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Could NASA’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Telescope find 100,000 planets? – The Next Web

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Due for launch in the mid-2020s, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is destined to become one of the great planet-hunting telescopes. Although the main mirror at the heart of the Roman Telescope is no larger than the one in the Hubble Space Telescope, the Roman mirror is just 25 percent as massive as its predecessor. With a wider field of view greater than Hubble, this next-generation telescope, formerly known as WFIRST, may discover 100,000 worlds orbiting other stars.

The Roman Telescope will study the sky in infrared wavelengths utilizing two methods to detect exoplanets. The first of these techniques, the transit method, measures dips of light seen from a star as a planet passes “in front of” its stellar parent as seen from Earth. The second method, gravitational microlensing, notes slight increases in light caused by the presence of an exoplanet.

Keep squinting, you’ll see it…

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Hit the play button above for a look at how exoplanets are found using the transit method, in this video provided by NASA.

Most exoplanets discovered so far were found using the transit method. Regular, periodic dimming of a star is the easiest way to find planets, but it only works for systems where an exoplanet passes between the star and Earth.

Astronomers currently know of nearly 4,400 planets orbiting other stars. Of these, about 2,800 were discovered using the transit method by the Kepler spacecraft (which ended its mission in 2018).

The same technique is currently being utilized by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

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Hit the play button above for a look at how gravitational microlensing can reveal the presence of distant exoplanets, in this video by NASA.

Gravitational microlensing, a brightening of light from a star, results when light from the star bends due to the gravitational forces of an exoplanet, in much the same way as light bends while passing through a convex lens in a telescope. This phenomenon was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.

“Microlensing events are rare and occur quickly, so you need to look at a lot of stars repeatedly and precisely measure brightness changes to detect them. Those are exactly the same things you need to do to find transiting planets, so by creating a robust microlensing survey, Roman will produce a nice transit survey as well,” said astrophysicist Benjamin Montet of the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Credit: NASA
Nancy Grace Roman, for whom this telescope is named, was the first Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters and the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA. Seen here in 1962, she oversaw the development of both the Hubble and Cosmic Background Explorer programs.

While the transit method works best for systems where the exoplanet orbits to its parent star (creating a larger “silhouette”), gravitational microlensing is most useful in systems where the planet orbits far from its star. Tomes of this data are already recorded, some of it hinting at unknown exoplanets, awaiting confirmation by researchers.

“The fact that we’ll be able to detect thousands of transiting planets just by looking at microlensing data that’s already been taken is exciting. It’s free science,” said Jennifer Yee, astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics, stated.

Both of these techniques are able to compliment one another, providing astronomers a means to verify data about exoplanets recorded from around alien stars.

Going rogue

The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is likely to find rogue planets — worlds traveling through space, untethered to any star. These orphan planets are thought to range in size from small, rocky worlds smaller than Mars, up to gas giants similar to Jupiter and Saturn. Some of these may be accompanied by moons.

“Because of Hubble and other telescopes, we’ve now discovered that there are probably planets around every star, or virtually every star. There are solar systems around most stars. And the fact that we’re here on a planet, Earth, means that it’s likely there’s lots of other Earths out there” — John Grunsfeld, astronaut

Collisions and close encounters between planets in unstable solar systems might throw exoplanets free of the gravitational grip of their parent star. Others might form in interstellar space, never knowing the warm embrace of a stellar parent.

Even rouge planets, like those that might be found using the Roman Telescope, might be accompanied by moons, like this icy satellite pictured here, orbiting a planet larger than Neptune.
Credit: The Cosmic Companion / Created in Universe Sandbox
Even rouge planets, like those that might be found using the Roman Telescope, might be accompanied by moons, like this icy satellite pictured here, orbiting a planet larger than Neptune.

“The microlensing signal from a rogue planet only lasts between a few hours and a couple of days and then is gone forever. This makes them difficult to observe from Earth, even with multiple telescopes. Roman is a game-changer for rogue planet searches,” Matthew Penny, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, stated.

About three-quarters of the planets found by the Roman Telescope are likely to be gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, or ice giants similar to Uranus and Neptune.

A majority of smaller worlds are likely to be mini-Neptunes, possessing between four and eight times as much mass as Earth. Planets like this are known to be common in other planetary families, although none exist in our own solar system.

A fraction of worlds seen by Roman are likely to be found within the habitable, or Goldilocks, zone around their parent star, where temperatures are neither too hot, nor too cold, for water to pool on their surface. Gas giants could be the centers of their own systems of water-rich moons, like Europa and Enceladus, warmed by tidal forces and geochemical processes.

