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Astronauts upgrade space station batteries in second all-woman spacewalk –



HOUSTON — The second all-female spacewalk in history continued the work of the first, as the same two NASA astronauts upgraded batteries outside the International Space Station.

Jessica Meir and Christina Koch completed a 7-hour and 29-minute extravehicular activity (EVA, or spacewalk) on Wednesday (Jan. 15), replacing the batteries that store power for one pair of the space station’s electricity-generating solar arrays. The excursion resumed the work that the two Expedition 61 flight engineers performed in October, which made headlines as the first spacewalk by two women.

“It was truly amazing for Christina and me to be back out here today,” Meir said during a live broadcast of the spacewalk. “We have been talking about it a lot and it was really something we were looking forward to.”

Related: The amazing spacewalks of Expedition 61 in photos

The spacewalk began at 6:35 a.m. EST (1135 GMT), when both Koch and Meir switched their spacesuits over to internal power.

“It’s a beautiful view out here,” said Meir, soon after exiting the Quest airlock.

The two spacewalkers removed three degraded nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed two more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the space station’s port, or left side, outboard solar arrays. Meir and Koch stowed the older batteries, which had been in place for the past decade, on an external pallet for their later disposal and installed adapter plates to enable the new batteries to work with the orbiting laboratory’s power system.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (in foreground, in spacesuit with red stripes) and Christina Koch (in background, in spacesuit with no stripes) perform the the second all-female spacewalk in history, upgrading batteries outside of the International Space Station on Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020). (Image credit: NASA TV)

“Awesome job,” radioed astronaut Stephanie Wilson from inside Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, from where she was helping to guide Meir and Koch through the spacewalk’s tasks. “We made great progress toward upgrading the batteries on the 4B side. You’re both awesome, nice work!” 

Each battery measures about half the size of a refrigerator, or 40 inches long by 37 inches wide by 19 inches high (101 by 94 by 48 centimeters). The old nickel-hydrogen batteries weigh 365 lbs. (165 kilograms) each. The lithium-ion replacements weigh 428 lbs. (194 kg).

The work contributed to a larger, ongoing effort to replace all 48 of the station’s degraded nickel-hydrogen batteries with the more capable lithium-ion units. One lithium-ion battery and one adapter plate can replace two nickel-hydrogen batteries. The work began with a series of spacewalks in January 2017 and has continued as Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicles (HTVs) have delivered the new batteries to the station.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir (left) holds a replacement lithium-ion battery to be installed on the International Space Station’s port-side truss during her and Christina Koch’s spacewalk on Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020).  (Image credit: NASA TV)

Meir and Koch’s spacewalk on Wednesday proceeded mostly to plan, with the exception of a minor issue with Koch’s spacesuit early in the EVA.

“Christina’s helmet lights are not attached,” radioed Meir to Mission Control, as the assembly normally attached to the top of Koch’s spacesuit helmet dangled from its power cable. “The cable is still attached, of course, but the camera and the helmet lights have been detached from her helmet.” 

Meir attempted to reattach the light assembly, but it would not lock into place. The two lights are used as an aid when the space station passes into Earth’s shadow and is not lit by the sun.

“We think with the light locks installed you are not going to be able to get the helmet light seated onto the grooves. So instead, we would like to de-mate the power cable and completely remove the assembly,” Wilson told the two spacewalkers. 

NASA astronaut Christina Koch (left) looks on as Jessica Meir uses a pistol-grip tool to secure a battery outside of the International Space Station on Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020), in this view from Meir’s helmet-mounted camera.  (Image credit: NASA TV)

The spacewalk continued with Koch staying close to Meir so that she was aided by the lights still attached to Meir’s helmet.

Wednesday’s EVA, which ended at 2:04 p.m. EST (1904 GMT), marked Koch’s fifth and Meir’s second career spacewalks.

Meir, who served as EV1 (or lead spacewalker) and wore the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit with red stripes, has logged a total of 14 hours and 46 minutes on her two EVAs. Koch, who as EV2 wore the suit with no identifiers, has a total of 35 hours and 17 minutes spanning her five spacewalks.

This was the 225th EVA devoted to the International Space Station since assembly of the orbiting outpost began in 1998.

Meir and Koch are scheduled to again venture outside together on Monday (Jan. 20) to complete the replacement of the batteries on the port P6 truss.

