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Solar storm to hit Earth on Monday, should you be concerned? Here’s what we know – OpIndia

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On Monday (July 12), a high-speed solar storm will approach our planet at a speed of 1.6 million km/hour and affect electricity supply and communication infrastructure. As per the latest prediction, mobile phone signals, Satellite TV, power grids and GPS navigation will be affected. According to the Space Weather Prediction Centre of the United States, the solar flare is expected to be at X1 level. Solar flares are categorised under A-class, B-class, followed by C, M and X. As such, X-class flares are the biggest in magnitude. The numerical suffix of 1 denotes the strength of the solar flare.

Earlier on July 3 at 10:29 am, the Sun emitted an intense solar flare which was categorised as X1.5-class flare. It caused temporary blackout over the Atlantic.

On Saturday (July 10), the Planetary Society had tweeted, “The Sun’s power should never be underestimated. In March 1989, the entire Canadian province of Quebec suffered a 12-hour electrical power blackout caused by a solar storm.” Today’s solar fare is unlikely to cause a geomagnetic solar flare or create blackouts of 12-hours in length.

Solar flares are intense explosions that take place on the surface of the sun. They are caused when energy stored in magnetic fields is suddenly released. As such, they send radiation across the length and breadth of the solar system. These radiations, which are in the form of radio waves, x-rays and gamma rays, then move towards the planets in the solar system. They transfer their energy into the Earth’s magnetic field and ionize the top of the planet’s atmosphere.

When fast-moving solar flares hit the Earth’s magnetosphere, they might trigger a geomagnetic storm. Such a storm affects satellites, disturbs GPS navigation, cell phone signals and Satellite TV. They can also affect power grids in some parts of the world. The largest solar storms are associated with Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), during which tonnes of plasma move in the direction of planets including Earth. CMEs might take days to reach Earth, however, some arrive within a span of 15-18 hours.

Reportedly, the biggest solar storm till date had occurred in 1859 during the Carrington Event. At that time, the Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) fried telegraph poles across the world. In 2014, NASA had warned that such a flare would tremendously impact the modern power grids and telecommunication channels in the world. National Academy of Sciences estimated a loss of more than £1.45trillion ($2trillion) in damages. Interestingly, the Earth narrowly avoided a Carrington-level CME in July 2012.

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'Eye of Sauron' volcano and other deep-sea structures discovered in underwater 'Mordor' – Livescience.com

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Researchers exploring the Indian Ocean have discovered the remains of a collapsed underwater volcano with an uncanny resemblance to the all-seeing “Eye of Sauron” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as two other seafloor structures named after places in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. 

The eye is actually an oval-shaped depression measuring 3.9 miles (6.2 kilometers) long by 3 miles (4.8 km) wide. Called a caldera, this giant divot is left over from the ancient collapse of a deep-sea volcano. The caldera is surrounded by a 984-foot-tall (300 meters) rim, giving the impression of eyelids, and an equally tall cone-shaped peak at the center, which looks like a pupil, according to The Conversation. The unusual structure is located 174 miles (280 km) southeast of Christmas Island ― an Australian external territory off mainland Australia ― at a depth of 10,170 feet (3,100 m).

A team of researchers discovered the structure while onboard the ocean research vessel Investigator, owned by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), on the 12th day of an expedition to Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories. The researchers used multibeam sonar to create 3D maps of the caldera and the surrounding seafloor.

Related: 5 colossal cones: Biggest volcanoes on Earth 

Like other calderas, this one formed when the peak of the original volcano collapsed, according to the researchers.

“The molten magma at the base of the volcano shifts upwards, leaving empty chambers [below],” chief scientist Tim O’Hara, senior curator at Museums Victoria in Australia, wrote in The Conversation. “The thin, solid crust on the surface of the dome then collapses, creating a large, crater-like structure.”

The area surrounding the volcanic crater is also home to two other noteworthy structures.

“Our volcanic ‘eye’ was not alone,” O’Hara wrote. “Further mapping to the south revealed a smaller sea mountain covered in numerous volcanic cones, and further still to the south was a larger, flat-topped seamount.”

Continuing the connection to Tolkien’s fantasy epic, the researchers named the cone-covered mountain Barad-dûr, after Sauron’s main stronghold, and the seamount Ered Lithui, after the Ash Mountains, both of which are found alongside the Eye of Sauron in the evil realm of Mordor. 

