Wil je een videoclip bekijken en stoort het X-files-deuntje jou daarbij. Schakel het deuntje gewoon uit door in deze kolon, helemaal beneden op de 2 witte balkjes in het blauwe cirkeltje te klikken, tot een pijltje verschijnt. Veel kijk- en luisterplezier en bedankt voor jouw bezoek.
The purpose of this blog is the creation of an open, international, independent and free forum, where every UFO-researcher can publish the results of his/her research. The languagues, used for this blog, are Dutch, English and French.You can find the articles of a collegue by selecting his category. Each author stays resposable for the continue of his articles. As blogmaster I have the right to refuse an addition or an article, when it attacks other collegues or UFO-groupes.
Deze blog is opgedragen aan mijn overleden echtgenote Lucienne.
In 2012 verloor ze haar moedige strijd tegen kanker!
In 2011 startte ik deze blog, omdat ik niet mocht stoppen met mijn UFO-onderzoek.
UFO'S - MET HET LAATSTE NIEUWS OVER UFO'S BOVEN BELGIË EN IN ANDERE LANDEN...
UFO's in België en de rest van de wereld In België heb je vooral BUFON of het Belgisch UFO-Netwerk, dat zich met UFO's bezighoudt. BEZOEK DUS ZEKER VOOR ALLE OBJECTIEVE INFORMATIE ww.ufo.be.
Verder heb je ook het Belgisch-Ufo-meldpunt en Caelestia, die prachtig, doch ZEER kritisch werk leveren, ja soms zelfs héél sceptisch...
Voor Nederland kan je de mooie site www.ufowijzer.nl bezoeken van Paul Harmans. Een mooie site met veel informatie en artikels.
MUFON of het Mutual UFO Network Inc is een Amerikaanse UFO-vereniging met afdelingen in alle USA-staten en diverse landen.
MUFON's mission is the analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO- Phenomenon for the benefit of humanity...
Je kan ook hun site bekijken onder www.mufon.com.
Ze geven een maandelijks tijdschrift uit, namelijk The MUFON UFO-Journal.
Since 02/01/2013 is Pieter not only president (=voorzitter) of BUFON, but also National Director MUFON / Flanders and the Netherlands. We work together with the French MUFON Reseau MUFON/EUROP.
Alien robot spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars - shock claim
Alien robot spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars - shock claim
NASA’S Martian rover is not the only robot exploring Mars after UFO hunters believed they spotted an alien probe scouring the Red Planet.
The Curiosity Rover has been sending back images and information of Mars since 2012, but conspiracy theorists suggest it might not be alone. After looking through some of NASA’s images of the Red Planet, an eagle-eyed conspiracy theorist believes he has spotted and alien robot on Earth’s next door neighbour. If the other ‘probe’ was not sent by aliens to garner information on Mars, then prominent alien hunter Scott C Waring suggests it could equally have been sent by another nation or private company in a top secret mission.
The conspiracy theorist adds that the probe may have been sent by the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX to check NASA is reporting everything truthfully.
Either way, Mr Waring believes the new technology he has found is far beyond anything NASA is capable of achieving.
He wrote on his popular blog UFO Sightings Daily: “I just found a mini alien robot wandering around the Mars Curiosity rover.
“This mini robot is shiny metallic and has legs. The object looks like it is clean and stands out.
“This mini robot is shiny metallic and has legs."
(Image: UFO SIGHTINGS DAILY)
“So where did it come from and is it really alien at all? It is possible that another nation sent a mini rover to go investigate the NASA craft to make sure they are reporting everything they are supposed to.
“It could be a private company like SpaceX trying to do it in secret so they wont be asked by a foreign country to do it for them too.
“Or it could just be an alien prove that crawls. Whatever it is, it certainly is much smaller than the Curiosity rover – it looks to be only about one foot across.”
Alternatively, it could be NASA’s InSight lander which recently arrived at Mars on November 26 after a seven-month and 300million mile journey.
Alien robot – bottom left – spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars - shock claim
(Image: NASA • GETTY)
InSight’s mission is to map the deep interior of Mars and Nasa is also planning a rover mission for 2020, to investigate signs of primitive life they believe exists under the surface.
InSight's primary instrument is a French-built seismometer, designed to record the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts around the planet.
The device, to be placed on the surface by the lander's robot arm, is so sensitive it can measure a seismic wave just one half the radius of a hydrogen atom.
A second instrument, furnished by Germany's space agency, consists of a drill to burrow as much as 16feet underground, pulling behind it a rope-like thermal probe to measure heat flowing from inside the planet.
In december 1968 wordt Apollo 8 de eerste bemande missie in een baan rond de maan. Inclusief een passage langs de mythische dark side of the moon. ‘De kans dat de missie slaagde was fiftyfifty, een waanzinnig risico.’
Slordige naslagwerken stellen wel eens dat we de eerste blik op de zogenoemde ‘dark side of the moon’ te danken hebben aan Apollo 8. Fout, om een aantal redenen. In 1959 al heeft de onbemande Russische Loena 3-ruimtesonde er de eerste foto’s van doorgestuurd. Die zijn een jaar later door de Academie der Wetenschappen van de Sovjet-Unie zelfs gepubliceerd in een heuse atlas van die kant van de maan. Een kant die bovendien nooit integraal buiten ons gezichtsveld is gevallen. ‘De Sovjet-Unie stond verder dan de Verenigde Staten op het vlak van onbemande ruimtevluchten,’ weet Kris Christiaens. Hij is de bezieler van Spacepage, een koepelnaam voor een aantal populairwetenschappelijke websites die ruimtevaart en sterrenkunde bestuderen.
Zonder Koude Oorlog zou er in 1969 geen maanlanding geweest zijn
Ruimtevaartkenner Kris Christiaens
Christiaens: ‘De Russen bereikten al in 1959 het oppervlak van de maan met de Loena 2. En de Loena 3 stuurde dus die eerste foto’s van de “dark side of the moon” naar de aarde. Mythische beelden van een kant van de maan die we nooit te zien kregen. De mensen dachten nog dat daar aliens leefden, tot ze op die foto’s zagen dat die kant van de maan er hetzelfde uitzag als de andere.’
Een kleine twintig procent van die ‘andere kant’ is sowieso altijd al waarneembaar geweest vanop de aarde. Met het blote oog, zelfs. Een gevolg wat men in de astronomie ‘libratie’ noemt. Heel kort samengevat: een optisch gevolg van de niet-perfecte cirkelvorm van de omloopbaan van de maan om de aarde en van de ook onvolmaakte rechte hoek van de rotatie-as van de maan met het rotatievlak ervan om de aarde. ‘Far side of the moon’, de verre zijde of de zijde aan de andere kant, is bijgevolg correcter dan ‘dark side’. Maar de collectieve fascinatie voor het onbekende en ongetwijfeld ook de gelijknamige legendarische elpee van Pink Floyd hebben daar anders over beslist.
Wat, voor de volledigheid, wel vaststaat is dat de mens, tot vandaag, nooit voet heeft gezet aan die kant van de maan. Voorlopig, althans. Want in mei dit jaar bevestigde astrofysica Leen Decin in het Radio 1-programma De wereld vandaagdat de Chinezen grootse plannen hebben. ‘De grote droom is nu om op de achterkant van de maan een radiotelescoop te plaatsen. Er is daar geen hinderlijke interferentie met de radiosignalen op aarde. Het is een plan dat natuurlijk ook bij de Chinezen op tafel ligt. Maar het echte totaalplaatje is dat de Chinezen bezig zijn met een stevige opbouw van hun ruimtevaartprogramma. Ze hopen tegen 2030 op dezelfde voet te staan als de Russen en de Amerikanen. Vergeet niet, we zijn nog nooit geland op de achterkant van de maan, en daar kunnen de Chinezen het verschil maken.’
