Space Cave Dwellers

Fancy living in a cave in space? That appears to be the potential solution for astronauts looking to live on Mars. The Geological Society of America has identified nine different potential caves that they believe could be viable for colonization should astronauts reach Mars.

The environment on the surface of Mars is known to be harsh so protection from the elements is essential, and naturally occurring caves could provide an immediate answer. With temperatures dropping to below minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit, exposure to harsh solar radiation and even the danger posed by meteorites, it’s no wonder a cave could be the solution!

The potential nine habitable caves have been narrowed down from over one thousand identified, based on factors including distance from potential landing sites, as well as elevation level.  It’s also important that the caves extend underground, allowing enough space for astronauts, their equipment, as well as supplies. The next stage is to maneuver the NASA rovers into the area to get a surface-level look.

Once suitable caves have been located, a team of planetary scientists from the Washington Academy of Sciences suggest settlements are constructed into the caverns lava tubes. This would provide potentially 82 percent protection from solar radiation. The idea of building in the lava tubes is not a new one – as recently as 2017, Japan’s space agency made the same suggestion for Moon settlement.

The moon is certainly a lot more accessible than Mars, but the problems are very similar. The moon has no atmosphere resulting in temperature variations and radiation risks. Lava tubes are structurally very stable. Once the lava has stopped and drained out, the remaining tubes are strong solid structures, often large enough to house a city.

A potential lunar base has been identified near Marius Hills, a set of volcanic domes which as yet have an unknown depth. The US government has been noted to say the “the moon was ‘a vital strategic goal’ that would improve our ability to travel further than ever before” – possibly hinting at a colonized Mars.

Earlier this year NASA researchers discovered “pits” in the moon surface that maintain a temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the normal surface temperature range of between minus 280 and positive 260 degrees. The pits are shaded from the Sun, trapping heat during the night whilst protecting it from heat exposure during the day. These pits could protect astronauts and might even join to cave structures capable of providing homes.

Researchers are looking into the possibility of using remotely operated robots and drones to explore the pits and cave systems further.

“Humans evolved living in caves, and to caves we might return when we live on the Moon.”

Alien Ocean Wreckage

Avi Loeb, a professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is a firm believer that alien life exists, despite his peers sometimes rolling their eyes with disbelief. In 2021 Loeb suggested that it was possible that an alien civilization had seeded the Earth with sensors to monitor its potential for habitation. This suggestion was linked to something called “Oumuamua” – an interstellar object that entered our solar system in 2017. Oumuamua was discovered by Robert Weryk at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii when he observed it passing close to the sun. He estimated it to be about 100 to 1,000 metres long, red in color, and exhibiting non gravitational acceleration. It was thought to be a remnant of a disintegrated rogue comet. However Loeb was convinced that Oumuamua was something much, much more, and that it was actually monitoring Earth for signals from probes left on the planet in the past.

However, his latest suggestion concerns a meteor which struck the Earth in 2014. Small meteors often enter our atmosphere but disintegrate harmlessly as they travel into our atmosphere. Loeb’s meteor was about two feet long but broke into fragments before entering the South Pacific Ocean.

“It moved very fast, roughly 40 kilometers per second when it exploded in the lower atmosphere,” Loeb told the Associated Press. Loeb believes that the meteor may be extraterrestrial in origin, based on his speculation that the strength of the meteor was twice as tough as that of an iron meteorite. In 2019 Loeb’s findings were rejected, but more recently a memo from the US Space Command seems to add some weight to Loeb’s theory, confirming the meteor originated from a different solar system.

Loeb has now launched a privately funded expedition to search the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean with a magnet sled, to retrieve samples of the meteor from a 40 square mile area.

“The ideal scenario is that in addition to tiny fragments, we would find a piece of an advanced technological device, like the hundredth version of the iPhone,” Loeb told Salon. “I would love to press a button on such an object.”

The scientific community is not convinced. Science writer Ethan Siegel said: “The alien technology hypothesis is so far-fetched that there is no scientific reason to consider this as anything other than someone with no evidence crying wolf when there is no wolf that we have ever seen before.”

Professor Avi Loeb is currently looking for investors for his expedition, called The Galileo Project, and is hoping to raise 1.5 million dollars.

