Archive for the ‘exploration’ Category

Lift-off is scheduled for 2:51GMT on the 15th July 2019

Our friends Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller will be keen to see the data from the Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission scheduled for take-off next week. Among many other experiments planned, the rover will be measuring surface thermal conductivity – a key factor in estimating the global lunar surface temperature.

The daily mail reports:

India’s space agency is preparing to launch its ambitious Chandrayaan-2 mission next week which is set to land near the currently unexplored south pole of the moon.

Chandrayaan-2 will blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota on the country’s south west coast at 2.51am (10.21pm BST) on July 15.

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Credit: thinglink.com


The world contains more fresh water than previously thought. It’s a question of looking in the right places, as this study explains.

In a new survey of the sub-seafloor off the U.S. Northeast coast, scientists have made a surprising discovery: a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped in porous sediments lying below the salty ocean.

It appears to be the largest such formation yet found in the world, reports Phys.org.

The aquifer stretches from the shore at least from Massachusetts to New Jersey, extending more or less continuously out about 50 miles to the edge of the continental shelf. If found on the surface, it would create a lake covering some 15,000 square miles.

The study suggests that such aquifers probably lie off many other coasts worldwide, and could provide desperately needed water for arid areas that are now in danger of running out.

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Mars-Earth comparison
[image credit: Wikipedia]


A manned trip to Mars is not looking like a good idea from a health point of view, according to this report.

An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet—a major showstopper for the safe exploration of our solar system, says Phys.org.

A team of European experts is working with ESA to protect the health of future crews on their way to the Moon and beyond.

Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from the constant bombardment of galactic cosmic rays—energetic particles that travel at close to the speed of light and penetrate the human body.

Cosmic radiation could increase cancer risks during long duration missions.

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Antarctica [credit: Wikipedia]


It’s hard to be too surprised by this news even though it’s well into the Antarctic summer.

A British-led expedition to find the Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, has been defeated by horrendous weather and pack ice – the very conditions that trapped the explorer’s vessel in Antarctica more than a century ago, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The expedition was called off on Thursday after “extreme weather conditions” led to the loss of an autonomous robotic submarine that, it was hoped, would have located the wreck.

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Orbital (top line) and synodic relationships of Kepler-107, plus cross-checks

The system has four planets: b,c,d, and e.

The chart to the right is a model of the close orbital relationships of these four recently announced short-period (from 3.18 to 14.75 days) exoplanets.

It can be broken down like this:
b:c = 20:13
c:d = 13:8
d:e = 24:13 (= 8:13 ratio, *3)
b:d = 5:2
c:e = 3:1
(1,2,3,5,8, and 13 are Fibonacci numbers)
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View from the Moon [credit: NASA]


Quoting from another report: ‘Data from the Apollo missions had already revealed that the moon’s sunlit surface can climb to 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius) during the day, and drop to minus 280 F (minus 173 C) at night. But all of that data comes from the side of the moon that faces Earth.’ They think the answer to the mystery lies in the soil, which might raise other questions about the rotating sphere with no ‘sides’ that the lander is on.

China’s lunar lander has woken from a freezing fortnight-long hibernation to find night-time temperatures on the moon’s dark side are colder than previously thought, the national space agency said Thursday.

The Chang’e-4 probe—named after a Chinese moon goddess—made the first ever soft landing on the far side of the moon on January 3, a major step in China’s ambitions to become a space superpower, says Phys.org.

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Oil in Alaska [image credit: businessinsider.com]


The oil industry is not about to go away and die quietly, contrary to the wishes of climate alarmists – far from it.

A new exploration technique has uncovered a deposit containing more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil in Alaska’s North Slope, reports OilPrice.com.

Digital technology adoption in all stages of upstream operations in the oil and gas industry has seen a steep rise recently.

While a lot has been written about the benefits of digitizing various aspects of the well-drilling, extraction, and field maintenance processes, there is also another major field where digital tech is changing the game: before the well-drilling even begins.

