Tag: weather (page 3 of 10)

New research shows billions of habitable planets exist in our galaxy



CGI of how the Milky Way galaxy may appear from deep space


Excerpt from thespacereporter.com


Analysis of data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope has led researchers at the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute to conclude that Earth is only one of billions of potentially life-sustaining planets in our galaxy.

In order for a planet to sustain life, it must orbit its star at just the right distance to provide sufficient light and warmth to maintain liquid water without too much radiation. This perfect orbital distance is considered to be the habitable zone.

According to a Weather Channel report, there are an average of two planets per star in the Milky Way Galaxy orbiting within their habitable zones. That brings the total number of planets with the potential for holding liquid water to 100 billion.

Scientists assume that water would be an essential ingredient for life to evolve on other planets, but it is not a certainty.

“If you have liquid water, then you should have better conditions for life, we think,” said Steffen Jacobsen of Niels Bohr. “Of course, we don’t know this yet. We can’t say for certain.”

To reach their conclusion, the researchers studied 151 planetary systems and focused on those with four or more planets. They used a concept called the Titus-Bode law to calculate where unseen planets might be located in a system based on the placements of other planets around the star. The Titus-Bode law suggested the existence of Uranus before it was actually seen.

The data will require further analysis and the sky will require further searching to yield a more accurate number of potentially life-harboring planets.
“Some of these planets are so small the Kepler team will probably have missed them in the first attempt because the signals we get are so weak. They may be hidden in the noise,” Jacobsen said.

The initial analysis, however, is extremely promising in the possibility of finding habitable planets. “Our research indicates that there are a lot of planets in the habitable zone and we know there are a lot of stars like the one we’re looking at. We know that means we’re going to have many billions of planets in the habitable zone,” said Jacobsen, who considers that “very good news for the search for life.”

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Rare & severe geomagnetic storm enables Aurora Borealis to be seen from U.S. tonight

Excerpt from mashable.com Thanks to a rare, severe geomagnetic storm, the Northern Lights may be visible on Tuesday night in areas far to the south of its typical home in the Arctic.  The northern tier of the U.S., from Washington State to Michiga...

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Japan comes closer to beaming solar power from SPACE: Mitsubishi makes breakthrough in sending energy wirelessly



Japanese scientists say they have successfully transmitted energy wirelessly in a breakthrough for future solar space power systems. While the distance was relatively small, the technology could someday pave the way for mankind to tap the vast amount of solar energy available in space and use it here on Earth
Japanese scientists say they have successfully transmitted energy wirelessly in a breakthrough for future solar space power systems. While the distance was relatively small, the technology could someday pave the way for mankind to tap the vast amount of solar energy available in space and use it here on Earth


  • Excerpt from dailymail.co.uk
  • By Ellie Zolfagharifard
  • Microwaves delivered 1.8 kw of power - enough to run an electric kettle
  • Power was sent through the air with to a receiver 170ft (55 metres) away
  • Technology may someday help tap vast solar energy available in space
  • Jaxa's plan is to eventually have sunlight-gathering panels and antennae set up about 22,300 miles (36,000km) from the Earth


Japanese scientists have successfully transmitted energy wirelessly in a breakthrough that could pave the way for space-based solar power systems.

Mitsubishi researchers used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power - enough to run an electric kettle - through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver 170ft (55 metres) away.

While the distance was relatively small, the technology could someday pave the way for mankind to tap the vast amount of solar energy available in space and use it here on Earth.

'This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,' said a spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) said.

The test, which took place at Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagoya, Japan, will help Jaxa devise its long-awaited space solar power system.

Solar power generation in space has many advantages over its Earth-based cousin, notably the permanent availability of energy, regardless of weather or time of day.

While man-made satellites, such as the International Space Station, have long since been able to use the solar energy that washes over them from the sun, getting that power down to Earth where people can use it has been the thing of science fiction.

The test, which took place at Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagoya, Japan, will help Jaxa devise its long-awaited space solar power system. Mitsubishi used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power - enough to run an electric kettle - through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver (right) 170ft (55 metres) away
The test, which took place at Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagoya, Japan, will help Jaxa devise its long-awaited space solar power system. Mitsubishi used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power - enough to run an electric kettle - through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver (right) 170ft (55 metres) away
The test, which took place at Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagoya, Japan, will help Jaxa devise its long-awaited space solar power system. Mitsubishi used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power - enough to run an electric kettle - through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver (right) 170ft (55 metres) away


In a separate project, a Japanese firm last year revealed plans to cover the moon in a huge swathe of solar panels and use them to power homes here on Earth
 In a separate project, a Japanese firm last year revealed plans to cover the moon in a huge swathe of solar panels and use them to power homes here on Earth


But the Japanese research offers the possibility that humans will one day be able to farm an inexhaustible source of energy in space.
The idea, said the Jaxa spokesman, would be for microwave-transmitting solar satellites - which would have sunlight-gathering panels and antennae - to be set up about 22,300 miles (36,000km) from the Earth.

