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The U.S. Military Has Been in Space From the Beginning

The U.S. Military Has Been in Space From the Beginning 88

While the proposed branch of the armed forces may be controversial, the history of the so-called “Space Force” is longstanding

The words “Space Force” conjure up images of plastoid-alloy-clad soldiers firing ray guns at aliens, but military activities in space aren’t just science fiction. The U.S. military has been involved with space since the beginning, just, perhaps, not under that name.

That might change if President Donald Trump has his way. Monday, during a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House, Trump directed the Pentagon to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the United States military. “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation. The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” he announced. “[I]t is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

Yet if the idea is to ensure the military is involved in space, a dedicated space force may not be needed; the military has been in space since space was a place you could be in. As early as 1915, the newly established National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was dominated by military personnel and industry executives. NACA laboratories helped develop many technologies that ended up in military aircraft during World War II. After that, NACA worked with the Air Force to develop planes capable of supersonic flight. It then moved on to working on ballistic missile designs and in the 1950s began developing plans for manned flight. In 1958, a year after the U.S.S.R’s launch of the first ballistic missile and Sputnik satellite kickstarted the Space Race, NACA was rolled into the newly created NASA, a civilian agency which had a broader mandate, more power and more resources.

The U.S. Military Has Been in Space From the Beginning 89

Clinton Parks at Space.com reports that the civilian nature of NASA was never a given. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson wanted to establish a space agency to make sure the United States controlled space militarily. President Eisenhower didn’t want a space agency at all, believing it was a waste of money. Eventually, the two compromised, creating a civilian agency after Johnson was convinced space wasn’t just a potential battlefield, but that a platform for scientific and technological advancement that would be a huge boon for the U.S. and commercial interests.

The establishment of NASA did not mean an end for the U.S. military in space, though many of its projects among the stars were and still are classified. In fact, during the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force ran a parallel manned space program to the one run by NASA, even designing an orbiting “laboratory” and selecting a class of 17 astronauts. Though it ran for six years, the program was cancelled in 1969 and no Air Force astronauts were launched (that we know of).

In 1982, the Air Force Space Command was officially established, and today employs 35,000 people. The agency works on cybersecurity, launches satellites and other payloads for the military and other government agencies, monitors ballistic missile launches and orbiting satellites and runs a military GPS system. And of course there’s plenty of things they do that we don’t know about. For instance, it’s well documented that the Air Force has two X-37B space planes, including one that returned to Earth last year after two years in orbit, though what it was doing is unknown.

And NASA and the military also maintain a strong relationship. Over the decades, the vast majority of NASA astronauts have been military service members. During the heyday of the space shuttle, NASA would routinely ferry classified payloads into orbit for the Department of Defense among other projects the agencies have collaborated on.

As for the President’s directive to create a new space force, Alex Ward at Vox reports that it may not be valid. Constitutionally, only Congress has the authority to “raise and support armies.” The last branch to be created, the Air Force, was created by an act of Congress in 1947. Todd Harrison, director of the aerospace security project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies tells Patrick Kelley at Roll Call that “[t]he President can’t create a new military service on his own. There’s going to have to be legislation.”

What’s more, the military seems resistant to the idea of separating out a Space Force from the Air Force. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, for one, has gone on the record opposing the creation of a space force. Last summer, when a Space Corps proposal was floated in Congress, Mattis wrote in a letter that it would add an “additional organizational and administrative tail” and excess layers of bureaucracy to military operations. At the that time, the White House also called the establishment of a space branch “premature.” Officials from the Air Force also went on record saying the move would add costs and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy to current space operations and that they would rather space operations become more integrated into the Air Force’s mission.

That’s not to say the U.S. military isn’t focusing on potential threats in space. Military analyst Lt. Col. Rick Francona tells Euan McKirdy at CNN that military leaders definitely have an eye on the sky. “I hate the term ‘the final frontier’ but (space) is the ultimate high ground. Space doesn’t dominate one small geographic area–it dominates continents, oceans,” he says. “Most military thinkers know this is the battle space of the future.”

Deborah Lee James, Air Force secretary during the Obama administration, agrees, pointing out that many critical satellites and communications devices necessary for modern warfare are located in space, and that other nations, China and Russia in particular, are making moves to control the region around Earth. “Space is no longer a peaceful domain,” she told Ward last July. “There is a real possibility that a conflict on Earth could bleed into space.”

