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"Asteroid" entering Earth's orbit may actually be a 1966 NASA rocket – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
Sophie Lewis – CBS News The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected […]
Sophie Lewis – CBS News The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini-moon next month. Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity. “I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.” Chodas speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually the Centaur upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander ended up crashing into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite on the way there. The rocket, meanwhile, swept past the moon and into orbit around the sun as intended junk, never to be seen again until perhaps now. Chodas told CBS News that it is very rare for an object orbiting the sun to get captured into the Earth’s orbit. “The object has to have a very special orbit around the sun for such a capture to occur,” he said. “It has happened a couple times before for natural objects, that we know of, and only once before for an old rocket stage.” A telescope in Hawaii last month discovered the mystery object heading our way while doing a search intended to protect our planet from doomsday rocks. The object promptly was added to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center’s tally of asteroids and comets found in our solar system, just 5,000 shy of the 1 million mark. The object is estimated to be roughly 26 feet based on its brightness. That’s in the ballpark of the old Centaur, which would be less than 32 feet long including its engine nozzle and 10 feet in diameter. What caught Chodas’ attention is that its near-circular orbit around the sun is quite similar to Earth’s unusual for an asteroid. “Flag number one,” said Chodas, who is director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The object is also in the same plane as Earth, not tilted above or below, another red flag. Asteroids usually zip by at odd angles. Lastly, it’s approaching Earth at 1,500 mph, slow by asteroid standards. As the object gets closer, astronomers should be able to better chart its orbit and determine how much it’s pushed around by the radiation and thermal effects of sunlight. If it’s an old Centaur essentially a light empty can it will move differently than a heavy space rock less susceptible to outside forces. That’s how astronomers normally differentiate between asteroids and space junk like abandoned rocket parts, since both appear merely as moving dots in the sky. There likely are dozens of fake asteroids out there, but their motions are too imprecise or jumbled to confirm their artificial identity, said Chodas. Sometimes it’s the other way around. A mystery object in 1991, for example, was determined by Chodas and others to be a regular asteroid rather than debris, even though its orbit around the sun resembled Earth’s. Even more exciting, Chodas in 2002 found what he believes was the leftover Saturn V third stage from 1969s Apollo 12, the second moon landing by NASA astronauts. He acknowledges the evidence was circumstantial, given the object’s chaotic one-year orbit around Earth. It never was designated as an asteroid, and left Earth’s orbit in 2003. The latest object’s route is direct and much more stable, bolstering his theory. “I could be wrong on this. I don’t want to appear overly confident,” Chodas said. “But it’s the first time, in my view, that all the pieces fit together with an actual known launch.” And he’s happy to note that it’s a mission that he followed in 1966, as a teenager in Canada. Asteroid hunter Carrie Nugent of Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, said Chodas’ conclusion is “a good one” based on solid evidence. She’s the author of the 2017 book “Asteroid Hunters.” “Some more data would be useful so we can know for sure,” she said in an email. “Asteroid hunters from around the world will continue to watch this object to get that data. I’m excited to see how this develops!” The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Jonathan McDowell noted there have been “many, many embarrassing incidents of objects in deep orbit … getting provisional asteroid designations for a few days before it was realized they were artificial.” It’s seldom clear-cut. Last year, a British amateur astronomer, Nick Howes, announced that an asteroid in solar orbit was likely the abandoned lunar module from NASA’s Apollo 10, a rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing. While this object is likely artificial, Chodas and others are skeptical of the connection. Skepticism is good, Howes wrote in an email. “It hopefully will lead to more observations when it’s next in our neck of the woods” in the late 2030s. Chodas’ latest target of interest was passed by Earth in their respective laps around the sun in 1984 and 2002. But it was too dim to see from 5 million miles away, he said. He predicts the object will spend about four months circling Earth once it’s captured in mid-November, before shooting back out into its own orbit around the sun next March. Chodas doubts the object will slam into Earth “at least not this time around.” banner image of an Atlas Centaur 7 rocket on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida via San Diego Air and Space Museum
Paint a pumpkin pink for Breast cancer awareness month – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
October is the month we see orange everywhere, but it’s also the colour pinks time […]
October is the month we see orange everywhere, but it’s also the colour pinks time to shine! It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program out of Royal Victoria Hospital is holding a contest to see who can create the best pink pumpkin. It will be judged by the patient and family advisory council, with the top three entries receiving a $100 gift card of the winner’s choice. You can paint a pumpkin or draw one while incorporating the color pink.You can submit as many times as you like at [email protected] By submitting, you permit RVH to share your creativity through social media channels.
