Space

Stunning space diamonds discovery: Mysterious meteorite came from ‘lost planet’

New analysis of a meteorite fragment from Sudan has found space diamonds, which scientists say came from a “lost planet” destroyed billions of years ago. Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have discovered that the meteorite contains diamonds formed at high pressure in a “planetary embryo,” of a size between Mercury and Mars. The meteorite is part of a 13-foot-wide asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere on Oct. 7, 2008 and exploded 23 miles above the Nubian desert in Sudan. The asteroid, dubbed “2008 TC3,” scattered multiple fragments across the desert, 50 of which were later found. Analysis revealed that the fragments are largely “ureilites,” a rare form of stony meteorite that often contains clusters of tiny diamonds. “Current thinking is that these tiny diamonds can form in three ways: enormous pressure shockwaves from high-energy collisions between the meteorite ‘parent body’ and other space objects; deposition by chemical vapor; or, finally, the ‘normal’ static pressure inside the parent body, like most diamonds on Earth,” explained EPFL scientists, in a statement. Mystery, however, has surrounded the origins of 2008 TC3. Scientists at EPFL, working with researchers in France and Germany, used electron microscope technology to show that chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfides are embedded in the diamonds. “These have been known for a long time to exist inside Earth’s diamonds, but are now described for the first time in an extraterrestrial body,” the scientists explained. The pressure needed to create the diamonds indicates that the “planetary embryo” was sized somewhere between Mercury and Mars, according to researchers. “Many planetary formation models have predicted that these planetary embryos existed in the first million years of our solar system, and the study offers compelling evidence for their existence,” they explained. “Many planetary embryos were Mars-sized bodies, such as the one that collided with Earth to give rise to the Moon. Other of these went on to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system altogether.” In research published in the journal Nature Communications, the experts write that the lost planet was likely destroyed by collisions about 4.5 billion years ago. In a separate project, scientists from the U.K. are set to scour the frozen wastes of Antarctica in an audacious attempt to uncover lost meteorites. In January, a meteor made headlines when it flashed across the sky in Michigan. The blazing fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock. NASA notes that large rocky objects in orbit around the Sun are known as asteroids or minor planets, whereas smaller particles are known as meteoroids. When a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere it is known as a meteor. Earlier this week an asteroid the size of a football field made a “surprise” flyby of Earth.

Very cool!!     🙂

‘I saw a UFO’ Buzz Aldrin PASSES lie detector test revealing truth about aliens

Moon walker Buzz Aldrin and three other astronauts have passed lie detector tests over claims they experienced alien encounters. The space travellers’ accounts of strange space sightings were examined under laboratory conditions. All four astronauts taking part passed the test, carried out using the latest technology. Experts say the results prove they were “completely convinced” signs of alien life they claimed to have witnessed during historic missions were genuine. Aldrin, Al Worden, Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper all took part in the study. The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology in Albany, Ohio, carried out complex computer analyses of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they told of their close encounters. Although the technology is still top-secret, these studies are claimed to be more reliable than current lie detector tests and could soon replace those used by the FBI and police. One of the first tested was Apollo 11 pilot Buzz Aldrin, now 88 – the second human to set foot on the lunar surface in 1969. Aldrin has always maintained he spotted a UFO on the way to the moon, saying: “There was something out there that was close enough to be observed, sort of L-shaped.” BioAcoustic’s Sharry Edwards said tests reveal Aldrin is sure he saw the UFO even though his logical mind “cannot explain it”. Apollo 15 pilot Al Worden, 86, stunned Good Morning Britain viewers when he claimed to have seen extra-terrestrials. He believes we are all descended from ancient aliens. Voice recordings of fellow NASA pioneers Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper, both now dead, were also analysed. Apollo 14’s Mitchell claimed to have seen several UFOs, while Cooper actually described trying to chase a cluster of objects. The tests revealed both men believed they were telling the whole truth.

Things that make ya go, “hmmm”      🙂

NASA awards Lockheed Skunk Works $247.5M supersonic X-plane

Supersonic commercial air travel may once again become a reality under a partnership between NASA and Lockheed Martin. The American space agency announced on Tuesday that it awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), an X-plane that will be used by NASA to find ways to bring supersonic jet travel back to the skies. The cost-plus-incentive-fee contract is valued at $247.5 million. Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works will build the full-scale experimental X-plane to be about as loud as a closing car door, addressing noise concerns. A preliminary design was crafted as part of NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The aircraft will travel at about 940 miles per hour and cruise at 55,000 feet. Current regulations ban commercial supersonic travel over land, something that contributed to the demise of the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde. That aircraft began commercial service in the 1970s and lasted until the early 2000s. “We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe,” Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, said in a statement on Tuesday. NASA said it will accept the aircraft from Lockheed in late 2021 and will fly it over select U.S. cities starting in mid-2022, collecting community responses to the flights. The data will be provided to U.S. and international regulators to use in considering new sound-based rules for supersonic flight over land. The contract comes a month after the Trump administration – which has been a proponent for NASA – requested full funding for the program in its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Lockheed’s Skunk Works has partnered with America’s space agency for years and was awarded a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the X-plane aircraft.

