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Artemis 1: Everything you need to know about the launch of NASA’s first Moon mission in 50 years – Euronews

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NASA’s giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is set to blast off on a journey to the Moon, a mission the US space agency says will lay the foundations for a long-term presence on the lunar surface.

The Artemis 1 mission is a test flight of massive importance. The launch, scheduled for Monday, will see an unmanned Orion module put into orbit around the Moon before returning to Earth.

It will gather crucial data ahead of the next stages in the mission – a manned launch of the Orion module to lunar orbit, followed by the first mission to land humans on the Moon since 1972.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of Monday’s launch.

What is Artemis 1?

This is the first stage of the Artemis mission, which has the ultimate goal of establishing a long-term presence on the Moon’s surface.

The stage is set on Monday for the start of the Artemis I mission. NASA will launch an unmanned Orion spacecraft into orbit around the Moon on a test run to ensure manned missions are as safe as possible.

The Orion spacecraft is being launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on NASA’s giant rocket called the SLS.

It is, according to NASA, the world’s most powerful rocket, able to carry more payload into deep space than any other vehicle.

Standing at almost 100 m tall, the SLS can deliver 4 million kg of thrust. Two minutes into launch, two boosters will detach from the rocket, followed by the core stage (which acts as the backbone of the rocket, doing most of the heavy lifting).

These parts will fall into the Pacific Ocean, as the Orion spacecraft continues on course toward the Moon.

Orion will travel 450,000 km from Earth, and thousands of kilometres beyond the Moon over the course of the four to six-week mission.

“We’re going to stress it and test it. We’re going to make it do things that we would never do with a crew on it in order to try to make it as safe as possible,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Wednesday.

Orion will be propelled towards the Moon by a service module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Flight test dummies

The Orion spacecraft, which is 3 m tall, can seat four astronauts.

A full-size dummy in an orange flight suit is going to occupy the commander’s seat for this flight, rigged with vibration and acceleration sensors.

Two other mannequins made of material simulating human tissue will measure cosmic radiation, which is one of the biggest risks of spaceflight.

The flight will also see ten shoebox-sized satellites pop off the capsule once it is en-route to the Moon, which will measure radiation, amongst other things.

What happens after Artemis 1?

After Artemis I comes Artemis 2 and 3, NASA’s first manned lunar missions in five decades.

Assuming everything goes to plan with the first test mission, and the next missions aren’t hit by the same delays that plagued Artemis 1, a second test flight around the Moon – this time manned – is scheduled for 2024.

If that goes to plan, Artemis 3 should go ahead a year later. This will be the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972. It is also intended to be the first mission to land a woman on the Moon.

The missions will involve testing the systems needed to establish a gateway base in orbit around the Moon, which would be the base for lunar surface missions. With a long-term presence established on or around the Moon, it would then be used for future missions further afield, including to Mars.

“This wasn’t a one or two-person job. This was teams of hundreds of people that came in from different backgrounds, different experiences that all made this happen together,” said Nicholas Nugent, a project engineer at Stennis Space Center.

“We’re about to launch the rocket that these people built. How cool is that? You can say ‘I worked on that rocket’ and they’re working on the second one and the third one and fourth one and the fifth one,” said Lonnie Dutreix, director of Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

How much did this all cost?

The Artemis missions have been beset by delays and technical faults, so there is a lot of pressure on Monday’s launch.

The cost of Artemis 1 has spiralled to $4 billion (€4 billion), and the entire programme will have set NASA back at least $93 billion (€93 billion) by the time astronauts land once again on the Moon.

“This is a test flight, all right and it’s not without risk. We have analysed the risk as best we can, and we’ve mitigated also as best we can,” Bob Cabana, NASA’s Associate Administrator, said ahead of the launch.

“But we are stressing Orion beyond what it was actually designed for. In preparation for sending it to the moon with a crew and we want to make sure that it works absolutely perfectly when we do that and that we understand all the risks. We’re going to learn a lot from this test flight”.

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NASA Will Crash A Spacecraft Into An Asteroid For Science! – Forbes

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NASA will intentionally crash a spacecraft into an orbiting asteroid at high speed in the coming hours. The DART mission will attempt to prove that an unmanned space probe can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it. The technique, called kinetic impact, could be used to re-direct an asteroids that may pose a threat to Earth, should one ever be discovered.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test – a first-of-its-kind experiment – will try to alter the orbit of one of two gravitationally bound asteroids in orbit around the Sun. This binary asteroid system is known as Didymos, and the smaller “moonlet” of the pair, Dimorphos, will be the first asteroid in the Solar System to be the target of a humanmade “kinetic impactor”.

The 1,2 x 1,3 x 1,3-meter space probe will intercept the Didymos system at 7:14 p.m. on Monday, with DART slamming into the 160-meters wide Dimorphos at roughly 6,6 kilometers per second a few hours later if everything goes as planned.

The target asteroid Dimorphos, orbiting the larger Didymos, poses no threat to Earth, and even a successful impact will alter its orbit by just 0,4 millimeters. Any changes in the orbital parameters will be precisely measured using telescopes on Earth. The experiment results will be used to validate and improve computer models for kinetic impacts.

In the last few hours of DART’s life, it will send a constant stream of images to Earth.

