BAIKONUR, August 22 -- A Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket took off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Thursday to deliver to the International Space Station (ISS) the Soyuz MS-14 manned spacecraft with a Russian humanoid robot on board.
The rocket took off from the Gagarin Start launch pad at 6:38 Moscow time. Approximately nine minutes after the takeoff, Soyuz separated from the third stage and embarked upon a two-day journey to the ISS. At about 6:47 Moscow time, the spacecraft unfurled its solar batteries. Although there will be no humans on board this time, the Soyuz-MS spacecraft will carry Russia’s Skybot F-850 android robot and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The docking is scheduled for 08:31 Moscow time on August 24. The Soyuz-2 rocket will replace Soyuz-FG, which has delivered international crews to the ISS since 2002. Russian space industry switched to a next-generation rocket after Ukrainian partners stopped deliveries of analog control systems installed on Soyuz-FG. As the two countries suspended cooperation in the space industry, Russia was left with a limited number of Soyuz-FG. The last launch of this type of rocket will take place on September 21. Soyuz-2.1a rockets are equipped with Russian-made digital control systems.
VIENNA, July 29 -- Iran looking at further reduction of its commitments under JCPOA by September 4-5 as part of less-for-less approach, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Sunday after a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"Further we are in early September, with September 4-5 being a reference date, when Iran plans to take the so-called third step to reduce its commitments as part of the less-for-less approach," he said.
"We called on the Iranians to refrain from that after all," he said, adding that it is necessary to see to it that Iran really has the economic possibilities that were provided by the deal and lost due to the US sanctions. "Some participants in the deal think that Iran must get back to the implementation of its commitments in full without any additional reservations or conditions," he said. "But in the current situation, it looks absolutely unrealistic."
Modernization of reactor at Iran’s Arak
Ryabkov added that the project for the modernization of the heavy water reactor at Iran’s Arak is nearing the equipment purchasing stage. "Progress has been made on the Arak project," he said. "It is not nominal. The stage of practical, purchasing activities is nearing. It is a separate question who will supply equipment there and what kind of equipment. But as a matter of fact, it is not a political question. It is a question to the designers." According to the Russian diplomat, the prospects for handing over equipment for the modernization of the reactor at Arak are seen as quite sensitive in some countries. "Anyway, we have an indirect relation to this project," he noted. "We are not going to supply any equipment there. All we can do is to offer our consultancy.". INSTEX vehicleThe European special purpose vehicle INSTEX aiming at facilitating trade between the European Union and Iran is operating in the pilot mode and a series of procedures are needed to make fully operational, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister noted.
"INSTEX is operating in the pilot regime. To make it fully operational certain political and bureaucratic procedures are to be finalized, in particular, to sign additional documents between ISTEX and a similar structure set up in Iran," Ryabkov said. The European Union announced the launch of the INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) vehicle at a previous meeting of political directors on June 28. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on July 17 that a number deals with several millions of US dollars had been executed via INSTEX but, in his words, it was not enough. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said earlier on Sunday that the EU’s vehicle was not yet operational.
HELSINKI, July 23 -- A new paper published by researchers form the University of Turku in Finland suggests that even though observed changes in the climate are real, the effects of human activity on these changes are insignificant.
The team suggests that the idea of man made climate change is a mere miscalculation or skewing the formulas by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Jyrki Kauppinen and Pekka Malmi, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, in their paper published on 29th June 2019 claim to prove that the “GCM-models used in IPCC report AR5 fail to calculate the influences of the low cloud cover changes on the global temperature. That is why those models give a very small natural temperature change leaving a very large change for the contribution of the green house gases in the observed temperature.” Thus, in order to come to the results matching the actual climate change the IPCC has to “use a very large sensitivity to compensate a too small natural component. Further they have to leave out the strong negative feedback due to the clouds in order to magnify the sensitivity.” In addition, Kauppinen and Malmi claim that their paper proves that “the changes in the low cloud cover fraction practically control the global temperature.”
