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Living through high inflation increases home ownership

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Credit: UC San Diego

People who experience periods of high inflation are more likely to buy a home, according to a new study from the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management.

The paper, to be published in The Journal of Finance, uses various sources of data which reveal that have been exposed to high inflation are more likely to invest in real estate. The study suggests many homeowners buy because they are motivated to protect themselves from possible future price hikes.

The study is the first to reveal that with inflation is a driver of home ownership.

“We think one reason people choose to buy instead of rent is because they are worried about future inflation, which may drive up both rent and house prices,” said Alex Steiny Wellsjo, study co-author and assistant professor of economics and strategy at the Rady School. “People who have lived through high inflation in the past may expect higher inflation in the future, causing them to wish they were a homeowner. This is especially true if they can finance with a fixed-rate mortgage, further protecting them from future inflation.”

Wellsjo added that the implications of the high inflation people are currently experiencing around the world will have a lasting impact on housing markets.

“Our paper suggests that cohorts living through the current inflationary period will have a higher demand for housing for years to come,” she said.

To find out how people make home ownership decisions, Wellsjo and co-author Ulrike Malmendier, a professor with a joint appointment at the Haas School of Business and economics department at UC Berkeley, conducted a novel survey of 700 homeowners in six European countries (Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain).

Respondents on the survey were asked: what are good reasons to buy a home, whether they have personally experienced high inflation, whether they were worried about future inflation and whether inflation impacted their own decision to buy a home.

Of those surveyed, 50% indicated that “real estate is a good investment if there is inflation.” People who had lived through high inflation were 21% more likely to be worried about inflation in the future and 74% more likely to say that inflation affected their own decision to buy a home.

The authors also used data from the European Central Bank’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey of 220,000 households across 22 European countries, which revealed that the effects of experienced inflation are large. For example, for the typical household, increasing their inflation experiences from 2% to 5.4%, would increase their likelihood of owning from 65% to 75%.

Households’ exposure to past episodes of higher or lower inflation can help to explain differences in the composition of homeownership both within and across countries.

For example, in Germany and Austria, less than half of households own a home. But 85% or more own in Lithuania, Slovakia and Croatia, countries that have histories of high inflation. Similarly, only 57% own their home in France, which has had more price stability, but 82% do in neighboring Spain—a country with a long history of inflation.

“These households with similar demographics and in similar financial situations make systematically different tenure decisions,” write Wellsjo and Malmendier. “While play an important role, as do house prices, housing supply and demographics, we show that economic histories experienced by potential homeowners and especially inflation experiences, strongly predict investment in housing.”

The effect of personal experiences appears to be powerful and long-lasting enough to influence even the homeownership decisions of immigrants who move to a new housing market and still respond to the inflation exposure they experienced in their home countries.

Using data from the American Community Survey, Wellsjo and Malmendier identified household heads who immigrated to the U.S. from outside the country. They were able to calculate the household’s lifetime inflation experiences during their time in their home country and in the U.S. and how that impacted their purchasing decisions after immigrating. Once again, they find that household heads who experienced higher inflation over their lifetime were more likely to be homeowners.

“We show that the relationship between prior inflation and home purchasing choices is not explained by housing market conditions, nor by indicators of current economic conditions or other economic experiences,” the authors write. “The impacts of experiencing high have a long-lasting effect on home ownership.”

More information:
Rent or Buy? In ation Experiences and Homeownership within and across Countries, The Journal of Finance (2023).

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Living through high inflation increases home ownership (2023, April 13)
retrieved 28 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-high-inflation-home-ownership.html

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Weather delays launch of Europe’s Jupiter mission by 24 hours (Update)

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The ESA’s JUICE spacecraft is to embark on an eight-year odyssey to investigate Jupiter’s icy moons.

The launch of the European Space Agency’s JUICE mission, which aims to discover whether Jupiter’s icy moons are capable of hosting extraterrestrial life, was postponed on Thursday for 24 hours due to bad weather.

The launch was called off just minutes before the planned lift-off at 1215 GMT from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, because of the threat of lightning in the cloudy skies overhead.

The next attempt will take place at 1214 GMT on Friday, the European Space Agency said.

Stephane Israel, the CEO of French firm Arianespace which provided the Ariane 5 rocket, said that with just minutes to spare, “a large mass of clouds approached and we absolutely could not proceed with the launch due to the risk of lightning”.

For lift-off to go ahead, three parameters must get the green light: the launcher, the probe and the weather—which was “the final suspense,” he told AFP.

While the winds are expected to allow a green light on Friday, the risk of lightning will be monitored “until the last moment,” he added.

Unlike most launches, JUICE has a launch window of a just a single second because of the specific trajectory it is aiming for.

