Lost in space? Here’s a new method to find your way back home.

#space #navigation #Astronomy

An artist's depiction of a Voyager probe entering interstellar space.

An artist’s depiction of a Voyager probe entering interstellar space. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University, host of Ask a Spaceman and “Space Radio,” and author of “Your Place in the Universe.” Sutter contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

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Space is big — really big. And if you want to successfully navigate the interstellar depths of our Milky Way galaxy, you’re going to need some sort of reliable system. A new proposal tries to keep the method as simple as possible: use pairs of stars to provide a galactic reference frame. 

Within our solar system, interplanetary spacecraft rely on Earth-based systems for navigation. When we send a radio signal to a spacecraft and it replies, we can use the time delay of the reply to calculate a distance. We can also monitor the spacecraft in the sky, and by combining all that information (position in the sky and distance from Earth), we can pinpoint the spacecraft’s location in the solar system and provide that information to the spacecraft itself.

We can also use the Doppler shift of those radio waves to estimate the speed at which the spacecraft is moving away from Earth. By using dishes scattered across our planet, we can measure the delay from a spacecraft’s signal reaching one dish versus another. When we combine that data with the position information, we have a complete six-dimensional lock on the spacecraft: its three dimensions of position and its three dimensions of velocity.

This method relies on a network of ground-based radar systems, all in constant communication with the spacecraft. The technique works for spacecraft within the solar system, and, just barely, NASA’s twin Voyager probes.

But any interstellar missions will need a new approach: They will have to navigate autonomously. In principle, these spacecraft could use onboard systems, like clocks and gyroscopes, but interstellar missions will last for decades at a minimum, and tiny errors and uncertainties in those onboard systems will undoubtedly cause those spacecraft to stray off course.

There’s also the option of using pulsars, rotating objects that appear to flicker, or pulsate, at regular intervals. Because each pulsar has a unique rotation period, these objects can serve as reliable beacons for deep-space missions. But this only works within a relatively small bubble near our solar system, because measurements of the rotation period can get contaminated by interstellar dust, and once you lose track of which pulsar is which, you’re lost.

Second star to the right 

So interstellar spacecraft need a simple, reliable method of estimating their position within the galaxy. A new paper recently posted to the preprint server arXiv.org offers such a solution: the stars themselves.

The technique is based on a very old concept: parallax. If you stick your finger in front of your nose and alternate closing eyes, your finger will appear to wiggle. The change in its apparent position comes from the new viewpoint as you switch from eye to eye. If you do the same exercise while looking at a distant object, that object will appear to wiggle much less.

It was through parallax that scientists were first able to measure the distance to stars, and it’s through parallax that a spacecraft wandering far from home can get its bearings. Before launch, we load up the spacecraft with an accurate map of all the known stars in our galactic vicinity. Then, as the craft speeds away from the solar system, it measures the relative distances between multiple pairs of stars. As it moves, stars closer to the spacecraft appear to shift significantly, while more distant stars remain relatively fixed.

By measuring multiple pairs of stars and comparing the measurements with the original Earth-based catalog, the spacecraft can figure out which stars are which, and how far away it is from those stars, giving the spacecraft an accurate 3D position in the galaxy.

A relative effect 

Getting the velocity of the spacecraft is a little trickier, and it relies on a weird quirk of special relativity. Because of the finiteness of the speed of light, if you’re moving quickly enough, objects can appear to be in different locations than they really are. Specifically, an object’s position will appear to be shifted in the direction of your motion. The effect is called aberration, and it’s measurable from Earth: As our planet orbits the sun, the stars appear to gently sway back and forth in the sky.

As long as the spacecraft is moving quickly enough (and if we want an interstellar mission to last decades, not millennia, it must), onboard systems will be able to measure this aberration. By noting which stars are shifted away from their expected position and by how much, the spacecraft can work out its 3D velocity.

Taken with the parallax measurements, the spacecraft can then recover its complete six-dimensional coordinates within the galaxy; it knows where it is and where it’s going.

How precise is this technique? According to the paper, if the spacecraft can measure the positions of just 20 stars to within 1 arc second of accuracy (an arc second is 1/60 of an arc minute, which itself is 1/60 of a degree), it can determine its position within the galaxy to an accuracy of 3 astronomical units (AU) and its velocity to within 2 kilometers per second (1.2 miles per second). One AU is equal to the average distance between Earth and the sun — roughly 93 million miles (150 million km) — so 3 AU is about 279 million miles (450 million km). That sounds like a lot, but it’s peanuts compared to the thousands of AU between stars.Advertisement

We have accurate positions to way more than 20 stars, so we could load up the spacecraft with a catalog of hundreds of millions of stars to use on its voyage. Each one the spacecraft can measure would help pinpoint its location with even more precision.

Now all we need is an interstellar spacecraft.

A (Small) Pre-Emptive Strike Against the Doomsday Asteroid

#asteroid #Space #catastrophe #DART

With the DART mission, scientists try to prepare for Earth’s worst catastrophe.

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moonlet and spacecraft
Can humanity play billiards across seven million miles of space? NASA is dispatching the DART spacecraft to smack a moonlet (foreground), shoving it into a new orbit around its asteroid. (Ron Miller)

In March 1989, an asteroid measuring half a mile wide careened past Earth at 46,000 miles per hour. When it crossed Earth’s orbit, it was only 425,000 miles away—about twice the distance between Earth and the moon and an uncomfortably close shave for an object the size of a football field. If the asteroid had slammed into the planet, it would have punched a hole in Earth’s crust with the force of 20,000 hydrogen bombs, excavating a crater between five miles and 10 miles wide and a mile deep. Anything within a 40-mile radius would have been obliterated, and dust flowing into Earth’s atmosphere would have cooled regional temperatures enough to affect crop growth, causing localized food shortages. If it had slammed into the ocean instead, millions of people worldwide could have been killed by the ensuing tsunamis.

NASA officials deemed the flyby a close call. And, they noted, a larger asteroid would wreak even more havoc, from civilization-rending damage to a mass extinction snuffing out entire branches of life.

The asteroid was later formally named 4581 Asclepius, for the Greek god of healing and medicine. It led to a reckoning over how to safeguard the world from harm.

Shortly after the flyby—the closest approach by a large asteroid in a half-century—Congress tasked NASA with detecting and tracking asteroids that could pose a threat. By 2010, the agency had located 90 percent of all asteroids larger than one kilometer in diameter and is still working on finding 90 percent of all rocks wider than 140 meters across.

But protecting life on Earth will require more than seeing what’s coming. It will mean eliminating the asteroid headed our way—or at least pushing it aside.

This life-preserving mission is at the heart of DART, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, a NASA mission being launched in November. Almost a year later, when it arrives at its destination seven million miles away, the dishwasher-size DART spacecraft will fling itself into a small asteroid, which is itself orbiting a larger asteroid. The spacecraft will be consigned to oblivion, and the small asteroidal moon will shift its orbit just enough to be detectable from Earth. Scientists hope to show that punching a distant asteroid is possible, in case we ever need to move one to avert disaster.

Every space mission is full of unknowns, but this one has more than its share, from the exact size and nature of the target asteroid pair to the potential change in the smaller one’s orbit, to the size and type of the crater DART will leave behind. The spacecraft will not even see its target until an hour before it crashes into it. But what DART will beam home in its final seconds will be priceless.

Elena Adams
“We can demonstrate that we can move asteroids out of the way,” DART mission systems engineer Elena Adams tells an audience at the National Air and Space Museum in June 2019. (Johns Hopkins APL)

Random Rocks

Neutralizing an asteroid threat sounds simple enough in theory. With enough warning, humans could strap a nuclear warhead to a rocket and destroy a threatening asteroid well before it hits Earth. At the least, the detonation could change the rock’s course just enough to protect the planet.

“But that makes people uncomfortable for all sorts of reasons,” says Andy Rivkin, DART’s co-lead investigator at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University.

Nuclear weapons as asteroid shields were first proposed in 1969, but many scientists eventually came to favor a so-called kinetic impactor as a safer alternative and one that would not violate any international treaties. In this scenario, a spacecraft would smack into an asteroid and change its course, setting the rock on a new path that does not meet up with Earth.

But asteroids are often unpredictable, and on every mission to visit one, there have been surprises. Asteroid Eros, which the NEAR spacecraft orbited and landed on in 1998, was covered in an unexpectedly large number of boulders. Bennu, which OSIRIS-REx gently tapped in 2020, was also boulder-filled and spewing particles and gas as it traveled through the void. Asteroids are so mysterious that scientists don’t know what will happen when they nudge one. DART’s primary goal is to find out.

In 2010, the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommended a practice impactor mission. Andy Cheng, who now serves as DART’s co-lead investigator, realized humanity needed two asteroids in order to analyze the impactor’s effect: The impactor would strike either a partner in a binary asteroid system or a moon orbiting an asteroid. Scientists could then observe the change in the struck body’s path around the other. This realization led to DART, and the mission was funded by 2012.

graphic showing how DART will interact with Dimorphos but touching it and changing its orbit
Double asteroid redirection test: DART will change Dimorphos’ orbit by just a few centimeters per second, which astronomers will be able to see only by looking at the light from Didymos. The change in that light should be enough. (Photo-Illustration by Ted Lopez / Johns Hopkins APL)

Cheng and colleagues quickly settled on an asteroid system called Didymos. The main asteroid was discovered in 1996, and its tiny moon, later named Dimorphos, was spotted in 2003. Scientists realized that the system will be closer to Earth next year than at any point in the next 50 years, which enables better Earth-based observation and tracking, Cheng says.

Hitting a moon instead of a larger main asteroid has plenty of benefits, says Rivkin. The Didymos-Dimorphos system is whizzing around the sun at 30 kilometers per second, and DART only packs a punch big enough to shift that speed by about one millimeter per second.

“In case of a real threat, that would be enough,” says Rivkin. “If you do that 10 or 20 years ahead of time, you miss the Earth.”

Andy Cheng with model asteroid system
Andy Cheng, DART’s co-lead investigator, with a model binary asteroid system. Cheng realized that bumping a lone asteroid with a spacecraft would produce results harder to measure than nudging one in a double-asteroid system. (Kim Hairston / Permission from Baltimore Sun media)

NASA’s congressionally mandated goal to find such threats means that we would probably have some warning; we already know the whereabouts of most deadly rocks, and scientists monitor their movement using networks of automated telescopes. Asteroid location data is fed into computer software to create a digital ephemeris, which provides the position and speed of objects in space and predicts their future orbital paths.

Building an asteroid deflector the next time it’s really needed will be a little easier after the practice the DART mission provides, Cheng notes. “NASA wants to show that they can do a mission like this quickly and not too expensively,” he says.

Consider an asteroid like 99942 Apophis, a 1,100-foot-wide asteroid that could kill tens of millions of people if it hit Earth. Recent observations show it will come close but won’t hit anytime in the next century. That’s just the type of target DART is meant as practice against, Cheng says.

“In the future, if we discover ‘Oh, my goodness, we were wrong. [Apophis] is going to hit the Earth,’ we would have enough time,” he says. How long a deflector would take to build depends on just how much time lies between when scientists recognize the threat and the predicted impact. “For something as big as Apophis, which has the potential to wipe out a small country, money becomes less of an object,” reasons Cheng.

APL's clean room
The DART team installs electrical subsystems in APL’s clean room. DART has little in terms of electronics—it is mostly a mass demonstrator—but what it does have is cutting-edge. (NASA / Johns Hopkins AP / Ed Whitman)

Even with sufficient time to build and launch a do-or-die mission, to nudge a real potential killer like Asclepius out of the way would require far more heft than a DART-size spacecraft.

Luckily, DART is not designed to save the day. It is designed to find out what saving the day might look like. One comforting fact about its target, though, is that it is the same composition and roughly the same size as most deadly asteroids, according to Rivkin.

“It’s representative of the kind of material that is out there and [has most commonly hit] the Earth,” Rivkin says. Dimorphos is moving around Didymos at a few dozen centimeters per second. Understanding just how Didymos and Dimorphos travel through space is one of the DART imaging team’s goals, because the only way to judge the mission’s success is to be able to measure the change in the moon’s orbit.

DART’s targets are so far away that they cannot be seen directly, so scientists on Earth will detect any orbital change by measuring Didymos’ brightness. When the moon moves in front of the asteroid relative to our location on Earth, Didymos will dim ever so slightly. If it dims earlier or later than it should per the ephemeris, the DART team will know their mission was a success.

DART will carry an Italian cubesat called LICIA, which will separate from DART before impact and capture images of its mothership’s demise. In 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch a probe called Hera to map DART’s impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass, another thing scientists don’t yet know.

Based on observations from the former Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope, astronomers know Dimorphos is about 500 feet wide and orbits Didymos roughly every 12 hours. They know Didymos is made of the same material as the most common meteorites. But that’s about it.

“We have no clue what Dimorphos looks like,” says Elena Adams, a systems engineer at APL. “We have some size predictions, but we don’t know if it’s a dog-bone shape, an oblong thing like Eros, or a duck-looking thing like Comet 67/P in the Rosetta mission.”

DART won’t be able to see Dimorphos clearly until about four minutes before impact. Its camera has to aim at a single pixel, barely a crumb on your phone screen. Earth-based telescopes and radar and the DART’s onboard Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for OpNav (DRACO) will watch Didymos and Dimorphos in the months after launch but will only be able to guess at their exact location within a range of about 15 kilometers, Cheng says. Seven days before impact, the DART team will turn on a new guidance system, built using APL guided-missile technology, and enable the spacecraft to aim itself at Dimorphos. It will have to crash within 15 meters of its aim point. Letting the spacecraft guide itself is necessary, Cheng says. NASA’s commands—sent after spacecraft imagery had been received on Earth—would not arrive fast enough to tell the spacecraft where to hit.

graphic comparing Didymos and Dimorphos to famous buildings. Didymos is larger than every one except for the Burj Khalifa, while Dimorphos is smaller, shorter than the Statue and Liberty and Great Pyramid of Giza
Didymoon mapping: As these size comparisons indicate, both asteroids are large enough to cause serious damage to Earth (neither will impact the planet). Inset: Thermal image of an asteroid. ESA’s Hera will provide such a map of Didymos. (©ESA / ScienceOffice.org / Johns Hopkins APL)

Built Like a Tank

DART will also serve as a test bed for the next generation of space equipment. Space mission planners usually care about weight more than almost anything else—every gram sent aloft must be carefully weighed against the spacecraft’s fuel requirements, design parameters, and science goals. But because DART’s 670 kilograms don’t come close to maxing out the capability of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will loft it—it won’t take much mass to nudge the asteroid—DART’s engineers were able to throw on practically anything they wanted. Other asteroid-visiting missions have complex, heavy cameras and even asteroid sample-return equipment, but not DART.

“Mass is the most precious commodity you can ever have in space travel,” says Adams. “But on DART, we’re like, ‘Eh, we don’t worry about it.’ It is built like a tank.”

What’s more, DART doesn’t have to fly as fast as the Parker Solar Probe or other deep-space missions, which means the energy required to leave Earth is a little lower. The navigation system—SMARTNav, or Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real-Time Navigation—is critical for DART, which will not have any images of its target until moments before impact. With no advance images, all decisions need to be made on board, with no human at the joystick, explains Michelle Chen, who leads the SmartNav team at APL.

A typical new TV has 4K resolution, meaning its screen measures roughly 4,000 pixels horizontally. The DRACO camera has only 2K, and within that, the Didymos system—both asteroid and moon—occupies a single pixel, until the mission’s final hour.

“When we are looking at the asteroid, I always have to clean my monitor screen, because I’m never sure if it’s a dust speck or what,” Chen says.

The camera can’t resolve both objects separately until about an hour before impact. So SmartNav’s algorithm continually scrutinizes DRACO’s images, filtering out other objects and dust, to lock onto its target.

Chen has spent the past several years testing her algorithm to make sure it can handle any surprises. If DART arrives at Didymos and finds it has more than one moon, SmartNav will know what to do. It can handle unexpected lighting conditions—if the moon is opposite the sunlit side of the asteroid, for example, and therefore harder to spot. Even though SmartNav will not survive DART’s destruction, Chen says its breakthroughs will inform new systems for the next generation of spacecraft. This is possible only because DART has an ordinary central processing unit-powered computer as well as a field programmable gate array, or FPGA, which can handle specific tasks with great efficiency. The FPGA will allow DART to handle several tasks simultaneously, including streaming images to Earth in its final moments, processing those images for SmartNav to use to pilot the craft, and firing its hydrazine thrusters to adjust its trajectory.

The burden of ultimate success or failure rests on the shoulders of the mission design team, who must figure out the spacecraft’s approach geometry, make sure its antennas are pointed the right way to communicate with Earth, ensure that its prototype solar panels don’t wiggle the craft too much, and check that DRACO is pointing the right way to lock on to its target.

DART has two propulsion systems to make sure it is in the right place at the right time. Only one will be used for critical guidance and is a traditional spacecraft thruster system, with 12 small engines using the common rocket propellant hydrazine. But DART will also carry a new electric ion propulsion system called NEXT-C. This ion drive uses electricity harvested from DART’s enormous solar panels. They are unique among spacecraft but may be a game-changer for future probes because they’re so lightweight. The arrays are built of a flexible material, which unfurls after launch and stretches between two rigid booms on each side of DART. “You have this rolled-up thing that looks like a sausage, and then after launch, you actuate the mechanism and snap it open, like a snap bracelet,” Adams says.

The ion drive powered by the array works by knocking electrons free from a gas propellant to make ions. The positively charged gas is repelled by a negatively charged electric field. The ions are discharged from the engine, pushing the craft just as a typical exhaust would.

Though the ion drive won’t produce much thrust, it’s more than DART will need, says Justin Atchison, an engineer at APL. The real benefit is its ability to shift gears, as it were, through a wide range of power levels. It can use a range from 600 watts up to 7.5 kilowatts. It has a much wider throttle zone than other ion drives and is much more efficient than typical thruster systems.

“You can use the same thruster when you are near the sun and have high power or far from the sun and have low power,” Atchison says. This will enable future spacecraft to adjust their trajectories and velocities no matter where they are—even though the latter is not really an issue for DART.

When DART arrives, it will have very little time to assess its surroundings before it shatters to bits. Many months later, scientists on the ground will still be busy reconstructing its final moments, says Angela Stickle, a planetary scientist at APL whose specialty is hypervelocity impacts. Her simulations will help scientists understand what Dimorphos is like and maybe learn more about how binary asteroids form.

Although binary asteroids are common—they represent one in every six asteroids—scientists are still unsure about how they came to be. The asteroid’s moon might have calved off from Didymos at some point in the past, either through centrifugal forces or an impact with a different object. Or it’s possible that Didymos captured a small asteroid crumb that was itself calved from a larger object.

Stickle says she is eager to learn more about the moonlet, which will be possible by studying its change in trajectory after impact.

Although ESA’s Hera probe won’t arrive for a few years, the nature of DART’s demise will tell Stickle and her fellow scientists plenty about the rock that destroyed it. DART’s own imagery will show what Dimorphos looks like in the few seconds before impact, and the Italian cubesat, LICIA, will watch the ejecta. Then astronomers like Cristina Thomas, who works at Northern Arizona University and leads DART’s observation working group, will scrutinize the change in Dimorphos’ orbit. Thomas has applied for time on the James Webb Space Telescope to check Dimorphos’ new trajectory, and she is developing software that can pull tiny glimmers of light from telescope observations to see how the light changes. “We draw a circle around it, pull out all the light in that circle, and we can see these small changes,” she says. “If it was just you and me looking at it, you wouldn’t be able to see anything, but the computer can see.”

Stickle can plug all this data into her calculations and come up with new results on the nature of the asteroid. But the asteroid still might throw a wrench into everyone’s plans.

“I more worry that it’s going to be some crazy new asteroid structure that we’ve never seen before,” she says. “We did some experiments where we shot into cotton candy, and the whole thing just explodes. I don’t think that’s likely for an asteroid, but it could have a weird structural material property that we just didn’t predict. People are creative, but asteroids have proved us wrong in the past. And space is weird.”

Arizona's meteor crater
Arizona’s Meteor Crater was caused by a 30-meter asteroid that exploded with the force of 150 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. If DART works as advertised, we could nudge a future asteroid off course. (USGS)

Deadly Precedent

“I thought, ‘I’m going to spend all these years doing something that’s literally going to puff up in smoke,’ ” Chen recalls. “But to me, it’s really a stepping stone.” Atchison says he likes the project’s finality. The mission has one, specific task, and the team will know without a doubt whether they pulled it off.

“That part is what keeps me up at night,” Atchison says. “Making sure we get it right the first time, because we don’t get a second time.”

That may be true for Earth too. We know a deadly strike from space has happened before. In 1989, geologists confirmed a massive crater off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Throughout rocks on Earth, scientists found layers awash in iridium, an element known to come from asteroids. The iridium spike matched the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary—the demarcation of the downfall of the dinosaurs, in an extinction event that wiped out almost all life on Earth.

What came to be named the Chicxulub crater proved that space rocks can end the world. Now it’s up to DART to prove that spacecraft could, one day, save it.



#space #physics #darkmatter #unexplained

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Extra Dimension

According to a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, an extra dimension in space-time could be hiding dark mater — the stuff that appears to make up 85 percent of the mass in the universe, yet remains undetectable by scientific equipment.

“We live in an ocean of dark matter, yet we know very little about what it could be,” said Flip Tanedo, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and the senior author of the paper published in the Journal of High Energy Physics, in a statement.

“Our observed universe has three dimensions of space,” he added. “We propose that there may be a fourth dimension that only the dark forces know about.”

Dark Matter Conundrum

Tanedo and his colleague’s theory could finally allow us to explain its existence.

“It is one of the most vexing known unknowns in nature,” Tanedo added. “We know it exists, but we do not know how to look for it or why it hasn’t shown up where we expected it.”

Despite scientists’ best efforts, dark matter has remained elusive. We still don’t know what it is made of or why it exists in the first place. We also aren’t able to observe it directly as it doesn’t absorb, reflect or emit any kind of electromagnetic radiation.

Dark Forces

But according to Tanedo and his team’s theory, some invisible dark matter particles interact with other invisible particles in a way that causes these second particles to not behave like others — via an additional dimension.

“Over the past decade, physicists have come to appreciate that, in addition to dark matter, hidden dark forces may govern dark matter’s interactions,” Tanedo said. “These could completely rewrite the rules for how one ought to look for dark matter.

“The extra dimension can explain why dark matter has hidden so well from our attempts to study it in a lab,” he added.

READ MORE: A new dimension in the quest to understand dark matter [University of California, Riverside]

More on dark matter: New Evidence About the Universe Suggests Einstein Was Wrong

Mysterious ‘elongated object’ that made giant star disappear puzzles scientists

#space #mystery #VVV-WIT-08

The strange object is circling a star 25,000 light years away

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(Amanda Smith, University of Cambridge)

star in the centre of our galaxy keeps blinking in and out of existence, and scientists have not been able to work out why.

In the middle of the Milky Way galaxy, 25,000 light years away, is the mysterious star VVV-WIT-08. Many stars change in brightness because they pulsate, or are eclipsed by another star, but this one is exceptionally rare because it becomes fainter over a several months – then suddenly brighter again.

Astronomers believe that VVV-WIT-08 is a new class of ‘blinking giant’ binary star system, where the giant mass of gas is blocked every few decades.

Scientists still don’t know what could be hiding the planet, though; the companion object, which could be another star or planet, is surrounded by an opaque disc, covering the star.

“Occasionally we find variable stars that don’t fit into any established category, which we call ‘what-is-this?’, or ‘WIT’ objects. We really don’t know how these blinking giants came to be. It’s exciting to see such discoveries from VVV after so many years planning and gathering the data,” Professor Philip Lucas from the University of Hertfordshire said.

It is possible that some unknown, dark object could have drifted in front of the giant star by chance, but it is incredibly unlikely. Simulations indicate there would have to be a ridiculously large number of dark bodies floating in the Milky Way for such an occurrence to happen by chance.

“It’s amazing that we just observed a dark, large and elongated object pass between us and the distant star and we can only speculate what its origin is,” said co-author Dr Sergey Koposov from the University of Edinburgh.

One other star system similar to VVV-WIT-08 has been known for some time: the giant star Epsilon Aurigae, which is partially eclipsed by a massive dust disk every 27 years. Even then, however, it is only dimmed by 50 per cent. Two more of these strange stars have been found in addition to this one, implying that even more may be out there.about:blank

“There are certainly more to be found, but the challenge now is in figuring out what the hidden companions are, and how they came to be surrounded by discs, despite orbiting so far from the giant star,” said Dr Leigh Smith from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy.

The study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Some Scientists Believe the Universe Is Conscious

#Universe #Conscious #Science

Sounds like a bad trip … but what if it’s true?

  • Is the universe a conscious being, like a gigantic widely dispersed human brain?
  • Scientists have long questioned how consciousness and science mix.
  • Two mathematicians have turned one theory into a crunchable math model.

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In upcoming research, scientists will attempt to show the universe has consciousness. Yes, really. No matter the outcome, we’ll soon learn more about what it means to be conscious—and which objects around us might have a mind of their own.

What will that mean for how we treat objects and the world around us? Buckle in, because things are about to get weird.

What Is Consciousness?

The basic definition of consciousness intentionally leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It’s “the normal mental condition of the waking state of humans, characterized by the experience of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, awareness of the external world, and often in humans (but not necessarily in other animals) self-awareness,” according to the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology.

Scientists simply don’t have one unified theory of what consciousness is. We also don’t know where it comes from, or what it’s made of.

However, one loophole of this knowledge gap is that we can’t exhaustively say other organisms, and even inanimate objects, don’t have consciousness. Humans relate to animals and can imagine, say, dogs and cats have some amount of consciousness because we see their facial expressions and how they appear to make decisions. But just because we don’t “relate to” rocks, the ocean, or the night sky, that isn’t the same as proving those things don’t have consciousness.

This is where a philosophical stance called panpsychism comes into play, writes All About Space’s David Crookes:

“This claims consciousness is inherent in even the tiniest pieces of matter — an idea that suggests the fundamental building blocks of reality have conscious experience. Crucially, it implies consciousness could be found throughout the universe.”

It’s also where physics enters the picture. Some scientists have posited that the thing we think of as consciousness is made of micro-scale quantum physics events and other “spooky actions at a distance,” somehow fluttering inside our brains and generating conscious thoughts.

one lit lightbulb among many


The Free Will Conundrum

One of the leading minds in physics, 2020 Nobel laureate and black hole pioneer Roger Penrose, has written extensively about quantum mechanics as a suspected vehicle of consciousness. In 1989, he wrote a book called The Emperor’s New Mind, in which he claimed “that human consciousness is non-algorithmic and a product of quantum effects.”

Let’s quickly break down that statement. What does it mean for human consciousness to be “algorithmic”? Well, an algorithm is simply a series of predictable steps to reach an outcome, and in the study of philosophy, this idea plays a big part in questions about free will versus determinism.

Are our brains simply cranking out math-like processes that can be telescoped in advance? Or is something wild happening that allows us true free will, meaning the ability to make meaningfully different decisions that affect our lives?

Within philosophy itself, the study of free will dates back at least centuries. But the overlap with physics is much newer. And what Penrose claimed in The Emperor’s New Mind is that consciousness isn’t strictly causal because, on the tiniest level, it’s a product of unpredictable quantum phenomena that don’t conform to classical physics.

So, where does all that background information leave us? If you’re scratching your head or having some uncomfortable thoughts, you’re not alone. But these questions are essential to people who study philosophy and science, because the answers could change how we understand the entire universe around us. Whether or not humans do or don’t have free will has huge moral implications, for example. How do you punish criminals who could never have done differently?

Consciousness Is Everywhere

In physics, scientists could learn key things from a study of consciousness as a quantum effect. This is where we rejoin today’s researchers: Johannes Kleiner, mathematician and theoretical physicist at the Munich Center For Mathematical Philosophy, and Sean Tull, mathematician at the University of Oxford.

Kleiner and Tull are following Penrose’s example, in both his 1989 book and a 2014 paper where he detailed his belief that our brains’ microprocesses can be used to model things about the whole universe. The resulting theory is called integrated information theory (IIT), and it’s an abstract, “highly mathematical” form of the philosophy we’ve been reviewing.