“This is an amazing moment for our space program,” so Elena Adams, the mission systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

“For the first time, we will move a celestial body intentionally in space, beyond Earth orbit! This test goes beyond international borders, and really shows what we can accomplish if we all work together as one team and as one Earth.”

Material provided by the European Space Agency and NASA.

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Squirrels, volcanoes, and ancient DNA – TownAndCountryToday.com – Town and Country TODAY

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ATHABASCA — What does the research into ground squirrels dating back 50,000 years have to do with ancient DNA or volcanoes? 

Those are some of the fascinating details Scott Cocker, a paleoecologist and PhD student at the University of Alberta (U of A), will be discussing in a Zoom presentation hosted by Science Outreach – Athabasca Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. 

“I’m interested in the ground squirrels themselves because we jokingly refer to them as furry botanists,” Cocker said in a Sept. 15 interview. “They were grabbing plants; they were grabbing whatever they could grab before they went into hibernation. So, they would store all this stuff in their nest and then the nest is what we find 40,000 years later or whatever have you … frozen in the permafrost with all those seeds or with bones of other animals. They are basically like little archives of the Ice Age and Yukon.” 

Cocker realized while everyone was distracted by larger creatures like woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos, they didn’t offer as much information on life at the time as ground squirrel nests could. 

“The ecosystem and the environment, we call that the mammoth steppe and for a long time that’s what everyone referred to; the mammoth steppe this, the mammoth steppe that, and it’s just because the mammoths are big and charismatic,” he said. “But my whole thesis is that if you really want to understand the mammoth steppe and the environment that they were living in, you actually have to look to things like the ground squirrels because they tell us way more about the environment than the mammoths do.” 

Throw in some new sequencing of DNA which allows scientists to accurately identify a species from just small pieces of DNA. 

“In the last 20 years, it’s something that’s been developed,” he said. “We can work with modern DNA really easily because stranded DNA are in the count of millions … but once that organism dies and sits around for a while, then the DNA starts to degrade, and it breaks down over time and so we end up with these really short little pieces of DNA.” 

Then mix in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption in southern Alaska 25,000 years ago which covered the area with up to a metre of ash and it changes how all fauna lived and you have the basics of Cocker’s presentation. 

“How did that impact the animals and plants at the time of the eruption? Because it definitely was one of the largest in the last million years in this part of the world,” Cocker said. “It completely covered the plants. Think about (the) ground squirrels or the voles and mice and stuff that … rely on foraging and you’re half the size of the ash fall, you’re gonna struggle.” 

The link to the presentation can be found on the Science Outreach – Athabasca website and social media and will start at 7 p.m. Sept. 27. 

hstocking@athabasca.greatwest.ca 

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Why is NASA crashing a spacecraft into a harmless asteroid at 14,000mph? – Sky News

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A harmless asteroid millions of miles away is about to be rammed by a NASA spacecraft at 14,000mph. Why? The fate of the human race could one day depend on doing the same.

It has been 66 million years since an asteroid crashing into the Earth brought an end to the reign of the dinosaurs, scientists say, and they are keen to avoid a similar ending for humanity.

Sky News takes a look at NASA’s latest experiment – a $325m (£301m) planetary defence test – and answers some key questions about how it could prove useful down the line.

What is the Dart spacecraft?

Dart – a snappier nickname than Double Asteroid Redirection Test – is essentially a battering ram the size of a small vending machine.

It faces certain destruction in the fulfilment of its goal.

Dart weighs 570kg and has a single instrument: a camera used for navigating, targeting and chronicling its final demise.

More on Nasa

Where is the spacecraft going?

Dart is headed for a pair of asteroids about seven million miles from Earth. Its target is called Dimorphos, which is the smaller offspring of Didymos (that’s Greek for twin).

Dimorphos is roughly 525 feet (160 metres) across and it orbits the much larger Didymos at a distance of less than a mile (1.2km).

NASA insists there’s a zero chance either asteroid will threaten Earth – now or in the future. That’s why the pair was picked.

The spacecraft’s navigation is designed to distinguish between the two asteroids and, in the final 50 minutes, target the smaller one.

What happens on impact?

“This really is about asteroid deflection, not disruption,” said Nancy Chabot, a planetary scientist and mission team leader at Johns Hopkins University, which is managing the effort.

“This isn’t going to blow up the asteroid. It isn’t going to put it into lots of pieces.”

Instead, the impact will dig out a crater metres in size and hurl some two million pounds of rocks and dirt into space.

Why are scientists doing this?

The impact should be just enough to nudge the asteroid into a slightly tighter orbit around its companion space rock – demonstrating that if a killer asteroid ever heads our way, we’d stand a fighting chance of diverting it.

Cameras and telescopes will watch the crash, but it will take months to find out if it actually changed the orbit.

Observatories will track the pair of asteroids as they circle the sun, to see if Dart altered Dimorphos’ orbit.

In 2024, a European spacecraft named Hera will retrace Dart’s journey to measure the impact results.

Although the intended nudge should change the moonlet’s position only slightly, that will add up to a major shift over time, according to Ms Chabot.

“So if you were going to do this for planetary defence, you would do it five, 10, 15, 20 years in advance in order for this technique to work,” she said.

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