Kris Christiaens bevestigt: ‘Wat de Chinezen nu doen, valt een beetje te vergelijken met de Nasa in de jaren 60. Gigantische budgetten. In tien jaar tijd hebben ze grote stappen gezet: eerste ruimtecapsule, eerste ruimtestation, eerste Chinezen in de ruimte. Ze hebben nog geen grote tegenslagen gekend, benieuwd hoe ze daarop zouden reageren.’
‘Suske en Wiske in space’
Het bijzondere aan de ruimtereis van Apollo 8, van 21 tot en met 27 december 1968, is dat astronauten Frank Borman, Jim Lovell en William Anders een viervoudige primeur op hun naam schrijven. Zij gaan, ten eerste, als eerste ruimtereizigers verder dan een baan om de aarde. Of anders gesteld: Apollo 8 is de eerste bemande missie die voldoende kracht en snelheid ontwikkelt om te ontsnappen aan de zwaartekracht van de aarde. Ten tweede: Borman en co gaan als eersten richting maan waardoor zij ook, ten derde, als eersten te maken krijgen met het zwaartekrachtveld van een ander hemellichaam. En door die route zien zij, ten vierde, als eersten met eigen ogen de dark side of the moon.
Dat laatste klinkt wel spectaculair en spannend, maar in werkelijkheid is het niet meer dan een propagandagewijs mooi meegenomen neveneffect. Om te beginnen is wat de drie astronauten concreet te zien krijgen eigenlijk slechts meer van hetzelfde. Meer kraters en vlakten, zoals al bekend van de voorkant. Dus zeker geen sporen van een of andere antropomorfe of andere buitenaardse beschaving, zoals die werd opgevoerd in de meest uiteenlopende sciencefiction. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan het droombeeld waarmee de eerste naoorlogse generatie Vlamingen opgroeit. In De Mottenvanger (1948) ontdekken Suske en Wiske op de achterkant van de maan een oud-Griekse wereld, inclusief goden en tempels.
Earthrise had een even grote impact als de eerste foto van een voetafdruk op de maan. Voordien zagen we de aarde als een gigantisch ding, nu bleek het plots een fragiel plekje in het heelal te zijn. Dat heeft ons nederiger gemaakt
Zelf heeft Kris Christiaens, geboren in 1978, een andere inspiratiebron: ‘Mijn fascinatie voor ruimtevaart is ontstaan door het lezen van Kuifje-strips. Raket naar de maan en Mannen op de maan (1953 en 1954; red.), dat was een openbaring. Ik ben er dan steeds meer over beginnen te lezen. En met de komst van het internet is er een totaal nieuwe wereld opengegaan. Noem het gerust een uit de hand gelopen hobby. Overdag werk ik voor de Vlaamse overheid, buiten mijn werkuren ben ik bijna constant met ruimtevaart bezig. Mijn ouders en grootouders vertelden destijds uitgebreid over het Apollo-tijdperk, dat ik zelf niet heb meegemaakt. Elke vlucht was voor hen het evenement van het jaar. We kunnen ons nu niet meer voorstellen hoe belangrijk die periode geweest is: de wetenschap en de technologie plukken daar ook vandaag nog de vruchten van.’
De verbeelding is heel even aan de macht die jaren. ‘Het waren de gouden jaren 60 en er was de Koude Oorlog, die de militaire en wetenschappelijke wedloop heeft beïnvloed. Daar stond een onbeperkt budget tegenover. President Kennedy had dat op 12 september 1962 in gang gezet met zijn beroemde toespraak We choose to go the Moon, waarin hij de belofte maakte dat tegen het einde van dat decennium een Amerikaanse astronaut op de maan zou wandelen. Het móest wel, politiek gezien, en financieel kón het. Natuurlijk wilde hij zijn eigen populariteit ook opvijzelen. Vandaag durven wereldleiders dat soort beloften niet meer te maken. Zonder Koude Oorlog zou er in 1969 geen maanlanding geweest zijn.’
Voorlezen uit de Bijbel
Er zijn hoe dan ook nog andere nevenaspecten waardoor Apollo 8 de geschiedenis is ingegaan. De missie levert onder meer Earthrise op: de iconische foto waarbij de aarde als een ochtendzon boven de maan lijkt op te komen. Het is ook de eerste door een mens gemaakte foto waarop de aarde in haar geheel te zien is. In betoverend blauw en andere kleurschakeringen, bovendien. En helemaal fascinerend, in een tijd waarin de televisie de huiskamers verovert: met Kerstmis lezen de astronauten live vanuit de ruimte voor uit de Bijbel.
‘Door die foto’s is de mens tot het besef gekomen dat de aarde een kleine, blauwe planeet is,’ zegt Kris Christiaens. ‘Dat heeft een enorme invloed gehad op de maatschappij. Voordien zagen we de aarde als een gigantisch ding, nu bleek het plots een fragiel plekje in het heelal te zijn. Dat heeft ons nederiger gemaakt, we gingen anders denken over onze plek in het heelal. Earthrise had een even grote impact als de eerste foto van een voetafdruk op de maan. En het heeft op korte termijn mede geleid tot de oprichting van organisaties als Greenpeace, het World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) en Earth Day. Met een boutade zou je kunnen stellen dat de mens naar de maan ging om dat hemellichaam te ontdekken, maar dat we uiteindelijk veel meer leerden over onze eigen planeet.’
Wetenschappers bestuderen de donkere zijde van de maan om het klimaat op aarde te kunnen monitoren. Ze observeren daarbij de zogeheten earthshine, een nogal spookachtige gloed. Daardoor kunnen ze, als aanvulling van satellietobservaties, bepalen wat de mogelijkheid van de aarde is om het zonlicht te reflecteren, een belangrijke klimaatparameter. ‘Aardeschijn’ is tijdens de periode van halve maan met het blote oog zichtbaar. Leonardo da Vinci kende het fenomeen al. Hij beschouwde de maan als een gigantische spiegel.
Apollo 8 is, zoals al aangegeven, niet los te zien van een wedloop tussen grootmachten. In de jaren 60 alleen nog tussen de Verenigde Staten en de Sovjet-Unie. Het is al de dertigste bemande ruimtevlucht in amper zeven jaar tijd, sinds Joeri Gagarin in 1961 de eerste mens in de ruimte werd. En nog sterker: in 1968 is het de derde bemande missie in minder dan drie maanden, met in diezelfde periode ook nog eens twee onbemande vluchten. Eerst is er Apollo 7 (11-22 oktober), diezelfde maand nog volgen de Sovjets met de Sojoez 3 (26-30 oktober), waarbij enig bemanningslid Georgi Beregovoi tevergeefs een koppeling probeert tot stand te brengen met de gelijktijdig gelanceerde en onbemande Sojoez 2. Een stap richting ruimtestations zoals we die vandaag kennen, dus.
In het kielzog daarvan hebben de Amerikanen te horen gekregen dat de Russen zich opmaken voor een bemande vlucht rond de maan. Foute informatie, want het blijkt om de onbemande sonde Zond 6 te gaan (10-17 november). Maar op dat moment is de Apollo 8-missie al in allerijl bijgesteld en versneld. De voorziene testvlucht in een baan om de aarde wordt een met een aantal maanden vervroegde trip richting maan. Met alle risico’s van dien.
Grootste menselijke ruimte-avontuur eindigde in een wonderbare apotheose!
