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DECADE IN REVIEW: The top 10 Space stories of the past 10 years – Yahoo News Canada

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DECADE IN REVIEW: The top 10 Space stories of the past 10 years
DECADE IN REVIEW: The top 10 Space stories of the past 10 yearsDECADE IN REVIEW: The top 10 Space stories of the past 10 years

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DECADE IN REVIEW: The top 10 Space stories of the past 10 years

The turn of the decade is upon us, and looking back of the past 10 years, there have been so many amazing achievements in space exploration and so many incredible astronomical events.

Actually ranking these on any sort of scale, to find out which is the best of all, would be difficult, to say the least. Instead, here are the top 10 space stories of the past decade, in chronological order.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="NASA LANDS A NUCLEAR-POWERED ROBOT ON MARS” data-reactid=”53″>NASA LANDS A NUCLEAR-POWERED ROBOT ON MARS

On the night of August 5-6, 2012, we all watched as a few dozen NASA scientists and engineers jumped up and down, high-fived, cheered and hugged, as their latest Mars rover, Curiosity (aka the Mars Science Laboratory), confirmed that it had successfully set down on the surface of the Red Planet.

Curiosity-first-selfie-Sept-2012-NASA-JPL-CaltechCuriosity-first-selfie-Sept-2012-NASA-JPL-Caltech

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This very first ‘selfie’ image by Curiosity was taken on September 7, 2012, a month after the rover touched down on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech” data-reactid=”75″>This very first ‘selfie’ image by Curiosity was taken on September 7, 2012, a month after the rover touched down on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA had tried some gutsy landings on Mars before, from the powered descents of the Viking and Phoenix landers, to the air-bag-assisted bounce-and-roll touchdowns of Pathfinder and the Opportunity and Spirit rovers.

By comparison, Curiosity’s landing was over the top, though! Due to the mass of this car-sized rover, it required a brand new, never-before-tried method of touchdown. The absolute perfect timing and coordination of this landing – which the computer had to perform all on its own, with no guidance at all from Earth during the whole process – had the entire NASA team, as well as everyone watching, on the edge of their seats.

This nail-biting maneuver was nicknamed Curiosity’s “Seven Minutes of Terror”.

Not only did this landing succeed, but it only took Curiosity roughly seven months to complete its primary mission on Mars! In March of 2013, NASA scientists reported that the rover had discovered evidence in clay samples that the planet once had conditions that could have supported microbial life!

Curiosity-rover-Glen-Etive-pia23378-16-NASACuriosity-rover-Glen-Etive-pia23378-16-NASA

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Curiosity snapped this full-rover selfie panorama on October 11, 2019, at the location on the slopes of Mt Sharp nicknamed "Glen Etive." Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS” data-reactid=”104″>Curiosity snapped this full-rover selfie panorama on October 11, 2019, at the location on the slopes of Mt Sharp nicknamed “Glen Etive.” Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Curiosity continues to explore Gale Crater, to this day, making the slow climb towards the summit of Mount Sharp in its quest for more scientific discoveries!” data-reactid=”105″>Curiosity continues to explore Gale Crater, to this day, making the slow climb towards the summit of Mount Sharp in its quest for more scientific discoveries!

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="HUMANITY’S FIRST INTERSTELLAR SPACECRAFT” data-reactid=”106″>HUMANITY’S FIRST INTERSTELLAR SPACECRAFT

Humans have launched plenty of spacecraft, sending them to explore planets, moons, comets and asteroids… even the Sun! Until August 25, 2012, though, every one of those spacecraft had only been in interplanetary space, inside the sphere of influence of our Sun.

On that date, the Voyager 1 probe, after flying away from the Sun for nearly 35 years, became the very first spacecraft to leave the heliosphere, and enter interstellar space!

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This artist rendition of the Voyager 1 spacecraft shows it entering the interstellar medium. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech” data-reactid=”129″>This artist rendition of the Voyager 1 spacecraft shows it entering the interstellar medium. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Even after 40 years now in space, Voyager 1 is still sending back data, telling us what it’s like beyond the heliosphere, and it was joined there by its twin, Voyager 2, as of November 5, 2018.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="FIRST LANDING ON A COMET” data-reactid=”131″>FIRST LANDING ON A COMET

NASA is not the only space agency trying for gutsy landings over the past decade. Back in November of 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft released its tiny lander, named Philae, for the very first landing attempt on the surface of a comet!

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as imaged by the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft on July 7, 2015. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM” data-reactid=”153″>Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as imaged by the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft on July 7, 2015. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Now, everything did not go entirely according to plan on this attempt. As Philae touched down, it was supposed to fire a pair of harpoons from its underside, which were to embed into the icy surface to secure the lander in place. Unfortunately, the harpoons did not deploy properly, and Philae ended up bouncing across the surface for several kilometres, coming to rest in a dark crevase.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="While the mission team got three days of data out of Philae, which allowed them to perform some of the tests the lander was responsible for, the lack of sunlight at its location resulted in it shutting down. It took nearly two years for them to track down Philae’s final resting place in Rosetta’s surface imagery.” data-reactid=”155″>While the mission team got three days of data out of Philae, which allowed them to perform some of the tests the lander was responsible for, the lack of sunlight at its location resulted in it shutting down. It took nearly two years for them to track down Philae’s final resting place in Rosetta’s surface imagery.

