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Exoplanet discovered around  a neighbouring star

By Paul RinconScience editor, BBC News website

14 November 2018

_104306604_mediaitem104306603.jpg

Astronomers have discovered a planet around one of the closest stars to our Sun.

Nearby planets like this are likely to be prime targets in the search for signatures of life, using the next generation of telescopes.

The planet's mass is thought to be more than three times that of our own, placing it in a category of the world know as "super-Earths".

It orbits Barnard's star, which sits "just" six light-years away.

Writing in the journal Nature, Guillem Anglada Escudé and colleagues say this newly discovered world has a mass 3.2 times bigger than the Earth's.

"We think that this is what we call a Super-Earth - that would be possibly a mostly rocky planet with a massive atmosphere. It's probably very rich in volatiles like water, hydrogen, carbon dioxide - things like this. Many of them are frozen on the surface," Dr. Anglada Escudé, from the Queen Mary University of London, told BBC News.

The Sun's closest neighbors

_104344164_mediaitem104344163.jpg

Dr Anglada Escudé, from Queen Mary University of London, added: "The closest analogue we may have in the Solar System might be the moon of Saturn called Titan, which also has a very thick atmosphere and is made of hydrocarbons. It has rain and lakes made of methane."

The planet, Barnard's Star b, is about as far away from its star as Mercury is from the Sun. It's the next nearest star to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri - which are much better known.

Barnard's Star is an extremely dim object known as a "red dwarf"; it's about 3% as bright as the Sun, emitting far less solar energy.

The planet orbits beyond a boundary called the "snow line", which is past the traditional habitable zone, where water can remain liquid on the surface.

On distance alone, it's estimated that temperatures would be about -150C on the planet's surface. However, a massive atmosphere could potentially warm the planet, making conditions more hospitable to life

2009587026_download(2).thumb.png.eef820ea8cdddf4e64570edbf9f23932.png

The researchers used the radial velocity method to detect the new planet. This technique detects "wobbles" in a star which are likely to be caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet.

These wobbles affect the light coming from the star. As the star moves towards the Earth its spectrum appears slightly shifted towards the blue and, as it moves away, it is shifted towards the red.

Team members re-examined archive data obtained over a 20-year period and added new observations with the Carmenes spectrometer in Spain, the Eso/Harps instrument in Chile and the Harps-N instrument in the Canary Islands.

This wealth of data provided the accuracy needed to identify the planet to a high degree of certainty. This is the first time this technique has been used to detect a planet this small so far away from its host star.

When the new generation of telescopes come online, scientists will be able to characterize the planet's properties. This will probably include a search for gases like oxygen and methane in the planet's atmosphere, which might be markers for biology.

"The James Webb Space Telescope might not help in this case, because it was not designed for what's called high contrast imaging. But in the US, they are also developing WFirst - a small telescope that's also used for cosmology," said Dr Anglada Escudé.

"If you take the specs of how it should perform, it should easily image this planet. When we have the image we can then start to do spectroscopy - looking at different wavelengths, in the optical, in the infrared, looking at whether light is absorbed at different colors meaning there are different things in the atmosphere."

This is not the first time there have been claims about the discovery of a planet around Barnard's Star. In the 1960s, the Dutch astronomer Peter van de Kamp, working in the US, published his evidence for a planetary companion, based on perturbations in the motion of the star.

However, van de Kamp's claims proved controversial, as other scientists were not able to reproduce his finding.

The star is named after the American astronomer E E Barnard, who measured properties of its motion in 1916.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46196279

Edited by CaaC - John
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RIP Kepler: NASA sends final 'goodnight' command to shut down planet-hunting spacecraft that discovered 2,600 exoplanets

Mark Prigg and Cheyenne Macdonald      11 hrs ago

 

NASA has finally shut down its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft.

The space agency confirmed on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 15, Kepler received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth - nine years after it blasted off.

The 'goodnight' commands finalize the spacecraft's transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA's announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

Kepler's 'goodnight' falls on the same date as the 388-year anniversary of the death of its namesake, German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion and passed away on Nov. 15, 1630. 

The final commands were sent over NASA's Deep Space Network from Kepler's operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. 

LASP runs the spacecraft's operations on behalf of NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado.

 

 

 

BBP7Ov3.img?h=432&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46447651_10156865064467855_2519539184335

Kepler's team disabled the safety modes that could inadvertently turn systems back on, and severed communications by shutting down the transmitters. 

Because the spacecraft is slowly spinning, the Kepler team had to carefully time the commands so that instructions would reach the spacecraft during periods of viable communication. 

The team will monitor the spacecraft to ensure that the commands were successful.

The spacecraft is now drifting in a safe orbit around the Sun, 94 million miles away from Earth.

BBP7HKY.img?h=357&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Kepler was the first spacecraft to survey the planets in our own galaxy, and over the years its observations confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets - many of which could be key targets in the search for alien life

Kepler, which launched back in 2009, came to be known by its team as 'the little spacecraft that could,' going above and beyond the expectations NASA had for it.

It was the first spacecraft to survey the planets in our own galaxy, and over the years its observations confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets - many of which could be key targets in the search for alien life. 

Before Kepler, we'd never found any planets outside of our solar system.  

'As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond,' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 

'Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm,' Zurbuchen said. 

BBP7TwJ.img?h=412&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited NASA predicted Kepler would run out of fuel sometime in the near future ¿ but, exactly when this would happen was unclear. The agency has now confirmed the spacecraft is officially dead

'Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars.'

The Kepler data indicated that there were far more planets in the sky than we'd ever imagined. According to NASA, we now know there are more planets than stars.

Kepler successfully transmitted data from its final observation campaign back to Earth at the beginning of October. All of this is now in the archive and publicly available, the Kepler team says.

During this so-called Deep Space Network time, however, when Kepler was pointed toward Earth to beam its data home, the team learned that the spacecraft had transitioned to its no-fuel-use sleep mode.

At the time, the team said it is assessing the cause and 'evaluating possible next steps.'

But following their investigation, the team concluded it was time to officially retire the craft. 

During its long-running mission, however, the team says Kepler was 'stunningly successful.

BBP7GoQ.img?h=403&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Kepler data indicated that there were far more planets in the sky than ever imagined. According to NASA, we now know there are more planets than stars. An artist's concept of Kepler-186f, the first known Earth-size planet in the habitable zone, is shown

Kepler showed us that 'we live in a galaxy that's teeming with planets, and we're ready to take the next step to explore those planets,' said Padi Boyd, a scientist with the upcoming TESS mission, which will serve as Kepler's successor.

'It has revolutionized our understanding of our place in the cosmos,' NASA's astrophysics director Paul Hertz said. 

'Now we know because of the Kepler Space Telescope and its science mission that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy.' 

