An explosion was captured by a driver with a dashboard mounted camera as he was cruising along a quiet stretch of motorway near Sverdlovsk in the mountainous Urals region of Russia.
The video, taken on November 14, shows a ball of orange light which rapidly expands to illuminate the entire road, turning the dead of night into the middle of the day for around ten seconds.
Expert opinion is divided on what actually caused the flash.
Youtube / Андрей Казанцев Strange but true: Mystery explosion in Russia lights up night sky
Viktor Grokovsky, a member of the meteorities committee of the Russian Academy of Sciences said the likely explanation was a huge meteor.
Others have speculated that it was simply an explosion at a chemical plant or a military operation.
Some have even suggested it could have been caused by a space rocket launch.
But local emergency services had no record of any incidents.
Eyewitness Miroslav Alexeeva told local radio: “”It was a dark night anyway so it really stood out, I had gone into my kitchen to get a glass of water when suddenly there was a bright light through all the windows.
“I was completely confused for a second, but when I looked out the window I saw the sky was alight with orange fire. I thought it was the end of the world or a nuclear bomb, but then it just went away.”
The Urals was hit by the massive Chelyabinsk meteorite in February 2013, when a huge explosion injured over a thousand people.
Via the Mirror
Archive for the ‘Space’ Category
Posted by Anonymous on November 19, 2014
Posted by Anonymous on April 14, 2014
In an effort to spur innovation inside and outside the space industry, NASA is releasing more than 1,000 of its computer codes to the public Thursday through a new open-access software catalog.
As far as inventions go, the space agency is perhaps most famous for its hardware — its rockets, spaceships and telescopes — but many sophisticated software systems were born at NASA, too, from the primitive codes that guided the first astronauts to the moon to the codes that Earth-bound drivers of the Mars Curiosity rover write to get the robot to travel across the Red Planet.
“Software is an increasingly important element of the agency’s intellectual asset portfolio, making up about a third of our reported inventions every year,” Jim Adams, NASA’s deputy chief technologist, said in a statement. “We are excited to be able to make that software widely available to the public with the release of our software catalog.”
Many of the codes made available through the so-called Tech Transfer program will be free to use for U.S. citizens, though some systems will only be available to other federal agencies because of access restrictions, NASA officials said. …
… DARPA posted a similar catalog earlier this year. NASA will also start hosting the code online by next year; while all the code is free of copyright, people will need special clearance to get their hands-on projects like the rocket guidance system.Many of the projects are already available online, but they are spread out across many sites and difficult to find. One of the main purposes of NASA is to develop technology that can be transferred to other industries, but it is difficult to transfer technology if no one knows where to find the details.
“Our design software has been used to make everything from guitars to roller coasters to Cadillacs,” Technology Transfer Program executive David Lockney told Wired.
“Scheduling software that keeps the Hubble Space Telescope operations straight has been used for scheduling MRIs at busy hospitals and as control algorithms for online dating services.”The new code database is the result of a 2011 order from President Barack Obama that federal agencies increase the pace of technology transfer. Lockney told Wired that he would not be surprised to see many more projects added to the database after its release.
Thanks to NASA codes I upgraded the intelligence of every electric appliance in my home. My garage door opener started opening at random, but it wasn’t random. Turned out to be morse code. “N-E-E-D O-I-L”
Posted by Anonymous on April 11, 2014
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now can precisely measure the distance of stars up to 10,000 light-years away — 10 times farther than previously possible.
Astronomers have developed yet another novel way to use the 24-year-old space telescope by employing a technique called spatial scanning, which dramatically improves Hubble’s accuracy for making angular measurements. The technique, when applied to the age-old method for gauging distances called astronomical parallax, extends Hubble’s tape measure 10 times farther into space.
“This new capability is expected to yield new insight into the nature of dark energy, a mysterious component of space that is pushing the universe apart at an ever-faster rate,” said Noble laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.
Parallax, a trigonometric technique, is the most reliable method for making astronomical distance measurements, and a practice long employed by land surveyors here on Earth. The diameter of Earth’s orbit is the base of a triangle and the star is the apex where the triangle’s sides meet. The lengths of the sides are calculated by accurately measuring the three angles of the resulting triangle.
Astronomical parallax works reliably well for stars within a few hundred light-years of Earth. For example, measurements of the distance to Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to our sun, vary only by one arc second. This variance in distance is equal to the apparent width of a dime seen from two miles away.
