Space Thread

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Eclipse watchers could see a range of bizarre phenomena as the moon covers the sun
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Stephane Blais
Published Apr 06, 2024 • 3 minute read

A total solar eclipse is more than just the moon covering the sun; it's a multi-phase spectacle that can cause a number of unusual phenomena, if the weather is right.
A total solar eclipse is more than just the moon covering the sun; it's a multi-phase spectacle that can cause a number of unusual phenomena, if the weather is right.
MONTREAL — A total solar eclipse is more than just the moon covering the sun; it’s a multi-phase spectacle that can cause a number of unusual phenomena, if the weather is right.


In the past, eclipses were often associated with bad omens and misfortune. In 1133, for example, a solar eclipse over England was later seen as a portent of the king’s death — which occurred two years later — and the ensuing civil war. While the mechanism of an eclipse is now understood, many of the associated effects remain bizarre.

Around 20 minutes before the total eclipse, it will begin to get noticeably darker, and around 30 seconds to a minute before the totality — when the moon appears to completely cover the sun _ shadow bands can be observed.

“They’re like waves of light appearing on the ground, a bit like the waves of light you can observe at the bottom of a swimming pool in the sun. It’s a manifestation of the atmospheric turbulence,” said Marc Jobin, an astronomer at the Montreal Planetarium. “It’s an unusual phenomenon that can only be seen at this time.”


During the total eclipse, the temperature can suddenly drop several degrees and the wind can change direction. Clouds can also dissipate in the minutes before the total eclipse — so even if Monday starts out as a cloudy day, sky watchers may still be in luck _ a phenomenon that researchers link to the cooling that occurs on Earth when the moon hides the sun

The minutes before the total eclipse on Monday afternoon could also be a great opportunity to observe planets, such as Venus and Jupiter, as the sky begins to darken, Jobin said.

“We’re going to see Venus a little below the eclipsed sun and Jupiter a little above,” said Jobin, an “eclipse hunter” who has witnessed 10 total solar eclipses and spent almost 33 minutes in the shadow of the moon. Mercury can also be seen as the total eclipse approaches, as can bright stars, such as Sirius and Capella.


While protective eclipse glasses should be worn while looking at the sun before and after the total eclipse, the planets can’t be seen through the glasses. “You can look at the sky during the partial phases without looking at the sun,” Jobin said. Looking in the direction of the sun without protective glasses can cause permanent injury and burns.

There are few scientific studies about the behaviour of animals during total eclipses, largely due to their rarity, however, there are numerous reports of animals acting strangely. For example, in 2017, The Associated Press reported that Galapagos tortoises at a zoo in Columbia, S.C., began mating at the height of an eclipse. The cause of the behaviour is not yet known.


Jobin said that when he was in the West Indies in 1998 to see an eclipse, roosters began crowing like it was morning when the sun returned. According to the website of Quebec’s chief scientist, “many birds stop singing and gather, or return to their nests as the darkness descends, behaviours similar to those they display at dusk.”

Researchers are planning to study the behaviour of 12 animal species at a zoo in Granby, Que., east of Montreal, during the eclipse and in the days around it.

Several seconds before the totality, and several seconds after, as the moon almost completely covers the sun, points of brilliant, often pink light, can be observed with eclipse glasses. Known as Baily’s beads, these pearls of light are caused by the mountains and craters of the moon.

Another phenomenon, the “diamond ring,” occurs when only one point of light can be observed before the sun disappears completely. Both of these phenomena can only be seen in the path of totality — a band where the moon’s shadow will be cast on the Earth.

Outside the path of totality, the sun will not be completely hidden by the moon and it will not become night during the day, Jobin said. “A 99.9 per cent partial eclipse is not equivalent to 99.9 per cent of the experience” of a total eclipse, he said.
 

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Woman shoots drivers, says God told her to because of eclipse: Florida cops
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 08, 2024 • 1 minute read

A woman checked out of a Florida hotel and told staff that she was going on a God-directed shooting spree because of the solar eclipse, then shot two drivers on Interstate 10 before being arrested and charged with attempted murder Monday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
BONIFAY, Fla. — A woman checked out of a Florida hotel and told staff that she was going on a God-directed shooting spree because of the solar eclipse, then shot two drivers on Interstate 10 before being arrested and charged with attempted murder Monday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.


Taylon Nichelle Celestine, 22, of Georgia, entered the highway 180 km from the Alabama border in the Florida Panhandle and headed west. Within 8 km, she fired into a passing car several times, spraying auto glass and grazing the driver in the arm, the department said in a statement.



