Archive for the ‘Environment and Climate’ Category

Happy Easter from Europa :)   13 comments

 

 

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New evidence from NASA indicates that the most likely places to find life beyond Earth are Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus. They, like Earth, are both ocean worlds and in both therein are some of the key ingredients for life.

A wealth of hydrogen molecules in water plumes soaring from the ruptures in Enceladus’s icy surface, have been detected by the Cassini spacecraft. The vital chemical methane, could also be establishing itself in the ocean beneath the ice.

The elusive presence of a water plume erupting on the warmest part of Europa’s icy surface, which has a salty liquid ocean beneath it was shown by the Hubble Space Telescope. The ocean itself contains double the amount of water found in the oceans of Earth.

 

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Europa could be the pick of the bunch for life-bearing within our own solar system outside of our homeworld. will launch In the 2020’s the Europa Clipper will be launched, and should arrive at Europa a few years later. It will be the first to explore an alien ocean and will also fly through the plume to collect data.

It will definitely be a first to discover Intergalactic Liver Cake – staple diet of Icewolves, and indeed most domestic canines Earth! The structure of the Liver Cake may differ slightly from much-loved Earthly treat, but the Europan version is just as mouthwatering and tasty to both lupine and canine alike 🙂 And what better time than Easter, the time of ressurection and new life, to discover tantsalising new life hopes on worlds not so very far from home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icewolf of course, did not go hunting any down without telling Clowie, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog…she would never dream of such indiscretion 😉 …. Never!

Image: Europa’s Icewolf 2017_ Europa’s Icewolf: Jupiter, seen from Europa.

 

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Proxima B – Life in the Habitable Zone?   26 comments

Historic Potentially Earth-Like World Proxima B

The historic discovery of potentially Earth- like world Proxima-b was announced 24 August 2016. Orbiting Proxima Centauri, a Red Dwarf star in the habitable zone and the nearest star to our own Sun Proxima-b marks not only the closest alien planet ever found but also with the potential to be habitable.

Proxima b

This artist’s impression shows what the sky might look like on Proxima Centauri b if the planet has a surface. The exoplanet orbits the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, currently the closest star to the solar system at 4.2 light-years. The other two members of the Alpha Centauri triple, Alpha Centauri A and B, would appear in the sky, too.
ESO / M. Kornmesser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this proves to be the case, then there is no shortage of time for some form of life to originate based on the fact that red dwarf stars such as Proxima Centauri burn for trillions of years.

From the point of view of the average Earth-based visitor stopping by for a summer vacation, Proxima-b runs the risk of being a rather boring holiday resort. The sun-tan would be awesome, not so much so the destruction of the biological cells exposed to the intensely dodgy UV radiation that is present. Combined with the prospect of heavy duty sun-screen to protect from the sun’s constant bombardment of energy flares bouncing around the planetary surface probably wouldn’t be classed as entirely awesome either. On top of which the Proxima Centauri flares would also banish any hope of using mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes or any other such devices thanks to its electronics-disabling qualities. so no ET calling home and definitely no Skype!

Proxima b _Bustle DarkBAlthough it is a tidally locked planet– roasting hot on its star- facing side, freezing cold on the other, there is also enough wind around in the atmosphere to circulate the heat, balancing out the extreme temperatures that would otherwise exist. None-the-less a visit to the the planetary darkside, where it is bathed in perpetual night could prove to be the safest, and possibly the only option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately astronomers are choosing to be particularly pessimistic about this little world following the initial euphoria and have currently decided it is probably a dead, airless rock that will never harbour life due to it’s close proximity sun (20x nearer than Earth to the Sun) creating a risk of it boiling off the water and thereby stripping away the planet’s atmosphere. Researchers its oxygen will be gone in about 10 million years. Life on Earth took billions of years to develop.

Young M Dwarf StarsYoung M dwarf stars can unleash dangerous flares, (“planet-frying radiation”) that strip off atmosphere-forming oxygen spelling doom for closely orbiting planets. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / S. Wiessinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

proxima bImage: NASA Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab

However hope lives eternal. Theoretically it is possible life could advance to endure the high levels of radiation, by altering the worst of Proxima Centauri’s emissions into inoffensive visible light. We know this is plausible, because due to a process known as biofluorescence this —has already happened on many occasions on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately It is expected that the 2018 launch of The James Webb Space Telescope, will provide answers to the critical question of whether there is any chance at all that Proxima b is capable of supporting life.

