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Showing posts from October, 2018

Hungarian Astronomers have spotted a dust cloud orbiting the Earth

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The Earth is far from alone on its journey around the Sun. Our most visible companion is the Moon, but there are also the thousands of artificial satellites orbiting our home planet, and the odd space rock that we drag along for the ride.

Now, Hungarian astronomers have spotted two new pseudo-satellites – in the form of clouds of dust – caught in the gravitational tug-of-war between the Earth and the Moon.


The interplay of gravity between objects is more complicated than it may seem at a glance. When one large object orbits another – say, the Moon orbiting the Earth – the gravitational pull of both creates five positions, called Lagrange points, where those forces are just right to capture smaller objects. Pseudo-satellites trapped in these positions remain relatively stable in relation to each other and the larger bodies. That stability makes these Lagrange points perfect for artificial satellites, such as NASA's DSCOVR spacecraft or future refueling stations for trips to the Moon o…

SpaceX ships another huge propellant tank to South Texas BFR test site

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Captured by NASASpaceflight.com forum user “bocachicagal”, the second of several massive liquid methane tanks has arrived at SpaceX’s prospective Boca Chica, Texas facilities, to be dedicated to integrated testing of BFR’s spaceship/upper stage. If there was any doubt beforehand, the arrival of a second ~100,000 gallon vacuum-insulated tank all but guarantees that SpaceX is planning a major campaign of BFR spaceship testing in South Texas – with as much as 200,000 gallons of storage capacity in those two tanks alone, SpaceX could easily top off two Falcon 9’s with liquid oxygen and still have more than 100 tons left over.


Per NASASpaceflight.com’s forums, it appears that this newest tank arrived at the site sometime yesterday or the day before. Thanks to the fundamental properties of BFR’s planned liquid methane and oxygen fuel and oxidizer, aspects of basic ground support infrastructure may actually be a significant improvement over Falcon 9’s refined kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxyge…

Saturn’s moon Dione has stripes like no others in the solar system

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Saturn’s moon Dione is streaked with long bright stripes, and no one knows how they got there. Planetary scientists first noticed the stripes in pictures taken with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017 (SN: 4/14/18, p. 6). Found near the moon’s equator, the long, thin, bright lines run surprisingly parallel to each other for tens to hundreds of kilometers. And the stripes seem unaffected by other features in the pocked and ridge-lined landscape, researchers report online October 15 in Geophysical Research Letters. “They’re just really bizarre,” said study coauthor and planetary scientist Emily Martin of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “It’s really exciting when you see something really strange, and you’re just trying to figure out what the heck it could possibly be.” Dione’s distinctive marks aren’t the only streaks in the solar system. So Martin and planetary scientist Alex Patthoff mapped the structures and compared the…

Dust storm creates amazing red sunrise in Alexander Bay, South Africa

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Dust storm creates amazing red sunrise in Alexander Bay, South Africa
A huge dust storm engulfed the town of Alexander Bay in the Northern Cape of South Africa on October 21, 2018, creating an amazing red sunrise. According to meteorologists, the dust storm was created by a combination of a low-pressure system off the coast of Namibia and strong eastern winds. Apart from the amazing views, strong winds produced by the storm caused at least one large truck to topple over. Featured image credit: Multimedia LIVE

Mars likely to have enough oxygen to support life: New Study Says

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Paris (AFP) – Salty water just below the surface of Mars could hold enough oxygen to support the kind of microbial life that emerged and flourished on Earth billions of years ago, researchers reported Monday. In some locations, the amount of oxygen available could even keep alive a primitive, multicellular animal such as a sponge, they reported in the journal Nature Geosciences.   “We discovered that brines” — water with high concentrations of salt — “on Mars can contain enough oxygen for microbes to breathe,” said lead author Vlada Stamenkovic, a theoretical physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.  “This fully revolutionizes our understanding of the potential for life on Mars, today and in the past,” he told AFP. Up to now, it had been assumed that the trace amounts of oxygen on Mars were insufficient to sustain even microbial life. “We never thought that oxygen could play a role for life on Mars due to its rarity in the atmosphere, about 0.14 percent,” Stamenkovic…

BIZARRE RECTANGLE ICEBERG SPOTTED BY NASA NEAR TO LARSEN C ICE SHELF

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NASA has shared an image of a weird rectangle iceberg that appeared floating off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, near the Larsen C ice shelf. The image was taken during an IceBridge flight—an airborne survey of the planet’s polar ice. The mission aims to provide a 3D view of the ice that makes up the Arctic and Antarctic, providing vital information on how it changes over time.
In an interview with LiveScience, NASA ice scientist Kelly Brunt explained how the rectangle iceberg formed: "We get two types of icebergs: We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a crazy subsurface. And then you have what is called 'tabular icebergs.'" The latter, she said, split off the edges of ice shelves in the same way a fingernail that grows too long ends up cracking off. This is why they have sharp edges. Brunt did acknowledge that this particular iceberg was a “…

Watch: NASA releases 450,000 gallons of water in one minute

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That's a lot of water.

As a test of its "Ignition Overpressure Protection and Sound Suppression water deluge system," NASA on Oct. 15 released a deluge of water -- 450,000 gallons to be precise -- in just over one minute. The water goes up about 100 feet into the air. The system is used to reduce extreme heat and energy generated by a rocket launch, according to NASA. This test was at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B in Florida in preparation for Exploration Mission-1, which is set to launch in June 2020. It will be the first uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System, a huge rocket arrangement NASA has worked on for years, set to be the most powerful booster ever built.
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Severe thunderstorm, large hail, and heavy rainfall hit southeastern Australia
Intense thunderstorms are affecting parts of southeastern Australia over the past couple of days. In just 24 hours, NSW registered 300 000 lightning strikes, resulting in the death of at least one person. Heavy rain soaked the region, dropping three times the October average rainfall on some parts. The storm flooded roads and homes, downed trees and power lines and left tens of thousands without power. A strong cold front moved through New South Wales late October 20 into 21, 2018, forcing a warm and humid airmass upward, creating a line of storms that, at times, stretched from the Victorian border all the way to southern Queensland, the Weatherzone reports. The state saw 300 000 lightning strikes on October 21 alone. The city of Sydney recorded more than 7 000 lightning strikes overnight October 21 and 15 mm (0.59 inches) of rain in 10 minutes / 19.2 mm (0.75 inches) in just 15 minutes. State's SES said…
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Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico as 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm Hurricane Willa, an “extremely dangerous” storm that was upgraded to a Category 4 late Sunday, is expected to slam Mexico’s Pacific coast late Tuesday or Wednesday. The storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), “continues to rapidly strengthen,” as it barrels toward the coast. As of the center’s 8 p.m. ET advisory, the hurricane was roughly 225 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph.





NHC E. Pacific Ops