The Kepler mission ran into complications four years after it launched when mechanical failures temporarily halted its work.

At the time, the spacecraft had already completed its primary mission objectives.

The team ultimately managed to salvage Kepler by switching its field of view roughly every three months, allowing it to move on to an extended mission dubbed K2.

The spacecraft continued to search for possible orbiting planets, looking for dips in brightness as a planet transits its star. 

'It was like trying to detect a flea crawling across a car headlight when the car was 100 miles away,' said retired NASA scientist William Boruki, who led the original Kepler science team.

Kepler completed 18 missions after embarking on its K2 phase.

NASA says it 'pushed Kepler to its full potential' before its demise, with multiple observation campaigns and thousands of planet discoveries.

BBP7PAJ.img?h=422&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Before Kepler, we'd never found any planets outside of our solar system. Exoplanet Kepler-1625b with a hypothesized moon is illustrated in the image above

The space agency will use the data from Campaign 19 – Kepler's final observations – to complement that collected by its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which launched this past April. 

And, given the bountiful data Kepler has collected over the years, the team says there's still much more to learn in the spacecraft's legacy. 

'We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries,' said Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. 

'I'm excited about the diverse discoveries that are yet to come from our data and how future missions will build upon Kepler's results.'

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/rip-kepler-nasa-sends-final-goodnight-command-to-shut-down-planet-hunting-spacecraft-that-discovered-2600-exoplanets/ar-BBPNdDj?ocid=chromentp

 

 
Edited by CaaC - John
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14 hours ago, CaaC - John said:

AAAluEu.img?h=40&w=138&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f&

 

RIP Kepler: NASA sends final 'goodnight' command to shut down planet-hunting spacecraft that discovered 2,600 exoplanets

Mark Prigg and Cheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com          11 hrs ago

 

NASA has finally shut down its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft.

The space agency confirmed on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 15, Kepler received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth - nine years after it blasted off.

The 'goodnight' commands finalize the spacecraft's transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA's announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

Kepler's 'goodnight' falls on the same date as the 388-year anniversary of the death of its namesake, German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion and passed away on Nov. 15, 1630. 

The final commands were sent over NASA's Deep Space Network from Kepler's operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. 

LASP runs the spacecraft's operations on behalf of NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

BBP7Ov3.img?h=432&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46447651_10156865064467855_2519539184335

Kepler's team disabled the safety modes that could inadvertently turn systems back on, and severed communications by shutting down the transmitters. 

Because the spacecraft is slowly spinning, the Kepler team had to carefully time the commands so that instructions would reach the spacecraft during periods of viable communication. 

The team will monitor the spacecraft to ensure that the commands were successful.

The spacecraft is now drifting in a safe orbit around the Sun, 94 million miles away from Earth.

BBP7HKY.img?h=357&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46450920_10156865064987855_4675998128573

Kepler, which launched back in 2009, came to be known by its team as 'the little spacecraft that could,' going above and beyond the expectations NASA had for it.

It was the first spacecraft to survey the planets in our own galaxy, and over the years its observations confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets - many of which could be key targets in the search for alien life. 

Before Kepler, we'd never found any planets outside of our solar system.  

'As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond,' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 

'Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm,' Zurbuchen said. 

BBP7TwJ.img?h=412&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46482085_10156865065197855_7055947946621

'Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars.'

The Kepler data indicated that there were far more planets in the sky than we'd ever imagined. According to NASA, we now know there are more planets than stars.

Kepler successfully transmitted data from its final observation campaign back to Earth at the beginning of October. All of this is now in the archive and publicly available, the Kepler team says.

During this so-called Deep Space Network time, however, when Kepler was pointed toward Earth to beam its data home, the team learned that the spacecraft had transitioned to its no-fuel-use sleep mode.

At the time, the team said it is assessing the cause and 'evaluating possible next steps.'

But following their investigation, the team concluded it was time to officially retire the craft. 

During its long-running mission, however, the team says Kepler was 'stunningly successful.

BBP7GoQ.img?h=403&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46409860_10156865065372855_4533887792576

Kepler showed us that 'we live in a galaxy that's teeming with planets, and we're ready to take the next step to explore those planets,' said Padi Boyd, a scientist with the upcoming TESS mission, which will serve as Kepler's successor.

'It has revolutionized our understanding of our place in the cosmos,' NASA's astrophysics director Paul Hertz said. 

'Now we know because of the Kepler Space Telescope and its science mission that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy.' 

The Kepler mission ran into complications four years after it launched when mechanical failures temporarily halted its work.

At the time, the spacecraft had already completed its primary mission objectives.

The team ultimately managed to salvage Kepler by switching its field of view roughly every three months, allowing it to move on to an extended mission dubbed K2.

The spacecraft continued to search for possible orbiting planets, looking for dips in brightness as a planet transits its star. 

'It was like trying to detect a flea crawling across a car headlight when the car was 100 miles away,' said retired NASA scientist William Boruki, who led the original Kepler science team.

Kepler completed 18 missions after embarking on its K2 phase.

NASA says it 'pushed Kepler to its full potential' before its demise, with multiple observation campaigns and thousands of planet discoveries.

BBP7PAJ.img?h=422&w=634&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

46413090_10156865065522855_6345204277304

The space agency will use the data from Campaign 19 – Kepler's final observations – to complement that collected by its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which launched this past April. 

And, given the bountiful data Kepler has collected over the years, the team says there's still much more to learn in the spacecraft's legacy. 

'We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries,' said Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. 

'I'm excited about the diverse discoveries that are yet to come from our data and how future missions will build upon Kepler's results.'

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/rip-kepler-nasa-sends-final-goodnight-command-to-shut-down-planet-hunting-spacecraft-that-discovered-2600-exoplanets/ar-BBPNdDj?ocid=chromentp

 

It did provide a huge amount of new data; over 2600+ exoplanets found during its time of operation I believe... Kepler's follow up mission called TESS has already been launched though, it will explore and analyse an area almost 400 times larger than the one covered by Keppler, and will identify primary targets for James Webb Space Telescope which will hopefully launch in two years.

 

I wish stuff like this was given more attention by media...

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Strange interstellar object 'Oumuamua is tiny and very reflective

Jon Fingas    8 hrs ago

BBPPJyl.img?h=450&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

After no small amount of mystery, we're starting to understand more about 'Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to visit the Solar System. A newly published study indicates that the object can't be that large, for one thing. As the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared detection couldn't catch the cigar-shaped entity, that makes it relatively small. It's likely less than half a mile (2,600 feet) at its longest. It also can't have a diameter larger than 1,440 feet, and that figure could be as small as 320 feet.

The research also found something unusual: it's extremely reflective, potentially up to 10 times more than Solar System comets. Just what caused this isn't certain, though. It could be that 'Oumuamua lost a lot of its surface dirt and dust as it passed near the Sun, which (combined with gas from the object itself) left it covered in reflective ice and snow. This happens with local comets, although not necessarily to this degree.

