NASA is funding an early-stage proposal to build a meshed telescope inside a crater on the far side of the moon, according to Vice.
This "dark side" is the face of the moon that is permanently positioned away from Earth, and as such it offers a rare view of the dark cosmos, unhindered by radio interference from humans and our by our planet’s thick atmosphere.
The ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope, would be called the "Lunar Crater Radio Telescope" and would have "tremendous" advantages compared to telescopes on our planet, the idea’s founder Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a robotics technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in a proposal.
The telescope — designed as a wire mesh — would be deployed into a 2- to 3-mile-wide (3 to 5 kilometers) crater on the moon’s far side. The 0.62-mile-diameter (1 km) wire-mesh telescope would be stretched across the crater by NASA’s DuAxel Rovers, or wall-climbing robots, according to the proposal summary.
If built, the "Lunar Crater Radio Telescope" would be the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the solar system, Bandyopadhyay wrote. A filled-aperture radio telescope is a telescope that uses a single dish to collect data rather than many dishes, according to Vice.
Because this telescope would be on the far side of the moon, it would avoid radio interference from Earth, satellites and even the sun’s radio-noise during the lunar night. It would also let us gaze out into the cosmos without the veil of Earth’s atmosphere.
The atmosphere reflects low-frequency wavelengths of light greater than 32.8 feet (10 meters), essentially blocking them from reaching ground-based telescopes. The telescope "could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10– 50m wavelength band…which has not been explored by humans till-date," Bandyopadhyay wrote.
For years, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been developing a successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, the Cold War reconnaissance craft that the U.S. Air Force retired almost three decades ago. Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72—dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal—could fly by 2030.
But a rather curious talk last week at an aerospace conference by a Lockheed Skunk Works executive implied that the SR-72 might already exist. Referring to detailed specifics of company design and manufacturing, Jack O’Banion, a Lockheed vice president, said a “digital transformation” arising from recent computing capabilities and design tools had made hypersonic development possible. Then—assuming O’Banion chose his verb tense purposely—came the surprise.
“Without the digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made,” O’Banion said, standing by an artist’s rendering of the hypersonic aircraft. “In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made.”
Hypersonic applies to speeds above Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. The SR-71 cruised at Mach 3.2, more than 2,000 mph, around 85,000 feet.
Computer processing power and new tools allow for three-dimensional design of a scramjet engine, O’Banion said at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ annual SciTech Forum near Orlando. (Scramjet refers to engine combustion occurring at supersonic speeds, which adds to the engineering complexity.) Adding a little Hollywood to an engineering presentation, O’Banion likened the digital advances in 3D design to the build process Tony Stark employs in the film “Iron Man.”
“We couldn’t have made the engine itself—it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago,” O’Banion said. “But now we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation.” The aircraft is also agile at hypersonic speeds, with reliable engine starts, he said. A half-decade before, he added, developers “could not have even built it even if we conceived of it.”
Jack O’Bannion, VP of Strategy at Skunk Works, is speaking today at SciTech conference. He showed a slide of the SR-72 and said: “Without digital transformation that aircraft you see there could not have been made.” Soooo … does that mean that aircraft was made?
Of course, none of the Skunk Works executive’s talk confirmed that Lockheed Martin is preparing to turn over to the Pentagon a top-secret hypersonic aircraft, nor does it reveal how far the project may have progressed. It’s also unclear if such an aircraft would carry pilots or operate as a drone. (Skunk Works is the name of Lockheed’s 75-year-old advanced development programs division, based in California.)
Lockheed declined to address O’Banion’s comments. The defense contractor “continues to advance and test technologies, which will benefit hypersonic flight,” spokeswoman Melissa Dalton said in an email. “A Reusable Hypersonic System (RHS) is a far term solution that will be made possible by the path-finding work we are doing today.”
An Air Force spokesman, meanwhile, said only that that the military has no information on the project “at this time.”
Talk about Lockheed’s hypersonic program isn’t new. In fact, executives discussed the program’s status to such an extent last June that defense reporter Tyler Rogoway called it “highly peculiar.” (His article carried the headline “What’s the Deal with Lockheed’s Gabbing About the Secretive Hypersonic SR-72?”)
“There’s probably a big distance between prototype development and actual operational capability,” said Richard Aboulafia, a defense analyst with Teal Group. And the military has a history of publicly revealing new advanced aircraft many years after their prototypes were delivered.
Nevertheless, the SR-72 work could be an entirely digital exercise to date, funded by ample “black budget” appropriations stretching into the billions of dollars over time, Aboulafia said. It’s also possible that any hypersonic capability may well be incorporated into a type of long-range missile before an actual aircraft.
