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Astronaut votes from space – Hindustan Times

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At least she didn’t have to wait in line. A US astronaut cast her ballot from the International Space Station on Thursday, making her voice heard in the presidential election despite being 408km above the Earth.

“From the International Space Station: I voted today,” crew member Kate Rubins, who began a six-month stint aboard the orbiting station last week, said on Nasa’s Twitter account.

The post featured a photo of Rubins, her hair floating in the zero-gravity environment, in front of an enclosure with a sign that reads “ISS voting booth”.

Rubins and Nasa described the process as a form of absentee voting. A secure electronic ballot generated by a clerk’s office in Harris County, home of Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, was sent up via email to the ISS. Rubins filled out the ballot in the email and it was downlinked and delivered back to the clerk’s office.

Rubins had cast her vote from the ISS during the 2016 election as well. “We consider it an honour to be able to vote from space,” she said in a video before she and two Russian cosmonauts launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 14.

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Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation – paNOW

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Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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This rocks! Western University student spots never-before-seen asteroid – London Free Press (Blogs)

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Article content continued

Added Wiegert: “Astronomers around the globe are continuously monitoring near-Earth space for asteroids so this is certainly a feather in Cole’s cap.”

Gregg spotted the asteroid, given the temporary designation ALA2xH, on Nov. 18. Data collected about the asteroid was sent to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts where they determine if the observation is unique or not.

From there it goes on their near-Earth object confirmation page.

Gregg used a website called Itelescope, which allows the public to access telescopes on the internet.

“A lot of people use them for the pretty astro-photography pictures but they are quite capable of science as well,” Gregg said. “My project is proving that these small telescopes are quite capable of science.”

Despite their efforts, Gregg said they have not spotted the asteroid again “due to weather and unavailability of the telescopes.”

Gregg said he has been fascinated with space since he was camping as a boy and relished looking up at stars in the dark skies. “It sparked my interest.”

After completing his PhD in astronomy he hopes to continue his research and teach, as well.

“I’m interested in asteroids and comets and how they move; how they exist in the solar system and where they come from,” he said. “And how we can learn from our own solar system to understand how other solar systems in the galaxy.”

HRivers@postmedia.com


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SpaceX sent a Falcon 9 rocket on its seventh trip to space – The Verge

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On Tuesday night, SpaceX successfully launched another batch of the company’s internet-from-space Starlink satellites to orbit, using a very space-hardened Falcon 9 rocket for the job. This launch marked the rocket’s seventh flight to space and back — the first time SpaceX has flown such a seasoned vehicle to orbit.

The Falcon 9 took off at 9:13PM ET from SpaceX’s launch site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, with 60 Starlink satellites in tow. After a quick trip to space, the first stage of the Falcon 9 — the bulk of the vehicle that contains the main engines and most of the fuel — separated from the rest of the rocket and came back to Earth. It then performed one of SpaceX’s signature rocket landings, touching down on one of the company’s drone ships in the Atlantic.

Before this flight, the Falcon 9 had boosted two communications satellites to orbit on two separate missions, and SpaceX had also used the vehicle to launch four separate Starlink launches. It wasn’t just the rocket that had flown before either. The rocket’s nosecone, which surrounds the satellites during the climb to space, was also used before for previous flights. One half of the nosecone — or payload fairing — had flow once before, while the other half had flown twice before this launch.

By now, SpaceX has made these launch and landing routines a fairly regular sight out of Florida, with each new mission adding numbers to the company’s resume. Last night’s launch was notable for being SpaceX’s 100th Falcon 9 launch ever. It also marked the company’s 23rd launch of this year and the 67th time SpaceX has recovered one of its Falcon 9 boosters following a launch.

Those numbers are only expected to grow, with more launches slated this year. And with yesterday’s rocket successfully landing, an eighth flight is perhaps in the future.

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