Sun at 31.9 light years away. AU Microscopii is also "only" 20 or 30 million years old—at least 150 times younger than our Sun.

There are only two or three known stars that are both nearby and young, and scientists have been searching for planets orbiting them for at least a decade. This means the new finding creates a major opportunity for breakthrough research into solar system formation dynamics.


A planet within the debris disk around the pre-main-sequence star AU Microscopii, Nature (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on June 26, 2020, 02:45:11 AM
Watch a 10-Year Time Lapse of Sun From NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – SDO

As of June 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – SDO – has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years.

Compiling one photo every hour, the movie condenses a decade of the Sun into 61 minutes. The video shows the rise and fall in activity that occurs as part of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and notable events, like transiting planets and eruptions. The custom music, titled “Solar Observer,” was composed by musician Lars Leonhard.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 01, 2020, 07:55:29 PM
A liquid oxygen sensor line on the Atlas V rocket showed unexpected data during a rehearsal for the launch.

Mars 2020 mission launch date has been pushed back again
June 30, 2020 5:30PM PST
NASA has announced another delay to the launch of its Mars-bound Perseverance rover. In a message posted on the rover’s own Twitter account on Tuesday, June 30, the space agency said that due to processing delays in uniting the rover with the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, the first launch effort at Cape Canaveral in Florida would now take place no earlier than July 30.

...NASA added that it had managed to extend the end of the launch window from August 11 to August 15, and was looking into the possibility of extending it further to enable it to better handle any further delays.

The ambitious mission will see Perseverance exploring the red planet for signs of ancient life. The six-wheel vehicle, which has been put through its paces ahead of launch, will also collect rock and soil samples that could be brought to Earth for scientific examination.

Joining Perseverance will be the Mars helicopter — called Ingenuity — which is set to become the first-ever aircraft to fly on another planet. Camera-equipped Ingenuity will help NASA look for potentially useful research sites on the Martian surface, and also gather data for mapping routes for future Mars rovers.

Assuming NASA can launch the mission during its targeted window, Perseverance and Ingenuity will reach Mars sometime in February 2021.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: wdmn on July 02, 2020, 10:45:33 PM
The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View

"Astronomers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a major cosmological mystery."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones on July 03, 2020, 01:44:12 AM
The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View

"Astronomers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a major cosmological mystery."
"Primordial magnetism might also help resolve another cosmological conundrum known as the Hubble tension — probably the hottest topic in cosmology.

The problem at the heart of the Hubble tension is that the universe seems to be expanding significantly faster than expected based on its known ingredients. In a paper posted online in April and under review with Physical Review Letters, the cosmologists Karsten Jedamzik and Levon Pogosian argue that weak magnetic fields in the early universe would lead to the faster cosmic expansion rate seen today."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 03, 2020, 11:10:45 AM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 05, 2020, 10:03:55 PM
Different Mars crater video. :)
latest in space (@latestinspace) 7/3/20, 10:50 PM
Gorgeous 1.5 km wide crater on Mars captured by the HiRISE camera aboard a NASA satellite orbiting the red planet
full credit: Seán Doran/Data, @_TheSeaning, HiRISE/NASA /NASAJPL/University of Arizona
Video at the link.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 10, 2020, 07:15:29 PM
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission

Upside-down welding was required to fix an O2 leak in the vertical standing rocket.

“...the launch is on track for July 30. The launch window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), with launch opportunities available at five-minute intervals.”

Mars rover mated with Atlas 5 launcher after teams deal with coronavirus cases
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 12, 2020, 06:32:31 PM
“A spectacular cosmic display of C/2020 F3, Comet #NEOWISE in the early morning, predawn sky.”
Photo below.  Others at the link.
East-Northeast pre-dawn sky from the mid-Atlantic U.S. coast area. This was taken around 4am ET.

Starting Sunday, stargazers will be able to see it in the evening. After sunset, look for the comet toward the northwest, just below the Big Dipper.

How to see Comet Neowise, now visible to naked eye, according to AccuWeather - 6abc Philadelphia
Stargazers are in for a treat -- a newly discovered comet is visible in the July night sky.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 17, 2020, 04:48:13 PM
A Population of Asteroids of Interstellar Origin Inhabits the Solar System

A study conducted by scientists at São Paulo State University's Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences (IGCE-UNESP) in Rio Claro, Brazil, has identified 19 asteroids of interstellar origin classified as Centaurs, outer Solar System objects that revolve around the Sun in the region between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune

The Centaurs identified in the study have highly inclined orbits with respect to the orbital plane of the planets.

... "The Solar System formed 4.5 billion years ago in a stellar nursery, with its systems of planets and asteroids. The stars were close enough to each other to foster strong gravitational interactions that led to an exchange of material among the systems. Some objects now in the Solar System must therefore have formed around other stars.

The planets and asteroids that originated in the Solar System emerged from a thin disk of gas and dust that once orbited the Sun. For this reason, they all moved in the plane of the disk 4.5 billion years ago. If the Centaurs originated in the Solar System, they should also have moved in the plane of the disk at that time. "However, our simulation showed that 4.5 billion years ago, these objects revolved around the Sun in orbits perpendicular to the disk's plane. In addition, they did so in a region distant from the gravitational effects of the original disk," Morais said.

These two findings showed that the Centaurs did not originally belong to the Solar System and must have been captured from nearby stars during the period of planet formation.


"An interstellar origin for high-inclination Centaurs", Royal Astronomical Society's Monthly Notices, 2020
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones on July 17, 2020, 08:48:27 PM
Very cool! I wonder what the night sky looked like back then? With stars so close we could exchange asteroids?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on July 17, 2020, 11:47:13 PM
We even know one of the stars that was a member of the sun's birth cluster...HD 162826:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 18, 2020, 03:51:07 AM
Here's what the night sky would look like if cosmic bodies were right next to earth

An incredible video shows what we would see if the planets replaced the moon.

NASA Mission to Psyche
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 20, 2020, 03:06:00 AM
Some tense moments when a sensor reported a solar panel had not deployed, but all is good now!

United Arab Emirates launches 'Hope' mission to Mars on Japanese rocket
A mission called Hope, the Arab region's first attempt to go interplanetary, is on its way to Mars.

The $200 million Hope mission, also called the Emirates Mars Mission, is the UAE's first foray into interplanetary exploration, and its arrival was designed to mark the nation's 50th anniversary. In particular, mission planners wanted a project that would kickstart the nation's technology and science sectors as the country looks for an economic model that can sustain it beyond its oil wealth.

So the nation targeted a Mars orbiter and stipulated that the mission needed to contribute internationally valuable science data. For a country with hardly any planetary science expertise, that was a steep challenge. …
Today's launch kicks off a spree of Red Planet-bound liftoffs as scientists seek to capitalize on a three-week window of favorable orbital alignment between Earth and Mars that only occurs every 26 months.

China is next on the launch docket, with a mission called Tianwen-1 scheduled to blast off on July 23. The mission will include an orbiter, lander and rover and will aim to tackle questions about the Red Planet's geology and environment.

Then, NASA's Mars 2020 mission heads to countdown on July 30. That launch stars Perseverance, a massive six-wheeled, life-hunting rover carrying a tiny helicopter that will, if all goes well, become the first aircraft to fly on another planet.

Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) 7/19/20, 5:59 PM
LAUNCH! Japanese H-IIA launches with Al Amal/Hope to Mars! ...
Clip of the launch.

Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) 7/19/20, 6:00 PM
Staging - there go to the twin solids.
Vid Clip:  no flame on main stage after solids deploy  — hydrogen fuel burns with an invisible flame!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Bruce Steele on July 20, 2020, 03:51:56 AM
The comet was visible last night here in Calif.  It was about halfway between the horizon and the Big Dipper at 9:45pm.  Kinda fuzzy with the naked eye but nice using binoculars. You only see so many comets in one lifetime. I can remember where I watched four memorable ones. 
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 20, 2020, 06:30:35 PM
More on the UAE Mars mission launched yesterday

United Arab Emirates begins historic first interplanetary mission
A flight of international cooperation, the mission has three main objectives, to:
   1   understand the climate dynamics and the global weather map of Mars through characterizing the planet’s lower atmosphere,
   2   explain how weather changes the escape of hydrogen and oxygen through correlating the lower atmosphere conditions with the upper atmosphere,
   3   understand the structure and variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere, as well as identifying why Mars is losing them to space.

With this set of three objectives, the Emirates Mars Mission will be the first to form a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere — including an improved understanding of how circulation and weather in Mars’ lower and middle atmosphere contribute to the escape of atmospheric particles to space.

In this regard, Al Amal will be “the first true weather satellite” at Mars, according to the mission’s project managers and leaders.

The Al Amal spacecraft was built by 150 Emirati engineers and 200 partnering U.S. engineers and scientists, with the majority of construction having taken place at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado. Academic partners from Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley also collaborated in the development of the orbiter. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on July 21, 2020, 01:55:15 PM
That´s a cool mission.  :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 21, 2020, 09:10:42 PM
... might explain 'Snowball Earth' ...

Asteroid Shower On the Earth-Moon System 800 Million Years Ago Revealed by Lunar Craters

A research team led by Osaka University investigated the formation ages of 59 lunar craters with a diameter of approximately 20 km using the Terrain Camera (TC) onboard the lunar orbiter spacecraft Kaguya.

... The group demonstrated that an asteroid of 100 km in diameter was disrupted 800 million years ago (800 Ma) and that at least (4-5) ×10^[sp]16[/sp] kg of meteoroids, approximately 30-60 times more than the Chicxulub impact, must have plunged into the Earth-Moon system. Their research results were published in Nature Communications.


... The probability of an asteroid of the size of the K-T impactor striking Earth is thought to be once in 100 million years. It is known that impact craters on Earth created before 600 Ma have been erased over the years by erosion, volcanism, and other geologic processes. Thus, to find out about ancient meteoroid impacts on Earth, they investigated the Moon, which has almost no erosion.

They investigated the formation age distribution of 59 large craters with diameters larger than approximately 20 km by examining the density of 0.1-1 km-diameter craters in the ejecta of these 59 craters. One of these examples is the Copernicus crater (93 km in diameter) and its surrounding craters. The density of 860 craters with diameter of 0.1-1 km (shown in green) was examined to derive the age of the Copernicus crater. As a result, 8 of 59 craters were found to be formed simultaneously (17 by a spike model), a world first.


Considering crater scaling laws and collision probabilities with the Earth and Moon, at least (4-5)×1016 kg of meteoroids, approximately 30-60 times more than the Chicxulub impact, must have struck the Earth immediately before the Cryogenian (720-635 Ma), which was an era of great environmental and biological changes.

In addition, given the disruption age and orbit elements of existing asteroid families, it is highly likely that the disruption of the parent body of C-type asteroid Eulalia caused an asteroid shower. A C-type asteroid is a class expected to contain carbon in analogy to the carbonaceous chondrites (meteorites).

Because Eulalia's surface reflectance is similar to that of near-Earth C-type asteroid Ryugu, Eulalia has drawn attention as a parent body of a C-type Rubble pile, a celestial body consisting of numerous pieces of rock near the Earth. (Sugita et al. 2019)

From these considerations, they concluded that sporadic meteorite bombardment due to the disruption of asteroids 800 Ma caused the following:

- Some of the resulting fragments fell on terrestrial planets and the Sun
- Others stayed in an asteroid belt as the Eulalia family, and
- Remnants had orbital evolution as a member of near-Earth asteroids.

This research suggests the following possibilities:

- An asteroid shower may have brought a large amount of phosphorus (P) to the Earth, affecting the terrestrial surface environment,
- A recent C-type asteroid shower may have contaminated the lunar surface with volatile elements,
- The Eulalia family, the parent body of a near-Earth C-type asteroid, may have brought an asteroid shower to the Earth and the Moon.

Terada, K., Morota, T. & Kato, M. Asteroid shower on the Earth-Moon system immediately before the Cryogenian period revealed by KAGUYA. Nature Communications (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: JayW on July 21, 2020, 11:54:04 PM
The comet was visible last night here in Calif.  It was about halfway between the horizon and the Big Dipper at 9:45pm.  Kinda fuzzy with the naked eye but nice using binoculars. You only see so many comets in one lifetime. I can remember where I watched four memorable ones.
Quite visible in the Maine darkness. Snagged a few shots last night.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on July 22, 2020, 09:10:29 AM
WOW, amazing, Jay. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 23, 2020, 08:50:54 PM
China’s probe is successfully on its way to Mars:

Mike Wall. 
“…the mission's name: Tianwen means "questions to heaven," and it was taken from the title of a poem by Qu Yuan, who lived from about 340 to 278 BCE.”
China launches ambitious Tianwen-1 Mars rover mission

Chris Gebhardt.  The Long March 5 rocket used on this mission has a less than stellar history.
China seeks “Heavenly Questions” with ambitious Tianwen-1 mission to Mars

Stephen Clark.  More details.
China launches robotic mission to orbit, land, and drive on Mars
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on July 23, 2020, 09:18:58 PM
Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) 7/23/20, 9:19 AM
The U.S. Space Force says “Russia conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon” last Wednesday (July 15): BREAKING
Statement from Gen. Jay Ramond:
 [text image at the link]

< Would it be this ?

Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 7/17/20, 5:04 PM
Object 45915 appears to have separated from Kosmos-2543 at about 0750 UTC Jul 15 at a fairly high relative velocity (I don't entirely trust my code here so someone else should look at this)
Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) 7/23/20, 9:25 AM
Yes, that’s it.
From USSF: “Russia injected a new object into orbit from Cosmos 2543, currently Satellite Catalog Number 45915”

From April:
Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) 4/15/20, 4:50 PM
U.S. Space Command says Russia conducted a test of an anti-satellite missile today, "capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit."
Russia last conducted a test of its PL-19 Nudol anti-satellite missile system in December 2018.
~ Russia continues to try to expand its space capabilities. While this would be the 8th test of the PL-19 Nudol system, US intelligence has captured photographers of an air-launched anti-satellite missile on an MiG-31, as @amanda_m_macias reported:

Russia tests anti-satellite missile, US general says

From February:
Russian Spacecraft Tailing U.S. Spy Satellite, General Says
A pair of Russian satellites are tailing a multibillion-dollar U.S. spy satellite hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, a top U.S. military commander tells TIME, underscoring a growing threat to America’s dominance in space-based espionage and a potentially costly new chapter in Washington’s decades-long competition with Moscow.

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander of the newly minted U.S. Space Force, says the Russian spacecraft began maneuvering toward the American satellite shortly after being launched into orbit in November, at times creeping within 100 miles of it. “We view this behavior as unusual and disturbing,” Raymond says. “It has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space.” Raymond says the U.S. government has expressed concern to Moscow through diplomatic channels. …
H/t  Artemiy (@superartemiy)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 24, 2020, 04:11:52 PM

NASA released a mesmerizing video this week that shows Perseverance's last steps toward the launch pad, as it gets packed up and ready to board the rocket to the Red Planet.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on July 25, 2020, 01:23:07 AM
On Friday, the NASA Asteroid Watch Twitter account shared a GIF of the Atlas Maunoloa telescope's view of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft against a field of stars. Red lines point out the spacecraft's movement.

During routine survey operations for hazardous #asteroids for @NASA
's  #PlanetaryDefense Coordination Office, the @fallingstarIfA ATLAS-MLO telescope spotted China’s Tianwen-1 on its way to #Mars. Bon Voyage Tianwen-1!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on August 06, 2020, 04:50:23 PM
Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers, researchers say


A large number of the valley networks scarring Mars's surface were carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers as previously thought, according to new UBC research published today in Nature Geoscience. The findings effectively throw cold water on the dominant "warm and wet ancient Mars" hypothesis, which postulates that rivers, rainfall and oceans once existed on the red planet.

To reach this conclusion, lead author Anna Grau Galofre, former PhD student in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences, developed and used new techniques to examine thousands of Martian valleys. She and her co-authors also compared the Martian valleys to the subglacial channels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and uncovered striking similarities.

"For the last 40 years, since Mars's valleys were first discovered, the assumption was that rivers once flowed on Mars, eroding and originating all of these valleys," says Grau Galofre. "But there are hundreds of valleys on Mars, and they look very different from each other. If you look at Earth from a satellite you see a lot of valleys: some of them made by rivers, some made by glaciers, some made by other processes, and each type has a distinctive shape. Mars is similar, in that valleys look very different from each other, suggesting that many processes were at play to carve them."


In total, the researchers analyzed more than 10,000 Martian valleys, using a novel algorithm to infer their underlying erosion processes. "These results are the first evidence for extensive subglacial erosion driven by channelized meltwater drainage beneath an ancient ice sheet on Mars," says co-author Mark Jellinek, professor in UBC's department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences. "The findings demonstrate that only a fraction of valley networks match patterns typical of surface water erosion, which is in marked contrast to the conventional view. Using the geomorphology of Mars' surface to rigorously reconstruct the character and evolution of the planet in a statistically meaningful way is, frankly, revolutionary."

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones on August 06, 2020, 07:59:02 PM
Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers, researchers say


Hmmm. Eskers? If Mars were once covered in an ice sheet, and rivers flowed under the ice, one would think there would be other evidence of this ice- moraines probably and eskers for sure. The article did not rule this out. Maybe nobody looked yet....
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: igs on August 06, 2020, 09:27:02 PM
Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers, researchers say

... (

Hmmm. Eskers? If Mars were once covered in an ice sheet, and rivers flowed under the ice, one would think there would be other evidence of this ice- moraines probably and eskers for sure. The article did not rule this out. Maybe nobody looked yet....

Probably like so often what happened in parts of a place is generalized.

I assume that both is true, there wore open rivers ( see erosion marks ) as well as under glacial rivers.

Mars has different regions, climate zones and geological zones like the midwest of the U.S. is not nearly the same like L.A., S.F. N.Y. that are all distinct from FL or TX, cultural, climate-wise as well as geologically and Mars will be no different.

Reminds me of some people calling me in Winter how we manage all the snow, just because in norther european news they said it's bloody cold and snowing in Spain while in fact that was true for Madrid and some parts north of it while the coast had 15 - 20C daily higs and 8-10C nightly lows.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on August 07, 2020, 03:27:43 PM
A proof of concept:

Hubble just made a major breakthrough in the search for alien life

Hubble took advantage of a total lunar eclipse to do a bit of science that may one day be used to detect life on other worlds. As NASA reports in a new blog post and video, Hubble was able to use the Moon as a sort of “mirror” that reflected the light beaming through Earth’s atmosphere. By analyzing the wavelengths of light coming through our planet’s atmosphere and bouncing off the surface of the Moon, researchers were able to detect the presence of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: blumenkraft on August 07, 2020, 05:51:38 PM
Mysterious 'fast radio burst' detected closer to Earth than ever before
Nothing mysterious with FRB though.

"The bursts of powerful radio waves last only a few milliseconds at most, but generate more energy in that time than Earth's sun does in a century. "

Link >>
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 12, 2020, 04:04:56 AM
T.S. Kelso (@TSKelso) 8/11/20, 7:26 PM
We now have 230 pieces of cataloged debris from the 2020 May 8 Fregat fragmentation event. The debris has spread all over LEO due to differential precession. Yet one more reason not to leave upper stages in orbit after they have completed their mission:

Orbital Debris Quarterly News - August 2020
Second Fragmentation of Fregat Upper Stage Debris
Image below.

Orbital Debris Quarterly News - May 2018
Fragmentation of Fregat-SB Upper Stage Debris

Note:  SpaceX (among other launchers) specifically program their upper stages to safely dump their fuel and de-orbit after delivering their payload.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 13, 2020, 12:00:28 AM
The Iconic Arecibo Telescope Goes Quiet After Major Damage

Early Monday morning, a cable suspended over the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico broke and left a 100-foot-long gash in the dish of the iconic radio telescope. The 3-inch diameter cable also caused damage to the panels of the Gregorian dome that is suspended hundreds of feet above the dish and houses the telescope’s receivers. It is unclear what caused the cable to break or when radio astronomers using the telescope will be able to resume their research.


“This was an auxiliary cable used to support the weight of the platform, and we are in the process of assessing why it broke,” says Zenaida Kotala, the assistant vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory. “We are working with engineers to determine a strategy for repairs. Our goal is to get the facility operational as soon as it is possible to do so safely.”