She then fired at a second vehicle, hitting the driver in the neck. The driver was injured and treated at a hospital.

Troopers stopped the woman after she drove for about 26 km and found her with an AR-15 rifle and 9mm handgun. She was arrested and booked into the Holmes County jail. She was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and improper discharge of a firearm.

The Florida Highway Patrol didn’t provide details about bail or Celestine’s legal representation.
 

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Woman claims God told her to shoot at drivers on Florida highway: Cops
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published Apr 09, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 1 minute read

A woman allegedly shot at random drivers on a Florida highway, claiming that God sent her a message to do it via this week’s solar eclipse, police said.


One driver was hospitalized after being hit in the neck. Another was grazed in the arm and wounded by glass fragments when a bullet shattered his car window.


Nichelle Celestine, 22, had recently checked out of a hotel in Bonifay, Fla., where she allegedly told staff she was going on a shooting spree because God instructed her to “in relation to the solar eclipse,” Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release.

Troopers responded to reports of an active shooter on Interstate 10, after the suspect — driving a purple Dodge Challenger with Georgia plates — allegedly filed multiple shots, striking passing cars a number of times.


The police department posted a public advisory notice on Facebook, saying a trooper witnessed Celestine leave the highway and “head toward a rest area.”


Celestine reportedly attempted to turn around and get back on the interstate, but the trooper pulled her vehicle over.

Once officers arrived at the scene, Celestine was taken into custody without incident.

Florida Highway Patrol alleged that officers recovered an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun from the suspect’s vehicle.

“Currently, there appear to be two victims,” the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, adding there is “no remaining threat to the community.”

Celestine was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and improper discharge of a firearm.

The investigation is ongoing.
 

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Mom who threw 2 kids onto L.A. freeway, killing infant, appeared agitated by impending eclipse
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Stefanie Dazio And Christopher Weber
Published Apr 10, 2024 • Last updated 3 days ago • 4 minute read
Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, a woman who authorities say fatally stabbed her partner inside their home in the complex Monday then threw her two children from a moving SUV onto the freeway, killing her infant daughter, appeared to be agitated by the impending eclipse.
Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, a woman who authorities say fatally stabbed her partner inside their home in the complex Monday then threw her two children from a moving SUV onto the freeway, killing her infant daughter, appeared to be agitated by the impending eclipse.
LOS ANGELES — A woman who authorities say fatally stabbed her partner at their Los Angeles apartment Monday then threw her two children from a moving SUV onto the freeway, killing her infant daughter, was an astrologer who called the impending solar eclipse “the epitome of spiritual warfare” in an online post days earlier.


Los Angeles police believe Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, 34, posted on X as an astrology influencer and recording artist with the moniker “Ayoka,” in the days leading up to the violence, which began hours before the eclipse peaked in Southern California, said Lt. Guy Golan.


While detectives have reviewed Johnson’s posts, police are not considering the eclipse to be a precipitating or contributing factor to the slayings “because we just don’t know why she did what she did,” Golan told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“We’ve taken all the facts we can, but without being able to interview her and without having something more tangible than a post on X, I don’t know how much weight you can give to somebody (saying) there’s an apocalypse and attribute it to one of the most horrific murders we’ve had in LA,” Golan, who is head of the homicide unit investigating the case, said.


Authorities say Johnson and her partner, 29-year-old Jaelen Allen Chaney, had an argument around 3:40 a.m. Monday in their apartment in Woodland Hills, about 25 miles (42 kilometres) northwest of downtown LA. Johnson stabbed Chaney and fled with her kids, an 8-month-old girl and her 9-year-old sister, in a Porsche Cayenne.

Johnson then drove along Interstate 405 in Culver City and threw her daughters out of the moving SUV around 4:30 a.m., police said. The baby was pronounced dead on the road, but the older daughter — who witnessed the stabbing — survived with moderate injuries.

Johnson traveled southwest to Redondo Beach, where a half-hour later she was driving over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) and crashed into a tree. The LAPD is investigating whether the solo crash was an apparent suicide.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on Johnson’s social media activities in connection with the killings.



“Get your protection on and your heart in the right place,” she posted April 4 to more than 105,000 followers on X. “The world is very obviously changing right now and if you ever needed to pick a side, the time to do right in your life is now. Stay strong you got this.”

On April 5, she posted in all caps, “Wake up wake up the apocalypse is here. Everyone who has ears listen. Your time to choose what you believe is now.”

