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A Close Planet Orbiting A Star Dubbed As ‘Super-Earth’

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

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Newly discovered Super-Earth Exoplanet May Sustain Primitive Life

A frozen and dimly lit planet, dubbed a “Super-Earth,” may be orbiting the closest single star to our solar system, astronomers said Wednesday, based on two decades of scientific observations.

The planet, estimated to be at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth, was spotted circling Barnard’s Star, a type of relatively cool and low-mass star called a red dwarf. Barnard’s Star is about 6 light-years away from our solar system, comparatively close in cosmic terms, and it’s believed that the planet obits this star every 233 days.

Planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system are called exoplanets. Nearly 4,000 have been discovered. The newly discovered one is the second closest to our solar system ever found. It is thought to be a “Super-Earth,” a category of planets more massive than Earth but smaller than the large gas planets.

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This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said. Pixabay

“After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” researcher Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences said in a statement. “However, we’ll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet.”

Alpha Centauri

The only closer stars than Barnard’s Star are part of the triple-star system Alpha Centauri, located a bit more than 4 light-years from our solar system.

Two years ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a roughly Earth-sized planet circling Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri system, in an orbit that might enable liquid water to exist on its surface, raising the possibility that it could harbor alien life.

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Astronomers discover ancient star formed by Big Bang, pixabay

The newly detected planet orbiting Barnard’s Star may not be so hospitable, with surface temperatures of perhaps minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 170 degrees Celsius). Barnard’s Star provides the frigid planet only 2 percent of the energy that the sun provides Earth.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

The research was published in the journal Nature. (VOA)

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Coronavirus Pandemic: A Punishment for Humans?

Humans have caused irreparable damage to earth over the span of millions of year

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The world has seen many pandemics in the past before Coronavirus pandemic. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

It’s been over 6 months since the Coronavirus outbreak and the world is still fighting against it. Coronavirus Worldometer suggests a total of 4,907,135 cases so far, including cases that resulted in deaths and the ones recovered. This is not the first time that the world is going through a pandemic and crisis. Humans saw the Spanish Flu back in 1918, the spread of HIV in 1981, and the most recent one in 2009, H1N1 Swine flu. These pandemics killed millions of people across the globe, just like COVID-19

Since the onset of the year 2020, the world has faced terrible situations. The year began with Australia still on wildfires, a US drone strike on Iran which could’ve escalated to another World War in January, February saw a global stock market crash, in March COVID-19 had spread globally forcing nations to shut down, the global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 200,000 in April and the world economy is expected to shrink  3%, which is the worst contraction since the 1930s Great Depression. With the onset of May, the global death toll exceeds 300,000 and the world faces a global mental health crisis because of isolation, fear, and economic crisis.

It’s not even been 6 months into this year and the world has already the worst of times. But the question is- who is responsible for all this? The answer is crystal clear. It is us, the human race.

The modern form of humans has existed on earth from 200,000 years. With time, humans have conquered the planet, excelled in the fields of science and technology, made impossible things possible, and developed a world with possibly the most luxurious facilities.

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Humans have caused a lot of damage to the planet with activities like deforestation. Pixabay

In the process of development, humans have caused irreparable damage to Earth and the environment which includes ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, etc.

Overconsumption and over-exploitation of resources, overpopulation of humans, global warming, pollution, deforestation, etc have caused damages that are irreversible now. We have exploited the planet to an extent where it’s impossible to rectify the damage we have caused.

Speaking about my personal opinion, this year seems to be a punishment to the human species for all the harm we have caused to nature and the environment since the day of our existence. We have hurt the nature, animals, birds, plants, and even our fellow human beings, and this devastating situation right now, feels like we’re repaying for it.

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People have been hunting animals and destroying ecosystems since a long time. Pixabay

We have killed a countless number of animals and birds just to satisfy our hunger even when we can live without eating them, we have killed animals for the sake of wearing good clothes, we have killed animals just to pursue our hobby of hunting, we have cut down trees so that we can make paper and write ‘save trees’ on them, we have caused air pollution so that we don’t sweat, we have exploited natural resources like petroleum just for the sake of our laziness, we have destroyed forests for the purpose of making luxurious cities, we have damaged the water bodies because we can’t even throw garbage in a bin.

And we happen to be the ‘best creation of God’ and also the smartest species to ever exist on this planet.

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The earth seems to be healing itself while we are confined to our homes. Pixabay

Read More: How Resolution 20-172 by St. Paul City Council Incites Hindu Phobia

Is the development and smartness of any use if the planet is no more able to sustain us? It feels like nature took everything in its hands and decided to punish us from all possible aspects and started to heal itself by confining us to our houses.

Nature has bounced back as we are locked inside our homes. The world has seen a significant positive change in the environment with many countries experiencing a fall in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide of as much as 40%. With the minimum use of cars on the road, it seems to be a piece of potential good news for the climate as oil happens to be the biggest source of carbon emissions. Not just this, but the flora and fauna have also received a big positive change.

The World and its people are suffering and facing the worst of times, but the planet earth seems to be relieved.

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Christie’s Makes Largest Lunar Meteorites Available for Sale

Lunar meteorites arrived on Earth after having been blasted off the lunar surface

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Meteor shower is depicted in the above picture. Pixabay

Christies presents NWA 12691, a significant lunar rock, among the largest known in existence. Moon rock is among the rarest substances on Earth, with less than 650 kg. of lunar meteorites known to exist.

