Archive for the ‘Lunar science’ Category

Jade Bunny paralysed but still taking pictures

February 26, 2014

Chang’e 3′s Jade Bunny is not quite dead. It is stuck in its present position but can still take pictures.

Jade Bunny on the moon (undated)

Jade Bunny on the moon (undated)

The Chang’e-3 lander entered its third dormancy on early Feb. 23, 2014. China’s lunar rover Yutu also entered the dormancy on Feb. 22, with the mechanical control issues that might cripple the vehicle still unresolved. According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), Yutu only carried out fixed point observations during its third lunar day, equivalent to about two weeks on Earth. Yutu’s radar, panorama camera and infrared imaging equipment are functioning normally, the control issues that have troubled the rover since January persist. (Xinhua/SASTIND)

Jade Bunny declared dead – reincarnation possible?

February 12, 2014

UPDATE!

BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — China’s moon rover Yutu is awake after its troubled dormancy but experts are still trying to find out the cause of its abnormality, a spokesman with the country’s lunar probe program said on Thursday.

“Yutu has come back to life,” said Pei Zhaoyu, the spokesman. ….. “Yutu went to sleep under an abnormal status,” Pei said, adding that experts were concerned that it might not be able to survive the extremely low temperatures during the lunar night.

“The rover stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive,” he said.

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The Jade Bunny which was discovered to be in a coma on January 25th on the moon has now been declared dead.

RIP

Jade Bunny RIP

Jade Bunny RIP

China’s Jade Bunny apparently stuck on the moon

January 26, 2014

(I see that Chinese news reports usually translate “Yutu” as “Jade Rabbit” but from this version of the legend I prefer “Jade Bunny” as being more appropriate to the lunar creatures who went to Chang’e’s assistance and where the reincarnation of her husband Hou Yi was the Jade Bunny)

In a setback – apparently due to the difficult lunar terrain, the Jade Bunny lunar rover has suffered a “mechanical control abnormality” – which I take to mean that it is stuck and not responding to commands. China Daily has the story

China’s moon rover, Yutu (Jade Rabbit), has experienced a mechanical control anomaly, and scientists are organizing repairs. The abnormality occurred due to “complicated lunar surface environment,” the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said on Saturday, without giving further details. The abnormality emerged before the rover entered its second dormancy at dawn on Saturday asthe lunar night fell, according to SASTIND.

The lander, another part of the Chang’e-3 probe, also “fell asleep” earlier on Friday. The pair went dormant for two weeks about one month ago when the first lunar night of the mission occurred.

 ….. The Chang’e-3 lunar probe soft-landed on the Moon on December 14. Yutu separated from the lander hours later.

The success of the Chang’e-3 mission makes China the third country to soft-land a spacecraft on lunar soil after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Lunar panorama: Chang’e 3 lander in Out of this World

Jade Bunny on the moon on 22nd December 2013 (photo Xinhua)

Jade Bunny on the moon on 22nd December 2013
(photo Xinhua)

Chang’e 3′s Jade Bunny begins gambolling on the moon

December 15, 2013

Chang’e 3 landed on the moon on Saturday and her Jade Bunny has now started gambolling on the moon.

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Picture was taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

Xinhua:China’s first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separated from the lander early on Sunday, several hours after the Chang’e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface.

The 140 kg six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 a.m., leaving deep trace on the loose lunar soil. The process was recorded by the camera on the lander and the images were sent to the earth, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

After the separation, the rover and lander will take photos of each other and start their own scientific explorations.

Engineers made final checks of the environment of the landing site, the situation of the probe and the solar incidence angle late night on Saturday and sent signals of separation to Chang’e-3.

Yutu, atop the probe, extended its solar panel and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism at 3:10.

The transfer mechanism unlocked at 4:06 with one side reaching the moon’s surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface following a ladder mechanism.

Chang’e-3 landed on the moon’s Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, making China the third country in the world to carry out such a rover mission after the United States and former Soviet Union. 

In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu was the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang’e. The name for the rover was selected following an online poll that collected several million votes from people around the world. 

The rover, 1.5 meters long with its two wings folded, 1 m in width and 1.1 m in height, is a highly efficient robot controlled by the command center from the earth. It will face challenges including temperature differences of more than 300 degrees Celsius on the moon. 

Yutu will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.

