Halley’s Comet Dust Caused Droughts and Famine Centuries Ago – Study

Halley's Comet Dust Caused Droughts and Famine Centuries Ago – Study

Climate change in AD 535-536 was caused by dust spilled into the atmosphere by Halley’s Comet, according to a new study.

The dust is thought to have cooled the atmosphere to an extent causing unseasonal weather and crop failures, leading to droughts and famine.

The climate change and accompanying famines triggered by the dust veil are also believed to have rendered humans more susceptible to “Justinian’s plague” of AD 541-542, Europe’s first recorded emergence of Black Death.

The years are recorded in history for unusual and extreme weather events in much of the northern hemisphere. The event was believed to have been caused by an extensive dust veil, while the observed episode was explained using several hypotheses including a large volcanic eruption in the tropics and debris from comet impact.

Dallas Abbott, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Livescience that smoke from volcanic eruption alone cannot explain the spread of dust across continents.

Researchers have found evidence of cometary residue on Greenland ice laid down between AD 533 and 540.

“I have all this extraterrestrial stuff in my ice core”, Abott said at a meeting organised by the American Geological Union.

The ice cores from the seven-year period have deposits of tin, nickel and iron oxide spherules from an extraterrestrial source.

High levels of tin are associated with alien dust especially that of a comet, Abbott explained. Studies suggest that the alien particulate matter was deposited during spring time, coinciding with the Eta Aquarid meteor shower from Halley’s Comet.

Scientists say that in the next four to five years of the impact, the earth cooled by as much as 5.4° Fahrenheit (3° Celsius).

A 2004 study estimated that a comet fragment about 2,000 feet (600 metres) wide is enough to have caused AD 536-537 cooling event.

However, this is not the only comet impact to have affected human beings in the last 20,000 years after the end of the Stone Age.

About 13,000 years ago, a probable impact event over North America is suspected to have caused widespread forest fires in the continent, leading to the extinction of several animal species and the subsequent collapse of the North American Clovis culture.

Explosion in Atmosphere

A major airburst caused by an asteroid or comet can be traced not too far back in recent history. In 1908, a large explosion in the atmosphere was caused by burning extraterrestrial rocky fragments near the Tunguska River in Russia.

Different Russian studies on the event reported that the native settlers heard sounds of explosion accompanied by a shock wave that knocked people off their feet and broke windows hundreds of kilometres away and levelled forests spread over an area of about 2,150 km2 (830 mi2).



Another DEVASTATING Chelyabinsk METEOR STRIKE: ‘7x as likely’ as thought NASA’s checked its space rock maths and it’s not good news

Another DEVASTATING Chelyabinsk METEOR STRIKE: '7x as likely' as thought NASA's checked its space rock maths and it's not good news

NASA has revealed fresh research on the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia in February, and the findings aren’t good: not only does it look like the astronomic models about the number of similar-sized things reaching Earth are wrong, but also the damage they can do is much greater than expected.

“If you look at the number of impacts detected by US government sensors over the past few decades you find the impact rate of kiloton-class objects is greater than would be indicated by the telescopic surveys,” said Bill Cooke, meteoroid environment office lead at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Over the past few decades we’ve seen an impact rate about seven times greater than the current state of the telescopic surveys would indicate.”

Cooke said that as the current state of asteroid surveys was expanded he expected we would find more meteorites in the vicinity to account for these impacts, but also that the amount of damage they caused was being reassessed.

The nuclear model used to estimate the amount of explosive force such incidents could cause had, in fact, been over estimating the blast impacts of such air-bursting meteors, he explained. But the amount of heat they generate, and the damage caused by the shockwave of air they push before them as they come down through the atmosphere, was significantly underestimated.

The Chelyabinsk meteor is the largest foreign body to come down to Earth since the Tunguska event in 1908, where a comet or meteor devastated 2,150 square kilometers of Siberia with an airburst, according to Lindley Johnson, NEO program executive of NASA’s planetary science division.

Thanks to the amount of dashcam videos, smartphones with cameras, the work of “citizen scientists,” and boffins around the world sharing their data, NASA has now piece together exactly what happened during the Chelyabinsk event he explained.

The meteorite arrived completely unexpectedly because it was coming at Earth with the Sun behind it, masking its progress NASA said. It hit our atmosphere at a speed of 42,500 mph (19 kilometers per second) and the vast majority of its mass was destroyed in the detonation 23 kilometers above Russia.