There's one major problem with verifying details: it's likely too late. The object is now roughly as far from the Sun as Saturn, and that puts it too far away for study by current space telescopes. Whatever its exact nature, we may have to wait a long while to get more answers -- if we get any at all.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/strange-interstellar-object-oumuamua-is-tiny-and-very-reflective/ar-BBPRdw4

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13 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

BBpB60N.img?h=40&w=138&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f&

Strange interstellar object 'Oumuamua is tiny and very reflective

Jon Fingas    8 hrs ago

BBPPJyl.img?h=450&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

After no small amount of mystery, we're starting to understand more about 'Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to visit the Solar System. A newly published study indicates that the object can't be that large, for one thing. As the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared detection couldn't catch the cigar-shaped entity, that makes it relatively small. It's likely less than half a mile (2,600 feet) at its longest. It also can't have a diameter larger than 1,440 feet, and that figure could be as small as 320 feet.

The research also found something unusual: it's extremely reflective, potentially up to 10 times more than Solar System comets. Just what caused this isn't certain, though. It could be that 'Oumuamua lost a lot of its surface dirt and dust as it passed near the Sun, which (combined with gas from the object itself) left it covered in reflective ice and snow. This happens with local comets, although not necessarily to this degree.

There's one major problem with verifying details: it's likely too late. The object is now roughly as far from the Sun as Saturn, and that puts it too far away for study by current space telescopes. Whatever its exact nature, we may have to wait a long while to get more answers -- if we get any at all.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/strange-interstellar-object-oumuamua-is-tiny-and-very-reflective/ar-BBPRdw4

What a weird shape that thing has! It's like the spaceship from Arthur Clarke's Rendezvouz with Rama :D 

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1 hour ago, nudge said:

What a weird shape that thing has! It's like the spaceship from Arthur Clarke's Rendezvouz with Rama :D 

 

 

 

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International Space Station: Twenty facts about the ISS as it celebrates its 20th birthday

Joe Sommerlad   9 hrs ago

 

BBPSD3p.img?h=600&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The International Space Station (ISS) is celebrating its 20th birthday.

Russian space agency Roscosmos kicked off the project to build a successor to the Mir and Skylab stations on 20 November 1998 when it launched its Zarya module from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two weeks later, Nasa followed suit with its own component, Unity. The pair were joined in low-earth orbit and started a 13-year construction effort that would see a vast artificial satellite produced, serving as an observatory, laboratory and staging post from which mankind could advance its understanding of our own world and those beyond.

The ISS was also a landmark act of co-operation between the United States and Russia, the old Cold War foes definitively laying to rest decades of nuclear tensions to share the expertise both sides had accumulated during and after the Space Race of the 1960s to further the common good. 

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this extraordinary project, intended to last another 10 years at least, here are 20 facts you might not know about the ISS:

 

 

 

1. Sixteen nations were involved in its construction. In addition to the US and Russia, those were: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

2. No fewer than 136 space flights from seven different types of craft were deployed to deliver parts to the engineers. The large modules were delivered on 42 assembly flights: 37 on US shuttles, five on Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets.

3. The result is the largest manned object in space, 357ft long — just a yard short of a full-length American football field.

4. The ISS weighs 419,725kg including the weight of spacecrafts, of which it can accommodate as many as six at any one time.

BBPSFTa.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited space.jpg

5. It is the single most expensive object ever built at £93.4bn.

6. It is the third brightest object in the night sky after the moon and Venus.

7. The ISS travels at a speed of 4.791 miles per second, fast enough to go to the moon and back in a single day.

8. At that pace it orbits the earth approximately once every 90 minutes or 16 times in a 24-hour period, meaning it passes through 16 sunsets and sunrises per day. It passes over 90 percent of the earth’s population in the course of its orbital path.

BBPSHOb.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited astronaut-space-flight.jpg

9. The space station has more living space than a six-bedroom house, offering six sleeping quarters, a gym and a 360-degree bay window, but only two bathrooms. There are no chairs either — astronauts taking time out to eat their three square meals a day of canned and dehydrated food have to float gently in zero gravity. The atmosphere aboard is aboard is described as having a “metallic-ionization-type smell”.

10. So far 230 people from 18 nations have visited the ISS and it has been continuously occupied since November 2000.

11. Nasa’s Peggy Whitson set the record for the longest time living and working in space at 665 days on 2 September 2017, before returning to earth the next day.

12. Astronauts aboard have completed 205 spacewalks since 1998 to carry out construction jobs, maintenance and repairs.

BBPSFTt.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited pope-francis-iss.jpg

13. The physical toll all this takes on astronauts is considerable: crew members need to work out in the station's gym for at least two hours a day to mitigate the loss of bone and muscle mass and maintain the normal bodily health they would experience on terra firma.

14. Four different delivery craft supply the crew with food and equipment: Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon, JAXA’s HTV and the Russian Progress.

15. A Water Recovery System onboard reduces the astronauts' dependence on these cargo crafts by 65 percent through recycling. Even urine is reused.

16. Oxygen is generated by a process of electrolysis: current captured from the station’s acre of solar panels is used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

17. The ISS's internal pressurised volume is 32,333 cubic feet, which is roughly equivalent to that of a Boeing 747 passenger jet.

18. Software on board the ISS monitors 350,000 sensors checking in on crew health and safety. The station meanwhile carries 50 computers and eight miles of wire, enough to run around the perimeter of Central Park in New York City.

19. The ISS provided the set for the first music video ever shot outside of our atmosphere when commander Chris Hadfield made a short film set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” up there in May 2013.

20. To mark its turning 20, the ISS is getting a Refabricator for a birthday present. The device is a hybrid recycler and 3D printer that melts plastics down so that new tools can be created.

rent delivery craft supply the crew with food and equipment: Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon, JAXA’s HTV and the Russian Progress.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/international-space-station-twenty-facts-about-the-iss-as-it-celebrates-its-20th-birthday/ar-BBPSKsp?ocid=chromentp

 
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Edited by CaaC - John
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56 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

AAAlla0.img?h=40&w=138&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f&

International Space Station: Twenty facts about the ISS as it celebrates its 20th birthday

Joe Sommerlad   9 hrs ago

 

BBPSD3p.img?h=600&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The International Space Station (ISS) is celebrating its 20th birthday.

Russian space agency Roscosmos kicked off the project to build a successor to the Mir and Skylab stations on 20 November 1998 when it launched its Zarya module from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two weeks later, Nasa followed suit with its own component, Unity. The pair were joined in low-earth orbit and started a 13-year construction effort that would see a vast artificial satellite produced, serving as an observatory, laboratory and staging post from which mankind could advance its understanding of our own world and those beyond.