In IIT, consciousness is everywhere, but it accumulates in places where it’s needed to help glue together different related systems. This means the human body is jam-packed with a ton of systems that must interrelate, so there’s a lot of consciousness (or phi, as the quantity is known in IIT) that can be calculated. Think about all the parts of the brain that work together to, for example, form a picture and sense memory of an apple in your mind’s eye.

one red apple with many green apples


The revolutionary thing in IIT isn’t related to the human brain—it’s that consciousness isn’t biological at all, but rather is simply this value, phi, that can be calculated if you know a lot about the complexity of what you’re studying.

If your brain has almost countless interrelated systems, then the entire universe must have virtually infinite ones. And if that’s where consciousness accumulates, then the universe must have a lot of phi.

Hey, we told you this was going to get weird.

“The theory consists of a very complicated algorithm that, when applied to a detailed mathematical description of a physical system, provides information about whether the system is conscious or not, and what it is conscious of,” Kleiner told All About Space. “If there is an isolated pair of particles floating around somewhere in space, they will have some rudimentary form of consciousness if they interact in the correct way.”

Hundreds of mysterious Fast Radio Bursts detected in space

#FRB #space #mystery #CHIME

Mysterious flash radio burst location orig vstan dlewis_00000000
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First time FRB was traced to source location was 2015

(CNN) Hundreds of mysterious fast radio bursts have been detected in space thanks to a Canadian telescope and an international group of researchers. The origins of these bright, millisecond-long flashes of light are unknown because the bursts, or FRBs, are unpredictable and vanish quickly. Scientists first observed them in 2007. In the decade following, they only observed about 140 bursts across the universe.” The thing about FRBs is that they are really hard to catch,” said Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics at MIT and member of the university’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “You have to have your radio telescope pointed at just the right place at just the right time and you can’t predict where or when that will be.”

Most radio telescopes only see a patch of sky the size of the moon at a given time, meaning the vast majority of FRBs go unseen, Masui said.

That all changed when the CHIME telescope, located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada, began receiving radio signals in 2018 during its first year of operation.

The CHIME radio telescope array, pictured here, detected 535 fast radio bursts in its first year of operation.The CHIME radio telescope array, pictured here, detected 535 fast radio bursts in its first year of operation.The stationary radio telescope, called the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, detected 535 new fast radio bursts between 2018 and 2019.This enabled scientists to create the CHIME catalog of fast radio bursts, which was presented Wednesday at the 238th American Astronomical Society Meeting, an event that’s occurring virtually.

Not only does the catalog expand on the known number of fast radio bursts, but it also broadens the information available about their locations and properties. While most of the fast radio bursts occurred just once, 61 of them were repeating fast radio bursts from 18 sources. The repeating bursts appear differently — each flash lasts a little longer than the single bursts.When a burst repeats, scientists have a much better chance of tracing it back to its point of origin. These locations could help scientists determine what causes the bursts as well.

Fast radio burst may have come from the Milky Way

Fast radio burst may have come from the Milky Way. Based on their observations, the researchers believe that single fast radio bursts may have sources that are different from repeating ones.” With all these sources, we can really start getting a picture of what FRBs look like as a whole, what astrophysics might be driving these events, and how they can be used to study the universe going forward,” said Kaitlyn Shin, CHIME member and a graduate student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics, in a statement.

How CHIME works

The CHIME telescope functions a bit differently from others used for radio astronomy. The array of four giant radio antennas, comparable to the size and shape of half-pipes used for snowboarding, are entirely motionless. As Earth rotates on its axis, this array receives radio signals from half of the sky. Typically, radio dishes move to capture light from different areas in the sky. Instead, CHIME uses an all digital design and has a correlator, a digital signaling processor to capture incoming radio signals. It can churn through massive amounts of data — about 7 terabits per second, or the equivalent of a small percentage of global internet traffic.

Mysterious fast radio bursts traced to spiral galaxy arms

Mysterious fast radio bursts traced to spiral galaxy arms “Digital signal processing is what makes CHIME able to reconstruct and ‘look’ in thousands of directions simultaneously,” Masui said. “That’s what helps us detect FRBs a thousand times more often than a traditional telescope.” The 535 bursts detected by CHIME came from all parts of the sky — and space. Based on the information they gathered, the researchers calculated that these bright fast radio bursts likely occur about 800 times per day across the entire sky.” That’s kind of the beautiful thing about this field — FRBs are really hard to see, but they’re not uncommon,” Masui said. “If your eyes could see radio flashes the way you can see camera flashes, you would see them all the time if you just looked up.” While these bursts would be intriguing enough based on their mysterious nature alone, scientists also believe they can use the bursts to have a better understanding of the universe and even map the distribution of gas across it. When these radio waves travel through space, it’s likely they’re encountering gas or plasma. This can distort the waves, change their properties and even their trajectory. Determining this information about a radio burst could help scientists estimate the distance it traveled and how much gas it encountered.” This carries a record within it of the structure of the universe that it has traveled through on its way to get from the source to us,” Masui said. “Because of this, we think that they are going to be the ultimate tool for studying the universe.” Many of these bright radio bursts detected by CHIME traveled from distant galaxies and were likely created by incredibly energetic sources — but researchers are still trying to determine the exact nature of those sources.This sky map shows fast radio bursts based on CHIME detections. This sky map shows fast radio bursts based on CHIME detections.

With enough fast radio bursts, it may be possible to map out the large-scale structure of the universe.” These large structures make up the filaments of the cosmic web,” said Alex Josephy, a doctoral student in physics at McGill University in Canada. “With the FRB catalog, we have detected this correlation between FRBs and large-scale structure. This is really, really exciting and ushers in a new era of (fast radio burst) cosmology.”

Particle seen switching between matter and antimatter at CERN

#Particle #matter #antimatter #CERN

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Two particles ready to collide to one another artistic image

Two particles ready to collide to one another artistic image

A subatomic particle has been found to switch between matter and antimatter, according to Oxford physicists analyzing data from the Large Hadron Collider. It turns out that an unfathomably tiny weight difference between two particles could have saved the universe from annihilation soon after it began.

Antimatter is kind of the “evil twin” of normal matter, but it’s surprisingly similar – in fact, the only real difference is that antimatter has the opposite charge. That means that if ever a matter and antimatter particle come into contact, they will annihilate each other in a burst of energy.

To complicate things, some particles, such as photons, are actually their own antiparticles. Others have even been seen to exist as a weird mixture of both states at the same time, thanks to the quantum quirk of superposition (illustrated most famously through the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat.) That means that these particles actually oscillate between being matter and antimatter.

And now, a new particle has joined that exclusive club – the charm meson. This subatomic particle is normally made up of a charm quark and an up antiquark, while its antimatter equivalent consists of a charm antiquark and an up quark. Normally those states are kept separate, but the new study shows that charm mesons can spontaneously switch between the two.l

What ultimately gave away the secret was that the two states have slightly different masses. And we mean “slightly” in the extreme – the difference is just 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 grams.

This incredibly precise measurement was fished out of data gathered during the Large Hadron Collider’s second run, by physicists at Oxford University. Charm mesons are produced at the LHC in proton-proton collisions, and normally they only travel a few millimeters before they decay into other particles.

By comparing the charm mesons that tend to travel further versus those that decay sooner, the team identified differences in mass as the main factor that drives whether a charm meson turns into an anti-charm meson or not.

An illustration highlighting the difference in mass between two versions of the charm meson
An illustration highlighting the difference in mass between two versions of the charm meson

This absolutely tiny find could have gigantic implications for the universe. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, the Big Bang should have produced matter and antimatter in equal amounts, and over time that all would have collided and annihilated, leaving the cosmos a very empty place. Obviously that didn’t happen, and somehow matter came to dominate, but what caused that imbalance?

One hypothesis that the new discovery raises is that particles like the charm meson will transition from antimatter to matter more often than they turn from matter to antimatter. Investigating whether that’s true – and if so, why – could be a major clue that busts open one of the biggest mysteries of science.

The study has been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters, and is currently available on the preprint server arXiv.

Spacecraft buzzes Jupiter’s mega moon, 1st close-up in years

#Ganymede #Jupiter #Space


Photo by: NASANASA’s Juno spacecraft has provided the first close-ups of Jupiter’s largest moon in two decades. Juno zoomed past icy Ganymede on Monday, passing within 645 miles.By: The Associated Press & Scripps NationalPosted at 5:20 PM, Jun 08, 2021 and last updated 6:20 PM, Jun 08, 2021

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Juno spacecraft has provided the first close-ups of Jupiter’s largest moon in two decades.

Juno zoomed past icy Ganymede on Monday, passing within 645 miles.

It’s the closest any spacecraft has come to our solar system’s biggest moon since NASA’s Galileo spacecraft swept past in 2000.

NASA released two pictures Tuesday, highlighting Ganymede’s craters and long features possibly related to tectonic faults.

NASA said the pictures were captured from the JunoCam imager and its Stellar Reference Unit star camera.

“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, in a news release. “We are going to take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder.”

Ganymede is bigger than the planet Mercury.

It is one of 79 known moons around Jupiter.

Launched a decade ago, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for five years.

Report: NASA investigating UFO sightings, agency chief says


This still is from a U.S. Navy jet's video of a UFO sighting.
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This still is from a U.S. Navy jet’s video of a UFO sighting. (Image credit: U.S. Navy)

NASA is now on the perplexing UFO case.

NASA chief Bill Nelson, who assumed his post just last month, has asked agency researchers to look into the spate of UFO sightings that U.S. Navy pilots have reported over the past two decades, CNN reported.

“Now that I’m here at NASA, I’ve turned to our scientists and I’ve said, ‘Would you, looking at it from a scientific standpoint, see if you can determine [what these objects are], so that we can have a better idea?'” Nelson told CNN’s Rachel Crane in an interview that the network posted online Friday (June 4).

“The bottom line is, we want to know,” he added. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

News of the UFO encounters broke in late 2017, when The New York Times and Politico reported that Navy pilots had repeatedly spotted strange objects performing maneuvers that were far more advanced than anything their own jets could do. 

These stories also revealed that, in 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) to investigate sightings of UFOs — or UAPs (“unidentified aerial phenomena”), as the military recently rebranded them. AATIP was officially phased out in 2012, but the Pentagon stood up a successor task force last summer.

And the drive to get to the bottom of the UFO mystery has continued to grow. In December 2020, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — at the time the chair of the Senate’s intelligence committee — asked the Pentagon and the U.S. director of national intelligence to deliver an unclassified report about the UFO sightings to Congress within six months. 

“I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” Rubio told reporter Bill Whitaker during an interview that aired last month on the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” stressing that any unknown object spotted in U.S. airspace could be a threat to national security. 

“I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in — that there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed until we get some answers,” Rubio added. “Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn’t.”

The six-month deadline is almost up. And we’ve already gotten a sneak peak at the investigation’s findings, thanks to The New York Times, which talked to sources familiar with it. We shouldn’t expect a blockbuster announcement, according to the Times story; its headline is “U.S. finds no evidence of alien technology in flying objects, but can’t rule it out, either.”

Space debris strikes space station. Here’s what it damaged

Canadarm2 continues to function normally after getting whacked by space junk, Canadian Space Agency says

A small hole seen in the ISS Canadarm2. (Credit: NASA/Canadian Space Agency)
A small hole seen in the ISS Canadarm2. (Credit: NASA/Canadian Space Agency) (NASA 2021)
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#ISS #Space #Debris

A chunk of space trash has left a hole in the International Space Station’s robotic arm but NASA and Canadian mission managers say the arm’s functions won’t be impacted; however, this is far from the last debris encounter for the orbiting laboratory.

The ISS orbits about 200 miles above the planet, in low-Earth orbit, a very popular area for small satellite launches and lots of space debris. More than 23,000 pieces of, essentially, trash from defunct satellites, rocket parts and other objects are being tracked by NASA at all times in the event of a possible collision with spacecraft or the American football-field length space station — where typically about seven astronauts are living and working. There are also other objects including dust particles or smaller pieces of satellite debris that are too small to be tracked.

Even with those precautions — mission managers can make the call to move the ISS to avoid such collisions — impacts to the ISS and its extremities do happen. The space station has also been impacted by tiny micrometeorites before.

On May 12, during a routine inspection of the Canadian Space Agency-made robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, a hole was observed in a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket.

CSA and NASA engineers worked together to assess the damage and have determined the arm’s performance remains unaffected, according to an update from the CSA. The robotic arm is key to the ISS because it is used to grapple spacecraft and assist astronauts during spacewalks, several of which are coming up.

Operations for the Canadarm2 will continue as planned. The CSA did not disclose if the hole will be patched or repaired.

This week SpaceX will launch its Cargo Dragon spacecraft to the ISS carrying 7,300 pounds of science, supplies and hardware, including a massive set of new solar panels to power the ISS for years to come.

Liftoff is scheduled for 1:29 p.m. Thursday from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A.

Mysteries remain after US report makes no definitive finding about UFOs

#UFO #UAP #Mystery

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Cleveland, Ohio 2021-06-05 09:02:08 –

Washington (AP) — Navy pilots capture lumps in distant, blurry videos that appear to be gliding just above sea waves at improbable speeds, with no distinguishable means of propulsion or lift. I will. “Oh my god, man” One aviator tells another and laughs at the strange sight. “what is that?”

Is it a bird? airplane? Super drone? Something extraterrestrial?

The US government is scrutinizing such unidentified flying objects.Better known as a report summarizing what the United States knows about “unidentified aerial phenomena.” UFO — Will be released later this month.

Aliens never remove the mask. Two officials who were briefed on the report said no link between the reported sightings captured in the video and extraterrestrial life was found. The report does not rule out ties to other countries, officials said on condition of anonymity.

Extensive conclusions are currently being reported, but the full report may provide a broader picture of what the government knows. Expectations surrounding the report show that topics that are usually confined to science fiction and a small, often rejected group of researchers have become mainstream.

Concerned about national security threats from adversaries, lawmakers ordered investigation and publication of a phenomenon that the government had been reluctant to speak for generations.

“Something is flying in our airspace,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio, one of the senators who urged us to investigate, recently told Fox News. “We don’t know what it is. We need to know.”

Parliament at the end of last year instructed the Director of National Intelligence to provide “detailed analysis of unconfirmed aerial phenomenon data” from multiple agencies and report within 180 days. That time is just around the corner. Intelligence did not say when the full document would be released last week.

A bill passed by Congress told the Director of National Intelligence that “potential adversaries may have achieved groundbreaking aerospace capabilities that could endanger the US strategic or regular military. We are looking for an incident or pattern that indicates.

The main concern is whether hostile nations are deploying sophisticated, bizarre, confusing and threateningly sophisticated and eccentric aviation technology in the world’s largest military force. But when lawmakers talk about it, they tend to leave room for a bit of shaking themselves in case it’s something else. More space, even more mediocre than military rivals. Be the target.

“There are a lot of open questions right now,” California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff told NBC this week. “If other countries have abilities that we don’t know, we want to know. If there are other explanations, we want to learn that too.”

Luis Elizondo, a former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, said he did not believe the sightings were due to foreign technology. Elizondo said the Pentagon was trying to discredit him. He accuses him of being, and says there is a lot of other information that the United States keeps confidential.Images from a video labeled Gimbal provided by the Pentagon in 2015 track unexplained objects, soaring high along clouds and against the wind. Only one obscure object is shown, but one Navy aviator told another aviator, “I have the entire fleet of them.” It’s spinning. “The US government, under parliamentary orders. , A scrutiny of unidentified flying objects and a report summarizing what the authorities know will be published in June 2021. (Ministry of Defense via AP)

“We live in an incredible universe,” Elizondo said. “There are various hypotheses that suggest that it is not so easy to explain the three-dimensional universe in which we live.”

But Skeptic editor Michael Shermer is skeptical.

A longtime analyst of UFO theory and other phenomena, a scientific historian said there were too many blurry images of encounters with aliens to be convinced by the more blurry images of airborne droplets. Now is the time when billions of people around the world have smartphones, take crisp images, and satellites accurately render ground details.

“Show me the body, show me the spaceship, or show me some really high quality videos and photos,” he said in an interview. “And I believe.”

Mick West, a prominent scholar of unexplained phenomena and a conspiracy-theoretic scholar, said the government was right to investigate and report on the potential impact of sightings on national security. It was. Currently captured in declassified video.

“Whenever there is an unidentified object passing through military airspace, it’s a real problem that needs to be investigated,” he told AP.

“But while the video shows an unidentified object, it doesn’t show a surprisingly unidentified object.”

Pilots and Sky-Watchers have long reported that UFOs have been sporadically witnessed in US airspace at unusual speeds and orbits. In most cases, those mysteries evaporate during the investigation.

In 1960, the CIA stated that 6,500 objects had been reported to the US Air Force in the last 13 years. The Air Force has concluded that there is no evidence that these sightings are associated with “hostile” or “interplanetary spacecraft,” the CIA said.

Of course, UFO reports have been going on ever since. Some people studying this topic claim that the investigation is limited due to conspiracy theories and the stigma of being related to the story of the Little Green Man raiding the Earth. They point out that the government has a history of lying, hindering unexplained things.

It took 50 years for the government to show that it wanted the allegations that the alien bodies were recovered at the crash site in New Mexico in 1947 to be completely denied. Dummy used in parachute test, The recent ancestor of today’s car accident dummy.

Former Air Force Colonel Richard Weaver, who wrote one of the official reports on Roswell’s rumors, sought to assure the public that the government was not capable of hiding real alien sightings. Needless to say, we have a hard time keeping secrets, “he said.

A recent turning point came in December 2017 when the New York Times unveiled a five-year Pentagon program to investigate UFOs. The Pentagon then released a video of a previously leaked shadow object that military pilots could not identify.

One was a video clip of an aviator tracking a mass above the sea on the US coast in 2015, called Gofast. In another year of the year, an unexplained object named the gimbal is tracked, soaring high along the clouds and moving against the wind. Only one obscure object is shown, but one Navy aviator told another, “I have the entire fleet of them.” It’s spinning. “

In 2019, the Navy announced that pilots would create a formal process for reporting unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). Last August, the Pentagon created a task force dedicated to this issue. The mission was to “detect, analyze, and catalog UAPs” that could endanger the United States.

In the era of increasingly sophisticated drone aircraft, it is seen as a risk to sensitive domestic military installations such as nuclear missile bases, focusing on foreign rivals rather than visitors from other planets. Has been done. However, the formation of a task force stood as a rare approval from the government that UFOs raise potential national security concerns.

Recently, a declassified video was featured in CBS’s “60 Minutes” article, raising questions about what information the US government has.

Rubio, the Republican leader and former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Information, said it was important for investigators to follow up on pilot reports and publish findings. “I ignore what our military personnel and their radar and their eyesight are telling them,” Rubio said. “There are several highly trained and highly capable people. . “

But what’s in the sky is often different from what it looks like. Shermer rattles an example where what looks like a different world is a boring example of this planet.

“90-95% of all UFO sightings are meteorological balloons, flares, sky lanterns, formation-flying planes, secret military aircraft, sun-reflecting birds, sun-reflecting planes, brips, helicopters, planets. Venus and Mars, meteorites and meteorites, space debris, artificial satellites, moist gas … Ball lightning, Ice crystals that reflect cloud light, ground light, light that reflects off cockpit windows, temperature reversal, Punch cloud

“In order for any of these to be genuine, we need more than these grainy videos and blurry photos,” he said.

“If this were true, it would actually be one of the most anomalous claims to date, so we really need some solid and anomalous evidence.”

First evidence of cell membrane molecules in space

#space #Extraterrestrial #molecule

All cells on Earth are made of phospholipid membranes. Now astronomers have found the component molecules in interstellar space.


Kateryna Kon/ShutterstockThe origin of life is one the great unanswered questions in science. One piece of this puzzle is that life started on Earth 4.5 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the formation of the Solar System, and involved numerous critical molecular components. How did all these components come to be available so quickly?

One potential explanation is that the Earth was seeded from space with the building blocks for life. The idea is that space is filled with clouds of gas and dust that contain all the organic molecules necessary for life.

Indeed, astronomers have observed these buildings blocks in interstellar gas clouds. They can see amino acids, the precursors of proteins and the machinery of life. They can also see the precursors of ribonucleotides, molecules that can store information in the form of DNA.

But there is another crucial component for life – molecules that can form membranes capable of encapsulating and protecting the molecules of life in compartments called protocells. On Earth, the membranes of all cells are made of molecules called phospholipids. But these have never been observed in space. Until now.about:blankabout:blank

Precursors of life

Víctor Rivilla at the Spanish Astrobiology Centre in Madrid and colleagues, have made the first detection in space of ethanolamine, a crucial component of the simplest phospholipid. The discovery suggests that the interstellar medium is brimming will all the precursors for life. “This has important implications not only for theories of the origin of life on Earth, but also on other habitable planets and satellites anywhere in the Universe,” say the team.

The group made their discovery by analyzing light from an interstellar cloud of gas and dust called Sagittarius B2, just 390 light years from the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers have long known of this region as a rich reservoir of organic molecules, ices and dust particles.

Ethanolamine has the chemical formula NH2CH2CH2OH. The team simulated the spectrum that this molecule ought to produce at the cold temperatures thought to exist in the cloud. They then looked for, and found, clear evidence of this spectrum in light that had passed through the cloud.

Although never before spotted in space, astronomers have found ethanolamine in meteorites. How it got there has been an issue of some debate with some researchers arguing it could only have formed through an unusual set of reactions on a parent asteroid.about:blankabout:blank

The new discovery suggests ethanolamine is much more widespread. On Earth, it forms the hydrophilic head of phospholipid molecules that self-assemble into cell membranes. Rivilla and colleagues say its discovery in interstellar clouds suggests “ethanolamine could have been transferred from the proto-Solar nebula to planetesimals and minor bodies of the Solar System, and thereafter to our planet.” That could have led to the formation of cells in the prebiotic soup from which our earliest ancestors emerged.

Radical idea

A more radical idea is that ethanolamine might allow the formation of protocells in the interstellar medium itself. This is rich in other prebiotic components such as water and amino acids, which these protocells would have naturally encapsulated. The result would then be ready-made melting pots of prebiotic goop ready to seed the Earth, or any other body that passes by.

Of course, none of this ultimately answers the question of how life began on Earth. But the work does show that there is no longer any mystery about where the building blocks of life might have come from. “These results indicate that ethanolamine forms efficiently in space and, if delivered onto early Earth, it could have contributed to the assembling and early evolution of primitive membranes.,” say Rivilla and co. The question now is: what happened next?

Awaiting The Next Historic Solar Storm

When will the next major solar storm hit?

#Space #solarflare #spaceweather

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Bright red blobby seahorse shape on streaky dark red background.
This seahorse-shaped solar flare erupted from an active region on the sun on August 7, 1972. It was one of a number of powerful solar storms in 1972 that caused earthly effects: for example, widespread electrical and communication grid disturbances through large portions of North America as well as satellite disruptions. Image via NASA/ Big Bear Observatory.

Powerful solar storms can hammer Earth, causing major technology glitches. One of the best-remembered events is the Quebec power grid failure of 1989, a 12-hour blackout in which millions of people found themselves in dark office buildings, stalled elevators, and underground pedestrian tunnels. Going farther back, there’s the famous Carrington Event of 1859, which fried telegraph wires. Scientists agree it’s only a matter of time until the next powerful solar storm affects earthly technologies. Next time, we might expect steeper consequences, since today’s world relies so heavily on technology. But, with few events to go on, no one knows when the next powerful Earth-directed event will erupt on the sun. That’s one reason researchers were happy to announce in March 2021 that they’ve unearthed new eyewitness accounts from a 1582 solar storm that startled skywatchers across the globe.

Pero Ruiz Soares was a 16th-century Portuguese author in Lisbon. He and his contemporaries were unaware of the connection between solar storms and the northern lights when he wrote of the 1582 event:

A great fire appeared in the sky to the north, and lasted three nights.

All that part of the sky appeared burning in fiery flames; it seemed that the sky was burning. Nobody remembered having seen something like that … At midnight, great fire rays arose above the castle which were dreadful and fearful. The following day, it happened the same at the same hour but it was not so great and terrifying. Everybody went to the countryside to see this great sign.

According to a statement from scientists who studied the event:Must Watch Sky Events in 2021

Across the globe in feudal Japan, observers in Kyoto noted the same fiery red display in their skies, too. Similar accounts of strange nighttime lights were recorded in Leipzig, Germany; Yecheon, South Korea; and a dozen other cities across Europe and East Asia.

During those few days in 1582, people looking skyward – not understanding what they saw – were marveling at a strong display of the northern lights, or aurora borealis, which was little understood at the time and the subject of many myths and legends. The northern lights are seen mostly at high latitudes on Earth. They’re not often seen at lower latitudes, like Portugal. That’s another thing a powerful solar storm can do, however; it can cause northern lights to be seen closer to Earth’s equator.

Today’s researchers look to uncover events in the past, such as the 1582 solar storm, in order to investigate the pattern of these strong storms on the sun. They want to know how often they occur. They hope historical records, like that of the 1582 storm, will help them predict future solar storms. At present, with scientists’ limited understanding of the patterns, the historical record suggests that such powerful Earth-sun events occur at least once a century.

The historical record seems to suggest that major storms like the one in 1582 are, at minimum, a once-in-a-century occurrence, and so we should expect one or more of them to hit Earth in the 21st century.

Long, bent green streak above atmosphere as seen from orbital view of Earth.
This 2010 aurora resulted from a coronal mass ejection, an event that can ripple through our solar system after a powerful solar storm. Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) photographed the amazing show. Astronauts are vulnerable to solar storms, by the way, especially while performing spacewalks, or moving around unshielded on, say, the surface of the moon. In August 1972, between the April Apollo 16 moon mission and December Apollo 17 moon mission, the sun unleashed a solar storm with enough radiation that would have killed moon-walking astronauts. Image via NASA/ ISS Expedition 23 Crew.

The sun waxes and wanes in activity on about an 11-year cycle. Solar Cycle 25 officially began in late 2020. In other words, we’re heading toward another solar maximum, when the sun should be at its most active. Scientists expect this solar maximum to occur around 2025.

In the coming few years, we can expect Earth to undergo some effects as activity on the sun increases. At the peak of the sun’s activity, charged particles from the sun may affect satellites in orbit, and may disrupt communications or navigation on Earth. But, for the most part, these effects are expected to be manageable.

In the meantime, scientists are looking out for the next truly big solar storm. For example, Rami Qahwaji of the University of Bradford wrote at The Conversation:

My colleagues and I developed a real-time automated computer system which uses image processing and artificial intelligence technologies to monitor and analyze solar satellite data. This helps predict the likelihood of solar flares in the coming 24 hours.

This team has also created a process for automatically classifying sunspots and detecting different solar features, such as active regions and sunspots. Their space weather prediction system is publicly available here.

How else can you learn about activity on the sun? NASA has a whole fleet of spacecraft aimed sunward. Go to NASA Heliophysics.

Another wonderful place for information about solar storms is the website SpaceWeather.com. There, you’ll find daily updates on the day-to-day activity on the sun, which can be expected to increase in the coming few years.

You might also try NOAA’s SpaceWeather Prediction Center.

Bright green curtain-like streaks reflected in a lake.
During a strong solar storm, auroras will appear farther south than usual. At northerly latitudes, an aurora sparked by a strong solar storm can illuminate the ground below. During the 1859 Carrington Event, auroras shone so brightly in the nighttime sky that birds began tweeting and people rose to start their daily chores, believing the sun was rising. Image via v2osk/ Unsplash.

Bottom line: In March 2021, scientists said they’ve unearthed new eyewitness accounts from a 1582 solar storm that startled skywatchers across the globe. They were glad to have these reports, which might help them understand long-term patterns in solar activity, as it affects Earth.

Stephen Hawking’s final warnings: What he predicted for the future

#Hawking #prediction #space

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Stephen Hawking’s fame was founded on the research he did on general relativity and black holes. But he often stepped outside his own field of research, using his recognition to highlight what he saw as the great challenges and existential threats for humanity in coming decades. His pronouncements drove headlines in the media, which sometimes proved controversial.

