These diamonds from outer space hint at a long-lost planet

April 17, 2018 by  
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Diamonds in a meteorite  that crashed into Earth years ago have now given scientists a glimpse into the universe’s past. Recently, a team of scientists led by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland used transmission electron microscopy to examine the diamonds contained in a slice of the Almahata Sitta meteorite. Based on their research, the scientists think the meteorite came from a planetary embryo, between the size of Mercury and Mars , that was destroyed in a collision around 4.5 billion years ago. Nearly a decade ago, an asteroid exploded over the Nubian Desert in Sudan. Scientists collected fragments from what’s now called the Almahata Sitta meteorite, and these fragments have yielded intriguing new information. EPFL materials scientist Farhang Nabiei told The Washington Post , “These samples are coming from an era that we don’t have any access to…This is part of the story of how we came to be.” The meteorite fragments are largely ureilites, which EPFL said are “a rare type of stony meteorite” in which nano-sized diamonds can be found. Related: New theory suggests the Moon may have formed “from a giant donut of vaporized rock” Embedded in the diamonds were chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides; the scientists call these inclusions, and they hold signatures of the mysterious long-lost planet . According to EPFL, the “particular composition and morphology of these materials can only be explained if the pressure under which the diamonds were formed was higher than 20 GPa (giga-Pascals, the unit of pressure). This level of internal pressure can only be explained if the planetary parent body was a Mercury- to Mars-sized planetary embryo, depending on the layer in which the diamonds were formed.” What exactly happened to the long-lost planet? Nabiei couldn’t say for sure. Researchers think that, in the early solar system , large protoplanets pulled on others’ orbits until they coalesced, crashed, or broke up into pieces. The ureilites could have come from the same protoplanet that existed for a few million years before its demise in a collision. Nature Communications published the research online this week; scientists from institutions in France and Germany contributed. + Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne + Nature Communications Via The Washington Post Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech and copyright EPFL/Hillary Sanctuary

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These diamonds from outer space hint at a long-lost planet

Earth was buzzed by a giant asteroid this weekend and we didn’t even realize it was coming

April 16, 2018 by  
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Earth just survived a near miss with an asteroid, and we didn’t even know it was coming. Around 1,500 people were injured in the aftermath of the Chelyabinsk meteorite when it exploded over Russia in 2013, and an even larger  asteroid  just buzzed incredibly close to Earth this weekend, according to EarthSky . The Catalina Sky Survey first observed the asteroid – which is the closest large one on record to pass by the planet –  just hours before it tumbled past us at about half the distance of the moon. Asteroid 2018 GE3, according to EarthSky, was around 119,500 miles away from our planet at its closest point — and the Moon is an average of 238,855 miles away. Its diameter was around 157 to 361 feet, and it was hurtling through space at around 66,174 miles per hour. Asteroid 2018 GE3 surprised us, as did the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Related: Astrophysicist warns asteroid strike is not a matter of if, but when The Catalina Sky Survey detected the asteroid on Saturday, April 14, and in the early hours of the morning on April 15 on the United States’ East Coast, Asteroid 2018 GE3 passed by our planet. The closest approach happened at around 2:41 AM EDT, according to EarthSky. They cited NASA as saying the asteroid passed closer to our Moon than it did to Earth a few hours later at around 5:59 AM EDT. A preliminary analysis of Asteroid 2018 GE3’s orbit reveals this pass is the closest this asteroid has flown by our planet since around 1930. Was the planet in danger? No, not this time, according to EarthSky. What might have happened if Asteroid 2018 GE3 had indeed hit Earth? The publication said a big portion of rock would have broken up into pieces if it had entered our atmosphere , but some might have made it through to the surface. “…an asteroid this big is capable of causing some regional damage, depending on various factors such as composition, speed, entry angle, and location of impact,” EarthSky said. “It might make you feel better (or worse) to know that asteroids enter Earth’s atmosphere unnoticed on a fairly regular basis.” Via EarthSky and TIME Images via Depositphotos,   Tomruen/Wikimedia Commons  and Deposit Photos

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Earth was buzzed by a giant asteroid this weekend and we didn’t even realize it was coming

