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.

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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.