The ISS was also a landmark act of co-operation between the United States and Russia, the old Cold War foes definitively laying to rest decades of nuclear tensions to share the expertise both sides had accumulated during and after the Space Race of the 1960s to further the common good. 

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this extraordinary project, intended to last another 10 years at least, here are 20 facts you might not know about the ISS:

 

  Hide contents

 

1. Sixteen nations were involved in its construction. In addition to the US and Russia, those were: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

2. No fewer than 136 space flights from seven different types of craft were deployed to deliver parts to the engineers. The large modules were delivered on 42 assembly flights: 37 on US shuttles, five on Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets.

3. The result is the largest manned object in space, 357ft long — just a yard short of a full-length American football field.

4. The ISS weighs 419,725kg including the weight of spacecrafts, of which it can accommodate as many as six at any one time.

BBPSFTa.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited space.jpg

5. It is the single most expensive object ever built at £93.4bn.

6. It is the third brightest object in the night sky after the moon and Venus.

7. The ISS travels at a speed of 4.791 miles per second, fast enough to go to the moon and back in a single day.

8. At that pace it orbits the earth approximately once every 90 minutes or 16 times in a 24-hour period, meaning it passes through 16 sunsets and sunrises per day. It passes over 90 percent of the earth’s population in the course of its orbital path.

BBPSHOb.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited astronaut-space-flight.jpg

9. The space station has more living space than a six-bedroom house, offering six sleeping quarters, a gym and a 360-degree bay window, but only two bathrooms. There are no chairs either — astronauts taking time out to eat their three square meals a day of canned and dehydrated food have to float gently in zero gravity. The atmosphere aboard is aboard is described as having a “metallic-ionization-type smell”.

10. So far 230 people from 18 nations have visited the ISS and it has been continuously occupied since November 2000.

11. Nasa’s Peggy Whitson set the record for the longest time living and working in space at 665 days on 2 September 2017, before returning to earth the next day.

12. Astronauts aboard have completed 205 spacewalks since 1998 to carry out construction jobs, maintenance and repairs.

BBPSFTt.img?h=423&w=564&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited pope-francis-iss.jpg

13. The physical toll all this takes on astronauts is considerable: crew members need to work out in the station's gym for at least two hours a day to mitigate the loss of bone and muscle mass and maintain the normal bodily health they would experience on terra firma.

14. Four different delivery craft supply the crew with food and equipment: Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon, JAXA’s HTV and the Russian Progress.

15. A Water Recovery System onboard reduces the astronauts' dependence on these cargo crafts by 65 percent through recycling. Even urine is reused.

 

16. Oxygen is generated by a process of electrolysis: current captured from the station’s acre of solar panels is used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

17. The ISS's internal pressurised volume is 32,333 cubic feet, which is roughly equivalent to that of a Boeing 747 passenger jet.

18. Software on board the ISS monitors 350,000 sensors checking in on crew health and safety. The station meanwhile carries 50 computers and eight miles of wire, enough to run around the perimeter of Central Park in New York City.

19. The ISS provided the set for the first music video ever shot outside of our atmosphere when commander Chris Hadfield made a short film set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” up there in May 2013.

20. To mark its turning 20, the ISS is getting a Refabricator for a birthday present. The device is a hybrid recycler and 3D printer that melts plastics down so that new tools can be created.

rent delivery craft supply the crew with food and equipment: Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon, JAXA’s HTV and the Russian Progress.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/international-space-station-twenty-facts-about-the-iss-as-it-celebrates-its-20th-birthday/ar-BBPSKsp?ocid=chromentp

 

Probably the most complex structure ever built by humans which is slowly approaching its retirement... I wonder if we'll replace it with another constantly manned outpost in space. Bigelow Commercial Space Station seems to be the closest replacement for ISS; after all they have been testing an experimental module for over two years now and it's expected to stay attached to ISS for two more years at least. Axiom Space are also working on a similar autonomous space station. Once viable and affordable launch vehicles are readily available (SpaceX and Blue Origin are developing reusable rocket ships), there will be a big breakthrough especially when it comes to commercial space flight and commercial space stations. However, there are by far more interesting concepts and ideas being developed as the potential "next step". There are plans for a Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbit space station which is intended to be used a jumping point to the exploration of the solar system. Going to the Moon itself is another big one, with various governments and private agencies and corporations planning to do that in the near future, and it's possible that we'll have a permanent Moon base relatively soon. Asteroid mining. Manned missions to Mars. I think we're entering the new golden age of Space Exploration at last; along with the usual suspects (i.e. USA, Europe, Russia), other countries have high ambitions and plans in development too, especially China and India. So exciting.

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24 minutes ago, nudge said:

There are plans for a Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbit space station which is intended to be used a jumping point to the exploration of the solar system. Going to the Moon itself is another big one, with various governments and private agencies and corporations planning to do that in the near future, and it's possible that we'll have a permanent Moon base relatively soon. Asteroid mining. Manned missions to Mars. I think we're entering the new golden age of Space Exploration at last; along with the usual suspects (i.e. USA, Europe, Russia), other countries have high ambitions and plans in development too, especially China and India. So exciting.

 

I am a Star Trek fan and the Next Generation with Captain Picard and Data is my favourite but I have watched Star Trek TNG, Voyager and Deep Space Nine and just imagine if we did have a Space Station like that in the future [which we will], the mind boggles and when I pass away I want to be reincarnated to about 200 years from now and grow up and hopefully see all that. :x 

 

 STDS9.jpg

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2 hours ago, CaaC - John said:

I am a Star Trek fan and the Next Generation with Captain Picard and Data is my favourite but I have watched Star Trek TNG, Voyager and Deep Space Nine and just imagine if we did have a Space Station like that in the future [which we will], the mind boggles and when I pass away I want to be reincarnated to about 200 years from now and grow up and hopefully see all that. :x 

 

 STDS9.jpg

I tried but I just can't get into Star Trek... The original series and The New Generation at least, as I've never even watched the others. I appreciate the idea behind it, but its realisation just doesn't work with me. I hear that first two seasons of TNG are bad and then the show actually becomes good from season three onward, but I seriously can't get through the first two anyway xD 

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24 minutes ago, nudge said:

I tried but I just can't get into Star Trek... The original series and The New Generation at least, as I've never even watched the others. I appreciate the idea behind it, but its realisation just doesn't work with me. I hear that first two seasons of TNG are bad and then the show actually becomes good from season three onward, but I seriously can't get through the first two anyway xD 

The first series and episodes of TNG were a bit amateurish but they got better as they went along but I guess everybody has different tastes in shows.  :D   

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Don't think I would like to travel in his spacecraft with Musk!!  xD

"He also found himself in another controversy after appearing on a podcast while smoking marijuana"

 

Elon Musk renames his BFR spacecraft Starship

20 November 2018

46508651_10156873260592855_1863126782593

Elon Musk has changed the name of his forthcoming passenger spaceship from Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) to Starship.

