вторник, 19 ноября 2019 г.

CASC - Kuaizhou-1A launches KL-α-A and KL-α-B satellites

CASC - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation logo / KZ-1A Y8 - Centispace-1-S1 patch.

Nov. 19, 2019

Kuaizhou-1A launches KL-α-A and KL-α-B satellites

A Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle launched two satellites, KL-α-A and KL-α-B, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, northwest China, on 17 November 2019, at 10:00 UTC (18:00 local time).

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Channel: Meteors  

This stunning Perseid fireball was recorded on 13 August 2019 at 22:08 local time (20:08 universal time). It was produced by a fragment of Comet Swift-Tuttle that impacted the atmosphere at about 210.000 km/h. The fireball began at a height of about 130 km and ended at an altitude of around 81 km above the ground level.
The event was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN), from the meteor-observing stations located at Calar Alto (Almería), Sierra Nevada (Granada), La Sagra (Granada), La Hita (Toledo), and Sevilla.


Esta impresionante bola de fuego es una Perseida que sobrevoló Castilla-La Mancha y Andalucía el 13 de agosto a las 22:08 hora local (20:08 tiempo universal). Se produjo como consecuencia de la entrada en la atmósfera terrestre de un fragmento desprendido del cometa Swift-Tuttle a unos 210 mil kilómetros por hora. El fenómeno luminoso se inició a una altitud de unos 130 km sobre la provincia de Ciudad Real, casi sobre la vertical de Puertollano. La bola de fuego, que pudo verse desde más de 400 km de distancia debido a su espectacular brillo, avanzó entonces en dirección suroeste para terminar extinguiéndose a unos 81 km de altitud sobre la provincia de Málaga, casi sobre la vertical de Marbella.

Este evento ha sido registrado por los detectores del proyecto SMART desde los observatorios astronómicos de Calar Alto (Almería), Sierra Nevada (Granada), La Sagra (Granada), La Hita (Toledo) y Sevilla. Estos detectores operan en el marco de la Red de Bólidos y Meteoros del Suroeste de Europa (SWEMN).

Video length: 1:02
Category: Science & Technology

NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa

NASA - Europa Clipper Mission patch.

Nov. 18, 2019

Forty years ago, a Voyager spacecraft snapped the first closeup images of Europa, one of Jupiter’s 79 moons. These revealed brownish cracks slicing the moon’s icy surface, which give Europa the look of a veiny eyeball. Missions to the outer solar system in the decades since have amassed enough additional information about Europa to make it a high-priority target of investigation in NASA’s search for life.

What makes this moon so alluring is the possibility that it may possess all of the ingredients necessary for life. Scientists have evidence that one of these ingredients, liquid water, is present under the icy surface and may sometimes erupt into space in huge geysers. But no one has been able to confirm the presence of water in these plumes by directly measuring the water molecule itself. Now, an international research team led out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has detected the water vapor for the first time above Europa’s surface. The team measured the vapor by peering at Europa through one of the world’s biggest telescopes in Hawaii.

Image above: On the left is a view of Europa taken from 2.9 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) away on March 2, 1979 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Next is a color image of Europa taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft during its close encounter on July 9, 1979. On the right is a view of Europa made from images taken by the Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Image Credits: NASA/JPL.

Confirming that water vapor is present above Europa helps scientists better understand the inner workings of the moon. For example, it helps support an idea, of which scientists are confident, that there’s a liquid water ocean, possibly twice as big as Earth’s, sloshing beneath this moon’s miles-thick ice shell. Another source of water for the plumes, some scientists suspect, could be shallow reservoirs of melted water ice not far below Europa’s surface. It’s also possible that Jupiter’s strong radiation field is stripping water particles from Europa’s ice shell, though the recent investigation argued against this mechanism as the source of the observed water.

“Essential chemical elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur) and sources of energy, two of three requirements for life, are found all over the solar system. But the third — liquid water — is somewhat hard to find beyond Earth,” said Lucas Paganini, a NASA planetary scientist who led the water detection investigation. “While scientists have not yet detected liquid water directly, we’ve found the next best thing: water in vapor form.”

