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Space & Astronomy

Evidence further suggests extra-terrestrial origin of quasicrystals

Via:phys.org

Results from an expedition to far eastern Russia that set out to find the origin of naturally occurring quasicrystals have provided convincing evidence that they arrived on Earth from outer space.

Writing in Reports on Progress in Physics, Paul J Steinhardt and Luca Bindi reveal that new, naturally occurring quasicrystal samples have been found in an environment that does not have the extreme terrestrial conditions needed to produce them, therefore strengthening the case that they were brought to Earth by a meteorite. Furthermore, their findings reveal that the samples of quasicrystals were brought to the area during the last glacial period, suggesting the meteorite was most likely to have hit Earth around 15 000 years ago. “The fact that the expedition found more material in the same location that we had spent years to track down is a tremendous confirmation of the whole story, which is significant since the meteorite is of great interest because of its extraordinary age and contents,” said Steinhardt. In their report, Steinhardt and Bindi describe the expedition in which ten scientists, two drivers and a cook travelled 230 km into the Koryak Mountains of far eastern Russia to pan one and a half tons of sediment by hand, and survey local streams and mountains. The group of researchers were on the look-out for naturally occurring quasicrystals – a unique class of solids that were first synthesized in the laboratory by Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman in 1982. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2011 for this discovery.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-extra-terrestrial-quasicrystals.html#jCp


Folklore Confirmed: The Moon’s Phase Affects Rainfall

Via: sciencemag.org

The Zuni Indians thought a red moon brought water. Seventeenth-century English farmers believed in a “dripping moon,” which supplied rain depending on whether its crescent was tilted up or down. Now scientists have found evidence for another adage: Rain follows the full and new phases of the moon.

Most studies on the weather and moon phases appeared in the 1960s and seemed to lend credence to lunar folklore. Researchers detected more peaks in rainfall in the days after the full and new moons, for example. Recently, three researchers decided to revive the issue when they stumbled across a link between moon phases and stream runoff while working on another project. They will soon publish in Geophysical Research Letters one of the most comprehensive studies yet, with more than a century of data from across the continental United States.

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World On Alert For Massive Solar Storm

Via: Sky News

Power grids, communications and satellites could be knocked out by a massive solar storm in the next two years, scientists warn.

Experts say the sun is reaching a peak in its 10-year activity cycle, putting the Earth at greater risk from solar storms.

Mike Hapgood, a space weather specialist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Didcot, Oxfordshire, said: “Governments are taking it very seriously. These things may be very rare but when they happen, the consequences can be catastrophic.”

He warned that solar storms are increasingly being put on national risk registers used for disaster planning, alongside other events like tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
d More
There is 12% chance of a major solar storm every decade – making them a roughly one-in-100-year event. The last major storm was more than 150 years ago.

The threat comes from magnetically-charged plasma thrown out by the sun in coronal mass ejections.

Like vast bubbles bursting off the sun’s surface, they send millions of tons of gas racing through space that can engulf the Earth with as little as one day’s warning.

They trigger geomagnetic storms which can literally melt expensive transformers in national power grids.

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CURIOSITY HAS LANDED

Via: NASA

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image shows one of the first views from NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (early morning hours Aug. 6 EDT). It was taken through a “fisheye” wide-angle lens on one of the rover’s Hazard-Avoidance cameras. These engineering cameras are located at the rover’s base. As planned, the early images are lower resolution. Larger color images are expected later in the week when the rover’s mast, carrying high-resolution cameras, is deployed.

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image taken by NASA’s Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover — its main science target, Mount Sharp. The rover’s shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is the highest peak Mount Sharp at a height of about 3.4 miles, taller than Mt. Whitney in California. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change.

This image was captured by the rover’s front left Hazard-Avoidance camera at full resolution shortly after it landed. It has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens.

 

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Hubble Sees a Ten Billion Year Stellar Dance

Via: NASA

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope offers this delightful view of the crowded stellar encampment called Messier 68, a spherical, star-filled region of space known as a globular cluster. Mutual gravitational attraction amongst a cluster’s hundreds of thousands or even millions of stars keeps stellar members in check, allowing globular clusters to hang together for many billions of years.

Astronomers can measure the ages of globular clusters by looking at the light of their constituent stars. The chemical elements leave signatures in this light, and the starlight reveals that globular clusters’ stars typically contain fewer heavy elements, such as carbon, oxygen and iron, than stars like the Sun. Since successive generations of stars gradually create these elements through nuclear fusion, stars having fewer of them are relics of earlier epochs in the Universe. Indeed, the stars in globular clusters rank among the oldest on record, dating back more than 10 billion years.

More than 150 of these objects surround our Milky Way galaxy. On a galactic scale, globular clusters are indeed not all that big. In Messier 68’s case, its constituent stars span a volume of space with a diameter of little more than a hundred light-years. The disc of the Milky Way, on the other hand, extends over some 100,000 light-years or more.