The entrepreneur would not reveal why he had renamed the craft, which has not yet been built, but added its rocket booster will be called Super Heavy.

In September, Mr. Musk's SpaceX company announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had signed up to be the first passenger to travel on the ship.

The mission is planned for 2023 if the spaceship is built by that time.

It is the craft's fourth name - it started out as Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) and then became Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) before becoming BFR.

_104415149_elonmusktweet-nc.png

Over the weekend, Mr. Musk tweeted that the spaceship was being redesigned, saying the new version was "very exciting. Delightfully counter-intuitive".

Starship is due to replace the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy vehicles eventually and will cost an estimated $5bn (£3.9bn) to build.

Mr. Musk's plan is for Starship to take people into space on commercial flights around the Moon and Mr. Maezawa would be his first "moon tourist".

However, he will not land on the Moon but will travel on what is called a "free return trajectory", which will bring Starship back to Earth after it has gone around the far side of the Moon.

Only 24 humans have visited the Moon - all of them Americans; 12 of them landed on the moon. Nasa's Apollo 17 in December 1972 marked the last time humans landed on the Moon or went beyond low-Earth orbit.

Mr. Musk's longer-term plans are to take people to Mars and colonize the planet.

He did not reveal any details of the new design for the craft but had previously said it would be able to transport up to 100 passengers to Mars.

Mr. Musk has had a troubled year.

In September, he was ordered to step down as chairman of electric car maker Tesla and pay a $20m fine, in a deal struck with US regulators over tweets he posted about taking the firm private.

He also found himself in another controversy after appearing on a podcast while smoking marijuana. Although the drug is legal in California, where the podcast was recorded, shares in Tesla fell more than 9% after his appearance.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46274158

 

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The more private companies cooperate with governmental agencies to contribute to space exploration, the better. SpaceX have a crazy idea with a crazy schedule for its realisation, not sure it will work without accidents but I sure appreciate the effort and any attempt to promote spaceflight. But damn I can't stand Musk... 

Also BIG FUCKING ROCKET (BFR) was a way better name; there was no need to change it to the generic "Starship"... :P 

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8 minutes ago, nudge said:

Also BIG FUCKING ROCKET (BFR) was a way better name; there was no need to change it to the generic "Starship"... :P 

Musk on holiday on the moon  :rofl:

 

what-happens-if-you-smoke-weed-in-space-

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On 20/11/2018 at 13:27, nudge said:

Probably the most complex structure ever built by humans which is slowly approaching its retirement... I wonder if we'll replace it with another constantly manned outpost in space. Bigelow Commercial Space Station seems to be the closest replacement for ISS; after all they have been testing an experimental module for over two years now and it's expected to stay attached to ISS for two more years at least. Axiom Space are also working on a similar autonomous space station. Once viable and affordable launch vehicles are readily available (SpaceX and Blue Origin are developing reusable rocket ships), there will be a big breakthrough especially when it comes to commercial space flight and commercial space stations. However, there are by far more interesting concepts and ideas being developed as the potential "next step". There are plans for a Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbit space station which is intended to be used a jumping point to the exploration of the solar system. Going to the Moon itself is another big one, with various governments and private agencies and corporations planning to do that in the near future, and it's possible that we'll have a permanent Moon base relatively soon. Asteroid mining. Manned missions to Mars. I think we're entering the new golden age of Space Exploration at last; along with the usual suspects (i.e. USA, Europe, Russia), other countries have high ambitions and plans in development too, especially China and India. So exciting.

Who's gonna pay for that?

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3 minutes ago, Faithcore said:

Who's gonna pay for that?

For what exactly?

Commercial Space Stations are being developed and financed by private companies and corporations, potentially in cooperation with various governmental agencies.
Deep Space Gateway is being developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group which consists of numerous governmental and intergovernmental space agencies (led by NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, CSA, JAXA) in cooperation with some commercial partners.
Various missions to Moon and Mars are being planned by numerous countries, state-owned enterprises and private companies alike.
Asteroid mining is currently at a very early staged and is mostly being tested (as a concept) by private startups.

So basically space exploration is a joint (inter)governmental and commercial venture, financed both by taxpayers of the countries involved and investments of various private entities. 

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1 minute ago, nudge said:

For what exactly?

Commercial Space Stations are being developed and financed by private companies and corporations, potentially in cooperation with various governmental agencies.
Deep Space Gateway is being developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group which consists of numerous governmental and intergovernmental space agencies (led by NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, CSA, JAXA) in cooperation with some commercial partners.
Various missions to Moon and Mars are being planned by numerous countries, state-owned enterprises and private companies alike.
Asteroid mining is currently at a very early staged and is mostly being tested (as a concept) by private startups.

So basically space exploration is a joint (inter)governmental and commercial venture, financed both by taxpayers of the countries involved and investments of various private entities. 

Now you made me feel bad. I must admit didn't read your post at all, i just asked a smart question :ph34r:

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Just now, Faithcore said:

Now you made me feel bad. I must admit didn't read your post at all, i just asked a smart question :ph34r:

Never question a lady.  xD

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I think you will like this @nudge , I liked slide 23' Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula'.

 

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 winners

14 hrs ago

(31 slides)

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/photos/astronomy-photographer-of-the-year-2018-winners/ss-BBPZrML?ocid=chromentp#image=23

 

'Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula'

Photographer: Mario Cogo (Italy)

Category: Stars and Nebulae (runner-up)

BBOOm9E.img?h=416&w=799&m=6&q=60&u=t&o=f

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42 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

I think you will like this @nudge , I liked slide 23' Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula'.

 

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 winners

14 hrs ago

(31 slides)

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/photos/astronomy-photographer-of-the-year-2018-winners/ss-BBPZrML?ocid=chromentp#image=23

 

'Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula'

Photographer: Mario Cogo (Italy)

Category: Stars and Nebulae (runner-up)

BBOOm9E.img?h=416&w=799&m=6&q=60&u=t&o=f

Those are all brilliant... I'm a hobby photographer and have a huge interest in astronomy, but I only managed to take a half decent photo of the Milky Way once and a few of the star trails; nothing special at any case. Would absolutely love to try proper astrophotography with proper equipment... big respect to those who took all of these... My favourites at this moment (not in order):

GMda05Z.jpg

t2M2ihP.jpg

te20OVp.jpg

That NGC 3521 Galaxy image is something out of this world :o 

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Of all the Astronomy photos over the years, I have seen this is one of my favourites next to the Pillars of Creation.

