Rosetta spaceship’s comet mission ending tomorrow


This video says about itself:

5 August 2016

Animation visualising Rosetta’s two-year journey around Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The animation begins on 31 July 2014, during Rosetta’s final approach to the comet after its ten-year journey through space. The spacecraft arrived at a distance of 100 km on 6 August whereupon it gradually approached the comet and entered initial mapping orbits that were needed to select a landing site for Philae. These observations also enabled the first comet science of the mission. The manoeuvres in the lead up to, during and after Philae’s deployment on 12 November are seen, before Rosetta settled into longer-term science orbits.

In February and March 2015 the spacecraft made several flybys. One of the closest flybys triggered a ‘safe mode’ event that forced it to retreat temporarily until it was safe to gradually draw closer again. The comet’s increased activity in the lead up to and after perihelion in August 2015 meant that Rosetta remained well beyond 100 km distances for several months.

In June 2015, contact was restored with Philae again – albeit temporary, with no permanent link able to be maintained, despite a series of dedicated trajectories flown by Rosetta for several weeks.

Following perihelion, Rosetta performed a dayside far excursion some 1500 km from the comet, before re-approaching to closer orbits again, enabled by the reduction in the comet’s activity. In March–April 2016 Rosetta went on another far excursion, this time on the night side, followed by a close flyby and orbits dedicated to a range of science observations.

The animation finishes at 9 August 2016, before the details of the end of mission orbits were known. A visualisation of the trajectories leading to the final descent to the surface of the comet on 30 September will be provided once available.

The trajectory shown in this animation is created from real data, but the comet rotation is not. An arrow indicates the direction to the Sun as the camera viewpoint changes during the animation.

From Science News:

So long, Rosetta: End is near for comet orbiter

Spacecraft’s legacy will live on after it lands on comet 67P, shuts down for good

By Christopher Crockett

5:30am, September 29, 2016

Rosetta is about to take its final bow.

On September 30, the comet orbiter will wrap up its nearly 26-month visit to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by touching down on the surface and then shutting down. Before sending its last signal to Earth, Rosetta will snap pictures and gather data all the way to the end, collecting some of the most detailed looks ever at a comet.

“Every time you look at a body and increase the resolution … it’s another world,” says Jessica Sunshine, a planetary scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what this place looks like.”

After more than 10 years in space, Rosetta arrived at 67P on August 6, 2014 (SN: 9/6/14, p. 8). About three months later, a lander named Philae detached from the orbiter and dropped to the comet’s surface. It was a rough landing: Philae bounced twice and nicked a ridge before coming to rest on its side in the shadow of a cliff. With insufficient sunlight to charge its battery, Philae went to sleep about 60 hours later, though not before getting some pictures of its new home.

Unlike Philae, the orbiter was never designed to land on the comet. Despite meeting the ground at a walking pace of about 3 kilometers per hour, Rosetta’s landing — described as a “controlled impact” by mission scientists — will probably snap pieces off of the spacecraft.

“Feelings are mixed,” says mission lead Matt Taylor of the European Space Research and Technology Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. “Sadness that this is over, but great joy on what [we’ve] achieved.”

Before bidding the spacecraft adieu, here’s a look back at five mission highlights.

  1.  One surprise came right away when researchers got their first good gander at the comet. Described as resembling a rubber duck, comet 67P has two distinct lobes. Some planetary scientists suspect that 67P was once two comets that smooshed together (SN: 10/31/15, p. 17).
  2.  Comets are not just big balls of ice, as once thought. Towering cliffs, dusty dunes, shadowy pits — the landscape on 67P is a hodgepodge of terrains, some scarred by erosion, others blanketed under seasonal flows of fine dust (SN: 2/21/15, p. 6). Comets “are much more dynamic than a lot of surfaces in the solar system,” Sunshine says.
  3. Water on 67P is unlike Earth’s, suggesting that comets provided little help in bringing H2O to our planet (SN: 1/10/15, p. 8). The ratio of deuterium (a heavy form of hydrogen) to hydrogen in 67P’s water is roughly three times that on Earth. Comets as a whole, however, exhibit a large range in this ratio, implying comets have diverse origins.
  4. Comet 67P carts around a cocktail of chemicals that includes oxygen and noble gases, both indicators of a birthplace that was cold and far from the sun (SN: 11/28/15, p. 6). Organic molecules are prevalent as well. While asteroids probably delivered the bulk of Earth’s water, “comets do have complex organics and could have brought those to Earth and provided the seeds of life,” Taylor says.
  5. The interior of the comet is quite porous, which suggests that 67P was assembled gently 4.6 billion years ago (SN: 8/22/15, p. 13). That means the comet’s building blocks weren’t altered by forceful collisions, which supports the long-standing idea that comets are time capsules that preserve samples from the solar system’s formative years.