Proxima b – Habitable ‘Ocean Planet’??

Another possibility is the Proxima b could be an ocean world whose entire surface consists of a liquid ocean. This may bear a similarity to the Jupiter and Saturn moons that are icy worlds with subsurface oceans.

On the other hand the more optimistic researchers suggest that Proxima b may in fact be habitable after all. So don’t put the suitcases back in the attic just yet intrepid cosmic holiday makers! If Proxima b had in reality formed further out from it’s sun than its current position this would also offer a high possibility of there being water. This idea is based on the outer realms of planetary systems being more likely to form ice. If it then moved inwards for a up closer and more personal relationship with its sun then this ice could melt and form seas. Maybe 😉

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Proxima b – A Desert World??

be8a53dc8479400431b0270a3d2ef730But it still seems most likely, according to Victoria Meadows (University of Washington), that this exoplanet is a desert world since the radiation bombarding it would almost certainly have evaporated the majority of the water. This process could have collected the oxygen and hydrogen in the water and created an atmosphere rich in oxygen. Then again it could a 2nd Venus with an atmosphere rich in Carbon Dioxide, or even another Uranus or Neptune.

The Other Closest Habitable-Zone Worlds

If all else fails cosmic holiday makers may wish to try some of the nearbyProxima Wolf 3, potentially habitable exoplanet worlds, for size….: Kapteyn b (13 light-years away) and Wolf 1061 c (14 light-years). Both planets are just over half again as wide as Earth, with minimum masses of 4 to 5 Earths, and both are in their stars’ habitable zones. Wolf 1061 c does not look at all hopeful in terms of habitability. But Kapteyn b looks good. It’s about 3½ times farther from its sun than Proxima b is from its sun so potentially it could be far enough out of reach of its sun’s rather violent output to provide a half decent holiday resort!

 

References:

www.skyandtelescope.com

www.gizmodo.com

www.space.com

www.scinews.com

www.csmonitor.com

Another Earth? Exoplanet Kelper-452b   32 comments

What Would it Be Like to Live on Earth’s Cousin?

The discovery of Kelper 452b was announced on 23/05/15, and is 1,400 Light years away.

 

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Photo Credit: Kelper 452-b JPL/NASA

An alien experience!

Exoplanet Kelper 452-b is 60% wider than Earth and approximately 5x as massive so much stronger surface gravity.

This provides for a great workout! For the manly among us this essentially means it will make you much stronger 🙂

For everybody chilling on this Earth cousin, the higher gravity would probably lead to significant body changes long term – e.g. becoming stockier built. This is probably not a plus if you’re already on the stocky side…you may become very short and squat…like a rotund garden gnome 😉

 

A Familiar Experience

As this world’s sun is roughly the same distance away as on Earth, the light factor would be much the same as on our home-world and Earth plants transported to its cousin-world could photosynthesis the same as on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

So Kelper 452-b is similar to Earth but not the same. Its sun is 6 billion years old whereas our Sun is only 4.5 billion years old. Kelper 452-b’s sun is at a far more energetic life-stage therefore it is hotter. And it is about 10% larger and 20% brighter in the sky. Not bad for the sun tan then 😉

Kelper 452-b completes one orbit every 385 days so it’s year is only about 20 days longer than Earth’s. Pretty much home from home.

 

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Photo Credit: Kelper 452-b JPL/NASA

 

“…substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

(Jon Jenkins, Kelper data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffat Field, California. (Led team that discovered Kelper 452-b)  )

 

 

 

 

FireWolves of Io   26 comments

Howling New Moonshine….