Paganini and his team reported in the journal Nature Astronomy on November 18 that they detected enough water releasing from Europa (5,202 pounds, or 2,360 kilograms, per second) to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool within minutes. Yet, the scientists also found that the water appears infrequently, at least in amounts large enough to detect from Earth, said Paganini: “For me, the interesting thing about this work is not only the first direct detection of water above Europa, but also the lack thereof within the limits of our detection method.”

Animation above: Water molecules emit specific frequencies of infrared light as they interact with solar radiation. Animation Credits: Michael Lentz/NASA Goddard.

Indeed, Paganini’s team detected the faint yet distinct signal of water vapor just once throughout 17 nights of observations between 2016 and 2017. Looking at the moon from the W. M. Keck Observatory atop the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii, the scientists saw water molecules at Europa’s leading hemisphere, or the side of the moon that’s always facing in the direction of the moon’s orbit around Jupiter. (Europa, like Earth’s moon, is gravitationally locked to its host planet, so the leading hemisphere always faces the direction of the orbit, while the trailing hemisphere always faces in the opposite direction.)

They used a spectrograph at the Keck Observatory that measures the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres through the infrared light they emit or absorb. Molecules such as water emit specific frequencies of infrared light as they interact with solar radiation.

Mounting Evidence for Water

Before the recent water vapor detection, there have been many tantalizing findings on Europa. The first came from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which measured perturbations in Jupiter’s magnetic field near Europa while orbiting the gas giant planet between 1995 and 2003. The measurements suggested to scientists that electrically conductive fluid, likely a salty ocean beneath Europa’s ice layer, was causing the magnetic disturbances. When researchers analyzed the magnetic disturbances more closely in 2018, they found evidence of possible plumes.

In the meantime, scientists announced in 2013 that they had used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to detect the chemical elements hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) — components of water (H2O) — in plume-like configurations in Europa’s atmosphere. And a few years later, other scientists used Hubble to gather more evidence of possible plume eruptions when they snapped photos of finger-like projections that appeared in silhouette as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.

“This first direct identification of water vapor on Europa is a critical confirmation of our original detections of atomic species, and it highlights the apparent sparsity of large plumes on this icy world” said Lorenz Roth, an astronomer and physicist from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm who led the 2013 Hubble study and was a co-author of this recent investigation.

Roth’s research, along with other previous Europa findings, have only measured components of water above the surface. The trouble is that detecting water vapor at other worlds is challenging. Existing spacecraft have limited capabilities to detect it, and scientists using ground-based telescopes to look for water in deep space have to account for the distorting effect of water in Earth’s atmosphere. To minimize this effect, Paganini’s team used complex mathematical and computer modeling to simulate the conditions of Earth’s atmosphere so they could differentiate Earth’s atmospheric water from Europa’s in data returned by the Keck spectrograph.

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Channel: Meteors  

This amazing meteor overflew the south of Spain on 2019 September 7 at about 4:05 local time (equivalent to 2:05 universal time). It was generated by a rock from an asteroid that hit the atmosphere at about 120,000 km/h. It began at an altitude of about 84 km over the region of Murcia, and ended at a height of around 29 km over Almería.

The event was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN), from the meteor-observing stations located at Calar Alto (Almería), La Hita (Toledo), La Sagra (Granada), and Sevilla.
Esta bola de fuego sobrevoló Murcia, Granada y Almería la noche del 7 de septiembre, a las 4:05 hora local. Se produjo al entrar en la atmósfera terrestre una roca procedente de un asteroide a una velocidad de unos 120 mil kilómetros por hora. El evento se inició a una altitud de unos 84 km al oeste de la región de Murcia. La bola de fuego, que pudo verse desde más de 500 km de distancia, avanzó en dirección sureste y sobrevoló la zona noreste de la provincia de Granada, para terminar extinguiéndose a una altitud de unos 29 kilómetros sobre la provincia de Almería.