The basic physics of hypersonic flight have been understood for decades, with the Air Force and NASA flying the rocket-powered X-15 in the 1960s above Mach 6 and the X-43A hitting Mach 9.6 in 2004. More recently, Boeing Co. flew an experimental craft, the X-51 WaveRider, to Mach 5.1 in May 2013.
Still, there are myriad design challenges involved with hypersonic projects, Aboulafia said, likening scramjet engineering hurdles to “the proverbial lighting of a match in the hurricane.” This is one reason no hypersonic aircraft are in military service today—although U.S. officials have expressed concern about Chinese and Russian ambitions employing the technology.
For the Pentagon, such speeds would represent a new form of strategic deterrence in the sense that a hypersonic bomber could penetrate an enemy’s airspace, fire and depart before that nation had time to react. However, Aboulafia noted, such a capability could also be considered a destabilizing development if a U.S. adversary decided to react preemptively to such an aircraft’s existence.
The specific need is also unclear, given advances in satellite surveillance capabilities and the planned B-21 Raider, a precision bomber from Northrop Grumman Corp. expected to replace the Air Force’s aged fleet of B-1 Lancers and B-52s. The B-21 could cost as much as $97 billion for production and maintenance of at least 100 planes, with the first expected in the mid-2020s.
Sitting about 6 light-years away from our sun, the red dwarf named Barnard’s star is the nearest solitary star to our solar system and the fastest-moving star in our night sky. It’s also really wobbly.
Chalk up the wobbles to old age if you like: The star may have been born some 10 billion years ago — making it more than twice the age of our sun— and it has only 16 percent of the sun’s mass. But astronomers prefer a different explanation. A new paper published today (Nov. 14) in the journal Nature combines 20 years of research to conclude “with 99 percent confidence” that Barnard’s star is being tugged about its orbit by a nearby exoplanet — a world that’s roughly three times the size of Earth and loaded with ice.
Astronomers caught wind of this possible super-Earth (that is, an exoplanet that has a mass greater than Earth’s but less than the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune) nearly 20 years ago while taking velocity measurements of Barnard’s star. The scientists saw that, every 230 days or so, Barnard’s star seemed to wobble its way closer to our solar system before slowly retreating again. The presence of a large planet, which could exert its own gravitational influence on Barnard’s star as it orbits around its host, was a possible explanation. Still, more data was needed to say for certain. [9 Most Intriguing Earth-Like Planets]
Now, following 20 years of observations from telescopes around the world, the data is there. In a new study, an international team of scientists looked at more than 700 velocity measurements of Barnard’s star and determined that the likeliest explanation for the star’s wobbly behavior is the influence of a nearby planet orbiting its local sun every 233 days.
“We used observations from seven different instruments, spanning 20 years, making this one of the largest and most extensive datasets ever used for precise radial velocity studies,” study author Ignasi Ribas, of Spain’s Institut de Ciències de l’Espai, said in a statement. “We are over 99 percent confident that the planet is there.”
This probable new planet — which the astronomers have dubbed Barnard’s star b — likely sits about as far away from its host star as Mercury does from our sun. That puts the planet near the small star’s “snow line,” or the celestial border beyond which any planetary water would be frozen. Scientists have previously suggested that the snow line is a prime place for planet formation, as frozen matter can easily glom onto other bits of gas and debris swirling around the nearby star.
Unfortunately, that also puts Barnard’s star b in a precarious position for hosting life. The planet is close enough to its host star that it likely does not have an atmosphere, and far enough from it that surface temperatures likely dip to about minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 150 degrees Celsius). That means any water is likely to be permanently frozen, the researchers wrote.
While this might prevent Barnard’s star b from being a candidate for extraterrestrial life, the nearby super-Earth is still a prime subject for honing scientists’ exoplanet discovery and monitoring techniques. Future telescope missions might be able to image the neighboring world directly.
According to study co-author Cristina Rodríguez-López, researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, this discovery represents “a boost to continue on searching for exoplanets around our closest stellar neighbors, in the hope that eventually we will come upon one that has the right conditions to host life.”
[In this instance a type of brain surgery, was practiced on a cow, which was practiced quite a lot on humans. The Ancient Greeks did it, the Romans did it as did other non-whites. Scientists don’t know how much of this was based on medicine or ritual. It seems to be mostly medical related. But in Russia they found people who did it as a ritual.
Scientists could see that many people survived this process because the bone began to heal around the hole. It is incredible to think whites were trying this type of brain surgery thousands of years ago. They actually could drill through the skull of a living person. Some died during the process, but there are many who lived, and when scientists first discovered this over a century ago, they were utterly astounded by it!]
