Tag Archives | Outer Space

A Gamma Ray Blast Irradiated The Earth In The Eighth Century

Radiation in centuries-old tree rings reveals what occurred. If the event were to repeat itself today, it could wreak havoc on humankind’s technology. Phys.org writes:

A nearby short duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuhӓuser, based at the Astrophysics Institute of the University of Jena in Germany.

In 2012 scientist Fusa Miyake announced the detection of high levels of the isotope Carbon-14 and Beryllium-10 in tree rings formed in 775 CE, suggesting that a burst of radiation struck the Earth in the year 774 or 775.

Drs. Hambaryan and Neuhӓuser suggest that two compact stellar remnants, i.e. black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs, collided and merged together. When this happens, some energy is released in the form of gamma rays. If they are right, then this would explain why no records exist of a supernova or auroral display.

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Did NASA Delete Possible UFO Evidence From Its Archives?

Is NASA covering its tracks in regards to images that could reveal what is truly out there? Or simply reorganizing its archives of photos of space trash? io9 writes:

UFOlogists are freaking out today over the removal of several photos from a NASA archive. These photos [see right] have been used by various UFO groups to support their belief that aliens have been visiting Earth and governments are covering it up. NASA identifies these as images of “space debris.”

Believers say the removal of the photos is tantamount to admitting that NASA is trying to cover up extraterrestrial visitors. More likely is that they were removed after the space agency realized that they were fueling alien conspiracy theories.

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Balloon-Like Space Dwelling To Be Tested On International Space Station

Reuters on the silvery space pod in which you’ll be spending future vacations:

A low-cost space dwelling that inflates like a balloon in orbit will be tested aboard the International Space Station, opening the door for commercial leases of future free-flying outposts and deep-space astronaut habitats for NASA.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), developed by privately owned Bigelow Aerospace and about 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter when inflated, is scheduled for launch in mid-2015 aboard a Space Exploration Technologies’ Dragon cargo ship, said Mike Gold, director of operations for Bigelow Aerospace.

A successful test flight on the space station would be a stepping stone for planned Bigelow-staffed orbiting outposts that the company plans to lease to research organizations, businesses and wealthy individuals wishing to vacation in orbit.

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SpaceX Founder’s Colony On Mars Would Be For Vegetarians Only

A previously-unmentioned wrinkle in the most feasible plan for humanity to reach a second planet: meat eaters will be left behind to languish on Earth. Russia Today writes:

A US billionaire and co-founder of PayPal, Elon Musk, has made plans to build a settlement for 80,000 people on Mars when technology makes it possible for man to live there, for a price of $500,000.

Musk is a considered one of America’s most respected private space entrepreneurs and was in charge of creating SpaceX, a space transport company that produced the Falcon 9 rocket that delivers NASA cargo to the International Space Station. The billionaire’s estate and prominence in the space industry could make his plans [for a city on Mars] feasible, but the California-based engineer has not left behind his personal ideologies: Musk will only allow vegetarians to live in his settlement.

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Space Travel Can Cause Alzheimer’s, Study Warns

A hidden danger of attempting to establish a colony on another planet — many of the pioneering colonizers could be feeble-minded or demented upon arrival. Via Space Daily:

Long journeys into deep space, including a mission to Mars, could expose astronauts to levels of cosmic radiation harmful to the brain and accelerate Alzheimer’s disease, said US research Monday.

The NASA-funded study involved bombarding mice with radiation doses comparable to what voyagers would experience during a mission to Mars, and seeing how the animals managed to recall objects or locations.

Mice that were exposed to radiation were far more likely to fail those tasks — suggesting neurological impairment earlier than such symptoms typically appear. The brains of the mice also showed signs of vascular alterations and a greater than normal accumulation of beta amyloid, the protein “plaque” that is one of the hallmarks of the disease.

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First ‘Alien Earth’ Likely To Be Spotted In 2013, Scientists Say

Finally, we’ll have a spot for humanity to open a second franchise? Live Science writes:

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe. “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. A number of exoplanets found over the last few years share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — but they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.”

NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch.

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New Photos Suggest That Planet Mercury Is Hollow

The hollows appear to have formed relatively recently. The next question is, what lies inside? Phys.org writes:

A recent image acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft shows the interior of Eminescu, a youngish 80-mile wide crater just north of Mercury’s equator. Eminescu made science headlines last year with MESSENGER’s discovery of curious eroded blotches called “hollows” scattered across its interior and surrounding its central peak, and now it looks like the spacecraft may have spotted some of these strange features in their earliest stages of formation along the inner edge of the crater’s rim.

First announced in September 2011, hollows have now been identified in many areas across Mercury. The lack of craters within hollows indicates that they are relatively young. It was suggested that they may be the result of an ongoing process on Mercury.

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Are Aliens Communicating With Us Via The Stars?

TIME on the possibility that we are oblivious to extraterrestrial messages shining right down onto us:

Lucianne Walkowicz wants to conduct a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), not by doing anything so conventional as listening for radio transmissions or watching for flashes of laser light. Instead, she wants to see if ET’s are somehow manipulating the light coming from their stars so that they wink at us.

“Our premise,” she says, “is that up until now, we’ve had a preconceived idea of what a SETI signal would look like.” It would basically be the sort of signal we know how to create, since searching for a signal from some entirely unknown technology would be difficult.

If aliens were so advanced that they could cause their star to appear to flicker, however, it wouldn’t matter how they did it, and it would be easy enough to see with existing technology. In fact, says Walkowicz, “our premise was, ‘what if we’ve already detected a signal but missed it because of our preconceptions.’”

So she and her co-investigators proposed to look through a potential trove of signals: the archives from the Kepler mission, which has been scanning space since 2009 for stars that are winking because of orbiting planets passing in front of them.

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Images Which Will Be Found By Aliens Billions Of Years From Now

More on MIT artist in residence Trevor Paglen’s previously discussed Last Pictures project, which involves sending a satellite into permanent “graveyard orbit” whose cargo is a “nano-etched silicon disc” which will not deteriorate for billions of years. The disc will contain a hundred images to be seen by beings of the distant future, offering a window into the existence of humanity and planet Earth. Via Wired, the images selected for immortality are rather macabre, including:

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