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Earth

+ - Scientists Find the Dark Ages Really Were Dark

Submitted by
Ponca City, We Love You
Ponca City, We Love You writes "In 536 Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that "a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness... and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear." Now palaeoclimatologist Keith Briffa and an international team of collaborators have found the characteristic fingerprint of a volcanic eruption in layers of ice in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, narrowly dated to around 533-536 and the amount of sulphate they found implies that the eruption was even bigger than that of Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, perhaps releasing as much as 40% more dust making the event "the most severe volcanic cooling event in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2,000 years". Some have suggested that consequences of the erpuption were more dramatic than mere crop failure and overcast skies. Around 541, a plague pandemic rampaged from southern Asia to Denmark, wreaking havoc in the Byzantine Empire and possibly killing about 40% of the inhabitants of its capital Constantinople."
Space

+ - Major Chinese satellite suffers complete failure

Submitted by cyclone96
cyclone96 (129449) writes "China's most advanced satellite, the direct broadcast Sinosat 2, apparently suffered a major failure on orbit following launch on October 29. None of the solar arrays or antennas deployed on the spacecraft, and the Chinese are now mulling whether to destroy the spacecraft in the atmosphere. The article provides the following analysis:

"The catastrophic breakdown of China's new Sinosat 2 direct broadcast satellite is the worst spacecraft failure in the history of the Chinese space program and a major setback to China's development of a new generation of larger, more powerful civilian and military satellites.""

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