I know it has been a helluva week….but since I am one of the few bloggers with an eye on space I need to report the stuff happening.
Was that a message?
On December 18, 2020, Ian Sample of the Guardian published a report about a tantalizing radio signal at 982.002MHz that was detected within the Breakthrough Listen project by the Parkes telescope in Australia from the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri. This infrared star hosts an Earth-size planet, Proxima b, in its habitable zone, where liquid water could allow the chemistry of life on the planet’s surface. There was no scientific paper accompanying the report, and therefore it’s too early to draw any inferences.
Astronomers must verify that the signal cannot originate from radio interference on Earth or some natural emission mechanism. Terrestrial interference should be different for telescopes at different locations on Earth. If the radio source repeats and resides on Proxima b, then it should show an 11-day modulation associated with the planet’s orbital (and spin) period. As soon as I saw the news report, I wrote to the publisher of my forthcoming book Extraterrestrial on the search for intelligent life: “We might have friends out there. Better than a five-star review is getting reassurance for the book’s content from an actual star on the sky.”
The question is asked….have we been contacted in the past?
Canadian astronomer named Robert Weryk was reviewing images captured by a telescope known as Pan-STARRS1 when he noticed something strange. The telescope is situated atop Haleakalā, a ten-thousand-foot volcanic peak on the island of Maui, and it scans the sky each night, recording the results with the world’s highest-definition camera. It’s designed to hunt for “near-Earth objects,” which are mostly asteroids whose paths bring them into our planet’s astronomical neighborhood and which travel at an average velocity of some forty thousand miles an hour. The dot of light that caught Weryk’s attention was moving more than four times that speed, at almost two hundred thousand miles per hour.
Weryk alerted colleagues, who began tracking the dot from other observatories. The more they looked, the more puzzling its behavior seemed. The object was small, with an area roughly that of a city block. As it tumbled through space, its brightness varied so much—by a factor of ten—that it had to have a very odd shape. Either it was long and skinny, like a cosmic cigar, or flat and round, like a celestial pizza. Instead of swinging around the sun on an elliptical path, it was zipping away more or less in a straight line. The bright dot, astronomers concluded, was something never before seen. It was an “interstellar object”—a visitor from far beyond the solar system that was just passing through. In the dry nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union, it became known as 1I/2017 U1. More evocatively, it was dubbed ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh-mooah-mooah”), from the Hawaiian, meaning, roughly, “scout.”
Is this guy one of those Ancient Alien conspiracists?
Trump admin has been ordered to explore the possibility for nukes in space….
the White House released an executive order Jan. 12 seeking to promote the development of small nuclear reactors for space and defense applications.
The executive order, “Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration,” includes separate directions for NASA and the Defense Department to pursue small nuclear reactors for their uses, while cooperating on common technologies for those systems.
For space exploration, the executive order directs the NASA administrator to prepare a report within 180 days defining “requirements for NASA utilization of nuclear energy systems for human and robotic exploration missions through 2040 and analyze the costs and benefits of such requirements.” Those requirements include details such as power levels, reactor size and mass, and specific issues associated with operating such reactors in the space environment
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