Brazil: Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight



Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.
(Image: © Bruno Rocha/Fotoarena/Newscom)

There’s so much smoke from wildfires in the Amazon rain-forest that São Paulo plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon (Aug. 19), with day turning into night.

The atmosphere, reminiscent of Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings,” was a reminder that forest fires in the Amazon have surged 82% this year compared with the same period last year (from January to August), according to data from the Brazilian government’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), as reported by El Pais.

That smoke, combined with clouds and a cold front (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere), led to the midnight-like darkness in São Paulo, The Washington Post reported. The fires are largely burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.

Related: Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points

“The smoke didn’t come from fires in the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been happening for several days in [the state of] Rondônia and [the bordering country] Bolivia,” Josélia Pegorim, a meteorologist with Climatempo, said in an interview with Globo (translated from Portuguese with Google Translate). “The cold front changed direction, and its winds transported the smoke to São Paulo.”

The Rondônia fire, located near Bolivia, has burnt nearly 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares). This blaze’s thick smoke is prompting health concerns and has already forced an airplane to be diverted due to visibility concerns, according to Painel Politico, a Brazilian publication. This fire is reportedly human-made, Painel Politico noted, which is fairly common for fires in Amazonia.

For much of the year, fires are rare in the Amazon. But during the drier months of July and August, “many people use fire to maintain farmland and pastures or to clear land for other purposes,” NASA’s Earth Observatory reported last week.

(This human-made-fire situation isn’t so different from what the United States faces. From 1992 to 2012, 84% of the 1.5 million reported wildfires in the U.S. were caused by people while 16% were ignited by lightning strikes, a 2017 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.)

Huge areas of the Amazon rain-forest are burning from human-made fires, as shown by this satellite image taken Aug. 13.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership)

“Wildfires in the Amazon are not natural events but are instead caused by a combination of droughts and human activities,” researchers of a 2018 study in the journal Nature Communications wrote in The Conversation. “Both anthropogenic climate change and regional deforestation are linked to increases in the intensity and frequency of droughts over Amazonia.”

The fire-drought alternation leads to a nasty feedback loop. Trees store less water during droughts, so their growth slows, meaning they can’t remove as much carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, the researchers wrote in The Conversation. These trees then drop extra leaves or die, in effect providing tinder for fires. And without a dense canopy to keep in the moisture, the forest loses some of its humidity, which normally prevents fires from starting.

“These changes are exacerbated by ‘selective logging’ of specific tree species, which opens up the canopy and further dries out the under story and forest edges, which are drier than the interiors,” the researchers wrote. “The result: normally fireproof rainforests become flammable.”

The fires are so bad that the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia was trending on Twitter this morning (Aug. 20). This news follows on the heels of another concerning development: Deforestation in the Amazon spiked 278% in July, according to satellite data from the INPE. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has promised to open the Amazon to industry, disputed the satellite findings and promptly fired the INPE’s director-general, Ricardo Galvão.

In the meantime, studies show that deforestation could starkly alter the Amazon. If 20% to 25% of the Amazon becomes deforested, the landscape could transform from a forest into a savanna. Currently, deforestation is at 17%, Mongabay reported.

What’s clear is that deforestation affects more than just the Amazon, as the residents of São Paulo found out yesterday. One Twitter user there even called it #gothamcity, referencing Batman’s grim metropolis.

Leandro Mota@leandromota_

São Paulo, 3:30 PM

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Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact



Asteroid tsunami: Scientist’s dire warning to US coast over ocean impact

AN ASTEROID plunging into the Pacific Ocean would spark a tsunami that would wipe out “the entire west coast of North America”, a scientist warned.

Apophis: Astrophysicist forecasts an asteroid ‘tsunami’



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Apophis 99942 is a 370-metre-wide near-Earth space rock that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 when initial observation indicated a probability of up to three percent that it could hit Earth on April 13, 2029. However, in 2006 scientists ruled that date out, determining that Apophis could pass through a gravitational keyhole – a tiny region of space where a planet’s gravity is altered. Researchers calculated it might set up a future impact exactly seven years later – on April 13, 2036.

However, the likelihood of a direct impact in 2036 is now all but impossible, with just a 1-in-150,000 chance of a collision in 2068.

Neil deGrasse Tyson warned what would happen if the rock did crash into Earth.

