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Apollo landing sites now protected by U.S. law, but what about the flags? –



The U.S. has passed a law meant to preserve the Apollo moon landing sites from disruption by any nations or private companies working with NASA on the lunar surface. This could eventually include future space tourists who may notice that the American flags erected by astronauts may not be standing any longer.

There were six Apollo landing sites established between 1969 and 1972. The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, which came into effect on New Year’s Eve, declares sites off-limits so they may be preserved for posterity. 

Among other things, this could help protect the sites from the ravages of souvenir hunters. Imagine a future when you could visit the Sea of Tranquility and see the actual spot where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on another world in July 1969.

You would be tempted to walk up to the four legged descent stage still there exactly as they left it when they blasted off for home, or touch the very ladder that the astronauts climbed down, or stand on the footpad and look down on Armstrong’s famous first small step boot print in the lunar soil. Maybe there is even a piece of gold coated insulating foil you could nip off…

Neil Armstrong stepped into history July 20, 1969 by leaving the first human footprint on the surface of the moon. (NASA/Newsmakers via Getty Images)

Of course, the very act of touching the artifacts would be desecrating the site, just as so many historic sites on Earth have been degraded by tourists and vandals.

The new act is meant to prevent that from happening to what are among the most significant historic sites of the modern era. The sites have even been made no-fly zones to prevent rocket exhaust from future landing craft from disturbing the artifacts. 

Each landing site contains a number of items that were left behind by the astronauts, including the lower descent stage of the lunar module, scientific equipment like laser reflectors and seismometers, along with television cameras and lunar rovers. With no wind, rain or floods on the moon to cause weathering, many of the artifacts will remain intact in the vacuum for thousands of years or longer, barring unlucky meteorite impacts.

Except the flags.

Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. saluting the US flag on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 lunar mission. (NASA/AFP via Getty Images)

When Armstrong and  Aldrin of Apollo 11 made their historic landing, one of their first tasks was to raise the American flag. After all, the drive behind the moon missions was to prove America’s technical superiority of the Soviet Union, so the flag raising was hugely symbolic. 

But Buzz Aldrin later reported that the last thing he saw as they blasted off from the moon was the flag being blown over by the rocket exhaust. Later images of the landing sites taken by satellite show flags still standing on most of the sites, but not Apollo 11.  

Satellite images of the Apollo 11 lander site taken at different times of day show no indication of a shadow cast by the flag at the site. Flag shadows are visible at other lander sites on the moon. (NASA/LROC)

This could present a conundrum to the preservationists. If the flag is indeed laying on the ground, should someone in the future go there, stand it up again and restore the image of American pride? If they do, they will disturb those historic first footprints made more than half a century ago.

To cover that eventuality, there is a waiver clause in the new act that says the sites can be approached for “activities of legitimate and significant historical, archeological, anthropological, scientific, or engineering value.” 

That might, for example, allow engineers to investigate how the materials of the artifacts have been affected over time to help design better materials for future spacecraft. But you might imagine that anyone who does visit the historic Apollo 11 landing site will be tempted to stand the flag back up again.

Apollo 12 Astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad standing by the US flag on the Moon on November 14, 1969, on the Apollo 12 United States’ second manned lunar landing mission. (NASA/AFP via Getty Images)

But if the flag is raised again on the moon, there may not be much of it left. All the flags sent to the moon were not specially made for that purpose. They were regular government issue flags made of nylon material that would easily be faded and degraded by the powerful unfiltered ultraviolet radiation from the sun that has been shining on them for more than fifty years. 

Even on Earth flags begin to lose colour after a year or two because of solar radiation. Experts suggest all of the flags that were raised on the moon are likely completely bleached out by now. Half a century of long lunar days and super cold lunar nights has probably made the flags unrecognizable.

Putting the stars and stripes back on the moon may seem like a trivial affair, but the symbolism of flags has always been important, and doubtless there will be those who want to do it. However, designing a flag that can resist the harsh lunar environment will be a technological challenge of its own. It would have to be made of colour fast, UV protected material that will stand the test of time. And on the moon, that is a very, very long time. 

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Most stable laser transmission: world record set by Australian and French researchers – World Record Academy



Perth, Western Australia, Australia–Scientists from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
(ICRAR) and the University of Western Australia
(UWA) teamed up with researchers from the French National Centre for Space Studies
(CNES) and the French metrology lab Systèmes de Référence Temps-Espace
(SYRTE) at Paris Observatory; by combining the Aussies’ phase stabilization technology with advanced self-guiding optical terminals, it allowed laser signals to be sent from one point to another without interference from the atmosphere, thus setting the new world record for the Most stable Laser transmission of a laser signal through the atmosphere.

