Category Archives: Space

July 2019: Weird So Far

A bunch of big strange stuff happened recently around the world and it’s only the 3rd of July.

On the 1st of July, up near the top of the world, 14 sailors died in a fire on a top secret Russian “nuclear powered” submarine in the Barents Sea.

On July 1, a fire onboard a secretive Russian nuclear submarine killed 14 sailors before it was extinguished. 

Via PopMech

On July 2nd was a huge NATO anti-submarine exercise according to the Moscow Times.

On Tuesday, NATO kicks off its annual anti-submarine exercise Dynamic Mongoose in the Norwegian Sea west of Andøya, northern Norway.

Via MoscowTimes

There was a fireball over Florida in the early morning July 3rd which was reported to be Chinese rocket debris.

July 3 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force said a fireball that lit up the night sky over Florida was debris from a Chinese rocket.


Also on the 3rd, sink holes opened in Florida and swallowed some trucks.

Authorities in Florida said multiple trucks were swallowed up by a pair of sinkholes that opened up under a business early Wednesday.


Also today, July 3rd, a gazillion photos on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp disappeared for 7 hours due to a technical error. Many were replaced by text showing what AI had guessed the photos were of.

I watched coverage on Agenda Free TV of this massive social media outage on Periscope, which was still working.

Also today, some (reports say two) Army tanks arrived in Washington DC.

The tanks are part of planned 4th of July celebrations.

Another oddity for today, July 3rd, was a man claiming he was “God” being arrested and returned to Puerto Rico on a Delta Airlines flight.

Delta Air Lines flight attendants restrained a passenger on a flight from Puerto Rico to New York after he shouted “I am God!” and claimed he would save the world, forcing the plane to return to the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rican police and the airline said on Wednesday. … Puerto Rican police then took custody of a man identified as Carlos Ramirez, 30, and the case was taken over by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, police said in a statement.

Via Reuters

The suspect “was aggressive and shouted ‘I am God! San Juan is going to disappear tomorrow. I came to save the world and I am going to end terrorism,’ and he also tried to enter the main cabin,” the statement said.

Via BrisbaneTimes

As of last month US – Russian relations were at a historic low as an advanced 426 foot long Russian war ship arrived in Cuba near the end of June. Still there?

Russian guided missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov enters Havana’s bay, Cuba, on June 24, 2019.


That’s the latest strange news summary. Have an enjoyable, safe and sane 4th of July, 2019.

Possible Aliens: Radio Pulse Pinpointed to Distant Galaxy

With some very fast accurate measurements from a radio telescope array, a radio burst called FRB 180924 (due to its detection date of Sept 24, 2019) has been pinpointed to be coming from a specific location in space. The location: the outskirts of a big galaxy called “DES J214425.25−405400.81“.

It was detected by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a network of 36 radio telescope in Western Australia.

Here’s where the signal originated:

For just the second time ever, researchers have pinpointed the location of a fast radio burst (FRB), a super-brief explosion that releases as much energy in 1 millisecond as Earth’s sun does over nearly a century. …

The scientists … measured the tiny differences in FRB 180924’s arrival time at the 36 ASKAP dishes down to about 1/100th of a nanosecond. Comparing these differences allowed them to determine the burst’s source in the sky with a precision of 0.00002 degrees — equivalent to the width of a human hair as seen from 650 feet (200 meters) away.

More at Space

Another source:

For the first time, the origin of a single radio pulse has been pinpointed to a distant galaxy several billion light years away, a new study said.

The cause of the bursts remains unknown but the ability to determine their exact location is a big leap towards solving this mystery, the study said.

The “fast radio burst” – a very short-lived pulse of radio waves that comes from across the universe – has been identified as originating from a Milky-Way-sized galaxy some 3.6 billion light-years away.  