 

The lunar nodal cycle and its effects on climate

July 27, 2013

A paper has just been published in the International Journal of Climatology showing that the lunar nodal cycle influences “the low-frequency summer rainfall variability over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, in South America, through long-term sea surface temperature (SST) variations induced by the nodal amplitude of diurnal tides over southwestern South Atlantic (SWSA).”

Eduardo Andres Agosta, The 18.6-year nodal tidal cycle and the bi-decadal precipitation oscillation over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, South America, International J of Climatology, DOI: 10.1002/joc.3787

Abstract: This work shows statistical evidence for lunar nodal cycle influence on the low-frequency summer rainfall variability over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, in South America, through long-term sea surface temperature (SST) variations induced by the nodal amplitude of diurnal tides over southwestern South Atlantic (SWSA). In years of strong (weak) diurnal tides, tide-induced diapycnal mixing makes SST cooler (warmer) together with low (high) air pressures in the surroundings of the Malvinas/Falklands Islands in the SWSA, possibly through mean tropospheric baroclinicity variations. As the low-level tropospheric circulation anomalies directly affect the interannual summer rainfall variability, such an influence can be extended to the bi-decadal variability present in the summer rainfall owing to the nodal modulation effect observed in the tropospheric circulation. The identification of the nodal periodicity in the summer rainfall variability is statistically robust.

The lunar nodal cycle is not something that is very well known but it is another celestial cycle which is clearly not to be ignored. Naturally the IPCC takes no notice of solar cycles, planetary cycles or lunar cycles and all these are lumped into what could be considered “natural variability”.

(Sourced from Wikipedia)

The lunar orbit is inclined by about 5 degrees on the ecliptic. The moon  therefore can lie up to about 5 degrees north or south of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the plane of the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere, and is coplanar with both the orbit of the Earth around the Sun and the apparent orbit of the Sun around the Earth.

File:Lunar eclipse diagram-en.svg

Lunar eclipse orbital diagram: wikipedia

The lunar nodes precess around the ecliptic, completing a revolution (called a draconitic or nodical period, the period of nutation) in 6793.5 days or 18.5996 years.

The effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle on climate on tides and geological sediments and on weather and climate have long been of interest (though not apparently for the IPCC).

Nanocycles Method is the English translation of the title of a book published in Russian by Professor of Geology S Afanasiev of Moscow University in 1991,ISBN 5–7045–0109–0.

From “Nanocycles Method” by S Afanasiev, 1991

The lunar node cycle, which is presently 18.6 years, affects the rainfall on a 9.3 year cycle and this shows up as varying thickness layers of deposits, or varves, in geological formations. 

However the moon’s orbit is gradually getting larger over time and so its period is slowing down. The rate of movement of the nodes is also decelerating and Prof Afanasiev has determined the accurate nodal cycle period for the whole of the last 600 million years.

The cycle of the lunar node is important in affecting the weather because it plays a part in determining tides in the atmosphere, oceans and solid body of the earth. The atmospheric tides affect rainfall which in turn affects river flows and hence the deposition of geological varves, or annual deposits in geological layers. ….. 

At the present time, with a nodal cycle of 9.3 years, successive nodal cycles begin 0.3 years later in the seasons each cycle. Therefore after 3 or 4 cycles the nodal cycle start return to the same time of year again. The average period of the cycle when the nodal cycle comes at the same time of year is 9.3/0.3 or 31 years. Specific occurrences of nearly the same season, within 0.1 year, will occur after 28, 65 and 93 years and so on. 

…. Because the lunar nodal cycle period has changed from 9.147 years to 9.298 years in the last 1.0 million years, the secondary cycle has varied from 62.12 years to 31.21 years. If this cycle can be measured in a deposit to an accuracy of 1 year then it allows the dating of the deposit to an accuracy of +/-0.03 million years.

A small selection of papers dealing with the effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle is given below:

Transylvanian Hypothesis lives again — Now lunar cycles found to affect sleep

July 26, 2013

Moon sickness is becoming all the rage. Hot on the heels of the report that cardiac surgery results are affected by the phases of the moon comes this study showing that lunar cycles do – in fact – also affect sleep. Our bodies it seems also dance to a lunar rythm and maybe it is time to revive the Transylvanian Hypothesis and revisit all the myths and legends about the effects of the moon (werewolves, induced lunacy, epileptic fits and even lunar effects on general practice consultancy rates!)

