3 comments on “This Week in Science Nov 1-8

  • Think how much misery childhood leukemia has caused. The thought it may be on the ropes makes me tear up. I hope Christians are not interfering with collecting the donor cells on the grounds they contain tiny angels.

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  • Mars Lost Atmosphere to Space as Life Took Hold on Earth

    It is quite normal for planets to lose atmosphere in the solar wind or because of coronal mass ejections causing solar storms and radiation bursts.


    Earth Loses 50,000 Tonnes of Mass Every Year
    According to some calculations, the Earth is losing 50,000 tonnes of mass every single year, even though an extra 40,000 tonnes of space dust converge onto the Earth’s gravity well, it’s still losing weight.

    Chris Smith, a microbiologist, and Dave Ansel, a Cambridge University physicist provided the answer in BBC Radio 4’s More or Less program. The 40,000 tonnes of mass that accumulates comes from space dust, remnants of the formation of the solar system.

    The Earth’s core loses energy, since much of it is consumed in a planet’s lifespan, but that only accounts for a loss for about 16 tonnes per year. The biggest mass loss comes from escaped hydrogen and helium, which escape with 95,000 tonnes of mass and 1,600 tonnes respectively. These elements are too light to stay permanently in the gravity well, so they tend to escape into space.

    The net loss is about 0.000000000000001% every year, so it doesn’t account for much when compared to the total mass of the Earth, which is 5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes. It will take trillions of years for all of the hydrogen to be depleted. Helium represents 0.00052% of the atmosphere and it’s a scarcer element.

    The lesser gravity and lack of a magnetic field would make Mars more vulnerable to loss of atmosphere.

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  • Meanwhile in the outer reaches of the Solar-System:-


    Astronomers have identified the most distant object yet in the Solar System.

    Observations with Japan’s Subaru telescope reveal the likely icy body to be some 15.5 billion km from the Sun – about three times further away than even far-flung Pluto.

    Scientists say their initial studies suggest that the object – catalogued as V774104 – is some 500-1,000km across.

    It will need to be tracked over time to learn the shape and extent of its orbit through the Solar System.

    The previously recognised most distant object is the dwarf planet Eris.

    This body, which has a moon, Dysnomia, moves between 5.7 billion km and 14.6 billion km from the Sun.

    To put some of these numbers in context: Earth is 149 million km from the Sun, and even the most distant major planet – Neptune – seems close at 4.5 billion km, by these standards.

    The big question is whether V774104 sweeps inwards from its present location, like Eris, or outwards, like the objects known as 2012 VP113 and Sedna.

    Models for Solar System formation suggest that such objects were probably not created in these weird, eccentric orbits.

    One explanation is that they have been perturbed gravitationally and pulled on to their strange trajectories by a passing planet – perhaps one that was expelled from our Solar System early in its history.

    Some scientists even speculate that such objects could have been stolen from a star that formed from the same “nursery” of gas and dust as our Sun 4.6 billion years ago.

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