Nepalese Team To Measure Mount Everest Amid Concerns It Has Shrunk Following Earthquake

Nepal is sending a group of expert climbers to remeasure the height of Mount Everest today amid concerns that the devastating 2015 earthquake in the country caused the peak to shrink.

It is the first time the country has sent its own government-appointed team to conduct a survey of the world’s highest mountain.

Officially, Everest stands at 29,029ft – but this figure was calculated by an Indian team back in 1954. Since then its actual height has been widely debated.

China believes the mountain could be over ten feet shorter than the 1954 measurement while the US National Geographic Society believes it is actually over five foot higher.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015 cast further doubt on the Indian reading.

The severity of the quake – which left 3.5 million people homeless – is believed to have altered the height of some areas of Nepal by up to 30 feet, thanks to shifting tectonic plates.

The four Nepalis chosen to climb Everest have spent the past two years training for the climb.

Chief Survey Officer Khim Lal Gautam and Survey Officer Rabin Karki will ascend Everest, assisted by a group of Sherpas.

Once they successfully reach the summit they will use a new Global Navigation Satellite System that can send readings about its height to their two colleagues who will remain at base camp.

They believe the device will allow them to accurately measure the height of Everest to the centimetre, putting any uncertainty firmly to rest.

“It will not be easy to work in that terrain, but we are confident our mission will be successful,” said expedition leader Mr Gautam, who previously ascended the treacherous peak in 2011.

More than 5,000 people have scaled Everest since it was first climbed by the Kiwi mountaineer Edmund Hillary and his Indian-Nepali Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

However, the mountain is notoriously dangerous to climb and the last year without any fatalities was back in 1977.

Avalanches, falls and frostbite brought on by temperatures as low as -60C have all previously claimed the lives of experienced mountaineers.

My Two Girls Are Growing Up

Hi Folks, I know some of you like to keep up with my family, especially my two girls. Well, they are growing up faster than I would like or really prepared for – which is probably echoed by parents around the world. Sophia is now 7 yrs old and her hair is about as long as she is. Alexa just turned 11yrs and her pre-teen changes are both exciting and terrifying.

I am having to dig into the books (actually online) to understand the hormonal changes, which of course goes along with her physical changes. She is a beauty (of course every dad would say this) but she really really is…and her smarts are as sharp as her looks. (well, I guess every dad says this too). Uhh, I thought going through a Peer Review was herculean challenge.

I know some of you like to share gifts for them, so I will put a link below if you wish to. Sophia’s birthday was just a month ago, and Alexa’s is this week. If you have a specific gift you wish to present for either of them, just write it down in an email and I will make sure we get it for them.

Lots of news coming out related to charged particles and their influence on our solar system and of course our home Earth. As research commonly ensues, most of the current published papers reflect data collected over the past year, or at times few years, but then there are some new revelations which have occurred in the last few days and weeks.

Stay tuned for a few surprises and some that affirm our research….
Cheers, Mitch


My Schools Apex Fun Run is Back

Hi Everybody, It’s Alexa Battros and my little sister Sophia. Most of you know my dad Mitch Battros from his Science Of Cycles research. I’m his oldest daughter and I will be 11 yrs old next month. My sister turned 6 last month.

I’m participating in my school Hidden Forest Fun Run and I would love your support. My run event was canceled due to rain and is rescheduled for tomorrow Feb. 25th – so I’m hoping you can help right away.

I have a request… would you please pledge me a dollar amount per Lap? I will complete between 26 and 36 Laps, with 36 being the most. You can pledge $1, $3, $5 per Lap, or any other flat donation amount.

To make a pledge, just click here: Hidden Forest Fun Run . Donations will be used for my school’s Laptop Carts & Technology Improvements.

Thank you again for helping my cause!

Alexa and Sophia Battros

A Thousand New Objects And Phenomena In Night Sky

Casual stargazers may look at the black area among stars and think that there’s nothing there except empty space. But the night sky hides many secrets invisible to the naked eye.