A new paper in Current Biology

Christian Cajochen, Songül Altanay-Ekici, Mirjam Münch, Sylvia Frey, Vera Knoblauch, Anna Wirz-Justice. Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029

from planetsforkids

EurekAlert: 

Many people complain about poor sleep around the full moon, and now a report appearing in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 25 offers some of the first convincing scientific evidence to suggest that this really is true. The findings add to evidence that humans—despite the comforts of our civilized world—still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon, driven by a circalunar clock.

“The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not ‘see’ the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase,” says Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel.

In the new study, the researchers studied 33 volunteers in two age groups in the lab while they slept. Their brain patterns were monitored while sleeping, along with eye movements and hormone secretions.

The data show that around the full moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. People also took five minutes longer to fall asleep, and they slept for twenty minutes less time overall. Study participants felt as though their sleep was poorer when the moon was full, and they showed diminished levels of melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep and wake cycles.

“This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues,” the researchers say.

Cajochen adds that this circalunar rhythm might be a relic from a past in which the moon could have synchronized human behaviors for reproductive or other purposes, much as it does in other animals. Today, the moon’s hold over us is usually masked by the influence of electrical lighting and other aspects of modern life.

The researchers say it would be interesting to look more deeply into the anatomical location of the circalunar clock and its molecular and neuronal underpinnings. And, they say, it could turn out that the moon has power over other aspects of our behavior as well, such as our cognitive performance and our moods.

 

Lunatic science? Cardiac surgery gives better results during a waning full moon!

July 17, 2013

It is not the 1st of April so presumably this “lunatic science” about the effects of a waning full moon on improved results after surgery  - taking “lunatic” in its proper sense of moon-sick  - is not just fantasy!

The message is clear. Schedule any cardiac surgery you may need during a waning full moon! But it does go against previous “lunatic belief” expressed by a UK politician as recently as 2009. Tredinnick, a Conservative MP,  is a supporter of astrology especially the use of it in medical practice!

 In October 2009, British politician David Tredinnick asserted that during a full moon “[s]urgeons will not operate because blood clotting is not effective and the police have to put more people on the street.”.

The belief that there is correlation between specific stages of the Earth’s lunar cycle and behavior in animals including human beings that cannot simply be explained by variation in light levels. There is no scientific reason to expect this to be the case and, in spite of numerous studies, no significant lunar effect on human behaviour has been established. Scholars debunking the effect sometimes refer to it as the Transylvanian hypothesis or the Transylvanian effect to emphasise its fanciful nature – Wikipedia

One wonders of course whether the effects of the full moon are affecting the surgeons or the patients.

This “study” – not funded- from the Rhode Island Hospital has just been published:

J. H. Shuhaiber, J. L. Fava, T. Shin, N. Dobrilovic, A. Ehsan, A. Bert, F. Sellke. The influence of seasons and lunar cycle on hospital outcomes following ascending aortic dissection repairInteractive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/icvts/ivt299

Franke Sellke

Franke Sellke

EurekAlert: 

Waning and full moon cycles impact length of stay, mortality

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – If you need cardiac surgery in the future, aortic dissection in particular, reach for the moon. Or at least try to schedule your surgery around its cycle. According to a study at Rhode Island Hospital, acute aortic dissection (AAD) repair performed in the waning full moon appears to reduce the odds of death, and a full moon was associated with shorter length of stay (LOS). The study is published online in advance of print in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of natural time variations of both the season and the lunar cycle phase on hospital survival and length of stay (number of days a patient is in the hospital) following acute aortic dissection repair.

(more…)

Chang’e 2 is now “liberated” from earth and lunar gravity

September 11, 2011

China’s lunar probe Chang’e 2 completed its mission orbiting the moon three months ago and has now reached Lagrange (liberation) Point L2.

It has now reached a point in space where neither the moon nor the earth’s gravity will affect the probe. This point is called L2. It’s the farthest a Chinese spacecraft has ever been.

Chang’e 2′s primary mission was to orbit the moon at only 100 kilometers from the surface, taking high resolution photos. After completing this, scientists decided that there was enough fuel to continue with the second part of the mission. But sending the probe from the moon was unprecedented. Similar missions has previously left directly from Earth, so keeping the satellite on course was a technological challenge.

Zhou Jianliang, Deputy Chief Designer, Measure & Control System of Chang’e 2, said, “The satellite faced various disruptions on its journey, which could have led it off course. We had planned four readjustments to keep it on track. But we only need(ed) to do it once since the first adjustment proved so accurate.”