The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble 
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA; Reprocessing & Copyright: Jesús M.Vargas & Maritxu Poyal

Butterfly_HubbleVargas_960.jpg

Pillars of Creation 
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)

m16pillarsHSTvis1024.jpg

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Astronomy counts as science...so this is fucking cool.

 

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Report: NASA and Yuri Milner Working Together on Life-Hunting Mission to Enceladus

It looks like NASA will offer billionaire entrepreneur and physicist Yuri Milner help on the first private deep-space mission: a journey designed to detect life, if it exists, on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, according to documents acquired by New Scientist.

New Scientist’s Mark Harris reports:

"Agreements signed by NASA and Milner’s non-profit Breakthrough Starshot Foundation in September show that the organisations are working on scientific, technical and financial plans for the ambitious mission. NASA has committed over $70,000 to help produce a concept study for a flyby mission. The funds won’t be paid to Breakthrough but represent the agency’s own staffing costs on the project."

The teams will be working in the project plan and concepts through next year, New Scientist reports.

Icy moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter are intriguing candidates for alien life. Jupiter’s moon Europa has evidence of water in the form of plumes spewing water vapor out of cracks in its icy surface. Representative John Culberson (R-Texas), who was recently voted out of office, was a strong proponent for a NASA mission to this icy world.

Enceladus specifically has evidence of a warm ocean and complex organic molecules, according to Cassini data, though it orbits Saturn, which is farther from Earth and Jupiter. Perhaps life has evolved beneath the ice around heat spewed from volcanic vents, as some animals have done in Earth’s deep oceans.

The Breakthrough Initiatives project seeks to answer the deepest questions about space, including whether we’re alone in the universe. Its board includes billionaires Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, and formerly physicist Stephen Hawking, who passed away in March. It lists mission concepts like a solar sail to reach nearby stars, developing the technology to find Earth-like exoplanets, and sending out a message meant for aliens, similar to the Arecibo message.

New Scientist reports that Breakthrough Initiatives would lead and pay for an Enceladus fly-by mission, with consulting from NASA.

Source: https://gizmodo.com/report-nasa-and-yuri-milner-working-together-on-life-h-1830309201

 

 

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BBiuyFc.img?h=40&w=138&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f&

 

We finally know how bright the universe is

Charlie Wood            3 hrs ago

BBQjvkf.img?h=474&w=799&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

 

The Earth glows faintly with the bustle of humanity. From far away you can’t pick out individual homes, or even cities, but by tracking the collective photons that our spotlights and streetlights throw out over time, you might be able to get a rough sense of the rise of technological civilization—and you might notice if all of the lights started going out.

The same story applies to the universe at large.

Stars are the ultimate light bulbs, and while some of their rays dead-end into dust-particles, others get away intact. Space has a reputation for being cold and dark, but out in the comparatively empty void between galaxies, these escaped particles of light collectively produce a diffuse glimmer everywhere. This glow tells you what’s out there without the hassle of counting all the stars and galaxies one by one. Borrowing tools from particle physics, an international team of astrophysicists has carried out the most accurate and sweeping measurement yet of this light, the collective shining of all the universe’s stars.

Their results, published Thursday in Science, tell an epic tale covering most of the universe’s history and even poke at the veil of the cosmos’s first billion years—an epoch invisible to traditional astronomers. “I would have never believed that a measurement of this kind would be possible,” says Marco Ajello, an astrophysicist at Clemson University and the team’s leader.

To find the Extragalactic Background Light, as those in the know call it, you can’t just point your telescope at a patch of black sky and count photons: you’ll have no way of telling local sunbeams from truly external rays of light. Rather, the team took advantage of hundreds of cosmic accidents.

Huge black holes lie in the center of most galaxies, and some of the most monstrous let unimaginably violent jets of gamma rays rip into space—an area smaller than our solar system slinging out as much energy as our whole galaxy. When these jets happen to be pointed straight at Earth, astronomers call them blazars. They are some of nature’s most powerful particle accelerators, and NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope is one of humanity’s best gamma-ray detectors.

“Thanks to Fermi and our work, we can combine two different fields, high energy physics and classical astronomy,” says Alberto Domínguez, an astronomer at the Computense University of Madrid in Spain and coauthor.

The team analyzed nine years of Fermi data containing the light from more than 700 blazars and one gamma ray burst and found that the rays were getting weaker as they travelled, plowing through the background light that fills the universe like headlights cutting through the fog. The thicker the fog, the dimmer the headlights, so comparing blazars near and far revealed the brightness of the interfering background light. And since the gamma rays took billions of years to get here, the team could also see the background light as it appeared throughout the past. “We go back pretty far, which is really one of the breakthroughs,” Domínguez says. “We were able to cover 90 per cent of the history of the universe.”

While all the galaxies ever have unsurprisingly spit quite a few photons into the void over the eons, that light doesn’t shine all that brightly. If you could turn off all the lights on Earth and wink out all of the stars in the Milky Way, the sky wouldn’t go quite dark. It would glow with the brightness of a 60-watt light bulb viewed from 2.5 miles away, according to Ajello. Its dimness speaks to a classic paradox in cosmology: if there are stars everywhere you look, why is the night sky not blindingly bright all the time? Part of the answer, according to modern cosmologists—and Edgar Allan Poe, who somehow solved the puzzle first—is that the universe’s explosive expansion has diluted light as it spreads out through space.

And so, as galaxies fight to light up the expanding darkness, the resulting modest glimmer has tracked the universe’s activity over the ages. Domínguez expects that the new measurement will illuminate mysteries from the cosmos’s obscured origins to its expansion-driven future, but first, the team focused on settling a debate regarding the 13-odd billion years in the middle: did we miss any major characters in our story of how stars and galaxies came to be?

Past studies of star formation peered deep into space and measured the ultraviolet light from the massive stars that tend to live fast and die young, but no one could be sure these surveys weren’t missing galaxies that were too faint to see. But the cosmic fog represents light from all galaxies no matter how small, and the team’s reconstructed timeline provides an entirely new line of evidence supporting the commonly accepted arc. Stars formed slowly at first and then faster and faster until peaking about three to four billion years after the big bang, and then falling off as star-stuff ran low and galaxies moved farther apart. Today the Milky Way births about 7 new stars per year, so similar galaxies in the universe’s youth may have produced 70 or 80. “Our universe was lit up like a Christmas tree,” Ajello says.

The new result doesn’t include any light that hit dust particles and was re-emitted as heat in the infrared—which represents about half of the energy of the background light—but Domínguez says they’ve accounted for this blind spot in their reconstruction of star formation.

Ajello’s team is not the first to probe the cosmic fog between galaxies. Their work builds on decades of theoretical estimates and both ground- and space-based attempts to catch the photons directly. But with light from the sun bouncing off local dust particles outnumbering the background light 100 to 1, it was like hunting for fireflies at noon. “You've got to get out of the galaxy,” says Joel Primack, a cosmologist at the University of Santa Cruz who was not a member of Ajello’s team, but has played a role in developing the theory underlying the measurement. “How are you going to get out of the galaxy? The answer is, these gamma rays.”