The American astrophysicist and author revealed his research during a public lecture with Ryan Watt in San Francisco in 2008.

He said: “In the era of observing the cosmos with technology, this will be the closest biggest thing we will ever see.

“The orbit we now have for it is uncertain enough, because these things are hard to measure, we cannot tell you exactly where that trajectory will be.

JUST IN: Rock bigger than Empire State Building shooting towards Earth

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean

An asteroid could hit the Pacific Ocean (Image: GETTY)

Apophis poses a threat

Apophis poses a threat (Image: GETTY)

It sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean

Neil deGrasse Tyson

“We know it won’t hit Earth, we know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites.

“But there is a 600-mile zone – we call it the keyhole – and if the asteroid goes through the middle of that it will hit the Earth 13 years later.

“It will hit 500 miles west of Santa Monica.”

He went on to explain how an impact in the ocean would cause a tsunami, adding: “If it goes through the centre, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveatting the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory

Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own theory (Image: YOUTUBE)

“That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.

“Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three-mile-high wall does what? It collapses.

“It falls back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean, caveating it again.

“This cycle takes about 50 seconds, you can calculate it.”

He then revealed the sobering prospects for North America in such a scenario.

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning

Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a warning (Image: YOUTUBE)

Asteroids threaten life on Earth

Asteroids threaten life on Earth (Image: GETTY)

He continued: “So there you are on the beaches of Malibu and a tsunami comes in.

“The first wave needs a supply of water to exist, so the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself.

“Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore.

“So what happens is, all the artificial stuff, all the houses, factories, they get churned into the force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean.

NASA warn of ‘Empire State’ sized asteroid flying by Earth

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“It’s April 12, 2029, and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.”

Despite his claims, the keyhole has since been determined to be less than 600 metres wide, meaning the possibility of Apophis passing through it is extremely unlikely.

In 2008, NASA reaffirmed the chance of Apophis impacting Earth in 2036 as being 1 in 45,000.

However, in February 2014, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, were calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table as 1 in 150,000.

Potentially habitable Earth-like planet discovered 31 light years away



Potentially habitable Earth-like planet discovered 31 light years away

What was once considered pure fantasy in movies like “Avatar,” is now looking a little more plausible. Earlier this week, NASA announced the discovery of a possible Earth-like planet, located just 31 light years away – a hop, skip and a jump in cosmic terms  – that may be able to support life.

“I think it’s an amazing discovery,” Lisa Kaltenegger, from the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell, said. “We have a small mission called ‘Tess’ that’s scanning the whole sky, where the brightest and closest objects are, to find planets like ours and this is the first one.”

The planet named GJ 357 d, is six times larger than Earth. It orbits a dwarf star with two other previously unknown planets.

This potential “super Earth” is located within the outer edge of its star’s habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy as Mars does from the sun. If this planet has a dense atmosphere, it could trap enough heat to allow for liquid water on its surface.

“You have a huge planet, so basically a chubby cousin, if you will,” Kaltenegger said. “Then you’d expect there to be a lot of atmosphere and that atmosphere again could capture that heat and make it warm enough for there to be liquid water.”

This amazing discovery was made possible by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS for short, but that spacecraft just pointed the way.

Two next-generation telescopes, coming online in the next six years, promise a much more detailed view, including whether the planet has mountains or oceans just like here on Earth.

Israel: NASA discovers possibly habitable super-Earth 31 light-years away



NASA discovers possibly habitable super-Earth 31 light-years away

US space administration’s exoplanet-hunting telescope finds new solar system, including 3 planets orbiting a star about a third of sun’s mass and 40% cooler

This illustration shows one interpretation of what new planet GJ 357 d may be like. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

This illustration shows one interpretation of what new planet GJ 357 d may be like. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

NASA’s exoplanet-hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has discovered a new solar system with at least three new planets including one that has shown potential for being habitable, the American space administration announced.

The three planets were discovered orbiting GJ 357, a red dwarf — a small and cooling star — 31 light-years away, relatively close in space terms, said Rafael Luque of Spain’s Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands, the lead researcher in the discovery team.

The star is “about one-third the sun’s mass and size and about 40 percent cooler than our star,” NASA said.

The TESS cameras “caught the star dimming slightly every 3.9 days, revealing the presence of a transiting exoplanet — a world beyond our solar system — that passes across the face of its star during every orbit and briefly dims the star’s light,” NASA added.

