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“We have no idea what is out there!”

From life to dark matter to the billion-year-old technological civilizations: In 2019, several leading astrophysicists at NASA and Harvard and Columbia universities publicly announced their view that aliens are not science fiction: that advanced and ancient technological civilizations may exist, but are beyond our comprehension or ability to detect.

Kepler Space Telescope – Credit: NASA

Already in NASA Contact Conference In 2002, which focused on serious speculation about advanced extraterrestrial life, one participant interrupted the keynote speech with the remark:

We have absolutely no idea what is out there!

In 2019, the Harvard astronomer, Avi Loeb wrote in his blog that aliens are not science fiction:

I don’t see extraterrestrials as more speculative than dark matter or extra dimensions. I think it’s the other way around.

Law of Great Numbers

Silvano P. Colombano from NASA’s Ames Research Center says:

Our life form and intelligence may just be a small first step in a continuous evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence far superior to ours that are no longer based on carbon machines.

The exoplanet discoveries made by the Kepler Mission (image above) identified the 10.4 billion-year-old planetary system (Kepler-10) and 11.2 billion-year-old (Kepler-444), providing a solid basis for Colombano’s speculation.

On average, all Milky Way stars have two planets in orbit. According to NASA, one fifth of these stars have a planet that can be conducive to life as we imagine it. This translates into 50 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way alone – one of the two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said:

If you are going to say that there is no chance of finding life elsewhere, you must think that there is something truly miraculous on Earth. And this is a suspicious point of view, that we are miraculously better than all the other planets.

Given that our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old, there could be Earth-like planets, six billion years older than ours. Whereas further the technological development in our civilization began only about 10,000 years ago and saw the rise of science in the last 500 years only, Colombano watches that we may have difficulty predicting technological developments even in the next thousand years, and even less than six million times that amount.

Colombano says:

Our life form and intelligence may just be a small first step in continuous evolution, which may well produce forms of intelligence far superior to ours that are no longer based on carbon “machines.” After a mere 50 years of computer evolution, the human species is already talking about “super intelligence” and we are fast becoming symbiotic with the power of the computer.

In other words, technological civilizations may exist, but they are beyond our comprehension or ability to detect, says Colombano, who proposes that we may have missed signals when it comes to looking for UFOs.

While it is still reasonable and conservative to suppose that life probably originated in conditions similar to ours, the large time differences in potential evolution make the likelihood of finding technology similar to ours very small.

According to him, this is a great obstacle to a “quick” discovery of signs of an advanced Milky Way civilization.

Dark Sector Visitors?

Pointing out that Arthur C. Clarke suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic, the Columbia University astrophysicist, Caleb Scharf, says in his article “Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?”(Is the Law of Physics an Alien Intelligence?):

If you’re meeting a bunch of paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, it would certainly seem quite magical. But the contrast is only average: farmers would still recognize it as basically them and would soon take selfies. But what if life has advanced so far that it doesn’t seem simply magical but physical?

Scharf takes an even more exquisite leap, suggesting:

Dark matter may be hiding life. Perhaps this is where all technologically advanced life ends or where most lives have always been. What better way to escape the unpleasant whims of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to take a form immune to electromagnetic radiation?

But, not resting on his speculative laurels, Scharf’s beautifully non-politically correct mind delves deeper and suggests:

Perhaps the behavior of the normal cosmic matter that we attribute to dark matter is caused by something quite different: a living state that manipulates light matter for its own purposes. Consider that at the moment we do not identify dark matter particles or create a compelling alternative to our laws of physics that would explain the behavior of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Would an explanation in terms of life be less plausible than a flaw in established laws?

Milky Way visitors?

Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his collaborators, said in a 2019 study which suggests that it would not be so long before a space civilization jumped from planet to planet across the galaxy, because star orbits can help distribute life, offering a new solution to the planet. Fermi’s paradox:

It is possible that the Milky Way is partially seated or intermittently so; maybe the explorers visited us in the past, but we don’t remember, and they disappeared.

The solar system may well be among other established systems; It just hasn’t been visited for millions of years.

