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Mars: New Evidence of Life-Friendly Environment

New evidence reveals Mars’ life-friendly past: fossil rivers, lakes, organic molecules, and cyclical climate patterns.



Credit: © NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/IRAP/Rapin et al./Nature
A hexagonal fossil pattern in sedimentary rocks analysed by Curiosity on the 3154th day of its journey through the Gale Crater on Mars.
« Mars: new evidence of an environment conducive to the emergence of life

Mars, the red planet, has always captivated the imagination of scientists and space enthusiasts alike. Recent findings by the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) shed light on the possibility of Mars having once harbored an environment conducive to the emergence of life. This discovery has significant implications for understanding the potential for extraterrestrial life.

Preserved Ancient Terrain:
Unlike Earth, Mars lacks the constant renewal of its surface through plate tectonics. This unique characteristic has resulted in preserving vast areas abundant in fossil rivers and lakes dating back billions of years. Previous explorations, notably NASA’s Curiosity rover, had already detected simple organic molecules, indicating the presence of geological and possibly biological processes.

Ideal Environmental Conditions:
The recent research conducted by a team from CNRS and other institutions unveiled the discovery of hexagonal patterns in sedimentary layers dating from 3.8 to 3.6 billion years ago. These patterns, similar to those found in seasonal basins on Earth, are the first fossil evidence of a sustained, cyclical, regular Martian climate with dry and wet seasons. Such an environment allows molecules to repeatedly interact at varying concentrations, creating ideal conditions for the formation of complex organic compounds, including RNA, which are crucial precursors to life.

Implications for Future Exploration:
These new findings provide scientists with a fresh perspective on large-scale images collected by orbiting spacecraft, revealing numerous terrains with similar compositions. By pinpointing the locations that exhibit the necessary conditions for the emergence of life, researchers can focus their future explorations and investigations. Mars, with its preserved ancient terrain, holds the potential to unlock the secrets of natural processes that led to the origin of life, which may no longer exist on Earth.

The CNRS research team’s discovery of hexagonal patterns and deposits of salts on Mars offers compelling evidence of an environment that once fostered the emergence of life. These findings fuel excitement and curiosity about the possibility of extraterrestrial life in our solar system. As exploration efforts continue, scientists will delve further into Mars’ past, unraveling its mysteries and providing valuable insights into the origins of life, both on our neighboring planet and potentially beyond.

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Rod: A creative force, blending words, images, and flavors. Blogger, writer, filmmaker, and photographer. Cooking enthusiast with a sci-fi vision. Passionate about his upcoming series and dedicated to TNC Network. Partnered with Rebecca Washington for a shared journey of love and art.


Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth

Get ready for an exciting and safe encounter with asteroid Apophis as it zooms past Earth in 2029! Don’t miss this celestial event! #Apophis2029



In just five years, on April 13, 2029, the world will witness the close encounter of a rather infamous asteroid named Apophis. This grand event, visible to the naked eye, has sparked curiosity among astronomers and captured the attention of the public. However, rest assured, there is no reason for alarm. Let’s delve into the fascinating story of the asteroid Apophis and shed light on its journey through the cosmos.


Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth https://stmdailynews.com/category/science/

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Asteroid Apophis: An Exciting Encounter with Earth

Location, Location, Location:
Apophis is an asteroid measuring about 1,100 feet (340 meters) in diameter. Extensive calculations have revealed that it will safely pass by Earth both in 2029 and 2036. During the 2029 flyby, Apophis will come within a nominal distance of 19,662 miles (31,643 km) from our planet’s surface, closer than the moon and many satellites in Earth’s orbit. As it traverses through Earth’s gravitational field, the passage of Apophis might even cause subtle asteroid-quakes and slightly alter its orbit.

Spectacular Viewing Opportunities:
Although not observable from everywhere, lucky viewers in Australia, southern Asia, southern Europe, and Africa will have a front-row seat to witness Apophis at its brightest in 2029. As the asteroid gradually moves away from Earth and dims, it will become visible in eastern South America. Furthermore, as evening falls along the east coast of North America, telescopes will reveal Apophis located approximately 15 degrees north of the Pleiades. An ephemeris for the asteroid can be found on our website to help astronomers and enthusiasts track its celestial journey.

The Discovery of Apophis:
On the remarkable evening of June 19, 2004, astronomers at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona made a thrilling discovery. Dave Tholen, Fabrizio Bernardi, and the late Roy Tucker stumbled upon an asteroid, later designated as 2004 MN4. What made this discovery even more extraordinary was the fact that the asteroid was unusually close to the sun, only 57 degrees away. Further observations revealed that Apophis had an orbit different from most asteroids, resembling that of an Aten-class asteroid.