Humans Probably Practiced Brain Surgery on This Cow 5,000 Years Ago
About 5,000 years ago, humans used crude stone tools to puncture a hole in a cow’s head, making it the earliest known instance of skull surgery in an animal.
It’s unclear whether the cow (Bos taurus) was alive or dead when the operation took place, but if it was alive, the animal didn’t survive for long, given that its skull shows no signs of healing, researchers said in a new study.
However, the intent of the surgery remains a mystery. If the operation — known as trepanation, a primitive type of brain surgery — was meant to save the cow, it would be the oldest known evidence of veterinary surgery on an animal, said the study’s lead researcher, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, director of research specializing in human evolution at France’s National Center for Scientific Research in Toulouse. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]
It’s also possible that Neolithic humans were simply using the cow to practice trepanation, “in order to perfect the technique before applying it to humans,” Ramirez Rozzi and study co-researcher Alain Froment, a biological anthropologist at the Museum of Man, an anthropology museum in Paris, wrote in the study.
Researchers unearthed the ancient cow skull during an excavation lasting from 1975 to 1985 at the Neolithic site of Champ-Durand in Vende?e, a region on the Atlantic coast of western France. An analysis showed that the cow skull dated to sometime between 3400 B.C. and 3000 B.C., and that the animal was clearly an adult, the researchers found.
When past archaeologists first looked at the nearly complete cow cranium, they thought another cow must have caused the gouge. But the hole — which is 2.5 by 1.8 inches (6.4 by 4.6 centimeters) — was so peculiar that one of the original researchers asked Ramirez Rozzi and Froment to take a second look at it in 2012.
“At that time, we looked, and very quickly, we saw that it was trepanation in the cow skull; it was not a goring at all,” Ramirez Rozzi told Live Science.
If another animal had gored the cow, the violent blow would have caused fractures or splintering around the wound, the researchers said. And “no evidence of such a fracture, either internally or externally, can be seen,” the researchers wrote in the study. Nor does the hole look like it was caused by an infectious disease, such as syphilis or tuberculosis, Ramirez Rozzi and Froment noted.
While using a scanning electron microscope, the researchers saw cut marks around the hole in the cow’s head that looked eerily similar to scrape marks seen on the skulls of human trepanation patients, Ramirez Rozzi said.
The earliest evidence of trepanation in a human skull dates to the Mesolithic period, which lasted from about 8000 B.C. to 2700 B.C., the researchers said. Archaeologists have several ideas about why ancient people would scrape or drill a hole into a skull. Perhaps the technique was meant to solve a medical condition, such as epilepsy, or maybe it was part of a ritual, the researchers said.
In the cow’s case, it’s not clear why Neolithic people would have gone the extra mile to save a cow with some kind of medical disorder, Ramirez Rozzi said. It’s more likely that these ancient people were using the cow’s skull for trepanation practice, he said.
Archaeologists have long wondered exactly how the ancient Egyptians constructed the world’s biggest pyramid, the Great Pyramid. Now, they may have discovered the system used to haul massive stone blocks into place some 4,500 years ago.
They discovered the remains of this system at the site of Hatnub, an ancient quarry in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. The contraption would have been used to transport heavy alabaster stones up a steep ramp, according to the archaeologists working at the site, from the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (French Institute for Oriental Archaeology)in Cairo and from the University of Liverpool in England. And it was possibly how Egyptians built the Great Pyramid, in the name of the pharaoh Khufu. [In Photos: Inside Egypt’s Great Pyramids]
“This system is composed of a central ramp flanked by two staircases with numerous post holes,” Yannis Gourdon, co-director of the joint mission at Hatnub, told Live Science. “Using a sled which carried a stone block and was attached with ropes to these wooden posts, ancient Egyptians were able to pull up the alabaster blocks out of the quarry on very steep slopes of 20 percent or more.”
The ropes attached to the sled acted as a “force multiplier,” making it easier to pull the sled up the ramp, said Roland Enmarch, the other co-director of the Hatnub mission.
“This kind of system has never been discovered anywhere else,” Gourdon said. “The study of the tool marks and the presence of two [of] Khufu’s inscriptions led us to the conclusion that this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, the builder of the Great Pyramid in Giza,” he added.
“As this system dates back at least to Khufu’s reign, that means that during the time of Khufu, ancient Egyptians knew how to move huge blocks of stone using very steep slopes. Therefore, they could have used it for the construction [of] his pyramid,” Gourdon said.