Leaving Earth

Hawking was clearly troubled that we were putting all our eggs in one basket – that basket being Earth. For decades, Hawking had been calling for humans to begin the process of permanently settling other planets. It made news headlines again and again.

Hawking’s rationale was that humankind would eventually fall victim to an extinction-level catastrophe – perhaps sooner rather than later. What worried him were so-called low-probability, high impact events – a large asteroid striking our planet is the classic example. But Hawking perceived a host of other potential threats: artificial intelligence, climate change, GM viruses and nuclear war to name a few.

In 2016, he told the BBC: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or 10,000 years.

He was confident that humans would spread out into the cosmos by that time (given the chance), but added: “We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.”

Here, Hawking’s views dovetailed with those of entrepreneur Elon Musk, another science superstar whose cogitations attract widespread attention. In 2013, Musk told a conference: “Either we spread Earth to other planets, or we risk going extinct. An extinction event is inevitable and we’re increasingly doing ourselves in.”

Mars artwork
Hawking said that settling other planets would mitigate the risk of human extinction

In line with his thoughts on the matter, Hawking also attached his name to a project researching technologies for interstellar travel – the Breakthrough Starshot initiative.

Rise of the machines?

Hawking recognised the great opportunities that arose from advances in artificial intelligence, but also warned about the dangers.

In 2014, he told the BBC that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”.

Hawking said the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far had already proved very useful; indeed, the tech he used to communicate incorporated a basic form of AI. But Hawking feared the consequences of advanced forms of machine intelligence that could match or surpass humans.

Some academics thought the comments drew on outdated science fiction tropes. Others, such as Prof Bradley Love, from UCL, agreed there were risks: “Clever AI will create tremendous wealth for society, but will leave many people without jobs,” he told The Conversation.

But he added: “If we are going to worry about the future of humanity we should focus on the real challenges, such as climate change and weapons of mass destruction rather than fanciful killer AI robots.”

Tipping point

The Cambridge physicist regarded global warming as one of the biggest threats to life on the planet. Hawking was particularly fearful of a so-called tipping point, where global warming would become irreversible. He also expressed concern about America’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid,” he told BBC News.

Drought in Spain
image captionHawking was in plentiful company when warning about the threat from climate change

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also highlights the potential risk of hitting climate tipping points as temperatures increase – though it also emphasises the gaps in our knowledge.

However, Hawking was in plentiful company in regarding global warming as one of the great challenges of centuries to come.

Shhhh, keep it down

There’s a whole field of science, known as Seti (The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) dedicated to listening for signals from intelligent beings elsewhere in the Universe. But Hawking cautioned against trying to actively hail any alien civilisations that might be out there.

In 2010, he told the Discovery Channel that aliens might simply raid Earth for resources and then move on.

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he said.

“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

image captionShould we broadcast our presence to aliens – or just listen out for them?

At the time, Seth Shostak, from the Seti Institute in California, told the Guardian: “This is an unwarranted fear. If they’re interested in resources, they have ways of finding rocky planets that don’t depend on whether we broadcast or not. They could have found us a billion years ago.”

But others saw the logic in Hawking’s comments. Ian Stewart, a mathematician at Warwick University, commented: “Lots of people think that because they would be so wise and knowledgeable, they would be peaceful. I don’t think you can assume that.”

Controversial headlines

The media attention gave him an unprecedented platform. But some in the scientific community were occasionally less enthusiastic about the resulting headlines than the journalists who wrote them.

Indeed, I’ve been asked in the past why the British media seemed to hang on Hawking’s every word.

Prof Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said: “He had robust common sense, and was ready to express forceful political opinions.

“However, a downside of his iconic status was that that his comments attracted exaggerated attention even on topics where he had no special expertise – for instance philosophy, or the dangers from aliens or from intelligent machines.”

But many would also argue that, beyond individual statements or headlines, Hawking had a unique ability to connect with the public.

They would say that the “hype” this sometimes generated was an inevitable by-product of his household name status. Instead, we should focus on a greater good – his ability to bring science to the attention of people who might otherwise never have given it a second thought.

It’s testament to his success as a communicator that the mourning for this champion of rational thinking extends far beyond the scientific community.

Asteroid the size of Seattle’s Space Needle to pass near Earth

Space rock measures approximately 600 feet

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#Asteroid #Space #nearearthobject

The fire ball that passed over Japan in 2017 is linked to a mile-long asteroid. Scientists now believe that the asteroid, known as 2003 YT1 could break up and harm life on Earth.

A “potentially hazardous” asteroid the size of Seattle’s Space Needle is expected to pass near Earth on Tuesday. 

The space rock, known as 2021 KT1, measures approximately 600 feet, according to NASA’s Southern California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

The asteroid is expected to hurl past Earth at a distance of 4.5 million miles away and at a velocity of 40,000 mph.

Comparatively, the average distance between the Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles.

JPL reports that two other much smaller asteroids – approximately the size of a bus and an airplane – will also approach Earth on Tuesday, coming within 700,000 miles.

On Wednesday, two additional house-sized asteroids are also anticipated to come within four million miles of the Earth – none of which pose a threat.

This is not the first time this year an asteroid has had a “close call.” 

In April, the tiny 2021 GW4 passed just 12,000 miles away from Earth and the massive 2001 FO32 safely maneuvered past Earth in March

An asteroid is a rocky fragment of space matter that is a remnant of the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

What asteroid is “potentially hazardous” is determined by its size, shape, mass, composition and position.

According to JPL, it’s classified as about 500 feet or larger and within less than half the distance from the Earth to the sun: around 93 million miles.

In addition, a near-Earth object (NEO) is an asteroid or comet that approaches Earth less than 1.3 times the distance from the Earth to the sun.

While small asteroids are frequent visitors and 80 to 100 tons of material falls upon Earth from space in the form of dust and small meteorites every day, the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) assures that “no one should be overly concerned about an Earth impact of an asteroid or comet.”

Scientists and engineers are currently studying potential asteroid impacts – both finding and tracking asteroids and using simulations, in order to prevent threatening situations.

Missionary and 38 Witnesses Observe UFOs and Occupants for 3 Hours

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#UFO #UAP #Alien

Probably one of the most credible and underreported close encounters of UFOs and aliens in the history of Ufology occurred between Jun. 21 and Jun. 27, 1958 at the Boianai Anglican Mission in Papua, New Guinea.

It was there that the Reverend Father W.B. Gill and 38 others witnessed a squadron of UFOs, a large craft with “elaborative superstructures” along with smaller apparently remote-controlled discs. The mission watch the UFOs and their occupants several times over a three-day period that eventually totaled about 3 hours of observation.

Capable of Extremely High Speeds

A thorough report on this amazing incident was conducted by lawyer and UFO investigator Peter Norris for the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), a group that scientifically investigated UFO sightings from 1952 to 1988.*
The so-called main ship or mother ship of this squadron was first observed June 21, crossing the Boianai Bay (about 30 miles wide) in less than 1 second. The time was about 1 a.m. Sunday morning. It was a clear night with moonlight and was first sighted by Stephen Moi, a teacher at the missionary’s school.

“I saw a bright, white light, silently coming out of the sky from a point a quarter of a mile above the sea,” Moi said. “It descended from that seemed great height and I watched it for the space of about 3 minutes, moving descending eastwards and parallel to the coast. It stopped at a point a little east of the station and at a height ofabout 300 feet. There it remained stationary for perhaps 30 seconds and gradually decreased in brilliance until the shape of an inverted saucer could be discerned, which was tilted slightly backwards with part of the base visible.”

Lights and Markings

Moi continued: “The object then moved upwards and disappeared from view into the clouds. When first sighted, I thought it to have been a light similar to those dropped by planes during the war. Underneath the saucer I saw about 4 round black spots.”

No Doubt They Are Human

Although Father Gill could not see the features ofthe figures, he believed they were human. Over the next few days, Father Gill, his staff and the residents of the missionary watched in amazement as the large craft would appear close to the ground, but never land.

Instead, a total of 4 glowing “men” emerged from the top of the craft and began moving busily about — as though adjusting or making some sort of repairs. Even though he couldn’t see their features because their uniforms glowed, he was sure that the outline of the visitors were “human.”

However, this could be his mind not accepting the possibility that the creatures could have been outer-worldly. Once the humanoids were done working on the craft, a thin blue light shone on them, and they disappeared.

Acknowledged Humans’ Presence

The second night the UFOs and its crew appeared, once again busily working on the top of the mother ship, Gill says they noticed that “one figure seemed to be standing looking down at us (a group of about a dozen).”

“I stretched my arm above my head and waved,” Gill said. “And to our surprise the figure did the same. “Ananias (a member of Gill’s staff) and self began waving our arms and all four now seemed to wave back. There seemed to be no doubt that our movements were answered. All the mission boys made an audible gasp of either joy or surprise — or both.”

When they were finished working on the craft, the figures were once again engulfed in a thin, blue beam and then disappeared. Before the mothership and accompanying UFOs took off, one of the missionaries in the group who had a flashlight flicked it on and off several time at which the UFO responded by making several waving motions back and forth.

Making Repairs in Isolated Area

After apparently making some kind of repairs or adjustments to the mother ship, the entire squadron left as quickly as they had come in the middle of the night. As they left, they gave the mission residents quite a light show, with the squadron of UFOs changing into brilliant reds, blues, whites and yellows — as they instantaneously disappeared into the horizon.

In today’s age of cellphone cameras and the Internet, it is hard to understand why the mission had no photos of the event. But back in 1959, box cameras with flashbulbs could never have captured such images in the deep darkness of the jungle. In fact, although it isn’t mentioned in the report, it’s doubtful if the mission even possessed even a primitive camera. There were no phone lines of electricity. It took weeks for the mission to get out the narrative of its close encounter via mail

Here is a historic documentary on the event:
This report is based on an APRO investigation reported in its November, 1959 edition.

Space station detectors found the source of weird ‘blue jet’ lightning

A ‘blue bang’ sparks an unusual type of lightning in the upper atmosphere

#lightning #Spacestation #strange
blue jet illustration
The International Space Station spotted an exotic type of upside-down lightning called a blue jet (illustrated) zipping up from a thundercloud into the stratosphere in 2019.DTU SPACE, DANIEL SCHMELLING/MOUNT VISUAL

Scientists have finally gotten a clear view of the spark that sets off an exotic type of lightning called a blue jet.

Blue jets zip upward from thunderclouds into the stratosphere, reaching altitudes up to about 50 kilometers in less than a second. Whereas ordinary lightning excites a medley of gases in the lower atmosphere to glow white, blue jets excite mostly stratospheric nitrogen to create their signature blue hue.

Blue jets have been observed from the ground and aircraft for years, but it’s hard to tell how they form without getting high above the clouds. Now, instruments on the International Space Station have spotted a blue jet emerge from an extremely brief, bright burst of electricity near the top of a thundercloud, researchers report online January 20 in Nature.

Understanding blue jets and other upper-atmosphere phenomena related to thunderstorms, such as sprites (SN: 6/14/02) and elves (SN: 12/23/95), is important because these events can affect how radio waves travel through the air — potentially impacting communication technologies, says Penn State space physicist Victor Pasko, who was not involved in the work.

Cameras and light-sensing instruments called photometers on the space station observed the blue jet in a storm over the Pacific Ocean, near the island of Nauru, in February 2019. “The whole thing starts with what I think of as a blue bang,” says Torsten Neubert, an atmospheric physicist at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby. That “blue bang” was a 10-microsecond flash of bright blue light near the top of the cloud, about 16 kilometers high. From that flashpoint, a blue jet shot up into the stratosphere, climbing as high as about 52 kilometers over several hundred milliseconds.

The spark that generated the blue jet may have been a special kind of short-range electric discharge inside the thundercloud, Neubert says. Normal lightning bolts are formed by discharges between oppositely charged regions of a cloud — or a cloud and the ground — many kilometers apart. But turbulent mixing high in a cloud may bring oppositely charged regions within about a kilometer of each other, creating very short but powerful bursts of electric current, Neubert says. Researchers have seen evidence of such high-energy, short-range discharges in pulses of radio waves from thunderstorms detected by ground-based antennas.

RADAR data confirms: USS Omaha was surrounded by swarm of UFOs


MYSTERY WIRE — Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell has released a new video showing unidentified objects being monitored by Navy personnel on board the USS Omaha on July, 2019.

This new video was recorded during the same event seen in earlier Navy video Corbell released that showed an unidentified sphere disappearing into the Pacific Ocean.

Over a period of hours, crew members on the USS Omaha, which is located in the center of the radar screen seen in the video, monitored the approach of the unknown objects. There were as many as 14 objects on the screen at one point, all around the ship. On the Omaha, two different radar systems watched the objects and estimated their speed.

Below is a transcript of the audio heard on this recording: 

:01 “OOD if you can write a general lat/long of where we’re at.” 
:03 [faint voice] “We do have some X-band RADAR tracks…” 
:05 “Yes sir.” 
:06 “And then… the number of contacts you’ve got. Get the course and speed meters off ’em.” 
:09 “Copy.” 
:10  “You know what I mean? In relative position to us. And bearings. Might be helpful too.”
:15 “Eyes up.”
:16 “Eyes down.”
:18 [intercom] “CSM TAO Maintain track, maintain track as best you can.”
:24 “Track 781 just sped up to 46 knots. 50 knots. Closing in.” 
:33 “138 knots. Holy s***. They’re going fast. Oh, it’s turning around.” 
:36 “That one’s pretty much perfectly zero zero zero relative, right?” 
:39 “Yeah.” 
:40 “263 at 3 miles. 55 knots, speed.”

(Image: @JeremyCorbell)

Corbell obtained the video from sources he declines to identify. The Pentagon’s UAP TASK FORCE considers the Omaha spheres to be true unknowns.

The ships that were under observation by the unknowns were unable to track where they came from or where they disappeared to.

(Image: @JeremyCorbell)

In one part of the video, nine objects were seen around the Omaha, but two of them dropped off, somehow invisible to two radar systems. “It supports the hypothesis that these are not just a balloon dropping into the water or it’s not something that is easily explained,” Corbell said. “These are true unidentified in mass numbers … where you have radar data that goes with FLIR data.”

(Image: @JeremyCorbell)

New video taken from USS Omaha shows spherical UFO splash into ocean off San Diego: Ex-fighter pilot says airmen saw unknown aircraft off Virginia coast EVERY DAY for years calling them a ‘worrying security threat’ ahead of Pentagon report

  • Latest clip shows spherical object dropping into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego in July 2019
  • The clip was filmed by USS Omaha Navy destroyer and reportedly part of a same incident revealed in April
  • It was leaked hours after a Navy veteran based in Virginia said they could pose a security threat
  • Former Navy Lt. Ryan Graves said he and colleagues spotted objects in restricted airspace off the Virginia 
  • Graves said pilots filmed the sightings but grew so used to seeing them that they took them for granted
  • He said the UFOs, seen between 2015 and 2017, have capabilities far in advance of known US aircraft 
  • An Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force will release a report on ‘UAP’ sightings next month   

A new video has leaked showing US Naval personnel having a close encounter with a UFO – this time a spherical object that makes a controlled descent into the ocean. 

The object was filmed by a camera aboard the USS Omaha as it sailed off the coast of San Diego in July 2019.

Two unidentified crew members could be heard exclaiming: ‘Wow, it splashed,’ after the ball made a controlled flight over the ocean, then splashed into the sea and disappeared underwater.

They filmed the object making a controlled flight above the water for an extended period of time before it finally entered the ocean. Investigative filmmaker Jeremy Corbell shared the footage on Friday with Mystery Wire

Still images from a newly released video show a spherical object diving into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California+16

Still images from a newly released video show a spherical object diving into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of CaliforniaA map shows the region where fighter jets encountered the UFOs off the coast of Virginia+16

A map shows the region where fighter jets encountered the UFOs off the coast of VirginiaFormer Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves, who regularly witnessed UFOs in restricted airspace, called them a threat to national security+16

Former Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves, who regularly witnessed UFOs in restricted airspace, called them a threat to national security

Former Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves – who refers to UFOs as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – called them a threat to national security in an interview with 60 Minutes that will air on Sunday. 

He and his colleagues spotted the objects hundreds of times in protected air space between 2015 and 2017, and also recorded an encounter off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, during the same time period. 

The 60 Minutes report comes as the government is expected to release a report in June on UFO sightings after unclassified videos of them were leaked to The New York Times in 2017.

Sen. Marco Rubio called for the detailed analysis after he viewed classified briefings on UAP while he was the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and asked the Director of National Intelligence for an unclassified report.  

Respected former government officials have conceded that the sightings are credible, and that the UFOs’ origins remains unknown. 

John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, told Fox News that these are not just eyewitness accounts – they’re videos and measurements taken after ‘multiple sensors that are picking up these things.’ 

‘When we talk about sightings, we are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for, or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom,’ he said.

ShareJohn Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, told Fox News that these are not just eyewitness accounts - they're videos and measurements taken after 'multiple sensors that are picking up these things'+16

John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, told Fox News that these are not just eyewitness accounts – they’re videos and measurements taken after ‘multiple sensors that are picking up these things’

USS Omaha in 2019 in restricted waters off the coast of southern California (leaked May 2021)

The USS Omaha filmed a round object making a controlled flight above the water for an extended period of time before it finally entered the ocean. Investigative filmmaker Jeremy Corbell shared the footage on Friday with Mystery Wire.

Still images from that video were first released in April as the Pentagon confirmed that a set of images and videos showing unidentified flying objects buzzing over Navy warships off the coast of California in 2019 ‘were taken’ by branch personnel.

Staff could be heard exclaiming excitedly as the object made a controlled, gradual descent into the Pacific Ocean, before disappearing with a splash.

No explanation for the spherical object has been given…   The USS Omaha filmed a round object making a controlled flight above the water for an extended period of time before it finally entered the ocean+16

The USS Omaha filmed a round object making a controlled flight above the water for an extended period of time before it finally entered the ocean

One of the images appears to be a pyramid-shaped object while others were thought to be drones or balloons; however, the Navy has listed them as unknowns.

In a statement, a Pentagon spokesperson told Mystery Wire: ‘I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel. The UAPTF has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations.’

The confirmation came a week after Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, admitted that he has no idea where the swarm of mysterious Tic Tac-shaped drones that menaced four US destroyers in July 2019 originated.

Gilday led an investigation into the incident in which a group of what some have called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) chased the destroyers for up to 100 nautical miles off the coast of California.The Independence Class littoral combat ship USS Omaha (LCS 12) transits the Pacific Ocean+16

The Independence Class littoral combat ship USS Omaha (LCS 12) transits the Pacific OceanF/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 returned to their home base at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach+16

F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 returned to their home base at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach

Flight logs revealed as many as six mystery aircraft swarmed the warships close to a sensitive training area at the Channel Islands at speeds of up to 40mph and with a greater maneuverability than US military drones.

When asked directly if the Navy had confirmed the identity of the drones at a media event, Gilday responded: ‘No, we have not.’

The Drive revealed in February that US Navy warships stationed off the coast of Los Angeles had encountered swarms of mysterious drones, which pursued them at high speed in low visibility. 

The outlet obtained ship logbooks and internal emails from the Navy under the Freedom of Information Act, and eyewitness descriptions from the staff on board, to establish the UAVs had a far greater aeronautical capability than any previously known drones.  

Former US Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves in a F/A-18 fighter off the Virginia coast between 2015 and 2017 

Graves’ F/A-18 fighter squadron spotted the ‘maneuverable’ spherical objects flying in restricted airspace near Virginia Beach almost every day from 2015 to 2017, he said.

‘I am worried, frankly. You know, if these were tactical jets from another country that were hanging out up there, it would be a massive issue,’ Graves told 60 Minutes.

‘But because it looks slightly different, we’re not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We’re happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day.’ He said pilots for the U.S. Navy saw UFOs off the coast of Virginia so frequently they got used to them despite them 'watching us' every day+16

He said pilots for the U.S. Navy saw UFOs off the coast of Virginia so frequently they got used to them despite them ‘watching us’ every dayGraves' F/A-18 fighter squadron spotted the 'maneuverable' objects flying in restricted airspace near Virginia Beach almost every day from 2015 to 2017+16

He said that pilots who have witnessed what the government calls ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ have speculated that they might be anything from a secret U.S. technology to an enemy spy plane.

Graves also conceded the aircraft could be something else entirely.  

‘This is a difficult one to explain. You have rotation, you have high altitudes. You have propulsion, right? I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, frankly,’ Graves told 60 Minutes while viewing one of the unclassified videos.

‘I would say, you know, the highest probability is it’s a threat observation program.’A color image shows one of the unidentified aerial phenomena. Their technical capabilities far exceed that of any known aircraft, sparking fears for US national security+16

A color image shows one of the unidentified aerial phenomena. Their technical capabilities far exceed that of any known aircraft, sparking fears for US national security Pilots have speculated that they might be anything from a secret U.S. technology to an enemy spy plane+16

Pilots have speculated that they might be anything from a secret U.S. technology to an enemy spy plane

The outlet noted that Graves did not rule out the possibility they could be some sort of Russian or Chinese technology.

Luis Elizondo, a former official with the Defense Department, told 60 Minutes that the UAPs appear to have ‘far superior’ technology to anything the United States currently has in its known inventory.

‘Imagine a technology that can do 600 to 700 G-forces, that can fly 13,000 miles an hour, that, that can evade radar and can fly through air and water and possibly space,’ Elizondo said.

‘And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth’s gravity. That’s precisely what we’re seeing.’

 Pyramid shaped objects spotted by hovering above the USS Russell, July 2019 (footage leaked April 2021) 

Footage filmed around the same time as the spherical ball sighting – but released two months earlier – showed multiple pyramid-shaped objects hovering around 700 feet above the USS Russell Navy Destroyer. 

It is also believed to have been filmed off the southern California coast, although it is unclear why Mystery Wire leaked this sighting before the sphere.   

The April photos were leaked from a Pentagon investigation of UFOs by the UAP Task Force, which has been gathering evidence for a report for Congress that’s due in June, according to Mystery Wire.

The outlet had also previously released video reportedly taken in July 2019 by naval officers using a night vision device, which showed pyramid shaped objects hovering 700 feet above a Navy destroyer+16

The outlet had also previously released video reportedly taken in July 2019 by naval officers using a night vision device, which showed pyramid shaped objects hovering 700 feet above a Navy destroyerMystery Wire says the triangular objects are part of the same incident as the spherical object diving into the sea+16

Mystery Wire says the triangular objects are part of the same incident as the spherical object diving into the seaThe video was taken in July 2019 by naval officers using a night vision device+16

The video was taken in July 2019 by naval officers using a night vision device

US Navy pilot made visual contact with object on November 14, 2004 

At least six Super Hornet pilots made visual or instrument contact with the UFO on November 14, 2004.

The encounters, which are documented in numerous interviews with first-hand witnesses, remain a mystery, and the object’s incredible speed and movements have led to speculation that it was extraterrestrial in origin.

The original FLIR video from the USS Nimitz encounters leaked online as early as 2007.

Witnesses say that clips of the video had been circulated widely on the Navy’s intranet – used to communicate between ships in the carrier group – and an unknown sailor in the group likely first leaked it.The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in formation during a Strait of Hormuz transit on September 18, 2020+16

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in formation during a Strait of Hormuz transit on September 18, 2020Navy Commander David Fravor and Lieutenant Commander Jim Slaight had been flying about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego (pictured) in each of their F/A-18F Super Hornets (pictured) when they encountered an unidentified flying object described as a 'Tic Tac'+16

The USS Nimitz, a US Navy aircraft carrier, was at the center of a bizarre UFO sighting saga in 2004.

The clip became one of the most-touted pieces of evidence in the UFO community when the Pentagon confirmed its authenticity in 2017.

In January, Chad Underwood, the former Navy aviator who shot the famous leaked video clip, broke his silence in an interview with New York Magazine.

He said the oblong, wingless ‘Tic Tac’ shaped object was spotted off the coast of Mexico over the Pacific.

He also revealed that for about two weeks, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton, part of Carrier Strike Group 11, had been tracking mysterious aircraft intermittently on an advanced AN/SPY-1B passive radar.

The radar contacts were so inexplicable that the system was even shut down and restarted to to check for bugs – but operators continued to track the unknown aircraft.

Then on November 14, Commander David Fravor says he was flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet when he made visual contact with the object, which seemed to dive below the water, resurface, and speed out of sight when he tried to approach it.

As Fravor landed on the deck of the Nimitz, Underwood was just gearing up to take off on his own training run.

‘The thing that stood out to me the most was how erratic it was behaving,’ Underwood told the magazine.

‘And what I mean by ‘erratic’ is that its changes in altitude, air speed, and aspect were just unlike things that I’ve ever encountered before flying against other air targets.’

Underwood said the object wasn’t obeying the laws of physics and dropped from 50,000 feet altitude to 100 feet in seconds, which he says, ‘isn’t possible’. He added that he saw no signs of an engine heat plume or any sign of propulsion.

The pilot refuses to speculate as to whether the object is an alien spacecraft or not, however.

‘That’s not my job. But I saw something. And it was also seen, via eyeballs, by both my commanding officer, Dave Fravor, and the Marine Corps Hornet squadron commanding officer who was out there as well.’Read more:

FBI report: Nikola Tesla, inventor of wireless technology, was an alien

Nikola Tesla
Photograph of Nikola Tesla in 1896. (Wikipedia)

#Tesla #Alien #Declassified

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Is the movie “Men in Black” or “Transformers” based on a real-life event? The FBI’s recently declassified document revealed that Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant and prolific inventors known, came from Venus. Namely, he was an extraterrestrial.

Tesla’s scientific creations were considered 300 to 1,000 years ahead of his time; all his creations in his later years were subsequently classified as top-secret by the FBI.

Titled “Nikola Tesla Part03 of 3”, the third of 3 declassified FBI reports about Tesla contains 64 pages with certain portions blotted out in black ink.

But one paragraph states the following:

“The ‘Space People’ visited the Tesla engineers many times, and informed us that Tesla was from Venus, brought to this planet as a baby, and was left with Mr. and Mrs. Tesla in a remote mountain province in 1856 in what is now Yugoslavia.”

If this is true, it implies that the United States has had close contact with extraterrestrials from Venus. The questions remain: why did Tesla come to the earth from Venus? Why did beings from Venus contact Tesla so many times? And why did aliens reveal Tesla’s true identity to the FBI?

Alternating Current
Source: wikimedia
Source: wikimedia
Source: wikimedia

Some said that without Tesla’s contributions, the development of the entire world would be at least half a century behind where it is today. Tesla had more than 1,000 invention patents on record. To include the patents he had sold or did not register, the number jumps to over 1,500. These inventions include Tesla’s modern AC system which benefited billions of people, and Tesla’s radio technology, used in today’s smartphones, computers, missiles, navigation, satellites, and spaceships. Other notable inventions include neon lights, remote automation systems, artificial lightning, particle beam energy and X-rays.

Based on these numbers, Tesla would have created over 20 inventions every year. In other words, he created a never before seen invention every 20 days. Just pure genius at work?

More questions emerge: Are Tesla’s inventions simply Venusian technology in the human world? If so, why did aliens teach mankind their technology and what is their ultimate purpose in coming to Earth? Are there other extraterrestrials on Earth? And how much of our modern technology came from them?

In addition to inventions, Tesla made multiple predictions with many coming true.

In 1926, Tesla predicted smartphone, a powerful device that easily fits into a pocket. He believed that if human beings could perfect the use of radio technology, the entire earth would be connected. No matter how far apart people are, they can instantly contact, see and hear one another.

While the first smartphone came out in 1993, Tesla knew its existence 74 years in advance.

Rumors of aliens hiding in the United States, such as in Area 51, have been the focus of public opinion for decades, with some claiming that America uses alien technology to stay ahead of the game.

Presidents of the United States are known to have access to this classified information. In a recent interview with his eldest son Trump Jr., President Trump was asked if there were indeed UFOs and aliens. Smiling and in a tongue-in-cheek reply, Trump said: “I won’t talk to you about what I know about it, but it’s very interesting.”

The Milky Way may have two supermassive black holes

Measurements of stars orbiting our galaxy’s core suggest our 4-million-solar-mass black hole, Sagittarius A*, may have another supermassive companion lurking nearby.