La bola de fuego ha sido registrada por los detectores del proyecto SMART desde los observatorios astronómicos de Calar Alto (Almería), La Hita (Toledo), La Sagra (Granada) y Sevilla. Estos detectores operan en el marco de la Red de Bólidos y Meteoros del Suroeste de Europa (SWEMN), que tiene como objetivo monitorizar continuamente el cielo con el fin de registrar y estudiar el impacto contra la atmósfera terrestre de rocas procedentes de distintos objetos del Sistema Solar.

Video length: 1:27
Category: Science & Technology

Advanced Tech, Biology Research in Between Spacewalks

ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

November 18, 2019

The Expedition 61 crew is starting the workweek in between spacewalks and running a variety advanced space investigations. A set of small satellites is also being readied for deployment outside the International Space Station by midweek.

NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan and ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano are gearing up for another spacewalk set to begin on Friday at 7:05 a.m. EST. Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch spent an hour reviewing robotics procedures for Friday’s spacewalk. Meir then joined Parmitano and Morgan in the afternoon to study details supporting the second Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer repair spacewalk.

Image above: This Wednesday, three small satellites will be deployed from the International Space Station. Here, a set of three CubeSats are ejected from the Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer attached to a robotic arm outside the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory module on June 17, 2019. Image Credit: NASA.

Morgan started his day setting up small satellites inside a deployer that will be ejected outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module on Wednesday morning. Parmitano practiced robotic rover technology that future space crews could use to explore a planetary surface before landing humans.

Koch tested the operation of a 3D bioprinter today without using actual cells for its potential to manufacture complex human organ tissue shapes in space. She also fed lab mice being monitored for therapeutic insights into Earth-bound ailments.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka collaborated Monday and researched how the human digestion system is impacted by microgravity. The duo then reviewed Soyuz MS-15 crew ship systems before working on a variety of life support maintenance.

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=729

Small satellites: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=8070

Kibo laboratory module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/japan-kibo-laboratory

Robotic rover technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1863

3D bioprinter: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7599

Therapeutic insights into Earth-bound ailments: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7906

Human digestion system: https://www.energia.ru/en/iss/researches/human/09.html

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Catherine Williams.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Farmer discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey

A farmer plowing his field in Turkey's central Kırıkkale province discovered a giant ancient pithos jar from the Byzantine era.

Farmer discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey
Credit: AA

The farmer, who lives in the Koçubaba village in Balışeyh district discovered the jar after his tractor got locked on the jar. He immediately called the gendarmerie to inform officials about the find.

Farmer discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey
Credit: IHA

The jar, which was allegedly used to store food supply, was brought to the Kırıkkale Culture and Tourism Directorate after archaeologists extracted it.

Farmer discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey
Credit: IHA
"It was used as a cellar in the Byzantine era," Kırıkkale Culture and Tourism Director Aydın Demiröz told Anadolu Agency, adding that it will be exhibited in the directorate headquarters.

Source: Daily Sabah [November 15, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

Xiaomi YI camera conversion to night vision device

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Channel: UFO Odessa  

I converted the action camera, redid it a bit, now it sees starlight, the video shows the star Altair under the moon, and Jupiter next to the crescent on the left side.

Video length: 2:09
Category: Entertainment

2019 November 19 Milky Way over Uruguayan Lighthouse Image...

2019 November 19

Milky Way over Uruguayan Lighthouse
Image Credit & Copyright: Mauricio Salazar

Explanation: Can a lighthouse illuminate a galaxy? No, but in the featured image, gaps in light emanating from the Jose Ignacio Lighthouse in Uruguay appear to match up nicely, although only momentarily and coincidently, with dark dust lanes of our Milky Way Galaxy. The bright dot on the right is the planet Jupiter. The central band of the Milky Way Galaxy is actually the central spiral disk seen from within the disk. The Milky Way band is not easily visible through city lights but can be quite spectacular to see in dark skies. The featured picture is actually the addition of ten consecutive images taken by the same camera from the same location. The images were well planned to exclude direct light from the famous lighthouse.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191119.html

* This article was originally published here

Are hyoliths Palaeozoic lophophorates?

