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Canada signs on to new rulebook for exploring the moon: no fighting and no secrets – Fort Saskatchewan Record

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Eight nations have signed on to a protocol for international cooperation when it comes to exploring the planet

International cooperation on travel to the moon got a new rulebook on Tuesday, and Canada is on board.

U.S. space agency NASA’s moon-focused Artemis program, announced more than a year ago, has now seen eight nations sign on to a protocol for international cooperation when it comes to exploring the planet.

The new rules, named the Artemis Accords, lay down a code for signatory members which include Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the U.S.

The signing was made during the International Astronautical Congress, but Russia has not yet signed on, with CNN reporting that a Kremlin official said they feel the accords are still too “U.S.-centric.”

The new accords, according to a NASA release, “establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.”

NASA launched the Artemis program last year to much fanfare. Its stated goals include sending the first woman (and next man) to the moon by 2024, hence its name (in Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin sister of the god Apollo).

NASA said in a release Tuesday that partnerships like the ones enshrined in the Artemis accords will make its desired achievements easier. The accords, NASA says, reinforce the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which governs nations involved in space exploration.

Canadian Space Agency president Lisa Campbell welcomed the accords but said more work needs to be done to tighten space regulations. She called the accords “an important achievement for safe and sustainable space exploration.”


The pink supermoon rises behind the Sacre-Coeur du Horn statue depicting the Christ figure during Holly Week in Wolxheim, near Strasbourg, France April 7, 2020.

Christian Hartmann/REUTERS

“More work is needed to further solidify the framework for deep-space exploration activities, both nationally and internationally,” she added in a statement.

Among the key things the new accords will look to uphold are Peaceful Exploration, meaning no in-fighting among partner nations; Transparency, to avoid such confusion and conflict; Interoperability, which will see partner countries use systems that can work interchangeably to ensure greater safety; Emergency Assistance, which will see partners give help to partner personnel in danger; and the Release of Scientific Data, meaning signatory countries promise to tell the world what they’ve found.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement.

“With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”

“Fundamentally, the Artemis Accords will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions,” Mike Gold, NASA acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said.

“Transparency, public registration, deconflicting operations – these are the principles that will preserve peace. The Artemis journey is to the Moon, but the destination of the Accords is a peaceful and prosperous future.”

— with files from the Canadian Press

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Rare 'blue moon' to appear on Halloween this year – North Shore News

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The year 2020 has brought many surprises and this year’s Halloween is no different.

A rare “blue full moon” will be appearing on Halloween night this year.

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While the moon will not look blue, the term “blue moon” is given when two full moons appear in a single month.

A full moon on Halloween occurs roughly once every 19 years – a pattern known as the Metonic Cycle.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanc, the cycle is uncommon and happens on average every two and a half to three years with the last time two full moons appearing in the same month in 2018.

The next illuminated Halloween full moon, says astronomers, after 2020 will be in the 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.

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Rare 'blue moon' to appear on Halloween this year – The Tri-City News

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The year 2020 has brought many surprises and this year’s Halloween is no different.

A rare “blue full moon” will be appearing on Halloween night this year.

article continues below

While the moon will not look blue, the term “blue moon” is given when two full moons appear in a single month.

A full moon on Halloween occurs roughly once every 19 years – a pattern known as the Metonic Cycle.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanc, the cycle is uncommon and happens on average every two and a half to three years with the last time two full moons appearing in the same month in 2018.

The next illuminated Halloween full moon, says astronomers, after 2020 will be in the 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx grabs rocks from asteroid in historic mission – Al Jazeera English

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A NASA spacecraft touched down on the rugged surface of the Bennu asteroid on Tuesday, grabbing a sample of rocks dating back to the birth of the solar system to bring home.

It was a first for the United States – only Japan has previously secured asteroid samples.

The so-called “Touch-And-Go” manoeuvre was managed by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, where at 6.12pm (22:12 GMT) on Tuesday an announcer said: “Touchdown declared. Sampling is in progress,” and scientists erupted in celebration.

Seconds later, the Lockheed mission operator Estelle Church confirmed the spacecraft had eased away from the space rock after making contact, announcing: “Sample collection is complete and the back-away burn has executed.”

The historic mission was 12 years in the making and rested on a critical 16-second period where the minivan-sized OSIRIS-REx spacecraft extended its 11-foot (3.35-metre) robotic arm towards a flat patch of gravel near Bennu’s north pole and plucked the sample of rocks – NASA’s first handful of pristine asteroid rocks.

The probe will send back images of the sample collection on Wednesday and throughout the week so scientists can examine how much material was retrieved and determine whether the probe will need to make another collection attempt.

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu was composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on December 2, 2018 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km) [NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Handout via Reuters]

Scientists want at least 2 ounces (60 grams) and, ideally, closer to 4 pounds (2 kilogrammes) of Bennu’s black, crumbly, carbon-rich material – thought to contain the building blocks of the solar system. The asteroid is located more than 200 million miles (321.9 million kms) from Earth.

NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, likened Bennu to the Rosetta Stone: “Something that’s out there and tells the history of our entire Earth, of the solar system, during the last billions of years.”

‘Exactly perfect’

If a successful collection is confirmed, the spacecraft will begin its journey back towards Earth, arriving in 2023.

“Everything went just exactly perfect,” Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator from the University of Arizona, Tucson, said on a NASA live feed from Lockheed’s mission support building. “We have overcome the amazing challenges that this asteroid has thrown at us, and the spacecraft appears to have operated flawlessly.”

The robotic arm’s collection device, shaped like an oversized shower head, is designed to release pressurised gas to kick up debris.

The spacecraft launched in 2016 from Kennedy Space Center for the journey to Bennu. It has been in orbit around the asteroid for nearly two years preparing for the Touch and Go manoeuvre.

Bennu, which is more than 4.5 billion years old, was selected as a target because scientists believe it is a small fragment of what was once a much larger space rock that broke off during a collision between two asteroids early on in the history of the solar system.

“Asteroids are like time capsules floating in space that can provide a fossil record of the birth of our solar system,” Lori Glaze, NASA’s director of Planetary Science, told Al Jazeera. “They can provide valuable information about how planets, like our own, came to be.”

Thanks to data collected from orbit, the NASA team has determined two key discoveries: first, that between 5 and 10 percent of Bennu’s mass is water, and second, that its surface is littered with carbon-rich molecules. Atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could help scientists better understand what role asteroids played in bringing water to the Earth and seeding it with the prebiotic material that provided the building blocks for life.

Studying that material could also help scientists discover whether life exists elsewhere in the solar system, as well.

“If this kind of chemistry is happening in the early solar system, it probably happened in other solar systems as well,” Lauretta, OSIRIS-Rex’s principal investigator, told Al Jazeera in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s breakthrough. “It helps us assess the likelihood of the origin of life occurring throughout the galaxy and, ultimately, throughout the universe.”

Japan expects samples from its second asteroid mission – in the milligramMEs at most – to land in the Australian desert in December.

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