The delay was announced to the Jupiter control room in Kourou, where many people, including Belgium’s King Philippe, had gathered to watch the launch.

Jupiter's moons, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which will be explored by the ESA's mission JUICE
Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto, which will be explored by the ESA’s mission JUICE.

Liquid water oceans

If the weather permits a launch on Friday, the JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer (JUICE) is still on track to arrive at the gas giant in July 2031.

The uncrewed, six-tonne spacecraft will investigate Jupiter’s icy moons, which were first discovered by astronomer Galileo Galilei more than 400 years ago.

The discovery of huge oceans of liquid water—the main ingredient for life as we know it—kilometers beneath their icy shells has made them prime candidates to potentially host life in our celestial backyard.

Once launched, JUICE will take a long and winding path to Jupiter, which is some 628 million kilometers (390 million miles) from Earth, using other planets for a gravitational boost along the way.

First, it will do a fly-by of Earth and the Moon, then will slingshot around Venus in 2025 before swinging past Earth again in 2029.

Once the probe arrives in 2031, it will need to very carefully hit the brakes to enter Jupiter’s orbit.

The moon Ganymede lurks behind the gas giant Jupiter in a Hubble telescope image from 2008
The moon Ganymede lurks behind the gas giant Jupiter in a Hubble telescope image from 2008.

From there, JUICE will focus on Jupiter and its three icy, ocean-bearing moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Its 10 scientific instruments—including an optical camera, ice-penetrating radar, spectrometer and magnetometer—will analyze the local weather, magnetic field, gravitational pull and other elements.

It also has a record 85 square meters of solar panels to collect as much energy as possible near Jupiter, where sunlight is 25 times weaker than on Earth.

Philippe Baptiste, head of France’s CNES space agency, said it was “the most complex probe ever sent to Jupiter”.

First in another moon’s orbit

JUICE will then set its sights on Ganymede, the Solar System’s largest moon and the only one that has its own magnetic field, which protects it from radiation.

In 2034, JUICE will slide into Ganymede’s orbit, the first time a spacecraft will have done so around a moon other than our own.

JUICE will use its 10 scientific instruments to inspect Jupiter and its icy moons
JUICE will use its 10 scientific instruments to inspect Jupiter and its icy moons.

The mission will not be able to directly detect the existence of alien life, but instead aims to establish whether the moons have the right conditions to harbor life.

If there is life in these buried oceans, scientists theorize it would likely be primitive microbes like bacteria, which are capable of surviving on Earth in such extreme environments.

Europa, another prime candidates for alien life, will be investigated by NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which is scheduled to launch in October 2024.

The postponement of the 1.6 billion-euro ($1.7 billion) JUICE mission comes during a crisis for European space efforts, after Russia pulled its Soyuz rockets in response to sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Combined with repeated delays to the next generation Ariane 6 rockets and the failure of Vega-C’s first commercial flight last year, Europe is struggling to launch its missions into space.

The JUICE mission is expected be the second-last launch for Ariane 5 before it is replaced by the Ariane 6.

© 2023 AFP

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Weather delays launch of Europe’s Jupiter mission by 24 hours (Update) (2023, April 13)
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Is technology-based intelligence more likely to evolve on land or in water?

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

A new paper published by Florida Tech astrobiologist Manasvi Lingam examines a core question: Is technology-based intelligence more likely to evolve on land or in water?

“A Bayesian Analysis of Technological Intelligence in Land and Oceans,” a paper by Lingam and researchers from the University of Texas and Università di Roma, was published in the March edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

Humans are a classic example of the kind of technological intelligence that can profoundly sculpt the biosphere through purposeful activities and produce detectable signatures of their technology. In the paper, the authors performed a Bayesian analysis of the probability of technologically intelligent species existing in land-based habitats and ocean-based habitats. It was found that ocean-based habitats should be more likely to host technological species, if all other factors are held equal, because ocean worlds are likely to be much more common.

“And yet, we find ourselves having emerged on land instead of oceans, so there’s a paradox, broadly speaking, out there,” Lingam said.

The paper also explored possibilities of how the emergence of intelligent technology-based life may be disfavored in the ocean, thereby dissolving this paradox.

Is technology-based intelligence more likely to evolve on land or in water?
The probability P(L∣TI) for TIs corresponding to LBHs as a function of the emergence rate of TIs in LBHs (units of Gyr−1). The vertical line is an estimate of the median value of this rate, based on the data from Earth. Credit: The Astrophysical Journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/acb6fa

“We say that, well, maybe it takes a really long time for life to emerge in the because of various biophysical reasons such as the sensory capacities in land versus water,” Lingam said.

