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Water found at exoplanet with right temperatures for life – CTV News

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Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press


Published Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:50PM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — In a tantalizing first, scientists have discovered water at a planet outside our solar system that has temperatures suitable for life.

London researchers announced Wednesday they’ve found water vapour in the atmosphere of a planet 110 light-years away. This so-called Super Earth is the right distance from its star to conceivably harbour life.

The University College London scientists say it’s the only exoplanet known so far to have both water and temperatures needed for life, making it a prime candidate for potential life. But they caution it’s not another Earth.

It’s twice the size of Earth with eight times the mass, and its star is unlike our sun. No one knows if water’s flowing on the surface. Lead author Angelos Tsiaras says it could help determine, “Is the Earth unique?”

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Photos Show Evidence of Life on Mars: Insect- and Reptile-Like Fossils & Living Creatures – SciTechDaily

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Analysis of images from Mars rovers shows insect- and reptile-like fossils, creatures according to Ohio University entomologist.

As scientists scramble to determine whether there is life on Mars, Ohio University Professor Emeritus William Romoser’s research shows that we already have the evidence, courtesy of photographs from various Mars rovers.

Dr. Romoser, who specializes in arbovirology and general/medical entomology, has spent several years studying photographs from the red planet that are available on the Internet. He found numerous examples of insect-like forms, structured similarly to bees, as well as reptile-like forms, both as fossils and living creatures. He presented his findings Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at the national meeting of the Entomological Society of America in St. Louis, Missouri.

“There has been and still is life on Mars,” Romoser said, noting that the images appear to show both fossilized and living creatures. “There is apparent diversity among the Martian insect-like fauna which display many features similar to Terran insects that are interpreted as advanced groups – for example, the presence of wings, wing flexion, agile gliding/flight, and variously structured leg elements.”

Insect Mars Rover Photo

Ohio University Emeritus Professor William Romoser analyzed Mars rover photos and found insect-like and reptile-like forms. Credit: Analysis by Dr. William Romoser

Romoser said that while the Martian rovers, particularly the Curiosity Rover, have been looking for indicators of organic activity, there are a number of photos which clearly depict the insect- and reptile-like forms. Numerous photos show images where arthropod body segments, along with legs, antennae, and wings, can be picked out from the surrounding area, and one even appears to show one of the insects in a steep dive before pulling up just before hitting the ground.

Individual images were carefully studied while varying photographic parameters such as brightness, contrast, saturation, inversion, and so on. No content was added, or removed. Criteria used in Romoser’s research included: Dramatic departure from the surroundings, clarity of form, body symmetry, segmentation of body parts, repeating form, skeletal remains, and observation of forms in close proximity to one another. Particular postures, evidence of motion, flight, apparent interaction as suggested by relative positions, and shiny eyes were taken to be consistent with the presence of living forms.

“Once a clear image of a given form was identified and described, it was useful in facilitating recognition of other less clear, but none-the-less valid, images of the same basic form,” Romoser said. “An exoskeleton and jointed appendages are sufficient to establish identification as an arthropod. Three body regions, a single pair of antennae, and six legs are traditionally sufficient to establish identification as ‘insect’ on Earth. These characteristics should likewise be valid to identify an organism on Mars as insect-like. On these bases, arthropodan, insect-like forms can be seen in the Mars rover photos.”

Fossil Image from Mars Rover

Putative fossil insect on its dorsum with head to the top, and with selected structures labelled. Credit: Analysis by Dr. William Romoser

Distinct flight behavior was evident in many images, Romoser said. These creatures loosely resemble bumble bees or carpenter bees on Earth. Other images show these “bees” appearing to shelter or nest in caves. And others show a fossilized creature that resembles a snake.

Romoser, who was an entomology professor at Ohio University for 45 years and co-founded its Tropical Disease Institute, also spent nearly 20 years as a visiting vector-borne disease researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Between 1973 and 1998, Romoser authored and co-authored four editions of the widely-used textbook, “The Science of Entomology.”

Romoser noted that interpretations of insect- and reptile-like creatures he described may change in the future as knowledge of life on Mars evolves, but that the sheer volume of evidence is compelling.

“The presence of higher metazoan organisms on Mars implies the presence of nutrient/energy sources and processes, food chains and webs, and water as elements functioning in a viable, if extreme, ecological setting sufficient to sustain life,” he said. “I have observed instances suggestive of standing water or small water courses with evident meander and with the expected blurring of small submerged rocks, larger emergent rocks at the atmosphere/water interface, a moist bank area, and a drier area beyond the moist area. Water on Mars has been reported a number of times, including surface water detected by instrumentation on Viking, Pathfinder, Phoenix, and Curiosity.

“The evidence of life on Mars presented here provides a strong basis for many additional important biological as well as social and political questions,” he added. It also represents a solid justification for further study.”

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Spacecraft record weird ‘music’ of our planet during solar storm – Yahoo Sports

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March 30, 2010 - Close-up of a solar eruptive prominence as seen in extreme UV light.
Solar storms see our planet buffeted by charged particles. Image shows a prominence on the sun in extreme UV light (Getty)
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="An eerie song which wouldn’t sound out of place on a science fiction film soundtrack came wailing from our planet as it was&nbsp;hit by a solar storm.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”22″>An eerie song which wouldn’t sound out of place on a science fiction film soundtrack came wailing from our planet as it was hit by a solar storm. 

But the strange music is actually created by waves in our planet’s magnetic field as it’s buffeted by a solar storm. 

Solar storms are eruptions of charged particles from the sun – and the strange ‘song’ was heard after analysing data from the Cluster Science Archive. 

Cluster consists of four spacecraft that orbit Earth in formation, investigating our planet’s magnetic environment and its interaction with the solar wind – a constant flow of particles released by the Sun into the Solar System.

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<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Binary Earth-sized planets possible around distant stars” data-reactid=”28″>Binary Earth-sized planets possible around distant stars

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Insects could die out in ‘worst extinction since the dinosaurs’” data-reactid=”29″>Insects could die out in ‘worst extinction since the dinosaurs’

A team led by Lucile Turc, a former ESA research fellow who is now based at the University of Helsinki, Finland, investigated the effect of solar storms on our planet.

As part of their orbits, the Cluster spacecraft repeatedly fly through the foreshock, which is the first region that particles encounter when a solar storm hits our planet. 

In the early part of the mission, from 2001 to 2005, the spacecraft flew through six such collisions, recording the waves that were generated.

The new analysis shows that, during the collision, the foreshock is driven to release magnetic waves that are much more complex than first thought.

“Our study reveals that solar storms profoundly modify the foreshock region,” says Lucile.

When the frequencies of these magnetic waves are transformed into audible signals, they give rise to an uncanny song.

In quiet times, when no solar storm is striking the Earth, the song is lower in pitch and less complex, with one single frequency dominating the oscillation. 

“It’s like the storm is changing the tuning of the foreshock,” explains Lucile.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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