The authors argue that the IPCC has used computational results which can not be considered experimental evidence, and site this as the reason for contradictory conclusions. “The IPCC climate sensitivity is about one order of magnitude (i.e. 10 times) too high, because a strong negative feedback of the clouds is missing in climate models. If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, we have to recognise that the anthropogenic climate change does not exist in practice, write Kauppinen and Malmi. “The major part of the extra CO2 is emitted from oceans, according to Henry‘s law. The low clouds practically control the global average temperature. During the last hundred years the temperature is increased about 0.1℃ because of CO2. The human contribution was about 0.01℃.”
The paper has been criticised for not being peer reviewed and other climate scientists have refuted the conclusions reached by Kauppinen and Malmi. Critics have said that in addition to not being peer reviewed, Malmi and Kauppinen fail to provide correct physical explanation, have not linked to- or sited to enough sources to support their claims and although they denounce climate models, they use one themselves to prove their own points. In a previous paper by the same scientists published last December, they discuss the effects of cloud cover and relative humidity on the climate change. In a separate study, Japanese scientists have also suggested a much more important role for low clouds cover caused by an increase in cosmic rays resulting form the weakening of the earths magnetic filed.
Prof. Masayuki Hyodo and his team Yusuke Ueno, Tianshui Yang and Shigehiro Katoh from the University of Kobe in Japan in their paper published this month in propose that the “umbrella effect” is the main factor behind climate change. “When galactic cosmic rays increased during the Earth’s last geomagnetic reversal transition 780,000 years ago, the umbrella effect of low-cloud cover led to high atmospheric pressure in Siberia, causing the East Asian winter monsoon to become stronger. This is evidence that galactic cosmic rays influence changes in the Earth’s climate.” “The Intergovernmental IPCC has discussed the impact of cloud cover on climate in their evaluations, but this phenomenon has never been considered in climate predictions due to the insufficient physical understanding of it”, comments Professor Hyodo. “This study provides an opportunity to rethink the impact of clouds on climate. When galactic cosmic rays increase, so do low clouds, and when cosmic rays decrease clouds do as well, so climate warming may be caused by an opposite-umbrella effect. The umbrella effect caused by galactic cosmic rays is important when thinking about current global warming as well as the warm period of the medieval era.” Scientists have suspected that the Earth’s magnetic filed is showing signs of flipping. The magnetic filed is moving erratically out of the Canadian Arctic and towards Siberia so unpredictably that it has taken scientists by surprise so that they need to update the model they released only four years ago.
MIAMI, July 22 -- American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant.
Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon. Turkey Point’s 168-mile (270 kilometers) of man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change. From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests and ponds on berms for crocodiles to nest. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates. “We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created,” Lloret said. “We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.” The canals are one of three major US habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to “threatened” from “endangered” in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978.
Temperature determines the crocodiles’ sex: the hotter it is the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year’s hatchlings are male-heavy due to last month being the hottest June on record globally.
Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction survives to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. - a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived. “American crocodiles have a bad reputation when they are just trying to survive,” Lloret said. “They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.”
The Daini complex was also hit by tsunami waves in the 2011 disaster and temporarily lost reactor cooling functions. But unlike the Daiichi plant, it escaped meltdowns. Since the disaster, the decommissioning in Japan of 21 nuclear reactors, including those at Daini, has been decided. For the Tokyo-headquartered power company, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture will be its only nuclear complex. In June last year, TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told the governor that the company is leaning toward scrapping all four reactors at the Daini plant. A project team was later formed at the utility and looked into whether that is possible, according to the source. The prefecture has demanded the utility scrap the reactors, saying their existence would hamper its reconstruction efforts.
CAPE CANAVERAL, July 17 -- Fifty years ago, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, took the first steps on the moon.