Infinite Space Life

Dan Hooper, head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, wrote in “At the Edge of Time”:

If space is truly infinite, the implications are astonishing. Within an infinite extent of space, it would be hard to see any reason why there were no infinite number of galaxies, stars and planets, and even an infinite number of intelligent or conscious beings scattered throughout this unlimited volume. This is the question of infinity: it takes things that are very unlikely and makes them inevitable.




Voyager 2 has discovered something amazing: Denser space outside the solar system

In November 2018, after a 41-year voyage, Voyager 2 crossed the boundary beyond which the Sun’s influence ends, and entered interstellar space. But the mission of the little probe is not yet complete – it continues to make amazing discoveries

Perhaps the probes have found some kind of traffic jam at the edge of the solar system. The Voyager flight continues and we will soon find out what it was.

Voyager 2 discovered something amazing: as the distance from the Sun increases, the density of space increases.

Voyager 1, which entered interstellar space in 2012, transmitted similar indicators to Earth. New data have shown that the increase in density may be a feature of the interstellar medium.

The solar system has several boundaries, one of which, called the heliopause, is determined by the solar wind, or rather by its significant weakening. The space inside the heliopause is the heliosphere, and the space outside is the interstellar medium. But the heliosphere is not round. It looks more like an oval, in which the solar system is at the leading edge, and a kind of tail stretches behind it.

Both Voyagers crossed the heliopause at the leading edge, but within 67 degrees heliographic latitude and 43 degrees longitude apart.

Interstellar space is usually considered a vacuum, but this is not entirely true. The density of matter is extremely small, but it still exists. In the solar system, the solar wind has an average density of protons and electrons from 3 to 10 particles per cubic centimeter, but it is lower the further from the Sun.

The average concentration of electrons in the interstellar space of the Milky Way is estimated to be about 0.037 particles per cubic centimeter. And the plasma density in the outer heliosphere reaches approximately 0.002 electrons per cubic centimeter. When the Voyager probes crossed the heliopause, their instruments recorded the electron density of the plasma through plasma oscillations.

Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause on August 25, 2012 at a distance of 121.6 astronomical units from the Earth (121.6 times the distance from Earth to the Sun – about 18.1 billion km). When he first measured plasma oscillations after crossing the heliopause on October 23, 2013 at a distance of 122.6 astronomical units (18.3 billion km), he found a plasma density of 0.055 electrons per cubic centimeter.

After flying another 20 astronomical units (2.9 billion kilometers), Voyager 1 reported an increase in the density of interstellar space to 0.13 electrons per cubic centimeter.

Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause on November 5, 2018 at a distance of 119 astronomical units (17.8 billion kilometers. On January 30, 2019, it measured plasma oscillations at a distance of 119.7 astronomical units (17.9 billion kilometers), finding that the density plasma is 0.039 electrons per cubic centimeter.

In June 2019, Voyager 2’s Instruments showed a sharp increase in density to about 0.12 electrons per cubic centimeter at a distance of 124.2 astronomical units (18.5 billion kilometers).

What caused the increase in the density of space? One theory is that the lines of force of the interstellar magnetic field become stronger with distance from the heliopause. This can cause electromagnetic ion cyclotron instability. Voyager 2 did detect an increase in the magnetic field after crossing the heliopause.

Another theory is that the material carried away by the interstellar wind should slow down in the heliopause, forming a kind of plug, as evidenced by the weak ultraviolet glow detected by the New Horizons probe in 2018, caused by the accumulation of neutral hydrogen in the heliopause.

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NASA has banned fighting and littering on the moon

New details of the agreement signed by representatives of a number of countries on the development of the moon and the extraction of minerals within the framework of the Artemis program have appeared. Reported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

So, astronauts involved in the mission are prohibited from littering and fighting on the territory of a natural satellite of the Earth.

So, we present to you the new rules for being on the Moon:

Everyone comes in peace;

Confidentiality is prohibited, all launched objects must be identified and registered;

All travel participants agree to help each other in case of emergencies;

All received data is transferred to the rest of the participants, and space systems must be universal;

Historic sites must be preserved and all rubbish must be disposed of;

Rovers and spacecraft should not interfere with other participants.

