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Mars: Green glow detected on the Red Planet – BBC News

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Scientists have identified a green light in the atmosphere of Mars.

A similar glow is sometimes seen by astronauts on the space station when they look to the Earth’s limb.

The glow comes from oxygen atoms when they’re excited by sunlight.

The phenomenon has long been predicted to occur on other planets, but the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) – a joint European-Russian satellite at Mars – is the first to make the observation beyond Earth.

“It’s a nice result,” said Dr Manish Patel from the UK’s Open University.

“You’d never plan a mission to go look for this kind of thing. Today, we have to be very clear about the science we’re going to do before we get to Mars. But having got there, we thought, ‘well, let’s have a look’. And it worked.”

To be clear, this is different to classic aurora like the Northern and Southern Lights.

These emissions are the consequence of collisions between atmospheric molecules and charged particles that are racing away from the Sun. On Earth, this type of interaction is heavily influenced by our planet’s strong magnetic field, which pulls those particles down on to the poles.

Aurora are not focussed in quite the same way on Mars because this world doesn’t have a global magnetic field, but such emissions nonetheless exist and have already been observed.

The green glow seen by astronauts at the edge of the Earth – and now by the TGO at Mars – has a separate origin. It’s sunlight that’s doing the work. Oxygen atoms are raised to a higher energy level and when they fall back to their resting state, they produce the tell-tale green emission.

Earth has abundant oxygen in its atmosphere. But on Mars it’s largely present only as a breakdown product of carbon dioxide. Sunlight will free one of the oxygen atoms in CO2, and it’s the transition of this atom that’s glowing green on the Red Planet.

The TGO detects the excited oxygen not with an imaging camera (hence no pretty pictures) but with its Nomad spectrometer package. This instrument sees the oxygen at very particular altitudes.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, these altitudes are at 80km and 120km above the surface. The precise altitudes are dependent on the pressure of CO2.

“And by looking at the altitudes of where this emission is, you can actually tell the thickness of the atmosphere and how it’s varying,” explained Dr Patel.

“So, if you were to keep observing this phenomenon, you could see the height of the atmosphere change, something it does for example when it heats up during dust storms. This is an issue we face when we try to land on Mars because we’re never quite sure just how thick the atmosphere will be when we plough through it to get to the surface.”

Theoretically, therefore, you could use observations of the green glow to help inform the models that guide the entry, descent and landing of Mars probes.

The glow at Mars was detected by the TGO’s Nomad instrument, which is led by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA). Dr Patel is the co-principal investigator on Nomad’s ultraviolet and visible spectrometer.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – The Telegram

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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4 thriller objects spotted in deep room, compared with nearly anything at any time seen – haveeruonline

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Astronomers are baffled about 4 objects that were noticed in deep room by a enormous radio telescopes, stories mentioned.

LiveScience.com documented on Thursday that the highly circular objects that appear vibrant alongside the edges had been found when astronomers reviewed archival info from radio telescopes in Australia and India.

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Kristine Spekkens, an astronomer from the Royal Military services College or university of Canada and Queen’s College, told the science internet site that the objects look to be a little something not nevertheless probed.

“It could also be that these are an extension of earlier known course of objects that we have not been in a position to discover,” she claimed. Researchers have referred to the objects as ORCs, or “odd radio circles.”

The Australian astronomers in the study noted that the objects ended up uncovered though functioning on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot, an all-sky continuum study, working with a square kilometer array pathfinder telescope.

The objects ended up described as circular, “edge-brightened discs.” They do not “correspond to any recognized style of object.” Two of them are reasonably close together, which could point out some relation. Two also attribute “an optical galaxy in the vicinity of the center of the radio emission.”

“We speculate that they could represent a spherical shock wave from an more-galactic transient occasion, or the outflow, or a remnant, from a radio galaxy considered finish-on,” the experts wrote.

The scholarly papers ended up posted on Arxiv.org.

The paper lists a several possible explanations but dismisses them. They theorized that it could be a supernova remnant, galactic planetary nebula or a deal with-on star-forming galaxy or ring galaxy.

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The face-on star-forming galaxy principle, for case in point, was dashed, in part, owing to the “lack of measurable optical emission” in comparison to the radio emission.

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Astronomers just spotted something in space that they can't explain – BGR – BGR

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  • Astronomers have spotted a new class of radio objects in space that has never been documented before. 
  • The researchers ruled out most possible explanations but a few remain, including that the signals are the leftover remnants of some cosmic event.
  • In a new research paper, the scientists offer their best guesses, but can’t say for certain what they saw.

When astronomers used high-powered telescopes to peer deep into space they never know what they might find, but generally speaking, they know what they’re looking at once they see it. Finding a totally new class of unidentified object is rare, but that’s just what researchers using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder telescope found while scanning the skies for radio signatures.

The team of scientists found four strange objects that they describe as “circular edge-brightened discs” which don’t correspond to any known object in the records. The team has named them ORCs, short for “odd radio circles,” and they’re eager to learn more about them.

As LiveScience reports, the researchers were quickly able to dismiss some possible explanations, such as newborn galaxies, nebulas, or supernovas. They even considered whether the strange objects might just be imaging artifacts, but were able to also rule that out. They’re a real mystery, but the researchers have other theories they can neither prove nor disprove at this point. One such explanation is that the rings are what remains of some massive explosive event far away in space.

What makes ORCs so hard to pin an explanation on is the fact that while they are visible in radio wavelengths they can’t be seen using visible light or even infrared. They appear to be purely radio signals, but their uniform shape suggests that the signal may be radiating out from a central point, supporting the idea that the circles are cosmic shockwaves spreading into space.

Still, even if that theory holds water, researchers still don’t know what caused them, how old they are, or what might happen to them in the future. They’re believed to be extragalactic, meaning that they’re not located within the Milky Way, but the team can’t say for certain how far away these strange signals are.

“We have discovered, to the best of our knowledge, a new class of radio-astronomical object, consisting of a circular disc, which in some cases is limb-brightened, and sometimes contains a galaxy at its center. None of the known types of radio object seems able to explain it,” the researchers write. “We, therefore, consider it likely that the ORCs represent a new type of object found in radioastronomy images. The edge-brightening in some ORCs suggests that this circular image may represent a spherical object, which in turn suggests a spherical wave from some transient event.”

It’s all pretty exciting, but we may have to wait a while before astronomers figure out exactly what they’re looking at.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of
reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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