Around 9,000 to 13,000lb (4,000 to 6,000 kilograms) of the meteor survived the blast and fell to Earth, including several chunks that have been recovered. From an analysis of the remains scientists have concluded that fractures in the meteorite (formed from an impact with another space rock) left veins of silicates running throughout its body, making it much more likely to break up in the friction with our atmosphere.

The brightness of the object, and the amount of energy it transferred, surprised scientists. The meteor was briefly brighter than the Sun, even 100 kilometers from the site of the incursion, and the shockwave it created flattened buildings, shattered glass and injured 1,200 people.

Analysis of its remains show the Chelyabinsk meteorite was formed about 4.4 billion years ago and was 19 meters across. Objects under thirty meters wide aren’t expected to have the mass to make an impact with the Earth’s surface without disintegrating under the stress of atmospheric contact, according to NASA’s models.

Larger objects, such as the 40 meter asteroid 2012 DA14, which skimmed past Earth on the same day as the Chelyabinsk meteorite, could make it to the surface and cause considerable damage, Johnson said. But NASA did have viable plans to divert such dangers if they are spotted soon enough.

One idea is to launch a spacecraft directly at the incoming object. Provided it had sufficient mass, and could accurately hit the incoming rock, then the impact would slow the asteroid down to the point where Earth would have passed by the time it crossed our orbital plane.

If NASA had more of a warning it could send another mission to the asteroid which would use a “gravity tracker,” harnessing the attractive force of the spacecraft and the rock to subtly divert its course away, but said that this would take a number of years to achieve.

What was needed he said was a dedicated infrared telescope in orbit to complete a more thorough survey of near-Earth objects. Searching on the IR band would make these objects stand out more he told El Reg, and give a better estimate to their size.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite had given new urgency to a campaign to bring more capabilities to addressing the issue of asteroid impacts (“It’s a great advertisement,” Johnson joked) and provided an incentive to improve our chances of spotting threats in the future. Whether governments are willing to put up the relatively small amounts of money needed to take things further is another matter however.


‘Space burials’ on offer in Japan for a third the cost of UK burial

'Space burials' on offer in Japan for a third the cost of UK burial

Elysium Space transports a ‘symbolic portion’ of the deceased’s ashes into space alongside commercial satellite launches from the US

A company offering ‘space burials’ transporting loved ones’ ashes into the firmament has opened for business in Japan.

Elysium Space promises to make “space burial affordable for everyone”, charging customers $1,990 to transport “a symbolic portion of the remains from a cremation” into space alongside commercial and scientific satellites.

Families and friends are invited to watch the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida – although the event will also be webcast – and then track the rocket’s flight with a specially created app.

“Depending on the initial altitude of the [launch], our memorial spacecraft will respectfully and peacefully orbit the Earth from a few months to several years,” says Elysium Space. “Eventually, in a last poetic moment, the spacecraft will harmlessly reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, blazing as a shooting star.”

The company first announced their services in the US in August but has now expanded to Japan, with their first launch scheduled for summer 2014.

The decision to expand to Japanese shores seems particularly germane given the country’s rapidly aging population and weakening of family ties – a societal trait that had ensured that the expense of funerals was spread among individuals.

Bloomberg reports that the cost of renting a burial plot and buying a tomb stone in Tokyo is approximately 2.7 million yen, or £17,000.

This compares favourably to the $1,990 (£1,229) price charged by Elysium Space, though this only provides the desired gravitas of a funeral ceremony and doesn’t include the price of cremation itself.

Founded by an ex-Nasa engineer, Elysium Space must be enjoying a healthy demand for its services to allow overseas expansion, and perhaps it will open shop in the UK next.

Last month, academics in the UK called for a change in legislation to allow for graves older than 75 years to be ‘re-used’ to avert a “crisis”. Research suggests that nearly half of the UK’s ceremonies could be full within the next two decades, and that the cost of dying has risen 7.1 per cent from last year to an average of £7,622.

With the average burial in the UK now costing £3,914 and the average price of cremation estimated at £2,998 it might not be long until Elysium Space opens for business here as well.