The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three Giza Pyramids, built for each of three pharaohs —Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Khufu’s is the largest pyramid ever constructed in Egypt, standing 481 feet (146 m) tall when it was first built. It was considered a wonder of the world by ancient writers.
While archaeologists generally agree that workers at this pyramid used a ramp system to move stone blocks up the pyramid, how exactly this system worked has been a long-standing mystery, one which this discovery may help solve.
Archaeologists say the 23-metre vessel has lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years
Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.
The 23-metre (75ft) vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface. A lack of oxygen at that depth preserved it, the researchers said.
“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), the team that made the find. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”
The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.
That work, which dates from about the same period, depicts a similar vessel bearing Odysseus past the sirens, with the Homeric hero lashed to the mast to resist their songs.
The team reportedly said they intended to leave the vessel where it was found, but added that a small piece had been carbon dated by the University of Southampton and claimed the results “confirmed [it] as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind”. The team said the data would be published at the Black Sea MAP conference at the Wellcome Collection in London later this week.
It was among more than 60 shipwrecks found by the international team of maritime archaeologists, scientists and marine surveyors, which has been on a three-year mission to explore the depths of the Black Sea to gain a greater understanding of the impact of prehistoric sea-level changes.
They said the finds varied in age from a “17th-century Cossack raiding fleet, through Roman trading vessels, complete with amphorae, to a complete ship from the classical period”.
The documentary team made a two-hour film that is due to be shown at the British Museum on Tuesday.
[This is incredible stuff! I’m keen to see what they learn from this! The 2 worms are from different places. The one worm is 41,700 years old and the other worm, found at a different location is 32,000 years old!]
Here’s the abstract from the science paper:-
We have obtained the first data demonstrating the capability of multicellular organisms for longterm cryobiosis in permafrost deposits of the Arctic. The viable soil nematodes Panagrolaimus aff. detritophagus (Rhabditida) and Plectus aff. parvus (Plectida) were isolated from the samples of Pleistocene permafrost deposits of the Kolyma River Lowland. The duration of natural cryopreservation of the nematodes corresponds to the age of the deposits, 30 000–40 000 years.
A pair of nematodes – roundworms – are apparently alive after they were frozen in permafrost for nearly 42,000 years.
Russian scientists said the two prehistoric worms, out of a group of about 300, are moving and eating after they came back to life in a lab at the Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science in Moscow, the Siberian Times reported.
“After being defrosted, the nematodes showed signs of life,” a report from the Russian scientists said, according to the Siberian Times.
One of the worms was found near the Alazeya River in 2015 and is believed to be about 41,700 years old, according to the study published in the Doklady Biological Sciences. They were found about 11.5 feet underground.
The other worm was found in 2002 in a fossil rodent burrow near the Kolyma River. These samples were taken from about 100 feet underground.
Scientists said worms frozen in permafrost in eastern Russia for nearly 42,000 years are alive and eating. (East2West)
The worms were found close to Pleistocene Park, the site of an experimental project to recreate the habitat of the extinct woolly mammoth, according to The Sun.
“Our data demonstrate the ability of multicellular organisms to survive long-term (tens of thousands of years) cryobiosis under the conditions of natural cryoconservation,” a report provided to Fox News said.
The worms were cultivated in Petri dishes at about 20 degrees Celsius, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, for several weeks.(East2West)
“It is obvious that this ability suggests that the Pleistocene nematodes have some adaptive mechanisms that may be of scientific and practical importance for the related fields of science, such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology,” it continued.
Cryobiology is the study of living things at extremely low temperatures.
The worms were cultivated in Petri dishes at about 20 degrees Celsius, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, for several weeks, the study said.
[Here are some amazing facts about this dwarf planet: It is 2,000 times further away from the Sun than the Earth! That makes it 2.5 times further away than Pluto. Even crazier, this dwarf planet takes 40,000 years to revolve once around the Sun!]
While searching for the mysterious Planet X that some astronomers believe lurks on the edge of our solar system, researchers instead found an extremely distant object they dubbed “the Goblin.” And this object provides compelling evidence for the existence of Planet X.
The object is on the small end of being a dwarf planet, with a 40,000-year orbit — meaning it takes that long to go around the sun. That’s more than 2,000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun. Its current location is about 2½ times farther from the sun than from Pluto.
“I think we are nearing the 90% likelihood of Planet X being real with this discovery,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
The Goblin got its nickname because the scientists first observed it around Halloween 2015. It is considered an Inner Oort Cloud object. The Oort Cloud is a predicted bubble around our solar system far beyond Pluto, filled with trillions of icy bodies and the supposed birthplace of long-term comets.
