Astronomers have detected a radio signal coming from the Milky Way. The signal obtained is called a fast radio burst, which lasts milliseconds, and comes from deep within outer space.
Because the radio signal was so brief, it was only identified after being recorded in the satellite data. Scientists are currently still trying to figure out where such signals came from.
This isn’t the first time satellites have picked out radio signals from space. The first FRBs were identified over a decade ago. Theories of their sources include cataclysmic events, particularly when two neutron stars collide with each other or a collapsing black hole.
However, these assumptions were dismissed when another FRB was detected. According to scientists, a black hole can only collapse once, which suggests that the source could be something else.
An international group of scientists has come together over the years to solve the mystery of the FRBs. As the years went by, more instances of FRBs occurred. Earlier this year, a group of experts traced an FRB back to a strange V-shaped star-forming region in a vast spiral galaxy half a billion light-years away.
The latest detection was disclosed in The Astronomer’s Telegram, saying that bright radio burst came from the active magnetar known as SGR 1935+2154. This is a type of neutron star, the collapsed core of a massive star that is thought to have a compelling magnetic field.
The information was gathered on Tuesday. Scientists will first need to study the burst and validate their findings. If proven correct, they say it would be the first FRB ever detected originating from our own galaxy.
So far, other researchers studying FRBs have welcomed the findings. Jason W. T. Hessels, a Senior Scientist at ASTRON, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, described the discovery as a “breakthrough’ for the field.
Hessels said that the possibility of bursting magnetars being the source of some FRBs is vigorously being considered. However, he says that a key question still remains. Do all FRBs come from bursting magnetars, or do they come from a variety of varied origins?
Hessels also mentioned how it was interesting that an X-ray burst was detected at the same location. He says it helps in showing how the burst released much energy.
According to him, it helps scientists understand what actually happened to the neutron star and its magnetosphere.
Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and Principal Investigator of Breakthrough Listen, described the results as “very exciting.” He said one of the crucial questions about FRBs is what is generating them. He said if the results are proven to be accurate, it would be “strong evidence” that some FRBs arise from magnetars.
Siemion said that the link between magnetars and FRB occurrence would still present some critical questions. Some of these would question why only certain magnetars produce FRBs, and what gives rise to the repetition seen in specific FRB sources. Another question left hanging is if there is a possibility of a second or third source of single-pulse FRBs independent of the magnetar model.
Providing answers to such questions will necessitate more observations, but knowing that sources like SGR 1935+2134 can produce bright radio pulses provides a supportive hint as to where scientists ought to be looking, he says.
Russian space agency calls Trump's reaction to SpaceX launch… – Thomson Reuters Foundation
* NASA resumed human spaceflight on Saturday after hiatus
* Move ended Russian monopoly on flights to space station
* Moscow welcomes move, but queries Trump’s reaction
By Maria Kiselyova and Andrew Osborn
MOSCOW, May 31 (Reuters) – Russia’s space agency criticised U.S. President Donald Trump’s “hysteria” about the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years, but also said on Sunday it was pleased there was now another way to travel into space.
SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, on Saturday launched two Americans into orbit from Florida en route to the International Space Station (ISS), a landmark mission that ended Russia’s monopoly on flights there.
Trump, who observed the launch, said the United States had regained its place as the world’s leader in space, that U.S. astronauts would soon land on Mars, and that Washington would soon have “the greatest weapons ever imagined in history.”
NASA had had to rely on Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, to get to the ISS since its final space shuttle flight in 2011, and Trump hailed what he said was the end of being at the mercy of foreign nations.
The U.S. success will potentially deprive Roscosmos, which has suffered corruption scandals and a number of malfunctions, of the lucrative fees it charged to take U.S. astronauts to the ISS.
“The hysteria raised after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is hard to understand,” Vladimir Ustimenko, spokesman for Roscosmos, wrote on Twitter after citing Trump’s statement.
“What has happened should have happened long ago. Now it’s not only the Russians flying to the ISS, but also the Americans. Well that’s wonderful!”
Moscow has said previously that it is also deeply worried about what it fears are U.S. plans to deploy weapons in space.
Moscow would not be sitting idly by, Ustimenko said.
“..We are not going to rest on our laurels either. We will test two new rockets this year, and next year we will resume our lunar programme. It will be interesting,” said Ustimenko. (Editing by Susan Fenton)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
After Dragon's historic docking, America has more new spaceships on the way – Ars Technica
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft made history for the second time on Sunday.
