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Archive for August 29th, 2010

Martian ‘enigmatic elliptical depression’ baffles scientists

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2010

ANISat, Aug 28 02:10 PM

Washington, Aug 28 (ANI): Scientists have long been baffled by Orcus Patera, an enigmatic elliptical depression near Mars’s equator, in the eastern hemisphere of the planet.

The term ‘patera’ is used for deep, complex or irregularly shaped volcanic craters such as the Hadriaca Patera and Tyrrhena Patera. However, despite its name and the fact that it is positioned near volcanoes, the actual origin of Orcus Patera remains unclear.

One theory is that originally a round impact crater; it may have been deformed by compression forces. Alternatively, it could have formed after the erosion of aligned impact craters.

However, the most likely explanation is that it was made in an oblique impact, when a small body struck the surface at a very shallow angle.

Numerous rift-valley-like structures called ‘graben’ cut across its rim. Within the Orcus Patera depression itself, the large graben are not visible, probably having been covered by later deposits.

But smaller graben are present, indicating that several tectonic events have occurred in this region and also suggesting that multiple episodes of deposition have taken place.

The occurrence of ‘wrinkle ridges’ within the depression proves that compressive forces as well as extensional forces would be needed to create graben.

However, the presence of graben and wrinkle-ridges has no bearing on the origin of Orcus Patera, as both can be found all over Mars. The true origin of Orcus Patera remains a mystery. (ANI)

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Obama says combat operations in Iraq coming to a close

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2010

ANISun, Aug 29 12:30 PM

London, Aug 29 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has said combat operations in Iraq are nearing its end and the sovereign, independent nation would be free to chart its own course thereafter.

The U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially comes to an end Tuesday, 2,722 days after American-led troops stormed into the country from Kuwait. The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops are supposed to depart by the end of 2011.

“The bottom line is this: The war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home,” The Guardian quoted Obama, as saying.

“In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counter terrorism missions and protect our civilian and military efforts,” Obama added.

Obama further stated that as a presidential candidate, he had pledged to end this war, and as president, he would fulfill that promise.

“We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security,” he added. (ANI)

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Massive solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with ‘force of 100m bombs’

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2010

ANIThu, Aug 26 12:50 PM

Melbourne, Aug 26 (ANI): Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month, is to strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100 million hydrogen bombs.

Several US media outlets have reported that NASA was warning the massive flare this month was just a precursor to a massive solar storm building that had the potential to wipe out the entire planet’s power grid.

Despite its rebuttal, NASA’s been watching out for this storm since 2006 and reports from the US this week claim the storms could hit on that most Hollywood of disaster dates – 2012.

Similar storms back in 1859 and 1921 caused worldwide chaos, wiping out telegraph wires on a massive scale. The 2012 storm has the potential to be even more disruptive.

“The general consensus among general astronomers (and certainly solar astronomers) is that this coming Solar maximum (2012 but possibly later into 2013) will be the most violent in 100 years,” News.com.au quoted astronomy lecturer and columnist Dave Reneke as saying.

“A bold statement and one taken seriously by those it will affect most, namely airline companies, communications companies and anyone working with modern GPS systems.

“They can even trip circuit breakers and knock out orbiting satellites, as has already been done this year,” added Reneke.

No one really knows what effect the 2012-2013 Solar Max will have on today’s digital-reliant society.

Dr Richard Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division, told Reneke the super storm would hit like “a bolt of lightning”, causing catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.

NASA said that a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause “1 to 2 trillion dollars in damages to society’s high-tech infrastructure and require four to 10 years for complete recovery”.

The reason for the concern comes as the sun enters a phase known as Solar Cycle 24.

Most experts agree, although those who put the date of Solar Max in 2012 are getting the most press.

They claim satellites will be aged by 50 years, rendering GPS even more useless than ever, and the blast will have the equivalent energy of 100 million hydrogen bombs.

“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,” Fisher told Reneke.

“Systems will just not work. The flares change the magnetic field on the Earth and it’s rapid, just like a lightning bolt. That’s the solar effect,” he added.

The findings are published in the most recent issue of Australasian Science. (ANI)

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Thousands flee volcanic eruption in Indonesia

Posted by Admin on August 29, 2010

DPASun, Aug 29 10:47 AM

Jakarta, Aug 29 (DPA) A volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted Sunday for the first time in 400 years, shooting black smoke and ash up to 1,500 metres into the air and prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Mount Sinabung in the Karo district of North Sumatra province thundered to life shortly after midnight, shooting lava and other volcanic materials from its crater.

The government’s Directorate of Vulcanology upgraded the volcano’s danger status to the highest level minutes before the eruption of the 2,451-metre peak, located about 1,300 km northwest of Jakarta.

Using trucks, ambulances and buses, local authorities evacuated thousands of residents living in nearby hamlets immediately after the eruption, the state-run Antara news agency reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Local media quoted residents as saying lava was visible from several kilometres away, including in Berastagi, a tourist area in North Sumatra, while volcanic dust reached as far as the provincial capital of Medan.

More than 10,000 people in 17 communities were evacuated, said Muhammad Irsal, a Red Cross worker deployed to the area. They took refuge in government buildings and tents were also erected, Irsal said.

‘At midnight, there was a strong shock – believed to be a volcanic earthquake,’ Irsal said. ‘Immediately after, we saw lava come down from the peak of Sinabung, and fire began to burn the forest at the foot of the mountain.’

He said thick smoke had reduced visibility to up to only five metres.

Firman, a weather forecaster, said the eruption had so far not disturbed flights at Medan’s airport.

The Directorate of Vulcanology said Sinabung’s eruption was the first recorded since 1600.

‘Previously, there was no significant activity at the Mount Sinabung volcano, so the monitoring did not take priority since the 1600s,’ Surono, the head of the directorate, was quoted as saying by Antara.

Surono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said a team of experts were deployed to keep an eye on Sinabung’s activity.

Besides ordering the evacuations, experts also warned residents to wear face masks to avoid health problems from the volcano’s ash and told people living along rivers to be alert to the possibility of lava-induced floods.

Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world with about 500 in the ‘Belt of Fire’ in the 5,000-km-long archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active and 65 are listed as dangerous.

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