The planet known as GJ 357d — the furthest away from the star — was particularly intriguing as researchers estimate it could be habitable. The other two, GJ 357b and GJ 357c are deemed too hot.

Signs of habitability in any planet include a rocky terrain, a size similar to Earth and a distance from their sun — the temperate “Goldilocks” zone neither too close nor too far — that allows the right temperature for liquid water, a key requirement for life.

Given its distance from its star, similar to that of Mars to our sun, researchers estimate the planet has temperatures of -53 degrees Celsius (-63.4 Fahrenheit), Luque told AFP.

“That seems a little cold at first,” he said.

But “if this planet had an atmosphere (unlike Mars), it could retain the heat it receives from its star, and water could be liquid.”

This diagram shows the layout of the GJ 357 system. Planet d orbits within the star’s so-called habitable zone, the orbital region where liquid water can exist on a rocky planet’s surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

Researchers also estimate GJ 357d could be roughly the same size as Earth or up to twice the size.

“The planet weighs at least 6.1 times Earth’s mass, and orbits the star every 55.7 days at a range about 20% of Earth’s distance from the sun. The planet’s size and composition are unknown, but a rocky world with this mass would range from about one to two times Earth’s size,” wrote Francis Reddy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversees TESS as a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission.

The findings were published on Wednesday, July 31, in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“GJ 357 d is located within the outer edge of its star’s habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars does from the sun,” said co-author Diana Kossakowski at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. “If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface.”

It is not the first potentially habitable planet to have been discovered close to us.

In 2016, the discovery of Proxima b at a mere four light-years from the solar system made waves.

But there is a hitch.

Proxima b and GJ 357d were discovered via so-called radial velocity, which involves looking for signs of a wobble in a star from the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet.

But Luque says the method is not precise enough to ascertain whether it actually is habitable.

As things stand, in order to measure its size, density and composition, the planet has to pass directly between its star and an observer, the so-called “transit” method, he says.

That has not been possible for Proxima b and other nearer potentially habitable planets, Luque says.

In the coming months, Luque and his team will be working to try and catch GJ 357d in “transit” to try and confirm it as a habitable planet.

“The probability that a planet passes in front of a star from our line of vision on Earth is pretty small,” he adds.


Travel to the deepest point on Earth



Travel to the deepest point on Earth

Earth is a cornucopia of extremes—extreme temperatures, extreme habitats, and extreme beauty and wonder. One of the most intriguing extremes on Earth is the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point on the planet.

The Mariana Trench is full of secrets. What humans do know about its depths continues to puzzle and amaze, from the creatures that live there to the natural phenomena that occur on the sea floor.

Travel to the deepest point on Earth, and do it from the comfort of your home. Here’s a quick dive into the Mariana Trench.

What is the Mariana Trench?

Credit: NASA

The Mariana Trench (also called the Marianas Trench) is a deep, crescent-shaped cleft in the floor of the western Pacific Ocean. The trench is located approximately 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands, a string of islands south of Japan and east of the Philippines.

The Mariana Trench is one of many subduction zones—areas where two tectonic plates collide and one sinks below the other—on the ocean floor. It is wider than 50 kilometers (31 miles) at its widest point, stretches nearly 1,585 miles from end to end, and the deepest point in the trench (the Challenger Deep) is estimated to be almost seven miles. To put that in perspective, if Mount Everest were dropped into the ocean at the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, it would still sit under more than a mile of water. Water above the Mariana Trench exerts a pressure of 15,750 psi, more than 1,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.

We still know very little about the Mariana Trench. That’s most likely due to the trench only being accurately measured in 1951 and the inhospitable nature of the ocean at that depth.

Discovering and exploring the Mariana Trench

Credit: Philippe Kurlapski / Wikimedia

The Mariana Trench was first discovered by the British Survey ship HMS Challenger in 1875. The greatest depth recorded at the time was only 8,184 meters (5 miles or 26,850 feet). It wouldn’t be properly measured for another 100 years.

In 1951, the HMS Challenger II used echo sounding to find an even deeper point in the Mariana Trench, and the Challenger Deep was named after the ship that discovered it.

Man’s curiosity tends to lead him to strange places, and it was this curiosity that led Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh to the ocean floor (10,916 meters) of the Challenger Deep in their submersible the Trieste in 1960.