The oceans are out of balance — and that means stronger storms and threats to marine life – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
Jeff Berardelli – CBS News When you think of the changing climate, the first thing […]
Jeff Berardelli – CBS News When you think of the changing climate, the first thing that likely comes to mind is extreme weather swirling about in the atmosphere. But focus on the oceans they ultimately control our climate destiny. The oceans contain 268 times the amount of mass of the atmosphere and can store 1,000 times more heat. The oceans absorb the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima style atomic bombs per second, more than 90% of climate change’s excess global heating. As a result of this excess heat, the oceans are becoming significantly more “stratified,” according to a study published Monday by some of the world’s top climate scientists. In other words, like olive oil and water in a glass, the oceans are not mixing as well as they used to and that has significant ramifications for many important Earth system functions. The new data shows that the ocean has become more stratified by 5.3% since 1960 for the upper 2,000 meters. An even stronger ocean stratification increase as much as 18% has been observed in the upper 150 meters. Stratification means less mixing, which leads to more heat in the surface waters. That increases the energy available for storms and impacts life in shallow waters. “Once again, the observations are showing key climate change impacts playing out faster and more dramatically than the models have predicted,” said a co-author of the study, Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State. “In the case at hand, the models are underestimating the increase in ocean stratification that we find in the observations. That means they are potentially underestimating a whole range of critical climate change impacts.” The warmer thus lighter the water is, the less able it is to sink. However, sinking and rising water is necessary for the oceans to fulfill basic functions from regulating climate to supporting life in the oceans. Below is a simplified visual of the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt showing how interconnected the far reaches of the ocean are, with blue arrows indicating cold, deeper waters, red arrows noting warm, shallower waters and the transition between illustrating where waters sink or ascend. When the oceans are more stratified, warm water builds up near the surface, with less heat escaping down into the deep ocean. This is one of the mechanisms leading to more marine heatwaves, a phenomenon that is catastrophic for ecosystems like coral reefs, 50% of which have already been wiped out. And because of future heating, the remaining reefs may all be gone by late this century. In the past 100 years, there has been a greater than 50% increase in annual marine heatwave days globally. It’s not just coral reefs impacted from less mixing and more surface warming. Much of what is called ocean “primary productivity” by scientists, better known simply as ‘life’ to most people, is regulated by how well mixed the ocean is in a given location. The more vertical mixing there is, the cooler waters and nutrients stored in the deep oceans are then brought up to the ocean’s surface. Those nutrients help feed the ocean’s most basic and important forms of life like plankton. In short, less mixing equals less life. Stronger storms are another result of warmer waters. So far this season, the Atlantic is a month ahead of a record pace with 23 named storms. While various factors have contributed to the overactive season, Mann says a warmer ocean is a big contributing factor. Since 1900, Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures have warmed by an average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit, providing more high-octane fuel to storms. This warmer water leads to more intense storms. A recent study conducted by NOAA’s hurricane researcher Dr. Jim Kossin confirms that storms are getting stronger. Kossin told CBS News, “My message to your readers is globally, there’s about a 25% greater chance now that a hurricane will be at major hurricane intensity than four decades ago. In the Atlantic, there’s about twice the chance.” Mann is also keen to focus on the impacts of detrimental feedback on the carbon cycle. The increased near-surface warming and less downward mixing mean less of the carbon dioxide (CO2) can be absorbed and stored in the ocean. That’s because physics dictates that warmer water holds less CO2, and also, less CO2 can be mixed downward. The result, Mann says, is that more CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. “It’s unwise to be complacent given the accumulating scientific evidence that climate change and its impacts may well be in the upper end of the range that climate scientists currently project,” said Mann. “There is ever-greater urgency when it comes to acting on climate.” But Mann emphasized that we still have time to act. However, he warns that the choice we make in this upcoming election may well determine whether we succeed or fail: “Our actions make a difference something to keep in mind as we head into a presidential election whose climate implications are monumental.”