On May 25, 2012, a Cargo Dragon was grabbed by the ISS. It became the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station. On Sunday, when Dragonship Endeavour docked with the station 15 minutes ahead of schedule, above the border of China and Mongolia, it became the first private spacecraft to fly crew there (or anywhere in orbit, for that matter).
After the docking, the spacecraft’s commander, NASA Astronaut Doug Hurley, was complimentary after he and Bob Behnken spent some time flying Dragon manually. “It flew just about like the sim, so my congratulations to the folks at Hawthorne,” he said, referring to SpaceX’s headquarters in California, where the astronauts spent many weeks practicing in a flight simulator. “It flew really well, very crisp. We couldn’t be happier about the performance of the vehicle.”
This bodes well for NASA, which is counting on the Crew Dragon vehicle to begin ferrying four-person crews to the International Space Station as soon as the end of August. Endeavour will now remain attached to the station for several weeks at least, depending on the performance of its solar panels in orbit. NASA would like the crew to remain on orbit for as much as three months, to conduct several spacewalks for space station maintenance.
Dragon’s flight will be declared a success only when Hurley and Behnken strap back into Endeavour, return through Earth’s atmosphere, and splash down safely in the ocean. This will complete the first crewed flight of a new orbital vehicle to launch from the United States since 1981. But it is very likely not the last. As many as four more vehicles may follow in the future.
Here’s a look at the status of each, with an estimate of when the vehicle will fly with humans for the first time.
Starliner (1-2 years)
As part of the commercial crew program, NASA paid SpaceX (Crew Dragon) and Boeing (Starliner) to develop spacecraft to carry humans to the space station and back. Boeing completed an aborted, uncrewed test flight of its Starliner vehicle in December, but the spacecraft was nearly lost on two occasions due to software issues.
Boeing has agreed to make a second test flight of Starliner, without astronauts, to ensure the safety of the spacecraft and demonstrate its capability of docking with the space station. This flight could occur by the end of 2020, and with about six months of data review, it’s possible a crewed mission could take place a year from now. But that would require nearly flawless execution—and as long as Dragon is flying safely NASA has no reason to rush a back-up provider along.
Orion (3-4 years)
NASA’s large deep space capsule has been under development since 2006 and made an uncrewed test flight in 2014 to demonstrate its ability to return at high velocity. Since then development has continued, but the capsule has largely been waiting for Boeing to complete the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. When that rocket is ready, it is due to launch another uncrewed Orion on the Artemis I mission in late 2021 or 2022.
Only after this flight will NASA fully outfit Orion with life support for the Artemis II mission, which will carry a crew of astronauts around the Moon. Sometime in 2023 is probably the earliest reasonable expectation for this mission to take place.
Starship (4-8 years)
SpaceX is making progress on development and testing of its Starship vehicle (Friday’s fiery explosion, not withstanding). Eventually, this large vehicle will come in two basic forms, a cargo variant for payloads, and a crew vehicle that can take humans to the Moon, Mars, or elsewhere.
Starship timelines are always aspirational, but SpaceX does move fast, and it has built a factory in South Texas that should allow for accelerated production. Although the company has learned a lot about human spaceflight from its Crew Dragon experience, developing a complex vehicle like Starship will still take time. Our estimate of four to eight years is a blend between optimistic SpaceX schedules and the magnitude of the challenge the company faces.
Dream Chaser (5-10 years)
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser was originally part of the pool of candidates NASA considered in the commercial crew program before the space agency opted for Dragon and Starliner. However, NASA is still funding a cargo variant of the vehicle to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The vehicle could make its first launch on a Vulcan rocket by the end of 2021 or in 2022.
Meanwhile, the company says it remains committed to developing a crew version of Dream Chaser. It is not clear whether NASA will fund this, as the space agency has its low-Earth needs accounted for with Dragon and Starliner. There is a lot of public desire to see a winged vehicle like Dream Chaser, which evokes memories of the space shuttle, enter service. But it is not clear there is a commercial or government customer to support it at this time.
Listing image by NASA TV
SpaceX Crew Dragon chalks up picture-perfect docking at International Space Station – CBS News
, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule caught up with the International Space Station early Sunday and glided in for a problem-free docking, bringing Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the outpost in SpaceX’s first piloted space flight.
The historic mission marks a major milestone in NASA’s push to end the agency’s sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for carrying astronauts to and from the lab complex, the first piloted launch to orbit by a privately owned and operated spacecraft since the dawn of the space age.
“Welcome to Bob and Doug,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said to the crew in a call from mission control at the Johnson Space Center. “The whole world saw this mission, and we are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world.”
