Ice core data supports ancient space impact idea By Simon Redfern Reporter, BBC News

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New data from Greenland ice cores suggest North America may have suffered a large cosmic impact about 12,900 years ago.

A layer of platinum is seen in ice of the same age as a known abrupt climate transition, US scientists report.

The climate flip has previously been linked to the demise of the North American "Clovis" people.


The data seem to back the idea that an impact tipped the climate into a colder phase, a point of current debate.

Rapid climate change occurred 12,900 years ago, and it is proposed that this is associated with the extinction of large mammals – such as the mammoth, widespread wildfires and rapid changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation.

All of these have previously been linked to a cosmic impact but the theory has been hotly disputed because there was a lack of clear evidence.

New platinum measurements were made on ice cores that allow conditions 13,000 years ago to be determined at a time resolution of better than five years, report Michail Petaev and colleagues from Harvard University. Their results are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A 100-fold spike in platinum concentration occurs in ice that is around 12,890 years old, at the same moment that rapid cooling of the climate is indicated from oxygen isotope measurements. This coincides with the start of a climatic period called the "Younger Dryas".

The Younger Dryas started and finished abruptly, and is one of a number of shorter periods of climate change that appear to have occurred since the last glacial maximum of 20,000 years ago.

Each end of the Younger Dryas period may have involved very rapid changes in temperature as the climate system reached a tipping point, with suggestions that dramatic changes in temperature occurred over as short as timescale as a decade or so.


continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

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  1. According to Australian scientists an asteroid impacted in Brazil 252 million years ago causing a large extinction. 65million years ago, dinosaurs were exterminated by an impact on planet Earth and now it seems that 12,900 years ago another impact caused the extinction of the “Clovis” people and large the mammals in North America. I’m sure there have been more space strikes on Earth that have caused more extinctions. This proves that the Universe doesn’t owe us anything at all. Any event happening in space can affect us and could wipe out humanity from the face of the Earth in a matter of a few months. To avert similar disasters in the future, we depend entirely on ourselves and the knowledge we may have gathered during a period of thousands of years up to the present day. Scientific education ought to be a priority, though planet Earth and its civilization will eventually vanish. If we only had time to leave our seed in other worlds, we might say that our civilization was a success.

  2. Odalrich@1 – And when we do discover that something big is on a collision course, the Bible thumpers will be there to tell that God sent it as punishment for all the atheists, gays, feminists, and the rest of the right-wing’s bogeymen.

    • In reply to #2 by Matt G:

      Odalrich@1 – And when we do discover that something big is on a collision course, the Bible thumpers will be there to tell that God sent it as punishment for all the atheists, gays, feminists, and the rest of the right-wing’s bogeymen.

      People are too arrogant to accept that a mere incident of no importance in space can have tremendous consequences here on Earth. They prefer to think that a very important and powerful being can cause a holocaust, and as this “being” has to be merciful, then people need to imagine that their terrible “sins” have angered the powerful being.

  3. let me get this straight: a massive object (meteor) would’ve impacted the earth, sending various elements/chemicals/what-haveyou’s into the air, which would’vethen settled ontl the ground and frozen into the ice as platinum? I had a mildly difficul time understanding this article

    • In reply to #3 by Dominic:

      let me get this straight: a massive object (meteor) would’ve impacted the earth,

      Yes

      sending various elements/chemicals/what-haveyou’s into the air,

      Yes again, most of this material would be terrestrial and some of it the vaporised remains of the impactor.

      which would’ve then settled onto the ground and frozen into the ice as platinum?

      Not quite. The elements and minerals of the impactor would have different ratio’s to the geology of the impact site. Certain elements in the impactor would be in much higher concentration, possibly thousands of times higher, than the local concentrations. Therefore the extra platinum had to have come from elsewhere, with the most likely source being an asteroid. This is similar to the discovery of the Iridium spike in the K-T boundary which led Luis and Walter Alvarez to hypothesize a meteor impact wiping out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

  4. I think it’s time to sit down, relax, have a nice cup of tea, count my blessings and how I can best enjoy the rest of my time on this beautiful Planet; before my little life is “rounded by a sleep”.

    Happy daze!

  5. This simply emphasises the point, that we need to get on with projects like this one:-

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/bruce-betts/20120625-Laser-Bees-zapping-rocks.html

    When we discover an asteroid headed for Earth— and it is only a matter of when, not if—we will want a variety of well-studied techniques that can be applied to deflect the asteroid before a regionally destructive catastrophic impact can occur. Thanks to the support of Planetary Society Members and the Laser Bees team, we are moving the process forward to help save the world.

  6. I can’t get out of my head the vision of future traders shouting at each other “dump platinum!” or online betting sides offering spreasd betting on how much of each transition element will be deposited on the ground as the next celestial mortar is arriving in the atmosphere…..

    Do you think they will be able to resist?

    • In reply to #9 by HalfaMind:

      I can’t get out of my head the vision of future traders shouting at each other “dump platinum!” or online betting sides offering spreasd betting on how much of each transition element will be deposited on the ground as the next celestial mortar is arriving in the atmosphere…..

