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Mysterious large mass discovered on Moon bewilders scientists: ‘Whatever it is, wherever it came from’

A large mass of unknown material has been discovered on the largest crater on the Moon and scientists aren’t sure what it is.

According to an April 2019 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers believe the mass could contain metal from an asteroid that crashed into the celestial satellite, which resulted in the aforementioned crater, known as the Lunar South Pole-Aitken basin.

“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground. That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected,” lead author Dr. Peter James, assistant professor of planetary geophysics at Baylor University, said in a statement.

 

At roughly 1,550 miles in diameter, the Lunar South Pole-Aitken basin stretches across approximately one-fourth of the Moon, according to NASA. The Moon’s circumference is roughly 11,000 kilometers.

This false-color graphic shows the topography of the far side of the Moon. The warmer colors indicate high topography and the bluer colors indicate low topography. The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is shown by the shades of blue. The dashed circle shows the location of the mass anomaly under the basin. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

This false-color graphic shows the topography of the far side of the Moon. The warmer colors indicate high topography and the bluer colors indicate low topography. The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is shown by the shades of blue. The dashed circle shows the location of the mass anomaly under the basin. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

In addition to being the largest crater on the Moon, the Pole-Aitken basin is also one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system and is thought to be approximately 4 billion years old.

James and his team looked at data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission and the changes in gravity they discovered surprised them.

“When we combined that with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin,” James said. “One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon’s mantle.”

The anomaly – “whatever it is, wherever it came from,” James added – is weighing down the basin floor by more than half a mile. The team of researchers ran computer simulations that show the iron-nickel core of an asteroid could have been placed into the upper mantle of the Moon following impact.

“We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon’s mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the Moon’s core,” James noted.

One other possibility for the unexplained mass is that it could be an area where dense oxides compiled following the last stage of lunar magma ocean solidification.

Whatever it is, James said the basin is “one of the best natural laboratories for studying catastrophic impact events, an ancient process that shaped all of the rocky planets and moons we see today.”

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Two ‘extinct’ snakes spotted swimming off Australia’s coast

(Grant Griffin, W.A. Dept. Parks and Wildlife)

(Grant Griffin, W.A. Dept. Parks and Wildlife)

Scientists feared the last of Australia’s short-nosed sea snakes died about 15 years ago, which makes this new sighting doubly auspicious: A wildlife official snapped a photo of not one but two of the snakes swimming off the western coast—and they were making googly eyes at each other.

“What is even more exciting is that they were courting, suggesting that they are members of a breeding population,” says researcher Blanche D’Anastasi of James Cook University in a press release.

No such snake had been spotted since the species disappeared from its habitat at Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea more than a decade ago. Scientists at JCU confirmed that the photos, taken at Ningaloo Reef, captured images of the sea snakes in the journal Biological Conservation.

“We were blown away, these potentially extinct snakes were there in plain sight, living on one of Australia’s natural icons,” says D’Anastasi. The journal article had another piece of good news: A decent population of another species, called the rare leaf-scaled sea snake, was spotted in Shark Bay, more than 1,000 miles from the snakes’ only previously known habitat, notes Gizmodo.

Both species are officially listed as critically endangered. The good news, however, was tempered with the bad. Generally speaking, sea snakes are on the decline in Western Australia, and the reason “remains unexplained.” (Scientists, do however, have a pretty good idea about why snakes lost their legs.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: 2 ‘Extinct’ Snakes Found Swimming Happily

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Company unveils airplane design with seats on top of aircraft

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Sit high above it all in a transparent canopy that sits on top of the airplane. (Windspeed Technologies)

We’ve seen some pretty scary airplane seat designs.

From unwieldy bicycle-seat triangles to split level stackers, most design firms are just looking for new ways to cram more and more passengers into the cabin.

But a new design from Washington-based firm Windspeed Technologies is really a breath of fresh air.

Introducing the SkyDeck— a patent-pending seat design that aims to give a few lucky passengers a 360 degree view of the surrounding clouds by sitting them on top of the plane in a fully transparent bubble.

Unlike other seat design models, the SkyDeck is designed to be incorporated into existing types of aircraft and would cost between $8 million to $25 million to install depending on the type of plane.

Experience 360 views in Windspeed’s latest video animation.

“Current in-flight entertainment offerings have not changed much over the decades. We wanted to come up with a product that would provide a higher level of entertainment to reduce the boredom of long flights,” says Windspeed of the new design.

The canopy itself will be comprised of “the same high strength proprietary material as those used on supersonic fighter jets” and will be able to withstand a variety of hits including bird strikes. An aerodynamic “teardrop” shape of the canopy will help reduce the drag factor while anti-condensation film will be applied to stop it fogging up and a UV-protection coating will passengers from burning up inside the transparent vestibule.

Guests can access the SkyDeck via a Jetsons-era looking elevator chute or take stairs from the main level galley.

Though an airline has yes to put in an order for a SkyDeck, the company says it would take just 18 months from order date until the plane is up and running with its seats in the clouds.

 

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F-35A Lightning II fighter gets new gun

Ultra advanced stealth, fighter jet speed … and now the military’s F-35 has a new weapon.

