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Earth is set to capture a minimoon in October – but some experts it could be space junk

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earth is set to capture a minimoon in october but some experts it could be space junk

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet’s gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021. 

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk.

A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966.

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Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

DailyMail.com has contacted NASA for more information and has yet to receive a response. 

Tony Dunn, an astronomer, told DailyMail.com: ‘Further observations will reveal its density. If it is hollow like a rocket booster, solar radiation pressure will significantly alter its course.’

Earth has only had two minimoons on record – one in February 2020 and the other in 2006.

Unlike the other two, 2020 SO has yet to be confirmed as an asteroid, as some scientists believe it could be space junk hurling towards Earth.  

However, 2020 SO has been classified as an Apollo asteroid in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Small-Body Database, which is a class of asteroids whose paths cross Earth’s orbit.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet's gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet's gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet’s gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk. A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long.

Experts have also noted that 2020 SO’s velocity is much lower than that of an Apollo asteroid.

Space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia told ScienceAlert: ‘The velocity seems to be a big one.’

‘What I’m seeing is that it’s just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That’s essentially a big giveaway.’

Paul Chodas with JPL identified this with the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket body, launched on September 20, 1966.

‘The very low Earth encounter velocity (0.6 km/sec is even low for lunar ejecta, so it is unlikely it is a natural body, even lunar ejecta, more likely space junk,’ he wrote. 

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years

In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth’s gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years 

An animation of the object in question shows that it is in fact heading towards Earth and will make to close swoops when it arrives. 

In December,  2020 OS is expected to pass by Earth at a distance of around 31,000 miles and two months later, it will fly by at 136,701 miles. 

In February, NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth’s gravity.

NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years.

The tiny cosmic object was estimated to be about six to 12 feet in diameter and had a surface brightness similar to C-type asteroids, which are carbon rich and very common.

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Scientists discover cheese is so smelly because it helps microbes ‘talk’ to the bacteria

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scientists discover cheese is so smelly because it helps microbes talk to the bacteria

Many of us can be put off a Stinking Bishop or a gooey Gorgonzola by its strong whiff.

Scientists, however, have found why that smell is so vital – it helps microbes ‘talk’ to the bacteria that ripen cheese.

Researchers at Tufts University in the US discovered the bacteria respond to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by fungi in the rind and released into the air, giving the delicious flavours found on cheese boards. 

Scientists at Tufts University in the U.S. found the bacteria responds to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by fungi in the rind before it released into the air. (Stock image)

Scientists at Tufts University in the U.S. found the bacteria responds to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by fungi in the rind before it released into the air. (Stock image)

Scientists at Tufts University in the U.S. found the bacteria responds to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by fungi in the rind before it released into the air. (Stock image)

The combination of bacteria, yeast and fungi is critical to its flavour so the experts say discovering how to control the microbial ecosystem is a breakthrough in the art of cheese-making.

‘Humans have appreciated the diverse aromas of cheeses for hundreds of years, but how these aromas impact the biology of the cheese microbiome had not been studied,’ said Benjamin Wolfe, professor of biology and one of the authors of the study – published in Environmental Microbiology.

‘Our latest findings show that cheese microbes can use these aromas to dramatically change their biology and the findings’ importance extends beyond cheese-making to other fields as well.’

As bacteria and fungi grow on ripening cheeses, they secrete enzymes that break down amino acids to produce compounds that contribute to the flavour and aroma of cheese. 

They are the reason why camembert, stilton and limburger have their signature smells.

The combination of bacteria, yeast and fungi is critical to its flavour, according to experts. (Stock image)

The combination of bacteria, yeast and fungi is critical to its flavour, according to experts. (Stock image)

The combination of bacteria, yeast and fungi is critical to its flavour, according to experts. (Stock image)

The researchers found VOCs don’t just contribute to the taste and texture of cheese, but also provide a way for fungi to communicate with and ‘feed’ bacteria in the cheese microbiome.

‘The bacteria are able to actually eat what we perceive as smells,’ said Casey Cosetta, who co-authored the study. ‘With VOCs, the fungi are really providing a useful assist to the bacteria to help them thrive.’

