Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

As football fans geared up for Feb. 3, 2019’s ultimate event of the football season, National Guard civil support team members were on site in Atlanta to ensure Super Bowl LIII went off without a hitch.

“They’re just monitoring the area to make sure there are no weapons of mass destruction or no precursors for WMDs in the area,” said Army Lt. Col. Jenn Cope, CST program branch chief at the National Guard Bureau. “That will continue through the game and then for days afterward.”

Elements from eight different CSTs from eight different states were in Atlanta providing assistance, with the Georgia National Guard’s 4th Civil Support Team acting as the lead team.


“It’s a continuous operation for a long period of time, so they’ll need more than just [one CST],” said Cope.

The CSTs began their Super Bowl mission, which started with a sweep of the stadium and surrounding areas to get a baseline reading of the area. That allowed the teams to detect elements already there that may signal the presence of chemical, biological or a large-scale explosive device, while also providing a range of pre-game “normal” readings.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Second Lt. Dustin McCormick, left, and Sgt. William Bean from the 10th Civil Support Team (CST) discuss their plan of action to install radiation monitoring equipment around CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, Nov. 20, 2017.

(Photo by Spc. Alec Dionne)

CST members then watched for any changes to those readings, using sensor equipment that allowed for near real-time tracking. Should a sensor have “pinged,” team members would then have notified state and local officials.

“Their job is to assist and advise,” said Cope, of the CSTs’ mission. “They can’t make the decision on what is to be done. That’s done by local, state and federal agencies. We’re there in a support role.”

And the CSTs are uniquely equipped and set up to provide that support, said Cope.

“The CSTs are set up specifically to be able to work with our interagency partners — that’s part of our prime mission,” she said. “Our radio frequencies are the same that local first responders or the FBI or other agencies at these events use. The CST’s mission is to assess the situation, analyze and provide information to our interagency partners.”

Taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the Super Bowl isn’t a new mission for the CSTs, who provide similar monitoring and analysis at large-scale events, including the State of the Union Address, high-profile sporting events and other comparable large or high visibility events.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, host venue of Super Bowl LIII.

“The CSTs participate in most national security events,” said Cope. “The Super Bowl falls under that.”

Cope added that the CSTs are the perfect asset for the mission of detecting possible WMDs.

“The CSTs are the most trained, the best-trained assets for countering WMDs,” she said. “There is no other unit like them in the National Guard and even in the active component there are very few teams that do what the CSTs do.”

When not supporting events like the Super Bowl, CSTs are often called upon by state and local authorities to respond to incidents involving the release or threatened release of nuclear, biological, radiological, or toxic or poisonous chemicals. In fiscal year 2017, the last year for which data is available, CSTs responded to more than 3,100 events or incidents throughout the U.S.

“They provide that broad spectrum of detection and protection for the states and the events that are happening,” said Cope. “Our guys analyze and detect and then provide that critical information back to state, local and federal authorities.”

And that’s all part of the mission.

“WMDs are a threat throughout the world,” said Cope. “The CSTs are set up to protect the homeland from that.”

Humor

6 ways to look squared away but you’re actually skating

Nobody wants to do work. It’s just one of those boxes that need to be checked every single day.


Maybe you’re just not feeling like dealing with a handful of mundane tasks that day. Perhaps you see an avalanche of bullsh*t barreling downhill and you’d rather not get run over. You might just be trying to earn your initiation into the E-4 Mafia / Lance Corporal Underground.

Whatever your personal motivations, be sure to try a few of these tricks for getting through the day without raising suspicions.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

“Yep. That’s a thing. Better move onto that other thing over there.”

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam K Thomas)

Walk around with a clipboard

There’s no skating method more tried and true than walking around with a clipboard and randomly stopping to look at things. For maximum effect, pretend like you’re checking for and marking off serial numbers.

As much as we all love this one — and believe me, it’s a classic — people catch on after a while.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Just be sure to pick up a few things. Not a lot, though — remember, you’re still trying to be lazy.

(Photo by Cpl. Michael Dye)

Walk around with a trash bag

This one’s similar to the clipboard, but this time, you’re being “proactive” by helping clean up the place.

If you take your time and maybe even clean some things up, you can help prevent an actual police call of the company area.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Why do you think so many NCOs volunteer to do this? You think most NCOs do it to keep unit integrity? Hell no.

(U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

Help motivate the stragglers during PT

During every morning run, there’s always that one person who just barely keeps up with everyone’s pace. Eventually, they start slowing down. That’s your opportunity to slow down with them and help “bring them back.”

They may not be able to keep up and might fall out completely. But until then, you get a chance to catch your breath and look like you’re helping push your battle buddy along in the process.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

No one is immune to the lure of the gut truck!

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben K. Navratil)

Call the gut truck but DON’T go to it

Need the perfect distraction for about ten to twenty minutes? Call the gut truck. People will think you’re doing them all a favor and that you’re taking ten seconds to call up the truck out of the kindness of your heart.

Immediately, everyone from the lowest private to the senior officers will drop what they’re doing to grab a quick bite to eat. That’s your cue to enjoy the silence until they get back.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

No one will notice that you’re secretly making everyone run slower.

(Photo by Sgt. Natalie Dillon)

Call cadence

No one ever questions or understands how vital the cadence caller is to morning PT.

Think about it: The entire platoon/company isn’t just running at the pace of the lead runner, it’s running at the pace of the person calling cadence. The unit moves to the rhythm of every beat. If you control that rhythm, things will move at your pace.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Fake it ’til you make it.

