Tag: Atlantic Ocean (page 1 of 2)

Listen To These Eerie ‘X-Files’ Sounds Recorded in Earth’s Stratosphere

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comWhat does the edge of space sound like? Pretty darn strange. Just have a listen to these acoustic signals recorded in the stratosphere some 22 miles above Earth's surface (above). At frequencies below 20 hertz, thes...

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Scientists: Enceladus may have warm water ocean with ingredients for life


Enceladus ocean
This artist's impression of the interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus shows that interactions between hot water and rock occur at the floor of the subsurface ocean -- the type of environment that might be friendly to life, scientists say. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)



Excerpt from latimes.com

Scientists say they’ve discovered evidence of a watery ocean with warm spots hiding beneath the surface of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. The findings, described in the journal Nature, are the first signs of hydrothermal activity on another world outside of Earth – and raise the chances that Enceladus has the potential to host microbial life.

Scientists have wondered about what lies within Enceladus at least since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft caught the moon spewing salty water vapor out from cracks in its frozen surface. Last year, a study of its gravitational field hinted at a 10-kilometer-thick regional ocean around the south pole lying under an ice crust some 30 to 40 kilometers deep.

Another hint also emerged about a decade ago, when Cassini discovered tiny dust particles escaping Saturn’s system that were nanometer-sized and rich in silicon.

“It’s a peculiar thing to find particles enriched with silicon,” said lead author Hsiang-Wen Hsu, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In Saturn’s moons and among its rings, water ice dominates, so these odd particles clearly stood out.

The scientists traced these particles’ origin to Saturn’s E-ring, which lies between the orbits of the moons Mimas and Titan and whose icy particles are known to come from Enceladus. So Hsu and colleagues studied the grains to understand what was going on inside the gas giant’s frigid satellite.   
Rather than coming in a range of sizes, these particles were all uniformly tiny – just a few nanometers across. Studying the spectra of these grains, the scientists found that they were made of silicon dioxide, or silica. That’s not common in space, but it’s easily found on Earth because it’s a product of water interacting with rock. 

Knowing how silica interacts in given conditions such as temperature, salinity and alkalinity, the scientists could work backward to determine what kind of environment creates these unusual particles.

A scientist could do the same thing with a cup of warm coffee, Hsu said.

“You put in the sugar and as the coffee gets cold, if you know the relation of the solubility of sugar as a function of temperature, you will know how hot your coffee was,” Hsu said. “And applying this to Enceladus’s ocean, we can derive a minimum [temperature] required to form these particles.”

The scientists then ran experiments in the lab to determine how such silica particles came to be. With the particles’ particular makeup and size distribution, they could only have formed under very specific circumstances, the study authors found, determining that the silica particles must have formed in water that had less than 4% salinity and that was slightly alkaline (with a pH of about 8.5 to 10.5) and at temperatures of at least 90 degrees Celsius (roughly 190 degrees Fahrenheit).

The heat was likely being generated in part by tidal forces as Saturn’s gravity kneads its icy moon. (The tidal forces are also probably what open the cracks in its surface that vent the water vapor into space.)
Somewhere inside the icy body, there was hydrothermal activity – salty warm water interacting with rocks. It’s the kind of environment that, on Earth, is very friendly to life.  

“It’s kind of obvious, the connection between hydrothermal interactions and finding life,” Hsu said. “These hydrothermal activities will provide the basic activities to sustain life: the water, the energy source and of course the nutrients that water can leach from the rocks.”

Enceladus, Hsu said, is now likely the “second-top object for astrobiology interest” – the first being Jupiter’s icy moon and fellow water-world, Europa.
This activity is in all likelihood going on right now, Hsu said – over time, these tiny grains should glom together into larger and larger particles, and because they haven’t yet, they must have been recently expelled from Enceladus, within the last few months or few years at most.

Gabriel Tobie of the University of Nantes in France, who was not involved in the research, compared the conditions that created these silica particles to a hydrothermal field in the Atlantic Ocean known as Lost City.

