NASA picks Alabama site as HQ for human moon lander program -sources - Financial Post - Canadanewsmedia
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NASA picks Alabama site as HQ for human moon lander program -sources – Financial Post

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WASHINGTON — The head of NASA is set to announce plans on Friday to name the U.S. space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama as headquarters for its human lunar lander program, signaling progress in its drive to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, three people familiar with the plan said.

NASA also will designate its Johnson Space Center in Houston to oversee development of a spacecraft to launch astronauts off the moon’s surface to a platform in lunar orbit dubbed Gateway, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, is scheduled to make the announcement at the Marshall facility in Huntsville, the facility from which the lander system, composed of three different parts to be built by a handful of space contractors, will be managed, the sources said.

The two U.S. senators from Texas, Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, and a Republican U.S. congressman from the state, Brian Babin, urged Bridenstine in a letter on Thursday to reconsider the decision and hold off on making an announcement. The three lawmakers argued that Johnson Space Center should anchor the lunar landing program instead of the Alabama site.

Marshall Space Flight Center is where the family of rockets used in the Apollo program that first sent astronauts to the moon a half century ago were built.

Companies including billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Lockheed Martin Corp are developing different potential components of the lunar lander and will compete for NASA funds under competitive bids scheduled to be solicited later this year.

Bridenstine in May named the program Artemis and asked Congress to increase NASA’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020, which begins Oct. 1, by $1.6 billion, the bulk of which would be earmarked to seed commercial development of the human lunar landing system.

“Standing up program offices is a really, really big deal,” one industry source involved with the plans said. “Things start to move quickly, requirements get firmed up, and you get that authority and accountability.”

The new lunar mission – an endeavor likely to cost $20 billion to $30 billion dollars over five years – comes as NASA seeks with the help of private partners to resume human space missions from American soil for the first time since its space shuttle program ended in 2011.

NASA announced Bridenstine’s scheduled appearance at the Marshall facility without giving details of the announcement. It said Alabama Republican U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt and other lawmakers are due to join Bridenstine, himself a former Republican congressman, on Friday.

Vice President Mike Pence in March announced an accelerated timeline for NASA to put astronauts back the lunar surface by 2024, cutting in half a previous goal to get there by 2028.

President Donald Trump’s own support for the mission has been unclear. In June, the Republican president criticized NASA for aiming to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024 and urged the agency to focus instead on “much bigger” initiatives like going to Mars, undercutting his previous support for the lunar initiative.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Will Dunham)

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Mercury Transit Live Stream – Den of Geek US

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Your Monday is about to get a lot better, especially if you’re on the East Coast. At 7:35 am ET, you’ll get the clearest view of a rare celestial event, as Mercury transits the Sun from our vantage point for the first time since 2016. This is an event we’re only able to witness from Earth about 13 times per century. In fact, the next time you’ll able to watch Mercury cross in front of the Sun is in 2032, which means you probably won’t want to miss it this time around. 

It’ll take Mercury five and a half hours to complete its transit, so you’ll have until 1:04 pm ET to catch the event. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stare directly at the Sun — protective eyewear is recommended. Check out NASA’s eye safety tips for viewing transits and eclipses. 

For those of you who won’t get a chance to see the event in person, you can watch Mercury’s transit across the Sun in the live stream below:

Video of Mercury Transit 2019 LIVE Stream

Mercury actually completes a full orbit around the Sun every 88 days, but it’s not often that it does so from an Earth-friendly vantage point due to its “eccentric, egg-shaped orbit,” according to NASA. Due to this unusual orbit, the fastest planet in our Solar System, traveling through space at 29 miles per second, can get as close as 29 million miles and as far as 43 million miles from the Sun. For comparison, Earth is about 93 million miles from the star.

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As you’d expect, the first planet in our Solar System can get MUCH hotter than Earth, reaching temperatures higher than 800 degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit since Mercury has no atmosphere with which to retain heat. Basically, don’t expect to find any signs of life on this celestial hellscape.

I leave you with my favorite scene from my favorite science fiction movie, Danny Boyle‘s Sunshine. Chris Evans (before he was Captain America), Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, and the rest of the movie’s killer ensemble cast gather in their spaceship’s observation deck to watch Mercury transit the Sun on their way to reignite the star and save Earth from a chilly death:

Video of "Sunshine" Movie Clip – Approaching Mercury

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9.

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Planet dances with sun | Local News – The Chronicle Journal

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Allan Haney braved cold temperatures at Hillcrest Park on Monday for a front row view of the planet Mercury passing the sun in a rare celestial transit.

He used a pair of binoculars to reflect the sun on a white paper plate to see the tiny black dot that is Mercury as it passed directly between Earth and the sun during the five-and-a-half-hour celestial show that was visible in Canada, the eastern U.S., Central and South America.

The rest of the world, with the exception of Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.

In our solar system, Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet. The next transit will take place in 2032, but North America won’t get another glimpse until 2049.

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Mercury passes across sun’s face in rare 5-hour transit – Global News

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Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.

Stargazers used solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury — a tiny black dot — as it passed directly between Earth and the sun on Monday.

Planet Mercury is seen as a small silhouette, center left, as it travels across the face of the sun, near capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.

Planet Mercury is seen as a small silhouette, center left, as it travels across the face of the sun, near capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.


(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The eastern U.S. and Canada got the whole 5 1/2-hour show, weather permitting, along with Central and South America. The rest of the world, except for Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.

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How to watch Mercury’s transit across the sun on Monday

Mercury is the solar system’s smallest, innermost planet. The next transit isn’t until 2032, and North America won’t get another shot until 2049.

This still image from video issued by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet resembles a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST (1205 UTC).

This still image from video issued by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet resembles a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST (1205 UTC).


(NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via AP)

In Maryland, clouds prevented NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young from getting a clear peek. Live coverage was provided by observatories including NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.






4:34
Searching for Mercury


Searching for Mercury

“It’s a bummer, but the whole event was still great,” Young wrote in an email. “Both getting to see it from space and sharing it with people all over the country and world.”

At Cape Canaveral, space buffs got a two-for-one. As Mercury’s silhouette graced the morning sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service, part of the company’s growing Starlink constellation in orbit.

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© 2019 The Canadian Press

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