A map showing off the locations of all three features named after places in Mordor. (Image credit: 3D imagery courtesy of CSIRO/MNF, GSM)

The Ered Lithui seamount is part of a cluster of seamounts thought to date back about 100 million years, O’Hara wrote. The Ered Lithui seamount was once above the water’s surface, giving it its flat top, and it has gradually sunk to around 1.6 miles (2.6 km) below sea level.

Over millions of years, sand and sinking detritus — particulate matter, including plankton, excrement and other organic matter — have coated the seamount in a thick layer of sediment around 328 feet (100 m) deep. However, the caldera remains relatively uncovered, suggesting it may be significantly younger, O’Hara said. 

“This sedimentation rate should have smothered and partially hidden the caldera,” O’Hara wrote. It also “looks surprisingly intact for a structure that should be 100 million years old.”

This freshness suggests that the volcano was created, and subsequently collapsed, after the seamount began sinking into the ocean.

“It is possible that volcanoes have continued to sprout long after the original foundation,” O’Hara wrote. “Our restless Earth is never still.”

Originally published on Live Science.

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Europe's robotic arm and Russian's Nauka on their way to ISS – SpaceWatch.Global

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Source: ESA

Paris, 23 July 2021. – The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The 11-m-long robot is travelling folded and attached to what will be its home base – the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’, ESA said. The Proton-M booster placed Nauka and ERA into orbit around ten minutes after liftoff, nearly 200 km above Earth, the agency said.

ERA is capable of ‘walking’ around the Russian parts of the orbital complex. It can handle components up to 8000 kg with 5 mm precision, and it will transport astronauts from one working site to another.

The Russian Nauka module (‘nauka’ means ‘science’ in Russian) was delayed for years due to technical problems that Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, finally solved.

Space News quoted Russian sources yesterday that Nauka suffered further problems after reaching orbit. The space agencies – NASA and Roscosmos – did not comment these rumors.

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New 3D images of shark intestines show they work like Tesla valves – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Despite sharks being frequently cast as the ‘scary creature with large teeth’ in our collective imagination, not a lot is known about what sharks actually eat and how they can go so long between meals.

But new 3D imaging may have unravelled some of those digestive mysteries by creating a better picture of what a shark’s intestines look like.

According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers have made images using CT scans that allow a closer look at the animal’s spiral intestines, which may allow it to digest food slowly.

“It’s high time that some modern technology was used to look at these really amazing spiral intestines of sharks,” Samantha Leigh, assistant professor at California State University and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “We developed a new method to digitally scan these tissues and now can look at the soft tissues in such great detail without having to slice into them.”

Researchers took CT scans of around three dozen shark species from specimens preserved at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. This process involved taking a series of X-rays from different angles and then combining those flat images to produce a 3D one.

This meant researchers didn’t have to dissect a shark and disturb the organs involved.

“Intestines are so complex, with so many overlapping layers, that dissection destroys the context and connectivity of the tissue,” co-author Adam Summers, a professor based at UW Friday Harbor Labs, explained in the release. 

“It would be like trying to understand what was reported in a newspaper by taking scissors to a rolled-up copy. The story just won’t hang together.”

By examining these 3D images, researchers were able to theorize that the spiral shape of the sharks intestines actually help them retain food for longer. The spiral shape of the gut slows down the progress of food through the shark, moving based on gravity and the contraction of the intestines.

The release explained that the sharks’ intestines function similarly to a one-way valve designed by Nikola Tesla more than 100 years ago, in that it allows fluid to move in one direction without any backflow or external help from other moving parts.

Contrary to how often the shark in Jaws was seen chowing down, sharks often go for days or even weeks between meals, so these spiral intestines may help them stretch out one large meal, researchers say.

The next step for researchers is to create these structures themselves using a 3D printer, and see what happens when material passes through them in real time. The release also mentioned that these structures could serve as inspiration for technology and things such as wastewater treatment or filtering out microplastics from water.

As sharks eat a wide variety of things in the ocean and are frequently top predators, understanding more about how they digest could help us understand more about the ocean ecosystem in general.

“The vast majority of shark species, and the majority of their physiology, are completely unknown,” Summers said, adding that new things are discovered every time they look closely.

“We need to look harder at sharks and, in particular, we need to look harder at parts other than the jaws, and the species that don’t interact with people.”

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