The moment unified hundreds of millions of people worldwide in a way never seen before or since. People tuned in to radios or watched on their television screens on July 20, 1969, as Armstrong, who took the first steps 18 minutes before Aldrin, declared, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". The launch took place four days earlier on July 16, 1969. Astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon as Armstrong and Aldrin explored the surface, recently told the Associated Press, "how often can you get people around our globe to agree on anything? Hardly ever." The now-88-year-old added, "It was a wonderful achievement in the sense that people everywhere around the planet applauded it: north, south, east, west, rich, poor, Communist, whatever." The moment, aimed at winning the space race and beating the Soviet Union to the moon, was the result of eight years of work by more than 400,000 people and billions of dollars. After six more missions, the Apollo programme was ended in 1972. Fifty years later, the United States is at it again. This time, aiming to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024, four years earlier than initially planned.
TOKYO, July 16 -- Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029.
Under the agreement covering the period through March 2022, Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will develop, manufacture and test a prototype rover capable of running on the surface of the Moon using fuel cell power. Toyota and JAXA first unveiled the project in March this year. They said the rover would enable astronauts to live inside it for a certain amount of time without wearing space suits, the first such development in the world. Following testing of the prototype rover, Toyota and JAXA will start designing the actual flight model from 2024, and commence its manufacturing and testing from 2027, they said. JAXA plans to send the rover to the Moon on an American rocket in 2029 amid growing international competition in lunar exploration.
NEW DELHI, July 14 -- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Sunday that it was all set to launch second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2.
The heavy-lift rocket GSLV-Mark-3 carrying Chandrayaan-2 will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, off the Bay of Bengal coast in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, at 2:51 a.m. local time on Monday. "The launch countdown of GSLV MkIII-M1/Chandrayaan-2 commenced today at 6:51 a.m. (local time). The launch is scheduled at 2:51 a.m. (local time) on July 15 (Monday)," ISRO said. "UH25 (fuel) filling of liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV MkIII-M1 completed. Propellant filling of liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV MkIII-M1 completed." Officials said the powerful 3.85-ton rocket will put Chandrayaan-2 in a highly elliptical orbit around the earth, following which its orbit will be raised through a series of maneuvers by remote by the ISRO scientists. Eventually, it will be taken out of the earth's orbit and made to reach the sphere of influence of the moon. Officials said the entire mission has a life of one year. According to the state-run broadcaster All India Radio, President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to witness the launch from Sriharikota. Reports said if India succeeds in this endeavour, it will become the fourth country to soft-land spacecraft on the lunar surface after the United States, Russia and China. Israel tried earlier this year but failed.
LAS VEGAS, July 13 -- Should everything go according to plan, more than half a million strangers will gather in a remote Nevada town in mid-September, united by a common goal: Raid Area 51 in the wee hours of the morning - using a strength-in-numbers approach to reveal any extraterrestrial treasures stashed within the notoriously clandestine government base.
Or, put more simply, "Lets see them aliens." By Friday evening, more than 540,000 people from around the world had signed up to attend the joke Facebook event: "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," - and just as many had indicated they were "interested." Planned for September 20 in Amargosa Valley, an hour's drive away from Las Vegas, the event page is currently filled with thousands of posts theorizing the best way to break into the top-secret facility. "We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," reads a brief description of the event, which was created by popular video game streamer SmyleeKun. "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets." The latter part of the description references anime ninja Naruto Uzumaki, whose notorious head forward, arms-behind-the-back running technique has led some to believe it makes them run faster. (It doesn't). Most people discussing the raid, including various news outlets that have written about the Facebook event, recognize it's not intended to be taken seriously. But what about those who don't? It is not clear exactly how many people, if anyone, will actually show up to lead a blitzkrieg on the Nellis Air Force Base Complex, which houses the land containing Area 51. Some who've posted on the event's page in recent days have considered that possibility.
"P. S. Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan," wrote user Jackson Barnes, following his rather descriptive proposed game plan. "I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the Internet. I'm not responsible if people decide to actually storm area 51." Speaking with The Washington Post on Friday afternoon, US Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said officials were aware of the Facebook event. When asked how authorities might respond to ardent explorers who may attempt to enter Area 51 in September, McAndrews said she could not elaborate on specific plans or security procedures at the base. She did, however, issue a warning to those itching to try their luck.