Very cool!!     🙂

Our Sun is about to get unusually cool, researchers predict

By 2050, our sun is expected to be unusually cool. It’s what scientists have termed a “grand minimum” — a particularly low point in what is otherwise a steady 11-year cycle. Over this cycle, the sun’s tumultuous heart races and rests. At its high point, the nuclear fusion at the sun’s core forces more magnetic loops high into its boiling atmosphere — ejecting more ultraviolet radiation and generating sunspots and flares. When it’s quiet, the sun’s surface goes calm. It ejects less ultraviolet radiation. Now scientists have scoured the skies and history for evidence of an even greater cycle amid these cycles. One particularly cool period in the 17th century guided their research. An intense cold snap between 1645 and 1715 has been dubbed the “Maunder Minimum.” In England, the Thames river froze over. The Baltic Sea was covered in ice — so much so that the Swedish army was able to march across it to invade Denmark in 1658. But the cooling was not uniform: Distorted weather patterns warmed up Alaska and Greenland. These records were combined with 20 years of data collected by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite mission, as well as observations of nearby stars similar to the sun. Now physicist Dan Lubin at the University of California San Diego has calculated an estimate of how much dimmer the sun is likely to be when the next such grand minimum takes place. His team’s study, “Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from IUE Short-wavelength Observation of Solar Analogs,” has been published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters. It finds the sun is likely to be 7 percent cooler than its usual minimum. And another grand minimum is likely to be just decades away, based on the cooling spiral of recent solar cycles. A quiet sun has a noticeable effect on its planets. For Earth, Lubin says it first thins the stratospheric ozone layer. This impacts the insulating effect of the atmosphere, with flow-on effects including major changes to wind and weather patterns.

Fascinating!  Space weather definitely impacts our weather here on earth.  For more, click on the text above.    🙂

Black box set to revolutionize the search for life beyond Earth

In the world’s driest desert, an unassuming black box called “Espresso” is about to begin a very big mission: scouring the universe for planets like ours to find signs of life beyond Earth. Espresso, an instrument known as a spectrograph, has a humble appearance that belies its cutting-edge technology: it is the most precise instrument of its kind ever built, 10 times stronger than its most powerful predecessor. In the Atacama desert, in northern Chile, Espresso will be hooked up to four telescopes so big that scientists simply named them the Very Large Telescope, or VLT. Together, they will search the skies for exoplanets — those outside our own solar system — looking for ones that are similar to Earth. The Atacama is a particularly good place for this kind of exploration. Its skies are completely cloudless most of the year, which is why the highly respected European Southern Observatory, which runs the VLT program, set up shop there in the first place. In fact, many of the world’s major telescopes are located in the area. By 2020, the Atacama is expected to be home to about 70 percent of the world’s astronomy infrastructure. Espresso stands for Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations. It will analyze the light of the stars observed by the VLT, enabling it to determine whether planets orbit around them, and important information about those planets themselves: what their atmosphere is like, whether they have oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and whether there is water — all essential for supporting life. “Espresso will be available on all four telescopes at once, which is something that had never been done before. That means the likelihood of finding planets similar to Earth in mass and size, or the conditions for life, are greater,” said Italian astronomer Gaspare Lo Curto.

