Volcanoes on planet Venus discovery


Volcanoes on Venus. This perspective view of the geology of Venus superposed on topography shows a broad topographic rise (Atla Regio) in the center (red, with radiating purple spokes) and surrounding volcanic plains (green and blue)

From Brown University in the USA:

Study suggests active volcanism on Venus

16 hours ago by Kevin Stacey

An international team of scientists has found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor, is volcanically active.

In combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, the scientists found transient spikes in temperature at several spots on the planet’s surface. The hotspots, which were found to flash and fade over the course of just a few days, appear to be generated by active flows of lava on the surface.

“We were able to show strong evidence that Venus is volcanically, and thus internally, active today,” said James W. Head, a geologist at Brown University and co-author of a paper describing the new research. “This is a major finding that helps us understand the evolution of planets like our own.”

The research is published online in Geophysical Research Letters.

The hotspots turned up in thermal imaging taken by the Venus Express spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera. The data showed spikes in temperature of several hundred degrees Fahrenheit in spots ranging in size from 1 square kilometer to over 200 kilometers.

The spots were clustered in a large rift zone called Ganiki Chasma. Rift zones are formed by stretching of the crust by internal forces and hot magma that rises toward the surface. Head and Russian colleague Mikhail Ivanov had previously mapped the region as part of a global geologic map of Venus generated from the Soviet Venera missions in the 1980s and U.S. Magellan mission in the 1990s. The mapping work had shown that Ganiki Chasma was quite young, geologically speaking, but just how young wasn’t clear until now.

“We knew that Ganiki Chasma was the result of volcanism that had occurred fairly recently in geological terms, but we didn’t know if it formed yesterday or was a billion years old,” Head said. “The active anomalies detected by Venus Express fall exactly where we had mapped these relatively young deposits and suggest ongoing activity.”

The latest finding is consistent with other data from Venus Express that have hinted at very recent volcanic activity. In 2010, infrared imaging from several volcanoes seemed to indicate lava flows from thousands to a few million years old. A few years later, scientists reported transient spikes in sulfur dioxide in Venus’ upper atmosphere, another potential signal of active volcanism.

The observation of hotspots by Venus Express, combined with the geologic mapping from Venera and Magellan, make a strong case for a volcanically active Venus, Head says.

“This discovery fits nicely with the emerging picture of very recent activity in Venus’ geologic history,” he said. “These remarkable findings were the result of collaborations spanning many years and many political borders. They underscore the importance of international collaboration in exploring our solar system and understanding how it evolves.”

Explore further: Learn about Venus, the hothouse planet near Earth

More information: “Active Volcanism on Venus in the Ganiki Chasma Rift Zone,” E. V. Shalygin, Geophysical Research Letters, 2015. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064088/full

Philae comet lander contact with earth restored


This video says about itself:

Philae search: Zooming in on a promising candidate

11 June 2015

Rosetta and Philae teams continue to search for the current location of the lander, piecing together clues from its unexpected flight over the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after its initial landing on 12 November.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rosetta mission: Philae comet lander wakes and contacts earth

In November, scientists landed the unmanned craft onto the distant 67P comet

Louis Doré

Sunday 14 June 2015

The Philae comet lander which lost power after the historic comet landing has woken up and contacted Earth, the European Space Agency (ESA) reports.

In November, scientists landed the unmanned craft onto the distant 67P comet, which powered down 60 hours after landing.

Moments after announcing the success of the landing, ESA Rosetta mission control announced that the lander’s solar-powered battery appeared to be fast running out of power.

The lander discovered organic molecules on the comet, results of which were sent back from Philae’s Cosac instrument (one of the ten named instruments on board) just before the lander went into hibernation.

The lander, which is around the size of a washing machine, bounced over a kilometre when it first touched down on the comet, after a ten year journey of approximately 500 million kilometres, since its launch in 2004.

The ESA said on Thursday that it may have found the exact location of the comet from images and other data from the mothership, which was previously unknown.

More to follow.

See also here.