#Space #BlackHole #Galaxy

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An artist’s conception of two black holes entwined in a gravitational tango.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Christopher Go

Do supermassive black holes have friends? The nature of galaxy formation suggests that the answer is yes, and in fact, pairs of supermassive black holes should be common in the universe.

I am an astrophysicist and am interested in a wide range of theoretical problems in astrophysics, from the formation of the very first galaxies to the gravitational interactions of black holes, stars and even planets. Black holes are intriguing systems, and supermassive black holes and the dense stellar environments that surround them represent one of the most extreme places in our universe.

The supermassive black hole that lurks at the center of our galaxy, called Sgr A*, has a mass of about 4 million times that of our Sun. A black hole is a place in space where gravity is so strong that neither particles or light can escape from it. Surrounding Sgr A* is a dense cluster of stars. Precise measurements of the orbits of these stars allowed astronomers to confirm the existence of this supermassive black hole and to measure its mass. For more than 20 years, scientists have been monitoring the orbits of these stars around the supermassive black hole. Based on what we’ve seen, my colleagues and I show that if there is a friend there, it might be a second black hole nearby that is at least 100,000 times the mass of the Sun.


At the center of our galaxy is a supermassive black hole in the region known as Sagittarius A. It has a mass of about 4 million times that of our Sun.ESA–C. Carreau

Supermassive black holes and their friends

Almost every galaxy, including our Milky Way, has a supermassive black hole at its heart, with masses of millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun. Astronomers are still studying why the heart of galaxies often hosts a supermassive black hole. One popular idea connects to the possibility that supermassive holes have friends.

To understand this idea, we need to go back to when the universe was about 100 million years old, to the era of the very first galaxies. They were much smaller than today’s galaxies, about 10,000 or more times less massive than the Milky Way. Within these early galaxies the very first stars that died created black holes, of about tens to thousand the mass of the Sun. These black holes sank to the center of gravity, the heart of their host galaxy. Since galaxies evolve by merging and colliding with one another, collisions between galaxies will result in supermassive black hole pairs – the key part of this story. The black holes then collide and grow in size as well. A black hole that is more than a million times the mass of our son is considered supermassive.

If indeed the supermassive black hole has a friend revolving around it in close orbit, the center of the galaxy is locked in a complex dance. The partners’ gravitational tugs will also exert its own pull on the nearby stars disturbing their orbits. The two supermassive black holes are orbiting each other, and at the same time, each is exerting its own pull on the stars around it.

The gravitational forces from the black holes pull on these stars and make them change their orbit; in other words, after one revolution around the supermassive black hole pair, a star will not go exactly back to the point at which it began.

Using our understanding of the gravitational interaction between the possible supermassive black hole pair and the surrounding stars, astronomers can predict what will happen to stars. Astrophysicists like my colleagues and me can compare our predictions to observations, and then can determine the possible orbits of stars and figure out whether the supermassive black hole has a companion that is exerting gravitational influence.

Using a well-studied star, called S0-2, which orbits the supermassive black hole that lies at the center of the galaxy every 16 years, we can already rule out the idea that there is a second supermassive black hole with mass above 100,000 times the mass of the Sun and farther than about 200 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. If there was such a companion, then I and my colleagues would have detected its effects on the orbit of SO-2.

But that doesn’t mean that a smaller companion black hole cannot still hide there. Such an object may not alter the orbit of SO-2 in a way we can easily measure.

The physics of supermassive black holes

Supermassive black holes have gotten a lot of attention lately. In particular, the recent image of such a giant at the center of the galaxy M87 opened a new window to understanding the physics behind black holes.


The first image of a black hole. This is the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87.Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, CC BY-SA

The proximity of the Milky Way’s galactic center – a mere 24,000 light-years away – provides a unique laboratory for addressing issues in the fundamental physics of supermassive black holes. For example, astrophysicists like myself would like to understand their impact on the central regions of galaxies and their role in galaxy formation and evolution. The detection of a pair of supermassive black holes in the galactic center would indicate that the Milky Way merged with another, possibly small, galaxy at some time in the past.

That’s not all that monitoring the surrounding stars can tell us. Measurements of the star S0-2 allowed scientists to carry out a unique test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. In May 2018, S0-2 zoomed past the supermassive black hole at a distance of only about 130 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun. According to Einstein’s theory, the wavelength of light emitted by the star should stretch as it climbs from the deep gravitational well of the supermassive black hole.

The stretching wavelength that Einstein predicted – which makes the star appear redder – was detected and proves that the theory of general relativity accurately describes the physics in this extreme gravitational zone. I am eagerly awaiting the second closest approach of S0-2, which will occur in about 16 years, because astrophysicists like myself will be able to test more of Einstein’s predictions about general relativity, including the change of the orientation of the stars’ elongated orbit. But if the supermassive black hole has a partner, this could alter the expected result.


This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image show’s the result of a galactic collision between two good-sized galaxies. This new jumble of stars is slowly evolving to become a giant elliptical galaxy.ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Finally, if there are two massive black holes orbiting each other at the galactic center, as my team suggests is possible, they will emit gravitational waves. Since 2015, the LIGO-Virgo observatories have been detecting gravitational wave radiation from merging stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars. These groundbreaking detections have opened a new way for scientists to sense the universe.

Any waves emitted by our hypothetical black hole pair will be at low frequencies, too low for the LIGO-Virgo detectors to sense. But a planned space-based detector known as LISA may be able to detect these waves which will help astrophysicists figure out whether our galactic center black hole is alone or has a partner.

Why physicist Avi Loeb thinks there’s a “serious possibility” that ‘Oumuamua was an alien spacecraft

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#Oumuamua #Alien #Space

It’s a “serious possibility that we should contemplate,” Loeb says in his new book on the bizarre space object.

It’s been long thought that there are objects out in space moving around between stars, and sometimes they can pass through our solar system, and not long ago, something from deep space made a surprise visit. Some say this visitor was a comet, or maybe an asteroid, but another astronomer strongly believes it is something completely different. Was it the splintered remains of an exoplanet? Or was this interstellar visitor some kind of alien spacecraft in disguise…and why do some believe this?

Are we alone in the universe?

It’s a question humans have been asking for thousands of years—but when a bizarrely fast, cigar-shaped interstellar object jetted past Earth on its trip through our solar system, Harvard professor Avi Loeb believes scientists weren’t ready to seriously consider that it was of artificial origin. But Loeb is beyond consideration — he says it’s very possible that ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh moo ah moo ah”) was an interstellar spacecraft. 

Back in October 2017, a postdoctoral researcher named Robert Weryk at the University of Hawaii was sifting through the usual data stream from the Pan-STARRS astronomical survey of the sky when he noticed an unexpected object. It appeared to be highly elongated, like a stick, with a long axis 10 times longer than its short axis — unprecedented for an asteroid. Some hypothesized that ‘Oumuamua swung towards our solar system as a result of a gravitational slingshot of a binary star system; others, that it might be an odd comet, though no tail was evident. Thus the search began to collect and analyze as much data as possible before it left our solar system.

Immediately upon discovering its physical properties, researchers realized its shape — which would minimize abrasions from interstellar gas and dust — would be ideal for an interstellar spacecraft. The idea understandably sent shockwaves through the scientific community and stoked controversy. Ultimately, scientists coalesced behind the idea that it was of natural origin, rather than artificial.  But Loeb, who is the former chair of astronomy at Harvard University, remains certain that it was something akin to a light sail — a form of interstellar propulsion — spacecraft created by an extraterrestrial civilization. So much so that he wrote a whole book about it.

That book would be “Extraterrestrial The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth,” in which Loeb argues that the scientific community’s resistance to discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life has hindered taking seriously his hypothesis that ‘Oumuamua was an alien light sail. Loeb reflects on how what happened with ‘Oumuamua was a bit of a missed opportunity, and that academia must invest more in the search for life in our universe to better prepare us for another interstellar visitor. But perhaps, most importantly, in a time when Earth faces an urgent global warming crisis, Loeb says that it could be finding extraterrestrial life that saves us from ourselves.

As always, this interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What makes you think that ‘Omuamua was a light sail spacecraft created by an extraterrestrial civilization?

At first, astronomers assumed it must be a comet, because these are the objects that are most loosely bound to stars. We have mostly comets in the outer parts of the solar system. These are rocks covered with ice, and when they get close to a star they warm up, and the ice evaporates into a cometary tail.

It was natural to assume that about ‘Oumuamua, because it came from outside the solar system, so the assumption was it must be a comet. The problem with that was there was no cometary tail. Some people say, “okay it’s not a comet, maybe it’s just a rock.” But the problem is, about half a year later, it was reported that there was an excess push in addition to the force of gravity acting on it by the sun. It exhibited some additional force. Usually that force comes from the rocket effect of the cometary tail, but there was no cometary tail. So the question was, what produces this excess push?

Moreover, during the time that it was observed, the reflected sunlight [off of ‘Oumuamua] varied by a factor of 10. So, that implied that it has an extreme geometry. Even if you consider a razor-thin piece of paper tumbling in the wind, the amount of area that is projected in your direction is not varying by more than a factor of 10, because the chance of seeing it edge on is really small. It is tumbling in the wind. So it looked like this object has an extreme geometry. The most likely model that explains the reflective sunlight as a function of time — as it was doubling every eight hours — was that it has a flat, pancake-like geometry, not cigar-shaped the way it was depicted in some cartoons.

On top of that, it was on the shinier end of all the objects we have seen from the solar system. It also came from a special frame of reference that is called the Local Standard of Rest. That is sort of the galactic parking lot where, if you find a car, you don’t know what house it came from, because this is the frame of reference where you operate with the motion of all the stars in the vicinity of the sun. Only one in 500 stars is so much addressed relative to that frame as ‘Oumuamua was. So it was just like a buoy sitting on the surface of the ocean and then the solar system is like a giant ship bumping into it.

So there were many peculiar facts. I tried to explain the excess push, especially. The only thing I could think of is it comes from the reflection of sunlight.  Then it needed to be very thin, sort of like a sail on a boat that is pushed by wind. I couldn’t imagine a natural process that would make a lightsail, a sail that’s pushed by light. In fact, our civilization is currently pursuing this technology in space exploration.

If this object came from an artificial origin, the question is who sent it? I should say that in September of this year, 2020, there was another object discovered that exhibited an excess push. It was called 2020-SO by the Minor Planets Center that gives names to celestial objects. It turned out that this one ended up being a rocket booster from a failed mission of lunar lander, Surveyor II, that was launched in 1966. So astronomers figured out that it intercepted the Earth if you go back in time to 1966.

But this object actually also showed an excessive push, because it’s a hollow rocket booster that is very thin and pushed by sunlight. We know that it’s artificially made. It had no cometary tail. We know that we made it. So that provides evidence that we can tell the difference between a rock and an object that is pushed by sunlight. To me, it demonstrated the case that perhaps ‘Oumuamua was artificial, definitely not made by us. because it’s been only a few months close to us. We couldn’t even chase it with our best rockets.

That’s fascinating. Can you explain to our readers what is a light sail?

So a light sail is just like a sail on a boat that reflects the wind, the wind is pushing it. In the case of a light sail, it’s the light reflected off its surface that gives it the kick, the push. Light is made of particles called photons. Just like billiard balls bouncing off a wall, they exert some push on it. So the particles of light — photons — reflect off the surface and push and give it a kick.

The advantage of this technology is that you don’t need to carry the fuel with the spacecraft [as you do with rockets]. Rockets carry the fuel and they expel gas from the exhaust, and that’s how they get pushed forward, just like a jet plane. In the case of a light sail, it is light that is being reflected. That’s why you don’t carry your fuel. You can have a lightweight spacecraft. In principle, you can even reach the speed of light with this technology.

So, as you know, after your paper was published, another one was published in 2019 in Nature Astronomy. That paper proposed a natural origin, that ‘Oumuamua could have been a small asteroid that came from a solar system with a gas giant orbiting a star, and that it could have been fragmented and ejected into our solar system. Is there any part of you that thinks that’s still a possibility— why or why not?

No. And that is one out of three suggestions that were made by astronomers about the astral origin, and I’ll mention all three.


The [theory] that you mentioned has to do with a disruption of an object that passes close to a star. There are problems with that scenario. First of all, the chance of coming close enough to a star to be disrupted like that is small. Most of [these] kinds of objects do not pass close to the star. So you need a huge population of objects to account for those that pass close to the star and fragment. The more important problem is that if you make shrapnel or fragments as the result of the destruction near a star, they would be elongated — like cigar shaped. The best model for ‘Oumuamua was that it was pancake-shaped. You can’t get that from the destruction of a bigger object. It’s not natural to get that.

So that’s my caveat about this scenario — that first, it’s unlikely that you would get so many — I mean, you need a lot of objects to explain that we detected ‘Oumuamua. More than one, you would expect naturally, given all the rocks that exist in planetary systems. Yet, this model even wants ‘Oumuamua-like objects to be produced very close to the host star. So that makes it even less likely to happen.

More importantly, the shape is the issue. How do you get pancake shape?

Then there is another suggestion of a natural origin which is that it’s a “dust bunny,” of the type that you find in a household. But it needs to be like a football size. The dust bunny, the collection of particles, is sort of like a cloud that then is 100 times less dense than air, more rarefied than air, so that sunlight can push it around. To me, that sounds not so plausible. This object was the size of a football field and it was tumbling around every eight hours. So making that out of a dust bunny, a cloud of dust particles, and imagining that this dust bunny would survive for millions of years in interstellar space — I find that hard to believe.

Then the third possibility that was suggested is that it’s frozen hydrogen; that it’s a hydrogen iceberg. We’ve never seen anything like it before. We didn’t see a dust bunny, we didn’t see a hydrogen iceberg. The idea was that if it’s made of hydrogen, then when the hydrogen evaporates, it’s transparent so you can’t see it. So there is a cometary tail you just can’t see. But the problem with this scenario is that we showed in the paper that a hydrogen iceberg would evaporate very quickly in interstellar space because of starlight hitting it. Therefore, it would not survive the journey.

So all together, I find these possibilities less appealing. All of them talk about it being something we have never seen before. So I’m saying, if we discuss it as a natural origin, and it involves something that we have never seen before—then why not also consider an artificial origin? That’s also something we’ve never seen before? That’s all I’m saying. I’m not saying it’s definitely of artificial origin, but that it’s one of the serious possibilities that we should contemplate.

How certain are you that ‘Oumuamua was an object with artificial origin?

I would say, given everything we know, I would give a high likelihood that it could have been artificially made. The only way to know for sure, for certain, of course, is to take an image of something like that or get more data on something like that. We can’t do it with ‘Oumuamua because it’s already too far away. It’s now a million times fainter than it was when it was close to us. So we missed the opportunity. It’s like having a guest for dinner, by the time you realize it’s weird, it’s already out of the front door into the dark street. That was the first guest, and we should look for more.

I definitely get the sense from your book how this was a missed opportunity to collect data. I thought about how, in your book, you described if cave dwellers were to find a modern cell phone, they would dismiss it as, like you said, as a shiny rock.


Is that what we did with ‘Oumuamua?

Exactly. We tend to explain anything new that we see in terms of what we already saw. That’s very natural but it also suppresses innovation, it doesn’t allow us to see new things. As scientists, we should be open-minded.

Your book is about ‘Oumuamua, but it’s also about encouraging people to think differently about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, to be more open to it. I think it’s interesting how you compare the hefty investments made by the scientific community to exploring dark matter to those invested in finding extraterrestrial life. Why do you think the idea of finding dark matter is more publicly acceptable and more interesting to scientists than searching for extraterrestrial life?

I think the reason is because it’s less relevant to our lives. When something is close to home and affects you emotionally, that causes some distress. People prefer not to have that. They prefer to live in peace and be happy.

The point about reality is that it doesn’t care about how uneasy you are with the notion. Reality is whatever it is. By ignoring it, you maintain your ignorance.

When the philosophers didn’t look through Galileo’s telescope, they were happy, because they thought the sun surrounded the Earth and they maintained their philosophical and religious beliefs that we are at the center of the universe. But that was temporary. It only maintained their ignorance for a little while. Eventually we realized that the Earth moves around the sun. The fact that they put Galileo in house arrest didn’t change anything. The number of likes on Twitter or whatever we give each other, awards, or put someone in house arrest or anything, that only affects our relation with each other. Reality is whatever it is. By ignoring it, we don’t gain anything, we just lose because we are more ignorant.

So my point is, the way to make progress is not to stick to your notions and maintain a prejudice. Of course that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say I don’t need to search, I know the answer, I don’t need to look through Galileo’s telescope, of course it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will never find that you’re wrong because you bully people that will do this kind of search, and you don’t fund the research in that direction. It’s like stepping on the grass and saying look it doesn’t grow. Science is not about that, science is about finding the truth.

In the book you emphasize how great the reward would be if we were to discover extraterrestrial life. I’m wondering if you could share more about that with our readers. I think people think that there would be a negative impact on our life, but you argue that it could have a positive impact on human life and on Earth.

First of all, it gives us a better perspective about ourselves. I think astronomy as a whole teaches us modesty. We are occupying one planet out of 10 to the power of 20 planets in the observable universe. We are really responsible for a tiny real estate piece out of the big landscape. Also, we live for a short time relative to the age of the universe. So this immediately tells us that we are not very significant.

Previously, people thought that an Earth-like planet around a sun-like star was something rare. Now, with the Kepler data, half of the sun-like stars have a planet the size of the Earth, roughly at the same separation. Therefore, if you arrange for similar circumstances, I think that you would get similar outcomes.

It would be arrogant to assume that we are unique and special. You know, I think we are as common as ants are on a sidewalk. They are out there and we need to look for clues. Of course if we maintain the idea that we are special and we are unique we will never find the evidence.

On the other hand, if we have the instruments to examine this — we have the telescopes — and the public is so interested in us finding the answer, I think it would be a crime for scientists not to address this interest from the public. Moreover, the public is funding science, so we should attend to the interests of the public. There are examples from history that on many occasions when we thought we knew the truth and we ended up being wrong.

What kind of evidence would the scientific community need to have incontrovertible proof that there is extraterrestrial life, or more ‘Oumuamua-like light sails, in our universe?

That’s an excellent question. One approach is, of course, to find objects like ‘Oumuamua that we can take a photograph of. By the way, we don’t necessarily need to chase them in space, because every now and then one of them may collide with the Earth. We see those as meteors. One of the meteors that comes from interstellar space may be space junk from another civilization. That offers us the possibility of putting our hands around it. If there is a meteor that lands on the ground, we can tell from its speed that it came from outside the solar system and it looks suspicious in terms of its composition, we can examine it. So there are ways to continue this search, even just on the ground rather than going to space.

Beyond that, we can look for industrial pollution in the atmospheres of other planets around other stars as a technological signature, rather than looking for oxygen from microbes. That would be one way of definitely finding evidence for life, industrial life, because the molecules like [CFCs] that contaminate the atmosphere of Earth cannot be produced naturally. These are complex molecules. If we find evidence for them on other planets, that would indicate that there is definitely life out there.

I think it’s interesting that this book has been published in a time when there’s a lot of anti-scientist sentiment. With the coronavirus pandemic, science has become politicized. Do you think that harms legitimizing the search for extraterrestrial life?

No, I would think the other way around. Because the way I see science is that it could be unifying, rather than divisive. As long as the scientific community attends to the interests of the public, and is honest about how much evidence it has for every statement. Right now what happens in the academic world is that the scientists say we should never approach the public until we are absolutely sure about something, because otherwise they might not believe us when we say there is global warming. I don’t think that’s the right approach.

I think the public should see how science is done in the sense that most of the time there is not enough evidence — and we collect more evidence, more data, and eventually we become convinced that one interpretation is correct. If the public sees that process in motion, then it won’t suspect that there is a hidden agenda behind it because it’s transparent. You look at the evidence and everyone that looks that has enough evidence and believes the evidence would agree on the conclusions.

It should be understandable by anyone, and it should be something that anyone can pursue. And by collecting evidence and therefore it’s not an occupation of the elite. It should not be suspicious. It should not have any political agenda. It should also be independent of which nation conducts it. Indeed, we can bring different nations together. 

I’m wondering what do you think really needs to happen for there to be a shift in the scientific community to take the search for extraterrestrial life more seriously?

Well, more people speaking like me. And I hope eventually it will shift also the funding agencies, the federal funding agencies, to go in that direction. I think that what astronomers need to realize is it’s not speculative given what we know right now, it’s one of the most conservative ideas to fall on. It’s much more conservative than dark matter, where we are in the dark, so to speak, because there are so many possibilities. People speculate that we invested hundreds of millions of dollars in experiments without much success yet. We don’t know what the “darkness” is made of.

Of course, science is a learning experience and nobody regrets trying those experiments, because we rule out possibilities. That is much more speculative because we’ve never seen any evidence for dark matter yet or direct evidence for the nature of dark matter. It’s part of science to search for the unknown. I would regard the search for extraterrestrial civilization — it should be a mainstream activity especially given the interest of the public.

You’ve already received a lot of media attention regarding this book and it hasn’t even been published yet. I’m wondering what you hope people will get from this book and what you hope comes out of it?

I have two messages and you already mentioned them. One is that ‘Oumuamua was unusual. It showed a lot of anomalies that could indicate that it was some technological equipment and we should explore and look for other objects that appear anomalous like it and get more data on them. It’s sort of like looking for plastic bottles on the beach.

The second message is that the scientific culture should change and be more open minded to change. I’m sorry to say, but the commercial sector — companies have had much more open-mindedness, much more blue sky research than the academic world these days.

There are companies like Google or SpaceX or Blue Origins — originally it was IBM — that had a lot of innovations in them. That is surprising to me. It should be the academic world that carries the torch of innovation because it has, in principle, the tenure system that allows people to explore without any risk for their jobs. Unfortunately, many practitioners in academia worry more about their image and their honors, and so forth, and engage much less in risk-taking and in thinking independently and looking for evidence than intellectual gymnastics that demonstrate how smart they are.

Avi Loeb’s book, “Extraterrestrial The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth,” is slated to be released on January 26, 2021 from Houghton Mifflin. 

Rare 4000-Year Comets Can Cause Meteor Showers on Earth

#Comet #Meteor #Space


Comets that circle the Sun in very elongated orbits spread their debris so thin along their orbit or eject it out of the solar system altogether that their meteor showers are hard to detect.

From a new meteor shower survey published in the journal Icarus, researchers now report that they can detect showers from the debris in the path of comets that pass close to Earth orbit and are known to return as infrequent as once every 4,000 years.

“This creates a situational awareness for potentially hazardous comets that were last near Earth orbit as far back as 2,000 BC,” said meteor astronomer and lead author Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute.

Jenniskens is the lead of the Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) project, which observes and triangulates the visible meteors in the night sky using low-light video security cameras to measure their trajectory and orbit. There are CAMS networks now in nine countries, led by co-authors on the paper.

In recent years, new networks in Australia, Chile and Namibia significantly increased the number of triangulated meteors. The addition of these networks resulted in a better and more complete picture of the meteor showers in the night sky.

“Until recently, we only knew five long-period comets to be parent bodies to one of our meteor showers,” said Jenniskens, “but now we identified nine more, and perhaps as many as 15.”

Comets comprise only a small fraction of all impactors on Earth, but researchers believe they caused some of the biggest impact events over Earth’s history because they can be big and the fact that their orbits are such that they can impact at high speed.

“In the future, with more observations, we may be able to detect fainter showers and trace the orbit of parent comets on even longer orbits,” said Jenniskens.

Every night, the CAMS network determines the direction from which comet debris is entering Earth’s atmosphere. Maps are created on an interactive celestial sphere (posted at http://cams.seti.org/FDL/) that shows the meteor showers as colored blobs. Clicking on those blobs shows the measured orbits in the solar system.

“These are the shooting stars you see with the naked eye,” said Jenniskens. “By tracing their approach direction, these maps show the sky and the universe around us in a very different light.”

An analysis of the data found that long-period comet meteor showers can last for many days.

“This was a surprise to me,” says Jenniskens. “It probably means that these comets returned to the solar system many times in the past, while their orbits gradually changed over time.”

Data also revealed that the most dispersed meteor showers show the highest fraction of small meteoroids.

“The most dispersed showers are probably the oldest ones,” says Jenniskens. “So, this could mean that the larger meteoroids fall apart into smaller meteoroids over time.”

Voyager 2’s Historic Neptune Flyby

#Voyager #Neptune #Space


This picture of Neptune was taken by Voyager 2 less than five days before the probe’s closest approach of the planet on Aug. 25, 1989. The picture shows the “Great Dark Spot” — a storm in Neptune’s atmosphere — and the bright, light-blue smudge of clouds that accompanies the storm.Credits: NASA/JPL-CaltechFull image and caption

Thirty years ago, on Aug. 25, 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft made a close flyby of Neptune, giving humanity its first close-up of our solar system’s eighth planet. Marking the end of the Voyager mission’s Grand Tour of the solar system’s four giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — that first was also a last: No other spacecraft has visited Neptune since.

“The Voyager planetary program really was an opportunity to show the public what science is all about,” said Ed Stone, a professor of physics at Caltech and Voyager’s project scientist since 1975. “Every day we learned something new.”

Wrapped in teal- and cobalt-colored bands of clouds, the planet that Voyager 2 revealed looked like a blue-hued sibling to Jupiter and Saturn, the blue indicating the presence of methane. A massive, slate-colored storm was dubbed the “Great Dark Spot,” similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Six new moons and four rings were discovered.

During the encounter, the engineering team carefully changed the probe’s direction and speed so that it could do a close flyby of the planet’s largest moon, Triton. The flyby showed evidence of geologically young surfaces and active geysers spewing material skyward. This indicated that Triton was not simply a solid ball of ice, even though it had the lowest surface temperature of any natural body observed by Voyager: minus 391 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 degrees Celsius).

 Global color mosaic shows Neptune's largest moon, Triton

This global color mosaic shows Neptune’s largest moon, Triton. Pink-hued methane ice may compose a massive polar cap on the moon’s surface, while dark streaks overlaying this ice is thought to be dust deposited from huge geyser-like plumes that erupt from Triton’s surface.Credits: NASA/JPL-CaltechFull image and caption

The conclusion of the Neptune flyby marked the beginning of the Voyager Interstellar Mission, which continues today, 42 years after launch. Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1 (which had also flown by Jupiter and Saturn), continue to send back dispatches from the outer reaches of our solar system. At the time of the Neptune encounter, Voyager 2 was about 2.9 billion miles (4.7 billion kilometers) from Earth; today it is 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from us. The faster-moving Voyager 1 is 13 billion miles (21 billion kilometers) from Earth.   

Getting There

By the time Voyager 2 reached Neptune, the Voyager mission team had completed five planetary encounters. But the big blue planet still posed unique challenges.

About 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth is, the icy giant receives only about 0.001 times the amount of sunlight that Earth does. In such low light, Voyager 2’s camera required longer exposures to get quality images. But because the spacecraft would reach a maximum speed of about 60,000 mph (90,000 kph) relative to Earth, a long exposure time would make the image blurry. (Imagine trying to take a picture of a roadside sign from the window of a speeding car.)

So the team programmed Voyager 2’s thrusters to fire gently during the close approach, rotating the spacecraft to keep the camera focused on its target without interrupting the spacecraft’s overall speed and direction.

The probe’s great distance also meant that by the time radio signals from Voyager 2 reached Earth, they were weaker than those of other flybys. But the spacecraft had the advantage of time: The Voyagers communicate with Earth via the Deep Space Network, or DSN, which utilizes radio antennas at sites in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; and Goldstone, California. During Voyager 2’s Uranus encounter in 1986, the three largest DSN antennas were 64-meters (210 feet) wide. To assist with the Neptune encounter, the DSN expanded the dishes to 70 meters (230 feet). They also included nearby non-DSN antennas to collect data, including another 64-meter (210 feet) dish in Parkes, Australia, and multiple 25-meter (82 feet) antennas at the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

Neptune and rings

Voyager 2 took these two images of the rings of Neptune on Aug. 26, 1989, just after the probe’s closest approach to the planet. Neptune’s two main rings are clearly visible; two fainter rings are visible with the help of long exposure times and backlighting from the Sun.Credits: NASA/JPL-CaltechFull image and caption

The effort ensured that engineers could hear Voyager loud and clear. It also increased how much data could be sent back to Earth in a given period, enabling the spacecraft to send back more pictures from the flyby. 