(U.S. Army Courtesy photo)

Just look motivated

If there’s any common thread between skaters across all branches, it’s that they all need to pretend like they’re excited and happy to be there.

A fake smile will take you everywhere. If you look good, you are good, right?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NATO invites Russia to observe its massive war games

NATO allies and a handful of partner countries are gearing up for the alliance’s largest joint military exercises in decades.

Ahead of the Trident Juncture exercises, which are expected to include 45,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 60 ships, and 150 aircraft from 31 countries training side by side in and around Norway in fall 2018, the alliance is stressing strength and transparency, and just invited Russian observers so they can get the message up close.

The US Navy admiral commanding the exercise hopes Russia will take them up on the offer.


“I fully expect that they’ll want to come. It’s in their interests to come and see what we do,” Admiral James Foggo told reporters at the Pentagon on Oct. 5, 2018, “They’ll learn things. I want them to be there so they can see how well [NATO allies and partners] work together.”

“There’s a strong deterrent message here that will be sent,” he said. “They are going to see that we are very good at what we do, and that will have a deterrent effect on any country that might want to cross those borders, but especially for one nation in particular.”

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Soldiers load an M777 howitzer during live-fire training at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Sept. 10, 2018, as part of Exercise Saber Junction 18.

(Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

So far, Russia has yet to accept the offer.

The drills, Article 5 (collective defense) exercises, will include land, air, and amphibious assets training to repel an adversary threatening the sovereignty of a NATO ally or partner state. The admiral refused to comment on whether or not the exercise would include a nuclear element, as an earlier Russian drill did.

Although it was previously reported that these exercises are the largest NATO drills since the Cold War, they are actually the biggest since 2002, Foggo clarified at Oct. 5, 2018’s briefing. The allied drills come on the heels of massive war games in eastern Russia involving tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Russian and Chinese troops preparing for large-scale military operations against an unspecified third country.

The purpose of Trident Juncture, according to handouts presented at Oct. 5, 2018’s briefing, is “to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why B-52s are about to be four times as threatening

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a legendary bomber that can bring the intimidation factor. One incident during Desert Storm proved this when an Iraqi commander who surrendered gave as his explanation, “the B-52s.” He was reminded that his unit wasn’t hit by those bombers. He said he knew that, but he had seen units that were hit by the BUFFs (Big Ugly Fat F***ers).

Back then, the B-52 could only carry dumb bombs. They were a blunt instrument. Today, the B-52 can carry all sorts of smart bombs, and it is still quite intimidating. Now, there is talk of upping it even more by enabling it to carry four times its current external load. That’s a lot more intimidation just on volume alone.


The current external load the B-52 can carry is about 10,000 pounds. According a report by Janes.com, that figure could go up to 40,000 pounds through the installation of new pylons. The current pylons were installed in the 1960s, and while they have served well, they haven’t kept up with new ordnance. B-52 external pylons have been used to carry a variety of weapons, including Mk 82 and M117 bombs, AGM-142 HAVE NAP missiles, AGM-86 and AGM-129 cruise missiles, and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

The B-52 has carried a wide variety of weapons in its long career.

(USAF photo)

Air Force Materials Command has sent out the request for information on a new pylon. There is no word yet on the timeline, but one very tantalizing prospect is that the B-52 would now be able to carry some of the largest weapons in the Air Force’s inventory on those pylons, enhancing its options against hard targets like cave complexes and bunkers.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

The GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Burst currently can only be delivered by MC-130H/J transports, but new pylons could allow the B-52 to carry this powerful weapon.

(USAF photo)

One weapon likely to be added to the B-52’s repertoire would be the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Burst — fondly referred to as the “Mother Of All Bombs.” This GPS-guided system is currently only usable by MC-130s with Special Operations Command, which has 37 MC-130J Commando II and 18 MC-130H Combat Talon transports in service. The Air Force presently has 58 B-52s in active service and another 18 BUFFs in the Air Force Reserve.

Plans also call for work to be done on the B-52’s wings and to replace their eight TF33 engines with commercial engines that would have much greater fuel efficiency. Combined with these new pylons, the B-52 could end up having a huge part to play for decades to come.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why this part of a missile silo is important

America’s force of inter-continental ballistic missiles, also known as ICBMs, has long been a component of the nuclear triad. The 450 LGM-30 Minuteman IV missiles split between F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana provide a very responsive retaliatory option – capable of hitting a target in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered.

These missiles are kept in silos at those three bases. The silos protect the missiles from the elements – and thus, a lot of work goes into making sure that the missiles are protected, but can be quickly launched. These silos also provide protection from nuclear strikes by the enemy trying to take them out (America, it seems, never got into road-mobile or rail-mobile ICBMs). How do they balance the need for a quick response with protecting the missiles?

The key to this is the door of the missile silo.


This is one of the little secrets about ICBMs. For a very powerful weapon (each LGM-30 carries a single W87 warhead with a yield of 300 kilotons – about 20 times as powerful as the 15-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima), they are very delicate instruments. As in: “Fragile, handle with care.”

In other words: “Use these and it’s the end of the world.”

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Even “routine” maintenance of a LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile is a high-stakes affair.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

For instance, according to a report by Time magazine, a dropped tool destroyed an Air Force LGM-25 Titan II missile, and its silo, in 1980. This fatal incident (one airman died) shows just how little it can take for things to go wrong with an ICBM.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

A dropped socket wrench destroyed a Titan missile, like this one.