“We sure appreciate that, sir,” Hurley replied, floating in the space station’s Harmony module, flanked by crewmate Behnken, space station commander Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
“It’s obviously been our honor to be just a small part of this,” he said. “We have to give credit to SpaceX, the Commercial Crew Program and, of course, NASA. It’s great to get the United States back in the crewed launch business, and we’re just really glad to be on board this magnificent complex.”
Following a picture-perfect climb to space Saturday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Hurley and Behnken monitored an automated rendezvous with the station Sunday, approaching the lab complex from behind and below.
Executing a precise series of thruster firings, the Crew Dragon looped up to a point directly in front of the station and lined up on the lab’s forward docking port, the same one once used by visiting space shuttles.
Hurley, a former Marine test pilot, briefly took over manual control, firing thrusters by tapping high-tech touch-screen cockpit displays to verify a crew’s ability to fly the spacecraft by hand if needed.
The ship’s flight computer than resumed the approach and the Crew Dragon’s docking mechanism engaged its counterpart on the space station at 10:16 a.m. ET, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. A few minutes later, the capsule was pulled in and locked in place by 12 motorized latches.
Cassidy, a former Navy SEAL, followed naval tradition and rang the ship’s bell aboard the station to announce the Crew Dragon’s arrival.
“Dragon, arriving,” he said. “The crew of Expedition 63 is honored to welcome Dragon and the Commercial Crew Program to … the International Space Station. Bob and Doug, glad to have you as part of the crew. Well done. Bravo zulu.”
“We here at SpaceX are honored to have been part of ushering in this new era of human spaceflight,” said Anna Menon, the spacecraft communicator at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, control center. “On behalf of the SpaceX and NASA partnership, congratulations on a phenomenal accomplishment. And welcome to the International Space Station.”
During the post-docking welcome aboard ceremony, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas asked the Crew Dragon astronauts “how does she handle?”
“It flew just like it was supposed to,” Hurley said. “We had a couple of opportunities to take it out for a spin, so to speak (flying manually), and my compliments to the folks back at Hawthorne and SpaceX for how well it flew. It’s exactly like the simulator, and we couldn’t be happier about the performance of the vehicle.”
Representative Brian Babin, a Texas Republican who represents the Johnson Space Center, asked the astronauts to describe their impressions of launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
Behnken, who flew twice aboard the space shuttle, recalled a fairly rough ride on the orbit while its two solid-fuel boosters were firing, but a smooth ascent after that with the shuttle’s three liquid-fueled engines.
He and Hurley expected the Falcon 9 ride to smooth out after the rocket’s first stage, powered by nine engines and generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust, was jettisoned about two-and-a-half minutes into flight. The Falcon’s second stage is powered by a single engine.
“We were surprised a little bit by how smooth things were off the pad,” Behnken said. “The space shuttle was a pretty rough ride heading into orbit with the solid rocket boosters, and our expectation was as we continued with (our) flight into second stage, that things would basically get a lot smoother than the space shuttle.
“But Dragon was huffin’ and puffin’ all the way into orbit, and we were definitely riding a Dragon all the way up,” he said. “So it was not quite the same ride, the smooth ride as the space shuttle was up to MECO [main engine cutoff], a little bit less Gs but a little bit more ‘alive’ is probably the best way I could describe it.”
The Crew Dragon is expected to remain docked to the station for six weeks to four months, allowing Behnken and Hurley to help Cassidy with a full slate of NASA and partner agency research and, possibly, with one or more spacewalks to install new solar array batteries and complete installation of a European experiment platform.
Cassidy said he looked forward to the help.
“We’ve got a few things to take care of tonight, make sure we’re all safe and we know the plan in case something bad happens,” he said, referring to a standard emergency briefing given to all newly arrived crew members.
“And then we’re looking forward to some operational stuff later in the month, maybe we’ll get outside and do some spacewalks. So we’re all super excited to have two more crewmates to the Expedition 63 team.”
NASA originally planned a short one-week to 10-day test flight for the first piloted Crew Dragon. But delays in the agency’s Commercial Crew Program and scaled-back production of Russian Soyuz spacecraft forced NASA to reduce the lab’s U.S. and partner agency crew to just one — Cassidy.
NASA managers are holding off on making a decision on when the Crew Dragon will return to Earth until they get a better idea of how atomic oxygen in the extreme upper atmosphere might affect the capsule’s solar cells.
No matter how that works out, engineers want time to thoroughly evaluate the capsule’s performance before proceeding with the first operational flight. NASA and SpaceX hope to launch that flight, carrying an international three-man one-woman crew, in the late August timeframe.
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