Robert Pearlman is a contributing writer and the editor of, a partner site and the leading space history news publication. Follow collectSPACE on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook.

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Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians – CNN Philippines



(CNN)— No longer confined to territories here on Earth, Russia has now staked its claim on Venus, saying it is a “Russian planet.”

This week, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, revealed that the country plans to send its own mission to Venus in addition to “Venera-D,” the planned joint mission with the US, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Rogozin was addressing reporters at the HeliRussia 2020 exhibition, an international expo of the helicopter industry in Moscow.

“Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda,” he told reporters Tuesday.

“We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t lag behind,” he said.

“Projects of Venus missions are included in the united government program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”

The statement came the day after scientists revealed that a gas on Earth called phosphine had also been detected in the atmosphere of Venus.

Venus is similar in size to Earth and is our closest planetary neighbor, but it spins backward compared to other planets.

The study authored by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The discovery of phosphine on Venus elevates it to an area of interest worth exploring in our solar system alongside the ranks of Mars and “water world” moons like Enceladus and Europa, Seager said.

“Our hoped-for impact in the planetary science community is to stimulate more research on Venus itself, research on the possibilities of life in Venus’ atmosphere, and even space missions focused to find signs of life or even life itself in the Venusian atmosphere,” Seager said.

According to the European Space Agency, the Russians do have significant experience when it comes to Venus.

Its website states: “Between 1967-1984 Venusian studies carried out in Russia were at the forefront of international research into this planet.

“Since then, Russia has still preserved its unique expertise in designing and developing landing craft for Venus and continues to define scientific tasks for those craft.”

This story was first published on, “Venus is a Russian planet — say the Russians.”

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Florida man survives alligator attack while walking dog, gets 65 stitches – FOX 5 Atlanta



Florida man out walking his dog was attacked by an alligator and nearly dragged into a canal behind his home.

Mark Johnson, 61, said he was walking along the canal last Sunday in Port. St. Lucie with his 8-year-old golden retriever when he saw a gator turn towards them.

Johnson said his foot got stuck in mud moments before he saw “the lunge” as the alligator grabbed his leg.


“He starts clamping down pretty tight, and he started to pull, and the next thing I do … I poke [the gator] through the eye,” he told WPLG-TV.

Johnson told Treasure Coast Newspapers that after he stuck his finger in the gator’s eye, the reptile immediately let go and swam away.

After limping home with blood dripping from his leg, Johnson’s wife cleaned the wound and wrapped the leg in a towel before taking him to a hospital.

Johnson said he suffered 12 puncture wounds that required 60 stitches, plus another five to mend the index finger that was cut on the gator’s eye socket.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a trapper captured the gator involved in the attack on Wednesday.


Officials said the alligator measured 8 feet, 6 inches and weighed nearly 250 pounds. The reptile has since been relocated to an alligator farm.

Johnson said that even though the reptile was trying to drag him into the water, staying calm was what helped him survive.

“You cannot panic,” he told the paper. “I bass fish all the time, too. I’ll reach down and lift up the bass with my hand. I just got lucky.”


Johnson said when he’s able to walk his dog again, he’ll probably carry some sort of weapon for protection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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China volcanic eruption discovers 125 million-year-old dinosaur – haveeruonline



A new kind of burrowing dinosaur was found in the Lu Jiatun Bed, the oldest floor of the famous Xian layer in northeastern China. According to the press release. Scientists believe they were trapped in a volcanic eruption while resting at the bottom of the cave.

Pascal Gode Freud, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, said: “These animals were quickly covered with microscopic sediments during life and shortly after death.”

Two conserved skeletons of Changmiania liaoningensis (A/B and C). Red arrows indicate gastric or stone clusters.

The scientist said the effect would be very similar to what happened in Pompeii. According to the press release, the new species was named Changmiania liaoningensis. Changmian means “eternal sleep” in Chinese.

Scientists deduce that ornithopods lived in the Cretaceous Period and were small herbivores that could run very quickly, depending on the length of the tail and the composition of the legs. It was about 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) long.

“However, certain characteristics of the skeleton suggest that the spear mia can be burrowed like a rabbit today,” Godefroit said.

“The neck and forearm are very short, but they are sturdy, the scapula excavates the spine, and the upper part of the snout is shovel-shaped.

A complete study of their findings PeerJ Scientific Journal.

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