The team set the world record for the most stable laser transmission by combining the Aussies’ phase stabilization technology with advanced self-guiding optical terminals. Together, these technologies allowed laser signals to be sent from one point to another without interference from the atmosphere.

Lead author Benjamin Dix-Matthews, a Ph.D. student at ICRAR and UWA, said the technique effectively eliminates atmospheric turbulence. “We can correct for atmospheric turbulence in 3-D, that is, left-right, up-down and, critically, along the line of flight,” he said. “It’s as if the moving atmosphere has been removed and doesn’t exist. It allows us to send highly stable laser signals through the atmosphere while retaining the quality of the original signal.”

Photo 1: UWA’s rooftop observatory. Credit: ICRAR.

The result is the world’s most precise method for comparing the flow of time between two separate locations using a laser system transmitted through the atmosphere, The reports.

ICRAR-UWA senior researcher
Dr. Sascha Schediwy said the research has exciting applications. “If you have one of these optical terminals on the ground and another on a satellite in space, then you can start to explore fundamental physics,” he said. “Everything from testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity more precisely than ever before, to discovering if fundamental physical constants change over time.”

The technology’s precise measurements also have practical uses in earth science and geophysics. “For instance, this technology could improve satellite-based studies of how the water table changes over time, or to look for ore deposits underground,” Dr. Schediwy said.

There are further potential benefits for optical communications, an emerging field that uses light to carry information. Optical communications can securely transmit data between satellites and Earth with much higher data rates than current radio communications.

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SpaceX Launches Rocket With 143 Satellites – The Most Ever Flown On A Single Mission – Forbes



Elon Musk’s company SpaceX has successfully launched the Transporter-1 mission, breaking the record for the most number of satellites ever flown on a single rocket.

Today, Sunday, January 24 at 10 A.M. Eastern Time, the company’s Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with 143 commercial and government satellites on board.

The satellites were launched into a sun-synchronous orbit, one that stays in constant daylight, about 500 kilometers above Earth’s surface.

About eight minutes later, the bottom section of the rocket returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean on a floating barge called Of Course I Still Love You – a norm now on SpaceX launches.

The launch was the first in SpaceX’s new “Rideshare Program”, designed to launch many satellites at a time and enable organizations to reach space at a lower cost.

SpaceX has launched rideshare missions before, notably its SSO-A mission in 2018 with 64 satellites on board, but this new program is intended to greatly expand the launch opportunities on offer.

It cost just $5,000 per kilogram to place a satellite on this rocket, or $1 million for 200 kilograms. The total mass of all the commercial satellites on board was about 2,700 kilograms, equating to almost $14 million.

The launch of 143 satellites broke the previous record for the most number of satellites on a launch, set by India in 2017 when it launched 104 on a single rocket.

The satellites on board included 48 satellites from Earth imaging company Planet Labs, a small NASA mission called V-R3x to test ways to track small spacecraft in Earth orbit, and 36 small communications satellites from Swarm Technologies.

Ten of SpaceX’s own satellites in its controversial Starlink internet mega constellation were included, which reached the milestone of 1,000 satellites launched last week.

The total mass of the satellites on board was about 5,000 kilograms.

However, the large number of satellites on board – while impressive – has caused some concern, specifically regarding space traffic management.

SpaceX did not release a detailed manifest of the satellites on board, meaning the purpose and nature of some of them was unclear at the time of launch.

“One of the problems is that we don’t even know for sure what all of the 143 satellites are,” astronomer and spaceflight expert Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told SpaceNews.

With some of the satellites being as small as a shoe box, they will be hard to track in orbit, a necessity to avoid collisions with other satellites.

This single launch alone will increase the number of active satellites in orbit by about five percent, given there are only about 3,000 active satellites currently orbiting Earth.

Or, in other words, one out of every 20 active satellites now in orbit were launched on this Transporter-1 mission.

Nonetheless, the launch is a huge milestone for SpaceX, letting it offer a new type of service unmatched by any other launch provider.

At $5,000 per kilogram, the flight was far cheaper for the satellites on board than on a rival commercial rocket.

For example, the New Zealand-based launch company Rocket Lab offers space on its smaller Electron rocket at about $20,000 per kilogram.

However, while these smaller launchers can’t match SpaceX on price, they can offer a dedicated launch to a specific orbit with a short wait time.