Being There

In the week leading up to that August 1989 close encounter, the atmosphere was electric at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which manages the Voyager mission. As images taken by Voyager 2 during its Neptune approach made the four-hour journey to Earth, Voyager team members would crowd around computer monitors around the Lab to see.

“One of the things that made the Voyager planetary encounters different from missions today is that there was no internet that would have allowed the whole team and the whole world to see the pictures at the same time,” Stone said. “The images were available in real time at a limited number of locations.”

But the team was committed to giving the public updates as quickly as possible, so from Aug. 21 to Aug. 29, they would share their discoveries with the world during daily press conferences. On Aug. 24, a program called “Voyager All Night” broadcast regular updates from the probe’s closest encounter with the planet, which took place at 4 a.m. GMT (9 p.m. in California on Aug. 24).

The next morning, Vice President Dan Quayle visited the Lab to commend the Voyager team. That night, Chuck Berry, whose song “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the Golden Record that flew with both Voyagers, played at JPL’s celebration of the feat.

Chuck Berry and Carl Sagan

(From left) Chuck Berry and Carl Sagan at a Voyager 2 Neptune flyby celebration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 1989. Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song on the Golden Records currently traveling in interstellar space aboard Voyagers 1 and 2.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Of course, the Voyagers’ achievements extend far beyond that historic week three decades ago. Both probes have now entered interstellar space after exiting the heliosphere — the protective bubble around the planets created by a high-speed flow of particles and magnetic fields spewed outward by our Sun.

They are reporting back to Earth on the “weather” and conditions from this region filled with the debris from stars that exploded elsewhere in our galaxy. They have taken humanity’s first tenuous step into the cosmic ocean where no other operating probes have flown.

Voyager data also complement other missions, including NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), which is remotely sensing that boundary where particles from our Sun collide with material from the rest of the galaxy. And NASA is preparing the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), due to launch in 2024, to capitalize on Voyager observations.

The Voyagers send their findings back to DSN antennas with 13-watt transmitters — about enough power to run a refrigerator light bulb.

“Every day they travel somewhere that human probes have never been before,” said Stone. “Forty-two years after launch, and they’re still exploring.”

Scientists create next gen living robots

#Xenobot #AI #Robot

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Last year, a team of biologists and computer scientists from Tufts University and the University of Vermont (UVM) created novel, tiny self-healing biological machines from frog cells called “Xenobots” that could move around, push a payload, and even exhibit collective behavior in the presence of a swarm of other Xenobots.

Get ready for Xenobots 2.0.

The same team has now created life forms that self-assemble a body from single cells, do not require muscle cells to move, and even demonstrate the capability of recordable memory. The new generation Xenobots also move faster, navigate different environments, and have longer lifespans than the first edition, and they still have the ability to work together in groups and heal themselves if damaged. The results of the new research were published today in Science Robotics.

Compared to Xenobots 1.0, in which the millimeter-sized automatons were constructed in a “top down” approach by manual placement of tissue and surgical shaping of frog skin and cardiac cells to produce motion, the next version of Xenobots takes a “bottom up” approach. The biologists at Tufts took stem cells from embryos of the African frog Xenopus laevis (hence the name “Xenobots”) and allowed them to self-assemble and grow into spheroids, where some of the cells after a few days differentiated to produce cilia — tiny hair-like projections that move back and forth or rotate in a specific way. Instead of using manually sculpted cardiac cells whose natural rhythmic contractions allowed the original Xenobots to scuttle around, cilia give the new spheroidal bots “legs” to move them rapidly across a surface. In a frog, or human for that matter, cilia would normally be found on mucous surfaces, like in the lungs, to help push out pathogens and other foreign material. On the Xenobots, they are repurposed to provide rapid locomotion.

“We are witnessing the remarkable plasticity of cellular collectives, which build a rudimentary new ‘body’ that is quite distinct from their default — in this case, a frog — despite having a completely normal genome,” said Michael Levin, Distinguished Professor of Biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, and corresponding author of the study. “In a frog embryo, cells cooperate to create a tadpole. Here, removed from that context, we see that cells can re-purpose their genetically encoded hardware, like cilia, for new functions such as locomotion. It is amazing that cells can spontaneously take on new roles and create new body plans and behaviors without long periods of evolutionary selection for those features.”

“In a way, the Xenobots are constructed much like a traditional robot. Only we use cells and tissues rather than artificial components to build the shape and create predictable behavior.” said senior scientist Doug Blackiston, who co-first authored the study with research technician Emma Lederer. “On the biology end, this approach is helping us understand how cells communicate as they interact with one another during development, and how we might better control those interactions.”

While the Tufts scientists created the physical organisms, scientists at UVM were busy running computer simulations that modeled different shapes of the Xenobots to see if they might exhibit different behaviors, both individually and in groups. Using the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVM’s Vermont Advanced Computing Core, the team, led by computer scientists and robotics experts Josh Bongard and under hundreds of thousands of random environmental conditions using an evolutionary algorithm. These simulations were used to identify Xenobots most able to work together in swarms to gather large piles of debris in a field of particles.

“We know the task, but it’s not at all obvious — for people — what a successful design should look like. That’s where the supercomputer comes in and searches over the space of all possible Xenobot swarms to find the swarm that does the job best,” says Bongard. “We want Xenobots to do useful work. Right now we’re giving them simple tasks, but ultimately we’re aiming for a new kind of living tool that could, for example, clean up microplastics in the ocean or contaminants in soil.”

It turns out, the new Xenobots are much faster and better at tasks such as garbage collection than last year’s model, working together in a swarm to sweep through a petri dish and gather larger piles of iron oxide particles. They can also cover large flat surfaces, or travel through narrow capillaries. These studies also suggest that the in silico simulations could in the future optimize additional features of biological bots for more complex behaviors. One important feature added in the Xenobot upgrade is the ability to record information.

Now with memory

A central feature of robotics is the ability to record memory and use that information to modify the robot’s actions and behavior. With that in mind, the Tufts scientists engineered the Xenobots with a read/write capability to record one bit of information, using a fluorescent reporter protein called EosFP, which normally glows green. However, when exposed to light at 390nm wavelength, the protein emits red light instead.

The cells of the frog embryos were injected with messenger RNA coding for the EosFP protein before stem cells were excised to create the Xenobots. The mature Xenobots now have a built-in fluorescent switch which can record exposure to blue light around 390nm.

The researchers tested the memory function by allowing 10 Xenobots to swim around a surface on which one spot is illuminated with a beam of 390nm light. After two hours, they found that three bots emitted red light. The rest remained their original green, effectively recording the “travel experience” of the bots.

This proof of principle of molecular memory could be extended in the future to detect and record not only light but also the presence of radioactive contamination, chemical pollutants, drugs, or a disease condition. Further engineering of the memory function could enable the recording of multiple stimuli (more bits of information) or allow the bots to release compounds or change behavior upon sensation of stimuli.

“When we bring in more capabilities to the bots, we can use the computer simulations to design them with more complex behaviors and the ability to carry out more elaborate tasks,” said Bongard. “We could potentially design them not only to report conditions in their environment but also to modify and repair conditions in their environment.”

Xenobot, heal thyself

“The biological materials we are using have many features we would like to someday implement in the bots — cells can act like sensors, motors for movement, communication and computation networks, and recording devices to store information,” said Levin. “One thing the Xenobots and future versions of biological bots can do that their metal and plastic counterparts have difficulty doing is constructing their own body plan as the cells grow and mature, and then repairing and restoring themselves if they become damaged. Healing is a natural feature of living organisms, and it is preserved in Xenobot biology.”

The new Xenobots were remarkably adept at healing and would close the majority of a severe full-length laceration half their thickness within 5 minutes of the injury. All injured bots were able to ultimately heal the wound, restore their shape and continue their work as before.

Another advantage of a biological robot, Levin adds, is metabolism. Unlike metal and plastic robots, the cells in a biological robot can absorb and break down chemicals and work like tiny factories synthesizing and excreting chemicals and proteins. The whole field of synthetic biology — which has largely focused on reprogramming single celled organisms to produce useful molecules — can now be exploited in these multicellular creatures.

Like the original Xenobots, the upgraded bots can survive up to ten days on their embryonic energy stores and run their tasks without additional energy sources, but they can also carry on at full speed for many months if kept in a “soup” of nutrients.

What the scientists are really after

An engaging description of the biological bots and what we can learn from them is presented in a TED talk by Michael Levin.

In his TED Talk, professor Levin describes not only the remarkable potential for tiny biological robots to carry out useful tasks in the environment or potentially in therapeutic applications, but he also points out what may be the most valuable benefit of this research — using the bots to understand how individual cells come together, communicate, and specialize to create a larger organism, as they do in nature to create a frog or human. It’s a new model system that can provide a foundation for regenerative medicine.

Xenobots and their successors may also provide insight into how multicellular organisms arose from ancient single celled organisms, and the origins of information processing, decision making and cognition in biological organisms.

Recognizing the tremendous future for this technology, Tufts University and the University of Vermont have established the Institute for Computer Designed Organisms (ICDO), to be formally launched in the coming months, which will pull together resources from each university and outside sources to create living robots with increasingly sophisticated capabilities.

Last year, a team of biologists and computer scientists from Tufts University and the University of Vermont (UVM) created novel, tiny self-healing biological machines from frog cells called “Xenobots” that could move around, push a payload, and even exhibit collective behavior in the presence of a swarm of other Xenobots.

A Star That Will Pass Within 0.065 Light Years of the Sun

#Space #Star #Astronomy

In 1.3 Million Years, a Star Will Come Within 24 Light-Days of the Sun

Within the Milky Way, there are an estimated 200 to 400 billion stars, all of which orbit around the center of our galaxy in a coordinated cosmic dance. As they orbit, stars in the galactic disk (where our Sun is located) periodically shuffle about and get closer to one another. At times, this can have a drastic effect on the star that experience a close encounter, disrupting their systems and causing planets to be ejected.

Knowing when stars will make a close encounter with our Solar System, and how it might shake-up objects within it, is therefore a concern to astronomers. Using data collected by the Gaia Observatory, two researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) determined that a handful of stars will be making close passes by our Solar System in the future, one of which will stray pretty close!

The study was conducted by Vadim V. Bobylev and Anisa T. Bajkova, two researchers from the Pulkovo Observatory’s Laboratory of Galaxy Dynamics in St. Petersburg, Russia. As they indicated, they relied on astrometric data from the Gaia mission’s Early Data Release 3 (EDR3), which revealed kinematic characteristics of stars that are expected to pass within 3.26 light-years (1 Parsec) with the Solar System in the future.

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier

To start things off simple: our Solar System is composed of eight designated planets and several minor (aka. dwarf) planets orbiting our main sequence G-type yellow dwarf Sun, which is surrounded by an outer ring of icy objects known as the Kuiper Belt. Beyond this, at a distance of roughly 1.63 light-years from the Sun (0.5 parsecs), is a massive cloud of icy debris known as the Oort Cloud, which is where long-period comets originate.

These comets are generally the result of objects making close flybys with the Solar System and knocking objects loose, to the point that they periodically fly through the Solar System and around the Sun before heading back out. The outer edge of the Oort Cloud is estimated to be 0.5 parsecs (1.6 light-years) from our Sun, which makes them particularly responsive to perturbations from a number of sources. As Dr. Bobylev told Universe Today via email:

“These perturbations include, first of all, the effect of the gravitational attraction of the Galaxy – the so-called galactic tide, secondly, the effect from giant molecular clouds – when the solar system flies at a sufficiently close distance to them, and thirdly – the effect from approaching single stars fields.

“The approach of the solar system with single stars in the field is a very rare event. Moreover, the impact depends (according to Newton’s law of attraction) both on the mass of the passing star and on the distance to which the approach takes place.”

For astronomers, the process of searching for stars that may have flown by our Solar System in the past (and which may pass us by in the future) began in the 1960s. The research has improved as more sophisticated instruments have become available, leading to more detailed catalogs on nearby celestial objects. In order to know which stars will make a close encounter, said Bobylev, you need to know their distance and their three velocities.

The consists of the two properties of proper motion – right ascension, declination – and radial velocity. Once you have all that, you can conduct astrometry, which is the precise measurement of the positions and movements of stars and other celestial bodies. It was for this very purpose that the ESA’s Hipparcos satellite (1989-1993) and Gaia Observatory (2013-present) were created.

Thanks to the precise data they have provided, and the updated catalogs on millions of stars and other celestial objects, astronomers are able to determine which of them are likely to make a close encounter in the future. For the sake of their study, Bobylev and Bajkova relied on the following three methods:

“The methods consist in constructing galactic orbits of the studied stars and the Sun. Then, for each star, two main parameters of approach are determined – the minimum distance between the orbit of the solar system and the star and the moment of approach. Integration occurs on the +/-5 Myr interval.

Therefore, in our work, we used, firstly, the simplest linear method, secondly, the integration of motion in the axisymmetric potential of the Galaxy, and thirdly, in the nonaxisymmetric potential of the Galaxy, where the influence of the spiral structure on the motion of objects was taken into account.”

Gaia’s first sky map. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC. Acknowledgement: A. Moitinho & M. Barros (CENTRA – University of Lisbon), on behalf of DPAC.

In the end, all three methods yielded similar results: one star, designated 4270814637616488064 in the Gaia EDR3 database, would be making a particularly close encounter a little over a million years from now. Better known as Gliese 710 (HIP 89825), this variable K-type orange dwarf star is about 60% as massive as our Sun and located some 62 light-years from Earth in the Serpens constellation.

“What is remarkable about it is that it is a candidate for a very close approach to the solar system in the future,” said Bobylev. “This candidate was first identified by Garcia-Sanchez et al., Astron. J. 117, 1042 (1999) in the analysis of stars from the Hipparcos catalog (1997).”

Specifically, the simulations Bobylev and Bajkova conducted showed that Gliese 710 would be making its close flyby 1.32 million years from now and would pass within 0.02 parsecs (just shy of 24 light days) of our Sun. As for what this could entail for our Solar System (and anything living here by then), Bobylev explained that considerable research has already been done on that, and the indications were not so frightening:

“A very interesting simulation of the close flight of the star Gliese 710 past the solar system was carried out by Berski, F. and Dybczynski, P., A&A, v. 595, L10, 2016. They showed that after the approach, a cometary shower will occur from the outer boundaries of the Oort Cloud towards the inner region of the Solar System. True, the flux is small – about a dozen comets a year, and it will appear with a delay of 1 million years after the flight of the star.”

This artwork shows a rocky planet being bombarded by comets. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

So, assuming human beings (or their genetic progeny) are still living in the Solar System 2.32 million years from now, they will be treated to some added comet activity. This could pose some hazards, depending on the trajectories of these comets and the extent of human infrastructure in space. Or it could just mean more opportunities for backyard astronomy, or whatever the futuristic equivalent is!

In any case, it’s always good to know when shakeups will happen and how serious they will be. Such is the significance of this research, in that it eliminates much of the uncertainty surrounding stellar close encounters and the effect they can have. Said Bobylev:

The main significance of our work is that we know with certainty that, both in the past, and in the future, there may be close encounters of stars with the solar system. There can be all sorts of surprises in the form of the appearance of comets and asteroids near the Earth.

Our Solar System has experienced more than a few in the past, and these played a significant role in its evolution. It’s entirely possible that life as we know it owes its existence to close encounters, so best to keep track of any future events!

Russia’s new Amur rocket sparks claims of ‘stolen’ Falcon 9 design

#Roscosmos #Spacex #Space

SpaceX snub: Russia’s new Amur rocket sparks claims of ‘stolen’ Falcon 9 design

RUSSIA’S Roscosmos space agency has unveiled design plans for the Amur, a reusable rocket that bears striking similarities to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

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The Falcon 9 has cemented SpaceX’s place in the spaceflight industry when in 2015 it became the first rocket to launch into space and safely land back on Earth. Since then, SpaceX has remained the only company to maintain a fleet of reusable rockets, although Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin is slowly catching up with its New Shepard boosters. Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos has now joined the fray, unveiling plans to develop a reusable, methane-powered rocket that strongly resembles the Falcon 9.

The Amur is a two-stage, medium-class carrier launch vehicle touted as Russia’s “first reusable liquid natural gas-powered” rocket.

Roscosmos aims to launch each rocket up to 100 times, bringing them back for vertical landings along the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia.

According to Alexander Bloshenko, Roscosmos executive director for long-term programs and science, the Amur will “reliable, like a Kalashnikov assault rifle.”

And at first glance, the Amur appears to be eerily similar to the Falcon 9.

SpaceX news: Falcon 9 and Russian Amur rocket

SpaceX news: Russia has unveiled plans for the new Amur rocket (Image: SPACEX/TASS/ROSCOSMOS)

SpaceX news: Amur rocket design

SpaceX news: The Amur will be a two-stage reusable rocket (Image: TASS/ROSCOSMOS INSTAGRAM)

Both rockets feature latticed control fins mounted towards the top of the rocket’s first stage.

The Amur also features folding landing legs similar to those found on the Falcon 9.

The design similarities have led to claims the Amur is a carbon-copy of the Falcon 9.

One person said on Instagram: “Bro, don’t be copying Falcon-9s like that.”

A second commented on Roscosmos’s page: “Stop stealing SpaceX’s rockets.”

SpaceX fact sheet: Incredible facts and figures

SpaceX fact sheet: Incredible facts and figures about the company (Image: EXPRESS)

Other people suggested the design was “oddly familiar” or “inspired by Elon”.

However, there are some key differences between the two rockets that make the Amur stand out.

The Russian rocket will be considerably smaller and less powerful than the Falcon 9.

Once complete, Amur will stand at about 180ft (55m) in height, compared to Falcon 9’s 208ft (63m).

SpaceX news: Roscosmos Amur rocket design

SpaceX news: Some people have accused Roscosmos of ‘stealing’ the design (Image: TASS/ROSCOSMOS INSTAGRAM)

SpaceX news: Falcon 9 booster landing

SpaceX news: Falcon 9 is the world’s first reusable rocket (Image: SPACEX)

Amur will also carry up to 11.6 tons worth of payload into low-Earth orbit (LEO), compared to Falcon 9’s lofty 25.1 tons.

Amur’s booster stage will also feature five RD-0169A methane-oxygen engines, compared to SpaceX’s nine liquid oxygen and kerosene Merlin engines.

And the rocket is still in its design phase, with the first launch expected no earlier than in 2026.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, 49, welcomed the news and urged Roscosmos to go fully reusable with its rockets.

He tweeted: “It’s a step in the right direction, but they should really aim for full reusability by 2026.

Fast Radio Bursts traced to spiral arms of several galaxies by Hubble

#FRB #Space #Unknown

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have traced the locations of five brief, powerful radio blasts to the spiral arms of five distant galaxies.

Called fast radio bursts (FRBs), these extraordinary events generate as much energy in a thousandth of a second as the Sun does in a year. Because these transient radio pulses disappear in much less than the blink of an eye, researchers have had a hard time tracking down where they come from, much less determining what kind of object or objects is causing them. Therefore, most of the time, astronomers don’t know exactly where to look.

Locating where these blasts are coming from, and in particular, what galaxies they originate from, is important in determining what kinds of astronomical events trigger such intense flashes of energy. The new Hubble survey of eight FRBs helps researchers narrow the list of possible FRB sources.

Flash in the Night

The first FRB was discovered in archived data recorded by the Parkes radio observatory on July 24, 2001. Since then astronomers have uncovered up to 1,000 FRBs, but they have only been able to associate roughly 15 of them to particular galaxies.

“Our results are new and exciting. This is the first high-resolution view of a population of FRBs, and Hubble reveals that five of them are localized near or on a galaxy’s spiral arms,” said Alexandra Mannings of the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study’s lead author. “Most of the galaxies are massive, relatively young, and still forming stars. The imaging allows us to get a better idea of the overall host-galaxy properties, such as its mass and star-formation rate, as well as probe what’s happening right at the FRB position because Hubble has such great resolution.”

In the Hubble study, astronomers not only pinned all of them to host galaxies, but they also identified the kinds of locations they originated from. Hubble observed one of the FRB locations in 2017 and the other seven in 2019 and 2020.

“We don’t know what causes FRBs, so it’s really important to use context when we have it,” said team member Wen-fai Fong of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “This technique has worked very well for identifying the progenitors of other types of transients, such as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Hubble played a big role in those studies, too.”

The galaxies in the Hubble study existed billions of years ago. Astronomers, therefore, are seeing the galaxies as they appeared when the universe was about half its current age.

Many of them are as massive as our Milky Way. The observations were made in ultraviolet and near-infrared light with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Ultraviolet light traces the glow of young stars strung along a spiral galaxy’s winding arms. The researchers used the near-infrared images to calculate the galaxies’ mass and find where older populations of stars reside.

Location, Location, Location

The images display a diversity of spiral-arm structure, from tightly wound to more diffuse, revealing how the stars are distributed along these prominent features. A galaxy’s spiral arms trace the distribution of young, massive stars. However, the Hubble images reveal that the FRBs found near the spiral arms do not come from the very brightest regions, which blaze with the light from hefty stars. The images help support a picture that the FRBs likely do not originate from the youngest, most massive stars.

These clues helped the researchers rule out some of the possible triggers of types of these brilliant flares, including the explosive deaths of the youngest, most massive stars, which generate gamma-ray bursts and some types of supernovae. Another unlikely source is the merger of neutron stars, the crushed cores of stars that end their lives in supernova explosions. These mergers take billions of years to occur and are usually found far from the spiral arms of older galaxies that are no longer forming stars.

Magnetic Monsters

The team’s Hubble results, however, are consistent with the leading model that FRBs originate from young magnetar outbursts. Magnetars are a type of neutron star with powerful magnetic fields. They’re called the strongest magnets in the universe, possessing a magnetic field that is 10 trillion times more powerful than a refrigerator door magnet. Astronomers last year linked observations of an FRB spotted in our Milky Way galaxy with a region where a known magnetar resides.

“Owing to their strong magnetic fields, magnetars are quite unpredictable,” Fong explained. “In this case, the FRBs are thought to come from flares from a young magnetar. Massive stars go through stellar evolution and becomes neutron stars, some of which can be strongly magnetized, leading to flares and magnetic processes on their surfaces, which can emit radio light. Our study fits in with that picture and rules out either very young or very old progenitors for FRBs.”

The observations also helped the researchers strengthen the association of FRBs with massive, star-forming galaxies. Previous ground-based observations of some possible FRB host galaxies did not as clearly detect underlying structure, such as spiral arms, in many of them. Astronomers, therefore, could not rule out the possibility that FRBs originate from a dwarf galaxy hiding underneath a massive one. In the new Hubble study, careful image processing and analysis of the images allowed researchers to rule out underlying dwarf galaxies, according to co-author Sunil Simha of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Although the Hubble results are exciting, the researchers say they need more observations to develop a more definitive picture of these enigmatic flashes and better pinpoint their source. “This is such a new and exciting field,” Fong said. “Finding these localized events is a major piece to the puzzle, and a very unique puzzle piece compared to what’s been done before. This is a unique contribution of Hubble.”

What should Americans expect from Pentagon’s UFO report?

#UFO #UAP #Unexplained

What should Americans expect from Pentagon’s UFO report?

Former Pentagon official says ‘the last thing that we need is more obfuscation’ from Pentagon

Former Pentagon official says certain elements of Pentagon have backed themselves into a corner on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’

Former Pentagon official Lue Elizondo joins “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss the Pentagon’s highly anticipated UFO report to Congress.

LUE ELIZONDO: What we should learn is exactly that: What the U.S. Government knows about this topic and has known for a while. It’s a threat assessment that is supposed to be conducted at the unclassified level and then provided to Congress, which is a report that is expected to be comprehensive. Certainly, that is a report that Congress deserves. Unfortunately what we might get is something that is more watered down. I think from my perspective, that’s probably the most concerning part of this. The last thing that we need is more obfuscation. 

First of all, why the lying? Probably because the certain elements in the Pentagon have backed themselves in a corner. They spent such a long time and amount of energy trying to obfuscate the truth from the American people that they backed themselves into a corner and they really don’t know how to get out of it. I think the more that we shine a spotlight on this topic, the more people are going to realize that there really is something there. I think with the announcement of the new IG Inspector General evaluation into this topic and more importantly the last three years of Pentagon obfuscation, hopefully, those elements of resistance in the Pentagon will realize that that type of resistance at this point is futile.

Opinion: UFOs may pose a real threat to the United States, and the US military does not care

#UFO #UAP #Unexplained

‘The conflicts the Pentagon says it’s preparing for seem comically small and outdated’

‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ host questions why military leadership is ‘purging their ranks’ instead of focusing on unknown space threats

The United States has been the most powerful country in the world. That’s the good news. What’s interesting, is that this country has occupied this position for so long, that relatively few Americans have considered what would happen if we slipped from that perch. Would it matter if America became subordinate to other nations? There’s a debate about that. Let’s see. At work, does it matter to you who the boss is? It probably does matter. That’s the person who can fire you. The world isn’t so different from that. The top countries give the orders, the rest of the planet takes the orders, whether they like it or not. We’ve lost sight of that, because, for more than a century, America has effectively been in charge of the world. That’s exactly why we’ve stayed rich and free for that time. Most Americans on some level understand this is an arrangement worth preserving, if only because the options to it are so much worse. How’d you like to be forced to obey the Chinese Communist Party? Not so much. How do you feel about surrendering the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and going bankrupt? No thanks. Most of us would like to avoid outcomes like that. 

That’s why we spend more than any county in the world on our military. There’s a reason the Department of Defense is our largest government agency. It’s not just because defense contractors are powerful, it’s because we all agree it’s really important. In exchange for all that money and power, we expect, in return, the Pentagon will stay up late thinking of ways to keep America strong. The question is, have they been doing that? You can judge for yourself. Most of the generals we see quoted in the press seem more committed to meeting some counterproductive diversity goal — hiring more pregnant air force pilots, assembling the world’s first transgender SEAL team —  than on defending the United States. The conflicts the Pentagon says it’s preparing for seem comically small and outdated, whether it’s wrangling with illiterate tribesmen in Afghanistan, ramping up for some new “war” against a remote group of buildings in Syria, wherever the hell Syria is. Can poor, irrelevant countries really be America’s gravest enemies? We act like it. But they’re not. And that’s been confirmed tonight, by the way. This nation’s most formidable foe, the new secretary of defense just announced, is the weather itself. Going forward, the U.S. military has declared a hot war on global warming:

LLOYD AUSTIN: Today, no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does.

That’s Lloyd Austin, of course. Austin is a former defense contractor, not surprisingly, and a full-time ideologue as well. Having Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon is like handing control of the US military to the editorial page of the New York Times. Austin that the scariest risk our soldier face is the possibility they might serve alongside Americans who didn’t vote for Joe Biden

LLOYD AUSTIN: And if confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault and to rid our ranks of racists and extremists…The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.

He’s a joke and a mediocrity, and of course, he was confirmed by the Senate as if he was impressive, but he’s not, and the results are entirely predictable. A new report in Revolver News puts a finer point on what exactly is happening at the Pentagon under Lloyd Austin. Austin has hired an activist called  Bishop Garrison as the head of the military’s vast “diversity and inclusion” apparatus – a group of offices that has nothing to do with fighting and winning wars. Spend five minutes Googling Bishop Garrison. Treat yourself. He’s a lunatic. A few years ago, he announced that anyone who supports Donald Trump — tens of millions of American citizens, many of whom have served in the military — is a white supremacist. And he said “there is no room for nuance” on that question. Garrison wrote a lot of things like that.  You could google them, and you should. Now he’s one of the most powerful officials in the U.S. military. Democrats in Congress are thrilled as they watched this. Their party now has all the tanks and drones. What’s strange is Republicans don’t seem to have noticed that it happened. They’re still giving the same vacuous speeches about “the troops” and signing off on ever-expanding defense budgets with no oversight. The effect: The same fighting force that for generations we have been so proud of – the people who stormed Saipan and Guadalcanal – has been captured without a shot by rejects from the Google HR department, and its defenders, the defenders of the troops, can’t be bothered to say a word about it. Do they have a television? Have they seen the Army’s latest recurring ad?  

