Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Annular Solar Eclipse, April 29, 2014

Tuesday's solar eclipse was a "ring of fire" annular eclipse, but only for an uninhabited swath of Antarctica. For observers in Australia, the moon appeared to cover about 65 percent of the sun, resulting in a striking partial solar eclipse at sunset.

Australian eclipse-chasers dealt with frustrating clouds that occasionally blocked views of the moon-sun rendezvous.

"I felt lucky to view and capture the eclipse this afternoon due to continuous partial cloud cover," 

First Solar Eclipse of 2014 Thrills Skywatchers in Australia (Photos)

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Monday, 28 April 2014

The 1977 Alien Warning Message Live as the News was Broadcast - Full Audio

The Southern Television broadcast interruption was a broadcast interruption through the Hannington transmitter of the Independent Broadcasting Authority in the United Kingdom at 5:10 pm on 26 November 1977. The broadcast message is generally considered to be a hoax, but the identity of the hijacker is unknown.
A speaker interrupted transmissions for six minutes and claimed to be a representative of an “Intergalactic Association”. Reports of the incident vary, some calling the speaker “Vrillon” or “Gillon”, others “Asteron”.

The voice, which was disguised and accompanied by a deep buzzing, broke into the broadcast of the local ITV station Southern Television, over-riding the UHF audio signal of the early-evening news being read by Andrew Gardner from ITN to warn viewers that “All your weapons of evil must be removed” and “You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace.”
The interruption ceased shortly after the statement had been delivered, transmissions returning to normal shortly before the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Later in the evening, Southern Television apologised for what it described as “a breakthrough in sound” for some viewers. ITN also reported on the incident in its own late-evening Saturday bulletin.
The broadcast took over the sound only, leaving the video signal unaltered.At that time, the Hannington UHF television transmitter was unusual in being one of the few transmitters which rebroadcast an off-air signal received from another transmitter (Southern Television’s Rowridge transmitter on the Isle of Wight), rather than being fed directly by a landline. As a consequence it was open to this kind of signal intrusion, as even a relatively low-powered transmission very close to the receiver could overwhelm its reception of the intended signal, resulting in the unauthorized transmission being amplified and rebroadcast across a far wider area. The IBA stated that to carry out a hoax would take “a considerable amount of technical know-how” and a spokesman for Southern Television confirmed that “A hoaxer jammed our transmitter in the wilds of North Hampshire by taking another transmitter very close to it.” However, like the Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion a decade later, the identity of the intruder was never confirmed.

The incident caused some alarm locally, and attracted considerable publicity in the next day’s Sunday newspapers, with the IBA immediately pronouncing that the broadcast was a hoax. The IBA confirmed that it was the first time such a hoax transmission had been made.
The event was reported around the world with numerous American newspapers picking up the story from the UPI press agency.

The broadcast also became a footnote in ufology as some chose to accept the supposed ‘alien’ broadcast at face value, questioning the explanation of a transmitter hijack. Within two days of the report of the incident in the Times, a letter to the editor published on November 30, 1977 asked “[How] can the IBA – or anyone else – be sure that the broadcast was a hoax?” The editorial board of one local newspaper—the Eugene Register-Guard—commented, “Nobody seemed to consider that ‘Asteron’ may have been for real.” By as late as 1985, the story had entered urban folklore, with suggestions that there had never been any explanation of the broadcast

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Sun - The Star of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields. It has a diameter of about 1,392,684 km (865,374 mi), around 109 times that of Earth, and its mass (1.989×1030 kilograms, approximately 330,000 times the mass of Earth) accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Chemically, about three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen, while the rest is mostly helium. The remainder (1.69%, which nonetheless equals 5,600 times the mass of Earth) consists of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon and iron, among others.

The Sun formed about 4.567 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud. Most of the matter gathered in the center, while the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that would become the Solar System. The central mass became increasingly hot and dense, eventually initiating thermonuclear fusion in its core. It is thought that almost all stars form by this process. The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star (G2V) based on spectral class and it is informally designated as a yellow dwarf because its visible radiation is most intense in the yellow-green portion of the spectrum, and although it is actually white in color, from the surface of the Earth it may appear yellow because of atmospheric scattering of blue light. In the spectral class label, G2 indicates its surface temperature, of approximately 5778 K (5505 °C), and V indicates that the Sun, like most stars, is a main-sequence star, and thus generates its energy by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. In its core, the Sun fuses about 620 million metric tons of hydrogen each second.