(Photo by Mathew Brooks)

Now, when nukes are involved, the stakes are high. This is also true when using them. Things have to work, and they have to work the first time. If the roof on your convertible is stuck in the down position, you can get it fixed and the car detailed. That’s just a major inconvenience.

An ICBM silo door getting stuck – that can be devastating.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Thankfully, this Minuteman launch was only a test. If this had been for real, we’d be seeing lots of mushroom clouds.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

Fortunately, there has never been a need to use ICBMs against an enemy. But the effort is always made to ensure the systems are reliable – because one can never know. You can see the testing of an ICBM silo door in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNnrThhV7kU

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia claims accused spies were on a routine trip

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected accusations made by the Dutch authorities against suspected Russian spies.

In early October 2018, authorities in Netherlands said that four agents of Russian GRU military intelligence tried and failed to hack into the world’s chemical-weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose headquarters are in The Hague.

Commenting on the Dutch allegations, Lavrov said the four Russians were on a “routine” trip to The Hague in April 2018 when they were arrested and deported by Dutch authorities.


“There was nothing secret in the Russian specialists’ trip to The Hague in April,” Lavrov said at a briefing in Moscow on Oct. 8, 2018, after talks with Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“They weren’t hiding from anyone when they arrived at the airport, settled in a hotel and visited our embassy. They were detained without any explanations, denied a chance to contact our embassy in the Netherlands and then asked to leave. It all looked like a misunderstanding.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it handed a note on Oct. 8, 2018, to the Netherlands’ ambassador protesting the detention and expulsion of Russian citizens, calling the incident a provocation.

Dutch defense officials released photos and a timeline of the GRU agents’ botched attempt to break into the OPCW.

The OPCW was investigating a nerve-agent attack on a former GRU spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in Salisbury, England; Britain has blamed it on the Russian government. Moscow vehemently denies involvement.

Featured image: Four Russian citizens who allegedly attempted to hack the OPCW in The Hague are seen in this handout picture released on Oct. 4, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

popular

4 gifts the military gives children

It isn’t an easy life to live, being a military child. And while there’s plenty of articles and entire organizations dedicated to making that life better or making up for all the hardships, there are plenty of silver linings too.

Military families worldwide can all take a minute to feel good about the hidden gifts, they’re giving to their children simply by being part of the service community.


Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Noah Strasbaugh, son of U.S. Air Force Maj. Steven Strasbaugh, 351st Air Refueling Squadron assistant director of operations, sprays his dad with water in celebration of his “fini-flight” at RAF Mildenhall, England, Feb. 28, 2019. Dating back to World War II, the U.S. military has celebrated pilots’ and other experienced officers’ final flights either at their current unit or their career. U.S. Air Force/Emerson Nuñez

1. The gift of time

Entire lives are spent wasting time. It would be fair to say that generally speaking, most Americans and especially American children are too busy running from thing to thing to value the simple gift of time together. When someone is in your life every day, it’s nearly impossible to step back and see just how important, irreplaceable and invaluable they are to you.

This is not the case for military families. Deployments, TDYs, and school after school result in long periods of time reflecting upon relationships. All that time apart strengthens bonds and makes playing catch in the backyard a memory they’ll cherish forever. At an early age, military children get how important time together is, and are far less likely to waste it.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

A student with Mokapu Elementary School performs a traditional Hawaiian dance during the school’s May Day celebration, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. U.S. Marine Corps/Zachary Orr

2. The gift of culture

Almost everything written about moving constantly across the world with children is negative because it leaves out one major perk — experiencing culture. International culture, customs, and respect are concepts which remain foreign to those who live their entire lives in one place. When children live globally from a young age, many of life’s barriers fade away.

Military children will grow up accustomed to foreign languages, an openness to international cuisine, and the unique perspective to see the world’s commonalities from firsthand experience. If nothing else, they will grow up knowing exactly what’s out there and be unafraid to live their own lives anywhere on the map.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

A Gold Star child and her mentor pose for a photo during the 21st annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors, in Arlington, Va., May 22, 2015. Gen. Dempsey addressed surviving family members of fallen service members from both behind a podium and behind a microphone as he sang a few songs. DoD photo/Daniel Hinton

3. The gift of family

Nope, that wasn’t a typo. Military children will grow up with the gift of family…the military community. The old saying that “you don’t get to choose your family” is only half true. While we have no control over who we’re directly related to, we can choose the people we trust, love and create unbreakable bonds with.

Military families spend years and even decades apart from blood relatives, but over time realize that experiences like deployments, loss and PCS moves forge ties just as strong. Growing up in the military provides a constantly cycle of opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the world and the looming threat of separation to bring you closer to them.

Just as service members feel a lifelong bond to those they served with, military children feel uniquely tied to the people that stepped up and stepped in when their family was away. No one knows what they went through better than the ones who lived it right alongside them.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Students at Lackland Independent School District march and cheer during the PurpleUp! Parade April 12, 2019, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The parade was held in honor of the Month of the Military Child. April was designated as the Month of the Military Child in 1986 to recognize the sacrifices children in military families make along with the challenges they face. U.S. Air Force/Krystal Wright

4. The gift of turning the page

Something about childhood adults often forget was the deep desire to just start over when tween social life took a nosedive into the embarrassing with one fatal mishap- like the accidental fart in math class which forever brands you as “tooter.”

Enter the sweet gift of moving every few years. Did you get labeled something awful? There’s a move for that. Did rumor have it that your breath smells like the hot stench of death? Don’t live with it, just pick up and move! Dear children, we are giving you the sweet gift of reinventing yourselves every few years. A gift that allows you to boldly try new haircuts, new clothing styles, and hell, even a few weird accents after that CONUS move back to the states.

