Thursday, December 3, 2015

EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE: Do Advanced Alien Civilizations Exist - Astrobiologists Provide A New Take On Drake’s Equation?!

December 3, 2015 -  SPACE -  Researchers reformulate Frank Drake’s equation from being about the number of civilizations that exist now, to being about the probability of civilization being the only one that has ever existed.

Frank Drake’s Equation

There are several famous equations in science, particularly in physics. The language of these is, of course, mathematics. There’s Newton’s Second Law, which states that the vector sum of an external forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector a of the object (F = ma). There’s Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence given by the notoriously famous equation E = mc2.

Another famous equation is that of the astronomer Frank Drake, which describes “N”—The number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio communication might be possible. In other words, the number of intelligent civilizations besides our own.

This formula was initially made as a discussion point for one of the first meetings about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the early 1960s. Previously, only a few of the terms involved in the equation were known, such as the number of stars in the galaxy. The others weren’t, such as the fraction of stars with planets in the habitable zone.

However, with time, more accurate values for the other terms emerged. The discovery of planets orbiting other stars gave astronomers a good idea of the fraction of stars with planets and the fraction with rocky planets in the habitable zone, and so we came to have a pretty good understanding of just how populated (or not) our galaxy likely is.

A New Take

With new information, researchers Adam Frank, at the University of Rochester in New York, and Woody Sullivan, at the University of Washington in Seattle, have a come up with a new take on Drake’s equation, which focuses on the number of civilizations that are currently in existence.

Their formula calculates how many civilizations there have ever been, simplifying the equation.

“The empirical determination of exoplanet statistics has radically changed the nature and quality of constraints astrobiologists now have at their disposal when considering the prevalence of life in the Universe,” they say.

Frank and Sullivan can modify the equation from being about the number of civilizations that exist now, to being about the probability of ours being the only one that has ever existed. They found that as long as the probability that a habitable zone planet develops a technological species is larger than about 10-24, then humanity is not the only time advanced technological intelligence has evolved.

In other words, if the probability of a technological species arising on a given planet in a habitable zone is greater than one in 60 billion, then another technical species has probably arisen at some point elsewhere in the Milky Way. Those are pretty good odds in favor of alien civilizations. - Futurism.

CONTACT: Fast Radio Bursts Mystify Experts - For Now?!

This artist's impression of a fast radio burst (FRB) reaching Earth illustrates the telltale smearing of radio waves that indicates the FRB's long journey through deep space.
The colors represent different radio wavelengths, with longer (red) wavelengths arriving after shorter (blue) ones. This effect occurs when radio waves
travel through plasma-rich regions of interstellar and intergalactic space. Credit: Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium
December 3, 2015 -  SPACE - What shines brighter than the Sun, appears for only a split second and lights up Earth’s skies thousands of times each day?

If you’re stumped, don’t worry—experts are too. For nearly a decade, astrophysicists have been struggling to explain perplexing millisecond chirps of radio waves pinging through the heavens. Now, several new studies are bringing researchers closer to solving the mystery by narrowing the search for the radio flashes’ origins to youthful stellar outbursts in distant galaxies.

Dubbed “fast radio bursts,” or FRBs, the first of these bright, brief events was announced in 2007 by the West Virginia University astrophysicist Duncan Lorimer and colleagues, based on data from the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. The radio signal that streamed into the Parkes dish was curiously smeared out, with its high-frequency waves arriving a fraction of a second earlier than its low-frequency counterparts—an effect attributed to scattering by diffuse plasmas that fill interstellar and intergalactic space. The more smeared a radio signal is, the more plasma it has passed through, and the farther it has presumably traveled through space. Analyzing the smear, Lorimer and his collaborators made a rough estimate that the burst could’ve come from up to a few billion light-years away. If they were in fact coming from so far away, and if more could be found, FRBs offered a way for astronomers to better measure vast cosmological distances and to probe deeper into the dark spaces between stars and galaxies. The search was on.