Narrowing the Probability of Collision:
Initially, calculations showed that Apophis had a 2.7% chance of colliding with Earth on April 13, 2029, a date marked with superstition. This resulted in a media frenzy surrounding the potentially hazardous asteroid. However, over several years, astronomers meticulously observed Apophis, taking into account the influence of other celestial bodies and the Yarkovsky effect caused by sunlight. By 2006, these studies dispelled the notion of a collision in 2029, relieving the world of any imminent danger.

No More Worries for the Future:
Many eagerly awaited the subsequent close approach of Apophis in 2036. However, in 2013, after conducting radar observations using the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex and the Green Bank Observatory, NASA definitively ruled out any potential impact in 2036 and for the next 100 years. Apophis is now no longer on the Sentry Impact Risk Table, which lists potentially dangerous objects near Earth.

Unlocking the Scientific Opportunities:
With the new knowledge that Apophis poses no threat, astronomers can fully embrace the upcoming close encounter as a fantastic scientific opportunity. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, known for its historic mission to bring samples from asteroid Bennu back to Earth, is now en route to rendezvous with Apophis in April 2029. Renamed OSIRIS-APEX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Apophis Explorer), this mission will unlock further insights into the asteroid’s composition and characteristics.

As we eagerly anticipate the visit of the asteroid Apophis in 2029, let us celebrate the wonders of our universe. Apophis serves as a reminder of the dynamic nature of our cosmic neighborhood and the continuously advancing knowledge of our exceptional astronomers. So mark your calendars and join the world in witnessing this extraordinary celestial event, which promises to be a captivating spectacle for all.



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12P/Pons-Brooks: Witness the ‘Mother of Dragons’ Comet in the Night Sky!

Witness the “Mother of Dragons” comet, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, in the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky – a rare celestial spectacle not to be missed!



A bright green comet with a long tail streaking across a dark night sky.
More details 12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodiccomet with an orbital period of 71 years. It fits the classical definition of a Halley-type comet with an orbital period between 20 and 200 years, and is also one of the brightest known periodic comets, reaching an absolute visual magnitude ~5 in its approach to perihelion.=10.5px Comet Pons-Brooks was discovered at Marseilles Observatory in July 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons, and then later recovered in 1883 by William Robert Brooks.

Astronomical enthusiasts and stargazers have a limited window to behold the captivating spectacle of the “Mother of Dragons” comet, also known as Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. This celestial wanderer, gracing our skies once every 71 years, is currently making its grand appearance in the Northern Hemisphere.

Discovered in 1812 by French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons and British-American astronomer William Robert, this massive comet, larger than Mount Everest, is a breathtaking amalgamation of dust and ice. Its magnificent green tail, a result of the Sun’s heat interacting with its icy composition, paints a vivid picture across the cosmos.

What sets Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks apart is its classification as a cryovolcanic comet, harboring an icy volcano that releases dust, gases, and ice as it journeys through space. To catch a glimpse of this rare celestial visitor, observers are advised to look towards the western horizon in clear, dark skies post-dusk. While it may be visible to the naked eye, binoculars or a small telescope can enhance the viewing experience, particularly as its brightness can be unpredictable.

The highlight of this cosmic display is anticipated to be on April 21, marking the comet’s brightest phase before gradually fading from view as the days lengthen. Missing this astronomical event means waiting until the summer of 2095 for another chance to witness the “Mother of Dragons” comet in all its splendor. So seize the opportunity while you can, and marvel at the celestial wonder that graces our night sky in this fleeting moment of cosmic convergence.

About 12P/Pons-Brooks

12P/Pons-Brooks is a comet that returns every 71 years. It is one of the brightest periodic comets and can reach an absolute visual magnitude of about 5. The comet was first seen in July 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons at Marseilles Observatory, and again in 1883 by William Robert Brooks. Comets that have an orbital period of 20-200 years are called Halley-type comets. Some ancient records suggest that 12P/Pons-Brooks has appeared before.

The next time the comet passes the sun at its closest point will be on 21 April 2024. It will come the closest to Earth on 2 June 2024, at a distance of 232 million kilometers. During this time, it is expected to shine as bright as a 4.5 magnitude star. The comet’s nucleus is estimated to be around 30 kilometers in diameter, based on the 2020 measurements that were taken assuming it wasn’t producing too much gas or dust.

The December κ Draconids meteor shower, which occurs from November 29th to December 13th, is believed to originate from 12P/Pons-Brooks.