All things considered; military parents can rest easy tonight knowing that they aren’t completely screwing up their kid’s lives.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army wants to change rules on who can be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

The Acting Secretary of the Army announced proposed changes to eligibility criteria at Arlington National Cemetery. This begins the process for the federal government to prepare for the public rulemaking process which includes public feedback to the proposed changes.

The nation’s premiere military cemetery is at a critical crossroads in its history. Nearly all of the 22 million living armed forces members and veterans are eligible for less than 95,000 remaining burial spaces within these hallowed grounds.


A planned Southern Expansion project will add 37 acres of additional burial space for the nation’s veterans. Southern Expansion includes the area nearest the Air Force Memorial and a part of the former grounds of the Navy Annex. However, expansion alone will not keep Arlington National Cemetery open to new interments well into the future. Without changes to eligibility, Arlington National Cemetery will be full for first burials by the mid-2050s.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Columbarium Courts 10 and 11 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, July 20, 2018.

(Photo by Ms. Elizabeth Fraser)

“The hard reality is we are running out of space. To keep Arlington National Cemetery open and active well into the future means we have to make some tough decisions that restrict the eligibility,” said Executive Director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Karen Durham-Aguilera.

The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Secretary of the Army to establish revised eligibility criteria to keep the cemetery functioning as an active burial ground well into the future, defined as 150 years.

The Secretary established imperatives to recognize the individual’s sacrifice, service and impact to the nation’s security. The proposed eligibility criteria honors commitment to military service and is equitable across branches and eras of service. Additionally, any change should be easily understood, fair and consistent with Arlington National Cemetery’s mission.

Years of outreach have guided the decision-making process. Arlington National Cemetery and its stakeholders — military and veteran service organizations, military, government leaders, Congress, veterans, military service members and their family members — have been working this issue very closely.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

“This has been a very lengthy and deliberate process that has been done in the public domain,” said former Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery Katharine Kelley. “We have a Federal Advisory Committee at Arlington National Cemetery, an independent body mandated by Congress to look at very substantive issues related to the cemetery, and they have looked at the question of eligibility for many years,” said Kelley.

The cemetery has maintained an active and ongoing dialogue with military and veteran service organizations over two and a half years of thoughtful deliberation and public outreach. Additionally, the cemetery has conducted public surveys that garnered input and feedback from these important stakeholders, as well the active duty component who serves today.

The cemetery received more than 250,000 responses to these national surveys, and the results offered a compelling look at the opinions and attitudes of veterans, family members and active duty populations. Ninety-five percent of respondents want Arlington to not only remain open, but remain open and active well into the future.

“We’ve made extensive efforts to listen and gather input as part of this process, and that feedback we have received has been part of the Secretary’s deliberations and part of our discussions going forward,” said Kelley.

Now that the Secretary has established the proposed criteria, once cleared, the Department of the Army will publish a draft rule in the Federal Register for public comment, adjudicate public comments and publish the final rule. Federal rulemaking is a deliberative process and is expected to take a minimum of nine months.

“This is a lengthy process, but it’s another opportunity to have a say in what the future of Arlington National Cemetery should be for our nation,” said Durham-Aguilera.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

An officer salutes as members of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard take the casket of a Sailor killed during the Vietnam War to his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom)

In addition to preserving 1,000 gravesites for current and future Medal of Honor recipients, the proposed revised eligibility criteria for those who honorably serve the nation are as follows:

For below-ground interment:

  • Killed in Action, to include repatriated remains of service members
  • Award recipients of the Silver Star and above who also served in combat
  • Recipients of the Purple Heart
  • Combat-related service deaths while conducting uniquely military activities
  • Former Prisoners of War
  • Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States
  • Veterans with combat service who also served out of uniform as a government official and made significant contributions to the nation’s security at the highest levels of public service

For above-ground inurnment:

  • World War II-era veterans, to include legislated active duty designees
  • Retirees from the armed forces who are eligible to receive retired pay but are not otherwise eligible for interment
  • Veterans who have served a minimum of two years on active duty and who have served in combat
  • Veterans without combat service who also served out of uniform as a government official and made significant contributions to the nation’s security at the highest levels of public service

Eventual implementation of revised eligibility will not affect previously scheduled services at Arlington National Cemetery. Additionally, the proposed revisions will not affect veterans’ burial benefits or veteran eligibility at Department of Veterans Affairs 137 national cemeteries and 115 state veterans cemeteries.

Arlington National Cemetery will continue to actively engage stakeholders in the important decisions impacting the future of the cemetery.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why Earth-like planets might be common

A growing body of research indicates that there are likely billion of Earth-like planets that we haven’t yet discovered.

That’s good news for astronomers seeking alien life. Since Earth is our only example of a life-bearing world, scientists try to pinpoint planets like ours when they search for life elsewhere.

That’s what NASA’s Kepler space telescope set out to do. Kepler scanned the skies from 2009 to 2018, and it found over 4,000 planets outside our solar system. A dozen or so of these planets seem like prime real estate for life.

Kepler’s data has produced a growing body of research that indicates there are likely billions more Earth-like planets that we haven’t discovered.

Here’s why scientists are starting to think planets like Earth might be common.


Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Nine years’ worth of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed about 10,000 galaxies in one of the deepest, darkest patches of night sky in the universe.

(NASA/ESA/IPAC/Caltech/STScI/Arizona State University)

When astronomers peer across the cosmos for potential outposts of alien life, they look for planets like Earth.

