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Blue planet: Study proposes new origin theory for Earth's water – FRANCE 24

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Issued on: 27/08/2020 – 20:06Modified: 27/08/2020 – 20:05

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Washington (AFP)

Water covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and is crucial to life as we know it, but how it got here has been a longstanding scientific debate.

The puzzle was a step closer to resolution Thursday after a team of French scientists reported in the journal Science they had identified which space rocks may have been responsible.

Cosmochemist Laurette Piani, who led the research, told AFP that, contrary to prevailing theories, Earth’s water may have already been contained in its building blocks.

According to early models for how the Solar System formed, the large disks of gas and dust that swirled around the Sun and eventually formed the inner planets were too hot to form ice.

This would explain the barren conditions on Mercury, Venus and Mars — but not our blue planet, with its vast oceans, a humid atmosphere and well-hydrated geology.

The most common idea is that water was brought later by extra-terrestrial objects, and the prime suspect was water-rich meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites.

But the problem was that their chemical composition doesn’t closely match our planet’s rocks.

They also formed in the outer Solar System, making it less likely they could have pelted the early Earth.

Another type of meteorite, called enstatite chondrites (ECs), is a much closer chemical match, indicating these were Earth’s and the other inner planets’ building blocks.

However, because these rocks formed close to the Sun, they had been assumed to be too dry to account for Earth’s rich reservoirs of water.

To test whether this was really true, Piani and her colleagues at the Universite de Lorraine used a technique called mass spectrometry to measure the hydrogen content in 13 enstatite chondrites.

They found that the rocks contained enough hydrogen in them to provide Earth with at least the three times the water mass of its oceans.

They also measured the two types of hydrogen, known as isotopes, because the relative proportion of these is very different from one Solar System object to another.

“We found the hydrogen isotopic composition of enstatite chondrites to be similar to the one of the water stored in the terrestrial mantle,” said Piani, comparing it to a DNA match.

She added that research doesn’t exclude later addition of water by other sources like comets, but indicates that enstatite chondrites contributed significantly to Earth’s water budget at the time it formed.

The work “brings a crucial and elegant element to this puzzle” wrote Anne Peslier, a planetary scientist for NASA, in an accompanying editorial.

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Northern municipalities put support behind satellite internet service – ElliotLakeToday.com

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The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) has cast its attention skyward in joining other Northern Ontario stakeholders calling for better access to high-speed internet.

At its recent board meeting, the municipal advocacy group passed a resolution indicating its support for Starlink, a satellite internet service being developed by SpaceX, the company founded by U.S.-based innovator Elon Musk.

“We know today our citizens require greater connectivity than 50/10 megabits per second,” said FONOM president Danny Whalen in a Sept. 16 news release.

“FONOM believes that the Starlink program is our best option.”

According to a report released by Blue Sky Net earlier this year, the average download speed of participants in a study of northern internet users was just below 9 megabits per second (Mbps) and the average upload speed was just above 5 Mbps.

But for the average user that relies on fast internet speeds for business, education and more, download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps are required as the bare minimum to participate in those activities.

In 2018, the federal government’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) set a new target to have 90 per cent of Canadian households with services that deliver download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps by 2021. But that goal is still far from being achieved.

Starlink is aiming to deliver high-speed broadband internet, via satellite, to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.

It’s targetting the northern U.S. and Canada for its initial release in 2020, and has plans to reach “near global coverage” in 2021.

The FONOM resolution calls on the CRTC to provide Starlink with a basic international telecommunications licence, which would allow the company to conduct international telecommunications activities.

FONOM said it would also seek support from its partners for the Starlink program.

FONOM, which represents 100 communities in northeastern Ontario, works to better municipal government in Northern Ontario and improve legislation respecting local government in the North.

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Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians – CTV News

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No longer confined to territories here on Earth, Russia has now staked its claim on Venus, saying it is a “Russian planet.”

This week, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, revealed that the country plans to send its own mission to Venus in addition to “Venera-D,” the planned joint mission with the US, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Rogozin was addressing reporters at the HeliRussia 2020 exhibition, an international expo of the helicopter industry in Moscow.

“Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda,” he told reporters Tuesday.

“We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t lag behind,” he said.

“Projects of Venus missions are included in the united government program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”

The statement came the day after scientists revealed that a gas on Earth called phosphine had also been detected in the atmosphere of Venus.

Venus is similar in size to Earth and is our closest planetary neighbour, but it spins backward compared to other planets.

The study authored by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The discovery of phosphine on Venus elevates it to an area of interest worth exploring in our solar system alongside the ranks of Mars and “water world” moons like Enceladus and Europa, Seager said.

“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said.

According to the European Space Agency, the Russians do have significant experience when it comes to Venus.

Its website states: “Between 1967-1984 Venusian studies carried out in Russia were at the forefront of international research into this planet.

“Since then, Russia has still preserved its unique expertise in designing and developing landing craft for Venus and continues to define scientific tasks for those craft.”

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COVID-19 messages may need to have greater impact – The Sudbury Star

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As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there’s a growing risk people may be tuning out information they need to know, says Dr. David Colby.

This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.

Photo supplied

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there’s a growing risk people may be tuning out information they need to know, says Dr. David Colby.

“Higher-impact” messages may be necessary, said Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health.

“There is such a thing as message fatigue as well,” Colby said. “Personally, I think it’s not a question of increasing the amount of education we’re doing but rather changing it up into a different style so that it refocuses peoples’ attention on the issues at hand.”

If people keep seeing the same message, eventually they no longer notice it, he said.

“Improvements can always be made,” Colby said. “We never want to get to the point where we basically sit back and say, ‘We’ve done it all. Let’s wait and see what happens.’

“We’re always searching to have a greater impact on people’s behaviour to the benefit of their health.”

The 401 new cases reported Friday in Ontario were the province’s highest single-day total since June 7 had 415 cases.

The numbers are better in Chatham-Kent, which reported no new cases for the sixth consecutive day Friday. The municipality’s cumulative total is 366 cases.

One more recovery raised Chatham-Kent’s total to 362. No one is hospitalized.

Active cases are down to two. Both stem from close contact with other cases.

There have been 25,756 individuals tested in Chatham-Kent.

“As the provincial numbers of new cases are increasing substantially, resulting in all this concern … we are not seeing that yet here,” Colby said, “but we will always be vigilant to deal with whatever comes our way, both in a reactive but especially a proactive way.”

The numbers were reversed in late July and early August. New cases were spiking in Chatham-Kent but sinking overall in the province.

“As our cases were going up, the provincial cases were going down sharply,” Colby said. “At a time when the (daily) number of new cases in the province was less than a hundred, that’s when we were dealing with our huge surge. We dealt with that. We are at a very, very low level now.”

Sarnia-Lambton has one active case, Middlesex-London has 53 active after 13 new cases were confirmed Friday, and Windsor-Essex County has 89 active cases.

Colby sympathizes with people suffering from pandemic fatigue.

“It’s difficult because people are tired of this, and none more than those on the front line that are dealing with it in public health,” he said. “It is very difficult.”

Anyone who says there’s no pandemic shouldn’t look to him for support.

“I have no idea how to deal with people that deny there’s a pandemic,” he said. “It’s sort of, to me, like people that deny that there are trees and rocks.”

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