Voorpagina Gazet van Antwerpen, 28 december 1968
‘Rond de Apollo 8-vlucht waren er nog wat vraagtekens vooraf,’ stelt Kris Christiaens. ‘De Amerikanen beseften dat het een van de allerlaatste stappen was om op de maan te landen. Ze wisten dat ze de juiste draagraket had, de Saturnus 5. Ze wilden de maanlander testen, maar hadden daar ook alle vertrouwen in. Alleen was de vraag: zullen de astronauten wel kunnen terugkeren? Want aan de andere kant van de maan was geen communicatie mogelijk. Die viel gewoon weg. En dan was het bang afwachten of ze snel iets zouden horen van de bemanning. Een kleine technologische stap, maar wel cruciaal. Stel je voor: een paar jaar voordien was er nog euforie over de eerste man in de ruimte, nu stond er hen nog een veel gigantischer stap te wachten.’
‘Blijkbaar had president Nixon verschillende videobanden ingesproken voor de natie, mocht er iets misgelopen zijn tijdens de bemande missies naar de maan. Het moment dat de communicatie even ophield, lag er eentje klaar. De kans dat de missie slaagde werd op fiftyfifty geacht, dat is een waanzinnig risico. Ook nu nog wordt er met een foutmarge gerekend, maar die is veel kleiner dan toen. Men deed dat vanwege de tijdsdruk. De Nasa ging ervan uit dat het een kwestie van maanden was voor de Sovjets ook een bemande raket naar de maan zouden lanceren.’
De onweerstaanbare drang om de eerste te zijn, kost in de Koude Oorlogs-ruimtevaartjaren mensenlevens. Tussen maart 1961 en juni 1971, de pioniersjaren van de bemande vluchten, sterven vijf kosmonauten en negen astronauten, de meesten tijdens tests op de begane grond.
‘En nu naar Mars, en nog verder!’
Zowel de ruimterace als de eraan verbonden risico’s houden in december ‘68 ook bij ons iedereen bijna dagelijks in de ban met opgewonden krantentitels: ‘Apollo-astronauten zullen enkele benauwende momenten doormaken’, ‘Gezagvoerder Borman: tocht om de maan even gevaarlijk als vlucht boven Vietnam’, ‘Nooit bereikte snelheid: 36.000 km per uur!’, ‘Apollo 8 nu in het aantrekkingsveld van de maan’, ‘Doorbraak van dampkring is nu laatste gevaarlijke fase’, ‘In de dampkring tegen 40.000 km/u’. En dan, oef… ‘GROOTSTE MENSELIJKE RUIMTE-AVONTUUR EINDIGDE IN EEN WONDERBARE APOTHEOSE!’
Maar de blik gaat meteen ook heel fors richting toekomst: ‘Zond 6 maakte geslaagde ruimtefoto’s, Apollo 8 wil nog beter doen’, ‘Amerikaanse geleerden ontdekten nieuwe zee op de maan, Sovjets maken weerkaart van Mars en Venus’… Wernher von Braun, het van alle nazi-zonden witgewassen brein achter eerst het Duitse oorlogswapen V-2 en daarna het Amerikaanse ruimtevaartprogramma, voorspelt zelfs een landing op Mars voor 1985, ten laatste 1990. Sterker nog: ‘Wij kunnen nu al ruimtetuigen ontwerpen waarmee de mens zich buiten het zonnestelsel zal begeven.’
Kris Christiaens verklaart die – nooit gerealiseerde – ambitie om naar Mars te gaan als een gevolg van de eerste maanlandingen. ‘Die vielen wetenschappelijk een beetje tegen, door het dorre oppervlak van die planeet. Mars leek veel interessanter. Maar na de bijna-ramp met de Apollo 13 (17 april 1970; red.) kwamen ze bij de Nasa tot het besef dat ze misschien wel te ver aan het gaan waren en dat de mens dat niet aankon. Sovjetvluchten hebben later uitvoerig aangetoond dat de mens niet gemaakt is om een langdurige periode van gewichtloosheid mee te maken. Achteraf is men trouwens teruggekomen op dat standpunt dat de maan wetenschappelijk oninteressant is. Ze hebben in kraters bevroren water gevonden, afkomstig van meteorietinslagen, waaruit je zuurstof kunt halen om te overleven, zodat je ooit een maanbasis kunt creëren, die dan weer kan worden gebruikt om de rest van de ruimte te exploreren.’
Within the first week of the OSIRIS-REx probe arriving at Bennu, it has already detected water on the asteroid. On December 3, 2018, the probe reached the diamond-shaped asteroid in NASA’s first asteroid-sample return mission.
The scientific team pointed three instruments onboard the spacecraft in the direction of Bennu and started their observations. They received data from the probe’s two spectrometers – OVIRS (OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer) and OTES (OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer) – that showed the existence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms that are bonded together. These molecules, which are called “hydroxyls”, are believed to exist across the entire asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals that would indicate that the rocky material on Bennu connected with water at one point. Since Bennu is too small to have ever had liquid water, it’s very possible that it was present on its parent body which was a much bigger asteroid.
Amy Simon, who is the OVIRS deputy instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said, “The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics.” She went on to say, “When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system.”
The surface of Bennu contains a mix of rocky, boulder-filled regions, as well as a few smooth regions that do not have boulders. While there are more boulders than initially thought, there is one in particular that scientists are interested in and it’s located at the asteroid’s South Pole. Initial calculations from the OCAMS (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite) show that the huge boulder is around 164 feet high by 180 feet wide.
This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km).
Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
The mission is only conducting preliminary surveys of Bennu at this point as it performs flybys over the asteroid’s North Pole, South Pole, and equator at a distance as close as 4.4 miles. Once they determine Bennu’s mass, scientists can then create a plan for the spacecraft to enter its orbit. While performing the surveys, it also gives the Canadian Space Agency’s OLA (OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter) its first chance to make observations.
The OSIRIS-REx probe will enter Bennu’s orbit on December 31st and will stay in orbit until the middle of February in 2019. At that point, it will leave the asteroid’s orbit and conduct more flybys for the following survey phase. The probe will get within one mile of the asteroid’s surface which will set a record for the closest orbit of a planetary body by a spacecraft, as well as another record for the smallest body ever orbited by a spacecraft. The OSIRIS-REx is set to leave the asteroid in March 2021 and head back to Earth.
ORLANDO, Fla. — The discovery of intelligent aliens would be mind-blowing in many respects, but it could present a special dilemma for the world's religions, theologians pondering interstellar travel concepts said Saturday (Oct. 1).
Christians, in particular, might take the news hardest, because the Christian belief system does not easily allow for other intelligent beings in the universe, Christian thinkers said at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to discuss issues surrounding traveling to other stars.
In other words, "Did Jesus die for Klingons too?" as philosophy professor Christian Weidemannof Germany's Ruhr-University Bochum titled his talk at a panel on the philosophical and religious considerations of visiting other worlds.
"According to Christianity, an historic event some 2,000 years ago was supposed to save the whole of creation," Weidemann said. "You can grasp the conflict." [10 Alien Encounters Debunked]
Here's how the debate goes: If the whole of creation includes 125 billion galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars in each, as astronomers think, then what if some of these stars have planets with advanced civilizations, too? Why would Jesus Christ have come to Earth, of all the inhabited planets in the universe, to save Earthlings and abandon the rest of God's creatures?
Aliens and religion can still coexist
Weidemann, a self-described protestant Christian, suggested some possible solutions. Perhaps extraterrestrials aren't sinners, like humans, and therefore aren't in need of saving. However, the principle of mediocrity — the idea that your own example is most likely typical unless you have evidence to the contrary — casts doubt on this, he pointed out. [10 Wildest Ways to Contact Aliens]
"If there are extraterrestrial intelligent beings at all, it is safe to assume that most of them are sinners too," Weidemann said. "If so, did Jesus save them too? My position is no. If so, our position among intelligent beings in the universe would be very exceptional."