That means a rocky planet that’s roughly the size of Earth. Scientists haven’t exactly defined this size range, since they don’t yet know how big rocky planets can be.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

The habitable zone, or “Goldilocks zone,” around a star is where a planet is neither too hot nor too cold to support liquid water.

(NASA)

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

This artist’s concept illustrates the idea that rocky worlds like the inner planets in our solar system may be plentiful, and diverse, in the universe.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt)

A handful of recent discoveries shows that Earths could be common in the universe.

That means alien life could be common, too.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

An illustration of NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

(NASA)

Most of what we know about exoplanets comes from the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

Kepler, which first launched in 2009, retired last year after it ran out of fuel. NASA passed the planet-hunting torch to the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April 2018.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

From the International Space Station, astronaut Scott Kelly took this photo of Earth and the Milky Way. He posted it to Twitter on Aug. 9, 2015.

(NASA/Scott Kelly)

Based on Kepler’s findings, one NASA scientist estimated that our galaxy alone contains 1 billion Earth-like planets.

Astrophysicist Natalie Batalha sent these rough calculations to the Washington Post in 2015. She noted that it was a conservative estimate.

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This artist’s concept of the Milky Way shows the galaxy’s two major arms and two minor arms attached to the ends of a thick central bar.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Since then, further research has indicated that the Milky Way could harbor as many as 10 billion Earths.

In a study published in August, researchers estimated that an Earth-like planet orbits one in every four sun-like stars.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet on Feb. 12, 2019.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill)

Those researchers didn’t want to rely solely on the planets Kepler found. That telescope’s method is better at detecting large planets (like Jupiter) than small planets (like Earth).

That means that Kepler data probably underestimates the number of Earth-like planets in the cosmos.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

In this composite image provided by NASA, the planet Mercury passes directly between the sun and Earth. This May 9, 2016 transit lasted seven-and-a-half-hours.

(NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein)

That’s because Kepler used the “transit method.” It watched for tiny dips in a star’s brightness, caused by a planet passing in front of it.

Larger planets obstruct more of their stars’ light, making them easier to detect. Plus, Kepler’s method was biased toward small, dim stars about one third the mass of our sun.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

A multi-frequency all-sky image of the universe’s background radiation.

(ESA/ LFI HFI Consortia)

So Ford’s team built a simulation of a universe like ours and “observed” its stars as Kepler would have.

The simulation gave the scientists a sense of how many exoplanets Kepler would have detected in each hypothetical universe, and which kinds. They then compared that data to what the real Kepler telescope detected in our universe, to estimate the abundance of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

This artist’s impression shows an imagined view from nearby one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth.

(SO/M. Kornmesser)

The result: up to 10 billion rocky, Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.

“There are significant uncertainties in what range of stars you label ‘sun-like,’ what range of orbital distances you consider to be ‘in the habitable zone,’ what range of planet sizes you consider to be ‘Earth-like,'” Eric Ford, a professor of astrophysics and co-author of the study, told Business Insider in August 2019. “Given those uncertainties, both 5 and 10 billion are reasonable estimates.”

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An illustration of the binary star system Sirius. Sirius A (left) is the brightest star in the night sky of Earth, and it has a small blue companion called Sirius B.

(NASA/ESA/G. Bacon)

Many of those planets could be Earth-like in other ways, too. Last week, a study found that 87% of Earth-like planets in two-star systems should have a stable axis tilt like Earth’s.

“Multiple-star systems are common, and about 50% of stars have binary companion stars,” Gongjie Li, a co-author on the study, said in a press release. “So, this study can be applied to a large number of solar systems.”

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The surface of Mars.

(NASA)

That stable tilt is crucial for life on Earth. The tilt of Mars’s axis changes wildly over tens of thousands of years, creating drastic shifts in global climate that could prevent life from taking hold.

Some scientists think Mars’s changing axial tilt contributed to the disappearance of its atmosphere.

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A star like our sun dies by casting off its outer layers of gas, leaving only the star’s hot core behind.

(NASA/ESA/K. Noll)

In an autopsy of six dead stars, researchers found that the shredded remains of rocky planets contained oxygen and other elements found in rocks on Earth and Mars.

The researchers used telescope data to calculate how much the iron in these rocks had oxidized — the process where iron chemically bonds with oxygen and rusts.

“The fact that we have oceans and all the ingredients necessary for life can be traced back to the planet being oxidized as it is. The rocks control the chemistry,” Edward Young, a co-author on the study, said in a press release. “We have just raised the probability that many rocky planets are like the Earth, and there’s a very large number of rocky planets in the universe.”

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An artist’s representation of Venus with land and water.

(NASA)

Earths might even be common in our own solar system. Venus may have had oceans and a climate like Earth’s for billions of years.

In September 2019, researchers presented the results of five different simulations of the climate history of Venus. In all five scenarios, the planet maintained temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees Celsius for up to 3 billion years.

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NASA’s Galileo spacecraft took this colorized picture of Venus on Feb. 14, 1990, from a distance of almost 1.7 million miles.

(NASA/JPL)

The researchers think that a mysterious catastrophe about 700 millions years ago transformed Venus into the uninhabitable hothouse it is today.

“Something happened on Venus where a huge amount of gas was released into the atmosphere and couldn’t be re-absorbed by the rocks,” Michael Way, a NASA scientist and study co-author, said in a press release.

It could have been magma bubbling up from below Venus’s surface, releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That would have trapped enough heat to reach the broiling surface temperatures that average 462 degrees Fahrenheit today.