Comet science doesn’t end with Rosetta. Ground-based telescopes will continue to study them from afar, and next year NASA will consider proposals for flying a spacecraft to a comet, plucking a piece off the surface and bringing it back to Earth.

“As for Rosetta data, there is loads of it,” Taylor says. “There is decades of work to do. So Rosetta isn’t over — it’s just begun.”

Sudan’s dictator getting away with gassing his own people


This video says about itself:

Sudan accused of using chemical weapons in Darfur

29 September 2016

Between 200 to 250 people, many of them children, have been killed in at least 30 suspected chemical attacks in the Sudanese region of Darfur, according to a new report by global rights group Amnesty International.

With the introduction of a deadly new weapon, the long-running 13-year conflict could be entering a dangerous new phase, the rights group warns.

However, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has strongly denied the use of chemical weapons by the Sudanese government forces.

Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from the UN Headquarters in New York.

WARNING: Viewers may find some of the images in this report disturbing.

When George W Bush was president of the USA, the dictator of Sudan, Bashir, already waged war in the western province Darfur.

It was a cruel war with many atrocities. Though, according to the United Nations, less atrocities than another war in another African country at the same time: the war in Somalia, waged by George W Bush and his allies, like the Ethiopian dictatorship.

Some people then made propaganda for a ‘humanitarian’ war on Sudan by the USA and other NATO countries. It would have been a ‘humanitarian’ war with bloody anti-humanitarian consequences; as such ‘humanitarian’ wars usually have.

However, in 2011, the propaganda for invading Sudan to impose ‘regime change’ stopped. Not because Bashir had become any less of a bloody dictator. But because his relationship to NATO governments improved.

Bashir had become an ally of the ‘free West’ in another ‘regime change’ war: the NATO war on Libya. Just like Bashir’s fellow dictator in Chad.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

“President of Sudan gets away with his use of chemical weapons”

Today, 10:07

The probability that the Sudanese President Bashir will be tried for the use of chemical weapons in the Darfur region, is low, according to NOS correspondent Koert Lindijer. “At least not in the short term,” he says. A study by Amnesty International shows that the army conducted in January possibly thirty attacks with chemical weapons in Darfur province.

Lindijer thinks Bashir will get away with that. “He had been indicted in 2009 by the Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged war crimes in Darfur, but he is still president. He is diplomatically very strong at the moment. In the Middle East, he fights along with Saudi Arabia in Yemen.”

In addition, Europe needs him. “Bashir gets money from the EU to stop migrants on Sudanese territory from going to Libya to make the crossing to Europe.”

Offensive

In January, the army began an offensive against rebels in Jebel Marra, a mountain range in Darfur. “Since then Amnesty International has evidence of 32 attacks on villages in that area. The last one took place on September 9th. So, quite recently. And there are no indications that the offensive has now stopped.”

The Amnesty report says that about 200 to 250 civilians were killed as a result of the chemical bombs, including many children. While journalists and researchers for years have been unable to enter Sudan legally, Amnesty International has still managed to come up with evidence of chemical attacks. …

“There were several bombs around the village and in the hills. My children are sick from the bombs’ smoke, they were vomiting and had diarrhea and were coughing very much. Their skin was discolored and became dark as if it had been burned.”

Quote from a survivor in the report …

Amnesty, eg, made use of satellite images, collected lots of pictures of injuries and spoke through modern means of communication with survivors of the bombing. “They especially complained of stomach disorders, blindness, miscarriages, and skin diseases,” said Lindijer.

At least for now, as far as NATO governments are concerned, it looks like Bashir is getting away with poisoning his own people.