Based on small surveys of tiny patches of sky, since 2007 astronomers have published more than a dozen additional FRB detections, and are discussing another dozen or so that have yet to appear in the literature. Extrapolated across the entire sky, these meager results suggest FRBs are flashing overhead as often as ten thousand times per day. And if, as most researchers believe, FRBs originate far beyond our Milky Way, that means each one is releasing anywhere between an hour’s to a year’s worth of our Sun’s total energy output in the span of a few milliseconds.

Still, the sources for FRBs remain unknown. What could cause such intense, frequent events? Researchers have proposed so many answers over the years that there are now more theories for FRB origins than there are observed FRBs.

Too Many Theories

For a time, some skeptics favored earthbound explanations, guessing that the FRBs seen at Parkes were related to human-made interference from cell phones and other electronic devices that has long plagued the observatory; those concerns were dismissed earlier this year when astronomers at Parkes discovered that, unlike the randomly-timed arrivals of genuine FRBs, rogue terrestrial radio signals showed up in their data around lunchtime, produced by an errant microwave oven in the observatory break room. More far-out speculations have postulated that FRBs are caused by evaporating black holes, or by oscillating primordial cosmic strings, or by, yes, talkative aliens. None of these ideas, however, hold a great deal of weight with theorists: FRBs simply seem to occur too often to be explained by such suggestions.

Broadly speaking, the most compelling theories can be lumped into two broad categories: Either FRBs are caused by relatively rare explosive collisions between pairs of aging, degenerate stellar remnants like old neutron stars or white dwarfs, or they are caused by an assortment of far more common powerful, potentially periodic outbursts from younger, rapidly-spinning neutron stars called pulsars. Both groups of theories can account for the prevalence of FRBs, though they have different implications: collision-based models suggest FRBs are extremely energetic one-off events often taking place billions of light-years away, while outburst-based models suggest FRBs are less energetic, potentially repeatable, and would tend to be “only” hundreds of millions of light-years distant.

Finding the Source

Now, an FRB observed using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia is strengthening the case that the bizarre phenomenon indeed originates in other galaxies, arising from youthful stellar outbursts rather than old stellar collisions. The findings are published in Nature (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group).

The University of British Columbia astrophysicist Kiyoshi Masui and colleagues measured the FRB’s smeared-out radio waves, estimating its source to be as far as six billion light-years away. But they didn’t stop there—they also measured its polarization, its orientation as it propagated through space—as well as asymmetries in its smearing caused by traversing particularly dense regions of plasma. The FRB’s polarization was twisted like a corkscrew, indicating that the radio waves had passed through a powerful magnetic field, while its asymmetric smearing suggested it had also traveled through a “dispersing region,” a thick screen of plasma shortly after its emission—likely a clue to its emergence in another galaxy.

“Our main result is that the source of the burst is surrounded by a region with a magnetic field and dense gas, like that of a star-forming nebula, a supernova remnant, or galaxy’s central region,” Masui says.

Such environments tend to harbor several varieties of young, highly active pulsars rather than old neutron stars and white dwarfs, leaving the former as the most probable progenitor for this particular FRB.
A second study, submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy astrophysicist David Champion and colleagues, deals another blow to FRB models relying on one-shot collisions between old stars. The study reports the discovery of an FRB at Parkes that burst once, then burst again.

“We have one burst, then a gap of several milliseconds, then another equally large and short burst,” Champion says. A double burst is difficult to reconcile with neutron-star or white-dwarf mergers, which are thought to result in the near-instantaneous obliteration of both colliding objects—after the short, sharp burst generated by the collision, there wouldn’t be much left to generate a second follow-up burst.

Instead of through collisions, the double burst could be produced by an ultra-massive star collapsing to form a black hole, or a giant radio pulse from a standard pulsar, or a humongous flare produced by a “starquake” on a magnetar—a rare pulsar with an extremely powerful magnetic field.

A third study, uploaded by the California Institute of Technology astrophysicist Shrinivas Kulkarni and colleagues to the arXiv pre-print repository on November 30th, examines an FRB announced last year by a team using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Like Masui and coworkers, Kulkarni’s team found telltale evidence in the FRB’s properties suggesting that it was emitted in the vicinity of a dense, magnetized region of plasma, probably a star-forming nebula in a distant galaxy. Kulkarni’s preferred culprit? A garguantuan outburst from a magnetar.

