They Got Fooled Again

Much like the United States, Iran seems to have a real problem protecting its computer networks. Someone seems to be obsessed with sabotaging their nuclear program. I wonder who that might be?

Second computer virus infiltrates Iran’s computer systems

Iran has discovered a second computer virus designed to damage government computer systems.

The discovery of the virus, called Stars, was announced Monday by a senior Iranian official, Gholam-Reza Jalali, head of an Iranian cyberdefense agency, according to reports.

Jalali said in a statement that the damage from the virus, which looks like a regular government computer file, has been minimal and that Iranian scientists are currently studying the virus.

The virus was aimed at nuclear facilities, according to the Washington Post, and seems to suggest “a broader campaign by foreign saboteurs to undermine Iran’s atomic energy program.”

See also:
New Computer Strike Could Target Iranian Atomic Sites
Fresh Virus Outbreak Affects Iran’s Computer Systems
Iran discovers 2nd virus attack
New cyber attack targets Iran
Iran Claims Stars Virus a Second Cyber-Attack
Iranian official: New computer worm discovered
Iran investigates Stars virus
Iran Says It Was Targeted With Second Worm, Stars
As the Worm Turns: Iran Sees Stars
Iran says is uncovers second cyber attack
Iran Under Fresh Malware Attack
Security experts can’t verify Iran’s claims of new worm
Is the Stars Worm Just a Hoax?

Well, I certainly hope the Stars virus attack on Iran’s nuclear program isn’t a hoax and does as much damage as the Stuxnet worm, which was apparently wildly more effective than Iran is admitting to.

/you’ll note that Iran still hasn’t managed to power up the Bushehr reactor, which is as good a yardstick as any that their nuclear program has been ground to a halt

Goldilocks And The Five Planets

Book your travel plans early, the closest one is millions of years of travel time away.

NASA finds dozens of planets that might support life

A catalog of possible planets discovered far out in space includes more than 50 candidates that could possibly support life, NASA scientists said Wednesday. If, as expected, most of the planets are confirmed as real, the Kepler mission — now finishing its second year — would nearly triple the number of planets discovered over the last decade and a half.

With 1,235 planetary candidates surrounding a collective 997 stars in an area 500 to 3,000 light-years away, the tally to date provides a wealth of data for scientists to sift through in search of Earth-like planets.

“This is the first step in understanding the possible distribution of life in our galaxy,” said William Borucki, principal investigator for the Kepler mission at NASA Ames Research Center in the Bay Area’s Moffett Field.

He noted that of the candidate planets, 54 reside in the so-called Goldilocks range — in a “just right” distance from its star to be neither too hot nor too cold to permit liquid water and therefore the presence of life as we know it. Five of those 54 are close to Earth’s size.

The space-based Kepler telescope, which circles the sun trailing Earth’s orbit, observes more than 155,000 stars and every half-hour measures the amount of light they give off. If a planet is orbiting a star, it is detectable because it temporarily blocks a bit of light each time it crosses in front of its star.

See also:
5 Earth-sized planets spied in ‘habitable zone’
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
1,235 alien planets out there?
Kepler space telescope is finding a cornucopia of possible planets
NASA reveals more than 1,200 potential planets
Hunt for planets yields surprises
Kepler space telescope spots five Earth-sized planets in our galaxy
NASA Detects Potential ‘Habitable Zone’ Planets
Kepler: Home Page
Kepler (spacecraft)

Well, this is a great scientific achievement, but I’m not sure what practical value there is in it. Okay, so there’s all these possibly habitable planets, so what?

/we’ll never get there to find out for sure.

We Live In A Deadly Neighborhood

WWAGD? (what will Al Gore do?)

Self destructing Supernova explosion may wipe out earth

A STAR is primed to explode in a blast that could wipe out the Earth, according to American astronomers.

A new study shows the star, called T Pyxidis, is much closer than previously thought at 3,260 light-years away – a short hop in galactic terms.

It is set to self-destruct in an explosion called a supernova with the force of 20 billion billion billion megatons of TNT.

The blast from the thermonuclear explosion could strip away the Earth’s ozone layer that keeps out deadly space radiation, scientists said.

The doomsday scenario was described today by astronomers from Villanova University in Philadelphia.

They said the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite has shown them that T Pyxidis is really two stars, one called a white dwarf that is sucking in gas and steadily growing. When it reaches a critical mass it will blow itself to pieces.

It will become as bright as all the other stars in the galaxy put together and shine like a beacon halfway across the universe.

The experts said the Hubble space telescope photographed the star gearing up for its big bang with a series of smaller blasts or “burps”, called novas.

These explosions came regularly about every 20 years from 1890, but stopped after 1967.

So the next blast is very overdue, said scientists Edward M Sion, Patrick Godon and Timothy McClain at the American Astronomical Society in Washington.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the UK’s Society for Popular Astronomy, said, “The star may certainly became a supernova soon – but soon could still be a long way off so don’t have nightmares.”

See also:
Supernova star too close for comfort
Nearby T Pyxidis Supernova Could Destroy Life on Earth
T Pyxidis Soon To Be A Type Ia Supernova
Earth ‘to be wiped out’ by supernova explosion
The death star that may kill us
Supernova explosion may wipe out the Earth
Will Earth ‘Be Wiped Out’ by a Supernova?
American Astronomical Society
Society for Popular Astronomy
International Ultraviolet Explorer

Although the odds are literally astronomical, what if T Pyxidis already exploded 3259 years ago? There’s Al Gore global warming and then there’s supernova global warming.

/what do we do, buy lots of carbon credits or really high SPF sunscreen?

Cosmic Neighborhood Watch, Keeping Us Safe From Extinction Events

NASA Launches Comet-Hunting Space Camera

NASA on Monday successfully launched a space telescope designed to create a highly detailed map of the heavens and spot comets and asteroids that could pose a threat to life on Earth.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a Delta II rocket at 6:09 a.m. PST.

“”WISE thundered overhead, lighting up the pre-dawn skies,” said William Irace, mission project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif.

“All systems are looking good, and we are on our way to seeing the entire infrared sky better than ever before,” said Irace.

WISE will use an infrared camera to map the cosmos. The mission calls for the unmanned spacecraft to cover the entire sky one-and-a-half times, until its frozen coolant runs out. NASA hopes it will capture everything from near-Earth asteroids to distant galaxies teeming with stars.

“The last time we mapped the whole sky at these particular infrared wavelengths was 26 years ago,” noted UCLA’s Edward Wright, who is principal mission manager.

“Infrared technology has come a long way since then. The old all-sky infrared pictures were like impressionist paintings—now we’ll have images that look like actual photographs,” said Wright.

WISE is designed to provide information about the size, composition, and texture of near-Earth objects such as comets and asteroids.

“We can help protect our Earth by learning more about the diversity of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets,” said Amy Mainzer, deputy project scientist for the mission at JPL.

WISE will also attempt to document the cycle of life in the Universe, as it will capture faraway images of star-hatching galaxies and ravenous, planet-eating black holes.

See also:
WISE Spacecraft Seeks Near Earth Objects, New Stars Using Infrared Wavelengths
NASA launches new mapping spacecraft
Utah-made telescope blasts into space
Infrared Space Telescope Launched From California
NASA launches spacecraft that will map stars, galaxies, asteroids
NASA Craft To Photograph Entire Universe
Nasa sky survey probe blasts off
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer launched
NASA’s WISE (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) telescope launched
NASA – Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
Delta II Overview
Delta II

/WISE is not only good science, but a good idea for protecting the Earth, well done NASA and JPL