Astronomers find possible sign of life on Venus – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
William Harwood – CBS News Traces of a rare molecule known as phosphine have been […]
William Harwood – CBS News Traces of a rare molecule known as phosphine have been found in the hellish, heavily acidic atmosphere of Venus, astronomers announced Monday providing a tantalizing clue about the possibility of life. Phosphine molecules found on Earth are primarily a result of human industry or the actions of microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. The researchers are not claiming life has been detected on the second planet from the sun. But the observations suggest at least the possibility of microbial activity in the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere, well away from the planet’s inhospitable surface. “We have detected a rare gas called phosphine in the atmosphere of our neighbor planet Venus,” said Jane Greaves, a professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and lead author of a report published in Nature Astronomy. “And the reason for our excitement is that phosphine gas on Earth is made by microorganisms that live in oxygen-free environments. And so there is a chance that we have detected some kind of living organism in the clouds of Venus.” Even so, the team said, much more study is needed to support any such claim, extraordinary as it would be. “In order to make this quite extraordinary claim that there might be life there, we really have to rule everything out, and that’s why we’re very cautious saying we’re not claiming there’s life, but claiming there’s something that is really unknown and it might be life,” said team member William Bains, a researcher at MIT. Sara Seager, a fellow MIT scientist who studies exoplanet atmospheres, agreed, saying “we are not claiming we have found life on Venus.” “We are claiming the confident detection of phosphine gas whose existence is a mystery,” she said. “Phosphine can be produced by some (non-biological) processes on Venus, but only in such incredibly tiny amounts it’s not enough to explain our observation. So we’re left with this other exciting, enticing possibility: that perhaps there is some kind of life in Venus’ clouds.” Mars has long been considered the best candidate in the solar system beyond Earth to have hosted microbial life in the distant past or even in the present, as suggested by background levels of methane. NASA, the European Space Agency, China, India, Russia and United Arab Emirates are all pursuing exploration of the red planet in one form or another. NASA also is planning a flagship mission to study the moons of Jupiter. Scientists believe one of the planet’s largest and best-known moons, Europa, heated by tidal stresses and gravitational interactions with other moons, harbors a salty, possibly habitable ocean beneath its icy crust. Other frozen moons in the outer solar system, possible “water worlds,” are also candidates for study. But Venus is the victim of a runaway greenhouse effect in which thick clouds in a mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere trap sunlight, producing temperatures at the surface that soar to nearly 900 degrees, hot enough to melt lead. In the planet’s upper atmosphere, however, temperatures are much more hospitable. Despite the acidic nature of the clouds, scientists have speculated it may be possible for alien microbes to exist. “The surface conditions there today are really hostile, the temperature is enough to melt our landers,” Greaves said. “But it’s thought that much earlier in Venus’ history the surface was much cooler and wetter and life possibly could have originated. “There is a long-standing theory that some of the smallest forms of life might have been able to evolve upwards into the high clouds. Conditions there are certainly not nice, they’re extremely acidic and it’s very windy, but on the other hand, if you’re talking about 50 to 60 kilometers up, then the pressure is much like it is on the surface of the Earth and the temperature’s quite nice, maybe up to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So it’s been hypothesized that this is a living habitat today.” Greaves’ team studied spectra of Venus’ atmosphere using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and 45 radio telescope antennas in the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile and were surprised to see unmistakable signs of phosphine. “It was a shock,” Greaves said. The detection was rewarded with additional observing time on the ALMA array and “in the end, we found that both observatories had seen the same thing, faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below,” Greaves said in a statement. Only trace amounts were observed, about 20 molecules per billion. But additional research showed natural sources of phosphine volcanoes, lightning, minerals blown up into the atmosphere, the action of sunlight would only generate one ten thousandth the amount actually detected. The team can rule out many non-biological ways to generate the observed levels of phosphine, but that doesn’t mean life is the only explanation. The atmosphere of Venus is 90% sulfuric acid, raising “many questions, such as how any organisms could survive,” said MIT researcher Cara Sousa Silva. “On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment, but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid,” she said. Greaves’ team is awaiting additional telescope time to look for signs of other gases associated with biological activity and to determine the temperature of the clouds where the phosphine is present to gain additional insights. Ultimately, future visits by spacecraft likely will be needed to fully resolve the question. “There can always be something we overlooked,” said Seager. “Ultimately, the only thing that will answer this question for us is there life, is there not life is actually going to Venus and making more detailed measurements for signs of life and maybe life itself.” banner image: A false-colour image of Venus as captured by the Ultraviolet Imager aboard Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter (Akatsuiki). JAXA
