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Satellite

Behold the space debris "Liquidator": Russia joins the international efforts to develop means to collect "space junk"

© NASA
Most orbital debris is in low Earth orbit, where the space station flies.
The Russian space agency is allocating around $297 million to design and construct a spacecraft that would clean circumterrestrial space of disabled communication satellites and upper-stage rockets currently cluttering up the geostationary orbit.

Roscosmos is ready to allocate 10.8 billion rubles (about $297 million) from 2016-2025 for the new mission: development of a space scavenger relieving terrestrial space of non-operating satellites and space exploration waste, Izvestia daily reported on Friday.

The announced tech specs of the future unmanned spacecraft, codenamed 'Liquidator', imply a weight of about four tons and the capability to get rid of at least 10 disabled satellites and rocket stages during a single mission that could last up to 6 months.

The 'space cleaner' will be able to run no less than 20 'cleaning missions' during its 10-year lifespan, which means the elimination of up to 200 space objects, which obstruct new space vehicles and communication satellites.

Comment: What should be more "troubling" is the recent huge increase of cometary activity! Is all the sudden hype about '"space junk" a convenient, plausible explanation to cover up the inconvenient fact that our planet is being subjected to cometary fragment bombardment?

Our immediate cosmic environment IS probably littered with junk left there by certain governments who live by the maxim that the ends justify the means. But it is the height of denial to buy into the notion that all these reports of fireballs we've been collecting are man-made objects. This 'space junk' theme is starting to smell strangely like 'anthropogenic global warming', which provides a plausible - but 'not even wrong' - cover story for Earth changes.

Read Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, and also the following article to learn more about the "space junk" cover story:

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Viable microbial ecosystems 800 meters beneath Antarctic ice sheet

LSU's Brent Christner and colleagues document the existence of microbial life below the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet in Nature publication
© Reed Scherer, Northern Illinois University
LSU’s Brent C. Christner (right) and Alex Michaud retrieve the first water sample from Lake Whillans.
In a finding that has implications for life in other extreme environments, both on Earth and planets elsewhere in the solar system, LSU (Lousiana State University) Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Brent Christner and fellow researchers funded by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, this week published a paper confirming that the waters and sediments of a lake that lies 800 meters (2600 feet) beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems."

Given that more than 400 subglacial lakes and numerous rivers and streams are thought to exist beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, such ecosystems may be widespread and may influence the chemical and biological composition of the Southern Ocean, the vast and biologically productive sea that encircles the continent.

According to Christner, the paper's lead author and a researcher with the NSF-funded Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling, or WISSARD, project, "hidden beneath a half-mile of ice in Antarctica is an unexplored part of our biosphere. WISSARD has provided a glimpse of the nature of microbial life that may lurk under more than five million square miles of ice sheet."

Analysis of the samples taken from subglacial Lake Whillans, the researchers indicate, show that the water contains a diverse microbial community, many members of which can mine rocks for energy and use carbon dioxide as their source of carbon.
Moon

Electrical sparking may alter evolution of lunar soil

© Credit: Image not to scale. Courtesy of Andrew Jordan.
This illustration shows a permanently shadowed region of the moon undergoing subsurface sparking (the "lightning bolts"), which ejects vaporized material (the "clouds") from the surface. Subsurface sparking occurs at a depth of about one millimeter.
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by University of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon's coldest craters through the process of sparking -- a finding that could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon's frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this "breakdown weathering" process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon's polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system's past, may be more active than previously thought.

Comment: The Electric Universe theory and much more are discussed in Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.

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Traces of marine plankton discovered attached to ISS outer hull

© AFP Photo / NASA / Handout
International Space Station
Russian scientists say they made a "unique" discovery while analyzing samples from the exterior of the International Space Station - traces of tiny sea creatures on the station's windows and walls. It remains unclear how marine plankton ended up in space.The results of the recent experiments prove that that some organisms are capable of living on the outer surface of the International Space Station (ISS), Vladimir Solovyev, head of the Russian segment of the ISS, has revealed.