Your Father was a Roman?

One advantage of the Roman telescope is its wide field-of-view. Much like the way binoculars see more of the sky at one time than a telescope, this instrument is designed to see large swatches of sky with each observation.

The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will be capable of taking image at a resolution equal to Hubble, but with a field-of-view 100 times greater than that instrument. Every day, it will gather 500 times more data than its counterpart.

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Hit the play button above for a look at how the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will compare to Hubble in clarity and field-of-view, in this video by L. Hustak (STScI) / Goddard Media Studios.

One challenge with the Roman Telescope is that this is such a revolutionary instrument, follow-up observations are exceptionally difficult — there is no other instrument capable of doing what the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will do.

“The potential of [The Roman Telescope] to detect large numbers of transiting planets is complicated by the difficulty of directly confirming those planets by traditional methods. In general, because the host stars of [Roman]-detected transiting planets will be so faint, it will not be possible to conduct followup RV observations to confirm their masses and rule out false positives,” Yee and her team wrote in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2017.

Located a million miles away from Earth, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will see far deeper into the Milky Way than previous missions, although just over a small patch of sky. This instrument will spend months staring at a single point in the sky, allowing it to find hundreds of unknown worlds using microlensing.

“The universe could be teeming with rogue planets and we wouldn’t even know it. We would never find out without undertaking a thorough, space-based microlensing survey like Roman is going to do,” explains Scott Gaudi, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University.

Stellar systems explored by Kepler averaged a distance of just 2,000 light years from Earth, seen within a square totaling 115 degrees square. The TESS Telescope observes nearly the entire sky, but only examines systems within 150 light years from Earth. The Roman Telescope will be capable of finding exoplanets as far as 26,000 light years from our home world.

Future astronomers will spend years or decades poring through data collected by The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope, in the search for worlds beyond our solar system.

This article was originally published on The Cosmic Companion by James Maynard, founder and publisher of The Cosmic Companion. He is a New England native turned desert rat in Tucson, where he lives with his lovely wife, Nicole, and Max the Cat. You can read this original piece here.

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Breathtaking NASA Image Shows a Magical ‘Sea of Dunes’ on Mars

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On Thursday, NASA released a stunning photo of a sea of dunes on Mars.

It also shows wind-sculpted lines surrounding Mars’ frosty northern polar cap.

The section captured in the shot represents an area that is 31 kilometers (19 miles) wide, NASA said. The sea of dunes, however, actually covers an area as large as Texas.

The photo is a false color image, meaning that the colors are representative of temperatures. Blue represents cooler climes, and the shades of yellow mark out “sun-warmed dunes,” the US space agency wrote.

Sea of dark dunes surrounds Mars’ northern polar cap.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

The photo is made of a combination of images captured by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA wrote.

Captured during the period from December 2002 to November 2004, the breathtaking images have been released to mark the 20th anniversary of Odyssey.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter is a robotic spacecraft circling Mars that uses a thermal imager to detect evidence of water and ice on the planet.

It was launched in 2001, making it the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history.

Source:- ScienceAlert

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Humans actually hunted large animals and ate mostly meat for 2 millions years: study – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Despite a widespread belief that humans owe their evolution to the dietary flexibility in eating both meat and vegetables, researchers in Israel suggest that early humans were actually apex predators who hunted large animals for two million years before they sought vegetables to supplement their diet.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, academics from Tel Aviv University in Israel and the University of Minho in Portugal examined modern biology to determine if stone-age humans were specialized carnivores or generalist omnivores.

“So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of Stone-Age humans were mostly based on comparisons to 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” one of the study’s authors, Miki Ben-Dor, a researcher at Tel Aviv University, said in a press release.

“This comparison is futile, however, because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies could hunt and consume elephants and other large animals – while today’s hunter gatherers do not have access to such bounty.”

Instead, the researchers looked at approximately 400 previous scientific studies on human anatomy and physiology as well as archeological evidence from the Pleistocene period, or “Ice Age” period, which began about 2.6 million years ago, and lasted until 11,700 years ago.

“We decided to use other methods to reconstruct the diet of Stone-Age humans: to examine the memory preserved in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics and physical build,” Ben-Dor said.

“Human behaviour changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body remembers.”

They discovered 25 lines of evidence from the studied papers on human biology that seem to show that earlier Homo sapiens were apex predators at the top of the food chain.

For example, the academics explained that humans have a high acidity in their stomachs when compared to omnivores or even other predators, which is important for consuming animal products.