Hyoliths are extinct invertebrates with calcareous shells that were common constituents of the Cambrian fauna and formed a minor component of benthic faunas throughout the Palaeozoic until their demise in the end-Permian mass extinction. The biological affinity of hyoliths has long been controversial and the group has been compared with a number of animal phyla, most frequently the Mollusca or the Sipuncula, although other researchers have considered hyoliths as a separate "extinct phylum". However, recent discoveries of a tentaculate feeding apparatus ('lophophore') and fleshy apical extensions from the shell ('pedicle'), have resulted in hyoliths being placed within the lophophorates with a close relationship to the brachiopods.

Are hyoliths Palaeozoic lophophorates?
Reconstruction of Triplicatella opimus from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte in a proposed
deposit-feeding lifestyle [Credit: Science China Press]
A new article by Zhifei Zhang and his research group at Northwest University, China, together with Dr. Christian Skovsted from the Swedish Museum of Natural History have questioned this phylogenetic placement, after analyzing hundreds of hyolith fossils from the lower Cambrian (520 million years ago) Chengjiang Biota of South China (Liu et al.). In their material from South China, the first credible soft parts of an orthothecid hyolith other than the gut has been preserved in the species Triplicatella opimus.

The soft part morphology of Triplicatella opimus confirms the presence of a tentaculate feeding organ in orthothecids, demonstrating that both recognized orders of hyoliths possessed a tentaculate feeding organ. The tuft-like arrangement of the tentacles of T. opimus differs from that of hyolithids suggesting a different function of the feeding organ between orthothecid (collecting food directly from the substrate) and hyolithid hyoliths (filter feeding strategy).

A comparative study was undertaken by Liu et al., investigating the structure of the feeding organ between hyoliths and other recognized fossil and modern lophophore-bearing animals. This analysis indicated that the structure lacked many morphological features that are distinctive of a lophophore and consequently it is likely that the feeding organ of hyoliths is not a lophophore. The tuft-like morphology of the feeding apparatus of Triplicatella from South China additionally suggests that the organ was adapted to feeding on nutrients directly from the substrate rather than filter feeding as seen in younger hyolith specimens. Liu et al. further suggest filter feeding in hyoliths may have been a secondary adaption, evolving later with the appearance of helens, a mineralized structure used to lift the body of the hyoliths above the seafloor.

Recently, scientists illustrated apical structures from a species of hyolith from the Cambrian of South China, claiming that they represent an attachment structure similar to the brachiopod pedicle. A detailed analysis of the apical structures by Liu et al. have demonstrated that these structures represent crushed portions of the shell and are not in any way comparable to the brachiopod pedicle. The identical morphology of apical structures could also be observed in hyolith specimens from a nearly contemporaneous fauna (Shipai Biota) that allows for a better understanding of how this part of the shell is preserved. The similarity in ornament between the apical structure and the rest of the shell and the similarity in preservation indicates that the purported pedicle in orthothecid hyoliths represents a partly crushed apical shell section and is not a biological analogue to the complex organ that constitutes a brachiopod pedicle.

In their article published in National Science, Liu et al. consider that this new evidence suggests that hyoliths did not possess a lophophore or a pedicle similar to those of brachiopods. Liu et al. instead argue that hyoliths likely occupied a more basal position in the Lophophorata, a conclusion which is strengthened by recently published data on hyolith shell structures.

Source: Science China Press [November 18, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

Meteors in May

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Channel: OGVT - Observatoire géophysique, Val Terbi  

The brightest meteors recorded in May in Montsevelier (Val Terbi) JU. All data and pictures at: http://www.ogvt.org/en/astronomy/media.php and http://www.ogvt.org/en/astronomy/db.php

Video length: 1:12
Category: Science & Technology

French earthquake fault mapped

ESA - Sentinel-1 Mission logo.