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The orbit of 2014 MU69 with the path of New Horizons [credit: NASA@Wikipedia]


“Ultima Thule” (2014 MU69) means “beyond the borders of the known world.” It takes nearly 300 years to orbit the Sun. Scientists ‘have no idea what to expect’.

After several weeks of sensitive searches for rings, small moons and other potential hazards around 2014 MU69, a Kuiper belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, the dozen-member New Horizons hazard watch team gave the ‘all clear’ for the spacecraft to remain on a path that takes it about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) from Ultima Thule, instead of a hazard-avoiding detour that would have pushed it three times farther out, reports Sci-News.

“New Horizons is now targeted for the optimal flyby, over three times closer than we flew to Pluto. Ultima, here we come,” said New Horizons principal investigator Dr. Alan Stern, a researcher at Southwest Research Institute.

New Horizons will make its historic close approach to Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. EST on January 1, 2019.

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100-wells-yrSome perspective is required here.

Energy company Total has announced a major gas discovery off Shetland.

Initial tests at a site on the Glendronach prospect indicated there could be about one trillion cubic feet of gas which could be extracted.

Deirdre Michie, industry body Oil and Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “This is a major discovery by Total which demonstrates the exciting potential the West of Shetland frontier region holds.”

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Even today, more than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. How many more hidden volcanoes may remain to be discovered?

The find offers a glimpse into a previously unknown marine ecosystem — and spotlights just how little we know about the seafloor, says Euronews.

While mapping the seafloor some 250 miles off the coast of the Australian island of Tasmania, scientists recently discovered what’s being called a “volcanic lost world” deep underwater.

The chain of volcanic seamounts — huge undersea mountains that loom as tall as 9,800 feet, or more than six times taller than the Empire State Building — offer a glimpse into a previously unknown ocean ecosystem.

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During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be ]


Perhaps the probe will be able to shed some light, so to speak, on the Sun’s famous coronal heating problem.

On Aug. 6, the Parker Solar Probe will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for one extremely intense mission: to fly closer to the sun than any spacecraft before, reports CBC News.

The probe will fly through and study the sun’s atmosphere, where it will face punishing heat and radiation. At its closest, it will come within 6.1 million kilometres of the sun.

“A lot of people don’t think that’s particularly close,” said Nicola Fox, the project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe. “But if I put the sun and the Earth in the end zones in a football field, the Parker Solar Probe will be on the four-yard line in the red zone, knocking on the door for a touchdown.”

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Newgrange UNESCO World Heritage Site


The story of an amazing chance discovery by amateur drone enthusiasts at the UNESCO world heritage site near Newgrange in Ireland this week.

“What the f*** is that?”

It materialised out of almost nowhere, reports ScienceAlert.

Thousands of years after disappearing from human sight and knowledge, an ancient ‘henge’ site has been discovered hidden within the archaeological landscape of Ireland’s Brú na Bóinne.

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The secret on the ocean floor

Posted: February 21, 2018 by oldbrew in exploration, government, History, innovation

Hughes Glomar Explorer at Long Beach, California (1976) [image credit: TedQuackenbush @ Wikipedia]


One mining forecast claims ‘an emerging undersea industry in oceans around the world could be worth $30bn a year by 2030.’ Do the origins of this go back to the Cold War?

Did a 1970s CIA plot spark a boom in deep sea mining? – asks BBC News.

In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch – the whole expedition was a lie.

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Triton: Neptune’s odd moon

Posted: January 27, 2018 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, exploration
Tags: ,

Neptune and Triton (below) [credit: NASA]


Triton has the second-biggest ratio of moon-to-planet to Neptune, being only lower than the ratio between Earth and its own Moon. As well as having over 400 times the mass of any other Neptunian moon, Triton has some peculiarities about its environment, including the fact that it orbits backward to Neptune’s rotation and seems to have undergone a huge melt in the past, as Space.com explains. NASA believes it has similarities to Pluto. In 2006, a model published in Nature suggested Triton was originally a member of a binary system that orbited the sun.

