After 115 days in space, they are back! NASA astronaut and Expedition 49 crew member Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency returned to Earth after a successful mission aboard the International Space Station.
The Expedition 49 crewmates touched down in their Soyuz MS-01 at 11:58 PM EDT (9:58 AM October 30, Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
Rubins and Onishi have each spent a total of 115 days in space during their first mission. Ivanishin now has 280 days in space from two flights.
Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to depart the International Space Station today, October 29th.
Their Soyuz spacecraft will undock from the Space Station at 8:37 PM EDT and land in Kazakhstan at 11:59 PM (9:59 AM October 30th, Kazakhstan time).
Their return will wrap up 115 days in space for the crew since their launch in July.
Kate Rubins became the 60th woman to fly in space and the first person to sequence DNA in space. Together, the Expedition 49 crew members pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the orbiting laboratory.
NASA's Kepler has made yet another astonishing discovery, just in time for Halloween - pumpkin stars.
Astronomers using observations from NASA's Kepler and Swift missions have discovered a batch of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than a hundred times the peak levels ever seen from the Sun. The stars spin so fast they've been squashed into pumpkin-like shapes. Scientists believe they are the result of close binary systems where two Sun-like stars merge.
NASA has provided new details of the scene near the Martian equator where Europe's Schiaparelli test lander hit the surface last week.
The new images show three impact locations within about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from each other.
A dark, roughly circular feature is interpreted as where the lander itself struck. A pattern of rays extending from the circle suggests that a shallow crater was excavated by the impact, as expected given the premature engine shutdown. About 1.4 kilometers (0.8 miles) eastward, an object with several bright spots surrounded by darkened ground is likely the heat shield. About 0.9 kilometers (0.6 miles) south of the lander impact site, two features side-by-side are interpreted as the spacecraft's parachute and the back shell to which the parachute was attached. Additional images to be taken from different angles are planned and will aid interpretation of these early results.
NASA has published a stunning video of the International Space Station. The footage was shot in Ultra High Definition (4K) using a fisheye lens for extreme focus and depth of field.
At the beginning of the video, you can see the breathtaking view of Earth from about 400 kilometers. The rest of the video takes us on a tour through the Station, ending with another glance at our planet.
You better get into all of your games and save them, do your back ups and run into your doomsday bunker - because scientists writing in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific have found unusual signals coming from a group of stars that are "signals probably from extraterrestrial intelligence".
The scientists said that these signals "have exactly the shape of a signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this [extraterrestrial intelligence] hypothesis". Their paper is called "Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars," which talks about their hypothesis that these signals are from some form of ETI, or alien intelligence.
E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, the paper's authors, write: "The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis". They added: "At this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work. Although unlikely, there is also a possibility that the signals are due to highly peculiar chemical compositions in a small fraction of galactic halo stars".
The ESA lost contact with its Schiaparelli lander shortly before it was supposed to land on Mars on October 19th, and now the mystery of what happened to it has been resolved. Like we previously noted, there was a chance that the lander ditched its parachute too early and crashed onto the surface of Red Planet.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to Europe's Schiaparelli test lander. The new image shows a bright spot that may be Schiaparelli's parachute, and a larger dark spot interpreted as resulting from the impact of the lander itself following a much longer free fall than planned after thrusters switched off prematurely.
The location of the bright spot is within the planned landing area and the dark spot may be where the lander reached the surface and exposed darker ground.
Elon Musk held an AMA or "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, where he answered questions strictly related to SpaceX, and not his other companies. The session came almost a month after his presentation at the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico on September 27th, where he gave details about SpaceX's plans for the colonization of Mars.
Many users wanted to know about the rockets that SpaceX will use to get first people to Mars and Interplanetary Transport System. Musk pointed out that the ITS is designed for a maximum acceleration of 20 Gs, but the spaceship would be limited to around 5 G's nominal, but able to take peak loads 2 to 3 times higher without breaking up.
Musk also believes that the Falcon 9 rockets will be used indefinitely.
Actually, I think the F9 boosters could be used almost indefinitely, so long as there is scheduled maintenance and careful inspections. Falcon 9 Block 5 - the final version in the series - is the one that has the most performance and is designed for easy reuse, so it just makes sense to focus on that long term and retire the earlier versions. Block 5 starts production in about 3 months and initial flight is in 6 to 8 months, so there isn't much point in ground testing Block 3 or 4 much beyond a few reflights.
Elon Musk will host an AMA or "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit today, October 23rd, at 6 PM EDT (3 PM PDT). Standard subreddit rules will apply in the AMA thread and the users have been warned to follow the rules and not to ask questions already submitted.
The questions and answers will be on the SpaceX subreddit, meaning you can ask questions related to SpaceX, and not Tesla Motors or SolarCity. Musk also pointed out that he will be answering SpaceX related questions.
AMA at <ahem> 3pm California time— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 23, 2016
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos have arrived at the International Space Station after a two-day trip.
Their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft docked with the Station's Poisk module at 5:52 AM EDT. When hatches between the Soyuz and Space Station opened at 8:20 AM EDT, the three crew members joined Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who have been aboard ISS since July. The International Space Station now has six occupants.
Kimbrough, Ryzhikov, and Borisenko will spend a little more than four months aboard the Space Station, and their return to Earth is scheduled for late February. The crew members will contribute to more than 250 research experiments ongoing aboard the space station, in diverse fields such as biology, Earth Science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.