“Another possibility is, due to some set of factors (e.g., ), maybe oceans are not as habitable for as we think they ought to be. Currently, the conventional thinking is that liquid water is needed for life. Well, maybe it is indeed imperative for life, but maybe an excess of it (i.e., only oceans) hampers technological intelligence in some ways. So that was another solution to the paradox we came up with.”

The team was able to come to the conclusions in the paper through synthesizing two distinct avenues. First, they drew extensively on data from Earth to ascertain what intelligent life on this planet has looked like, ranging from primates to cephalopods (e.g., octopuses) and cetaceans (e.g., dolphins). Looking at the cognitive toolkit of humans, Lingam said they sought to understand in what subtle ways human abilities differ from the cognitive capacity of marine life such as whales and dolphins. The second part of the research involved mathematics and physics, specifically Bayesian probability theory, which enables one to calculate the relevant probabilities based on some initial expectations.

While the conclusions in the paper were derived on a probabilistic basis, Lingam said there is still a lot of multidisciplinary work that can be done with refining and extending the models.

“I think one of the nice things about this model is that some of the assumptions can be tested,” Lingam said. “They can either be gauged by future observational data from telescopes, or some of them can be tested by conducting experiments and field studies on earth, such as looking further at ethology (animal behavior), delving further into how cognition operates on land-based animals versus aquatic animals. I think there’s a lot of different animals that could be further assessed to refine the study. All these questions can, and hopefully should, attract people from a very wide range of fields.”

For Lingam, future work pertaining to this study will include grappling with the metabolic role of oxygen in shaping the evolution of complex life and how ubiquitous the element may be on various planets. He will also aim to understand what role the levels of oxygen concentration could have on the evolution of intelligent life.

More information:
Manasvi Lingam et al, A Bayesian Analysis of Technological Intelligence in Land and Oceans, The Astrophysical Journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/acb6fa

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Is technology-based intelligence more likely to evolve on land or in water? (2023, April 12)
retrieved 21 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-technology-based-intelligence-evolve.html

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Researchers confirm the existence of HD 169142 b, the third protoplanet confirmed to date

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Image of the HD 169142 system showing the signal of the forming planet HD 169142 b (around 11 o’clock), as well as a bright spiral arm resulting from the dynamic interaction between the planet and the disk in which it is located. The signal from the star, 100,000 times brighter than the planet, was subtracted by a combination of optical components and image processing (mask in the center of the image). Observations at different times show the planet advancing in its orbit over time. Image obtained with ESO’s VLT/SPHERE instrument. Credit: V.Chrisitaens / ULiège

An international team of researchers from the University of Liège (Belgium) and Monash University (Australia) has just published the results of the analysis of data from the SPHERE instrument of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which confirms a new protoplanet. This result was made possible by advanced image processing tools developed by the PSILab of the University of Liège.

The study is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.

Planets form from clumps of material in disks surrounding newborn stars. When the planet is still forming, i.e., when it is still gathering material, it is called a protoplanet. To date, only two protoplanets had been unambiguously identified as such, PDS 70 b and c, both orbiting the star PDS 70. This number has now been increased to three, with the discovery and confirmation of a protoplanet in the disk of gas and dust surrounding HD 169142, a star 374 from our solar system.

“We used observations from the SPHERE instrument of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) obtained on the star HD 169142, which was observed several times between 2015 and 2019,” explains Iain Hammond, a researcher at Monash University (Australia) who studied at ULiège as part of his doctoral thesis.






A series of images of the HD 169142 system showing the planet in formation HD 169142 b moving in its orbit over time. A bright spiral arm is visible in the wake of the planet, resulting from the dynamic interaction between the planet and the disk in which it lies. The signal from the star, which is 100,000 times brighter than the planet, was subtracted by a combination of optical components and image processing (mask in the center of the image). Images obtained with ESO’s VLT/SPHERE instrument. Credit: ESO/VLT

“As we expect to be hot when they form, the telescope took infrared images of HD 169142 to look for the thermal signature of their formation. With these data, we were able to confirm the presence of a planet, HD 169142 b, about 37 AU (37 astronomical units, or 37 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun) from its star—slightly further than the orbit of Neptune.”

Back in 2019, a team of researchers led by R. Gratton had previously hypothesized that a compact source seen in their images could trace a protoplanet. The new study confirms this hypothesis through both a re-analysis of the data used in their study as well as the inclusion of new observations of better quality.

The different images, obtained with VLT’s SPHERE instrument between 2015 and 2019, reveal a compact source that is moving over time as expected for a planet orbiting at 37 astronomical units from its star. All obtained with the SPHERE instrument were analyzed with state-of-the-art image processing tools developed by the PSILab team at the University of Liège.

“The last data set considered in our study, obtained in 2019, is crucial for the confirmation of the planet’s motion,” explains Valentin Christiaens, researcher at the PSILab of the University of Liège. “This data set had not been published until now.”