SpaceX with its rideshare missions, on the other hand, can only launch multiple satellites into one orbit, posing some issues to then move the satellites elsewhere.

Still, the service has clearly proven popular, and a Transporter-2 mission is expected later this year.

Now many will be hoping, if these launches are to become more regular, that more can be done to safely manage the large amounts of satellites deployed in orbit.

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Watch SpaceX's first dedicated rideshare rocket launch live, carrying a record-breaking payload of satellites – Yahoo Canada Shine On



Eat This, Not That!

Sure Sign You’ve Already Had COVID, According to Dr. Fauci

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 410,000 Americans, and that doesn’t even count those who caught the virus and never got better, still suffering from Long COVID. In fact, these “long haulers” may never get better, and remain a shell of their former selves, tortured by a series of never-ending and ever-changing symptoms that debilitate them, with no cure yet available. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has witnessed Long COVID first hand and wants you to know: “This is a phenomenon that is really quite real and quite extensive.” Read on to hear about one sure sign you may have it—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus. You Might Feel Like You Have Myalgic EncephalomyelitisDr. Fauci has said that the effects of Long COVID are new and need further research—but that it resembles an existing syndrome. “You don’t want to be scaring people and alarming them, but they really should know that we don’t know what the long-term consequences are, even when it looks like a routine infection,” Dr. Fauci told Medscape in July. “We better be careful. Even after you clear the virus, there are postviral symptoms. I know, because I follow on the phone a lot of people who call me up and talk about their course. And it’s extraordinary how many people have a postviral syndrome that’s very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. They just don’t get back to normal energy or normal feeling of good health.”The other symptoms he has listed include myalgia—which are body aches and pains—and headaches, among others.What is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis?A syndrome misunderstood by even some doctors, “ME/CFS is a multi-system disease that causes profound metabolic dysfunction and is accompanied by physical and cognitive limitations,” according to the experts at #MEAction. Hallmark symptoms include:Post-Exertional Malaise, which #MEAction defines as “a reduction in functioning and a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal physical or cognitive exertion.”Unrefreshing SleepHeadaches of a New Type or SeverityCognitive Symptoms—some call this “brain fog,” which Dr. Fauci calls an “inability to concentrate”And More.”People experience symptoms on a spectrum from severe to mild, but 75 percent of people with the disease are unable to work and 25 percent are homebound or bedridden,” according to #MEAction. “Based on past viral outbreaks, we are expecting 10-12 percent of all people with Covid-19 will go on to develop ME/CFS.””Unfortunately, we are still far away from a cure,” Adriane Tillman, Editor of #MEAction, tells us. “The paramount problem is the abysmal lack of research funding allotted to ME/CFS by our government. The bottom line is that research funding for ME/CFS is absurdly deficient. If you add up all the funding that the NIH has allocated to ME/CFS research over the past two decades, it wouldn’t even reach the total amount that the NIH should be spending in one year on ME/CFS based on the disease burden (the number of people who are sick and the effect on the quality-of-life).”Dr. Fauci has alluded to more research being done “now” on Long COVID, but no specifics have been mentioned. “It’s essential for us to learn all we can about how SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, leads to such widespread symptoms,” wrote National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins last week. “It’s also essential that we develop ways to better treat or prevent these symptoms. The NIH held a workshop last month to summarize what is known and fill in key gaps in our knowledge about Long COVID syndrome, which is clinically known as post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). In December, Congress authorized funding for continued research on PASC, including an appropriation of funds for NIH to support continued study of these prolonged health consequences.”ME/CFS-like symptoms are also being studied in Post-COVID care centers at hospitals like Mt. Sinai. But we’re still at the “tip of the iceberg,” according to one scientist. “We need to dig in and do the work that needs to be done to help relieve the suffering and stop this madness,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, at the NIH workshop, which also included Dr. Fauci.What to Do if You Feel You Have Myalgic EncephalomyelitisContact a medical professional if you feel you have Long COVID or ME/CFS. Note that they are likely to treat your symptoms but are still learning to understand both ME/CFS and Long COVID. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. “The pathway to recovery or diagnosis for COVID-19 long haulers will not be uniform,” reports #MEAction. “Some long haulers will recover, a subset will go on to develop chronic illnesses like ME/CFS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and some will have long-term consequences due to organ damage alone. Some long haulers are reporting symptoms that resemble ME/CFS, including post-exertional malaise, as well as cognitive challenges and sleep issues.” For the full list of 98 symptoms that COVID long haulers say they have suffered (not all are ME/CFS), don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.

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