However, based on the best guesses of how many civilizations we might expect to exist in the universe, and how long planets and civilizations are expected to survive, God's incarnations would have had to be in about 250 places simultaneously at any given time, assuming each incarnation took about 30 years, Weidemann calculated.
Rev. Thomas Hoffmann, a protestant pastor in Tulsa, Okla., said that the issues Weidemann raised were "really on target."
"If life is discovered elsewhere, unfortunately we need to have more discussion about it," Hoffmann said. "I think this is a very robust conversation we need to have."
While the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would likely spur profound soul-searching for people of all faiths, many of the world's religions might have an easier time accommodating the knowledge than Christianity, said theologist Michael Waltemathe, also of the Ruhr-University Bochum.
"It seems to be only a problem of Christianity," Waltemathe said.
In Islam, for example, Muhammad was a prophet, or messenger of God, not God incarnate, so additional prophets could have simultaneously visited other planets to save extraterrestrial species, he said. And Hindus already believe in multiple deities, so accommodating more to guard over alien civilizations may not be difficult.
Ultimately, though, the discovery of intelligent aliens isn't likely to pose a serious crisis for Christianity, either, Hoffmann said. After all, the religion has survived challenging scientific revelations before.
"Religion is essentially conservative," Hoffmann told SPACE.com. "You can put almost anything in its face and it's going to shake out a little bit, and then it's going to drop right back down. We've seen this happen historically."
You can follow SPACE.com senior writer Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz.
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BEAUTIFUL NEW IMAGES SHOW CLOUDS OF DUST FORMING INTO PLANETS
BEAUTIFUL NEW IMAGES SHOW CLOUDS OF DUST FORMING INTO PLANETS
Rings Of Fire
If you’re in the market for a new desktop wallpaper, we have 20 suggestions.
A protoplanetary disk is the ring of dust and gas that surrounds a young star. As time passes, the material in the disk begins to coalesce into larger and larger objects, forming everything from asteroids to entire planets.
Now, thanks to a powerful system of radio antennas in the Chilean desert, we have 20 stunning, high-resolution images of such systems — and they are more than desktop-worthy.
According to the program’s website, its goal is to study the smaller objects in protoplanetary disks to determine how those objects related to planet formation.
These images are helping it achieve that goal. According to a news release, the team was able to theorize based on this ALMA data that large planets can form much more quickly than previously thought. They also determined that the planets typically form far from their host stars.
In addition to these gorgeous — and data-rich — images produced by DSHARP, just last week an international team of researchers published the preliminary results of a survey in which it used ALMA to image 32 stars surrounded by protoplanetary disks.
Clearly, ALMA has proven to be one of our most useful tools for studying protoplanetary disks, and it’s only been operational for five years. Who knows what sorts of beautiful and useful data the array might produce in the future?
FIRST LOOK One of the first images NASA’s Parker Solar Probe took during its close encounter with the sun shows a streamer of plasma in the outer solar atmosphere, or corona. The probe took this image November 8 at a distance of about 27 million kilometers from the sun’s surface. The bright dot below the streamer is Jupiter.
PARKER SOLAR PROBE/NASA AND NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has met the sun and lived to tell the tale.
The sun-grazing spacecraft has already broken the records for the fastest space probe and the nearest brush any spacecraft has made with the sun. Now the probe is sending data back from its close solar encounter, scientists reported December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C.
“What we are looking at now is completely brand new,” solar physicist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md., said at a news conference. “Nobody looked at this before.”
Parker launched August 12 (SN Online: 8/12/18) and will make 24 close passes by the sun over the next seven years, eventually going to within about 6 million kilometers of the sun’s surface (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12). The spacecraft made its first close flyby November 6, swooping to within roughly 24 million kilometers of the solar surface. That’s about twice as close to the sun as the previous closest spacecraft, the Helios spacecraft in the 1970s. At peak speed, Parker was racing at about 375,000 kilometers per hour, roughly twice Helios’ speed.
But because the probe was on the opposite side of the sun from Earth during the flyby, Parker didn’t start relaying its observations until December 7.
After the probe emerged from behind the sun, the Parker team got its first up-close look at the wispy outer solar atmosphere, called the corona. One of the first images from Parker’s camera shows unprecedented detail in a solar streamer, a filament of plasma in the corona. The team hopes that Parker’s data will help solve the mystery of why the corona is about 300 times as hot as the sun’s surface (SN Online: 8/20/17).
Only about one-fifth of the data recorded during Parker’s initial flyby will reach scientists before the sun gets between Earth and the spacecraft again. The rest of the data will be downlinked next year, between March and May. Scientists hope to start publishing results soon after.
“If you ask any scientist in the team or even outside what to expect, I think the answer would be, we don’t really know,” Raouafi said. “We are almost certain we’ll make new discoveries.”
Risk of impact! Dangerous asteroid "BENNU" racing towards the earth
The asteroid "Bennu" is still racing towards our planet (TAG24 reported). It weighs 79 million tons and has a diameter of 500 meters. What can save us now?
Or better, who can save us now? Answer: NASA! They already have a "plan" to avert the impact and annihilation of mankind.
NASA has sent the "Osiris Rex" probe into space for this purpose. And now - after two years and over 650 million kilometres covered - it has finally reached "Bennu"!
"We have arrived", was the message from the US space agency Nasa on Monday. The arrival position of the probe, which was launched in September 2016 from the Cape Canaveral spaceport, is about 20 kilometres from "Bennu".
"Osiris Rex" will now spend about a year investigating Bennu and finding a suitable site for taking a sample.
"Osiris Rex" (short for: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) is the first US missile to set off for an asteroid and send a sample back.
If everything goes according to plan, the probe, which is about six meters long and weighs 2100 kilograms, will approach Bennu in 2020 so far that it can absorb a sample of 60 to 2000 grams.
In 2023, a capsule with the sample is to return to Earth. The NASA scientists hope that the mission, which will cost around one billion dollars, will provide them with insights into the origin of our solar system. According to the scientists, the asteroid is to be destroyed.
For this even nuclear missiles could be used. But then there is also the danger that irradiated asteroid pieces will calculate the earth.
The deep black Bennu with a diameter of 500 meters should soon come very close to the earth. As date for a possible impact the 25th September 2135 was computed.
Thus already in 117 years. And the impact risk exists! Soothing: It is very low, according to NASA. Nevertheless, "Bennu" is one of the most dangerous asteroids currently known.
A huge lake of liquid water has been found on Mars. The groundbreaking discovery comes after years of evidence of the Red Planet's watery pastandicy present, but this is the first time a significant amount of the life-giving liquid has been detected. Discovered through satellite radar readings, the lake lies beneath the ice caps at the south pole of Mars, and has profound implications for future missions and the search for extraterrestrial life.
According to its discoverers, the lake lies below 1.5 km (0.9 mi) of solid ice, and stretches 20 km (12.4 mi) wide. Although temperatures at that spot plummet to about -68° C (-90° F), the water remains in a liquid form thanks to the heavy presence of sodium, magnesium and calcium salts. This, along with the immense pressure of the ice from above, lowers the freezing point.
The discovery was made by astronomers using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) onboard the Mars Express orbiter. This instrument beams radar pulses down to the planet's surface and measures how the waves reflect back to the spacecraft, which can tell scientists what kind of materials lie down there, even below the surface.
