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Scientists Discover Possible Signs of Alien Life on Venus

Scientists believe that they may have detected signs of alien life on Venus, after spotting a compound that is produced when organic matter breaks down.

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(TMU) – Scientists believe that they may have detected signs of alien life on the planet Venus, after spotting phosphine, a compound that is produced when organic matter breaks down.

The levels of phosphine on the planet are so high that they cannot be explained by any other known process.

The discoveries were reported in a new article published this week in Nature Astronomy, by an international team of researchers led by Jane Greaves from Cardiff University.

Humans have discovered how to create phosphine through industrial processes, but in nature, it is only known to be caused by anaerobic organisms like bacteria and microbes.

Since the compound is so closely connected with organic life, scientists see it as a “biosignature”, or indication that life is present.

Still, it is unlikely that intelligent life would be able to exist on the planet because the surface is so hot and acidic, although some researchers have speculated that species on different planets could have a vastly different chemical composition than those found here on earth, which could make some environments more habitable.

The life that might exist on venus is likely a variety of microorganisms that can survive in the planet’s upper cloud decks, which researchers believe is more habitable than the surface, but very little is known about what type of life could exist there, or where it might be.

In their report, the researchers admit that the presence of this compound “is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry”, and that further study is needed to confirm their theories.

“Either phosphine is produced by some sort of chemical or geological process that no-one knows about – or there could be a biological reason,” Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astrophysicist from the Royal Observatory Greenwich and one of the paper’s authors told the Independent.

“Our study isn’t conclusive that this is evidence of life. However, what is exciting about it is that we’ve found this rare gas in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Our team can’t explain the amount of phosphine that we’ve found, through our current understanding of the planet. When we try to model what’s happening in the atmosphere – volcanic activity, sunlight, or even lightning – nothing recreates the amount of phosphine gas that we’ve seen,” she added.

Still, the report has caused genuine excitement in the scientific community, and it actually happened by accident.

The discovery was made while the researchers were checking for levels of different compounds on venus to establish a baseline.

They weren’t actually expecting to find any phosphine there, but when they did find some in their initial studies they decided to research the situation further.

“We had no expectation there was actually going to be any there,” said David Clements, a scientist at Imperial College London who was also an author on the paper.

It turned from a ‘let’s try this, it’s an interesting problem, and we can set some parameters for what needs to be done’, into ‘my goodness, we’ve found it, what on Earth does that mean?’” he added.

Cardiff University – Hints of Life on Venus

An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, has discovered phosphine in the clouds of Venus. The detection of phosphine molecules could point to extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life. #VenusNews Professor Jane Greaves explains the new discovery, led by Cardiff University

Posted by Cardiff University on Monday, September 14, 2020

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News

Chinese Military Satellite Smashed by Russian Rocket in “Major Confirmed Orbital Collision”

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In an incident that is likely illustrative of things to come, Chinese military satellite 1-02 was smashed after it appears to have collided into the debris from a disintegrating Russian rocket.

The collision, which occurred earlier this year, shows the increasing danger of space junk such as satellite parts and other miscellaneous jetsam littering the Earth’s orbit. An estimated 8,000 metric tons of space debris pose the risk of destroying functional equipment such as weather forecasting systems, telecoms and GPS systems – and even manned space travel missions – if the problem isn’t reined in.

The fate of the Chinese satellite was uncovered by Harvard astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.

The breakup of Yunhai 1-02 was initially reported by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS). However, it wasn’t until recently that McDowell found out what caused the breakup.

The astrophysicist soon found that it was destroyed by space junk that originated from a Russian Zenit-2 rocket that had launched a spy satellite in 1996. On Aug. 14, McDowell found a strange entry in a database on Space-Track.org: “Collided with satellite.”

 “This is a new kind of comment entry — haven’t seen such a comment for any other satellites before,” McDowell tweeted.

“A quick analysis of the TLEs show that Yunhai 1-02 (44547) and [the debris object] passed within 1 km of each other (so within the uncertainty of the TLEs) at 0741 UTC Mar 18, exactly when 18SPCS reports Yunhai broke up,” he added, noting that this “looks to be the first major confirmed orbital collision in a decade.”

However, the Yunhai satellite still remains functional and is transmitting radio signals, notes Space.com.

The incident shows the growing likelihood of such collisions in the high-traffic, littered near-Earth orbital zone.

“Collisions are proportional to the square of the number of things in orbit,” McDowell explained. “That is to say, if you have 10 times as many satellites, you’re going to get 100 times as many collisions.”

He added: “So, as the traffic density goes up, collisions are going to go from being a minor constituent of the space junk problem to being the major constituent. That’s just math.”

A worst-case scenario of such collisions is known as the “Kessler Syndrome,” and describes the possibility of one collision setting in motion a chain of collisions. Such a disaster was the premise of the 2013 film “Gravity.”

One hopes that things don’t reach that point.

In the meantime, however, there have been a number of initiatives meant to tackle the growing problem of space debris, such as the ELSA-d spacecraft launched in a demonstration mission earlier this year.

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Boston Dynamics Drops New Video Of 5-Foot Atlas Humanoid Robot Effortlessly Doing Parkour

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Robot maker Boston Dynamics has released new video of its two-legged Atlas robot effortlessly completing a parkour obstacle course, offering a new display of its humanoid machines’ unsettling repertoire.

In the video, a pair of Atlas robots can be seen leaping over large gaps, vaulting beams, and even performing backflips. The robot can even be seen jumping over a board while using its arm to remain steady.

While the display seems like anything but “free” running – as the original developers of parkour had envisioned – the routine does seem like an impressive, if terrifying, display of effective coding that took months to perfect, according to the Hyundai-owned robotics firm.

“It’s not the robot just magically deciding to do parkour, it’s kind of a choreographed routine, much like a skateboard video or a parkour video,” said Atlas control lead Benjamin Stephens.

See for yourself:

Unlike its robotic dog Spot, which controversially hit New York City streets last year before being pulled, Atlas isn’t a production robot. Instead, it’s a research model meant to see how far the limits of robotics can be pushed.

In the past, Boston Dynamics has displayed the robot’s feats with videos of Atlas jogging and even busting out some cool dance moves.

Team lead Scott Kuindersma said in a statement that in about two decades, we can expect to coexist with robots that move “with grace, reliability, and work alongside humans to enrich our lives.”

Until then, some of us will continue to reserve our right to feel a bit queasy about the prospect of people being chased down by these skilled free-running (and dancing) machines.

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Environment

South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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