      I see you are already thinking ahead of the market, but not ahead of the pioneers!

      http://www.spaceanswers.com/news/2011/new-asteroid-mining-company-announces-plans-to-conquer-space-rocks/

      Bringing back asteroid materials is only a step on the way to much bigger things for DSI. The company has a patent-pending technology called the MicroGravity Foundry to transform raw asteroid material into complex metal parts. The MicroGravity Foundry is a 3D printer that uses lasers to draw patterns in a nickel-charged gas medium, causing the nickel to be deposited in precise patterns. -

      For example, a large market for DSI is producing fuel for communications satellites. Low-cost asteroid propellant delivered in orbit to comsats will extend their working lifetimes, with each extra month worth $5 million to $8 million per satellite. DSI has executed a non-disclosure agreement with an aerospace company to discuss collaboration on this opportunity.

      In a decade, Deep Space will be harvesting asteroids for metals and other building materials, to construct large communications platforms to replace communications satellites, and later solar power stations to beam carbon-free energy to consumers on Earth. As DSI refines asteroids for in-space markets, it also will harvest platinum group metals for terrestrial uses, such as pollution control devices.

        • In reply to #11 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

          I see you are already thinking ahead of the market, but not ahead of the pioneers!

          Here is another view of Deep Space Industries.

          Asteroid 2012 DA14 Isn’t Worth $195 Billion, Whatever Deep Space Industries Says

          Forbes seem “Earthbound” and seem to have missed the point that the market for much of the extracted material is in space to service orbiting satellites and systems. The cost of launching material per kilogram to Earth orbit is enormous,

          Comparison of orbital launch systems

          • Ariane 5ES – $10,476 (per kg. to Low Earth Orbit.)

          • Atlas V 401 $13,812

          • Delta IV-H $13,072

          • Dnepr-1 $3,784

          • Falcon 1 $10,792

          • Falcon 9 v1.0 $5,359

          • Falcon 9 v1.1 $4,109

          • Falcon Heavy $2,200

          • Space Shuttle $10,416

          Of course communication satellites are in geosynchronous orbits, not Low Earth Orbits.

          . . . .so the market value of replacement fuel or other components to extend the life of satellites is very large. The figures quoted and linked @10 were: -

          For example, a large market for DSI is producing fuel for communications satellites. Low-cost asteroid propellant delivered in orbit to comsats will extend their working lifetimes, with each extra month worth $5 million to $8 million per satellite.

          • In reply to #12 by Alan4discussion:

            Forbes seem “Earthbound” and seem to have missed the point that the market for much of the extracted material is in space to service orbiting satellites and systems. The cost of launching material per kilogram to Earth orbit is enormous,

            You missed the entire point of the article which was that what orbiting satellites need are not raw materials but highly complex component parts. To build those parts you need factories with skilled workers. Mining the raw materials is the easy part (although as the author points out even that is far from easy, no one really knows how to do even that in space yet) but once you have the materials you need to turn them into the complex satellite components and we aren’t even close to having the kind of infrastructure established in space yet.

            Yes, its extremely expensive to put stuff into space. Which is why putting enough stuff into space to build the factories that build the components would end up being far more expensive than just building the components on earth.

          • In reply to #13 by Red Dog:

            You missed the entire point of the article which was that what orbiting satellites need are not raw materials but highly complex component parts.

            This is not correct. Frequently very expensive satellites fail because they have run out of fuel for thrusters or some small component has failed. The point is that fuel can be manufactured from simple materials such as water, which is available in abundance as ice.

            To build those parts you need factories with skilled workers.

            You are thinking in terms of old technologies. The proposals are to use programmable 3D printers to manufacture custom components. Successful prototype tests have already been done.

            http://www.3ders.org/articles/20130627-wsu-researchers-help-making-custom-satellite-parts-using-3d-printing.html

            In Nov.2012, With support from NASA, Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) demonstrated how to fabricate parts using 3D printer and moon-like material. Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professors in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of 3D printing.

            Their current project, supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, is an exploratory project to make metal and ceramic components for a miniature research satellite using 3D printing. About the size of a coffee cup, it holds the world’s smallest liquid rocket engine.

            Mining the raw materials is the easy part (although as the author points out even that is far from easy, no one really knows how to do even that in space yet) but once you have the materials you need to turn them into the complex satellite components and we aren’t even close to having the kind of infrastructure established in space yet.

            Robotic systems are advancing all the time.

            Notional Robotic Servicing Mission
            NASA’s SSCO is studying a conceptual mission that would debut a robotic servicing vehicle with the capability to access, repair and refuel satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit, or GEO—assets that were not designed to be serviceable.

            This is a long term project to set up an entire class of new industry in space. There is almost unlimited solar thermal and photovoltaic energy in the inner Solar System. The link I put @5 shows how this can be directed.

  7. To say a bit more this is just basic economics. Almost all of the component parts that go into satellites also have other uses on earth. So you build a factory on earth and staff it with earth labor and you can sell the components that can go into other systems, not just satellites. The idea of building a whole infrastructure of factories, workers, mining raw materials, etc. just to put component parts in satellites is absurd.

    And even if you forget about the cost to build those space factories what about the cost to maintain those space factories? Satellites aren’t the only thing that require you replenish parts, factories need that also, and the amount of parts required to maintain those factories is going to be exponentially greater than the component parts of a few satellites. You end up in an infinite regression, now you build more factories to build the stuff that goes into the factories to build the stuff that goes into the satellites.

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