Monday, September 28, 2015

Mars Was Once Our Home

Aaah! Do say...
-Daniel aka Obsidian

Scientists discovered the last lake on Mars, which might be preserving ancient life

Business Insider


mars water
(ESO/M. Kornmesser) Illustration of what Mars would look like with water.

A trio of scientists says they've identified the best place to look for evidence of ancient life on Mars — one of the youngest lake-bearing basins ever discovered. 

Though Mars has no liquid water today, the Red Planet was submerged under vast oceans billions of years ago. And where there's water, there's the potential for life. Scientists suspected that after the oceans evaporated, that was it for water — and life — on Mars. But a recent paper published in the journal Geology says that's not the case. Mars had a second wave of surface water about 3.6 billion years ago — 200 million years after scientists thought Mars had seen the last of its liquid water. This water, the researchers report, was located in a lake inside a basin near the Martian equator, about 100 miles from where NASA's Opportunity rover rests today.

It is one of the youngest lakes and therefore possibly one of the last liquid water sources to ever exist on Mars, the researchers report.

The discovery is exciting for the prospect of ancient Martian life, explains lead author Brian Hynek who is a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at Colorado University-Boulder:
"Having a later stage of water on Mars is probably a good thing for the potential for life on that planet because it gave life more time to be conceived," Hynek told Business Insider. "There was life on Earth when this lake was active so by that analogy, we can say there's potential that Mars had microbial life and this was a great place where it could have resided."

Getting around a tricky problem


(NASA/JPL-caltech/University of Arizona) Crater in Meridiani Planum, where the researchers found evidence for one of the youngest lakes ever discovered.
The researchers are investigating the age and origin of hundreds of salt deposits across Mars to map how much water existed on the surface.  

"Just like on Earth, when salts are left somewhere, that probably means that water was there," Hynek said. "So, these are indicators that water was there in some form." Estimating the age of these salt deposits is tricky. The way scientists determine the age of anything on Mars is by counting the number and measuring the size of impact craters in that region. Then they compare this information to similar regions on the Moon, whose age we have a better handle on.

But wind has eroded the regions where these salt deposits are located, which makes it hard to estimate their age. This latest paper is the first time anyone has ever calculated with any confidence the age of one of these salt deposits, Hynek said.

Using images taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting Mars since 2006, the team studied the terrain and geography around the basin. They found evidence to suggest that at one point, the lake grew large enough to spill over the rim of the basin, carving channels in its wake. 
The researchers traced these channels to neighboring volcanic plains hundreds of miles away that are about 3.6 billion years old. Because the water channels over-cut the volcanic plains, they must be younger. That means the lake must also be younger than 3.6 billion years.

Life locked in salt


(Promking at en.wikipedia) Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are similar to the salt deposits on Mars.
Right now, there are no plans to visit this basin in search for the potential for life. But Hynek hopes that this latest paper will make the basin a more popular touch down point for the NASA Mars rover scheduled to launch in 2020. Hynek has a pretty good idea of where he'd look first. "I think you'd want to target the salt deposits," he told Business Insider. "As the water evaporates away a lot of organic matter and a lot of microbial evidence gets encased in salts and is preserved for long time periods."

Though there was liquid water in the basin, there are still other factors that would ultimately determine whether life could have existed there, Hynek cautions. The lake's salinity, acidity, oxygen levels, and available nutrients for food are all important.

The lake had a relatively low salt content, which would have made it ideal for life, Hynek said. However, the other three factors are hard to measure without sending a rover there to scoop up the soil and analyze what's in it. So far, this single lake is the only evidence for water on Mars around 3.6 billion years ago. Hynek plans to continue studying these salt deposits to see if there's more evidence of water on a younger Mars.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

US Airforce's UFOs

You have to watch the "wording" in this article. Anyway, it takes time to acclimate the audience to novel concepts.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

One of the F-35's most expensive features was made possible by flying saucers

Business Insider
(Lockheed Martin) An F-35B using its central lifting fan.
The US Air Force's push to develop operational flying saucers 60 years ago laid the conceptual groundwork for one of the variants of Lockheed Martin's F-35, MIT Technology Review reports
The F-35 comes in three variants, with key mechanical differences for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy - the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C respectively. Of the three models, the F-35B is the most technologically different. Unlike the F-35A and F-35C, the Marines needed their variant to be capable of conducting short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.

This request necessitated that the F-35B be given a lifting fan. And, as Desire Francine G. Fedrigo, Ricardo Gobato, Alekssander Gobato note in a paper at the Cornell University Library, the F-35B's lifting fan has its conceptual roots in flying saucers.