“”It is important not only to go to the moon with our astronauts, but also that we bring our values ​​with us,” said Mike Gold, acting head of NASA’s international and inter-agency relations.

According to him, violators of the above rules will be asked to “just leave” the territory of the moon.

The effect of these principles so far applies to eight signatory countries of the agreement: the USA, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Countries other than China can join if they wish.

 It should be noted that at the moment NASA is prohibited from signing any bilateral agreements with the PRC leadership.

The first NASA mission to the moon, known as “Artemis 1”, is scheduled for 2021 without astronauts, and “Artemis 2” will fly with a crew in 2023.

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Methane snow found on the tops of Pluto’s equatorial mountains

Scientists believe that it arose as a result of the accumulation of large amounts of methane at an altitude of several kilometers above the surface of the planet.

In the images of the Cthulhu region – a dark region in the equatorial regions of Pluto – planetary scientists have found large reserves of methane snow that covers the peaks of local mountains and hills. It formed quite differently from how snow forms on Earth, astronomers write in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

“The white caps on the tops of Pluto’s mountains did not arise from the cooling of air currents that rise along the slopes into the upper atmosphere, as it happens on Earth, but from the accumulation of large amounts of methane at an altitude of several kilometers above Pluto’s surface. This gas condensed on the mountain tops, “the scientists write.

We owe almost everything we know about Pluto to the New Horizons interplanetary station. It was launched in January 2006, and in mid-July 2015 the station reached the Pluto system. New Horizons flew just 13 thousand km from the dwarf planet, taking many photographs of its surface. 

New Horizons data indicated an interesting feature of Pluto – in its depths, a giant subglacial ocean of liquid water can be hidden. It can be a kind of engine of those geological processes, traces of which can be seen on the surface of a dwarf planet. Because of this discovery of New Horizons, many discussions began among planetary scientists. Scientists are trying to understand how such a structure could have arisen, as well as to find out the appearance of Pluto in the distant past.

Members of the New Horizons science team and their colleagues from France, led by planetary scientist from NASA’s Ames Research Center (USA) Tanguy Bertrand, have discovered another unusual feature of Pluto. They studied the relief of one of the regions of the dwarf planet – the Cthulhu region. This is what astronomers call a large dark region at Pluto’s equator, which is whale-like in shape and is covered in many craters, mountains and hills.

Snow in Pluto’s mountains

By analyzing images of these structures taken by the LORRI camera installed on board New Horizons, astronomers have noticed many blank spots on the slopes of the highest mountain peaks. Having studied their composition, scientists have found that they consist mainly of methane.

Initially, planetary scientists assumed that these are deposits of methane ice. However, Bertrand and his colleagues found that the slopes and even the tops of Pluto’s equatorial mountains are actually covered not only with ice, but also with exotic methane snow that forms right on their surface.

Planetary scientists came to this conclusion by calculating how methane behaves in Pluto’s atmosphere. In doing so, they took into account how the molecules of its gases interact with the sun’s rays and other heat sources. It turned out that at the equator of Pluto, at an altitude of 2-3 km from its surface, due to the special nature of the movement of winds, unique conditions have formed, due to which snow is formed from methane vapor.

Unlike Earth, where such deposits are formed as a result of the rise of warm air into the upper atmosphere, on Pluto this process goes in the opposite direction – as a result of contact of the cold surface of the peaks and slopes of mountains with warm air masses from the relatively high layers of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere.

Previously, as noted by Bertrand and his colleagues, scientists did not suspect that this was possible. The fact is that they did not take into account that due to the deposition of even a small amount of methane snow and ice, the reflectivity of the peaks and slopes of mountains in the Cthulhu region increases. As a result, their surface temperature drops sharply, and snow forms even faster.

Scientists suggest that another mysterious feature of Pluto’s relief could have arisen in a similar way – the so-called Tartarus Ridges, located east of the Sputnik plain. A distinctive feature of this mountainous region is strange peaks that are shaped like skyscrapers or blades. Bertrand and his colleagues suggest that these peaks are also methane ice deposits that grow “from top to bottom.”

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