Thick Layers Of Ice Water Discovered Below Surface Of Mars

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TECH TIMES)

 

Thick Layers Of Ice Water Discovered Below Surface Of Mars

 By Maui Hermitanio Tech Times
Nasa building new rover for Mars 2020 mission
Underground ice found beneath Mars’ surface extending to its middle latitude. This discovery is a game changer in mankind’s exploration of the read planet.   ( Aynur Zakirov | Pixabay )

Geological features comprising 300 feet of thick ice was exposed in the surface of Mars.

Eroded slopes of pure water ice called scarps were scanned by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. At least eight scarps were found in both northern and southern hemisphere of Mars’ middle latitudes.

Pure Water Ice Discovered From Mars’ Surface

The pictures sent back to Earth by MRO showed a more detailed cross-section view of thick ice sheets below a layer of ice-cemented rock and dust on Mars’ surface. The 3D images were studied by scientists using the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera.

In 2001, the Mars Odyssey spacecraft discovered that a third of Mars’ surface is covered in shallow ice. Also, its poles are full of ice deposits through the detection of hydrogen using gamma rays.

In 2008, the Phoenix lander analyzed and confirmed the Odyssey findings as it discovered buried water ice at 68 degrees north latitude or about one-third into the planet’s pole. However, previous scans using the MRO’s Shallow Radar instrument were not enough to determine the extent and makeup of ice on the Red Planet.

Scientists were astonished to discover that Mars’ mid-latitudes contained pure water ice.

“It was surprising to find ice exposed at the surface at these places. In the mid-latitudes, it’s normally covered by a blanket of dust or regolith,” loose bits of rock atop a layer of bedrock, said Colin Dundas, research geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The ice sheets appear bluish in the high-resolution images and look like steep cliffs of glaciers, up to 100 meters tall. The discovery points to a vast area of underground ice buried only a meter or two below Martian ground surface. The location of the scarps was at 55 to 58 middle latitudes or the equivalent of Scotland or the tip of South America on Earth.

Shayne Byrne of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson said the discovery was like looking at an ant farm from a glass on the side and seeing what’s hidden beneath the ground.

How Scarps Were Formed

No definitive information was provided on how the scarps were formed. Scientists said once the buried ice is exposed to Mars’ atmosphere, a scarp likely grows wider and taller as it retreats. It is also possible that layers of snow were compressed every climate cycle, resulting in the building deposits of ice over time.

The varying shades of light to a dark blue color of ice as shown on the images suggest that the thick slabs of ice are stacked. The ice could also be remnants of glaciers that existed millions of years ago.

Unlimited Source Of Water And Possible Life On Mars

The discovery is considered a game changer in mankind’s exploration of Mars. Scientists have raised the possibility that the thick ice sheets could become a potential accessible source of water for future scientific exploration and visit to Mars. Byrne suggested that would-be visitors to Mars can just use a bucket and shovel and collect water from the sources.

The latest research gave scientists a glimpse of Mars’ climate history and would be the basis for further study of its water sources. It will also help NASA and other agencies plan upcoming rover and human missions to Mars.

The study was published in the journal Science.

 TAG

Jupiter Looks Beautiful In These New NASA Photos

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

NASA has shared brand new photos of Jupiter taken by the Juno spacecraft, showing the gas giant’s blue-tinged skies.

The Juno spacecraft takes batches of photos about every 53 days as it orbits Jupiter. NASA researchers uploaded the raw images online last month, prompting several people to process the photos into colorful views of Jupiter, including self-described citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran.

Eichstädt and Doran’s enhanced images from Juno’s JunoCam show a beautiful planet of luminous colors, ranging from deep blues and purples to browns and reds — though people should not be fooled by how inviting the planet seems.

“As pretty as a planet can get, but get too close and Jupiter will END YOU,” Doran tweeted.

See the stunning images of Jupiter below.

NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

 

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

Angolans Left Snickering After Post-Launch Glitch in Country’s First Satellite

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Angolans Left Snickering After Post-Launch Glitch in Country’s First Satellite

The launch of Angosat-1 was broadcast live by Televisão Pública de Angola. Image: screengrab, Clubk Clubk/YouTube.

On 25 December, Angola’s first satellite went into orbit, and the launch was celebrated with a large screen broadcasting it live at Marginal de Luanda, one of the city’s main avenues, accompanied by fireworks.

Named Anglosat-1, the satellite is Russian-made, the fruit of a Russian-Angolan partnership started in 2009, and is intended to bring high-speed internet and radio and television transmission to various countries in Africa and parts of Europe.

However, hours after its launch from Kazakhstan the satellite lost communications with its Earth platform and remained silent for several hours.

Angolans treated the launch and the glitch with humor, but also took the opportunity to question the narratives of the world’s media and the wisdom of spending money on a satellite when human development remains so poor in the country.