AIR DEFENSE ENHANCED EARLY WARNING SYSTEM OPERATOR EMMA: This is the story of a soldier who operates your nation’s patriot missile defense systems. It begins in California with a little girl raised by two moms…Although I had a fairly typical childhood–took ballet, played violin–I also marched for equality. I like to think I’ve been defending freedom from an early age…A way to prove my inner strength, and maybe shatter some stereotypes along the way.

“I also marched for equality.” Oh, shut up. Who cares? Please stop talking about yourself for once. It’s boring and irrelevant and insulting. This is not just your country, it belongs to all of us. Your job is to defend it, please do so. It’s becoming clear they have no interest in defending it. Here’s the latest evidence. It comes from CBS in a clip from a 60 Minutes report on UFOs and the military. 

BILL WHITAKER: A Navy aircrew struggles to lock onto a fast-moving object off the US Atlantic coast in 2015. Recently released images may not convince UFO skeptics but the Pentagon admits it doesn’t know what in the world this is…or this…or this…”

Oh, UFOs, they’re spooky and kinda funny. Crazy people believe in them. Up until you get to the line, “The Pentagon admits it doesn’t know what in the world this is.” That’s all you need to know. From a national security perspective, that’s a very big problem. How big a problem is it? One Navy pilot said military observed unidentified objects maneuvering in restricted airspace off the coast of Virginia “every day” for two years: 

BILL WHITAKER:  The Pentagon confirms these are images of objects it can’t identify. Lt Graves told us pilots training off the Atlantic coast see things like that all the time.

LIEUTENANT RYAN GRAVES: Every day. Every day for at least a couple years.

BILL WHITAKER: Every day for a couple years? 


Flying in restricted airspace is not a small thing. Try that in your Cessna 172 off Virginia Beach sometime. You’ll get very wet, very fast. You’ll be killed, actually. Yet the Pentagon did nothing after two full years of daily incursions. Why didn’t they? We’re guessing, but one possible explanation: they couldn’t. Our military was completely outmatched technologically by whatever these were. And whatever they were, they weren’t weather balloons.  

Here’s what Lue Elizondo, the former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program said: 

BILL WHITAKER: You know how this sounds. It sounds nutty, wacky 

LUIS ELIZONDO: Look I’m not telling you that it doesn’t sound wacky. I’m telling you it’s real…Imagine a technology that can do 600 to 700 G-forces, that can fly 13,000 miles an hour, that, that can evade radar and can fly through air and water and possibly space, and oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth’s gravity. That’s precisely what we’re seeing. 

Sound like a potential threat? You think? So what has the Pentagon done about it? Well, we don’t know the full story as of tonight. But we don’t know that they’ve done anything about it, and then cover the fact they ignored it by declaring the whole subject classified for decades, then spending the rest of the day thinking about how to bomb Syria again and rid the marine corps of people who voted for Donald Trump.Video

The sad thing is, we have a whole new branch of the military perfectly designed to assess what these things are, and figure out if they’re a threat or not, and maybe respond. If there was ever a reason to have a Space Force, this is it. But Space Force is otherwise occupied these days. They’re busy conducting political purges of their own ranks, as all the branches of the military are. Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, commanded a Space Force unit until the White House decided his politics were unacceptable

MATTHEW LOHMEIER: Since taking command as a commander about 10 months ago, I saw what I consider fundamentally incompatible and competing narratives of what America was, is, and should be. That wasn’t just prolific in social media or throughout the country during this past year, but it was spreading throughout the United States military. And I had recognized those narratives as being Marxist in nature.”

So, every day for two years, unidentified flying objects behaving in ways that seemed to contradict what we know about physics, and the U.S. military is spending its time purging its ranks. What does this remind you of? Maybe the Soviet army 1938: A clear and present threat appears on the horizon, but the people in charge are so obsessed with political purity and loyalty to the Party, they can’t respond, because they’re absorbed in attacking their own organization. When they say that all revolutions are the same, they’re right. 

UFOs, it turns out, are real, and whatever else they are, they’re a prima facie challenge to the United States military. They’re doing things the U.S. military does not allow, and they’re doing it with impunity. And they appear to be focused on the U.S. military. UFOs for decades have appeared to have clustered around our military installations – our ships and aircraft, with no real response from the Pentagon except more secrecy. At one point, unidentified flying objects apparently shut down a nuclear weapons facility at an air force base in Montana. Ten ICBMS – Intercontinental ballistic missiles – were temporarily knocked offline — at the same time base security noticed a glowing red object floating in the sky. It sounds like it was out of a movie, but it happened. That was decades ago. Many more UFOs have been sighted near our nuclear weapons facilities since.  

According to journalist George Knapp, quote, “All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown aircraft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there.” For decades this has happened. Apparently, no one knows why. No one seems especially alarmed. In the 1950s some people were worried about this. A declassified FBI document from 70 years ago describes unknown flying objects measuring approximately 50 feet in diameter in the vicinity of the Los Alamos labs.  

More recently, the Pentagon has declassified footage from a UFO incident in 2004, and two UFO incidents from 2015. Those incidents were recorded by Navy pilots during training flights, right now on your screen. We have no explanation for what these objects are. 

Just days ago, the Pentagon confirmed that an 18-second video of three UFOs harassing a U.S. warship — the USS Russell — is real. The footage was shot back in July 2019 and collected by the Pentagon’s UFO Task Force before it was obtained by journalist Jeremy Corbell. 

So the question is: what are these things? Why are they buzzing our skies? Why do they seem attracted to our U.S. military? And above all, why isn’t the Pentagon more focused on this? It seems like a threat if there ever was one. 

Scientists Find Extraterrestrial Isotopes on Ocean Floor

Amazing find on the Ocean Floor – something from out of this world! #radioactive #Space #Extraterrestrial

We saw our first extraterrestrial visitor in 2017 when ‘Oumuamua rocketed across the solar system, but there are extraterrestrial elements hiding right here on Earth. An analysis of isotopes in the ocean crust reveals radioactive materials that could only have arrived here from outside our solar system, and their presence could help us better understand the physics of cataclysmic events like supernovae. 

Most heavy elements are unstable, meaning they decay into smaller, more stable atoms. The amount of time it takes for half of a radioactive material to decay is known as a half-life, and scientists from the Australian National University report finding two important isotopes with short half-lives in high concentrations in samples taken from the ocean floor. 

One of the isotopes, iron-60, has been found in traces on Earth and in higher concentrations elsewhere in the solar system. With a half-life of just 2.6 million years, all the iron-60 that was originally part of Earth has long since decayed into stable nickel atoms. So where’s it coming from? Scientists know that iron-60 is commonly produced in supernovae explosions along with many other heavy elements, and some of it ends up in our solar system. Finding it in higher concentrations on the ocean floor, isolated from artificial human processes, suggests an influx of the isotope in the geologically recent past. 

The team actually detected two spikes of iron-60 within the past 10 million years. Knowing this is most likely the result of nearby supernovae (within a few hundred light-years), they decided to see what other isotopes were present in the same areas of the crust. The team uncovered a small but notable quantity of plutonium-244, which has a half-life of 80 million years. That’s long for plutonium, but all of Earth’s original traces are gone after billions of years. 

supernova head

Unlike iron-60, the story of plutonium-244 is complicated. This unusual isotope has to come from somewhere, but there is disagreement as to whether supernovae are a major driver of plutonium-244 production. Some scientists believe it takes more calamitous events like neutron star collisions to pump out the isotope. Finding plutonium-244 associated with confirmed supernovae products like iron-60 is the first direct evidence that this material does indeed come from dying stars. 

However, we don’t know how much of it came from the same local supernovae as the iron. It’s possible some proportion of this newly identified plutonium came from other celestial events. Plutonium-244 might also be present in the interstellar medium, allowing it to be swept up by supernovae shockwaves. Scientists will need to gather more samples to unravel this mystery, but the end result could be a fuller understanding of the processes at work in supernovae and other space-rending explosions.

Navy pilots describe encounters with UFOs

Navy Reports Describe Encounters With Unexplained Flying Objects

#UFO #UAP #unidentified

While some of the encounters have been reported publicly before, the Navy records are an official accounting of the incidents, including descriptions from the pilots of what they saw.

Lt. Ryan Graves last year described a close encounter off Virginia Beach with what looked like a flying sphere encasing a cube.
Lt. Ryan Graves last year described a close encounter off Virginia Beach with what looked like a flying sphere encasing a cube.Credit…Tony Luong for The New York Times

Navy fighter pilots reported close encounters with unidentified aerial vehicles, including several dangerously close, in eight incidents between June 27, 2013, and Feb. 13, 2019, according to documents recently released by the Navy.

Two happened on one day, according to one of eight unclassified Navy safety reports released in response to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act by news outlets, including The New York Times.

Last month the Defense Department authenticated three videos of aerial encounters previously published by The Times, accompanying accounts of Navy pilots who reported such close encounters.

U.S. Navy Releases Videos of Unexplained Flying Objects

The U.S. Navy has officially published previously released videos showing unexplained objects.

[radio transmission] “Whoa, got it — woo-hoo!” “Roger —” “What the [expletive] is that?” “Did you box a moving target?” “No, I took an auto track.” “Oh, OK.” “Oh my gosh, dude. Wow” “What is that man?” “There’s a whole screen of them. My gosh.” “They’re all going against the wind. The wind’s 120 knots from west.” “Dude.” “That’s not — is it?” “[inaudible]” “Look at that thing.”00:002:062:06

The incidents in the videos were investigated by a little-known Pentagon program that for years looked into reports of unidentified flying objects, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The existence of the office was first reported by The Times in December 2017.

While some of the encounters have been reported publicly before, the Freedom of Information Act releases include the Navy’s official records documenting the incidents, including descriptions from the pilots of what they saw.

The Navy records, known as “hazard reports,” describe both visual and radar sightings, including close calls with the aerial vehicles, or “unmanned aircraft systems.”

One incident, on March 26, 2014, over the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach, involved a silver object “approximately the size of a suitcase” that was tracked on radar passing within 1,000 feet of one of the jets, according to the report.

Some of the incidents involved fighter squadrons aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. One of the former F/A-18 Super Hornet pilots, Lt. Ryan Graves, last year described a close encounter off Virginia Beach with what looked like a flying sphere encasing a cube, as recounted by a fellow pilot and later reported to the squadron safety officer.

The incident was documented in a report with few details on June 27, 2013, which stated that the Navy jet crew saw something pass about 200 feet away on the right side. With a visible smoke plume emitting from the rear section, “the aircraft was white in color and approximately the size and shape of a drone or missile,” according to the report.

No other agencies were conducting drone flights or missile launches in the area at that time, the report said. “Unmanned aerial vehicles represent a significant midair collision threat,” the commanding officer reported.

The incidents included more than just that squadron, the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. The documents show that the commanders took the incidents seriously, warning of the likelihood of a midair collision.

Defense Department officials do not describe the objects as extraterrestrial, and experts emphasize that earthly explanations can generally be found for such incidents. Even lacking a plausible terrestrial explanation does not make an extraterrestrial one likely, astrophysicists say.

In interviews, five of the pilots involved avoided speculating on the source of the objects. The Navy, in its reports, also avoided any such conjecture.

Three incidents occurred within exclusive use airspace, meaning no other aircraft were authorized to fly in that area.

Another report on an incident on Nov. 18, 2013, expressed alarm. “Due to their small size, many U.A.S.’s are less visually significant and radar apparent and therefore pose a significant risk for midair collision,” the report said, using an abbreviation for unmanned aircraft systems.

Less than a month later, a pilot who had been assured there was no traffic in his area detected a radar track at an altitude of 12,000 feet and less than a mile away. “He was able to identify a small white visual return at the location of the radar track,” the report said.

A “near midair” collision report from March 26, 2014, also in exclusive use airspace, involved two F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft from squadron VFA-106. One pilot closed in and reported seeing a small, silver metallic object the size of a suitcase. “Pilot passed within 1,000 feet of the object. Could not identify it,” the report says.

The pilot passed the information to the local Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, which had received multiple sighting reports in recent months. “This presents a significant safety concern, given that this unknown aircraft was detected in an exclusive use area,” the commanding officer stated. “I feel it may only be a matter of time before one of our F/A-18 aircraft has a midair collision with an unidentified U.A.S.”

On April 23, 2014, two objects were tracked on radar, not communicating, and two other relatively small objects were observed at the same time flying at high speed off the coast of Virginia, another report states. The events were said to pose “a severe threat to naval aviation.”

“It is only a matter of time before this results in a midair in W-72,” the report said, using the airspace designation. “This was the squadron’s second occurrence in the last 10 months.”

The most recent incident included in the Freedom of Information Act documents did not appear to be related to an unidentified flying object. On Feb. 13, 2019, a red weather balloon was spotted at 27,000 feet by four aircraft, when none were supposed to be in the area. The report concluded “weather balloon released without notifying the appropriate channels.”

China lands on Mars in major advance for its space ambitions

#China #Mars #Space

1 of 9In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, members at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center celebrate after China’s Tianwen-1 probe successfully landed on Mars, at the center in Beijing, Saturday, May 15, 2021. China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest advance for its ambitious goals in space. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space.

Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It will join an American rover that arrived at the red planet in February.

China’s first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.

“China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, an important step for our country’s space exploration,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in announcing the landing on one of its social media accounts.

The U.S. has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976. The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971, but the mission failed after the craft stopped transmitting information soon after touchdown.

A rover and a tiny helicopter from the American landing in February are currently exploring Mars. NASA expects the rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth in a decade.

China has landed on the moon before but landing on Mars is a much more difficult undertaking. Spacecraft use shields for protection from the searing heat of entering the Martian atmosphere, and use both retro-rockets and parachutes to slow down enough to prevent a crash landing. The parachutes and rockets must be deployed at precise times to land at the designated spot. Only mini-retro rockets are required for a moon landing, and parachutes alone are sufficient for returning to Earth.

Xinhua said the entry capsule entered the Mars atmosphere at an altitude of 125 kilometers (80 miles), initiating what it called “the riskiest phase of the whole mission.”

A 200 square meter (2,150 square foot) parachute was deployed and later jettisoned, and then a retro-rocket was fired to slow the speed of the craft to almost zero, Xinhua said. The craft hovered about 100 meters (330 feet) above the surface to identify obstacles before touching down on four buffer legs.

“Each step had only one chance, and the actions were closely linked. If there had been any flaw, the landing would have failed,” said Geng Yan, an official at the China National Space Administration, according to Xinhua.

Touchdown was at 7:18 a.m. Beijing time (23:18 Friday GMT; 7:18 p.m. EDT), although more than an hour passed before ground controllers could confirm the landing was a success, Xinhua said. The rover had to open its solar panels and antenna, and then it took more than 17 minutes for its signals to traverse the distance between Mars and Earth.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a congratulatory letter to the mission team, called the landing “an important step in our country’s interplanetary exploration journey, realizing the leap from Earth-moon to the planetary system and leaving the mark of the Chinese on Mars for the first time. … The motherland and people will always remember your outstanding feats!”

NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity’s understanding of the Red Planet.”

China’s Mars landing was the top trending topic on Weibo, a leading social media platform, as people expressed both excitement and pride.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since February, when it arrived after a 6 1/2-month journey from Earth. Xinhua described the mission as China’s first planetary exploration.

The rover, named after the Chinese god of fire Zhurong, is expected to be deployed for 90 days to search for evidence of life. About the size of a small car, it has ground-penetrating radar, a laser, and sensors to gauge the atmosphere and magnetic sphere.

China’s space program has proceeded in a more cautious manner than the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the height of their space race.

The launch of the main module for China’s space station in April is the first of 11 planned missions to build and provision the station and send up a three-person crew by the end of next year. While the module was successfully launched, the uncontrolled return to Earth of the rocket drew international criticism including from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

China has said it wants to land people on the moon and possibly build a scientific base there. No timeline has been released for these projects. A space plane is also reportedly under development.

Former Navy pilot recalls seeing hundreds of UFOs, calls them security threat

Ryan Graves tells ’60 Minutes’ the unidentified objects are a security threat

Washington Examiner’s Tom Rogan reacts to UFO seemingly capable of moving through air and water on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’

A former Navy pilot says he witnessed UFOs flying in restricted airspace off the coast of Virginia nearly every day for two years beginning in 2019.

Former Lt. Ryan Graves told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the unidentified objects — like ones seen in a Pentagon-confirmed Navy video near San Diego — are a security threat.

The latest firsthand account comes a month ahead of a report by the national intelligence director and secretary of defense on unidentified aerial phenomena, a measure that was including in a COVID-19 relief bill passed in December.

“I am worried, frankly. You know, if these were tactical jets from another country that were hanging out up there, it would be a massive issue,” Graves said, according to a clip of the “60 Minutes” interview, which is set to air Sunday. “But because it looks slightly different, we’re not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We’re happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day.” 

Seamen who have seen the unidentified objects believe they could be a secret US technology, enemy surveillance devices, or something entirely different, Graves told CBS.

“This is a difficult one to explain. You have rotation, you have high altitudes. You have propulsion, right? I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, frankly,” the lieutenant told correspondent Bill Whitaker as he watched an unclassified video.

“I would say, you know, the highest probability is it’s a threat observation program,” Graves said, according to the report.

A former defense official who spent years investigating unidentified aerial phenomena told the network program that the vehicles have technology vastly exceeding any human invention.

“Imagine a technology that can do 600 to 700 G-forces, that can fly 13,000 miles an hour, that, that can evade radar and can fly through air and water and possibly space, and oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth’s gravity.

“That’s precisely what we’re seeing,” Luis Elizondo said.

This story first appeared in the New York Post.

New video from USS Omaha shows unknown aerial sphere vanishing into ocean

#UFO #UAP #Unexplained

Newly released video taken on board the USS Omaha, a littoral combat ship, shows what has been described as a transmedium vehicle (that is, a vehicle capable of traveling through both air and water) moving, hovering, and disappearing into the Pacific Ocean.

The new video has been published by investigative filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. The video is from the same incident Mystery Wire documented in April. Previously, two freeze frame images from the video were made public. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed last month that one of the freeze-frame images was recorded by US Navy personnel.

During July 2019, several U.S. warships based in San Diego were repeatedly buzzed by unknown aerial intruders. Stories of strange encounters bubbled to the surface last summer, initially focused on the USS Kidd, a Navy destroyer.

In March, more documentation surfaced in the form of ships logs, which confirmed that unidentified objects were seen by crews aboard multiple warships in restricted waters off the coast of southern California. One of those ships was the USS Omaha.

The objects were described as “drones”, also as “UAVs,” generic terms for what are otherwise considered unidentified objects

Navy images showing trans-medium Sphere travel from the air to underwater. (Image sourced by @JeremyCorbell)

This new video and the earlier images were part of a series of bizarre encounters reported by the U.S. Navy during the past two years.

On March 2019 a U.S. Navy F/A-18 jet encounter of three stationary drones of unknown origin, reported earlier by Mystery Wire, off the coast of Virginia above the Atlantic Ocean.

  • The AcornRead More »
  • The Metallic BlimpRead More »
  • The SphereRead More »
  • The AcornRead More »
  • The Metallic BlimpRead More »

The Metallic Blimp

Below you can read the transcript of the conversation between George Knapp and Jeremy Corbell and watch the USS Omaha video of the unidentified sphere.

George Knapp   
Jeremy, good to have you back. 2019 remarkable things happening on both coasts. Back in April, you and I jointly released some incredible images starting with the three photographs taken by an F/A-18 crew off the coast of Virginia, still unidentified images that are in the briefing presentation prepared by the UAP Task Force and delivered to members of Congress, joint chiefs, intelligence agencies. And then two days later, April 8, we released some amazing images that you’ve acquired and that we have confirmed regarding several ships in the Pacific Fleet that were surveyed, under surveillance by a number of unidentified. Call them drones, call them UAVs, UFOs, whatever you want to call them. This was a series of events that is well documented. And one of the key ships that was identified by you, and that came from the UAP Task Force briefing document involves the USS Omaha. Now, as we know, the Pentagon came forward (and) confirmed that the images were real. But this slide that you obtained about the USS Omaha seems to be one that they were kind of fuzzy about. You have an idea about why they were sort of reluctant to go as far as they did with this image as opposed to the other images that you presented.

Jeremy Corbell  
Yeah, well, here’s the deal. Let me recap for a second here. We released a lot of content. You released three images from an F/A-18 over the east coast, verified part of the study of the UAPTF UFO studies, you know, then together, we released six new images, three of which were of the pyramidal shape object, the UFOs. And then the other was three of this USS Omaha, which they describe these as spherical, unmanned aerial platforms, maybe UFOs going into the water. Then, we also released the kind of now iconic, pyramid and triangular shaped video. So it’s like a mother lode. Then, a little time after I released another still image, an image that wasn’t contained as a still image in the UAPTF UFO reports from May 1 2020. So why did the Pentagon instantly confirm the USS Russell, pyramidal shaped UFOs and not the USS Omaha? That confused me too.  Why confirm anything? I now suspect that they didn’t have all of that data and information. And upon my search and trying to find people that would know that we’re in a position to know I have heard through word on the wash, you know, that now UAPTF has a lot more data than before. So this is so cool. This is where reporting, you and I are reporting and it’s influencing the knowledge base of governmental organizations that can now take this seriously and put it into hopefully, the summer release of information. So to answer your question very succinctly, the reason I think that the triangular and pyramid shaped UFO footage was confirmed and the USS Omaha USO, Unidentified Submerging Object, was not confirmed directly, although as a play on words, is because I think when we’re breaking news, people are playing catch up, George.


Still images from video recorded by the U.S. Navy showing Pyramid shaped UAPs flying above the USS Russell. (Image sourced by @JeremyCorbell)

George Knapp  
The slide created for the UAP Task Force briefing document shows the USS Omaha, it is a still image. There’s been a lot of speculation, as you know, online and in the UFO world, that it might be a still image taken from a video. We can now confirm that is the fact, right.

Jeremy Corbell  
Yeah. So in fact, what happened was when these huge series of events happened in a warning area off the coast of San Diego, there were so many ships involved. And there were so many things happening, that some of the people on the ships were tasked with putting reports up the chain of command. They didn’t know is going to go to UAPTF. They’re just doing these reports because that’s their job. And these are unknowns unidentifiedes with peculiar functionalities. So all of a sudden, you and I released these UAPTF images that were part of this intelligence report. All unclassified and all of a sudden people realize, well, these are stills that were prepared. It’s a briefing, which means it was brief, there’s a lot more data, there’s full video of this thing, allegedly, or seemingly descending and going into the water without destruction. So the essence of this is, it would be very easy to assume that these images came from video. And you and I can now not only confirm that, but we can release part of that.

George Knapp
Let’s set the stage of where this is happening. We have a map that shows where the USS Omaha is. As mentioned earlier, there were several ships involved. A friend of ours and mutual friend Tyler Rogoway, wrote for The Drive and he got a lot of FOIA information, ship logs that established where various ships were when the things happened to them. In that same time period, the USS Omaha was buzzed by craft at a position that we’ll show on this map just sort of straight west from San Diego, west of the Channel Islands, it was buzzed over a period of days, right, from what you’ve learned?

Jeremy Corbell  
It was. So Tyler Rogoway’s like the only journalist that has got everything right so far, when it comes to ship positions and that kind of thing. He’s very thorough, and I really appreciate, you know, what he put out. Now the Omaha wasn’t listed on his map, but I talked to him about that. It’s possible the Omaha came in from over 100 miles away on the 15th, the next day, but all this activity is in an area and there were more ships involved than people know. And they all had kind of different experiences. Although, you know, there were similarities, but what we’re about to show people is the exact GPS location of the USS Omaha at the height of this event series, particularly the exact time and location when this object drops into the water. Now shows you the location of the USS Omaha to the exact degree with coordinates and you’ll see that in your bottom left of the screen. So what I guess what I’m saying is the footage I have, we’ve confirmed and validated. George and I just so everybody knows, we’ve confirmed and validated. It took us some time and I think everybody’s gonna find out and they’re going to confirm and get it validated for themselves. But we got it confirmed and validated. So this footage you’re seeing is authentic. Whatever it is. It is real Navy footage filmed on the Sapphire which is a FLIR system from the ship, live.

George Knapp  
Here we go, we’ll play the video.

Transcript of USS Omaha video
:05 “Took off, bookin’ it.”
:21 “Break, OMAHA, PINCKNEY, KIDD, RAFAEL PERALTA possibility to launch helo ASAP”. 
:28 “If it splashes you get a bearing and range.”:30 “Yes sir.”
:32 “… keep going bro [inaudible]”:33 [inaudible]
:36 “… it’s windy as f**k out there.”
:42 “… got a lotta white water out there. Six foot swells.”
:43 “Whoa, it’s getting close.”
:50 “We have, uh, 31 knots sustained wind topside, gust of 40 [knots].”
:56 “Whoa, it splashed!”
:57 “Splashed!”
:58 “Mark bearing and range.”

George Knapp
Jeremy, explain where that video is recorded. So it’s not somebody standing on the side of the ship looking over the edge. It’s inside the ship and the command center right?

Jeremy Corbell 
Yeah, what you’re seeing is footage from within the CIC, which is the Combat Information Center. And that’s live, that’s as this was happening. That’s as they’re tracking these targets. And that’s as you’re seeing one of the targets appear to become transmedium, and go into the water.

George Knapp  
So you can hear the excitement of the people who are watching this unfold. They don’t know what this thing is.

Jeremy Corbell 
Oh, yeah, definitely this. This was a very unique event series. This is something that none of them had really experienced prior in this way. You do hear the excitement. So if you think about the iconic footage of the go fast video or you think about the iconic footage of the gimbal video, we are now able as a society to really look at this UFO Footage and understand what FLIR is, what thermal imagery is, why it’s black and white. What we should be seeing if something had rotors or fins or tails and what we’re not seeing. So you do hear the excitement and something I think is worth mentioning is just like how Your hearing, you know, it’s going against the wind at 130 knots, whatever was said in the Gimbal video, we’re hearing and seeing something like that in this video. When they say splash splash, that doesn’t mean there was a physical splash. That means this object went into the water or they suspect it did. And they did carry out, there was a search that was underway, you heard him say, you know, send out hilos or whatever. But the wind was really choppy. And the water was really choppy. But I did report and I’m standing behind it, there was a search by a submarine that was unsuccessful, they did not find wreckage, and this object was not small. I’ll just put it to you that way for now. But there’s ways for me to qualify that. But when you hear their excitement, and they say mark the bearing and range, splash splash, And they say mark the bearing and range, splash splash. Whoa, splash. I mean, that is equivalent to the air footage we have. But this is now going into the sea.

George Knapp  
It occurs to me that this went on for quite a while, an hour. At 11 o’clock at night, right? That’s when it happened. 11 o’clock at night. It’s dark out there in the middle of the ocean. And this object, the dimensions of which we will describe later, but it’s a spherical object that travels right along with the ship for a period of time, like, Hey, take pictures of me.

Jeremy Corbell  
Oh, no, there were a lot of actions. Yeah. So let’s talk about the actions of these craft and what was going on. That’s important to clarify. But just to nail down one point, I told everybody that when I said 11 p.m., I meant 11 p.m., not 11:01. So everybody can now look in the bottom right, you can confirm that it’s the 15th of July 2019. You can also confirm that the object appears to descend into the water at precisely 11 p.m. Pacific time. Now the indicators that you see on screen, you’re going to see I think a different date, you’re going to see the 16th at 6 a.m. because that’s general mean time (GMT). But that ship where it was with those GPS coordinates, you know, they’re in the Pacific Time Zone. So people will be a little confused at first. But understand it’s 11 p.m. sharp, at exactly July 15. At the coordinates you see in the left side of the screen.

George Knapp  
I am not sure how far we can go in this conversation. But there is more to be revealed. So is that object alone, or were there other objects that look like this sphere, traveling with it.

Jeremy Corbell  
Okay, so the object was not alone. This was a swarm. I think it’s fair to say that there was a minimum of 14 objects. And that’s a minimum. There, there could have been more. That’s at one time on the S band radar screens. So yeah, there you go. That’s what I know to the best of my understanding from individuals who have been in a position to know, multiple individuals.