"[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train America armed forces," McAndrews said. "The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets." The facility has long been a source of public intrigue, yet for decades, Americans were told Area 51 didn't exist at all. That notion was officially debunked in 2013 when the CIA confirmed its existence through documents obtained in a public records request by George Washington University. Yes, Area 51 is definitely real - and even though the report indicated it was nothing more than an aircraft-testing facility and mentioned nothing about extraterrestrial life, the revelation gave credence to conspiracy theories alleging the government uses the base to hide aliens and their spacecraft. The CIA has since published information about test flights that took place there, and the alien aspects in many of those theories have been debunked. But in 2017 the Pentagon confirmed the existence of a $22 million government program to analyze "anomalous aerospace threats" - a.k.a. UFOs - giving alien-obsessed kooks fresh fodder for their conjectures. Though the facility is not publicly accessible, the area around Area 51 is a popular tourist destination, sprinkled with alien-themed motels, museums and restaurants. (In 1996, Nevada renamed state Route 375 to "Extraterrestrial Highway") But those who venture too far into the land surrounding the base are greeted with warning signs indicating they could be fined or jailed for trespassing and taking photos. Some signs suggest those who enter could be subject to "deadly force."
In 2014, a tour bus carting four passengers near Area 51 inadvertently drove through the warning signs and entered the base, Las Vegas Now reported. The truck was stopped by men in "military garb," and everyone in the vehicle was threatened with a misdemeanor conviction and $650 fine. The incident was caught on video, making it obvious the tour's passengers thought it was all part of the experience. Only the driver was charged. Of course, those who say they will participate in the September raid know their mission won't be easy. Some have offered their own plans and even schematics detailing how the group will take on the base.
Author: Pete McGee
GENEVA, July 5 -- Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis.
A new analysis finds that adding nearly 1 billion additional hectares of forest could remove two-thirds of the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon humans have added to the atmosphere since the 1800s. “Forests represent one of our biggest natural allies against climate change,” says Laura Duncanson, a carbon storage researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park and NASA who was not involved in the research. Still, she cautions, “this is an admittedly simplified analysis of the carbon restored forests might capture, and we shouldn’t take it as gospel.” The latest report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changerecommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5° C by 2050. Ecologists Jean-Francois Bastin and Tom Crowther of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and their co-authors wanted to figure out whether today’s Earth could support that many extra trees, and where they might all go. They analyzed nearly 80,000 satellite photographs for current forest coverage. The team then categorized the planet according to 10 soil and climate characteristics. This identified areas that were more or less suitable for different types of forest. After subtracting existing forests and areas dominated by agriculture or cities, they calculated how much of the planet could sprout trees.
Earth could naturally support 0.9 billion hectares of additional forest—an area the size of the United States—without impinging on existing urban or agricultural lands, the researchers report today in Science. Those added trees could sequester 205 gigatons of carbon in the coming decades, roughly five times the amount emitted globally in 2018. “This work captures the magnitude of what forests can do for us,” says ecologist Greg Asner of Arizona State University in Tempe, who was not involved in the research. “They need to play a role if humanity is going to achieve our climate mitigation goals.” Adding forests wouldn’t just sequester carbon. Forests provide a host of added benefits including enhanced biodiversity, improved water quality, and reduced erosion. Estimates of how much forest restoration on this scale would cost vary, but based on prices of about $0.30 a tree, Crowther says it could be roughly $300 billion.
Exactly how much carbon future forests could store may not be crystal clear, but Duncanson says NASA has new instruments in space—like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) aboard the International Space Station—that will use lasers to create high-resolution 3D maps of Earth’s forests from canopy to floor. These data will add much-needed precision to existing estimates of aboveground carbon storage. “With GEDI we can take this paper as a stepping stone and inform it with much more accurate carbon estimates,” Duncanson says. “There have always been large uncertainties on large-scale carbon totals, but we have richer data coming soon.”
Source: Science Magazine