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Astronomers confirm there are two potentially habitable planets orbiting Gliese 581

Via: io9

The orbits of planets in the Gliese 581 system are compared to those of our own solar system. The Gliese 581 star has about 30 percent the mass of our Sun, and the outermost planet is closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun. The 4th planet, G, is a planet that could sustain life. -Wikipedia-

Gliese 581g was originally discovered by astronomers of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet survey in 2010, but subsequent surveys were unable to detect it.

The planet is about 1.5 times the size of Earth and it receives a similar amount of sunlight. Though it orbits a red dwarf, it resides within its sun’s habitable zone and is considered the best exoplanetary candidate for life yet discovered.

As Abel Torres of Planetary Habitability Laboratory notes, “These factors combine to make Gliese 581g the most Earth-like planet known with an Earth Similarity Index, a measure of Earth-likeness from zero to one, of 0.92 and higher than the previously top candidate Gliese 667Cc, discovered last year.”

And indeed, the Gliese system, with its two potentially life-friendly planets, may be our best bet when considering our first interstellar mission. At 20 light-years away, it’s clearly the most exciting solar system in our immediate vicinity.

Other planets suspected of harboring life include Kepler-22b, HD85512, and Gliese 581d.

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Scientists fascinated after Nasa orbiter photographs open crater leading into underground cavern on Mars

By Daily Mail Reporter

A hole in Mars: The opening was discovered by chance on images of the dusty slopes of the Red Planet’s Pavonis Mons volcano

Nasa scientists are baffled as to what – or maybe even who? – created this unusual hole on the surface of Mars.

The hole was discovered by chance on images of the dusty slopes of the Red Planet’s Pavonis Mons volcano.

It appears to be an opening to an underground cavern, partly illuminated to the right of the opening.

Analysis of this and follow-up images revealed the opening to be about 35 meters across.

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Strange Vortex Discovered on Saturn Moon Titan

Via: Space.com

This true color image captured by NASA’S Cassini spacecraft before a distant flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on June 27, 2012, shows a south polar vortex swirling in the moon’s atmosphere.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A NASA spacecraft has spied a vortex swirling in the atmosphere high above the south pole of the Saturn moon Titan, hinting that winter may be coming to the huge body’s southern reaches.

NASA’s Cassini probe photographed the polar vortex — or mass of swirling gas — during a flyby of Titan on June 27. The vortex appears to complete one full rotation in nine hours, while it takes Titan about 16 days to spin once around its axis.

“The structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection that is often seen over Earth’s oceans,” Tony Del Genio, a Cassini team member at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said in a statement.

“But unlike on Earth, where such layers are just above the surface, this one is at very high altitude, maybe a response of Titan’s stratosphere to seasonal cooling as southern winter approaches,” he added. “But so soon in the game, we’re not sure.”

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Gallery

Solar System’s Larger Twin Found

Via: Annes Astronomy News

Astronomers have detected our cosmic twin: A planetary system arranged much like our own solar system. But GJ676A is only much larger than our system, a new study says.

The Gliese system is one of several newfound solar systems, including GJ676A (not pictured). Image credit: Dana Berry, National Geographic

Dubbed GJ676A, the system has two rocky planets orbiting close to its host star, and two gas giants orbiting far away. This means the system is arranged like our system—though in GJ676A, everything is much larger.

For instance, the smallest rocky planet in GJ676A is at least four times the mass of Earth, while the largest gas giant is five times the size of Jupiter.

Other multiple-planet systems have also been discovered, such as HD10180, which has been called the richest exoplanetary find ever because of the seven to nine planets orbiting its host star.

“But HD10180′s planets are all gas giants in relatively close orbits, while GJ676A has both rocky and gas planets—and its “Neptune-like” planet takes 4,000 days to make one orbit,” said study leader Guillem Anglada Escudé, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Gottingen in Germany.

The long orbits of GJ676A’s gas giants and the short orbits of its close-in, extremely hot super Earths are what led the astronomers to dub GJ676A our solar system’s twin.

Anglada Escudé and his team used a new data-analysis technique to detect smaller planets around the star, which had already been known to host one gas giant. ”This means that it’s likely that other systems have hidden companions,” he said. “We just need to apply the new techniques to find them.”

“The finding also may refine planetary-formation models,” he added. According to one popular explanation for super Earths so close to a host star, is that the planets form farther out and migrate inward.

“But your planet that moves picks up all the mass with it,” Anglada Escudé said. ”That didn’t happen here, because you still had mass to form the gas giants. It’s possible that the gas giants formed first in long-period orbits — they didn’t migrate — and then a few million years later, you start forming super-Earths with the leftovers.”

The research has been accepted into the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Source: The National Geographic



NASA Concedes Space–Time Portals Exist

By Avalon
Alien Digest

NASA finally concedes that what was once considered science fiction is now a reality. A recent announcement by NASA of an upcoming probe called MMS will study these Space–Time Portals.

Space–Time portals have been talked about for decades in science fiction and the alternative media communities have presented many theories on their existence. Something tells me that someday soon NASA will admit that Crop Circles are in fact made by Extraterrestrial Technology – but I digress.

