Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 258
Smallest and most massive white dwarf ever seen was just found
What is a white dwarf? Simply put, it's what stars such as our Sun become after they have expelled all of their nuclear energy.
Now, astronomers have located a white dwarf that has seemingly taken the cake for being the smallest yet most massive white dwarf ever observed by astronomers. The study was published in the July 1 issue of the journal Nature, and according to the study's lead author, Ilaria Caiazzo, the Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in Theoretical Astrophysics at Caltech, this white dwarf is "packing a mass greater than that of our Sun into a body about the size of our Moon."
This white dwarf, like many other white dwarfs that have been discovered, was once like our Sun. The Sun will swell into what is called Red Giant in 5 billion years, and from there, it will begin to reduce in size and eventually compact down into a white dwarf. Phys.org reports that 97% of all stars become white dwarfs.
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Scientific evidence shows that Mars once supported life
New evidence supporting the theory that Mars once had conditions to support life has been published in a study.
An international team of researchers has published a new paper in the journal Nature Astronomy, and according to the paper, the team of researchers found evidence of glauconitic-like clay on Mars. While it may seem boring to everyday people, the discovery of clay is quite a big deal. Glauconite, an iron potassium phyllosilicate mineral, can only form in stable conditions over thousands of years.
Through their analysis, the researchers also found that the temperatures of Mars when the clay formed were between -3 (26 F) to 15 degrees Celsius (59 F). Additionally, the analysis revealed that the pH levels in the water that is believed to be in the Gale Crater were neutral. While all of this evidence points towards the right conditions for Mars to support life billions of years ago, it remains unclear how long that life would have lasted over time. Given that life was even there in the first place.
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Phenomenal Hubble images show why NASA is fighting to keep it alive
Right now, Hubble is fighting for its life as NASA engineers are working around the clock to bring the famous space telescope back online.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. Since then, it has been at the forefront of space imagery, providing researchers and everyday people with incredible pictures of the cosmos. According to NASA, Hubble is still one of the space agency's most important missions and, from the scientific community's perspective, "the most powerful telescope available" despite its age.
Now, NASA is attempting to figure out the glitch that has taken the space telescope offline. So far, NASA has attempted to bring it back online four times - each attempt being a failure. If the problem cannot be solved, Hubble should be able to switch to its backup computer. However, if the switch to its backup computer happens, more problems could present themselves since the space telescope hasn't been serviced since 2009. Below you will find just some of the incredible images Hubble has snapped of the cosmos.
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Virgin Orbit plans on turning 'any airport into a spaceport'
Sir Richard Branson is making big moves with his company Virgin Orbit as the company has performed its second successful satellite test.
According to Virgin Orbit's CEO Dan Hart, the company has successfully completed its second satellite mission for 2021 this past Wednesday. Hart has said that the company is now ready to begin "ramping up" and expanding its operations to a global scale. Here's what Hart said, "We're on a really good trajectory to have another flight this year, and then double that cadence and have six flights next year and then increase from there."
For those that don't know, Virgin Orbit is taking a different approach to rocket launches, as it launches its rockets on the back of a modified 747 aircraft named "Cosmic Gift" instead of from the ground like many of its competitors. Branson has said that the company's approach to rocket launches is "completely and utterly unique". Currently, Virgin Orbit is working on getting agreements in place to fly out/in from. Hart also revealed, "We can turn any airport into a spaceport".
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New findings show dinosaurs were going extinct before the big asteroid
It's very common for a person to think that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but now new evidence has suggested the asteroid wasn't the only factor at play with the extinction of the dinosaurs.
66 million years ago, a space rock collided with Earth, causing mile-high tsunamis, fires, clouds of dust and sulfur that covered the sun, and more. The climate on Earth certainly changed after the impact of the asteroid, and it's currently believed by many researchers that the changed climate is what caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. However, new research is breaking that current theory as it suggests that the dinosaurs were already on their way out and the asteroid impact was what just finished them off.
The researchers examined 1,600 fossils from 247 different species of dinosaurs and compiled those dinosaurs into six families. The researchers then measured how the species of dinosaurs in those six families diversified over time and found that across all six of the groups, the number of species of dinosaurs was declining 10 million years prior to the asteroid impact.
