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Bizzare & Odd

Curiosity recorded an increase in oxygen concentration on Mars

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in gases that fill the atmosphere directly above the surface of the Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something extremely interesting: the oxygen, the gas that many earthly creatures breathe, “behaves” very strangely. In particular, an increase in its concentration in the atmosphere of the planet was recorded.

Mars rover Curiosity never ceases to amaze

Where does oxygen come from on Mars?

For three Martian years (or nearly six Earth years), a gas analyzer built into Mars rover Curiosity, passed through all the surrounding gases in the vicinity of Gale Crater and analyzed its composition. The results confirmed previous data that the composition of the Martian atmosphere by volume is 95% carbon dioxide (CO2), 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1.9% is argon (Ar), and 0 , 16% and 0.06% for molecular oxygen (O2) and carbon monoxide (CO), respectively. The remaining tenths and hundredths of a percent are distributed between other gases, which are present in very small concentrations.

Oxygen and methane variation in Gale Crater. They might be related somehow. Melissa Trainer/Dan Gallagher/NASA Goddard

Research also showed how molecules of Martian air mix and circulate in the planet’s atmosphere throughout the year. But then the interesting thing began: the analyzer of the composition of the atmosphere showed that the oxygen concentration increases by 30% in the spring, remains at this level until the fall, and then returns to normal values. The same strange process happens with methane – its usual concentration in the Gale Crater is 0.00000004% of the total volume, and in the summer months it increases dramatically by 60%.

It has been suggested that these changes are due to the fact that CO2 freezes over the poles in winter, thereby lowering the pressure on the entire planet. After this, the redistribution of gases in the atmosphere to maintain equilibrium. That is, with a decrease in CO2 level, the percentage of gases changes, but their volume remains the same. And when CO2 thaws, the reverse process occurs.

Curiosity at Gale Crater

Indeed, scientists have found that nitrogen and argon follow this seasonal pattern, increasing and decreasing their percentage concentration relative to how much CO2 is currently around. Researchers expected oxygen to do the same. But instead, the amount of gas in the air increased during the spring and summer by as much as 30%, and then fell to initial levels. This picture was repeated every spring, as if something produced it, and then took it away.

The first time we saw this, it was just overwhelming, ”said Melissa Trainer, a planetologist at NASA’s Space Flight Center. We are struggling to explain this phenomenon. The fact that the behavior of oxygen is completely repeated every season makes us think that this is not only about atmospheric dynamics. There must be some kind of chemical or biological source.

As soon as scientists discovered the “oxygen mystery”, they started work, trying to explain it. Researchers first tested accuracy three times with a gas measuring device. The tool was in perfect order. The experts then considered the possibility that CO2 molecules could release oxygen when they decompose in the atmosphere, which would lead to a short-term increase in the level of this gas. But it would take a lot of water to produce additional oxygen, and CO2 decays too slowly to generate oxygen in such a short time.

Scientists came to the conclusion that oxygen can be obtained both in biological (using microbes, for example), and non-biological way (from the chemical elements that make up the Gale crater). Currently, experts are considering both options, although they have no convincing evidence of biological activity on Mars. Curiosity simply does not have devices that could accurately capture the presence of organic matter. Now scientists are inclined to believe that non-biological explanations are more likely, but for final conclusions it is still far. So it is quite possible that this story will still be continued. And, who knows what we will find thanks to potential life on Mars.

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Bizzare & Odd

1947 film predicts smartphones and other modern technology

Inspired by Barjavel’s essay, a 70-year-old documentary offers the evolution of portable pocket television as well as a way people interact with objects. Today, parallels are drawn between the objects, like smartphones described in a short documentary.

Anne-Katrin Weber, television historian at Lausanne University, said:

People using miniature television devices in public places; professional meetings held by telephones with a picture; cars equipped with television screens; shops that advertise their products on television: these topics are from the 1947 short film Television: Oeil de Demain. Produced and directed by Raymond-Millet.

The film combines documentary and science fiction sequences, while also offering a television image in post-war France, as well as creative speculation about future developments.

While Raymond-Millet’s work is almost forgotten today, his film received a standing ovation for “predicting our present” and although the small portable devices used in the film have long retractable antennas that resemble the first cell phones, it shows that 70 years ago smartphones already existed. In fact, they mirror today’s smartphones that are in the pockets of almost every person.