Stars farther out have much smaller angles of apparent back-and-forth motion that are extremely difficult to measure. Astronomers have pushed to extend the parallax yardstick ever deeper into our galaxy by measuring smaller angles more accurately.
This new long-range precision was proven when scientists successfully used Hubble to measure the distance of a special class of bright stars called Cepheid variables, approximately 7,500 light-years away in the northern constellation Auriga. The technique worked so well, they are now using Hubble to measure the distances of other far-flung Cepheids.
Such measurements will be used to provide firmer footing for the so-called cosmic “distance ladder.” This ladder’s “bottom rung” is built on measurements to Cepheid variable stars that, because of their known brightness, have been used for more than a century to gauge the size of the observable universe. They are the first step in calibrating far more distant extra-galactic milepost markers such as Type Ia supernovae.
Riess and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., in collaboration with Stefano Casertano of STScI, developed a technique to use Hubble to make measurements as small as five-billionths of a degree.
To make a distance measurement, two exposures of the target Cepheid star were taken six months apart, when Earth was on opposite sides of the sun. A very subtle shift in the star’s position was measured to an accuracy of 1/1,000 the width of a single image pixel in Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, which has 16.8 megapixels total. A third exposure was taken after another six months to allow for the team to subtract the effects of the subtle space motion of stars, with additional exposures used to remove other sources of error.
You have more space than you think.
Posted by Anonymous on March 23, 2014
A new gully has appeared on a sloped crater wall on Mars. The channel, which was absent from images in November 2010 but showed up in a May 2013 photo, does not appear to have been formed by water. Exactly what caused this Red Planet rivulet remains a mystery.
The winding gully seems to have poured out from an existing ribbon channel in a crater in Mars’ Terra Sirenum region. The leading hypothesis on how the gully formed is that debris flowed downslope from an alcove and eroded a new channel. Though it looks water-carved, the gully is much more likely to have been formed when carbon dioxide frost accumulated on the slope and grew heavy enough to avalanche down and drag material down with it.
Because the pair of images, taken by the orbiting HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, were taken more than a year apart, scientists don’t know in exactly which season the new gully formed. Similar activity has been seen to occur during the Martian winter at temperatures too cold for water, which is why researchers think carbon dioxide is a likelier cause. While the formation of these gullies on Mars is well documented, scientists have yet to work out exactly how they work.
It looks like the gully was ready to cave in before. How big is it? Has NASA made the connection with the spice yet? ;-)
There are so many mysteries left to uncover. For example, why this wacky WordPress updated app for the iPhone demands a “greater than” sign at the end of whatever I decide to type here.
Posted by Anonymous on March 18, 2014
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with “Elites” based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
“… accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels.”
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
“Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.”
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from “increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput,” despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.
Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions “closely reflecting the reality of the world today… we find that collapse is difficult to avoid.” In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
“…. appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature.”
Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that “with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites.”
In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most “detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners”, allowing them to “continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe.” The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how “historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).”
Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:
“While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory ‘so far’ in support of doing nothing.”
However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation.
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:
“Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.”
The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business – and consumers – to recognise that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.
… a number of other more empirically-focused studies – by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance – have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a ‘perfect storm’ within about fifteen years. But these ‘business as usual’ forecasts could be very conservative.
Continuity of Government, if the elites want it, is not going to be had by digging underground cities, stockpiling food, gas and water and waiting out the storm. The current fragile pyramid will not be maintained by the persecution of whistleblowers. Instead, the way to fix things is to get everyone to understand that we all fail if we don’t pull together. Teamwork or die.
Posted by Anonymous on March 7, 2014
Remember the old Atari Asteroids game and how the space rocks would split into smaller and smaller pieces as your little arrowhead-shaped ship shot tiny balls of light at them? Well, astronomers at UCLA have just seen, for the first time ever they say, that asteroids really do break up that way.
The discovery was made possible by data derived from a team of telescopes. It began when a fuzzy, strange-looking shape was spotted in the skies by the Catalina telescope array, located both outside of Tucson, Ariz., and in Australia, and a Pan-Starrs telescope atop Mount Haleakala on Hawaii’s island of Maui. Astronomers then used the Keck telescopes on the Hawaii Mauna Kea volcano, where they believed they saw three bodies moving together in a cloud of dust that measured roughly the same diameter as that of of Earth.
“The Keck telescope showed us that this asteroid was worth looking at with Hubble,” according to David Jewitt, a professor in the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences and the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy who led the investigation.
