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Advanced Space Research Underway With 11-Member ISS Crew



Cyclone Freddy is pictured northeast of the island nation of Mauritius from the International Space Station as it orbited 267 miles above the Indian Ocean. Credit: NASA


The 11 residents onboard the International Space Station (ISS) is comprised of three individual crews that arrived at the orbital outpost on three different crew ships. The most recent crew to arrive was SpaceX Crew-6 docking on Friday at 1:40 a.m. <span class=”glossaryLink” aria-describedby=”tt” data-cmtooltip=”

EST is an abbreviation for Eastern Standard Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing standard time (autumn/winter). It is five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>EST in the Crew Dragon Endeavour vehicle.

The four Crew-6 members are now Expedition 68 flight engineers embarking on a six-month space research mission. The new station crewmates are Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg of <span class=”glossaryLink” aria-describedby=”tt” data-cmtooltip=”

Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is &quot;To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.&quot; Its core values are &quot;safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion.&quot; NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>NASA along with Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos. They are familiarizing themselves with station operations, systems, and emergency procedures.


Anna Kikina, Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann, and Koichi Wakata

Clockwise from left, are Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) posing for a fun portrait inside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module. Credit: NASA


The new quartet is also beginning standard science and maintenance activities. Bowen and Hoburg started a new experiment today conducting ultrasound scans and collecting blood pressure measurements to learn how an astronaut’s eyes, brain, and blood vessels change during a space mission. Alneyadi harvested tomatoes collecting them for both scientific analysis and crew consumption for the Veg-05 space botany study. Fedyaev wore a sensor-packed cap and practiced futuristic piloting techniques on a computer a crew member might use to control spacecraft or robots on planetary missions.

Another four crewmates are due to complete their station mission this month. Astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, launched into space on October 5 from the Kennedy Space Center and joined the Expedition 68 crew after docking on October 6.


The homebound foursome is handing over their responsibilities to the station’s newest crew members as well as gathering cargo and personal items to take back to Earth inside Endurance. Mann and Wakata are also finalizing science work as they serviced a variety of research samples and replaced experiment hardware today. Mann also joined Cassada and tested and changed out orbital plumbing components. Kikina tested a specialized suit that may help crew members adapt quicker to the return to Earth’s gravity.


Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev has been on the orbiting lab since arriving on September 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship with flight engineers Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos and Frank Rubio of NASA. Prokopyev and Petelin spent Tuesday maintaining various electrical and life support systems. Rubio worked on human research throughout the day swapping samples in science freezers, photographing Bowen and Hoburg during their experiment work, and finally collecting blood specimens for stowage and analysis. The station trio are continuing their stay in space and will return to Earth later this year aboard the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship.


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'Astronomical lightshow' – Gazette



Next year, 2024, is Solar Eclipse Year.

A bird's eye view of a map of Mexico-U.S.-Canada with a line through it indicating the viewing path of the 2024 solar eclipse


On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the south Pacific Ocean, northern Mexico, across the U.S. and through the Atlantic provinces of Canada.

More importantly, the total solar eclipse will be visible from southwestern Newfoundland, in the areas of Stephenville and across central Newfoundland through Terra Nova Park and Gander.

A partial eclipse will be visible across the province, with St. John’s and Corner Brook just outside the range of a total eclipse, an 80 per cent eclipse in Labrador City and a 70 per cent eclipse in Nain.

The 2024 solar eclipse will be the first eclipse crossing the province since 1970 and the only one until 2079.

For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event to see a total solar eclipse in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.”

We are fortunate to even be able to observe a solar eclipse.

The Earth is the only place in our solar system where there is a moon that is about the same size in the sky (0.5 degree) as the sun.

Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.

When the moon passes in front of the sun, most of the light is blocked and we can see the sun’s corona (more about the corona below).

A note: make sure to wear appropriate eye protection during an eclipse to look at the sun.

A composite image of the sun during a solar eclipse, showing the sun from left to right with a partial block of light all the way through a complete block of light and then continuing to a clear view.
This composite image of 13 photographs shows the progression of a total solar eclipse, from right to left, at Madras High School in Madras, Oregon on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.

Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The late Dr. Jay Pasachoff, an American astronomer, was so inspired by solar eclipses that he chased them around the world to experience more than 70 eclipses in about 50 years.

In a New York Times 2010 op-ed, he wrote: “There’s also the primal thrill this astronomical lightshow always brings the perfect alignment, in solemn darkness, of the celestial bodies that mean most to us.”

There is the thrill of observing solar eclipses and there is the thrilling science of them, too.

Thanks to solar eclipses, we learn about the sun’s corona, a thin layer of plasma that is just above the sun’s surface.

We normally can’t see it because it is so thin and has such a small density, but the temperature of the corona is about one million degrees Celsius.

It is believed that the corona is related to the sun’s magnetic field and to things like solar flares and mass ejections.

These flares and mass ejections impact the Earth through space weather and the aurorae — phenomena that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere recognize as the Northern Lights.

Scientific discovery

And it’s not just the sun.

Solar eclipses were important to provide some of the early evidence of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

Einstein predicted that light is bent by the gravity of stars.

So, if we can see stars behind the sun, they will appear to be in a slightly different location in the sky relative to each other than when we see them normally.

In 1919 scientists observed stars behind the sun that became visible during a solar eclipse and found that, indeed, their observations agreed with Einstein’s theory.

Town of Gander a major partner

Solar eclipses are fantastic events that connect humans to nature, celestial bodies and to the universe.

