Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

November 2, 2017 by  
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Many people once thought Earth was unique in outer space in its ability to support life. Recent discoveries could shatter that notion, like one new analysis of information from the Kepler Space Telescope . An international team led by Susan Thompson of the SETI Institute has discovered there might be 20 worlds where life could dwell. There could be as many as 20 habitable planets in space , according to this new discovery. One of the most promising worlds is KOI-7923.01. It’s 97 percent Earth’s size, and has a year comprised of 395 days. It is a bit colder than Earth – think more tundra and less tropical island – but it is warm enough, and it’s big enough to hold liquid water so crucial for life. Jeff Coughlin of the NASA Ames Research Center told New Scientist, “If you had to choose one to send a spacecraft to, it’s not a bad option.” Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets Many of the habitable worlds orbit stars similar to the sun. The star KOI-7923.01 orbits is a little colder than the sun, and that fact together with the exoplanet’s distance away makes KOI-7923.01 cooler than Earth. The time to complete an orbit varies among the potentially habitable worlds – at 395 days, KOI-7923.01 takes the longest. Some of the worlds finish an orbit in mere Earth weeks, or months. The quickest orbit is just 18 Earth days. Coughlin told New Scientist his team is around 70 to 80 percent sure these habitable worlds are solid candidates – they’ll need to confirm their hunch with further observations, such as from the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based observatories. The original Kepler mission unearthed the planets, but it gazed at the same part of the sky for just four years until its reaction wheels broke, hindering its aiming ability. That means we’ve only glimpsed the planets just once or twice, and, according to New Scientist , the signals could be wobbly. The scientists recently submitted their research to a journal in the middle of October. Via New Scientist Images via NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle and NASA/W. Stenzel

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Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

November 2, 2017 by  
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In a story that may have come  two days late , a local landowner-farmer in Delaware County, Iowa was shocked to discover over a dozen deceased rabbits, each with their necks broken, scattered beneath wind turbines on their land. The land is leased by RPM Access, a company that owns several wind farms throughout the state. “I don’t understand who would do something like this? I really don’t,” said Linda Slobodnik, an environmental consultant for RPM Access, according to KWWL News . Slobodnik, who has stated that this act of violence is the most disturbing incident she has seen in her 10 years in the wind industry, believes the rabbits were used to lure in eagles or other birds to the turbines, likely to kill them as well. Why would someone seek to lure and kill eagles, using dead rabbits as bait? “There are a lot of anti-wind people. At this time, we are looking at new places for projects, and I am thinking that possibly someone would like us to not build another wind farm in the area,” said Slobodnik. “I think there is a lot of people who will speak against the wind turbines. I think a lot of what they do is out of ignorance,” said RPM Access Project Manager, Kevin Lehs, according to KWWL News . Despite some local resistance, Iowa has made enormous progress towards a clean energy economy, primarily through wind power , which provided more than 36 percent of all electricity used in 2016. As it stands, Iowa is the most wind-powered state in the United States . Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online Although the dead rabbits were deliberately placed, it is true that wind turbines can kill local wildlife. It is estimated that 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year. That may sound like a lot, but it’s important to see these numbers in context. Wind power kills 1/15th the number of birds that fossil-fuel generated power does each year. Glass buildings in cities are also frequent bird killers. And, of course, outdoor and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually. Via Elektrek and KWWL News Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

Architects design incredible cat shelters to raise money for LA’s strays

November 2, 2017 by  
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Did you know that Los Angeles is home to the country’s largest populations of stray cats? There’s an estimated one to three million homeless felines in the city – but local architects are helping to support these strays by designing incredible cat shelters . Every year Architects for Animals hosts the “Giving Shelter” event to raise funds for FixNation , a non-profit organization that provides free spaying and neutering services for homeless cats. Take a look at some of this year’s shelter designs after the jump! Every year, LA’s top architects and designers are invited to design unique architecturally-minded outdoor dwellings for cats . The shelters are then displayed at a public event where they are put on auction to raise funds. According to FixNation’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Karn Myers, the designs get better each year, “This year’s cat shelters were extraordinarily creative, and the designers put a great deal of time and thought into how cats would actually interact with the shelters. They are truly works of art with a practical application, and all the shelters are showcased in our online auction as well.” Related: Architects for Animals Design Shelters for Stray Cats Out of Recycled Materials This year, there were 13 cat shelters on display – and each one took a totally different approach. Abramson Teiger Architects gave a nod to a classic feline favorite with their ball of twine hut. The team from HOX grouped various cotton-lined pipes into one shiftable shelter. LA-based d3architecture created an industrial-inspired cat house made of ventilation tubing that is sure to spark cats’ adventurous side. And HKS Architects took on the long-standing rivalry between cats and birds, topping their creation with various bird houses. + FixNation Via Archdaily Images via FixNation