Social media was full of comic reactions when news of the satellite’s temporary malfunction broke:

Os fazedores de memes estão cada vez mais rápidos e de humor apurado. “O satélite levou chip da Movicel por isso perdeu rede”; “Encontrou-se o satélite algures no Kwanza-Sul, destruiu as viaturas do soba e do administrador”😆

Meme makers are getting quicker and sharper in wit. “The satellite used a Movicel chip, that’s why it lost connection” [Movicel is a cellphone operator in Angola]; “The satellite was found somewhere in Kwanza-Sul [province in Angola], it destroyed the vehicles of the soba [community-leader] and the administrator”

Ontem os Angolanos lançaram fogo de artifício para comemorar o lançamento do primeiro satélite angolano.
Hoje a agência espacial russa perdeu contacto com o satélite.

Yesterday the Angolans launched fireworks to commemorate the launch of the first Angolan satellite.
Today the Russian space agency lost contact with the satellite.

“Moscovo perde sinal do satélite angolano” já não há porno pra ninguém 😂😂😂

“Moscow lost the signal of the Angolan satellite” now there is no porn for anybody

Must be without a system…
After all, the satellite is Angolan

Some, though, criticized so much attention being given to the fault in the satellite – which finally re-established contact two days later, according to the Russian maker RSC Energia.

Tanta midia internacional subitamente interessada apenas no fracasso do satélite angolano… hate e vontade de não ver um país africano sobressair é assim tão grande ?

So much international media suddenly interested only in the Angolan satellite’s failure… the hate and will to not see an African country stand out is so great?

Angola has become the seventh African country, alongside Algeria, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and Tunisia, to have a communications satellite in orbit.

The Angolan government reports that it has invested 320 million US dollars in the project, which it forecasts that it will recover in two years. According to Minister of State Carvalho da Rocha, the telecommunications operators of Angola spend, together, between 15 and 20 million US dollars each month in renting space on other satellites for the region.

Furthermore, the minister said that 40% of the satellite’s capacity has already been sold, to be used by national telecommunications operators, while the rest should be hired by other operators in Africa and parts of Europe. Angosat-1 should stay in orbit for 15 years.

Imagens exclusivas do Angosat.
Satélite angolano será lançado no próximo mês. Técnicos estão a dar os últimos retoques para a conclusão do angosat.

Exclusive images of Angosat.
The Angolan satellite will be launched next month. Technicians are giving the finishing touches to Angosat’s preparation.

However, some raised concerns, such as activist Pedrowski Teca:

I ask:
1 – What is the Russian flag doing on our satellite?
2 – Why is the Russian flag most prominent and Angola’s in second place?
3 – Why is the writing on the satellite in a foreign language (seemingly Russian)?

For Raúl Danda, the satellite is not his priority as an Angolan citizen:

[…] If it is a reason of pride, because it is not just any country that sends its own satellite into space, this episode reminds me of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations; a lot of show for nothing or almost nothing. Many of the stadiums that cost millions and millions of dollars (a “cost” cost and a stolen cost) remain there with grass growing for the goats to graze. At that time, the government of President Eduardo dos Santos (now “ex”) intended only to show that “we can too”! This time that repeats itself. Launching a satellite is a good thing, even really good. But it is first necessary to achieve other things. Buying a BMW while, at home, the children have no bread, is, more than absurd, irrational. Launching a satellite into space while on the ground there is no medicine, food, quality education, healthcare worthy of that name, basic sanitation … and other really basic things, seems to me a terrible irrationality…

Another Angolan activist questioned why the government had brought religious practitioners to attend the launch ceremony:

Aqueles “Lideres Religiosos” que foram levados à Moskovo- Rússia, no âmbito do lançamento do tal satelite que já anda desaparecido foram mesmo fazer o que ?
Este governo parece que ainda não deixou o habito de gastar dinheiro desnecessáriamente, ou estes custiaram a sua viajem?

Those “religious leaders” who were brought to Moscow-Russia, for the launch of the satellite which has already gone missing, were there to do what? It seems that this government has not stopped its habit of spending money unnecessarily, or did they pay for their own travel?

China’s out-of-control space station may crash to Earth in 2 months

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE BUSINESS INSIDER’)

 

China’s out-of-control space station may crash to Earth in 2 months

china tiangong 1 space station model reutersA scale model of China’s Tiangong-1 space station. Jason Lee/Reuters

  • In 2016, China lost control of its first space station, called Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace.”
  • The Aerospace Corporation expects the spacecraft to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere in mid-March, give or take a couple of weeks.
  • Chunks of the 8.5-ton vessel should be durable enough to reach our planet’s surface.
  • Any surviving pieces of Tiangong-1 will most likely land in the ocean.

China’s first space station, called Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace,” will soon explode over Earth into a rain of fiery debris.

Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit research company, predicted last month that the derelict spacecraft would reenter Earth’s atmosphere in mid-March, give or take two weeks — so possibly as early as the end of February or as late as April.

When it does, extreme heat and pressure caused by plowing through the air at more than 15,000 mph will destroy the 8.5-ton vessel.

Not everything may vanish, though.

