Black hole research confirms Einstein’s relativity theory


This 8 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Andrea Ghez’s Black Hole Research Confirms Einstein’s Theory of Relativity | Short Film Showcase

For the past 23 years Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA, has been collecting data on stars that orbit black holes. She found that their motion provided an opportunity to test the fundamental laws of physics. “We asked how gravity behaves near a supermassive black hole and whether Einstein’s theory is telling us the full story. ”Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity holds that what we perceive as the force of gravity arises from the curvature of space and time. “In Newton’s version of gravity, space and time are separate, and do not co-mingle; under Einstein, they get completely co-mingled near a black hole,” she said. Ghez’s research is the most detailed study ever conducted into the supermassive black hole and Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

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Tardigrades, immortal or not?


This 29 July 2019 video says about itself:

Tardigrades: Chubby, Misunderstood, & Not Immortal

We know these cute little water bears can survive the vacuum of space but are they actually immortal? We’ll explore that and other misconceptions about tardigrades in this week’s journey!

A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon: here.

After Trump, Macron militarises space


This 13 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Donald Trump’s Space Force THREATENS NASA: JFK niece condemns US President

DONALD Trump’s Space Force was attacked for threatening NASA and global climate interests on the 60th anniversary of the space agency’s birth, by film director Rory Kennedy.

The accomplished film director and niece of the late President John F Kennedy told Express.co.uk of her “disappointment” in the current US presidency.

Ms Kennedy, who has filmed a documentary celebrating 60 years of NASA’s existence Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, fears the White House’s militarisation of space could starve the space agency of funding, focus and public interest.

The proposed Space Force branch of the US military was announced by Donald Trump during a meeting of the National Space Council on June 18, 2018.

If the proposal passes through, the Space Force will join ranks with the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force and US Coast Guard.

Announcing his bold plans, Mr Trump said: “It is not merely enough that we have American presence in space.

“We must have American dominance in space.”

The film director argued some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today – namely human-led climate change – are being ignored by the US President and his cabinet.

She recalled her uncle’s iconic Rice Stadium speech in Houston from 1962, where President Kennedy announced his goal of landing on the Moon.

Ms Kennedy argued, the US’ interests in space at the time were motivated by the spirit of discovery, cooperation and looking forward to a brighter future.

As outlined in her documentary, the groundwork laid down by President Kennedy and NASA led to the discovery of the damaged ozone layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol in response and the International Space Station (ISS).

She told Express.co.uk: “I think my uncle made a number of really amazing points in that speech, where he said: ‘We choose to go to the Moon.

“‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.’

“I love that idea, which really contrasts to what we’re experiencing today, where a leader is really tapping into the best in all of us and encouraging us to work together towards a lofty aspiring goal.”

Ms Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Bobby Kennedy, said from the moment of NASA’s birth under Dwight Eisenhower, the vision was to have a “non-military entity” which could explore, share and impart knowledge with the rest of the world.

But 60 years on, NASA’s interests as the world’s leading space agency are at risk of losing resources and interest in exchange for militarising space.

This, in turn, could have a negative impact on research into climate change and the growing number of climate-related catastrophes – from hurricanes in the Atlantic to droughts and typhoons in the Pacific.

Ms Kennedy, who “grew up in the Apollo era”, said: “I think there is definitely a concern – there are only so many resources that we have.

“I think there is not really a sense right now that there is a need for an emerging presence in space and I think we haven’t done such a good job on this planet having the military play such a significant role.

“Given the urgency and the scientific truth around climate change and the number of deaths last year in Puerto Rico – 3,000 people died – these things are fatal and they’re scientific and they are only going to worse unless we make a dramatic move to redirect attention.

“I think that will only come through leadership and legislative action, so one of the greatest disappointments of this presidency is that there is not a greater appreciation of the scientists and the data that that is coming from the scientists.

“There is no policy that reflects what we know to be factual and true.”

From AFP news agency today:

Macron announces creation of French space force

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday he had approved the creation of a space command within the French air force …

The declaration — made on the eve of France’s Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris’s Champs-Elysees — mirrors an initiative in the US championed by President Donald Trump. …

Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added. …

France has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.

That includes the renewal of the France’s CSO observation and Syracuse communication satellites, the launch of three CERES electromagnetic-monitoring satellites, and the modernisation of a spatial radar surveillance system called GRAVES.

The Pentagon has drafted plans for a new Space Force on orders from Trump who has declared space a “war-fighting domain”.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration announced this month the creation of a military space command and detailed plans to place anti-satellite weapons systems in orbit. The announcement is the latest step in a military build-up by France and the EU imperialist powers, and part of preparations to wage “great power” wars, including between nuclear-armed states: here.

After 18 months of consultations, the high commissioner for pension reform, Jean Paul Delevoye, will today provide French President Emmanuel Macron with his recommendations for an attack on pensions to be implemented in the autumn. The announcement will be of great social and political significance. Despite widespread social anger and the isolation of the ruling class revealed in the mass “yellow vest” protests, the Macron government is making no concessions. It is accelerating the campaign to destroy the social rights established after the Second World War and the fall of fascism: here.

Total solar eclipse, 2 July 2019


This 9 July 2018 video says about itself:

2019 Total Solar Eclipse – Where, When and How to View

On July 2, 2019, ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile will be covered in darkness by a total solar eclipse. Learn about the event from the latest ESOCast episode.

By Lisa Grossman, 5:00am, June 30, 2019:

How the 2019 eclipse will differ from 2017’s — and what that means for science

Chasing the moon’s shadow is never easy

Two years ago, scientists towed telescopes and other equipment into fields and up mountains across the United States for a celestial spectacle: the 2017 Great American Eclipse.