Triton is the largest of Neptune’s moons. Discovered in 1846 by British astronomer William Lassell — just weeks after Neptune itself was found — the moon showed some strange characteristics as astronomers learned more about it.

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Exoplanet – NASA impression


YZ Ceti is a recently discovered star with three known planets (b,c and d) orbiting very close to it. Although some types of mean motion resonance, or near resonance, are quite common e.g. 2:1 or 3:2 conjunction ratios, this one is a bit different.

The orbit periods in days are:
YZ Ceti b = 1.96876 d
YZ Ceti c = 3.06008 d
YZ Ceti d = 4.65627 d

This gives these conjunction periods:
c-d = 8.9266052 d
b-c = 5.5204368 d
b-d = 3.4109931 d
(Note the first two digits on each line.)

Nearest matching period:
34 c-d = 303.50457 d
55 b-c = 303.62403 d
89 b-d = 303.57838 d

34,55 and 89 are Fibonacci numbers.
Therefore the conjunction ratios are linked to the golden ratio (Phi).

Phi = 1.618034
(c-d) / (b-c) = 1.6170106
(b-c) / (b-d) = 1.618425

Data source: exoplanets.eu

K2-138 could even have more than five planets. [image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]


And it’s a good one. The abstract says: ‘The periods of the five planets are 2.35, 3.56, 5.40, 8.26, and 12.76 days, forming an unbroken chain of near 3:2 resonances.’

The Exoplanet Explorers project has led to the first discovery of a multi-planet system solely through crowdsourcing efforts, as Futurism reports.

Through a project called Exoplanet Explorers, a band of citizen scientists has discovered K2-138, a far-off planetary system that houses least five exoplanets.

This is the first time that a multi-planet system has been discovered entirely through crowdsourcing.

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Jupiter-sized exoplanet [Wikipedia]


It seems the planetary structure of our solar system is an oddity compared to most of the exoplanetary systems so far discovered. On the other hand it’s easier to find planets close to their stars than those a long way away, so what is known so far might not be giving us the whole picture.

An international research team led by Université de Montréal astrophysicist Lauren Weiss has discovered that exoplanets orbiting the same star tend to have similar sizes and a regular orbital spacing, says Phys.org.

This pattern, revealed by new W. M. Keck Observatory observations of planetary systems discovered by the Kepler Telescope, could suggest that most planetary systems have a different formation history than the solar system.

Thanks in large part to the NASA Kepler Telescope, launched in 2009, many thousands of exoplanets are now known. This large sample allows researchers to not only study individual systems, but also to draw conclusions on planetary systems in general.

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Norway’s Goliat oil platform [image credit: T3n60 @ Wikipedia]


Another attempt to use the law to get a court to take on the role of government over supposed climate issues bites the dust, assuming no appeal. The green groups were ordered to pay the state’s $94,000 legal costs.

Oslo District Court on Thursday ruled that Norway’s drilling for oil in the Barents Sea does not violate a constitutional right to a healthy environment, reports The Barents Observer.

The government acts in accordance with the law when awarding new petroleum exploration licenses for the Barents Sea, the ruling by Oslo District Court reads. Greenpeace, one of the three organizations which filed the lawsuit, has published the court’s 49-pages comprehensive ruling.

The lawsuit was challenging Norway’s 23rd oil licensing round arguing that opening up the Arctic continental shelf would violate the country’s Paris agreement commitments to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Image credit: NASA


We now know that Saturn’s rings share a process with spiral galaxies, and the unique co-orbital pattern of two of its moons get some attention.

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows a wave structure in Saturn’s rings known as the Janus 2:1 spiral density wave, reports Phys.org.

Resulting from the same process that creates spiral galaxies, spiral density waves in Saturn’s rings are much more tightly wound.

In this case, every second wave crest is actually the same spiral arm which has encircled the entire planet multiple times. This is the only major density wave visible in Saturn’s B ring.

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frackareaExcerpt from the Evening standard:

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw-material costs down to American levels.

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