There’s a good chance that gear and hardware left on board could survive intact all the way to the ground, according to Bill Ailor, an aerospace engineer who specializes in atmospheric reentry. That durability is thanks to Tiangong-1’s onion-like layers of protective material.

“The thing about a space station is that it’s typically got things on the inside,” Ailor, who works for Aerospace Corporation, previously told Business Insider. “So basically, the heating will just strip these various layers off. If you’ve got enough layers, a lot of the energy is gone before a particular object falls out, it doesn’t get hot, and it lands on the ground.”

For example, he said, after NASA’s Columbia space shuttle broke up over the US in 2003, investigators recovered a working flight computer — an artifact that ultimately helped explain how the deadly incident happened.

Predicting Tiangong-1’s crash to Earth

Tiangong-1 is a two-room space station for two taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts. It has a volume of 15 cubic meters, about 1/60th of the football-field-size International Space Station.

Though China superseded Tiangong-1 in 2016 with Tiangong-2, space experts hailed it as a major achievement for the nation’s space program, since it helped pioneer a permanent Chinese presence in orbit.

“It conducted six successive rendezvous and dockings with spacecraft Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9, and Shenzhou-10 and completed all assigned missions, making important contributions to China’s manned space exploration activities,” said a memo China submitted in May to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

tiangong 1 chinese space station cmsaAn illustration of Tiangong-1, China’s first space station, orbiting Earth. China Manned Space Agency

In the memo, China said it lost contact with the spacecraft on March 16, 2016, after it “fully fulfilled its historic mission.”

By May 2017, Tiangong-1 was coasting about 218 miles above Earth and dropping by about 525 feet a day, the memo said. Its altitude has since plummeted to less than 175 miles, according to Aerospace Corporation data.

“For any vehicle like this, the thing that brings them down is atmospheric drag,” Ailor said. “Why there’s a lot of uncertainty in the predictions is that it depends on what the sun’s doing, to a large measure.”

The sun can unleash solar storms and solar flares — bursts of X-rays and ultraviolet light — that heat Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing the air to expand and rise. That forces low-flying objects like Tiangong-1 to plow through denser gases.

“This puts just a little bit of a higher force on these objects that causes them to come down,” Ailor said.

An analysis of the combined effects of solar activity and Tiangong-1’s orbital speed, direction, and altitude, as well as other factors, helped the Aerospace Corporation provide its most recent estimate of a mid-March de-orbit. Before the big moment, however, the company may refine its estimate as conditions change.

What will happen when China’s space station is destroyed

atv spacecraft atmospheric reentry burning up fireball esa d ducrosAn illustration of Europe’s ATV spacecraft breaking apart and burning up as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere.ESA/D. Ducros

Tiangong-1 is likely to crash over the ocean, as water covers about 71% of Earth’s surface. But there’s a decent chance some pieces may strike land as it breaks up over a long and thin oval footprint.

“The whole footprint length for something like this could be 1,000 miles or so,” Ailor said, with heavier pieces at the front and lighter debris toward the back.

If anyone is lucky enough to witness Tiangong-1’s atmospheric breakup from an airplane, it may look similar to the destruction of the European Space Agency’s 14-ton Automated Transfer Vehicle — an expendable spacecraft that was once used to resupply the ISS.

When asked for comment on Tiangong-1’s threat to ongoing NASA missions, the space agency told Business Insider it “actually doesn’t track any debris.”

Ailor says pieces of China’s space station are “really unlikely” to hit anyone or anything on Earth.

“It’s not impossible, but since the beginning of the space age … a woman who was brushed on the shoulder in Oklahoma is the only one we’re aware of who’s been touched by a piece of space debris,” he said.

Should a hunk of titanium, a computer, or another piece smash through a roof or windshield, however, international space law covers compensation for victims.

“It’s China’s responsibility if someone gets hurt or property gets damaged by this,” NASA’s representative said.

New Evidence That Supermassive Black Holes Eventually Suck the Life out of Big Galaxies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GIZOMDO)

 

New Evidence That Supermassive Black Holes Eventually Suck the Life out of Big Galaxies

The Centaurus A galaxy, showing the characteristic jets of gas thrown off by a supermassive black hole. (Image: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray))

At the core of each large galaxy lies a supermassive black hole with the mass of 1 million suns. New research shows that these celestial vacuum cleaners do more than just devour nearby objects—they also grow to a size that eventually suppresses a galaxy’s ability to churn out new stars, effectively rendering them sterile.

Young galaxies are absolutely bursting with bright, newly formed stars. As time passes, however, star formation eventually grinds to a halt. A new study published in Nature shows that supermassive black holes play a critical role in determining when large galaxies stop producing new stars, a process known as “quenching.”

Stars form out of cold gas, so when a galaxy runs out of cold gas it’s effectively quenched. One possible way this could happen—at least for galaxies with supermassive black holes—is that the gas that pours onto a supermassive black hole triggers the production of high-energy jets. The energy released by these jets can expel cold gas out of the galaxy, causing star formation to shut down.

