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After a static fire test Friday, SpaceX is preparing SN11 for a same-day launch – Ars Technica

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SpaceX appears set to fly the latest prototype of its Starship vehicle—dubbed SN11—as early as Friday afternoon. Local residents have been informed of the test as part of a mandatory evacuation of Boca Chica Village.

This test flight to about 10 km would be the fourth attempt by SpaceX to launch a full-scale version of its Starship vehicle to a high altitude and then land it. During the first two attempts, the vehicle failed just before landing, resulting in a crash. During a third flight, on March 3, the vehicle landed and stabilized itself but then exploded about 10 minutes later due to a fuel leak.

The latest Starship prototype has come together quickly. It rolled to the launch pad on March 8 and underwent its first static fire test on March 22. During this test, one of the three Raptor engines apparently misfired, so it had to be replaced. Once this was done, SpaceX completed a second static fire test on Friday morning.

Following this test, a preliminary data review apparently gave the launch team enough confidence to move ahead with a flight attempt later in the day. The launch window extends until 8 pm local time in South Texas, or 01:00 UTC on Saturday. Local sunset will occur around 7:45 pm.

SpaceX has a lot riding on this test flight, given that it is the fourth time the company will have attempted to demonstrate both in-flight control of the large vehicle and the ability to bring it to a safe landing. Failures are expected with such a hasty development program, but sooner or later, the company would like to actually land Starship and move forward with the program.

The launch comes as SpaceX is nearing completion of the first prototype of the Super Heavy booster, which will be used to launch Starship into orbit. The first version of this rocket, BN1, will not fly but instead serve as a demonstration vehicle to be moved to the launch site and tested with ground support equipment. The next booster, BN2, is expected to fly and may do so later this spring.

SpaceX would also like to be able to demonstrate success with Starship to NASA, which in about one month is expected to select two companies to move forward with versions of a Human Landing System as part of the Artemis Moon program. SpaceX, with its Starship vehicle, is among three bidders—alongside Blue Origin and Dynetics—and is the furthest along in developing actual hardware.

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann

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Orionid Meteor Shower 2021: 5 photos captured by skygazers – Boston 25 News

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October 21, 2021 at 3:08 am EDT

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How to see Uranus near the full Hunter's Moon in the night sky this week – Space.com

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The full Hunter’s Moon will light the way to Uranus in the early morning sky this week, and with any luck you may see a “shooting star” while looking for the celestial pair.

Uranus is not considered to be one of the five “naked-eye” planets, which are bright enough to see from Earth without any visual aid. But you actually can spot Uranus in the night sky without the help of a telescope or binoculars — if you have a clear, dark sky and know where to look. 

For the next few nights, Uranus will be hanging out close to the moon, which became full on Wednesday (Oct. 20) at 10:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT). The moon will still appear pretty full, and bright moonlight could make it more difficult to spot Uranus nearby. Likewise, the full moon will outshine the peak of the Orionid meteor shower this week. However, the moon’s proximity to the dim planet may make it easier to locate.

Related: The brightest planets in October’s night sky

Uranus rises just a few minutes after moonrise and will reach its highest point in the night sky after midnight. It will be closest to the moon on Thursday (Oct. 21) at 6:39 p.m. EDT (2239 GMT), according to the skywatching site In-The-Sky.org. For skywatchers in the United States, the closest approach will not be visible — your best chances of spotting Uranus with the moon will be early Thursday morning, between midnight and the onset of twilight.  

If you miss it Thursday morning, you’ll have other chances. The planet will still be close to the moon on Friday morning, and with the waning moon being slightly less illuminated than the night before, the reduced moonlight could even make Uranus easier to spot.

On Friday morning (Oct. 22) Uranus will be on the opposite side of the moon.  (Image credit: SkySafari)

Related stories:

Uranus will be shining at a magnitude of 5.7, which is just a little bit brighter than the faintest objects that are visible to people with perfect vision and the darkest skies. If you live near any source of light pollution, especially in or near big cities, you won’t be able to see Uranus without a telescope. 

To see it, head to the darkest possible area at the darkest time of the night, and look for the faint teal speck.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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100-million-year-old tiny crab fossil found in amber – CTV News

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Fossils trapped in amber have been among paleontology’s most fascinating finds in recent years — globs of hardened ancient tree resin have captured tantalizing details about spiders, lizards, microscopic animals, insects, birds and even a tiny dinosaur that are often missing from fossils found in rock.

However, all these creatures were land lubbers that you might expect to encounter on a tree trunk or branch. Now, scientists have found the oldest aquatic animal preserved in amber — and it’s the most complete crab fossil ever discovered.

“The specimen is spectacular, it is one of a kind. It’s absolutely complete and is not missing a single hair on the body, which is remarkable,” said Javier Luque, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, in a news release. He was the lead author of the study that published Thursday in the journal Science Advances.

The Chinese, US and Canadian scientists working on the amber specimen, which originated from northern Myanmar, named the tiny crab Cretapsara athanata. The name references the Cretaceous, the dinosaur-era period during which this crab lived, and Apsara, a spirit of the clouds and waters in South and Southeast Asian mythology. The species name is based on “athanatos,” which means immortal in Greek, referring to its lifelike preservation in amber.

In looks, the 100-million-year-old creature superficially resembles crabs that scuttle around shores today. Computerized tomography scans revealed delicate body parts like antennae, gills and fine hairs on the mouth parts. The creature was only 5 millimetres long and likely a baby crab.

The researchers think that Cretapsara was neither a marine crab nor completely land dwelling. They think it would have lived in fresh water, or perhaps brackish water, on the forest floor. It was also possible, they said, that it was migrating onto land like the famous red Christmas Island crabs that release their babies into the ocean and later swarm back onto land.

While the oldest crab fossils date back to the Jurassic period more than 200 million years ago, fossils of non-marine crabs are sparse and largely incomplete.

The researchers said that Cretapsara proves that crabs made the leap from the sea to land and fresh water during the dinosaur era, not during the mammal era, as previously thought, pushing the evolution of non-marine crabs much farther back in time.

“In the fossil record, non-marine crabs evolved 50 million years ago, but this animal is twice that age,” said Luque.

Dinosaur-era amber fossils are only found in deposits from Kachin State in northern Myanmar, and ethical concerns about the provenance of amber from the region have emerged in recent years.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology called for a moratorium on research on amber sourced from Myanmar after 2017 when the country’s military took control of some amber mining areas.

The authors of this study said the amber specimen was acquired by the Longyin Amber Museum from a vendor in the city of Tengchong near the border with Myanmar in southern China in August 2015.

They hoped by “conducting research on specimens collected before the conflict and acknowledging the situation in the Kachin State will serve to raise awareness of the current conflict in Myanmar and the human cost behind it.”

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