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Canada proposes to develop robotic lunar rover for Artemis



WASHINGTON — As Canada celebrates its first astronaut to go to the moon, it is starting a new project that could eventually enable a Canadian to walk on the lunar surface.

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen is among the members of the Artemis 2 crew announced April 3. Hansen, who will be making his first spaceflight, is slated to be the first non-American to travel to the vicinity of the moon when the mission launches as soon as late 2024.

Canada secured the seat on Artemis 2, as well as a later, unspecified Artemis mission to the lunar Gateway, from NASA in 2020 in exchange for providing the Canadarm3 robotic arm system for the Gateway. “It is not lost on any of us that the United States could choose to go back to the moon by themselves,” Hansen said in remarks at the ceremony where he and the other Artemis 2 astronauts were announced. “All of Canada is grateful for that global mindset and that leadership.”

He also credited Canada’s “can-do attitude” for the opportunity to fly on Artemis. “Thousands of Canadians have risen to that challenge to bring real value to that international partnership.”


François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister for innovation, science and industry, also emphasized that partnership at the event. ‘This is more than just about going back to the moon,” he said. “This is about investing in the future.”

“What’s most amazing for us is that Canada has a seat at the table,” he said in a later call with reporters. “This time we’re not going to watch history, we’re going to write history.”

Canada may be looking to get a bigger seat at that table. In the Canadian federal budget released March 28, the government announced its intent to spend $1.2 billion Canadian ($900 million) over 13 years, starting in 2024, to develop a “lunar utility vehicle” to support human exploration of the moon.

“Looking forward, humanity is returning to the moon,” the government stated in its budget announcement. “Canada intends to join these efforts by contributing a robotic lunar utility vehicle to perform key activities in support of human lunar exploration.”

The government, including the Canadian Space Agency, has disclosed few other details about the proposed vehicle. The announcement, though, has been welcomed by Canadian industry.

“The $1.2 billion investment towards a Canadian lunar utility vehicle sends a loud and important signal to the global commercial and government space community that Canada is open for business and intends to aggressively compete to secure our share of this advanced tech innovation market and the high-quality jobs it will create,” Mike Greenley, chief executive of MDA, said in a statement after the release of the budget.

Some have speculated that, by developing such a vehicle, Canada could offer it to NASA in exchange for additional seats on Artemis missions, including those landing on the moon. The European Space Agency, for example, recently backed development of a cargo lunar lander called Argonaut with the expectation that it will be able to offer it to NASA in exchange for additional seats on Artemis missions.

Asked about that possibility in the call, Champagne did not directly address it, but emphasized the strategic nature of Canada’s cooperation with the United States on Artemis. “We’re going to design, build and operate these rovers on the moon, and I can think of a number of dividends for Canadian companies” for doing so, he said.

“I think we have a privileged seat at the table with NASA,” he said. “Thanks to the work of the agency, we have inserted ourselves into the strategic supply chain and I think it bodes well for the future.”



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SpaceX mission returns from space station with ex-NASA astronaut, 3 paying customers – KCCU



A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida, late Tuesday.

The Crew Dragon capsule was seen as it streaked across the southeastern U.S. and made a sonic boom before it splashed into the water.

The nighttime return capped a nine-day mission that launched in a SpaceX Falcon rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked at the International Space Station in Earth’s orbit.


The four-person crew included former NASA veteran Peggy Whitson and three paying passengers, including pilot John Shoffner and two astronauts from the Saudi Space Commission, Ali al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi.

With Whitson’s return, she extended her record-setting time in space. She’s spent a cumulative 674 days in orbit – the most of any American or woman. She also moved into ninth overall for total duration, passing Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikin.

The team conducted medical research, public outreach and more than 20 experiments, such as how low levels of gravity can produce stem cells, which have the ability to create various other types of cells, and affect human messenger RNA cells, which assist protein synthesis.

This is Axiom Space’s second privately funded human mission to dock at the International Space Station. In April 2022, Axiom flew the first all-civilian mission to the International Space Station. That lasted 17 days, 15 of which were spent at the ISS.

Axiom says these flights help it to “continue to lay the groundwork” to eventually build and operate Axiom Station, which would be the world’s first commercial space station.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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Fearless raccoons could be more sick than brave –



If you spot a raccoon that seems unfazed by noise or human contact, it could be suffering from a disease called distemper.

Distemper is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory, digestive and nervous systems of animals — a disease that often proves fatal if left untreated and can also infect unvaccinated pets.

Londoner Linda MacKinnon spotted a raccoon acting strangely in her backyard and decided to call animal control.


“The raccoon was right in my husband’s work shed and was coming up on the deck,” said MacKinnon. “This little guy had no fear of anything.”

As the weekend approached, she said the raccoon became less coordinated and began walking around the yard in circles on shaky paws.