Source www.smithsonianmag.com

Space

Scientists suggested looking for aliens near black holes

Scientists suggested looking for aliens near black holes 102

Extraterrestrial civilizations can receive energy from black holes. The technologies allowing to do this have already been described by earthly scientists, although so far only in theory. If this assumption is correct, then traces of aliens can be found just below the event horizon, Physical Review D.

The colossal energy that black holes are fraught with can be used by alien civilizations. Scientists who made such an assumption are confident that traces of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations should be looked for near black holes.

Scientists at Columbia University in New York have suggested that plasma bursts seen near massive black holes could be related to alien activity. According to them, black holes can become an almost limitless source of energy for a technologically advanced civilization.

“We have to understand what the deliberate extraction of energy from a black hole might look like for terrestrial observers. We are trying to establish what signal we should look for, ” astrophysicist Luca Komisso said.

Over the past 50 years, scientists have formulated four ways to get energy from a black hole. The most famous is a 1969 study by the physicist Roger Penrose, who won the Nobel Prize in 2020.

His theory says that matter should be placed in the ergosphere – a chaotic space-time located beyond the event horizon of a black hole. The substance will fall into two parts. One will be absorbed by the black hole, and the second will “bounce” back. According to calculations, as a result of this process, more energy can be obtained than was originally invested.

Penrose considered only one particle, which splits in two. Recent studies are looking at astronomical plasma that occurs in an accretion disk around a black hole. Since plasma has a huge number of particles, it can provide a huge amount of energy.

The authors of the new study noted that they plan to study all available theories about obtaining energy from black holes. They intend to determine which one is more effective.

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Space

In 200 light years from us, six planets emit an amazing “melody”

In 200 light years from us, six planets emit an amazing "melody" 103

Astronomers have discovered a system of six exoplanets orbiting a star with a specific orbital resonance.

The star system known as TOI-178 is located about 200 light years from us and includes six planets, five of which form a resonant chain, that is, they revolve around the central star in a strictly specified rhythm, and their densities, on the contrary, do not follow the regularity we are used to, according to Forbes.

In the video, the melody plays when the planet passes either full orbit or half of it, and when they line up at these points, they begin to play in resonance. TOI-178 is a really strange star system. Its innermost planet orbits in two days, while the slowest in 20. 

A similar orbital resonance is observed, for example, in the satellites of Jupiter: Io, Europa and Ganymede. While the farthest, Ganymede makes one complete revolution, Europa makes two, and the closest to Jupiter Io – four. This means that they play the same melody in different octaves. 

However, the planets orbiting the TOI-178 star are in a much more complex resonance circuit, obeying the 18: 9: 6: 4: 3 rule. This is the longest resonant pattern known among planetary systems.

Only after the discovery of a kind of “melody” of the TOI-178 star system, astronomers discovered the sixth planet. They used resonance rhythm to calculate where the additional planet would be in its orbit. 

An amazing “rhythm dance” was discovered with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. However, this is not just an orbital curiosity. 

“The orbits in this system are very strictly ordered. This tells us that since its formation, it has developed extremely smoothly and calmly,” – Yann Alibert explained, co-author of the study at the University of Bern. 

But even if the arrangement of the orbits in the system is so delicately ordered, everything is much worse with the densities of the planets.

“Here we see that a planet as dense as the Earth is located in the neighborhood of a“ bloated ”one, which has a density half that of Neptune. And after it comes a planet with a density like Neptune. not what we’re used to,” Nathan Hara notes, another study author at the University of Geneva.

However, in addition to the fact that astronomers talk a lot about how TOI-178 was formed, they hope that further study of it will provide important clues about how planets form and evolve in planetary systems.

“This contrast between the rhythmic harmony of orbital motions and the disordered densities of planets completely contradicts our understanding of the formation and development of planetary systems,” Adrien Leleu added, an astrophysicist at the University of Bern in Switzerland who led the study. 

map, constellation Sculptor
This map shows the location of the planetary system TOI-178 in the constellation Sculptor. The map includes most of the stars visible to the naked eye under good conditions, and the location of the system is indicated by a red circle.[ – ]+Photo: ESO, IAU AND SKY & TELESCOPE

The article even argues that resonances and density variations found in the TOI-178 star system could make it the “Rosetta Stone” in understanding the formation and evolution of planets. 

If researchers manage to find planets in the “habitable zone” of a star, where liquid water can exist on their surface, this will be an important and turning point for science. 

Scientists hope that by continuing the resonance chain and using ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope, they will be able to find more planets and capture them. 

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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 104
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 105

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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