Like another dictator, Saddam Hussein, at least for some decades got away with poisoning his own people. As he did the poisoning with United States made gas, granted to him by US government envoy Donald Rumsfeld, the future architect of Bush’s Iraq war, with its over a million dead people, millions of injured people and over four million refugees.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Rumsfeld shakes hands with Saddam (full video, no sound)

5 August 2006

15 months after the massacre in Du’jail for which Saddam was eventually hanged in 2006, Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, Donald Rumsfeld is in Iraq, shaking Saddam Hussein’s hand and pledging our support in his war against Iran.

Date: Dec 20, 1983.

It is up to the people of Sudan to depose their dictator. Like the people of Greece overthrew their colonels’ dictatorship, without any help from NATO. Like the people of Portugal and of its oppressed colonial countries overthrew their dictatorship, without any help from NATO. Like the people of South Africa overthrew the apartheid regime, without any help from NATO.

SUDAN USED CHEMICAL ATTACKS “Sudan’s government has carried out at least 30 likely chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January using what two experts concluded was a probable blister agent, Amnesty International said on Thursday.” [Reuters]

Record number of migrating spoonbills


This video from Belgium says about itself:

Migration: spoonbills – Fonteintjes, Zeebrugge, 29/03/14

Group of spoonbills migrating over land, hesitating to land on the pools next to the counting station.

According to Dutch site Trektellen.nl, on 27 December 2016 844 spoonbills, migrating to the south, passed the Digue de Malo near Dunkirk in France.

This is a record number.

Torturing Thai tyrants threaten arrest of Amnesty International


This video says about itself:

Amnesty International Cancels Talk on Torture in Thailand

28 September 2016

Amnesty International cancels their conference on torture in Thailand after officials threaten to arrest the organization’s speakers

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Amnesty reps banned from conference

Thursday 29th September 2016

Thai police accused of torture in Amnesty report

by Our Foreign Desk

AMNESTY International was forced to abandon a news conference in the Thai capital Bangkok yesterday after the authorities threatened to arrest its speakers.

The human rights group was due to a release a report at the conference that accuses Thai soldiers and police of carrying out torture and abuse including beatings, suffocation by plastic bags and electric shocks to the genitals.

However, just before the news conference was to begin, Ministry of Labour officials warned Amnesty that the two speakers set to talk about the damming report did not possess work permits and were at risk of being arrested if they spoke on stage.

“We know that the current government does not accept criticism very well,” said Amnesty legal adviser Yuval Ginbar, who had been due to address the press conference.

“But what is happening in the unofficial places of detention — people being beaten up, people being suffocated, people being waterboarded — this is more important than what we’re facing here.”

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended the Ministry of Labour’s actions by saying that, no matter which organisation the speakers were from, they must comply with the law.

“Our laws don’t have multiple standards, we have only one standard. We all have to follow these laws. Even if we are criticised, the law is the law,” Mr Sansern explained.

Without mentioning the Amnesty report directly, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha defended military detention of “so-called political prisoners,” saying that they are given good housing and food but sometimes complain about things like the quality of air conditioning.

“We’ve released so many of these so-called political prisoners, but some are charged so we have to hold them,” Mr Prayuth said.

“I hope you understand, I’ve been very forgiving. Only a few people suffer because they want to violate things all the time.”

American fish crows build decoy nest


This video from the USA says about itself:

28 September 2016

Fish Crows noisily go about the business of building a huge nest of twigs high in a long-leaf pine tree. They did such a good job of hiding this huge nest near the crown of the tree that I had to bushwhack my way back in the Jungle just to get an angled view of it. But the nest was never used and further research brings me to the conclusion that I was duped by a decoy nest! We all know crows are extremely intelligent – did you know they are known to build decoy nests and keep their real nest very private. That explains why they were so noisily and obviously building this one to attract attention to it while they quietly built another nest nearby.

I had plans to film the raising and fledging of their young, but they are too smart for that. If I’m watching them then they are watching me! I found this interesting quote by musician Tom Waits that relates to this event: “I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.”

So in a way I feel honored!

Young red-headed woodpecker visits owls’ nest in Georgia, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker Stops in Savannah – Sept. 27, 2016

Notice the stocky medium-sized build and bold white patch on the secondary feathers that contrasts with the black of the wing and back? These identifiers provide a great chance to use size and shape along with color and pattern to identify this bird as a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker!

This young woodpecker came to the same owls’ nest where a wood stork visited as well.