The history of the Arecibo telescope is also deeply entwined with the history of SETI. The planetary astronomer Frank Drake, who conducted the first radio SETI search the same year that construction on Arecibo began, served as the observatory’s director for years. In 1976, he and Carl Sagan used the telescope to transmit the world’s first interstellar message to a star system 12,000 light years away.  ... For years, Siemion and his colleagues at Berkeley collected radio data from Arecibo for SETI@Home, a distributed computing project that allowed anyone with an internet connection to help in the search for intelligent aliens.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on August 13, 2020, 06:37:37 PM
Gregorian dome. You learn something new everyday.
I had never seen it before so thanks for number 2!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: igs on August 13, 2020, 07:42:50 PM
Gregorian dome. You learn something new everyday.
I had never seen it before so thanks for number 2!

James Bond Spot which is why it's quite well known.
That things is really really old for the kind of construction, first of it's kind  and I hope they are able to repair it.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 13, 2020, 10:03:34 PM
Hubble Finds That Betelgeuse's Mysterious Dimming Due to Traumatic Outburst


This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star's surface. In panel three, the outflowing expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star's surface.

... Between October and November 2019, Hubble Space Telescope observed dense, heated material moving outward through the star's extended atmosphere at 200,000 miles per hour. The following month, several ground-based telescopes observed a decrease in brightness in Betelgeuse's southern hemisphere, as if something was blocking light in this region of the star. By February 2020, the star had lost more than two-thirds of its brilliance, a dimming visible even to the naked eye, creating buzz that the star might be going supernova. Continued ultraviolet light spectroscopic observations with Hubble provided a timeline for researchers to follow, like breadcrumbs leading back through time to pinpoint the source of the mysterious dimming.

And Betelgeuse held another surprise for scientists when Hubble observations revealed that the detected plasma was not ejected from the star's rotational poles as predicted by stellar models. "Hubble observations suggest that material can be driven off from any part of the stellar surface," said Dupree, adding that recent activity on Betelgeuse was not normal for this star. Dupree noted that Betelgeuse is losing mass at a rate 30 million times higher than the Sun, but that recent activity resulted in a loss of roughly two times the normal amount of material from the southern hemisphere alone.

... "No one knows how a star behaves in the weeks before it explodes, and there were some ominous predictions that Betelgeuse was ready to become a supernova. Chances are, however, that it will not explode during our lifetime, but who knows?"
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 14, 2020, 09:23:38 PM
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter passes first test in space
August 13, 2020
A week into its seven-month journey to Mars and already several million miles from Earth, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has been successfully powered up for the first time during its epic trip with the Perseverance rover.

The procedure, which lasted eight hours, saw the charge level of the helicopter’s six lithium-ion batteries brought up to 35%, with a low charge state considered optimal for battery health during the cruise to Mars. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 18, 2020, 05:03:41 PM
The Sun May Have Started Its Life With a Binary Companion

A new theory published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by scientists from Harvard University suggests that the sun may once have had a binary companion of similar mass. If confirmed, the presence of an early stellar companion increases the likelihood that the Oort cloud was formed as observed and that Planet Nine was captured rather than formed within the solar system.

... "Previous models have had difficulty producing the expected ratio between scattered disk objects and outer Oort cloud objects. The binary capture model offers significant improvement and refinement, which is seemingly obvious in retrospect: most sun-like stars are born with binary companions."

... More than just redefining the formation of our solar system, evidence of a captured Oort cloud could answer questions about the origins of life on Earth. "Objects in the outer Oort Cloud may have played important roles in Earth's history, such as possibly delivering water to Earth and causing the extinction of the dinosaurs," said Siraj. "Understanding their origins is important."

The model also has implications for the hypothesized Planet Nine, which Loeb and Siraj believe isn't alone out there. "The puzzle is not only regarding the Oort clouds, but also extreme trans-Neptunian objects, like the potential Planet Nine," said Loeb. "It is unclear where they came from, and our new model predicts that there should be more objects with a similar orbital orientation to Planet Nine."


The Case for an Early Solar Binary Companion, arXiv:2007.10339
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 18, 2020, 07:25:13 PM
NASA satellite set to conclude successful green propellant demo mission
August 17, 2020 Stephen Clark
A NASA-funded satellite that launched last year on the third flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket has begun a sequence of thruster firings to begin falling out of orbit after successfully demonstrating the effectiveness of a non-toxic fuel that could fly on future space missions.

The Green Propellant Infusion Mission, or GPIM, spacecraft is in the final weeks of its in-orbit test campaign aimed at proving the usefulness of the non-toxic fuel that could replace hydrazine — a caustic liquid that requires special handling before launch — for spacecraft propulsion needs.

Ground teams exercised the GPIM spacecraft’s five thrusters across a range of operating modes over the past year, testing their ability to control the satellite’s attitude, or pointing, and demonstrating their effectiveness at changing the spacecraft’s orbital altitude.

The main purpose of the $65 million GPIM mission was to test the performance of a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel and oxidizer blend called AF-M315E, which could take the place of hydrazine used in conventional satellite propulsion systems. Hydrazine is often mixed with nitrogen tetroxide, another hazardous chemical, to feed small maneuvering thrusters on-board satellites in space.

The “green” propellant blend comes with several benefits, officials said before the mission’s launch.
Technicians can load the AF-M315E blend onto a spacecraft without needing to wear protective self-contained suits to guard themselves against a toxic leak. The green propellant blend is more dense and viscous than hydrazine, allowing more of the AF-M315E fuel to fit into the same tank volume.
That results in an improvement in the performance of a spacecraft’s propulsion system.

“If I compare this to a standard monopropellant hydrazine system, we have 50 percent more total impulse available, mainly due the density of the propellant,” said Chris McLean, the GPIM mission’s principal investigator from Ball Aerospace. “So for a given tank volume, we’re able to squeeze in 50 percent more propellant, which means 50 percent more mileage for the spacecraft.” …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 18, 2020, 07:53:34 PM
Northrop Grumman just launched its second satellite rescue mission
Loren Grush Aug 17, 2020
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.” …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow 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
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. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones 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
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. ...

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!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on August 19, 2020, 12:46:38 PM
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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: crandles 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 because they only show .1LD precision

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on August 21, 2020, 08:44:04 PM
UAE Mars mission
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.
Two images at the link.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 21, 2020, 10:35:39 PM
Exploding Stars May Have Caused Mass Extinction On Earth, Study Shows

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)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on August 27, 2020, 08:29:13 PM
Waterworld: Meteorite Study Suggests Earth May Have Been Wet Since It Formed

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).

Anne H. Peslier, "The origins of water", Science (2020).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow 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
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. …

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:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 08, 2020, 10:35:41 PM
Sensors of World's Largest Digital Telescope Camera Snap First 3,200-Megapixel Images at SLAC

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)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 09, 2020, 11:01:08 PM
NASA’s 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on September 10, 2020, 07:50:59 AM

Charming. Thanks.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 10, 2020, 10:08:56 PM
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!…

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
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. …

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:
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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 13, 2020, 03:51:41 PM
—-  Camera & sound from Space Shuttle Booster!
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.

"Riding the Booster" Never Sounded Better
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi 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.


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


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

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)


Could There Be Life In the Cloudtops of Venus?

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)


Unidentified ‘Absorbers’ Soak Up Solar Energy in Upper Cloud Layer of Venus

... 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
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 14, 2020, 03:49:41 PM
^ ... we are not alone ...

Watch today’s 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

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 14, 2020, 05:47:16 PM
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,

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).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on September 14, 2020, 08:05:25 PM
Cool find.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sebastian Jones on September 15, 2020, 12:55:47 AM
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. (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 15, 2020, 04:20:58 PM
Twitter, at least one corner of it, has been noting that penguin guano can emit phosphine, and that maybe penguins colonized Venus....

Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 9/14/20, 5:21 PM
Don't get me wrong. I for one welcome our new Venusian floating penguin overlords.
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
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar 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.]
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi 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

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

Projectile Trajectory of Penguin's Faeces and Rectal Pressure Revisited

... don't stand behind them!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 16, 2020, 01:50:39 AM

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities for Venus Exploration
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy 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...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: interstitial 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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow 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
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. …

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.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 17, 2020, 10:14:00 PM

What is the Hera, DART Planetary Defense Mission?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 21, 2020, 01:03:59 AM
Russian Nuclear Space Tug

Russia is starting to build a full-size 200kW nuclear-powered space tug prototype/mockup with, what looks like, a Hall ion thruster.

Interplanetary? Probably aspirational.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 21, 2020, 01:06:57 AM
Infrared Eyes On Enceladus: Hints of Fresh Ice In Northern (and Southern) Hemisphere


New composite images made from NASA's Cassini spacecraft are the most detailed global infrared views ever produced of Saturn's moon Enceladus. And data used to build those images provides strong evidence that the northern hemisphere of the moon has been resurfaced with ice from its interior.

Cassini's Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) collected light reflected off Saturn, its rings and its ten major icy moons—light that is visible to humans as well as infrared light. VIMS then separated the light into its various wavelengths, information that tells scientists more about the makeup of the material reflecting it.

The VIMS data, combined with detailed images captured by Cassini's Imaging Science Subsystem, were used to make the new global spectral map of Enceladus.

The new spectral map shows that infrared signals clearly correlate with that geologic activity, which is easily seen at the south pole. That's where the so-called "tiger stripe" gashes blast ice and vapor from the interior ocean.

But some of the same infrared features also appear in the northern hemisphere. That tells scientists not only that the northern area is covered with fresh ice but that the same kind of geologic activity—a resurfacing of the landscape—has occurred in both hemispheres. The resurfacing in the north may be due either to icy jets or to a more gradual movement of ice through fractures in the crust, from the subsurface ocean to the surface.

Infrared images of Enceladus were used to make this interactive 3D globe at the link.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 23, 2020, 11:40:47 PM
New Analysis of Black Hole Reveals a Wobbling Shadow


In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration delivered the first image of a black hole, revealing M87*—the supermassive object in the center of the M87 galaxy. The team has now used the lessons learned last year to analyze the archival data sets from 2009-2013, some of them not published before.

The analysis reveals the behavior of the black hole image across multiple years, indicating persistence of the crescent-like shadow feature, but also variation of its orientation—the crescent appears to be wobbling. The full results appeared today in The Astrophysical Journal.

Expanding the analysis to the 2009-2017 observations, scientists have shown that M87* adheres to theoretical expectations. The black hole's shadow diameter has remained consistent with the prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity for a black hole of 6.5 billion solar masses.

But while the crescent diameter remained consistent, the EHT team found that the data were hiding a surprise: The ring is wobbling, and that means big news for scientists. For the first time they can get a glimpse of the dynamical structure of the accretion flow so close to the black hole's event horizon, in extreme gravity conditions. Studying this region holds the key to understanding phenomena such as relativistic jet launching, and will allow scientists to formulate new tests of the theory of general relativity.

Maciek Wielgus et al. Monitoring the Morphology of M87* in 2009–2017 with the Event Horizon Telescope, The Astrophysical Journal (2020).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 24, 2020, 04:29:37 PM
—- ISS Maneuvers to avoid space debris from a 2019 Japanese rocket breakup
Thomas Burghardt (@TGMetsFan98) 9/22/20, 4:34 PM
The 3 crew members on the ISS have boarded the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft due to a predicted close approach to a piece of space debris at 22:21 UTC. An avoidance maneuver is being conducted at 21:19 UTC using the Progress MS-14 spacecraft’s engines.
Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) 9/22/20, 4:25 PM

The station is preparing to avoid a piece of unknown space debris being tracked by @NASA_Johnson flight controllers and @US_SpaceCom. The Exp 63 crew has relocated to its Soyuz crew ship. The time of closest approach is 6:21 pm ET. More...

Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 9/22/20, 7:53 PM
The debris object that ISS avoided is now available on SpaceTrack as 2018-084CQ, 46477, from the breakup of Japan's H-2A F40 rocket stage. At 2221:07 UTC it passed within a few km of ISS at a relative velocity of 14 6 km/s, 422 km over the Pitcairn Is in the S Pacific
~ Correction: it passed within a few km of the position ISS would have been at if it hadn't manuevered
~ H2A F40 launched GOSAT-2 in Oct 2018. The stage appears to have made a depletion burn to lower orbit from 597 x 618 km to 598 x 520 km. Nevertheless it underwent a major breakup on 2019 Feb 6.
~ 77 debris objects have been cataloged from the breakup; 5 have reentered so far. This plot shows the locations at conjunction time of the remaining 72 (almost all in one plane) and the pre-maneuver track of ISS for +/- 10 min
⬇️Image below.
Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 9/22/20, 8:50 PM

Most of the debris objects are still at somewhat higher altitudes, but they will eventually decay through the ISS height range

Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) 9/22/20, 5:25 PM
Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven
Jim Bridenstine:  The @Space_Station has maneuvered 3 times in 2020 to avoid debris. In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse! Time for Congress to provide @CommerceGov with the $15 mil requested by @POTUS for the Office of Space Commerce.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on September 24, 2020, 05:08:57 PM
—- ISS Maneuvers to avoid space debris from a 2019 Japanese rocket breakup

In recent years, international space organizations have agreed to de-orbit rocket upper stages, build satellites so they burn up completely on re-entry, and retire aging satellites to “graveyard orbits” away from popular space locations.

• “Potential conjunctions” are becoming more frequent
• Frequent enough for governments to be concerned
   • Concerned enough to budget money to address the problem

• Access to space is getting commercialized, more reliable, and cheaper
• Space tech has, within the past few years, progressed to the point that solutions are in the development stages:
    • “Space tugs” that can attach to aging satellites and keep them oriented correctly and extend their lives, or move them to a graveyard orbit, or deorbit them.
   • SpaceX’s reusable Starship is planned to have a compartment like the Space Shuttle that will open to allow retrieval of space objects, for repair, repositioning or return to earth.
   • Smaller spacecraft are being built that can grasp or snag debris in nets for disposal.

• Expect that governments and major space companies will, in their own interest, fund a continual flow of “cleanup missions” in the years ahead.
• Eventually such cleanup will be autonomous, robotic, and constant — like city street sweepers, but at a whole new level! ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on September 24, 2020, 05:18:05 PM
It better be soon.
If not w e could have a Kessler cascade where satellite collisions spread debris to cause more collisions like the chain reaction of an atomic bomb.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 24, 2020, 08:50:55 PM
Faint Orbital Debris That Threatens Satellites Not Being Monitored Closely Enough, Warn Astronomers

University of Warwick astronomers are warning that orbital debris posing a threat to operational satellites is not being monitored closely enough, as they publish a new survey finding that over 75% of the orbital debris they detected could not be matched to known objects in public satellite catalogs.

The research forms part of DebrisWatch, an ongoing collaboration between the University of Warwick and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (UK) aiming to provide a fresh take on surveys of the geosynchronous region that have been conducted in the past. The results are reported in the journal Advances in Space Research

... Many of the faint, uncatalogued debris appear to be tumbling, showing significant brightness variation across the observation window.

... The astronomers focused their survey on the geosynchronous region, located roughly 36,000 kilometers above the Equator, where satellites orbit with a period that matches the Earth's rotation. Far above the outermost layer of the Earth's atmosphere, there are no natural mechanisms (like atmospheric drag) to induce orbital decay, so debris generated in the vicinity of the geosynchronous region will remain there for a very long time indeed.

James A. Blake et al. DebrisWatch I: A survey of faint geosynchronous debris, Advances in Space Research (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 25, 2020, 09:13:24 PM

On Oct. 20, the OSIRIS-REx mission will perform the first attempt of its Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event. Not only will the spacecraft navigate to the surface using innovative navigation techniques, but it could also collect the largest sample since the Apollo missions.


New Measurements Show Moon Has Hazardous Radiation Levels

When the next astronaut to reach the moon walks on the lunar surface in 2024, she'll face radiation levels 200 to 1000 times higher than on Earth.

While Apollo mission astronauts carried dosimeters to the moon to measure radiation, the data was never reported.

The first systematically documented measurements of radiation on the moon were undertaken in January 2019 when China's Chang'e 4 robotic spacecraft mission landed on the far side of the Moon, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances.

Astronauts on moon missions would experience an average daily radiation dose equivalent to 1,369 microsieverts per day -- about 2.6 times higher than the International Space Station crew's daily dose, the study said.

"The radiation levels we measured on the Moon are about 200 to 1000 times higher than on the surface of the Earth and 5 to 10 times higher than on a flight from New York to Frankfurt," said Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, a professor of physics at the University of Kiel in Germany and the corresponding author of the study that published Friday, in a statement.

"Because astronauts would be exposed to these radiation levels longer than passengers or pilots on transatlantic flights, this is a considerable exposure."

"Basically, the less you see of the sky, the better. That's the primary source of the radiation,"

S. Zhang el al., First measurements of the radiation dose on the lunar surface, Science Advances (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 29, 2020, 01:00:12 AM
Salty Lake, Ponds May Be Gurgling Beneath Mars' South Pole

More liquid water may exist beneath the Martian surface than we realized, according to new research published today in Nature Astronomy. The new paper describes several newly detected subglacial water bodies beneath the Martian south pole, in addition to the described water body found two years ago.

Blue regions show high reflective permittivity—a potential sign of liquid water. Image: S. E. Lauro et al., 2020/Nature Astronomy

In the latest study appearing in the journal Nature Astronomy, the scientists provide further evidence of this salty underground lake, estimated to be 12 miles to 18 miles (20 kilometers to 30 kilometers) across and buried 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) beneath the icy surface.

Even more tantalizing, they've also identified three smaller bodies of water surrounding the lake. These ponds appear to be of various sizes and are separate from the main lake.

The research team led by Roma Tre University's Sebastian Emanuel Lauro used a method similar to what's been used on Earth to detect buried lakes in the Antarctic and Canadian Arctic. They based their findings on more than 100 radar observations by Mars Express from 2010 to 2019; the spacecraft was launched in 2003.

All this potential water raises the possibility of microbial life on—or inside—Mars. High concentrations of salt are likely keeping the water from freezing at this frigid location, the scientists noted. The surface temperature at the South Pole is an estimated minus 172 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 113 degrees Celsius), and gets gradually warmer with depth.

Multiple subglacial water bodies below the south pole of Mars unveiled by new MARSIS data, Nature Astronomy (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 29, 2020, 05:15:54 PM
Second Alignment Plane of Solar System Discovered

Artist’s impression of the distribution of long-period comets. The converging lines represent the paths of the comets. The ecliptic plane is shown in yellow and the empty ecliptic is shown in blue. The background grid represents the plane of the galactic disk.

A study of comet motions indicates that the solar system has a second alignment plane. Analytical investigation of the orbits of long-period comets shows that the aphelia of the comets, the point where they are farthest from the Sun, tend to fall close to either the well-known ecliptic plane where the planets reside or a newly discovered "empty ecliptic." This has important implications for models of how comets originally formed in the solar system.

Models of solar system formation suggest that even long-period comets originally formed near the ecliptic and were later scattered into the orbits observed today through gravitational interactions, most notably with the gas giant planets. But even with planetary scattering, the comet's aphelion, the point where it is farthest from the Sun, should remain near the ecliptic. Other external forces are needed to explain the observed distribution.

The solar system does not exist in isolation; the gravitational field of the Milky Way galaxy in which the solar system resides also exerts a small but non-negligible influence. Arika Higuchi, an assistant professor at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan and previously a member of the NAOJ RISE Project, studied the effects of the galactic gravity on long-period comets through analytical investigation of the equations governing orbital motion.

She showed that when the galactic gravity is taken into account, the aphelia of long-period comets tend to collect around two planes. First the well-known ecliptic, but also a second "empty ecliptic." The ecliptic is inclined with respect to the disk of the Milky Way by about 60 degrees. The empty ecliptic is also inclined by 60 degrees, but in the opposite direction. Higuchi calls this the "empty ecliptic" based on mathematical nomenclature and because initially it contains no objects, only later being populated with scattered comets. ...

Arika Higuchi. Anisotropy of Long-period Comets Explained by Their Formation Process, The Astronomical Journal (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 30, 2020, 06:31:09 AM
Planet Collision Simulations Give Clues to Atmospheric Loss from Moon's Origin

Earth could have lost anywhere between ten and 60 percent of its atmosphere in the collision that is thought to have formed the Moon.

New research led by Durham University, UK, shows how the extent of atmospheric loss depends upon the type of giant impact with the Earth

Researchers ran more than 300 supercomputer simulations to study the consequences that different huge collisions have on rocky planets with thin atmospheres.

They found that grazing impacts – like the one thought to have formed our Moon 4.5 billion years ago – led to much less atmospheric loss than a direct hit.

They also found that slow giant impacts between young planets and massive objects could add significant atmosphere to a planet if the impactor also has a lot of atmosphere.

The simulations revealed the different outcomes when one or more of these variables are changed, leading to atmospheric loss or gain, or sometimes the complete obliteration of the impacted planet.