Keep It Simple?

Even so, certainty is elusive. “We’re considering rare events that we haven’t directly seen in our own galaxy,” Champion admits. “We’re looking at phenomena that we do see, and asking if they could rarely occur at much higher energies.”

For that reason, James Cordes, an astrophysicist at Cornell University, likes to keep his FRB theories simple. He prefers to explain FRBs as giant pulses from relatively run-of-the-mill pulsars rather than products of exotic magnetar starquakes. A pulsar in the nearby Crab Nebula regularly emits very large pulses, Cordes says, though no one has seen it produce one big enough to create an FRB—yet. “What’s nice about pulsars is that there are just a lot of them to play with,” Cordes says—more than a hundred quadrillion in the observable universe. With those numbers, only one giant pulse per neutron star every ten billion years could explain the estimated prevalence of FRBs. More realistically, however, such pulses can’t be seen clear across the universe, Cordes says. “That means you just need many more giant pulses per object, and what that implies is that these things have to repeat.” But, so far, no repeating FRBs have been found, though several teams are ardently seeking them along with their host galaxies.

The allure of simple, common sources for FRBs has led some researchers to propose they aren’t cosmological phenomena at all, and instead come from rather ordinary flaring stars within the Milky Way and other very nearby galaxies. But according to the Nature study co-author and West Virginia University astrophysicist Maura McLaughlin, such models are incompatible with her team’s measurement of an FRB’s asymmetric smearing by a thick region of plasma. The cloud of plasma around their FRB was at least ten times larger than the Earth-Sun distance, McLaughlin notes—an order of magnitude larger than the plasma sheaths that surround typical stars. “This rules out a flare-star origin,” McLaughlin says. “I do believe we are very close to solving this mystery.”

Other researchers aren’t so sure. Avi Loeb, a Harvard University astrophysicist and proponent of the flare-star model, says that the Nature study is by no means the end of the story. If the plasma that scatters an FRB’s radio waves is in fact near the FRB source, Loeb says, “then the original argument in favor of a cosmological origin—namely that the scattering is in intergalactic space—is lost.” No one has ever seen very large plasma clouds around a flare star, he acknowledges—but no one has ever seen the extremely large magnetar starquakes or giant pulses required by competing models, either.

“Nature is often more imaginative than theorists,” Loeb says. “I truly wish that FRBs come from exotic cosmological sources, but for now we must collect more data and test more conservative alternatives.” In November, Loeb and his student Ben Margalit submitted a paper to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society suggesting a new method for pinning down the distances to FRBs to help solve the mystery once and for all.

Lorimer, the researcher who helped discover FRBs in 2007, says more surprises are in store. The double-burst observed by Champion and colleagues was almost certainly not produced by colliding neutron stars, but theorists have already shown there seem to be many ways to make FRBs. “It could be that there are multiple populations out there,” Lorimer says, and researchers may soon find them, thanks to ramped-up searches using radio telescope arrays and opportunistic multi-wavelength observations with space telescopes. “What’s clear,” he says, “is that the whole field of FRBs is now exploding with possibilities.” - Scientific American.

PARANORMAL: The Matrix Of Quantum Bayesianism - New Theory Claims Quantum Weirdness Only Exists In Our Imaginations!

December 3, 2015 -  THEORETICAL SCIENCE
 - Scientists just came up with the quantum version of the Matrix argument. According to a new theory in theoretical physics, quantum information doesn't have any objective existence, but rather is purely a function of our own minds.

Quantum mechanics satisfactorily explains many of the mysteries of our universe, but also yields many paradoxes. When the wave function, which is key to quantum theory, is treated as real, particles can be in two places at once, information can travel faster than the speed of light (which is impossible according to general relativity), and Schrodinger's cat is both dead and alive. But according to Quantum Bayesianism ("QBism" for short), which was first theorized in 2001 but has gained prominence only in the last few years, the wave function is not real, but a state of mind that determines how we interpret quantum systems.

As explained in a new paper in Nature, this theory contends that the wave function is sort of a subjective filter, a paradigm through which an observer sees a quantum system.

