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Meteorite Crashes Through Ceiling and Lands on Woman’s Bed

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/14/world/canada/meteorite-bed.html By  John Yoon  and  Vjosa Isai , The New York Times.  Excerpt: Ruth Hamilton was fast asleep in her home in British Columbia when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, followed by “an explosion.” She jumped up and turned on the light, only to see a hole in the ceiling. Her clock said 11:35 p.m. ...“Oh, my gosh,” she recalled telling the operator, “there’s a rock in my bed.” A meteorite, she later learned. The 2.8-pound rock the size of a large man’s fist had barely missed Ms. Hamilton’s head, leaving “drywall debris all over my face,” she said. Her close encounter on the night of Oct. 3 left her rattled, but it  captivated the internet  and handed scientists an unusual chance to study a space rock that had crashed to Earth.…

Astronomers Found a Planet That Survived Its Star’s Death

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/science/white-dwarf-planet.html By  Becky Ferreira , The New York Times.  Excerpt: When our sun enters its death throes in about five billion years, it will incinerate our planet and then dramatically collapse into a dead ember known as a white dwarf. But the fate of more distant planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, is less clear. On Wednesday  in the journal Nature , astronomers reported observing a tantalizing preview of our solar system’s afterlife: a Jupiter-size planet orbiting a white dwarf some 6,500 light years from here. Known as MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb, the planet occupies a comparable orbit to Jupiter. The discovery not only offers a glimpse into our cosmic future, it raises the possibility that any life on “survivor” worlds may endure the deaths of their stars. ...“The fate of our solar system is likely to be similar to MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb,” he added in an email. “The sun will become a white dwarf, the inner planets will be engulfed, and the wide

This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/28/science/triple-sun-planet.html Source: By Jonathan O’Callaghan , The New York Times.  Excerpt: It’s called a circumtriple planet, and evidence that one exists suggests that planet formation is less unusual than once believed. ...GW Ori is a star system 1,300 light years from Earth in the constellation of Orion. It is surrounded by a huge disk of dust and gas, a common feature of young star systems that are forming planets. But fascinatingly, it is a system with not one star, but three. ...GW Ori’s disk is split in two, almost like Saturn’s rings if they had a massive gap in between. ...Scientists  have been trying to explain  what is going on there. Some hypothesized that the gap in the disk could be the result of  one or more planets  forming in the system. ...Now the GW Ori system has been  modeled  in greater detail, and researchers say a planet — a gassy world as massive as Jupiter — is the best explanation for the gap in the dust cloud. Although

A new fleet of Moon landers will set sail next year, backed by private companies

https://www.science.org/content/article/new-fleet-moon-landers-will-set-sail-next-year-backed-private-companies Source: By Joel Goldberg, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Who knew outsourcing could extend to outer space? In some ways, that’s the aim of NASA’s $2.6 billion initiative meant to galvanize the private sector’s development of Moon landers and rovers. The Commercial Lunar Payload Services program has tasked a number of companies—including Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic—with delivering landers to the Moon’s surface twice a year. Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander, roughly the size of a tree house, is set to blast off this year from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as is Houston-based Intuitive Machines’s Nova-C. A second Astrobotic lander, Griffin, is expected to launch in 2023, ferrying the well-equipped, NASA-designed Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. Its neutron counter, spectrometers, and specialized drill will seek out evidence of water and attempt to identify its origin. ...an

Deflecting an Asteroid Before It Hits Earth May Take Multiple Bumps

[ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/25/science/asteroid-deflection-collision.html ] Source: By Katherine Kornei , The New York Times.  Excerpt: There’s probably a large space rock out there, somewhere, that has Earth in its cross hairs. Scientists have in fact spotted one candidate —  Bennu, which has a small chance of banging into our planet in the year 2182 . But whether it’s Bennu or another asteroid, the question will be how to avoid a very unwelcome cosmic rendezvous. For almost 20 years, a team of researchers has been preparing for such a scenario. Using a specially designed gun, they’ve repeatedly fired projectiles at meteorites and measured how the space rocks recoiled and, in some cases, shattered. These observations shed light on how an asteroid might respond to a high-velocity impact intended to deflect it away from Earth. At the 84th annual meeting of the Meteoritical Society held in Chicago this month, researchers  presented findings from all of that high-powered marksmansh

Ancient supernovae might have upended Earth’s evolution

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/08/ancient-supernovae-might-have-upended-earth-s-evolution By  Claire Hogan , Science Magazine.  Excerpt: When stars run out of fuel, they can collapse under their own gravity, exploding as supernovae that blast debris and radioactive nuclei far into space. Most of these events are too far from Earth to affect our planet. But if one happened nearby,  the effects could be dramatic . By studying radioactive isotopes on Earth, scientists have uncovered evidence suggesting two near-Earth supernovae occurred in the past few million years. Some researchers now hypothesize that supernova-generated particles known as cosmic rays might have depleted the ozone layer, increased cancer rates in ancient organisms, sparked wildfires, and even started an ice age....

‘Totally new’ idea suggests longer days on early Earth set stage for complex life

By  Elizabeth Pennisi , Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Today, oxygen fuels much of life on Earth, but it wasn’t always that way. Three billion years ago, this gas was scarce in the atmosphere and oceans. Knowing why oxygen became plentiful could illuminate the evolution of our planet’s flora and fauna, but scientists have struggled to find an explanation satisfying to all. Now a research team has proposed a novel link between how fast our planet spun on its axis, which defines the length of a day, and the ancient production of additional oxygen. Their modeling of Earth’s early days, which incorporates evidence from microbial mats coating the bottom of a shallow, sunlit sinkhole in Lake Huron, produced a surprising conclusion: as Earth’s spin slowed, the resulting longer days could have triggered more photosynthesis from similar mats, allowing oxygen to build up in ancient seas and diffuse up into the atmosphere.  That proposal , described today in Nature Geoscience, has intrigued some sci