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Scientists figure out how auroras create ‘speed bumps’ for satellites orbiting Earth | Science & Tech News



Scientists have discovered how the aurora creates “speed bumps” which can slow down satellites orbiting the Earth.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire in the US found that a special type of high-altitude aurora could be pushing pockets of air deep into the outer atmosphere.

“We knew these satellites were hitting ‘speed bumps’, or ‘upswellings’, which cause them to slow down and drop in altitude,” said Dr Marc Lessard.

“But on this mission we were able to unlock some of the mystery around why this happens by discovering that the bumps are much more complicated and structured.”

Dr Lessard, an associate professor of physics at UNH, published the study in the Geophysical Research Letters journal.

ALTA, NORWAY - MARCH 29: A general view of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights between Jokelfjord and Alteidet on March 29, 2017 in Troms, Norway. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Classical northern lights are much brighter than PMAFs

Researchers found that lower energy auroras – different from the bright ribbons of light normally seen near the poles – had been prompting strange atmospheric behaviours.

Because these lower-energy auroras known as Poleward Moving Auroral Forms (PMAF) occur at such high altitudes, they transfer more of their energy to the atmosphere.

Instead of sparkling at just 60 miles (100km) above ground, PMAFs are fainter and occur up to 250 miles (400km) above the ground.

They are also responsible for pushing hot air out towards space, although it ultimately will fall back to the Earth – creating a gloopy environment for satellites to travel through.

“You can think of the satellites travelling through air pockets or bubbles similar to those in a lava lamp as opposed to a smooth wave,” said Dr Lessard.

Early space exploration missions found that satellites had difficulties in orbit when the sun was active – they began to drag in their orbit, slowing down and potentially falling back to Earth.

For low-Earth orbit satellites, continued orbit is crucial – they perform lots of functions for society from weather pictures through to communications.

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Sri Lanka suicide bomber who studied in UK named as Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed | World News



One of the suicide bombers behind the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka was former UK student Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, according to security sources.

Mohamed is believed to have studied in the southeast of England at some point between 2006 and 2007 – and later did a postgraduate course in Australia, before returning to settle in Sri Lanka.

The terrorist was one of nine who carried out a series of blasts targeting churches and hotels in the country, killing 359 people – including eight Britons – and injuring more than 500.

Sri Lanka's deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene updates the gathered media on details about suicide bombings

Defence minister: One Sri Lanka suspect ‘studied in UK’

During an earlier news conference on Wednesday, deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said all nine of the bombers – eight of whom have been identified – were well educated and from wealthy families.

One of the them was a woman, who killed herself as police raided her home, and another – who targeted the Shangri-La hotel – has been identified as factory owner Insan Seelavan.

The woman, thought to be the wife of one of the bombers, blew herself up at the home of her father-in-law, who has been taken into custody.

It is reported that the his two sons were also bombers.

More from Sri Lanka Attacks

Security personnel stand guard outside the Kingsbury Hotel
Security personnel stand guard outside the Kingsbury Hotel

Police have so far made 60 arrests, all of whom are Sri Lankan nationals, and 32 people remain in custody.

Tensions across the country remain high, with police carrying out a controlled explosion of a suspicious motorbike in the capital city of Colombo earlier on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan prime minister admitted intelligence agencies had information that could have stopped the attacks if it had been passed on correctly.

Police have been investigating whether warnings of the attacks were ignored or missed, and Ranil Wickremesinghe confirmed there was a “breakdown of communication”.

The prime minister added: “Some of the suspects are on the run.

“Some of those suspects are armed and dangerous. There are still explosives and militants out there and the police are looking for them.”

Families carried the coffins into the mass grave
Families carry coffins into a mass grave

At a separate news conference this morning, US ambassador Alaina Teplitz said “clearly there was some failure in the system”, adding she had “no prior knowledge” of a threat.

The leader of the Sri Lankan parliament, Lakshman Kiriella, has claimed that senior officials deliberately withheld intelligence about the potential for attacks.

He said: “Some top intelligence officials hid the intelligence information purposefully.

“Information was there, but the top brass security officials did not take appropriate actions. Somebody is controlling these top intelligence officials. The security council is doing politics. We need to investigate into this.”

Security personnel inspect the interior of St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo
Security personnel inspect the interior of St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo

Jeremy Hunt says a team of specialists from the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism command has been dispatched to Sri Lanka

‘Specialist team dispatched to Sri Lanka’

Britain and the FBI are among the foreign allies providing assistance to the investigation into who carried out the attacks, with Islamic State having claimed – without evidence – that its “fighters” were responsible.

The Sri Lankan defence ministry has said it believes two domestic Islamist organisations are responsible for the attacks, although their suggestion that it was “retaliation” for the Christchurch mosque shootings has been played down by the office of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

It said on Tuesday it had not “seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based”.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has sent specialists from the Metropolitan Police to help in Sri Lanka – and they will also be tasked with efforts to repatriate deceased UK nationals.

In total, the bombing victims include more than 30 foreigners from at least 12 countries, including three children of Danish billionaire and ASOS shareholder Anders Holch Povlsen.

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Boy Scouts of America sex abuse: More than 12,000 victims since 1944, lawyer claims | US News



An alarming new wave of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has emerged, according to a New York lawyer.

Victims’ rights attorney Jeff Anderson claims that more than 12,000 members of the youth organisation have been victims of sexual abuse since 1944.

He also revealed that files maintained by the BSA lists more than 7,800 alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse, a figure that was not previously reported.

Scoutmaster or troop leaders who were accused of sexual abuse were listed in the BSA “perversion files” which came to light during a 2012 court case in the state of Oregon.

Victims' rights Attorney Jeff Anderson speaks to media during a press conference
Jeff Anderson accused the BSA of covering up abuse cases

Lawyers are now demanding the full release of thousands of names of alleged offenders, with nearly 200 of them reportedly from New York and New Jersey.

The fresh allegations came to light after Mr Anderson compiled an “incomplete” list of former Boy Scout leaders accused of abuse.

He accused the organisation of running a system of denial and cover-up, claiming the BSA has files on child abusers within their ranks dating back to the 1940s.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Anderson discussed what he claims to be a widespread pattern of abuse.

Citing testimony, Jeff Anderson said the number of victims total 12,254

He said: “For many, many years there’s been an excavation of what are called the ‘perversion files’ – those are files held and hoarded at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters.

“Those ‘perversion files’ that they’ve had reflect that they have removed thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse over the years and they’ve kept that in files secretly.”

Citing testimony by a professional retained by the Boy Scouts to audit the files, Mr Anderson said there were 7,819 suspected perpetrators, while the number of victims are said to total 12,254.

He said: “That is a number not known before today or ever revealed by the Boy Scouts of America.”

The Boy Scout logo is displayed in a store in San Rafael, California.
‘We believe victims,’ the BSA has said

Mr Anderson called on more victims to come forward.

In a statement to News 4, a BSA spokesperson said they “care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse and sincerely apologise to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting.”

They added: “We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counselling by a provider of their choice.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”

The organisation added that it never “knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth”.

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