QBism maintains that the wave function is solely a mathematical tool that an observer uses to assign his or her personal belief that a quantum system will have a specific property," writes author Hans Christian von Baeyer. "In this conception, the wave function does not exist in the world-rather it merely reflects an individual's subjective mental state.

To be clear, QBism isn't asserting that nothing in the world is real, as the quantum systems themselves still exist. But there is a split between the real world and the world of the observer, and quantum information is a function of our imaginations. The wave function isn't a part of the physical world, but a descriptor of a person's subjective experience of the world.

Although this may sound completely out-there, it's no more bizarre than quantum theory itself, and it resolves many of the paradoxes associated with quantum mechanics very neatly. When the wave function is treated as imaginary, the new equations for calculating probability within quantum systems are much simpler, and are actually nearly the same as classical probability. As a result, the wave function "may well be the most powerful abstraction we have ever found," said N. David Mermin, a theoretical physicist at Cornell University and a recent convert to QBism.

According to Christopher A. Fuchs, one of the co-authors of the original theory, claims that QBism speaks to the ability of every person to shape the universe:

"With every measurement set by an experimenter's free will, the world is shaped just a little as it participates in a kind of moment of birth."
- Outer Places.

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP: "Encounter With Aliens In Space" - NASA Head Discusses Warp Travel, Extraterrestrials, And More!

Photo credit: Charles Bolden, speaking to IFLScience

December 3, 2015 -  UNITED STATES
 - Two weeks ago, we asked you on Facebook to submit questions for our exclusive interview with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. You can read our own grilling of the NASA chief in Part 1 of our two-part video, but here we present his answers to a selection of the thousands of questions you supplied.

From the prospect of warp travel, his preference of "Star Trek" or "Star Wars," and the chances of finding alien life, Bolden tackled a huge range of questions. He even thinks the International Space Station (ISS) should win a Nobel Peace Prize.

You can watch him answer all 23 questions in the video below, but we’ve also provided abridged versions of some for you to peruse in this article.

So, the head of NASA is a Trekkie. Who knew?

WATCH: NASA chief Charles Bolden answers questions on warp travel, aliens, and more.

Is NASA working on a warp drive? (Erick Hernandez)

To my knowledge, no – but that doesn’t mean anything. We have actually asked people to come to us with proposals on what I call game changing in-space propulsion. So that might be something like a warp drive, ion propulsion, VASIMR propulsion, so we’re not discounting anything.

Has NASA got any guidelines if they were to encounter aliens in space? (Michael Wittemore)

That’s a good question. I don’t know, but I will try to find out and get word to somebody. We probably don’t have guidelines because we don’t realistically think we’re going to encounter somebody like you or me.

We do have guidelines for dealing with microbial life if we find it. In fact, we have guidelines that prevent us from, for example, on Mars getting too close to a place that may be a source of living organisms, because we don’t want to contaminate that area.

Do you agree with Stephen Hawking when he said humanity needs to colonize other planets in our Solar System to survive? (Nathan Johns)

How can anyone disagree with Stephen Hawking! I am, like he, one who believes that the species that will survive forever maybe is a multi-planet species. So I agree with him that we need to get off this planet, or at least demonstrate the ability to go out and get off this planet, as does President Obama by the way.

What is one thing you want the average public citizen to know about NASA? (Krystal McCann)

I think the one thing I would like everyone to know is we spend every single minute of every single day trying to advance the cause of science, technology, and engineering, so that life here on this planet is better for every single one of you. That’s our focus.

Do you see NASA having a role in defending science and science education? (Quinntus Maximus)

I don’t think our role is to defend science. I think our role is to go out and pursue scientific excellence, to make our assets available, which includes the ISS and observatories around the world, laboratories and the like.

Star Wars or Star Trek? (Kevin Jackson)

I am actually a Star Trek fan, because I like the Federation. I think that’s what we’re about on the International Space Station. I’m a big advocate for peace in the world, not just on the planet but in everything, and I think the ISS is my favorite candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize because of what we’ve done on station considering everything else that’s going on down here on Earth. So I’m definitely a Trekkie.

