Spacecraft helps finding beached whales


This 10 February 2017 video says about itself:

New Zealand volunteers formed a human chain in the water at a remote beach on Friday as they raced to save dozens of whales after more than 400 of the creatures beached themselves.

From the British Antarctic Survey:

Stranded whales detected from space

October 17, 2019

A new technique for analysing satellite images may help scientists detect and count stranded whales from space. Researchers tested a new detection method using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite images from Maxar Technologies of the biggest mass stranding of baleen whales yet recorded. It is hoped that in the future the technique will lead to real-time information as stranding events happen.

The study, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE by scientists from British Antarctic Survey and four Chilean research institutes, could revolutionise how stranded whales, that are dead in the water or beached, are detected in remote places.

In 2015, over 340 whales, most of them sei whales, were involved in a mass-stranding in a remote region of Chilean Patagonia. The stranding was not discovered for several weeks owing to the remoteness of the region. Aerial and boat surveys assessed the extent of the mortality several months after discovery.

The researchers studied satellite images covering thousands of kilometres of coastline, which provided an early insight into the extent of the mortality. They could identify the shape, size and colour of the whales, especially after several weeks when the animals turned pink and orange as they decomposed. A greater number of whales were counted in the images captured soon after the stranding event than from the local surveys.

Many coastal nations have mammal stranding networks recognising that this is a crucial means to monitor the health of the local environment, especially for providing first notice of potential marine contamination and harmful algal blooms.

Author and whale biologist Dr Jennifer Jackson at British Antarctic Survey says:

“The causes of marine mammal strandings are poorly understood and therefore information gathered helps understand how these events may be influenced by overall health, diet, environmental pollution, regional oceanography, social structures and climate change.

“As this new technology develops, we hope it will become a useful tool for obtaining real-time information. This will allow local authorities to intervene earlier and possibly help with conservation efforts.”

Lead author, remote sensing specialist Dr Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey says:

“This is an exciting development in monitoring whales from space. Now we have a higher resolution ‘window’ on our planet, satellite imagery may be a fast and cost-effective alternative to aerial surveys allowing us to assess the extent of mass whale stranding events, especially in remote and inaccessible areas.”

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Planet Saturn, 20 new moons discovered


This 7 October 2019 video says about itself:

20 New Moons JUST Discovered Orbiting Saturn

A team led by Carnegie [Carnegie Institution for Science]’s Scott S. Sheppard has found 20 new moons orbiting Saturn. This brings the ringed planet’s total number of moons to 82, surpassing Jupiter, which has 79.

The discovery was announced Monday (Oct. 7th) by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

Music credit: YouTube Audio Library
Immortality – Aakash Gandhi

New moons of Saturn

This illustration is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Saturn image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio/Shutterstock.

From the Carnegie Institution for Science in the USA:

Help Name 20 Newly Discovered Moons of Saturn!

Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard has just announced the discovery of 20 new moons orbiting Saturn, bringing its total to 82 and moving it ahead of Jupiter, which has 79. All hail the new king of moons!

Earlier this year we held a contest to name five Jovian moons discovered by Sheppard last July. We loved the enthusiasm everyone showed for this contest so much that we’re doing it again. Please help us name all 20 Saturnian moons!

Contest Launch Date:

October 7, 2019

Contest End Date:

December 6, 2019

How to Submit:

Tweet your suggested moon name to @SaturnLunacy and tell us why you picked it. Photos, artwork, and videos are strongly encouraged. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons.

The General Rules:

We hope you know a lot about giants, because that’s the key to playing the name game for Saturnian moons.

  • Two of the newly discovered prograde moons fit into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Inuit mythology.
  • Seventeen of the newly discovered moons are retrograde moons in the Norse group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Norse mythology.
  • One of the newly discovered moons orbits in the prograde direction and has an inclination near 36 degrees, which is similar to those in the Gallic group, although it is much farther away from Saturn than any other prograde moons. It must e named after a giant from Gallic mythology.