Cheese expert Steve Parker, author of British Cheese On Toast, warned not everything can be perfected in a lab, saying cheesemakers believe the environment in the dairy and the maturing room and the moulds and yeasts in there is what gives a cheese ‘unique characteristics’.       

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Birth control hormone is making its way into streams and hindering fish’s ability to reproduce

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birth control hormone is making its way into streams and hindering fishs ability to reproduce

Water polluted with even tiny amounts of human hormones can impact marine life, according to a new study that found freshwater fish exposed to estrogen produced fewer offspring.

Synthetic estrogen from oral contraceptives has been found in waterways near sewage treatment plants.

Biologists looking to see if those hormones affect fish exposed them to trace amounts of a synthetic version of Ethinylestradiol, used in most birth control pills.

They found less than a tenth of the concentration of Ethinylestradiol found in some streams was enough to lead to smaller populations and fewer male offsprings.

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Estrogen has been detected in streams, lakes and even drinking water. To determine its effect, researchers exposed killifish to synthetic Ethinylestradiol, found in most birth control pills. They found the number of offspring reduced and more females born than males.

Estrogen has been detected in streams, lakes and even drinking water. To determine its effect, researchers exposed killifish to synthetic Ethinylestradiol, found in most birth control pills. They found the number of offspring reduced and more females born than males.

Estrogen has been detected in streams, lakes and even drinking water. To determine its effect, researchers exposed killifish to synthetic Ethinylestradiol, found in most birth control pills. They found the number of offspring reduced and more females born than males.

According to a study in the journal Aquatic Toxicology, fish exposed to even 5 nanograms per liter of synthetic Ethinylestradiol produced fewer offspring than those that weren’t and gave birth to more females than males.

Ethinylestradiol has been found in streams at levels higher than 60 nanograms per liter.

In addition to birth control, it’s used as menopausal hormone therapy, to prevent osteoporosis and as a palliative treatment for breast cancer.

Our bodies generally only absorb a small amount of the medication we ingest, the rest – up to 90 percent – gets flushed down the toilet when we go to the bathroom.

'When women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants,' said biologist Latonya Jackson (right)

'When women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants,' said biologist Latonya Jackson (right)

‘When women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants,’ said biologist Latonya Jackson (right) 

‘Our wastewater treatment systems are good at removing a lot of things, but they weren’t designed to remove pharmaceuticals,’ said lead author Latonya Jackson, a biologist at the University of Cincinnati. ‘So when women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants.’

For her experiments, Jackson used least killifish, a relative of the guppy.

Killifish are common, tiny and easy to catch, making them easy to study without taking up a lot of space.

They’re a popular target for predators, which they make up for by giving birth frequently, about every 28 days.

Least killifish produced fewer offspring after being exposed to less than a tenth of the estrogen concentration found in some streams near sewage plants

Least killifish produced fewer offspring after being exposed to less than a tenth of the estrogen concentration found in some streams near sewage plants

Least killifish produced fewer offspring after being exposed to less than a tenth of the estrogen concentration found in some streams near sewage plants 

They’re also rare for fish in that they have a placenta and give birth to live young.

Jackson’s team found that chronic exposure to Ethinylestradiol led to smaller populations and a gender ratio of more females than males.

Next she’ll be working with the Environmental Protection Agency to see if the hormones affected the genetics of the fish’s offspring.

Around 15 million women regularly take birth-control pills in the US alone, most of them using Ethinylestradiol. 

‘Our wastewater treatment systems are good at removing a lot of things, but they weren’t designed to remove pharmaceuticals,’ Jackson said. ‘So when women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants.’ 

While a 2010 study found birth-control pills accounted for less than one percent of the estrogen found in US drinking water, local water systems don’t test for Ethinylestradiol.

And estrogen enters the waterways from other sources, like livestock and dairy products. 

Previous studies have found estrogen in rivers and lakes leads male fish to develop ovaries and other female characteristics. 

A 2015 study from Washington State University found a link between Ethinylestradiol and the growing decline in sperm counts, which have plummeted up to 38 percent in a decade. 

