It’s official. We have our second confirmed – and named – interstellar visitor.
The International Astronomical Union confirmed that the object formally known as C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) is indeed from another solar system, giving it the proper name of 21/Borisov on Tuesday. It is the second-ever object from beyond our solar system, following Ouamuamua’s discovery in October 2017.
“The orbit is now sufficiently well known, and the object is unambiguously interstellar in origin; it has received its final designation as the second interstellar object, 2I,” the IAU wrote in a statement. “In this case, the IAU has decided to follow the tradition of naming cometary objects after their discoverers, so the object has been named 2I/Borisov.”
The first-ever comet from beyond our Solar System, as imaged by the Gemini Observatory. The image of the newly discovered object, named 2I/Borisov, was obtained on the night of Sept. 9 using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini North Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. (Credit: IAU)
NEWLY DISCOVERED INTERSTELLAR VISITOR COULD BE INTERCEPTED, STUDY SAYS
21/Borisov was discovered on Aug. 30 by astronomer Gennady Borisov and, unlike its predecessor, Ouamuamua, will be observable for an extended period of time. It is likely a comet, given its short tail and “fuzzy” appearance, a description backed up by NASA JPL researcher Davide Farnocchia.
“The comet’s current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph [150,000 kph], which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance,” said Farnocchia in a statement posted to NASA’s website on Sept. 12. “The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space.”
Earlier this month, NASA JPL said 21/Borisov is approximately 260 million miles from the Sun and will reach its closest point, known as perihelion, on Dec. 8, 2019, when it gets within 190 million miles of the Sun.
It’s still unclear what Oumuamua actually is, although several theories have emerged, including one from Harvard University researcher Avi Loeb that it could be an extraterrestrial lightsail.
The discovery of 21/Borisov raises new questions, IAU noted, including why interstellar objects were not previously discovered, their expected rate of appearance in the inner solar system and how they compare with similar bodies in the solar system.
“Large telescopic surveys capable of scanning large fractions of the sky on a regular basis may help to answer these questions and more in the near future,” IAU wrote on its website.
Researchers recently theorized that 21/Borisov could be intercepted using existing technology and studied to determine several aspects about it, such as whether it’s a comet or an asteroid. Experts also noted that it could be studied to see, what material, if any, it has picked up from other solar systems.
BELLEVUE, Wash. — If life evolved on other planets as it did on Earth, aliens may be zooming around in vehicles that belch pollution into space. Or they might have had their very own Edison — and a planet blanketed in artificial light.
A group of astronomers is searching for these strange signals from distant exoplanets, or what are called “technosignatures,” because they may point to the existence of intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the cosmos. The term “technosignature” is a relatively new one, first coined in 2007 by astronomer Jill Tarter, who at the time was the director of the Center for SETI Research.
But even before the birth of the term, astronomers have been searching for technosignatures, the most popular one being radio transmissions. Practically speaking, that often meant looking for something strange — an anomaly in the data that could indicate the presence of something unnatural — like a planet that’s a bit too bright. Historically, that search wasn’t taken seriously. Now, however, scientists say they may have a real shot at finding such signals — as long as they look for the right things in the right places.
What would such technosignatures look like? For instance, when scanning distant exoplanets, data anomalies such as an unusual atmospheric makeup could be a clue to “complex life engineering its environment,” said Joseph Lazio, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during a talk at the Astrobiology Science Conference on June 26. But scientists must be cautious; that same signal “could just be a planet covered in pond scum that’s producing oxygen,” Lazio said.
Another possible technosignature is the ultrafast blinking of a star. “If you see a star, say, blinking on and off faster than a microsecond, that’s not obviously a natural phenomenon,” he said. What’s more, almost any reasonably advanced civilization could create such a signature.
“It’s not really all that difficult, we can do it today on a lab bench,” Lazio said. Humans have created lasers, for example, that release photons trillions of times a second, he added.
Radio waves beaming through space at a certain frequency may also be a clue to intelligent alien civilizations. Natural sources don’t typically produce radio waves within a very narrow range of frequencies, Lazio said. And yet, “it’s really easy for us to do it” artificially, Lazio said. So if we can do it … couldn’t E.T.?
