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Nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, on planets could indicate the presence of life

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Currently, the best way to look for alien life in other star systems is to look for biosignals: the presence of certain molecules in the atmospheres of distant worlds. Oxygen and methane are prime candidates for the search.

Now researchers at the University of California, Riverside have put forward the case for a different type of gas, nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.

There are several biological processes that produce this substance, and the team’s models suggest it can be detected in the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets using the James Webb Telescope (JWST).

“In a star system like TRAPPIST-1, the closest and best system for observing the atmospheres of rocky planets, nitrous oxide could potentially be detected at levels comparable to carbon dioxide or methane,” said study lead author Eddie Schwieterman, an astrobiologist at the University of California, California.

The formation of nitrous oxide is mainly due to microorganisms, some of which can use nitrate to fuel their cellular metabolism, releasing laughing gas in the process.

“Life produces nitrogen waste, which some microorganisms convert into nitrates. These nitrates build up in the aquarium, so you have to change the water,” added Schwiterman. “However, under the right conditions in the ocean, some bacteria can convert these nitrates into nitric oxide. The gas then seeps into the atmosphere.”

This is where telescopes can detect it. Previous studies ruled out the possibility of detecting nitric oxide, because there is not so much of it on Earth anymore.

However, the team of researchers believes that this conclusion does not take into account that exoplanets may have conditions more suitable for the formation of this gas. Also, stars that are dimmer than the Sun would be less likely to split this gas into its constituents.

“This conclusion does not take into account periods in the history of the Earth when ocean conditions would have allowed much greater emission of nitric oxide by organisms. Conditions during those periods may reflect where the exoplanet is today,” Schwiterman said.

The research team is confident that nitric oxide is a strong contender to look for biosignals in other parts of the galaxy.

“There has been a lot of speculation that oxygen and methane are biosignals. Few have seriously considered nitric oxide, but we think that this may be a mistake,” concluded Schwiterman.

The work was published today in the Astrophysical Journal.

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‘October Surprise’: Russia To Launch Nukes in Space

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The ‘national security threat’ announced on Wednesday is
about Russia planning to launch nuclear weapons in space, causing some
to speculate whether it’s really an election year ploy.

The panic began when House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner
(R-Ohio) asked President Biden to declassify information about a
“serious national security threat”.

Modernity.news reports: The weapon would reportedly be designed to be used to take out satellites.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) responded by telling reporters he wanted “to assure the American people, there is no need for public alarm.”

The big, scary threat is serious business and involves a space-based nuke controlled by evil dictator Putin, but it’s also “not an immediate crisis,” according to what three members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have told Politico.

Okay, then. Just for election season, is it?

Zero Hedge reports: “So, the question is – was this:

a) a distraction from Biden’s broken brain, or

2) a last desperate attempt to get more funding for anything-but-the-US-border, or

iii) a path to pitching Putin as the uber-bad-guy again after his interview with Tucker Carlson.”

Just by coincidence, Mike Turner recently returned from Ukraine having lobbied for billions more in weapons and aid for Zelensky’s government.

Some questioned the timing, suggesting it might all be a deep state plot to keep American voters afraid when they hit the ballot box.

Speculation will now rage as to whether this is “the event,” real or imagined, that billionaires and elitists the world over have been building underground survival bunkers in preparation for.

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Earth has built-in protection from asteroids

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Asteroids are not just wandering space rocks, but a potential threat
to Earth. But what if the Earth already has its own built-in defenses
against them? Recent research published on the preprint server arXiv puts forward an unusual theory: Earth’s gravitational forces may serve as its secret shield against asteroids.

Our
planet uses powerful gravitational interactions with other celestial
bodies to break apart asteroids that approach it. These tidal forces,
akin to those that explain Earth’s tides caused by the Moon, can be so
intense that objects undergo tidal disruption, causing them to be torn
apart.

Observations of fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 after
its collision with Jupiter in 1994 provided the first confirmation of
this phenomenon. However, for decades astronomers have been looking for
evidence that Earth or other terrestrial planets could have a similar
effect on asteroids and comets.

Planetary scientist Mikael Granvik
from the Swedish University of Technology, Luleå, led the research that
came closer to solving the above phenomenon.

His
discovery is linked to the search for gravitationally disrupted
near-Earth asteroids (NEAS), and provides compelling evidence that our
planet’s gravitational forces are not just an abstract concept, but a
factor capable of breaking asteroids into small pieces.

Based on
modeling of asteroid trajectories, Grunwick and colleague Kevin Walsh of
the Southwest Research Institute found that collisions with rocky
planets can cause asteroids to lose a significant portion of their mass,
turning them into debris streams.

New data shows that small
asteroid fragments, while not posing a threat to life on the planet, may
nevertheless increase the likelihood of local collisions like those
that occurred in Tunguska and Chelyabinsk.

Granwick assures that
asteroids smaller than 1 km in diameter are not a critical threat, but
increase the likelihood of incidents. However, it is worth remembering
the additional risks that may arise due to the formation of new debris
clouds.

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