Her social media also included a mix of antisemitic screeds, conspiracy theories about vaccines and warnings about the end of the world alongside astrological predictions and positive affirmations. Also on April 5, she posted the word “LOVE” dozens of times. Her personal website offers a variety of services including “zodiac healing work,” “alcohol balancing system” and an “aura cleanse.”


Johnson’s internet presence and online following dates back years. The Fader, a music magazine, interviewed her in 2016 as an astrology personality.

“She was very standoffish,” said Norman Linder, a Woodland Hills neighbour. He only saw Johnson and her daughters a few times before in the apartment complex.

Another neighbour, Anita Mazer, told the AP that when she saw the family, “I just said ‘hello.’ The baby was really cute,” she said Wednesday. “It’s horrible.”

Golan said there were no calls for police to respond to the couple’s apartment prior to Monday’s killing, when neighbours called 911 after seeing the door open. Johnson did not have a felony criminal record in California and there were no indications of reported domestic violence.


Detectives did not immediately link the Woodland Hills slaying to the daughters, Golan said. He was in the San Fernando Valley neighbourhood when he started getting push alerts from news organizations on his cellphone about the infant’s death on the roadway in Culver City. Investigators realized there might be a connection between two missing children from the family’s apartment and the tragedy on the interstate.

“I was like ‘Oh, there’s two young girls who were stranded on the 405 Freeway.’ That is such a random and terrible thing to hear about. And we knew there were two young children,” Golan continued. “We were setting up an Amber Alert.”

Golan said detectives discovered candles and cards inside the apartment, but he was not sure whether they were tarot cards.


“They didn’t look like your standard deck of cards that you would play poker with,” he said.

The solar eclipse’s path of totality stretched from Mazatlan, Mexico, to Newfoundland, Canada, a swath approximately 115 miles (185 kilometres) wide. Revelers were engulfed in darkness at state parks, on city rooftops and in small towns when the moon blocked out the sun, though Southern California only saw a partial eclipse that peaked at 11:12 a.m.

Across the globe, the celestial event spawned fears of the apocalypse and other suspicions rooted in religion and spirituality. But Golan noted that others who posted online about their eclipse-related worries did not commit violence like Johnson.

“How many people wrote about it,” he said, “and didn’t go out and murder somebody?”
 

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NASA confirms mystery object that crashed through roof of Florida home came from space station
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 15, 2024 • 1 minute read

This undated photo provided by NASA shows a recovered chunk of space junk from equipment discarded at the International Space Station. The cylindrical object that tore through a home in Naples, Fla., March 8, 2024, was subsequently taken to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for analysis. (NASA via AP)
This undated photo provided by NASA shows a recovered chunk of space junk from equipment discarded at the International Space Station. The cylindrical object that tore through a home in Naples, Fla., March 8, 2024, was subsequently taken to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for analysis. (NASA via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — NASA confirmed Monday that a mystery object that crashed through the roof of a Florida home last month was a chunk of space junk from equipment discarded at the International Space Station.


The cylindrical object that tore through the home in Naples on March 8 was subsequently taken to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral for analysis.

The space agency said it was a metal support used to mount old batteries on a cargo pallet for disposal. The pallet was jettisoned from the space station in 2021, and the load was expected to eventually fully burn up on entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but one piece survived.

The chunk of metal weighed 1.6 pounds (0.7 kilograms) and was 4 inches (10 centimetres) tall and roughly 1 1/2 inches (4 centimetres) wide.

Homeowner Alejandro Otero told television station WINK at the time that he was on vacation when his son told him what had happened. Otero came home early to check on the house, finding the object had ripped through his ceiling and torn up the flooring.

“I was shaking. I was completely in disbelief. What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage,” Otero said. “I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”
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NASA astronauts arrive for Boeing’s first human spaceflight
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Apr 25, 2024 • 1 minute read

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The two NASA astronauts assigned to Boeing’s first human spaceflight arrived at their launch site Thursday, just over a week before their scheduled liftoff.


Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will serve as test pilots for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, which is making its debut with crew after years of delay. They flew from Houston into Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.


Due to blast off May 6 atop an Atlas rocket, the Starliner will fly to the International Space Station for a weeklong shakedown cruise. Boeing is trying to catch up to SpaceX, which has been launching astronauts for NASA since 2020.

No one was aboard Boeing’s two previous Starliner test flights. The first, in 2019, didn’t make it to the space station because of software and other problems. Boeing repeated the demo in 2022. More recently, the capsule was plagued by parachute issues and flammable tape that had to be removed.