At least that’s the theory. This idea has been around for quite some time, but no observational evidence existed to support the alleged correlation between supermassive black holes and star formation. The new study, led by Ignacio Martín-Navarro from the University of California Santa Cruz, now fills this gap in our knowledge.

Using data collected by the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Massive Galaxy Survey, Martín-Navarro’s team analyzed the spectra of light coming from distant galaxies. This allowed them to separate and measure the varying wavelengths of light coming from these distant objects. The scientists used this data to create a historical snapshot of a galaxy’s star formation history. They then compared this history with black holes of different masses, which resulted in some striking differences—differences that correlated with black hole mass, but not the shape, size, or other properties of black holes.

“The subsequent quenching of star formation takes place earlier and more efficiently in galaxies that host higher-mass central black holes,” wrote the researchers. “The observed relation between black-hole mass and star formation efficiency applies to all generations of stars formed throughout the life of a galaxy, revealing a continuous interplay between black-hole activity and… cooling.”

As Martín-Navarro clarified in an accompanying statement, for galaxies with the same mass of stars, but with a different black hole mass in the center, “those galaxies with bigger black holes were quenched earlier and faster than those with smaller black holes.” This means that star formation will last longer in galaxies with smaller central black holes. “[…Accretion onto more massive black holes leads to more energetic feedback from active galactic nuclei, which would quench star formation faster,” he said.

It’s an exciting result, but there’s still lots of work to do. While the researchers managed to produce observational evidence showing that black hole mass can be connected to the quenching of star formation, they’re still unclear about the exact mechanical processes involved. As study co-author Aaron Romanowsky explained, “There are different ways a black hole can put energy out into the galaxy, and theorists have all kinds of ideas about how quenching happens, but there’s more work to be done to fit these new observations into the models.”

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, features its own super massive black hole and is not immune to this process. It is currently transitioning from star-forming mode to a passive, sterile existence. Eventually, a few billion years from now, all the stars in the Milky Way will be extinguished, and the super massive black hole at center will evaporate into nothing. It’s a grim prospect, but such is the way of the indifferent cosmos.

China’s 2018 Moon Mission Is To Go A ‘Step Beyond’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE GUARDIAN’ NEWS)

 

This time next year, there may be a new world leader in lunar exploration. If all goes according to plan, China will have done something no other space-faring superpower has been able to do: land on the far side of the moon. China is rocketing ahead with its plans for lunar exploration. In 2018, they will launch a pair of missions known collectively as Chang’e 4. It is the fourth mission in a series named after the Chinese moon goddess.

The first component of Chang’e 4 is scheduled to lift off in June. It will be a relay satellite stationed some 60,000km behind the moon and will provide a communications link between Earth and the lunar far side. Once this link is established, it will allow China to send the second part of the mission: a lander to the far side’s surface.

Landing on the far side of the moon is something no one has tried before. “The Chinese are pushing back the frontier with such a technically challenging mission,” says Brian Harvey, space analyst and author of China in Space: The Great Leap Forward.

China’s lunar exploration programme started in 2007 with Chang’e 1, a simple lunar orbiter. In 2010, Chang’e 2 also went into lunar orbit before setting off for a trek across the solar system that culminated in a flyby of asteroid Toutatis in 2012.

In 2013 Chang’e 3, deploying the Jade Rabbit rover, made headlines for the first soft landing on the moon since 1976. So far, so impressive, but all China had done was catch up with the achievements of the US and USSR. Chang’e 4, however, will be a space first.

China’s first lunar probe, Chang’e I, lifts off from its launch pad in Xichang, Sichuan province, in 2007
Pinterest
 China’s first lunar probe, Chang’e I, lifts off from its launch pad in Xichang, Sichuan province, in 2007. Photograph: Getty Images

Nobody has landed on the far side of the moon, mainly because of the communications difficulty. Yet the scientific payoff is huge. Being in the shadow of the moon allows stray radio signals from Earth to be blocked so the view of the radio universe is unparalleled.

Heino Falcke, Radboud University, Nijmegen, is hoping to take full advantage of this by supplying a radio telescope to the Chinese mission. His aim is to test how easy it will be to pick up signals from the early universe before there were any stars.

Astronomers call this the dark ages because nothing was emitting light. But hydrogen atoms were giving out radio waves, which Falcke hopes to catch. He designed the instrument for a lunar mission that the European Space Agency(ESA) considered building about five years ago. When that spacecraft was put on hold, it looked as if his plans were scuppered. But when the king of Holland visited China as part of a trade delegation, the idea was revived.

“China has always made a big play about wanting to do international collaboration,” says Harvey. “I think there may be an element of wanting to do it to show the US that they have an international reach, despite the America effort to stop them.”

Working with the Chinese has not proved to be seamless, however. “China is not the giant bloc it looks like from outside. Knowing who are the right people to talk to isn’t always clear,” says Falcke.

As a result, his instrument is still not guaranteed to make it on to the spacecraft in time for the proposed summer launch, yet he remains optimistic. “I think we built up a lot of good relations in China and there is goodwill on both sides to make this happen,” says Falcke.