Measuring the fog by its interference with gamma rays only became possible thanks to a better understanding of blazars in recent years. Dominguez, Ajello and many others proved the idea feasible using Fermi data in 2012, but the new work uses a wider range of sources and upgraded software to push from four billion years after the big bang back to the ultimate target—the first billion years. “We always want to look where we cannot,” says Ajello.

This era remains hidden from modern astronomers because a thick haze of hydrogen atoms blocked light from moving around, and cosmologists wonder exactly what emitted the ultraviolet light that turned the universe clear—starry galaxies or black hole jets, for example. Fermi can’t resolve distant enough blazars to settle the debate conclusively, but the team’s background light measurement does keep starry galaxies in the running.

Ajello hopes that catching more distant—yet more fleeting—gamma-ray bursts could push even further back into these early days. “You need to be very quick and rotate a large optical telescope while they are still bright,” he says. “That would be spectacular.”

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/we-finally-know-how-bright-the-universe-is/ar-BBQkE32?ocid=chromentp

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China set to launch first-ever spacecraft to the far side of the Moon

Chang’e-4 mission will test plant growth on the Moon, and listen for radio emissions normally blocked by Earth's atmosphere.

 

Early in the New Year, if all goes well, the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 will arrive where no craft has been before: the far side of the Moon. The mission is scheduled to launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan province on 8 December. The craft, comprising a lander and a rover, will then enter the Moon’s orbit, before touching down on the surface.

If the landing is successful, the mission’s main job will be to investigate this side of the lunar surface, which is peppered with many small craters. The lander will also conduct the first radio astronomy experiments from the far side of the Moon — and the first investigations to see whether plants will grow in the low-gravity lunar environment.

“This mission is definitely a significant and important accomplishment in lunar exploration,” says Carolyn van der Bogert, a planetary geologist at Westfälische Wilhelms University in Münster, Germany.

The ultimate goal of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is to create a Moon base for future human exploration there, although it has not announced when that might happen. Chang’e-4 will be the country’s second craft to ‘soft’ land on the lunar surface, following Chang’e-3’s touchdown in 2013.

Landing site

The CNSA has remained tight-lipped about many of the mission’s details, including the landing site. The most likely location is inside a 186-kilometre-wide crater called Von Kármán, says Zongcheng Ling, who studies the formation and evolution of planetary bodies at Shandong University in Weihai and is a member of the mission’s science team. “We scientists are very happy” to have the chance to visit the far side, says Ling.

The crater is part of the South Pole–Aitken basin, the largest known impact structure in the Solar System and the oldest on the Moon.

“It is a key area to answer several important questions about the early history of the Moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution,” says Bo Wu, a geoinformatician at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who helped describe the topography and geomorphology of this site.

The Chang’e-4 rover will map the region surrounding the landing site. It will also measure the thickness and shape of the subsurface layers using ground-penetrating radar, and measure the mineral composition at the surface with a near and infrared spectrometer, which could help geologists to understand the processes involved in the Moon’s early evolution.

Because the far side of the Moon never faces Earth, CNSA mission control won’t be able to communicate directly with the craft once it has landed. In May, China launched a communications satellite called Queqiao to beyond the Moon where it can act as a relay station for communications between the lander and Earth.

Greenhouse studies

Although the Chang’e-4 rover and lander were designed as backups for Chang’e-3, and carry several instruments similar to the earlier mission, the lander will also carry some unique experiments.

One of those will test whether potato and thale-cress (Arabidopsis) seeds sprout and photosynthesize in a sealed, climate-controlled environment in the low gravity on the lunar surface.

“When we take the step towards long-term human habitation on the Moon or Mars, we will need greenhouse facilities to support us, and will need to live in something like a biosphere,” says Anna-Lisa Paul, a horticultural scientist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The proposed Chinese experiments will seek to verify previous studies on the International Space Station, says John Kiss, a space biologist at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. These found that potato and thale-cress can grow normally in controlled ecosystems in lower gravity than on Earth, but not in gravity as low as on the Moon.

Radio astronomy

The lander’s radio astronomy experiments will explore parts of the Milky Way that are poorly understood, such as the gases between stars, and the magnetic fields that propagate after a stars’ death.

A radio spectrometer, built by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will collect electromagnetic data between 0.1 and 40 megahertz to create a map of low frequency radiation from the night sky. Capturing these measurements from Earth is difficult because low frequency radiation is mostly blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, says Heino Falcke, a radio astronomer at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and a member of the Dutch team that has built a low-frequency radio spectrometer carried on the Queqiao satellite. “We have completely blurred vision at low frequencies,” he says.

Astronomers will use this data to better understand how energy released by dying stars heats up the gases between them, which could affect how stars form, says Flacke.

He also plans to combine data from the Moon experiment with those from Queqiao. Astronomers are also interested in this spectrum of radiation to study the first few hundred million years of the Universe, a time before the formation of galaxies and stars. The data could help them filter out background noise that could be hiding a signal from this time period. If found, that signal could reveal information about the distribution of ordinary matter compared with dark matter in the Universe. But even with the help of the moon lander, it is not certain that they will detect the signal, says Falcke. “It is a first step.”

China’s next venture to the Moon will be even more ambitious. Chang’e-5, scheduled to launch in 2019, will endeavour to bring samples from the Moon back to Earth.

More on: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07562-z

 

 

They'll reach the far side of the Moon almost exactly 50 years after humans first saw it with their own eyes on Apollo 8... This is cool.

 

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6 minutes ago, nudge said:

They'll reach the far side of the Moon almost exactly 50 years after humans first saw it with their own eyes on Apollo 8... This is cool.

And I hope it's a big success it will be strange seeing landing craft's with Chinese flags other than American and European, these countries should unite in the conquest of space, which one day will be our home when planet Earth fades away when the Sun disappears and becomes a white dwarf.

47294019_10156900000682855_8611876927080    

47233941_10156900001112855_8716791476199

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16 minutes ago, CaaC - John said:

And I hope it's a big success it will be strange seeing landing craft's with Chinese flags other than American and European, these countries should unite in the conquest of space, which one day will be our home when planet Earth fades away when the Sun disappears and becomes a white dwarf.

Ha, if we don't destroy ourselves well before we're able to colonise our galaxy or at least the outer solar system...

Space gives me existential crisis xD 

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 Science & Environment

Gravitational waves: Monster black hole merger detected

By Jonathan Amos

BBC Science Correspondent

19 minutes ago

47388945_10156902081397855_2570742951214

Gravitational waves have been detected from the biggest black hole merger yet, scientists will formally announce on Monday.

