Hubble Is Slowly Falling—and SpaceX Wants to Give It a Boost:
The Hubble Space Telescope is falling, but amid always-tight NASA budgets, SpaceX is volunteering to help see if it’s possible to give it a push back into space. Hubble has been in orbit around the Earth for a very long time, and it experiences a constant slow-motion re-entry of the atmosphere. It has already been pushed back up in orbit once before. NASA is firm that any efforts to “reboost” Hubble back up to its orbit of 600 kilometers (370 miles) above the Earth will not be deducted from its existing budgetary commitments, and that the study co-conducted with Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX is looking only at commercial possibilities. Teams expect the study to take up to six months, collecting technical data from both Hubble and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This data will help determine whether it would be possible to safely rendezvous, dock, and move the telescope into a more stable orbit. Now the SpaceX Dragon Crew spacecraft has entered into service with the agency for crewed missions to the ISS, and the possibility that a flight to dock with Hubble to boost it back into orbit, as well as bring along engineers to service Hubble’s systems, is what is currently being discussed.
The secret of swing, addressed in the lab:
Schematic representation of the timing manipulations we used in the experiment to probe the effects of micro timing deviations on the swing feel. Importantly, all manipulations were done to keep the same swing ratio for the soloist (i.e., piano).
Through a sophisticated experiment and data analyses on more than 450 well-known jazz solos, physicists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPI-DS) with psychologists from the University of Göttingen have unraveled a secret of swing. In this study, their team was able to unravel those small deviations in the timing of beat and rhythm are a central component of the swing music feel. However, these deviations were not random and instead were done systematically without many jazz musicians even knowing about it. In fact, random deviations in the timing of beat and rhythm actually impaired the feeling of swing music. Through a more current follow-up study, the scientists investigated the influence of various systematic deviations between soloists and rhythm sections on the swing feel. They found that while soloist sections of swing with downbeat delays had no effect, but the instrumental rhythm sections being downbeat delayed by around 30 milliseconds heavily enhanced the feel. This marks it as one of the main contributors to what makes swing music swing. Jazz musicians like Louie Armstrong and others have been able to replicate this effect time and time again without even being aware of it. While one part of what makes swing feel it does has been found, there is more to discover and soon we may know exactly why other types of music make us feel the way we do.
Mars’ buried ‘lake’ might just be layers of ice and rock:
Evidence grows that there might not be an underground lake surrounded by shallow pools near Mars’ south polar ice cap (shown in this 2015 image from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter). ESA, DLR, FU BERLIN (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
“Follow the water” has long been the mantra of scientists searching for life beyond Earth. After all, the only known cradle of life in the cosmos is the watery planet we call home. But now there’s more evidence suggesting that a potential discovery of liquid water on Mars might not be so watertight, researchers report September 26. In 2018, scientists announced the discovery of a large subsurface lake on Mars, but since then researchers have started to prove otherwise. In 2021, one group suggested that clay minerals and frozen brines, rather than liquid water, might be responsible for the strong radar signals that researchers observed. Spacecraft orbiting Mars beam radio waves toward the Red Planet and measure the timing and intensity of the reflected waves to infer what’s beneath the Martian surface. Now another team has shown that ordinary layers of rock and ice can produce many of the same radar signals previously attributed to water. Planetary scientist Dan Lalich of Cornell University and his colleagues calculated how flat layers of bedrock, water ice, and carbon dioxide ice all known to be plentiful on Mars reflect radio waves. While it doesn’t rule out liquid water on the planet, the water formation could be any number of things so it is inconclusive what exactly the formation is.