Kegerreis J, et al, Atmospheric Erosion by Giant Impacts onto Terrestrial Planets: A Scaling Law for any Speed, Angle, Mass, and Density, The Astrophysical Journal Letters 2020
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on September 30, 2020, 07:39:35 PM
Stellar Explosion in Earth's Proximity

Physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have found evidence of a supernova that exploded near the Earth around 2.5 million years ago.

In layers of a manganese crust that are around two and a half million years old a research team led by physicists from the Technical University of Munich has now confirmed the existence of both iron-60 and manganese-53.

"The increased concentrations of manganese-53 can be taken as the "smoking gun"—the ultimate proof that this supernova really did take place," says first author Dr. Gunther Korschinek.

While a very close supernova could inflict massive harm to life on Earth, this one was far enough away. It only caused a boost in cosmic rays over several thousand years. "However, this can lead to increased cloud formation," says co-author Dr. Thomas Faestermann. "Perhaps there is a link to the Pleistocene epoch, the period of the Ice Ages, which began 2.6 million years ago."

... accelerator mass spectrometry is so sensitive that it even allows us to calculate from our measurements that the star that exploded must have had around 11 to 25 times the size of the sun."

G. Korschinek et al, Supernova-Produced Mn53 on Earth, Physical Review Letters (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 01, 2020, 12:00:42 AM
vox_mundi, that supernova may not have been close enough to cause a mass extinction 2.5 million years ago, but it looks like a gamma ray burst was close enough to us 440 million years ago to cause a mass extinction:
The best place and time to live in the Milky Way
R. Spinelli ‹1
, G. Ghirlanda2
, F. Haardt1, 2, 3 G. Ghisellini2
, G. Scuderi4
1 Dipartimento di Scienza e Alta Tecnologia, Università dell’Insubria, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, Via E. Bianchi 46, 23807 Merate (LC), Italy
INFN – Sezione Milano–Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, 20126 Milano, Italy
4 Dipartimento di Fisica G. Occhialini, Università Milano–Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, 20126 Milano, Italy
Received September 18, 2020; accepted
Context. Among the most powerful cosmic events, supernovae (SNe) and γ´ray bursts (GRBs) can be highly disruptive for life:
their radiation can be harmful for biota or induce extinction by removing most of the protective atmospheric ozone layer on terrestrial
planets. Nearby high-energy transient astrophysical events have been proposed as possible triggers of mass extinctions on Earth.
Aims. We aim at assessing the habitability of the Milky Way (MW) along its cosmic history against potentially disruptive astrophysical
transients with the scope of identifying the safest places and epochs within our Galaxy. We also test the hypothesis that long GRBs
had a leading role in the late Ordovician mass extinction event („ 440 Myrs ago).
Methods. We characterise the habitability of the MW along its cosmic history as a function of galactocentric distance of terrestrial
planets. We estimate the dangerous effects of transient astrophysical events (long/short GRBs and SNe) with a model which binds
their rate to the specific star formation and metallicity evolution within the Galaxy along its cosmic history. Our model also accounts
for the probability of forming terrestrial planets around FGK and M stars.
Results. Until „6 billion years ago the outskirts of the Galaxy were the safest places to live, despite the relatively low density of
terrestrial planets. In the last „4 billion years, regions between 2 and 8 kpc from the center, featuring a higher density of terrestrial
planets, became the best places for a relatively safer biotic life growth. We confirm the hypothesis that one long GRB had a leading
role in the late Ordovician mass extinction event. In the last 500 Myrs, the safest galactic region is comprised between 2 and 8 kpc
from the center of the MW, whereas the outskirts of the Galaxy have been sterilized by 2–5 long GRBs.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 01, 2020, 03:37:50 AM
Did NASA Detect a Hint of Life On Venus In 1978 and Not Realize It?


... digging through archival NASA data, Rakesh Mogul, a biochemist at Cal Poly Pomona in California, and colleagues have found a hint of phosphine picked up by Pioneer 13 — a probe that reached Venus in December 1978.

"When the [Nature Astronomy paper] came out, I immediately thought of the legacy mass spectra," Mogul told Live Science.

Mogul and his coauthors were broadly familiar with the data from the missions, he said. "So, for us, it was a natural next step to give the data another look.  As such, after consulting with my co-authors, we identified the original scientific articles, and promptly started looking for phosphorous compounds."

The discovery, published to the arXiv database Sept. 22 and not yet peer reviewed, doesn't tell researchers much beyond what was reported in Nature Astronomy — though it does make the presence of phosphine (made up of a phosphorus atom and three hydrogens) even more certain, they said. The 1978 data comes from the Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS), one of several instruments that descended into Venus' atmosphere as part of the Pioneer 13 mission.

Pioneer 13 dropped a large probe (the LNMS) into Venus' clouds; suspended from a parachute, the probe collected data and beamed it back to Earth as it plummeted toward its robotic death. (Three smaller probes also dropped from Pioneer 13 without parachutes.) The LNMS sampled the atmosphere and ran those samples through mass spectrometry, a standard lab technique used to identify unknown chemicals. When scientists first described the LNMS results in the 1970s, they didn't discuss phosphorus-based compounds like phosphine, focusing instead on other chemicals.

LNMS wasn't built to hunt phosphine-like compounds, and would have had a hard time distinguishing the gas from other molecules that have similar masses. But Pioneer 13's sample did have evidence of some molecule present in the gas that had the same mass as phosphine — in amounts that match the levels described in the Nature Astronomy paper.

... Mogul and his colleagues also found hints of other chemicals that shouldn't arise naturally in Venus' clouds — substances like chlorine, oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.

"We believe this to be an indication of chemistries not yet discovered," they wrote, "and/or chemistries potentially favorable for life."

Rakesh Mogul,, Is Phosphine in the Mass Spectra from Venus’ Clouds?
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 02, 2020, 04:22:11 PM
Rogue Earth-Mass Planet Discovered Freely Floating In the Milky Way Without a Star

... Finding something in deep space that emits no light of its own is extremely challenging. But two organizations are doing just that. They're the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) collaboration and the Korean Microlensing Telescope Network (KMTN) collaboration.

Now, a team of scientists from both groups has announced the discovery of a low-mass rogue planet. There are no stars near it, and its distance from Earth is unconfirmed. The team says it proves that the microlensing technique is effective at finding Earth-mass planets that are free-floating in space.

The newly discovered planet, which has been named "OGLE-2016-BLG-1928," was discovered in a microlensing event that lasted only 41.5 minutes. That's not much time for detailed data to be gathered.

... A relatively tiny object like a low-mass planet doesn't bend much light, and not for too long, either. In their paper, the authors say, "Microlensing events due to terrestrial-mass rogue planets are expected to have extremely small angular Einstein radii (.1 µas) and extremely short timescales (0.1 day)." According to the authors, this is the "most extreme short-timescale microlens discovered to date."

Theoretical work shows that there could be billions, or even trillions, of free-floating planets in the Milky Way. In their work, the authors lists the ways these planets can end up orphaned: Planet-planet scattering; dynamical interactions between giant planets that lead to orbital disruption of smaller, inner planets; interactions between the stars in binary or trinary systems and star clusters; stellar fly-bys; and the evolution of the host star past the main sequence.

Mroz et al., A terrestrial-mass rogue planet candidate detected in the shortest-timescale microlensing event. arXiv:2009.12377
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 12, 2020, 05:55:41 PM
Death by Spaghettification: Scientists Record Last Moments of Star Devoured by Black Hole

A rare blast of light, emitted by a star as it is sucked in by a supermassive black hole, has been spotted by scientists using telescopes from around the world.

The phenomenon, known as a tidal disruption event, is the closest flare of its kind yet recorded, occurring just 215 million light-years from Earth. It is caused when a star passes too close to a black hole and the extreme gravitational pull from the black hole shreds the star into thin streams of material—a process called 'spaghettification'. During this process some of the material falls into the black hole, releasing a bright flare of energy which astronomers can detect.

... Using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and New Technology Telescope, the Las Cumbres Observatory global telescope network, and the Neil Gehrel's Swift Satellite, the team was able to monitor the flare, named AT2019qiz, over a six-month period as it grew brighter and then faded away.

"The observations showed that the star had roughly the same mass as our own Sun, and that it lost about half of that to the black hole, which is over a million times more massive," said Nicholl, who is also a visiting researcher at the University of Edinburgh.

"Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10 000 km/s," said Kate Alexander, NASA Einstein Fellow at Northwestern University in the US. "This unique 'peek behind the curtain' provided the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of the obscuring material and follow in real time how it engulfs the black hole."

An outflow powers the optical rise of the nearby, fast-evolving tidal disruption event AT2019qiz, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 13, 2020, 08:51:45 PM
The Puzzle of the Strange Galaxy Made of 99.9% Dark Matter is Solved


Astronomers have measured how much dark matter there is around galaxies, and have found that it varies between 10 and 300 times the quantity of visible matter. However, a few years ago, the discovery of a very diffuse object, named Dragonfly 44, changed this view. It was found that this galaxy has 10,000 times more dark matter than the stars. Taken back by this finding, astronomers have made efforts to see whether this object is really anomalous, or whether something went wrong in the analysis of the observations. Now we have the answer.

An international team led by the Kapteyn Institute of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), with participation by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL), has found that the total number of globular clusters around Dragonfly 44 and, therefore, the dark matter content, is much less than earlier findings had suggested, which shows that this galaxy is neither unique nor anomalous. The result was recently published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

... By an exhaustive analysis of the system of globular cluster around Dragonfly 44, the researchers have detected that the total number of globular clusters is only 20, and that the total quantity of dark matter is around 300 times that of the luminous matter, which means that it is not way outside the normal value for this type of galaxies.

"The fact that in our work we found only 20 globular clusters, compared with the 80 previously claimed, reduces drastically the amount of dark matter which the galaxy is believed to contain," explains Ignacio Trujillo, an IAC researcher and a co-author of the article. "Moreover, with the number of globular clusters we found, the amount of dark matter in Dragonfly 44 is in agreement with what is expected for this type of galaxies. The ratio of visible to dark matter is no longer 1 in 10,000 but one in 300," adds Trujillo.

Teymoor Saifollahi et al, The number of globular clusters around the iconic UDG DF44 is as expected for dwarf galaxies, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 14, 2020, 04:43:18 AM
One satellite, one rocket stage.  Probability of collision is 1-20%.
Oct 16  00:56UTC. 
< One (Cosmos 2004) is an old Russian communication/navigation satellite from the 1980s, and the other (CZ-4C R/B) is the upper stage of a Chinese Long March rocket that launched in 2009. Both of them are inactive and have been for a long time. 

LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 10/13/20, 6:42 PM
We are monitoring a very high risk conjunction between two large defunct objects in LEO. Multiple data points show miss distance <25m and Pc between 1% and 20%. Combined mass of both objects is ~2,800kg.
Object 1: 19826
Object 2: 36123
TCA: Oct 16 00:56UTC
Event altitude: 991km
⬇️ Image below.
~ This is a potentially serious event. It is between 2 large objects and at high altitude, 991km. If there is a collision there will be lots of debris which will remain in orbit for a long time.

< What does “Pc between 1% and 20%” mean?
<< Probability of collision. Those percentages are very high, for context.

< What do the red lines mean?
Matt Shouppe (@MattShouppe) 10/13/20, 7:29 PM
That is the field of view of our New Zealand radar that tracks these objects in space

    < What do the red scribbles over New Zealand mean? Should I move away from the window?
    Tim Ackroyd (@tim_a) 10/13/20, 9:53 PM
    It's all good New Zealand! Just a "radar fence". Nothing to worry about. Enjoy what is left of your day.

< If all space debris is tracked and orbital mechanics are predictable (bar satellites that change their orbits) why was this not known about more than a few days before?
<< orbits are only stable and predictable for a few hundred cycles - then small minor effects like the moon, not-quite-round shape of earth etc add up to a few meters here and there.

< is there any way in situations like this to shove one of them into a graveyard orbit with a third device?
Regan Pestl (@rpestl) 10/13/20, 9:09 PM
Yes, with a few years of planning, likely possible. This event occurs in 2 we are left with the “cross your fingers” option. Possibly the “close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears” approach also might work.

< Yes, inertia has kept these sats at their current altitude. Some debris may drop to lower orbit, some may raise, but bulk will stay at that altitude
< When's the next tracking opportunity?
Matt Shouppe (@MattShouppe) 10/13/20, 9:11 PM
We'll have several more passes over the next 48 hours; we will share more updates as we get new data!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 14, 2020, 01:12:02 PM
Planets form faster than we thought:

Four annular structures in a protostellar disk less than 500,000 years old
Annular structures (rings and gaps) in disks around pre-main-sequence stars have been detected in abundance towards class II protostellar objects that are approximately 1,000,000 years old1. These structures are often interpreted as evidence of planet formation1,2,3, with planetary-mass bodies carving rings and gaps in the disk4. This implies that planet formation may already be underway in even younger disks in the class I phase, when the protostar is still embedded in a larger-scale dense envelope of gas and dust5. Only within the past decade have detailed properties of disks in the earliest star-forming phases been observed6,7. Here we report 1.3-millimetre dust emission observations with a resolution of five astronomical units that show four annular substructures in the disk of the young (less than 500,000 years old)8 protostar IRS 63. IRS 63 is a single class I source located in the nearby Ophiuchus molecular cloud at a distance of 144 parsecs9, and is one of the brightest class I protostars at millimetre wavelengths. IRS 63 also has a relatively large disk compared to other young disks (greater than 50 astronomical units)10. Multiple annular substructures observed towards disks at young ages can act as an early foothold for dust-grain growth, which is a prerequisite of planet formation. Whether or not planets already exist in the disk of IRS 63, it is clear that the planet-formation process begins in the initial protostellar phases, earlier than predicted by current planet-formation theories11.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 15, 2020, 02:51:52 AM
< Unfortunately, LeoLabs’ updated numbers on tomorrow’s conjunction between two defunct spacecraft over Antarctica doesn’t spell good things to come.  A miss distance of 12 meters, give or take, with a collision probability of over 10 percent.  :o

LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 10/14/20, 12:09 PM
1/ This event continues to be very high risk and will likely stay this way through the time of closest approach. Our system generates new conjunction reports 6-8x per day on this event with new observation data each time.
[gif of orbital conjunction at the link.]

LeoLabs, Inc.:
2/ Current risk metrics from our most recent CDMs:
Miss distance: 12 meters (+18/-12 meters)
Probability of Collision: >10%, scaled to account for large object sizes
Relative velocity: 14.7 km/s

[⬇️ Graph below]
LeoLabs, Inc.:

3/ Shortly after TCA, we will have a direct pass of CZ-4C R/B over our Kiwi Space Radar in New Zealand. We have scheduled a search mode scan during this time to ensure we only see two objects as expected and hopefully confirm that no new debris is detected.
[⬇️ Graphic below]
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 15, 2020, 03:53:22 AM
Upper stages top list of most dangerous space debris
October 13, 2020
Overall, 78% of the objects on the list are rocket bodies, and 80% of the objects were launched before 2000, when countries started adopting orbital debris mitigation guidelines. “These are really lingering problems from early in the Space Age.”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 16, 2020, 03:58:49 AM
LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) 10/15/20, 9:51 PM
No indication of collision.

CZ-4C R/B passed over LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar 10 minutes after TCA. Our data shows only a single object as we'd hoped, with no signs of debris.

We will follow up in the coming days on Medium with a full in-depth risk assessment of this event!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 16, 2020, 04:03:23 AM
Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) 10/15/20, 11:19 AM
Yesterday morning I captured an incredibly brief and rare event, the ISS transiting the 4% illuminated moon during the daytime. #astrophotography #space #opteam
Details in the thread explain how the image was captured and created.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 19, 2020, 04:19:58 PM
Spacecraft Design Could Get to Titan in Only 2 years Using a Direct Fusion Drive


The concept fusion drive, called a direct fusion drive (or DFD), is in development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). Scientists and Engineers there, led by Dr. Samuel Cohen, are currently working on the second iteration of it, known as the Princeton field reversed configuration-2 (PFRC-2). Eventually, the system's developers hope to launch it into space to test, and eventually become the primary drive system of spacecraft traveling throughout the solar system.

Though still under development, the engine itself exploits many of the advantages of aneutronic fusion, most notably an extremely high power-to-weight ratio. The fuel for a DFD drive can vary slightly in mass and contains deuterium and a helium-3 isotope. Even with relatively small amounts of extremely powerful fuel, the DFD can outperform the chemical or electric propulsion methods that are commonly used today. The specific impulse of the system, which is a measure of how effectively an engine uses fuel, is estimated to be comparable to electrical engines, the most efficient currently available. In addition, the DFD engine would provide 4-5 N of thrust in low power mode, only slightly less than what a chemical rocket would output over long periods of time. Essentially, the DFD takes the excellent specific impulse of electric propulsion systems and combines it with the excellent thrust of chemical rockets, for a combination that melds the best of both flight systems.

All of those improved specifications are great, but in order to be useful, they actually have to get a spacecraft somewhere. The paper's authors picked Titan, largely because it's relatively far away, but also extremely interesting due to its liquid cycles and abundant organic molecules.

Spacecraft performance, planetary alignments and orbital mechanics resulted in two different potential paths, one where constant thrust was only applied at the beginning and the end of the journey (called a thrust-coast-thrust—TCT—profile) and one in which the thrust was constant for the duration of the journey.

Both journeys involved switching the direction of thrust to slow the spacecraft down to enter into the Saturnian system. Providing constant thrust would put the journey at a little less than two years, while the TCT profile would result in a total trip duration of 2.6 years for a spacecraft much larger than Cassini. Both of those paths would not require any gravity assists, which spacecraft traveling to the outer planets have regularly benefited from.

... With all the orbital mechanics out of the way and the spacecraft safely in Titan's orbit, it can begin to take advantage of another of the DFD's benefits—it can provide direct power to the spacecraft's systems. Most outer solar system missions rely on radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) for their power source. But a DFD is, in fact, a power source in addition to being a source of thrust. If designed correctly, it could provide all the power a spacecraft needs for an extended mission lifespan.

Trajectory design for a Titan mission using the Direct Fusion Drive:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 19, 2020, 05:12:13 PM
Two years to Titan is good, but what would be a game changer is a reasonable time to 550 AU from the sun, to take advantage of the solar gravitational focus.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 21, 2020, 01:58:15 PM
NASA Probe OSIRIS-REx 'Boops' Asteroid Bennu In Historic Mission

After a four-year journey, NASA's robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx briefly touched down on asteroid Bennu's boulder-strewn surface on Tuesday to collect rock and dust samples in a precision operation 200 million miles (330 million kilometers) from Earth.

... If OSIRIS-REx successfully comes home in September 2023, it will have collected the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era.

... Scientists want at least 60 grams but the spacecraft is capable of picking up as much as two kilograms, or five pounds.

If it turns out the spacecraft didn't collect enough, it will have another go on January 12, 2021, at a backup site which is another relatively boulder-free area near the rock's equator.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on October 21, 2020, 10:45:16 PM
... Scientists want at least 60 grams but the spacecraft is capable of picking up as much as two kilograms, or five pounds.
On Earth, 2 kg ~ 5 lb., but on the asteroid, way less than a pound (link (;_ylt=AwrDQq4xnJBfKI0AgwUPxQt.;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzgEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Ny?qid=20080604175400AA48dNn)).  (2 kg on Pluto is about 0.3 lbs. (
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 22, 2020, 01:44:14 AM
Video of the 'Boop'
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 22, 2020, 02:57:13 AM
... If OSIRIS-REx successfully comes home in September 2023, it will have collected the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era.

But we’ll be collecting and returning lots of moon regolith before then. 

“The sampling event brought the spacecraft all the way down to sample site Nightingale, touching down within three feet (one meter) of the targeted location.”  8)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 24, 2020, 07:36:23 AM
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Collects Significant Amount of Asteroid


Two days after touching down on asteroid Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission team received on Thursday, Oct. 22, images that confirm the spacecraft has collected more than enough material to meet one of its main mission requirements – acquiring at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of the asteroid’s surface material.

The spacecraft captured images of the sample collector head as it moved through several different positions. In reviewing these images, the OSIRIS-REx team noticed both that the head appeared to be full of asteroid particles, and that some of these particles appeared to be escaping slowly from the sample collector, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They suspect bits of material are passing through small gaps where a mylar flap – the collector’s “lid” – is slightly wedged open by larger rocks.

The images also show that any movement to the spacecraft and the TAGSAM instrument may lead to further sample loss. To preserve the remaining material, the mission team decided to forego the Sample Mass Measurement activity originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, and canceled a braking burn scheduled for Friday to minimize any acceleration to the spacecraft.

