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A New Planet Dwarf Planet Discovered Beyond Pluto

The two other dwarf planets are Sedna, discovered in 2003, which is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across, and 2012 VP113, about 310 miles (500 kilometers).

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A planet-like object, dubbed "Sedna" is seen in this artist's concept released by NASA, March 26, 2014. A similar dwarf planet, nicknamed "the Goblin," has been discovered well beyond Pluto.. VOA

A scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed “the Goblin” has been discovered well beyond Pluto.

Around frozen world just 186 miles (300 kilometers) across, the Goblin was spotted by astronomers in 2015 around Halloween, thus its spooky name. But it wasn’t publicly unveiled until Tuesday following further observations with ground telescopes.

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, said the Goblin is on the small end for a dwarf planet. It is officially known as 2015 TG387 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

This is the third dwarf planet recently found to be orbiting on the frigid fringes of our solar system.

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In this image of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, different colors represent different compositions of surface ices, revealing a surprisingly active body. (Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute) VOA

Goblin’s orbit is extremely elongated — so stretched out, in fact, that it takes 40,000 years for it to circle the sun.

At its most distant, the Goblin is 2,300 times farther from the sun than Earth. That’s 2,300 astronomical units, or AU. One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun, or roughly 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

At its closest, the Goblin is 65 times farther from the sun than Earth, or 65 AU. Pluto, by comparison, is approximately 30 to 50 AU.

Sheppard, along with Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, spotted the Goblin in October 2015 when it was relatively nearby — around 80 AU.

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The Planet is farthest from the sun.

The two other dwarf planets are Sedna, discovered in 2003, which is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across, and 2012 VP113, about 310 miles (500 kilometers). They were found by some of the same astronomers.

Thousands — even a million — more such objects could be way out there orbiting in the so-called Inner Oort Cloud, according to the researchers. They’re in hot pursuit of them, as well as a potentially bigger-than-Earth planet known as Planet 9, or Planet X, believed by some scientists to be orbiting at a distance of hundreds of AU.

“These objects are on elongated orbits, and we can only detect them when they are closest to the Sun. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Sheppard said in an email.

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Sheppard said the faraway objects are “like bread crumbs leading us to Planet X.”

“The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer solar system and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits — a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the solar system’s evolution,” he said in a statement. (VOA)

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ESA Observes Strong Reduction in Ozone Concentrations Over Arctic

Satellite Indicates 'Mini-Hole' in Arctic Ozone Layer

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European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Scientists studying data from a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic, creating what they are calling a “mini-hole” in the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a natural, protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields life from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, often associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

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This image made available by NASA shows a map of a hole in the ozone layer over Arctic region. VOA

The “ozone hole” most often referenced is over Antarctica, forming each year. But observations scientists made at the German Aerospace Center in the last week indicate ozone depletion over northern polar regions as well.

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The scientists refer to the Arctic depletion zone as a “mini-hole” because it has a maximum extension of less than a million square kilometers, which is tiny compared with the 20 million- to 25 million-square-kilometer hole that forms over the Antarctic.

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ESA released an animation using data from its satellite showing daily ozone levels over the Arctic from March 9 to April 1. Scientists say unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, led ozone levels to drop in the region. (VOA)

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The Positive Effect of COVID-19 Lockdown on Earth

Earth's crust is shaking less as people stay home

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The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves, as researchers now report a drop in seismic noise (the hum of vibrations in the planets crust) because transport networks, real estate and other human activities have been shut down.

According an article in the journal Nature, efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus mean that the planet itself is moving a little less, which could “allow detectors to spot smaller earthquakes and boost efforts to monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events”.

Vibrations caused by moving vehicles and industrial machinery produce background noise, which reduces seismologists’ ability to detect other signals occurring at the same frequency.

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“A noise reduction of this magnitude is usually only experienced briefly around Christmas,” said Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist with the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels which has observed the drop in seismic noise.

Data from a seismometer at the observatory show that measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Brussels caused human-induced seismic noise to fall by about one-third. In Belgium, scientists report at least a 30 per cent reduction in that amount of ambient human noise since lockdown began there.

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It has been found that the crust of the Earth is shaking less. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The current drop has boosted the sensitivity of the observatory’s equipment, improving its ability to detect waves in the same high frequency range as the noise, said the Nature article. However, not all seismic monitoring stations will see an effect as pronounced as the one observed in Brussels.

According to Emily Wolin, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, many stations are purposefully located in remote areas to avoid human noise. “These should see a smaller decrease, or no change at all, in the level of high-frequency noise they record,” she was quoted as saying.

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The fall in noise could also benefit seismologists who use naturally occurring background vibrations, such as those from crashing ocean waves, to probe Earth’s crust. A fall in human-induced noise could boost the sensitivity of detectors to natural waves at similar frequencies “There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements,” said Lecocq.

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The reduction in seismic activity, like reduction in air pollution, also show that people are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“From the seismological point of view, we can motivate people to say, ‘OK look, people. You feel like you’re alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules,'” Lecocq told CNN. (IANS)

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NASA Plans To Unveil New Mission For Studying The Causes of Solar Particle Storms

"We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets," said Nicky Fox, Director of NASA's Heliophysics Division

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NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023. Pixabay

NASA is planning to launch a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms — known as solar particle storms — into planetary space.

The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope, the US space agency said on Monday. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.

Understanding how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms can ultimately help protect astronauts travelling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

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“We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets,” said Nicky Fox, Director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division.

“The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts.” The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats — each about the size of a toaster oven — to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.

The constellation of CubeSats would fly within six miles (9.6 kms) of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe.

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NASA is planning to launch a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms — known as solar particle storms — into planetary space. Pixabay

Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation.

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The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space, NASA said. (IANS)