Alien Signals

“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not, both are frightening.”- Arthur C. Clarke

Astrophysicists have been meticulously working to detect interplanetary lifeforms for decades. The prospect of extraterrestrial presence has always piqued the curiosity of scientists and as a result, they are tirelessly engaged in their attempt to locate evidence. However, the certainty of ‘life beyond earth’ might have been proved via a recently detected strong radio signal.

To achieve success in decade-long research for an alien broadcast, numerous technologies have been introduced to catch a signal from a distant world. One of these advanced inventions includes China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), nicknamed ‘Sky Eye’, which is regarded as the largest radio telescope in the world. It came into existence in 2019 with an aim to deep scan space for extraterrestrial life by receiving radio signals. 

On June 15th, an unusual narrow-band radio signal was picked up by the Sky Eye. The announcement sparked excitement however, scientists exercised caution stating that this finding was preliminary and yet to be thoroughly analyzed. 

As mentioned in the original paper, the signal was located from the direction of an exoplanet within the habitable zone of Kepler-438, acknowledged as a doppelganger of earth. However, the habitability of Kepler-438 has not been confirmed yet. The suspicious signal was discovered during the targeted alien-hunting mission. Furthermore, the paper stated that the signal was monitored for 20 minutes, demonstrating that it was approaching from an orbital celestial body, most likely the earth-like exoplanet. 

“These are multiple narrow-band electromagnetic signals distinct from the past,” said Zhang Tongjie, chief scientist at Beijing Normal University’s China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group. “The team is currently conducting more research,” he stated. “The possibility that the unusual signal is radio interference is also very strong, and it has to be confirmed and ruled out further. This might be a lengthy process.”

Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time that scientists have been baffled by a mysterious signal. In the year 1977 a search executed by the Big Ear telescope at Ohio State University discovered a mind-bogglingly brief electromagnetic burst that blazed at a frequency that scientists believe could be utilized by alien civilizations. However, the proceeding searches revealed that the signal could have been received from a sun-like star located in the constellation Sagittarius.

Dan Werthimer, a researcher at the Beijing Normal University SETI poured cold water on the signal possibilities and remarked “All of the signals received by SETI researchers thus far have been generated by our own civilization, not by another civilization. Observing SETI from the surface of our planet is becoming increasingly difficult. As more transmitters and satellites are created, radio pollution is increasing. Some radio bands are no longer available for SETI.”

In addition, Zhang Tongjie spoke to the Chinese government-affiliated publication Science and Technology Daily. “It may take some time to verify one way or the other, but even if the signal turns out to be interference, it will provide vital information for our future SETI investigations.”

Invisible Space Walls

Space is mysterious and surprising dimensions are unveiled every day, leaving scientists and space enthusiasts perplexed. This time, an astonishing proposal was revealed that could result in a revolution in the laws of astrophysics.

Scientists believe that there may be invisible walls in space, but not like the walls in our homes. Instead, barriers are created by a fifth force mediated by a new hypothetical particle referred to as a Symmetron. Furthermore, this revelation could assist scientists in understanding traditional and challenging aspects of the world of space.

This new aspect of physics could also explain the complicated theories to the conventional model of cosmology, termed Lambda Cold Dark Matter, and could help to reveal the understanding our universe in a better way. Lambda Cold Dark Matter proposes that small galaxies circulate in disorganized orbits of giant galaxies. However, the recent study altered the previous notion, proposing that the smaller galaxies orbit the giant galaxies in a thin flat disc-like shape, similar to those seen in the rings of Saturn, due to the intense gravity of the giant galaxies. 

Furthermore, scientists have discovered several reasonable answers for a problem between theory and reality known as the “satellite disc problem.” According to a new study, a duo of researchers from the University of Nottingham, has addressed what they believe is “the first potential ‘new physics’ interpretation for the studied planes of galaxies that do not do away with dark matter,” referring to the unrecognized particle that comprises the majority of the mass in the universe.

Aneesh Naik, a research companion at the University of Nottingham who spearheaded the work, said the innovative answer came through conversations with particle physics colleagues, including co-author and University of Nottingham physicist Clare Burrage’s research.

