For the first time in history, a cosmic “plasma hurricane” was detected over the Earth

Analyzing old reports from meteorological satellites in search of lost data, American scientists found traces of a strange event, which they dubbed a “space hurricane.” It happened on August 20, 2014, but remained unnoticed – nothing of the kind was observed before, and therefore did not pay due attention to what was happening. Now, having double-checked the information with the help of various sources, scientists announced the first-ever evidence of the existence of plasma hurricanes in the upper atmosphere of our planet.

The term “hurricane” in this case is as accurate as possible, because what is happening in near space practically repeats the well-known weather phenomenon. This hurricane had an “eye” – a calm zone in the center, and very active areas at the edges. The diameter of the formation exceeded 1000 km, the hurricane spun counterclockwise and lasted eight hours. The only difference is that instead of water droplets, plasma ions flew in it, which were accelerated by a strong cosmic wind.

Interestingly, the hurricane arose during a period of low geomagnetic activity, so the reason for its formation is unlikely to be related to processes on Earth. However, this is only a guess, scientists have yet to understand the mechanism of cosmic hurricanes. We still know too little about this phenomenon and there are still many interesting discoveries ahead.

Plasma hurricane

The US military has tested a satellite capable of transmitting solar energy to Earth

US scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (US NRL), led by Paul Yaffe, have successfully tested a prototype solar panel that is theoretically capable of relaying “solar” electricity from space to anywhere on Earth.

The panel – a photovoltaic module (PRAM) the size of a pizza box – was launched into space by the top-secret military space drone X-37B.

Due to the absence of the Earth’s atmosphere, which blocks sunlight, the panel can “absorb” more energy in space than on Earth. So far we are talking about only 10 W, which is quite enough for the tablet to work.

Energy satellitePRAM module

However, the most difficult thing – the transfer of energy to Earth – is still ahead. Such technologies are still in their infancy, but they are the future. The energy delivered from space would be indispensable in areas affected, for example, by large-scale natural disasters.

An article published in the IEEE Journal of Microwaves reports on the success of a group of Paul Jaffe and his colleagues in finding that high-power microwave and millimeter-wave transmission is possible in principle. However, for such a project to be profitable, panels like PRAM must be combined into giant arrays of tens of square meters. kilometers.

NASA scientists discover a mysterious hole on the surface of Mars

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered a mysterious deep hole (in the photo it looks like a black spot) with a diameter of 180 meters with the HiRise camera on the surface of Mars.

Later, after adjusting the brightness, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona was surprised to find that the slopes of the pit face southeast, and the bottom is sandy and flat.

The “Martian Gap” intrigued scientists in earnest. They are currently trying to find out if it is associated with a network of underground tunnels made by lava flows, such as those that form on Earth in areas of volcanic activity.

Martian sinkhole

According to scientists, the ancient Martian volcanoes could leave behind large lava tubes, some of which could be used as sites for the bases of the first settlers, where they would be reliably sheltered from the vagaries of the harsh Martian climate.

NASA spacecraft have previously recorded similar holes. For example, in 2012, the Martian satellite MRO captured several vertical entrances to alleged caves up to 225 meters in diameter.

NASA is currently working on the creation of special drones that can be used in the future to compile maps of the Martian caves.

NASA first published a recording of the sounds of Mars

From now on, anyone using the SoundCloud online platform will be able to listen to Martian sounds recorded and transmitted to Earth by the Perseverance rover.

The first ever audio session lasted only 20 seconds. It was made possible by a special microphone designed to capture sounds throughout the rover landing procedure. Another is attached to the SuperCam, which will identify minerals and determine the composition of the planet’s rocks.

Since Martian sounds are very faint, NASA recommends using headphones. The agency announced the historic event with a short message on its Twitter page:

“You’ve already seen Mars, now listen to it.”

In turn, the deputy head of the NASA scientific division, Thomas Zurbuchen, recommended using what they heard not only for representatives of the scientific community, but also for musicians and artists for whom sounds from distant space can become an unusual source inspiration.

Every white dot in this image is a huge black hole.

The previous view of a black hole as a kind of object that does not let go of even light from itself has now been refuted. A striking, in every sense, an example of this is the result of the first stage of operation of the LOFAR interferometer, which consists of 20,000 stations located throughout Europe. The image created with its help shows a section of the starry sky where the white dots are supermassive black holes that look exactly like this in the ultra-low frequency range.

In fact, everything turned out to be much more complicated: black holes really remain black while they are in the void of space. But starting to attract other objects to themselves, they destroy matter, which generates not only a luminous cloud of gas and dust, but also many sources of radiation at different frequencies. This is exactly what happens in the centers of distant galaxies, of which at least 25,000 are captured in this image.

Black holes

The difficulty of observing such objects is that the Earth’s ionosphere is opaque for radiation at frequencies below 5 MHz. And those views of it that penetrate through it are greatly distorted due to atmospheric phenomena. It was the development of an algorithm for correcting these noises that became the main difficulty of the LOFAR project, the implementation of which took many years. But now scientists have in their hands a tool that allows them to work with cosmic radiation at frequencies below 100 MHz, and even below 50 MHz, which is still a complete “terra incognita”.