The F-35 Lightning II is a truly fifth-generation fighter jet. This advanced powerful single-seat and single-engine fighter is designed to be capable of a range of missions with just one aircraft.

Test pilot Maj. Charles “Flak” Trickey recently fired the F35A’s internal Gun Airborne Unit -22/A 25mm Gatling gun system in three airborne gunfire bursts. A success, this first aerial gun test was conducted out at the China Lake, Calif., test range on Oct. 30 2015.

Raw video of first aerial gun test above the China Lake, California, test range

Related: 11 stunning F-22 fighter jet images

This is a key step in certifying the gun for use in the F-35A and the aircraft is on track to enter initial operational capability with the U.S. Air Force next year.

The F-35 is the result of collaboration between prime contractor Lockheed Martin and principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

Next-Gen Air Dominance

Stealth was built into this aircraft from the very start. The F-35 also possesses other fifth-generation features like integrated avionics, sensor fusion and incredibly powerful sensor packages.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 propulsion system gives the aircraft phenomenal power – it is able to reach speeds of over 1199 mph.

With this new gun, pilots will have the ability to engage air-to-ground and air-to-air targets. The 25mm gun is embedded into the F-35A’s left wing in a way that keeps the aircraft stealthy.

Over the next year, testing will continue with the gun integrated into the fighter’s sensor fusion software. The software will provide targeting data to the pilot through the pilot’s state of the art helmet-mounted display.

Related: 11 amazing A-10 Warthog images

Even the helmets on this aircraft are next generation. Pilots wearing them can see through the aircraft and the heads up display provides unprecedented data. Each pilot gets a personalized version.

Rather than deploy different aircraft specializing in different things, the F-35 can tackle a range of tasks by itself. Highly versatile, the F-35 can handle missions like air-to-air combat, electronic attack, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and air-to-ground strikes.

Stealth

The F-35 gives pilots the ability to penetrate deep into enemy areas without being detected. The advanced materials and airframe design mean that F-35s can evade radars that other fighters cannot. The plane can get through highly defended air spaces without ever being detected and then clear the way for U.S. forces.

Using weapons like precision-guided munitions and air-to-air radar-guided missiles, the pilots can engage long-range ground targets without being detected and tracked by the enemy.

Combat

When faced with enemy fighter aircraft, the F-35s have a number of advantages. For starters, the F-35 pilots will be able to detect the enemy aircraft long before they are detected themselves. In aerial combat, this means the F-35 can take lethal action first. The fighter’s weapons systems will also give it a big advantage over enemy aircraft.

Related: What you need to know about the new U.S. Air Force stealth bomber

Pilots can leverage the aircraft’s advanced electronic warfare abilities to

locate and track enemy forces. To reach highly protected targets, pilots can jam enemy radars and disrupt attacks on their aircraft using the advanced avionics system.

In an F-35, pilots have 360-degree real time battlespace data. The sensor package is state-of-the-art and any data the sensors collect can be securely shared with commanders all over the world, giving them a more complete picture of operations as they unfold.

The aircraft has a core processor that can perform a mind-blowing 400 billion operations per second.

This helps enable next-gen electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but also helps to recommend the next target to attack and the best weapon to use.

Replacing Classic Fighters

Over the years, U.S. fighter fleets have been aging and becoming smaller.

There are three variants of the F-35, all of which will be replacing military aircraft. F-35A takes off and lands conventionally. The F-35B is capable of short-take off and vertical-landing and the F-35C is carrier-based.

For the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 variants will replace the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. For the U.S. Navy, they will replace the F/A-18 Hornet. The U.S. Marine Corps will be replacing the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier with F-35s.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Falcon Shield launches electronic attacks to take control of drones

Artist's impression. (Credit: Credit Finmeccanica-Selex)

Artist’s impression. (Credit: Credit Finmeccanica-Selex)

A new technology unleashes electronic attacks on enemy drones, enslaving them to its will.

Made by Finmeccanica-Selex ES, the Falcon Shield technology lets the good guys gain control of drones and land them safely.

Related: Anti-drone shoulder rifle lets police take control of UAVs with targeted radio pulses

Recently unveiled, Falcon Shield finds, fixes, tracks, identifies and defeats drones. Mini-drones are becoming a growing security concern, as evidenced by the quadcopter drone that crashed onto the White House grounds earlier this year.

The threat

Small-sized drones are cheap, widely commercially available, simple to assemble and easy to fly. These micro drones can be hard to detect and stop and could be used to attack targets by carrying threats like explosives or chemical and biological weapons.

The Falcon Shield is an adaptable system that can be deployed to protect VIPs. It could also be used to protect military convoys and patrols. Falcon Shield doesn’t need to be at a fixed location, and different versions of the technology can be carried by an individual or a vehicle.

On a much larger scale, Falcon Shield can be used to protect a military base or a skyscraper that acts as headquarters for a big corporation.

Related: The laser cannon that kills drones

Falcon Shield monitors an assigned area to detect potential threats and protect a specified location by going through five stages of engagement.