From here, the OSIRIS-Rex team will focus on stowing the sample in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), where any loose material will be kept safe during the spacecraft’s journey back to Earth.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 26, 2020, 05:53:24 PM
NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. The results are published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.

As a comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil. Despite the small amounts, the discovery raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface.

Clavius Base - 2001: A Space Odyssey


Tiny Moon Shadows May Harbor Hidden Stores of Ice

Hidden pockets of water could be much more common on the surface of the moon than scientists once suspected, according to new research led by the University of Colorado Boulder. In some cases, these tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny.

"If you can imagine standing on the surface of the moon near one of its poles, you would see shadows all over the place," said Paul Hayne, assistant professor in the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at CU Boulder. "Many of those tiny shadows could be full of ice."

In a study published today in the journal Nature Astronomy, Hayne and his colleagues explored phenomena on the moon called "cold traps"—shadowy regions of the surface that exist in a state of eternal darkness at -260°F.

Drawing on detailed data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers estimate that the moon could harbor roughly 15,000 square miles of permanent shadows in various shapes and sizes—reservoirs that, according to theory, might also be capable of preserving water via ice. Previous studies estimated less than 7000 square miles.

Moon water has been eyed as a potential resource by NASA, which created a program named Artemis in 2019, to send American astronauts back to the moon this decade. Launching water to space costs thousands of dollars per gallon. Future explorers may be able to use lunar water not only to quench their own thirst but to refuel their rockets.

Micro cold traps on the Moon, Nature Astronomy (2020).

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 26, 2020, 07:55:45 PM
Study Offers More Complete View of Massive Asteroid Psyche

A new study authored by Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist Dr. Tracy Becker discusses several new views of the asteroid 16 Psyche, including the first ultraviolet observations. The study, which was published today in The Planetary Science Journal and presented at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, paints a clearer view of the asteroid than was previously available.

... "We've seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel," Becker said. "Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It's possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust."

Becker observed the asteroid at two specific points in its rotation to view both sides of Psyche completely and delineate as much as possible from observing the surface at ul-traviolet (UV) wavelengths.

"We were able to identify for the first time on any asteroid what we think are iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands," she said. "This is an indication that oxidation is happen-ing on the asteroid, which could be a result of the solar wind hitting the surface."

Becker's study comes as NASA is preparing to launch the spacecraft Psyche, which will travel to the asteroid as part of an effort to understand the origin of planetary cores. The mission is set to launch in 2022. Metal asteroids are relatively rare in the solar system, and scientists believe Psyche could offer a unique opportunity to see inside a planet.

Tracy M. Becker et al, HST UV Observations of Asteroid (16) Psyche, The Planetary Science Journal (2020).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on October 27, 2020, 11:56:58 AM
Extreme 'Black Widow' Star Identified as Source of Mystery Gamma Radiation
Now, astronomers have solved the mystery and pinned down that second star by searching gamma-ray data obtained between 2008 and 2018. Together, the two stars constitute one of the weirdest binary systems we've ever seen.

"The binary star system and the neutron star at its heart, now known as PSR J1653-0158, set new records," said astronomer Lars Nieder of the Albert Einstein Institute Hannover in Germany.

"We have discovered the galactic dance of a super heavyweight with a flyweight: At slightly more than twice the mass of our Sun, the neutron star is extraordinarily heavy. Its companion has about six times the density of lead, but only about 1 percent the mass of our Sun.

"This 'odd couple' orbits every 75 minutes, more quickly than all known comparable binaries."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 27, 2020, 01:23:26 PM
Massive Asteroid Subject of New Findings

A University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) astronomer has revealed critical new findings linked to a large asteroid expected to pass extremely close to Earth. Dave Tholen and collaborators have announced the detection of Yarkovsky acceleration on the near-Earth asteroid Apophis. This acceleration arises from an extremely weak force on an object due to non-uniform thermal radiation. This force is particularly important for the asteroid Apophis, as it affects the probability of an Earth impact in 2068.

Prior to the detection of Yarkovsky acceleration on Apophis, astronomers had concluded that a potential impact with Earth in 2068 was impossible. The detection of this effect acting on Apophis means that the 2068 impact scenario is still a possibility.

Apophis is noteworthy because of its extremely close approach to the Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029, when the 300 meter-sized asteroid will become visible to the unaided eye as it passes within the belt of communications satellites orbiting the Earth.

... "The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they show that the asteroid is drifting away from a purely gravitational orbit by about 170 meters per year, which is enough to keep the 2068 impact scenario in play."

... Further observations to refine the amplitude of the Yarkovksy effect and how it affects Apophis' orbit are underway. Astronomers will know well before 2068 if there is any chance of an impact.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on October 29, 2020, 03:48:26 PM
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
Turns out to be a faulty step in analysis. Paper can be found here:

Re-analysis of the 267-GHz ALMA observations of Venus: No statistically significant detection of phosphine

Conclusions: We find that the published 267-GHz ALMA data provide no statistical evidence for phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 29, 2020, 04:15:49 PM
Saves a trip. 


Where Were Jupiter and Saturn Born?

New work led by Carnegie's Matt Clement reveals the likely original locations of Saturn and Jupiter. These findings refine our understanding of the forces that determined our Solar System's unusual architecture, including the ejection of an additional planet between Saturn and Uranus, ensuring that only small, rocky planets, like Earth, formed inward of Jupiter.

Clement and his co-authors—Carnegie's John Chambers, Sean Raymond of the University of Bordeaux, Nathan Kaib of University of Oklahoma, Rogerio Deienno of the Southwest Research Institute, and André Izidoro of Rice University—conducted 6,000 simulations of our Solar System's evolution, revealing an unexpected detail about Jupiter and Saturn's original relationship.

Jupiter in its infancy was thought to orbit the Sun three times for every two orbits that Saturn completed. But this arrangement is not able to satisfactorily explain the configuration of the giant planets that we see today. The team's models showed that a ratio of two Jupiter orbits to one Saturnian orbit more consistently produced results that look like our familiar planetary architecture.

The model also showed that the positions of Uranus and Neptune were shaped by the mass of the Kuiper belt—an icy region on the Solar System's edges composed of dwarf planets and planetoids of which Pluto is the largest member—and by an ice giant planet (... Planet 9?) that was kicked out in the Solar System's infancy.


Matthew S. Clement et al, Born eccentric: Constraints on Jupiter and Saturn's pre-instability orbits, Icarus (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on October 29, 2020, 09:43:53 PM
About Half of Sun-Like Stars Could Host Rocky, Potentially Habitable Planets


According to new research using data from NASA’s retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.

Our galaxy holds an estimated 300 million of these potentially habitable worlds, based on results in a study released today and to be published in The Astronomical Journal. Some of these exoplanets could even be our interstellar neighbors, with four potentially within 30 light-years of our Sun and the closest likely to be about 20 light-years from us.

"Kepler already told us there were billions of planets, but now we know a good chunk of those planets might be rocky and habitable," said the lead author Steve Bryson, a researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "Though this result is far from a final value, and water on a planet's surface is only one of many factors to support life, it's extremely exciting that we calculated these worlds are this common with such high confidence and precision."

Steve Bryson et al, The Occurrence of Rocky Habitable Zone Planets Around Solar-Like Stars from Kepler Data, The Astronomical Journal, arXiv:2010.14812v1,

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on October 31, 2020, 08:35:54 PM
—- OSIRIS-REx: Bennu asteroid bits now sealed inside
NASA's OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) 10/29/20, 4:19 PM
I’ve officially closed the Sample Return Capsule! The sample of Bennu is sealed inside and ready for our voyage back to Earth. The SRC will touch down in the Utah desert on Sep. 24, 2023. Thanks, everyone, for being a part of my journey #ToBennuAndBack 
11 sec: closing the lid.

“In order to properly prepare for protecting the sample returned from Bennu while also studying it, ARES will also have new cleaning facilities, tools and storage areas in addition to the new labs in development. This will allow scientists to study Bennu's surface material without damaging it.
The ARES team has been planning for this return for more than 15 years. …”

NASA spacecraft safely seals up asteroid sample to return to Earth
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 09, 2020, 10:23:24 PM
Second Cable Fails at Arecibo, Causing Even More Damage to Famed SETI Dish

Another cable has fallen onto the reflector dish at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, in yet another frustrating setback for this beloved facility.

The main support cable of the Arecibo Observatory failed and fell onto the dish below at 7:30 p.m. Puerto Rico time on Friday November 6, reports UCF Today. The extent of the damage is not yet known, but the dish was damaged further, as were some nearby cables. No one was hurt, but a safety zone has been set up around the facility as a precaution. With two failed support cables in three months, it’s imperative that response teams now find a way to stabilize the structure.

The first incident happened on August 10, when a 3-inch-thick auxiliary cable fell onto the observatory’s main reflector dish, creating a 10-foot-long gash. The reason for the failure has yet to be determined, but the auxiliary cable appears to have slipped out from its socket. This doesn’t appear to be the case for the main cable, which simply snapped, possibly a result of the extra weight imposed on the remaining cables, according to observatory officials. As UCF Today reports, officials were aware of broken wires on the main cable, and engineers were scheduled to make emergency repairs this week.

Like the failed auxiliary cable, the main cable connects to the main support tower. The incident from this past August also resulted in damage to the Gregorian Dome and the platform used to access the dome. The facility at Arecibo is managed by the University of Central Florida on behalf of the U.S. National Science Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises

Progress at Arecibo has been slow since the August incident, as officials struggle to pinpoint the cause of the auxiliary cable failure. The failed socket, for example, was sent to NASA for a forensic analysis. Arecibo officials had previously asked the National Science Foundation for funds needed to make temporary repairs, but the projected cost of the repairs is not yet known. The observatory, which was built in the 1960s, has a long history of fiscal uncertainty, in addition to enduring damage from hurricanes and earthquakes.

... asking the NSF for money while Trump is in office is a waste of time.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: morganism on November 09, 2020, 10:41:19 PM
That ice sheet on Mars thing above, was postulated by Gold in the Deep Hot Biosphere book.

He pointed out the river beds to nowhere, and said that the sides of the shield volcanoes were unstable unless supported by ice sheets. Those shield volcanoes have steep walled cliffs for the bottom halves. The landing site for Curiosity shows the same geo, tall, unsupported sedimentary structures, that argue for mud volcanoes up thru an ice sheet.

I have argued with some others about the amount of meteroites sitting on the surface of Mars, with no craters associated with them. With nearly no atmo, they should have hit at between 3 and 13 kps, doing significant damage.
If they fell on the ice sheet , they would end up as our scattered glacial boulders are.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 09, 2020, 10:58:25 PM
Interesting hypothesis, Thanks.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 10, 2020, 08:48:03 PM
Perseverance Rover is 100 Days Out

8,640,000 seconds to go before Perseverance touches down on the Red Planet, becoming history's next Mars car.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 11, 2020, 09:42:43 PM
Tree Rings May Hold Clues to Impacts of Distant Supernovas On Earth

Massive supernova explosions happening thousands of light-years from Earth may have left traces in our planet's biology and geology, according to new research by University of Colorado Boulder geoscientist Robert Brakenridge. The study is published this month in the International Journal of Astrobiology

... A very nearby supernova could be capable of wiping human civilization off the face of the Earth. But even from farther away, these explosions may still take a toll, Brakenridge said, bathing our planet in dangerous radiation and damaging its protective ozone layer.

To study those possible impacts, Brakenridge searched through the planet's tree ring records for the fingerprints of these distant, cosmic explosions. His findings suggest that relatively close supernovas could theoretically have triggered at least four disruptions to Earth's climate over the last 40,000 years.

"These are extreme events, and their potential effects seem to match tree ring records," Brakenridge said.

His research hinges on carbon-14, a carbon isotope that occurs only in tiny amounts on Earth. Radiocarbon is formed when cosmic rays from space bombard our planet's atmosphere on an almost constant basis. Nearby supernova could significantly increase its occurrence.

Scientists have discovered a handful of cases in which the concentration of this isotope inside tree rings spikes—suddenly and for no apparent earthly reason. Many scientists have hypothesized that these several-year-long spikes could be due to solar flares or huge ejections of energy from the surface of the sun.

"We're seeing terrestrial events that are begging for an explanation," Brakenridge said. "There are really only two possibilities: A solar flare or a supernova. I think the supernova hypothesis has been dismissed too quickly."

To test the hypothesis, Brakenridge turned to the past. He assembled a list of supernovas that occurred relatively close to Earth over the last 40,000 years. Scientists can study these events by observing the nebulas they left behind. He then compared the estimated ages of those supernova to the tree ring record on the ground.

He found that of the eight closest supernovas studied, all seemed to be associated with unexplained spikes in the radiocarbon record on Earth. He considers four of these to be especially promising candidates. Take the case of a former star in the Vela constellation. This celestial body, which once sat about 815 lightyears from Earth, went supernova roughly 13,000 years ago. Not long after that, radiocarbon levels jumped up by nearly 3% on Earth—a staggering increase.

Scientists still have trouble dating past supernovas, making the timing of the Vela explosion uncertain with a possible error of as much as 1,500 years.

Some astronomers think they've picked up signs that Betelgeuse, a red giant star in the constellation Orion, might be on the verge of collapsing and going supernova. And it's only 642.5 light-years from Earth, much closer than Vela.

"We can hope that's not what's about to happen because Betelgeuse is really close," he said said.

G. Robert Brakenridge, Solar system exposure to supernova γ radiation, International Journal of Astrobiology (2020).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 13, 2020, 02:43:26 AM
Arecibo Radio Telescope Observatory In Puerto Rico Is at Risk of Collapsing


One of the world’s most venerable radio telescopes is on the brink of catastrophe, triggering a frantic race by engineers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to save it after two critical cables supporting a 900-ton equipment platform broke.

The platform, held aloft over a massive dish by cables strung to towers, must be quickly stabilized, or it could crash to the ground and destroy the telescope. With the loss of these two cables, the remaining cables are under increased strain, and it’s uncertain whether rescue efforts will be successful.

Suspended from three towers, the telescope’s platform hovers some 500 feet above the thousand-foot-wide dish. In August, an auxiliary cable slipped from its socketand plummeted into the dish, carving a 100-foot-long gash into its reflective panels. Before crews could repair that cable, another one attached to the same tower rupturedon November 6. This second broken cable is one of four primary ones connecting that tower to the platform.

Each of the observatory’s towers has four primary cables, but only two are required to keep the platform aloft—assuming they’re in decent shape. Tower four (named because it’s at the four o’clock position if noon is north) is now down to just three primaries. If another one of those cables fails, it’s unclear whether two aging cables will be able to hold the platform.

“It’s an ugly situation for sure,” says Frank Drake, a former Arecibo director. “When you have cables breaking like that, it could precipitate at any moment a chain reaction with more cables breaking, and the whole thing falling down.”

Although it might look small relative to the dish, the suspended structure is truly massive—a small house could easily fit inside the dome housing the reflector system.

The platform is held up by 18 thick, steel cables strapped to three concrete towers, the tallest of which measures 365 feet. In addition to the four primary cables on each tower, two auxiliaries per tower were installed in the 1990s to help stabilize the structure and bear additional weight.

If tower four fails, the platform could either crash through the dish or make a pendulous swing into a nearby cliff. Without the platform’s weight keeping the towers balanced, it’s possible all three could topple into the surrounding jungle.


Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on November 14, 2020, 04:07:25 PM
Another Rare Earth factor: You need just the right amount of uranium and thorium to have a geomagnetic field protecting your atmosphere for geologically long timescales:

Radiogenic Heating and Its Influence on Rocky Planet Dynamos and Habitability
The thermal evolution of rocky planets on geological timescales (Gyr) depends on the heat input from the long-lived radiogenic elements potassium, thorium, and uranium. Concentrations of the latter two in rocky planet mantles are likely to vary by up to an order of magnitude between different planetary systems because Th and U, like other heavy r-process elements, are produced by rare stellar processes. Here we discuss the effects of these variations on the thermal evolution of an Earth-size planet, using a 1D parameterized convection model. Assuming Th and U abundances consistent with geochemical models of the Bulk Silicate Earth based on chondritic meteorites, we find that Earth had just enough radiogenic heating to maintain a persistent dynamo. According to this model, Earth-like planets of stars with higher abundances of heavy r-process elements, indicated by the relative abundance of europium in their spectra, are likely to have lacked a dynamo for a significant fraction of their lifetimes, with potentially negative consequences for hosting a biosphere. Because the qualitative outcomes of our 1D model are strongly dependent on the treatment of viscosity, further investigations using fully 3D convection models are desirable.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 14, 2020, 05:31:51 PM
It is basically another input into the goldilocks equation for planets and since suns and their planetary discs are more or less made from the same material you can get some info on the make up by looking at the starts spectrum.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on November 16, 2020, 07:52:42 PM
At least AGW won't get the Earth this hot!

The Most Hellish Planet Yet
In general, K stars are suitable for hosting life-bearing worlds, and some are even thought to have “superhabitable” worlds in orbit around them. K2-141b is quite the opposite. With an estimated mass about five times that of Earth, it orbits its star more than 100 times closer than Earth orbits the Sun, making its year less than seven hours long! Temperatures near the surface are so high that the planet likely has a magma ocean tens of kilometers deep.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 18, 2020, 10:57:00 PM
Mystery of Glowing Cosmic 'Eye' Finally Solved


Thousands of years ago, a small star was orbiting a larger star with roughly the same mass as our Sun. As the larger star got older, however, it became bloated, expanding to reach very close to its smaller companion. The smaller star—around one-tenth the size of our Sun—fell into a downward spiral that produced a gaseous disk. The big star eventually subsumed the smaller star, producing an expanding cloud of debris that was sliced in half by the disk. This merger resulted in the two cone-shaped debris clouds we see today.

In the thousands of years that followed, the expanding cloud of debris cooled, forming hydrogen molecules that interacted with the stellar medium. Today, we see these collisions as bright ultraviolet emissions. The cloud is now “dissolving into the interstellar medium,” and “we’re just happening to catch it as all the exciting particles are present,” Hoadley told reporters.

Hoadley expects the Blue Ring Nebula to last for another thousand to a few tens of thousands of years, after which time the feature will disappear completely. It’s a veritable blink of the eye in cosmological terms, and a wonderful opportunity to do some fascinating science
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 18, 2020, 11:00:02 PM
A small asteroid came closer to Earth than even SpaceX Starlink satellites

An asteroid set a new mark on Friday for the closest pass by our planet without actually impacting.

The space rock was discovered with the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System, or ATLAS, run by NASA and the University of Hawaii. It has been designated 2020 VT4, and it came within just 240 miles (386 kilometers) of Earth's surface on Friday. That's closer even than objects in low-earth orbit including the International Space Station and SpaceX's Starlink broadband constellation.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 19, 2020, 07:20:42 PM
National Science Foundation (@NSF)11/19/20, 11:32 AM
Following engineering assessments concluding damage to Arecibo Observatory cannot be addressed without endangering the lives and safety of crew and staff, NSF plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope

NSF’s first priority is safety. Multiple assessments by independent engineering companies found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support.

NSF begins planning for decommissioning of Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope due to safety concerns
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 19, 2020, 07:49:02 PM
900-Ton Platform Threatens to Crush Famed Arecibo Observatory Dish


The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is in an exceptionally precarious state following the recent failure of two support cables, placing the future of this renowned facility in doubt.

With two support cables gone, the 900-ton platform located directly above the dish is now being supported by the remaining main and auxiliary cables—some of which are already fraying, according to the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Preliminary analysis indicates the main cable, which failed on Nov. 6, should have easily handled the extra load based on design capacity. Engineers suspect it is likely that the second cable failed because it has degraded over time and has been carrying extra load since August. A final determination could not be made without retrieving and analyzing the second cable.

The engineering firms cannot verify the integrity of the other cables at this time supporting the 900-ton platform. Each of the structure’s remaining cables is now supporting more weight than before, increasing the likelihood of another cable failure, which would likely result in the collapse of the entire structure.

Other wire breaks on two of the remaining main cables have also been observed. The situation is dynamic and poses a serious safety risk to employees and contractors.

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on November 19, 2020, 07:53:34 PM
Where are the Thunderbirds when you need them?  :(
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on November 19, 2020, 11:46:41 PM
Fortunately the Chinese have Tianyan to take over.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 20, 2020, 06:01:48 PM
Arecibo Observatory faces demolition after cable failures – Spaceflight Now
An engineering firm hired by the University of Central Florida to assess the structure concluded it would be unsafe to proceed with repairs. Even stress tests to determine the strength of the remaining cables could trigger a catastrophic collapse.

Instead, engineers recommended a controlled demolition, bringing down the suspended instrument platform in a way that will prevent damage to other structures at the periphery of the dish by making sure the towers themselves don’t collapse and by ensuring no cables whip into those structures.