The new images also confirm that the planet must have carved an annular gap in the disk—as predicted by the models. This gap is clearly visible in polarized light observations of the disk. “In the infrared, we can also see a spiral arm in the disk, caused by the planet and visible in its wake, suggesting that other protoplanetary disks containing spirals may also harbor yet undiscovered planets,” says Hammond.

The polarized light images, as well as the measured by the research team, further indicate that the planet is buried in a significant amount of dust that it has accreted from the protoplanetary disk. This dust could be in the form of a circumplanetary disk, a small disk that forms around the planet itself, which in turn could form moons. This important discovery demonstrates that the detection of planets by direct imaging is possible even at a very early stage of their formation.

“There have been many among the detections of planets in formation over the last ten years,” says Valentin Christiaens. “Apart from the protoplanets of the PDS 70 system, the status of the other candidates is still hotly debated in the scientific community. The protoplanet HD 169142 b seems to have different properties to the protoplanets of the PDS 70 system, which is very interesting. It seems that we have captured it at a younger stage of its formation and evolution, as it is still completely buried in or surrounded by a lot of dust.”

Given the very small number of confirmed forming planets to date, the discovery of this source and its follow-up should give us a better understanding of how planets, and in particular giant planets such as Jupiter, are formed.

Further characterization of the and independent confirmation could be obtained through future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The high sensitivity of JWST to infrared light should indeed allow researchers to detect thermal emission from the hot dust around the planet.

More information:
Iain Hammond et al, Confirmation and Keplerian motion of the gap-carving protoplanet HD 169142 b, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (2023). DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/slad027

Citation:
Researchers confirm the existence of HD 169142 b, the third protoplanet confirmed to date (2023, April 12)
retrieved 28 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-hd-protoplanet-date.html

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Archaeological sites at risk from coastal erosion on the Cyrenaican coast of Libya

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Recent drone image (2022) showing damage to archaeological structures at the ancient harbor of Apollonia (Eastern Libya) caused by coastal erosion. Credit: Saad Buyadem, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Archaeological sites along the Libyan shoreline are at risk of being damaged or lost due to increasing coastal erosion, according to a study published April 12, 2023, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Kieran Westley and Julia Nikolaus of Ulster University, U.K., and colleagues.

The Cyrenaican coast of Eastern Libya, stretching from the Gulf of Sirte to the current Egypt-Libya border, has a long history of human occupation back to the Paleolithic era, and it therefore hosts numerous important and often understudied archaeological sites. However, the also experiences high rates of erosion which threatens to damage or even erase many of these important sites. Detailed assessments of and vulnerability of archaeological sites are available for other important coastlines, but not yet for this one.

This study combined historical and modern records of the Cyrenaican shoreline using aerial and and field observation to assess patterns of coastal erosion near important . Near the sites of Apollonia, Ptolemais, and Tocra, they identified extensive shoreline erosion and increasing rates of erosion in recent years, likely linked to human activities such as sand mining and urbanization.

Their results show that current rates of coastal erosion are already a major problem for these sites and are likely to increase in the future with further human activities and rising sea levels due to , putting these sites at risk of progressive damage and loss of valuable historical information.

Archaeological sites at risk from coastal erosion on the Cyrenaican coast, Libya
Present-day erosion impacts at Apollonia. A) Erosion of the Roman road (decumanus) in front of the Byzantine installations. B) eroding edge in front of the Byzantine Installations and Roman bath. C) eroding edge in front of the insula. Also indicated is the stretch of backshore where undocumented buildings and mosaics are eroding out. D) Example of a mosaic floor exposed by backshore erosion (photos A and D: 2019, S. Buyadem; photos B and C: 2021, F. El-Gumati). Credit: Westley et al, 2023, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

The authors stress the need for detailed management and mitigation plans to protect these sites, as well as the need for increased awareness of the factors that exacerbate coastal erosion. They also urge further research to investigate other sites along this and other Mediterranean coastlines to assess the full extent to which our understanding of human history is threatened by coastal erosion.

The authors add, “The impact of here is considerable and could get worse in the future. Our research highlights the critical need to support our Libyan colleagues in mitigating the damage to these endangered and irreplaceable heritage sites.”

More information:
The impact of coastal erosion on the archaeology of the Cyrenaican coast of Eastern Libya, PLOS ONE (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283703

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Archaeological sites at risk from coastal erosion on the Cyrenaican coast of Libya (2023, April 12)
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How the world’s oldest known meteorite impact structure changed the chemistry of Earth’s crust

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Credit: Shutterstock

Meteorite impacts can be cataclysmic events in the history of a planet, melting rock, changing atmospheric chemistry, and wreaking general havoc.

However, impacts may also have created Earth’s continents, supported that kick-started life, and even developed metal ores.

