Archive for the ‘exploration’ Category

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Mars from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope


Tales of the unexpected on Mars: ‘Day-night fluctuations and things that pulse in the dark’, and other mysteries. What’s unique to Mars?

New data gleaned from the magnetic sensor aboard NASA’s InSight spacecraft is offering an unprecedented close-up of magnetic fields on Mars, says Phys.org.

“One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas,” said lead author Catherine Johnson, a professor at the University of British Columbia and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed.”

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Abu Dhabi National Oil Company or ADNOC is the state-owned oil company of the United Arab Emirates


Any showboating climate protesters fancy a visit? ‘Keep it in the ground’ could be a hard sell in that part of the world.

The United Arab Emirates, a leading OPEC producer, announced Monday the discovery of huge gas reserves, saying the find would help the Gulf state achieve self-sufficiency, reports Phys.org.

The United Arab Emirates, a leading OPEC producer, announced Monday the discovery of huge gas reserves, saying the find would help the Gulf state achieve self-sufficiency.

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


Another attempt to use the courts to impose the will of climate alarmists bites the dust, at least until the next and final appeal, if it happens. When are they going to take Russia to court over Arctic drilling? Too risky perhaps.

A Norwegian court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups which had sued Norway for granting new oil licenses in the Arctic, reports Phys.org.

A Norwegian court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups which had sued Norway for granting new oil licenses in the Arctic.

Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) had called for the cancellation of exploration licenses granted in May 2016 to 13 oil companies in the fragile Arctic region, saying the concessions violated the Norwegian constitution which since 2014 guarantees the right to a healthy environment.

They argued that new oil activities in the region would be contrary to the 2016 Paris climate accord, which seeks to limit average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and which Norway has signed.

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Six cyclones form a hexagonal pattern around a central cyclone at Jupiter’s south pole. Generated image – credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM


Suddenly Saturn’s hexagon isn’t unique in the solar system any more.

Jupiter’s south pole has a new cyclone, reports Phys.org.

The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on Nov. 3, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops.

The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.

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The two Voyager space probes, launched in 1977, are still delivering tales of the unexpected.

The boundary region between the sun’s sphere of influence and the broader Milky Way galaxy is complicated indeed.

Humanity’s second taste of interstellar space may have raised more questions than it answered, writes Mike Wall @ Space.com.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft popped free of the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles that the sun blows around itself — on Nov. 5, 2018, more than six years after the probe’s pioneering twin, Voyager 1, did the same.

The mission team has now had some time to take stock of Voyager 2’s exit, which occurred in the heliosphere’s southern hemisphere (as opposed to Voyager 1, which departed in the northern hemisphere).

In a series of five papers published online today (Nov. 4) in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers reported the measurements made by the probe as it entered interstellar space.

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UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) attempts the difficult task of trying to persuade a renewables-obsessed MP that relying on imports of gas is illogical when we have plenty of our own waiting to be exploited, if only official policies were anywhere near realistic.

Read the rest here.

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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