Using MARSIS to survey a region around the south pole of the Red Planet, the team collected 29 sets of radar samplings between May 2012 and December 2015. A section of this area returned very sharp changes in the radar signals, showing up as a bright spot in the image that's consistent with a water interface. The radar profile, the researchers say, closely matches those of subglacial lakes here on Earth, beneath the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
Although it seems like "water found on Mars" headlines have been doing the rounds for years, this discovery is really what it's all been building to. The majority of modern Mars is dry and barren, but plenty of evidence has been found that the Red Planet used to be a much wetter place. NASA studies suggest a vast ocean covered the planet's northern hemisphere some 4.3 billion years ago, and lakes may have filled and emptied repeatedly over tens of millions of years in places like Gale Crater, the landing site of the Curiosity rover.
The discovery of a large, stable reserve of liquid water on Mars is massive, giving us new potential targets for future missions and places to search for signs of past or present microbial life – although the sheer saltiness of it might kill those hopes.
The research was published in the journal Science.
WASHINGTON— NASA's Mars InSight landerhas settled into its new home on Elysium Planitia and is preparing to deploy its instruments — and if all goes well, one device's work should be complete by March.
That instrument is InSight's self-hammering heat probe, nicknamed the "mole," which is designed to measure heat production and flowwithin the interior of Mars. To do that, the instrument has to drill down about 16 feet (5 meters) into the Martian regolith — and that procedure is currently scheduled to begin in January, the mole's principal investigator said yesterday (Dec. 11) during a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Of course, this is space exploration, and that means there's still a chance that something could go wrong. "They're speaking about the seven minutes of terror on landing, now I'm saying we have two months of terror in front of us when we penetrate into the surface," said Tilman Spohn, a planetary scientist at the German space agency, which is known by its German acronym, DLR. [NASA's Mars InSight Lander: 10 Surprising Facts]
The heat probe needs to wait its turn, with the lander's supersensitive seismometer and its protective shielding being deployed first. That process will take about a month and is scheduled to begin next week, Spohn said.
If that goes well, the heat probe will be the next to move, with deployment beginning in mid-January. The drilling process will take about two months, since the probe regularly stops to produce a burst of heat and measure how that heat moves through the rock at its current depth.
What worries Spohn is that a large rock — 3 feet (1 m) in diameter or so — would stymie the probe's drilling mechanism, which relies on pushing aside dirt. Smaller rocks it can either push aside or burrow around, and has demonstrated that ability during tests in rock chambers here on Earth.
If a blockage does occur, how far the probe has managed to travel will determine how helpful the results are to scientists. "The less we penetrate, the worse it will be," Spohn said. If it's just 3 feet (1 m) or so deep, the team will need to rely on more intensive modeling. But if it reaches 10 feet (3 m), which should occur around mid February, the team will be pleased — and if it can reach the full depth of 16 feet (5 m) around March 10 or so, all the better.
Spohn is pleased with InSight's landing site, which is just as flat and rock-free as scientists were hoping for. "We had a lot of luck, we have to say," he said, noting that the robot touched down near — but not inside — a crater. "Had we landed there we would have been in some trouble."
Its main job is to spot the stars, but an ultrasensitive navigation camera onNASA's Juno spacecraftis returning amazing images of Jupiter's rings, auroras, lightning, and even its moonlit dark side.
Scientists discussed the results from the camera alongside other Jupiter revelations during a briefing Dec. 12 at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Juno is approaching the halfway point on its primary mission, with its 16th science pass by the planet set for Dec. 21.
That camera is called the Stellar Reference Unit, or SRU for short. According to Heidi Becker, Juno's radiation monitoring investigation lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the camera's "day job" is to cut through interference from the intense radiation surrounding Jupiter to spot the stars, comparing them to a database to figure out Juno's precise location and orientation during its 53-day, elongated orbits of the gas giant. [In Photos: Juno's Amazing Views of Jupiter]
"It's really hard to do that engineering job on Juno because we're flying Juno through the most violent planetary radiation environment there is," Becker said during the briefing, which was webcast live online. "Even though we had to shield the SRU more than six times heavier than we've shielded the radiation vault [which protects Juno's main computer and other sensitive components], there still are very high-energy electrons in that environment that will penetrate the SRU shielding and create this static that you see in the star image."
But rather than seeing a disruption, the team at JPL uses that "snow" to make measurements of how intense the radiation is over different parts of Jupiter — they've already noticed that the high-latitude radiation belt is less powerful than models suggested.
"We use noise as data to figure out what the environment is on the outside of Juno, because we're flying where nobody flew before," Becker said.
During its first data-collecting dive past Jupiter in August 2016, SRU grabbed the first-ever view of Jupiter's faint rings from the inside. The image also reflects the navigation side of SRU — Orion's Belt can be seen dotting down the lower right of the image, and the blazing star Betelgeuse can be seen just above the ring.
And that view was only the beginning: "Once we started to get a sense of what else the SRU can do as a low-light camera, my team and I kind of got addicted and kept asking the question: What else can this camera bring back that's new, that's never been seen before, or that's never been seen in the way that only the SRU can see it?" Becker said.
The spacecraft's main visible-light camera, called JunoCam, has been returning spectacular images for the public to process, and has proved useful for science in its own right, researchers said at the briefing. And in the low-light conditions on Jupiter's dark side, Becker said, SRU has returned views that rival that camera's detailed view of the planet's swirls.
"When we first saw this image, we thought 'did our data get mixed up with JunoCam's?'" Becker said. But, no, it was indeed from the SRU, with the planet's cloud tops lit by sunlight reflected off the volcanic moon Io, taken just 66,000 miles from the cloud tops.
In addition, the researchers spotted two bright dots of lightning — visible to the right of the image — providing the closest view of Jupiter's lightning from any imager. Because the spacecraft's microwave radiometer, which has also proved a good lightning detector, faces the same way as the SRU, researchers can eventually combine their measurements to learn about the phenomenon in more depth.
Juno's other instruments have provided incredible views of the planet's auroras in ultraviolet and infrared light, but because of its dark-side views SRU has been able to contribute in the visible spectrum, too, showing the ghostly lights circling the planet's pole.
"This is another first: This is the closest view of Jupiter's aurora that has ever been made by a visible[-light] camera," Becker said. "It's an amazing complement to what Juno is already bringing back in the ultraviolet and in the infrared. And, again, we're seeing amazing structure because of the high resolution of the camera and Juno's close flight to the camera."
This image also reveals another dot of lighting, in the lower right, and the squiggles of high-energy electrons beaming off the planet's poles — "so SRU was doing three kinds of science when it took this picture."
"It's really exciting to see what we can see out of an engineering camera, and we're really erasing all the boundaries between who or what can make a contribution to engineering or science or art," Becker added.
The $1.1 billion Juno mission launched toward Jupiter in August 2011 and arrived in orbit around the planet in July 2016. Since then, it's examined the planet during its long, looping orbits to learn about its interior, cloud patterns and weather, magnetic field, radiation and more.
"We have already rewritten the textbooks on how Jupiter's atmosphere works, and on the complexity and asymmetry of its magnetic field," Scott Bolton, principal investigator for Juno and a researcher at Southwest Research Institute in Texas, said in a statement. "The second half should provide the detail that we can use to refine our understanding of the depth of Jupiter's zonal winds, the generation of its magnetic field, and the structure and evolution of its interior."
WETENSCHAP & PLANEET Virgin Galactic, het ruimtetoerismebedrijf van de Britse miljardair Richard Branson, heeft vandaag naar eigen zeggen zijn SpaceShipTwo, alias VSS Unity, opnieuw succesvol uitgetest. “Wielen staan stil, SpaceshipTwo. Welkom terug op Aarde”, klonk het in een tweet nadat het raketvliegtuig sneller en hoger dan ooit tevoren was gevlogen.