'But it could take decades before we see practical application of the technology - maybe in the 2040s or later,' he said.

'There are a number of challenges to overcome, such as how to send huge structures into space, how to construct them and how to maintain them.'

The idea of space-based solar power generation emerged among US researchers in the 1960s and Japan's SSPS programme, chiefly financed by the industry ministry, started in 2009, he said.

COULD A SOLAR FARM IN SPACE POWER OUR FUTURE?

Space-based solar power – once the stuff of science-fiction – could be available sooner than expected if Japan has its way
Space-based solar power – once the stuff of science-fiction – could be available sooner than expected if Japan has its way


Solar power has had a difficult start on Earth thanks to inefficient panels and high costs. But in space, scientists believe it could transform the way we generate energy.

Now, the space-based solar power – once the stuff of science-fiction – could be available sooner than expected if Japan has its way.

Within 25 years, the country plans to make space-based solar power a reality, according to a proposal from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

In a recent IEEE article by Susumu Sasaki, a professor emeritus at Jaxa, outlined the agency's plans create a 1.8 mile long (3 km) man-made island in the harbour of Tokyo Bay.

The island would be studded with 5 billion antennas working together to convert microwave energy into electricity.

The microwaves would be beamed down from a number of giant solar collectors in orbit 22,400 miles (36,000 km) above the Earth. 
Resource-poor Japan has to import huge amounts of fossil fuel.
It has become substantially more dependent on these imports as its nuclear power industry shut down in the aftermath of the disaster at Fukushima in 2011.

In a separate project, a Japanese firm last year revealed plans to cover the moon in a huge swathe of solar panels and use them to power homes here on Earth.

Shimizu Corporation's Luna Ring project would stretch almost 6,790 miles (11,000km) around the moon's equator and a field of solar panels would form a belt.

Energy captured by these panels would then be sent to Earth using microwaves and laser lights could be beamed directly to countries where it is needed.

According to the plans, the project would produce around 13,000 terrawatts of continuous solar energy. At present, the world's population consumes about 15 terawatts of power each year.

The company claims the plans would not only provide an 'almost inexhaustible' energy supply, it would stop the rise of global warming caused by carbon dioxide from current energy sources. 

Shimizu Corporation's Luna Ring project would stretch almost 6,790 miles (11,000km) around the moon's equator and a field of solar panels would form a belt
Shimizu Corporation's Luna Ring project would stretch almost 6,790 miles (11,000km) around the moon's equator and a field of solar panels would form a belt

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Are We An Alien Experiment?

Although its possible those responsible for our Earthen experiment may possess a far different form then we, I feel it more probable we were created in our family's image. Greg  Excerpt from rense.com  Even the most hardened skeptic mus...

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A Complete Guide to the March 20th Total Solar Eclipse


Credit
Totality! The 2012 total solar eclipse as seen from Australia. Credit and copyright: www.hughca.com.



Excerpt from universetoday.com



The first of two eclipse seasons for the year is upon us this month, and kicks off with the only total solar eclipse for 2015 on Friday, March 20th.

And what a bizarre eclipse it is. Not only does this eclipse begin just 15 hours prior to the March equinox marking the beginning of astronomical spring in the northern hemisphere, but the shadow of totality also beats path through the high Arctic and ends over the North Pole.


Credit:
An animation of the March 20th eclipse. Credit: NASA/GSFC/AT Sinclair.


Already, umbraphiles — those who chase eclipses — are converging on the two small tracts of terra firma where the umbra of the Moon makes landfall: the Faroe and Svalbard islands. All of Europe, the northern swath of the African continent, north-central Asia and the Middle East will see a partial solar eclipse, and the eclipse will be deeper percentage-wise the farther north you are .
2015 features four eclipses in all: two total lunars and two solars, with one total solar and one partial solar eclipse. Four is the minimum number of eclipses that can occur in a calendar year, and although North America misses out on the solar eclipse action this time ’round, most of the continent gets a front row seat to the two final total lunar eclipses of the ongoing tetrad on April 4th and September 28th.

How rare is a total solar eclipse on the vernal equinox? Well, the last total solar eclipse on the March equinox occurred back in 1662 on March 20th. There was also a hybrid eclipse — an eclipse which was annular along a portion of the track, and total along another — on March 20th, 1681. But you won’t have to wait that long for the next, as another eclipse falls on the northward equinox on March 20th, 2034.