This example is the fifth largest piece of the Moon on Earth, larger than any returned by the Apollo programme. Valued in the region of �2 million, the specimen is available for immediate purchase via Christie’s Private Sales.

Lunar meteorites arrived on Earth after having been blasted off the lunar surface by the collision with an asteroid or comet. All of the Moon’s large craters were created by such impacts. This particular meteorite was part of a large meteorite shower straddling the Western Saharan, Algerian and Mauritanian borders, responsible for nearly half of all known lunar meteorites.

Approximately 30 different meteorites were collected, analysed, classified and assigned different NWA numbers in the belief they might be from different events and represent different lunar samples; but it has been determined that they all originate from the same lunar impact event as the current offering, NWA 12691, found in the Sahara Desert two years ago.

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All of the Moon’s large craters were created by having been blasted off the lunar surface by the collision with an asteroid or comet. Wikimedia Commons

James Hyslop, Christie’s Head of Science & Natural History: “I’ve been lucky enough to handle a few lunar meteorites at Christie’s over the years, but every time I see this specimen in the warehouse the sheer size of it bowls me over. Weighing over 13.5kg, it is so much larger than anything else that has ever been offered before. The experience of holding a piece of another world in your hands is something you never forget.”

Scientists identify Moon rocks by their specific textural, mineralogical, chemical and isotopic signatures. Many of the common minerals found on Earth are rare or absent on the Moon, while some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth. In addition, Moon rocks contain gases captured from the solar wind with isotope ratios very different from the same gases found on Earth.

Read More: Brocolli and Almond soup: For an Improved Respiratory System

Christie’s will also offer for private sale a group of 13 aesthetic iron meteorites. Shaped by forces terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, this group of natural sculptures forms one of the most important collections of aesthetic iron meteorites in private hands. The collection, estimated in the region of �1.4 million, is available for immediate purchase via Christie’s Private Sales.

Unknown millennia ago – the exact date is lost to prehistory – an object weighing more than 26,000kg crashed into Earth. It originally formed 4.5 billion years ago from the core of a planetary- like body located between Mars and Jupiter, whose shattered remains are now part of the asteroid belt. An impact event ejected what was to become the Gibeon mass into interplanetary space before its descent to Earth, exploding in the atmosphere and raining down on what is now the Kalahari Desert. (IANS)

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Experience of Astronauts Who Return to Earth Amid Pandemic

Astronauts Returning to a Changed Earth Amid Pandemic

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Two U.S. astronauts say it’s hard to comprehend the changes on Earth that have occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic, as they prepare to return from the International Space Station. Pixabay

Two U.S. astronauts say it’s hard to comprehend the changes on Earth that have occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic, as they prepare to return from the International Space Station.

The astronauts, Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, have been in space for more than half a year, having left Earth before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus, let alone gotten sick or died.

Morgan said Friday from the space station that the crew has been trying to keep up with developments about the virus, but said, “It’s very hard to fathom” all that is going on.

Morgan, who is an Army emergency physician, said he feels a little guilty returning to Earth when the crisis is already underway.

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Meir said, “We can tell you that the Earth still looks just as stunning as always from up here, so it’s difficult to believe all the changes that have taken place since both of us have been up here.”

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U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir speaks, accompanied by Andrew Morgan and Chris Cassidy, during a news conference held by the American members of the International Space Station. VOA

“It is quite surreal for us to see this whole situation unfolding on the planet below,” she said.

Morgan said the pandemic has affected operations at NASA’s mission control, with the handover taking place “between shifts between two different rooms to minimize the contact.” He said NASA staff members are persevering through “their ingenuity and their professionalism” and said, “They’re going to return us to Earth safely, just like their predecessors did 50 years ago.”

Apollo 13 anniversary

The two U.S. astronauts, along with a Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Skripochka, will return to Earth on April 17, exactly 50 years after the U.S. Apollo 13 mission returned to Earth.

That mission faced a crisis when the spacecraft’s oxygen tank ruptured two days into the trip, aborting the astronauts’ mission to the moon.

“Once again, now there’s a crisis, and the crisis is on Earth,” Morgan said.

Meir said she is looking forward to seeing her family and friends again, even if just virtually. She said she expects to feel more isolated on Earth than in space.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives around the world. Pixabay

“We’re so busy with so many other amazing pursuits and we have this incredible vantage point of the Earth below, that we don’t really feel as much of that isolation,” Meir said.

Meir has been in space since September and Morgan since last July. They will return in a Soyuz capsule, landing in Kazakhstan.

The Americans will leave three astronauts who arrived at the space station Thursday — NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

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The launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying those astronauts was carried out under tight restrictions because of the coronavirus. Support workers wore masks and kept their distance from the crew to prevent the possibility of the virus being taken to the space station. The crew members, who routinely go into quarantine ahead of launch day, stayed in isolation longer than normal because of the virus.

Cassidy said Friday from the space station, “we knew as a crew we were going to be in quarantine about nine months ago or a year ago, those exact weeks, but we didn’t know the whole rest of the world was going to join us.”

Also Read- Police in Spain Distributes Masks to Commuters

Following Thursday’s launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his congratulations. “No virus is stronger than the human desire to explore,” he said.

The next astronauts who visit the space station will be launched by SpaceX from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, as early as next month. It will be the first launch of astronauts to the space station from the United States since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011.  (VOA)