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‘Oumuamua is Back to Being an Interstellar Space Rock — For Now

It’s a comet! It’s an alien space ship! It’s an asteroid! It’s a space ship! It’s a weird comet! It’s a weird space ship! It’s a weird asteroid! It’s a (weird or otherwise) something else! It’s ‘Oumuamua, the interstellar space object that has mystified, enthralled and enraged astronomers, rocket scientists and the general public ever since it wagged its almost non-existent tail as made its turn around the sun and headed out to parts unknown before anyone could get a good look at it … which is just one of the problems that has caused the controversies and debates over what it is. The latest “this is what ‘Oumuamua REALLY is or isn’t” comes from the University of Maryland Department of Astronomy which contradicts all of those Giorgio Tsoukalos memes that say it’s definitely a spaceship. But do they know what it REALLY is?

“We have never seen anything like ‘Oumuamua in our solar system. It’s really a mystery still. But our preference is to stick with analogs we know, unless or until we find something unique. The alien spacecraft hypothesis is a fun idea, but our analysis suggests there is a whole host of natural phenomena that could explain it.”

In a report published in the current edition of the journal Nature Astronomy, Matthew Knight, an associate research scientist in the University of Maryland Department of Astronomy, reviewed all of the actual data collected up to and including the rear-end tracking that narrowed its origin down to one of four stars. Knight was one of the first to study ‘Oumuamua, co-authoring a study on its rotation and shape in December 2017 – just a few months after it was discovered.

“The alien-spacecraft camp threw the jets model out of the window.”

On his blog, co-author Sean Raymond lists the many “It’s aliens” arguments and attempts to scientifically debunk all of them. For example, it has comet-like outgassing which could both propel and spin it, but its small size makes it difficult to see. He also points out that we know so little about interstellar objects that ‘Oumuamua’s strange shape – which we still don’t know for sure if it’s cigar-like or maybe a weird pancake – could actually be pretty common. Nor do we know enough about how planets form to say many definitive things about how the ancillary space junk around them forms and how it might be kicked out of or escape from its solar system.

“We may start seeing a new object every year. That’s when we’ll start to know whether ‘Oumuamua is weird, or common. If we find 10 to 20 of these things and ‘Oumuamua still looks unusual, we’ll have to reexamine our explanations.”

Since we’re no longer getting new data from ‘Oumuamua, Knight is already looking to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) to help spot future interstellar objects earlier and get better looks and more data on them. Sending a space probe to meet up with one is still pretty far out in the future.

So, we still don’t know for sure what ‘Oumuamua is. Does this new study convince you that it’s not an alien spaceship or probe?

Or is this study a cover-up of what it really is? Tom DeLonge? Any thoughts?

Source: Mysterious Universe

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Astronauts may hibernate on trips to Mars

Sony Media

Astronauts traveling to Mars in the near future may have to hibernate, according to a European Space Agency (ESA) scientist.

Astronauts may hibernate on trips to Mars

In interview with The Telegraph, Professor Mark McCaughrean, senior science consultant to the ESA Board of Science, revealed that hibernation could reduce the need for large amounts of food during the seven-month trip to Mars.

He explained:

The idea is that you sleep while traveling and use much less consumables.

Sleep is not the same as hibernation, because if you hibernate, it lowers your body temperature and reduces everything else, oxygen, and so on.

Placing astronauts in this state can also prevent fights between astronauts during the tiring journey, according to Professor McCaughrean.

He added:

If you have 100 people within a few hundred cubic meters for seven, nine months, you will have 20 people at the end, because they will do the Hunger Games. They will kill themselves.

While the idea of ​​hibernating astronauts may seem absurd, ESA is already conducting experiments on animals.

Professor McCaughrean said:

We are now experimenting with artificial hibernation to numb someone for seven months and not worry about food. We are talking about how we would do that. You do this with animal testing and we have programs to analyze how it would happen.

However, there are several obstacles to be overcome before these tests can be performed on humans.

He even said:

We are nowhere near that, because there are all ethical questions about how you would do it.

(Source)

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NASA will search for fossils on Mars

The Mars 2020 spacecraft will investigate an intriguing type of mineral deposit known to produce fossils on Earth.

NASA will search for fossils on Mars
Parts of this image of the Jezero crater have been enhanced to highlight the presence of certain minerals. Green areas indicate carbonate deposits.

And when you think of fossils, you probably imagine T. rex skulls and sauropod femurs. NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft will be searching for fossils on Mars, but not those fossils.

NASA highlighted a new study in the magazine Icarus this week pointing out some fascinating formations around the inner edge of the Jezero Crater, the spacecraft’s planned landing site. The agency compares these concentrated carbonate mineral deposits to a tub ring around what was once a lake 3.5 billion years ago.

NASA informed:

On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are tough enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, corals, and some stromatolites – rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were abundant.

NASA does not expect to find sea shells, but the spacecraft will closely examine the stromatolites. Scientists would be thrilled to discover signs of past microbial life on the currently inhospitable planet. The Jeep’s investigation of carbonate deposits may also tell us more about how Mars made the transition from an aqueous to an arid place.

The probe jeep Mars 2020 is developing at NASA with a planned release mid-next year. If it stays on schedule, the spacecraft will reach the crater in February 2021.

Scientists do not know whether carbonates formed in the ancient lake or could have been deposited previously. We will have to wait to find out more. It will be a milestone worth waiting for.

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Site of NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission Could Contain Fossilized Signs of Life

The landing site selected for NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 rover could well be one of the best chances we have of discovering whether the Red Planet was once home to life and whether it could be again.

The 28-mile (45km) wide Jezero crater was selected as the landing site for the new rover in late 2018, and has been found to contain vast deposits of hydrated silica and minerals called carbonates, according to a newly published study.

Once the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago, scientists now believe that Jezero, thanks to its carbonate supplies, will likely contain structures that can survive for billions of years, such as shells, coral and certain types of rock formed by microbial life.

Deltas here on Earth are known to be hubs for preserved biomarkers and signs of life, and the presence of the hydrated silica suggests Mars is likely to be even better in this regard.

“Using a technique we developed that helps us find rare, hard-to-detect mineral phases in data taken from orbiting spacecraft, we found two outcrops of hydrated silica within Jezero crater,” said the study’s lead author, Jesse Tarnas, a PhD student at Brown University in Rhode Island, US.

We know from Earth that this mineral phase is exceptional at preserving microfossils and other biosignatures, so that makes these outcrops exciting targets for the rover to explore.

The intel about the site, and the surrounding delta, replete with mineral deposits, was provided by data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“The material that forms the bottom layer of a delta is sometimes the most productive in terms of preserving biosignatures,” explained Jack Mustard, professor at Brown and study co-author.

“So if you can find that bottomset layer, and that layer has a lot of silica in it, that’s a double bonus,” he added.

The rover will land on Mars on February 18, 2021 when it will begin taking rock core samples that will be deposited in metal tubes on the Martian surface, waiting to be shipped back to Earth for analysis during a later mission.

RT

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