UFO Buster Radio News – 294: Oxygen on Mars and TESS on Planet 9
Planet 9 may have already been found, study suggests
Since its launch in April 2018, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found a number of exoplanets, including a so-called “missing link” and an exoplanet with three suns. But a new study suggests the $200 million satellite may have also discovered the mysterious Planet 9.
The research, published in Research Notes of the AAS, notes that TESS is able to take multiple images of the same spot in space, potentially locating trans-Neptunian objects, also known as TNOs.
“What TESS is doing is staring at regions in the sky for months for at a time,” the study’s lead author, Harvard University astrophysicist Matt Holman, said in an interview with Fox News. “It’s looking for exoplanets and you can find those by looking at the paths of the host stars.”
“While it’s doing that, it’s collecting images one at a time and it can look for objects in our solar system,” Holman added. “The main thing I don’t think people realized before is if you have a small telescope like TESS, you can combine images and find faint objects.”
According to SyFy Wire, Planet 9 could have a near-infrared magnitude between 19 and 24, making it possible that TESS may have already observed it.
Holman noted that TESS has already looked at the entire southern hemisphere, making the chances “nearly 100 percent” that Planet 9 has already been observed if it’s in that part of the sky. “If it’s in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re not there just yet,” he added.
The Curiosity rover detects oxygen behaving strangely on Mars
Earlier this year, the rover’s tunable laser spectrometer, called SAM, which stands for Sample Analysis at Mars, detected the largest amount of methane ever measured during its mission.
SAM has also found that over time, oxygen behaves in a way that can’t be explained by any chemical process scientists currently understand.
SAM has had plenty of time — about six years — to sniff and analyze the atmospheric composition on Mars. The data revealed that at the surface, 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, followed by 2.6% molecular nitrogen, 1.9% argon, 0.16% oxygen and 0.06% carbon monoxide.
Surprisingly, the oxygen actually rose by a peak increase of 30% in the spring and summer before dropping back to normal in the fall.
Given the amount of time Curiosity has been monitoring the atmosphere, it was able to detect that this pattern repeated, albeit with varying amounts of oxygen.
The variation suggests that the oxygen is being created by something, then taken away.
“The first time we saw that, it was just mind boggling,” said Sushil Atreya, study author on a new paper about the oxygen levels and professor of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan.
The study published Tuesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
So why is this unusually large amount of methane so interesting? On Earth, microbial life is a key source of methane. But NASA also warned that expectations of life should be managed due to the fact that interactions between rocks and water can also create methane, and Mars has water and an abundance of rocks.
“With our current measurements, we have no way of telling if the methane source is biology or geology, or even ancient or modern,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
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