Noise corrections occur every 4 seconds, so the first 256-hour shot required multiple supercomputers. The presented image contains only 4% of the northern sky, and scientists already have a list of more than a million targets – a variety of sources of ultra-low-frequency radiation in distant space. In addition, LOFAR has a useful side effect – its algorithms for analyzing the state of the ionosphere allow you to simultaneously study and her.

Perseverance rover took selfie of the year just before landing on Mars

The Perseverance rover sent the first images from the Red Planet to Earth, but the most impressive was its own selfie, taken literally a few moments before landing on the surface of Mars.

Perseverance today is one of the most advanced spacecraft among those who have already visited the Red Planet. It is equipped with several color cameras, a modern on-board computer and a sensitive microphone for listening to ambient sounds. The collected information – photos and videos – is transmitted to Earth by radio communication, which, alas, still has a low bandwidth. It is sent in parts along with telemetry.

Photo from MarsRover landing site

Along with the landing selfie, NASA has released a snapshot from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), capturing the Perseverance landing, the surrounding area, and even one of the rover’s six wheels. The color photo was taken with a fish-eye lens.

Photo from MarsRover wheel

According to NASA, it will take at least two months before Perseverance is fully loaded. Before that, space agency engineers will have to conduct a thorough analysis of the operation of all systems of the rover, update its software and test scientific instruments.

The pyrotechnic bolts were activated on Friday, which released the camera mast raised on Saturday. Next, the robotic arm will be activated and after a short test drive – the first ever Martian helicopter will be launched.

Photo from Mars

A box of pills will be placed overboard the ISS to study the effect of space on medicines

Among the cargo delivered to the ISS by the next transport flight, there will be a special batch of tablets from the University of Adelaide (UA), manufactured as part of a project to create a technology for the production of medicines during long space missions.

Until now, the crews took all the necessary drugs (mainly antibiotics and painkillers) with them. As for the ISS, its first aid kit is periodically updated and replenished. However, for long-term space missions, where you have to rely solely on yourself, this practice is not suitable.

To test the capabilities of the crew to produce medicines directly on board the ISS, a team of researchers at the University of Adelaide, led by Professor Volker Hessel, prepared blister packs with 60 tablets for sending to the space station.

At first glance, these are ordinary medicines, but in reality they are made with the addition of “cosmic” ingredients – silica, magnesium silicate (talc) and calcium phosphate found on the moon. On the ISS, they will be placed on the Alpha Space Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) platform, located outside the station, where they will be exposed to all the factors of outer space – vacuum, extreme temperatures, weightlessness and hard radiation.

It is assumed that in six months, the medicines will return to Earth, where the UA team will carefully study the changes that have occurred to them. The information obtained will be used to create technologies for the production of medicines in outer space.

Amid a sharp drop in demand for smartphones, Huawei switched to … pigs

The US sanctions against one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, the Chinese company Huawei, have been painful. So, due to the blocking of access to Google applications, the production of smartphones decreased by 42% from 56 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 32 million units at the end of 2020. The company also warned its suppliers of a further drop in production from 189 million units last year to 70 million in 2021.

To the credit of the Chinese electronic giant, he is not going to give up and is reorienting his considerable resources to other areas, in particular, to the production of AI devices for pig farms that will track and identify animals. Their main feature is “independence” from the Android ecosystem, which includes the central services Google apps and Google play.

China is the largest pork producer in the world, producing over 50% of the world’s pig stock. Huawei’s AI technology will help farmers detect disease in pigs, monitor their health, and identify individual animals.

In addition, Huawei will offer its technologies to the coal mining industry, cloud computing, wearable devices and the development of smart cars.

Pig breeding

Rover Perseverance team will now live on Martian time

NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars – and that means two things. First, that very soon he will begin important work to find traces of ancient life on the planet. And secondly, the way of life of the mission team here on Earth will now change quite noticeably. This is because now its participants will live according to Martian time – their work shifts will henceforth be tied to the cycles of the Red Planet.

One day on Mars lasts roughly 24 hours and 37 minutes, which means that the shifts of operators and engineers will end at a different time each time. The first shift will begin at 14:00 local earth time, and will move 40 minutes each day. It’s a bit of a crazy mode, but it will only last three months (at least the mission command hopes so).

During previous landings on Mars, NASA engineers often put up clamshells and slept right at work to adjust to the constantly shifting schedule. But now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many team members work from home and are forced to solve problems with their calendar and schedule on their own.

After three months, mission operators will be able to return to their normal Earth schedule and recover from what many describe as endless. jetlag.

Russia and China agreed to jointly build a lunar scientific station

Russia and China signed an intergovernmental Memorandum of Cooperation under the joint creation of the International Lunar Science Station (ILRS). On behalf of the governments, the document was signed by representatives of Roscosmos and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).

According to SpaceNews, in accordance with the Memorandum, Russia and the PRC will jointly deploy the station by 2030 in the region of the lunar South Pole, which means a turn from Russia’s partnership with other participants in the ISS program in an “eastward direction.” As a result, this can significantly affect the overall alignment in the field of space exploration.

The ILRS goal is a long-term human presence on the moon for the next decade in the 2030s. Roscosmos has already reported that the ISS’s operational life is coming to an end, and Russia is ready to share its own experience of space expeditions in the interests of the Russian-Chinese project.

According to the University of Leicester expert Bleddin Bowen, the memorandum reflects a broader trend in the convergence of the “orbits” of Russia and China.