Very cool!!   🙂

French: Falcon Heavy Is Making America Great Again

Not long ago I, toured the National Air and Space Museum’s immense Steven F. Udvar Center, located near Dulles airport. It’s an amazing complex, but about halfway through I found myself getting strangely depressed. Most museums are fascinating not just because of the historical information they convey, but because they plainly demonstrate how far we humans have come. Imagine, for example, a museum of the telephone where the exhibits progress slowly from the crudest possible voice-communication devices to smartphones that provide us with instant access to much of humanity’s accumulated knowledge. That’s how most museums work, but the Udvar Center in some ways does the opposite: It seems designed to argue that there was a time when we dreamed bigger and flew higher, faster, and farther. A time when Americans lifted their eyes to the heavens, said, “We must go there,” and unleashed an enormous amount of raw human energy to get it done, no matter that it had never even been dreamt of before. It’s all there, right in front of you: A Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (first flight, 1964), the Concorde (first flight, 1969), the Space Shuttle Discovery (first flight, 1981). There was a time when American pilots flew higher and faster than any men before. There was a time when travelers careened across the Atlantic at supersonic speed. There was a time when America operated actual spaceships. And that time has passed. Of course, our technology has progressed. If we chose to, we could do more. Our computing power is extraordinary. Our technical knowledge is unparalleled. An F-22 is a breathtaking aircraft. A Boeing Dreamliner is a technological marvel — but it still sends you across the Atlantic in the same coach seat at roughly the same speed as passengers of past generations. And space travel? We delegate our manned launches to the Russians, now. At a time when we could have done more, in many ways we chose to do less. When we could have expanded our reach, we chose to shrink it. Our eyes weren’t cast up to the heavens but down to our phones. And, quite frankly, we lost something in that moment. It would be too much to call it a shared purpose, because national purpose is too complex to be boiled down to a space program. It’s more accurate to say that when we lost that shared purpose — and part of our patriotic pride — the manned space program became all the more difficult to sustain. What is the thing that we’re proud of today? It should probably be American technology, which is more powerful and influential than it’s ever been. But Google, Facebook, and Twitter don’t exactly inspire patriotic thoughts. They’re more likely to incite partisan rage. So I am happy to report that something surprising happened earlier this week, something to be proud of: With an inimitable mix of new-school technology and old-school spunk, we launched the world’s most powerful rocket, and Americans cheered — by the tens of millions. Elon Musks’s Falcon Heavy had a moment. And it was a crazy, classic, modern American moment. Musk launched the world’s most powerful rocket, he put a car in it with a fake astronaut behind the wheel just because he could, and then beamed pictures live back from space. Just one of the Falcon Heavy launch videos has 15 million views on YouTube. Multiple news channels recorded millions of additional views. Some space enthusiasts were moved to tears. Even days after the launch, at any given moment thousands of Americans are tuning into the live “Starman” YouTube feed to watch Musk’s car fly toward an asteroid belt. I knew the launch was happening, tuned in to watch, and found myself thrilled in a way that I didn’t expect. Minutes later, old friends were sending messages with clips and memes from the launch. Why? Part of it is simple: Big rockets are really cool, and it had been a while since we’d launched one of that size and power from American soil. But there was something else to it, too, I think. Falcon Heavy, the private (subsidized) product of a man the Washington Post called a “puckish and eccentric billionaire,” sent a powerful message to the rest of the world: We’re back. We can still look up to the heavens. We can still fly farther, higher, and faster. We’re not all the way back, of course. Our grandfathers and fathers still put us to shame. But there’s hope. More rockets are in the works, including NASA’s Space Launch System, a rocket that could double Falcon Heavy’s thrust and payload. Perhaps we’re learning our lesson: Great nations need great accomplishments. It’s not enough to spend our resources making our lives easier and more convenient. We can still explore. The pioneer spirit still exists, and even if we won’t ever sit atop a rocket of that size and power, we can cheer those who do. So thanks, Falcon Heavy. In a moment that combined power, grace, and a dash of fun, you helped to make America great again.

Yeah!!  That inspiring piece was written by attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched successfully on Tuesday, making history as the world’s most powerful rocket and putting a provierbial feather in Elon Musk’s cap. Containing 27 engines, the rocket has a thrust able to generate more than 5 million pounds, akin to the equivalent of 18 Boeing 747 aircraft. It will be able to lift a payload of more than 64 tons (141,000 pounds) into orbit, twice as much as the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, according to SpaceX. The payload the Falcon Heavy is carrying is a Tesla Roadster and a dummy pilot, codenamed Starman, playing the David Bowie song of the same name. The flight was originally scheduled for 1:30 pm EST, but was pushed back to 3:45 pm EST due to wind shear. It fired from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX said that when the rocket achieves lift off, “it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.” The company added that “Falcon Heavy’s side cores are flight-proven—both previously supported independent Falcon 9 missions in 2016.” The second stage of Heavy fired three times and put it on an elliptical orbit around the Sun that extends out as far as Mars. There is an “extremely tiny” chance it could crash into the Red Planet, Musk said in comments obtained by The New York Times, but that is unlikely to happen. “The test launch of the Falcon Heavy is a spectacular demonstration of the comeback of Florida’s Space Coast and of the U.S. commercial launch sector, which is succeeding in a big way.,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on the Senate floor, discussing the launch. “That’s good news for the civil space program. It’s good news for national security. It’s good news for employment in the U.S. and it’s great news for jobs and the economy.” Nelson is the top Democrat of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the nation’s space program. The successful launch marks the beginning of a very busy schedule for the space vehicle. Later this year, it is scheduled to launch a communications satellite for a Saudi Arabian satellite operator, Arabsat. It is also scheduled to launch a test payload for the U.S. Air Force as soon as June, allowing the branch of the U.S. military to determine whether the Falcon Heavy is capable of launching national security payloads. The launch spacecraft’s two side boosters successfully landed at Cape Canaveral. However, the central core did not stick the landing on a floating drone ship 300 miles off the Florida coast. Musk said late Tuesday the booster hit the water at 300 miles per hour because it could relight only one of the three engines needed to land. Shortly after launch Elon Musk tweeted remarkable video footage of the Tesla Roadster and Starman in space. “View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he wrote. “This achievement, along with @NASA’s commercial and international partners, continues to show American ingenuity at its best!” President Trump tweeted Thursday night.

Go SpaceX!!  To see some videos, click on the text above.    🙂