Nov. 18, 2019

This week, southeast France was hit by a magnitude 5 earthquake with tremors felt between Lyon and Montélimar. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission has been used to map the way the ground shifted as a result of the quake.

Earthquakes are unusual in this part of France, but on 11 November at noon (local time) part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was rocked by a quake leading to people having to be evacuated and buildings damaged.

Scientists are turning to satellite-based radar observations to help understand the nature of the seismic fault and map its location.

Earthquake ground shift

By combining imagery acquired before and after a quake, changes on the ground that occurred between the two acquisition dates lead to rainbow-coloured interference patterns in the combined image, known as an ‘interferogram’, which allows scientists to quantify ground movement.

An acquisition by Copernicus Sentinel-1 was made on 12 November, one day after the event, and was ready to process on ESA’s Geohazards Exploitation Platform (GEP), which is a cloud-based processing environment with on-demand terrain motion mapping services.

Several users have computed interferograms over the concerned region.

While several faults are present in the region and marked in geological maps, none were known to be seismically active. The interferogram here shows a series of fringes in the area west of the city of Le Teil and has allowed scientists to identify the fault at the origin of the earthquake. The satellite observation also measured a ground displacement that corresponds to an uplift of up to 8 cm in the southern part of the fault.

French earthquake interferogram

The intensity of the ground motion felt by the inhabitants and measured from space is unusual for this magnitude of event unless the earthquake epicentre is shallow and, indeed, seismic data put the epicentre at between 1 km and 3.5 km below the surface. Observations in the field on 13 November suggest that the rupture propagated up to the surface.

Floriane Provost, Research Fellow at ESA, said, “The rapid release to the public of up-to-date Copernicus Sentinel-1 based products visualised in a friendly fashion on the GEP geobrowser was followed by a peak of connections. It helped the scientific community better map the location of the fault and to confirm the mechanism of the earthquake.

“This example shows how the GEP environment contributes to the rapid processing and exchange of information within the geohazards community.”

Sentinel-1 radar vision

Michael Foumelis, researcher at the French Geological Survey BRGM, added, “Field investigations by BRGM experts are on-going, while interferometric synthetic aperture radar results are actually helping them to correlate the distribution of damage with the location of the activated fault and measured ground displacements.”

Read more about mapping faults on ESA’s Earth Observation Science for Society website: https://eo4society.esa.int/2019/07/30/mapping-the-faults-of-2019-california-earthquakes-with-sentinel-1-2/

Related links:

Sentinel-1: http://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-1

Copernicus: http://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus

Observing the Earth: http://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by BRGM/contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA/ATG medialab.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Fossil dig leads to unexpected discovery of 91-million-year-old shark new to science

A 91-million-year-old fossil shark newly named Cretodus houghtonorum discovered in Kansas joins a list of large dinosaur-era animals. Preserved in sediments deposited in an ancient ocean called the Western Interior Seaway that covered the middle of North America during the Late Cretaceous period (144 million to 66 million years ago), Cretodus houghtonorum was an impressive shark estimated to be nearly 17 feet or slightly more than 5 meters long based on a new study appearing in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Fossil dig leads to unexpected discovery of 91-million-year-old shark new to science
Credit: Taylor & Francis
The fossil shark was discovered and excavated in 2010 at a ranch near Tipton, Kansas, in Mitchell County by researchers Kenshu Shimada and Michael Everhart and two central Kansas residents, Fred Smith and Gail Pearson. Shimada is a professor of paleobiology at DePaul University in Chicago. He and Everhart are both adjunct research associates at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. The species name houghtonorum is in honor of Keith and Deborah Houghton, the landowners who donated the specimen to the museum for science.

Although a largely disarticulated and incomplete skeleton, it represents the best Cretodus specimen discovered in North America, according to Shimada. The discovery consists of 134 teeth, 61 vertebrae, 23 placoid scales and fragments of calcified cartilage, which when analyzed by scientists provided a vast amount of biological information about the extinct shark. Besides its estimated large body size, anatomical data suggested that it was a rather sluggish shark, belonged to a shark group called Lamniformes that includes modern-day great white and sand tiger sharks as distant cousins, and had a rather distinct tooth pattern for a lamniform shark.