Credit
The path of the March 20th eclipse across Europe, including start times for the partial phases, and the path of totality, click to enlarge. For more maps showing the percentage of occlusion, elevation, and more, click here. Credit: Michael Zeiler/GreatAmercianEclipse.com.


Note that in the 21st century, the March equinox falls on March 20th, and will start occasionally falling on March 19th in 2044. We’re also in that wacky time of year where North America has shifted back to ye ‘ole Daylight Saving (or Summer) Time, while Europe makes the change after the eclipse on March 29th. It really can wreak havoc with those cross-time zone plans, we know…
The March 20th eclipse also occurs only a day after lunar perigee, which falls on March 19th at 19:39 UT. This is also one of the closer lunar perigees for 2015 at 357,583 kilometres distant, though the maximum duration of totality for this eclipse is only 2 minutes and 47 seconds just northeast of the Faroe Islands.


Credit:
Views from selected locales in Europe and Africa. Credit: Stellarium.



This eclipse is number 61 of 71 in solar saros series 120, which runs from 933 to 2754 AD. It’s also the second to last total in the series, with the final total solar eclipse for the saros cycle occurring one saros later on March 30th, 2033.



What would it look like to sit at the North Pole and watch a total solar eclipse on the first day of Spring? It would be a remarkable sight, as the disk of the Sun skims just above the horizon for the first time since the September 2014 equinox. Does this eclipse occur at sunrise or sunset as seen from the pole? It would be a rare spectacle indeed!


Credit
An equinoctal eclipse as simulated from the North Pole. Credit: Stellarium.






Credit
Practicing eclipse safety in Africa. Credit: Michael Zeiler/GreatAmericanEclipse.com


Safety is paramount when observing the Sun and a solar eclipse. Eye protection is mandatory during all partial phases across Europe, northern Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. A proper solar filter mask constructed of Baader safety film is easy to construct, and should fit snugly over the front aperture of a telescope. No. 14 welder’s goggles are also dense enough to look at the Sun, as are safety glasses specifically designed for eclipse viewing. Observing the Sun via projection or by using a pinhole projector is safe and easy to do.


Credit
A solar filtered scope ready to go in Tucson, Arizona. Credit: photo by author.

Weather is always the big variable in the days leading up to any eclipse. Unfortunately, March in the North Atlantic typically hosts stormy skies, and the low elevation of the eclipse in the sky may hamper observations as well. From the Faroe Islands, the Sun sits 18 degrees above the horizon during totality, while from the Svalbard Islands it’s even lower at 12 degrees in elevation. Much of Svalbard is also mountainous, making for sunless pockets of terrain that will be masked in shadow on eclipse day. Mean cloud amounts for both locales run in the 70% range, and the Eclipser website hosts a great in-depth climatology discussion for this and every eclipse.


Credit
The view of totality and the planets as seen from the Faroe Islands. Credit: Starry Night.


But don’t despair: you only need a clear view of the Sun to witness an eclipse!

Solar activity is also another big variable. Witnesses to the October 23rd, 2014 partial solar eclipse over the U.S. southwest will recall that we had a massive and very photogenic sunspot turned Earthward at the time. The Sun has been remarkably calm as of late, though active sunspot region 2297 is developing nicely. It will have rotated to the solar limb come eclipse day, and we should have a good grasp on what solar activity during the eclipse will look like come early next week.

And speaking of which: could an auroral display be in the cards for those brief few minutes of totality? It’s not out of the question, assuming the Sun cooperates.  Of course, the pearly white corona of the Sun still gives off a considerable amount of light during totality, equal to about half the brightness of a Full Moon. Still, witnessing two of nature’s grandest spectacles — a total solar eclipse and the aurora borealis — simultaneously would be an unforgettable sight, and to our knowledge, has never been documented!

We also put together some simulations of the eclipse as seen from Earth and space:




Note that an area of southern Spain may witness a transit of the International Space Station during the partial phase of the eclipse. This projection is tentative, as the orbit of the ISS evolves over time. Be sure to check CALSky for accurate predictions in the days leading up to the eclipse.


Credit
The ISS transits the Sun during the eclipse around 9:05 UT as seen from southern Spain. Credit: Starry Night.


Can’t make it to the eclipse? Live in the wrong hemisphere? There are already a few planned webcasts for the March 20th eclipse:


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Air Force: Military Satellite Explosion Linked to Power System Failure

Artist's concept of a Defense Meteorological Satellite System (DMSP) military weather spacecraft.