Why do you keep sending Matt Damon into space? We’ve had to rescue him twice. (Jason Ryther)

I would pick him because he is such a great representative of the kind of innovative, devil-may-care people that we have in the astronaut office, as you saw in The Martian.

Who was your childhood hero? (Juliet Hunter)

My dad. He was my number one childhood hero. He was an incredible dad, he was my high school football coach, so I had two incredible men in one.
When you talk about science fiction kind of people, I love Buck Rodgers. I never dreamed of going to space myself, but I always admired the way he could walk out to a spaceship and just go to Mars. And then as I got older, I began to pick heroes like John Kennedy.

Do aliens exist? (Various)

I don’t know. I am one who believes that there is life elsewhere in the universe, so I guess the bottom line is I believe we’re going to find signs of microbial alien life in a number of candidate places. It could be the ocean of Europa, it could be Enceladus, hopefully it will be on the planet Mars as we do more and more work there, with robotic precursors and then eventually with humans in the 2030s.

In a percentage, how likely is it that manned NASA missions to Mars will occur this century? (Dan Miller)

I’m the eternal optimist, so I would say 100 percent. This century is really young, it’s 2015, so I think that unless humanity decides “forget it, we’re gonna stick with this planet no matter what,” we’ll be on Mars easily in the first half of this century.

Getting to Mars has been a key goal of Bolden's administration. NASA

What was the scariest moment you had in space as an astronaut? (Clinton Alexander Reel)
The scariest thing to me was on my second flight [in 1990], when we were deploying the Hubble Space Telescope, and one of the solar arrays didn’t go out, and I was told to go and prepare Bruce McCandless and Cathy Sullivan for a spacewalk. They ended up not having to do it, but as the intravehicular crewman who had to dress them and make sure that their suits were all tight and everything else, that was scary to me, to realize that their lives depended on me doing my job.

Should we be allowed to mine asteroids? (Jacob Blanton)

I think within the bounds of some system of governance, whether it’s the United Nations or some international body that comes up with rules for mining, I think it’s essential.

What is one astronomical achievement you wish to see in your lifetime? (Gabriel Serrano)

The big thing that I want to see achieved is the James Webb Space Telescope being safely put in its position at Lagrange Point 2 about a million miles away from Earth [in 2018].

The James Webb Space Telescope (artist's impression shown) is scheduled to launch in 2018. NASA

What is NASA’s plan for a large solar storm? (Haben Petros)
The biggest thing you want to know is forecasting and prediction, so that you can harden spacecraft, you can turn them, in a direction that might enable them to withstand the storm. There’s no way to prevent nature from occurring, so we’re going to be the victims of massive solar storms in the years ahead, we just want to be able to better forecast them, so we can be able to better harden the satellites that will have to withstand their penetration and the like.

What is the biggest challenge facing interstellar travel? (Harvir Bhattal)

Speed. The thing that will prevent humans from engaging in interstellar travel for the foreseeable future is the lack of speed. Warp drive [for example], as fanciful as that may be, that’s what it’s going to take. It’s not out of the realms of possibility, but we’re not there yet.

- IFL Science.

UFO SIGHTINGS: The Latest MUFON Cases Across The United States - Iowa Triangle UFO Appeared To Cloak Itself; California Family Recalls Underwater UFO Incident; And UFO Lights Hover Over Las Vegas Strip!

December 3, 2015 -  UNITED STATES
-  The following constitutes several of the latest reports of UFO sightings, courtesy of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

Iowa triangle UFO appeared to cloak itself

An Iowa witness at Cedar Falls reported watching a silent, triangle-shaped UFO moving in a straight line overhead that appeared to cloak itself, according to testimony in Case 72695 from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The sighting occurred at 9:02 p.m. on November 19, 2015, during a clear evening with no clouds and temperatures in the mid-30s.

Downtown Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Downtown Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“Went out to have a smoke and noticed a movement to my right peripheral side vision in the star-filled sky,” the witness stated.“Saw what appeared as a fuzzy outline of a V-formation or triangle craft directly above. Hard to discern it as it appeared slightly lighter than the dark background sky, fuzzy edges with a translucent appearance.”

The witness stated that the object was very difficult to see unless you were looking right at it.