“It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hothouse we see today,” Way added.

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On the morning of June 22, 2019, astronauts in the ISS captured the plume of ash and gases rising from the erupting Raikoke Volcano on the Kuril Islands in the North Pacific.

(NASA)

Even that susceptibility to disaster is, in fact, quite Earth-like.

A supervolcano eruption or asteroid impact could one day make our planet uninhabitable. That could be the end of life on this Earth, but the research shows there may be plenty more Earth-like planets to spare.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

popular

What happens when you try Russian parenting on American kids

“Look, there’s the big dipper!” my oldest son said pointing to a constellation brightening a gathering dark over our campsite.

“You’re right!” I said, genuinely impressed. I didn’t know he could spot constellations. We don’t hang out much at night. I’m not a night owl and he’s seven years old.

Why were we outside at 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight, beside a crackling campfire, still talking long after our fellow campers had gone to bed? Because I’d made a decision and the only way to figure out whether it was going to prove disastrous was to watch. So, I watched my 7-year-old pull his knees up to his chest in a folding camp chair and stare, glassy-eyed at the flickering flames. I watched his 5-year-old brother sing softly to himself in the nearby tent. I watched fireflies and reflected on the fact that I could count on my fingers how many times I’d been outside with my boys in the dark of the night. I liked it a bit.


I got the idea to let bedtimes slide and embrace the dark from, well, Russia. Russian parents have a notoriously lax approach to bedtimes and, in very Russian style, embrace parenting in the dark. This intrigued me not only because I work when it’s light out but also because it feels weird to enforce a sort of separation between children and the night. There’s nothing, after all, wrong with the night. Perhaps, I thought, Russian parents knew something I did not.

Again, there was only one way to find out.

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(Photo by Csaba Berze)

My family had long adhered to strict and largely immoveable bedtimes. Our bedtime routine began at 7:30 p.m. and our children were under the covers by 8:00 p.m. every night without fail. Admittedly, the inflexibility injected a certain amount of stress into our evenings. That stress would inevitably lead to my wife and I getting loud and our children dragging their feet and doing everything in their power to avoid having to lay down. It was not ideal and, yes, the Russian experiment may have been at least in part an act of avoidance.

If so, it wasn’t the first. We’d recently decided to remove some of the stress by making a rule our kids could stay up as long as they wanted, provided they were in their bed. The rule allowed my wife and I to stop yelling “go to sleep,” but it did nothing to solve the stress of getting to the bedroom in the first place. I wanted to know how things would change if we simply let our children stay up, out of bed, like a Russian kid.

We decided to start our experiment on a camping trip. It made sense, in a way. After all, it was nearly the summer solstice and neither my wife nor I were particularly interested in forcing our children into a tent to sleep while the sky was still blue. Besides, it meant we could make s’mores and tell stories, which is exactly what we did.

But at some point, the situation felt increasingly ridiculous. I did have to tell my child to go to bed at some point, right? The only other option was they would eventually pass out where they stood. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. So, as it approached 11 p.m., my wife and I guided the 7-year-old to the tent. Very soon, they were both quiet.

The next morning the 7-year-old was up with the birds. A few hours later, though, he was a whiny mess. Clearly, he’d not had enough sleep. The 5-year-old, on the other hand, slept until nearly 10 in the morning and popped up refreshed and as rambunctious as ever. It was a disastrous combination. The 5-year-old could sense weakness in his brother and did just about all he could to piss him off. Soon the 7-year-old was in tears. Hikes planned for the day were canceled. We packed up camp and headed home.

But we weren’t giving up on the experiment. That night we watched a couple family movies, staying up until 9:30 p.m. When we noticed the boys were quiet, drowsy, and suggestible, we nudged them towards toothbrushing and bed. They complied easily and went to sleep quickly.

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The following night was much of the same. The boys appeared to be adjusting well to the new rhythm. And without the stress of hitting a precise mark, my wife and I were calmer. When reading the nightly bedtime stories, our voices now lacked that sharp tone of desperation and frustration, and that made Dr. Seuss sound far more friendly than he had in several months.

But by the middle of the week, it appeared our boys had habituated to the new routine. They were sleeping in more, which meant they had more energy late, which meant that as my wife and I watched TV in our room we could hear the boys down the hall giggling with each other well into the night.

Finally, one evening they continued to play after my wife and I had turned off our lights to sleep. This would not do. Worse, they were failing to sleep in past 8 a.m., which was making everyone tired and cranky. My family, craving structure as they do, blamed the problem on me. To be fair, it was entirely my fault — though my heart was in the right place.

“Can we stop being Russians, now?” my wife asked me with deep exasperation.

“Yes,” I said. And we did.

That’s not to say, however, that I willingly gave up on Russian thinking. I found a lot to like in the flexibility of the approach to bedtime and in exposing our kids to the night, which is a country unto itself. I think that in our zeal for a rigorous sleep schedule, my wife and I had forgotten how much magic the night could hold for a kid awake and ready to explore. Over the week, I’d watched my kid listen for the sounds of the night calling birds and catch fireflies in his hands. I’d watched them play flashlight games in the dark and wonder at the beauty of the stars.

Our bedtimes had also been much less stressful. There was a certain ease in knowing we weren’t racing the clock, which made the nightly routine far more pleasant for everyone. That, in itself, was revelatory.