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Architects design incredible cat shelters to raise money for LA’s strays

NASA identifies 219 new planet candidates – and 10 potential ‘Earths’

June 20, 2017 by  
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Our knowledge of the galaxy just expanded significantly, thanks to NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The exoplanet -finding machine allowed the agency to add 219 new planet candidates to their growing list. 10 of those planets are around the size of Earth and are around the range away from a star where water might pool on their surface. This new list of 219 candidate exoplanets is the most comprehensive and detailed from the first four years of Kepler data, according to NASA . It will also be the last catalog from Kepler’s view of a piece of sky in the Cygnus constellation. And it includes a planet National Geographic said could be the most like Earth we’ve found yet: KOI 7711.01. Related: 7 NASA discoveries that will blow your mind KOI 7711.01 is only about 30 percent bigger than Earth. It orbits a star 1,700 light-years away that’s quite like our sun, and receives the correct amount of solar warmth necessary for liquid water. Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson of the SETI Institute told National Geographic, “It gets approximately the same amount of heat that we get from our own star.” But there are still a lot of questions surrounding KOI 7711.01. Thompson said, “It’s hard to say whether it’s really an Earth twin – we need to know more about its atmosphere , whether there’s water on the planet.” After the release this week of the catalog, Kepler has identified 4,034 planet candidates total, according to NASA. 2,335 of those have been verified as exoplanets. The space telescope has also identified around 50 potentially habitable candidates around the size of Earth, with over 30 having been verified. Thompson said they’re now able to shift the focus away from simply finding new individual systems, and onto learning more about the worlds we think may be like Earth. This research has also allowed scientists to better classify planets. According to NASA, Kepler data has allowed scientists to discover a division between the sizes of rocky planets around the size of Earth and gaseous planets that are smaller than Neptune. They didn’t find many planets between those two groups. Scientist Benjamin Fulton of the University of Hawaii in Manoa said in a statement, “We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals. Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree.” Via National Geographic and NASA Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech and NASA/Ames Research Center/Wendy Stenzel

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NASA identifies 219 new planet candidates – and 10 potential ‘Earths’

South Korea to throw out any plans for new nuclear reactors

June 20, 2017 by  
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South Korea currently obtains around 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power , but with the election of a new president the country seems ready to shift away from that energy source to something a bit safer. President Moon Jae-In – who campaigned on a platform of phasing out nuclear energy – says he will toss out plans to build new reactors and won’t extend the lifespan of existing ones in the country. The 2011 Fukushima disaster in nearby Japan incited concern in South Korea, as many of the country’s nuclear plants were then getting old. According to the country’s new president, many of the plants are located dangerously near residential areas. He said a nuclear meltdown could result in unimaginable consequences. Add to that corruption scandals over state nuclear energy agencies during the last few years and public unease over several earthquakes in South Korea in 2016, since an earthquake sparked the Fukushima meltdown. Related: Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power Moon echoed these fears when he said, “South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.” South Korea is running 25 nuclear reactors right now. Many of them will expire between 2020 and 2030, leaving the decision to extend several of them or not in Moon’s hands during his 2017 to 2022 term. He campaigned on the idea of shutting down every single one – although that task could take decades. As he decommissioned the Kori-1, South Korea’s first nuclear reactor, Moon said in a speech, “We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era.” He’d like to move towards what he described as more environmentally-friendly and safer energy sources like solar power and wind power . He’s also pledged to promote a post-coal energy policy . During his campaign he said he’d abandon coal to help curb air pollution . Among the member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea is home to the highest levels of small air particles. The country currently obtains around 40 percent of power from coal. Via Phys.org Images via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Astronomers Reveal the Most Livable, Earth-Like Planet Ever Discovered

April 18, 2014 by  
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In the race to find a planet besides Earth that can host life, scientists have made an incredible discovery. Astronomers recently confirmed the first ever planet similar in size to Earth at distance from its own star that would allow liquid water to pool on the surface. Every once in a while scientists come across a planet that orbits within the Goldilocks zone – the range of distance from a star that can potentially sustain life – but none of those planets have ever been very comparable in size to our own blue sphere. Dubbed Kepler-186f, it’s the the most Earth-like planet ever discovered and confirms that other habitable planets exist somewhere out there. Read the rest of Astronomers Reveal the Most Livable, Earth-Like Planet Ever Discovered Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: astronomy , Cinderella planets , earth cousins , Earth like planets , earth twins , extraterrestrial life , Goldilocks planets , Habitable planets , Kepler habitable planet , Kepler-186f , nasa , Nasa discoveries , NASA Kepler , new planets , planets like earth

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Astronomers Reveal the Most Livable, Earth-Like Planet Ever Discovered

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