Wilmore stressed this is a test flight meant to uncover anything amiss.

“Do we expect it to go perfectly? This is the first human flight of the spacecraft,” he told reporters. “I’m sure we’ll find things out. That’s why we do this.”

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing a decade ago, paying billions of dollars for the companies to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. The space agency is still keen on having capsules from two competing companies for its astronauts, even with the space station winding down by 2030.

“That’s vitally important,” Wilmore noted.

Wilmore and Williams will be the first astronauts to ride an Atlas rocket since NASA’s Project Mercury in the early 1960s.

— The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
 

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NASA astronauts arrive for Boeing’s first human spaceflight
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Apr 25, 2024 • 1 minute read

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The two NASA astronauts assigned to Boeing’s first human spaceflight arrived at their launch site Thursday, just over a week before their scheduled liftoff.


Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will serve as test pilots for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, which is making its debut with crew after years of delay. They flew from Houston into Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.


Due to blast off May 6 atop an Atlas rocket, the Starliner will fly to the International Space Station for a weeklong shakedown cruise. Boeing is trying to catch up to SpaceX, which has been launching astronauts for NASA since 2020.

No one was aboard Boeing’s two previous Starliner test flights. The first, in 2019, didn’t make it to the space station because of software and other problems. Boeing repeated the demo in 2022. More recently, the capsule was plagued by parachute issues and flammable tape that had to be removed.


Wilmore stressed this is a test flight meant to uncover anything amiss.

“Do we expect it to go perfectly? This is the first human flight of the spacecraft,” he told reporters. “I’m sure we’ll find things out. That’s why we do this.”

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing a decade ago, paying billions of dollars for the companies to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. The space agency is still keen on having capsules from two competing companies for its astronauts, even with the space station winding down by 2030.

“That’s vitally important,” Wilmore noted.

Wilmore and Williams will be the first astronauts to ride an Atlas rocket since NASA’s Project Mercury in the early 1960s.

— The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
im sure theres nothing to worry about. ;)
 

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A horse-shaped nebula gets its close-up in new photos by NASA’s Webb telescope
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adithi Ramakrishnan
Published Apr 29, 2024 • 1 minute read

This handout image obtained April 29, 2024 courtesy of NASA/ESA/CSA shows the "mane" of the Horsehead Nebula imaged by Webb's MIRI instrument.
This handout image obtained April 29, 2024 courtesy of NASA/ESA/CSA shows the "mane" of the Horsehead Nebula imaged by Webb's MIRI instrument. PHOTO BY ESA, NASA, CSA, STSCI /AFP via Getty Images
DALLAS — NASA’s Webb Space Telescope has revealed the sharpest images yet of a portion of a horse-shaped nebula, showing the “mane” in finer detail.


The Horsehead Nebula, in the constellation Orion, is 1,300 light-years away. A light-year is nearly 9.7 trillion kilometres).

Article content
Discovered over a century ago, its nickname derives from its striking appearance — a wispy pillar of gas and dust that resembles a horse rearing its head.

Webb’s latest infrared images released Monday captured the top of Horsehead in greater detail, illuminating clouds of chilly hydrogen molecules and soot-like chemicals. These glamour shots can help refine astronomers’ understanding of the nebula, which acts as a nursery for big stars to brew.

Horsehead is a favourite target of space observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope. Last year, the European space telescope Euclid took fresh photos of the nebula.


nebula[1].jpg
 

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Ontario reported the most UFO sightings ever in Canada: Study
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published May 03, 2024 • 2 minute read

Whether you believe in extra-terrestrial life is one thing but seeing something mysterious flying high above is another.


People often spot unknown things in the sky but in Canada, most of those reports come from residents of Ontario.


The folks at online gambling site Lucky Days analyzed data from the National UFO Reporting Center to find which areas of the country had the most recorded sightings in history, and found Ontarians topped the list when it came to spotting an unidentified flying object.

The results found that 2,539 cases were reported by residents and visitors to the province.

Ontario has a history of supernatural experiences dating back to the last century, with hundreds of reported sightings in the southwest region since the ‘90s.

“For centuries, reports of unidentified sightings and mysterious objects have captivated the human imagination, igniting a sense of curiosity,” Rich Lee, chief marketing officer of Lucky Days, said.


“In Canada, each province and territory has its own mythology of sightings and offers spots that both residents and visitors find compelling to explore.”

British Columbia came in second with 1,217 locals reporting seemingly unexplainable incidents, while its neighbour Alberta took third place with 697 incidents involving an unidentified object in the sky.