Vanuit de Mojave-woestijn in Californië vertrok het raketvliegtuig met als testpiloten Mark “Forger” Stucky en Rick “C.J.” Sturckow even na 17.00 uur Belgische tijd met het moedervliegtuig VMS Eve. Op 13 km hoogte “dropte” dit het SpaceShipTwo. Na een vrije val steeg dit met zijn eigen motoren tot meer dan 80 km hoog. Die hoogte is voor Virgin Galactic de grens van de ruimte. Daarna keerde het SpaceShipTwo veilig terug.
De geslaagde vierde test met het ontsteken van de raketmotoren is een opsteker voor de plannen van Branson en co om toeristen kort even in de ruimte te brengen. De volgende stap is naar eigen zeggen het simuleren van het gewicht van de passagiers die het ruimtevliegtuig moet meevoeren. Dat zal gebeuren met vier wetenschappelijke nuttige ladingen die deel uitmaken van een programma van het Amerikaanse ruimtevaartbureau NASA.
Virgin Galactic zegt dat reeds meer dan 600 mannen en vrouwen van over de hele wereld een zitje hebben gereserveerd. Het bedrijf wou naar verluidt niets zeggen over mogelijke Belgische reislustigen.
NASA releases audio recording: Mars sounds this scary!
NASA releases audio recording: Mars sounds this scary!
A dark humming, dark vibrations. A howl and tremble. Teeth chattering!
Nasa has released sound recordings of Mars - these are the first audio recordings ever that human ears hear of the Martian wind.
Finally, we know: This is what our neighbor planet sounds like. It's nothing for weak minds.
But also nothing for bad ears. The rumble recorded by the sensors of the "InSight" probe, which landed ten days ago, can hardly be perceived unprocessed. Nasa recommends subwoofers and headphones to bring out the full low frequencies.
The Nasa has therefore increased the vibrations registered by the onboard seismograph by two octaves so that they are easier to hear. The "Insight" sensor, which measures the pressure in the lander, is also ghostly: the Martian wind whistles around your ears - impressive at least when the Nasa increases the speed by a factor of 100.
According to Nasa, the recorded wind had a speed of 16 to 24 km/h, blowing from the northwest.
A dwarf planet in our solar system is rich in organic matter, a Nasa spacecraft has shown.
Ceres is like a "chemical factory" full of the same ingredients that helped create life on Earth, according to scientists.
And studying it could reveal how those important processes took place on our own planet.
Ceres, a strange world that sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is thought to be about 4.6 billion years old, originating at the same time as our solar system.
The Nasa Dawn spacecraft, which sent back the new findings, had already shown the presence of water and other important chemicals such as ammonium.
And now it has found the planet is rich in carbon – far more than even the most carbon-rich meteorites on Earth, and giving it a strange chemical makeup.
"Ceres is like a chemical factory," said the Southwest Research Institute's Simone Marchi, a principal scientist who was the lead author of the research, which is published in Nature Astronomy.
"Among inner solar system bodies, Ceres' has a unique mineralogy, which appears to contain up to 20 percent carbon by mass in its near surface. Our analysis shows that carbon-rich compounds are intimately mixed with products of rock-water interactions, such as clays."
The discoveries could help us understand how planets like Earth came to be – and what laid the foundations for the life that is there today.
"With these findings, Ceres has gained a pivotal role in assessing the origin, evolution and distribution of organic species across the inner solar system," Dr Marchi said. "One has to wonder about how this world may have driven organic chemistry pathways, and how these processes may have affected the make-up of larger planets like the Earth."
THE SEARCH FOR ALIENS MAY DEPEND ON IN-SPACE ASSEMBLY
THE SEARCH FOR ALIENS MAY DEPEND ON IN-SPACE ASSEMBLY
Time To Outsource
If we ever want to find habitable planets far away from Earth, spot whatever extraterrestrial life be out there, or fly crewed missions out into deeper space, we’re going to have to invest heavily in space-based manufacturing operations.
That’s especially when it comes to peering into space that’s farther away from Earth. That reason is that we’re reaching the point where the telescopes that are big enough to improve upon current models are also too big to build on Earth then fly into space. That’s the crux of the argument of a new feature in Scientific American, which listed the in-space assembly and modifications to the Hubble Telescope and International Space Station as examples of how in-space assembly could push forward our understanding of the cosmos.
It’s simple physics: a high-definition image of deep space requires a telescope to have a big lens. Sure, it would be simpler to manufacture these complex apparatuses on Earth, but doing so would require the use of heavier and riskier rockets.
Meanwhile, smaller rocket launches — which could carry all of the parts, but with some assembly required — seem to grow cheaper and more commonplace by the day.
Crossing New Bridges
In-space assembly matters for other reasons, too. Recent progress in the realm of microgravity-environment 3D printing and similar endeavors will be necessary if we ever want people to actually explore deep space.
“Imagine a world where once your car runs low on fuel, instead of driving to the gas station you take it to the junkyard and abandon in,” DARPA program manager Joe Parrish told Scientific American. His message is clear — if we don’t find new ways to become self-sustaining on our journey into space, we will never get very far.
Images captured from the JunoCam imager seem to show a dolphin-shaped cloud swimming across Jupiter. While seeing an image of a dolphin-shaped cloud is like seeing the face of Jesus in your toast, the phenomenon that’s called pareidolia where we perceive images in random patterns, is really quite fascinating and fun to look at.
Juno spacecraft has been collecting data from our solar system’s largest planet since arriving there in July of 2016 and is expected stay operational until 2021.
On October 29, 2018, the Juno spacecraft made its sixteenth close flyby of the giant gas planet. Citizen-scientists Brian Swift and Seán Doran created the images by using the data collected from an instrument on the spacecraft called the JunoCam imager. According to NASA’s photo description, the series of images that captured the dolphin-shaped cloud swimming along the planet’s South South Temperate Belt appeared between 2:26 p.m. and 2:46 p.m. PDT and were taken from a distance of approximately 11,400 miles to 31,700 miles above Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Although NASA officially released the photo to the public on November 30th, Seán Doran beat them to it as he posted a photo of the oddly-shaped cloud on November 7th in a Twitter post. Since Juno arrived at Jupiter, Doran has been processing images with data collected from the spacecraft.
Another strange image captured two of Saturn’s moons in an odd position. Although it looks more like a snowman, the image was of Saturn’s moons called Dione and Rhea that was captured by the Cassini spacecraft that spent thirteen years orbiting the ringed planet before plunging into its atmosphere in September of 2017.
While the two moons look as though they were conjoined in the picture, Dione (which is the top moon in the picture) is in fact quite a bit smaller than Rhea. Dione has a diameter of 1,123 kilometers while Rhea has a diameter of 1,528 kilometers. Since Dione was closer to the spacecraft at the time that the picture was taken, they both appear nearly identical and as if they were touching or joined even though they are two separate moons. To elaborate, at the time that the picture was taken, Dione was approximately 1.1 million kilometers from Cassini, while Rhea was about 1.6 million kilometers away from the spacecraft.
Another reason why the moons looked conjoined is because Dione has a large crater called Evander that’s located in the center of the South Polar Region (where Rhea appears to connect with it) which makes the picture even more convincing that they were joined.
It’s the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Soviet Union’s most famous (and most hated by its leaders ) novelist — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – who brought the word “gulag” into the vocabulary of the Western world. A century later, a certain Russian space scientist may be glad those forced labor camps no longer exist (or do they?) after going against the leader of Russia’s space program and saying that not only does he believe that the U.S. landed humans on the moon, faking such a landing would be harder than actually accomplishing it. Hear that,lunar-landing-denier Steph Curry?