“Because it is relatively cold, Lost City has been posited as a potential analogue of hydrothermal systems in active icy moons. The current findings confirm this,” Tobie wrote in a commentary on the paper. “What is more, alkaline hydrothermal vents might have been the birthplace of the first living organisms on the early Earth, and so the discovery of similar environments on Enceladus opens fresh perspectives on the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System.”

However, Hsu pointed out, it’s not enough to have the right conditions for life – they have to have been around for long enough that life would have a fighting chance to emerge.

“The other factor that is also very important is the time.… For Enceladus, we don’t know how long this activity has been or how stable it is,” Hsu said. “And so that’s a big uncertainty here.”

One way to get at this question? Send another mission to Enceladus, Tobie said.

“Cassini will fly through the moon’s plume again later this year,” he wrote, “but only future missions that can undertake improved in situ investigations, and possibly even return samples to Earth, will be able to confirm Enceladus’ astrobiological potential and fully reveal the secrets of its hot springs. ”

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Ancient ‘Blue’ Mars Lost an Entire Ocean to Space


Artist impression of Mars ocean

Excerpt from news.discovery.com

Mars was once a small, wet and blue world, but over the past 4 billion years, Mars dried up and became the red dust bowl we know today.

But how much water did Mars possess? According to research published in the journal Science, the Martian northern hemisphere was likely covered in an ocean, covering a region of the approximate area as Earth’s Atlantic Ocean, plunging, in some places, to 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) deep.

“Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space,” said Geronimo Villanueva, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper, in an ESO news release. “With this work, we can better understand the history of water on Mars.”

Over a 6-year period, Villanueva and his team used the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (in Chile) and instruments at the W. M. Keck Observatory and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (both on Mauna Kea in Hawaii) to study the distribution of water molecules in the Martian atmosphere. By building a comprehensive map of water distribution and seasonal changes, they were able to arrive at this startling conclusion.

It is becoming clear that, over the aeons, Mars lost the majority of its atmosphere to space. That also goes for its water. Though large quantities of water were likely frozen below the surface as the atmosphere thinned and cooled, the water contained in an ocean of this size must have gone elsewhere — it must have also been lost to space.

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 meters deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere. 
The water in Earth’s oceans contains molecules of H2O, the familiar oxygen atom bound with 2 hydrogen atoms, and, in smaller quantities, the not-so-familiar HDO molecule. HDO is a type of water molecule that contains 1 hydrogen atom, 1 oxygen atom and 1 deuterium atom. The deuterium atom is an isotope of hydrogen; whereas hydrogen consists of 1 proton and an electron, deuterium consists of 1 proton, 1 neutron and 1 electron. Therefore, due to the extra neutron the deuterium contains, HDO molecules are slightly heavier than the regular H2O molecules.

Also known as “semi-heavy water,” HDO is less susceptible to being evaporated away and being lost to space, so logic dictates that if water is boiled (or sublimated) away on Mars, the H2O molecules will be preferentially lost to space whereas a higher proportion of HDO will be left behind.

By using powerful ground-based observatories, the researchers were able to determine the distribution of HDO molecules and the H2O molecules and compare their ratios to liquid water that is found in its natural state.

Of particular interest is Mars’ north and south poles where icecaps containing water and carbon dioxide ice persist to modern times. The water those icecaps contain is thought to document the evolution of water since the red planet’s wet Noachian period (approximately 3.7 billion years ago) to today. It turns out that the water measured in these polar regions is enriched with HDO by a factor of 7 when compared with water in Earth’s oceans. This, according to the study, indicates that Mars has lost a volume of water 6.5 times larger than the water currently contained within the modern-day icecaps.

Therefore, the volume of Mars’ early ocean must have been at least 20 million cubic kilometers, writes the news release.

Taking into account the Martian global terrain, most of the water would have been concentrated around the northern plains, a region dominated by low-lying land. An ancient ocean, with this estimate volume of water, would have covered 19 percent of the Martian globe, a significant area considering the Atlantic Ocean covers 17 percent of the Earth’s surface.

