NASA measuring the pulsating aurora

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 08, 2015
Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the dancing auroras. Though humans have been seeing auroras for thousands of years, we have only recently begun to understand what causes them.

In this study, published in t —> Read More

ISRO looking to extend GPS services to SAARC countries

Bengaluru, India (IANS) Oct 09, 2015
An ISRO official said on Thursday that they are looking to extend the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) and Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) applications to Saarc countries.

“Already we are having within the country the provision for providing the services, we are looking at how we can extend this (navigation services) to Saarc countries in the near future and g —> Read More

Dream Chaser preps for 2nd free-flight test and first orbital test

Sparks NV (SPX) Oct 09, 2015
In anticipation of a second phase of flight testing, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems has announced significant updates to two Dream Chaser spacecraft currently in development.

The spacecraft are the atmospheric engineering test article (ETA) and the advanced composite orbital vehicle, which when tested will undergo a suborbital and orbital flight regimen, respectively. SNC’ —> Read More

Astronaut brains as beacons for researchers

Paris (ESA) Oct 09, 2015
How astronauts adapt to the stresses of living in space is helping researchers to pinpoint the causes of common disorders on Earth. From the brain’s point of view, living in space is very stressful. The signals from an astronaut’s body in space go haywire as they float in weightlessness. The inner ear reports that it is falling, but the eyes show that nothing is moving.

As fluid shifts to —> Read More

Ancient rocks record first evidence for photosynthesis that made oxygen

Madison WI (SPX) Oct 09, 2015

A new study shows that iron-bearing rocks that formed at the ocean floor 3.2 billion years ago carry unmistakable evidence of oxygen. The only logical source for that oxygen is the earliest known example of photosynthesis by living organisms, say University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientists.

“Rock from 3.4 billion years ago showed that the ocean contained basically no free oxygen,” says C —> Read More

Weekend Roundup: A New Cold War or Russia’s Quagmire?

Much to the chagrin of NATO, Gulf countries and others, Russia this week ramped up its military campaign in Syria, in what has become a war with global implications.

Some say it is now a proxy war between former Cold War foes because Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit some U.S.-backed rebels. But U.S. President Barack Obama ruled out a proxy war and is reportedly scaling back his arming of rebels, possibly in an effort to “deconflict” with Russia.

Has Russian President Vladimir Putin succeeded in his oft-stated goal of reasserting Russia as a great global power by filling a geopolitical vacuum in Syria? It may appear so in the short term, but Syria could end up being his quagmire as Afghanistan was for the Soviet Union. He may end up stuck in a war that drags on, at great economic, political and human cost.

If wiser heads prevail, it is still possible that leaders will set aside both East-West and Sunni-Shia tension to work together to fight the Islamic State and to end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s slaughtering of his own people. A Syrian political transition could then curb the flood of Syrian refugees currently overwhelming Europe as it has already overwhelmed Syria’s neighbors.

Complicating matters further, Russian jets violated Turkish airspace this week, prompting NATO and Turkey to express concern. Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan explains that although Ankara wants Assad gone and Moscow’s fighting to keep him in, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hasn’t pressed Putin because they are linked by crony capitalism.

From Beirut, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke makes the case that Russia’s aim in Syria is to defeat ISIS and al —> Read More

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