A tiny swarm of asteroids will come waltzing through our neck of the cosmic woods this weekend, as planet Earth is in for a series of close encounters on Saturday. Three space rocks are due to cruise by Earth tomorrow, in a multi-asteroid flyby that will bring one of the objects as close as 1.3 million miles from our planet’s surface. The three objects will swing by at different times throughout the day, each of them making an individual close approach rather than buzzing our planet as a group. The rocks couldn’t be more different from one another, as they vary in speed, size, and moment of discovery. However, these objects do share a common trait, as all of them are classified as Apollo-type asteroids.
The first one to make the trip through our corner of the solar system on December 21 is a 128-foot asteroid known as 2019 YM. The rock was discovered merely a day ago and is the smallest and fastest of the bunch. According to a report released yesterday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the tiny asteroid orbits the sun once every 1,157 days, or 3.1 years, and is currently embarked on its second-ever flyby of Earth. The rock previously visited our planet in early December 2015, when it came within 17.1 million miles of the terrestrial surface. The object will creep in a lot closer to Earth tomorrow, marking the closest approach of the day.
The newfound space rock is expected to swing by in the early hours of the morning, reaching its closest point to Earth at 4:12 a.m. EST. The asteroid will safely hurtle past us at speeds of a little over 38,300 mph, flying as close as 5.5 times the distance between our planet and the moon.
After tomorrow’s close brush with Earth, it will be quite sometime before the rock returns to our corner of space. The asteroid will pass by Jupiter in 2021 as it treks the outer solar system and won’t double back until nearly four decades after, in 2058. Its next flyby of Earth will bring the rock only 7.1 million miles from our planet.
A little over 10 hours after asteroid 2019 YM darts past us on Saturday, a slightly larger Apollo asteroid will cruise by Earth in what will be the slowest and farthest approach of the day. Our second celestial visitor is called 2013 XY20 and is estimated to be about 154 feet wide. The space rock will gracefully float by at a speed of just 4,272 mph, or 5.5 times the speed of sound, reaching Earth’s vicinity at 2:35 p.m. EST. As it does so, the object will come within 4.3 million miles of our planet, or 18.2 times the distance to the moon.
As its name suggests, this second celestial interloper has been on NASA’s radar for quite some time. Asteroid 2013 XY20 was discovered six years ago, about three weeks before it swung by Earth in mid-December 2013. This Apollo asteroid circles the sun once every 439 days, or 1.2 years, frequently passing by our planet as it journeys around the giant star. Sometimes, the rock swings by on consecutive years; other times, it leaves a six-year gap between its visits.
NASA predicts that the asteroid will double back in six years’ time, making its next flyby of Earth in 2025. After that, the rock will return in 2026.
The third and final close encounter of the day will get planet Earth re-acquainted with another frequent traveler through our cosmic neighborhood — a 213-foot Apollo asteroid dubbed 2017 XQ60. The rock was first spotted two years ago, exactly one week before it buzzed Earth on December 21, 2017. The asteroid is gearing up for yet another December 21 close approach and will pop by in the late hours of the evening, flying past us at 9:10 p.m. EST. At the time, the rock will be some 2.6 million miles from Earth, or 11 times the lunar distance, cruising through space at a velocity of 19,800 mph.
JPL data shows that the asteroid, which is the heftiest of the group, takes around a year to complete a full orbit around the sun. The rock has been buzzing Earth on a yearly basis since 2001 and will continue its annual flybys up until the year 2037.
The multi-asteroid flyby comes hot on the heels of another close approach that occurred this morning, when planet Earth was visited by a massive 1,771-foot Apollo asteroid, as previously covered by The Inquisitr.
New species of crested dinosaur identified in Mexico
A team of palaeontologists in Mexico have identified a new species of dinosaur after finding its 72 million-year-old fossilized remains almost a decade ago, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said on Thursday.
The new species, named Tlatolophus galorum, was identified as a crested dinosaur after 80% of its skull was recovered, allowing experts to compare it to other dinosaurs of that type, INAH said.
The investigation, which also included specialists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, began in 2013 with the discovery of an articulated tail in the north-central Mexican state of Coahuila, where other discoveries have been made.
“Once we recovered the tail, we continued digging below where it was located. The surprise was that we began to find bones such as the femur, the scapula and other elements,” said Alejandro Ramírez, a scientist involved in the discovery.
Later, the scientists were able to collect, clean and analyze other bone fragments from the front part of the dinosaur’s body.
The palaeontologists had in their possession the crest of the dinosaur, which was 1.32 meters long, as well as other parts of the skull: lower and upper jaws, palate and even a part known as the neurocranium, where the brain was housed, INAH said.
The Mexican anthropology body also explained the meaning of the name – Tlatolophus galorum – for the new species of dinosaur.
Tlatolophus is a mixture of two words, putting together a term from the indigenous Mexican language of Nahuatl that means “word” with the Greek term meaning “crest”. Galorum refers to the people linked to the research, INAH said.
(Reporting by Abraham Gonzalez; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
Alberta family searches for answers in teen's sudden death after COVID exposure, negative tests – CBC.ca
A southern Alberta mother and father are grappling with the sudden, unexplained death of their 17-year-old daughter, and with few answers, they’re left wondering if she could be the province’s youngest victim of COVID-19.
Sarah Strate — a healthy, active Grade 12 student at Magrath High School who loved singing, dancing and being outdoors — died on Monday, less than a week after being notified she’d been exposed to COVID-19.
While two tests came back negative, her parents say other signs point to the coronavirus, and they’re waiting for more answers.