“This is the big breakthrough that the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts in 2007,” said study lead author Keith Bannister of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Since 2007, just 85 cosmic radio wave bursts have been detected, according to the IndependentAs for what the bursts are, ideas range from a rotating neutron star to, yes, a high-powered signal from an advanced civilization. 

Read more

If you have any interstate in amateur astronomy, you may already know that the name of the galaxy tells its location in the sky using two coordinates: Right Ascension and Declination.

This two part tutorial can help you find a spot in the sky if you know the declination along with knowing your latitude above or below the equator on the earth and the and right ascension along with the current date and sunrise time.

Most humans will never need to know this,
but if you have time and curiosity, it is interesting to learn.

Getting back to the FRB, another theory says it may be caused by a highly magnetized neutron star.

What type of signal was it? That’s what I’d still like to know that I could not find. What was the nature of this fast signal? Was it just a burst of static? A repeating pattern? Something more complicated?

I’ll update this if I find out. If you know, leave a comment for us.

Mysterious Flashes: UFOs on Mars?

The Curiosity rover captured a mysterious light flash on the red planet which was not in the image frames taken seconds before and seconds after the flash appears.

Is it just me or does this flash look like the tic tac UFO captured on US military radar according to recent news reports?

There was also another flash photographed previously by the rover on Mars:

The photo in question was captured by Curiosity’s right-hand navigation camera on April 3 (sol 589). The image appears to show an artificial light source that is shining upwards from below. Given the distances involved, the flare is probably a few meters tall. 

Again, doesn’t it look at bit like this UFO observed by US military and recently released to the public?

Perhaps not, just a strange observation, a very remote possibility, to consider for fun.

NASA says possible explanations for the flashes are cosmic rays interfering with the Rover’s cameras or brief reflections from shiny rocks on the surface.

Strange Space Weather Alert: Interplanetary Shock Wave Hit the Earth, May 26, 2019

Updated 5/29/2019. The earth was hit by an interplanetary shockwave from space on May 26, 2019 and this unexpectedly caused our solar wind density to abruptly quadruple and the interplanetary magnetic field to double in strength. The shockwave caused an unexpected effect, similar to a solar Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), a burst of energy from the sun. There were correlated, and possibly related, unexpected satellite? Internet outages with some service disruption for California and Oregon starting at 2 PM on Sunday, May 26th, lasting up to 26 hours.

INTERPLANETARY SHOCK WAVE HITS EARTH: A minor interplanetary shock wave hit Earth on May 26th at approximately 22:00 UT. The CME-like disturbance was unexpected. It caused the density of the solar wind around Earth to abruptly quadruple, while the interplanetary magnetic field doubled in strength. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible on May 27th as our planet passes through the shock wave’s wake. …(Spaceweather)

The time of the wave hitting was, 22:00 UT is 3 PM California time. One Internet company reported that their outage started at 2 PM California time, however.

Did you sense it? I wonder if some people can detect things like this with some as yet unrecognized sense. Of course, if the Internet goes out, that isn’t hard to detect with our known senses.

What is an interplanetary shock wave?

It is a supersonic disturbance in the gaseous material of the solar wind. These waves are usually delivered by coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Indeed, this one might have been a minor CME that left the sun unrecognized earlier this week.

Alternately, it might have been an unusually sharp co-rotating interaction region (CIR). CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving streams of solar wind. They contain plasma density gradients and magnetic fields that often do a good job sparking auroras. (HighheartLife)

Interplanetary shockwaves can sometimes cause electric blue auroras, as in the photo above from April 20, 2018.

