Wednesday December 13, 2017
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Sit tight, June will last one second longer

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earth

 

By NewsGram Staff Writer

People born on June 30 will be able to celebrate their birthday for one second longer this time. Due to the Earth’s rotation, the month will last one second more than a normal day. The midnight Coordinated Universal Time on June 30 will read 23:59:60 rather than resetting to 00:00:00, according to Discover Magazine.

The extra second, or “leap second,” is needed to re-synchronise our land-based clocks with Earth’s rotation, which is slowing down ever so slightly each year, it said. This is the 26th time a second has been added to the day since the practice began in 1972. Due to tidal forces between the Earth and the Moon, our planet’s rotation is slowing down, adding a whopping 1.4 milliseconds to our days every century.

During the time of the dinosaurs, the typical day on Earth was just 23 hours. In fact, the last true 24-hour rotation, exactly 86,400 seconds, occurred in 1820. Since then, the day has lengthened by 2.5 milliseconds, according to NASA. Earth has seen these precise measurements, thanks to punctual NASA scientists who have been monitoring the planet’s rotation using a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), the report said.

The last leap second, in 2012, caused a mayhem on popular websites with clocks synced to standard civil time. In a bid to avoid this, Google added a millisecond of time to their servers with each update so they were caught up with the new time when the leap second occurred.

(With inputs from IANS)

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NASA’s plan on getting Martian samples to Earth

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NASA brings Martian samples to Earth from Mars.
NASA brings Martian samples to Earth from Mars. IANS
  • NASA plans on getting Martian samples to Earth from Mars
  • To know if life existed anywhere other than on Earth

Washington, Dec 11: (IANS) NASA has revealed how it plans to bring back Martian samples to Earth for the first time with the help of its next rover mission to the Red Planet, Mars 2020.

After landing on Mars, a drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples. Then, they will be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission, NASA said.

“Whether life ever existed beyond Earth is one of the grand questions humans seek to answer,” said Ken Farley of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“What we learn from the samples collected during this mission has the potential to address whether we’re alone in the universe,” Farley said.

Mars 2020 relies heavily on the system designs and spare hardware previously created for Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012.

Despite its similarities to Mars Science Laboratory, the new mission has very different goals – it will seek signs of ancient life by studying the terrain that is now inhospitable, but once held flowing rivers and lakes, more than 3.5 billion years ago.

To achieve these new goals, the rover has a suite of cutting-edge science instruments.

It will seek out biosignatures on a microbial scale.

An X-ray spectrometer will target spots as small as a grain of table salt, while an ultraviolet laser will detect the “glow” from excited rings of carbon atoms.

A ground-penetrating radar will look under the surface of Mars, mapping layers of rock, water and ice up to 10 metres deep, depending on the material.

The rover is getting some upgraded Curiosity hardware, including colour cameras, a zoom lens and a laser that can vaporise rocks and soil to analyse their chemistry, NASA said.

The mission will also undertake a marathon sample hunt.

The rover team will try to drill at least 20 rock cores, and possibly as many as 30 or 40, for possible future return to Earth, NASA said.

Site selection has been another milestone for the mission. In February, the science community narrowed the list of potential landing sites from eight to three.

All three sites have rich geology and may potentially harbour signs of past microbial life. But a final landing site decision is still more than a year away.

“In the coming years, the 2020 science team will be weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of these sites,” Farley said.

“It is by far the most important decision we have ahead of us,” Farley said.

The mission is set to launch in July/August 2020. (IANS)

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Researchers Claim The Existence Of Planet Nine

Researchers from an American University have laid evidences to prove the presence of Planet Nine

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Planet Nine
Kuiper Belt indicates the presence of Planet Nine
  • The science communities since a long time have been debating upon the existence of Planet Nine. 
  • Space highlights different shreds of evidence based on which scientists are stating the claim.

What Is Planet Nine?

Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet present in the far outer Solar System, whose mass is estimated to be 10 times more than the mass of Earth. The planet is said to be 20 times farther than the sun than Neptune is.

What Do Researchers Have To Say?

Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, said that there were five different lines of observational evidence which pointed to the existence of Planet Nine. He stated that if this theory does not sound believable, then people would have to come up with the answers of the five pieces of evidence which could lead to further confusion.

Also Read: Five Students from Telangana Selected for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Batygin in 2016 published a study examining the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt, a  circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets that extends from the orbit of Neptune towards interstellar space.

The study examines all the objects have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction and are tilted the same way. These serve as evidence to the planet’s existence.

It is being said that the objects are tilted 30 degrees downward compared to the plane where the eight official planets circle the sun. Researchers also made use of computer simulations of the solar system including the Planet Nine and to demonstrate that there should be more objects tilted a whopping 90 degrees to solar plane. It was revealed that five such objects, which fit these parameters were already known.

The study led to the birth of two more ideas. Researchers said that this planet could have tilted the planets of the solar system during the last 4.5 billion years.

Planet Nine’s existence could also tell the reason as to why Kuiper Belt objects orbit in the opposite direction as compared to other things in the solar system.

-Prepared by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

(the story was originally published in PTI)

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Earth lost 40% mass during formation

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Earth lost 40% mass during formation
Earth lost 40% mass during formation. IANS

London, Sep 28: The violent and chaotic process that led to the formation of Earth resulted in the loss of more than 40 per cent of its mass, says a study.

Analysing a mixture of earth samples and meteorites, the scientists shed new light on the sequence of events that led to the creation of our home planet.

Planets grow by a process of accretion – a gradual accumulation of additional material – in which they collisionally combine with their neighbours.

This is often a chaotic process and material gets lost as well as gained, said the study published in the journal Nature.

Massive planetary bodies impacting at several kilometres per second can generate substantial heat which, in turn, produces magma oceans and temporary atmospheres of vaporised rock.

Repeated loss of this vapour envelope during continued collisional growth causes the planet’s composition to change substantially.

“We have provided evidence that such a sequence of events occurred in the formation of the Earth and Mars, using high precision measurements of their magnesium isotope compositions,” said lead researcher Remco Hin from University of Bristol in Britain.

“Magnesium isotope ratios change as a result of silicate vapour loss, which preferentially contains the lighter isotopes. In this way, we estimated that more than 40 per cent of the Earth’s mass was lost during its construction,” he said.

For the study, the researchers analysed samples of the Earth together with meteorites from Mars and the asteroid Vesta, using a new technique to get higher quality measurements of magnesium isotope ratios than previously obtained.

“We now show that vapour loss during the high energy collisions of planetary accretion has a profound effect on a planet’s composition,” Hin said.

“This process seems common to planet building in general, not just for Earth and Mars, but for all planets in our Solar System and probably beyond, but differences in the collision histories of planets will create a diversity in their compositions,” he added. (IANS)