Be aware of the symptoms

There are several possible signs of distemper and those are just two of them, said Jamie Round who is the enforcement manager with the London Animal Care Centre.

“There can be a detached retina effect, where they have a green reflection in the eye,” he said. “They sometimes also drool uncontrollably.”

Round said distemper damages the animal’s organs and brains, which is why they have such abnormal behaviour. If it’s caught early enough, the animal can possibly be treated.

“They would make a determination based on what they’re seeing and we would also look to seek advice from wildlife rehabilitation centres,” said Round. 

Vaccination against the disease can keep pets safe, he added.

Euthanasia is the only option when the disease progresses

“Any canine can get it, so skunks, foxes, dogs, anything like that,” said David Loechner, a wildlife specialist with The Critter Guy.

It’s sometimes hard to notice the early stages of the disease and it spreads quickly, he added.

“It doesn’t even have to be direct contact,” said Loechner. “They just leave some blood or saliva behind and if something else comes in contact with that, then they can get it.”

When he gets a call from someone to pick up a sick raccoon, Loechner said people often mistake its symptoms for rabies.

“Rabies is almost nonexistent in Ontario. It’s pretty obvious when it’s distemper, especially in the final stages. Their eyes are all crusted over and they’re disorientated.”

David Loechner is a wildlife removal specialist with The Critter Guy based in Owen Sound. Among other animals, he’s had to capture many raccoons with distemper. (The Critter Guy)

If the disease progresses too far, all that can be done is humanely euthanize the animal.

“We use CO2. They just fall asleep and they’re out. Done. No pain, no suffering,” said Loechner.

In the last eight months, Loechner said he would get as many as four calls a day about raccoons with distemper outside of the city.

Linda MacKinnon said she’s thankful that the disease hadn’t progressed that far with the raccoon in her backyard.

“When animal control came, they said this guy was quite hefty,” she said. “So he probably hadn’t been sick all that long. It’s a terrible, terrible way to die.”

If you see a raccoon that looks sick, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society recommends contacting the London Humane Society or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Do not attempt to handle the animal.

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James Webb telescope: Icy moon Enceladus spews massive water plume – Yahoo Canada Shine On



The 500km-wide Saturnian moon is covered in ice

Astronomers have detected a huge plume of water vapour spurting out into space from Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn.

The 504km-wide (313 miles) moon is well known for its geysers, but this is a particularly big one.

The water stream spans some 9,600km – a distance equivalent to that of flying from the UK to Japan.


Scientists are fascinated by Enceladus because its sub-surface salty ocean – the source of the water – could hold the basic conditions to support life.

Nasa’s Cassini mission (2004-2017) gathered tantalising evidence of the necessary chemistry by regularly flying through the geysers and sampling the water with its instruments – although it made no direct detection of biology.

The new super-plume was spied by the James Webb Space Telescope. Previous observations had tracked vapour emissions extending for hundreds of kilometres, but this geyser is on a different scale.



The European Space Agency (Esa) calculated the rate at which the water was gushing out at about 300 litres per second. This would be sufficient to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just a few hours, Esa said.

Webb was able to map the plume’s properties using its extremely sensitive Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument.

The instrument showed how much of the ejected vapour (about 30%) feeds a fuzzy torus of water co-located with one of Saturn’s famous rings – its so-called E-ring.

“The temperature on the surface of Enceladus is minus 200 degrees Celsius. It’s freezing cold,” commented Prof Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

“But at the core of the moon, we think it’s hot enough to heat up this water. And that’s what’s causing these plumes to come out.

“We know deep in our own ocean on planet Earth, in these sort of conditions, life can survive. So that’s why we’re excited to see these big plumes at Enceladus. They will help us understand a bit more about what’s going on, and how likely it is that life could exist, but it’s not going to be life like you and me – it would be deep-sea bacteria,” she told the BBC.


Cassini imaged – and flew through – the jets of Enceladus

Scientists have proposed a Nasa mission called the Enceladus Orbilander that would try to resolve the open question about life.

As the name suggests, this mission would both orbit the moon to sample the geysers like Cassini did – but with more advanced technology – and then land to sample materials on the surface.

If ever approved, the Orbilander would not fly for several decades because of other priorities.

In the meantime, Nasa and Esa have probes heading to the ice-covered moons of Jupiter. These bodies also contain oceans of water at depth and could actually be better candidates in the search for extra-terrestrial life because they’re much larger in size.

It’s not known, for example, how long little Enceladus has held water in the all important liquid state to support biology; the moon may have been frozen solid for a substantial portion of the history of the Solar System, denting its life credentials.

In contrast, Jupiter’s bulkier moons, such as Europa (3,121km in diameter) and Ganymede (5,268km) have probably had the heat energy to maintain water in the liquid state over a much greater period of time.

A detailed write-up of the Webb observations of Enceladus will appear shortly in the journal Nature Astronomy. A pre-print is available here.

James WebbJames Webb

James Webb

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