In the first stage, Falcon Shield locates both the drone threat and the ground station controlling it. The tech then uses this data to guide the next stage. To “fix” the target, radar and electronic monitoring work together with an electro-optical infrared camera.

The camera and radar then track and identify the threat. In the final phase, Falcon Shield focuses on defeating the drone. When Falcon defeats a drone it doesn’t just jam it. It seizes control of the drone.

How the technology takes control of the drones is shrouded in secrecy … but take control it does.  Say a micro drone is targeting a VIP, for example, the good guys can fly it away from the target. They can force it to land at a safe location where a team can investigate and fully neutralize the threat.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Futuristic warship design takes shape

What will warships look like in three decades? Meet the next-generation HMS Dreadnought.

The British Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy challenged young scientists and engineers to design a future warship and the results may surprise you. Defense procurement specialist Startpoint has released stunning images of what the futuristic ship could look like.

This cutting-edge ship concept has been dubbed Dreadnought 2050 in honor of the 1906 HMS Dreadnought, a Royal Naval battleship that eclipsed all other warships at the time.

Dreadnought 2050, made of futuristic material, features state of the art weapons, command center and more. The ship’s structure is made of ultra-strong acrylic composites that can be turned translucent so that crew can see through it.

This means that from the Ops Room, commanders could see through the hull and watch close-in battles play out.

Weapons

The new Dreadnought would be equipped with a range of state-of-the art weapons like high-velocity torpedoes, speed-of-light weapons and drones constructed on the ship using 3D printers.

The graphene coated acrylic hull would be super strong.

At the bow, Dreadnought 2050 has an electromagnetic railgun that can fire projectiles as far as long-range cruise missiles can go today.

Along the sides of the ship there are missile tubes. These tubes can launch missiles faster than Mach 5 – a hypersonic speed. The futuristic vessel is also equipped with directed energy weapons to thwart incoming threats.

Related: CTruk taps THOR for new military workboats

In the outrigger hulls, there are torpedo tubes that fire supercavitating torpedoes that travel at more than 300 knots.  Supercavitating torpedoes can travel at such whopping speeds because they move through water in a sort of air bubble that reduces drag and friction.

Instead of a standard mast, Dreadnought 2050 has a tethered quadcopter that flies above the ship.

The quadcopter is equipped with multi-spectral sensors that provide critical data. But it is also armed with a laser to take out threats like enemy aircraft, missiles and more.

To provide the significant power these capabilities require, the quadcopter’s tether is made of carbon nanotubes that are cryogenically cooled.

Assault

A floodable dock, or “moon pool,” is incorporated into the design so that amphibious teams like SEALs or Royal Marines can rapidly deploy. The moon pool could also be used to deploy unmanned underwater vehicles on missions such as searching for explosive devices.

Above the dock there is an extendable flight deck and hangar that can be used for a fleet of weaponized drones.

A similarly-sized warship operating today would require about 200 crew, but the innovative warship would require less than half as many personnel. A current Ops Room, for example, could require 25 sailors to run it. Dreadnought 2050’s Ops Room could be run by as few as five Sailors.

Command Table

Dreadnought 2050 features an Ops Room with a 3-D holographic command table. The holographic image can be rotated and commanders can zoom in on specific parts of the battlefield.

From the Ops Room, five or six people can control all operations from the deepest parts of the ocean through to outer space. From underwater and sea surface through to land and air, all areas of operation can be displayed and reviewed. Crew can use smaller holographic pods to manage specific areas of operation.

Real time data can be transmitted including secure voice, video or data to wherever it is needed.

Power

The Dreadnought 2050 warship is powered by a fusion reactor or highly efficient turbines. The turbines drive silent electric motors to water jets.

The graphene coating on the hull helps reduce drag and enhance speed. And the Dreadnought will have a low profile to ensure it is stealthy and hard to detect.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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Scientist shocked by what he sees moon jellyfish doing

Scientist shocked by what he sees moon jellyfish doing

Moon jellyfish are pictured. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

When Caltech biologist Michael Abrams cut two arms off a young jellyfish in 2013, he figured it would do what many marine invertebrates do—grow new ones. But no.

“[Abrams] started yelling… ‘You won’t believe this, you’ve got to come here and see what’s happening,'” his PhD adviser Lea Goentoro tells National Geographic.Reporting this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Abrams says he watched the jellyfish, which relies on being symmetrical to move about, not regenerate the missing arms but rather rearrange its remaining six limbs so that they were symmetrical again.

The phenomenon, dubbed symmetrization, has never before been observed in nature, and Abrams was floored. The jellyfish was using its own muscles to push and pull on its remaining six arms to space them out evenly again.

(They confirmed this by observing that muscle relaxants made the jellies unable to rearrange their arms, while increasing muscular pulses allowed them to rearrange their arms faster.) And the discovery was accidental; Abrams and his team had only been cutting into the common moon jellyfish to practice for their future study on what are called immortal jellyfish, which had yet to arrive in the lab.

They’ve since observed symmetrization in moon jellies many times, and it takes anywhere from 12 hours to four days to complete. (Scientists recently made another staggering observation, this one in Norway.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Moon Jellyfish Shock Scientists With This Trick

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