In a new study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, we examined what’s left of the world’s oldest known : the 2.29 billion-year-old site at Yarrabubba in Western Australia.

We found evidence hot water circulated in fractures in the rock after the impact, possibly because the impact melted some of the ice that covered much of the planet at that time. Hot water in fractured rock may have provided a niche for early life-forms, and its presence also has implications for our understanding of how deposits of metal ore form in Earth’s crust.

Space rocks have been key players in Earth’s history

Meteorite impacts appear to come and go in a 200 million year cycle over the course of Earth’s history.

Across the planet, about 200 major impact sites have been documented. The oldest of these is at Yarrabubba in Western Australia.

More than two billion years ago, a space rock slammed into the at Yarrabubba. This ancient crust had formed some 2.65 billion years before the present and was intensely changed by the impact.

The result was a crater with an estimated diameter of about 70km, which is nowadays eroded to a mere pimple. The shock of the impact was so great it even melted parts of the surrounding crust, which is made of granite—a common type of rock you might see in fancy kitchen bench tops.

In our new research, we took a close look at what the impact did to the chemistry of the crust. The chemical effects of are not often explored, but they may be important in understanding the full range of environmental consequences.

CSI: Rock

Geologists forensically study minerals trapped in rocks to investigate what happens inside Earth, in much the same way that crime scene investigators study materials at a scene to determine their origins.

One kind of clue geologists are particularly keen on is isotopes. These are different forms of a particular element.

Different isotopes of an element all behave the same in , but they contain different numbers of neutrons inside the atom. This makes some isotopes unstable: over time, they will radioactively decay into different elements.

We can make use of this radioactive decay. For example, we can determine the age of the Yarrabubba crater and its surrounding rocks by measuring the ratio of uranium to lead isotopes, which acts like a stopwatch counting the time since a mineral has grown.

This tells us the age because uranium decays into lead over time, and we know the rate at which this decay happens. So measuring the isotopes of both elements in a sample shows us how much decay has happened, allowing us to calculate the mineral’s age.

Another way to use isotopes is in certain minerals where these ratios remain fixed over time and do not change. The isotopic signatures then become a powerful tool to track where material has come from, in much the same way that a person’s surname can give a clue to their family’s origin.

Messengers in a crystal bottle

We analyzed the isotopic compositions of lead in mineral grains from the crust surrounding the crater at Yarrabubba.

We looked at crystals of feldspar, typically the pink-colored grains in our granite bench top example, as these naturally contain lead but no uranium.

This is important as the lead isotopes trapped within this mineral reflect the composition of the liquid from which the mineral originally grew.

We found a wide range of lead isotopic compositions, as well as new uranium-bearing minerals that grew within fractures in the grains at the time of the impact, starting new stopwatches.

The only plausible explanation for these modifications of isotopic signatures is that the impact must have generated networks of circulating hot water that infiltrated damage zones throughout the rock. In the case of Yarrabubba, the water may well have come from the meteor hitting an ice sheet, as ice covered much of the world 2.29 billion years ago.

The impacts of impacts

Our documentation of the circulation of heated water produced by an impact is important from two very different perspectives.

First, hot fluid systems may have nurtured . Impacts were much larger and more frequent on the early Earth, and in some ways these violent and disruptive events would have stood in the way of complex life evolving.

Yet researchers have demonstrated that microbial communities can blossom where heat, water and nutrients meet pulverized rock: exactly the conditions impacts can produce. Some have even suggested impacts are a fundamental part of planetary evolution and necessary for creating a habitable planet.

Second, seeing how impact-generated hot water can transport metals can help us understand how ore deposits are created. Some of the first sources of metal for early humans were meteorites, from which they chipped away bits of metal for tools and jewelry.

Yet impact sites can contain larger concentrations of metals than just from the meteorite itself, which is often vaporized. Ore deposits typically form when there is a geological structure, for example a fracture within a rock, into which metals can be moved by fluids.

Impacts clearly shatter the crust, but they also provide circulating hot water. If there is metal present in the target rocks to begin with, this hot water may carry and concentrate these metals into a richer deposit.

More information:
Andreas Zametzer et al, Feldspar Pb isotope evidence of cryptic impact-driven hydrothermal alteration in the Paleoproterozoic, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2023.118073

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How the world’s oldest known meteorite impact structure changed the chemistry of Earth’s crust (2023, April 12)
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How did Earth get its water?

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An illustration showing how some Earth’s signature features, such as its abundance of water and its overall oxidized state could potentially be attributable to interactions between the molecular hydrogen atmospheres and magma oceans on the planetary embryos that comprised Earth’s formative years. Credit: Edward Young/UCLA and Katherine Cain/Carnegie Institution for Science.