Less than a year into its mission, a sky-survey camera in Southern California shows just how full the sky is. The Zwicky Transient Facility, based at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, has identified over a thousand new objects and phenomena in the night sky, including more than 1,100 new supernovae and 50 near-Earth asteroids, as well as binary star systems and black holes. Operated by Caltech, the ZTF is a public-private partnership between the National Science Foundation and a consortium of nine other institutions around the globe, including the University of Washington. The ZTF collaboration’s six latest papers, which describe these discoveries as well as the ZTF’s data mining, sorting and alert systems, have been accepted for publication in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Eric Bellm, the ZTF survey scientist and a research assistant professor of astronomy at UW, is lead author on a paper describing the ZTF’s technical systems and major findings since the survey began on March 20, 2018. Maria Patterson, a data scientist formerly with the UW Department of Astronomy’s DIRAC Institute, is lead author on another paper describing the ZTF’s alert system for notifying science teams of possible new objects in the sky or significant changes to existing objects.

“The ZTF mission is to identify changes in the night sky and alert the astronomical field of these discoveries as quickly as possible,” said Bellm, who is also a fellow with the DIRAC Institute. “The results and specifications reported in these six papers demonstrate that the ZTF has in place a pipeline to identify new objects, as well as analyze and disseminate information about them quickly to the astronomy community.”

Science teams need quick alerts so that they could, if needed, arrange for follow-up observations of individual objects by other observatories, Bellm added.

The ZTF accomplishes its survey goals through a digital camera, consisting of 16 charge-coupled devices, mounted to the 48-inch-aperture Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar. A single image from the camera covers an area about 240 times the size of the moon; in just one night, the ZTF could image the entire night sky visible from the Northern Hemisphere. So far, the ZTF camera has imaged more than 1 billion stars in our galaxy alone. By comparing new images to old, the ZTF can identify objects that are new, such as a supernova lighting up for the first time, or changes to existing objects, such as a star brightening in luminosity.

The ZTF undertakes surveys for public agencies such as the National Science Foundation, as well as private entities. The sheer volume of data generated by the ZTF necessitated a new approach to data analysis and alerts, according to Bellm.

“Every image that the ZTF takes contributes to at least one survey,” said Bellm. “We needed to put an automated alert system in place that would inform the relevant survey teams — in near-real time — of every potential change or new object that the ZTF would uncover, which could be more than a million in a single night.” Patterson, Bellm and other UW scientists — including Mario Juric, associate professor of astronomy and senior data fellow with the eScience Institute — led the effort within the ZTF to craft the automated alert system. They utilized two open-source technologies: Kafka, a real-time data-streaming platform, and Avro, a framework to serialize data for transmission and storage. The completed alert system, which was first deployed in June 2018, has successfully generated and distributed up to 1.2 million ZTF alerts each night — with each alert going out to survey teams approximately 10 seconds after it was automatically generated.

“Through these alert systems, the ZTF is sharing every change it finds with our survey partners,” said Bellm. “They are receiving every bit of data.”

Survey partners, in turn, are experimenting with machine-learning classification systems and other analysis tools to sort through the alerts. The ZTF’s alert system is a proving ground for future “automated, time-domain astronomy” missions such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, said Bellm. The LSST, which is expected to begin its sky surveys in 2022, should generate about 10 million alerts per night, which is about 10 times the maximum alert volume of the ZTF. But the ZTF alert system could form the basis of a scaled-up alert pipeline for the LSST, according to Bellm.

“We are very pleased with the opportunities that the ZTF mission has provided us,” said Bellm. “It is reassuring to know that we have the tools at hand today that are useful not only for ongoing surveys at the ZTF, but also future missions like the LSST.”

Scientists Find Increase In Asteroid Impacts On Ancient Earth By Studying The Moon

An international team of scientists is challenging our understanding of a part of Earth’s history by looking at the Moon, the most complete and accessible chronicle of the asteroid collisions that carved our solar system.

In a study published today in Science, the team shows the number of asteroid impacts on the Moon and Earth increased by two to three times starting around 290 million years ago.