Searching for life in the cosmos has historically focused on finding biosignatures, or biological signals, such as oxygen left behind when living creatures breathe. Today, we have many ways to detect biosignatures.
Similarly, there are several major classes of technosignatures: chemical signatures such as atmospheric pollution; megastructures that reflect, absorb or block light from a planet’s host star; “self-luminous” signals such as artificial illumination, radio or laser communication; and waste heat, which is “an unavoidable result of any kind of activity,” Svetlana Berdyugina, the director of the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics in Freiburg, Germany, said during the talk. (Waste heat is produced by machines or other processes that use energy).
Berdyugina and her team are looking for optical signals. As a planet travels around its own star, the light that is reflected by the planet changes, depending on where the planet is in its rotation and in its orbit. Stitching together signals produced by that reflected light over time, researchers can create what’s called a light curve. That, in turn, could provide a glimpse of the planetary surface — and any unusual features there, Berdyugina said. For example, a giant megastructure will reflect light in a very different way, than, say, an empty field.
Berdyugina and her team previously used this technique to resolve geographic features, such as mountains and craters, on planets and moons in our own solar system, as well as on simulated exoplanets. Now, they are working to understand if this technique could reveal weird shapes and artificial illumination on a planet’s surface.
There are also other programs searching for light signal, such as a 10-year initiative from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), called Breakthrough Listen. That team is surveying thousands of stars for not only optical signals but also radio signals.
While astronomers could dream up a nearly infinite list of potential technosignatures, only a handful are worth looking for.
“The game is to try and figure out something that is artificial but is also feasibly detectable,” Thomas Beatty, an assistant astronomer at the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona, told Live Science. “I think we are closer than a lot of people imagine.”
One possibility? Myriad night lights, illuminating the surface of a distant world, Beatty said at a talk at the conference. And a proposed, space-based telescope called the Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) could be a perfect tool to hunt for them. If it gets built, LUVOIR will use its 26- to 52-foot (8 to 16 meters) mirror to scan exoplanets and measure gases in their atmosphere. But the same telescope could also indirectly detect technosignatures, he added.
At the point where you could feasibly detect — really strongly detect — oxygen levels in an atmosphere, you should also be able to detect city lights, he said. Of course, oxygen levels are going to be detected at an “exquisite” level of precision, and by comparison, light pollution from cities will not be easy to find.
Existing land-based telescopes, such as the Extremely Large Telescope or the Giant Magellan Telescope, might also be able to detect city lights on alien planets, he said. Unlike LUVOIR, however, these Earthbound tools would be somewhat impeded by our own atmosphere. So city lights would have to be really strong — an exoplanet would have to have 10 or 20 times as many cities as Earth does. Those densely packed planets would have to be “like a future Earth from the year 2200,” in order for us to find them, he said.
The search for technosignatures doesn’t have to break the bank, either. “In some cases, it’s only a marginal cost,” Lazio said. That’s because technosignatures may be hidden in data we already have; all we need to do is find them. And technosignatures (like city lights), and biosignatures (like city lights) could be detected simultaneously, Berdyugina said.
But not everyone is convinced that the search will turn up anything.
Unlike biosignatures, alien technosignatures might be too faint, said Gustavo Cruz Diaz, a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center who attended the talks, but was not involved in the research. “If extraterrestrial life looks at us, they will not find a [single] technosignature,” he told Live Science after the talk. Even though we think we have an advanced civilization, from a distant perch in space, we simply haven’t modified our planet enough to be detected — at least with our existing technology. “You have to cover the entire Earth with cities to know there is something there,” Cruz Diaz said.
What’s more, technology is ever-changing, and so we might be searching for the wrong things at the wrong time, said Andrew Mattioda, a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, who also attended the talk. Trying to use signals from technology “to identify another civilization is like trying to hit a moving target,” he said. “You don’t know what technology is going to be.”
