NASA launching probe for deep dive into sun’s atmosphere

Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 @ 3:30 PM

This photo taken from the Skylab space station on December 19, 1973, shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded. Solar flares are sudden outbursts of energy originating on the sun’s surface and projecting far into its atmosphere. NASA’s newest solar mission, called the Parker Solar mission, launches next summer and will study solar winds, magnetic fields, energized particles and plasma.
SSPL via Getty Images
This photo taken from the Skylab space station on December 19, 1973, shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded. Solar flares are sudden outbursts of energy originating on the sun’s surface and projecting far into its atmosphere. NASA’s newest solar mission, called the Parker Solar mission, launches next summer and will study solar winds, magnetic fields, energized particles and plasma.(SSPL via Getty Images)

 

 

NASA is launching a probe to one of the most hostile environments imaginable: the sun.

It’s the first time a spacecraft will fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, where it will encounter temperatures of almost 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and brutal radiation levels.

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The “mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun … ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observation of a star,” NASA said in a news release about the Parker Solar Probe mission.

Researchers want to know more about how energy and heat move in the sun’s atmosphere. They also want to explore how and why solar winds and particles accelerate. 

The probe will carry four instruments designed to study solar winds, plasma, magnetic fields and energetic particles when it launches sometime between July and August 2018.

Solar winds affect Earth in several ways, including the planet’s magnetic fields and what’s known as space weather.

>> Related: Jupiter revealed: NASA mission finds swirling storms at poles, weird magnetic fields

Space weather can disrupt satellites, changing their orbits, interfering with electronics and shortening their life spans.

But even more than that, solar winds essentially blow through most of the solar system, and in order to travel beyond Earth, scientists need to have a clear understanding of how they work.

A better understanding of the sun will also help researchers in understanding stars in other worlds and faraway galaxies.

 

 

Embracing bodies found in national park died in ‘sympathetic murder-suicide’

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 10:03 PM

Embracing Bodies Believed To Be Missing Hikers

The bodies of a couple embracing each other discovered at Joshua Tree National Park likely died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide” while they were lost amid the desert’s boiling heat. 

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Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going for a hike in late July. 

Crews spent more than 2,100 hours scouring the rugged terrain before finding their bodies in a canyon Oct. 15.

This combo made from undated photos provided by the National Park Service show Rachel Nguyen, left, and Joseph Orbeso, as they seek the public's help in locating them. The father of Orbeso, a missing California man, says he believes the bodies of his son and his son's girlfriend, Nguyen, have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, Calif., near the area where the couple vanished while hiking nearly three months ago. Officials have not yet confirmed the identities of the bodies discovered Sunday in the desert park. (National Park Service via AP)(AP)

Autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Friday.

The bodies were under a tree, with clothing covering their legs to protect them from the sun. They appeared to have been rationing food and had no water.

"We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family," Nguyen’s family members said in a statement. "We thank God that we'll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hippo photo bombs engagement proposal

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 8:42 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans.

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The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll by getting down on one knee and proposing while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

Kelble, a University of Cincinnati student, and Roll, a recent Bowling Green State University grad and radiology tech at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, have loved Fiona from the start, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are huge #TeamFiona fans and have been following her since she was born,” Roll said, WCPO reported. “We’re so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here’s to many more years of going to zoos with you,” Roll posted on Instagram.

One zoo staff member cropped the photo and quipped that Fiona thinks she’s the one getting engaged. Another said Fiona would need a much bigger ring for one of her toes.

Prototypes of Trump's border wall released

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 7:52 PM

TIJUANA, MEXICO - OCTOBER 5:  Prototype sections of a border wall between Mexico and the United States are under construction on October 5, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. Prototypes of the border wall propopsed by President Donald Trump are being built just north of the U.S.- Mexico border, where competitors who are hoping to gain approval to build the wall have until the first of next month to complete their work. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
TIJUANA, MEXICO - OCTOBER 5: Prototype sections of a border wall between Mexico and the United States are under construction on October 5, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. Prototypes of the border wall propopsed by President Donald Trump are being built just north of the U.S.- Mexico border, where competitors who are hoping to gain approval to build the wall have until the first of next month to complete their work. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)(Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Congress is still calculating just how the Trump administration’s proposed Mexican-American border wall will be funded, but until then, we can now see what it might look like.

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Eight life size models are under construction on the outskirts of San Diego. Four of the prototypes are solid concrete and the other half are a combination of concrete and steel. One model is even topped with spikes. Roy Villareal, chief of the San Diego Border Patrol sector, shared the criteria on which the models are being measured on with NPR.