2024 Passage

On June 10, 2020, the comet Pons-Brooks was discovered by the Lowell Discovery Telescope when it was located beyond Saturn’s orbit at a distance of 11.9 AU from the Sun. It underwent a significant outburst on July 20, 2023, brightening from magnitude 16-17 to 11-12, resulting in a horseshoe-shaped coma. This outburst was likely caused by the release of approximately 10 billion kilograms of dust and ice. By August 5, the coma had expanded to a diameter of 600,000 kilometers at a rate of 220 m/s. The comet experienced subsequent outbursts on October 5, November 1, and November 14, with the latter bringing its brightness to apparent magnitude 9.3. Additional outbursts were observed on December 14 and January 18, 2024.

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Cloudy Skies on Eclipse Day: A Cosmic Drama Unfolds

Even under cloudy conditions, the eclipse’s drama persists, offering a different kind of wonder in the cosmic theater of the skies.



white clouds with sun piercing through it. Cloudy skies
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For eclipse enthusiasts, the anticipation leading up to a celestial event like a total solar eclipse is palpable. However, what if, on the big day, the sky is veiled by clouds? In the cosmic theater of an eclipse, cloudy skies play the role of an unpredictable antagonist, sometimes obscuring the show while at other times adding unexpected layers of drama.

Imagine eagerly awaiting the total solar eclipse on April 8, only to wake up to a sky shrouded in clouds. Disappointment might initially set in, but fear not, for even under cloud cover, the celestial dance continues. While clear skies are ideal, clouds offer their own spectacle, transforming the eclipse experience into a different kind of wonder.

As Isabel Martin Lewis eloquently described in her 1924 book, “A Handbook of Solar Eclipses,” clouds serve as a tangible canvas upon which the moon’s shadow paints its journey. Despite the obstruction, observers may still witness the swift approach and departure of the umbral shadow, heightening the sense of awe and insignificance in the face of cosmic forces.

Drawing from personal experiences, seasoned eclipse chasers recount tales of eclipses obscured by clouds, each with its own unique twist. From witnessing the eerie colors behind the advancing shadow to catching a fleeting glimpse of the totality through a fortuitous break in the clouds, every cloudy eclipse day holds its own story of wonder and disappointment.

In the midst of thick, low clouds, the drama unfolds differently, with the sky plunging into darkness and the landscape taking on an otherworldly hue. Despite the obscured view, the rapid passage of the moon’s shadow and the surreal transformation of the surroundings create an unforgettable spectacle.

Indeed, as recounted by veteran eclipse chasers, each cloudy eclipse day offers its own blend of frustration and fascination. Whether obscured by thick clouds or graced with fleeting glimpses through breaks in the overcast sky, the cosmic drama of an eclipse persists, leaving observers in awe of the universe’s grandeur.

While clear skies are coveted, cloudy conditions on eclipse day need not dampen the spirit of discovery. Instead, they offer a reminder of the unpredictability and beauty of nature’s spectacle, inviting observers to embrace the wonder of the unknown.

So, as we eagerly await the total solar eclipse on April 8, let us keep our eyes on the skies, ready to witness the unfolding drama, whether under clear blue expanses or veils of drifting clouds. After all, in the cosmic theater of eclipses, every performance is a testament to the awe-inspiring majesty of the universe.

On April 8, if the sky is overcast, the solar eclipse will not be visible. But the event will still affect the temperature and will be monitored by scientists. This is according to Joe Rao’s article “What happens if it’s cloudy for the April 8 solar eclipse?” published on Space.com on March 25, 2024. https://www.space.com/what-if-it-is-cloudy-for-total-solar-eclipse-april-8-2024


Solar eclipse of April 8, 2024

On Monday, April 8, 2024, a complete solar eclipse will happen at the Moon’s ascending node. This event, known as the Great North American Eclipse or Great American Total Solar Eclipse, will be visible throughout North America. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, causing the Sun’s image to be obscured for an observer on Earth. During a total solar eclipse, the Moon appears larger than the Sun, blocking all direct sunlight and turning the day into darkness. Totality can only be experienced within a narrow path on the Earth’s surface, while a partial solar eclipse can be seen over a wide surrounding region.

Taking place just one day after perigee (which occurs on Sunday, April 7, 2024), the Moon will appear 5.5% larger than average. It will have a magnitude of 1.0566, with its longest totality duration being 4 minutes and 28.13 seconds near the Mexican town of Nazas, Durango (approximately 4 mi or 6 km to the north), and the nearby city of Torreón, Coahuila.

This upcoming solar eclipse will be the first total eclipse visible in the Canadian provinces since February 26, 1979, the first in Mexico since July 11, 1991, and the first in the U.S. since August 21, 2017. It will be the only total solar eclipse in the 21st century where totality can be seen in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Additionally, it will mark the final total solar eclipse visible in the Contiguous United States until August 23, 2044.

The final solar eclipse of the year will occur six months later, on October 2, 2024. (Wikipedia)

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