China’s ambitious three-stage moon mission is steadily advancing. The next phase will be the launch of Chang’e-3 in 2013. The probe’s mission is to land on the moon together with a moon rover. In the third phase, the rover should land on the moon and return to Earth with lunar soil and stones for scientists to study. The Chang’e program was named after the legendary Chinese goddess who flew to the moon. With the progress in technology and experience from the Chang’e mission, sending a Chinese astronaut to the moon is now clearly feasible.

On Lagrange Points:

The Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered five special points in the vicinity of two orbiting masses where a third, smaller mass can orbit at a fixed distance from the larger masses. More precisely, the Lagrange Points mark positions where the gravitational pull of the two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required to rotate with them. Those with a mathematical flair can follow this link to a derivation of Lagrange’s result (168K PDF file, 8 pages).

Of the five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable. The unstable Lagrange points – labeled L1, L2 and L3 – lie along the line connecting the two large masses. The stable Lagrange points – labeled L4 and L5 – form the apex of two equilateral triangles that have the large masses at their vertices.

Lagrange Points

Lagrange Points of the Earth-Sun system (not drawn to scale!): NASA

 The easiest way to see how Lagrange made his discovery is to adopt a frame of reference that rotates with the system. The forces exerted on a body at rest in this frame can be derived from an effective potential in much the same way that wind speeds can be inferred from a weather map. The forces are strongest when the contours of the effective potential are closest together and weakest when the contours are far apart. In the contour plot below we see that L4 and L5 correspond to hilltops and L1, L2 and L3 correspond to saddles (i.e. points where the potential is curving up in one direction and down in the other).

Effective Potential

A contour plot of the effective potential (not drawn to scale!): NASA

Solar effects will give increased volcanic and earthquake activity in the next 2 years

February 22, 2011

Solar effects are much more profound than many so-called climate scientists like to admit. It seems entirely plausible to me that earthquakes and volcanism are connected to solar events. This paper by Zhang from 1998 also associates increased Earthquakes with general increases in solar proton events.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/buvw2tq081013210/fulltext.pdf?page=1

Relationship between global seismicity and solar activities

Gui-Qing ZHANG

Vol. 11 No.4 (495~500)  ACTA SEISMOLOGICA SINICA  July, 1998

Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of  Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

Abstract :

The  relations  between  sunspot  numbers and earthquakes  (M>6), solar 10.7cm  radio flux  and  earthquakes,  solar  proton events and earthquakes have been  analyzed in this  paper. It has been found that:

  1. Earthquakes occur frequently around the minimum years  of  solar activity. Generally, the  earthquake  activities are  relatively less during the peak value years of  solar activity, some  say, a round the period when magnetic polarity  in the  solar polar regions  is reversed.
  2. The earthquake frequency in the minimum period of  solar activity is closely related to the  maximum annual means of sunspot numbers, the maximum annual means of solar 10.7 cm radio flux and solar proton events of a whole solar cycle, and the relation between earthquake and solar proton events is closer than others.
  3. As judged by above interrelationship, the period from 1995 to 1997 will be the years while earthquake activities are frequent. In the paper, the simple physical discussion has been carried out.

Piers Corbyn at WeatherAction comments:

“We now think that it is not just general solar proton event levels which point towards more earthquakes but that individual solar proton events exacerbate immediate earthquake (and associated volcanism) risk either directly or due to consequent storm activity and related surface pressure changes such as caused by our solar triggered and predicted Tropical Cyclone Atu which is currently centred North of New Zealand and heading closer.

There are also additional lunar effects on storm development and earthquakes & volcanism and for solar drivers it appears that the odd-even minima, particularly the later part i.e. the rising phase of even solar cycles – WHICH IS WHERE WE ARE NOW (early Solar Cycle 24) – are the most dangerous.

Prediction of individual Earthquakes is very hard but we are very confident of a continuing period of significantly enhanced earthquake and volcanic activity as well as extreme weather events for the coming one or two years, probably exceeding the levels of the most active extended periods in at least the last 100 years.”

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveils Chang’e-2 pictures

November 8, 2010

Xinhua reports the success of the Chang’e-2 mission.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Monday unveiled the first pictures of the moon’s Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows, marking the success of China’s Chang’e-2 lunar probe mission.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attends an unveiling ceremony for pictures of the moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows, taken and sent back by the Chang'e-2, China's second lunar probe, in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 8, 2010. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

The pictures were taken and sent back by the Chang’e-2, China’s second lunar probe, which was launched on October 1.

Chang’e-2 entered into its final 118 min orbit and formally started its mission of mapping the moon and preparing the way for Chang’e-3 on October 9th.


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