“Strong acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat, and prehistoric humans, hunting large animals whose meat sufficed for days or even weeks, often consumed old meat containing large quantities of bacteria, and thus needed to maintain a high level of acidity,” Ben-Dor said.

Another piece of evidence, according to the study, is the structure of human fat cells.

“In the bodies of omnivores, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, it’s the other way around: we have a much larger number of smaller fat cells,” Ben-Dor said.

HUNTING EXPERTS

In addition to the evidence they collected by studying human biology, the researchers said archeological evidence from the Pleistocene period supports their theory.

In one example, the study’s authors examined stable isotopes in the bones of prehistoric humans as well as their hunting practices and concluded these early humans specialized in hunting large and medium-sized animals with high fat content.

“Comparing humans to large social predators of today, all of whom hunt large animals and obtain more than 70% of their energy from animal sources, reinforced the conclusion that humans specialized in hunting large animals and were in fact hypercarnivores,” the academics noted.

Ben-Dor said Stone-Age humans’ expertise in hunting large animals played a major role in the extinction of certain large animals, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant sloths.

“Most probably, like in current-day predators, hunting itself was a focal human activity throughout most of human evolution. Other archeological evidence – like the fact that specialized tools for obtaining and processing vegetable foods only appeared in the later stages of human evolution – also supports the centrality of large animals in the human diet, throughout most of human history,” he said.

This is not to say, however, that humans during this period didn’t eat any plants. Ben-Dor said they also consumed plants, but they weren’t a major component of their diet until the end of the era when the decline of animal food sources led humans to increase their vegetable intake.

Eventually, the researchers said humans had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals and become farmers.

Ran Barkai, one of the study’s authors and a professor at Tel Aviv University, said their findings have modern-day implications.

“For many people today, the Paleolithic diet is a critical issue, not only with regard to the past, but also concerning the present and future. It is hard to convince a devout vegetarian that his/her ancestors were not vegetarians, and people tend to confuse personal beliefs with scientific reality,” he said. 

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Marimaca Copper: First Drill Hole Intersects Broad Zone of Sulphide Copper Mineralization at Marimaca – Junior Mining Network

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Marimaca Copper Corp. (“Marimaca Copper” or the “Company”) (TSX: MARI) is pleased to announce the assay results of the first drill hole of a five-hole program targeting extensions of sulphide mineralization below the Company’s flagship Marimaca Oxide Deposit (“MOD”). Drilling encountered a broad zone of chalcopyrite and minor chalcocite, indicating potential for economic sulphide mineralization.

Highlights

  • Drill hole MAR-125 intersected 116m (expected approximate true width) at an average grade of 0.51% CuT from 162m, including two higher grade zones of:
    • 20m with an average grade of 0.77% CuT from 162m; and
    • 42m with an average grade of 0.92% CuT from 236m.
  • Intersection represents a significantly broader zone of mineralization than anticipated from earlier, nearby, sulphide drilling intersections
  • First drill hole of an initial five-hole campaign to test for extensions of mineralization at depth
    • First hole designed to extend mineralization closer to sulphide zones identified in historical drilling
    • Remaining four holes designed to test the limits of mineralization with step outs of approximately 300m at depth and between 400m and 700m along strike to the north and south of the first hole
  • Sulphide drilling to be completed shortly, with assay results on remaining holes expected by the end of April 2021
  • In response to escalating COVID situation in Chile, the Company has initiated a break in drilling which is not expected to impact the original target of testing all identified targets by the end of 1H 2021.

Sergio Rivera, VP Exploration of Marimaca Copper, commented:

“The results of the first hole of this initial campaign are extremely pleasing, exceeding both the widths and grades we had projected for this zone based on earlier drilling completed nearby. The broad intercept of chalcopyrite mineralization shows good continuity downhole, with potentially economic grades, especially at the bottom of the intercept.

“The drilling has also provided additional geological information, which we are using to refine our understanding of the controls of mineralization and to inform future drillhole locations, targeting mineralized extensions at depth and along strike.

“The next four holes are significant step outs from the known mineralized zones outside of the Mineral Resource Estimate area and are designed to test the limits of the mineralized body, both at depth and along strike. The second hole will be collared approximately 350m to the east of MAR-125, targeting mineralization up to 300m below the current deepest mineralization. The third, fourth and fifth holes will be located between 400m and 700m to the north and south of MAR-125, aiming to test for extensions along strike.

“This first hole has provided encouragement that there is potential for economically interesting sulphide mineralization at Marimaca, while the next four drill holes are designed to better delineate the tonnage potential of this.”