It is not just the Chinese that have a programme of lunar exploration. The ESA is contributing two significant instruments to a Russia-led lunar lander, planned for 2022. The ESA are also supplying the primary power and population system for Nasa’s Orion space capsule that is planned to orbit the moon uncrewed in 2019. Finally, they are involved in exploratory talks with the Chinese National SpaceAdministration to identify potential opportunities for future collaboration on robotic exploration missions.

ESA’s collaborative approach is perhaps exemplified by their Moon Village concept, which was put forward by director general Jan Woerner, shortly after taking office in 2015. The Moon Village is envisioned as an open-ended endeavour for a sustainable permanent surface presence on the moon, both robotic and human. “The concept entails ESA acting in a non-traditional role as “honest broker”, facilitator and catalyst towards interested parties globally,” says Piero Messina of ESA’s strategy department.

But it is safe to say that China’s plans are the most advanced. After Chang’e 4, they are on course for a series of other robotic lunar missions that will build towards an attempted human landing in about 15 years. The key to this is the Long March 9 rocket, which is in development and due to fly in 2028-2030. It’s a behemoth that will be able to land something bigger than the Apollo lunar module, which carried pairs of astronauts to the moon and back in the 1960s and 70s.

“It is reasonable to presume that China will have its own people on the surface early in the 2030s,” says Harvey. And this puts them well in the lead over Nasa, which has no firm plans for landing people at present.

The ultimate question is whether the Chinese spirit of international collaboration could extend all the way through to the human landings, with their rockets carrying other nationalities? Maybe.

This summer, ESA astronauts trained with their Chinese counterparts for the first time. It was a survival exercise unrelated to lunar exploration, but it signalled an openness on both sides. “The reception was warm. We truly felt the spirit of belonging to one universal astronaut family, sharing the same values, goals and vision,” said ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer at the time. Clearly, the moon is where humankind is going next. The surprise is that the Chinese are now poised to have such a leading role in the endeavour.

That may prove a bitter pill for the US to swallow as Nasa are prohibited from working with the Chinese. In spring 2013, the US Congress passed a further law effectively banning Chinese nationals from even setting foot inside a Nasa facility.

Given the pace of Chinese progress, this could prove to be an own goal. On 11 December, the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 lunar landing (the last time people walked on the moon), President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, which directs Nasa to take astronauts to the moon with the help of US commercial space industry.

Yet there is little detail about how and when this might happen and how much the White House is prepared to spend. “Trump’s directive was very vague,” says Harvey. “We’re still no more definite about when the Americans will set foot back on the moon.”

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I’m a 19 year old student disillusioned by an unequal society with a government that has stopped even pretending to work in my generation’s interests. So for the strength of our democracy, for the voice of the young, for a credible independent check on the government, this donation was pretty good value for money.Jack H, UK

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Navy pilot recalls encounter with UFO: ‘I think it was not from this world’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC)

 

Navy pilot recalls encounter with UFO: ‘I think it was not from this world’

ABC News
WATCHDetails about Pentagon’s secret UFO hunters

Retired Cmdr. David Fravor spent 18 years as a Navy pilot, but nothing prepared him for what he witnessed during a routine training mission on Nov. 14, 2004.

“I can tell you, I think it was not from this world,” Fravor told ABC News. “I’m not crazy, haven’t been drinking. It was — after 18 years of flying, I’ve seen pretty much about everything that I can see in that realm, and this was nothing close.”

PHOTO: An unidentified flying object shown in a photo first obtained by the New York Times.Obtained by ABC News
An unidentified flying object shown in a photo first obtained by the New York Times.

Fravor’s stunning retelling of his encounter off the California coast with what appeared to be a 40-foot-long wingless object that flew at incredible speeds in an erratic pattern comes as the Pentagon revealed the existence of a secret program to investigate sightings of UFOs.

The program was shut down in 2012 because of other budget priorities, according to the Pentagon.

“I have never seen anything in my life, in my history of flying that has the performance, the acceleration — keep in mind this thing had no wings,” Fravor said.

He recalled flying his F/A-18 fighter on a training mission on a beautiful Southern California day 13 years ago when things started to get strange.

Controllers on one of the Navy ships on the water below reported objects that were dropping out of the sky from 80,000 feet and going “straight back up,” Fravor said.

PHOTO: Former Navy Commander David Fravor told ABC News about his encounter with what he believed was a UFO.Obtained by ABC News
Former Navy Commander David Fravor told ABC News about his encounter with what he believed was a UFO.

“So we’re thinking, OK, this is going to be interesting,” he said.

As they were looking around for the object that appeared on the radar, another aviator spotted something. “I was like, ‘Dude, do you see that?'” Fravor recalled saying.

“We look down, we see a white disturbance in the water, like something’s under the surface, and the waves are breaking over, but we see next to it, and it’s flying around, and it’s this little white Tic Tac, and it’s moving around — left, right, forward, back, just random,” he said.