Now, they’re at it again. On July 2, the next total solar eclipse will be visible shortly before sunset from the Pacific Ocean and parts of Chile and Argentina.

Eclipse watchers hope to study some of the same solar mysteries as last time, including the nature of our star’s magnetic field and how heat moves through the sun’s wispy outer atmosphere, known as the corona (SN Online: 8/11/17). But every eclipse is different, and this year’s event offers its own unique opportunities and challenges.

“There are all sorts of outside things you have to be lucky about” in watching an eclipse, says astronomer Jay Pasachoff of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., who will be viewing his 35th total solar eclipse from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile. Here are some of the challenges, and potential rewards, facing astronomers.

1. The sun is in a period of low solar activity.

One of the main reasons, scientifically speaking, to observe a total solar eclipse is to catch a glimpse of the corona, whose wisps and tendrils of plasma are visible only when the sun’s bright disk is blocked. This region could hold the key to predicting the sun’s volatile outbursts, including giant burps of plasma called coronal mass ejections that can wreak havoc with satellites and power grids if they hit Earth (SN Online: 4/9/12). But the corona is one of the least well-understood parts of our nearest star.

One of the main reasons, scientifically speaking, to observe a total solar eclipse is to catch a glimpse of the corona, whose wisps and tendrils of plasma are visible only when the sun’s bright disk is blocked. This region could hold the key to predicting the sun’s volatile outbursts, including giant burps of plasma called coronal mass ejections that can wreak havoc with satellites and power grids if they hit Earth (SN Online: 4/9/12). But the corona is one of the least well-understood parts of our nearest star.

Scientists are getting ever closer to measuring the corona’s magnetic field. In 2017, solar physicist Jenna Samra of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and her colleagues spotted a particular wavelength of infrared light in the corona for the first time (SN Online: 5/29/18). This wavelength, emitted by iron molecules that have lost several electrons to the corona’s extreme heat, is particularly sensitive to magnetic fields. Future observatories that focus on it could reveal more about coronal magnetism.

This year, Samra’s team will be looking again, in hopes of confirming that 2017 detection. She plans to fly an aircraft in the shadow of the sun with a special spectrometer aimed out the window. Over the last two years, she and her colleagues have improved the instrument’s sensitivity by a factor of 20, meaning the corona will look 20 times as bright as it did in 2017.

“We want to understand which of our emission lines are useful for future measurements of the magnetic field,” she says.

2. Less of the total eclipse will cross land.

Most of 2017’s total eclipse was visible from land, covering about 4,600 kilometers from near Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. That gave scientists a comparatively long time in the dark — about an hour and a half from coast to coast. Comparing the corona’s appearance from west to east let researchers measure how the corona changed over that period.

This year, the path of totality covers a chunk of the southern Pacific Ocean and a narrower swath of land, roughly 2,000 kilometers from western Chile to eastern Argentina. A partial eclipse will visible across other parts of the two countries as well as Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

2019 solar eclipse

The moon is also closer to Earth this time. So the spot with the longest duration of totality will see four minutes and 32 seconds of darkness, but unfortunately, that spot is in the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean. (In 2017, the same period was about two and a half minutes.)

Back in Chile, scientists can expect about two and a half minutes of totality. Because totality will happen a few hours before sunset, around 4:39 p.m. local time, many researchers are heading as far west in the country as possible to catch the maximum amount of obscured daylight.

Some groups still hope to get a longer stretch of corona watching time. Solar physicist Shadia Habbal of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu is leading a team that will spread out over three sites, one at Cerro Tololo in Chile and two in Argentina, giving the team a total of about seven minutes in totality.

Other scientists are turning to the air. Astronomer Glenn Schneider of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona in Tucson will chase the moon’s shadow in an airplane for nearly eight minutes of totality near Easter Island. And an hour later, totality will reach Pasachoff at Cerro Tololo, giving the pair roughly the same total amount of time in totality as they got in 2017.

With all those sets of observations, “we’ll be able to see what might be changing and measure velocities of things in the solar corona,” Pasachoff says.

3. The sun will be low in the sky.

That sunset eclipse might be beautiful to view. But it makes the science more difficult. By the time totality begins, the sun will be just 13 degrees above the horizon. Scientists will have to look through more of the Earth’s atmosphere to see the corona, leading to blurrier images.

Pasachoff expects the blur to be bad enough that he’s not bothering with one measurement he did in 2017. Then, his team looked for rapid oscillations in a particular wavelength of light to measure the corona’s temperature, and test why it’s so much hotter than the solar surface (SN Online: 8/20/17).

“We’re not working on that question this time,” he says. “We’ll do it next time.”

4. Observatories offer good viewing spots, but the telescopes themselves are largely useless.

The path of the eclipse’s totality crossing over South America has another big advantage: It will pass right over several of the world’s most powerful observatories, built on sites chosen partly for the clear, dry mountain weather. Those conditions improve chances of seeing totality and not getting clouded out.

But none of the telescopes at Cerro Tololo or the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla site will actually be able to aim at the eclipse. Designed to collect as much light as possible from the night sky, they could catch fire if they observed the sun directly.

“You think, the eclipse is passing over these big observatories, they already have big telescopes in place, we can just use them!” Bryans says. “Turns out the only real advantage from the observatories is the nice location.”

Sunset timelapse video from space


This 3 June 2019 NASA video says about itself:

Sunset Timelapse from the International Space Station

Enjoy this sped-up Earth view, captured by the Expedition 59 astronauts currently onboard the International Space Station. The station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes — meaning this sunset you see is actually one of 16 the station residents see each day!