Earthbound scientists are also constrained by what we know. Hunting aliens with technosignatures may be like searching for missing keys under a streetlight because that’s the only place we can see, Beatty said.
Even so, we can only hunt for what we can imagine being out there, he suggested. As Shakespeare writes, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” But we have to have a starting point, and so the reasonable, the logical starting point, is to look for something like Earth,” Beatty added.
Historically, the search for technosignatures has been much less popular than the hunt for biosignatures, especially in terms of funding, Lazio said. Nor has the search always been taken seriously by other astronomers, Beatty said. But that’s now changing, in large part because “we’ve become very good at measuring exoplanet atmospheres” and small signals around exoplanets, Beatty said.
So, it’s possible that as our humble Earthling technology improves, the hunt for technosignatures may gain more respect. After all, searching for life on other worlds “used to be something that seemed very pie in the sky,” he said. “Whereas now, it’s something we seriously think about today.”
Originally published on Live Science.
The amount of Arctic sea ice has reached its annual minimum — a mere 1.6 million square miles.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), this year’s extent is the second-lowest on record, tied with minimums reached in 2007 and 2016.
Since satellite records have been kept beginning in the late 1970s, NSIDC reports that the 13 smallest sea ice minimums have all occurred in the last 13 years. The lowest amount on record came in 2012, sea ice dropped to 1.37 million square miles.
The sea ice minimum area has declined 12.8 percent per decade over the past 40 years, which scientists believe is partially a result of climate change.
TITANIC SECRET CONTAINED IN NORTHERN IRELAND HOUSE
Ilulissat Icefjord at Disko Bay off the west coast of Greenland. (Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
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A study published last month claimed that sea ice in the Arctic could completely disappear each summer through September if average global temperatures increase by as little as two degrees Celsius.
“Ice recedes from June to September and then in September, it begins to grow again in a seasonal cycle. And we’re saying we could have no ice in September,” Chang said in a statement.
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Scientists have said carbon pollution is warming the Arctic at a faster rate than the rest of the world, thereby contributing to melting sea ice.
Skeptics have largely dismissed fears of man’s impact on global temperatures and claimed climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.
The building where the crew of Apollo 11 was quarantined following their historic moon landing five decades ago will be torn down in 2020 and replaced by an energy-efficient building, NASA said Tuesday.
The Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas was purpose-built in 1967 to house Neil Armstrong and his crew after they returned from the moon until NASA could determine that they had not contracted any infectious diseases. The crew was quarantined for three weeks while NASA scientists began studying their first set of lunar rocks there
The building has become dilapidated and is now beyond repair, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday.
The room at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston where Neil Armstrong was quarantined after he returned from the moon.
(Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Since the last flight of the Apollo program in 1972, the building has been used specifically for projects related to astronaut health. But a 2015 economic analysis determined that the historic building’s structural and electrical problems can’t be fixed.
Dallas-based firm HDR Architecture has been given a $5.7 million contract to design the lab’s replacement.
“I just hate to see what this building represents and what we did here 50 years ago go away,” said Judy Allton, a curator at the Space Center.
This Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 photo shows many buttons and other missing items that have been taken as souvenirs according to employees, at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
(Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Johnson’s historic preservation officer Sandra Tetley said she intends to save the original stairs, pillars and walkways, and as many pieces of equipment inside the building as possible.
“But it’s a shame to lose the building,” Tetley said.
Everett Gibson, an emeritus senior scientist at Johnson, worked in the lab during the Apollo missions 12 through 17.
Just months after celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar footsteps by Apollo 11 astronauts, Gibson said it’s difficult to see the building go but that saving it for historical purposes would be too costly. He’s also not sure there’s still public interest.
“Sometimes in life we have to make hard decisions, and I don’t know what you could do with it,” he said. “It’s sitting out there rotting, and the cost to keep it going is just horrendous. I don’t think it’s that exciting to a man and a woman on the street.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A house for sale in Northern Ireland contains a unique link to the doomed ocean liner RMS Titanic.
The four-bedroom home, which was built in 1833 and is located near Belfast, contains wood used to build the ship.