Quebec was fourth with 449 over the last few decades, while in February 2023 alone, three separate pilots reported an unidentified flying object.

In fifth was Manitoba, which has noted 251 sightings since reporting began, according to the National UFO Reporting Center.

The province’s Falcon Lake is home to one of Canada’s best-known UFO sightings when in 1967, a man named Steve Michalak claimed a spaceship landed nearby and, after interacting with it, the heat of the craft was so hot and emitted a blast of heated gas which blew him back and set fire to his clothes.


Nova Scotia had 228 overall sightings to take sixth place, one of which include the famous Shag Harbour incident in 1967, where multiple reports came in of a mysterious object hitting the small fishing village.



Saskatchewan came in seventh with 223 reported instances, New Brunswick had 210 to land the No. 8 spot, Newfoundland and Labrador was ninth with 54 sightings while PEI’s 27 reports put the small province in 10th.

“The allure of UFOs transcends mere curiosity; it embodies an interest of the unknown and unexplainable, representing a yearning to unravel the mysteries of our universe, often added to by works of science fiction in popular media,” Lee said.

“People are drawn to these locations not only out of curiosity but also often in the hopes of encountering something extraordinary themselves.”
 

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Boeing’s first astronaut launch is off until late next week to replace a bad rocket valve
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published May 07, 2024 • 1 minute read

050724-2151938234
Boeing's Starliner spacecraft sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 after the planned launch of NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test was scrubbed on May 07, 2024, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. ULA's launch director declared a scrub on Monday night due to a faulty oxygen relief valve on the Atlas V rocket's second stage. ULA's team is working to determine if the valve has enough lifespan to try another launch attempt later this week. PHOTO BY JOE RAEDLE /Getty Images
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Boeing’s first astronaut launch is off until late next week because of a bad valve in the rocket that needs to be replaced.


The countdown was halted Monday night after a pressure-relief valve in the Atlas V rocket’s upper stage opened and closed so quickly and so many times that it created a loud buzz. Engineers for United Launch Alliance determined Tuesday that the valve has exceeded its design limit and must now be removed, pushing liftoff to no earlier than May 17.


The NASA astronauts assigned to the Starliner capsule’s test flight to the International Space Station — Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams — will remain at Cape Canaveral.

Starliner’s first crew flight already is years behind schedule because of a multitude of capsule problems.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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Scorching, rocky planet twice Earth’s size has thick atmosphere, scientists say
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adithi Ramakrishnan
Published May 08, 2024 • 2 minute read

planet 55 Cancri e, right, orbiting its star
This illustration provided by NASA in 2017 depicts the planet 55 Cancri e, right, orbiting its star. PHOTO BY NASA /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DALLAS — A thick atmosphere has been detected around a planet that’s twice as big as Earth in a nearby solar system, researchers reported Wednesday.


The so-called super Earth — known as 55 Cancri e — is among the few rocky planets outside our solar system with a significant atmosphere, wrapped a blanket of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The exact amounts are unclear. Earth’s atmosphere is a blend of nitrogen, oxygen, argon and other gases.

“It’s probably the firmest evidence yet that this planet has an atmosphere,” said Ian Crossfield, an astronomer at the University of Kansas who studies exoplanets and was not involved with the research.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

Super Earth refers to a planet’s size — bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. The boiling temperatures on this planet _ which can reach as hot as 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit (2,300 degrees Celsius) — mean that it is unlikely to host life.


Instead, scientists say the discovery is a promising sign that other such rocky planets with thick atmospheres could exist that may be more hospitable.

The exoplanet 41 light years away is eight times heavier than Earth and circles its star Copernicus so closely that it has permanent day and night sides. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles (9.7 trillion kilometers). Its surface is encrusted with magma oceans.

To identify the makeup of its atmosphere, researchers studied Webb Space Telescope observations before and after the planet passed behind its star.

They separated the light emitted from the planet versus its star and used the data to calculate the planet’s temperature. There’s evidence the planet’s heat was being distributed more evenly across its surface — a party trick atmospheres are known for.

Gases from its magma oceans may play a key role in holding its atmosphere steady. Exploring this super Earth may also yield clues to how Earth and Mars might have evolved first with magma oceans that have since cooled, scientists say.

