Tag Archives | Space

Mystery Metal ‘Space Ball’

Do any disinfonauts have theories as to just what it might be? From AFP via Yahoo News:

A large metallic ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.

Space Ball

The hollow ball with a circumference of 1.1 metres (43 inches) was found near a village in the north of the country some 750 kilometres (480 miles) from the capital Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.

Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said.

With a diameter of 35 centimetres (14 inches), the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of “two halves welded together”.

It was made of a “metal alloy known to man” and weighed six kilogrammes (13 pounds), said Ludik…

[continues at AFP via Yahoo News]

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There’s No Such Thing As Empty Space

sparkle03There’s always something, says a Swedish study. Phenomenica reports:

Scientists claim to have produced particles of light out of vacuum, proving that space is not empty.

An international team says that its ingenious experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy, the ‘Nature’ journal reported.

In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short.

The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad “virtual” particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks.

The research, led by Chris Wilson of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, shows that a related dynamic effect can occur when such a mirror moves very fast through the vacuum.

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Presenting Earth 2.0

kepler22b-0Is this where humankind will be living in a couple millenia? In a solar system 600 light years away spins the newly-spotted Kebler 22-b, a rocky planet with oceans covering two-thirds of its surface, and balmy temperatures approximating 70 degrees. The Herald Sun reports on the greatest hope for a replacement Earth:

A newly discovered planet about 600 light years from our little rock has scientists around the world in a spin, with many heralding it as the best chance yet of containing alien life.

The find, announced early last week by NASA, was uncovered by the US space agency’s Kepler spacecraft, launched on a planet-hunting mission in 2009.

The planet, Kepler-22b, is 2.4 times bigger than Earth, orbits a star slightly smaller than our sun and has an average temperature of 22C. It is also closer to its sun-like star, giving it a “year” of 290 days.

What makes this discovery so exciting is that it is the smallest planet right in the middle of what has been dubbed the Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too hot and not too cold to either boil or freeze water, vital for life as we know it.

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Google’s Elevator To Space

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

I kid you not, some of the geniuses at Google are working on an elevator to space, as reported by Clare Cain Miller and Nick Bilton for the New York Times:

In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.

It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.

These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project.

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In 1883, Did Earth Narrowly Miss Comet That Would Have Destroyed All Life?

Schwassmann-Wachmann 3“If they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”

The biggest event which never happened and no one knows about? Offering a novel reinterpretation of some forgotten historical data, several Mexican researchers say a billion-ton comet may have passed a few hundred miles from Earth in 1883. Via Technology Review:

On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Bonilla published his account of this event in a French journal called L’Astronomie in 1886. Today, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a couple of pals, think that Bonilla must have been seeing fragments of a comet that had recently broken up.

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Around The World In One Minute Space Video

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.
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You Have A 1-in-3,200 Chance of Being Hit By A Falling Climate-Change Study Satellite This Month

UARSAnd I thought all this space junk would just crash into itself up there. If you are struck, you can blame global warming! Andrew Hough writes in the Telegraph:

The $750 million (£468 million) Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite, launched 20 years ago to study climate change, is set to breach the atmosphere within weeks.

In a new alert issued this week, officials warned pieces could land in densely populated areas on six continents including parts of Britain, Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Nasa claimed the risk to public safety from the “dead” satellite — which is orbiting just over 155 miles above the earth with an inclination of 57 degrees — was “extremely small”.

But senior space agency officials admitted they were “concerned” about the risk to billions of people when it starts falling uncontrolled out of orbit at any stage from later this month.

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We Have to Clean Up Outer Space Now in Order to Safely Launch New Spacecraft

Space JunkVia the BBC:
Scientists in the US have warned NASA that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites. It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites. Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish "has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures," the research council said in a statement on Thursday.
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