According to the New York Post, the home’s owner was told by a man who worked in a local salvage yard that the wood for the kitchen’s window seat was used to construct the Titanic — which sank in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew members.
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The Titanic leaving Southampton April 10, 1912.
(Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
NEW TITANIC IMAGES SHOW THE WRECK’S ‘SHOCKING’ DETERIORATION
The timber reportedly came from Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was constructed over three years beginning in 1909.
The house, which is listed for 439,500 pounds ($548,891) and has been carefully restored, was also once a post office.
According to the listing, it has a formal dining room, a living room, an eat-in kitchen, a foyer, an office and a new detached guest house.
In addition, the home features reclaimed pine flooring, an oak staircase, Gothic-style windows and a clawfoot bathtub.
Broker Neil Templeton of Templeton Robinson said the house is a “local hidden gem” and a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for a buyer, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
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A zebra foal discovered in Kenya with a polka-dotted pattern instead of the distinctive black and white stripes that typically adorn the coat of the African species has a rare genetic mutation.
Wildlife photographer Frank Liu shared photos and video of the striking plains zebra discovered in the savannah of the Maasai Mara, a national reserve in southwestern Kenya near the Tanzanian border.
INCREDIBLE PHOTOGRAPHS SHOW RARE ‘BLOND’ ZEBRA THRIVING IN THE WILD
“At first glance, he looked like a different species altogether,” Liu told National Geographic of the week-old zebra.
But the zebra, who Liu’s Maasai guide named Tira, owes its eye-catching coloration to a rare genetic mutation called pseudomelanism, a condition that changes the stripe pattern of animals, biologist Ren Larison told the outlet.
Tira isn’t the first zebra to exhibit an odd color variation, like partial albinism exhibited in a rare blonde zebra photographed earlier this year in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
Tira’s dark, polka-dotted coat may make it more difficult to ward off biting flies. (Rahul Sachdev/Caters News)
Similar foals have been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, according to Africa Geographic. But Tira is the first to be seen in the Maasai Mara and may the first-ever recorded zebra to have traded in its stripes for polka-dots, according to Liu.
Tira’s odd coat may make its life in the savannah’s wilderness more difficult because predators can easily spot animals with atypical color variations from among the pack, Larison told National Geographic.
Africa’s biting flies may pose another obstacle for Tira.
Wildlife experts have said that zebras developed their distinct black and white stripes specifically to deter the insects, who don’t like landing on striped surfaces, and not for the purpose of camouflage.
NASA emails reveal space agency unaware of ‘city-killer’ asteroid until last moment: ‘This one did sneak up on us’
Internal emails from NASA show that the space agency was unaware of asteroid 2019 OK, described as a “city killer,” until the last moment on July 24.
The giant, football field-sized space rock was not detected by researchers until 24 hours before it was set to whiz past Earth at a distance of just 48,000 miles, traveling at 55,000 miles per hour.
“Because there may be media coverage tomorrow, I’m alerting you that in about 30 mins a 57-130 meter sized asteroid will pass Earth at only 0.19 lunar distances (~48,000 miles),” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, wrote in a July 24 email, adding the asteroid “was spotted about 24 hrs ago.”
The Earth surrounded by a host of asteroids.
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The internal messages were obtained by BuzzFeed News through a Freedom of Information Act request and have also been verified by Fox News.
Swinburne University astronomy professor Alan Duffy described asteroid 2019 OK as a “city killer” and an asteroid that “would have hit with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima” to the Sydney Morning Herald.
NASA officials, including Johnson, were taken aback at the terminology used by Duffy and another Australian astronomer quoted by the news outlet, saying “it might be helpful to ask them to think before they speak.” Johnson also said that Australia is “essentially doing nothing to support Planetary Defense,” according to the internal emails.
The emails first obtained by Buzzfeed also indicate that NASA needs better asteroid detection, specifically mentioning that the ATLAS telescope and the PAN- STARRS observatory “need to detect slower objects.”
Following media reports of the close encounter with 2019 OK, CNEOS issued a statement on Aug. 6 that the damage from the space rock could have been troublesome.