“I did my Ph.D. in astronomy, and my thesis was about galactic dynamics and how one might utilize galactic dynamics to address certain fundamental physics problems,” Naik said. “By the time I finished my Ph.D., I was thinking a lot about these small-scale obstacles to Cold Dark Matter.”

“Since we have dark matter and dark energy, we know we need new particles, and we believe we will need to add new particles to our standard model to account for these things.” Anish Naik explained. “It is the setting in which ideas such as symmetry theory are studied.” He went on to say that it is a new candidate particle for dark energy and dark matter. As a result, these particles create invisible barriers. Smaller galaxies can then form discs around much bigger host galaxies due to these barriers.

The Anti-universe

It’s often been suggested that the possibility of a alternative universe could exist, but what about a mirror universe that has an identical twin but lives in a backward time? This may sound like something from Star Trek or Stranger Things, but the theory has recently sparked excitement.

Theories concerning the mirror universe are not recent ideas; there are actually five principal academic theories on the existence of the mirror universe.

In 2016, a study argued for the presence of a mirror universe where time runs backward. As per the theory, our universe has infinite variations where our identical twins exist with minor changes in time. 

In 2017, scientists raised the probability of another universe in response to a cold spot found in space. This spot can be described as a large area that is much more relaxed than the rest of the universe and does not conform to our cosmological models.

With recent technology and a more refined understanding of dimensions, we could be successful at discovering a mirror universe.

Physicists have applied the three fundamental symmetries in nature to the universe. According to the hypothesis, our universe’s twin travels in opposite directions with mirrored coordinates and minor differences. Furthermore, analysis has revealed that the reality of the anti-universe might also help in understanding neutrino particles.

A neutrino is a subatomic particle that resembles an electron. Neutrinos are among the universe’s most prevalent, but unfortunately, they are difficult to detect because they engage with matter in a limited way. This theory has been explained in the journal Annals of Physics.

To date, there are only hypotheses about the particles. Moreover, if we consider that we live in one half of a universe, then new types of neutrinos should also exist. Scientists have discovered six types of neutrinos that exhibit positive and negative spins, but neutrinos with reverse spin should exist for an anti-universe.

However, scientists are not ready to declare the mirror universe a real possibility yet.

According to the experts, these are positive signs for scientists attempting to work out what is going on. Additional investigations with more “access and awareness” will be needed to comprehend the phenomenon comprehensively.

The Coronal Mass Ejection

Earlier this month, the Earth witnessed a dark filament opening up in the Sun’s atmosphere resulting in a coronal mass ejection. As a result, solar activity has increased as we approach another maximum solar epoch. As the plasma filament burst, a “canyon of fire” was driven into the Sun’s surface, 12,400 miles deep and 10 times longer than normal. Furthermore, the geomagnetism storm was strong enough to generate Arctic auroras. This is a fantastic photo opportunity at all times.

At 11am on Sunday, April 3rd, the Sun’s surface erupted into a massive canyon of fire, blasting charged plasma filaments away from it’s surface. The second plasma filament was followed at 5pm on Monday, April 4th. The Met Office in the UK has confirmed that the Sun’s cycle has accelerated, and as a result, plasma is being ejected into space.

In response to the eruption of the coronal mass ejection, a minor geomagnetic storm effected the Earth causing interruption to power networks and influencing satellites.

According to the Met Office, the overactive sunspot that was responsible for the recent burst of activity has now moved away from the Earth allowing the geomagnetic environment to quieten.

According to Nasa, “dangerous radiation from an outburst cannot penetrate through Earth’s atmosphere to physically hurt humans on the land. However, they can disrupt the stratosphere in the layer where GPS and telecommunications waves travel if they are strong enough.”

Fortunately, the geomagnetic storms that hit Earth had a negligible impact on life or technology. When solar wind energy is efficiently transported to the space environment that surrounds the planet, geomagnetic storms occur, causing tremendous disruptions in the planet’s magnetic field and strengthening polar lights, making them visible farther away from the poles than usual. This is because magnetized particles from Coronal Mass Ejections enter directly into the upper orbit where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest. The colorful lights are caused by the interaction of solar particles with those in the atmosphere.

Although the initial storm has passed, another surprise burst from our hot star could reoccur.