George Knapp  
The USS Omaha is what is called littoral, not literal, but littoral combat ship, built to be small and fast and maneuverable and suitable for multiple kinds of missions that the ships were created to, a lot of different kinds of roles. Anti submarine warfare, anti mines, anti surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, special ops, so it’s jam packed with sophisticated sensors, it should be able to see unidentified craft that are heading its way. It should be able to get it on radar, sonar, various sensors. Can you describe how successful the various sensors on the Omaha were in terms of tracking these things, keeping them in their sights, and then seeing when they leave?

Jeremy Corbell 
Yeah, so I think I should reiterate, everything that we are releasing is unclassified. People are going to understand more about that as we go forward. But I just like to be very clear that it’s possible that this footage is not contained in classified reports that we’ve reported on before. This might be fresh information for a lot of people. So just to back up a second. Everything we’re releasing is unclassified. There are numerous sensor systems on a craft as cool as USS Omaha. The two I think are worth talking about is SPS 77, which is like an air search technology. It’s a very interesting technology. But I would say I’d put a little bit more weight on the S band radar. And that’s something that I think we’re going to report on more later. We know from these systems, the shape is probably very similar to what you’re seeing in that video. Kind of like the Tic Tac video, when Commander Underwood said that look, you should be able to see wings and rotors and plumes and wash and you don’t see any of that. I would argue very successfully, I think, that you would see similar aspects in this footage if they were there. Additionally, there are certain types of, so that’s with the Sapphire FLIR system. With the S band radar, if we were to get more into that in the weeks to come, I would suspect there’s a minimum size that can be picked up by the S band radar. And I would suspect that things getting picked up by S band radar would probably be at least six feet in diameter spherically of solid mass, that means no like sticks with rotors on them reaching out six feet, I’m talking about an actual mass of at least six feet, if that makes sense.

George Knapp 
So there were 14 of these things at any given time. And my understanding is there was difficulty in keeping track of all of them in terms of whatever sensor systems were being used, the one that we’re watching, we’re gonna see the video again in a second, the one that we’re watching on that screen, what technology is showing us that image because it’s pitch black, it’s 11 o’clock at night, it’s dark out there, what system is being used to show that image on screen.

Jeremy Corbell  
Okay, so the way people will understand it is just like you’ve seen in the Tic Tac, the Gimbal, and the Go Fast. It’s a FLIR technology, which is a thermal technology. That’s why you’re seeing in black and white because it is pitch black, you’re out at sea. So it’s showing the differentials of thermal from how I understand it. It’s called a Sapphire system. And that’s something that I think people will start looking into now. But it’s made by FLIR, it’s the same type of system.

George Knapp
Let’s, let’s watch the video again. And we’ll stop at a couple of points to remark about some of what we’re hearing.

*** VIDEO ***

George Knapp
All right, we’re stopping it there, Jeremy. So you know, it’s out in the ocean. It’s at night. Winds are blowing at 35 knots, which is 1.15 times miles per hour, I think is how you calculate it. So roughly 40 miles per hour. And this thing is just sitting there traveling right along.

Jeremy Corbell 
Yeah, so that is interesting. You know, look, I did mention that these were sizable machines. And that’s something to take into consideration. You know, these aren’t commercial drones or even how we understand military drones to be. The gusts of wind were intense at the time. Great. But the big thing that gets me and this is evidence that will be provided at a later date, you know, these objects were in varying speeds from you know, 40, the objects themselves the UFOs, that, you know, from from 40 knots all the way up to 138 knots, like 150 miles an hour. You know, I know the drones we have, the thing that was most interesting to a lot of individuals involved with witnessing and recording and documenting and being part of this event series was the longevity, that the duration, the endurance, as they would say, of these objects. I mean, they lasted way over an hour out there. So to have high powered lights to be that brazen to make all the maneuvers to be fighting against the wind to be hitting speeds like that, and then slowing down. That takes battery power. So this is fascinating. And also they never found where these things came from or went to. So they don’t know where they’re launching from or going from. I mean, maybe it’s the water because that’s what we’re seeing one do. We know for sure one appears to go into the water? I don’t know. There’s more questions than there are answers. I would love for this to be US American technology that just somehow everybody’s miscommunicating on. However, I do see that if that is true, then it doesn’t matter whose they are. This represents a technology that is profound just on the energy conservation of propulsion. So that’s interesting to begin with.

George Knapp  
Also what we’re not seeing, we’re not seeing rotors, or exhaust, any evidence of any known propulsion system. That’s just the flying part. And then something else happens that we’re gonna see now we’ll just continue the video.

*** VIDEO ***

George Knapp 
Alright Jeremy, when they say splash, I don’t see a splash. So splash doesn’t mean literally splash, right?

Jeremy Corbell 
Yeah, correct. This is something just meaning it appears to have gone into the water. And that’s what they’re saying, like a splashdown, it’s just a term that has nothing to do with a splash. You notice that immediately, they want to find out, you know, maybe send out a helicopter, like find out how, you know, retrieve the parts, maybe. But again, I’ll tell you, I’ll stand firmly behind this, there was a sub that went and found nothing. So no destruction. And again, it was a sizable object. So splash means that’s when it appears to descend into the water, like a transmedium vehicle would, where something can go from air to sea to sky to space without resistance in a way, you know, I’m hoping that’s what it was.

George Knapp 
I mean we call it a drone. Or it might be called a UAV or UAS, whatever you want to call it. It’s flying along beside this ship for an hour or so. Then after it figures, it’s got enough close ups, it goes into the water, pretty dramatic little incident there. And then there were attempts to pursue it, to figure out what happened, to look for debris if it crashed, to see where it went. I mean, this is a surveillance ship, it’s packed with surveillance gear, it has other ships and assets around it. They went looking for this thing, did they find it?

Jeremy Corbell 
They did not find it. And really, let’s take a step back. We don’t know when these objects were appearing and disappearing, at one time 14 with this event series over the course of three days, that was the largest number on the screen. We don’t know if they were going in and out constantly of the water, we can’t make the assumption that we know. We’ve got one that appears to be going in the water, again, appears to be because there was no destruction, there was no craft, there was nothing they could find. That’s why people are thinking it’s transmedium. It was going in the water to be able to go. And we just don’t know. We do know that these things were illuminated. And that’s what’s so interesting. It’s so brazen, you know, these things were swarming, not just, you know, kind of like, far off. But there were many that were all around in different areas on the ship, you know, there might be footage from the deck of the ship, you know, filming up into inky darkness of lights, that gives you a reason or an understanding of why these would be designated drones. The people involved that I think would have been in a position to have influence or say on how these things were designated, the biggest comments that I’ve been getting is that drone was just this catch all phrase because of the maneuverability, because of this the size, not of any body that they saw, not have any rotors that they heard, but just of the ball of light that was observable. So this idea that it was a drone was really, some people said to me, that they felt that they had failed in their duties, that this should have been investigated better, that for some reason, it was as if they were more curious than they were threatened. And so this idea that these are drones, okay, cool. Well, the people that actually made that designation, aren’t saying they know they’re drones. So the idea is, who has the capabilities that these technologies represent? That’s what we want to know. Because we can figure out intent once we know who is behind it.

George Knapp   
Well, I mean, I think Chris Mellon, and maybe some others have said, if some foreign power has been able to take this kind of a technological leap, or it can create objects with no known propulsion system that can sneak up on a surveillance ship, a ship designed for surveillance, and then disappear and you can’t track it. You don’t know where it came from. It performs things that we can’t do, it can fly along, and then go into the ocean and just disappear. That’s technology we don’t have and it would represent a massive intelligence failure on our part, if that technology belongs to China or Russia or some other adversary.

Jeremy Corbell   
Yeah, look, if this one particular UFO, USO, UAP, whatever you want to call it if it did go into the water without destruction as it appears. I mean, this is huge. This is transmedium vehicles. We do not have that. So everything is identified. Well, I mean, we have that but not in the capabilities we’re seeing. So everything is unidentified until identified. So even in the UAPTF reports that we have been exposed to, to some degree, the world has, they don’t know what these things are. But we do know what they’re not. And that’s important. These are not conventional drones as we know them, if they are transmedium, just the flight power alone to be out there. It’s very interesting when we start looking at different cases, like the Tic Tac case, the Gimbal case, and you start putting these in that mosaic. Man, this becomes really interesting, because the question is, we can defend against drones, we have that capability. Drones are not a problem for the United States. This is something Lue (Elizondo) has said, this is not me saying it. So with that said, what’s going on here that spans so many ships over the course of so many days, that everybody’s recording and documenting, we have everything from pyramidal shaped objects to these spherical, lit up, transmedium, it appears, vehicles that drop into the water. This is astounding. Whoever has this technology, we got to find out who it is.

George Knapp   
We are jointly releasing this material, you on extraodinarybeliefs.com, and us on Mystery Wire high noon, and the world can look at it and debate. And hopefully, in the days ahead, we’ll get a statement from the Pentagon of whether or not they acknowledge this video as being also recorded by the Navy and whether or not maybe the UAP Task Force is now taking a look at the same images that we have shared with the world.

Jeremy Corbell  
Yeah, look, if we can have a positive influence on the process that is underway right now to inform the American and global public about the nature of the presence of UFOs on planet Earth. If we can provide more information that then has to be included in the UAP Task Force mission in what they’re doing. They can get a full time staff for this and we can get a great report in the summer. Man, that would be so cool. But all we’re doing, you and I are presenting information that we know to be accurate, and that it is real Navy footage that these events happened as we described, it is now up to the public, to analyze, to look, to ask questions, to knock on doors. We’re just providing some information saying we don’t know these are unidentified, but they’re really cool.

George Knapp  
Yeah. All right. And suffice to say, we’ll have further details about this image. There may be some other things coming real soon.

Jeremy Corbell  
Yes, there is.

George Knapp  
Thanks Jeremy.

World first: Oblique wave detonation engine may unlock Mach 17 aircraft

#NASA #SPACE #Hypersonic

UCF researchers have successfully fired up a new hypersonic detonation engine that harnesses the raw power of a sustained, trapped explosion. The new engine could power aircraft up to 17 times the speed of sound.

UCF researchers have successfully fired up a new hypersonic detonation engine that harnesses the raw power of a sustained, trapped explosion. The new engine could power aircraft up to 17 times the speed of sound. Background image credit: NASA. Aircraft and composite image credit: Daniel Rosato, UCFVIEW 4 IMAGES

UCF researchers say they’ve trapped a sustained explosive detonation, fixed in place, for the first time, channeling its enormous power into thrust in a new oblique wave detonation engine that could propel an aircraft up to 17 times the speed of sound, potentially beating the scramjet as a hypersonic propulsion method.

Deflagration – the high-temperature burning of fuel with oxygen – is a relatively slow, safe and controlled way to release chemical energy and turn it into motion, that’s why this nice, peaceful form of combustion underpins so much of our transport technology. But if you want to release the maximum possible energy from a unit of fuel, you get far better bang for your buck from … well, a bang.

Detonation is fast, chaotic and frequently destructive. It doesn’t necessarily require oxygen, just a single explosive material and some kind of energetic poke big enough to break the chemical bonds holding an already-unstable molecule together. It creates exothermic shockwaves that accelerate outwards at supersonic speeds, releasing enormous amounts of energy.

People have been trying to harness the raw power of detonation – the most powerful form of combustion – for more than 60 years, but putting a bridle on a bomb has proven extremely difficult. Pulse detonation engines create a series of repeated explosions in a manner similar to a pulse jet, and these have already been tested in aircraft – notably in the Scaled Composites Long-EZ “Borealis” project built by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and Innovative Scientific Solutions Incorporated back in 2008.

Rotating detonation engines, in which the shockwaves from one detonation are tuned to trigger further detonations within a ring-shaped channel, were thought of as impossible to build right up until researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) went ahead and demonstrated a prototype last year in sustained operation. Due for testing in a rocket launch by around 2025, rotating detonation engines should be more efficient than pulse detonation engines simply because the combustion chamber doesn’t need to be cleared out between detonations.

Now, another team from UCF, including some of the same researchers that built the rotating detonation engine last year, says it’s managed a world-first demonstration of an elusive third type of detonation engine that could out-punch them all, theoretically opening up a pathway to aircraft flying at speeds up to 13,000 mph (21,000 km/h), or 17 times the speed of sound.

The standing wave, or oblique wave detonation engine (OWDE), aims to produce a continuous detonation that’s stable and fixed in space, making for a ruthlessly efficient and controllable propulsion system generating significantly more power and using less fuel than current technology allows.https://9a9046486c0d3edb6d1cd88e21862dd6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The UCF team claims it has successfully stabilized a detonation wave under hypersonic flow conditions, keeping it in place rather than having it move upstream (where it could cause the fuel source to explode) or downstream (where it would lose its explosive advantage and fizzle out into a deflagration).

A schematic diagram of the experimental HyperReact prototype
A schematic diagram of the experimental HyperReact prototype

To do so, the team built an experimental prototype that it called the High-Enthalpy Hypersonic Reacting Facility – or HyperReact, for short. Less than a meter (3.3 ft) long, the HyperReact can loosely be described as a hollow tube, divided into three sections, each with a precisely shaped interior.

The first section is a 350-mm (13.8-in) mixing chamber – a square-section channel with 45-mm (1.8-in) sides. Here, a pre-burner ignites a jet of hydrogen fuel, pre-mixed with air. Four more air channels around the pre-burner jet accelerate the flow to the appropriate speeds.

The second section is a converging-diverging (CD) nozzle, with an axisymmetric square cross-section all the way down. The main fuel injector adds 99.99 percent ultra-high-purity hydrogen fuel to the hot, fast, high-pressure air coming down the tube just before it enters the CD nozzle, which rapidly tapers down to a 9-mm-high (0.35-in) throat before diverging back out to a 45-mm square again. This shape is designed to accelerate the mix up to Mach 5.0 before heading into the final “test section,” where the detonation takes place.

The test section takes in that hypersonic air/fuel mix and runs it up a ramp with a 30-degree angle on the bottom side of the square tube. Tuning the flow speed and air/fuel mix, the team was able to find parameters that manipulated the pressure wave interactions in the chamber to produce the unthinkable: a stable, continuous explosion that stayed almost still, fluctuating slightly in a cyclical pattern, over the front lip of the ramp.

Overlaid shadowgraph-chemiluminescence images show conditions in the test chamber in a non-reacting Mach 5 airflow, and then with fuel added to create the oblique detonation wave
Overlaid shadowgraph-chemiluminescence images show conditions in the test chamber in a non-reacting Mach 5 airflow, and then with fuel added to create the oblique detonation wave

Compared to conditions measured with the main fuel injector turned off, peak pressure was 2.7 times higher behind the ramp, and the nozzle exit pressure was 10.5 times higher. The flow velocity was calculated at 99.7 percent of the theoretical detonation wave speed for a freely propagating, normal explosion in the given mixture.

“This is the first time a detonation has been shown to be stabilized experimentally,” says Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and one of the authors on the new research paper. “We are finally able to hold the detonation in space in oblique detonation form. It’s almost like freezing an intense explosion in physical space.”

Where a detonation typically lasts only a matter of micro- or milliseconds, the UCF team managed to sustain this one experimentally until the fuel was turned off after around three seconds. That’s long enough to prove the device works, Ahmed told LiveScience, and if the team kept the fuel flowing any longer it would’ve destroyed the quartz windows on the sides of the test section, which were there to allow optical imaging of the tests. Replacing the test section with something entirely metal-sided would allow the detonation to be sustained much longer.

According to Ahmed, the prototype design is reasonably close to what a full-scale production OWDE would look like. The challenge now will be learning how to dynamically alter the fuel mix, flow speed and ramp angle to keep a detonation stable, reliable and controllable over a wide range of operating conditions and control inputs.

Top: the detonation structure for three phases during the test run. Bottom: the static pressure in the test chamber leaps up and is sustained for the duration of the fuel flow
Top: the detonation structure for three phases during the test run. Bottom: the static pressure in the test chamber leaps up and is sustained for the duration of the fuel flow

The OWDE has been spoken of theoretically for some time, as a potentially superior form of hypersonic propulsion to the scramjet. Scramjets tend to lose efficiency as airspeed rises, potentially topping out around Mach 14. The experimental results released by UCF point toward a “Sodramjet” (standing oblique detonation ramjet) aircraft capable of flying between Mach 6 and Mach 17.

What does it all mean? Well, hypersonic air travel at speeds up to Mach 17 won’t just open the door to potential sub-30 minute flights between New York and Los Angeles. It’ll also enable spaceplanes to efficiently fly themselves right up into orbit without strapping themselves to rocket boosters. And there could of course be some significant implications for national security and the global nuclear balance of power.

As our own David Szondy pointed out in this terrific hypersonic flight explainer from 2017, there’s not a radar or missile defense system in the world that could cope with a hypersonic missile at this point. What’s more, you wouldn’t even need a warhead on it to cause levels of devastation rivaling that of a nuclear bomb. “All that speed and all that inertia turns any research platform, recon unit, or passenger aircraft into a potential kinetic weapon,” writes Szondy. “They don’t need high explosives to destroy a target. All they have to do is hit it. In other words, any hypersonic vehicle is an intrinsic weapon given the proper modifications.”

Indeed, the research was funded not only by the National Science Foundation and the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium, but by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. So these bottled explosion engines are clearly a matter of military interest.

Scientists Just Found Evidence for Fifth Force of Nature

Scientists may have found evidence for a fifth force of nature.

#Science #physics # quantum

Listen to this article.
Reider Hahn / Fermilab
Image by Reider Hahn / Fermilab

Researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, in Illinois, have found new evidence suggesting that a subatomic particle called a muon is not following the known laws of physics, as The New York Times reports.

Muons are a lot like electrons but 207 times as massive. They also tend to decay extremely quickly into electrons and super-light particles called neutrinos.

Exposed to an intense magnetic field by being sent around a 46-foot magnetized ring at Fermilab, the team found that the muons wobbled in totally unpredictable ways that were not at all expected, astonishing researchers.

According to the Standard Model, the fundamental theory of how particles interact established in the second half of the 20th century, these movements can normally be measured and predicted in extreme detail.

It’s a watershed moment for the field of quantum physics. If confirmed, the results obtained by the experiments at Fermilab could rewrite the way we understand the fundamental laws governing physics — at least as we know them today.

“This quantity we measure reflects the interactions of the muon with everything else in the universe,” Renee Fatemi, a physicist at the University of Kentucky and manager of the experiment, said in an official statement. “But when the theorists calculate the same quantity, using all of the known forces and particles in the Standard Model, we don’t get the same answer.”

“This is strong evidence that the muon is sensitive to something that is not in our best theory,” Fatemi added.

That leaves the big question: what force of nature is actually causing the muon to wobble? Researchers suggest it may be sources of matter and energy that are yet to be understood and aren’t explained by the Standard Model — in other words, a fifth fundamental force of nature that would be added to gravity, electromagnetism, as well as strong and weak interactions between nuclei.

The new experiments, laid out in a series of papers submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters, confirm previous results found during experiments at the Brookhaven National Laboratory back in 2001.

“After the 20 years that have passed since the Brookhaven experiment ended, it is so gratifying to finally be resolving this mystery,” Fermilab scientist Chris Polly, who worked on both experiments, said in the statement.

There’s still the chance that Fermilab’s new measurements are wrong: a one in 40,000 chance, to be exact. That means scientists still can’t officially claim it as a discovery by physics standards, as the Times points out.

Polly also said that only less than six percent of the data collected by the Fermilab experiments has been analyzed so far. “Although these first results are telling us that there is an intriguing difference with the Standard Model, we will learn much more in the next couple of years,” he said.

Still, physicists around the world are thrilled. “Clearly, this is very exciting because it potentially points to a future with new laws of physics, new particles and a new force which we have not seen to date,” University of Manchester researcher and UK lead of the experiment Mark Lancaster, told the BBC.

Cambridge University researcher Ben Allanach, who was not involved in the experiments, is hopeful that the results will eventually be verified. “My Spidey sense is tingling and telling me that this is going to be real,” he told the British broadcaster.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft heading back to Earth after retrieving asteroid sample

#NASA #Space #Asteroid

NASA said the mission will help unlock the secrets of the solar system

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Monday began its long journey back to Earth after collecting a sample from the asteroid Bennu.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer was NASA’s first spacecraft to visit an asteroid near Earth to bring back a sampling for scientists. 

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. (NASA) Capturing a Sample

The spacecraft reached asteroid Bennue in 2018 and spent two years flying near and around it, before collecting rubble from the surface last fall. NASA said the mission will help unlock the secrets of our solar system. 

Early last month, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made one final flyby of asteroid Bennu to take photos of the disturbance left by October’s sample collection. It will return to Earth with its precious 2-pound sample load on Sept. 24, 2023.

It will be the biggest cosmic haul for the U.S. since the Apollo moon rocks. While NASA has returned comet dust and solar wind samples, this is the first time it’s gone after pieces of an asteroid. Japan has accomplished it twice, but in tiny amounts. 

Osiris-Rex was already nearly 200 miles from the solar-orbiting Bennu when it fired its main engines Monday afternoon for a fast, clean get-away.

NASA says that the spacecraft’s thrusters must change its velocity by 595 miles per hour for OSIRIS-REx’s path to intersect Earth and achieve a sample return from the Utah Test and Training Range. 

The spacecraft’s return home will not be linear, according to NASA. The OSIRIS-REX will circle the sun twice, covering roughly 1.4 billion miles to catch up with Earth. 

FILE: This illustration provided by NASA depicts the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu. 

FILE: This illustration provided by NASA depicts the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu.  (NASA via AP)

The solar-orbiting, carbon-rich asteroid is 182 million miles from Earth. By studying pieces of it, scientists hope to better understand how our solar system’s planets formed and how people should react if an asteroid endangers Earth.

The precious samples will be housed at a new lab under construction at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, already home to hundreds of pounds of lunar material collected by the 12 Apollo moonwalkers from 1969 to 1972.

Scientists initially thought the spacecraft stored 2 pounds of asteroid rubble, but more recently revised their estimate downward. They won’t know for certain how much is on board until the capsule is opened after touchdown.

‘My Saddest Photo’: Astronaut Sees Gaza-Israel Conflict from Space

#ISS #Gaza #Israel #War German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted an image of Gaza and Israel as seen from the International Space Station.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this image Wednesday of Gaza and Israel as seen from the International Space Station on Twitter.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this image of Gaza and Israel as seen from the International Space Station.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this image of Gaza and Israel as seen from the International Space Station, saying “My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel.”

The weeks-old conflict that began with Israel airstrikes and rockets fired from Gaza has now expanded into an Israel ground invasion on the enclave and claimed the lives of 630 Palestinians in 2014, most of whom were civilians and about 30 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Yep, that’s what Gaza looks like from space.

Some astronauts describe experiencing something called the “overview effect” while looking down at Earth from space. They see Earth, hanging in darkness like a marble, vulnerable but for a thin, glowing atmosphere. And they realize something that people on Earth have trouble seeing — that we are all in this together, living on this tiny little marble surrounded by a perhaps infinite universe. Looking down from space, there are no national borders, no conflicts. It sounds cheesy, but according to the astronauts who’ve experienced it, it was a profound shift in consciousness.

Perhaps that’s what makes this photo so unsettling. Humans murdering other humans with such massive fire power and hatred that you can watch the death and destruction unfold from 200 miles above Earth.

Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut on the International Space Station, posted this photograph to Twitter this afternoon. He calls it his “saddest photo yet.” It’s hard to disagree. 

Voyager 1 Is Detecting a ‘Hum’ of Plasma Waves in The Void of Interstellar Space

Voyager 1, having spent over 43 years zooming away from Earth since its 1977 launch, is now a very long way away indeed. #Voyager #space #astronomy

Its distance from the Sun is over 150 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. It takes over 21 hours for transmissions traveling at light speed to arrive at Earth. It officially passed the heliopause – the boundary at which pressure from the solar wind is no longer sufficient to push into the wind from interstellar space – in 2012.

Voyager 1 has left the Solar System – and it’s finding that the void of space is not quite so void-like, after all.

In the latest analysis of data from the intrepid probe, from a distance of nearly 23 billion kilometers (over 14 billion miles), astronomers have discovered, from 2017 onwards, a constant hum from plasma waves in the interstellar medium, the diffuse gas that lurks between the stars.

“It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” said astronomer Stella Koch Ocker of Cornell University. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

Obviously we know that interstellar space isn’t completely empty, but since stars are so bright, the vastly fainter wispy material that hangs out between them is really hard to see and measure. Usually, we have to rely on the way light changes when it travels through interstellar material to know it’s there, and to quantify it.

The Voyager probes are the first human-made objects to enter interstellar space, and therefore represent a unique opportunity to sample the interstellar medium directly.

Even so far from the Sun, though, and even beyond the reach of the solar wind, it’s not exactly easy. The Sun is still a bright and a noisy beast, letting out solar eruptions that can drown out the ambient conditions.

“The interstellar medium is like a quiet or gentle rain,” said astronomer James Cordes of Cornell University. “In the case of a solar outburst, it’s like detecting a lightning burst in a thunderstorm and then it’s back to a gentle rain.”

That gentle rain, according to the team, suggests that there could be more low-level activity in the interstellar medium than scientists had thought. What that activity is caused by is not entirely clear; it could be thermally excited plasma oscillations, or quasi-thermal noise generated by the movements of electrons in plasma, producing a local electric field.

Whatever is causing it, the discovery has several implications. The hum can be used to map the plasma density as both Voyager probes move deeper into interstellar space (Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause in 2018).

It can also be used to better understand the interaction between the interstellar medium and the solar wind. We know there’s an increase in electron density just on the other side of the heliopause – both Voyager probes detected it when they traveled on through. Knowing the density of the interstellar medium more accurately can help us figure out why.

The discovery and the persistence of the emission also suggest that Voyager will continue to be able to detect it, providing us with ongoing readings that will help us understand turbulence and the large-scale structure of the interstellar medium.

“We’ve never had a chance to evaluate it. Now we know we don’t need a fortuitous event related to the Sun to measure interstellar plasma,” said astronomer Shami Chatterjee of Cornell University.

“Regardless of what the Sun is doing, Voyager is sending back detail. The craft is saying, ‘Here’s the density I’m swimming through right now. And here it is now. And here it is now. And here it is now.’ Voyager is quite distant and will be doing this continuously.”

Not forever, though. The radioisotope thermoelectric generator powering the probe’s instruments degrades a little bit more every year. By around 2025, it may no longer be able to keep them running.

Which is why it is so important to glean as much data as we can, while there’s still the opportunity.

The research has been published in Nature Astronomy.

Could the Next Space Station Be a Hotel?

Commercializing space is no longer a far-out idea. In fact, NASA is fully on board. #space #spacehotel #hotel #spacestation

It had a good run.
It had a good run. Photographer: NASA/Getty

In 1967, Barron Hilton, the future head of Hilton Hotels Corp., turned up at an American Astronautical Society meeting devoted to “outer space tourism.” The first moon landing was still two years out, but Hilton wasn’t going to be late to the next big travel market. At the conference, he laid out plans for Earth-orbiting Hiltons and lunar hotels, complete with Galaxy Lounges where guests might “enjoy a martini and the stars.”

Alas, humans would have to wait decades for an outer-space outpost, and the one they got, the International Space Station, wasn’t built for private occupation, much less luxury travel. But now, as the ISS nears the end of its useful life, some entrepreneurs are revisiting Hilton’s vision — and even thinking bigger.

The American ambition to commercialize space is almost as old as the urge to explore it. In 1962, NASA launched Telstar 1, the world’s first privately financed satellite (paid for by AT&T). Hours after launch, it relayed the first live trans-Atlantic television pictures, opening the way for today’s multibillion-dollar communication-satellite industry.

But actual space stations that could host human visitors turned out to be a far greater challenge. Although Soviet and American scientists launched competing designs for such a facility in the 1970s, these were more akin to floating tin cans than Hilton’s vacation bungalows. Yet NASA was lobbying for something much more ambitious: a crewed orbital station that could serve as a laboratory, factory and waypoint for travel to the moon and Mars.

The ISS, announced in 1984, seemed to fit the bill. Like many government projects with multiple stakeholders, however, it ran persistently over-budget and over-deadline. Its first launch didn’t get off the ground until 1998. Total costs over the three decades to 2015 are thought to have exceeded $150 billion, giving the ISS a decent claim to being the most expensive thing ever built. For that kind of money, Americans rightly expected the ISS to get a lot done. Yet the facility has been badly underused for most of its history, thanks to both chronic mismanagement and the high cost of delivering people and equipment to space.

