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Record-Breaking Bird Just Flew Nonstop From Alaska to New Zealand

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A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.

A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.
Image: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia

A conservation group has tracked a migration for the ages, in which a male bar-tailed godwit flew from Alaska to New Zealand without taking a single break.

As the Guardian reports, the bar-tailed godwit departed southwestern Alaska on September 16 and arrived 11 days later at a bay near Auckland, New Zealand. The bird, designated 4BBRW (for the blue, blue, red, and white identification rings attached to its legs), was tracked by Global Flyway Network, a conservation group that studies long-distance migrating shorebirds.

Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) are exceptional birds, featuring some mind-bogglingly long migratory routes. The wading birds spend their summers in the arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere (where they breed) and then fly south for the winter, in some cases as far as Australia and New Zealand. Bar-tailed godwits are fast and lightweight, with wingspans around 28 to 31 inches (70 to 80 cm) long.

Bar-tailed godwits looking to relocate from Alaska to New Zealand must make an epic flight over the Pacific Ocean. For 4BBRW, this resulted in a record-breaking nonstop flight, in which the bird flew 7,987 miles (12,854 km), reports the Guardian. The bird was equipped with a 5gm satellite tag, which allowed for GPS tracking. The scientists said the total length of the journey is probably closer to 7,581 miles (12,200 km) after accounting for rounding errors.

The previous nonstop flight record belongs to a female bar-tailed godwit, who flew 7,257 miles (11,680 km) during a similar journey in 2007. Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) travel more than 50,000 miles (80,000 km) each year, so they deserve mention as having the longest migratory routes of any bird (or any animal for that matter), though they make lots of stops

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Study Suggests A Supernova Exploded Near Earth About 2.5 Million Years Ago, Possibly Causing An Extinction Event

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Supernovas are amazingly bright explosions of massive stars at the end of their lives. During the gravitational collapse, the outer layers of the star are pushed away, and chemical elements formed inside the dying star are released into space. This cosmic dust rains down onto the Earth continuously, eventually becoming part of sediments deposited in the sea.

Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters used the concentrations of elements formed in an exploding star and preserved in oceanic sediments to hypothesize that a supernova exploded near Earth just 2.5 million years ago.

The authors, led by Dr. Gunther Korschinek from the Technical University of Munich, focused their study on ferromanganese crusts collected in the Pacific Ocean. Ferromanganese crusts form on the bottom of the ocean by layers of iron- and manganese-oxides precipitating out of seawater. The studied samples started to grow some 20 million years ago at depths ranging from 5,200 feet to 3.18 miles (approximately 1.600 to 5.120 meters). The researchers measured the concentrations of iron-60 and manganese-53 isotopes in the hardened crust. They differ from Earth’s most common form of the elements by their varying number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Both isotopes are synthesized in large stars shortly before supernova explosions and are unstable, decaying completely after 4 to 15 million years. Their presence in sediment samples is evidence for Earth passing through a cloud of cosmic dust generated by an exploding star in – geologically speaking – recent times.

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NASA prototype rover can split in two, could climb down deep Mars craters

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NASA JPL took the DuAxel out for a test run in the Mojave Desert.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell

NASA’s car-size Mars rovers are awesome, versatile machines capable of traversing rugged terrain. But they’re not made to descend down the sides of craters. For that, NASA would need something like its DuAxel prototype rover, a wild concept that is two rovers in one.

When all together, DuAxel is a four-wheeled rover. The rear can anchor itself to the ground while the front goes free on two wheels. A tether holds the pieces together while the front section rappels down a steep slope. This could work well for exploring currently inaccessible crater walls on Mars.

NASA put a DuAxel prototype through its paces in the Mojave Desert in California. “DuAxel performed extremely well in the field, successfully demonstrating its ability to approach a challenging terrain, anchor, and then undock its tethered Axel rover,” robotics technologist Issa Nesnas said in a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Tuesday.

A video shows the clever rover in action and how it can use onboard instruments to get a close look at what’s under its wheels.

One of the motivations for developing DuAxel is to one day get a closer look at enigmatic dark streaks called recurring slope lineae that appear on the side of some martian craters. Scientists are trying to figure out if these have a watery origin.

The craters are too steep for a rover like Curiosity or Perseverance (which is currently on its way to Mars), but a transforming rappelling machine like DuAxel could handle the challenge.

It’s not just Mars science that could

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NASA animation tracks the end of Tropical Storm Delta

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NASA animation tracks the end of Tropical Storm Delta  
NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image to forecasters of Tropical Storm Delta moving through the southeastern U.S. on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. At the time of the image, the storm was centered over northern Alabama. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

NASA’s Terra satellite obtained visible imagery as Tropical Storm Delta made landfall in Louisiana and moved northeastward soaking the U.S. southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.


NASA satellite view: Delta’s organization

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Delta on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The storm still appeared circular in imagery. At the time, it was centered over northern Alabama. At the time Terra passed overhead, Delta had weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 25 mph (35 kph).

Visible imagery from NASA’s Terra satellite captured from Oct. 9 to Oct. 12 were compiled into an animation. The animation showed the landfall and movement of Tropical Storm Delta. Delta dissipated over the southeastern U.S. and its remnants moved into the Atlantic states. The animation was created using NASA’s Worldview product at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Delta’s landfall on Oct. 9

National Weather Service Doppler radar imagery, Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft data, and surface observations indicated on Oct. 9 that Delta made landfall near Creole, Louisiana, around 7 p.m. EDT with estimated maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph). Delta was a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

NASA animation tracks the end of Tropical Storm Delta
This animation of visible imagery from NASA Terra satellite shows the landfall and movement of Tropical Storm Delta from Oct. 9 to Oct. 12. Delta dissipated over the southeastern U.S. and its remnants moved into the Atlantic

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Japan, UK, Australia, Italy, UAE among nations signing U.S. Artemis Accords on moon exploration

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In an interview ahead of the announcement, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the accords are “intended to create norms of behavior that all countries can agree to so that we can keep peace and prosperity moving forward in space and avoid any kind of confusion or ambiguity that can result in conflict.”

He said the accords, first announced in May, would build on the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the use of nuclear weapons in space and prohibits nations from laying sovereign claim to the moon or other celestial bodies.

“There is nothing in the Artemis Accords that isn’t enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty,” Bridenstine said. “It’s a forcing function to get nations to comply with the Outer Space Treaty.”

The seven nations that signed are the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Italy. It’s a somewhat eclectic mix, with countries like Japan, that have long been partners on the International Space Station, joining others, such as Australia and the UAE, that have relatively new but up and coming space programs. Bridenstine said the event Tuesday was only the beginning and that other nations would soon be joining. Ultimately, he said, the U.S. would create “the biggest, most diverse coalition of nations ever in the exploration of the moon and beyond.”

Signing the accords would also be a requirement for any nation wishing to partner with the U.S. in its Artemis program to return astronauts to the surface of the moon. But not all nations have reacted favorably to the agreements, or the lunar plan.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, previously compared the accords to an invasion that would lead to another “Iraq or Afghanistan.” On Monday, during the International Astronautical Congress, a global space conference, he said

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