SpaceX to attempt historic back-to-back Falcon 9 flights – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
William Harwood – CBS News SpaceX is gearing up for back-to-back launches on Sunday just […]
William Harwood – CBS News SpaceX is gearing up for back-to-back launches on Sunday just nine hours apart, the shortest span between two Florida orbit-class flights since 1966. The launches are a dramatic bid to put 60 more Starlink internet relay stations into orbit followed by an Argentine remote sensing satellite. The planned launchings follow on the heels of a last-second “hot-fire abort” of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Saturday that grounded a classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite. At least one of the heavy-lift Delta 4’s three first-stage engines was in the process of igniting when computers commanded a shutdown just three seconds before the planned liftoff. It’s not clear what triggered the abort, but the flight will be delayed at least a week pending inspections and corrective action. Fire erupts from the base of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket as the engine start sequence began and then shut down in a “hot-fire abort,” grounding the booster for at least a week. ULA webcast SpaceX already had clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Force Eastern Range to attempt back-to-back launches Sunday. But the weather could play a role in the historic doubleheader, with forecasters calling for a 50-50 chance of acceptable weather for the morning Starlink launch, declining to 40 percent “go” for the evening launch of Argentina’s SAOCOM 1B satellite. If the weather cooperates, the Starlink flight will take off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:12 a.m. ET. It will mark SpaceX’s 100th flight since the company’s first launch of a Falcon 1 in 2006 and the 94th flight of its workhorse Falcon 9. Three triple-core Falcon Heavies also have been launched. The 60 Starlinks set for launch Sunday will boost SpaceX’s constellation to 713. The rocket’s first stage, making its second flight, will attempt to land on an off-shore droneship after boosting the vehicle out of the lower atmosphere. Nine hours and six minutes after the Sunday morning launch, another Falcon 9 is scheduled for takeoff from pad 40 at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to put SAOCOM 1B into an orbit around Earth’s poles, the first such flight from Florida since 1969. The Falcon 9’s first stage, making its fourth flight, will attempt a landing back at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. If the Starlink and SAOCOM landings are successful, SpaceX’s record will stand at 60 first stage recoveries, 18 at the Air Force station, 40 on droneships and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. To reach a polar orbit from Cape Canaveral, the Falcon 9 will take off on a southerly trajectory and then carry out a “dogleg” maneuver once clear of Florida’s coast to bend the trajectory more directly south. The flight path will carry the rocket over Cuba. A Falcon 9 rocket takes off from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the most recent Starlink mission last August. Another Starlink flight is planned for Sunday, along with the launch of an Argentine remote-sensing satellite. SpaceX In 1960, falling debris from a malfunctioning rocket reportedly killed a cow in Cuba, prompting protests in the island nation. All polar orbit missions since 1969 have taken off from Vandenberg where rockets remain above the Pacific Ocean all the way to orbit. SpaceX initially planned to launch SAOCOM 1B from Vandenberg, but sought permission to move the flight to Cape Canaveral to ease ground processing issues. The company presumably won government approval for the move in part because of the dogleg maneuver, which minimizes overflight of populated areas, the rocket’s high altitude by the time it reaches populated areas farther downrange and because the Falcon 9 features an automated flight safety system. The AFTS is designed to quickly terminate a flight if an impending catastrophic problem is detected. The 6,720-pound SAOCOM 1B requires a polar orbit to enable its cloud-penetrating radar to observe the entire planet as it rotates below. The spacecraft will work in concert with an identical L-band radar mapper launched in 2018 along with Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed X-band satellites. Bound for a 360-mile-high orbit, the $600 million SOACOM system is designed to monitor soil moisture and a range of other factors affecting the agricultural sector, collecting high-resolution data around the clock regardless of cloud cover. “One of the main targets of the SAOCOM satellites is to provide information for the agriculture sector,” Raúl Kulichevsky, executive and technical director of CONAE, Argentina’s space agency, told Spaceflight Now. “One of the things we develop is soil moisture maps, not only of the surface, but taking advantage of the L-band capabilities we can measure the soil moisture 1 meter below the surface of the land. So this is very important information.”