Once regarded by astronomers as a small and relatively insignificant star, the Sun is now thought to be brighter than about 85% of the stars in the Milky Way, most of which are red dwarfs. The absolute magnitude of the Sun is +4.83; however, as the star closest to Earth, the Sun is by far the brightest object in the sky with an apparent magnitude of −26.74. This is about 13 billion times brighter than the next brightest star, Sirius, with an apparent magnitude of −1.46. The Sun's hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units. The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.

The Sun is currently traveling through the Local Interstellar Cloud (near to the G-cloud) in the Local Bubble zone, within the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way. Of the 50 nearest stellar systems within 17 light-years from Earth (the closest being a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri at approximately 4.2 light-years away), the Sun ranks fourth in mass. The Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way at a distance of approximately 24000–26000 light-years from the galactic center, completing one clockwise orbit, as viewed from the galactic north pole, in about 225–250 million years. Since the Milky Way is moving with respect to the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in the direction of the constellation Hydra with a speed of 550 km/s, the Sun's resultant velocity with respect to the CMB is about 370 km/s in the direction of Crater or Leo.

The mean distance of the Sun from the Earth is approximately 1 astronomical unit (about 150,000,000 km; 93,000,000 mi), though the distance varies as the Earth moves from perihelion in January to aphelion in July. At this average distance, light travels from the Sun to Earth in about 8 minutes and 19 seconds. The energy of this sunlight supports almost all life on Earth by photosynthesis, and drives Earth's climate and weather. The enormous effect of the Sun on the Earth has been recognized since prehistoric times, and the Sun has been regarded by some cultures as a deity. An accurate scientific understanding of the Sun developed slowly, and as recently as the 19th century prominent scientists had little knowledge of the Sun's physical composition and source of energy. This understanding is still developing; there are a number of present day anomalies in the Sun's behavior that remain unexplained.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Habitable Planet Kepler 186F Could Sustain Life, New Earth Discovered,

Kepler-186f is an exoplanet orbiting the red dwarf Kepler-186, about 500 light-years from the Earth. It is the first planet with a radius similar to Earth’s to be discovered in the habitable zone of another star. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft detected it using the transit method, along with four additional planets orbiting much closer to the star (all modestly larger than Earth). Analysis of three years of data was required to find its signal. The results were presented initially at a conference on 19 March 2014 and some details were reported in the media at the time. The full public announcement was on 17 April 2014, followed by publication in Science.
Kepler-186f orbits a star with about 4% of the Sun’s luminosity with an orbital period of 129.9 days and an orbital radius of about 0.36 or 0.40 times that of Earth’s (compared to 0.39 AU for Mercury). The habitable zone for this system is estimated conservatively to extend over distances receiving from 88% to 25% of Earth’s illumination (from 0.22 to 0.40 AU). Kepler-186f receives about 32%, placing it within the conservative zone but near the outer edge, similar to the position of Mars in our Solar System. The stellar flux received by Kepler-186f is similar to that of Gliese 581d. The only physical property directly derivable from the observations (besides the orbital period) is the ratio of the radius of the planet to that of the central star, which follows from the amount of occultation of stellar light during a transit. This ratio was measured to be 0.021. This yields a planetary radius of 1.11±0.14 times that of Earth, taking into account uncertainty in the star’s diameter and the degree of occultation. Thus, the planet is about 11% larger in radius than Earth (between 4.5% smaller and 26.5% larger), giving a volume about 1.37 times that of Earth (between 0.87 and 2.03 times as large)
Its mass can only be estimated by combining the radius with a density estimate derived from an assumed planetary composition; it could be a rocky terrestrial planet or a lower density ocean planet with a thick atmosphere. However, a massive hydrogen/helium (H/He) atmosphere is thought to be unlikely in a planet with a radius below 1.5 R⊕. Planets with a radius of more than 1.5 times that of Earth tend to accumulate the thick atmospheres that would make them less likely to be habitable. Red dwarfs emit a much stronger extreme ultraviolet (XUV) flux when young than later in life; the planet’s primordial atmosphere would have been subjected to elevated photoevaporation during that period, which would probably have largely removed any H/He-rich envelope through hydrodynamic mass loss. Mass estimates range from 0.32 M⊕ for a pure water/ice composition to 3.77 M⊕ if made up entirely of iron (both implausible extremes). For a body with radius 1.11 R⊕, a composition similar to Earth’s (1/3 iron, 2/3 silicate rock) yields a mass of 1.44 M⊕, taking into account the higher density due to the higher average pressure compared to Earth.
The star hosts four other planets discovered so far, though Kepler-186 b, c, d, and e (in order of increasing orbital radius) are too close to the star, and so too hot, to have liquid water. The four innermost planets are probably tidally locked but Kepler-186f is further out, where the star’s tidal effects are much weaker, so there may not have been enough time for its spin to slow down that much. Because of the very slow evolution of red dwarfs, the age of the Kepler-186 system is poorly constrained, although it is likely to be greater than a few billion years. There is a roughly 50-50 chance it is tidally locked. Since it is closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, it will probably rotate much more slowly than Earth; its day could be weeks or months long
As part of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the Allen Telescope Array had listened for radio emissions from the Kepler-186 system for about a month as of 17 April 2014. No signals attributable to extraterrestrial technology were found in that interval. To be detectable, however, such transmissions, if radiated isotropically, would need to be at least 10 times as strong as those from Arecibo Observatory. Given the interstellar distance of 492 light-years, any such signal detectable from Earth in the present would have been emitted prior to 1522. At nearly 500 light years distant, Kepler-186f is too remote and its star too faint for current telescopes or the next generation of planned telescopes to determine its mass or whether it has an atmosphere. However, the discovery of Kepler-186f shows that there are other Earth-sized planets in habitable zones. The Kepler spacecraft focused on a single small region of the sky but next-generation planet-hunting space telescopes such as TESS and CHEOPS will examine nearby stars throughout the sky. Nearby stars with planets can then be studied by the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and future large ground-based telescopes to analyze atmospheres, determine masses and infer compositions
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Monday, 7 April 2014