Astronomers observe an object in space unlike anything they’ve seen before

September 22, 2017 by  
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Astronomers recently observed a type of object in space unlike anything we’ve come across before. 288P is a binary asteroid – or two asteroids orbiting one other – that has features similar to a comet , like a long tail and bright coma, or cloud of dust and gas surrounding a comet’s nucleus. It is the first binary asteroid we’ve ever found that can also be classified as a comet. Scientists learned of 288P’s existence in 2011, but they weren’t able to really scrutinize the binary asteroid – it was too far away – until recently when it came a little closer to Earth. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope , a group of scientists led by Jessica Agarwal at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany were able to get a better look at the strange system. Related: Astronomers discover that exoplanet WASP-12b is “darker than asphalt” 288P is a main-belt comet as it’s located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter . Each of the two pieces that make up 288P are about 0.6 miles in diameter, and the research institute said they are unusually far apart: they’re orbiting one another at a distance of around 62 miles. The astronomers also observed ongoing activity in 288P. Agarwal said, “We detected strong indications of the sublimation of water ice due to the increased solar heating – similar to how the tail of a comet is created.” 288P has probably been a binary system for just around 5,000 years. And according to Hubble’s website, we’re not likely to find any more objects like 288P for a long time, since finding the binary main-belt comet “included a lot of luck.” The journal Nature published the research online earlier this week. Agarwal was joined by four other researchers from institutions in the United States. Via Hubble Space Telescope and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Images via ESA/Hubble, L. Calçada and ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

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Astronomers observe an object in space unlike anything they’ve seen before

Florence is the largest asteroid to pass Earth in a century

September 1, 2017 by  
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Though the American eclipse may have come and gone, the skies above Earth never cease to amaze with new interstellar events. Early this morning, according to NASA, Florence became the largest asteroid to approach our planet in over a century. The asteroid measures 2.7 miles (4.4 km) in diameter and passed by from the relative proximity of 4.4 million miles (7 million km) away from Earth, roughly 18 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. Although other asteroids have traveled closer to Earth in the past, none were as massive as Florence, the largest near-Earth asteroid ever tracked by NASA. Florence, like all asteroids in our solar system , formed out of the debris left behind after the formation of the planets and the sun . It was originally discovered by Schelte “Bobby” Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in 1981 and named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing and pioneering statistician and social reformer. Florence’s trip near Earth, its closest since 1890, provided scientists with a unique opportunity to study the ancient asteroid. Related: Astrophysicist warns asteroid strike is not a matter of if, but when NASA researchers used deep space radar to study the size, shape, rotation, surface features, and determine the precise path of the asteroid. Amateur astronomers also observed the asteroid, which was relatively easy to spot since it reflects 20 percent of sunlight that reaches its surface, in contrast to only 12 percent reflection from the Moon . Scientists project that Florence will not come this close to Earth again until 2500. Via BBC Images via NASA (1) , (2)

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Florence is the largest asteroid to pass Earth in a century

First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets

September 1, 2017 by  
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Water could be present on some of the Earth-sized planets orbiting the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, according to work from an international group of astronomers. They utilized the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to estimate substantial amounts of water could be present in the outer planets, including three in the habitable zone. This boosts the possibility those planets are livable. Astronomer Vincent Bourrier of the Observatoire de l’Université de Genève led an international team that included scientists from NASA and MIT to attempt to determine if there’s water 40 light-years away on the seven Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a system which claims the biggest number of Earth-sized planets we’ve found to date. These researchers used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph on Hubble to scrutinize how much ultraviolet radiation the TRAPPIST-1 planets receive. Related: NASA discovers 7 Earth-sized planets outside our solar system Bourrier said ultraviolet starlight can break water vapor into oxygen and hydrogen . And those elements can escape as ultraviolet rays with more energy to heat a planet’s upper atmosphere. It’s possible for Hubble to detect escaped hydrogen gas, which can act as a “possible indicator of atmospheric water vapor,” according to the statement on the research. Some of the outer planets, including e, f, and g, could have water on their surfaces. During the last eight billion years, the inner planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system “could have lost more than 20 Earth-oceans-worth of water,” according to the statement. But the outer planets might have not lost that much, suggesting they could have retained water. While the hints are exciting, the scientists say we can’t draw any final conclusions quite yet. Bourrier said in the statement, “While our results suggest that the outer planets are the best candidates to search for water with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, they also highlight the need for theoretical studies and complementary observations at all wavelengths to determine the nature of the TRAPPIST-1 planets and their potential habitability.” Via Hubble Space Telescope Images via ESO/N.Bartmann/spaceengine.org and NASA/R. Hurt/T.Pyle