“With Mars losing that much water, the planet was very likely wet for a longer period of time than previously thought, suggesting the planet might have been habitable for longer,” said Michael Mumma, also of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

This estimate is likely on the low-side as Mars is thought to contain significant quantities of water ice below its surface — a fact that surveys such as this can be useful for pinpointing exactly where the remaining water may be hiding.

Ulli Kaeufl, of the European Southern Observatory and co-author of the paper, added: “I am again overwhelmed by how much power there is in remote sensing on other planets using astronomical telescopes: we found an ancient ocean more than 100 million kilometers away!”
Source: ESO

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Mars Had an Ocean, Scientists Say, Pointing to a Treasure Trove of New Data





Excerpt from nytimes.com

After six years of planetary observations, scientists at NASA say they have found convincing new evidence that ancient Mars had an ocean.

It was probably the size of the Arctic Ocean, larger than previously estimated, the researchers reported on Thursday. The body of water spread across the low-lying plain of the planet’s northern hemisphere for millions of years, they said.

If confirmed, the findings would add significantly to scientists’ understanding of the planet’s history and lend new weight to the view that ancient Mars had everything needed for life to emerge.
“The existence of a northern ocean has been debated for decades, but this is the first time we have such a strong collection of data from around the globe,” said Michael Mumma, principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Center for Astrobiology and an author of the report, published in the journal Science. “Our results tell us there had to be a northern ocean.”
But other experts said the question was hardly resolved. The ocean remains “a hypothesis,” said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist of the Curiosity rover mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Dr. Mumma and Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist at NASA, measured two slightly different forms of water in Mars’ atmosphere. One is the familiar H2O, which consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

The other is a slightly “heavier” version of water, HDO, in which the nucleus of one hydrogen atom contains a neutron. The atom is called deuterium.

The two forms exist in predictable ratios on Earth, and both have been found in meteorites from Mars. A high level of heavier water today would indicate that there was once a lot more of the “lighter” water, somehow lost as the planet changed.

The scientists found eight times as much deuterium in the Martian atmosphere than is found in water on Earth. Dr. Villanueva said the findings “provide a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had by determining how much water was lost to space.”

He said the measurements pointed to an ancient Mars that had enough water to cover the planet to a depth of at least 137 meters, or about 450 feet. Except for assessments based on the size of the northern basin, this is the highest estimate of the amount of water on early Mars that scientists have ever made.

The water on Mars mostly would have pooled in the northern hemisphere, which lies one to three kilometers — 0.6 to 1.8 miles — below the bedrock surface of the south, the scientists said.
At one time, the researchers estimated, a northern ocean would have covered about 19 percent of the Martian surface. In comparison, the Atlantic Ocean covers about 17 percent of Earth’s surface.

The new findings come at a time when the possibility of a northern ocean on Mars has gained renewed attention.

The Curiosity rover measured lighter and heavier water molecules in the Gale Crater, and the data also indicated that Mars once had substantial amounts of water, although not as much as Dr. Mumma and Dr. Villanueva suggest.

“The more water was present — and especially if it was a large body of water that lasted for a longer period of time — the better the chances are for life to emerge and to be sustained,” said Paul Mahaffy, chief of the atmospheric experiments laboratory at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Just last month, the science team running the Curiosity rover held its first formal discussion about the possibility of such an ocean and what it would have meant for the rest of Mars.

Scientists generally agree that lakes must have existed for millions of years in Gale Crater and elsewhere. But it is not clear how they were sustained and replenished.

“For open lakes to remain relatively stable for millions of years — it’s hard to figure how to do that without an ocean,” Dr. Vasavada said. “Unless there was a large body of water supplying humidity to the planet, the water in an open lake would quickly evaporate and be carried to the polar caps or frozen out.”

Yet climate modelers have had difficulty understanding how Mars could have been warm enough in its early days to keep water from freezing. Greenhouse gases could have made the planet much warmer at some point, but byproducts of those gases have yet to be found on the surface.