Their exquisite laser labs observed the ripples in space-time from this gargantuan collision on 29 July 2017.

The event saw two holes, weighing more than 50 and 34 times the mass of our Sun, uniting to produce a single object over 80 times the mass of our star.

The discovery follows a major data re-analysis project

Researchers from the LIGO-VIRGO Collaboration will also list three other black hole mergers that were missed in the initial run-though of the data; and the promotion to full detection status of a previously uncertain "candidate".

The re-analysis brings the total number of gravitational waves events now in the catalogue to 11. Ten are black hole mergers; one occurrence was the result of a collision between dense star remnants, so-called neutron stars.

 

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Why have the detections come to light now?

The international collaboration operates three laser interferometer facilities - in Washington and Louisiana states in the US, and Pisa province in Italy.

Their super-sensitive instruments "listened" for gravitational waves emanating from cosmic events during two periods, across 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Algorithms hunting through the colossal streams of data saw what they regarded as the obvious patterns relating gravitational waves at the time, but it was always planned to go back through the data and do a reassessment.

Writing on his blog at the weekend,, collaboration member Prof Shane Larson from Northwestern University, in Evanston, said: "Since [the initial discoveries], we've been sifting through the data, looking at every feature, comparing it to our astrophysical predictions, cross-checking it against monitors that tell us the health of the instruments, determining if it appears in all the detectors, and using our most robust (but slow-running) super-computer analysis codes."

It is this fine-tooth comb search that has thrown up the new black hole mergers. All of the new detections come from the second period of operation, which ran for nearly nine months from November 2016 to August 2017.

In the cataloguethey are given the "GW" prefix, for "Gravitational Waves", followed by the date (yr/month/day) of occurrence: GW170729, GW170809, GW170818 and GW170823.



Gravitational waves - Ripples in the fabric of space-time

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  • Gravitational waves are a prediction of the Theory of General Relativity
  • It took decades to develop the technology to directly detect them
  • They are ripples in the fabric of space-time generated by violent events
  • Accelerating masses will produce waves that propagate at the speed of light
  • Detectable sources include merging black holes and neutron stars
  • LIGO/VIRGO fire lasers into long, L-shaped tunnels; the waves disturb the light
  • Detecting the waves opens up the Universe to completely new investigations

What of the uncertain candidate?

The advanced laser labs in Washington and Louisiana began their first science run in September 2015 and almost immediately made the historic detection of a black hole merger on 14 September (GW150914), a discovery that would later earn a Nobel Prize.

But less than a month later, the alarms triggered again at the lab to raise the possibility of a second detection. At the time, scientists didn't think this event met the necessary criteria for a confident discovery, and so they labelled it LVT151012, where LVT stood for "LIGO-VIRGO Trigger".

It was frequently mentioned in communications, but could not really be counted in the catalogue of full detections.

This has now changed following the re-analysis. The criteria are met and the LVT prefix is replaced with GW.

Prof Christopher Berry at Northwestern called GW151012 a "Cinderella story, a quiet signal that could".

What do these extra detections mean?

The hunt for gravitational waves is a game of statistics.

From the number of detections so far made, scientists can extrapolate the likely number of black holes in a given volume of space. So, that number has just gone up.

Also, the expanded catalogue tells us something about the probable future success of the laser laboratories.

They are currently offline for upgrades that will improve their performance.

When they come back online in spring next year, they should have the ability to sense twice the distance, with hopefully, therefore, eight times the detection rate.

We are rapidly moving towards a time when the detection of gravitational waves becomes a daily occurrence.

And as that happens, new details will emerge about the nature of black holes and neutron stars, and - with luck - about some completely novel and unexpected sources of gravitational waves.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46428010

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NASA spacecraft arrives at ancient asteroid, its 1st visitor

2 hrs ago

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© The Associated Press This Nov. 16, 2018, image provided by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft has arrived at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the diamond-shaped space rock Monday, Dec. 3. The image, which was taken by the PolyCam camera, shows Bennu at 300 pixels and has been stretched to increase the contrast between highlights and shadows. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years.

The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the diamond-shaped space rock. It will get even closer in the days ahead and go into orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small cosmic body.

It is the first US attempt to gather asteroid samples for return to Earth, something only Japan has accomplished so far.

Flight controllers applauded and exchanged high-fives once confirmation came through that Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu — exactly one week after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.

"Relieved, proud, and anxious to start exploring!" tweeted lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. "To Bennu and back!"

With Bennu some 76 million miles (122 million kilometers) away, it took seven minutes for word to get from the spacecraft to flight controllers at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado. The company built the spacecraft there.

Bennu is estimated to be just over 1,600 feet (500 meters) across. Researchers will provide a more precise description at a scientific meeting next Monday in Washington.

About the size of an SUV, the spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year, before scooping up some gravel for a return to Earth in 2023.

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Related slideshow: NASA spacecraft rockets toward the sun for the closest look yet (Provided by Photo Services - See  link)

Scientists are eager to study material from a carbon-rich asteroid like dark Bennu, which could hold evidence dating back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. As such, it's an astronomical time capsule.

A Japanese spacecraft, meanwhile, has been hanging out at another near-Earth asteroid since June, also for samples. It is Japan's second asteroid mission. This latest rock is named Ryugu and about double the size of Bennu.

Ryugu's specks should be here by December 2020 but will be far less than Osiris-Rex's promised booty.

Osiris-Rex aims to collect at least 60 grams, or 2 ounces, of dust and gravel. The spacecraft won't land, but rather use a 10-foot (3-meter) mechanical arm in 2020 to momentarily touch down and vacuum up particles. The sample container would break loose and head toward Earth in 2021.

The collection — parachuting down to Utah — would represent the biggest cosmic haul since the Apollo astronauts hand-delivered moon rocks to Earth in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

NASA has brought back comet dust and solar wind particles before, but never asteroid samples. Japan managed to return some tiny particles in 2010 from its first asteroid mission, also named Hayabusa.

Both Bennu and Ryugu are considered potentially hazardous asteroids. That means they could smack Earth years from now. At worst, Bennu would carve out a crater during a projected close call 150 years from now.

Contact with Bennu will not significantly change its orbit or make it more dangerous to us, Lauretta stressed.

Scientists contend the more they learn about asteroids, the better equipped Earth will be in heading off a truly catastrophic strike.

The $800 million Osiris-Rex mission began with a 2016 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its odometer read 1.2 billion miles (2 billion kilometers) as of Monday.

Both the spacecraft and asteroid's names come from Egyptian mythology. Osiris is the god of the afterlife, while Bennu represents the heron and creation.

Osiris-Rex is actually a NASA acronym for origins, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security-regolith explorer.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/nasa-spacecraft-arrives-at-ancient-asteroid-its-1st-visitor/ar-BBQstVz

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