“No lights, no sound and its glide path was to the south-southeast. Watched it for five-to-six seconds before it faded from view. Speed looked like around 200 mph at say 3,000 feet altitude – just a guess though as I could not tell its size.”

The object appeared to have a translucent appearance as it moved overhead. Pictured: Cedar Falls, Iowa. Credit: Google)
The object appeared to have a translucent appearance as it moved overhead. Pictured: Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Credit: Google)

The witness stated that when the object was first seen overhead, it would have been the size of his hand at arm’s length.

“The object did not reflect from the moon that evening and for a lack of better words, and appeared to cloak itself somehow to the background. Very strange. I had my cell phone out, however, there was not enough time to capture it as I was wondering what it was in the first place. I am knowledgeable in earth sciences,known aircraft and consider myself an amateur astronomer. It matched the dark sky so much, I doubt a photo would have shown it unless during the day. Again, this object flew silently down/above main street in a city of 40,000+ citizens and no one else saw it? Another UFO sighting page shows the same object about 20 minutes before in the community of Ames, approximately 70 miles away on the same evening. This at least gives my report a little more substance. Thank You.”

Iowa MUFON Field Investigators Steve Junge and David Kreiter investigated this case and closed it as an Unknown.

“The uncharacteristic movements of the object as well as the shape, descriptions and appearance seem to rule out natural or human-made phenomenon,” Junge and Kreiter stated in their report. “According to the NUFORC website, a similar case happened on the same evening in the town of Ames, Iowa.”

Cedar Falls is about eight miles northwest of Waterloo, Iowa. (Credit: Google)
Cedar Falls is about eight miles northwest of Waterloo, Iowa. (Credit: Google)

Cedar Falls is a city in Black Hawk County, Iowa, population 39,260.

California family recalls underwater UFO incident

A California witness at Avalon Harbor recalled an encounter from 1982 with an underwater UFO as the family sailed to Catalina, according to testimony in Case 72642 from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The witnesses’ mother first noticed a ‘huge lighted object’ moving near their boat underwater. Pictured: Avalon Harbor, CA. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The witnesses’ mother first noticed a ‘huge lighted object’ moving near their boat underwater.
Pictured: Avalon Harbor, CA. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The event occurred on June 15, 1982.

“My stepfather and mother loved sailing in the 1980s,” the witness stated.“He owned a construction company and made good money. We would rent a sailboat for the weekend and sail to Catalina where my grandmother had a clothing store on the island. We sail over there many times.”

But the family had an odd encounter one evening when the witness, his stepfather and mother were sailing to Catalina.

“Around 8p.m. my mother yells to my stepdad to look over the port side and asked what is that? I looked and saw a huge lighted object moving fast under the water. My mother was very scared and went below.”

The witnesses’ stepfather did not know what the object was either.

The witnesses’ father had served in the navy and could not identify the object. Pictured: Avalon Harbor, CA. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The witnesses’ father had served in the navy and could not identify the object. Pictured: Avalon Harbor, CA.
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“He was in the navy for years and sailed all over the world and knows ships and subs. It lasted around five minutes just going from one side and then the next in a crisscross pattern.”

The family steered away from the object.

“We sailed west moving away from it as it moved east. I never told anyone about this nor do we talk about it. My stepbrother is in the navy and worked on a LA class sub. We talked one night and he said just forget it and to not go there. I saw your show and had to write. The object was 50 feet in a circle and bright as more watts I have ever seen. I am an electrician and work on lighting and this thing was bright and gave off heat. My parents stopped sailing after that summer. I live less the 20 miles from the area and still think about it all the time. Very strange situation to be in.”

Avalon sits just off the California coast from Newport Beach. (Credit: Google Maps)
Avalon sits just off the California coast from Newport Beach. (Credit: Google Maps)

Avalon Harbor is the only incorporated city on Santa Catalina Island of the California Channel Islands, and the southernmost city in Los Angeles County, population 3,728.

Lights appear to hover over Las Vegas Strip

WATCH: UFO lights over Las Vegas.