“The telescope is at serious risk of an unexpected, uncontrolled collapse,” said Ralph Gaume, director of NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. “According to engineering assessment, even attempted stabilization, or testing the table could result in accelerating the catastrophic failure.

“Engineers cannot tell us the safety margin of the structure, but they have advised NSF that the structure will collapse in the near future on its own.”

Plans for bringing down the instrument platform have not yet been finalized and it’s not yet known whether explosives will be used in a controlled demolition or whether it might be possible to somehow lower the platform to the dish below.

However it plays out, the 1,000-foot-wide telescope will essentially be destroyed. While the laser facility and visitor’s center will hopefully be preserved, the radio telescope itself will be no more. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 20, 2020, 06:17:37 PM
Boeing subsidiary ready to launch satellite deorbiting experiment
The DragRacer experiment includes two satellites — built by Millennium Space Systems — that will separate shortly after launching on the Electron rocket in a 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) sun-synchronous orbit. One satellite — named Alchemy — will extend a 230-foot-long (70-meter) electrically conductive tether, a device designed to increase the surface area of the spacecraft, allowing it to succumb to aerodynamic drag and naturally re-enter the atmosphere and burn up.

Both DragRacer spacecraft are identical, except that one carries the tether and the other — named Augury — does not.

According to preflight predictions, the satellite with the tether could re-enter the atmosphere within 45 days. The spacecraft without the tether — the control for the experiment — is expected to remain in orbit for around seven years, according to mission team members.

The device affixed to DragRacer’s Alchemy satellite is called a Terminator Tape. Developed by Tethers Unlimited, the tape measures just a few inches wide, but it can spool out to lengths of hundreds of feet.

The DragRacer experiment is a purely commercial experiment to quantify the effectiveness of the Terminator Tape technology, which Millennium and Tethers Unlimited say is a more reliable, lower cost, and less complex alternative to other deorbit methods, such as drag sails or propulsive thrusters.

“This scientific method experiment will demonstrate Millennium’s ability to field and fly a low-cost and straightforward orbital debris mitigation solution that doesn’t require added mass, volume, cost and complexity of propulsion system to deorbit a satellite in low Earth orbit,” said Stan Dubyn, founder and CEO of Millennium Space Systems, in a press release.

Tethers Unlimited’s Terminator Tape technology has flown before. The company says the tether module — which attaches on the exterior of a host spacecraft — weighs about 2 pounds and is about the size of a notebook, and is suitable for a range of satellite sizes. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: oren on November 20, 2020, 09:07:21 PM
Nice idea, to solve a problem that is becoming bigger.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 20, 2020, 09:28:01 PM
Field Geology at Mars' Equator Points to Ancient Megaflood

Floods of unimaginable magnitude once washed through Gale Crater on Mars' equator around 4 billion years ago—a finding that hints at the possibility that life may have existed there, according to data collected by NASA's Curiosity rover and analyzed in joint project by scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii.

The research, "Deposits from Giant Floods in Gale Crater and Their Implications for the Climate of Early Mars," was published Nov. 5 in Scientific Reports.

The raging megaflood—likely touched off by the heat of a meteoritic impact, which unleashed ice stored on the Martian surface—set up gigantic ripples that are tell-tale geologic structures familiar to scientists on Earth.

This case includes the occurrence of giant wave-shaped features in sedimentary layers of Gale crater, often called "megaripples" or antidunes that are about 30-feet high and spaced about 450 feet apart, according to lead author Ezat Heydari, a professor of physics at Jackson State University.

The antidunes are indicative of flowing megafloods at the bottom of Mars' Gale Crater about 4 billion years ago, which are identical to the features formed by melting ice on Earth about 2 million years ago, Heydari said.

The most likely cause of the Mars flooding was the melting of ice from heat generated by a large impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet's frozen reservoirs. The water vapor and release of gases combined to produce a short period of warm and wet conditions on the red planet.

Condensation formed water vapor clouds, which in turn created torrential rain, possibly planetwide. That water entered Gale Crater, then combined with water coming down from Mount Sharp (in Gale Crater) to produce gigantic flash floods that deposited the gravel ridges in the Hummocky Plains Unit and the ridge-and-trough band formations in the Striated Unit.

The Curiosity rover science team has already established that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past. These long-lived bodies of water are good indicators that the crater, as well as Mount Sharp within it, were capable of supporting microbial life.

"Early Mars was an extremely active planet from a geological point of view," Fairén said. "The planet had the conditions needed to support the presence of liquid water on the surface—and on Earth, where there's water, there's life.

"So early Mars was a habitable planet," he said. "Was it inhabited? That's a question that the next rover Perseverance ... will help to answer."


E. Heydari et al, Deposits from giant floods in Gale crater and their implications for the climate of early Mars, Scientific Reports (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 21, 2020, 03:12:12 AM
Get ready for the 'Great Conjunction' of Jupiter and Saturn
The "Great Conjunction" on Dec. 21, 2020 will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Jupiter and Saturn together through a telescope.
All through the summer and into the fall, the two gas giants of the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, have been calling attention to themselves in the southern evening sky.

Jupiter of course, always appears brilliant and is usually one of the brightest nighttime objects, but in recent months it has stood out even more than usual because of the presence of bright Saturn trailing just off to its left (east).

Appearing about one-twelfth as bright, Saturn has, in a way, served as Jupiter's "lieutenant" in this year of 2020. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 23, 2020, 05:22:16 PM
Scientists Have Re-analyzed Their Data and Still See a Signal of Phosphine at Venus—Just Less of It

In September, an international team announced that they had discovered phosphine gas (PH3) in the atmosphere of Venus based on data obtained by the Atacama Millimeter-submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii. The news was met with its fair share of skepticism and controversy since phosphine is considered a possible indication of life (AKA a biosignature).

Shortly thereafter, a series of papers was published that questioned the observations and conclusions, with one team going as far as to say there was "no phosphine" in Venus's atmosphere at all. Luckily, after re-analyzing the ALMA data, the team responsible for the original discovery concluded that there is indeed phosphine in the cloud tops of Venus—just not as much as they initially thought.

In the original study, which was published in the Sept. 14th issue of Nature Astronomy, the team presented findings from ALMA and the JCMT that indicated the presence of PH3 around Venus' cloud deck. On Earth, phosphine is part of the phosphorus biochemical cycle and is likely the result of phosphate reduction in decaying organic matter. On Venus, there are no known chemistry or photochemical pathways for its creation.

... In one study, which was led by researchers from NASA Goddard and appeared in a Nature Astronomy article (Oct. 26, 2020), also cast doubt on the analysis and interpretation of the ALMA and JCMT datasets. Here, the research team indicated that the spectral data that was interpreted as phosphine (PH3) was actually too close to sulfur dioxide (SO2), which is common in Venus atmosphere.

According to another study that was led by Leiden University (November 17, 2020, Astronomy & Astrophysics), the spectral data obtained by ALMA could be explained by the presence of compounds other than phosphine gas. From this, they concluded that there "no statistically significant detection of phosphine" in Venus' atmosphere and that the previous results were, in fact, "spurious."

Jane Greaves, who led the discovery team (and is an astronomer at Cardiff University, U.K.), claims that they were motivated to reexamine their original conclusions because the original ALMA data contained a "spurious signal" that could have thrown off their results. When the corrected ALMA data was posted on November 16th, Greaves and her colleagues ran a fresh analysis and posted it ahead of peer review on arXiv.

According to Greaves and her colleagues, the ALMA data demonstrated a spectral signature that cannot be explained by anything other than the compound phosphene. This, they claim, is further bolstered by the JCMT spectra that indicated the chemical fingerprints of phosphine. Based on the new ALMA data, the team estimates that phosphine levels average at about 1 ppb—about one-seventh of their earlier estimate.

These levels, they indicate, likely peak at five parts per billion (ppm) and vary over time and depending on location.
If true, this situation is similar to what scientists have observed on Mars, where methane levels wax and wane over the course of a Martian year and vary from place to place.

Inspired by the possibility, biochemist Rakesh Mogul of the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and his colleagues reexamined data from NASA's Pioneer Venus mission. In 1978, this missions studies Venus' cloud layer using a probe that it dropped into the atmosphere. Based on their reanalysis of the data, Mogul and his colleagues found evidence of phosphorus.

This could evidence of phosphine or some other phosphorus compound, though Mogul and his team believe phosphine is the most likely candidate. Regardless, several scientists argued at VEXAG that a modest level of even 1 ppm phosphine cannot be attributed to processes like volcanism or lightning. There was also the recent announcement that the amino acid glycine was discovered in Venus's atmosphere, another potential biomarker.

Alexandra Witze. Prospects for life on Venus fade—but aren't dead yet, Nature (2020)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 23, 2020, 06:28:00 PM
Spacecraft With Precious Asteroid Cargo Is Almost Home After 5-Billion Km Trek
In the dusty desert town of Woomera, in the South Australian desert, scientists are getting ready. On 6 December 2020, after six years in space, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft will finally return to Earth.

It carries with it a cargo unbelievably rare, precious, and hard-won - at least 100 milligrams of material collected from the surface of asteroid Ryugu. It will drop the capsule containing the sample to Earth, the spacecraft itself continuing on to visit more asteroid targets.

Hayabusa2's return will mark a milestone in a remarkable feat of space science, a total journey of around 5.24 billion kilometres (almost 3.3 billion miles). Asteroid Ryugu - formerly known as 1999 JU3 - is on an elliptical orbit that carries it just inside Earth's orbital path around the Sun, and out almost as far as Mars' orbit.
Meanwhile, Hayabusa2's flight will continue. Its next stop will be asteroid (98943) 2001 CC21 in July 2026, after which it will continue on to asteroid 1998 KY26 for a July 2031 rendezvous.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 23, 2020, 06:42:58 PM
China prepping for mission to bring back material from moon
Chinese technicians are making final preparations for a mission to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in nearly half a century
WENCHANG, China -- Chinese technicians were making final preparations Monday for a mission to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in nearly half a century — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.

Chang’e 5 — named for the Chinese moon goddess — is the country's most ambitious lunar mission yet. If successful, it would be a major advance for China's space program, and some experts say it could pave the way for bringing samples back from Mars or even a crewed lunar mission.

The four modules of the Chang’e 5 spacecraft are expected be sent into space Tuesday aboard a massive Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang launch center along the coast of the southern island province of Hainan, according to a NASA description of the mission.

The secretive Chinese National Space Administration has only said that a launch is scheduled for late November, although the Lunar Exploration Project said in a statement Monday that success in orbiting, descending and returning would “lay a solid foundation for future missions.”

The mission's key task is to drill 2 meters (almost 7 feet) beneath the moon's surface and scoop up about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other debris to be brought back to Earth, according to NASA. That would offer the first opportunity to scientists to study newly obtained lunar material since the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

After making the three-day trip from Earth, the Chang’e 5 lander’s time on the moon is scheduled to be short and sweet. It can only stay one lunar daytime, or about 14 Earth days, because it lacks the radioisotope heating units to withstand the moon’s freezing nights.

The lander will dig for materials with its drill and robotic arm and transfer them to what's called an ascender, which will lift off from the moon and dock with the “service capsule.” The materials will then be moved to the return capsule for the trip home to Earth. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 29, 2020, 04:40:15 PM
A lunar eclipse will happen late Sunday night
Skywatchers have something to look forward to late Sunday night into early Monday morning. A penumbral lunar eclipse will happen, but it may be difficult to see in some parts of the country. The eclipse will occur late November 29 into the early morning hours of November 30. NASA says that the face of the moon will gradually darken over more than four hours.

Lunar eclipses occur when the shadow of the Earth falls over the face of the moon. It only happens when the Earth and the moon align. A penumbral eclipse isn’t as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse. The face of the moon won’t go completely dark during a penumbral eclipse. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on November 29, 2020, 09:04:04 PM
Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA signs €86 million contract with ESA for the world’s first debris removal mission |
(PRESS RELEASE) PARIS, 26-Nov-2020 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space, has announced it signed a €86 million contract with an industrial team led by the Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA for the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit. As a result, in 2025, ClearSpace SA will launch the first active debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, which will rendezvous, capture and bring down for reentry a Vespa payload adapter.

Journalists are invited to follow an online round table for media on Tuesday, 1 December, at 13:30 CET. Mission experts will give an overview of the project status, explain the ambitious mission design and detail the next steps leading to launch.

A new way to do business for ESA
At ESA’s Space19+ Ministerial Council, ministers granted ESA the funding to place a service contract with a commercial provider for the safe removal of an inactive object from low Earth orbit. Following a competitive process, an industrial team led by ClearSpace SA – a spin-off company of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – was invited to submit the final proposal. With this contract signature, a critical milestone for establishing a new commercial sector in space will be achieved.

Purchasing the mission in an end-to-end service contract, rather than developing an ESA-defined spacecraft for in-house operation, represents a new way for ESA to do business. ESA is purchasing the initial mission and contributing key expertise, as part of the Active Debris Removal/ In-Orbit Servicing project (ADRIOS) within ESA’s Space Safety Programme. ClearSpace SA will raise the remainder of the mission cost through commercial investors.

The ClearSpace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter). This object was left in an approximately 801 km by 664 km-altitude gradual disposal orbit, complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega back in 2013. With a mass of 112 kg, the Vespa target is close in size to a small satellite. …

From Sept 2019:
ESA commissions world’s first space debris removal
The ClearSpace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) upper stage left in an approximately 800 km by 660 km altitude orbit after the second flight of ESA’s Vega launcher back in 2013. With a mass of 100 kg, the Vespa is close in size to a small satellite, while its relatively simple shape and sturdy construction make it a suitable first goal, before progressing to larger, more challenging captures by follow-up missions – eventually including multi-object capture.

The ClearSpace-1 ‘chaser’ will be launched into a lower 500-km orbit for commissioning and critical tests before being raised to the target orbit for rendezvous and capture using a quartet of robotic arms under ESA supervision. The combined chaser plus Vespa will then be deorbited to burn up in the atmosphere. …

ClearSpace One - A Mission to make space sustainable
⬇️ Below:  Screencap of the grabbersat and its proposed target satellite. Gif at the link.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on November 30, 2020, 09:22:45 AM
Fireball 'as bright as full moon' spotted in night sky over Japan

An object emitting an intense light had been spotted falling from the skies above Japan in the early hours of the morning.

The fireball, believed to be a bolide -- a type of shooting star often compared to a full moon for its brightness -- could be seen clearly from parts of western and central Japan.

A man in his 20s living in Gifu Prefecture was able to capture the shooting star on camera as it momentarily lit up the sky at around 1:35 a.m. Sunday morning.

"It made a rumbling noise," one Twitter user wrote, while another said, "The sky went totally bright."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 01, 2020, 03:30:15 PM
Giant Arecibo Radio Telescope Collapses In Puerto Rico


The iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puero Rico, the most powerful in the world, was destroyed Tuesday morning in an uncontrolled collapse.

The dome containing instruments that weighed over 1.8 million pounds crashed into the dish below at 6:55 a.m. EST, said Ray Lugo, director of the Florida Space Institute.

before and after

One of three skyscraper-tall towers that supported the dome broke about halfway up. The collapse came just two weeks after the National Science Foundation announced it would decommission the facility due to damage incurred by cable breaks in August and early November.

"The tops of the towers sheared off and the azimuth and dome sheared off the platform," said Lugo, who led a coalition managing the facility for the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "No one was injured. [We are] performing our assessment now."

Many scientists and Puerto Ricans mourned the news, with some tearing up during interviews. Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist in Puerto Rico, tweeted early Tuesday: "Friends, it is with deep regret to inform you that the Arecibo Observatory platform has just collapsed."

Operated by the National Science Foundation through the University of Central Florida, the iconic observatory was made up of a fixed 1,000-foot-wide dish antenna built into a bowl-like depression that reflects radio waves from space to a 900-ton instrument platform suspended 450 feet above by cables stretching from three support towers.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2020, 04:28:22 PM
Giant Arecibo Radio Telescope Collapses In Puerto Rico


Wilbert Andrés Ruperto (@ruperto1023)12/1/20, 9:52 AM
Here is the view of The Arecibo Observatory. A sad day for science, for Puerto Rico, and for the entire world. We will not rest until we #RebuildAreciboObservatory. Now we will fight faster and stronger. We can’t lose our Observatory forever. @SaveTheAO @NAICobservatory
News, and aftermath photos of various sorts at the link and the replies.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 01, 2020, 04:29:30 PM
Chang’e 5: China's CGTN reports the Chang'e 5 lunar lander has safely touched down on the moon: "The Chang'e-5 successfully landed on the near side of moon, China's National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Tuesday.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 01, 2020, 10:25:34 PM



Arecibo tour ... (Don't watch if your afraid of heights)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: morganism on December 02, 2020, 03:45:16 AM

 (67%) exhibit cometary activity. This high percentage of active asteroids gives support tothe hypothesis  of  a catastrophe  that  took  place  during  the  Upper  Paleolithic(Clube  and Napier, 1984), when a large short-period comet,arriving in the inner Solar System from the Kuiper Belt,experienced,starting from 20 thousand years ago, a series of fragmentations that produced the present 2P/Encke comet,

2Abstract Using the Secular Light Curve (SLC) formalism (Ferrín, 2010),we have catalogued 88probable members of the Taurid Complex (TC). 51of them haveuseful SLCs and 34of these (67%) exhibit cometary activity. Thishigh percentage of active asteroids gives support tothe hypothesis  of  acatastrophe  that  took  place  during  the  Upper  Paleolithic(Clube  and Napier, 1984), when a large short-period comet,arriving in the inner Solar System from the Kuiper Belt,experienced,starting from 20 thousand years ago, a series of fragmentationsthat produced the present 2P/Encke comet, together witha large number of other members of theTC.Thefragmentation of the progenitor bodywas facilitated by itsheterogeneous structure (very similar to a rubble pile) and this also explains the current coexistence in the complex of fragments of different composition and origin.We have found that (2212)Hephaistos and 169P/NEAT are active and membersof the TC with theirown sub-group. Other componentsof the complex are groups of meteoroids,that often give rise to meteor showers when they enter the terrestrial atmosphere, and very probably also the two small asteroids that in 1908 and   2013 exploded   in   the   terrestrial   atmosphere over   Tunguska   and   Chelyabinsk, respectively. What we see today of the TC are the remnantsofa very varied and numerous complex of objects, characterized by an intense pastof collisions with the Earth which maycontinue to represent a danger for our planet. Keywords: minor planets, asteroids: general; comets: general1. IntroductionAccording  to  theWhipple’s(1967) original  proposal, the unusual  and  odd  comet2P/Encke  (hereinafter  2P) is  the  main  source  of  a  complex  system  ofmassive meteor showers,collectively called Taurids,and also the  main  contributor  to  the  zodiacal  cloud. Based  onthis association  between  2Pand  allthese  showers, Clube  and  Napier  (1984) developed the Taurid-Complex (TC) giant comet hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that a giant comet, of~100 km in diameter(comparable to that of a typical Kuiper Belt Object), fragmented10-20 kyago, producing a complex of dust, meteor streamsandrelatively largebodies (including 2P). Clube and Napier (1984) also concludedthat the Tunguska event of June 30th, 1908, was related to a member of this group.  In the literature the date proposed for the cataclysmic event that gave origin to the TC is approximately constraint by dynamic considerations. It varies between 20,000 and 30,000 years BP, depending on the dynamic models (Clube & Napier, 1984; Asher & Clube, 1993; Seargent, 2017): much morethan that and now the TC would have been already dispersed, having completely lost the current partial compactness; much less than that and the TC would be much more compact than present.According  to  Clube  and  Napier  (1984)  the  most  recentglaciation  on  Earth  which began around 22,000 BP, was closely related to the supposed catastrophic event, due to the influx of cosmic material produced by the fragmentation

With the inclusion of the Tunguska and very probably also of the Chelyabinsk object into the TC, the hazard from this complex has been raised to a new level of concern
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on December 02, 2020, 10:29:23 AM
And in breaking news scientists find ORCs in space!  :)

‘WTF?’: newly discovered ghostly circles in the sky can’t be explained by current theories, and astronomers are excited

In September 2019, my colleague Anna Kapinska gave a presentation showing interesting objects she’d found while browsing our new radio astronomical data. She had started noticing very weird shapes she couldn’t fit easily to any known type of object.

Among them, labelled by Anna as WTF?, was a picture of a ghostly circle of radio emission, hanging out in space like a cosmic smoke-ring. None of us had ever seen anything like it before, and we had no idea what it was. A few days later, our colleague Emil Lenc found a second one, even more spooky than Anna’s.