There have been only three other missions to the depths of the Challenger Deep since the initial trip taken by the Trieste. The next two were unmanned (in 1996 and 2009), and the last was taken by film director James Cameron in 2012 aboard the Deepsea Challenger.

While humans may not travel to the Mariana Trench and the Challenger Deep often, scientists are using advanced technology to help us understand the mysteries hidden in its depths.

Surprises found in the Mariana Trench

Credit: 3dmentat / depositphotos

It’s no wonder that man hasn’t ventured to the sea floor of the Mariana Trench. Immense pressures and cold temperatures make it an inhospitable place for creatures as soft and warm as humans. That said, those who have been to the bottom of the trench were surprised to find some forms of life living at such depths.

Piccard and Walsh reported seeing large creatures—flatfish and shrimp—living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but those reports were never confirmed and were later questioned.

Cameron’s solo trip to the Challenger Deep was more revealing, and video evidence confirmed that there were a few strange-but-recognizable creatures living in the high-pressure environment. No sea monsters or giant squid were spotted, but the following creatures were confirmed:

  • Amphipods – Shrimp-like crustaceans were found in abundance swimming around the waters of the Challenger Deep, some more than a foot long.
  • Echinoderms – Small, stick-like sea cucumbers were spotted on the sea floor.
  • Foraminifera – Amoeboid protists that live under calcium carbonate shell layers on the ocean floor.
  • Xenophyophores – Massive single-celled organisms living on the floor of the Mariana Trench.
  • Jellyfish – Surprisingly, a jellyfish was spotted floating by in the captured footage.

Continued exploration of the Mariana Trench

Credit: YukoF / shutterstock

Again, it’s not easy to rove and explore the sea floor of the trench or the Challenger Deep. But scientists are certain there are still a number of undiscovered creatures waiting to be found.

From Nigeria to Zanzibar, Africa quietly played a critical role in US moon landing 



From Nigeria to Zanzibar, Africa quietly played a critical role in US moon landing 

In Kano, Nigeria, a boy rides a camel against the backdrop of NASA’s space station, one of 18 Project Mercury space stations strategically placed along the Earth’s orbital track. The stations were part of a vast global communication network necessary to track spacecraft and relay information back to Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. Picture released by NASA on May 21, 1962.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 made world history when it landed on the moon. But to this day, few people know about the space stations in Kano, northern Nigeria, and Tunguu, Zanzibar, that helped lay the groundwork that ultimately made the Apollo 11 mission possible.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States played out dramatically in the great space race. Before a successful moon landing could happen, the US needed to test manned and unmanned spacecraft. In October 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched Project Mercury, a five-year, $400 million project designed to test the viability of human space travel.

Launching a spacecraft into orbit required ground controls in countries located along the Earth’s orbital track. NASA built a total of 18 stations in strategic, global locations including Nigeria, newly independent from British rule, and Zanzibar, then governed by the Omani Sultanate along with a British administration.

Figure 8-1. Map showing the locations of the selected Mercury stations, NASA archival records.

Project Mercury vetted seven astronauts known as the “Mercury 7″ and ultimately completed several orbital flights in the early 1960s: 20 unmanned, including the Mercury-Atlas-4, two with chimpanzees onboard (“Ham” and “Enos”), and six manned orbits including MA-6 through MA-9) — proving that human space travel was possible.

In 1960, NASA constructed the satellite tracking space station in Tunguu, Zanzibar, just under 10 miles outside of Stone Town, the capital. The following year, they completed the last of 18 stations in Kano, Nigeria, each at an estimated cost of $3 million.

The British, along with then-Sultan Khalifa bin Harub, showed great support for the American space station and approved the sale of rural land in Tunguu for the project site in 1960.

Throughout the project, the US processed more than 1,000 tons of cargo through specially-designated US depots that organized shipments to Nigeria and Zanzibar, along with the other sites, including two on ships. Stations housed electronic equipment, cooling towers, water chillers, hydropneumatic tanks and diesel generators for power backup.

NASA Satellite Tracking Space Station, Tunguu, Zanzibar, 1961. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

NASA contracted with US and British engineers as well as local specialists and builders in Kano and Zanzibar, surveying the land to establish the most precise angles for radar antennae used to communicate with spacecraft as they passed above and below the horizon line, according to NASA historical records.

Kano, home to the ancient Kingdom of Kano, and Zanzibar, the hub of Indian Ocean trade for millennia, were now vital links in a global network to reach the stars.