"Much of what we know about extinct sharks is based on isolated teeth, but an associated specimen representing a single shark individual like the one we describe provides a wealth of anatomical information that in turn offers better insights into its ecology," said Shimada, the lead author on the study.

"As important ecological components in marine ecosystems, understanding about sharks in the past and present is critical to evaluate the roles they have played in their environments and biodiversity through time, and more importantly how they may affect the future marine ecosystem if they become extinct," he said.

During the excavation, Shimada and Everhart believed they had a specimen of Cretodus crassidens, a species originally described from England and subsequently reported commonly from North America. However, not even a single tooth matched the tooth shape of the original Cretodus crassidens specimen or any other known species of Cretodus, Shimada said.

"That's when we realized that almost all the teeth from North America previously reported as Cretodus crassidens belong to a different species new to science," he noted.

The growth model of the shark calibrated from observed vertebral growth rings indicates that the shark could have theoretically reached up to about 22 feet (about 6.8 meters).

"What is more exciting is its inferred large size at birth, almost 4 feet or 1.2 meters in length, suggesting that the cannibalistic behavior for nurturing embryos commonly observed within the uteri of modern female lamniforms must have already evolved by the late Cretaceous period," Shimada added.

Furthermore, the Cretodus houghtonorum fossil intriguingly co-occurred with isolated teeth of another shark, Squalicorax, as well as with fragments of two fin spines of a yet another shark, a hybodont shark.

"Circumstantially, we think the shark possibly fed on the much smaller hybodont and was in turn scavenged by Squalicorax after its death," said Everhart.

Discoveries like this would not be possible without the cooperation and generosity of local landowners, and the local knowledge and enthusiasm of amateur fossil collectors, according to the authors.

"We believe that continued cooperation between paleontologists and those who are most familiar with the land is essential to improving our understanding of the geologic history of Kansas and Earth as a whole," said Everhart.

Source: Taylor & Francis [November 18, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

Meteor Outtakes June 2019

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Channel: OGVT - Observatoire géophysique, Val Terbi  

In an average month our meteor cameras record about 15'000 videos. Of these, only about 10 percent are recordings of meteors or TLEs. The rest consists of recordings of various objects like airplanes, satellites, insects, birds or lightning. Since we view all images manually, we don't want to withhold the best outtakes from you.

Video length: 4:29
Category: Science & Technology

2019 November 2 Inside the Flame Nebula Image Credit &...

2019 November 2

Inside the Flame Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Optical: DSS; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech;
X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/ K.Getman, E.Feigelson, M.Kuhn & the MYStIX team

Explanation: The Flame Nebula stands out in this optical image of the dusty, crowded star forming regions toward Orion’s belt, a mere 1,400 light-years away. X-ray data from the Chandra Observatory and infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope can take you inside the glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds though. Swiping your cursor (or clicking the image) will reveal many stars of the recently formed, embedded cluster NGC 2024, ranging in age from 200,000 years to 1.5 million years young. The X-ray/infrared composite image overlay spans about 15 light-years across the Flame’s center. The X-ray/infrared data also indicate that the youngest stars are concentrated near the middle of the Flame Nebula cluster. That’s the opposite of the simplest models of star formation for the stellar nursery that predict star formation begins in the denser center of a molecular cloud core. The result requires a more complex model; perhaps star formation continues longer in the center, or older stars are ejected from the center due to subcluster mergers.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191102.html

* This article was originally published here

Isle with Bronze Age Burial Mound, Llyn Brenig, Denbighshire, North Wales, 17.11.19.

Isle with Bronze Age Burial Mound, Llyn Brenig, Denbighshire, North Wales, 17.11.19.

* This article was originally published here

Research shows people made ropes and baskets during the Paleolithic era

A research team from the University of Valencia and the CSIC has published a study that demonstrates the use of plant fibres during the Final Palaeolithic era in the Santa Maira caves (Castell de Castells, Alicante).

