December 14, 2018

"NASA's Juno mission to the gas giant Jupiter has reached its halfway mark and has revealed new views of cyclones at the poles."

BBC: Dr Candice Hansen, from the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, is leading the JunoCam project, which she described as "our little outreach camera". She presented some of the remarkable images from the camera - raw images downloaded and processed by members of the public - at the American Geophysical Union meeting here in Washington DC. By Victoria Gill

'"When we made our first pass over the poles, we knew we were seeing a territory on Jupiter we had never seen before," said Prof Hansen.

'"What we did not expect was that we would see these orderly polygons of cyclones; huge storms - twice the size of Texas. We thought, wow - that's spectacular."

'And 16 passes later, she added, those orderly arrangements of giant storms are still there.'

"Japan is making plans to cope with a monster earthquake that could cause a 30 metre high tsunami."

the irish sun: The tremor and the following wave has the potential to kill and injure up to a million people and is expected to hit at some point in the next 30 years. By Guy Birchall

'Now the government is readying plans to evacuate millions of people from its southern coastline in a bid to avoid the almost inevitable disaster.

'A report has estimated that there is a 70 to 80 per cent chance that the quake will strike within the next three decades. It estimates the potential death toll at around 323,000 with the wounded numbering almost double at 623,000.

'The fear is that the Nankai Trough will be hit with a quake at the floor of the Pacific Ocean causing the enormous wave.'

"A gigantic supernova explosion may have triggered mass extinctions for creatures living in Earth’s prehistoric oceans some 2.6 million years ago, according to new research published in Astrobiology."

the register: Marine animals like the megalodon, a fearsome shark around 10.5 meters (34 ft) long and with huge jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth, suddenly disappeared during the late Pliocene. Around the same time, scientists from the University of Kansas and the Federal University of São Carlos, noticed a peak in the iron-60 isotope in ancient seabeds. By Katyanna Quach

'“As far back as the mid-1990s, people said, ‘Hey, look for iron-60. It’s a telltale because there’s no other way for it to get to Earth but from a supernova.’ Because iron-60 is radioactive, if it was formed with the Earth it would be long gone by now. So, it had to have been rained down on us,” explained Adrian Melott, lead author of the paper and a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Kansas.

'“There’s some debate about whether there was only one supernova really nearby or a whole chain of them. I kind of favor a combo of the two — a big chain with one that was unusually powerful and close. If you look at iron-60 residue, there’s a huge spike 2.6 million years ago, but there’s excess scattered clear back 10 million years.”'

"The latest test flight by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic successfully rocketed to the edge of space and back."

BBC: The firm's SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship reached a height of 82.7km, beyond the altitude at which US agencies have awarded astronaut wings.

'It marked the plane's fourth test flight and followed earlier setbacks in the firm's space programme.

'Sir Richard is in a race with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space.

'He founded the commercial spaceflight company in 2004, shortly after Mr Musk started SpaceX and Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin.'

"The Arctic had its second-hottest year on record in 2018, part of a warming trend that may be dramatically changing earth’s weather patterns, according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration."

reuters: “Arctic air temperatures for the past five years have exceeded all previous records since 1900,” according to the annual NOAA study, the 2018 Arctic Report Card, which said the year was second only to 2016 in overall warmth in the region. by Richard Valdmanis

'It marks the latest in a series of warnings about climate change from U.S. government bodies, even as President Donald Trump has voiced skepticism about the phenomenon and has pushed a pro-fossil fuels agenda.

'The study said the Arctic warming continues at about double the rate of the rest of the planet, and that the trend appears to be altering the shape and strength of the jet stream air current that influences weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

'“Growing atmospheric warmth in the Arctic results in a sluggish and unusually wavy jet-stream that coincided with abnormal weather events,” it said, noting that the changing patterns have often brought unusually frigid temperatures to areas south of the Arctic Circle.'