Hunting ORCs
Our team searched the rest of the data by eye, and we found a few more of the mysterious round blobs. We dubbed them ORCs, which stands for “odd radio circles”. But the big question, of course, is: “what are they?”

At first we suspected an imaging artefact, perhaps generated by a software error. But we soon confirmed they are real, using other radio telescopes. We still have no idea how big or far away they are. They could be objects in our galaxy, perhaps a few light-years across, or they could be far away in the Universe and maybe millions of light years across.

When we look in images taken with optical telescopes at the position of ORCs, we see nothing. The rings of radio emission are probably caused by clouds of electrons, but why don’t we see anything in visible wavelengths of light? We don’t know, but finding a puzzle like this is the dream of every astronomer.

for details on what they ruled out see:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 03, 2020, 05:03:03 AM
Daytime fireball in NY

The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (meant for lightning, as the name says) picks up meteors fairly frequently.

Bolide Detections from Geostationary Lightning Mapper

The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard the GOES 16 and GOES 17 satellites, is designed to capture natural lightning activity, but it is also capable of detecting bright meteors, called bolides. GLM's large coverage area allows it to capture unprecedented numbers of meteors and its data is publicly accessible.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 03, 2020, 03:31:51 PM
Chinese probe completes sample collection work on lunar surface
December 2, 2020 Stephen Clark
“We have never done a whole process of taking and sealing samples,” said Peng Jing, deputy chief designer of the Chang’e 5 mission at the China Academy of Space Technology, in an interview aired on China’s state-run CCTV television channel. “This part of the work mainly depends on several complicated structures including the drill … the robotic arms used to scoop up rocks and regolith on the lunar surface, and actually a high vacuum sealing device designed to ensure that the sample can remain in its intact status.”
Scientists want to make sure the lunar specimens are sealed for the return to Earth to avoid contamination.

Another challenge will be Chang’e 5’s launch from the lunar surface, the first takeoff from the moon since the 1970s. The ascent module must launch on a precise trajectory to rendezvous with the return module in lunar orbit, and ground teams did not know the lander’s exact orientation on the moon’s surface until after touchdown.
The Chang’e 5 mission’s goal was to collect more than 4 pounds, or 2 kilograms, of rocks for return to Earth. Chinese officials have not released an estimate of how much material the spacecraft gathered on the moon.
If successful, Chang’e 5 will become the first mission to retrieve material from the moon and bring it back to Earth since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

Nine missions have returned moon samples to Earth, including NASA’s six Apollo missions with astronauts, and three robotic Luna spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union. NASA’s Apollo missions brought back 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of rocks from the moon.
[The former Soviet Union retrieved a little over 300 grams of lunar samples from their three missions.]
There is evidence that rocks in Chang’e 5’s landing zone are much younger than those returned by the Apollo astronauts. Those specimens are some 3.5 billion years old, created during a period of active volcanism in the first billion years of the moon’s existence.  Lava plains to the east of Mons Rümker appear to be less battered by asteroid impacts, suggesting rocks there could be less than 2 billion years old.

Image below from:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 03, 2020, 07:22:03 PM
Video of the recent collapse at the Arecibo Observatory, taken from two different perspectives, show the dramatic moment when a main cable failed, causing the 900-ton instrument platform to fall onto the large radio dish below.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: sidd on December 04, 2020, 01:51:48 AM

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 04, 2020, 06:51:28 PM
China’s Chang’e 5 sample return craft takes off from the moon
December 3, 2020  Stephen Clark
Wrapping up a busy two days on the lunar surface, a Chinese spacecraft carrying moon soil took off from a makeshift launch pad and fired back into orbit Thursday on the first leg of its journey back to Earth.

The Chang’e 5 mission’s ascender spacecraft fired its 674-pound-thrust main engine after being pushed off its landing platform with springs at 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT) Thursday, according to the China National Space Administration.

The lunar liftoff was the first launch off the moon’s surface since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. Luna 24 was also the last mission to return lunar materials to Earth.

After a six-minute engine burn, the ascender reached a preliminary orbit around the moon and deployed power-generating solar panels, setting the stage for additional thruster firings to line up for an automated docking with the Chang’e 5 orbiter Saturday.

The link-up between the Chang’e 5 ascent vehicle and return craft will mark the first docking between two unpiloted spacecraft in lunar orbit, a required step before the mission can bring its samples back to Earth.

After docking in lunar orbit, the container carrying Chang’e 5’s samples will be transferred into the return spacecraft, which will perform additional maneuvers to break free of the moon’s gravity and head for home. Chang’e 5 is scheduled to release the sample carrier — covered in a protective heat shield — to re-enter the atmosphere and land in China’s Inner Mongolia region in mid-December. …

Chang’e 5 (嫦娥五号) - full mission animation - Chinese sample return lunar exploration mission #Change5
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 05, 2020, 07:42:12 PM
JAXA’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return capsule lands in Australia
written by Philip Whitehouse December 5, 2020
…Between 06:30 – 09:00 UTC, (01:30 – 04:00 EST), the Hayabusa2 craft itself ignited its ion engines to perform an Earth escape maneuver to continue its extended mission.
The return craft meanwhile entered the atmosphere at 17:28 UTC (12:28 EST) at an altitude of 121 km.
Parachute deployment followed at 17:32 UTC (12:32 EST).
Touchdown — based on wind and weather — will occur between 17:47 – 17:57 UTC (12:47 – 12:57 EST) inside a 100 km2 area closed off by the Royal Australian Air Force. Due to the inability to steer using parachutes, teams will have to locate the capsule after landing.
A beacon antenna will transmit the return capsule’s location to the team’s handheld devices. This signal will be precisely determined using five deployed antennas on the ground as well as onboard a search helicopter. The team also have the ability to use radar to acquire the location, augmented by the radar reflective parachute.
Once located, a temporary cleanroom “quick look” facility will allow the scientists to perform initial, non-invasive analysis of the capsule, including checking for any gas emissions. After this is complete, the sample will be airlifted to Japan where it will undergo vacuum and nitrogen environment analysis. …

HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 12/5/20, 1:17 PM
Today (12/6) at 03:07 JST, as a result of the beacon direction search, the capsule landing point has been estimated. Now, we will search by helicopter.
HAYABUSA2@JAXA:  In Woomera, a helicopter took off at 03:17 JST to look for the capsule.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 05, 2020, 10:47:00 PM
HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa)12/5/20, 2:57 PM
Today (12/6) at 04:47 JST, as a result of the helicopter search, we found a capsule in the planned landing area!

HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 12/5/20, 3:05 PM
We found the capsule!
Together with the parachute!
(Collection Team M)

Hayabusa2 mission lands the first subsurface asteroid sample on Earth
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 06, 2020, 04:29:07 PM
Chinese mission accomplishes first-ever robotic docking in lunar orbit
Experts considered the launch of the Chang’e 5 ascent vehicle and the automated docking in lunar orbit two of the sample return mission’s most challenging phases.
December 5, 2020 Stephen Clark
The Chinese Chang’e 5 mission accomplished the first robotic docking between two spacecraft orbiting the moon Saturday, when a lunar ascent spacecraft linked up with an Earth return vehicle and transferred a container of moon rocks to bring home in mid-December.

The two solar-powered spacecraft docked in lunar orbit at 4:42 p.m. EST (2142 GMT) Saturday, according to the China National Space Administration, completing an automated rendezvous sequence that demonstrated deep space guidance and navigation technology.

A claw on the Chang’e 5 orbiter captured the ascender to complete the link-up in lunar orbit.
The container of moon rocks collected on the lunar surface was transferred from the ascent vehicle to the Earth return spacecraft at 5:12 p.m. EST (2212 GMT), Chinese officials said.

After confirming the sample transfer, the Chang’e 5 return craft jettisoned the ascent vehicle at 11:35 p.m. EST Saturday (0435 GMT Sunday). The ascender will be left behind in lunar orbit when the return ship comes back to Earth in mid-December.

The return vehicle is expected to fire its engines to leave the moon’s orbit Dec. 13, setting course for landing of the sample capsule in China’s Inner Mongolia region a few days later. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: gerontocrat on December 06, 2020, 11:00:27 PM
Follow the links for some stunning images of the milky way



Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 07, 2020, 06:08:45 PM
EXPLAINER: What has Japan's Hayabusa2 mission accomplished?
A small capsule from Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully landed in a sparsely populated desert in the Australian Outback on Sunday.
December 7, 2020, 10:30 AM
TOKYO -- A small capsule from Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully landed in a sparsely populated desert in the Australian Outback on Sunday. After a preliminary inspection, it will be flown to Japan for research. The extremely high precision required to carry out the mission thrilled many in Japan, who said they took pride in its success. The project’s manager, Yuichi Tsuda of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, called the capsule a *treasure box.* …
⬇️ photo below: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 photo by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 11, 2020, 11:27:19 AM
Mass Extinctions of Land-Dwelling Animals Occur In 27-Million-Year Cycle

Mass extinctions of land-dwelling animals—including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds—follow a cycle of about 27 million years, coinciding with previously reported mass extinctions of ocean life, according to a new analysis published in the journal Historical Biology.

The study also finds that these mass extinctions align with major asteroid impacts and devastating volcanic outpourings of lava called flood-basalt eruptions—providing potential causes for why the extinctions occurred.

"It seems that large-body impacts and the pulses of internal Earth activity that create flood-basalt volcanism may be marching to the same 27-million-year drumbeat as the extinctions, perhaps paced by our orbit in the Galaxy," said Michael Rampino, a professor in New York University's Department of Biology and the study's lead author.

Sixty-six million years ago, 70 percent of all species on land and in the seas, including the dinosaurs, suddenly went extinct, in the disastrous aftermath of the collision of a large asteroid or comet with the Earth. Subsequently, paleontologists discovered that such mass extinctions of marine life, in which up to 90 percent of species disappeared, were not random events, but seemed to come in a 26-million-year cycle.

... What could be causing the periodic mass extinctions on land and in the seas? Mass extinctions are not the only events occurring in cycles: the ages of impact craters—created by asteroids and comets crashing to the Earth's surface—also follow a cycle aligning with the extinction cycle.

Astrophysicists hypothesize that periodic comet showers occur in the Solar System every 26 to 30 million years, producing cyclical impacts and resulting in periodic mass extinctions. The Sun and planets cycle through the crowded mid-plane of the Milky Way Galaxy about every 30 million years. During those times, comet showers are possible, leading to large impacts on the Earth. The impacts can create conditions that would stress and potentially kill off land and marine life, including widespread dark and cold, wildfires, acid rain, and ozone depletion.

"These new findings of coinciding, sudden mass extinctions on land and in the oceans, and of the common 26- to 27-million-year cycle, lend credence to the idea of periodic global catastrophic events as the triggers for the extinctions," said Rampino. "In fact, three of the mass annihilations of species on land and in the sea are already known to have occurred at the same times as the three largest impacts of the last 250 million years, each capable of causing a global disaster and resulting mass extinctions."

The researchers were surprised to find another possible explanation beyond asteroids for mass extinctions: flood-basalt eruptions, or giant volcanic eruptions that cover vast areas with lava. All eight of the coinciding mass die-offs on land and in the oceans matched times of flood-basalt eruptions. These eruptions also would have created severe conditions for life, including brief periods of intense cold, acid rain, and ozone destruction and increased radiation; longer term, eruptions could lead to lethal greenhouse heating and more acid and less oxygen in the ocean.

"The global mass extinctions were apparently caused by the largest cataclysmic impacts and massive volcanism, perhaps sometimes working in concert," added Rampino.


A 27.5-My underlying periodicity detected in extinction episodes of non-marine tetrapods
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 15, 2020, 06:42:00 PM
Scientists thrilled with asteroid treasure returned by Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2
December 15, 2020 Stephen Clark
Japanese space agency officials said Tuesday they found a “large number” of pitch black rock and dust particles after opening a capsule returned to Earth earlier this month by the Hayabusa 2 mission, giving eager scientists their first significant specimens ever brought back from an asteroid.

Scientists working inside a super-clean laboratory in Sagamihara, Japan, have opened the first of three sample collection chambers inside Hayabusa 2’s return capsule, beginning the process of analyzing the material in search of fresh insights into the history of the solar system.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which manages the Hayabusa 2 mission, released a photo Tuesday inside the nearly 2-inch-wide (48-millimeter) container, known as chamber A. The photo shows a small pile of black pebbles from Ryugu, a half-mile-wide (900-meter) asteroid rich in carbon, a crucial building block for life.

“This is thought to be the sample from the first touchdown on Ryugu,” JAXA tweeted. “The photo looks brown, but our team says ‘black!’ The sample return is a great success!”

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft appears to have returned more asteroid specimens than expected, scientists said, although a precise measurement of how much material the mission collected will have to wait until teams open the capsule’s other two sample chambers. …

⬇️ Below:  Japanese scientists found black material from asteroid Ryugu inside one of the Hayabusa 2 mission’s collection chambers. Credit: JAXA
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 18, 2020, 02:24:02 PM
Chinese sample return capsule lands on Earth after round-trip flight to moon
December 16, 2020 Stephen Clark
The Chang’e 5 sample return capsule landed in China’s Inner Mongolia region Wednesday.
A capsule containing moon rocks landed in a remote, snow-covered corner of China Wednesday, bringing home the first samples from the lunar surface in 44 years and completing the Chinese space program’s most challenging robotic mission to date.
The return module appeared to have landed intact in China’s Inner Mongolia region, based on images broadcast on Chinese state television and released by the China National Space Administration.

Chinese officials confirmed the roughly 660-pound (300-kilogram) capsule landed at 12:59 p.m. EST (1759 GMT) Wednesday, or 1:59 a.m. Thursday in Beijing.

Recovery crews dispatched to the remote landing zone converged on the capsule in helicopters and off-road vehicles, traveling across the snow-covered plains of Inner Mongolia in the middle of the night. Ground teams reached the Chang’e 5 return module within minutes to begin operations to secure the capsule, and planted a Chinese flag in the frozen soil next the spacecraft.

Crews plan to transport the module to Beijing, where scientists will open the sample carrier and begin analyzing the moon rocks.
“Congratulations to China on today’s return of lunar samples to Earth!” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s science mission directorate. “The international science community celebrates your successful Chang’e 5 mission. These samples will help reveal secrets of our Earth-moon system and gain new insights about the history of our solar system.”

The Chang’e 5 mission’s return to Earth capped a 23-day mission that successfully launched on China’s most powerful rocket Nov. 23, landed on the moon Dec. 1, collected samples, then took off again Dec. 3 to accomplish the first automated docking between two robotic spacecraft around another planetary body. …

⬇️ Image below: webcast screencap.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Aluminium on December 19, 2020, 11:49:22 AM
2 days left! The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will happen at the day of the winter solstice (21.12.2020).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: El Cid on December 19, 2020, 12:25:16 PM
2 days left! The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will happen at the day of the winter solstice (21.12.2020).

The signs are ominous! The end of the world is nigh!

 :) :) :)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 19, 2020, 04:27:33 PM
What has Japan's Hayabusa2 mission accomplished? 

HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 12/18/20, 12:56 AM
The samples from asteroid Ryugu in the re-entry capsule weigh about 5.4g! This greatly exceeds the the target yield of 0.1g (the amount required for the initial scientific analysis) set during the design of Hayabusa2.
(Article in Japanese:…)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 21, 2020, 07:18:31 PM
Scientists Find a Strange Signal Coming From Our Closest Neighboring Star


Astronomers have encountered a mystery surprisingly close to Earth. The Guardian and Scientific American have learned that Breakthrough Listen astronomers using the Parkes telescope in Australia discovered a strange radio signal coming from Proxima Centauri, the star system closest to the Sun. The signal occupies an oddly narrow 982MHz band that’s unused by human-made spacecraft, yet not possible through known natural processes.

The narrow beam of radio waves was picked up during 30 hours of observations by the Parkes telescope in Australia in April and May last year, the Guardian understands. Analysis of the beam has been under way for some time and scientists have yet to identify a terrestrial culprit such as ground-based equipment or a passing satellite.

Although Proxima Centauri does host a potentially habitable planet, the signal hasn’t been detected since its initial observation between April and May 2019. Breakthrough Listen said it was still “carefully investigating” and that unusual signals are typically interference researchers couldn’t “fully explain.”

At least two planets are known to orbit the star. One is a gas giant and the other is believed to be a rocky world about 17% more massive than Earth. Known as Proxima b, the planet circles its star every 11 days and lies in the so-called “habitable zone”, where the temperature is right for water to flow and pool.

The latest “signal” is likely to have a mundane explanation too, but the direction of the narrow beam, around 980MHz, and an apparent shift in its frequency said to be consistent with the movement of a planet have added to the tantalising nature of the finding.

It’s still notable. Signal analysis lead Sofia Sheikh said Breakthrough Listen hadn’t seen a signal pass through “this many of [its] filters” used to catch interference and natural explanations. It’s comparable to the “Wow!” signal from 1977, she said — it’s at least attention-getting.

Alien Hunters Discover Mysterious Signal from Proxima Centauri

... Reavers!!!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on December 23, 2020, 09:12:04 PM
—- Space: the cleanup continues
AstroScale Spacesweepers
Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace)12/22/20, 7:22 AM
Congratulations to @astroscale_HQ, which has successfully shipped its ELSA-d spacecraft for a launch on a Soyuz rocket in March. This is an important mission for demonstrating orbital debris clean-up technologies.
< I love how almost all their process of planning and manufacturing takes place in a single building in the middle of Tokyo.

ESA Clean Space tackles space junk one component at a time
December 23, 2020
VALETTA, Malta —  Through a novel approach to testing, the European Space Agency’s Clean Space initiative is assisting in the development of satellite components that are designed for demise, an approach to satellite development that advocates for the safe disposal of spacecraft by destructive atmospheric reentry.

The ESA Clean Space initiative was launched in 2012 to consider the environmental impact of the agency’s missions across their entire life cycle. A primary focus of Clean Space since its earliest days has been mitigating space debris through “design for demise.” The goal: making design choices that ensure a spacecraft component has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of surviving reentry and posing a threat to people on the ground. …

—- Perseverance's Landing on Mars
NASA’s “Seven Minutes of Terror” animation has a snazzy new look
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Animation

Published on Dec 21, 2020
This reel depicts key events during entry, descent, and landing that will occur when NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars February 18, 2021. In the span of about seven minutes, the spacecraft slows down from about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph) at the top of the Martian atmosphere to about 2 mph (3 kph) at touchdown in an area called Jezero Crater. Perseverance will seek signs of ancient microbial life on Mars, collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust), characterize the planet's geology and climate, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
For more animations and video of the NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover go to #
For more information about Perseverance, visit Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

Nasa's Mars rover and the 'seven minutes of terror'

—- Arecibo Observatory
The Final FY2021 congressional NASA budget funds the cleanup and preservation of the Arecibo site, and for a report as to the feasibility of replacing its functionality in some form!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on December 23, 2020, 09:33:44 PM
ISS Transits Between Jupiter and Saturn

A NSW photographer has managed to capture an image that encapsulates a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event and one of humankind’s greatest engineering achievements in one go.

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn happened on Monday night, with the two planets appearing closer to each other in the night sky than they had in close to four centuries.

In the lead-up, aeronautical engineer and astrophotography enthusiast Jason De Freitas, 29, managed to capture the incredible moment the International Space Station passed between the two planets

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: morganism on January 01, 2021, 08:17:01 AM

It was more than we expected and there was so much that I was truly impressed," said JAXA scientist Hirotaka Sawada.

"It wasn't fine particles like powder, but there were plenty of samples that measured several millimetres across."

Scientists hope the material will shed light on the formation of the universe and perhaps offer clues about how life began on Earth.

The scientists have not yet revealed if the material inside is equal to, or perhaps even more, than the 0.1 grams they had said they hoped to discover.

Seiichiro Watanabe, a Hayabusa project scientist and professor at Nagoya University, said he was nonetheless thrilled.

"There are a lot (of samples) and it seems they contain plenty of organic matter," he said.

"So I hope we can find out many things about how organic substances have developed on the parent body of Ryugu."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 03, 2021, 02:04:55 PM
2021 Is ‘the Year Mars Gets Competitive’  
The coming year could be pretty bleak here on Earth as the economy tries to recover from the pandemic and vaccine-distribution hits snag after snag.