The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced the object, formally known as 2015 TG387, on Tuesday. The researchers, including Sheppard, Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujilllo and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, have also submitted a paper to the Astronomical Journal detailing their findings.
“This new object has the largest orbit of all the extremely distant objects that stay well beyond Pluto,” Sheppard said. Given its orbit, the Goblin never comes close enough to the giant planets in our solar system to be affected by their gravitational influence.
It joins other objects Sheppard and his team have found on the edge of the solar system since 2012. Their isolation makes them unique. “They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our solar system,” Sheppard said.
The researchers were able to detect the Goblin in the first place because they’re using the Japanese Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, one of the largest telescopes in the world and the most powerful survey telescope due to its large field of view.
Given the object’s slow movement along an elongated orbit, it took Sheppard and his team a few years of observing to understand the Goblin and its orbit.
“We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the Solar System’s fringes, but their distance makes finding them very difficult,” Tholen said in a statement. “Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun. For some 99 percent of its 40,000-year orbit, it would be too faint to see.”
So if the Goblin is unaffected by the gas giant planets in our solar system, what contributes to its strange orbit? That’s where Planet X comes in.
Like the other objects found by Sheppard and his team on the edge of the solar system, the Goblin behaves in a way that is pushed into a similar orbit by some unseen force.
Based on simulations using the basic parameters they have for Planet X, the researchers say the Goblin acts like it is “shepherded” by the planet but never nears the proposed massive planet. This is similar to why Pluto never gets too close to the gas giant Neptune, although their orbits actually cross.
“These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X,” Sheppard said. “The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer Solar System and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits — a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the Solar System’s evolution.”
Sheppard and his colleagues continue their survey, the largest and deepest ever for distant solar system objects, by observing the northern and southern skies at all times of year.
“We are very uniform in our sky coverage and can find all types of orbits, yet we seem to only be finding objects with similar types of orbits that are on the same side of the sky, suggesting something is shepherding them into these similar types of orbits, which we believe is Planet X,” Sheppard said.
“What makes this result really interesting is that Planet X seems to affect 2015 TG387 the same way as all the other extremely distant Solar System objects. These simulations do not prove that there’s another massive planet in our Solar System, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there,” Trujillo said in a statement.
[This is a fun video and don’t miss the No 1 creature on the video! Freaking awesome science! I really enjoyed this little video. This is where I learned about the 52 hertz whale. Jan]
The ocean is without doubt the most fascinating place on this planet. This quote pretty much sums it up…. “Earth Should be Named Planet Ocean, Not Planet Earth”. That couldn’t be more true. We are surrounded by ocean, yet for the most part, we have no idea what creatures are sharing the planet with us. In this video you will see five truly awesome underwater creatures that prove the ocean has far more to offer than what we think. So, from an enormous deep sea shark, to a mysterious alien like creature that was washed up on a beach. Sit back & enjoy this video!
The mummified body of a Russian climber who went missing 31 years ago on Europe’s highest mountain has been found. Elena Bazykina reportedly looked like a “wax doll” as her body was pulled from Mount Elbrus in southern Russia.
The mountaineer was 36 when she died alongside another six of her friends after they were hit by an avalanche back in 1987.
The body of the woman was found encased in ice by a group of tourists at an altitude of about 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet). Her USSR passport was found on the remains, as well as her Aeroflot air ticket from Moscow, dated 10 April 1987.
Footage released by Russian authorities show rescue teams trying to free the mummified body, which was still clad in a thick winter jacket and bearing climbing gear when it was discovered.
Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported that Bazykina – who was unmarried and without children when she perished – worked at the Moscow Scientific Institute. Mountains were “the biggest love of her life.”
Both of Elena’s parents have died, and a search for surviving loved ones was not looking promising, when her cousin saw the Komsomolskaya Pravda article and contacted the paper.
All this time, the family thought that maybe Elena was still alive, he said. “We have been waiting for Elena for 30 years.”
“We tried to guess what could have happened to her – and feared perhaps that she was kidnapped or kept hostage somewhere. It is such a dangerous region,” he said.
Soviet emergency workers had failed to find Bazykina or any of her six companions – all from the Lenin Tourist Club in Moscow – when they were first reported missing.
“The rescue operation was begun immediately, but it brought no result in 1987,” said Aleksey Yaroshevsky, vice-president of the Sports Tourism Federation of Russia. “We continued searching for them the following year but again we had no luck. Elena is the first from this group to be found.”
It is still unclear whether the discovery of Bazykina means her friends will be found soon as well.