Fukushima could be 15,000 times worse than Hiroshima with removal of fuel rods

Fukushima could be 15,000 times worse than Hiroshima with removal of fuel rods

JAPAN – A Yale Professor is compelling the world to wake up from its nuclear slumber and face some cold-hard facts, “All of humanity will be threatened for thousands of years” if the Fukushima Unit 4 pool can’t be kept cool. Your worries about eating cesium-contaminated fish from the Pacific Ocean are grounded in fact, but this is a world-wide disaster of the most epic proportions just waiting to happen. If nothing else, it points to the necessity of nuclear-free power to fuel the planet, but in the meantime, more than 1,535 fuel rods must be meticulously removed from Unit 4, which in all likelihood is crumbling. Charles Perrow, Professor Emeritus of Sociology from Yale University cautions: “Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.” In early stages of the Fukushima disaster Tepco, under influence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), tried to keep the full ramifications of Fukushima under wraps, and now the entire country faces a possible trillion dollar price tag and multiple decades of active clean up to make this go away, but that will all be a moot point if the fuel rods aren’t removed properly. All the boron between spent fuel rods has disintegrated.

This means a nuclear chain reaction could ensue if the rods get too close together in the pools, causing nuclear mayhem like we’ve never endured. In less than two months, Tepco plans to try to remove these rods, admitting that they haven’t the expertise or resources to do it perfectly – and that is what it would take – absolute perfection. According to globalreasearch.ca, “Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima. More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.” Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.” This is no time for Tepco or the Japanese government to try to save face, or the world to turn the other cheek. If we don’t treat this as a global disaster it would be like waiting for the Russians to start nuclear war back in the 1980s – or worse. Harvey Wasserman has created a petition at NukeFree.org to alert our own president and other politicians about the extreme seriousness of this incident. All while they were planning to go to war with Syria, the nuclear disaster right under our noses was escalating to unfathomable proportions. Not to sound doom and gloom, but it’s important to recognize the ramifications if this issue isn’t taken care of – properly.


Giant NASA Balloon Mission failed to See Comet ISON due to a Telescope Glitch

Giant NASA Balloon Mission failed to See Comet ISON due to a Telescope Glitch

An ambitious one-day mission to observe the potentially dazzling Comet ISON with a telescope dangling from a colossal NASA balloon this weekend has failed due to a mechanical glitch, NASA officials say.

The mission, called the Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON), lifted off from Fort Sumner, N.M., on Saturday (Sept. 28) in a bid to make telescope observations of Comet ISON — which some scientists have dubbed as a potential “comet of the century” if brightens on its way into the inner solar system. The telescope-toting balloon aimed to observe the comet from the Earth’s upper atmosphere in infrared and ultraviolet/visible wavelengths of light.

But roughly two and a half hours after the BRRISON balloon’s launch, the 0.8-meter telescope on its science gondola platform returned to a stowed position too rapidly. That motion drove the telescope past an internal latch, causing it to jam, mission officials said.

“The telescope was unable to be redeployed despite numerous attempts by the BRRISON team from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which built BRRISON for NASA,” according to a NASA statement after the balloon returned to Earth.

Checking Out NASA’s Balloon Rapid Response for ISONPin It Technicians perform final checks on gondola-carried scientific gear used for NASA’s Balloon Rapid Response for ISON, a mission to observe Comet ISON from a high-altitude balloon, just before its launch from Fort Sumner, N.M.,

The in-flight problem prevented the payload from collecting its much-anticipated photos of Comet ISON. An Interim Response Team was expected to assess the BRRISON payload during recovery operations on Sunday.

The BRRISON mission flew on a zero-pressure balloon and was billed as the first NASA Planetary Science Division balloon mission ever aimed at observing a comet. The project cost totaled $11 million, but while a scientific data loss, the gondola-carried payload is in the process of being recovered and should be available for reuse as much as possible on another mission.

The fast-paced BRRISON project was sponsored by NASA, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute. It is one of several projects underway to study Comet ISON in detail during its swing through the inner solar system.

Comet ISON — officially designated C/2012 S1 (ISON) — was discovered in September 2012, by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. The comet’s pass through the inner solar system has been a major source of anticipation and uncertainty among astronomers.

Giant NASA Balloon Soars Pin It A giant zero-pressure NASA balloon soars skyward carrying the Balloon Rapid Response for ISON telescope into the upper atmosphere on a mission to observe Comet ISON. The balloon took off from Fort

The comet is slated to make its closest approach to the sun on Nov. 28, when it will be about 700,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from the sun’s surface. If Comet ISON survives the solar close encounter, the comet could flare up brilliantly to become a dazzling object in the night sky. But the comet could also fizzle out or break apart, scientists have warned.