So the astronomers aimed the mighty space telescope at the debris and discovered that the dust cloud contained 10 different mini asteroids, with the largest fragments measuring about twice the size of a football field.
The observations, which were published online Thursday in Astrophysical Journal Letters, postulate that the asteroid began coming apart early last year, but that it continues to disintegrate even now.
As we all know, there are no arrowhead-shaped ships in the asteroid belt shooting at these big space rocks, so just how did the asteroid (known as P/2013 R3) begin breaking up?
The researchers ruled out collision with another asteroid because that would have been spectacularly violent and would have instantly smashed the rocks to bits. They also eliminated the idea that interior ice turned to steam and blew the asteroid apart as, according to Jewitt, P/2013 R3 has kept a cool approximate 300-million-mile distance from the sun pretty much since the solar system was born.
Jewitt postulates that the asteroid is breaking apart due to something called “YORP torque.” “Light is made of photons and photons carry momentum. Not very much, but a finite amount,” he told Crave. “When an asteroid radiates away the heat it receives from the sun, it tends to do so asymmetrically… because the day-side is hot and radiates much more heat than the cold night-side. This results in a net reaction force on the asteroid just like throwing a sack of coal forwards would tend to knock you backwards.” It’s this force that caused P/2013 R3 to fail.
Like many things in the vastness of outer space, Jewitt says the YORP torque process took a very long time to take hold. “Because photon momentum is very weak,” he said, “the time taken to spin up an asteroid is very long. For R3, the time is probably 100,000 or even a million years — it’s actually impossible to calculate without knowing the exact size and shape and surface nature of the asteroid. But that is short compared to the age of the solar system, so YORP can still be effective.”
Posted by Anonymous on March 4, 2014
Since we’re coming up on the Fourth of July, and towns everywhere are preparing their better-than-ever fireworks spectaculars, we would like to offer this humbling bit of history. Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will. …
Some of the images in this video were until recently top secret. Peter Kuran of Visual Concept Entertainment collected them for his documentary Nukes In Space.
If you are wondering why anybody would deliberately detonate an H-bomb in space, the answer comes from a conversation we had with science historian James Fleming of Colby College.
“Well, I think a good entry point to the story is May 1, 1958, when James Van Allen, the space scientist, stands in front of the National Academy in Washington, D.C., and announces that they’ve just discovered something new about the planet,” he told us.
Van Allen described how the Earth is surrounded by belts of high-energy particles — mainly protons and electrons — that are held in place by the magnetic fields.
Today these radiation belts are called Van Allen belts. Now comes the surprise: While looking through the Van Allen papers at the University of Iowa to prepare a Van Allen biography, Fleming discovered “that [the] very same day after the press conference, [Van Allen] agreed with the military to get involved with a project to set off atomic bombs in the magnetosphere to see if they could disrupt it.”
Discover It, Then Blow It Up
The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth’s atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb’s radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might “alter” the natural shape of the belts.
The scientific basis for these proposals is not clear. Fleming is trying to figure out if Van Allen had any theoretical reason to suppose the military could use the Van Allen belts to attack a hostile nation. He supposes that at the height of the Cold War, the most pressing argument for a military experiment was, “if we don’t do it, the Russians will.” And, indeed, the Russians did test atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs in space.
In any case, says the science history professor, “this is the first occasion I’ve ever discovered where someone discovered something and immediately decided to blow it up.”
Code Name: Starfish Prime
The Americans launched their first atomic nuclear tests above the Earth’s atmosphere in 1958. Atom bombs had little effect on the magnetosphere, but the hydrogen bomb of July 9, 1962, did. Code-named “Starfish Prime” by the military, it literally created an artificial extension of the Van Allen belts that could be seen across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to New Zealand.
In Honolulu, the explosions were front page news. “N-Blast Tonight May Be Dazzling: Good View Likely,” said the Honolulu Advertiser. Hotels held what they called “Rainbow Bomb Parties” on rooftops and verandas. When the bomb burst, people told of blackouts and strange electrical malfunctions, like garage doors opening and closing on their own. But the big show was in the sky.
In what sounds like the lunatic designs of a team of mad scientists, physicists are reportedly proposing a plan to wipe out the Van Allen radiation belts.