“Falsifying moon soil is impossible. The Americans brought back to Earth about 300 kilos of it, most of it basalt.”
“The question of whether the Americans landed on the moon in 1961-1972 is not controversial. However, there are still speculations on this topic in the world and mainly come from people who have nothing to do with space. You will not hear from any astronaut that the Americans have not landed on the moon.”
The “astronauts” Kostitsyn is referring to are Russian cosmonauts who know that the U.S. lunar space program was and still is far ahead of theirs. However, as a scientist, he looks for proof in the lunar rocks themselves, which he and other Russians were allowed to examine. He points out that although basalt came into existence on both the Earth and the moon at the same time, there are no old samples on Earth because of weathering. On the other hand, the samples from the moon are over 4 billion years old, far older than any rocks on Earth. In addition, they show a different form of weathering due to solar wind, which does not affect Earth rocks.
Then he goes after Dmitry Rogozin and Steph Curry.
“The Americans were very worried whether the USSR was going to arrange a trick on the moon – after all, at the same time as their mission, the USSR launched its probes on the moon. Of course, we did not have the task to harm them, it was – to get ahead. Staging the landing of American astronauts on the moon would be more difficult and more expensive than its actual implementation. Including because then this deception would have to be kept secret, which is not possible. NASA could classify its materials, but many independent firms participated in the implementation of Apollo.”
Even in the Soviet Union, with the threat of gulags and worse, it would be impossible to have so many different and independent parties keep such a massive hoax a secret for 50 years. Kostitsyn also points out that, while the U.S. seems to be focused on Mars, Russia is talking about establishing a base on the moon – a project that will require a better understanding of how much water is actually there and available.
“To build a base on the moon, you first need to establish life there and solve the problem of protecting people from space radiation. To do this, from the lunar substance to build shelters, and inside them to maintain the atmosphere. It is difficult to carry oxygen from Earth, therefore the water on the Moon is of primary interest – we need to understand how much water is there, how much water is available and how to get oxygen out of it.”
Oxygen and protection from radiation – two challenges Kostitsyn thinks are beyond the ability of Roscosmos and its goal of establishing a base in the 2030s.
“I think that humankind will not be able to fully live on the Moon soon. In the next decade, most likely, missions to the Moon will be resumed – both Russia, the USA and China have plans to launch orbiters there for the time being. Plans for the creation of manned moon descent modules remain at the level of theory.”
It’s discussions like this that remind us we need to listen more to scientists and less to NBA stars.
For the first time in history, scientists have detected the first interstellar object ever observed.
In October 2017, an elongated interstellar object named "Oumuamua" — the first to enter the solar system — was detected by a survey telescope in Hawaii.A new study published this week in the Astronomical Journal, coauthored by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, uncovered new information that suggested there was a limit to how big Oumuamua actually is, and gave astronomers a better indication of its size.
Scientists have been looking for signs of extraterrestrial life for decades. So does the appearance of Oumuamua mean the elusive "E.T" has finally been detected? Perhaps: Experts say it is exceedingly unlikely, but the possibility can't be ruled out just yet.
"I personally think the odds are much better that is something natural, but I don't want to dismiss the possibility that it could be from an alien civilization. But we have to have an open mind," Michael Wall, a writer at Space.com and a biologist, told CNBC recently.
Scientists believe Oumuamua is shaped like a cigar, approximately 400 feet long and 40 feet wide. However, they are only able to guess based on its changing brightness as it spins.
But scientists' biggest unanswered question is the object's thickness. As far as the scientific community is aware, there is no naturally occurring object that is as big as Oumuamua that appears so thin at the same time, increasing the likelihood that it was created by another life form.
Given the speed the object is moving, experts believe that it may be a light sail — an object that is thin enough to be pushed by the sun or another star, almost like a plastic bag in the wind, according to Matija Cuk, a research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.
Seth Shostak, a SETI research fellow, told CNBC that for that to be true, Oumuamua would have to be about a millimeter thick—about as thick as 5-10 sheets of paper stacked together.
According to Wall, scientists originally hypothesized that Oumuamua was a comet or an asteroid. However, both theories were ruled out: Unlike comets studied here on earth, this object does not have a tail, nor jets of gas that a comet would normally emit.
If Oumuamua is not a comet or an asteroid, chances of it being a light sail increase. According to SETI's Cuk, it is possible that outside our solar system, composition of space objects are different.
"Maybe in other solar systems comets could be made differently," Cuk said. That suggests the object could be naturally occurring, despite the fact that nothing like it has ever been seen anywhere near earth before.
Shostak said there are likely many objects similar to Oumuamua in the depths of space. This time, the object "hit the bullseye" by reaching the earth's solar system.
"This implies a number of these things are drifting through the cosmos, as ubiquitous as fire hydrants," Shostak said.
These objects have also likely reached our solar system in the past and gone unnoticed. Scientists are building another telescope similar to the one in Hawaii that detected Oumuamua. Once it is completed in Chile, it will be used to search for similar objects.
"Unless a miracle has occurred, these are entering our solar system all the time. This is just the first one we've found," Shostak said. He acknowledged the alien hypothesis was plausible, adding that Oumuamua acted more like a rock than a spaceship.
"If they really wanted to target our solar system, they'd hang around longer and probably come closer to the earth," he said.
Scientists also would have been able to detect any sort of signal the object had if it were as advanced as a cell phone, Shostak said. That does not prove anything, but decreases the likelihood that it was deliberately sent.
Oumuamua is now drifting further away from our solar system. The longer the distance, the harder it will be for earthlings to study it. Yet as technology increases, scientists may discover more objects similar to Oumuamua, perhaps in the next three to ten years.
"If we don't keep finding them, this will be increasingly peculiar," Shostak said.
Correction: Oumuamua was first discovered in October 2017.
It was just a few months after NASA's Opportunity rover touched down on Mars in 2004 that it spotted a geological curiosity: tiny, iron-rich spheres scattered across the rock surface near the robot's landing site. Snack-loving scientists working with the mission dubbed these objects "blueberries," but the features were easier to name than to understand. Their recipe remains something of a puzzle.
Trying to sort out the origins of these blueberries has always involved studying similar-looking spherical formations here on Earth. New research takes its inspiration from these terrestrial analogs to offer a new idea of the chemistry that may have gone into whipping up these Martian blueberries. In turn, this research helps reveal what ancient Mars may have looked like.
The blueberries are tantalizing for more than just their whimsical name; they also constituted some of the earliest evidence we had that Mars was once incredibly wet. "No matter what the exact chemistry of these spherules was to start, the fact that they're there tells us [that] a lot of liquid water moved through these rocks over time," Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University in Indiana, told Space.com. [10 Amazing Mars Discoveries by Rovers Spirit & Opportunity]
And if scientists can parse out precisely how the blueberries formed, that may help us understand what Mars was like back when the features formed — and what sort of life could have theoretically thrived in those circumstances, Horgan said.
So, the team behind the new research traveled to two different terrestrial destinations in search of rock formations that resemble Martian blueberries: Utah and Mongolia. These formations aren't identical to those on Mars, which are about a tenth the size of the Earthly equivalents. Our planet's formations are also less orderly than the Martian versions. "They're all blobbed together. They're different sizes," Horgan said of the terrestrial features.
But it's much easier to get to Utah and Mongolia than to Mars, so scientists use these features despite the imperfect comparison. The researchers found that the formations seemed to have been built around cores of a mineral called calcite, with iron-rich material in only the outer shell. "That moment [of discovery], it was very exciting," geochemist co-authors Hidekazu Yoshida of Nagoya University and Hitoshi Hasegawa of Kochi University in Japan, wrote in an email to Space.com.