“It was so fast. It’s all still such a shock,” said Sarah’s mother, Kristine Strate. “She never even coughed. She had a sore throat and her ears were sore for a while, and [she had] swollen neck glands.”
Kristine said Sarah developed mild symptoms shortly after her older sister — who later tested positive for COVID-19 — visited from Lethbridge, one of Alberta’s current hot spots for the virus.
The family went into isolation at their home in Magrath on Tuesday, April 20. They were swabbed the next day and the results were negative.
‘Everything went south, super-fast’
By Friday night, Sarah had developed fever and chills. On Saturday, she started vomiting and Kristine, a public health nurse, tried to keep her hydrated.
“She woke up feeling a bit more off on Monday morning,” Kristine said. “And everything went south, super-fast.”
Sarah had grown very weak and her parents decided to call 911 when she appeared to become delirious.
“She had her blanket on and I was talking to her and, in an instant, she was unresponsive,” said Kristine, who immediately started performing CPR on her daughter.
When paramedics arrived 20 minutes later, they were able to restore a heartbeat and rushed Sarah to hospital in Lethbridge, where she died.
“I thought there was hope once we got her heart rate back. I really did,” recalled Sarah’s father, Ron.
“He was praying for a miracle, and sometimes miracles don’t come,” said Kristine.
Searching for answers
At the hospital, the family was told Sarah’s lungs were severely infected and that she may have ended up with blood clots in both her heart and lungs, a condition that can be a complication of COVID-19.
But a second test at the hospital came back negative for COVID-19.
“There really is no other answer,” Ron said. “When a healthy 17-year-old girl, who was sitting up in her bed and was able to talk, and within 10 minutes is unconscious on our floor — there was no reason [for it].”
The province currently has no record of any Albertans under the age of 20 who have died of COVID-19.
According to the Strate family, the medical examiner is running additional blood and tissue tests, in an effort to uncover the cause of Sarah’s death.
‘Unusual but not impossible’
University of Alberta infectious disease specialist Dr. Lynora Saxinger, who was not involved in Sarah’s treatment, says it is conceivable that further testing could uncover evidence of a COVID-19 infection, despite two negative test results.
However, she hasn’t seen a similar case in Alberta.
“It would be unusual but not impossible because no test is perfect. We have had cases where an initial test is negative and then if you keep on thinking it’s COVID and you re-test, you then can find COVID,” she said.
According to Saxinger, the rate of false negatives is believed to be very low. But it can happen if there are problems with the testing or specimen collection.
She says people are more likely to test positive after symptoms develop.
“The best sensitivity of the test is around day four or five of having symptoms,” she said. “So you can miss things if you test very, very early. And with new development of symptoms, it’s always a good time to re-test because then the likelihood of getting a positive test is a little higher. But again, no test is perfect.”
Sarah deteriorated so quickly — dying five days after she first developed symptoms — she didn’t live long enough to make it to her follow-up COVID-19 test. Instead, it was done at the hospital.
‘An amazing kid’
The Strate family now faces an agonizing wait for answers — one that will likely take months — about what caused Sarah’s death.
But Ron, who teaches at the school where Sarah attended Grade 12, wants his daughter to be remembered for the life she lived, not her death.
Sarah was one of five children. Ron says she was strong, active and vibrant and had plans to become a massage therapist after graduating from high school.
She played several sports and loved to sing and dance as part of a show choir. She was a leader in the school’s suicide prevention group and would stand up for other students who were facing bullying.
“She’s one of the leaders in our Hope Squad … which goes out and helps kids to not be scared,” he father said.
“She’s an amazing kid.”
Sarah would often spend hours helping struggling classmates, and her parents hope her kindness is not forgotten.
“She’d done so many good things. Honestly, I’ve got so many messages from parents saying, ‘You have no idea how much your daughter helped our kid,'” said Ron.
“This 17-year-old girl probably lived more of a life in 17 years than most adults will live in their whole lives. She was so special. I love her so much.”
China launches key module of space station planned for 2022
BEIJING (Reuters) -China launched an unmanned module on Thursday containing what will become living quarters for three crew on a permanent space station that it plans to complete by the end of 2022, state media reported.
The module, named “Tianhe”, or “Harmony of the Heavens”, was launched on the Long March 5B, China’s largest carrier rocket, at 11:23 a.m. (0323 GMT) from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan.
Tianhe is one of three main components of what would be China’s first self-developed space station, rivalling the only other station in service – the International Space Station (ISS).
The ISS is backed by the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. China was barred from participating by the United States.
“(Tianhe) is an important pilot project in the building of a powerful nation in both technology and in space,” state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying in a congratulatory speech.
Tianhe forms the main living quarters for three crew members in the Chinese space station, which will have a life span of at least 10 years.
The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the space station, which will orbit Earth at an altitude of 340 to 450 km (211-280 miles).
In the later missions, China will launch the two other core modules, four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft.
Work on the space station programme began a decade ago with the launch of a space lab Tiangong-1 in 2011, and later, Tiangong-2 in 2016.
Both helped China test the programme’s space rendezvous and docking capabilities.
China aims to become a major space power by 2030. It has ramped up its space programme with visits to the moon, the launch of an uncrewed probe to Mars and the construction of its own space station.
In contrast, the fate of the ageing ISS – in orbit for more than two decades – remains uncertain.
The project is set to expire in 2024, barring funding from its partners. Russia said this month that it would quit the project from 2025.
Russia is deepening ties with China in space as tensions with Washington rise.
Moscow has slammed the U.S.-led Artemis moon exploration programme and instead chosen to join Beijing in setting up a lunar research outpost in the coming years.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Simon Cameron-Moore and Lincoln Feast.)
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