Auroras are usually green–a sign of oxygen. Rare blue auroras are caused by nitrogen molecules. Energetic particles striking N2+ at the upper limits of Earth’s atmosphere can produce an azure glow during intense geomagnetic storms. (SpaceWeatherGallery)

It is good to remember that strong space weather can have ground effects on earth, including causing massive power outages. This has happened in the past:

Magnetic storm activity can induce geoelectric fields in the Earth’s conducting lithosphere.[28] Corresponding voltage differentials can find their way into electric power grids through ground connections, driving uncontrolled electric currents that interfere with grid operation, damage transformers, trip protective relays and sometimes cause blackouts. This complicated chain of causes and effects was demonstrated during the magnetic storm of March 1989which caused the complete collapse of the Hydro-Québec electric-power grid in Canada, temporarily leaving nine million people without electricity. The possible occurrence of an even more intense storm led to operational standards intended to mitigate induction-hazard risks, while reinsurance companies commissioned revised risk assessments(Wikipedia)

We may be able to make our communication systems more immune to this sort of thing in the future, but unfortunately, interplanetary shockwaves from space hitting the Earth are currently beyond our control.

Note: There may be continuing aftershocks today, May 27, 2019.

Also of note is this little known fact, one we are still attempting to verify: Although your satellite dish is pointing at the sky, according to tech support at one satellite Internet provider, their signal to California customers actually curves around the earth from a big dish in Arizona, not from a satellite in space. They aren’t saying what caused the problem with Arizona “beam” on Sunday at this time. The ground based source seems contrary to all of the information on their web site:

“As the name suggests, satellite service relies on an equatorial satellite to deliver data from the provider’s Internet backbone connection to the reception dish at subscriber residences.”

“Satellite beams refer to areas that a specific satellite can reach or cover.” (Exede)

If you realize, however, that radio waves follow the curve of the earth’s surface due to a mirror-like effect of the ionosphere, then a major disruption from a CME-like shockwave causing an outage from a signal bounced to California from Arizona does make sense. Having our solar wind density abruptly quadruple would change the ionosphere:

The solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere form a single system driven by the transfer of energy and momentum from the solar wind to the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Variations in the solar wind can lead to disruptions of space- and ground-based systems … (ScienceMag)


The distance from Tuscon, AZ to my part of California is about 1,000 miles, about the distance above the earth of most Low Earth Orbit communication satellites. ViaSat, however, has a wide reach with a much higher geostationary satellite.

ViaSat-2 will be positioned in an orbit about 22,300 miles above the equator

You can’t have a Low Earth Orbit be geostationary, as far as we can determine, so a fixed satellite dish would have to beam a signal to and from a target in space over 22,236 miles away.

A geostationary orbit can be achieved only at an altitude very close to 35,786 km (22,236 mi) and directly above the equator. This equates to an orbital velocity of 3.07 km/s (1.91 mi/s) and an orbital period of 1,436 minutes, which equates to almost exactly one sidereal day (23.934461223 hours). This ensures that the satellite will match the Earth’s rotational period and has a stationary footprint on the ground. All geostationary satellites have to be located on this ring.

Arizona seems more and more attractive. Is my dish actually pointing at Arizona? Not really. Mine is pointing far off the coast of Mexico as far as I can tell. Weird. Then again, who knows how the bounce works with the curve of the earth? Any Satellite dish installers care to comment?

Not saying its aliens, but…

Some who hear about unexpected effects like this, especially since interplanetary shockwaves are not uncommon, have wondered if all the disruption was caused by something else, like UFO activity. There is no evidence available for any such connection at this time. There were UFO reports near Lake Michigan on the same day:

UFO Sighting in Lake, Michigan on 2019-05-26 23:50:00 – 3 starlike objects

6 of us were sitting around a bon fire talking about stars and ufo’s when someone said “there’s your ufo’s” we all looked to see 3 starlike objects flying across the sky perfectly spaced apart. looked separate but given they stayed perfectly spaced apart, they could have been one object. i felt it was three though. we began speculating what they were. they didn’t have lights like a plane. no blinking. it was almost like three satellites following each other close but some thought they were too low and too uniform. i’ve never seen anything like it. they moved too fast for planes or satellites and crossed the sky at a pretty good clip before they we’re too far away to see. someone else in a darker part of michigan reported more behind them/it but we couldn’t see those because of the fire and lights from the house. (UFOMG)

UFO Stalker is a website updated in real time with the latest UFO reports.

