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Jason-2 Satellite for tracking sea levels set for launch



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©AFP
The Jason-2 Satellite

The French-US satellite Jason 2, slated for pre-dawn lift-off Friday from California, will provide precise monitoring of rising sea levels and currents and track the effects of climate change.

Weather permitting, the high-tech oceanography space lab will be launched aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base from 0746 GMT, when a nine-minute window of opportunity for the launch opens.

Fifty-five minutes after take-off, it will reach its orbit some 1,335 kilometers (830 miles) above the Earth.

"We are set to fly," NASA launch manager Omar Baez said on the Spaceflight Now website.

Jason 2 is programmed to maneuver into the same orbit as its predecessor Jason 1, which was launched in 2001, and eventually replace the older craft.

Bulb

Ice cores map dynamics of sudden climate changes

New, extremely detailed data from investigations of ice cores from Greenland show that the climate shifted very suddenly and changed fundamentally during quite few years when the ice age ended. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute of University of Copenhagen have together with an international team analysed the ice cores from the NorthGRIP drilling through the Greenland ice cap, and the epoch-making new results have been published in the highly esteemed scientific journal Science and in Science Express.

The ice in Greenland has been formed by snow that stays year after year and is gradually compressed into a thick ice cap. The annual layers inform us about the climate during the years when the snow was falling so the ice is a record of the climate of the past, and ice core drillings through the three km thick ice cap show the climate 125,000 years back in time.

Arrow Down

Russia's space agency backs U.S. asteroid control plan

Russia's Federal Space Agency has endorsed a proposal by the U.S. House of Representatives that a Russian radar station be used to detect dangerous asteroids, Roscosmos head said on Thursday.

"I generally approve and support the U.S. initiative," Anatoly Perminov said in a telephone interview with RIA Novosti. "As for the asteroid danger, it really exists, and needs to be dealt with through the joint efforts of all states concerned."


Comment: And yet, the danger is grossly underestimated, or intentionally downplayed . There are more than enough facts that something wicked this way comes, and those are not just lurking asteroids.


On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved NASA's $20.2 billion budget for 2009, committing the U.S. to cooperation with Russia and other countries to avoid asteroid threats.

Info

Greenland ice core analysis shows drastic climate change near end of last ice age

Information gleaned from a Greenland ice core by an international science team shows that two huge Northern Hemisphere temperature spikes prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago were tied to fundamental shifts in atmospheric circulation.

North Greenland Ice Core Project camp
©NGRIP
The North Greenland Ice Core Project camp.

The ice core showed the Northern Hemisphere briefly emerged from the last ice age some 14,700 years ago with a 22-degree-Fahrenheit spike in just 50 years, then plunged back into icy conditions before abruptly warming again about 11,700 years ago. Startlingly, the Greenland ice core evidence showed that a massive "reorganization" of atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere coincided with each temperature spurt, with each reorganization taking just one or two years, said the study authors.

The new findings are expected to help scientists improve existing computer models for predicting future climate change as increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere drive up Earth's temperatures globally.

The team used changes in dust levels and stable water isotopes in the annual ice layers of the two-mile-long Greenland ice core, which was hauled from the massive ice sheet between 1998 to 2004, to chart past temperature and precipitation swings. Their paper was published in the June 19 issue of Science Express, the online version of Science.


Telescope

Chemical clues point to dusty origin for Earth-like planets

Higher than expected levels of sodium found in a 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite suggest that the dust clouds from which the building blocks of the Earth and neighboring planets formed were much denser than previously supposed. The study, by scientists from the Carnegie Institution, American Museum of Natural History, and U.S. Geological Survey, is published in the June 20 issue of Science.

Conel Alexander and Fred Ciesla of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, with colleagues Jeffrey Grossman of the U.S. Geological Survey and Denton Ebel of the American Museum of Natural History, analyzed the sodium content of grains in objects called "chondrules" from the Semarkona meteorite, which fell in India in 1940. The Semarkona meteorite, like all other chondrule-bearing meteorites (known as chondrites), dates from the early stages of the solar system's formation. Unlike most others, however, its constituents have been relatively unaltered by heat and chemical changes over the more than four billion years since its origin, making it an important window into the early history of the solar system.