NASA finds active galaxy far, far away that looks like a "Star Wars" TIE fighter – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
Sophie Lewis – CBS News Scientists have spotted an active galaxy far, far away — […]
Sophie Lewis – CBS News Scientists have spotted an active galaxy far, far away and it looks like it could join Darth Vader’s fleet. Located 500 million light-years away in the Cassiopeia constellation, Galaxy TXS 0128+554 bears a striking resemblance to the iconic aircraft from Star Wars. According to a paper published Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal, the galaxy is active, meaning all of its stars are not capable of providing the amount of light emitted by the galaxy on their own. The supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy has a mass about one billion times that of our sun. It is blasting out jets of energy spanning 35 light-years across in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light, which scientists believe produce gamma rays accounting for the excess light. Around one-tenth of active galaxies produce these jets which appear in this case like the starfighter’s wings when gas and dust build and heat up due to gravitational and frictional forces. Scientists have been studying the galaxy for about five years, after NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope reported that it is a source of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light. Years of data were needed to confirm the finding because TXS 0128 is about 100,000 times less powerful than most of the other 3,000 active galaxies observed. Researchers additionally used the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory to further observe the galaxy. “After the Fermi announcement, we zoomed in a million times closer on the galaxy using the VLBA’s radio antennas and charted its shape over time,” Matthew Lister, a professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, said in a news release. “The first time I saw the results, I immediately thought it looked like Darth Vader’s TIE fighter spacecraft from ‘Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.'” Not only was the symbol a “fun surprise,” its appearance actually helped researchers. Lister said viewing the galaxy core at various radio frequencies yielded new information on how active galaxies change dramatically over time. The galaxy’s shape looks different depending on the radio frequency used. The TIE fighter shape emerges at 6.6 gigahertz (GHz). Alternatively, at 2.3 GHz, the galaxy looks like an amorphous blob, and then at 15.4 GHz, a clear gap appears between the core and its jets. “The real-world universe is three-dimensional, but when we look out into space, we usually only see two dimensions,” said Daniel Homan, a co-author and professor of astronomy at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. “In this case, we’re lucky because the galaxy is angled in such a way, from our perspective, that the light from the farther lobe travels dozens more light-years to reach us than the light from the nearer one. This means we’re seeing the farther lobe at an earlier point in its evolution.” The gap may be due to a brief lull in the galaxy’s jets. They appear to have started about 90 years ago, as observed from Earth, then continued before stopping about 50 years later. Then, about 10 years ago, the jets started again, but scientists are still not sure why. “This galaxy reminds us of the importance of multiwavelength observations, looking at objects across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Elizabeth Hays, the Fermi project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Fermi, the VLBA, and Chandra each add a layer to our growing picture of this object, revealing their own surprises.” The TIE fighter galaxy joins Saturn’s Death Star moon Mimas and a Jabba-the-Hutt-shaped rock found on Mars. Hopefully, astronomers locate some Jedi symbolism next to bring some balance to the universe. banner image shows TXS 0128 at 15.4 gigahertz as observed by the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a globe-spanning network of radio antennas. The colours correspond to the radio signal’s intensity, from low (purple) to high (yellow). NRAO
A car-sized asteroid just made the closest fly-by of Earth on record — and NASA didn't see it coming – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
Sophie Lewis – CBS News A car-sized asteroid just made the closest-known approach to Earth […]
Sophie Lewis – CBS News A car-sized asteroid just made the closest-known approach to Earth without actually colliding with the planet. And researchers didn’t know about it until hours after it had already passed. Asteroid 2020 QG, formerly known as ZTFoDxQ, zoomed past Earth on Sunday at 12:08 a.m. EDT, getting as close as 1,830 miles (3,000 kilometres) away. It marks the closest asteroid flyby ever recorded in which the object actually survived, according to NASA. For comparison, the International Space Station is 254 miles (400 kilometres) away. “Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) pass by Earth all the time, but 2020 QG passed closer to Earth than any other known NEA without actually impacting,” a NASA spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday. 2020 QG was first observed at the Palomar Observatory a whopping six hours after it passed over the southern Indian Ocean. “It’s quite an accomplishment to find these tiny close-in asteroids in the first place, because they pass by so fast,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “There’s typically only a short window of a couple of days before or after close approach when this small of an asteroid is close enough to Earth to be bright