Water Discovered Gushing from under the surface of Mars
Water on Mars exists today almost exclusively as ice, with a small amount present in the atmosphere as vapour. The only place where water ice is visible at the surface is at the north polar ice cap. However, abundant water ice is also present beneath the permanent carbon dioxide ice cap at the Martian south pole and in the shallow subsurface at more temperate latitudes. More than five million cubic kilometers of ice have been identified at or near the surface of modern Mars, enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 35 meters. Even more ice is likely to be locked away in the deep subsurface.

Some liquid water may occur transiently on the Martian surface today but only under certain conditions. No large standing bodies of liquid water exist because the atmospheric pressure at the surface averages just 600 pascals (0.087 psi)—about 0.6% of Earth's mean sea level pressure—and because the global average temperature is far too low (210 K (−63 °C)), leading to either rapid evaporation or freezing. However, before about 3.8 billion years ago, Mars may have had a denser atmosphere and higher surface temperatures, allowing vast amounts of liquid water on the surface, possibly including a large ocean that may have covered one-third of the planet. Water has also apparently flowed across the surface for short periods at various intervals more recently in Mars' history. On December 9, 2013, NASA reported that, based on evidence from the Curiosity rover studying Aeolis Palus, Gale Crater contained an ancient freshwater lake which could have been a hospitable environment for microbial life.

Many lines of evidence indicate that water is abundant on Mars and has played a significant role in the planet's geologic history. The present-day inventory of water on Mars can be estimated from spacecraft imagery, remote sensing techniques (spectroscopic measurements, radar, etc.,), and surface investigations from landers and rovers. Geologic evidence of past water includes enormous outflow channels carved by floods; ancient river valley networks, deltas, and lakebeds; and the detection of rocks and minerals on the surface that could only have formed in liquid water. Numerous geomorphic features suggest the presence of ground ice (permafrost) and the movement of ice in glaciers, both in the recent past and present. Gullies and slope lineae along cliffs and crater walls suggest that flowing water continues to shape the surface of Mars, although to a far lesser degree than in the ancient past.

Although the surface of Mars was periodically wet and could have been hospitable to microbial life billions of years ago, the current environment at the surface is dry and subfreezing, probably presenting an insurmountable obstacle for living organisms. In addition, Mars lacks a thick atmosphere, ozone layer, and magnetic field, allowing solar and cosmic radiation to strike the surface unimpeded. The damaging effects of ionizing radiation on cellular structure is another one of the prime limiting factors on the survival of life on the surface. Therefore, the best potential locations for discovering life on Mars may be in subsurface environments.

Dry channels near Warrego Valles
Understanding water on Mars is vital to assess the planet’s potential for harboring life and for providing usable resources for future human exploration. For this reason, “Follow the Water” was the science theme of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program (MEP) in the first decade of the 21st century. Discoveries by the 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs), Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and Mars Phoenix Lander have been instrumental in answering key questions about water’s abundance and distribution on Mars. The ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has also provided essential data in this quest. The Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, MER Opportunity rover, MRO, and Mars Science Lander Curiosity rover are still sending back data from Mars, and discoveries continue to be made.

On January 24, 2014, NASA reported that current studies on the planet Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will now be searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on the planet Mars is now a primary NASA objective

On April 6th 2014 NASA/JPL Released stunning images showing what appeared to be Gushing Springs on the Martian surface, See Link