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Chinese researchers propose transforming asteroids "Armageddon" with missiles – Aviation Analysis Wing

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A model of the Long March-5 Y5 rocket from China’s Chang’e-5 Mission lunar exploration program is displayed in an exhibit at the National Museum in Beijing, China, March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese researchers plan to send more than 20 of China’s largest rockets to practice diverting a large asteroid, a technique that could eventually prove important as the deadly rocks come on a collision course with Earth.

The idea is more than just science fiction. Sometime between late 2021 and early 2022, the United States will launch a robotic spacecraft to intercept two asteroids relatively close to Earth.

When it arrives a year later, NASA’s spacecraft will land on the smaller of the two rocky bodies to see how much the asteroid’s path has changed. It would be humanity’s first attempt to change the course of a celestial body.

At the National Space Center in China, researchers found in simulations that the simultaneous launch of 23 Long March 5 rockets could deflect a large asteroid from its original course by 1.4 times the radius of Earth.

Their calculations are based on an asteroid called Bennu, which orbits the sun and is about as wide as the Empire State Building. It belongs to a class of rocks that can cause regional or continental damage. Asteroids extending more than a kilometer long will have global impacts.

The Science Center cited a study recently published in Icarus, the journal of Planetary Science.

Long-range Mars 5 missiles are central to China’s short-term aviation ambitions — from supplying space station modules to launching sensors to the moon and Mars. China has successfully launched six Long March 5 missiles since 2016, the last of which has caused some security concerns. The remains were released back into the atmosphere in May.

“The proposal to keep the upper stage of a launcher on a conductive spacecraft and to have a ‘large kinetic collider’ deflecting an asteroid is a rather fascinating concept,” said Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Center.

“By increasing the mass hitting the asteroid, simple physics should have a much greater impact,” Fitzsimmons told Reuters, though he added that the actual workings of such a mission needed to be studied in more detail.

Professor Gareth Collins of Imperial College London said current estimates show there is a 1% chance that a 100-meter-wide asteroid will hit Earth in the next 100 years.

“Something the size of a Bennu collision is 10 times less likely,” Collins said.

Scientists say changing the asteroid’s path is less dangerous than blasting the rock with nuclear explosives, which can create smaller fragments without changing its course.

(Reporting by Ryan Wu). Additional reporting by Liangping Zhao. Editing by Jerry Doyle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Boeing's Starliner ready for crucial do-over launch to space station – CBC.ca

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Boeing Co’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is poised to blast off on Tuesday from Florida’s Cape Canaveral bound for the International Space Station in a crucial do-over test flight following a near-catastrophic failure during its 2019 debut.

Tuesday’s planned uncrewed mission is a precursor to a closely watched crewed flight potentially to be conducted before the end of the year. It also marks a key trial for the U.S. aerospace giant after back-to-back crises — a pandemic that crushed demand for new planes and a safety scandal caused by two fatal 737 MAX crashes — that have damaged Boeing’s finances and engineering reputation.

If all goes according to plan, the Starliner capsule loaded with supplies will blast off atop an Atlas V rocket flown by the United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, at 1:20 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Live coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET.

The launch had been planned for last Friday, but was postponed by NASA after the space station was briefly thrown out of control with seven crew members aboard, a mishap caused by the inadvertent reignition of jet thrusters on a newly docked Russian service module. Russia’s space agency blamed a software glitch.

The test flight is a do-over after a series of software glitches during the December 2019 debut launch resulted in its failure to dock at the orbital laboratory outpost. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)

Atlas V’s dual Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 engines are poised to shoot Starliner on a 181 kilometre suborbital trajectory before the capsule separates and flies under its own power to the space station in a roughly 24-hour overall journey.

The Starliner capsule headlined Boeing’s efforts against billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX to be the first to return NASA astronauts to the space station from U.S. soil in nearly a decade.

But a series of software glitches during the December 2019 debut launch resulted in its failure to dock at the orbital laboratory outpost. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has gone on to launch three crewed space station missions since 2020, with a fourth slated as early as Oct. 31, according to NASA.

Boeing has spent a year and a half correcting issues flagged during NASA reviews, part of the U.S. space agency’s strategy to ensure access to the sprawling international research satellite some 400 kilometres above Earth.

NASA in 2014 awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to build their own capsules that could fly American astronauts to the space station in an effort to wean the United States off its dependence on Russia’s Soyuz vehicles for rides to space following the end of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011.

If all goes well, Boeing will bring the capsule home on Aug. 9, and then attempt the follow-on crewed mission that the company has said will take place no earlier than December.