enough but not so close that it moves too fast in the sky to be detected by a telescope.” The asteroid was travelling at 27,600 miles per hour, or nearly 8 miles per second, which NASA said is a little slower than average. On average, an asteroid of its size passes this closely just a few times each year. Being only about 10 to 20 feet in diameter, the asteroid was not actually big enough to pose a serious threat. If it had been on a collision course, it would have likely ended up as a fireball an extremely bright meteor as it broke up in Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid “approached Earth from the direction of the Sun and was not discovered until after it passed and could be observed in the night sky by ground-based observatories,” NASA confirmed. “By some estimates, there are hundreds of millions of small asteroids the size of 2020 QG, but they are extremely hard to discover until they get very close to Earth.” NASA carefully tracks near-Earth objects, but it’s only aware of a fraction of them due to such observational limitations. Scientists at NASA are developing a telescope that could detect asteroids coming from the direction of the sun, eliminating the current blind spot in their observations. The Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission could launch as early as 2025. NASA is also planning to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) in July 2021. DART will purposely crash into a harmless asteroid moon in the fall of 2022 to attempt to change its motion, in the first test for planetary defense. banner image shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth – courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Terrifying photos show "ultra-black fish" camouflaged in the darkest parts of the ocean – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
Scientists have now uncovered the secrets behind the magical disappearing act of some of the […]
Scientists have now uncovered the secrets behind the magical disappearing act of some of the fish lurking in some of the deepest parts of the ocean. These “ultra-black” fish are among the darkest creatures ever found, evolving to camouflage themselves to predators, even with no sunlight. According to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, certain exotic species of fish have adapted the shape, size and pigment of their skin to absorb 99.5% of the light that hits them making them about 20 times darker than everyday black objects. These fish mark the first time ultra-black has been discovered in aquatic animals, researchers said. Scientists at Duke University and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History studied 16 species of ultra-black fish, including the fangtooth, the Pacific blackdragon, the anglerfish and the black swallower, in the waters of Monterey Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The fish spanned seven different orders, which are large groupings that each have a shared evolutionary history, to determine that the modifications occurred independently from each other. The ultra-black Pacific blackdragon (Idiacanthus antrostomus), among the deep-sea fish found to have a unique arrangement of pigment-packed granules that enables them to absorb nearly all of the light that hits their skin so that as little as 0.05% of that light is reflected back is seen in this image released in Washington, July 16, 2020. KAREN OSBORN/SMITHSONIAN The ultra-black Pacific blackdragon (Idiacanthus antrostomus) is seen in this image released in Washington, July 16, 2020.KAREN OSBORN/SMITHSONIAN Some of the fish inhabit parts of the ocean as deep as three miles, where very little sunlight can reach. At these depths, bioluminescence light emitted by living organisms is the only source of light. With organisms illuminating the water themselves in order to hunt, ultra-black fish adapted to hide in plain sight. The camouflage is likely the difference between eating and getting eaten, scientists said in a press release. “In the deep, open ocean, there is nowhere to hide and a lot of hungry predators,” co-author and zoologist Karen Osborn of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, told Reuters. “An animal’s only option is to blend in with the background.” Scientists found that, compared with regular black fish, ultra-black fish have uniquely shaped melanosomes, the tiny packets of pigment with their skin cells. The skin of these fish is some of the blackest material ever discovered they often appear as just silhouettes, even in bright light. “The darkest species they found, a tiny anglerfish not much longer than a golf tee, soaks up so much light that almost none — 0.04% — bounces back to the eye,” researchers said. The ultra-black common fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta), is seen in this image released in Washington, July 16, 2020. KAREN OSBORN/SMITHSONIAN The ultra-black Pacific blackdragon (Idiacanthus antrostomus) is seen in this image released in Washington, July 16, 2020. KAREN OSBORN/SMITHSONIAN The findings rank the fish among the world’s blackest-known animals: Ultra-black butterflies reflect between 0.06% to 0.5% of light and the blackest birds have 0.05% to 0.31% reflectance. Photographing the fish proved extremely difficult for researchers. “It didn’t matter how you set up the camera or lighting — they just sucked up all the light,” said research zoologist Karen Osborn of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Researchers say the discovery could lead to the development of light-trapping materials with practical applications on land ranging from solar panels to telescopes like Vantablack, the ultra-black coating designed for defense and space applications.