World’s first global communication network

Before there was the internet, there was Project Mercury. The race to space demanded that the world’s first global communication network have the ability to communicate between and among space stations, spacecraft and astronauts. The Mercury communications network included 102,000 miles of teletype lines, 60,000 miles of telephone lines, and 15,000 miles of high-speed data lines, according to NASA historical archives.

NASA equipped stations with “telemetry, tracking, and computation functions” as well as “flight control and monitoring” capabilities and  “a multi-frequency air-to-ground reception and remoting provision.” An intercom system allowed several people to talk while others listened.

Communication between space station staff and the spacecraft was a highly orchestrated dance. After a spacecraft launched, 5 to 90 minutes would elapse before the vessel passed over a station, depending on the location. The Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA, would send a teletype message to stations with the time and coordinates, using data crunched from the spacecraft’s passage over a prior station.

Figure 8-20. MA-9 orbital charts via NASA archival records.

Torrence Royer, an American whose stepfather, Roger Locke, worked at the Zanzibar space station and who spent a few years in Zanzibar as a young boy, writes:

The high-tech equipment, and the ‘reach-for-the-stars’ attitude’  intrigued many young Zanzibaris. I recall students in my school learning the schedules of the satellite launches and I remember young people would lay on the beach at night, on schedule, looking up, waiting for the spacecraft to pass overhead. One friend who had just heard about this phenomenon joined the beach-watchers … only to be somewhat disappointed by the small, slow-moving, star-like object that he witnessed. He expected a close fly-by of a ‘flying saucer’ perhaps.

Revolution — and change

Leading up to Zanzibar’s 1961 general elections, doubts about the intentions of the US space station began to surface and a small resistance against its presence began to brew. Some feared Zanzibar could become a potential target for nuclear war.

In Zanzibar, graffiti shows a rooster (associated with the now-defunct Afro Shirazi Party) pushing an American cowboy (representing American imperialism) off the island, shouting “I have no need whatsoever [for you]! Get out of here!” in Swahili. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

Yet, the space station remained open, and on May 15, 1963, the final Mercury-Atlas 9 mission launched from Cape Canaveral, completing 22 Earth orbits lasting a harrowing 34 hours before landing in the Pacific Ocean, piloted by astronaut Gordon Cooper. The unprecedented success of this final mission essentially completed Project Mercury and set the stage for more ambitious projects like Gemini and, later that decade, Apollo.

That year, Zanzibar had a brief moment of independence when, in December 1963, the British left the islands as a constitutional monarchy under the Sultans of Oman.

But on January 12, 1964, a violent revolution in Zanzibar overthrew the Sultans, ending over two centuries of rule. When the dust settled, the new revolutionary government claimed the US-funded space station indeed posed a national security threat and demanded its removal.

Anti-Project Mercury protests on the streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar, April 12, 1964. Photo via thecollection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

On April 7, 1964, the US government announced that it would shutter the space station in Zanzibar upon the new Zanzibari government’s request. “We regret very much this necessity since the station was used strictly for peaceful purposes which would further man’s scientific knowledge,” said NASA, adding they would look for new locations in East Africa along the Earth’s orbital track. They settled on Madagascar.

After years under British and Arab influence, Zanzibar had begun to consider alliances with ChineseEast German and Soviet Union governments — and its socialist leanings became a diplomatic flash point. At the same time, newly independent mainland Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, with Zanzibar as a semi-autonomous region.

Today, the former space station is a rusted, graffiti-filled shell with no important markers to indicate its global role in the space race. But Zanzibar’s spot along the Earth’s orbital track means that star-gazers can still sneak peeks at the International Space Station as it passes over the island. The last sighting was on Tuesday, July 23, 5:11 a.m., and was visible for one minute.

The abandoned Project Mercury space station in Tunguu, Zanzibar, 2004. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

Kano space station remained open for two more years and closed in December 1966. But the Nigerian government went on to launch its own space program with satellites in space since 2003.

Nigeria plans to send an astronaut into space by 2030.

India: Possible meteorite crash lands in Indian village



Rice farmers shocked after possible meteorite crash lands in Indian village


A possible meteorite about the size of a football crash landed in a village in India.

The suspected space rock smashed into a paddy field in Mahadeva village in Bihar, located in eastern India, on Monday afternoon, according to the Times of India.