“It’s a rare window,” said Renyu Hu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was part of the research. “We can look into this early phase of planet evolution.”
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Saskatchewan farmer finds hunk of space junk in field
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Kelly Geraldine Malone
Published May 14, 2024 • 3 minute read

Barry Sawchuk found a giant piece of suspected space debris, as shown in this handout image provided by Sawchuk, in the field of his farm located near Ituna, Sask., on Feb. 28, 2024.
Barry Sawchuk found a giant piece of suspected space debris, as shown in this handout image provided by Sawchuk, in the field of his farm located near Ituna, Sask., on Feb. 28, 2024. PHOTO BY BARRY SAWCHUK /The Canadian Press
Barry Sawchuk doesn’t usually concern himself with space or the final frontier.


The 66-year-old Saskatchewan farmer is much more focused on seeding.


But when he found a giant piece of debris in his fields, Sawchuk said he was shocked to learn it was likely part of a rocket.

“Not every day you go out in your field and find space junk,” Sawchuk said with a laugh in an interview from the front seat of his tractor.

Sawchuk, who farms with his three sons near Ituna, northeast of Regina, was checking out the moisture in his fields at the end of April when he spotted the item.

As he got closer, he became confused.

It looked like a burned-up piece of carbon fibre with aluminum honeycombed in between, he said. There also appeared to be a hydraulic cylinder in the debris.

It didn’t look like anything his family has ever come across on their property before.


“We knew it came from the sky, because it couldn’t get there by itself,” Sawchuk said.

He said one of his sons did some research and figured it must be space debris.

The family thought it was a fun conversation starter. They did an interview with a local newspaper about the find and its possible connections to infinity and beyond.

Photos of the discovery made their way to Samantha Lawler, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Regina.

“That’s definitely space junk,” Lawler said.

Lawler sent the photos and information about where it was found to her colleague Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard who tracks space launches.

Looking at data, he determined that the farmer’s find was likely linked to a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that had returned to Earth in February with four passengers from the International Space Station.


McDowell posted on social media that the re-entry trajectory for the trunk section of the spacecraft passed within a few kilometres of where the large object was found in the field.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada confirmed there were no reports of aircraft that could explain the object.

Lawler said the SpaceX Dragon is a capsule used to send people to the space station. Its trunk, an unpressurized cargo space, is attached to the capsule and provides power during the flight and while it’s on the station. The trunk is ejected before the ship enters the atmosphere, where it’s expected to burn up.

But it doesn’t always.

Chunks of debris were found on farmland in Australia in 2022. The Australian Space Agency confirmed at the time that it was from a SpaceX mission.


Objects suspected to be similar space debris were also found on a farm in Washington State the year before.

Lawler said she believes more junk will land around the world as private companies bolster business in space. Every single rocket, whether transporting people or satellites, has different materials that are left in orbit.

SpaceX alone has a constellation of more than 5,000 satellites.

Lawler said tracking junk in space is haphazard. She’s been researching the dramatic increase in satellites and its effect on astronomy and atmospheric chemistry.

“I’ve been yelling about this for five years, and now a piece of junk fell an hour away from my house,” Lawler said.

“That’s crazy. It’s literally hitting close to home.”

Back on Sawchuk’s farm, not much has changed. The farmer’s eyes aren’t wandering to the skies any more than they did before.

“We grow grain,” he said. “That’s what we do.”
sask-space-junk-20240514[1].jpg
 

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Webb telescope uncovers merger of two massive black holes from early universe
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published May 16, 2024 • 1 minute read

This image released by NASA shows the ZS7 galaxy system, revealing the ionized hydrogen emission in orange and the doubly ionized oxygen emission in dark red.
This image released by NASA shows the ZS7 galaxy system, revealing the ionized hydrogen emission in orange and the doubly ionized oxygen emission in dark red. PHOTO BY ESA/WEBB, NASA VIA AP /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The Webb Space Telescope has discovered the earliest known merger of black holes.


These two gigantic black holes and their galaxies consolidated just 740 million years after the universe-forming Big Bang. It’s the most distant detection ever made of merging black holes, scientists reported Thursday.

One black hole is 50 million times more massive than our sun. The other is thought to be similar in size, but is buried in dense gas, which makes it harder to measure.

Until now, astronomers weren’t sure how supermassive black holes got so big.

The latest findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggest mergers are how black holes can grow so rapidly — “even at cosmic dawn,” said lead author Hannah Ubler of the University of Cambridge.

“Massive black holes have been shaping the evolution of galaxies from the very beginning,” Ubler said in a statement.

Launched in 2021 as the eventual successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is the biggest and most powerful observatory ever sent into space. A joint U.S.-European project, the infrared observatory surveys the universe from a location 1.6 million kilometres from Earth.
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