Scientists release closest images ever taken of the sun – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
William Harwood – CBS News The European Space Agency and NASA unveiled the first images […]
William Harwood – CBS News The European Space Agency and NASA unveiled the first images captured by the $1.5 billion Solar Orbiter spacecraft Thursday, stunning photos revealing spectacular detail and providing a possible answer to a long-standing question: what heats up the star’s outer atmosphere, or corona, to millions of degrees? “It’s a little counter-intuitive because you would think, if you had a body that’s very hot at the centre and relatively cool at the surface, it would be even cooler the farther you go away,” said Daniel Müller, ESA’s Solar Orbiter project scientist. “But on the contrary, for the sun we have a hot core (and) a relatively cool surface surrounded by a super hot atmosphere of more than a million degrees. It’s as if you would light a fire and as you move farther away from the fire, it doesn’t get cooler, but in fact it really starts to burn you when you’re really far away.” The Solar Probe’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager, however, captured stunning images from a distance of about 48 million miles, about half the distance between sun and Earth, showing what appear to be countless miniature flares, dubbed “campfires,” blazing away near the sun’s surface. “It’s too early to draw any scientific conclusions, but our conjecture is these campfires … are related to changes in the sun’s magnetic field, a process known as magnetic reconnection,” Müller said during a news briefing. “We believe that even though it’s the ‘quiet’ sun, and there are only small scale magnetic fields, these filaments do get tangled and get under stress. And like rubber bands, they can eventually tear and then reconfigure into new configurations.” That magnetic tearing can release enormous amounts of energy “that would then heat the plasma locally to temperatures of more than a million degrees,” he said. The American physicist Eugene Parker, the man NASA named its own solar probe after, first theorized that a sea of small, magnetically powered “nanoflares” could be the mechanism for heating up the corona. “While we clearly do not know yet if what we see is in any way related to that theory, there is the possibility that what we see here … could contribute significantly to heating the solar corona,” Müller said. Along with the campfire images, ESA also released full-disc photos and data from the spacecraft’s other instruments showing an extraordinary level of detail that provides a taste of things to come: in about two years, the Solar Orbiter will pass within a quarter of the distance between Earth and sun. As for the initial batch of observations, David Berghmans, principal investigator of the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, said he was stunned. “When the first images came in, the first thought was this is not possible, it can’t be that good,” he said. “It was really much better than what we dared to hope for.” Launched from Cape Canaveral Feb. 9 atop an Atlas 5 rocket, the Solar Orbiter probe was designed to provide the first detailed look at the sun’s poles, joining NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched a year-and-a-half earlier, in a major push to answer long-standing questions about the star’s structure and behaviour. The Parker Solar Probe periodically flies through the outer regions of the sun’s corona, enduring extreme temperatures that rule out the use of sun-facing cameras. The spacecraft’s instruments instead are focused on studying the sun’s complex electric and magnetic fields, the electrically charged particles making up the supersonic solar wind and the mechanisms that heat the corona. The Solar Orbiter will fly inside the orbit of Mercury in a highly elliptical orbit that eventually will carry it within 26 million miles of the sun. “Parker Solar probe is going closer to the sun, much closer, but the environment that close is extremely harsh,” said Holly Gilbert, NASA’s Solar Orbiter project scientist. “They have one camera that’s not facing the sun, it’s facing away so it can watch the solar wind. So Solar Orbiter is (at) the limit of where cameras can take images of the sun itself.” The Solar Orbiter mission cost roughly $1.5 billion, including the Atlas 5 rocket provided by NASA. The U.S. space agency spent another $70 million building one of the spacecraft’s instruments and other components.
Have an eye for the weekend "buck moon" lunar eclipse – Barrie 360 - Barrie 360
A celestial delight that is the real deal for skywatchers. Nothing virtual happening here. The […]
A celestial delight that is the real deal for skywatchers. Nothing virtual happening here. The weekend brings not only a full moon, but also a lunar eclipse. Most of North and South America will be treated to the celestial phenomenon, as well as parts of southwestern Europe and Africa. This will be a penumbral eclipse rather than a total lunar eclipse, meaning part of the moon will pass through the outer part of Earth’s shadow. Around here, the eclipse will start at 11:07 p.m. Saturday, with the maximum effect at 12:20 a.m. Sunday. The eclipse ends just before 2 a.m. The weather gods won’t disappoint. A clear sky is promised. Not only is this weekend marked by a full moon and lunar eclipse, it also highlights the closest grouping of Saturn, Jupiter and the moon, forming a triangle. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, July’s full moon is called the “buck moon,” because early summer is when male deer grow new antlers. It’s also called the thunder moon because of summer storms that occur in July.