Prior to Saturday’s balloon liftoff BRRISON team member Eliot Young, a principal scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. issued an upbeat message.

Young said the late-evening launch was “probably good news for our suite of experiments: it guarantees us night time observations.” The winds at 120,000 feet had sped up towards the east, as happens in late September, he said, making flight times short before the payloads reach population centers and have to be terminated.

Young noted in his pre-launch message that the evening launch made BRRISON team members change their schedule of observations.

“We never expected to observe Comet ISON through sunrise,” Young said. “Our sunshade was installed to protect the telescope during afternoon observations of ISON. With the unusual evening launch, we have had to re-orient our sunshade.”

Did Earth’s Moon originate from Venus?

Did Earth's Moon originate from Venus?

NEW YORK: Moon may have originated from Venus, after Earth’s gravity captured its natural satellite from the planet, a new theory on lunar history suggests.

The theory is in contradiction to the belief that the Earth’s moon formed some 4.5 billion years ago when a planet-size body slammed into nascent Earth at high speed.

“I think part of the key to (understanding) the Moon may be that Venus has no moon, and we certainly have to study it (Venus) more,” said Dave Stevenson, professor of planetary science at Caltech University, who proposed the Venus idea.

The “moon capture” theory assumes that Earth used its gravity to attract a pre-formed space body into its orbit, thus making a satellite of this object.

However, the geochemical composition of the Moon and Earth likely trips up this theory, SPACE.com reported.

Analyzes of the lunar rocks brought back by Nasa’s Apollo Moon landing missions have shown that the satellite has an isotopic composition very similar to that of Earth.

If both Moon and Earth have very similar isotopes, it makes the capture theory difficult to maintain, said Alex Halliday, head of science at Oxford University.

Some aspects of the idea that the Moon may have come from Venus are however, very intriguing, he said.

“The reason why it’s interesting is that Earth and Venus are close to each other. They have similar mass, and people think they have probably formed in a similar way,” he said.

The capture theory faces a challenge when explaining the similar composition of the Moon and Earth, Stevenson said.

However, if scientists analyze rocks from Venus and they turn out to be very similar to those on Earth — that would argue in favour of the capture theory, the report said.

The giant impact idea also has trouble explaining why the Earth and the Moon are so peculiarly similar.


Giant balloon to study Comet ISON

Giant balloon to study Comet ISON

(CNN) — Exploring the heavens with space ships and fancy orbiting telescopes like the Hubble is pretty routine stuff for NASA. But the space agency is going low-tech to get a good look at an eagerly anticipated comet.
The space agency plans to launch a balloon — yes, a balloon — to study Comet ISON, the much-hyped comet that many hope will put on a big sky show in coming months.
Astronomers are scrambling to figure out ways to learn more about the comet, and that’s where the balloon comes in. This isn’t the kind of balloon you buy for kids at a party store, but they do have some things in common.
NASA says its scientific balloons are made of polyethylene film like the material in plastic bags, and it will be filled with helium, just like a party balloon. But the NASA balloons can carry a payload weighing 8,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms), or about the weight of three small cars. It has a gondola to carry the instruments. Some similar balloons can fly up to 26 miles high and stay for up to two weeks.
Watch time-lapse of comet Pann-STARRS
The 671-foot-tall balloon that will monitor ISON is called BRRISON, or Balloon Rapid Response for ISON. According to NASA, it will float about 120,000 feet above Earth to observe the comet — and other science targets — using a telescope and other instruments. It’s expected to stay up from nine to 11 hours.
“By ascending above 99.5% of the Earth’s atmosphere, BRRISON will be able to study the materials within the comet,” Andy Cheng, principal investigator, said on BRISSON’s website. “It’s possible that water and organic chemicals on comets may have played an important role in the evolution of life on Earth.”
The launch, from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, is scheduled for this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday, depending on the weather.
Comet ISON is currently nearing Mars on its way toward the sun and will fly about 730,000 miles above the sun’s surface on November 8. If it survives, it could brighten and put on a big show as it passes Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer reaches of the Solar System. Comet enthusiasts hope they will be able to see it without binoculars or telescopes.
Its closest approach to Earth would be December 26, and it could be visible from the Northern Hemisphere for weeks in early 2014.