Research shows people made ropes and baskets during the Paleolithic era
Santa Maira cave [Credit: Asociación RUVID]
These are fragments of braided rope and basketwork imprints on clay. The rope has provided the oldest direct dating in Europe for an object made of braided fibres: 12,700 years ago. In the same work, the first evidence on the use of containers made from clay-coated baskets has also been revealed.

The work analyses both the species used to obtain braided ropes, their treatment and preparation, as well as their use to manufacture more complex devices such as baskets and containers. These materials have been dated back about 13,000 years. Ethnological data indicate that these materials have been widely used among historical societies, but we are largely unaware of their use in Prehistory.

“It is an important contribution to the knowledge of the use of perishable materials among the hunter-gatherer-fishermen societies of the European Palaeolithic” according to J. Emili Aura, Professor of the Department of Prehistory, Archaeology and Ancient History of the University of Valencia.

The conservation of vegetable fibres of this age requires particular preservation conditions. Also that of clay fragments with baskets imprints, whose exposure to fire has allowed their conservation. These are containers whose age exceeds 5,000 years of the first Neolithic ceramics of the western Mediterranean. The study has been published in the academic journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Research shows people made ropes and baskets during the Paleolithic era
String fragments analyzed in the study [Credit: U. València]
The analysis of the vegetal fibres has allowed to identify the remains as belonging to a monocotyledonus, probably from the group of grasses and very similar to esparto. Its leaves were braided to make ropes with which a large number of artefacts could be made and with several uses.

The director of the excavation project, J. Emili Aura, points out that the Santa Maira data allow us to begin to correct a great bias. To think that only the materials that are best preserved, such as stone, bone or shell, were the most used is a mistake. These evidences show that other materials and techniques must have a wide use and diverse applications: baskets, backpacks or footwear.

This bias also affects the importance attributed to these techniques during the Palaeolithic. “The same goes for the character of this braiding rope activity and its possible authors. It is known that in historical societies it was a seasonal task developed largely by women.”

The materials analysed indicate the manufacture of various basketry objects using ropes, without ruling out the possible elaboration of fabrics. The fragments of mud with imprints allow us to propose the hypothesis that these are baskets that were covered with mud, which could be used for the preservation of liquids or for cooking. Its discovery opens a good number of questions. Ropes and containers are related to the rest of the techniques and materials found in the site, with the palaeoeconomics of these groups and their settlement systems.

Source: Asociación RUVID [November 18, 2019]

* This article was originally published here

Meteors in June

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Channel: OGVT - Observatoire géophysique, Val Terbi  

Meteors in June
Some of the meteors recorded in June in Montsevelier (Val Terbi) JU. All data and pictures at: http://www.ogvt.org/en/astronomy/media.php and http://www.ogvt.org/en/astronomy/db.php

Video length: 3:13
Category: Science & Technology

Luxembourg firm enabling peek inside asteroid

ESA - Hera Mission logo / ESA - Aim Mission logo.

Nov. 18, 2019

Juventas CubeSat closing on asteroid

ESA’s Juventas is a tiny spacecraft assigned a very big goal. Small enough to fit in an aircraft carry-on bag, this nanosatellite would be carried to deep space by ESA’s proposed Hera mission, before diving down to perform the very first radar probe into the depths of an asteroid. A specialist Luxembourg-based company is developing the radar electronics to make this happen.

The Agency’s Hera mission for planetary defence is being presented to Europe’s space ministers for approval at Space19+ next week. The first mission to a binary asteroid system, Hera will carry two 6-unit ‘CubeSats’ – small spacecraft built up from standardised 10 cm boxes, making maximum use of the latest commercial technology.

APEX will survey the target asteroid’s surface, working like a mineral prospector, while Juventas will fly just 3 km away, operating a low-frequency radar to see deep into the body’s core – the first ever direct look into the mysterious interior of a space rock.

