Big storm on planet Jupiter


This video says about itself:

14 December 2016

This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA‘s Juno spacecraft, highlights the seventh of eight features forming a ‘string of pearls’ on Jupiter — massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant‘s southern hemisphere. Space News.

From Sci-News.com:

Juno Sees Massive Storm on Jupiter

Jan 28, 2017 by Enrico de Lazaro

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has spotted a huge anticyclonic storm in Jupiter’s high north temperate latitudes.

As well as the famous Great Red Spot, a giant storm system three times wider than our planet, Jupiter sometimes presents one or more Little Red Spots.

Little Red Spots are often seen in the North North Temperate Zone.

They attract attention due to their color and sometimes other exceptional features.

The new image from NASA’s Juno orbiter shows NN-LRS-1, the longest-lived Little Red Spot (lower left).

Juno snapped this shot of Jupiter’s northern latitudes on Dec. 11, 2016, as the orbiter performed a close flyby of the gas giant. The spacecraft was at an altitude of 10,300 miles (16,600 km) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. The image was processed by citizen astronomers Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstaedt / John Rogers

NN-LRS-1 is the third largest anticyclonic storm on the gas giant, which astronomers have tracked for the last 24 years.

An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon with large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure.

They rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.

NN-LRS-1 has been observed by several spacecraft, including NASA’s Galileo and Cassini orbiters, during its long life.

Its color has varied several times from red to dull white.

Now it shows very little color, just a pale brown smudge in the center.

The color is very similar to the surroundings, making it difficult to see as it blends in with the clouds nearby.

‘Asteroids not cause of Ordovician biodiversification’


This video says about itself:

30 May 2013

Few people have heard of the Ordovician Period, but it was one of the most important periods in Earth’s history. Many familiar sea creatures evolved, and life took first steps onto land.

From Science News:

Asteroid barrage, ancient marine life boom not linked

New dating debunks idea that bombardment created eco-niches needed to diversify

By Thomas Sumner

11:00am, January 24, 2017

An asteroid bombardment that some say triggered an explosion of marine animal diversity around 471 million years ago actually had nothing to do with it.

Precisely dating meteorites from the salvo, researchers found that the space rock barrage began at least 2 million years after the start of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. So the two phenomena are unrelated, the researchers conclude January 24 in Nature Communications.

Some scientists had previously proposed a causal link between the two events: Raining debris from an asteroid breakup (SN: 7/23/16, p. 4) drove evolution by upsetting ecosystems and opening new ecological niches. The relative timing of the impacts and biodiversification was uncertain, though.

Geologist Anders Lindskog of Lund University in Sweden and colleagues examined 17 crystals buried alongside meteorite fragments. Gradual radioactive decay of uranium atoms inside the crystals allowed the researchers to accurately date the sediment layer to around 467.5 million years ago. Based in part on this age, the researchers estimate that the asteroid breakup took place around 468 million years ago. That’s well after fossil evidence suggests that the diversification event kicked off.

Other forces such as climate change and shifting continents instead promoted biodiversity, the researchers propose.

Planet Venus new research


This video says about itself:

17 January 2017

A Japanese spacecraft has spotted a massive gravity wave in Venus’ atmosphere.

Venus is covered in a thick atmosphere, with clouds of sulphuric acid moving westwards faster than the planet itself rotates.

But among this fast-moving atmosphere scientists have discovered a mysterious ‘sideways smile’ on its surface stretching 6,200 miles (10,000 km) across.

The stationary patch could be a giant wave caused by the gravity from mountains below, the first of its kind to be observed on the planet, according to a new study published on January 16th.

Researchers from the Rikkyo University in Tokyo studied the bow-shaped patch, after it was spotted in December 2015.

‘The most surprising feature of the bow is that it stayed at almost same geographical position despite the background atmospheric super-rotation, the uniform westward wind of which the maximum speed is 100 metres/second at the cloud-top altitudes,’ researchers say.

But exactly why the bow stayed still when the rest of Venus’ atmosphere moves so quickly continues to puzzle scientists.