The article posted June 29th on the NASA Science News site begins,

“A favorite theme of science fiction is “the portal”–an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travelers to distant realms.  A good portal is a shortcut, a guide, a door into the unknown. If only they actually existed….

It turns out that they do, sort of, and a NASA-funded researcher at the University of Iowa has figured out how to find them.”

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Wow! Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow A Cosmic Bubble As It Nears The End Of Its Life

Via: Nano Patents and Innovations

Image Credit: ESA/NASA

Wow! Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow A Cosmic Bubble As It Nears The End Of Its Life

Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As stars run low on fuel, they become unstable. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star’s latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.

U Cam is an example of a carbon star, a rare type of star with an atmosphere that contains more carbon than oxygen. Due to its low surface gravity, typically as much as half of the total mass of a carbon star may be lost by way of powerful stellar winds. Located in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), near the North Celestial Pole, U Cam itself is much smaller than it appears in this Hubble image. In fact, the star would easily fit within a single pixel at the center of the image. Its brightness, however, is enough to saturate the camera’s receptors, making the star look much larger than it is.

The shell of gas, which is both much larger and much fainter than its parent star, is visible in intricate detail in Hubble’s portrait. This phenomenon is often quite irregular and unstable, but the shell of gas expelled from U Cam is almost perfectly spherical.


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Mars Panorama – Next Best Thing to Being There

Via: NASA

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

PASADENA, Calif. — From fresh rover tracks to an impact crater blasted billions of years ago, a newly completed view from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the ruddy terrain around the outcrop where the long-lived explorer spent its most recent Martian winter.

This scene recorded from the mast-mounted color camera includes the rover’s own solar arrays and deck in the foreground, providing a sense of sitting on top of the rover and taking in the view. Its release this week coincides with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th Martian day on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars. Mars Pathfinder landed July 4, 1997. NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter reached the planet while Pathfinder was still active, and Global Surveyor overlapped the active missions of the Mars Odyssey orbiter and Opportunity, both still in service.

The new panorama is online at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA15689. It is presented in false color to emphasize differences between materials in the scene. It was assembled from 817 component images taken between Dec. 21, 2011, and May 8, 2012, while Opportunity was stationed on an outcrop informally named “Greeley Haven,” on a segment of the rim of ancient Endeavour Crater.

“The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover’s fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, Pancam lead scientist.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed on Mars in January 2004 for missions originally planned to last for three months. NASA’s next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is on course for landing on Mars next month.

Opportunity’s science team chose to call the winter campaign site Greeley Haven in tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), a team member who taught generations of planetary science students at Arizona State University.

“Ron Greeley was a valued colleague and friend, and this scene, with its beautiful wind-blown drifts and dunes, captures much of what Ron loved about Mars,” said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for Opportunity and Spirit.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

More information about Opportunity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov . You can follow the project on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MarsRovers and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mars.rovers .


All Humans Are ‘Aliens From Outer Space’, Scientist Claims

Via: Telegraph

Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe, of Cardiff University, said new research “overwhelmingly” supported the view that human life started from outside our Earth.

The Astrobiologist said the first “seeds of life” were deposited on our plant from space 3,800m years ago.

He claimed microbes from outer space arrived on earth from comets, which then “multiplied and seeded” to form human life.

His said his evidence, published in Cambridge University’s International Journal of Astrobiology, showed humans, and all life on Earth, came from aliens brought to the earth by comets hitting the planet.

“Yes, we are all aliens – we share a cosmic ancestry,” Prof Wickramasinghe said.

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Scientists developing pulsed nuclear fusion system for distant missions

By phys.org

A physics team from The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Department of Mechanical and soon will take delivery of a specialized system to see if they can “Z-pinch” a tiny bit of that salt into the of a star.

“We are trying to develop a small, lightweight pulsed nuclear fusion system for deep space missions,” explained Dr. Jason Cassibry, an associate professor of engineering at UAHuntsville. “If this works we could reach Mars in six to eight weeks instead of six to eight months.”

In hockey, a slapshot digs the head of the hockey stick into the ice to bend the shaft, like an archer’s bow, storing energy for a sharper snap against the puck and drive it down the ice rink. Cassibry and his team will attempt to drive a hollowed-out puck in on itself, fusing lithium and hydrogen atoms and turning a little of their mass into pure energy.

The “pucks” are approximately two inches wide and an inch thick, smaller than a regulation three-inch puck. They are made of lithium deuteride (LH 2), the lightest metal combined with the middle-weight form of the lightest element.

Nuclear fusion is the process at the heart of the Sun, where four hydrogen atoms combine to make one helium atom, with a small amount of matter converting into pure energy. The UAHuntsville experiments will start at the midpoint of that cycle, where heavy hydrogen (one proton plus one neutron) fuse with each other or with lithium (not a normal part of solar fusion). But getting together is like firing two positively charged BBs up the slopes of Mount Everest to meet head-on at the peak.

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Mars One introduction film

This movie shows how Mars One plans to establish a human settlement on Mars in 2023. Special appearance by our ambassabor Nobel Prize winner prof. dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft.
For more information visit http://www.mars-one.com