Telescope

Slimmer Milky Way Galaxy Revealed By New Measurements

The Milky Way Galaxy has lost weight. A lot of weight. About a trillion Suns' worth, according to an international team of scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II), whose discovery has broad implications for our understanding of the Milky Way.

"The Galaxy is slimmer than we thought," said Xiangxiang Xue of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and the National Astronomical Observatories of China, who led the international team of researchers. "We were quite surprised by this result," said Donald Schneider, a member of the research team, a Distinguished Professor of Astronomy at Penn State, and a leader in the SDSS-II organization. The researchers explained that it wasn't a Galactic diet that accounted for the galaxy's recent slimming, but a more accurate scale.



Milky Way galaxy
©Axel Quetz, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Heidelberg), SDSS-II Collaboration
Researchers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II) have used the motions of distant stars to measure the mass of the Milky Way galaxy. The new mass determination is based on the measured motions of 2,400 "blue horizontal branch" stars in the extended stellar halo that surrounds the disk. These measurements reach distances of nearly 200,000 light years from the Galactic center, roughly the edge of the region illustrated above. Our Sun lies about 25,000 light years from the center of the Galaxy, roughly halfway out in the Galactic disk. The visible, stellar part of our Milky Way in the middle is embedded into its much more massive and more extended dark matter halo, indicated in dim red. The 'blue horizontal branch stars' that were found and measured in the SDSS-II study are orbiting our Milky Way at large distances. From the speeds of these stars, the researchers were able to estimate much better the mass of the Milky Way's dark-matter halo, which they found to be much 'slimmer' than thought before.


Star

Black holes have simple feeding habits

The biggest black holes may feed just like the smallest ones, according to data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based telescopes. This discovery supports the implication of Einstein's relativity theory that black holes of all sizes have similar properties, and will be useful for predicting the properties of a conjectured new class of black holes.

The conclusion comes from a large observing campaign of the spiral galaxy M81, which is about 12 million light years from Earth. In the center of M81 is a black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the Sun, and generates energy and radiation as it pulls gas in the central region of the galaxy inwards at high speed.

In contrast, so-called stellar mass black holes, which have about 10 times more mass than the Sun, have a different source of food. These smaller black holes acquire new material by pulling gas from an orbiting companion star. Because the bigger and smaller black holes are found in different environments with different sources of material to feed from, a question has remained about whether they feed in the same way.

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©NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley and CfA/A.Zezas; Optical: NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA
This composite image of M81 includes X-rays from the Chandra (blue), optical data from Hubble (green), infrared from Spitzer (pink) and ultraviolet data from GALEX (purple). The inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image where a supermassive black hole about 70 million times more massive than the Sun lurks. A new study using data from Chandra and ground-based telescopes, combined with detailed theoretical models, shows that the giant black hole in M81 feeds just like ones with masses of only about ten times that of the Sun.

Robot

Japan's robot for lonely men (+video)

Tokyo - She is big-busted, petite, very friendly, and she runs on batteries.

A Japanese firm has produced a 38 cm (15 inch) tall robotic girlfriend that kisses on command, to go on sale in September for around US$175, with a target market of lonely adult men.

Using her infrared sensors and battery power, the diminutive damsel named "EMA" puckers up for nearby human heads, entering what designers call its "love mode".

"Strong, tough and battle-ready are some of the words often associated with robots, but we wanted to break that stereotype and provide a robot that's sweet and interactive," said Minako Sakanoue, a spokeswoman for the maker, Sega Toys.

Telescope

Large 'Planet X' May Lurk Beyond Pluto

An icy, unknown world might lurk in the distant reaches of our solar system beyond the orbit of Pluto, according to a new computer model.

Display

DDoS returns to plague websites

And this time it's more sophisticated than mere traffic overloading.

A less known part of the recent ARP attack against H D Moore's MetaSploit site was an attempted Denial of Service attack that coincided with the successful ARP attack.

Denial of Service (DoS) and distributed Denial of Service (dDoS) attacks are almost a mainstay of background Internet traffic and have become an accepted part of hosting content online.

A pattern has been emerging from the background noise over the last few weeks which suggests that something is taking place that is resulting in an increasing number of successful attacks against moderate to large sites.