Some studies suggest that these organisms may even develop in the hostile conditions of spaceflight, which include vacuum, low temperatures, radiation and others, he added.
Cloud Lightning

Illuminatus! Soviet-era Tesla Tower restarted with spectacular lightning bolts

A massive Soviet-built generator - once used for testing the resistance of aircraft to lightning, but now largely mothballed due to prohibitive costs - has staged a striking demonstration test at the behest of RT.

Still from Ruptly video
The 6-Megavolt device, one of the most powerful in the world, is capable of generating 200 meter-long lightning bolts, and was constructed in the 1970s at a closed facility outside Moscow, but fell into disuse after the collapse of the USSR.


The futuristic complex of entangled metal coils hidden in a secured virgin forest made it a cult object for urban explorers. Teams of camera-equipped youths navigated their way and documented the rusting coils and huge locks on their blogs.
Comet 2

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)
© Alain Maury and Joaquin Fabrega
The fuzzy object at center is new comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.
It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof observatory in Brisbane, Australia.
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Jellyfish sting captured by microscope for the first time

You've heard of a jellyfish sting, maybe you've even experienced one. But have you ever seen one?

When a jellyfish actually stings someone or something, the action is often too small and too fast to see with the naked eye. This video, however, captures a real-life sting in slow motion!

Destin from SmarterEveryDay visited toxinologist Dr. Jamie Seymour, one of the team members present when Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter," was fatally stung by a stingray in 2006.

At James Cook University in Australia, researchers used a microscope and high-speed camera to discover what exactly happens when a jellyfish, or in this specific case, an anemone, stings you. They have wanted to capture the process on camera for years, but only now has the technology been able to do so.

Nuke

New solar power plant is scorching birds out of the sky

© Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
A solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower is seen between the backs of heliostats reflecting sunlight towards it at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada.
Next generation solar plants are generating more clean energy than ever before, but one in California is torching birds as they fly through the facility's powerful rays, raising concern over a new plant that could prove four times more dangerous to birds.

According to the Associated Press, workers at the BrightSource Energy plant in the Mojave Desert even have a nickname for the singed birds, which burn up into smoke when they fly into heavily concentrated sun rays: "Streamers." When US Fish and Wildlife officials observed the situation in 2013, they witnessed an average of one "streamer" every couple of minutes.

With estimates ranging from 1,000 dead birds a year to 28,000, the agency is seeking an official death toll for one year of operation at the plant. BrightSource is responsible for delivering the lower number, while the higher one was projected by the Center for Biological Diversity. For now, the agency is also calling on the committee in charge of approving new projects to delay BrightSource's latest application.

Opened in February, the plant has been powering 140,000 homes with the electricity it generates. The facility is composed of three 40-story towers, which produce steam and rotate turbines after the water contained inside is boiled by the solar rays reflected onto it by some 300,000 mirrors.

Speaking with the AP, Garry George of the California chapter of the Audubon Society called the bird deaths "alarming."
Info

8,000-year-old mutation key to human life at high altitudes

Tibetans
© Tsewang Tashi, M.D.
This image depicts Tibetan locals living at 4,300m.
In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appeared online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.

"These findings help us understand the unique aspects of Tibetan adaptation to high altitudes, and to better understand human evolution," said Josef Prchal, M.D., senior author and University of Utah professor of internal medicine.

For his research, Prchal needed Tibetans to donate blood, from which he could extract their DNA, a task that turned out to be more difficult than he ever imagined. It took several trips to Asia, meeting with Chinese officials and representatives of exiled Tibetans in India, to get the necessary permissions to recruit subjects for the study. But he quickly learned that official documents would not be enough. Wary of foreigners, the Tibetans refused to participate.
Saturn

In space, astronauts' immune systems get totally confused

drawing blood in space
© NASA
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Expedition 32 flight engineer, poses for a photo after undergoing a blood draw in space
Can an astronaut survive a long-term spaceflight? With NASA looking ahead to missions on Mars and beyond, it's an important question - and one we haven't even come close to answering through practice. The longest space flight ever only lasted 437.7 days, and most astronauts have spent less than a year at the space station during their longest stretches.

But a NASA study published in the Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research has taken a small step for man's journey to distant planets. NASA scientists analyzed blood samples taken before, during, and after missions to the International Space Station, looking for indications of how astronauts' immune systems handle the unusual environment. The results indicate that things get a little bit wonky.
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