But in space, 2021 promises to be a banner year. New probes, landers, rovers and instruments are pushing deeper into the solar system and beyond, intensifying humanity’s efforts to extract valuable resources, prepare for manned missions and, perhaps most intriguingly, search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

more and more robots are moon-bound. Thanks in large part to the fast-growing private space industry, lunar probes have gotten so small and cheap that it’s hard to keep track of them all. These days a refrigerator-sized lander sells for a couple hundred million dollars, launch included. …

Years of work by three countries are coming to a head on the red planet in the span of just a few days in early 2021. That’s when “Mars gets competitive,” University of Arizona astronomer Chris Impey told The Daily Beast.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to land in mid-February, kicking off a decade-long sample-collection effort that’s part of a wider effort to find firm evidence of microbial life on Mars. (Although to be fair, at least one scientist believes we already found proof of life on the planet.)

Not to be outdone, the Chinese space agency has its own Mars probe, Tianwen-1. It should reach the Red Planet just a few days after Perseverance. Tianwen-1 is a combination orbiter-lander-rover, which Siegler described as “cool.” The orbiter scans potential landing sites before dropping the lander, which in turn deploys the rover.

The United Arab Emirates’ first Mars mission also arrives over the Red Planet in February. The Hope orbiter packs sensors for analyzing Mars’ atmosphere and climate. Getting a probe to Mars is “a huge achievement for a new spacefaring nation,” Siegler said.
All this competition on Mars, each mission feeding a growing body of research, is nudging us closer to what many scientists consider an inevitable, and profound, conclusion—that life has evolved on other planets.

Way back in 1996, NASA in conjunction with Northrop Grumman and Bell Aerospace began developing the new James Webb Space Telescope to replace Hubble. Ten billion dollars, multiple design hiccups and several launch-delays later, the 66-foot-long telescope is finally ready to go.
The mission is scheduled to blast off in October, 14 years later than NASA originally hoped.

The James Webb Space Telescope’s main mission is to inspect far-away galaxies for clues about the origin of the universe. But there are also tantalizing possibilities closer to home. “The big discovery of Webb might be to find a relatively nearby exoplanet—say, less than a few dozen light-years’ distant—with oxygen or methane in its atmosphere,” Shostak explained.

“That would be strong evidence that the talent of our solar system to cook up life is not terribly remarkable, and that biology is surely a cosmic infection, rather than a rare and semi-miraculous event.”

With likely important developments on the moon and Mars and the new space telescope’s planned deployment, the coming year could be a big one for humanity as it slowly expands into the cosmos… and looks for proof that it’s not alone.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 04, 2021, 06:19:19 PM
Chinese mission returned nearly 4 pounds of lunar samples
January 1, 2021 Stephen Clark
Chinese officials say they plan to share a portion of the nearly 4 pounds of lunar material returned by the Chang’e 5 mission with other countries, but an allocation for U.S. scientists will hinge on a change in U.S. policy restricting cooperation between NASA and China’s space program. …

—- Wut?
Japan Aiming to Launch Wooden Satellites by 2023 to Reduce Space Junk
A team of scientists from Japan is working towards developing the world’s first wood-based space satellite. The initiative, undertaken by Japan’s Sumitomo Forestry company and Kyoto University, aims to combat the growing problem of space debris.

At present, the plan is said to be in the nascent stage, as several wooden materials are being tested by the research team to find the one most suitable for space missions. As per reports, the team is also working towards developing wooden materials that are extremely resistant to temperature changes and sunlight.

After the selection of the wood, the materials will be tested under extreme conditions here on Earth. In the subsequent stages, the engineering model will be developed, and then, work will begin on the final flight model. If all goes out as planned, the two teams will launch the first satellite in 2023.

The wooden satellites are considered good alternatives to traditional satellites, as they can get burnt easily while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, thus leaving no harmful junk behind. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 06, 2021, 12:59:50 PM
This ‘Unusual Star’ Is Unlike Anything Astronomers Have Seen Before
Space is full of surprises, like this apparent star—which, given the tumultuous circumstances of its formation, shouldn’t really exist.
New research published in Astronomy & Astrophysics describes a potentially new kind of star, one born in an event typically associated with destruction rather than creation: the merger of two white dwarfs. The paper, co-authored by astronomer Lidia Oskinova from the University of Potsdam, adds to our understanding of this system, called IRAS 00500+6713, which caught the attention of astronomers back in 2019.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on January 07, 2021, 04:43:36 PM
Interestingly, Oskinova expects these objects to be quite common in our galaxy. Stars like this have eluded detection for so long probably because they evolve very quickly and are relatively short lived. And indeed, IRAS 00500+6713 is expected to collapse into a neutron star at some point within the next 1,000 years. This “will be accompanied by another, second supernova,” said Oskinova.

That is a really short time in the universe. Cool discovery.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on January 07, 2021, 09:08:21 PM
Winds and Jet Streams Found On the Closest Brown Dwarf
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: morganism on January 10, 2021, 11:44:13 AM
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design

1. Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

2. To design a spacecraft right takes an infinite amount of effort. This is why it's a good idea to design them to operate when some things are wrong .

3. Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time.

4. Your best design efforts will inevitably wind up being useless in the final design. Learn to live with the disappointment.

5. (Miller's Law) Three points determine a curve.

6. (Mar's Law) Everything is linear if plotted log-log with a fat magic marker.

7. At the start of any design effort, the person who most wants to be team leader is least likely to be capable of it.

8. In nature, the optimum is almost always in the middle somewhere. Distrust assertions that the optimum is at an extreme point.

9. Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis.

10. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up the mess when the real numbers come along.

11. Sometimes, the fastest way to get to the end is to throw everything out and start over.

12. There is never a single right solution. There are always multiple wrong ones, though.

13. Design is based on requirements. There's no justification for designing something one bit "better" than the requirements dictate.

14. (Edison's Law) "Better" is the enemy of "good".

15. (Shea's Law) The ability to improve a design occurs primarily at the interfaces. This is also the prime location for screwing it up.

16. The previous people who did a similar analysis did not have a direct pipeline to the wisdom of the ages. There is therefore no reason to believe their analysis over yours. There is especially no reason to present their analysis as yours.

17. The fact that an analysis appears in print has no relationship to the likelihood of its being correct.

18. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.

19. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you've screwed up.

20. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.

21. (Larrabee's Law) Half of everything you hear in a classroom is crap. Education is figuring out which half is which.

22. When in doubt, document. (Documentation requirements will reach a maximum shortly after the termination of a program.)

23. The schedule you develop will seem like a complete work of fiction up until the time your customer fires you for not meeting it.

24. It's called a "Work Breakdown Structure" because the Work remaining will grow until you have a Breakdown, unless you enforce some Structure on it.

25. (Bowden's Law) Following a testing failure, it's always possible to refine the analysis to show that you really had negative margins all along.

26. (Montemerlo's Law) Don't do nuthin' dumb.

27. (Varsi's Law) Schedules only move in one direction.

28. (Ranger's Law) There ain't no such thing as a free launch.

29. (von Tiesenhausen's Law of Program Management) To get an accurate estimate of final program requirements, multiply the initial time estimates by pi, and slide the decimal point on the cost estimates one place to the right.

30. (von Tiesenhausen's Law of Engineering Design) If you want to have a maximum effect on the design of a new engineering system, learn to draw. Engineers always wind up designing the vehicle to look like the initial artist's concept.

31. (Mo's Law of Evolutionary Development) You can't get to the moon by climbing successively taller trees.

32. (Atkin's Law of Demonstrations) When the hardware is working perfectly, the really important visitors don't show up.

33. (Patton's Law of Program Planning) A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.

34. (Roosevelt's Law of Task Planning) Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

35. (de Saint-Exupery's Law of Design) A designer knows that they have achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

36. Any run-of-the-mill engineer can design something which is elegant. A good engineer designs systems to be efficient. A great engineer designs them to be effective.

37. (Henshaw's Law) One key to success in a mission is establishing clear lines of blame.

38. Capabilities drive requirements, regardless of what the systems engineering textbooks say.

39. Any exploration program which "just happens" to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.

39. (alternate formulation) The three keys to keeping a new human space program affordable and on schedule:
       1)  No new launch vehicles.
       2)  No new launch vehicles.
       3)  Whatever you do, don't develop any new launch vehicles.

40. (McBryan's Law) You can't make it better until you make it work.

41. There's never enough time to do it right, but somehow, there's always enough time to do it over.

42. If there's not a flight program, there's no money.
      If there is a flight program, there's no time.

43. You really understand something the third time you see it (or the first time you teach it.)

44. Space is a completely unforgiving environment. If you screw up the engineering, somebody dies (and there's no partial credit because most of the analysis was right...)

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on January 10, 2021, 02:18:08 PM
But spacecraft are not astronomy.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tom_Mazanec on January 14, 2021, 01:51:23 PM
New Studies Propose Ways of Potentially Finding Wormholes
How can we ever prove that wormholes exist? In a new paper, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Society, Russian astronomers suggest they may exist at the centre of some very bright galaxies, and propose some observations to find them. This is based on what would happen if matter coming out of one side of the wormhole collided with matter that was falling in. The calculations show that the crash would result in a spectacular display of gamma rays that we could try to observe with telescopes.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 14, 2021, 09:05:27 PM
Lesson learned:  Mars dirt is weird. (Or, the aliens’ impenetrable underground structure is very close to the surface. ;) )
NASA InSight (@NASAInSight)1/14/21, 11:49 AM
One phase ends, and another begins…
Last weekend, the mole made a final attempt to dig farther underground on Mars. Even with all the steps we’ve taken to #SaveTheMole, it seems there’s just not enough friction in this soil to keep it moving downward. (1/4)
[gif of digging attempt at the link]
NASA InSight:
The soil here is different than anything else we’ve dealt with on Mars: It clumps together in a way no other mission has experienced. The mole was designed to work in soil that flows freely around it. So the end has come for one part of my mission. (2/4)

For my team, it’s a tough decision. For over a year and a half, we’ve done all we can to solve this unique challenge. What we’ve learned, we’ll carry forward to future missions, and to my next task… (3/4)
[Photo: mole on earth]

In my extended mission, I’ll spend the next two years listening for more marsquakes. To help get the clearest signal, I’m going to bury the cable that runs between me and the seismometer. More science to come. Onward. (4/4)
[Photo: seismometer]

Note: InSight is a lander, not a rover.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on January 14, 2021, 10:13:00 PM
That will complicated digging the grave.  ;)
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: kassy on January 23, 2021, 12:20:27 PM
Much of Earth's nitrogen was locally sourced

Study shows two distinct origins of life-essential element in present-day planet

Scientists show evidence that nitrogen acquired during Earth's formation came from both the inner and outer regions of the protoplanetary disk. The study has implications for signs of potential habitability of exoplanets.


"Researchers have always thought that the inner part of the solar system, within Jupiter's orbit, was too hot for nitrogen and other volatile elements to condense as solids, meaning that volatile elements in the inner disk were in the gas phase," Grewal said.

Because the seeds of present-day rocky planets, also known as protoplanets, grew in the inner disk by accreting locally sourced dust, he said it appeared they did not contain nitrogen or other volatiles, necessitating their delivery from the outer solar system. An earlier study by the team suggested much of this volatile-rich material came to Earth via the collision that formed the moon.

But new evidence clearly shows only some of the planet's nitrogen came from beyond Jupiter.

In recent years, scientists have analyzed nonvolatile elements in meteorites, including iron meteorites that occasionally fall to Earth, to show dust in the inner and outer solar system had completely different isotopic compositions.

"This idea of separate reservoirs had only been developed for nonvolatile elements," Grewal said. "We wanted to see if this is true for volatile elements as well. If so, it can be used to determine which reservoir the volatiles in present-day rocky planets came from."

Iron meteorites are remnants of the cores of protoplanets that formed at the same time as the seeds of present-day rocky planets, becoming the wild card the authors used to test their hypothesis.

The researchers found a distinct nitrogen isotopic signature in the dust that bathed the inner protoplanets within about 300,000 years of the formation of the solar system. All iron meteorites from the inner disk contained a lower concentration of the nitrogen-15 isotope, while those from the outer disk were rich in nitrogen-15.

This suggests that within the first few million years, the protoplanetary disk divided into two reservoirs, the outer rich in the nitrogen-15 isotope and the inner rich in nitrogen-14.

"Our work completely changes the current narrative," Grewal said. "We show that the volatile elements were present in the inner disk dust, probably in the form of refractory organics, from the very beginning. This means that contrary to current understanding, the seeds of the present-day rocky planets -- including Earth -- were not volatile-free."

Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on January 27, 2021, 03:47:46 PM
At the end of October, a critical series of test commands were sent to Voyager 2. After 34 hours and 48 minutes, the team received a “hello” from deep space as the craft returned a signal confirming it had received the call and executed the test commands without issue.

Deep Space Network upgrades and new antennas increase vital communication capabilities
January 26, 2021
NASA’s Deep Space Network, commonly referred to as the DSN, has welcomed a new dish, Deep Space Station 56, to its family of powerful ground listening stations around the world.

The now-operational 34-meter antenna joins the network’s Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex located 60 kilometers west of Madrid, Spain while other dishes within the network undergo critical upgrades.

The new dish is part of an ongoing series of enhancements to the DSN, which traces its roots back to January 1958 when the U.S. Army’s Jet Propulsion Lab was tasked with standing up a series of communications stations in Nigeria, Singapore, and the U.S. state of California to support orbital telemetry operations for the Explorer 1 mission. …
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Tor Bejnar on January 27, 2021, 09:10:14 PM
Is this Astronomical or Aviation?

6 Things to Know About NASA’s Mars Helicopter on Its Way to Mars (
When NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, it will be carrying a small but mighty passenger: Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter.

The helicopter, which weighs ... 1.8 kilograms ... and has a fuselage about the size of a tissue box ...
1. Ingenuity is an experimental flight test. ...
3. Ingenuity relies on the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission ( for safe passage to Mars and for operations on the Red Planet’s surface. ...
4.Ingenuity is smart for a small robot. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 04, 2021, 05:51:40 PM
—- Multiple Mars rendezvous this month
Marcia Smith (@SpcPlcyOnline)2/4/21, 8:09 AM
For those keeping track, UAE's Hope probe arrives at Mars on Feb 9,
China's Tianwen-1 on Feb 10
and U.S. Perseverance on Feb 18.
Perseverance will land the day it arrives. Hope is an orbiter. Tianwen-1 is orbiter/lander, but lander won't descend till May.

Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission)2/4/21, 1:50 AM
On February 9, 2021, the Hope Probe will reach the Red Planet and go completely dark for 30 minutes. Will Hope Probe succeed? 
#ArabsToMars #HopeProbe
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 08, 2021, 01:31:48 AM
Fun fact all of the planets in the solar system can fit between the earth and moon during the moons apogee (the moons furthest distance to earth in its elliptical orbit). The vid below shows what that would like from earth if the planets were crammed in from smallest to largest and things like gravitational effects etc. were disregarded

And because why not this vid shows what a banana the size of our moon would look like if it orbited earth from the distance of the ISS spacestation.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 09, 2021, 03:00:15 PM
Feb 9:  Mars orbiter arrives!
Orbital insertion burn begins in about 90 minutes.

An historic day arrives! After 7 months, it comes down to the 27min #Mars Orbit Insertion. The burn will begin at 10:30 EST (15:30 UTC) with the @Madrid_DSN receiving confirmation 11 mins later. #ArabsToMars

 @amsatdl will track the radio beacon from #EmiratesMarsMission with its 20m dish @SternwarteBO and stream the waterfall display live  ➡️

official site:

Al-Amal prepares for orbital arrival, start of two-year mission to study Mars’ weather
written by Chris Gebhardt & Tyler Gray February 9, 2021
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 09, 2021, 04:00:26 PM
The Hope’s 27-minute burn will occur before it goes behind Mars, so we should see the full burn — albeit 11 minutes delayed.
Daniel Estévez (@ea4gpz) 2/9/21, 5:06 AM
Today at 15:45 UTC @HopeMarsMission will be performing its Mars orbit insertion burn. Here are some technical details about this manoeuvre. Thread...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: crandles on February 09, 2021, 05:20:38 PM

Contact with #HopeProbe has been established again.

The Mars Orbit Insertion is now complete.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 10, 2021, 02:26:49 PM
Confirmed: China’s Tianwen-1 enters orbit around Mars, rover landing attempt to follow in May

China’s Tianwen-1 enters orbit around Mars
February 10, 2021
Water-ice study among science objectives
Tianwen-1 is designed to collect an array of diverse data, both from orbit and on the Martian surface.
Long Xiao, a planetary scientist at the China University of Geosciences, told SpaceNews that Tianwen-1 equipped with a total 13 scientific payloads in to study Martian morphology and topography, study surface regolith and search for water ice with radars, study the composition of surface materials and the characteristics of the ionosphere, climate, environment and magnetic field.

“The most unique aim is to search and map the distribution of water ice on the surface and subsurface,” says Long. Two sounding radars will operate independently, with one onboard the orbiter. It will conduct a global survey but focus more on polar high latitude regions. The other is on the rover. “As radar data processing and interpretation is very complex, so the ground and satellite radar data together could provide more reliable results than a single one,” says Long.

Zhang Xiaoping, an associate professor at Macau University of Science and Technology, likewise highlighted the potential of the radar payloads.

“We want to use the radar system to measure the subsurface structure of the Martian surface, especially for the buried water ice. This would allow us to study not only the underlying geologic structures of Mars, but also the potential source of water ice that supplies long-term human stay,” Zhang told SpaceNews.

“It is also important to measure the thickness and layers of ice and carbon dioxide in the polar region, to understand the seasonal atmosphere evolutions of Mars. By combining orbital and ground penetrating radar results, we will have a better understanding of the soil structure and evolution in the landing site.” ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 10, 2021, 03:23:09 PM
A New Way to Look for Life-Sustaining Planets

It is now possible to capture images of planets that could potentially sustain life around nearby stars, thanks to advances reported by an international team of astronomers in the journal Nature Communications.

Using a newly developed system for mid-infrared exoplanet imaging, in combination with a very long observation time, the study's authors say they can now use ground-based telescopes to directly capture images of planets about three times the size of Earth within the habitable zones of nearby stars.

Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of Alpha; Centauri, Nature Communications (2021).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 10, 2021, 09:47:59 PM
Astronomers Confirm Orbit of Most Distant Object Ever Observed In Our Solar System


A team of astronomers, including associate professor Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University's Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, have confirmed a planetoid that is almost four times farther from the Sun than Pluto, making it the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. The planetoid, which has been nicknamed "Farfarout," was first detected in 2018, and the team has now collected enough observations to pin down its orbit. The Minor Planet Center has now given it the official designation of 2018 AG37.

Farfarout's nickname distinguished it from the previous record holder "Farout," found by the same team of astronomers in 2018.

Farfarout will be given an official name (like Sedna and other similar objects) after its orbit is better determined over the next few years. It was discovered at the Subaru 8-meter telescope located atop Maunakea in Hawaii, and recovered using the Gemini North and Magellan telescopes in the past few years to determine its orbit based on its slow motion across the sky.

Farfarout's average distance from the Sun is 132 astronomical units (au); 1 au is the distance between the Earth and Sun. For comparison, Pluto is only 39 au from the Sun. The newly discovered object has a very elongated orbit that takes it out to 175 au at its most distant, and inside the orbit of Neptune, to around 27 au, when it is close to the Sun.

Farfarout is very faint, and based on its brightness and distance from the Sun, the team estimates its size to be about 400 km across, putting it on the low end of being a dwarf planet, assuming it is an ice rich object.

Because Neptune strongly interacts with Farfarout, Farfarout's orbit and movement cannot be used to determine if there is another unknown massive planet in the very distant solar system, since these interactions dominate Farfarout's orbital dynamics. Only those objects whose orbits stay in the very distant solar system, well beyond Neptune's gravitational influence, can be used to probe for signs of an unknown massive planet. These include Sedna and 2012 VP113, which, although they are currently closer to the Sun than Farfarout (at around 80 AU), they never approach Neptune and thus would be strongly influenced by the possible Planet X instead.

"Farfarout's orbital dynamics can help us understand how Neptune formed and evolved, as Farfarout was likely thrown into the outer solar system by getting too close to Neptune in the distant past," said Trujillo. "Farfarout will likely strongly interact with Neptune again since their orbits continue to intersect."
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 11, 2021, 08:47:26 PM
—- Mars attacks ;D
Thomas Burghardt (@TGMetsFan98) 2/10/21, 9:25 AM
UAE and China: Quietly enter orbit with gradual insertion burns

USA, 2 weeks later: Blazes straight into the atmosphere at interplanetary transfer velocity, blasting the star spangled banner and screaming “GUESS WHO’S BACK?”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 11, 2021, 09:18:09 PM
The outcome would've been different 60 yrs ago ...