 Hera scans DART’s impact crater

Only 30x20x10 cm in size, Juventas is nevertheless as sophisticated as a full-size spacecraft, and is being planned by a Europe-wide team. Its design is being overseen for ESA by the GomSpace company in Luxembourg and Denmark with GMV in Romania.

Juventas’s radar instrument has been designed by France’s Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG) at the Université Grenoble Alpes with Astronika in Poland, working on its deployable quartet of 1.5-m long radar antennas, larger in scale than the entire CubeSat.

Hera deploying CubeSats

That leaves EmTroniX in Luxembourg, working on the radar electronics and eventually their integration and testing. The 18-strong company was founded by two engineers in 2001, initially focused on automobile systems, going on to expand into other sectors including aircraft avionics and space.

“We’ve been active in the space sector for more than 10 years now,” explains co-founder Cedric Lorant, “including working with LuxSpace to pioneer Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking with the Pathfinder 2, VesselSat 1 and 2 missions.”

Hera's CubeSat companions

The internationally mandated AIS system enables port authorities and coast guards to track seagoing traffic. But the onboard transponders have a horizontal range of only around 74 km. This is sufficient for coastal tracking or ship-to-ship monitoring but means that traffic on the open ocean disappears into vast blind spots.

However AIS signals do reach much further in the vertical direction – all the way up to space. This fact is enabling a new industry of satellite-based ship tracking. The challenge is to disentangle overlapping AIS messages from highly-trafficked regions, and take account of the Doppler shifting due to satellites’ rapid motion. Achieving this has required high-performance systems and clever processing, expanding EmTroniX’s capabilities in the process.

AIS ship tracking from orbit

Mr Lorant adds: “For ESA we have developed and implemented algorithms for an autonomous software-defined radio transceiver digital signal processor – this was for the Proximity-1 UHF link, a communication standard optimised for Mars missions. We also collaborated with Thales Alenia Space on a high sensitivity ADS-B receiver for another Agency project.”

ADS-B, short for ‘Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Broadcast’, is the aircraft equivalent of AIS, requiring similarly sophisticated processing techniques to achieve accurate positioning from Earth orbit.

ADS-B aircraft tracking from orbit

“All these projects have contributed to increasing our competences,” notes the co-founder. “For example we started with our first project in the VHF frequency bands and are now working on projects in the X and soon Ka frequency bands.”

Juventas presents a new challenge, to set up a working radar system on such a small platform, in the demanding environment of deep space rather than Earth orbit.

Juventas radar CubeSat

“We have worked on several missions based on microsatellites, and currently CubeSat avionics. All the same Juventas will be one of the smallest platforms we will work on,” adds Mr Lorant. “It will not be our first mission beyond Earth orbit however, but our second. In 2015 we collaborated on the 4M Manfred Moon Memorial Mission, commemorating the founder of OHB, which flew over the Moon.”

Operating beyond the protection of Earth’s magnetic field involves designing for a higher level of radiation, Mr Lorant explains: “Hopefully the payload will sleep during its travel time, helping tackle the radiation challenges. Its electronics will be well shielded, with redundancies used wherever possible, according to the size, weight and power consumption.

4M Manfred Moon Memorial Mission

“We’re making a lot of use of commercial off the shelf components, which give performance advantages, based on our previous mission experience. Our philosophy is always to improve our electronics quality by careful component selection and proper protection, using ‘derating’ – meaning operating below maximum power levels – to create a robust design.

“For the instrument itself, the big challenge is that the electronics should not perturb the operating modes of the radar in any way. There are a lot of specific requirements, for instance that we must generate an extremely low noise with stable clocks, and while working within the limits of our power and size.”

Juventas CubeSat coming in for asteroid landing

Juventas’s radar is tiny compared to the large-scale radar instruments used in planetary missions like Mars Express. But the instrument can boost its overall signal-to-noise ratio by taking advantage of its relatively slow orbit around the asteroid – around a few metres a second – to send the same signal multiple times, carefully coded to support subsequent disentangling of the reflected signals.