The object didn’t display the rotor wash typical of a helicopter or jet wash from a plane, he said.

The planes flew lower to investigate the object, which started to mirror their movements before disappearing, Fravor said. “As we start to cut across, it rapidly accelerates, climbs past our altitude and disappears,” Fravor recalled.

“When it started to near us, as we started to descend towards it coming up, it was flying in the elongated way, so it’s [like] a Tic Tac, with the roundish end going in the forward direction … I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what I saw. I just know it was really impressive, really fast, and I would like to fly it,” he said.

The disturbance in the water also vanished with object, he remembered.

“So we turned around — we couldn’t have been more than about a couple miles away — and there’s no white water at all in the ocean,” Fravor said. “It’s just blue.”

At that point, they decided to return to complete the training exercise when they were told the object or something similar reappeared.

“And the controller comes up and says, ‘Sir, you’re not going to believe this. That thing is at your half point,’ which is our hold point,” Fravor added. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, great.'”

Another plane that launched from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz around the same time had its radar jammed and was able to pick up the object on an infrared channel.

“He gets close enough to see a couple of objects come out of the bottom, and then all of a sudden it takes off and goes right off the side of the screen and, like, takes off,” Fravor said.

He recalled that the speed of the object, which he said had no exhaust trail in infrared scanning, was stunning.

“No aircraft that we know of can fly at those speeds, maneuver like that and looks like that,” ABC News contributor and former Marine Col. Stephen Ganyard said.

Fravor said there is no rational explanation for what they saw that day.

“I don’t know if it was alien life, but I will say that in an infinite universe, with multiple galaxies that we know of, that if we’re the only planet with life, it’s a pretty lonely universe.”

There was no further investigation into the incident, he said.

“You know, you see a lot of interesting things,” Fravor said. “But to show up on something that’s a 40-foot-long white Tic Tac with no wings that can move, really, in any random direction that it wants and go from hovering over the ocean to mirroring us to accelerating to the point where it just disappears — like, poof, then it was gone.”

NY Times: Pentagon study of UFOs revealed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

NY Times: Pentagon study of UFOs revealed

Former Sen. Harry Reid speaks at a rally in Nevada in 2016. The New York Times says it was his interest that spurred the creation of the UFO program.

(CNN)Beyond preparing for the next field of battle, or advancing a massive arsenal that includes nuclear weapons, the Pentagon has also researched the possible existence of UFOs.

The New York Times reported Saturday on the once completely classified project that began because of the intense interest in the subject by former Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
According to the Times, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program was launched in 2007 after the Nevada Democrat spoke to his longtime friend, Robert Bigelow, the billionaire founder of an aerospace company. Bigelow has spoken about his belief in UFOs visiting the United States as well as the existence of aliens.
Among the anomalies the program studied, the paper said, were video and audio recordings of aerial encounters by military pilots and unknown objects, as well as interviews with people who said they had experienced physical encounters with such objects.
In one instance, the program looked at video footage of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet surrounded by a glowing object of unknown origin traveling at a high rate of speed in a location that officials declined to identify, the paper said.
close dialog
Tell us where to send you Five Things
Morning briefings of all the news & buzz people will be talking about
Activate Five Things
By subscribing you agree to our
privacy policy.
The Pentagon says the program has since been shuttered.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,” Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson told CNN. “It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
But according to the Times, certain aspects of the program still exist with officials from the program continuing to investigate encounters brought to them by service members, while these officials still carry out their other duties within the Defense Department.
The former director of the program told the paper that he worked with officials from the Navy and CIA from his office in the Pentagon until this past October, when he resigned in protest. He said a replacement had been named, but he declined to identify them.
Reid, the Times says, was also supported in his efforts to fund the program by the late Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and John Glenn of Ohio, the first American to orbit the Earth, who told Reid the federal government should take a serious look at UFOs.
And working to keep a program that he was sure would draw scrutiny from others, Reid said he, Stevens and Inouye made sure there was never any public debate about the program on the Senate floor during budget debates.
“This was so-called black money,” Reid told the Times regarding the Defense Department budget for classified programs.

Eight planets found orbiting distant star, NASA says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND NASA)

 

Eight planets found orbiting distant star, NASA says

The galaxy explained

Story highlights

  • For the first time, eight planets have been found orbiting Kepler-90
  • It is tied with our solar system for a star hosting the most known planets

(CNN) For the first time, eight planets have been found orbiting a distant star, Kepler-90, 2,545 light-years from Earth in the Draco constellation, NASA announced Thursday. It is the first star known to support as many planets as are orbiting our own sun, and researchers believe that this is the first of many to come.