A Nevada witness at Henderson reported watching and videotaping a series of six bright lights “hanging in the sky” that eventually disappeared one at a time, according to testimony in Case 59929 from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The sighting occurred beginning about 8:42 p.m. on September 18, 2014, and the lights appeared to be over the North Las Vegas area.

The witness first saw three lights in the sky that disappeared and a short while later more lights appeared to hover in the sky above the Las Vegas Strip. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video. (Credit: MUFON)
The witness first saw three lights in the sky that disappeared and a short while later more lights appeared to hover in the
sky above the Las Vegas Strip. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video. (Credit: MUFON)

“I actually think this was further north than North Las Vegas, but distance at night is just a guess,” the witness stated.“The lights actually had a slight amber tint to them and you can see the passing aircraft. So we wondered if any aircraft saw the same lights.”

The lights looked like they were stationary in the sky. The witness believes that the camera settings were not correct and the video is a lower quality than expected (video seen above).

“The first sighting was in the northwest (towards Red Rocks), and the lights appeared at approximately the same altitude as the second recording/sighting that is attached. In the first recording there were only three lights. They slowly disappeared one at a time. Then in less than 30 seconds they reappeared in the north. We were in our backyard that overlooks the strip and mountains. We always look at the strip which is approximately 12 miles from our home. In the north-northwest there is not normally any approaching aircraft landing lights. This would be an odd approach for landing aircraft. Both my wife and I used to work for the airlines at McCarran.”

Eventually six lights appeared to hover in the sky. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video. (Credit: MUFON)
Eventually six lights appeared to hover in the sky. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video.
(Credit: MUFON)

When the first lights disappeared in the north-northwest, the couple began to go into the house, but then three lights reappeared in the north. They were joined by three more lights that appeared one at a time.

“Slowly they all disappeared one at a time while I was on the phone with 311. Unknown at first, but after observing for several minutes and the lights remained stationary, we felt this was not right. We called 311 to find out if there had been other reports, but was told none had been received.”

The witness reported that the lights were a “strange bright, amber color andaircraft and helicopters appear white in the night sky.”

“The objects appeared round, star-like, twinkling almost, but the twinkling could have been from the atmosphere due to the distance. They were amber in color. They never moved and just appeared and then disappeared. Very interesting and we had a feeling we were witnessing UFOs.”

The lights eventually disappeared from view one-by-one. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video. (Credit: MUFON)
The lights eventually disappeared from view one-by-one. Pictured: Still image cropped and enlarged from the witness video.
(Credit: MUFON)

Henderson is a city in Clark County, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, population 270,800.

Nevada MUFON Assistant State Director Sandra Countiss investigated and closed this case as an Unknown.

“The lighted objects appeared to glow and looked solid,” Countiss stated in her report.“They disintegrated from up to six objects to three-to-four during the time of the video and were spherical in shape. The surface was unknown and no exterior features were able to be seen from this distance. True size is unknown, but it glowed yellow-amber colored in the sky, not wavering during the sighting, and no emissions were seen nor sounds heard. There were other aircraft in the sky at that time. The lowest altitude seemed to be about 500 feet and it was over one mile away. In fact, the strip is 14 miles from the area where they sighted the crafts. Altitude was estimated to be about 20 degrees above the horizon with a flight path of northwest to north above the lighted strip. No landing or landing site was observed.”

Please remember that most UFO sightings can be explained as something natural or man-made. The above quotes were edited for clarity. Please report UFO activity to

- Open Minds.

MARS: The Next Frontier - NASA Wants To Reach Mars With A Little Help From Its Friends!

Source: NASA

December 3, 2015 -  MARS - In the middle of the Cold War scramble to best the Soviets in space, NASA received all the money it needed to put astronauts on the moon. The present-day dream of footsteps on Mars won't be quite so simple. A far more expensive Martian mission would blow apart the agency's budget, making it more likely that NASA will need to rely on a little help from space-faring friends.

A recent NASA white paper on the next steps in the “journey to Mars” made the moon comparison explicit: “Like the Apollo program, we embark on this journey for all humanity.” But all humanity won’t foot the bill. Only a select handful of nations have the engineering and hardware capacity to help make the mission a reality. On Monday, NASA officials joined peers from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus at NASA’s Plumb Brook research station in Sandusky, Ohio, to mark an important milestone in the Orion program, which will take astronauts beyond the moon to outer regions of the solar system. The attendees witnessed the delivery of the first service module that will provide propulsion, power, air, and water for astronauts on their way to Mars.