Based on those observations in the field and chemical modeling, the scientists suggested that floods of iron-rich, gently acidic water washed over the original calcite structures. Unlike the terrestrial versions, Martian blueberries seem to be made of hematite all the way through, no longer sporting any calcite heart. But that could point to a long period of overwash that ate through all the calcite, the researchers said.
The nagging details of chemical reactions that may or may not have taken place on early Mars have larger implications. First, these details are relevant to scientists' natural interest in all that water that flowed through rocks to form the blueberries. "The chemistry of water tells us about the habitability of the environment," Horgan said.
The second potential implication would relate to another long-standing debate about Mars — what happened to its once-thick atmosphere. The authors in the new study argued that this atmosphere could have gone into the carbonate ions locked in calcite precursors to the blueberries.
But that wouldn't solve the atmospheric mystery, Steve Ruff, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University who works on the Opportunity mission, told Space.com. "My sense of what we know about the area of the hematite that we can map from orbit is it's not a huge area," covering less than 1 percent of Mars' surface, he said. There just aren't enough blueberries to pack away very much atmosphere. [Latest Mars Rover Photos from Opportunity & Spirit]
He said he also worries that Earth's formations aren't similar enough to those on Mars for scientists to learn about the blueberries. But Ruff didn't dismiss the new paper. "I'm intrigued by this idea," he said. "The formation of these little concretions on Earth and certainly on Mars has always been a bit of a mystery, and there's multiple ideas about how you form these things."
The Martian blueberries are small enough that in order to truly solve their mystery, scientists will need more-sophisticated tools than are currently on the Red Planet. NASA's next rover, the Mars 2020 rover, will carry instruments with high enough resolution that they could tackle these questions. But that rover is slated to visit a place called Jezero Crater, far away from the plain where Opportunity spotted the blueberries.
"Going back to places on Mars with NASA is not something people want to do. They want to go to new places," Ruff said. Nevertheless, he said he isn't giving up hope that the new rover could solve the blueberry mystery. "Maybe we'll get lucky and see something like this with the 2020 rover."
Whatever the nuances of blueberry chemistry turn out to be, the new paper is a reminder of the vast time scales — and the potential complexity such time scales entail — involved in Martian geology, Horgan said. "Time can play a really important role in the minerals that we see," Horgan said. "We should be careful. There could have been multiple things that happened to these rocks."
The research is described in a paper published today (Dec. 5) in the journal Science Advances.
The boulder-strewn asteroid Bennu, shown here in a mosaic of images taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on December 2, is full of water-rich minerals.
As the asteroid Bennucomes into sharper focus, planetary scientists are seeing signs of water locked up in the asteroid’s rocks, NASA team members announced December 10.
“It’s one of the things we were hoping to find,” team member Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a news conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C. “This is evidence of liquid water in Bennu’s past. This is really big news.”
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft just arrived at Bennu on December 3 (SN Online: 12/3/18). Over the next year, the team will search for the perfect spot on the asteroid to grab a handful of dust and return it to Earth. “Very early in the mission, we’ve found out Bennu is going to provide the type of material we want to return,” said principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “It definitely looks like we’ve gone to the right place.”
OSIRIS-REx’s onboard spectrometers measure the chemical signatures of various minerals based on the wavelengths of light they emit and absorb. The instruments were able to see signs of hydrated mineralson Bennu’s surface about a month before the spacecraft arrived at the asteroid, and the signal has remained strong all over the asteroid’s surface as the spacecraft approached, Simon said. Those minerals can form only in the presence of liquid water, and suggest that Bennu had a hydrothermal system in its past.
Bennu’s surface is also covered in more boulders and craters than the team had expected based on observations of the asteroid taken from Earth. Remote observations led the team to expect a few large boulders, about 10 meters wide. Instead they see hundreds, some of them up to 50 meters wide.
“It’s a little more rugged of an environment,” Lauretta said. But that rough surface can reveal details of Bennu’s internal structure and history.
If Bennu were one solid mass, for instance, a major impact could crack or shatter its entire surface. The fact that it has large craters means it has survived impacts intact. It may be more of a rubble pile loosely held together by its own gravity.
Crater pockmarks on Bennu, like this 20-meter-wide depression photographed on December 2, may turn out to be the safest places for the spacecraft to pick up a sample of the asteroid. Craters also tell scientists that the asteroid is not one solid mass but instead different materials clumped together. If Bennu had been a solid rock, large impacts could crack or shatter its surface.
UNIV. OF ARIZ./GODDARD/NASA
The asteroid’s density supports the rubble pile idea. OSIRIS-REx’s first estimate of Bennu’s density shows it is about 1,200 kilograms per cubic meter, Lauretta said. The average rock is about 3,000 kilograms per cubic meter. The hydrated minerals go some way towards lowering the asteroid’s density, since water is less dense than rock. But up to 40 percent of the asteroid may be full of caves and voids as well, Lauretta said.
Some of the rocks on the surface appear to be fractured in a spindly pattern. “If you drop a dinner plate on the ground, you get a spider web of fractures,” says team member Kevin Walsh of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. “We’re seeing this in some boulders.”
The boulders may have cracked in response to the drastic change in temperatures they experience as the asteroid spins. Studying those fracture patterns in more detail will reveal the properties of the rocks.
The OSIRIS-REx team also needs to know how many boulders of various sizes are strewn across the asteroid’s surface. Any rock larger than about 20 centimeters across would pose a hazard to the spacecraft’s sampling arm, says Keara Burke of the University of Arizona. Burke, an undergraduate engineering student, is heading up a boulder mapping project.
Some of the rocks strewn across Bennu, like this 35-meter-wide boulder photographed on December 2, are fractured in a spindly pattern. The fractures may be the result of sudden, drastic temperature change. Studying the fracture patterns could help scientists learn more about the properties of the rocks.
UNIV. OF ARIZ./GODDARD/NASA
“My primary goal is safety,” she says. “If it looks like a boulder to me, within reasonable guidelines, then I mark it as a boulder. We can’t sample anything if we’re going to crash.”
The team also needs to know where the smallest grains of rock and dust are, as OSIRIS-REx’s sampling arm can pick up grains only about 2 centimeters across. One way to find the small rocks is to measure how well the asteroid’s surface retains heat. Bigger rocks are slower to heat up and slower to cool down, so they’ll radiate heat out into space even on the asteroid’s night side. Smaller grains of dust heat up and cool down much more quickly.
“It’s exactly like a beach,” Walsh says. “During the day it’s scalding hot, but then it’s instantly cold when the sun sets.”
Measurements of the asteroid’s heat storage so far suggest that there are regions with grains as small as 1 or 2 centimeters across, Lauretta said, though it is still too early to be certain.
“I am confident that we’ll find some fine-grained regions,” Lauretta said. Some may be located inside craters. The challenge will be finding an area wide enough that the spacecraft’s navigation system can steer to it accurately.
Editor's note: This story was updated December 11, 2018, to correct the description of Bennu's density. It's measured in cubic meters, not cubic centimeters.
Scientist Finds 'Evidence' of Another Universe Before This One
Scientist Finds 'Evidence' of Another Universe Before This One
in a study published back in august .......a team of theoretical physicists claimed to have discovered the remnants of previous universes hidden within the leftover radiation from the big bang.........
Before our universe, Another Universe existed, and another one will emerge after this universe ends
“The next universe will be just like ours — but only in overall appearance, not in detail, of course…” A researcher may just have discovered conclusive evidence that another universe existed before this one. Not only that, he claims that our universe is just the latest in an infinite series of universes. Professor Sir Roger Penrose argues that …
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