TrueStrange recommends keeping your distance from any UFOs and/or EBEs you may encounter, when avoidance is possible. They could be friendly, but it is best to be cautious.

If you “want to believe,” there was an Arizona sighting on that day in Sierra Vista reported to MUFON, and listed on UFOStalker as happening at 2019-05-26 20:40.

“Line of five lights evenly spaced proceeding in a straight line. lights were about the brightness of a star. not blinking.”

Busy day for non-blinking star-like UFO sightings across multiple states, it seems.

Hear the ET Message of a Singing Comet

Comet 67P/C-G is “singing” through space, emitting magnetic field oscillations at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing as it rotates. We can hear it now because the recorded magnetic fluctuations were translated into an audio signal and shifted by a factor of approximately 10,000 up into the frequencies the human ear can hear.

Hear it here:

Scientists have picked up on the mysterious “song” of a comet speeding through deep space.

European Space Agency officials have used their Rosetta spacecraft to listen to a sound emitted by Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet song capture by Rosetta is produced by “oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment,” ESA officials said in a statement.

Read more:

The sound you can hear is not audio emitted by the comet, rather, an audio translation of detected fluctuations in the comet’s magnetic field. The earth has a “sound” in this way as well.

Using data from NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, or THEMIS, mission, the scientists discovered ­that when the magnetopause is struck by a jet of plasma from the Sun, it vibrates like a drum, with waves echoing back and forth along its surface, much like they do on top of a drumhead. 

Read more EurekaAlert

We can make many different types of data into listenable audio signals. For example, we can “hear” DNA if we translate the four letters of the base pairs (A, T, G, & C) into musical notes.

A human choice to point the notes at a particular virtual instrument can make DNA sound like a piano, like a guitar, drums, trumpet, or whatever. Pointing to a virtual instrument adds a bunch of audio data that was not in the original information.

Sound is a mechanical longitudinal wave emanating from a vibration. It travels (propagates) by bumping adjacent atoms, which in turn bump others, at a certain rate until it reaches your inner ear causing your tympanic membrane to vibrate at this same rate.

Because there are atoms in solids, liquids and gasses, sound can travel through all of these.

It’s an interesting truth that sound you normally experience is the result of mechanical membrane movement in your inner ear being translated into nerve signals your brain uses.

Sound in space is limited by the extreme low density of atoms there.

There is some sound propagation in space, but nothing we could hear.

Space isn’t uniform nothingness. It’s full of stuff. In between the stars, there are clouds of gas and dust. These clouds are sometimes the remains of old stars that went out in a blaze of explosive glory, and they’re the regions where new stars form. And some of that interstellar gas is dense enough to carry sound waves, just not sound perceptible to humans.

Read more Gizmodo

Comet 67P/C-G is “singing” through space. Does it sound like an intelligent signal from aliens to you?

Why does this comet sing?

The magnetic “song” seems to be a consequence of its induced magnetic filled interacting with the solar wind.

Its space environment is permeated by the solar wind – a continuous stream of electrically charged gas (called plasma) and magnetic field lines strung along from the Sun – which interacts with the comet’s gas-dust atmosphere. A consequence of this interaction is an induced cometary magnetosphere. In other words, even though the nucleus of 67P/C-G has no magnetic field of its own (as announced at this year’s EGU General Assembly), the comet’s atmosphere or coma is magnetised.

Read more ESA

In other words, Comet 67P/C-G is telling us what it hears our sun say.

What does the sun say? Today, perhaps, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Video: The Sound of the Big Bang + Close Lightning Strikes

For a song I’m writing, I wanted a sound of the Big Bang, but when I looked into it, the sound, as worked out by one scientist, wasn’t big enough. It was not some huge explosive sound, but more of a robotic humming. This humming lasted for hundreds of thousands of years and got continuously lower until it disappeared.