Excerpt from nbcnews.com

The military weather satellite that exploded in orbit last month apparently died of old age, U.S. Air Force officials say. 

While investigators continue to study the dramatic Feb. 3 death of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13), the signs currently point not to a collision with a piece of space junk or other external cause but rather to an issue aboard the spacecraft, which launched in 1995. 

"Basically, the spacecraft was 20 years old and experienced what appears to be a catastrophic event associated with a power system failure," Andy Roake, chief of the Current Operations Division at Air Force Space Command Public Affairs in Colorado Springs, told Space.com. 


Investigators think that failure by itself probably blew apart DMSP-F13 — which occupied a sun-synchronous polar orbit about 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth — generating the cloud of debris that the Air Force's Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) has detected near the satellite. (To date, 43 pieces of debris have been identified.) 

Indeed, Air Force officials have said that the military weather satellite explosion was preceded by a sudden spike in the power system's temperature, "followed by an unrecoverable loss of attitude control." It was first reported by SpaceNews, a Space.com partner, on Feb. 27. 

DMSP-F13 launched in March 1995 and last year surpassed 100,000 orbits around Earth. The satellite contributed key data to a number of U.S. military operations overseas.

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Rare doomed planet with extreme seasons discovered


Kepler432b.jpg
Illustration provided by the University of Heidelberg of the orbit of Kepler-432b (inner, red) in comparison to the orbit of Mercury around the Sun (outer, orange). The red dot in the middle indicates the position of the star around which the planet is orbiting. The size of the star is shown to scale, while the size of the planet has been magnified ten times for illustration purposes. (Graphic: Dr. Sabine Reffert)


Excerpt from foxnews.com/science


A rare planet has been discovered, and it doesn’t seem like a stop anyone would want to make on an intergalactic cruise. Found by two research teams independently of each other, Kepler-432b is extreme in its mass, density, and weather. Roughly the same size of Jupiter, the planet is also doomed- in 200 million years it will be consumed by its sun. “Kepler-432b is definitively a rarity among exoplanets around giant stars: it is a close-in gas-giant planet orbiting a star whose radius is 'quickly' increasing,” Davide Gandolfi, from the Landessternwarte Koenigstuhl (part of the Centre for Astronomy of the University of Heidelberg), told FoxNews.com. “The orbit of the planet has a radius of about 45 million kilometers [28 million miles] (as a reference point, the Earth-Sun distance is about 150 million kilometers [93.2 Million miles]), while most of the planets known to orbit giant stars have wider orbits. The stellar radius is already 3 million kilometers [almost 2 million miles] (i.e., about 4 times the Sun radius) and in less than 200 million years it will be large enough for the star to swallow up its planet.”

Gandolfi, a member of one of the research groups who discovered the rare planet, explains that much like Jupiter, Kepler-432b is a gas-giant celestial body composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, and is most likely to have a dense core that accounts for 6 percent or less of the planet’s mass. “The planet has a mass six times that of Jupiter, but is about the same size!” he says. “This means that it is not one of the largest planets yet discovered: it is one of the most massive!” The planet’s orbit brings it extremely close to its host star on some occasions, and very far away at others, which creates extreme seasonal changes. In its year - which lasts 52 Earth days - winters can get a little chilly and summers a bit balmy, to say the least. According to Gandolfi, “The highly eccentric orbit brings Kepler-432b at ‘only’ 24 million kilometers [15 million miles] from its host star, before taking it to about three times as far away. This creates large temperature excursions over the course of the planet year, which is of only 52 Earth days. During the winter season, the temperature on Kepler-432b drops down to 500 degrees Celsius [932 degrees Fahrenheit], whereas in summer it can goes up to nearly 1000 degrees Celsius [1832 degrees Fahrenheit].”

Then again, if you are crazy enough to visit Kepler-432b, you’d better do it fast. As stated before, its host star is set to swallow the planet whole in 200 million years, making the celestial body a rare find. “The paucity of close-in planets around giant stars is likely to be due to the fact that these planets have been already swallowed up by their host stars,” Gandolfi says. “Kepler-432b has been discovered ‘just in time before dinner!” The host star, which is red and possesses 1.35 times the mass of our sun, has partly exhausted the nuclear fuel in its core, and is slowly expanding, eventually growing large enough to swallow Kepler-432b. According to Gandolfi, this is a natural progression for all stars. “Stars first generate nuclear energy in their core via the fusion of Hydrogen into Helium,” he explained. “At this stage, their radii basically do not change much. This is because the outward thermal pressure produced by the nuclear fusion in the core is balanced by the inward pressure of gravitational collapse from the overlying layers. In other words, the nuclear power is the star pillar! Our Sun is currently ‘burning’ hydrogen in its core (please note that I used quotes: ‘burning’ does not mean a chemical reaction- we are talking about nuclear fusion reaction). However, this equilibrium between the two pressures does not last forever. Helium is heavier than hydrogen and tends to sink. The stellar core of the Kepler-432b's host star is currently depleted of hydrogen and it is mainly made of inert helium. The star generates thermal energy in a shell around the core through the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium. As a result of this, the star expands and cools down. This is why we call it ‘red giant’- the reddish color comes from the fact that the external layers of the atmosphere of the star are cooling down because they expand.”