... and my mom threw out my complete set of Mars Attack cards when I was 10
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 12, 2021, 11:17:37 PM
Report: NASA’s Only Realistic Path for Humans On Mars Is Nuclear Propulsion


... NASA has a couple of baseline missions for sending four or more astronauts to Mars, but relying on chemical propulsion to venture beyond the Moon probably won't cut it. The main reason is that it takes a whole lot of rocket fuel to send supplies and astronauts to Mars. Even in favorable scenarios where Earth and Mars line up every 26 months, a humans-to-Mars mission still requires 1,000 to 4,000 metric tons of propellant.

If that’s difficult to visualize, consider this. When upgraded to its Block 1B configuration, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket will have a carrying capacity of 105 tons to low-Earth orbit. NASA expects to launch this rocket once a year, and its cost will likely be around $2 billion for flight. So to get enough fuel into orbit for a Mars mission would require at least 10 launches of the SLS rocket, or about a decade and $20 billion. Just for the fuel.

The bottom line: if we’re going to Mars, we probably need to think about other ways of doing it.

Going nuclear

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers some answers about two such ways. Conducted at the request of NASA, a broad-based committee of experts assessed the viability of two means of propulsion—nuclear thermal and nuclear electric—for a human mission launching to Mars in 2039.


"One of the primary takeaways of the report is that if we want to send humans to Mars, and we want to do so repeatedly and in a sustainable way, nuclear space propulsion is on the path," said Bobby Braun, director for planetary science at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report, in an interview.

The committee was not asked to recommend a particular technology, each of which rely on nuclear reactions but work differently. Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) involves a rocket engine in which a nuclear reactor replaces the combustion chamber and burns liquid hydrogen as a fuel. Nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) converts heat from a fission reactor to electrical power, like a power plant on Earth, and then uses this energy to produce thrust by accelerating an ionized propellant, such as xenon.

Nuclear propulsion requires significantly less fuel than chemical propulsion, often less than 500 metric tons. That would be helpful for a Mars mission that would include several advance missions to pre-stage cargo on the red planet. Nuclear propulsion's fuel consumption is also more consistent with the launch opportunities afforded by the orbits of Earth and Mars. During some conjunctions, which occur about every 26 months, the propellant required to complete a Mars mission with chemical propellants is so high that it simply is not feasible.

... SpaceX engineers know it will take a lot of fuel to reach Mars, but they believe the problem is solvable if Starship can be built to fly often and for relatively little money. The basic concept is to launch a Starship to orbit with empty tanks and transfer fuel launched by other Starships in low-Earth orbit before a single vehicle flies to Mars.

Braun said SpaceX is developing a plan to send humans to Mars with different assumptions than NASA. "I think there's a fundamental difference in the assumptions that NASA tends to make for what kind of infrastructure is needed at Mars," he said.

That's not to say Starship cannot work. However, it does illustrate the challenge of mounting a mission to Mars with chemical-only propulsion. To use traditional propulsion, one needs to push the boundaries of reuse and heavy lift rockets to extreme limits—which is precisely what SpaceX is trying to do with its fully reusable launch system.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 15, 2021, 04:07:45 PM
DARPA Space Manufacturing Project Sparks Controversy


WASHINGTON: DARPA’s new project to research and develop novel materials and processes for manufacturing in space — in particular on the Moon — is stirring a legal and political dust storm about what DoD can and cannot do in cislunar space under the Outer Space Treaty.

“I really, really hope there’s some miscommunication here and the DoD is not actually planning on building illegal military bases on the Moon,” tweeted Secure World Foundation’s Brian Weeden. ... “From an international perspective, DARPA doing anything on the Moon looks bad. It raises suspicions about the intentions of the U.S. space program there"

“NOM4D’s vision is to develop foundational materials, processes, and designs needed to realize in-space manufacturing of large, precise, and resilient Defense Department systems,” said Bill Carter, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office.

The program, Novel Orbital and Moon Manufacturing, Materials and Mass-efficient Design (NOM4D), “seeks to pioneer technologies for adaptive, off-earth manufacturing to produce large space and lunar structures,” according to DARPA’s website.

Concerning mass-efficient designs, the vision is for completely new concepts that could only be manufactured in space.


NOM4D assumes an established space ecosphere by 2030 comprising reliable logistics, facilities, and validation. This includes rapid, frequent launch with regularly scheduled lunar visits; mature robotic manipulation tools for building structures in space and routine on-orbit refueling of robotic servicing spacecraft

... “It seems a bit unclear what exactly is being proposed [under NOM4D],” Chris Johnson, legal counsel at the Secure World Foundation said in an email.

... “And note that the treaties are careful — they do not outlaw (all) weapons in space, only nukes,” Hertzfeld added.


... A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.

- Blade Runner - 1982



... Project Horizon included a ‘sophisticated’ defense system that would be incorporated into the lunar outpost. The base would be defended against Soviet overland attack by man-fired weapons:

Unguided Davy Crockett rockets with low-yield nuclear warheads
Conventional Claymore mines modified to puncture pressure suits
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 15, 2021, 10:02:37 PM
Landing Live Stream
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 17, 2021, 11:03:31 PM
Mars Perseverance Landing coverage, Thursday Feb 18
Chris G - NSF (@ChrisG_NSF) 2/17/21, 4:13 PM
If you think I scream loud and with a lot of excitement at rocket launches, join us tomorrow for #Perseverance coverage as the intrepid rover sets its landing eyes on #JezeroCrater. The @NASASpaceflight team is planning to go live at 1:45 pm EST (18:45 UTC) tomorrow.

NASA: Watch the Feb. 18 Landing Broadcast
Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC
Landing is just around the corner and there’s lots of programming you can tune in for. Use the table below to see all of the upcoming shows. On landing day, the broadcast will be available here and on multiple platforms. Scroll down to find your favorite platform and enjoy the show. ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 18, 2021, 07:44:02 PM
45th Space Wing (@45thSpaceWing) 2/18/21, 12:27 PM
We are anxiously awaiting the landing of the Perseverance rover! The rover launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 30, 2020. #Mars2020

Don't let NASA fool you. "Percy" is no lovable, touchy feely explorer. It's actually a two-ton, nuclear powered, titanium robot that is going to spend a decade trampling over Mars, drilling into it mercilessly and stealing some rocks.

Here’s the raw footage of the classic, original “7 Minutes of Terror”, the Mars Curiosity rover landing on August 6, 2012.
Hard to top this!

Curiosity 7 Minutes of Terror Raw Footage + Celebration and Pictures

Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 18, 2021, 08:29:00 PM
Updated NSF live link:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 18, 2021, 09:57:07 PM
Touchdown confirmed!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 18, 2021, 10:01:43 PM
Tango Delta:  Nominal!

“Take that, Jezero!”

“I recognize those rocks.”
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 18, 2021, 10:31:35 PM
“The purpose of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission is to study Mars' habitability, seek signs of past microbial life, collect & cache samples, & prepare for future human missions. We are proud to support missions that address key advances in the scientific community.”
— 45th Space Wing (@45thSpaceWing)
2/18/21, 4:16 PM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 19, 2021, 02:55:45 AM
NASA's Al Chen (who led the entry, descent and landing team for Perseverance) shows where the rover landed on Mars:
In the third image, "red is generally bad ... the system managed to find a nice blue spot in the midst of all that death that's out there."

They want to examine that nearby line that looks like a border between two types of land surfaces.  And eventually they want to explore the flat delta area to the upper left.

Fourth photo below:  they attached a “Covid plate” to the rover as a reminder of the struggles they overcame to build a successful Mars 2020 spacecraft, and keep to the required launch schedule, during a pandemic.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 19, 2021, 07:01:16 PM
If you don’t like outside commentary…
Here’s the clean feed from JPL Mission Control.  EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing) starts after 1:45.  Landing around 1:55.
Mission Control Live: NASA Lands Perseverance Mars Rover (clean feed)

“Watch and listen as signals arrive at Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California from the Perseverance rover as it lands on Mars.
More Mars 2020 rover and Mars helicopter resources can be found at
Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech”

Per the post-landing news conference, Percy should have recorded many photos and movies during EDL, which will gradually be uploaded over the next few days.

Fun fact:  Percy’s backup computer is named “Second Chance.” ;D

NASA’s interactive simulation can be found here:

The Al Chen of Mars 2020:
The face of the Perseverance landing was an Indian American woman
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 19, 2021, 07:12:43 PM
Haha.  Just posted:
Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight)2/19/21, 1:04 PM
New image from @NASAPersevere!
It shows the rover being lowered to the surface of Mars by the sky crane.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the landing from Mars orbit!
⬇️⬇️ Images below.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 19, 2021, 11:24:32 PM

Coral or volcanic rock?

... Already, scientists are finding things in the first images from Perseverance to get excited about. An engineering image taken to assess the vehicle's wheels, for example, showed curious-looking rocks in the background. "The science team is already thinking a lot about this," said Hallie Gengl, instrument data systems operation lead for the Multimission Image-Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 20, 2021, 01:45:33 AM
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 21, 2021, 02:31:20 AM
Mars Perseverance
Emily Lakdawalla, who knows a thing or two about Mars rovers, comments on the strange lack of Mars Perseverance photos being released — the post-landing press conference mentioned they had “too many to count.”   Although there is no indication there is a problem with the rover, this decision is unusual, compared to prior Mars missions.  The “political” theory is that NASA wants tighter than usual control over the release of the photos, perhaps preparing for a splashy reveal event on Monday.  (The “conspiracy” theory is that the photos showed clear evidence of Martian life, so they have to decide what to do next. ;) )

Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) 2/20/21, 4:36 PM
It is now 2 full sols after @NASAPersevere landed, and still there are no raw images being posted at… . On every previous Mars mission since the MERs landed in 2004, these pages have given us all views of the daily operations of @NASA's Mars missions.
Thread continues at the link.

The full thread can also be accessed here:
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 21, 2021, 03:00:09 AM

... the Jawas took it; they thought it was discarded scrap. They have a couple of droids to trade, though ...
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 21, 2021, 05:31:36 PM
... the Jawas took it; they thought it was discarded scrap. They have a couple of droids to trade, though ...


But NASA is leaving itself wide open for viral fakery like this:

The viral Mars Perseverance rover video going around is fake
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 22, 2021, 04:40:16 PM
NASA will provide an update on its Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on Feb. 18, in a news briefing Monday (Feb. 22) at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). You can watch it live courtesy of NASA TV.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 22, 2021, 07:09:12 PM
NASA will also be hosting a live Reddit “Ask Me Anything” two hours later.

NASA (@NASA) 2/22/21, 11:13 AM
Today, we'll release first-of-its-kind video from @NASAPersevere's Feb. 18 touchdown on Mars:

• 2pm ET (19:00 UTC): live news update unveiling video & images

• 4pm ET (21:00 UTC): @reddit AMA with mission experts

Ask questions using #CountdownToMars
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 22, 2021, 09:12:36 PM
THE VIDEO.  At the link.
NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) 2/22/21, 2:14 PM
Grab the popcorn because the @NASAPersevere rover has sent us a one-of-kind video of her Mars landing. For the first time in history, we can see multiple angles of what it looks like to touch down on the Red Planet. #CountdownToMars
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 22, 2021, 09:55:12 PM
Al Chen: we missed our targeted landing pixel by only 5 meters.
Received:  30 GB of data, 23,000 images.
Perseverance, or “Percy” is being referred to as “she,” (being a ship of sorts).

Eric Berger:
If you could remove your helmet on Mars, this is what it would sound like. You'd also be dead. But still.
Sounds From Mars: Filters Out Rover Self-Noise by NASA

Here's a link to the Mars Perseverance landing video on NASA's YouTube page.
Perseverance rover’s descent and touchdown on Mars (official NASA video)

360-degree panorama image of Mars, taken on Saturday by Perseverance.

Raw images:
Images from the Mars Perseverance Rover - NASA Mars

Mission updates:

Eric Berger:
The production quality of faking landings on other worlds has come a long way since 1969. [;)]
⬇️ Image below.  From rover cam, looking up at the sky crane as it lowers the rover to the surface.  The rocket flames are invisible, due to the fuel used!
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 23, 2021, 02:58:30 PM
'Dare mighty things': hidden message found on Nasa Mars rover parachute
Social media users say message is encoded in red-and-white pattern on parachute
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 23, 2021, 05:10:47 PM
Martian Moons Have a Common Ancestor


Mars's two moons, Phobos and Deimos, have puzzled researchers since their discovery in 1877. They are very small: Phobos's diameter of 22 kilometers is 160 times smaller than that of our moon, and Deimos is even smaller, with a diameter of only 12 kilometers.

This led people to suspect that they might in fact be asteroids that were captured in Mars's gravity field. "But that's where the problems started," Bagheri says. Captured objects would be expected to follow an eccentric orbit around the planet, and that orbit would be at a random inclination. In contradiction to this hypothesis, the orbits of the Martian moons are almost circular and move in the equatorial plane of Mars. So, what is the explanation for the current orbits of Phobos and Deimos?

"The idea was to trace the orbits and their changes back into the past," says Amir Khan, a Senior Scientist at the Physics Institute of the University of Zurich and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich. As it turned out, the orbits of Phobos and Deimos appeared to have crossed in the past. "This means that the moons were very likely in the same place and therefore have the same origin," Khan says. The researchers concluded that a larger celestial body was orbiting Mars back then. This original moon was probably hit by another body and disintegrated as a result. "Phobos and Deimos are the remainders of this lost moon," says Bagheri, who is lead author of the study now published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Using these findings and their refined theory on the tidal effects, the researchers ran hundreds of computer simulations to track the orbits of the moons backward in time until they reached the intersection—the moment Phobos and Deimos were born. Depending on the simulation, this point in time lies between 1 and 2.7 billion years in the past. "The exact time depends on the physical properties of Phobos and Deimos, that is, how porous they are" Bagheri says. A Japanese probe scheduled for launch in 2025 will explore Phobos and return samples to Earth. The researchers expect that these samples will provide the needed details about the interior of the Martian moons that will enable more precise calculations of their origin.

Amirhossein Bagheri et al. Dynamical evidence for Phobos and Deimos as remnants of a disrupted common progenitor, Nature Astronomy (2021).
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 24, 2021, 02:22:41 AM
Sunset on Mars.
Amazing to be alive at this time to witness this.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 24, 2021, 04:23:13 PM
—- Moon exploration plans
ESA plans mission to explore lunar caves
In a first step towards uncovering the Moon's subterranean secrets, in 2019 we asked for your ideas to detect, map and explore lunar caves. Five ideas were selected to be studied in more detail, each addressing different phases of a potential mission.

Through these five Sysnova studies, three mission scenarios were developed – one to perform a preliminary scout of entry pits and underground caves from the Moon's surface, one to lower a probe into a pit and access the first part of a cave, and one to explore an underground lava tube using autonomous rovers. …

Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) 2/22/21, 8:34 AM Xi Jinping met representatives of scientists/engineers involved in Chang'e-5 lunar sample return in Beijing Monday. Notably: Xi stressed pushing forward the 4th phase of lunar exploration (south pole CE-6, 7, 8, IRLS) & embarking on a new journey in planetary exploration. i:CCTV

Andrew Jones:
Xi apparently sees CE-5 seen as an important milestone and of great significance to the development of China's aerospace industry, as part of overall national development. An indication of the apparent awareness of the significance of space for China and level of backing.

< I think we still haven't seen photos of the returned [moon dust] samples yet... or am I wrong?
Fankang Meng (@FankangMeng)2/22/21, 8:36 AM
Image at link. 
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 24, 2021, 07:52:15 PM
Perseverance on Mars
Prof. Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) 2/24/21, 10:34 AM


One of the very first images returned by @NASAPersevere shows what looks like a plume far from the rover, in the direction where the Descent Stage flew.

A final image to celebrate a hero.

Prof. Paul Byrne:
This image was acquired from the Right Rear HazCam almost immediately after the rover landed, to verify a safe landing. Most of the image is missing, and I modified it to account for the lens distortion.

h/t @doug_ellison for spotting it first!

SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) 2/18/21, 3:52 PM
You either land in a crater, or you make one.

That's the Martian way.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 25, 2021, 12:33:03 AM

Interactive 4K view of Perseverance’s Mars landing site
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on February 26, 2021, 02:40:00 PM
What Geologists See When They Look at Perseverance's Landing Site


We've sent the Perseverance rover on a Mars field trip; but if a geologist were along for the ride, what would it look like to them?

NASA chose the Jezero Crater for Perseverance's mission partly because of its geology.  ... Jezero Crater was a lake at one time in its past, possibly twice, according to some research. Scientists who study Jezero say the lake probably formed when there was a period of continual surface runoff. Two incoming watercourses fed the lake, and overflow carved a channel out of the lake.

Perseverance landed near the western side of the crater, near the clearly visible river delta. That river sediment contains ancient clays, which are especially good at trapping and preserving organic matter. If a real live geologist were along for the ride with Perseverance, they would likely head straight for those clays.

The river sediment is piled so high that its edge is like a cliff. Perseverance will traverse along the bottom of that cliff before working its way up and across the delta, hopefully making it to the ancient shoreline. Then, depending on mission length, the rover would climb Jezero's 610 meters (200 ft.) crater rim and explore some of the plains surrounding the crater. Perseverance's prime mission length is about one Mars year (about two Earth years) and NASA thinks that it could complete about half of this traverse during that time.


As the images show, the Jezero Crater lies on the border between different geological areas of different ages. The Terra Sabaea highland region contains rocks from Mars' Palaeozoic (the Noachian: 4.1–3.7 billion years ago). The Isidis impact basin dates from the same time. The Isidis Planitia plain is much younger, dating back to the Hesperian (3.7–3.0 billion years ago) and the Martian Modern (the Amazonian 3.0 billion years to the present day). The result is that rocks and other deposits around Jezero Crater come from each of the three Martian geological epochs. To a geologist, this is a big rocky bonanza.

The nearby Syrtis Major is a volcanic province whose lava flows also date to the Hesperian. The Nili Fossae region is a trough system that was formed by the shocks from the Isidis impact. This is a geologist's dream field trip. If Perseverance can complete its primary mission, it will explore some of the regions outside the Jezero crater

Of particular interest are agglomerate debris called megabreccia that formed during the Isidis impact. They're located west of Jezero in Noachian bedrock, igneous bedrock, and lava flows from Syrtis Major. Megabreccias can be very large, up to a kilometre across, and can hold valuable clues to Mars' early history.


Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on February 26, 2021, 05:38:35 PM
Mars Navigation
Jay L. DeShetler (@jdeshetler) 2/26/21, 10:35 AM
Mars Perseverance Rover's Down-Look Camera, 100 seconds of descent overlapped with the HiRISE's imaging map using the green dot as target landing site. The 2nd clip is speed up by 8x.
2-minute vid at the link.

The Visible Mars
A full rotation of the planet Mars (Hubble Captures By NASA) 

Not sure who-all can view this new video program.  It’s the How and Why about the Perseverance rover.
PBS: Nova episode:  Looking for life on Mars
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: be cause on March 01, 2021, 01:37:33 PM
 I went out for a little star gazing last night . first I see a satellite traversing NW-SE . A minute later 2 pass the N end of Orion heading NE . These are followed by 4 more in the next 2 minutes , all on the same track .. the night sky is getting busy .. b.c.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on March 01, 2021, 04:29:09 PM
Peace offering?

From Oman to Mars: A meteorite's journey back home
U.S. Space agency NASA had a unique payload onboard its Perseverance rover that touched down on the Martian surface recently. 'Sayh Al Uhaymir 008', a meteorite fragment from the Red Planet, which found its way to Oman, has been returned onboard the rover, a world-first.

"After detailed chemical examination at the Max Planck laboratory in Germany, researchers found evidence that the meteorite rock 'Sayh Al Uhaymir 008' belonged to Mars." The meteorite fragment weighs more than eight kilograms. It is estimated to have reached Earth 450 million years ago due to a cosmic development involving the collision of an asteroid or comet with the planet Mars.
When work on the Perseverance project, scientists suggested using a Martian meteorite found on Earth to help in processing images captured by the rover into their true colours and textures, without being affected by any natural conditions. It was also decided that the Martian meteorite would act directly as a calibration target instead of a piece of metal or coloured pieces with specific colours used for the purpose as usual, NASA said.
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: Sigmetnow on March 03, 2021, 03:09:17 PM
Radiation- and Temperature-hardened, they’ve been powering earth satellites for years.
A 1990s iMac Processor Powers NASA’s Perseverance Rover
Title: Re: Astronomical news
Post by: vox_mundi on March 03, 2021, 04:43:26 PM

Perseverance can be seen in this enhanced colour image at its landing site, six days after touchdown. You can see the two bright zones to the sides of the rover that have been scoured clear by the descent stage rockets and the dark material appears to have been funnelled outward both in front and behind the rover.