Starting in 2005, NASA hit on a new strategy for addressing the latter problem. It signed agreements with three private space companies to deliver cargo and crew to the station, in the hopes of both driving down costs and encouraging a commercial space industry to develop. NASA would act as an adviser and investor, and select the most promising design to replace the soon-to-be-retired Space Shuttle.

It was a long-shot bet that little-known companies such as SpaceX could do better than traditional aerospace contractors. And it was a huge success: Sixteen years later, the cost of launching people and gear to the ISS has fallen dramatically, and commercial space is booming. Last year, Estee Lauder Cos. arranged for face cream to be photographed on the station. This year, tourists will arrive for a holiday via a SpaceX rocket (at $55 million per ticket) and Tom Cruise will film scenes for an upcoming movie.

But NASA’s vision extends well beyond such one-offs. In 2020, the agency contracted with Axiom Space Inc. to attach modules (with Philippe Starck-designed interiors) to the ISS that will break off and form a commercial station that will include residential quarters as well as a lab and manufacturing facility. In March, it announced that it will fund up to four other companies to develop competing concepts, using a similar model to the one that led to SpaceX’s success. 

Many details remain to be worked out, including what exactly to do with the ISS. But a sustainable commercial outpost in low-Earth orbit has a lot to recommend it. NASA would merely have to be a customer rather than an owner-operator, thus saving money for taxpayers or for other space priorities. Companies could use the new platform to conduct microgravity experiments, pharmaceutical research, materials-science testing and more. As costs decline, there’s good reason to think that they’ll come up with entirely novel uses for it.

Of course, no one should expect orbiting Hiltons just yet. But the dream of commercializing space is no longer a moonshot.

Quantum Entanglement Has Now Been Directly Observed at a Larger Macroscopic Scale

Quantum entanglement is the binding together of two particles or objects, even though they may be far apart – their respective properties are linked in a way that’s not possible under the rules of classical physics.

It’s a weird phenomenon that Einstein described as “spooky action at a distance“, but its weirdness is what makes it so fascinating to scientists. In new researchquantum entanglement has been directly observed and recorded at the macroscopic scale – a scale much bigger than the subatomic particles normally associated with entanglement.

The dimensions involved are still very small from our perspective – these experiments involved two tiny aluminum drums one-fifth the width of a human hair – but in the realm of quantum physics they’re absolutely huge.

entangle 2The macroscopic mechanical drums. (J. Teufel/NIST)

“If you analyze the position and momentum data for the two drums independently, they each simply look hot,” says physicist John Teufel, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US.

“But looking at them together, we can see that what looks like random motion of one drum is highly correlated with the other, in a way that is only possible through quantum entanglement.”

While there’s nothing to say that quantum entanglement can’t happen with macroscopic objects, before now it was thought that the effects weren’t noticeable at larger scales – or perhaps that the macroscopic scale was governed by another set of rules.

This new research suggests that’s not the case. In fact, the same quantum rules apply here, too, and can actually be seen as well. Researchers vibrated the tiny drum membranes using microwave photons and kept them kept in a synchronized state in terms of their position and velocities.

To prevent outside interference, a common problem with quantum states, the drums were cooled, entangled, and measured in separate stages while inside a cryogenically chilled enclosure. The states of the drums are then encoded in a reflected microwave field that works in a similar way to radar.

Previous studies have also reported on macroscopic quantum entanglement, but the new research goes further: All of the necessary measurements were recorded rather than inferred, and the entanglement was generated in a deterministic, non-random way.

In a related but separate series of experiments, researchers also working with macroscopic drums (or oscillators) in a state of quantum entanglement have shown how it’s possible to measure the position and momentum of the two drumheads at the same time.

“In our work, the drumheads exhibit a collective quantum motion,” says physicist Laure Mercier de Lepinay, from Aalto University in Finland. “The drums vibrate in an opposite phase to each other, such that when one of them is in an end position of the vibration cycle, the other is in the opposite position at the same time.”

“In this situation, the quantum uncertainty of the drums’ motion is canceled if the two drums are treated as one quantum-mechanical entity.”

What makes this headline news is that it gets around Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – the idea that position and momentum can’t be perfectly measured at the same time. The principle states that recording either measurement will interfere with the other through a process called quantum back action.

As well as backing up the other study in demonstrating macroscopic quantum entanglement, this particular piece of research uses that entanglement to avoid quantum back action – essentially investigating the line between classical physics (where the Uncertainty Principle applies) and quantum physics (where it now doesn’t appear to).

One of the potential future applications of both sets of findings is in quantum networks – being able to manipulate and entangle objects on a macroscopic scale so that they can power next-generation communication networks.

“Apart from practical applications, these experiments address how far into the macroscopic realm experiments can push the observation of distinctly quantum phenomena,” write physicists Hoi-Kwan Lau and Aashish Clerk, who weren’t involved in the studies, in a commentary on the new research.

Both the first and the second study have been published in Science.

China’s rogue Long March 5B rocket debris lands in Indian Ocean: report

The reported landing ended days of speculation about where and when the debris would hit Earth.

Michio Kaku details the impending rocket crash due to take place this weekend on ‘Your World’ with Neil Cavuto

The remnants of China’s rogue Long March 5B rocket reportedly landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday — late Saturday night Eastern U.S. time — after its uncontrolled descent was tracked around the world over the past week.

Reuters reported the landing, citing information from the Chinese government.

In addition, U.S. Space Command retweeted a post by Space-Track.org, indicating the rocket debris had landed.

Earlier Saturday, the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron listed possible landing sites in Costa Rica, Haiti, Australia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and New Zealand sometime between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

The approach of the rocket debris prompted emotions ranging from worry to concern to indifference — with jokes cracked along the way.

“We call it the Chinese rocket because it comes from CHINA,” comedians the Hodge Twins joked late Saturday.

Space junk watchers had expected the core to come down sometime Saturday or Sunday, but couldn’t predict early on when or where specifically because atmospheric variables, including the weather, could have a huge impact on the rocket’s path, the astronomer Dr. Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Fox News on Friday.

“Since we don’t know WHEN, we don’t know where,” he said in an email. “If you’re an hour out in WHEN, you’re 18,000 miles wrong in WHERE.”

That’s because the 23-ton rocket core, which is about 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, was whizzing around the planet at about 18,000 mph, inching its way toward the surface before building friction upon reentry to the atmosphere.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, had said Friday he expected most of the rocket’s parts to burn up and that “the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities” was “extremely low.”

Experts agreed on that count – but they also indicated China’s launch practices were “irresponsible” at best.

All other space-capable countries tightly control their first-stage rockets, and they either safely splash down into the ocean before entering orbit or – in the case of SpaceX – return to the surface in a controlled descent for reuse.

Almost exactly a year ago, another Long March 5B rocket stage reentered the atmosphere, narrowly missing New York City before slamming into a West African village. No one was hurt, but China plans to lunch many more of the rockets as it assembles its new Tianhe space station, and each mission carries risk until authorities there enhance their safety measures.


For an uncontrolled re-entry event, it is not possible to accurately predict where the object or parts of the object will fall

The Long March 5B rocket is falling back to Earth after launching part of China’s next space station.

The 30-meter long rocket entered orbital velocity, meaning it is now traveling around the world every 90 minutes – too fast for space agencies to tell where it is going to land.

Last year, a similar prototype craft came within 13 minutes of hitting New York City. The craft was eventually confirmed by the US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron to have landed in the Atlantic Ocean.

If the rocket re-enters the atmosphere above a populated area, the result will be akin to a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles, Jonathan McDowell, Astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Centre at Harvard University, has said.

Fortunately, the likelihood is that people will remain safe and there will be little damage to buildings or the environment. This is not due to preventative or defensive measures, however, but rather a question of statistics.

For an uncontrolled re-entry event like this, it is not possible to accurately predict where the object or parts of the object will fall, the European Space Agency (ESA) says.

This is mainly because atmospheric density, which is what will push the rocket’s altitude to eventual re-entry, is not known below 300 kilometres because spacecraft do not fly at such low heights.

The Long March 5B rocket is currently fluctuating at an altitude of between 170 and 372 kilometres, but has been seen dropping to 160 kilometres today.

It is also likely that the object will simply burn up on re-entry, but parts of the rocket with a high melting point could make it to the ground. Experts struggle to know exactly how the rocket will make it through its re-entry, because the Chinese space agency only gives limited information about its spacecraft.

“Worst case [scenario] is one of the structural rods hits someone, potentially a fatality but unlikely to see multiple casualties”, McDowell told The Independent. He added that the debris will be travelling at approximately 100 miles-per-hour, so there could be expensive property damage, but because it will be spread over 100 miles, only one or two pieces are likely to hit a populated area.

In the past decade, about 100 satellites and rocket bodies have re-entered the atmosphere each year, with a total annual mass of about 150 tonnes, and the issue of space debris is one that is only going to be exacerbated with time due to a lack of legislation around cleaning up the space around our planet.

Nasa scientist Donald Kessler warned that the domino effect of a crash between two pieces of space detritus could create an impenetrable layer of debris that would make terrestrial space launches impossible – essentially trapping us on Earth.

This potential problem is much greater than the small probability of debris hitting buildings, or even people. In such an event, planned missions to the moon or even terraforming Mars could be irrevocably scrapped.

A pair of moons with underground oceans…

Intriguing possibility of life in two underground oceans in our solar system.

Interactions between deep ocean water and hot rock on Saturn’s moon Enceladus are thought to result in hydrothermal plumes that erupt through the moon’s icy crust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Jupiter and Saturn are both gas giants boasting multiple moons. Now, two separate studies have identified another similarity: Each appears to have a moon with hidden underground oceans.

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system and is the only moon with its own magnetic field, which frequently sparks glowing aurorae encircling the moon’s north and south poles. Ganymede’s close proximity to Jupiter means that the moon is also embedded within Jupiter’s magnetic field, and when Jupiter’s magnetic field shifts, the aurorae on Ganymede do too, rocking back and forth.

This illustration shows the process of light, soluble and reactive organic compounds making their way onto ice grains emitted in plumes from Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where they were detected by the Cassini spacecraft. The result indicates that this moon’s underground ocean contains the precursors of complex organic compounds like amino acids – the building blocks of life as we know it on Earth.

Using the Hubble space telescope to observe ultraviolet light emanating from the aurorae, scientists found, however, that the aurorae weren’t moving as much as expected. The team, led by Joachim Saur of the University of Cologne in Germany, determined that a large ocean of electrically conductive saltwater beneath Ganymede’s crust is likely counteracting the influence of Jupiter’s magnetic field on the aurora. Specifically, the researchers reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Ganymede’s ocean is probably about 100 kilometers deep — roughly 10 times thicker than Earth’s oceans — and buried under a 150-kilometer-thick crust of ice. They also noted that the new method using Hubble to track the movement of aurorae could be useful to look for evidence of water on distant planets.

In addition to Ganymede, Saturn’s satellite, Enceladus, may also have a vast reservoir of underground water. New gravitational field measurements, reported in Nature, suggest a body of water about 10 kilometers thick, under a layer of ice between 30 and 40 kilometers thick.

Observations by the Cassini spacecraft of Saturn’s E-ring — the second most outer ring, which is thought to be produced from debris from Enceladus — revealed a wealth of silicon-rich dust particles. The size and composition of the particles suggest that they may be produced by high-temperature reactions on the moon’s ocean floor. The particles must then make their way up through the ice to join the giant plume of gas, ice and dust that erupts from Enceladus’ south pole to form the E-ring.

The finding, reported by Hsiang-Wen Hsu of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues, is the first evidence of ongoing hydrothermal activity in our solar system other than on Earth.

Life on the Planet Mercury? ‘It’s Not Completely Nuts’

A new explanation for the rocky world’s jumbled landscape opens a possibility that it could have had ingredients for habitability.

The study theorizes that the “chaotic terrain” on Mercury’s surface was formed by activity underneath the planet’s barren, scorched exterior, and not a collision.
The study theorizes that the “chaotic terrain” on Mercury’s surface was formed by activity underneath the planet’s barren, scorched exterior, and not a collision.Credit…NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury — a planet with a surface hot enough to melt lead — might once have contained ingredients needed for life. Though that’s a pretty big might.

The new theory, published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a particularly muddled feature on the planet orbiting closest to the sun, known as “chaotic terrain.” Here, the cracked, uneven and jumbled landscape consists of fractured rock, mismatched peaks and collapsed craters.

“Think of a kid throwing up a bunch of building blocks and how they land,” said Deborah Domingue, a co-author of the study from the Planetary Science Institute, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz. “Some are up, some are down, some are tilted — that’s chaotic terrain.”

For nearly 50 years, scientists have thought the chaos on Mercury was caused by earthquakes that raced throughout the planet when a massive asteroid struck the planet’s far side.

But the new study, led by Dr. Domingue’s colleague Alexis Rodriguez, upends that notion. It suggests the terrain could not possibly have formed in response to the collision because it occurred 2 billion years after the impact crater formed.

In addition, Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues discovered that areas within the chaotic terrain appear to have dropped. It’s as though the layer of crust just below the surface had simply disappeared.

The easiest explanation is that subsurface volatiles — elements that can easily switch from a solid to a liquid or a gas — heated up as a result of the intrusion of magma below. That caused those elements to transform into a gas, forcing the terrain above them to collapse into a jumbled mess.

“Let’s say I have a house on stilts, and I kick one out,” Dr. Domingue said. “My house is going to tilt right? That’s what’s going on here.”

Paul Hayne, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder who was not involved in the study, agrees that the prevailing explanation for Mercury’s mishmash — which has long been unchallenged — is likely wrong. He also notes that the new story is consistent with what scientists have observed on Mars, where similar terrain was likely caused by the release of volatiles.

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It’s a thrilling prospect given that volatiles — particularly water — are needed to kick-start life. Though the team cannot say which volatiles were present, there is reason to hope that water might be one of them, Dr. Domingue said.

The finding runs against the notion that Mercury is inhospitable. At such a close distance to the sun, its surface reaches a scorching 800 degrees Fahrenheit during its day. Then, because the planet has no atmosphere to retain the heat, its surface plummets to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit during its night.

But a short distance below the surface, the temperatures are much cooler, even pleasant — at least for some life-forms, said Jeffrey Kargel, a co-author of the study who is also from the Planetary Science Institute.

“It is possible that as long as there was water, the temperatures would be appropriate for the survival and possibly the origin of life,” Dr. Kargel said. But at first, even he was not convinced.

“I thought Alexis had lost it at some point,” he said, referring to Dr. Rodriguez. “But the more I dug into the geologic evidence and the more I thought about the chemistry and physical conditions there, the more I realized that this idea — well it might be nuts, but it’s not completely nuts.”

Dr. Hayne, however, thinks that water is an unlikely culprit. The only scenario in which it might be possible is one where water is bound to the rocks.

“So you could have transient pockets of high water activity, but I don’t think this is a case where we’d see massive pools of water and subsurface lakes and that sort of thing,” Dr. Hayne said.

Nonetheless, the suggestion that water could exist at all on a planet like Mercury provides a compelling clue toward the search for life across the galaxy. Astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars — some of which look similar to Mercury.

“If it’s happening here, it’s happening somewhere else,” Dr. Rodriguez said.

Some Viruses Have a Completely Different Genome to The Rest of Life on Earth

In the world of microbial warfare, sometimes you have to change the very fabric of who you are.

Viruses that infect bacteria – fittingly called bacteriophages – and their prey have been at war for eons, each side evolving more devilish tactics to infect or destroy each other. Eventually, some bacteriophages took this arms race to a new level by changing the way they code their DNA.

At least, that’s what we think happened. Once thought to be an outlier, new research published in three separate papers shows that there’s a whole army of bacteriophages with non-standard DNA, which researchers call a Z-genome.

“Genomic DNA is composed of four standard nucleotides … These nucleobases form the genetic alphabet, ATCG, which is conserved across all domains of life,” biologists Michael Grome and Farren Isaacs write in a recent Science editorial accompanying the new research on bacteriophage genetics.

“However, in 1977, the DNA virus cyanophage S-2L was discovered with all instances of ‘A’ substituted with 2-aminoadenine (Z) throughout its genome forming the genetic alphabet ZTCG.”

The reason appeared to be self-protection. Within the connecting ‘rungs’ of a DNA double helix, the ‘Z’ base forms a triple bond to the opposite ‘T’ base, one more than the two bonds of the regular A:T connection. This makes the viral genome hardier and more difficult for bacteria to prise apart with chemicals called nucleases.

Although scientists were fascinated, no other bacteriophages were found with the Z-genome, and with the difficulty of culturing S-2L in a lab, the Z-genome was set aside as a curiosity.

Now, research documented in three separate studies from researchers in France and China shows that this was not a one-off, whilst also characterizing how the Z-genome works and how it’s assembled.

“Scientists have long dreamed of increasing the diversity of bases. Our work shows that nature has already come up with a way to do that,” one of the teams, led by first author Yan Zhou from Tianjin University, wrote in their paper.

Zhou’s team, along with another group led by Institut Pasteur microbiologist Dona Sleiman, found two major proteins which they called PurZ and PurB; these make up the ‘Z’ base.

A third group, led by Université Paris-Saclay synthetic biologist Valerie Pezo, corroborated those findings and analysed an enzyme – called DpoZ – which is responsible for assembling the whole Z-genome together.

All three searched genetic sequence databases for the sequences relating to their proteins and enzymes, and found a wide variety of bacteriophages with similar genes.

“[The authors] have done an amazingly comprehensive job of showing that this is not one crazy outlier, but there’s a whole group of bacteriophages that have this kind of genetic material,” Jef Boeke, a molecular biologist at New York University who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist.

There are still plenty of questions to answer about the Z-genome.

For example, is a Z-genome compatible with regular cell machinery such as ours? And could it be used in the same way that artificial DNA is starting to be?

“The Z base has been unambiguously identified in a carbonaceous meteorite and proposed as a nucleobase that could have been available for the origin of life,” the team lead by Zhou wrote in their paper.

“Considering that the Z base was discovered in a meteorite, our work may spark interest in interdisciplinary research on the origins of life and astrobiology.”

Huge Chinese rocket falling back to Earth in uncontrolled reentry

Projectile currently orbiting Earth every 90 minutes after space station launch

A huge Chinese rocket is set to fall back to earth in an uncontrolled re-entry after a space station launch.

The 21-ton Long March 5B rocket carried a module of China’s new space station into low Earth orbit last week.

But the 30-meter long rocket itself also reached orbit and will now become one of the largest ever launchers to make an uncontrolled reentry, according to SpaceNews.com.

Experts say that most expendable rockets do not reach a velocity that would take them into orbit and they normally reenter the atmosphere and land in a known reentry zone.

The speed of the rocket means it is orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes and it is passing just north of New York, Madrid and Beijing, and as far south as Chile and Wellington, New Zealand.

Did Nikola Tesla Unintentionally Detect Signals From Another Civilization?

An eccentric genius and a man in every respect extraordinary was born on the night of 9/10 of July, 1856 in the Croatian village of Smiljan, a village near Gospic Lika, (the Krajina, a military district of Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in the Republic of Croatia).

“A purpose was behind these signals… They are the results of an attempt by some human beings, not of this world; to speak to us by signals.” – Nikola Tesla

According to messagetoeagle.com, this event took place at the stroke of midnight “with lightning striking during a summer storm”. Because of the unusual moment of his birth, the midwife commented that “He’ll be a child of the storm,” to which his mother answered: “No, of light.”

Nikola Tesla

The great man is gone but… he will be remembered forever!

Those who knew him say he was not a normal human, but a superman, either a reincarnated master – or even an ET with superior mental powers placed here to assist in Earth’s technological development!

Nikola Tesla could have gone down in history as the man who invented the 20th century. Instead his theories were ridiculed and he died alone in a hotel bedroom.

Mostly, he did not improve on already existing technology, but created prototypes and sometimes entire new industries.

Many of his pioneer inventions he carried with him to his grave. But he believed in the destiny of man who, in his words, “searches, discovers and invents, designs and constructs, and covers with monuments of beauty, grandeur and awe, the star of his birth.”(Velikovsky)

Tesla was the first to attempt to communicate with neighboring worlds using radio waves.

In 1899, he was at his laboratory in Colorado Springs, driving monstrous surges of power into the Earth and also beaming energy outward from the 280-foot tower he’d built. He had instruments to record electromagnetic disturbances anywhere within a radius of 1,100 miles. It was an experiment of Frankensteinian proportions.

During the tests, Tesla began picking up odd data on his instruments. He was sure that this was a signal of some sort.

The signals came periodically, and with such a clear suggestion of number and order that they were not traceable to any cause then known to man.

“I was familiar… with such electrical disturbances as are produced by the sun, Aurora Borealis and earth currents, and I was as sure as I could be of any fact that these variations were due to none of these causes…”

“The nature of my experiments precluded the possibility of the changes being produced by atmospheric disturbances. . . . Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely accidental . . . a purpose was behind these signals. . . . They are the results of an attempt by some human beings, not of this world; to speak to us by signals…”

“I am absolutely certain that they are not caused by anything terrestrial…”

“The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another.”

“I am absolutely certain that they are not caused by anything terrestrial…” (N. Tesla)

In Collier’s Weekly dated February 9, 1901, Tesla wrote in “Talking with the Planets” as follows:

“I can readily demonstrate that, with an expenditure not exceeding two thousand horse-power, signals can be transmitted to a planet such as Mars with as much exactness and certitude as we now send messages by wire from New York to Philadelphia. These means are the result of long-continued experiment and gradual improvement…”

He claimed he had detected an artificial signal from Mars, or possibly Venus, using high-voltage equipment he had set up at Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also predicted that interplanetary communication would “become the dominating idea of the century that has just begun.”

After informing the world of these signals, he would neither discuss the devices he used nor the signals any further. However, the issue was further researched, according to a report entitled “A Historic Report on Life in Space: Tesla, Marconi, Todd.” mentioned by Stanton T. Friedman, a nuclear physicist and the best-known scientific ufologist in North America and probably the world, in his book Captured!: The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience“.

The purpose of the paper was to examine the original data of Tesla, Marconi and Todd to determine whether or not current science was duplicating the effort made by these men to detect radio frequency communication from extraterrestrial life forms on some distant planet.

“I am absolutely certain that they are not caused by anything terrestrial…” (N. Tesla)

“Communication once established, even in the simplest way, as by a mere interchange of numbers, the progress toward more intelligible communication would be rapid.

Absolute certitude as to the receipt and interchange of messages would be reached as soon as we could respond with the number “four,” say, in reply to the signal “one, two, three.”

“The Martians, or the inhabitants of whatever planet had signalled to us, would understand at once that we had caught their message across the gulf of space and had sent back a response. To convey a knowledge of form by such means is, while very difficult, not impossible, and I have already found a way of doing it.

“What a tremendous stir this would make in the world! How soon will it come? For that it will some time be accomplished must be clear to every thoughtful being.

“Something, at least, science has gained. But I hope that it will also be demonstrated soon that in my experiments in the West I was not merely beholding a vision, but had caught sight of a great and profound truth…”

Did Tesla’s experiments transmit radio signals to some of our nearer planets?

According to Su-Shu-Huang of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, stars nearly identical to the sun are most likely to have developed life,” Stanton Friedman writes in his book.

Had Tesla unintentionally detected signals from another civilization or did he simply make an error?

Last photo of Nikola Tesla

Probably, we’ll never know. Because of his financial problems, (he was not a good businessman, but a true scientist) a large part of his research notes and other papers were auctioned off after his death.

What happened to his other research papers? How much of Tesla’s work remains hidden and confiscated?

It’s unknown and thus, much of his scientific work of great value has been lost for ever.

A great mystery still surrounds him and his genius work! He will never be forgotten!

Proxima Centauri shoots out humongous flare, with big implications for alien life

The flare was around 100 times more powerful than those emitted by the sun.

Scientists have spotted one of the largest stellar flares ever recorded in our galaxy. The jets of plasma shot outward from the sun’s nearest neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. The flare, which was around 100 times more powerful than any experienced in our solar system, could change the way scientists think about solar radiation and alien life.

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf — the smallest, dimmest and most common type of main sequence stars in the galaxy — located approximately 4.25 light-years from Earth. Its mass is only one-eighth of the sun’s, and it is orbited by two exoplanets. One of these planets, Proxima Centauri b, is considered to be Earth-like and lies within the star’s habitable zone — the distance from a star that could support the development of life, according to the researchers.

In a new study, researchers used nine ground and orbital telescopes — including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — to closely monitor Proxima Centauri for a total of 40 hours over several months in 2019. On May 1, 2019, the team captured the mega flare, which shone for just 7 seconds and was mainly visible in the ultraviolet spectrum.

“The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when seen in ultraviolet wavelengths over the span of a few seconds,” lead author Meredith MacGregor, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement.

The power of this flare and type of radiation it emitted could change what we know about red dwarfs and the chances of life developing on the planets that orbit them.

A humongous flare 

Stellar flares are the result of a star’s strong magnetic fields. These fields — which are created by large amounts of electrically charged gas — can get twisted together and suddenly snap back into place to release an enormous amount of energy in the form of radiation, kind of like firing an elastic band at someone with your fingers. 

The flare on Proxima Centauri was extremely powerful compared with those emitted by the sun. Unlike flares from the sun, this one also emitted different kinds of radiation. In particular, it produced a huge surge of ultraviolet light and radio waves — known as “millimeter radiation.”

Artist’s conception of a stellar flare as seen from the planet Proxima Centauri b, a potentially Earth-like world. (Image credit: NRAO/S. Dagnello )

“In the past, we didn’t know that stars could flare in the millimeter range, so this is the first time we have gone looking for millimeter flares,” MacGregor said in the statement.

This finding was possible only because the team monitored the star using such a wide variety of telescopes, each focused on a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had this kind of multiwavelength coverage of a stellar flare,” MacGregor said in the statement. “Usually, you’re lucky if you can get two instruments.”

The new findings suggest that stellar flares given off by red dwarfs are much more violent than previously expected and could reduce the likelihood of alien life developing around them.

Bad news for aliens 

The type and amount of radiation given off by Proxima Centauri could make it very hard for life to survive on its orbiting  exoplanets, which likely have no real atmosphere due to the powerful flares, according to the researchers. But it’s not impossible for alien life to exist there.

“If there was life on the planet nearest to Proxima Centauri, it would have to look very different than anything on Earth,” MacGregor said in the statement. “A human being on this planet would have a bad time.”

Other red dwarfs likely give off equally powerful flares, thus decreasing the chances that red dwarf-hosted planets could support life. They also flare “much more frequently” than the sun, further reducing the chances of finding life in that star system, according to the researchers.

“Proxima Centauri’s planets are getting hit by something like this not once in a century, but at least once a day, if not several times a day,” MacGregor said in the statement.

The researchers now hope to use the wide variety of telescopes to focus on other stellar flares across our galaxy.

“There will probably be even more weird types of flares that demonstrate different types of physics that we haven’t thought about before,” MacGregor said in the statement.

The study was published online April 21 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

AI will be smarter than humans within 5 years, says Elon Musk

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has claimed that Artificial Intelligence will be ‘vastly smarter’ than any human and would overtake us by 2025.

“We are headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans. I think that time frame is less than five years from now. But that doesn’t mean that everything goes to hell in five years. It just means that things get unstable or weird,” Musk said in an interview with New York Times over the weekend.

This is not the first time that Musk has shown concern related to AI. Back in 2016, Musk said that humans risk being treated like house pets by AI unless technology is developed that can connect brains to computers.

He even described AI as an ‘existential threat’ to humanity.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that,” he said.

However, Musk helped found the artificial intelligence research lab OpenAI in 2015 with the goal of developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can learn and master several disciplines.

Recently, OpenAI released its first commercial product, a programme to make use of a text-generation tool that it once called too dangerous.

It has the potential to spare people from writing long texts. Once an application is developed on the basis of the programme, all they need to give is a prompt.

OpenAI earlier desisted from revealing more about the software fearing bad actors might misuse it for producing misleading articles, impersonate others or even automate phishing content.