The Orion service module is model of international cooperation and cost-sharing that will be key to reaching the red planet. It was funded by ESA, built by Airbus Group in Europe, and delivered to NASA. Over the next year it will endure a battery of structural tests before a first flight to orbit the moon in mid-2018. That flight will also be the first full-scale test of the largest rocket in NASA history, the Space Launch System. If all goes according to plan, the first manned Orion-SLS flight is expected to launch by 2023, with a manned mission to Mars expected by 2040. But only after spending a large amount of money.

The time frame for all of NASA’s goals is dependent on funding from Congress, which tends to raise and lower spending on space with unpredictable political shifts. Under President Kennedy’s vision for a moon landing, for instance, NASA received more than 4 percent of the federal budget in peak years—about $19.4 billion in total, through 1973—and reached the moon in less than a decade. That’s roughly $120 billion, adjusted for inflation.

Of NASA’s current $18 billion budget, about $2.4 billion goes toward the Orion and SLS programs. The agency says its current budgets will support Orion flights into the 2020s, with about one planned per year as research missions to help build capability for a Mars trip. NASA has offered no projections for the total costs needed to get to Mars. One reason for that is to avoid “scaring” lawmakers, said Marco Caceres, a senior analyst at Teal Group, an aerospace consultancy. Caceres estimates that the Mars mission would cost at least $1 trillion—and that triple that amount “is not out of the realm of possibility.”

Whatever its true total, the behemoth budget to reach Mars means that NASA would likely need to secure additional funding if it hopes to stick to its timeline. Europe might be the best hope for help shouldering costs. The ESA hopes its collaboration with NASA “will actually lead to having a European astronaut on a future space mission,” said Nico Dettmann, the agency’s development department head, during the press conference on Monday.

“We would love to see astronauts from several nations be involved when we first step foot on the red planet,” replied Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy administrator for human exploration and operations. “Partnership is an import element of this whole endeavor,” he added. “The fact of the matter is we’re sort of taking the first steps on [Mars], and the other international partners are going to come along on their own schedules.”

There are other potential space partners outside of Europe, although some of those relationships can come with challenges from earth-bound diplomacy. “I think it’s probably unrealistic to count on Russia or China because they have their own problems,” Caceres said. “And politically Russia is not going to be a reliable partner.” Japan and Korea could help as well, depending on their space priorities in the years ahead.

The other emerging option, as Caceres notes, are the private space companies with proven ability to secure investors to fund the sort of specialized work needed to make a Mars mission feasible. The space ambitions of billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos could lessen NASA’s dependence on financial contributions from other nations. Even without its enormous Cold War budget, Caceres believes the American space program remains attractive: “NASA still has incredible cachet.” - Bloomberg.

UFO SIGHTINGS: The Latest UFO Sightings Across The Globe - December 3, 2015!

UFO lights over Texas.

December 3, 2015 - EARTH
- The following videos constitutes several of the latest sightings of unidentified flying objects across the globe.

 WATCH: Massive UFO Sighting over Long Beach, California, United States - December 2, 2015.

Weird UFO anomaly photographed in the skies over Solo, Indonesia - November 30, 2015.

 WATCH: Incredible UFO sighting over Honolulu, Hawaii - October 21, 2015.

 WATCH: Fleet of UFOs over Conroe, Texas, United States - June 11, 2015.

UFO SIGHTINGS: NASA Mission Captures - The Latest Images Of Giant UFOs, Mysterious Structures And Aerial Anomalies In Space!

More anomalies on Mars.

December 3, 2015 - SPACE
- In the  following videos, taken from NASA's multimedia archives, UFOs, mysterious structures and various aerial anomalies can be seen on or around the Sun, the Moon, Planet Mars, in Earth's orbit and around the International Space Station (ISS).

 WATCH: UFO above the lunar surface, captured by Apollo 16.

See original image HERE.

 WATCH: Mars anomalies.

See original image HERE.

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