At the end of the film, the audience is transferred to the bedroom, where the man is having trouble sleeping. He seems to be “invoking” the hologram of a dancing woman who appears on the bed and looks at her while his wife is sleeping.

The film outline about upcoming television shows, really look like a fairly accurate forecast of modern digital media in terms of flexibility and hybridity of media technologies and their various forms of consumption.

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Bizzare & Odd

The time when US wanted to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon

In the United States during the Cold War, there was a plan to explode a nuclear bomb on the moon as a “demonstration of dominance” before the Soviet Union. New details of the secret mission are revealed in a recently published book.

Intimidate the Soviet Union: Americans wanted to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moonPhoto: nasa.gov

The secret mission, codenamed Project A119, was conceived at the dawn of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the US Air Force Division, located at the Kirtland Air Base in New Mexico.

A report written in June 1959, entitled A Study of Lunar Research Flights, outlines plans for an atomic bomb exploded on the Moon’s “terminator,” the region between the Sun-lit portion of the surface and the darker portion of our planet’s natural satellite.

The explosion would probably be visible to the naked eye from the Earth, because the military planned to add sodium to the bomb, which was supposed to glow during the explosion.

A nuclear explosion on the lunar surface was certainly “one of the stupidest things the government could do,” says John Greenwald, Jr., author of Secrets from the Vault.

According to the Daily Mail, a recently published book details some of the most surrealistic offers in history.

John Greenwald has been interested in the secrets of the US government since he was 15 and has filed more than 3,000 requests for freedom of information. He oversees The Black Vault’s online repository, which has collected about 2.1 million pages of previously classified documents related to UFOs, mysterious murders and other mysterious phenomena.

According to Greenwald, the US Air Force was developing a lunar project to “show US dominance in space over the Soviet Union and, ultimately, over the whole world.”

The plan, of course, has never been implemented – perhaps because of a potential “unprecedented scientific disaster,” as one declassified document says.

The existence of this scheme was first discovered in 1999 in the biography of the world famous astronomer Carl Sagan, who died in 1996. Sagan was hired to work with him in Chicago by Dr. Leonard Raiffel, a physicist who was studying the possibility of creating a lunar nuclear bomb.

Leonard Raiffel (he died in 2017 at the age of 89) in an interview in 2000 claimed that the bomb would be as big as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

“It was clear that the main purpose of the proposed detonation was a PR act and a demonstration of sole domination,” the scientist told The Observer. – The Air Force wanted the mushroom cloud to be so large that it could be seen on Earth. The United States lagged behind in the space race.”

Photo: nasa.gov

In 1958, Raiffel was approached by senior US Air Force officers who asked him to “expedite” a project to study the visibility and consequences of a nuclear explosion on the moon.

According to the scientist, he made it clear that as a result, the pristine lunar environment will be destroyed, and this will be a huge damage, “but the US Air Force was mainly concerned about how a nuclear explosion would be perceived on Earth.”

“If the project were made public, there would be protests,” Raiffel said.

Greenwald’s book also explores the 1959 Army project on building a military base on the moon, code-named Project Horizon. The aim of the project was to create a permanent lunar colony for 10-20 people by the end of 1966. To get equipment there, it was projected to require an average of 5.3 Saturn rocket launches per month from August 1964 to November 1966.

In the entire history of the American space program, only 19 Saturns were launched.

“Military power based on the moon will be a strong deterrent to war because of the extreme difficulty, from the enemy’s point of view, of eliminating our ability to strike back,” the project suggested.

In a 1959 memorandum, US Army Research and Development Head Lieutenant Arthur Trudeau argued that if the United States created a permanent base on the moon, the prestige and psychological advantage for the American nation would be invaluable in confronting the Soviets.

The report indicated that creating an outpost of 12 people and maintaining it in working condition over the course of the year would cost more than $ 6 billion (which is equivalent to more than $ 53 billion in modern money).

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Bizzare & Odd

The most unusual rains in human history

Science for a long time did not pay attention to this anomalous phenomenon, suggesting that it was nothing more than legends and fabrications. But then an explanation was found.

Exactly 80 years ago, something strange happened near the village of Meschera in the Gorky Region, which shocked local residents. Ancient coins fell on their heads right from the sky

Ominous sign filed by seaweed

On June 17, 1940, the inhabitants of the village of Meshchera with amazement rushed to collect silver coins of the 16th – 17th centuries. that fell from the sky. An unusual find was then handed over to the state – in total, about a thousand coins were counted.