“If 2019 OK had entered and disrupted in Earth’s atmosphere over land, the blast wave could have created localized devastation to an area roughly 50 miles across,” CNEOS wrote. “If the asteroid had entered over the ocean, it would have been a bad day for any sailing vessels in the vicinity, but the sea would have absorbed the great majority of the impact’s energy and it is doubtful that a tsunami would have been created.”
Artist’s interpretation of the asteroid impact
In a statement provided to Fox News, NASA Public Affairs Officer Allard Beutel said that NASA and other U.S. agencies are leading the international efforts to respond to a possible impact from a near-Earth object (NEOs).
“In 2018, the White House released the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan, which identifies key steps that U.S. agencies need to take to better prepare the United States – and the world – for detecting and responding to a possible impact,” Beutel wrote in an email to Fox News.
He added that NASA has been directed to keep track of all NEOs 140 meters and bigger, noting they are 35 percent complete with NEOs that size and “approximately 96 percent complete” for those 1 kilometer and bigger. “Strategic investments in our space-based programs, will lead to the benefit of all of humanity as we continue to catalogue any NEOs that pose a potential threat. One such investment is the planetary defense-driven test, the Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART), scheduled to launch in 2021, to demonstrate the possibility of using a kinetic impact to change the motion of an asteroid in space.”
NASA GAMEPLANS MASSIVE ASTEROID STRIKE
The space agency will launch its first DART mission in 2022. In April, NASA awarded a $69 million contract to SpaceX, the space exploration company led by Elon Musk, to help with DART.
The next time an asteroid of this magnitude will come that close to Earth is a decade from now. Asteroid 99942 Apophis (named for an Egyptian god of chaos) will come within 19,000 miles of Earth on April 13, 2029, Fox News has previously reported.
Asteroids that come within 0.05 astronomical units and measure more than 460 feet in diameter are known as “potentially hazardous” NEOs, according to NASA. They are tracked by the NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). According to a 2018 report put together by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEOs.
Last month, Musk said on a podcast that Apophis is not something to worry about, but eventually, a “big rock” will hit Earth and as of right now, there’s nothing we can do about it.
NASA has been preparing for planetary defense from asteroid strikes for years. A recent survey showed that Americans prefer a space program that focuses on potential asteroid impacts over sending humans back to the Moon or to Mars.
In 2016, NASA formalized the agency’s prior program for detecting and tracking NEOs and put it inside its Science Mission Directorate. Last June, NASA unveiled a 20-page plan that detailed the steps the U.S. should take to be better prepared for NEOs – such as asteroids and comets – that come within 30 million miles of the planet.
In addition to enhancing NEO detection, tracking and characterizing capabilities and improving modeling prediction, the plan also aims to develop technologies for deflecting NEOs, increasing international cooperation and establishing new NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.
Separately in April, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that an asteroid strike is not something to be taken lightly and is perhaps Earth’s biggest threat.
“We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about movies,” Bridenstine said at the International Academy of Astronautics’ 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Md., according to Space.com. “This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know right now to host life, and that is the planet Earth.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.
Although cats have a reputation for being aloof, a new study says they bond with humans much like dogs do.
Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that cats — just like dogs and young children — can form secure or insecure bonds with their humans.
“Like dogs, cats display social flexibility in regard to their attachments with humans,” Kristyn Vitale, study author and researcher at Oregon State University’s Human-Animal Interaction Lab, said in a statement. “The majority of cats are securely attached to their owner and use them as a source of security in a novel environment.”
Vitale and her team wanted to study the level of attachment cats have to their owners, so they used a simple attachment test, which has been conducted before on dogs, with cats.
The first group of tests was performed with the owners of nearly 80 kittens, all under the age of eight months. They spent time with their owners for two minutes in an unfamiliar room, then the owners left for two minutes, and then the owners returned for another two minutes.
INDONESIA FIRES TURN SKY AN EERIE BLOOD RED
Close up of a healthy, beautiful cat.
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According to attachment theory, the different setting would make some cats stressed out without their humans present.