James Head, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University, said in an email that the new paper had “profound implications for the total volume of water” on ancient Mars.

But, he added, “climate models have great difficulty in reconstructing an early Mars with temperatures high enough to permit surface melting and liquid water.”

Also missing are clear signs of the topographic and geological features associated with large bodies of water on Earth, such as sea cliffs and shorelines.

Based on low-resolution images sent back by the Viking landers, the geologist Timothy Parker and his colleagues at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab reported in 1989 the discovery of ancient shorelines. But later high-resolution images undermined their conclusions.

Still, Dr. Parker and his colleagues have kept looking for — and finding, they say — some visible signs of a northern ocean. The new data “certainly encourages me to do more,” he said in an interview.

Other researchers have also been looking for signs of an ancient ocean.

In 2013, Roman DiBiase, then a postdoctoral student at the California Institute of Technology, and Michael Lamb, an assistant professor of geology there, identified what might have been a system of channels on Mars that originated in the southern hemisphere and emptied steeply into the northern basin — perhaps, they said, water flowing through a delta to an ocean.

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SpaceX video demonstrates the future of space launches ~ Video

When Falcon Heavy lifts off later this year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. Thrust at liftoff is equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft operating simultaneously. Excerpt from csmonitor.com...

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CEO of Tesla Motors is trying to bring the Internet to space

 Excerpt from cnet.com The SpaceX CEO wants to build a satellite network high above Earth that would speed up the Internet and bring access to underserved communities. And he'll use the profits to help colonize Mars.  Elon Musk, the man who...

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Elon Musk Attempts Landing a Rocket on a Boat


Picture of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands ready to boost a Dragon capsule on its fifth commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. If all goes as planned, the rocket will land on a barge on Saturday.

Excerpt from 
news.nationalgeographic.com


SpaceX chief aims to make rockets reusable by guiding them to a barge instead of letting them splash down. 

Rockets have landed on the moon and on Mars, but now SpaceX rocket maven Elon Musk aims to land one someplace really exotic—a barge floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

The barge, or "autonomous spaceport drone ship" as SpaceX calls it, is scheduled to land its returned rocket on Saturday, about 17 minutes after the planned 4:47 a.m. (EST) launch of a Dragon cargo spacecraft heading to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The point of the barge landing is to recover the rocket's expensive engines and reuse them. Until now, rocket engines have typically been allowed to burn up on reentry or plummet into the ocean, either for disposal or recovery later by boat. If SpaceX pulls off the barge landing, it will be a first for ocean landings.

The barge's landing site, just 300 feet by 170 feet in size (about 90 by 50 meters), will act as the outfielder's glove to catch the massive first stage of the Falcon 9 launch rocket, maneuvered into place by remote control.

"Our main mission is to get cargo to the space station," said SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann, speaking last week at a NASA briefing. "I'm pretty sure it will be pretty exciting," he said of the attempted controlled landing of the 14-story-tall first stage of the rocket on a flat floating platform.

Failure an Option

SpaceX has successfully landed rocket stages on land, and made a controlled landing on water after a past cargo launch, which still led to the loss of the rocket stage in the drink. Musk has previously suggested that barge landings of stages would expedite their reuse, leading to cheaper rocketry.

Musk gave 50 percent odds of the barge landing working out. ("I pretty much made that up. I have no idea," he added in a recent web chat on Reddit.)

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SpaceX Will Try to Land Rocket on Floating Ocean Platform

 Excerpt from space.com  SpaceX will apparently attempt something truly epic during next week's cargo launch to the International Space Station. During the Dec. 16 launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which will send ...

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Undersea Mysteries Mapped by Satellite Gravity Sensors



A submersible descends into a volcanic vent off Las Gemelas seamount.
Satellites have recently discovered thousands of new seamounts, like the one above being explored by a submersible.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative
Dan Vergano

National Geographic

Space missions reveal hidden hills and buried rifts in the ocean depths.

Ancient rifts hide under seafloor sediments along with thousands of uncharted underwater mountains, satellite images revealed on Thursday.