Between 1954 and 1961, the US Air Force spent $10 million attempting to develop a flying saucer that became known as an Avrocar. The Avrocar was a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) saucer that was powered by one giant central fan.

Avrocar flying
An Avrocar during flight testing.
Despite its seven years of development, the Air Force failed to make the Avrocar into a mission capable vehicle that could potentially replace helicopters. 

MIT Technology Review notes that the aircraft was "hot and almost unbearably uncomfortable for the pilot. And it demonstrated various idiosyncrasies such as taking five seconds to turn 90 degrees to the left but 11 seconds to turn the same amount to the right, presumably because of its central rotating fan." However, despite the Avrocars' failings, the technology did point researchers towards the feasibility of developing and embedding a central lift fan turbine within an aircraft for variations of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology.  

(US Air Force)
"The concept of a lift fan, driven by a turbojet engine is not dead, and lives today as a key component of Lockheed X-35 Joint Strike Fighter contender," Fedrigo notes, adding that the conceptual framework of the Avrocar helped General Electric's own development of a booster fan propulsion system. 

Whereas the Avrocar's development ultimately failed, though, GE's "Vertifan" went on to prove the concept of successful lifting fan technology. This in turn lead to a DARPA sponsored development challenge that gave birth to lifting fans being used in the F-35B. The F-35B was declared ready for combat by the Marine Corps on July 31. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Hot Cold War?

& the Cold War Continues to heat up.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

This new nuclear-armed US bomb may be the most dangerous weapon in America's arsenal

Business Insider

(Michael Jackson/US Navy) The B61-12 bomb will be integrated with the F-35. The US just introduced a new type of bomb into its already extensive arsenal, and it may just be the most alarming US weapon yet, Zachary Keck writes for The National Interest. The new bomb is the B61-12. On its surface, the bomb does not appear to be as dangerous as other weapons in the US arsenal. Although the B61-12 is nuclear-armed, it has a yield of 50 kilotons — tiny compared to the largest nuclear bomb that the US possesses, which has a yield of 1,200 kilotons. 

But as Keck notes, that difference in explosive power doesn't tell the entire story. "What makes the B61-12 bomb the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal is its usability," Keck writes. "This usability derives from a combination of its accuracy and low-yield." According to the Federation of American Scientists, the B61-12 will be able to strike within 30 meters of its target. This accuracy allows the bomb to destroy targets that would have previously necessitated the use of a larger but more indiscriminate weapon.

As a result of the bomb's relatively low yield, the weapon would produce less nuclear fallout than earlier nuclear weapons, something which would limit unintended casualties from a nuclear attack. But this lower fallout also lowers the cost and scope of a nuclear strike — which could in turn increase the possibility that the bomb would actually be used in a military engagement.  As it is, the B61-12 may actually expand the range of possible US nuclear targets. In a 2014 conference organized by the Stimson Center, retired US Air Force General Norton Schwartz said that the B61-12's target set goes beyond that of previous gravity-guided nuclear bombs in the US military. This effectively means that the US could now consider the use of aircraft-delivered lower-yield nuclear weapons in a wider range of scenarios.

The concern over the B61-12 — and the thing that could make it is the most dangerous bomb in the US arsenal — is that such an accurate and usable nuclear weapon could encourage military thinkers to start imagining a wider variety of situations in which the use of nuclear weapons would be acceptable. 
Once the B61-12 is fully tested and deployed, it will be integrated into existing NATO forces and the F-35 in order to enhance the alliance's nuclear posture in Europe. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Giant Monolith at the Bottom of Sea...

"[At] the time of the end. Many will rove about and true knowledge will become abundant." -Daniel 12:3
-Daniel aka Obsidian

August 4, 2015

At the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, archaeologists uncovered a 10,000-year-old man-made monolith that they believe is evidence of a prehistoric civilization. The rock monument's colossal size (12 meters, or about 39 feet in height) suggests that quite a few people would have been needed to move it — something that would have been difficult if, as previously suspected, the inhabitants had been hunter-gatherers living relatively solitary lifestyles.

The find, which is actually the second of its type, has led archaeologists to suspect that civilization may have "already been shifting towards our modern way of life" earlier than previously thought, according to Evoanth. Together, the two monoliths (the other one was found in the Middle East) suggest that different groups in different parts of the world were beginning to develop a modern way of life simultaneously.
"What was it that was driving so many people, so far apart in the same direction?" asks Evoanth. We can't be sure, but it seems the scientists are one step closer to finding out. Becca Stanek

Friday, September 04, 2015

Sing of the Times?