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US faces drought, apocalyptic summer, and big fire risk increase
Back-to-back heat waves have added to the already dry soil and vegetation across 91% of the western US states.
The Western half of the United States has been in a drought since June 22, and on the horizon are heatwaves arriving earlier than usual which will only increase dryness and the chance of wildfires. Additionally, reports indicate that water levels in Lake Mead are the lowest they have been since 1930, as well as California's reservoirs, are down by 50% than they usually are for this time of year.
The western US has been experiencing a 22-year-long drought, and this coming summer is certainly going to be a part of that. Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that this coming summer will likely be the worst drought of the last 20 years. Here's what Cook said, "Even in the context of those last 20 years of drought, this year really stands out. For the Southwest, it's very likely to be the worst single year of drought since 2002."
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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope hangs on by a thread after dire glitch
NASA has been combating a glitch on the Hubble Space Telescope for many days, and now a recent discovery may solidify its unfortunate demise.
The problem arose on June 13 with an issue with Hubble's payload computer, which resulted in the telescope putting all of its instruments into safe mode. NASA researchers then performed tests on June 23 and June 24, but weren't able to bring the telescope back online. Engineers also attempted to use the backup computer to get around the problem, but the backup computer was experiencing the same error.
Currently, NASA's teams are working on resolving the problem through alternative routes such as the telescopes power regulator. NASA recently stated, "A power regulator ensures a steady constant voltage supply," said the agency in the Friday update." If the voltage is out of limits, it could cause the problems observed." Hubble has been in service for 31 years, and throughout its lifetime, it has contributed to some of the most significant scientific discoveries of our cosmos.
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Is the interstellar tourist Oumuamua and recent UFO sightings linked?
An astrophysicist has explored the idea that there may be a link between the interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua and UFO sightings.
Back in 2017 'Oumuamua was discovered and astrophysicists inferred that the object was large, flat, came from interstellar space and appeared to have been pushed away by our Sun as if it were a light sail. The origin and nature of the object are still yet unknown, however, astrophysicist Avi Loeb has calculated the population of interstellar objects such as 'Oumuamua by taking into account what we know about the solar system and assuming that the objects came from natural planetary systems.
What Loeb found was "there should be a quadrillion 'Oumuamua-like objects within the solar system at any given time, if they are distributed on random trajectories with equal probability of moving in all direction," as written in an opinion piece by Loeb in Scientific American. This result lead Loeb to consider the thought that 'Oumuamua may be an artificial object that is designed to collect information, and perhaps its receiving information from probes (UFOs/UAPs) that its already scattered over Earth.
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NASA drops awesome 3D photo of Martian surface with small helicopter
A new report published on the NASA website reveals the space agency's small helicopter has completed another flight.
According to the post, the helicopter stationed on Mars named Ingenuity has completed its 8th flight and traveled for 78 seconds for a total of 525 feet. The completion of the flight has marked the third flight in the Operations Demonstration Phase of Ingenuity which consists of operators pushing the helicopter to its limits to understand better how aircraft operate on Mars.
NASA operations lead Teddy Tzanetos shared details, saying, "This marks the third flight in the Operations Demonstration Phase of Ingenuity, in which the team will continue to push the flight envelope of the aircraft while learning valuable operational lessons. Up next for the Ingenuity team is to tackle the only remaining flight software update, which will update a large portion of the Ingenuity's navigation-computer software."
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Astronauts aboard the ISS throw disco party and do 'spacewalk dance'
While it may look like the astronauts are just rocking out with some awesome low-gravity dance moves, the "dance" actually has significance other than looking groovy.
The latest spacewalk aboard the International Space Station (ISS) happened on June 25 where Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA stepped outside of the ISS to install more solar arrays. The astronauts have installed six new solar arrays in an effort to upgrade the ISS's power station.
Before the spacewalk can commence, the astronauts must perform what is described by Pesquet as the "spacewalk dance". Pesquet then backed up his play-on-words with a more specific explanation of what the "spacewalk dance" is and why it's necessary before a walk is initiated. Here's what he said, "We were not really dancing but purging our bodies of nitrogen. We breathe pure oxygen and slowly all the nitrogen in our bodies is replaced by oxygen, which is safer when going from high pressure (Space Station) to low pressure (spacesuit). Mild exercise makes us breathe more oxygen and gets rid of the nitrogen quicker."
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