Discussion of Campaign Objectives and Results

The current five-hole drilling campaign at the Marimaca Copper Project is designed to test for extensions to mineralization below the MOD. Based on the structural controls of the mineralization, the results of previous geophysical campaigns and earlier drilling, which extended beyond the current Mineral Resource Estimate (“MRE”) area, the Company believes there is the potential for extensions of the mineralized body at depth across the full strike length of the MOD. All drill holes will be drilled at an azimuth of 270o and at -60o, roughly perpendicular to the north-south striking, easterly dipping mineralizing structures. Intercepts should, therefore, be relatively close to the true width of the mineralization.

The first drill hole (MAR-125) encountered a broad zone of dominantly chalcopyrite mineralization with some pyrite and minor chalcocite over a down hole width (expected to be equivalent to approximate true width) of 116m with an average grade of 0.51% CuT. This includes two zones of higher-grade mineralization including 20m with an average grade of 0.77% CuT and 42m with an average grade of 0.92% CuT at the end of the mineralized intercept. The hole was collared to test mineralization approximately 100m to the east of the earlier hole ATR-82, which intersected 44m of sulphide copper mineralization with an average grade of 1.05% CuT, and 200m and 300m east of holes ATR-93 and ATR-94 respectively, which both intersected mineralization with true widths of around 40m with average grades above 1.0% CuT. MAR-125 has demonstrated an extension to this higher-grade mineralization and provides further areas to target for follow up drilling.

MAR-125 is located in the center of the current MRE area, proximal to a zone of relatively high-grade sulphide mineralization intercepted in several drill holes over widths of between 30m and 50m. The remaining four drill holes have been located to test the limits of the mineralization by stepping out significantly at depth and along strike beyond the current MRE area. The collar of the second hole, MAS-03, is located approximately 100m to the south and 350m to the east of MAR-125 and is aimed to intersect mineralization approximately 300m below MAR-125. MAS-02 and MAS-04, located approximately 400m and 700m, respectively, south of MAR-125, and are planned as significant step outs along strike, targeting the conductivity high noted in the IP survey completed across the MOD

Figure 2

Sampling and Assay Protocol

True widths cannot be determined with the information available at this time. Marimaca Copper RC holes were sampled on a 2-metre continuous basis, with dry samples riffle split on site and one quarter sent to the Andes Analytical Assay preparation laboratory in Calama and the pulps then sent to the same company laboratory in Santiago for assaying. A second quarter was stored on site for reference. Samples were prepared using the following standard protocol: drying; crushing to better than 85% passing -10#; homogenizing; splitting; pulverizing a 500-700g subsample to 95% passing -150#; and a 125g split of this sent for assaying. All samples were assayed for CuT (total copper), CuS (acid soluble copper) by AAS. A full QA/QC program, involving insertion of appropriate blanks, standards and duplicates was employed with acceptable results. Pulps and sample rejects are stored by Marimaca Copper for future reference.

Qualified Person

The technical information in this news release, including the information that relates to geology, drilling and mineralization was prepared under the supervision of, or has been reviewed by Sergio Rivera, Vice President of Exploration, Marimaca Copper Corp, a geologist with more than 36 years of experience and a member of the Colegio de Geólogos de Chile and of the Institute of Mining Engineers of Chile, and who is the Qualified Person for the purposes of NI 43-101 responsible for the design and execution of the drilling program.

Mr. Rivera confirms that he has visited the Marimaca Project on numerous occasions, is responsible for the information contained in this news release and consents to its publication.

Contact Information
For further information please visit www.marimaca.com or contact:

Tavistock
+44 (0) 207 920 3150
Jos Simson/Emily Moss 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Forward Looking Statements

This news release includes certain “forward-looking statements” under applicable Canadian securities legislation. These statements relate to future events or the Company’s future performance, business prospects or opportunities. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the impact of a rebranding of the Company, the future development and exploration potential of the Marimaca Project. Actual future results may differ materially. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Forward-looking statements reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections on the date the statements are made and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while considered reasonable by Marimaca Copper, are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies. Many factors, both known and unknown, could cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from the results, performance or achievements that are or may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and the parties have made assumptions and estimates based on or related to many of these factors. Such factors include, without limitation: risks related to share price and market conditions, the inherent risks involved in the mining, exploration and development of mineral properties, the uncertainties involved in interpreting drilling results and other geological data, fluctuating metal prices, the possibility of project delays or cost overruns or unanticipated excessive operating costs and expenses, uncertainties related to the necessity of financing, the availability of and costs of financing needed in the future as well as those factors disclosed in the Company’s documents filed from time to time with the securities regulators in the Provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Marimaca Copper undertakes no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements contained herein whether as a result of new information or future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.


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