I understand that when my boys were babies, a strict sleep routine was essential. But the experiment had shown me that everyone had grown up a lot. The ease of bedtime had become more important than the structure of it. While we won’t allow our boys to stay up until midnight anymore, I think we will keep a looser grip on the thing. It is easier, after all, to hit a bigger target.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Boeing has a plan to turn the B-1B into a supersonic gunship

In the fast-moving world of defense technology, it pays for contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing to stay on top of Uncle Sam’s spending habits. If you can accurately predict how the government will be looking to spend its massive defense budgets, you can position yourself well to secure tomorrow’s contracts with just a little bit of leg work today–and over the past few years, few have managed to do so as effectively as Boeing.


With so much money being funneled toward stealth and hypersonic platforms over at Lockheed Martin, Boeing has adopted a different angle in its pursuit of tax dollars: leaning into America’s recent love affair with revamping aging platforms for continued use. Instead of offering up costly, all-new aircraft to the Pentagon, Boeing has focused on finding cost-effective ways to keep existing platforms relevant. This effort is not only responsible for the new slew of updated F-15EXs expected to begin production in 2020, but also the sweeping upgrades to the Navy’s Super Hornets that are so substantial, some have taken to calling the Block III version of the fighter, “Super Duper Hornets.”

It’s almost certain that same mindset led Boeing to secure a patent last May that would turn America’s only supersonic heavy payload bomber into the world’s fastest gunship.

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With a top speed of Mach 1.2, the Bone would make for one quick cannon-carrier

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Richardson)

The B-1B Lancer had a tumultuous start, with the program canceled and revived twice over the span of four sitting presidents only to finally make it into production just in time to see its nuclear delivery mission sidelined by the fall of the Soviet Union. The fighter-like bomber would have to undergo yet another technical shift, converting it into a conventional payload bomber following America’s signing of the START treaty in 1995, before the “Bone” (as aircrews took to calling it) would find its way into the fight. Now, however, with the next generation B-21 Raider slated to enter service in the coming decade, the B-1B has been set to enter retirement just as soon as there are enough new bombers to replace it.

That is, unless Boeing has something to do with it. The patent they secured last year included a number of different cannon options to be added to the swing-wing bomber ranging in size from 25mm to 40mm. Some design options involve opening the bomb-bay doors to reveal the cannon, others have cannons unfolding from the belly of the beast, but the intent is the same in either regard: creating a supersonic platform that can deliver firepower like the legendary AC-130U Spooky Gunship and still outrun whatever trouble may be headed its way.

Deadly AC-130 Gunship in Action Firing All Its Cannons

youtu.be

The Bone’s speed and advanced terrain following flight systems would allow it to fly in contested airspace with minimal detection, something an AC-130 can’t do, and its massive fuel stores and payload capacity mean it could loiter for hours over a target and deliver thousands of pounds of guided bombs between cannon volleys.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the B-1B Gunship concept. Thanks to the swing-wing design, the B-1B may have a lower stall speed than you might find in some other supersonic platforms, but it still seems unlikely that the aircraft can fly slow enough to reliably use a cannon in close air support missions. The B-1B’s biggest proposed cannon, at 40mm, is tiny compared to the 105mm cannon fired from the Spooky Gunship — though that concern could be mitigated by the B-1B’s ability to drop highly accurate ordnance in combination with the hypothetical cannons.

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One of the designs includes a cannon that would lower from the Lancer’s belly, while others would rely on opening the bomb bay doors.

(U.S. Patent Office)

The Bone would also be a costly replacement for the much slower AC-130U, to the tune of about ,000 more per flight hour, though one could argue that if they found a way to use the cannon effectively in the B-1B, it would broaden the options for commanders in the field enough to warrant the cost. Because the AC-130U tops out at around 300 miles per hour and is too big to miss with many anti-aircraft weapons, they tend to be used only in nighttime operations in lightly contested or utterly uncontested airspace. The B-1B, on the other hand, could fly close air support missions in far more threatening environments.

Will this concept ever make it off of paper and into American hangars? Well, it’s tough to say. Securing a patent doesn’t mean Uncle Sam is interested in what they’re selling — but having it means it’s always an option on the table, and as the B-1 continues to find new uses in the forms of new anti-ship and stealthy cruise missile armaments, the Air Force may find reason to invest new money in the B-1s future after all. Who knows what the wars of the future might bring.

MIGHTY MOVIES

4 reasons to be more excited for this ‘super duper f—ing group’ than the Avengers

The second coming of Deadpool to the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes just a few weeks after the long-awaited, much-anticipated third installment of the Avengers series. And honestly, I’m a lot more excited for the Merc with the Mouth.


Avengers: Infinity War was a long time in the making. An incredible 18 films since 2008 have led to this moment, a tribute to the idea of truly building a complex series of interwoven stories that often collide — just like in comic books. The D.C. Universe should take note: Wonder Woman is awesome, but she’s not going to carry an entire franchise that viewers aren’t truly invested in.

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Wonder Woman pictured here deflecting criticism of the DC Cinematic Universe.
(Warner Bros.)

But there’s something to be said for brevity, especially in terms of wit, and that’s something Wade Wilson (and the Deadpool series) has in spades. Audiences new to the character won’t need a week-long primer to understand every character and nuance of Deadpool 2. They probably won’t even need to see the first Deadpool movie (but totally should).

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Because it’s awesome in every way you could think of. Ask my 10-year-old nephew.
(Marvel)

In the new trailer, Deadpool makes digs at DC (of course, that’s easy) but also makes fun of Marvel, calling Josh Brolin’s character Cable by the character Brolin plays in Infinity War, Thanos.