Spirit of the FireWolves…

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Howling new moonshine tumbling and stealing across the contrasting volcanic world of Io’s Fire wolves. Half hidden in the new moon shadows they gathered in moon dark silhouettes amongst the volcanic mountain ranges, calling the song of the stars, drawing on the fiery heart of the pack to call home the Fire wolves of Io, adorned in the mighty colours of the volcanic fire breed. The “Watcher at the Window” gazed in alluring fascination at the mountains peaks of Io bejewelled in the spectacular rainbow arrays of black and gold, catching too the starlight dancing in the gold-fire eyes of the Fire wolves of Io, bathed in the new moon darkness gliding around craters and dark plains.

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Green Oasis, Brutalist Utopia   22 comments

 

The Barbican Conservatory

On returning to the Urban Utopia (or Brutalist hell depending on your perception lol Winking smile) known as The Barbican, Wolfie had originally intended to indulge in morning of culture in the exhibition centres. Unfortunately culture proved to be extremely expensive and Wolfie went off the idea pretty quickly on this occasion! Sorry to disappoint the cultured reader who was hoping for a wonderfully cultural and classy post…it definitely isn’t that Smile

However! I did discover The Barbican Conservatory Smile So hopefully this will appeal to the nature-orientated reader….bearing in mind this was right in the middle of central London surrounded by the country’s finest Brutalist architecture it was a breath of fresh air,a green oasis and well worth a visit should you find yourselves in this particular spot in the universe!

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                                                                                                                              (All photos in this post Copyright Europa’s Icewolf 2016)

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Anniversary–30 Years On   24 comments

 

“Sirens were sounded at the same moment as the first explosion at the reactor, in the early hours of 26 April 1986.

The meltdown at Chernobyl Nuclear Plant was the worst nuclear disaster in history.”

 

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“Chernobyl is not a historical event in Ukraine but a living reality for an unquantifiable number of people.” –Tom Burridge, Chernobyl

 

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“We honour those who lost their health and require a special attention from the government and society,” he said in a speech in Chernobyl. “It’s with an everlasting pain in our hearts that we remember those who lost their lives to fight nuclear death.” – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

 

 

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“The magnitude of the tragedy could have been immeasurably larger if it were not for the incomparable bravery and self-sacrifice of fire fighters, military personnel, experts and medics who honourably fulfilled their citizen’s duty. Many of them sacrificed themselves to save others.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

Sources:

bbc.co.uk

europe.newsweek.com

Urban Utopia or Brutalist Hell?   21 comments

The UK’s Leading International Arts Centre

The Barbican – Urban Utopia or Brutalist Hell? – Love it or Hate it!

“The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete housing complex of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art.” – (timeout.com)

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The Barbican Centre was designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon with the aim of transforming the devastated WW2 bombing location where it is situated into an urban utopia. Built amongst the long-previously designed system of striking brutalist buildings, the Barbican’s brutalist exterior is created with “enough concrete to make 19 miles of six-lane motorway: 130,000 cubic metres which was textured by hand with electric drills. Presumably because the architects hated the neighbours.” Winking smile (timeout.com)

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Considered one of the most important 20th century architectural accomplishments it was opened in 1982 by The Queen who referred to it as ‘one of the modern wonders of the world.’

In September 2001, the Barbican Centre complex was designated a site of special architectural interest and given Grade II listed building status. In September 2003 an opinion poll voted it “London’s ugliest building” for its Brutalist styling.

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The Barbican is not only one of London’s greatest illustrations of Brutalist architecture but also Europe’s largest multi-purpose performing arts and conference venue. From when it first opened it has housed the London Symphony Orchestra and in 2013 became the Royal Shakespeare Company’s London base.

NB: To access the Barbican Centre required a long walk through the Barbican Housing Complex to reach it. It was also a freezing cold day and Icewolf’s paws were rapidly developing frostbite of the photo-snapping claw Freezing

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20160316_123408 (2)Therefore any photos of the inside of the Barbican Arts Centre (where permitted, obviously…after all anyone who knows Icewolf knows Icewolf never ventures anywhere Icewolf is not supposed to venture….Angel) will not be available until a second visit can happen, hopefully when it is considerably warmer! However since the main purpose of this first visit was to see the ‘brutalist architecture’ for myself, I believe the mission was accomplished SmileThumbs up

(Click photos to enlarge – All photos: Copyright Europa’s Icewolf 2016)

Sources:

barbican.org.uk

timeout.com