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One of the brightest meteor showers of the year is set to dazzle Vancouver skies – Vancouver Is Awesome

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If you live for awe-inspiring celestial spectacles, you won’t want to miss this month’s meteor shower extraordinaire. 

The Perseid meteor shower never fails to offer numerous, bright shooting stars for a breathtaking summer display. Best of all, the Perseid shower is one of the easiest to view from the Northern Hemisphere.  

Each year, the Perseids are viewable as Earth passes through “the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17 to Aug. 24,” explains Space.com

The shower will peak on Aug.12 and Aug. 13. When the sky is darkest — in the darkest hours after midnight — up to “50 to 80 meteors per hour can streak across the sky,” according to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). And in the nights leading up to the peak, an increasing number of shooting stars will become visible, too. 

Where the shower got its name 

The Perseid meteors “appear to fall” from the constellation Perseus, notes the CSA. Additionally, the constellation is at its highest point in the sky right before dawn when the most shooting stars are visible. 

Greek mythological hero Perseus defeated Medusa by using a reflective shield to “turn her powers against her.”

Photo via Canadian Space Agency

Meteor hunting tips in Metro Vancouver 

To fully enjoy the spectacle, here are a few tips for meteor hunting:

  • If possible, head away from city lights, which make it hard to see fainter meteors. To increase your chances of seeing shooting stars, set out in search of dark skies in the countryside.
  • If you need to use a flashlight, place a red filter over the bulb (a red balloon will do in a bind). White light is very blinding and may affect your night vision.
  • Dress warmly. Even though the Perseids occur in the summertime, it is still a good idea to bring warm (even winter) clothes. August nights can be very chilly.
  • Sit back and relax on a reclining chair or lie down on a blanket. Not only is it much more comfortable to observe the stars lying down, but you’ll also see more that way.
  • Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee—it will come in handy if you start to drift off or get a little chilly!
  • Be patient. It might take a while before you see your first shooting star. Don’t be quick to give up… It’s worth the wait!

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A Grand Meteor Shower – Wawa-news.com – Wawa-news.com

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photo courtesy – Pierre Martin

Over the past few weeks, you have probably noticed a few meteors or “shoot stars” at night. You are witnessing one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway from July 14 to August 14. The best time to see the most meteors will be on the night of August 12 and into the morning hours of the 13. This year the crescent moon sets around 10:30 p.m. local time leaving us with a dark sky. By contrast, next year’s Perseids takes place under a full moon, drastically reducing the hourly rate.

If you have the chance to observe from dark skies absent of any stray lights, enjoy the band of our Milky Way Galaxy as this collective glow of billions of distant stars stretches from Sagittarius in the south to Cassiopeia in the northeast. Also, brilliant planets Jupiter and Saturn to Jupiter’s right will be out all night long to keep you company. There are unmistakable and located to the left of Sagittarius.

The peak of the Perseids produces about 90 meteors per hour but occurs late afternoon in daylight on the 12th. Towards the end of the night when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky around 3 a.m. we should still see from 50 to 60 meteors striking the atmosphere at 59 km/sec or 36 mi/sec. A higher number of bright fireballs may be seen on nights before the peak rather than nights after. The friction of comet debris causes the “flash” or “streak” which safely vaporize about 80 km high in the atmosphere with no chance of meteorites hitting the ground.

The parent comet is named Swift-Tuttle, a 26 km or 16 mi wide mountain of ice, dust and gravel that last appeared in 1992 in its 133-year orbit around the sun. It will return in the year 2125, replenishing a fresh path of comet debris ejected from the comet’s surface as it gets close to the sun. Here is where the solar radiation interacts with the comet, causing volatile material to vaporize and create the comet’s coma or cometary fog measuring close to 100,000 kilometres wide around the smaller nucleus. A dust tail forms as debris is blown off the comet’s surface much like confetti blowing off the back of a truck on the highway. As Swift-Tuttle retreated from the sun’s warming effects and back to the outer solar system, it faded away becoming a dark mountain once again only to be awakened by the sun upon its return.

The new comet dust lingers in space until Earth plows through the debris field in its yearly orbit around the sun, much like crossing the finish line of a race. This is why the Perseids and other known meteor showers occur at the same time each year. So gather a few friends and/or family members, set up chairs, bring snacks and take advantage of warm moonless conditions to view this epic display. Look up at the stars, listen to the crickets and frogs and let nature bring a sense of calm over you.

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been interviewed on more than 50 Canadian radio stations and local Ottawa TV. In recognition of his public outreach in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union has honoured him with the naming of Asteroid (22406) Garyboyle. Follow him on Twitter: @astroeducator or his website: www.wondersofastronomy.com

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