Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 265
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the most famous astrophysicists alive, has taken to his personal Twitter account to give everyone a friendly reminder about our solar system.
In the above Tweet, we can see an image of what appears to be our solar system, but something is strangely inaccurate. Earth appears to be a flat disk instead of a sphere like the rest of the planets? This is a depiction of what flat earth conspiracy theorists believe is the proper shape of Earth, instead of what established scientists have confirmed for years -- a sphere.
Tyson states that flat Earthers (flat earth conspiracy theorists) biggest fear is the "sphere itself". Here's the full statement: "It's well known: What flat-Earthers fear most is Sphere itself". Of course, this is just a friendly poke at a group of people's beliefs, but there is a string of truth to it. If the Earth happened to be flat, it would contradict all knowledge that we have of other planets being spherical shape. It would also put a lot established physics into question as well.
The telescope we are talking about here is none other than the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is expected to launch in March next year.
According to the latest report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which does audits on government-funded programs, the JWST only has a 12% chance of hitting its March 2021 launch date. The GAO did an analysis back in October on those participants who are working on the project, they evaluated the current progress and came to the conclusion that NASA should figure out a new release date in Spring this year.
Here's a little history about the JWST. The telescope idea was first created back in the 1990's and was originally estimated to cost anywhere between $1 billion and $3.5 billion. Back then, scientists expected that it would have been completed and launched between 2007 and 2010. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, and costs have gone up exponentially (95%), and the launch date has moved further down the yearly timeline.
NASA has announced via a new press release that Axiom Space out of Houston will be the first company to provide NASA with a commercial destination module for the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA is fast approaching its goal to commercialize the ISS and enable private astronauts to visit the floating laboratory in low-Earth orbit. The press release reveals that NASA has selected Axiom Space as the first company to provide NASA with a module that will attach to the ISS's Node 2 forward port. This is an important milestone for both NASA and the coming low-Earth orbit economy.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, said "Axiom's work to develop a commercial destination in space is a critical step for NASA to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research, and technology demonstrations in low-Earth orbit. We are transforming the way NASA works with industry to benefit the global economy and advance space exploration. It is a similar partnership that this year will return the capability of American astronauts to launch to the space station on American rockets from American soil."
SpaceX is in full preparation to launch 60 more Starlink satellites into Earth's atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the launch has been delayed.
SpaceX took to their official Twitter account on January 27 to announced that the weather for today's launch is "50% favorable". The space exploration company was planning on live streaming the whole event, but unfortunately, due to "strong upper-level winds" SpaceX is "standing down today" and will re-schedule the launch to Wednesday, January 29, at 9:06 a.m., 14:06 UTC. Tune into the live stream here.
Back in November, 2019 SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites in its effort to establish a global internet connection. Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and founder expects to have established at least an early version of a global internet connect by late 2020. Musk and SpaceX eventually want to have 42,000 Starlink satellites in Earth's orbit.
The International Space Station is a floating mechanical laboratory, and with almost everything mechanical, sometimes things fall apart. It's just the way things are.
Since things sometimes fall apart, they need to be fixed by humans so they can then be used again. This is exactly what happened on the ISS, as astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano were given the job of going on a spacewalk to fix the coolant pumps on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The cosmic ray detection instrument was out of commission due to the cooling system failing, but since this past Saturday's spacewalk, the instrument might just be ready for use.
After the initial spacewalk, both astronauts decided to double-check the coolant system to make sure their work was 100%. To their surprise, there was actually a leak found in the cooling system, and after discovering this, the leak was repaired. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is valued at around $2 billion dollars and is designed to shine some light on what dark matter actually is and how it works. NASA believes that since the repairs have been successful that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer should work until the end of the ISS's lifespan.
China's Chang'e-4 lunar mission rover has relayed some brand new images of the dark side of the Moon. These images are also high-resolution for viewers' pleasure.