Images show local villagers gathered around the muddy crater.

The Bihar Chief Minister’s office said in a statement that the meteorite weighed about 30 pounds and had magnetic properties, CNN reported.

The state’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweeted a photo of the rock and said that it’s currently on display at the Bihar Museum. According to CNN, it will then be transferred to the Srikrishna Science Center to confirm if it is a meteorite.

Nitish Kumar


पटना स्थित 1 अणे मार्ग के ‘संकल्प’ में मधुबनी के लौकही अंचल के ग्राम महादेवा में मिले संभावित उल्का पिण्ड का अवलोकन करते हुए। 

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Meteorites are pieces of meteors that survive a trip through the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the ground, according to NASA. The size of a meteorite can range between the size of a pebble and fist.

One of these space rocks can easily resemble a regular rock from Earth.

In 2018, a Michigan man had been using a meteorite worth about $100,000 as a doorstop for years before the 22.5-pound chunk of iron was identified by a geology professor at Central Michigan University.

The easiest way to distinguish a meteorite from an Earth rock is usually by its shiny, burnt exterior. NASA calls this the “fusion crust” because the outer surface melts while passing through the atmosphere.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT

New Hubble Data Breaks Scientists’ Understanding of the Universe



New Hubble Data Breaks Scientists’ Understanding of the Universe

A new attempt to find the universe’s age revealed troubling flaws.

Dan Robitzski 7 hours ago

There may be fundamental flaws with our understanding of the universe.

The problem came to light as scientists tried to calculate and measure a value called the Hubble Constant, which represents how rapidly the universe is expanding outward.

The value was first calculated by astronomer Edwin Hubble in the 1920s. But since then, astronomers observing and measuring the universe’s expansion have arrived at different values of the Hubble Constant, none of which seem to agree with one another. The discrepancy calls into question not only our idea of how old the universe is, but also our ability to fundamentally understand the physics that drive its behavior.

“Naturally, questions arise as to whether the discrepancy is coming from some aspect that astronomers don’t yet understand about the stars we’re measuring, or whether our cosmological model of the universe is still incomplete,” University of Chicago astronomer Wendy Freedman said in a NASA press release. “Or maybe both need to be improved upon.”

Freedman is responsible for the latest measurement of the Hubble Constant, which she calculated using a different kind of cosmic landmark from previous experiments.

Her team measured the brightness of red giant stars in distant galaxies. Because these stars reach uniform size and brightness, their distance from Earth can more readily be calculated than some other stars. Freedman’s work, which has been accepted but not yet published by The Astrophysical Journal, found that the universe is expanding at 69.8 kilometers per second per megaparsec, per the press release.

That’s a slower rate of expansion than was calculated in another recent study that focused on a different kind of star but a faster rate than was calculated in yet another study that measured light leftover from the big bang called the Cosmic Microwave Background.

Freedman originally hoped her research would serve as a tie-breaker between those other two studies — but instead it added yet another, possible value for the Hubble Constant for astronomers to reconcile.

“The Hubble constant is the cosmological parameter that sets the absolute scale, size and age of the universe; it is one of the most direct ways we have of quantifying how the universe evolves,” Freedman said in the press release. “The discrepancy that we saw before has not gone away, but this new evidence suggests that the jury is still out on whether there is an immediate and compelling reason to believe that there is something fundamentally flawed in our current model of the universe.”

Further complicating the issue, statistical analysis validates both of those two previous studies, according to a New Scientist article published last week, before Freedman’s study was announced. There’s just a one-in-3.5 million chance that their findings came from random chance.

In the middle of the next decade, NASA hopes to launch the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope into orbit, at which point scientists will be able to more precisely measure the distance of celestial objects, per the press release. When that happens, there’s a chance that astronomers will be able to reconcile their various Hubble Constant values.

“The Hubble constant is the biggest problem in cosmology that we have access to right now, and the hope is that this crack in our understanding is going to lead us to some even bigger cracks like dark energy and dark matter,” Duke University astronomer Daniel Scolnic told New Scientist. “We just have to chase the crack.”