That’s just true to the character. In the recent Deadpool comic series, ‘The Marvel Universe Kills Deadpool,’ he also makes a dig a Marvel’s failed Inhumans series.

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Deadpool #298
(Marvel)

We all knew the MCU’s X-Force was unlikely to include the lineup found in the original Deadpool comics, whch was Deadpool, Psylocke, Archangel, Fantomex, E.V.A., and freaking Wolverine. Just take look at how much Hugh Jackman costs — ain’t gonna happen. But that’s not important. The X-Force is a super duper f-ing group and though there aren’t as many big names in Deadpool 2, there are many reasons to be pumped to see the second incarnation of the Regenerating Degenerate.

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(Marvel)

4. Cable.

First off, Josh Brolin as Cable? Awesome. Secondly, the time-traveling psychokinetic cyborg has tangled with Deadpool so many times in the comics (Deadpool even killed Cable recently in The Despicable Deadpool), watching the two actually fight onscreen is going to be action-sequence gold.

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(Marvel)

3. “Peter.”

The goofy, powerless dad who “just saw the ad” is right there with the X-Force when they get into action.

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Negasonic Teenage Warhead needs her own movie.

(Marvel)

2. The MCU X-Force

Stefan Kapicic’s Colossus was so awesome in Deadpool, It’s great they brought him (and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, of course) back for the sequel. Zazie Beetz and Terry Crews as Domino and Bedlam (respectively) are awesome choices to round out the X-Force.

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(Marvel)

1. Deadpool isn’t for everyone and doesn’t pretend to be.

He’s called “The Merc With the Mouth” for a reason. Wade Wilson has never been politically correct, polite, entirely ethical, or even likable. And that’s the way it should be.

Lists

6 of the most outrageous WWIII video games, ranked

Predicting the future through popular fiction is always a headache. One specific (and inevitable) war, however, has been the setting for many works of exploratory fiction. Everyone has come up with their own unique twist on how the World War Trilogy is going to end because global audiences demand an over-the-top-ending to their trilogies.


Video games set in a fictional World War III span the range of plausibility and, accordingly, audience reception. Early games, like 1981’s Missile Command, were simple enough as to not raise eyebrows and breathtaking, modern games, like Battlefield 4 and Arma 3take a more down-to-earth approach.

But then there are the absolutely ridiculous games that hinge on insane premises, like that the next World War will involve us fighting our would-be robot overlords by the distant year 2010.

6. Terminator: Salvation (2009)

Yes, we were not-so-subtly pointing at this game. To the Terminator franchise’s credit, they were pretty optimistic about how advanced future technology would be back when the series kicked off in 1984.

But when this game references its own timeline as being “13 years after Judgement Day,” which, according to the films, was on Aug. 29, 1997, they effectively put all of one year between the game’s release and the over-the-top, dystopian futurescape… there’s just no excuse for that silliness.

We could forgive the game’s plot if it wasn’t so bad… even by 2009 standards.

5. Chromehounds (2006)

Like some of the other games on this list, alternate history is used to explain away inconsistencies. Chromehounds is a giant robot simulator that pits three fictional nations against each other that are totally not based on America, the USSR, and the Middle East.

You could customize your mech and choose a nation to fight under in real time against other players. The game was enjoyable while it lasted, but the servers shut down in 2010.

The world needs more customizable mech simulators.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)

Compared to many of the other first-person shooters set in WWIII, Call of Duty: MW3 upped the ante. Sure, the story follows many of the standard tropes for WWIII — some Russian guy is evil, Europe gets invaded again, and *gasp* nuclear war is threatened.

What made 2011’s installment of Call of Duty so spectacular was that, during the single-player campaign, you got to live out all the action in various roles throughout the world. You play as several characters, all with unique backstories, while you hunt down the big bad.

The ending is just so, so satisfying.

3. Homefront: The Revolution (2016)

Based off the premise that North Korea takes over the world, this game is set in an alternate history where the hermit kingdom’s tech industry isn’t as laughable as it is in our timeline. The game places you in a Red Dawn-esque world where you need to start an underground resistance against Communist invaders.

The game wasn’t without faults — mainly in the narrative and character-development departments — but immersive open-world gameplay, complete weapon customization, and a level of difficulty that made you think through every action made the game stand out.

Wolverines!!!

2. Raid Over Moscow (1984)

Cold War-era games about the Cold War were the best. Originally released on the Commodore 64, Raid Over Moscow‘s story begins when three Soviet nukes launch and you’re the only space-pilot able to stop it. You fight your way through to the Kremlin (which, apparently, was the missile silo for all of the USSR’s nukes) before blowing it up. The most unbelievable thing about this game is that it goes out of its way to explain that America can’t just nuke them back because all US nukes were dismantled.

At the time, the game was fairly controversial. European nations were uneasy about selling a game that directly portrayed the destruction of the Kremlin. Unfortunately for them, the controversy only made European citizens want the game more.

Ahh, the good ol’ days when people feared 8-bit graphics could start an international incident.

1. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 (2001)

No WWIII game comes close to offering the same level of enjoyment and ridiculousness as Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. To cut a very long and very confusing story short, Albert Einstein creates a time machine to kill a young Hitler. This leads the Soviets to grow unchecked and, in their liberty, research mind-control technology. And that’s just the first game.

This time around, you need to fight a psychic Rasputin stand-in — or you could choose to play as the Soviets. This game and its expansion pack, Yuri’s Revenge, are considered classics. You’ll need to play through it to understand, really.

The silly live-action cutscenes just make the game that much more hilarious.

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