China's Chang'e-4 lunar mission recently completed its first year on the lunar surface, and also earned the achievement of being the first rover to travel the longest distance on the dark side of the Moon. China's lunar rover is called Yutu 2, and it recently relayed a new data set back to officials on the ground. Within this data set was a bunch of new high-resolution images that let us take a great look at the surface of the dark side of the Moon.
The date was released online by the Ground Research and Application System (GRAS) on Monday, January 20th. Some of the locations the rover managed to take pictures of including the Von Karman Crater, which is the same spot the rover soft landed on last year. Doug Ellison, who is the engineering camera team lead for NASA's Curiosity rover mission on Mars, tweeted about the data drop, saying, "Oh my god - the data drop is incredible :O". Ellison created galley of the images, that can be found here.
President Trump has just unveiled the logo for the Six Branch of the US military, with the new United State Space Force logo unveiled below -- and it seems it has had some serious influence from Star Trek, and that's OK with me.
Trump tweeted out "After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers, and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!" It has been a promise from Trump since 2018 and now we have the US Space Force created and its new logo finally unveiled.
Here's the new US Space Force logo next to the Starfleet logo from Star Trek.
NASA has encountered a slight problem with their Mars rover called Curiosity. The problem isn't a very good one either because Curiosity is refusing to move.
NASA has released a new report that reveals that Curiosity has temporarily stopped moving. So why did this happen? Curiosity is equipped with a series of safety regulations that have been implemented into the rover to ensure its safety when traversing the dangerous landscape of Mars. Curiosity measures the surroundings relative to its body before making a move, and some of these measurements are the current altitude, surrounding rock formation, slope steepness, etc.
Before any movement is made by Curiosity, all of these measurements have to be evaluated and deemed 'safe'. If one of these safety checks are calculated to be 'not safe' then Curiosity won't turn on its motor and remain still, which is exactly what the rover has just done. In the report, NASA says that "Curiosity lost its orientation" because "Some knowledge of its attitude was not quite right, so it couldn't make the essential safety evaluation". Curiosity relayed this information back to NASA, and NASA began forming a plan to inform Curiosity of its surroundings correctly.
DirecTV is now racing to remove a satellite from Earth's orbit because if the company waits too long the satellite could explode and turn into dangerous space junk.
In a report from Space News, DirecTV has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a temporary rules waiver so the company can bring down the Spaceway-1 satellite. In the FCC filing from DirecTV, the company explains why the spacecraft needs to be taken down immediately, here's a snippet of what was said; "In December, Spaceway-1 suffered a major anomaly that resulted in significant and irreversible thermal damage to its batteries.
The report continued, "Boeing, the spacecraft manufacturer, concluded based on all available data that the batteries' cells cannot be guaranteed to withstand the pressures needed to support safe operation of the spacecraft in eclipse operations; rather, there is a significant risk that these battery cells could burst. The risk of a catastrophic battery failure makes it urgent that Spaceway-1 be fully de-orbited and decommissioned prior to the February 25th start of eclipse season."
The Wuhan virus that is currently sweeping the news has been subjected to a bit of controversy surrounding the topic of what animals caused this virus to spread to humans.
The virus, which is called 2019-nCoV, is a coronavirus, and just yesterday, I reported on a research paper that claimed that the virus' most likely origin was snakes. Now, other scientists have said that the research team has no proof to make the claim that the virus' origin comes from snakes; instead, it should only be able to infect mammals and birds. David Robertson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow, UK, says, "Nothing supports snakes being involved".
Paulo Eduardo Brandao, a virologist at the University of Sao Paulo is currently investigating whether snakes can contract coronavirus says, "They have no evidence snakes can be infected by this new coronavirus and serve as a host for it. There's no consistent evidence of coronaviruses in hosts other than mammals and Aves (birds)." It seems that there is a lot of confusion towards what animal has caused this outbreak, and at the moment, no one really knows which animal it is. Only time will tell. For more information on this topic, check out this article from Nature here.