“Our research provides evidence for a dramatic change in the rate of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon that occurred around the end of the Paleozoic era,” said lead author Sara Mazrouei, who recently earned her PhD in the Department of Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto (U of T). “The implication is that since that time we have been in a period of relatively high rate of asteroid impacts that is 2.6 times higher than it was prior to 290 million years ago.”

It had been previously assumed that most of Earth’s older craters produced by asteroid impacts have been erased by erosion and other geologic processes. But the new research shows otherwise.

“The relative rarity of large craters on Earth older than 290 million years and younger than 650 million years is not because we lost the craters, but because the impact rate during that time was lower than it is now,” said Rebecca Ghent, an associate professor in U of T’s Department of Earth Sciences and one of the paper’s co-authors. “We expect this to be of interest to anyone interested in the impact history of both Earth and the Moon, and the role that it might have played in the history of life on Earth.”

Scientists have for decades tried to understand the rate that asteroids hit Earth by using radiometric dating of the rocks around them to determine their ages. But because it was believed erosion caused some craters to disappear, it was difficult to find an accurate impact rate and determine whether it had changed over time.

A way to sidestep this problem is to examine the Moon, which is hit by asteroids in the same proportions over time as Earth. But there was no way to determine the ages of lunar craters until NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) started circling the Moon a decade ago and studying its surface.

“The LRO’s instruments have allowed scientists to peer back in time at the forces that shaped the Moon,” said Noah Petro, an LRO project scientist based at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Using LRO data, the team was able to assemble a list of ages of all lunar craters younger than about a billion years. They did this by using data from LRO’s Diviner instrument, a radiometer that measures the heat radiating from the Moon’s surface, to monitor the rate of degradation of young craters.

During the lunar night, rocks radiate much more heat than fine-grained soil called regolith. This allows scientists to distinguish rocks from fine particles in thermal images. Ghent had previously used this information to calculate the rate at which large rocks around the Moon’s young craters — ejected onto the surface during asteroid impact — break down into soil as a result of a constant rain of tiny meteorites over tens of millions of years. By applying this idea, the team was able to calculate ages for previously un-dated lunar craters.

When compared to a similar timeline of Earth’s craters, they found the two bodies had recorded the same history of asteroid bombardment.

“It became clear that the reason why Earth has fewer older craters on its most stable regions is because the impact rate was lower up until about 290 million years ago,” said William Bottke, an asteroid expert at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado and another of the paper’s coauthors. “The answer to Earth’s impact rate was staring everyone right in the face.”

The reason for the jump in the impact rate is unknown, though the researchers speculate it might be related to large collisions taking place more than 300 million years ago in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Such events can create debris that can reach the inner solar system.

Ghent and her colleagues found strong supporting evidence for their findings through a collaboration with Thomas Gernon, an Earth scientist based at the University of Southampton in England who works on a terrestrial feature called kimberlite pipes. These underground pipes are long-extinct volcanoes that stretch, in a carrot shape, a couple of kilometers below the surface, and are found on some of the least eroded regions of Earth in the same places preserved impact craters are found.

“The Canadian shield hosts some of the best-preserved and best-studied of this terrain — and also some of the best-studied large impact craters,” said Mazrouei.

Gernon showed that kimberlite pipes formed since about 650 million years ago had not experienced much erosion, indicating that the large impact craters younger than this on stable terrains must also be intact.

“This is how we know those craters represent a near-complete record,” Ghent said.

While the researchers weren’t the first to propose that the rate of asteroid strikes to Earth has fluctuated over the past billion years, they are the first to show it statistically and to quantify the rate.

“The findings may also have implications for the history of life on Earth, which is punctuated by extinction events and rapid evolution of new species,” said Ghent. “Though the forces driving these events are complicated and may include other geologic causes, such as large volcanic eruptions, combined with biological factors, asteroid impacts have surely played a role in this ongoing saga.

“The question is whether the predicted change in asteroid impacts can be directly linked to events that occurred long ago on Earth.”