Nevermind that we’ve really only just begun to explore and understand the Van Allen belts – those pesky bands of radiation around our planet allegedly serve ’no purpose’, and are choking up Earth’s orbit with radiation that harms people or satellite equipment that travel through them. So, the physicists’ strategy is to use giant radio transmitters on the ground to beam very low frequency (VLF) waves into the belts to break them up and clear away those tenacious protons and electrons. …
Will the destruction of one of our planet’s features such as the Van Allen radiation belts cause unforeseen and catastrophic consequences? According to the global scientific community, “the easy answer is: probably not. ” …
Many satellites and other orbiting equipment have to shut off periodically, though, to avoid damage in the belts. That’s a problem when launching equipment is often the single most expensive element of a mission; science will not abide a field that mucks with its experiments, nor even one that makes them ship expensive shielding into space. If there would really be no downside to destroying the belts, then why not just do it, if we can? Notice that there are two “ifs” in that statement. The second is the easier of the two: Can we clear the belts?
A new proposition from scientists around the globe claims that very low frequency radio waves could be used to disburse Van Allen protons in the lower atmosphere, clearing several helpful new orbital distances for use by satellites and other equipment. Radio waves have problems getting through the highly charged ionosphere, which sits between us and the Van Allen regions, but scientists are hopeful that powerful emitters could mitigate this problem. Satellite-based VLF radio emitters have also been proposed, but such devices would take too much energy for an orbital platform.
One older idea for disbursing the belts was called HiVOLT, or High Voltage Orbiting Long Tether. This would be a system of five cables, each about 100 kilometers long, used to create a magnetic field that deflects the orbit of these particles. This could hypothetically change the orbital period of the particles so they either crash into the atmosphere or careen off into space — possibly thus disbursing the belts in as little as two months.
Read the full article at: geek.com
Two regions of radiation encircle the Earth. They’re called the Van Allen belts, and they are a pair of dynamic regions of trapped radiation, separated by a void and held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field. They protect the planet from the radiation of space and the effects of solar weather.
The reptilians live safely underground and will not mind much when life on the surface is cooked by space radiation.
Posted by Anonymous on February 27, 2014
There are many strange rocks on Mars. Some may look unusual and this causes some excitement among conspiracy theorists, but settle down, it’s just rocks.
Posted by Anonymous on February 27, 2014
The discoveries bring the total number of known planets outside our solar system—so-called exoplanets—to roughly 1,700.
Launched in 2009, NASA’s $591 million Kepler Space Telescope has now discovered most of the planets orbiting nearby stars.
“We’ve hit the motherlode; we’ve got a veritable exoplanet bonanza,” says Kepler co-leader Jack Lissauer of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
The newly announced exoplanets reinforce the view that most solar systems around sunlike stars have smaller-size planets.
Most of those planets range in width from Earth-size (on the smaller side) to Neptune-size (on the larger). That’s quite a change from the Jupiter-size planets that were often spotted orbiting nearby stars during the early planet searches that started in 1995.
“Nature likes to make small planets,” says the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sara Seager, who was not part of the discovery team but commented on the findings at a Wednesday NASA briefing.
Four of the newly discovered planets orbit around their stars in “habitable zones”—regions where temperatures are just right for oceans, which bring with them the possibility of life. …
Posted by Anonymous on February 11, 2014
NASA is now working with private companies to take the first steps in exploring the moon for valuable resources like helium 3 and rare earth metals.
Initial proposals are due tomorrow for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST). One or more private companies will win a contract to build prospecting robots, the first step toward mining the moon.
The contract will be a “no funds exchanged” Space Agreement Act, which means the government will not be directly funding the effort, but will receive NASA support. Final proposals are due on March 17th, 2014. NASA has not said when it will announce the winner.
NASA works with private companies that service the International Space Station, and those partnerships have gone well. Faced with a skeleton budget, the agency is looking for innovative ways to cooperate with the private sector in order to continue research and exploration, as it did recently with a crowdsourcing campaign to improve its asteroid-finding algorithms. That campaign was launched with another private company, Planetary Resources, the billionaire-backed asteroid mining company.
According to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations, countries are prohibited from laying claim to the moon. The possibility of lunar mining and the emergence of private space companies has triggered a debate over lunar property rights, however.
“There’s a strong case for developing international law in this area because in 1967 it was not envisaged that anyone other than nation states would be able to explore the moon,” Ian Crawford, a planetary science professor, told The Telegraph. “Clearly that is changing now and there is a case for developing the outer space treaty to include private organizations that may wish to explore the moon.”
Robots don’t mind the radiation as much, but micro meteors can still knock them out quick.