Both research teams (the other was from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg) used Calar Alto Observatory’s 7.2- foot telescope in Andalucia, Spain. The planet was also studied by Landessternwarte Koenigstuhl researchers using the 8.5-foot Nordic Optical Telescope on La Palma, which is located in Spain’s Canary Islands.

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What Would It Be Like to Live on Mercury?


Mercury With Subtle Colors
Mercury's extreme temperatures and lack of an atmosphere would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for people to live on the planet. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


Excerpt from  space.com
By Joseph Castro, Space.com Contributor


Have you ever wondered what it might be like to homestead on Mars or walk on the moons of Saturn? So did we. This is the first in Space.com's 12-part series on what it might be like to live on or near planets in our solar system, and beyond. Check back each week for the next space destination.
With its extreme temperature fluctuations, Mercury is not likely a planet that humans would ever want to colonize. But if we had the technology to survive on the planet closest to the sun, what would it be like to live there?

To date, only two spacecraft have visited Mercury. The first, Mariner 10, conducted a series of Mercury flybys in 1974, but the spacecraft only saw the lit half of the planet. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, on the other hand, conducted flybys and then entered Mercury's orbit — in March of 2013, images from the spacecraft allowed scientists to completely map the planet for the first time.



MESSENGER photos of Mercury show that the planet has water ice at its poles, which sit in permanent darkness. Mining this ice would be a good way to live off the land, but setting up bases at the poles might not be a good idea, said David Blewett, a participating scientist with the Messenger program.

"The polar regions would give you some respite from the strength of the sun on Mercury," Blewett told Space.com. "But, of course, it's really cold in those permanently shadowed areas where the ice is, and that presents its own challenge."

A better option, he said, would probably be to set up a home base not far from one of the ice caps, perhaps on a crater rim, and have a water mining operation at the pole.

Still, dealing with extreme temperatures on Mercury would likely be unavoidable: Daytime temperatures on the planet can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius), while nighttime temperatures can drop down to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 180 degrees Celsius).

Scientists once believed Mercury was tidally locked with the sun, meaning that one side of the planet always faces the sun because it takes the same amount of time to rotate around its axis as it does to revolve around the star. But we now know that Mercury's day lasts almost 59 Earth days and its year stretches for about 88 Earth days.

Interestingly, the sun has an odd path through the planet's sky over the course of Mercury's long day, because of the interaction between Mercury's spin rate and its highly elliptical orbit around the sun.

"It [the sun] rises in the east and moves across the sky, and then it pauses and moves backwards just a tad. It then resumes its motion towards the west and sunset," said Blewett, adding that the sun appears 2.5 times larger in Mercury's sky than it does in Earth's sky.

And during the day, Mercury's sky would appear black, not blue, because the planet has virtually no atmosphere to scatter the sun's light. "Here on Earth at sea level, the molecules of air are colliding billions of times per second," Blewett said. "But on Mercury, the atmosphere, or 'exosphere,' is so very rarefied that the atoms essentially never collide with other exosphere atoms." This lack of atmosphere also means that the stars wouldn't twinkle at night.



Without an atmosphere, Mercury doesn't have any weather; so while living on the planet, you wouldn't have to worry about devastating storms. And since the planet has no bodies of liquid water or active volcanoes, you'd be safe from tsunamis and eruptions.

But Mercury isn't devoid of natural disasters. "The surface is exposed to impacts of all sizes," Blewett said. It also may suffer from earthquakes due to compressive forces that are shrinking the planet (unlike Earth, Mercury doesn't have tectonic activity).

Mercury is about two-fifths the size of Earth, with a similar gravity to Mars, or about 38 percent of Earth's gravity. This means that you could jump three times as high on Mercury, and heavy objects would be easier to pick up, Blewett said. However, everything would still have the same mass and inertia, so you could be knocked over if someone threw a heavy object at you, he added.

Finally, you can forget about a smooth Skype call home: It takes at least 5 minutes for signals from Mercury to reach Earth, and vice versa.

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