Researchers had known that seven planets were orbiting the star. But Google Artificial Intelligence — which enables computers to “learn” — looked at archival data obtained by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope and uncovered the eighth planet.
With the idea of eventually differentiating among exoplanets, Christopher Shallue, senior software engineer at Google AI in California, and Andrew Vanderburg, astronomer and NASA Sagan postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Austin, trained a computer how to differentiate between images of cats and dogs.
They refined their approach to identify exoplanets in Kepler data based on the change in light when a planet passed in front of its star. The neural network learned to identify these by using signals that had been vetted and confirmed in Kepler’s planet catalog. Ninety-six percent of the time, it was accurate.
Since launching in 2009, Kepler has watched more than 150,000 stars in one part of the sky to determine exoplanet candidates, based on the slight dimming of stars as potential planets pass across them. Kepler gathered a dataset of 35,000 possible signals indicating planets. In order to help find weaker signals of potential planets that researchers had missed, the neural network was trained to look for weak signals in star systems that were known to support multiple planets.
close dialog
Tell us where to send you Five Things
Morning briefings of all the news & buzz people will be talking about
Activate Five Things
By subscribing you agree to our
privacy policy.
“Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can’t search it for themselves,” Shallue said.
The new planet has been dubbed Kepler-90i. It’s not a hospitable environment. It’s small, “sizzling” hot and rocky, whirling around its star every 14.4 days. In our solar system, the closest planet to the sun, Mercury, has an orbit of 88 days.
“The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system. You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer,” Vanderburg said.
Although Kepler-90 is a sun-like star, the planets are all bunched together in tight orbits around it — the same distance that Earth is from the sun.

“Just as we expected, there are exciting discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington. “This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come.”
Researchers also announced that they had uncovered a sixth planet in the Kepler-80 system, Kepler-80g, which is similar in size to Earth. It also has an orbit of 14.4 days. The star is cooler and redder than our sun, and all of the planets orbit very tightly around it. Five of the six planets form a resonant chain, in which they are locked in orbit by mutual gravity. The Kepler-80 system is stable, as the previously discovered seven-planet TRAPPIST-1 system has proven to be.
To date, Kepler has observed 2,525 confirmed exoplanets.
“These results demonstrate the enduring value of Kepler’s mission,” said Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. “New ways of looking at the data — such as this early-stage research to apply machine learning algorithms — promises to continue to yield significant advances in our understanding of planetary systems around other stars. I’m sure there are more firsts in the data waiting for people to find them.”
Missions launching in 2018, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will enable further and closer study of planet candidates identified by Kepler.
Compared with Kepler, TESS will use a similar transit method for observing planets when they pass in front of their parent stars. Though Kepler looked at one portion of the sky for stars that were farther away for a longer time, TESS will observe the entire sky and focus on the brightest and closest stars, each for 30 days.
The James Webb Space Telescope is capable of observing large exoplanets and detecting starlight filtered through their atmospheres, which will enable scientists to determine the atmospheric composition and analyze them for gases that can create a biological ecosystem.
The K2 mission, which launched in 2014, is extending Kepler’s legacy to new parts of the sky and new fields of study, adding to NASA’s “arc of discovery.” It has enough fuel to keep identifying candidates until summer 2018. It’s helping bridge the gap between Kepler and TESS as far as identifying targets for the James Webb Space Telescope to observe.
  

Oddball Object Tumbling among the Stars Could Disrupt Planetary Science

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)

 

Oddball Object Tumbling among the Stars Could Disrupt Planetary Science

The solar system’s first-observed interstellar emissary hints at undiscovered populations of exoplanets and violent origins

Oddball Object Tumbling among the Stars Could Disrupt Planetary Science
The interstellar object ‘Oumuamua is marked with a blue circle near the center of this picture, which was created using multiple images from the Gemini South Telescope and the Very Large Telescope. Credit: ESO/K. Meech et al

Our solar system’s first-known visitor from another star, the recently discovered object called ‘Oumuamua, could be a bonanza for researchers. With only a brief window of time to observe the cigar-shaped wanderer before it zooms beyond the reach of our best telescopes, astronomers have crammed in observations with the hopes of learning more about this interstellar interloper. Not only is the fast-moving object intriguing in its own right; it may also provide insights about how planetary systems evolve.

‘Oumuamua caught the eyes of astronomers on October 19 this year. Calculations revealed the space rock was traveling at 26 kilometers per second relative to the sun, a rapid clip that along with its extremely elongated orbital trajectory suggested it came from outside the solar system. Telescopes swiftly targeted the object, with most researchers expecting to see a cometary tail trailing from an icy visitor as it approached the sun. But to their surprise, ‘Oumuamua showed none. Instead, it looked more like an asteroid. “It does not a resemble a comet—it had no tail whatsoever,” says Karen Meech, who studies comets at the University of Hawai’i at Mnoa. Meech used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories to examine the mysteriously inert space tourist.

Asteroid or comet—why does it matter? The answer ties into our understanding of how planetary systems grow over time in their natal “protoplanetary” disks around young stars. Newborn giant planets can jostle one another, using their gravity to push each other around. They also lord their size over their smaller neighboring worlds—and especially over the kilometer-scale objects called “planetesimals” left behind as debris from the planet-forming process. When a giant planet throws its weight around, more than half of these planetesimals can wind up hurled from the system. Because most of a typical protoplanetary disk is icy—in 2016 Meech used solar system observations to estimate there were as many as 10,000 icy objects for every rocky object—icy objects should dominate the ejecta.

