A broken cable at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory has torn a gaping 100-foot hole in the dish of one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, taking the instrument offline until repairs can be made.
Arecibo’s massive reflector dish, which is built inside a sinkhole in northern Puerto Rico, was damaged when a 3-inch diameter support cable unexpectedly snapped before dawn on Monday, according to the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory.
In a photo of the damage, twisted panels that make up the 1,000-foot dish can be seen hanging from the structure or lying on the ground beneath it.
When the cable fell, it also damaged several panels on the Gregorian Dome that is suspended above the dish and houses sensitive receivers to collect signals from space.
“We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” Francisco Cordova, director of the observatory, said in a statement emailed to NPR. “Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.”
The statement said it is not yet clear what caused the cable to break and it did not give a timetable for repairs.
In an email to NPR, Ramon Lugo III, director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Space Institute, said that “the removal of the damaged cable and the procurement of a cable to replace the damaged cable” were under assessment.
“We are also working on a determination of the cause of this failure, including non-destructive testing of the remaining cables,” he said, adding that after a full assessment, “we will develop a recovery plan, schedule and budget.”
Since its completion in 1963, Arecibo has played a key role in discoveries ranging from new insights into pulsars to detecting planets outside our solar system. It has figured prominently in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. The observatory was also featured in the film Contact and the James Bond movie GoldenEye.
The observatory held the record for the world’s largest radio telescope until 2016 when an even larger instrument of similar design, known as the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, was completed in southern China. After testing, FAST officially went online last year.
In 2017, one of Arecibo’s much smaller dishes and a few panels on the main dish were damaged when Category 4 Hurricane Maria raked the island.
New NASA images show 'fresh ice' forming on Saturn’s moon – Yahoo Canada Sports
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="With Geyser-like plumes of ice erupting from the surface of the moon, scientists have suggested that life could lurk in its subsurface ocean.” data-reactid=”33″>With Geyser-like plumes of ice erupting from the surface of the moon, scientists have suggested that life could lurk in its subsurface ocean.
The data shows that fresh ice is forming not just near the plumes, but in other areas of the moon, which looks like a reflective, bright white snowball to the naked eye.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth” data-reactid=”35″>Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth
Gabriel Tobie, VIMS scientist with the University of Nantes in France, said: “The infrared shows us that the surface of the south pole is young, which is not a surprise because we knew about the jets that blast icy material there.
“Now, thanks to these infrared eyes, you can go back in time and say that one large region in the northern hemisphere appears also young and was probably active not that long ago, in geologic timelines.”
Enceladus’s ocean is likely heated and churned by hydrothermal vents like those on Earth’s ocean floors.
Some theories have suggested that such environments were where life first arose on Earth.
The researchers said that the same infrared features seen near the plumes also appear in the northern hemisphere.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more: There might once have been life on the moon” data-reactid=”61″>Read more: There might once have been life on the moon
That tells scientists not only that the northern area is covered with fresh ice but that the same kind of geologic activity – a resurfacing of the landscape – has occurred in both hemispheres.
The resurfacing in the north may be due either to icy jets or to a more gradual movement of ice through fractures in the crust, from the subsurface ocean to the surface.
Managed by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California, Cassini was an orbiter that observed Saturn for more than 13 years before exhausting its fuel supply.
The mission plunged it into the planet’s atmosphere in September 2017.
While it still orbited Saturn, Cassini sampled a plume of material erupting from Enceladus’s surface, and analysis of the material suggested an environment where life could flourish inside the moon.
Researchers led by Lucas Fifer of the University of Washington found that the plumes are chemically different from the ocean beneath – changed by their 800mph eruption into space.
It means that the surface of the moon could be much more hospitable to life than previously believed.
Fifer said: “Those high levels of carbon dioxide also imply a lower and more Earth-like pH level in the ocean of Enceladus than previous studies have shown. This bodes well for possible life.
“Although there are exceptions, most life on Earth functions best living in or consuming water with near-neutral pH, so similar conditions on Enceladus could be encouraging.”
'Crazy year up north' as Arctic ice shrinks to near record-low – Al Jazeera English
Ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to its second lowest level on record this year, scientists announced on Monday, in yet another sign of how global warming is rapidly transforming the polar region.
Satellites recorded this year’s sea ice minimum at 3.74 million square km on September 15, only the second time the ice has been measured below 4 million square km in 40 years of record keeping, according to researchers at the United States’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.
“It’s been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low… heat waves in Siberia, and massive forest fires,” said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.
“The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent. We are headed towards a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin.”
This year’s melt is second only to 2012, when the ice shrank to 3.4 million square km following a late-season cyclonic storm.
Arctic sea ice reaches its low point in September and its high in March after the winter, and in the 1980s, the ice cover was about 2.7 million square km bigger than the current summer levels.
This year’s decline was especially fast between August 31 and September 5, because of pulses of warm air from a heat wave in Siberia, according to the NSIDC. The rate of ice loss during those six days was faster than during any other year on record.
Arctic Siberian town hit with record heatwave (2:53)
Temperatures in the Siberian Arctic were 8 to 10 degrees Celsius above normal for much of the year, and another team of scientists found in July that the Siberian heatwave would have been all but impossible without human-caused climate change.
Studies show that the warming of the Arctic and the melting of sea ice change weather further south, by altering the jet stream and other waves that move weather systems.
As the Arctic sea ice vanishes, it leaves patches of dark water open. Those dark waters absorb solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere, a process that amplifies warming and helps to explain why Arctic temperatures have risen more than twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last 30 years.
The loss of sea ice also threatens Arctic wildlife, from polar bears and seals to plankton and algae, said Tom Foreman, a polar wildlife expert and Arctic guide.
“The numbers that we’re getting in terms of extent of sea ice decrease each year put us pretty much on red alert in terms of the level of worry that we have, our concern for the stability of this environment,” Foreman said.
The same warming that is opening summertime Arctic waters is also eating away at the ice sheets covering Arctic lands in Canada and Greenland. The faster those ice sheets melt into surrounding ocean, the faster sea levels will rise worldwide.
“The rapid disappearance of sea ice is a sobering indicator of how closely our planet is circling the drain,” Greenpeace Nordic Oceans campaigner Laura Meller said in a statement.
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“Over the past decades we have lost two-thirds of the volume of the Arctic sea ice, and as the Arctic melts the ocean will absorb more heat and all of us will be more exposed to the devastating effects of climate breakdown,” she later told the AFP news agency from a ship on the edge of the sea ice.
“What we are seeing here in the Arctic is really the opening up of a new ocean on top of the world, which means that we need to be protecting the area.”
The 2015 landmark Paris climate deal enjoins nations to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius through a rapid and sweeping reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
But emissions have continued to rise despite the deal, and several analyses have warned that without a thoroughly re-tooled global economy prioritising green growth, the pollutions savings due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have an insignificant mitigating effect on climate change.
5:42 Chilean astronomers discover a unique planet – Prensa Latina
The planet’s discoverers are James Jenkins, a scholar from the Department of Astronomy of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Chile, and Matias Diaz, a doctoral candidate in Astronomy at that center.
Both scientists studied the readings from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, in what was considered an ‘unlikely’ finding.
Jenkins explained that it is deemed an unlikely discovery because it is located in the Neptune Desert, where there are almost no planets and the existing ones have orbital periods of less than four days, and with masses and sizes similar to Neptune, which allows the investigation of its atmosphere.
He added that LTT 9779 has an atmosphere despite its closeness to the star it orbits and that it is very difficult to explain why this planet did not become a rock core, nor to find many more examples like this orbiting other stars as bright.
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