From Science News:

Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

10,000-kilometer-long stationary feature may have been the biggest of its kind in solar system

By Ashley Yeager

6:11pm, January 17, 2017

With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere whipped along at a brisk 100 meters per second.

The C-shaped structure, which lasted at least four Earth days, could be a gravity wave, a large disturbance in the flow of a fluid or air, scientists say. It may have formed on Venus when winds in the planet’s lower atmosphere slammed into a mountain range and were pushed into the upper atmosphere, where it got stuck, a team of Japanese researchers report January 16 in Nature Geoscience.

Captured in images taken by JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft in December 2015, the structure could be the largest stationary gravity wave ever observed in the solar system. If it did shift from the lower to upper atmosphere, there may be more going on near the surface of the planet than scientists previously thought.

Astronomy news update


This video says about itself:

15 August 2016

As soon as you learn about the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, your next thought is: is that thing going to destroy our galaxy? In the short term, no, in the long term… maybe?

Milky Way’s black hole may hurl galactic spitballs our way. Giant gas blobs are what’s left of gravity-shredded stars. By Christopher Crockett, 9:00am, January 10, 2017: here.

Earliest galaxies got the green light. Emission of key color wavelength points to superhot first generation stars. By Christopher Crockett, 5:26pm, January 9, 2017: here.

Moon made of small moons?


This video from the USA says about itself:

A 2015 remastered edit of Dr Harrison Schmitt’s lecture, ‘Apollo and the Geology of the Moon’, first delivered 19 December 1973.

Dr Harrison Schmitt was part of the three man crew of Apollo 17 which launched on 7 December 1972, returning to Earth on 19 December. Apollo 17 was the final of NASA’s manned lunar landing missions and therefore Schmitt remains the first and only geologist ever to walk on the Moon.

The following year, Dr Schmitt delivered a lecture on his experiences before a packed audience in the newly refurbished lecture theatre at the Geological Society. Indeed such was the demand for tickets that the lecture was relayed to the British Academy where extra seating had to be provided for another 130 attendees.

This video is a remastered edit of Dr Schmitt’s lecture, created in 2015 by the Geological Society Library. To find out more visit here.

Copyright 1973 & 2015 Geological Society of London
Stills copyright NASA

From Science News:

Many tiny moons came together to form moon, simulations suggest

One giant impact may not be responsible for Earth’s satellite

By Thomas Sumner

11:00am, January 9, 2017

The moon is made of moons, new simulations suggest. Instead of a single colossal collision forming Earth’s cosmic companion, researchers propose that a series of medium to large impacts created mini moons that eventually coalesced to form one giant moon.

This mini-moon amalgamation explains why the moon has an Earthlike chemical makeup, the researchers propose January 9 in Nature Geoscience.

“I think this is a real contender in with the other moon-forming scenarios,” says Robin Canup, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who was not involved in the new work. “This out-of-the-box idea isn’t any less probable — and it might be more probable — than the other existing scenarios.”

A collision between Earth and a Mars-sized object called Theia around 4.5 billion years ago is the current leading candidate for how the moon formed. This impact would have been a glancing blow rather than a dead-on collision, with most of the resulting building materials for the moon coming from Theia. But the moon and Earth are compositional dead ringers for one another, casting doubts on a mostly extraterrestrial origin of lunar material and thus the single impact explanation.

Planetary scientist Raluca Rufu of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and colleagues dusted off a decades-old, largely disregarded hypothesis that the moon instead formed from multiple impacts. In this scenario, the early Earth was hit by a series of objects a hundredth to a tenth of Earth’s mass. Each impact could have created a disk of debris around Earth that assembled into a moonlet, the researchers’ simulations show. Over tens of millions of years, about 20 moonlets could have ultimately combined to form the moon.

Multiple impacts help explain why Earth and the moon are chemically similar. For example, each impact may have hit Earth at a different angle, excavating more earthly material into space than a singular impact would.