Earth’s water could have originated from interactions between the hydrogen-rich atmospheres and magma oceans of the planetary embryos that comprised Earth’s formative years, according to new work from Carnegie Science’s Anat Shahar and UCLA’s Edward Young and Hilke Schlichting. Their findings, which could explain the origins of Earth’s signature features, are published in Nature.

For decades, what researchers knew about was based primarily on our own solar system. Although there are some active debates about the formation of gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, it is widely agreed upon that Earth and the other accreted from the disk of dust and gas that surrounded our sun in its youth.

As increasingly larger objects crashed into each other, the baby planetesimals that eventually formed Earth grew both larger and hotter, melting into a vast magma ocean due to the heat of collisions and radioactive elements. Over time, as the planet cooled, the densest material sank inward, separating Earth into three distinct layers—the metallic core, and the rocky, silicate mantle and crust.

However, the explosion of exoplanet research over the past decade informed a new approach to modeling the Earth’s embryonic state.

“Exoplanet discoveries have given us a much greater appreciation of how common it is for just-formed planets to be surrounded by atmospheres that are rich in , H2, during their first several million years of growth,” Shahar explained. “Eventually these hydrogen envelopes dissipate, but they leave their fingerprints on the young planet’s composition.”

Using this information, the researchers developed new models for Earth’s formation and evolution to see if our home planet’s distinct chemical traits could be replicated.

Using a newly developed model, the Carnegie and UCLA researchers were able to demonstrate that early in Earth’s existence, interactions between the magma ocean and a molecular hydrogen proto-atmosphere could have given rise to some of Earth’s signature features, such as its abundance of water and its overall oxidized state.

The researchers used mathematical modeling to explore the exchange of materials between molecular hydrogen atmospheres and magma oceans by looking at 25 different compounds and 18 different types of reactions—complex enough to yield valuable data about Earth’s possible formative history, but simple enough to interpret fully.

Interactions between the magma ocean and the atmosphere in their simulated baby Earth resulted in the movement of large masses of hydrogen into the metallic core, the oxidation of the mantle, and the production of large quantities of water.

Even if all of the rocky material that collided to form the growing planet was completely dry, these interactions between the molecular hydrogen and the magma ocean would generate copious amounts of water, the researchers revealed. Other water sources are possible, they say, but not necessary to explain Earth’s current state.

“This is just one possible explanation for our planet’s evolution, but one that would establish an important link between Earth’s formation history and the most common exoplanets that have been discovered orbiting distant stars, which are called Super-Earths and sub-Neptunes,” Shahar concluded.

This project was part of the interdisciplinary, multi-institution AEThER project, initiated and led by Shahar, which seeks to reveal the chemical makeup of the Milky Way galaxy’s most common planets—Super-Earths and sub-Neptunes—and to develop a framework for detecting signatures of life on distant worlds. This effort was developed to understand how the formation and evolution of these planets shape their atmospheres. This could—in turn—enable scientists to differentiate true biosignatures, which could only be produced by the presence of life, from atmospheric molecules of non-biological origin.

“Increasingly powerful telescopes are enabling astronomers to understand the compositions of exoplanet atmospheres in never-before-seen detail,” Shahar said. “AEThER’s work will inform their observations with experimental and modeling data that, we hope, will lead to a foolproof method for detecting signs of life on other worlds.”

More information:
Edward Young, Earth shaped by primordial H2 atmospheres, Nature (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-05823-0. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-05823-0

Citation:
How did Earth get its water? (2023, April 12)
retrieved 29 April 2023
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Search for alien life extends to Jupiter’s icy moons

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Europe’s JUICE spacecraft blasts off on Thursday on a mission to investigate the icy moons of Jupiter.

Could vast, long-hidden oceans be teeming with alien life in our very own Solar System?

A new chapter in humanity’s search for opens on Thursday as Europe’s JUICE spacecraft blasts off on a mission to investigate the icy moons of Jupiter.

First discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei more than 400 years ago, these ice-covered moons are so far from the Sun that they were long dismissed as possible candidates to host life in our backyard.

Until recently, the Solar System’s habitable zone was thought to “end at Mars”, French astrophysicist Athena Coustenis, one of the scientific leads of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s JUICE mission, told AFP.

But NASA’s Galileo probe to Jupiter in 1995 and the more recent Cassini spacecraft’s trip to Saturn caused scientists to broaden their horizons.

The themselves were correctly ruled out, but their icy moons—particularly Jupiter’s Europa and Ganymede, and Saturn’s Enceladus and Titan—offered fresh hope of nearby life.

Under their icy surfaces are thought to be huge oceans of —a crucial ingredient for life as we know it.

Nicolas Altobelli, a JUICE project scientist at ESA, said it would be “the first time that we explore habitats beyond the frost line” between Mars and Jupiter.