Exoplanet stratosphere discovery


This video says about itself:

Hubble Telescope Detects ‘Sunscreen’ Layer on Distant Planet

11 June 2015

Using NASA’s Hubble Telescope, scientists detected a stratosphere on the planet WASP-33b. A stratosphere occurs when molecules in the atmosphere absorb ultraviolet and visible light from the star. This absorption warms the stratosphere and acts as a kind of sunscreen layer for the planet below.

More here.

UCLA-led NASA mission provides closest ever look at dwarf planet Ceres: here.

15-year-old schoolboy discovers new planet


This video from England is called Schoolboy finds new planet… while on work experience: Teenager spotted Jupiter-sized globe 1,000 light-years away.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Schoolboy on work experience discovers planet

Newcastle-under-Lyme pupil Tom Wagg spotted dip in light which revealed existence of a planet while on placement at Keele University two years ago

Jessica Elgot

Thursday 11 June 2015 17.12 BST

A schoolboy doing work experience with an astrophysics professor has discovered a new planet 1,000 light years from Earth.

Newcastle-under-Lyme school pupil Tom Wagg was 15 when he went for his work placement at Keele University, where he spotted a minuscule dip in the light from a faraway star that he knew could be caused by a planet passing in front of it.

Wagg kept in touch with the university’s Prof Coel Hellier while the potential planet was analysed by scientists from the universities of Geneva and Liege.

Two years later, the 17-year-old got the call confirming his discovery was indeed a new planet – a large gas planet with similar properties to Jupiter in the southern constellation of Hydra. Its characteristics mean it is very unlikely to support any form of life.

Although credited with the discovery, Wagg has not been allowed to name the planet he discovered, which will be decided by competition entries co-ordinated by the International Astronomical Union.

The new planet has been temporarily termed WASP-142b, because it is 142nd discovery by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project, whose data Wagg had been searching through.

“I had no idea what kind of work I’d be doing on the placement, let alone what I’d discover,” Wagg said. “When I realised what it could be I was astonished, it’s been a real boost to me to carry on with science.”

Hellier said he had been impressed by his “bright” work experience pupil and said that good observation skills had been key to spotting the small dip which revealed the planet’s existence.

“Humans are far better at doing this than a computer algorithm,” he said. “It’s not that rare to discover a planet – we’ve probably discovered 1000 in the last 10 years – but I’m not aware of any others being discovered on work experience.”

Wagg admitted he was a little sad he would not necessarily have the planet named after him. “In a way I am sad, but I definitely didn’t expect it to be, I understand why it’s a competition,” he said. “I do hope it encourages other people to know that anyone can find a planet, if they get access to the data and they know what to look for.”

Wagg, who is studying physics, maths, further maths and latin for A-level next year, plans to continue with physics at university. But he has not quite decided whether he will be pursing planets.

“I’m torn between particle physics and astrophysics, which seem on the face of it pretty different because one deals with the smallest things in the universe, and the other with the biggest,” the young scientist said.

“But actually, there are real similarities because if you study one, you can understand both, because the laws of physics apply to everything. That’s the beauty of science.”

Beautiful new crayfish species discovery in Indonesia


Cherax pulcher, newly discovered crayfish

From Laughing Squid:

Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher’, A Newly Described Species of Brightly Colored Crayfish Found in Indonesia

by Glen Tickle at 12:43 pm on May 21, 2015

Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher is a newly described species of brightly colored crayfish found in Indonesia. The paper describing the species was published by Christian Lukhaup in the journal ZooKeys on May 4, 2015, but Lukhaup had seen the animal ten years ago in a photograph, and it has been sold in pet shops in Japan and Europe.

The bright blue, pink, and purple colors seen particularly in the males of the species along with spots on the animals’ shells make them look not unlike images of distant galaxies and gas clouds captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, or as Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post described them, “a Lisa Frank creation.”

Antarctic ice shelf disintegrating


This video says about itself:

NASA Study Shows Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf Nearing Its Final Act

14 May 2015

A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica‘s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

Khazendar said, “These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating.”

Wernher von Braun, Hitler’s rocket engineer


This video from the USA says about itself:

Wernher von Braun: From Nazis to NASA

16 December 2014

The American space program wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the contributions of a scientist who was also a former Nazi. Learn about the life and work of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.