More on Operation Jade Helm. Interestingly, it's getting more "mainstream" news attention.
-Daniel aka Obsidian

How federal agents foiled a murderous Jade Helm 15 retaliation plot
The Washington Post
The Washington Post
Abby Phillip 8/5/2015

© Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP A convoy of National Guard troops moves on Camp Swift, which is also hosting the Operation Jade Helm 15 military exercise, in Bastrop,

Texas, on July 15. The men had a deadly plot to lure government forces into a trap, federal officials say, and were amassing a stockpile fit for war. There were Kevlar helmets and body armor, pipe bombs and handmade grenades, large amounts of gunpowder and dozens of rounds of ammunition for a military-grade sniper rifle.

Federal officials say three North Carolina men — Walter Eugene Litteral, 50; Christopher James Barker, 41; and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30 — spent months compiling their cache, much of it purchased through a military surplus store owner who became so concerned about the plot that the person became the FBI’s informant. The men were arrested Saturday and charged with conspiracy and amassing weaponry allegedly to combat what they believe is the government’s plan to impose martial law through (among other things) the controversial multi-state military exercise known as Jade Helm.

In January, the informant relocated the military surplus store to Gaston County, N.C. — a location that was just a few doors down from where Campbell operated a tattoo parlor. Almost immediately, Campbell told the informant of his “anti-government” views, according to federal court documents.

A month later, Campbell introduced the informant to Litteral. The two men told the informant that they believed “that the federal government intended to use the armed forces to impose martial law in the United States, which they and others would resist with violent force,” the court documents said. Specifically, they told the informant that the Jade Helm exercises planned in five states were a cover for the government’s plot to impose martial law. The exercises were scheduled to be conducted from July 15 to Sept. 15, and Litteral made it clear that he needed the military-grade items no later than the 15th of July.

Operation Jade Helm 15, a training exercise for Army Special Operations Forces, has spawned consternation and anti-government conspiracy theories. The exercises are taking place in Texas, along with Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, according to the Army. By April, months before the training operation was scheduled, the purchases from the military surplus store began — all of them paid for in cash, according to court documents. There were plans, the documents allege, to make pipe bombs, explosive tennis balls covered in nails and coffee cans filled with ball bearings that would be detonated with a shot from a sniper rifle.

And by mid-June, those plans were beginning to crystallize.

According to the documents, Litteral was heavily armed with both legally and illegally obtained weapons. If government agents came looking for him at his home, Litteral allegedly told the informant in a phone conversation, he would be ready. “Lemme tell you something, I gonna have my f——- house rigged up; these motherf—— come try to come in my house, it’s gonna go off,” he said, according to the documents.
The documents indicated that Litteral told another person in a phone conversation: “I got a f—— .45 beside my bed. I got a .45 and a 9-mil in my truck. I’ve got a 9-mil and a .380, or a .380 in her car. Safe full of weapons. You know what? Every time I open up this damn safe, I mean I’ve got, I’ve got at least 30 weapons that I can see and some tucked all the way in the back back.”

The plan involved testing the explosives on land in Shelby, N.C. But the ambush against U.S. forces would take place on Litteral and Campbell’s a 99-acre camp in Clover, S.C. “According to [Campbell], he and Litteral intend to booby-trap the camp and draw government’s forces into the camp and kill them,” the warrant states. On June 30, according to documents, Campbell told the informant that he feared that the government would soon declare martial law, saying: “S— is gonna go down soon.”

In mid-July, Litteral attempted to buy a rifle for Barker, the third arrestee named in the conspiracy. Barker had been convicted of a felony and would not have been permitted to purchase a weapon.
But the purchase at the gun store was held up, first by a required three-day background check. Unbeknownst to Litteral, it was then held up even longer at the FBI’s request.

In a conversation on July 29, according to the documents, Litteral told Campbell that the delay infuriated him:
LITTERAL: “it would be good for trip but like I was telling him with the pipe bombs I’m making we need a fuse we need a fuse because these things if we put one here we’re gone.” Three days later, federal agents made a move, raiding two homes along with Campbell’s tattoo parlor and ultimately arresting all three of the men.
The men now face charges of conspiracy to violate laws governing firearms and explosive devices, which carry a prison sentence of up to five years and a $250,000 fine. Campbell separately faces an additional charge of receiving, possessing or making a firearm —which by definition includes a destructive device — which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine, according to the FBI.
Here the 3 places raided by FBI over weekend — 2 homes, 1 tattoo parlor. All within 4 miles apart. 3 men arrested