‘There’s every reason to believe that estrogen and the pharmaceutical compounds that we’re ingesting in micro-quantities are having an effect,’ activist Seth Siegel told Business Insider.

‘Why wouldn’t it be possible that a newborn or fetus, or a 3-year-old getting an irregular dosage, might not see some effect on their brain function or brain development?’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Reckless tourists get too close to a herd of bison Yellowstone Park, sparking a stampede

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reckless tourists get too close to a herd of bison yellowstone park sparking a stampede

Tourists in Yellowstone National Park caused a dangerous stampede by getting too close to a herd of bison. 

The giant creatures were caught on video approaching a river before breaking into a stampede that kicked up dust and threatened to steamroll right over bystanders.

A witness said tourists kept inching closer to the herd, despite their grunting and hoof-stomping – and warnings from others to get away.

According to Yellowstone guidelines, park visitors should remain 25 yards from bison at all times.

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Tourists near a river in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley were filmed inching dangerously close to a herd of bison. Several of the giant beasts plowed passed the visitors as they crossed the river to join the rest of the herd

Tourists near a river in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley were filmed inching dangerously close to a herd of bison. Several of the giant beasts plowed passed the visitors as they crossed the river to join the rest of the herd

Tourists near a river in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley were filmed inching dangerously close to a herd of bison. Several of the giant beasts plowed passed the visitors as they crossed the river to join the rest of the herd

Lisa Stewart filmed the scene near Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, where a cluster of tourists had gathered near a river.

At first she assumed it was a wolf sighting, but she soon realized the foolhardy visitors were approaching a herd of buffalo.

‘The people saw them and started walking closer and closer toward the bison,’ Stewart told USA Today.

The animals ‘kept getting more agitated by the minute,’ she added, grunting and stomping the ground with their hooves as they moved down the hill.

Eventually they broke into a stampede, only narrowly avoiding the onlookers as they galloped into the water to join the herd on the other side of the river.

Bystanders warned the tourists to get out of the way, Stewart said, and told them how stupid they were for walking toward the massive beasts.

‘You only see about four to six people on the video, but there were more in the same spot the bison came running from,’ she recalled. ‘It was amazing that they didn’t heed the warning of grunting, snorting and stomping feet!’ 

Stewart said she stopped filming, afraid someone was hurt, and was actually shaking a bit from fear.

‘I could feel the earth rumbling under my feet when it was happening,’ she told USA Today. ‘It was one of those moments your stomach turns over at the split moment you think disaster is about to happen.’ 

There are just under 5,000 bison living in Yellowstone National Park, the largest population on public land. 

It’s not unusual for visitors to see them, though such violent encounters are rarer. 

Last month, KTMF reporter Rachel Louise Just filmed dozens of bison stampeding through traffic in the park.

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Dozens of buffalo stampeding through traffic last month in Yellowstone National Park

Dozens of buffalo stampeding through traffic last month in Yellowstone National Park

Dozens of buffalo stampeding through traffic last month in Yellowstone National Park

The incident happened the weekend of September 17, but Just shared it on YouTube last week.

‘Bison are my favorite animal so this was one of the coolest things I’ve EVER seen!’ she tweeted. ‘No idea what prompted the stampede but WOW.’ 

According to the National Park Service website, bison cause more injuries than any other animal in Yellowstone.

They’re agile, unpredictable and can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. 

Since Yellowstone lifted its coronavirus lockdown in May, two people have been injured by bison, including a woman who was knocked to the ground the second day the park was reopened. 

Also known as American buffalo, bison are the largest land-dwelling mammals in North America, with bulls weighing up to 2,000 pounds and cows about half that.

Before the arrival of Europeans, there were an estimated 30 to 60 million bison in North America.

By the turn of the 20th century, hunting and targeting killing nearly wiped them out, leaving barely 2,000 on the continent.

Eventually a dedicated effort helped restore their numbers, though Yellowstone is the only place in the US where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

Because they’re genetically pure, and not hybrids, the park’s herds behave like their ancient ancestors, according to the NPS, ‘congregating during the breeding season to compete for mates, as well as migration and exploration that result in the use of new habitat areas.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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