Hosted by: Hank Green

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The Nazi who got away with it

Monday 11th May 2015

Peter Frost has found memories in Germany, France and the US of a fascist rocket man and mass murderer who simply escaped justice

THE date: May 2 1945. The Location: Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps, where the cream of Germany’s rocket engineers are under the protection of the SS.

Allied troops are advancing across Germany. Wernher von Braun, the leader of the scientists, is determined to organise his surrender to US troops. He sends his brother Magnus out on his bicycle to find the US 44th Infantry.

Magnus approaches a soldier, calling out in broken English: “My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender.”

Wernher von Braun was a nazi war criminal. Unlike some of his compatriots he never had to hide out in South America. His prompt action in Oberammergau meant that he would live a well-paid long public life in the US.

Don’t believe all the US post-war propaganda about him being a talented but non-political rocket scientist. He joined the Nazi Party in 1937 after bullying his way to the top position in German rocket research. He joined the SS and was promoted every year. He sported a swastika lapel badge and was photographed in full SS uniform with Himmler, his boss.

Strangely I’ve been coming across memories of Braun on a number of visits all over the world. His is a fascinating story of how, if you have the right skills, experience and political allies, you can get away with mass murder.

I first became interested in the man and his story when I visited his office, drawing office and workshop at Peenemunde on eastern Germany’s Baltic Coast some years ago.

It was here that Braun first developed the V-1 buzz-bombs that terrified Londoners and also the V-2 rockets that were so fast and so silent that Londoners didn’t have time to be terrified and were killed in their hundreds.

Today in reunified Germany those offices and workshops have been swept away along with, the authorities hope, all memories of Braun and his nazi plans for world domination by rocket.

On another later holiday I visited Cape Canaveral, now renamed Cape Kennedy, the US’s main rocket base on the east coast of Florida, where Braun was set up directly after the war, not as a war criminal but feted, given US citizenship, a good government salary and equipped with an office, drawing office and workshop built as an exact copy of the ones he had used in Peenemunde.

Braun’s V2 terror weapon — V for vergeltung, the German word for revenge — would become the basis for US space rockets, military intercontinental ballistic missiles and eventually the Apollo moon landing.

Today it’s hard to believe the US embarrassment at the Soviet Union’s early space achievements. The USSR launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. The first dog to fly in space, Laika took off the same year.

In 1959 a Soviet probe hit the moon. The first man in space was Yuri Gagarin, who flew in 1961. In 1965 the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. That year too cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first to walk in space outside a space craft.

A recent survey by a US magazine showed that the vast majority of US citizens believed that their country achieved all those notable space firsts.

The US, it seemed, would forgive Braun and his nazi rocket team anything if they could get the US back into the space race and develop more deadly weapons.

Last summer in France we visited a wonderful museum just outside St Omer on the road from Calais. La Coupole is a huge man-made dome hidden in the French countryside. It’s been secret and unseen since 1943 until just a year or two ago.

It was dug on the orders of Braun, by 500 Soviet slave prisoners working in horrific conditions, as an assembly factory and launching spot for V-1 and V-2 rockets.

Only recently open to the public, the museum is also a tribute to the French resistance fighters — many of them French communists who played such an important part in the eventual defeat of the Nazis.

Unlike most of his nazi co-criminals who were hung at Nuremburg, Braun died in 1977 — a rich and famous man much admired in the US.

I think we should simply remember him as the Nazi war criminal who tried to rain death, destruction and mass murder on London, but never crushed our spirit.

This music video from the USA says about itself:

Tom Lehrer – Wernher von Braun – with intro

The song Wernher von Braun, written well before 1964 and recorded to Ampex video in 1967, was originally published on The Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel in July of 2007. The original 4:3-version is still on YouTube. This converted version is just an experiment, but if you watch this copy, you will get to hear Tom Lehrer’s spoken intro.

Try to click under the video window for higher playback quality or add &fmt=18 to the url to manually alter the playback resolution. It will not change too much though, because of the test conversion to wide screen.

To make this song even more spot on, Lehrer used eight bars from the well-known German national anthem “Das Lied der Deutschen” as a song intro :-)