While the Big Bang likely wasn’t an impressively loud sound, it was a long one. For the first 100,000 to 700,000 years after it was created, the universe was denser than the air on Earth. This meant sound waves could travel through it. As the universe cooled and expanded, the sound wavelengths stretched, which made sounds get lower. The humming from the Big Bang continued for those hundreds of thousands of years until the universe grew so large that the sound faded away completely.

via HowStuffWorks

Here’s one concept of what it sounded like, boosted up into the human hearing range:

Here’s another:

And another:

Since these aren’t great for the song I’m working on, I’ll probably find a deep explosive sound.

Here is a compilation of close loud lightning strikes on YouTube. (Warning: Lots of swearing. If your town lists Heckboy on movie billboards, [e.g. Dickson, Tennessee,] I recommend skipping this.)

If you find a sound that would be good for the start of the universe, leave a link.

Why Did Israel’s Lander Crash on the Moon Yesterday?

We don’t know the exact details yet, but they told us which part failed first, leading to the crash. Crashing a spacecraft on the Moon was not part of the plan for Israel, but the historic Beresheet lander did reach and orbit that familiar heavenly body. It did so taking the longest route of any craft ever to reach the Moon’s surface, four million miles. The craft sent these two images before the failed landing:

Image from 13.7 miles above the Moon’s surface.
Last image before crash, April 11, 2019

The problem is described by the team so far as a chain of events that disrupted the main engine during descent to the Moon’s surface.

The craft, named Beresheet (translated: in the beginning), was slated to touch down on the surface of the Moon at approximately 3:25 PM PST, but communications with the vessel were lost upon impact. 

Via TheNextWeb

… “Preliminary data supplied by the engineering teams of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) suggests a technical glitch in one of Beresheet’s components triggered the chain of events yesterday that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction,” the Mission explained, in a statement released Friday. “Without the main engine working properly, it was impossible to stop Beresheet’s velocity. Beresheet overcame the issue by restarting the engine. However, by that time, its velocity was too high to slow down and the landing could not be completed as planned.”

More at FoxNews

Crash debris from the uncrewed Israeli lander Beresheet will permanently occupy the lunar surface after SpaceIL’s effort to land on the moon failed Thursday (April 11). It was a disappointment for the program and a setback for the private Israeli company’s efforts to join the small community of organizations that have successfully landed on Earth’s nearest neighbor.

Via link

Communications were lost with the spacecraft just 150 meters (!!!) above the surface

Via Buzz Aldrin Twitter

Preliminary technical information collected by the teams shows that the first technical issue occurred at 14 km above the Moon. At 150 meters when the connection with #Beresheet was lost, it was moving at 500 km/h, making a collision inevitable.

Via TeamSpaceIL Twitter

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again,” Netanyahu said. He vowed to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon “intact” in the next two years.

About 20 minutes before the scheduled landing, engine firings slowed Beresheet’s descent. Engineers watched in silence as the craft glided toward a free-fall.

But then viewing screens showed the engine misfiring and the velocity surging as it headed toward the lunar surface. Radio signals from the spacecraft abruptly cut off.

Scientists, who were giddy with excitement only seconds earlier, were visibly distraught, and celebrations at viewing centers across the country were dashed.

Via JournalGazette

There was initially a failure in an inertial measurement unit and this lead to an unplanned shutdown of the engines.

It’s been reported, based on information from the livestream, that an Inertial Measurement Unit failed and the team was unable to reset the component due to a repeated loss of communications with the JPL network. The entire spacecraft was reset to restore communications and control, but this appears to have come too late. By the time connectivity was restored, the spacecraft was moving too quickly to be fully braked before impacting the lunar surface.

Via ExtremeTech

What is an inertial measurement unit?

Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) [are] self-contained system[s] that [measure] linear and angular motion usually with a triad of gyroscopes and triad of accelerometers

Via Xsens

… an electronic device that measures and reports a body’s specific force, angular rate, and sometimes the magnetic field surroundings the body, using a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes, sometimes also magnetometers. IMUs are typically used to maneuver aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), among many others, and spacecraft, including satellites and landers. 

