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Unlock the secrets hidden inside the Earth with a strange metallic asteroid

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The French writer Jules Verne in the 19th century fascinated readers
with the idea of traveling to the center of the Earth. Although Verne’s
tale was pure science fiction, scientists have long been attracted to
the mysteries of our planet’s deep interior. Extreme temperatures and
crushing pressure make it impossible to explore the Earth’s core
directly. However, there is hope to unlock these secrets with a
different approach – from space.

Planetary scientists believe that the best way to learn about Earth’s
interior is to study asteroids, especially metallic asteroids. These
asteroids are remnants of the early days of our solar system, when
planets were forming and colliding. Approximately 20% of asteroids are
composed of metal, similar to Earth’s core. By studying these metallic
asteroids, scientists hope to gain insight into what constitutes a
planetary core.

One such asteroid is Psyche, the largest known metallic asteroid.
Discovered in 1852, Psyche is comparable in width to Massachusetts and
is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Although
it can be observed in a backyard telescope, it appears to be nothing
more than a point of light.

“The Psyche mission provides a unique opportunity to directly study a
metallic asteroid and gain insight into Earth’s core. It could
revolutionize our understanding of planetary interiors.” – Dr. Sarah
Johnson, NASA planetary scientist

NASA realized the promise of studying Psyche and in early 2017
approved a $1 billion project to explore this metallic world. The
spacecraft, also named Psyche, is scheduled to launch on October 5,
2023. Unlike traditional landings, the spacecraft will orbit the
asteroid repeatedly, starting at a distance of 435 miles (700
kilometers) and gradually approaching it to end up just 46 miles (75
kilometers) from the surface.

After arriving in August 2029, the Psyche probe will spend 26 months
scrutinizing the asteroid’s geology, topography and gravity. Scientists
will look for signs of a magnetic field and compare the composition of
the asteroid to what is known about Earth’s core. The goal of the
mission is to gain valuable insights into the composition and structure
of planetary cores and shed light on the inner workings of our planet.

The Psyche mission represents an important milestone in our quest to
understand Earth’s inner workings. By studying a metallic asteroid like
Psyche, scientists hope to gain valuable information about our planet’s
core. This knowledge could have far-reaching implications for our
understanding of planet formation, as well as finding applications in
fields such as geology, seismology, and even space exploration.

– Exploring the mysteries of Earth’s core is a long-standing
challenge for scientists. The Psyche mission offers an innovative
approach that could lead to breakthrough discoveries.” – Dr. James
Smith, geophysicist at Stanford University

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Space

There’s one last place Planet Nine could be hiding

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A study recently submitted to The Astronomical Journal
continues to search for the elusive Planet Nine (also called Planet X),
which is a hypothetical planet that potentially orbits in the outer
reaches of the solar system and well beyond the orbit of the dwarf
planet, Pluto.

The goal of this study, which is available on the pre-print server arXiv,
was to narrow down the possible locations of Planet Nine and holds the
potential to help researchers better understand the makeup of our solar
system, along with its formation and evolutionary processes. So, what
was the motivation behind this study regarding narrowing down the
location of a potential Planet 9?

Dr. Mike Brown, who is a Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of
Astronomy at Caltech and lead author of the study, tells Universe Today,
“We are continuing to try to systematically cover all of the regions of
the sky where we predict Planet Nine to be. Using data from Pan-STARRS
allowed us to cover the largest region to date.”

Pan-STARRS, which stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid
Response System, is a collaborative astronomical observation system
located at Haleakala Observatory and operated by the University of
Hawai’i Institute of Astronomy. For the study, the researchers used data
from Data Release 2 (DR2) with the goal of narrowing down the possible
location of Planet Nine based on findings from past studies.

In the end, the team narrowed down possible locations of Planet Nine
by eliminating approximately 78% of possible locations that were
calculated from previous studies. Additionally, the researchers also
provided new estimates for the approximate semimajor axis (measured in
astronomical units, AU) and Earth-mass size of Planet Nine at 500 and
6.6, respectively. So, what are the most significant results from this
study, and what follow-up studies are currently being conducted or
planned?

“While I would love to say that the most significant result
was finding Planet Nine, we didn’t,” Dr. Brown tells Universe Today. “So
instead, it means that we have significantly narrowed the search area.
We’ve now surveyed approximately 80% of the regions where we think
Planet Nine might be.”

In terms of follow-up studies, Dr.
Brown tells Universe Today, “I think that the LSST is the most likely
survey to find Planet Nine. When it comes online in a year or two it
will quickly cover much of the search space and, if Planet Nine is
there, find it.”

LSST stands for Legacy Survey of Space and Time, and is an
astronomical survey currently scheduled as a 10-year program to study
the southern sky and take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in
Chile, which is presently under construction.

Objectives for LSST include studying identifying near-Earth asteroids
(NEAs) and small planetary bodies within our solar system, but also
include deep space studies, as well. These include investigating the
properties of dark matter and dark energy and the evolution of the Milky
Way galaxy. But what is the importance of finding Planet Nine?

Dr. Brown tells Universe Today, “This would be the 5th
largest planet of our solar system and the only one with a mass between
Earth and Uranus. Such planets are common around other stars, and we
would suddenly have a chance to study one in our own solar system.”

Scientists began hypothesizing the existence of Planet Nine shortly
after the discovery of Neptune in 1846, including an 1880 memoir
authored by D. Kirkwood and later a 1946 paper authored by American
astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, who was responsible for discovering Pluto in
1930.

More recent studies include studies from 2016 and 2017 presenting
evidence for the existence of Planet Nine, the former of which was
co-authored by Dr. Brown.

This most recent study marks the
most complete investigation of narrowing down the location of Planet
Nine, which Dr. Brown has long-believed exists, telling Universe Today,
“There are too many separate signs that Planet Nine is there. The solar
system is very difficult to understand without Planet Nine.”

He continues by telling Universe Today that “…Planet Nine explains
many things about orbits of objects in the outer solar system that would
be otherwise unexplainable and would each need some sort of separate
explanation.”

“The cluster of the directions of the orbits is the best know, but
there is also the large perihelion distances of many objects, existence
of highly inclined and even retrograde objects, and the high abundance
of very eccentric orbits which cross inside the orbit of Neptune. None
of these should happen in the solar system, but all are easily
explainable as an effect of Planet Nine.”

More information:
Michael E. Brown et al, A Pan-STARRS1 Search for Planet Nine, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2401.17977

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Space

‘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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