Beyond that line, temperatures plummet and “liquid water can no longer exist on the surface”, Altobelli told AFP earlier this year.

Space probe JUICE to explore Jupiter and its icy moons
Space probe JUICE to explore Jupiter and its icy moons.

‘Gigantic’ ocean

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission launches from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Thursday on an eight-year odyssey through space.

By July 2031 it will have entered Jupiter’s orbit, from which it will probe Ganymede, Europa and fellow icy moon Callisto.

Then, in 2034, JUICE will enter the orbit of Ganymede, the first time a spacecraft has done so around a moon other than our own.

As well as being the largest moon in the Solar System, Ganymede is also the only one that has its own magnetic field, which protects it from dangerous radiation.

This is just one of several signs that Ganymede’s hidden ocean could provide a stable environment for life.

Unlike similar missions to Mars, which focus on finding signs of ancient life long since extinguished, scientists hope Jupiter’s will still be home to living organisms, even if only tiny or single-celled.

Such habitability requires a power source. Lacking energy from the Sun, the moons could instead take advantage of the gravity that Jupiter exerts on its satellites.

The moon Ganymede lurks behind the gas giant Jupiter in a Hubble telescope image from 2008
The moon Ganymede lurks behind the gas giant Jupiter in a Hubble telescope image from 2008.

The force creates a process called tidal heating, which warms the interior of the moons and keeps their water liquid.

Ganymede’s “gigantic” liquid ocean is trapped between two thick layers of ice dozens of kilometers beneath the surface, said Carole Larigauderie, JUICE project head at French space agency CNES.

“On Earth, we still find life forms at the bottom of the abyss,” she added.

Tiny microbes such as bacteria and archaea have been found to be able to survive on Earth without sunlight, raising hopes that life elsewhere will be able to do the same.

As well as water and energy, life needs nutrients.

“The big question is therefore whether Ganymede’s ocean contains” the necessary chemical elements, Coustenis said.

The ocean would need to be able to absorb the nutrients from anything that fell on the moon’s surface, for example, which would eventually dissolve into the water, she added.

The ESA's JUICE spacecraft will become the first to enter the orbit of a moon other than Earth's own
The ESA’s JUICE spacecraft will become the first to enter the orbit of a moon other than Earth’s own.

Not alone

JUICE’s array of instruments will probe Ganymede’s to determine its depth, distance from the surface and—hopefully—its composition.

The ESA’s 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) probe will spend eight months orbiting Ganymede, getting as close as 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the , all while sheltered from radiation.

It will not be the only spacecraft lurking around Jupiter.

NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is scheduled to launch in October next year. It will take a quicker path to Jupiter, arriving at Europa in 2030.

If one—or more—of Jupiter’s moons ticks all the boxes to host life, the “logical next step” would be to send a mission to land on the surface, said Cyril Cavel, JUICE project manager at manufacturer Airbus.

Although there are no plans for such a mission, which could definitively prove the existence of life outside of Earth, “that’s part of the dream,” he said.

© 2023 AFP

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Search for alien life extends to Jupiter’s icy moons (2023, April 12)
retrieved 29 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-alien-life-jupiter-icy-moons.html

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NASA unveils ‘Mars’ habitat for year-long experiments on Earth

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NASA’s Mars Dune Alpha is a 3D-printed habitat serves as an analog for long missions to the red planet.

Four small rooms, a gym and a lot of red sand—NASA unveiled on Tuesday its new Mars-simulation habitat, in which volunteers will live for a year at a time to test what life will be like on future missions to Earth’s neighbor.

The facility, created for three planned experiments called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA), is located at the US space agency’s massive research base in Houston, Texas.

Four volunteers will begin the first trial this summer, during which NASA plans to monitor their physical and to better understand humans’ fortitude for such a long isolation.

With that data, NASA will better understand astronauts’ “resource use” on Mars, said Grace Douglas, lead researcher on the CHAPEA experiments.

“We can really start to understand how we’re supporting them with what we’re providing them, and that’s going to be really important information to making those critical resource decisions,” she said on a press tour of the habitat.

Such a distant mission comes with “very strict mass limitations,” she added.

The volunteers will live inside a 1,700 square-foot (160 square-meter) home, dubbed “Mars Dune Alpha,” which includes two bathrooms, a vertical farm to grow salad, a room dedicated to , an area for relaxing and several workstations.

Year-long Mars missions come with "very strict mass limitations," the project's lead investigator says
Year-long Mars missions come with “very strict mass limitations,” the project’s lead investigator says.

An airlock leads to an “outdoor” reconstruction of the Martian environment—though still located inside the hangar.

Several pieces of equipment astronauts would likely use are scattered around the red sand-covered floor, including a , a brick-making machine and a small greenhouse.

