What caused a giant arrow-shaped cloud on Saturn's moon Titan?
A research group led by Jonathan L. Mitchell, UCLA assistant professor of earth and space sciences and of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, has answered this question by using a global circulation model of Titan to demonstrate how planetary-scale atmospheric waves affect the moon's weather patterns, leading to a "stenciling" effect that results in sharp and sometimes surprising cloud shapes.
"These atmospheric waves are somewhat like the natural, resonant vibration of a wine glass," Mitchell said. "Individual clouds might 'ring the bell,' so to speak, and once the ringing starts, the clouds have to respond to that vibration."
The fascinating clouds, including arrow-shaped ones, that result from the atmospheric waves can cause intense precipitation — sometimes more than 20 times Titan's average seasonal rainfall — and could be essential in shaping Titan's surface by erosion.
The research was published Aug. 14 in the online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience and will be published in an upcoming print edition.
Mitchell and a colleague have described Titan's climate as "all-tropics" — the entire planet experiences the types of weather phenomena that on Earth are confined to the equatorial region.
"Our new results demonstrate the power of this analogy, not only for general features of Titan's climate but also for individual storms," Mitchell said. "In future work, we plan to extend our analysis to other Titan observations and make predictions of what clouds might be observed during the upcoming season.
"Titan's all-tropics climate gives us the opportunity to study tropical weather in a simpler setting than on Earth," he added. "Our hope is that this may help us understand Earth's weather in a changing climate."
NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn since late 2004 and has revolutionized our understanding of Titan, which is larger in volume than the planet Mercury and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter's Ganymede. Titan has a thick nitrogen atmosphere and experiences rain made of natural methane gas.
"Titan is like Earth's strange sibling — the only other rocky body in the solar system that currently experiences rain," Mitchell said.
Titan is an alien world, but strangely not so different from Earth. Like Earth, the main component of its atmosphere is molecular nitrogen. Water, too, is abundant on Titan, although it is all frozen in the crust at very low temperatures. Methane is thermodynamically active in the lower atmosphere, and much like water vapor on Earth, Titan's methane forms clouds, precipitates and is resupplied from surface sources, Mitchell said. The runoff then weathers the cold surface of Titan, creating what appears to be river patterns.
Scientists think that Earth, shortly after it formed an atmosphere, had large amounts of methane and very little oxygen. Methane provided an important greenhouse warming that probably prevented Earth from staying perpetually in a completely frozen state that otherwise would have resulted from the weaker sunlight from the very young sun, Mitchell said.
"Therefore, by studying Titan's modern climate, we may gain new insights about the way the early Earth's climate was," Mitchell said.
He and his research group have developed an atmospheric model to study the climate and cloud patterns of Titan. - physorg
Illinois couple had seen enough UFOs
Husband was outside on the patio, he started knocking on the door for me to hurry up and come outside, and that there was something in the sky that he didn't know what it was.
I stepped outside on the porch and he pointed up to what he was seeing and I looked in the direction and the only way to say what it looked like is that it was round shaped, glowing red, moving in a North direction than turning slightly to the East for a North East direction, moving at a steady pace then going up higher till it was out of site.
Later on that same evening, about an hour and a half later, directly above us a bright glowing triangle shaped object appeared out of know where. It was visually closer then the red object, it really scared me, because I could make out the outline of it and it was so bright, Ive never seen anything like it, it also was moving in a North East direction and seemed to go up and disappear, we saw one more just like it later on and it also was moving North East and went up and disappeared.
After that last one I went inside, I had decided Id seen enough. These things that we saw were not airplanes, helicopters, balloons etc.. Very strange. - MUFON CMS
'Suicide bomber' bacteria destroys superbug
Experts in the innovative field of “synthetic biology” engineered a strain of E.coli that could detect signs of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a leading cause of infection that can be fatal to patients with weak immune systems.
Their specially designed bacteria then produced a toxin that is lethal to the bug, before blowing themselves apart like bombs and splattering the substance over the surrounding area.
When added to a culture of P. aeruginosa in lab tests, the artificial E.coli destroyed 99 per cent of its targets and prevented the formation of biofilms - slimy communities of bacteria which are difficult to destroy - by up to 90 per cent.
The method has not been tested in trials on humans or animals, but a study in the journal Molecular Systems Biology indicated it could provide a new approach to tackling drug-resistant infections, where progress using current techniques has ground to a halt.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, write: “In summary, we engineered a novel biological system, which comprises sensing, killing, and lysing devices, that enables E. coli to sense and eradicate pathogenic P. aeruginosa strains by exploiting the synthetic biology framework.”
P. aeruginosa is a bacteria which infects the lungs and digestive system, particularly in patients who are critically ill or have weakened immune systems.
The strains found in hospitals are often resistant to antibiotics, creating a pressing need for new treatments.
The E.coli strain developed by researchers from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore uses a protein called LasR to detect chemical signals given off by P. aeruginosa cells when they communicate with each other.
P. aeruginosa naturally produces a toxin known as pyocin, but the scientists engineered the E.coli to produce the same weapon when the pathogen is detected nearby.
The E.coli bacteria then burst themselves open and cover the P. aeruginosa bacteria with pyocin, which eats away at the outer cell wall and causes the insides to spill out. - telegraph
Intense vibration and bright green light
Pennsylvania: In bed w/ MY husband sleeping, awakened by INTENSE vibration, bedroom aglow w/ bright green light. Light then dimmed,then event repeated 3 more times, each time lasting 5-10 seconds. I awoke my husband at the first and he experienced the last 3 events. Heavy cloud cover. No thunder/lightning storm in progress. The vibration/pulse was felt physically. The house did not shake or vibrate. There were no explosions. We both felt an overwhelming fear and agitation and were unable to sleep afterward. There was nothing to be seen or heard. Spoke w/ township workers, no electrical disturbance on our street that night, no evidence of electrical wires having been touched, wires are all clear of tree branches. - MUFON CMS
BBC Wales Interviews Irene Allen-Block - Spirit Rescue International
Irene Allen-Block - Spirit Rescue International - Interview - BBC Wales Radio
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