Science Top Stories

Jupiter’s Spacecraft Juno Discovers A New Cyclone On The Gas Giant

Astronomers have recently spotted a novel cyclone on Jupiter and it is found to be extremely massive. The storm was spotted by Juno, the Jupiter spacecraft, while on its recent data-gathering flyby. At the beginning of November itself, the solar-powered probe spotted the cyclone and the data showed the gas giant to be towering 2,175 Miles above its clouds. The spacecraft was kept clear of an eclipse by the team without ending the mission. The astronomers fear that the probe may face the same fate as Mars Opportunity rover that had all its connection lost due to the sunlight blocked from reaching its solar panels by the dust storm. However, in the case of Jupiter’s spacecraft, the team was able to help the rover jump past the shadow and discover the storm.

NASA has been able to use creativity and analytical thinking to save the probe. It was realized that the orbit was going to pull Juno into the gas giant’s shadow and it could further complicate things as it is a solar-powered probe. The lack of sunlight could freeze the rover. Juno was able to identify 9 cyclones in the north and 6 of them in the south on July 2016. On the south pole, there were 5 windstorms that were almost the size of the US and no new storms were found. The polar cyclones have a novel cyclone that is changing from a pentagon to a hexagon. The new storm is almost the size of Texas and the Juno’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) data showed the wind to be 225 miles per hour. The weather seems to have triggered the cyclones. The fluid motions and atmosphere of the giant planet is being studied through observations and computer simulations. Till the end of July 2021, Juno will continue to collect data on Jupiter.

Likewise, NASA had earlier given the Europa Clipper mission a green signal to intensely study Jupiter’s biggest moons. By 2025, the mission will be launched but for now, the unmanned mission is in its final design phase and still has to go through testing & building phases. A global subsurface ocean underneath its ice crust on Europa is the reason behind researchers studying the moon. Europa Clipper is designed to make 45 flybys of Europa in a 3-month period at an altitude of 16 to 1,675 Miles.

Science Top Stories

Satellite Identifies Methane; Considered As A Tool To Save Climate

Recently, researchers stated that for the first time, a satellite on a regular global survey detected and measured methane gas emerging from a gas well blast, a tool that can be significant in efforts to reduce climate change. For long, the oil and gas disasters have emitted a huge amount of methane—a gas after carbon dioxide having the potential to warm the planet. The calculation of such releases has been a difficulty to researchers. But lately, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated a satellite launched by the ESA (European Space Agency)—the TROPOMI (Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument)—identified and calculated emissions of methane from an explosion in the last year in Ohio.

The study revealed methane from the damaged well was released at around 120 tons per hour—which is almost twice the rate of a commonly reported gas leak in 2015 at Aliso Canyon in California. ExxonMobil Corp.’s XTO Energy eventually plugged the well in Ohio following it had been leaking for almost 3 Weeks. Earlier, satellites had to be cautiously targeted to detect leaks, like in the Aliso Canyon case. But TROPOMI identified the methane escape as a part of its habitual patrol, setting the platform for gains in leak discovery. Steven Hamburg, Co-Author of the study, stated the outcomes “showed the likelihood for satellites to aid in seeing and quantifying emissions regardless of where they are” and that methane-identifying satellites can help in discovering fixes.

Similarly, the ESA was in news for getting a $15.9 Billion funding boost concerning its space exploration plans. The ESA has received a $15.9 Billion (14.4 billion-euro) funding from its 22 member states since it seeks to lift off new missions and maintain its position in research and space exploration. The space agency—which concluded 2 Days ministerial meeting held in Seville, Spain—sanctioned a budget of 12.5 billion euros for the coming 3 Years or 14.4 billion euros for 5 Years.

Science Top Stories

Space Telescope’s Launch By ESA Suspended At Last Minute

Launching a new telescope into space was on the schedule of the space agency of Europe to investigate distant planets. However, there was a last-minute cancelation of the liftoff. Owing to an issue with the launch device, the liftoff was been called off, as said by the ESA (European Space Agency) spokesperson. The telescope, named CHaracterizing ExOPlanet Satellite, or CHEOPS, was slated to be lifted-off onboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from the Kourou spaceport of Europe in French Guiana.

As said by the satellite firm in commission for the launch, Arianespace, the automated sequence of the Soyuz launcher was interrupted during the final countdown operations at 1 H 25 Min prior to the launch. It also further stated that the new liftoff date will be declared shortly. The objective of the telescope is to study already recognized individual stars hosting exoplanets, emphasizing on planet-sized in the range of Earth to Neptune. ESA said, 4,143 planets have been found around stars other than the Sun so far.

CHEOPS will measure a few of these planets precisely and try to find data regarding whether they are gaseous or rocky. Also, it will look for unique features comprising rings, moons, and oceans in addition to which planets might have inhabitable conditions. Contrasting earlier missions, like NASA’s TESS and Kepler missions, concentrating on exoplanets, ESA stated that CHEOPS wasn’t a “finding device” but a follow-up operation that would be capable of computing planet sizes and other data precisely and accurately.

Likewise, NASA astronomers have suggested to develop an enormous, folding space telescope to look for new exoplanets. HabEx, or Habitable Exoplanet Observatory would possess a 4-m wide mirror, in comparison to the 2.4 Meter of Hubble Space Telescope. This would provide it better capability to scrutinize and identify far-off Earth-like worlds and better verify whether they can host life or even human establishments in the future, as per a press release.

Science Top Stories

NASA Clears Its Quiet Supersonic Jet X-59 For Final Assembly

NASA will soon begin assembling its experimental aircraft X-59. Lockheed Martin has designed this Quiet SuperSonic Technology-based experimental jet. The U.S. space agency is expecting to conduct the first commercial flight for X-59 in 2021.

NASA has managed to build its first large-scale experimental plane in over the past three decades. Now, it is aiming to mitigate the noise generated by a sonic boom. When the experimental aircraft transit with supersonic speeds, it would create a lot of noise at a constant rate. Since it will be commuting at the height of 55,000 Feet, the noise on the ground would not be audible.

The space agency has stated that it would conduct the audibility test by flying the X-59 jet over selected US communities. Earlier also, NASA conducted a similar test by launching the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft over a city in Texas. Based on the feedback from those trials, new regulations will be set for commercial supersonic air travel.

On a related note, India is continuously strengthening its defense force by expanding military force and upgrading weapons. A new aerial weapon in the form of advanced fighter jet 42 Su-30MKI would be served as a backbone for the IAF (Indian Air Force). The modified jet, manufactured by Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau, is designed to hold and aim BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

So far, India has already received around 200 fighter jets and is expected to purchase 282 of them. According to a report, the Su-30 jet will augment the deadly effect of BrahMos missile by adding extra launch momentum to it. The jet is capable of transiting at up to 1,800 Kilometers while the supersonic missile strikes the aim from the range of 300 Kilometers. This much range is enough for India to strike the nuclear missile deep in the heart of adjoining adversaries, particularly Pakistan and China.