There is also a treadmill on which the make-believe astronauts will walk suspended from straps to simulate the red planet’s lesser gravity.

“We really can’t have them just walking around in circles for six hours,” joked Suzanne Bell, head of NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance Laboratory.

Four will use the treadmill to simulate long trips outside to collect samples, gathering data or building infrastructure, she said.

The members of the first experiment team have yet to be named, but the agency stated that selection “will follow standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidate applicants,” with a heavy emphasis on backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math.

  • The living and dining room area inside of CHAPEA's Mars Dune Alpha
    The living and dining room area inside of CHAPEA’s Mars Dune Alpha.
  • A treadmill and straps help replicate Mars' lesser gravity
    A treadmill and straps help replicate Mars’ lesser gravity.

Researchers will regularly test the crew’s response to , such as restricting water availability or equipment failures.

The habitat has another special feature: it was 3D-printed.

“That is one of the technologies that NASA is looking at as a potential to build habitat on other planetary or lunar surfaces,” Douglas said.

NASA is in the early stages of preparation for a mission to Mars, though most of the agency’s focus is on upcoming Artemis missions, which aim to return humans to the Moon for the first time in half a century.

© 2023 AFP

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NASA unveils ‘Mars’ habitat for year-long experiments on Earth (2023, April 12)
retrieved 27 April 2023
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Researcher reveals a double standard for officers who issue parking tickets

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Examples of cars parked fully on the sidewalk (left, 70th Precinct Station House) and within crosswalks (right, 110th Precinct Station House). Photos by the author. Credit: Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.trip.2023.100816

“THEY park on the sidewalks and hide fire hydrants with their cars. They angle where they should parallel and turn normal streets into obstacle paths. They never seem to feed their parking meters, they rarely get tickets and they run red lights.”

That was the lead paragraph of a New York Times story nearly 30 years ago. Who were these scofflaws? Members of the New York Police Department.

New York City residents know their police force, despite a number of highly publicized cases of corruption and misconduct, generally live up to their adopted slogan “New York’s Finest.” In a city with 342 robberies and burglaries, 517 arrests and approximately one homicide each day, New York City cops confront one of the most challenging environments in the country. For the most part, they do their jobs commendably.

But in one area—their transportation habits—they received a failing grade back in 1995. In 2023, they are still failing.

Marcel Moran, a University of California Ph.D. student, heard of the problems New Yorkers for years have been complaining about: police department personnel their cars by fire hydrants, on sidewalks, on crosswalks. Civilians committing these face $115 fines. But under longstanding “code of blue” practices, in which officers extend courtesies to fellow officers, they are rarely if ever ticketed.

Moran set out to document the problem. He utilized archives containing Google Street View maps to track locations throughout the city’s five boroughs. In addition, he visited each of the city’s 77 police precincts to observe the offending vehicles firsthand.

His research, published in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, confirmed the depth of the problem. He reported “widespread and longstanding parking on sidewalks, and to a lesser extent, in crosswalks… render[ing] many sidewalks impassable—forcing pedestrians into traffic—and in many cases directly abut[ting] residences and businesses, curtailing access to such destinations.”

Other violations included double parking, blockage of bicycle and bus lanes and obstructing access to fire hydrants, a particularly vexing offense in the population- and traffic-dense boroughs.

He said 91 percent of precincts exhibited one or more types of parking violations. He also confirmed such obstructions have been going on for years. Based on 12 years’ worth of 703 Google Map View photos, he found long-term obstructions at 82 percent of the precincts.

City motorists are understandably resentful. Manhattan absorbs the bulk of a million motorists commuting to work each day. With greatly limited street parking and fewer than 175,000 available, finding a spot is frustrating, time-consuming and costly. Some 32,789 parking tickets were issued for sidewalk parking so far this year.

Efforts to curb abuse have generally failed. Mayor Bill de Blasio disbanded a police unit he had earlier created to crack down on parking placard abuse. His successor, former policeman Eric Adams, himself was photographed abusing parking privileges and defended it by saying other officials were doing the same thing.

Writing on the issue in Slate magazine, author Rob Gunther said, “The idea that police officers operate under a different set of rules erodes their ability to serve their communities. Every time a officer parks on the sidewalk, it’s a visible reminder that the laws that regulate the rest of us don’t apply to members of law enforcement.”

Moran reached out to city officials to discuss how to rein in the abuse. He received no response.

More information:
Marcel E. Moran, Authorized Vehicles Only: Police, parking, and pedestrian access in New York City, Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.trip.2023.100816

© 2023 Science X Network

Citation:
Researcher reveals a double standard for officers who issue parking tickets (2023, April 11)
retrieved 23 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-standard-officers-issue-tickets.html

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