The findings are described in the study “Earth and Moon impact flux increased at the end of the Paleozoic,” published in Science. Support for the research was provided by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, and the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom.

The Lonely Giant: Milky Way-Sized Galaxy Lacking Galactic Neighbors

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, fewer galaxies were born than expected — and that could create new questions for galaxy physics, according to a new University of Michigan study.

The study examined the satellite galaxies of Messier 94, or M94, a galaxy similar in size to our Milky Way. Researchers have long known the Milky Way has about 10 smaller, satellite galaxies surrounding it, each with at least a million stars, and up to more than a billion, such as the Magellanic Clouds.

Now, with the powerful Subaru telescope, astronomers can peer at galaxies five or 10 times the distance from the Milky Way, such as M94. They then can use the physics of how satellite galaxies form around the Milky Way to predict how many satellite galaxies a similar-sized galaxy such as M94 may have.

When U-M astronomers examined M94, they expected to find a similar number of satellite galaxies. However, they detected just two galaxies near M94, with very few stars each. Their results, led by Adam Smercina, a National Science Foundation fellow in the U-M Department of Astronomy, are published in the journal Astrophysical Letters.

“More than just an observational oddity, we show that the current crop of galaxy formation models cannot produce such a satellite system,” Smercina said. “Our results indicate that Milky Way-like galaxies most likely host a much wider diversity of satellite populations than is predicted by any current model.”

Smercina also says their results have implications for the current understanding of how galaxies form — which is in much larger halos of dark matter.

These halos of dark matter surrounding galaxies have immense gravitational force, and can pull in gas from their immediate vicinity. Large galaxies like the Milky Way generally form in halos of about the same mass. But these smaller satellite galaxies, which form in smaller ‘subhalos,’ are not nearly so dependable.

The production rate of high-mass stars in these satellite galaxies actually modulates their growth. If, for example, the nascent satellite galaxy forms too many high-mass stars at one time, their eventual supernova explosions might expel all its gas and halt all further growth. But astronomers are unsure at what size halo this ‘scatter’ in galaxy formation becomes important.

Smercina says M94 indicates that galaxy formation in intermediate-sized dark halos may be much more uncertain than previously thought.

“We think that that scatter — the range of galaxies we expect to see — may be a lot higher than what people currently think for dark matter halos of a certain mass,” he said. “Nobody’s under any illusions as to there being this huge scatter at the very lowest halo masses, but it’s at these intermediate dark matter halos that the discussion is happening.”

To observe the number of satellite dwarf galaxies around M94, the researchers took a composite image of the large galaxy. The image covered about 12 square degrees of the night sky — the full moon, for comparison, appears as about one square degree. This kind of image includes layers and layers of “noise,” including cosmic rays and scattered light, which make faint dwarf galaxies difficult to detect.

To make sure they weren’t missing satellite galaxies, Smercina and his team engineered artificial galaxies back into the image and recovered them using the same methods as for real satellites. With this technique, the researchers confirmed that were no more than two galaxies around M94.

“The real kicker is whether or not the community expected this could be possible,” Smercina said. “That is the real curiosity of this finding — the result is something the simulations don’t predict. When you can discover something we didn’t really think we could find, you can make a contribution to our understanding of how our universe works, that’s really rewarding.”

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Wake Up

Too many things going on to say good night… 🙂
Christmas is just a few days away and I have noticed there are a few of you who take joy in gifting my two kids…Alexa, now 10 and Sophia, now 6. If you have a specific gift you wish to give, there will be a place to leave a note in your check out. You can describe what gift you wish to obtain along with any note you wish to present to one or both. I plan on being out to the stores until they kick me out.

Also, I just wanted to say thank you for believing in me, and perhaps most importantly, supporting the direction I am heading….First, in the way of outlining and putting into formula what we now describe as “Space Weather”. Secondly, for turning my attention beyond the Sun – Earth connection and venturing into a similar connection between Earth, our solar system and our galaxy Milky Way. I will continue to research the driving forces which is the impetus of all natural rhythmic cycles….hence; Science Of Cycles.

Merry Christmas, Mitch