Location also makes a difference in what gets thrown out. Most gas giants lie on the other side of the “snow line,” a demarcation in a protoplanetary disk where its composition shifts from mostly rock to mostly ice. Objects on the star side are baked dry by starlight and thus predominantly rocky whereas objects on the darker outer side are colder and tend to retain more ice. In our solar system the snow line lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and astronomers believe that distance is roughly where it started out for other sunlike stars. As outlying gas giants shift their orbits, they become more likely to interact with nearby ices than the more distant rocky material closer-in to the star, adding fuel to the idea that most of the interstellar visitors we observe should be icy—including ‘Oumuamua.

“The population of planetesimals floating in space should be dominated by comets, not by asteroids,” says Sean Raymond, an astronomer at the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux in France who models the early solar system. In a recent paper Raymond argues the extrasolar visitor is more like a defunct comet than an asteroid, based on how the exoplanets we’ve observed so far are laid out. “It’s kind of weird that this object ‘Oumuamua doesn’t have any signs of activity.”

‘Oumuamua’s oddball spin could be related to its origins as well. According to new research posted on the preprint server arXiv.org, the visitor is tumbling willy-nilly rather than smoothly rotating on its axis. The researchers, who declined to comment due to embargo concerns, state in their paper “1I/‘Oumuamua was likely set tumbling within its parent planetary system, and will remain tumbling well after it has left ours.” ‘Oumuamua’s motion, they speculate, could be due to a long-ago collision with another body or the extreme tidal torqueing it may have experienced during its ejection from its parent planetary system. Alternatively, its spin could come from the jetlike outgassing of icy material vaporizing in sunlight—the process that creates a cometary tail.

But, again, the object did not appear to sprout a tail when it closely approached our sun. If indeed ‘Oumuamua is an icy body, how did it avoid growing a cometary tail? David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of California, Los Angles, suspects any ice might be buried under a layer of material damaged by the charged particles known as cosmic rays that bombarded ‘Oumuamua while it traveled through space. “The prolonged exposure will toast the surface,” forming a protective crust, he says.

A crust of only half a meter could be enough to shield the ice, Jewitt adds. He calculated how heat could have moved through the object, using solar system analogues because its surface composition is unknown, and found it would not make it very far. “You’d only have to go a meter or two into the surface,” he says, “to reach the ‘interstellar temperature,’”—which is only a few degrees above absolute zero.

Not everyone thinks ‘Oumuamua could be a crusty comet. “I would not expect that volatiles would be sealed up in any particular way,” Meech notes. David Trilling, who studies asteroids at Northern Arizona University, says that although it is possible to strongly irradiate primitive material in the solar system, “it’s not obvious that you can get that irradiated goop on an interstellar object.”

Unfortunately, we are unlikely to ever know what materials comprise ‘Oumuamua because it is moving far too fast on its way out of the solar system for us to have a realistic chance of catching up to it with even our speediest spacecraft. But it left astronomers excited about the next one; they anticipate spotting about one interstellar visitor a year in the near future. If those objects all wind up being rocky, that could mean bad news for our understanding of planet formation. “If the first 10 [objects] were all rocky, then it would mean we’re really off on something important,” Raymond says. Most likely, it would mean the rocky material makes up a far larger portion of the natal disks than expected by the models. “We’d have to be way off on where planetesimals form,” he says.

In a separate paper U.C. Santa Cruz astrophysicist Greg Laughlin estimates that an abundance of rocky interstellar voyagers would require about 200 Earth-masses of debris to be ejected from every planet-hosting star, rather than the 10 Earth-masses current models call for. “It just doesn’t really work,” he says. “It’s just a little too much to ask for.”

If ‘Oumuamua is icy, Laughlin thinks it has important implications for Neptune-size worlds in the outer reaches of other planetary systems, which have been a challenge to observe. Because distant Jupiter-size worlds are only found around roughly one out of every 10 stars, he thinks the ejection of ‘Oumuamua-like objects might need a boost from an as-yet-undiscovered population of icy Neptune-like worlds in Jupiter-free systems.

For now, scientists are waiting for the more tourists from other solar systems to visit—hopefully streaming long tails behind them. “It’s not hopeless,” Jewitt says. “We just have to wait for the next 10 or so to be discovered. If none look like a comet, that would be interesting. It would tell us a little more than just seeing one object.”

Rights & Permissions
Damien Parrott

Challenging Believers To “Be” The Church

ABSTRACT POSTCARDS

MarkovichUniverse AT gmail DOT com

Manifest Joy

Spread a smile :)

Gaston Bessette, Photographie

La passion de la photo-Photographs as a passion

The Comic Vault

Unlock your inner geek and step inside!

luvtoread

in pursuit of good books

The Culture Tome

An Online Journal For Appreciating The Past

Love From Meg

Wags. Forever&Always. 23/1/17

%d bloggers like this: