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Mysterious Magnetic Pulses at Midnight on Mars – and More

Mysterious Magnetic Pulses at Midnight on Mars – and More 94

“The InSight fluxgate magnetometer has detected magnetic pulsations on the surface of Mars for the first time. The observations have implications to the wave sources in the induced magnetosphere and whether and how these waves can reach the surface.”

That type of report coming from your local police would cause some concern. Coming from the EPA or the military, it would be a cause for worry. Coming from Mars … it’s a mystery, but it’s definitely a sign of job security for space engineers. At the latest joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society, a NASA gave a presentation on findings by the Mars InSight lander, including the startling revelation that it has been detecting mysterious long pulsations at the Martian midnight. In addition, another presentation reveals that it found strange electrical signs that may be coming from a 2.5-mile-thick layer under the surface that just might be water. Finally, the InSight and its engineers are celebrating because the lander received an Emmy! Wait, what?

Mysterious Magnetic Pulses at Midnight on Mars – and More 96

Artist depiction of InSight on the Martian surface (NASA/JPL)

“The nighttime continuous pulsations found by IFG are unexpected because they are distinct from what are typically observed on the Earth’s surface at the same local time. On the other hand, we have not found the Mars counterparts for many types of geomagnetic pulsations well known in Earth studies. We speculate that the observed magnetic pulsations by InSight to date are associated with fluctuations in the induced magnetotail and on the magnetospheric boundary. 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.”

IFG is the InSight FluxGate, the magnetometer measuring the strength and variations of the surface magnetic field at the InSight landing site on the planet’s equator. The National Geographic story on the conference highlights the importance of InSight providing for the first time a surface analysis of Martian magnetism, which will help scientists determine why Mars lost its protective magnetic and perhaps reveal some warning signs as to if and when Earth might lose its own field. And why do these pulses happen at midnight?

National Geographic covered the second big story from InSight – it picked up magnetic signals from beneath the Martian surface that resemble those on Earth that indicate the presence of water … lots of water. That would bean that somewhere no deeper than 62 miles (100 km) is an aquifer or perhaps even a layer of water that can be drilled to from anywhere on Mars. Unfortunately, InSight’s drill only reaches 16 feet, so the first Martian well belongs to a future probe. If InSight is correct, it won’t need a diving rod.

What about the Emmy?

Oh, yeah. In a special presentation prior the big Emmy Awards show, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences gave NASA the Outstanding Original Interactive Program award for its coverage of the Insight Lander’s entire life from conception to landing and beyond, using TV, social media and other methods to keep the world informed and involved with this exciting project.

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When does the InSight show come on?

“Congrats to those who contributed to the news, web, education, television and social media coverage of this landing on the Red Planet.”

Does it sound like NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is more excited about the Emmy than InSight’s discovery of mysterious midnight magnetic pulses and a potential planet-wide water supply? Of course he is! InSight is never coming back to Earth so he gets to keep the statue in his office.

Way to go, InSight!

Source: Mysterious Universe

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Space

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 111
Photo: (Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC))

To us, the Sun alone seems perfectly normal, but our solar system is actually a strange exception.

Most stars in the Milky Way galaxy have at least one companion star. In a system 1,800 light-years away, astronomers have finally confirmed the existence of a gas giant planet orbiting stars in a triple star system.

Called KOI-5, the system is located in the constellation Cygnus, and the exoplanet was confirmed ten years after it was first detected by the Kepler space telescope.

In fact, the planet – now known as KOI-5Ab – was discovered by Kepler when it began operations back in 2009.

“KOI-5Ab was dropped because it was difficult and we had thousands of other candidates,” astronomer David Siardi of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute said.

“There were lighter dives than the KOI-5Ab, and every day we learned something new from Kepler, so the KOI-5 was almost forgotten.”

Exoplanet hunters tend to avoid the complexities of multi-star systems; of the more than 4,300 exoplanets confirmed to date, less than 10 percent are multi-star systems, although such systems dominate the galaxy. As a result, little is known about the properties of exoplanets in multi-star systems compared to those orbiting a lone star.

After Kepler’s discovery, Chardy and other astronomers used ground-based telescopes such as the Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, and the Gemini North Telescope to study the system. By 2014, they had identified two companion stars, KOI-5B and KOI-5C.

Scientists were able to establish that the planet KOI-5Ab, is a gas giant that is about half the mass of Saturn and 7 times the size of Earth, and is in a very close five-day orbit around KOI-5A. KOI-5A and KOI-5B, both of roughly the same mass as the Sun, form a relatively close binary system with an orbital period of about 30 years.

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 112

A third star, KOI-5C, orbits the binary system at a much greater distance, with a period of about 400 years – slightly longer than Pluto’s 248-year orbit.

“By studying this system in more detail, perhaps we can understand how planets are created in the universe.”

The discovery was announced at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

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Space

Why the universe does not fit into science

Why the universe does not fit into science 113
Photo: YouTube

Science can be compared to an artist painting what he has never seen, or to a writer describing other people’s travels: objects that he has never seen, places where he has never been. Sometimes such scientific “arts” turn out to be beautiful and interesting, but most of them will forever remain only theories, because they are beyond human capabilities.

In fact, science has the right only to speculate: how our universe appeared, how old it is, how many stars and other objects it contains.

Universe model

Why the universe does not fit into science 114

How many stars are there in the sky?

With an unarmed eye, a person can see about nine thousand stars in the sky in one cloudless and moonless night. And armed with binoculars or a telescope, much more – up to several million. However, this is much less than their true number in the universe. Indeed, only in our one galaxy (the Milky Way) there are about 400 billion stars. The exact amount, of course, is not known to science. And the visible universe contains about 170 billion galaxies.

It is worth clarifying that scientists can see the universe 46 billion light years deep in all directions. And the visible (observable) universe includes the space accessible to our eyes from the moment of the Big Explosion. In other words, only this (accessible to human perception) space science refers to our universe. Science does not consider everything that follows.

It is believed that there are supposedly a ceptillion (10 to 24 degrees) stars in our universe. These are theoretical calculations based on the approximate size and age of the universe. The origin of the universe is explained by the Big Bang theory. This is why the universe is constantly expanding and the more time passes, the more complex the universe and its components become.

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It is not entirely correct to consider and perceive this scientific theory “head-on”. Scientists always claim that that explosion was not exactly an explosion, and the point that exploded was not the only one. After all, it was everywhere, because space did not exist then. And in general – everything happened quite differently from what is described in the Big Bang theory, but all other descriptions of the origin of the universe are even more incredible and inaccurate.

Separate but interconnected

That which is beyond the reach of human perception is usually discarded by science, or recognized as non-existent. Recognizing one thing, science does not want to recognize the existence of the other, although everything in our world is interconnected and is not able to exist separately – by itself.

Each object of the universe is a part of it much more than an independent, separate object.

Any person, like any material object of our world, consists of components: organs, cells, molecules, atoms. And each of its constituent parts can represent the whole world. Separate, and at the same time connected with all the others.

However, science, as a rule, perceives all the components of the universe – people, animals, plants, objects, the Earth, the Sun, other planets and stars – as separate subjects, thereby limiting itself.

Why the universe does not fit into science 116

Even what is considered the visible universe, one of the atoms of which could be called our solar system, is not subject to the boundaries of human perception. But perhaps the atom is an exaggeration, and our solar system is not even an atom, but one of its elements!

How, being so far from the truth, can one reason about something with the degree of probability with which science tries to reason about the origin of the universe?

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Space

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars 117

The red planet sways from side to side like a whirligig when it loses speed. The new study allowed scientists to notice that the poles of Mars deviate slightly from the axis of rotation of the planet. On average, they move 10 cm from the center with a period of 200 days.

Such changes are called the Chandler Oscillations  – after the American astronomer Seth Chandler, who discovered them in 1891. Previously, they were only seen on Earth. It is known that the displacement of the poles of rotation of our planet occurs with a period of 433 days, while the amplitude reaches 15 meters. There is no exact answer why this is happening. It is believed that the fluctuations are influenced by processes in the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chandler’s wobbles on Mars are equally perplexing. The authors of the study discovered them by comparing data from 18 years of studying the planet. The information was obtained thanks to three spacecraft that orbit the Red Planet: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. 

Since Mars has no oceans, it is likely that the Red Planet’s wobbly rotation is due to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is the first explanation that researchers have shared. In the future, there should be new details about the fluctuations that have so interested the scientific community.

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