Monday, June 14, 2010

Jupiter Impact: Mystery of the Missing Debris - On June 3rd, 2010, something hit Jupiter. A comet or asteroid descended from the black of space, struck the planet's cloudtops, and disintegrated, producing a flash of light so bright it was visible in backyard telescopes on Earth. Soon, observers around the world were training their optics on the impact site, waiting to monitor the cindery cloud of debris which always seems to accompany a strike of this kind. They're still waiting.
"It's as if Jupiter just swallowed the thing whole." "It was thrilling to see the impact, but the absence of any visible debris has got us scratching our heads." Indeed, it is a bit of a puzzle. "We've seen things hit Jupiter before, and the flash of impact has always been followed by some kind of debris." So where is the debris this time?
A possibility offered by some observers is that the flash wasn't an impact at all. Maybe it was a giant Jovian lightning bolt. But "NASA spacecraft have seen lightning on Jupiter many times before, but only on the planet's nightside. This dayside event would have to be unimaginably more powerful than any previous bolt we've seen. Even Jupiter doesn't produce lightning that big."
Curiously, the impactor (if indeed this was an impact event) struck right in the middle of Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt (SEB), one of the two broad stripes that girdle the planet. This is "curious" because the SEB itself vanished earlier this year. The missing belt may still exist, just temporarily hidden underneath some high-altitude cirrus clouds.
The best remaining hypothesis is that the impactor was small, packing just enough punch to make a flash, but without leaving much debris. One thing is sure: "JUPITER IS GETTING HIT MORE THAN WE EXPECTED. Back in the days of Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL-9), we calculated that we should see an impact on Jupiter once every hundred years or so. We considered ourselves extraordinarily lucky to witness the SL-9 event. But look where we are now. Anthony Wesley has observed two impacts within the past 12 months alone. It's time to revise our impact models [particularly for small impactors]." (photos & video)

**A watched pot never boils.**

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/13/10 -

CALIFORNIA - Dozens of aftershocks have occurred in the California desert following two moderate earthquakes on Saturday night. The earthquakes occurred in the Borrego Springs area, about 32 miles southeast of Palm Springs. A 4.8 earthquake followed by a 4.9 quake struck just after 8 p.m. Those temblors were followed by more than three dozen smaller earthquakes, which have continued well into Sunday morning. Hundreds of people told the USGS that they felt the first two quakes, many of them in San Diego. The quake also was felt across the Palm Springs area, as well as along the northern San Diego County coast, Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside. The aftershocks were smaller, and far fewer people felt them. No damage or injuries were reported. (map)


RUSSIA - GORELY VOLCANO - In the Russian Far East, Kamchatka’s Gorely volcano is spewing steam and ash again AFTER DECADES IN DORMANCY. The plume has stretched to over a hundred kilometers, compromising regional air travel and threatening disruption at a local geothermal power plant. Volcanologists say that population centres are not under threat. Mount Gorely rises to about two kilometres above sea level. There are 11 craters on it, one with a lake. The volcano’s average dormancy interval is close to 20 years. (photo)
KLYUCHEVSKAYA SOPKA VOLCANO - Black volcanic ash covered the Klyuchi village in Russia’s Kamchatka in the Far East on June 9th. Experts say the ash poses no threat to the local population. The Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano, the highest active volcano in Eurasia, has been erupting since last August.

ICELAND - Fear of floods from Eyjafjallajökull Volcano persist. Authorities closed down Thórsmörk valley to traffic because of the danger of flash flooding down the Gígjökull glacier. A lot of water seems to be sitting in the crater of Eyjafjallajökull glacier and this water is bound to burst down the Gígjökull glacier sooner or later. These waters will surge into the Markarfljót river which runs down Thórsmörk valley. It is uncertain how vast the floods will be and so authorities have decided err on the side of caution and close Thórsmörk to visitors. Thórsmörk nature reserve, a valley which sits between glaciers, is one of the most scenic spots in the country. It was also the scene of the Fimmvörduháls eruption which occurred on the mountain ridge above the valley, creating spectacular lava flows which ran over the ravines and into Thórsmörk. (photo)

No current tropical cyclones.

The first named storm of the hurricane season - Tropical Storm Alex - may emerge from a cyclonic system near Africa, the National Hurricane Center reported. An area of low pressure about 975 miles southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands has become "better organized" Sunday. Odds are 50 percent that the system will develop into a tropical depression - with sustained winds of less than 39 mph - within the next 48 hours. If winds top the 39 mph limit, the cyclone will be named Tropical Storm Alex. The storm system is tracking west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph.

GUATEMALA - President Colom said Guatemala will need five years to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Agatha.


CHINA - UNUSUALLY heavy seasonal flooding has killed at least 155 people and forced more than 1 million to flee as some areas reached their HIGHEST WATER LEVELS IN MORE THAN A DECADE. Direct economic losses total $6.5 billion, with the country's southeast hit especially hard. Virtually all of the major rivers were swollen, and water levels in lakes along the Yangtze River were higher than in 1998, when catastrophic flooding killed about 4,000 people.


Windscreen [windshield] wiper water may be the cause of 20% of cases of Legionnaires' Disease in England and Wales. Stagnant, warm water is a breeding ground for the Legionella bacterium, which when inhaled causes pneumonia. Yet adding screenwash [windshield wiper fluid] kills the bacteria. The finding came after researchers spotted that professional drivers are five times more likely to be infected.
Legionnaires' disease is fairly rare, but it's an extremely unpleasant disease. Most cases are sporadic and the source of the infection is often not found. The number of cases vary from year to year, but in 2009 there were 345 in England and Wales - although some infections were caught overseas. It mainly affects the over 50s and is generally more common in men. Early symptoms feel similar to flu with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever. It is fatal in around 10-15% of patients. "It does not spread from person to person but is present in water environments and is breathed in when it gets into the air in fine particles or mist."
In people who spend a long time driving, those most at risk were those who drove or travelled in a van, those who drove through industrial areas, and those who spent a lot of time in the car or who often had the car window open. The biggest risk was associated with not adding screenwash to windscreen wiper water. In a pilot study, traces of Legionella were found in one in five cars that did not have screenwash, but in no cars that did.