More on the Hubble Constant: Figuring out How Fast the Universe Is Expanding Might Require a New Type of Physics

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NASA/Victor Tangermann

The farthest-away manmade objects in space



The farthest-away manmade objects in space

Right now, somewhere in the world, children stand at the edge of a lake counting the hops of stones skidding across the surface of the water. It’s hard to explain the tranquil pleasure of watching the ripples emanate farther and farther till nearly out of sight, but it’s even more of a challenge to fathom the distances to which we’ve launched objects into the dark ocean of space. As of February 2018, the Voyager 1 drifts 13 billion miles away from the surface of the earth, 42 years since its launch. It is one of five man made objects that has ever left our solar system.

Pioneer 10


Five years before the launch of the Voyager probes, on March 2, 1972, NASA launched the Pioneer 10 to investigate the surface of Jupiter. Weighing 569 pounds, the Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to cross the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and, eventually, escape our solar system by nature of its velocity. It was also the first spacecraft to launch from the three-stage Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle to achieve its launch speed of 32,400 mph. It took the Pioneer 10 twelve weeks to cross the orbit of Mars. On December 3, 1973, the Pioneer 10 passed by the cloud tops of Jupiter to obtain the first close-up images of the planet.

Following its flyby of Jupiter, Pioneer 10 continued to gather data for NASA of the outer solar system until the end of its mission in March 31, 1977. The last faint signal from Pioneer 10 was received on January 23, 2003, as its radioisotope power source had decayed to the point of being unable to send further signals.

Pioneer 11


The launch of Pioneer 10 was succeeded just a year later on April 5, 1973. The launch this time was accelerated by an additional 210 ft/sec and aimed to pass Jupiter at a point closer to its surface. The closer proximity to Jupiter caused the spacecraft to accelerate by gravitational pull to the muzzle velocity of a rifle (110,000 mph), allowing it to obtain the velocity and direction necessary to approach Saturn.

On September 1, 1979, Pioneer 11 flew to within 13,000 miles of Saturn to obtain the first close-up images of the planet and discover two previously-unobserved moons. By September of 1995, the spacecraft could no longer make observations and by November, the last communication with the spacecraft was made.

Voyager 1 & 2


The Voyager spacecrafts were initially tasked with observing the properties and magnetospheres of our neighboring planets using their onboard instrumentation. Target planets included Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s moon Titan. Data from the Pioneer 10 mission was used to create more robust spacecraft to tolerate the intense radiation around Jupiter. Voyager 1 started its observation of Saturn, the final phase of its initial mission, on August 22, 1980, whereas the Voyager 2 was sent on a longer trajectory to observe Uranus and Neptune, reaching Neptune on August 25, 1989.

In addition to their planetary observations, both Voyager spacecrafts were also tasked with interstellar missions. They were designed to continue scientific observations and signal transmission after escaping the heliosphere and exiting our solar system. They are both still active, with a projected lifetime of about five more years.

New Horizons


In 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons spacecraft with a primary mission of observing the dwarf planet Pluto. New Horizons was launched as the fastest man-made object ever launched from Earth with a speed of 36,400 mph. New Horizons started its flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. Three years later, in August of 2018, it confirmed the existence of a hydrogen wall previously observed by the Voyager launch.

Mystery of sudden methane ‘plume’ detected by NASA Mars rover



Mystery of sudden methane ‘plume’ detected by NASA Mars rover

Rob Waugh


Yahoo News UK
The Curiosity rover detected a sudden rise in methane (Getty)
The Curiosity rover detected a sudden rise in methane (Getty)

A spike of methane on Mars has fuelled discussions that it could be caused by alien life on the Red Planet – after NASA’s Curiosity rover detected the highest levels of the gas yet.

This week, the methane levels have dropped once again, down to background levels, and NASA has described the event as a ‘transient methane plume’.

Last week’s measurement is the highest concentration the mission has recorded since landing on the planet in August 2012.

This change matches up with previous highs and lows picked up by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), an instrument tasked with analysing gases, although l’

‘We did make the run again, the data just came back and in fact the methane plume went away,’ said Paul Mahaffy, principal investigator for SAM.

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Curiosity is not fitted with equipment to figure out the source of the methane, making it impossible to tell whether it is biological or geological.

Methane is destroyed by solar radiation within several hundred years when it enters the atmosphere, so it must have been released quite recently.

Despite this, there remains the possibility that the gas could have been trapped underground for millions or billions of years, and only just been released.

‘The methane mystery continues,’ said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

‘We’re more motivated than ever to keep measuring and put our brains together to figure out how methane behaves in the Martian atmosphere.’

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