“We want a better barrier. One that is hard to scale, hard to penetrate and hard to tunnel under,” Villareal said.

“We’re hoping innovation from private industry combined with our experience generates the next evolution of border security infrastructure,” he continued.

Guidelines suggested the prototypes stand between 18 to 30 feet high, be capable of withstanding at least an hour of damage from construction tools, and be “aesthetically pleasing” from the U.S. side.

Each of the prototypes reportedly cost $500,000 and the six companies hired to produce them have until Oct. 26 to finalize construction.

President Trump is currently seeking $1.6B from Congress for 74 miles of new border wall to be located in southern Texas.

On Tuesday, he shared his excitement for the project, tweeting out, “BORDER WALL prototypes underway!”

Even with the available footage, Roy Villareal maintains that the prototypes may not be what the wall will ultimately look like.

“Part of the intent of the prototypes is to influence the ultimate design of new border fencing,” he said. “[The final design] may well not be what you witnessed.”

Until then, the Trump administration is currently keeping mum as to how the winners will be decided.

Photos show suspected poaching ring gloating over illegal kills; now they face nearly 200 charges

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 7:16 PM

Case files and criminal charges show the extent of a poaching case in Washington and Oregon where dozens of bears, elk, and bobcats were killed. (Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Case files and criminal charges show the extent of a poaching case in Washington and Oregon where dozens of bears, elk, and bobcats were killed. (Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Newly obtained case files and criminal charges show the extent of a poaching case in Washington and Oregon where dozens of bears, elk and bobcats were killed for the thrill of it. 

KIRO 7 News reported in September that as many as 23 people possibly took part in the poaching ring breaking virtually every hunting law and regulation in Washington and Oregon. The suspects' photos of them gloating over their kills were used against as evidence by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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Seven people — six adults, some of whom have previously been targeted in poaching investigations, and one juvenile — have been charged so far. 

Documents from the Skamania County clerk show at least five of those suspects are collectively facing 189 charges related to illegal hunting with aid of dogs, unlawful hunting of big game, and wasting fish and wildlife. 

Here are the suspects named in Skamania County case summaries:

• Joseph Dills, 64 charges

• Bryan Tretiak, 10 charges

• Eddy Dills, 26 charges

• Erick Martin, 28 charges

• William Haynes, 61 counts

Joseph and Eddy Dills were scheduled for arraignment hearings earlier this month.

Investigators said they linked the suspected ring through text messages and cellphone records allegedly showing the group coordinating illegal kills, which authorities say began in 2015.

Their alleged killing sprees focused on areas near Skamania County, where Gifford Pinchot National Forest is located, and near The Dalles in Oregon. 
Here’s what some of the video and images documented:

• Cougar chased up a tree by hounds before being shot and killed.

• Several bears treed by dogs, then shot and killed. 

• Elk killed in areas where hunting was not permitted. 

• A bobcat, along with deer, and elk shot illegally before being beheaded to take antlers and skulls as trophies. 

• Bones discovered months later in areas animals were killed. 

Investigators said the suspected poachers often left the carcasses of the slaughtered animals behind to rot in the woods. Additionally, the suspects shot animals in places where it was not allowed or the suspects did not have correct permits, according to WDFW. 

And in at least one case, the suspected poachers’ dogs were also apparently injured.

WDFW obtained one a series of text messages in their investigation. Authorities said this one was sent from a suspect to his girlfriend. 

“I'm done hunting already. I killed a huge bear about 400 pounds this morning about two feet from the ground. Now we are headed to Joe’s to drop the dogs off except for Jip and Stormy. Jip has about a 10-inch gash on her back leg and [Stormy’s] stiches pulled out so we're headed to get them fixed.”

Phone photos and videos dated back to August 2015, show bears illegally killed and hound hunting activity. Investigators said they were able to identify specific areas the suspected poachers went to over the last two years by photo-embedded GPS coordinates. 

Here’s how the investigation began: 

The investigation began with Oregon State Police troopers who were looking into poaching in The Dalles, charging papers filed in Skamania County Superior Court say.

Last December, the troopers contacted and interviewed two Longview, Washington, men, Haynes and Martin, who, the troopers said, confessed to illegally killing deer in Oregon and bringing their heads and antlers back to Washington.

The troopers contacted authorities in Washington, who recovered 27 deer heads and a bull elk unlawfully possessed by Haynes and a co-defendant, the charging papers say.

In executing search warrants for the suspects’ cellphones, the documents say, investigators found pictures, text messages and videos linking several other people to the poaching.

“The bears really suffered the brunt of this,” Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Brad Rhoden said. “They were just killed and left.”

More charges are expected in both Oregon and Washington state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report .