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First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets

New Study Reveals Earth’s Oceans May Be Almost as Old as the Planet

October 31, 2014 by  
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A groundbreaking new study led by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has revealed that the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system dates the arrival of water to a much earlier time than previously believed. Thanks to new data from NASA’s 4-Vesta project, the team demonstrated that the most primitive type of known meteorite could have brought water to Earth very early on in the planet’s formation. The implications for an earlier “wet Earth” include the possibility that life on our planet began much earlier than previously thought and could once have existed on the other inner planets . Read the rest of New Study Reveals Earth’s Oceans May Be Almost as Old as the Planet Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 4-Vesta , age of water , asteroids , Earth’s water almost as old as the planet , isotopes , meteorites , nasa , water in the solar system , water issues , WHOI , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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New Study Reveals Earth’s Oceans May Be Almost as Old as the Planet

Atelier Data Transforms an Old Horse Stable into a Simple but Stunning Home in Portugal

October 31, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Atelier Data Transforms an Old Horse Stable into a Simple but Stunning Home in Portugal Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , adaptive reuse , Alcácer do Sal , Alentejo , Atelier Data , barn rehabilitation , barn renovation , eco home , eco house , farm rehabilitation , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green home , green renovation , horse stable , mews , mews housing , portugal , stable renovation , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , sustainable home

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Atelier Data Transforms an Old Horse Stable into a Simple but Stunning Home in Portugal

Salt Destroys Manhattan-Sized Croplands Every Week, UN Study Shows

October 31, 2014 by  
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A new UN paper  reveals that excess salt in the soil has destroyed 20 percent of all irrigated land worldwide — an area equal to the size of France. Every day for more than 20 years, an average of 2,000 hectares of irrigated cropland in arid and semi-arid areas across 75 countries have been degraded by salt. With the world population expected to hit nine to 10 billion people by 2050, obviously we can’t afford to be losing productive, arable land. Thankfully, the report also makes a number of recommendations for swift action to reverse the trend before it becomes too expensive to do so. Read the rest of Salt Destroys Manhattan-Sized Croplands Every Week, UN Study Shows Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agriculture , economic impact of salinity , farm land , farming , global development , irrigation , loss of farm land to salt , report , salinity , salt , study , United Nations , United Nations University , water issues

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Salt Destroys Manhattan-Sized Croplands Every Week, UN Study Shows

Astronauts Hope to Protect Earth from a Killer Asteroid with the Launch of Sentinel Satellite

April 23, 2014 by  
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It may seem like a city-destroying asteroid is just the stuff of sci-fi novels, but new research reveals that the Earth is far more vulnerable to asteroid impacts than we ever though possible. In fact, a group of scientists say that we are ten times more likely to experience a collision than was previously believed, and that avoiding a serious collision has just been a matter of dumb luck. Knowing this, the B612 Foundation wants to launch an early warning system that can alert us to asteroids well before they could hit us. Read the rest of Astronauts Hope to Protect Earth from a Killer Asteroid with the Launch of Sentinel Satellite Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: asteroid collisions , asteroid hitting Earth , asteroid risk , asteroids , Astronaut foundations , B612 , B612 Foundation , B612 Foundation satellite , B612 Foundation Sentinel Satellite , deflecting asteroids , Dr. Ed Lu , Earth asteroid collisions , Earth Asteroid risk , Near Earth Orbit objects , NEO , Sentinel Satellite , Sentinel Satellite Astronauts , Sentinel Satellite project , Sentinel Space Telescope Mission , Tom Jones and Bill Anders

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Astronauts Hope to Protect Earth from a Killer Asteroid with the Launch of Sentinel Satellite

Post-Apocalyptic Porous Skyscraper is Nestled Into a Massive Asteroid Crater

March 14, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Post-Apocalyptic Porous Skyscraper is Nestled Into a Massive Asteroid Crater Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , asteroids , crater skyscraper , Crater-Scraper eVolo , evolo 2013 skyscraper competition , future megalopolis , garden city design , natural light , rainwater collection system , rainwater harvesting , skyscraper design , space threats , underground skyscraper

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