According to the most common version, the weather became the cause of the money rain: first, the rain washed out of the  ground the treasure buried in the time of Ivan the Terrible, and then the hurricane lifted it into the air and scattered it around the neighborhood.

In July 2001, red rain poured in the Indian state of Kerala. With interruptions, it continued until the end of September, and the population was pretty frightened: in precipitation, similar to blood, people saw an ominous sign. Later, scientists reassured them: the rain became colored due to  spores of local algae.

In 2005, frogs fell from the sky near the Serbian village of Kaja Janovik. Its inhabitants were at a loss. Experts suggested that the blame for everything is the tornado, which dragged amphibians into its funnel from a nearby body of water.

Similar “precipitation” from frogs and toads was observed at different times in other countries. For example, in 1953 in Massachusetts, USA. Or in 2007 in  El Rebolledo, Spain.

Dinner fallen from the sky

Rain from animals is undoubtedly a rare occurrence, but not just mentioned in written sources. Such evidence is found among the ancient Greeks and Romans. The message about squirrels falling from the sky is contained in the Ipatiev Chronicle And in the XIX century, the press began to publish them. 

For example, the 1877 Scientific American magazine described snake rain reaching 18 inches (about 45 centimeters) in length that fell in Memphis. In June 1880, quail rained over Spanish Valencia, and in February 1861, Singaporeans saw thousands of fish fall from the sky along with a shower.

Fish rain in Singapore as described by the indigenous people

There have been reports of unusual precipitation from animals both in the last century and in the present.

 In 1969, in the city of St. Mary (USA), rain fell from dead canaries. In 1978, in New South Wales (Australia) – from shrimp. 

In 2007, residents of the Argentinean province of Salta watched spiders pouring from the sky, in 2011, earthworms began to fall on the students of one of the schools in Scotland (they had a physical education lesson in the stadium). 

The teacher was forced to interrupt the lesson and take the children away, and then he went out with them and collected these worms for a long time to give them for examination. Scientists suggested that the wind brought them, but the weather that day was sunny and calm.

For the city of Yoro, in Honduras, fish rain (in Spanish – aguacero de pescado) has become so commonplace that the local department holds the annual Fish Rain Festival, which attracts tourists.

 The action takes place in the time interval from May to July: a dark cloud appears in the sky, which is opened by a heavy rain, and after it hundreds of living fish remain on the ground. 

Both locals and visitors collect the prey and bring it to the kitchen, where they prepare a gala dinner. Fish rain is even mentioned in Honduran folklore.

Engraving depicting the “fish rain” (O. Magnus, 1555)

Can a frog spawn in the cloud?

Science for a long time did not pay attention to this anomalous phenomenon, suggesting that it was nothing more than a legend. 

Therefore, a version emerged that now looks like sheer absurdity. Namely: the creatures that fell from the sky themselves somehow originated in the clouds. In the 19th century, a near-scientific base was even brought up under this hypothesis: they say, along with water vapor, eggs of frogs rise into the atmosphere, where they grow and  live in clouds for some  time, and then fall to the ground with rain.

Nevertheless, the French physicist Andre Marie Ampère (the one whose name is used to name the unit of current strength) tried to explain the rains from frogs and toads with more rational arguments. Subsequently, they were accepted and developed by other scientists. 

Ampere suggested that strong winds are able to pick up large groups of toads, crawling out of the reservoirs on the grass, and carry them over distances of several kilometers. Actually, the scientific explanation of the phenomenon, which caused bewilderment and superstitious awe among our ancestors, boils down to abnormal weather phenomena – hurricanes and tornadoes.

Scientists have proven that they can raise fish and the same frogs from the surface of reservoirs, small animals from the ground, and intercept birds in flight. Unable to escape from the funnel of a tornado, animals soar higher and higher until the elements subside and its energy yields to Earth’s gravity.

There is another scientific explanation which denies the very existence of rains from animals. It is noticed that some species of fish are able to crawl along the grass, moving from one reservoir to another, like eels. 

If a person sees them immediately after the rain, he might think that they have fallen from a thundercloud. The same goes for frogs and toads. Even the ancient Greek philosopher Theofast suggested that amphibians do not fall from the sky with rain – this rain makes them crawl out of ponds and swamps into open areas.

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