The single impact hypothesis has about a 1 to 2 percent chance of yielding the right lunar mix based on the makeup of potential impactors in the solar system. In the researchers’ simulations, the multiple impact scenario is correct tens of percent of the time. Further investigation of the interiors and composition of the Earth and moon, the researchers say, should reveal whether this explanation is correct.

The moon is still old. More precise dating of Apollo 14 moon rocks pegs age at 4.51 billion years. By Christopher Crockett, 2:00pm, January 11, 2017: here.

2017 science news predictions


This video series from the USA says about itself:

Looking ahead to 2017 | Science News

20 December 2016

From CRISPR to Cassini, science stories on the horizon in 2017 won’t disappoint. We asked our intrepid beat writers what they’ll be looking forward to covering next year. Read more here.

Filming, Production & Editing
Helen Thompson

Additional Video & Images

Physics
Matt Heintze/Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab
Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab
ESO/Digital Sky Survey 2

CRISPR
McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Rita Elena Serda,/Baylor College of Medicine/NCI/NIH
Donald Bliss/NLM
Sriram Subramaniam/NCI/NIH
Betty Partin/CDC

Earth
ECORD
IODP

Zika
Sarah C. Ogden/Florida State University, Tallahassee
NIAID
NIH

Brains
Stephen McNally
Roxanne Makasdjian
UC Berkeley

Space
NASA/JPL/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Music
“Climbing The Mountain” by Podington Bear
CC BY-NC 3.0

2016 scientific discoveries, still unconfirmed


This video from the USA says about itself:

Planet 9 Explained and Explored with Astronomer Konstantin Batygin

27 January 2016

Planet 9 is the biggest astronomical “discovery” of recent memory, and the process of calculating its existence is revealed with astronomer Konstantin Batygin. When speculation of a large body of mass with an usual orbital alignment was detected, astronomers took to computer simulations, mathematical equations and a call to the public to discover the small gassous giant on the fringes of our solar system. Batygin breaks down this hypothesized planet that is estimated to be between 1 to 10 times the mass of the Earth, along with the Kuiper Belt, the discovery of Neptune, and why Dr. Mike Brown deemed Pluto no longer a planet in this episode of Antidote hosted by Michael Parker.

GUEST BIO:

Coined the next “physics rock star” by Forbes, Konstantin Batygin immigrated to the U.S. from Russia at age 13 and currently works as an Assistant Professor of Planetary Sciences at Caltech. Batygin landed on the 2015 Forbes list of 30 scientists under 30 who are changing the world with an unprecedented record of publishing 21 papers as first author. He’s discovered planets in other solar systems and solved a centuries-old puzzle: yes, it turns out eventually the planets in the solar system will careen away from the sun. Batygin also plays in a rock band.

From Science News:

These 2016 stories could be really big — if they’re true

Some scientific findings this year made a big splash but require more evidence

By Cassie Martin

10:00am, December 23, 2016

These findings would have rocked the scientific world, if only the evidence had been more convincing.

New Planet 9 clues

A giant planet lurking at the outskirts of the solar system could explain the odd orbits of far-flung hunks of icy debris (SN: 2/20/16, p. 6). If the planet exists, its average distance from the sun would be between 500 and 600 times Earth’s distance (SN: 7/23/16, p. 7).

Signs of ancient life

Mounds of minerals discovered in Greenland appear to have been deposited by clusters of microbes 3.7 billion years ago. If so, these stromatolites represent the oldest fossilized evidence of life on Earth (SN: 10/1/16, p. 7).

Lucy’s big fall

A controversial study claims that Lucy, the most famous fossil in the study of human evolution, died after falling from high up in a tree (SN: 9/17/16, p. 16). The autopsy supports the hypothesis that Australopithecus afarensis split its time between the ground and the trees.

Nucleus with no charge

Researchers have spotted signs of a “tetraneutron,” an atomic nucleus with four neutrons but no protons (SN: 3/5/16, p. 10). If confirmed, this first-of-its-kind nucleus might be explained by a new, interneutron force.