Learn More:

Further details about how the International Astronomical Union names astronomical objects can be found here.

Make Sure Your Proposed Name Is Not Already in Use:

Current names can be checked at the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center here or here.

Check out this video about the moon-naming process:

With 20 new moons, Saturn now has the most of any solar system planet. The discovery brings the planet’s total to 82. The previous record-holder, Jupiter, has 79: here.

Physics Nobel awarded for discoveries about the universe’s evolution and exoplanets. Three scientists win for revealing the cosmic makeup and finding a planet orbiting a sunlike star: here.

Hubble telescope’s water discovery on exoplanet


This 11 September 2019 video from NASA in the USA says about itself:

With data from the Hubble Space Telescope, water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet within the habitable zone of its host star.

K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is the only planet orbiting a star outside the solar system (or “exoplanet”) within the habitable zone.

This may be the first known exoplanet with rain and clouds of water droplets. Two teams have detected signs that K2 18b has a damp atmosphere: here.

See also here.

Researchers have described a new, lower size limit for planets to maintain surface liquid water for long periods of time, extending the so-called Habitable or ‘Goldilocks’ Zone for small, low-gravity planets. This research expands the search area for life in the universe and sheds light on the important process of atmospheric evolution on small planets: here.

Why just being in the habitable zone doesn’t make exoplanets livable. Debate over what makes a planet habitable highlights the trickiness in searching for alien life: here.

Newly discovered Jupiter moons get names


This 20 August 2019 video says about itself:

Exploring The Icy Moons of Jupiter. NASA’s Europa Clipper and ESA’s JUICE

Mars is the place that most of our spacecraft, landers and rovers are studying, searching for any evidence that life ever existed somewhere else in the Solar System.

But talk to planetary scientists, and they’re just as excited about the ocean worlds of the Solar System; the moons, asteroids, dwarf planets and Kuiper Belt objects where there could be vast oceans of liquid water under thick shells of ice.

The perfect environment for life to thrive.

We’ve only had tantalizing hints that these oceans are there, but NASA is building a spacecraft that will study one of these worlds in detail: the Europa Clipper. And they’re not the only ones. The European Space Agency is building their own mission, the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer.

By Lisa Grossman today:

5 of Jupiter’s newly discovered moons received names in a public contest

The monikers come from Greek and Roman mythology, keeping with tradition

Meet the new moons of Jupiter. After a public contest, five newly discovered Jovian satellites now have official astronomical names, the International Astronomical Union announced August 26.

Planetary scientist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., reported the discovery of the moons in July 2018 (SN: 7/17/18), along with seven others. He and his colleagues spotted the moons while searching for a theoretical Planet Nine orbiting beyond Neptune (SN: 7/5/16).

The team solicited name suggestions for the moons on Twitter. There were some rules, most notably that Jupiter’s 79 known moons must all be named for descendants or consorts of the god Jupiter from Roman mythology, or Zeus in Greek myths. But that didn’t stop people from suggesting the names of beloved pets or, perhaps inevitably, Moony McMoonface.

Here are the winners:

Pandia: A daughter of Zeus and the moon goddess Selene, Pandia is the goddess of the full moon. One of the groups to enter this name in the contest was the astronomy club of the Lanivet Community Primary School in Bodmin, England, whose mascot is a panda.

Ersa: Sister of Pandia, Ersa is the goddess of dew. Several people suggested this name, including 4-year-old moon expert Walter, who got the judges’ attention with a song listing the largest moons of the solar system in size order.

Eirene: The goddess of peace, Eirene is the daughter of Zeus and Themis, a Greek Titaness who personifies divine order, justice and law.

Philophrosyne: A granddaughter of Zeus, Philophrosyne is the spirit of welcome and kindness.

Eupheme: Sister of Philophrosyne, Eupheme is the spirit of praise and good omen.

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.

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.