Upon being reunited with their owners, the scientists then watched how the cats behaved upon seeing their owner again. About 65 percent of the cats and kittens were found to be securely bonded to their owners, according to the study.
The bonding finding gives the researchers hope for how many cats could be placed in homes in the future, especially given how many cats and kittens are present in animal shelters.
The study, which was reportedly supported by a Nestle Purina sponsorship for research on the well-being of cats, was published in the journal Cell Press.
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Skies over one province in Indonesia turned blood red over the weekend as a result of the country’s widespread wildfires.
The annual fires in Indonesia are known to create a haze that blankets the entire region.
One resident in Jambi province, who captured pictures of the sky, told BBC News the haze had “hurt her eyes and throat.”
Images and video posted online show deep red skies that look otherworldly.
According to Google Translate, the text in the tweet below says: “This afternoon is not night. This is earth not mars planet. This is not in outer space. It’s us who breathe with lungs, not with gills. We humans need clean air, not smoke. Location: Kumpeh, Muaro Jambi”
MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND CONTINENTS MAY BE AS OLD AS EARTH
Koh Tieh Yong, a professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences, told the British news agency that this phenomenon, known as Rayleigh scattering, has to do with certain types of particles that are present during a period of haze.
“In the smoke haze, the most abundant particles are around one micrometre in size, but these particles do not change the colour of the light we see,” he said.
“There are also smaller particles, around 0.05 micrometres or less, that don’t make up a lot of the haze but are still somewhat more abundant during a haze period [than a normal non-haze period]… but this is enough to give an extra tendency to scatter red light more in the forward and backward directions than blue light – and that is why would you see more red than blue.”
The fact the photos were taken around noon could have caused the sky to appear more red, he added.
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TOPSHOT – This picture taken on September 19, 2019 shows firefighters battling a forest fire near Pekanbaru, Riau. Indonesia is battling forest fires causing toxic haze across southeast Asia with aircraft, artificial rain and even prayer, President Joko Widodo said during a visit to a hard-hit area. (Photo by Wahyudi / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAHYUDI/AFP/Getty Images)
Most of the fires are because of illegal slash-and-burn methods being used to clear farmland for cash crops. According to The Washington Post, the last time the fires were this bad, economic losses in Indonesia were estimated at $16 billion.
August and September are the height of Indonesia’s dry season.
Scientists have discovered bizarre bursts of magnetic pulses on Mars that are raising “interesting questions.”
The paper, presented at the European Planetary Science Congress annual meeting earlier this month, notes that the Mars InSight lander has detected these magnetic pulses during the nighttime, a phenomenon that can’t yet be explained.
“The nighttime continuous pulsations found by IFG [InSight FluxGate] are unexpected because they are distinct from what are typically observed on the Earth’s surface at the same local time,” the researchers wrote. “On the other hand, we have not found the Mars counterparts for many types of geomagnetic pulsations well known in Earth studies.”
According to National Geographic, the pulses were 20 times stronger than those that were previously recorded.
“We’re getting an insight into Mars’ magnetic history in a way we’ve never had before,” Paul Byrne, a planetary geologist at North Carolina State University, told the news outlet.
“We speculate that the observed magnetic pulsations by InSight to date are associated with fluctuations in the induced magnetotail and on the magnetospheric boundary,” the researchers added in the study. “Under this scenario, the distinct field and plasma environment at Mars raises interesting questions about how these oscillations propagate through the magnetosphere and ionosphere and reach the surface.”
The magnetic pulses are also seen with a regular frequency, which is startling to the researchers, especially given where the InSight lander is currently — on the planet’s equator.
InSight, which landed safely on the Red Planet in November 2018 after “seven minutes of terror” due to the agency’s inability to control the landing of the spacecraft, is continuing the scientific legacy of NASA’s Apollo missions.
Earlier this year, NASA said the $828 million lander recorded the first-ever “Marsquake,” on April 6, InSight’s 128th day on Mars.
The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission is providing scientists with a wealth of data, including helping “scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own,” NASA explained on its website.