Most of the world's deep ocean remains poorly charted, as the fruitless search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean earlier this year showed. The new satellite images released by the journal Science map undersea features as small as three miles across (five kilometers) for the first time.

The satellites mapped much of the world's oceans, including the Gulf of Mexico, South China Sea, and South Atlantic.

"The only way to see ocean floor topography quickly and comprehensively is from space," says study lead author David Sandwell of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. "Ships would take another 200 years to do this mapping, at present rates." (Read "Mountains in the Sea" in National Geographic magazine.)

Instead, the study found the hidden geography using two spacecraft, the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 and NASA's Jason-1, both oceanography satellites that were designed to track sea-level changes.

Newly released globe art showing detailed satellite-generated  floor of Indian Ocean.
A triple seam meets where three crustal plates clash beneath the Indian Ocean.
source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Newly released globe art showing detailed satellite-generated  floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
Satellite measurements reveal hidden hills and furrows under the South Atlantic.
source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Deep Gravity
To map the seafloor, the satellites detect ripples and dips in the ocean's surface. Ridges and seamounts, or undersea mountains, are massive enough to exert a gravitational pull that makes sea levels drop by as much as 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) above the feature.

Fractures and rifts in the seafloor, in contrast, elevate sea surface levels due to a reduced gravitational attraction above their depths.

Stitching together the pattern of these sea-level deviations, the study authors detected geological features that were hiding underneath the soft layers of sand and sediment coating the seafloor. The finds include —Several thousand seamounts roughly 0.6 to 1.2 miles (1 to 2 kilometers) high, previously unknown.

—Subsea ridges jutting at a southward angle from South America and Africa—the latter some 500 miles (800 kilometers) long and 62 miles (100 kilometers) wide—once joined but severed more than 83 million years ago by a spreading South Atlantic.

—An "extinct" ocean ridge stretching under the Gulf of Mexico where ocean crust once spread apart when it was tectonically active.

The maps are "a breakthrough in space-based marine gravity observation," say oceanography experts Cheinway Hwang of National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and Emmy Chang of National Taiwan University, in a commentary accompanying the study.

Tour of a Seamount graphic
William E. Mcnulty; Theodore A. Sick­ley. Art: Stefan Fichtel. Sources: 2010 Census of Marine Life; Karen Stocks, Scripps; Christopher Kelley, HURL; University of Hawaii

Map Quest
About 80 percent of the world's ocean area has not been mapped using depth soundings from ships, the study notes. The seafloor features, and depths, revealed by the study serve as a starting point for remedying the problem, Sandwell says.

The results should aid geologists looking for undersea mineral resources and help to explain how deep-sea currents flow across the seafloor.

The CryoSat-2 satellite will continue to take sea surface readings from its 250-mile-high orbit (400 kilometers) for the next few years. With more data, the gravity maps could be refined to reveal hundreds of thousands of previously unknown seamounts less than 3,300 feet (1 kilometer) high dotting the ocean floor.

The one thing the maps won't do is reveal the location of missing airplanes, Sandwell says. "Of course we looked when the [Malaysia Airlines] plane crashed," he adds. But given the resolution of the gravity maps, "we think the gravity model will be very helpful for reconnaissance maps on future searches."

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So We May Speak in Common Terms!

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Ascension Simply Explained!

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Dolphin Wisdom. The Crystal Pod Speaks About Ascension, The Aquamarine Ray And The Rise of The Atlantean Energies

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❤ Dolphin Wisdom. The Crystal Pod Speaks About Ascension, The Aquamarine Ray And The Rise of The Atlantean Energies. By, AuroRa Le. May 14, 2012.

* The ‘Crystal Pod’ is an actual pod of living Atlantic Bottlenose Dol...

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January 4, 2012 – New Message from Matthew

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1. This is Matthew, with loving greetings from all souls at this station. In these first few days into your new year, we are seeing that the energy streamers of most people are moving slowly—for some this may indicate sighs of f...

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