Next year’s celebration is an opportunity to celebrate science, nature and humanity.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and excitement of its staff and council, Prof. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and I are partnering with the Town of Gander to host a solar eclipse viewing party on April 8, 2024, and a science festival in the days before the eclipse.

The sun is shown in black with a sliver of light showing on the top right side during a solar eclipse.
Some prominences are seen as the moon begins to move off the sun during the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon.

Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The town is excited to be a major partner bringing people from across Newfoundland and Labrador to learn, discover and experience a total solar eclipse together.

The town has pledged to develop a budget to assist with the costs of this unique science festival, along with providing facilities, viewing sites and in-kind assistance.

The event is being planned in collaboration with a continuing science and community outreach program led by Prof. Barkanova and her team.

They deliver a large-scale scientific and cultural outreach program for youth in our province, especially rural youth, girls and Indigenous students, and is currently developing in-person and online seminars and workshops leading up to the solar eclipse.

“It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields.”

This is a call to faculty, students and staff at Memorial University across all campuses to join in the celebration and help it grow and expand.

Not only will we have the opportunity to experience an amazing celestial event, it is a chance to come together in central Newfoundland and share the stories of what we do at Memorial from how we understand the sun and moon in astrophysics, in cultures, in literatures, in humanities and so on.

This is a call to action for your involvement; more participating colleagues means more public talks, Science on Tap events, outreach in schools and more.

It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields and do so around this rare event in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Come join in for Solar Eclipse Year 2024 in Gander. Contact me via email.

Co-authored by Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and Brian Williams, tourism development officer, Town of Gander.

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Another Animal That Speckles with Age: Dolphins – Hakai Magazine



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As humans age, our bodies are often graced with fine lines, gray hairs, and flecks of hyperpigmentation on our skin known as age spots. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins get spots with age, too. And as scientists have revealed in a recent study, the onset of dolphins’ speckling is so predictable it can be a noninvasive way to gauge the dolphins’ age.

Age is a crucial metric for understanding dolphin populations. Many ways of calculating a dolphin’s age exist, such as counting the layers of dental material in their teeth or analyzing DNA from a skin sample. But they’re all somewhat invasive. That’s why developing a model for estimating age by simply looking at dolphins’ dots is so interesting.

Ewa Krzyszczyk, a dolphin researcher at Bangor University in Wales who was not involved in the study, says the new technique “is a really useful tool.” By estimating a dolphin’s age, Krzyszczyk says, scientists can answer important questions, such as when a dolphin stops weaning, when it reaches sexuality maturity, or when a dolphin shows signs of deterioration from old age. “It gives a more well-rounded idea of what’s going on in your population that can then help with conservation,” she says.


Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins’ spots propagate up their bodies in a reliable way, offering a way for scientists to unobtrusively gauge a dolphin’s age. Video courtesy of Genfu Yagi

The discovery that dolphins’ dots reflect aging stems from research led by Genfu Yagi, a marine mammal researcher at Mie University in Japan. Previously, Yagi had analyzed a compendium of underwater footage taken of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Mikura Island, near central Japan. Since many of the individual dolphins were known from birth, Yagi could trace how their speckles emerged as they grew.

“The speckles first appear around the genital slit at 6.5 years of age,” says Yagi. Over time, he says, this treasure trail expands toward the head and up toward the back. By the time dolphins are around eight years old, speckles start on their chest, and by around 17, the spots reach their jaw. Wild bottlenose dolphins typically live between 30 and 50 years.

To use these speckles to estimate age, Yagi created a new system that quantifies the density of speckles on various parts of the body. This weighted speckle density score is then correlated with age. Yagi says his speckle-counting method works for dolphins between the ages of seven and 25 and has a margin of error of 2.58 years—more accurate than estimating age from DNA samples.

“The strength of this study is that it does not require special techniques, facilities, high costs, or any invasive surveying,” says Yagi. “Anyone can estimate a dolphin’s age.”

At the moment, Yagi’s formula can only be used for the Mikura Island Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin population because speckling onset could differ between geographic locations. He says, however, that the same modeling technique could work for other dolphin populations.

So far, dolphins are the only cetacean known to develop spots, with pantropical and Atlantic spotted dolphins getting dark spots on their bellies and light spots on their backs. Yagi says scientists don’t know exactly how or why these speckles form.

“This is a very rare trait, as few mammals other than dolphins continue to change body coloration throughout their lives,” he says.

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CME storm effect! Sun sparks auroras without even hitting Earth – HT Tech



CME is one of the most influential drivers of solar storms and leads to powerful Geomagnetic storms on Earth. According to NASA, they are huge bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours. Although CMEs usually occur with solar flares, they can occur on their own too, and have the potential to disrupt sensitive electronics on Earth, as well as affect power grids. Surprisingly, a CME doesn’t need to strike Earth to have an effect.

Just a couple of days ago, a CME passed close by Earth and this caused, what is known as a, ‘Ripple Effect’. According to a report by, the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This usually occurs when a CME passes by closely. Despite the CME not striking Earth, it still had a spectacular effect on our planet. Auroras were seen and captured over the Arctic Circle.


The report said, “Yesterday, March 20th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This kind of magnetic ripple is a typical sign of a CME passing nearby. The “ripple effect” ignited colorful lights inside the Arctic Circle.”

What happens when solar particles hit the Earth?

As the particles erupted during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth’s magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet’s magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.

Auroras form because of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

How NASA monitors solar activity

Among many satellites and telescopes observing the Sun currently, one is the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The SDO carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities.

They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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