Via Wikipedia

It was really a comparatively inexpensive project, so some malfunction is not so unexpected if you consider the budget.

The project cost a measly $100 million. By comparison the Apollo Program would have figured at around $80 billion by today’s rates. 

A nice mission for the next craft would be to land, pick up the bits of the older crashed craft and bring them home… but I suspect that won’t happen any time soon.

Today: First Real Black Hole Images Shown

Behold, the first ever real images of a black hole, just released today, Wednesday April 10, 2019. To me this beats the other strange news I read today, including the final solving of the great mystery of why Garfield phones whose eyes open when you pick up the receiver have been washing up on French beaches for decades. This next image is not a blurry eye of a Garfield phone, it is a real black hole:

… For the first time ever, humanity has photographed one of these elusive cosmic beasts, shining light on an exotic space-time realm that had long been beyond our ken. 

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” Sheperd Doeleman, of Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said today (April 10) during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. …

Doeleman directs the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, which captured the epic imagery. These four photos, which were unveiled today at press events around the world and in a series of published papers, outline the contours of the monster black hole lurking at the heart of the elliptical galaxy M87.

Read more

The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.

More at NYTimes

What this means is that Einstein was right again when he famously said, “Black jokes will resemble the blurry eye of Garfield.” Just kidding. Well, sort of:

… the image they shared is inspiring for another reason as well: it confirms what scientists predicted a black hole would look like based on Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity.

Via Futurism

As CNET explains, we think we’ve all seen a black hole, but this is the first and only real series of images from an actual black hole.

All these images we’ve seen from NASA and other scientific organizations are just illustrations created with the help of artists, although many of them are actually based on data from real telescopes. 


This first real black hole imaged is 55 million light-years away and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun, much bigger than the black hole at the center of our own galaxy (a mere 4.6 million times the mass of our Sun.) It is easy to forget that this is what Messier 87‘s black hole looked like 55 million years ago. The light is just now reaching us.

Odds are good that it is still there, however, as black holes are some of the longest lived things in the Universe. The most massive ones will take longer to melt away than the universe has been around according to this article, but they will eventually.

A Hamburger Sent into Space Tastes Like…?

The strangest thing I heard about today is people eating hamburgers they sent into space. This first went up the 27th of October, 2012 at 12:22 PM by five Harvard students. “Operation Skyfall: First Hamburger In Space,” landed 130 miles from the launch site.

There is some debate as to where “space” actually starts. The first NASA definition was about 50 miles up, the point at which aircraft control surfaces were no longer useful due to the thin atmosphere. A common space definition is that it begins at the lowest altitude at which satellites can maintain orbits for a reasonable time. This is about 100 miles above the Earth’s surface. 

The point for amateur burgers in space, however, is that to the camera, 18 miles up looks enough like space that it’s good enough.

The Space-burger feat was repeated recently when YouTube broadcaster Thomas Stanniland sent a burger 100,000 ft up, which is 18.9 miles, though he said it was about 26 miles. Published Mar 28, 2019.

Weather balloons can rise to an altitude of 24 miles … or more before they burst, and a payload may land (via parachute) up to 75 miles … away, depending on wind conditions at the launch site …

Via Space

The record at this time is over 32 miles, so getting a burger 26 miles up with the right balloon is plausible.

In 2002, a balloon named BU60-1 reached a record altitude of 53.0 km (32.9 mi; 173,900 ft).

Via Wikipedia

Tom filmed the journey with a GoPro video camera and included a GPS tracker so he was able to retrieve the space hamburger from a soccer field, and ultimately, eat it.

I won’t spoil the surprise. Would you eat a MEATeorite?

Watch the video to see if a trip on a weather balloon improved or degraded the taste of a McDonald’s hamburger.