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Philae found pillars

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Philae’s location is shown in these three images. The left image shows the craggly terrain the lander became stuck in, with the small inset to the lower right showing a close-up of Philae. To the upper right, the red dot indicates where on Comet 67P this is. Credits: Main image and lander inset: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; context: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam” data-reactid=”176″>Philae’s location is shown in these three images. The left image shows the craggly terrain the lander became stuck in, with the small inset to the lower right showing a close-up of Philae. To the upper right, the red dot indicates where on Comet 67P this is. Credits: Main image and lander inset: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; context: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="FINALLY SEEING PLUTO” data-reactid=”177″>FINALLY SEEING PLUTO

Pluto was first discovered in 1930, when astronomer Clyde Tombaugh spotted it as a tiny moving dot using the telescope at the Lowell Observatory. It took until 1996, with the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, for us to get a better look at this distant world, but even that only showed us a small blurry circle.

On July 14, 2015, however, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, after a ten-year journey into the outer solar system, finally gave us a close-up look at this distant world!

NewHorizons-Pluto-Charon-NASA-JHUAPL-SwRINewHorizons-Pluto-Charon-NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Images of Pluto (lower right) and its largest moon Charon (upper left) taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. In these enhanced colour photographs, Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI” data-reactid=”200″>Images of Pluto (lower right) and its largest moon Charon (upper left) taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. In these enhanced colour photographs, Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The encounter was a brief one, due New Horizon’s incredible speed making it impossible to slow down and fall into an orbit around the Pluto-Charon system. The number of images snapped of both objects, and the other four tiny moons in the system, scientists will still be studying them all for years to come. There has even been talk, recently, of sending a new mission that would actually stop and explore there, further!

New-Horizons-Blue-Skies-on-PlutoNew-Horizons-Blue-Skies-on-Pluto

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Post flyby, New Horizons turned around and pointed its cameras at the dark side of Pluto, capturing its back-lit atmosphere. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI” data-reactid=”222″>Post flyby, New Horizons turned around and pointed its cameras at the dark side of Pluto, capturing its back-lit atmosphere. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="AN OCEAN UNDER ENCELADUS’ ICY CRUST” data-reactid=”223″>AN OCEAN UNDER ENCELADUS’ ICY CRUST

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spent 13 years at Saturn, snapping images of the planet, its rings and its numerous moons. On September 15, 2015, roughly two years before the end of its mission, NASA made a remarkable announcement.

Based on the data and pictures Cassini had sent back to Earth, scientists had determined that there was a global ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, trapped under a kilometres-thick crust of ice.

Cassini-Enceladus-global-subsurface-ocean-NASA-JPL-Caltech-PIA19656-16Cassini-Enceladus-global-subsurface-ocean-NASA-JPL-Caltech-PIA19656-16

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Illustration of the interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus showing a global liquid water ocean between its rocky core and icy crust. Thickness of layers shown here is not to scale. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech” data-reactid=”246″>Illustration of the interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus showing a global liquid water ocean between its rocky core and icy crust. Thickness of layers shown here is not to scale. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Why is this so important?

If there’s a global ocean of liquid water under the surface of Enceladus, it is likely kept warm due to ‘tidal heating’ of the moon, as Saturn’s gravity causes the rocky core to squeeze and stretch on each orbit. Plus, Cassini flew straight through the plumes of water vapour that are ejected from Enceladus’ south pole, and it detected organic molecules.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s life there – ‘organic’ molecules are simply ones that contain carbon atoms – but subsequent studies found that there could be enough nutrients and energy in Enceladus’ ocean to support life.

That potentially makes this icy Saturnian moon one of the most likely places for us to find alien life!

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="THE AGE OF REUSABLE ROCKETS BEGINS!” data-reactid=”251″>THE AGE OF REUSABLE ROCKETS BEGINS!

Classic 1950s sci-fi movies had some laughable plots and special effects compared to what we see now, but they certainly got one thing right! In the future, we would have rockets that could blast off, make a vertical landing back on Earth, and then be able to take off again for the next mission.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX made this a reality on December 21, 2015, when their Falcon 9 booster rocket made a successful vertical landing at Cape Canaveral, after lifting nearly a dozen satellites into orbit.

That particular rocket booster has not made another trip into space, as it currently adorns the front lot of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., but several Falcon 9 rocket boosters have now made multiple trips to space and back. Currently, SpaceX has four Falcon 9s that have launched and landed three times, so far (one of which is waiting for its fourth mission, scheduled in January of 2020). Another booster has already made its fourth successful trip to orbit and back, on November 11, 2019, and presumably will be capable of more.

All of this reusability is bringing down the cost of launching missions into space. It will still be some time before the costs come down enough for anyone to make the trip, but we are definitely on the way.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RIPPLES IN THE FABRIC OF SPACETIME” data-reactid=”257″>RIPPLES IN THE FABRIC OF SPACETIME

For years, scientists and engineers have been trying to open up a new branch of astronomy, one that would detect some of the most extreme events in our universe.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On February 11, 2016, astronomers working with two special observatories here on Earth reported that they had finally made their very first detection of gravitational waves.” data-reactid=”259″>On February 11, 2016, astronomers working with two special observatories here on Earth reported that they had finally made their very first detection of gravitational waves.

Very similar to how ripples move along the surface of a pond after a pebble is dropped into the water, gravitational waves are ripples in the very fabric of spacetime. Since you can’t simply ‘drop’ something into space, though, these spacetime ripples form during extreme events, such as when black holes and neutron stars merge with each other.

It was nearly five months earlier, on September 14, 2015, that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and the Virgo gravitational wave interferometer in Italy, actually detected the spacetime ripples as they swept past Earth. It took those five months to actually confirm that what the astronomers saw was an actual real signal of gravitational waves, and to trace the ripples back to their source.

They determined that the event that caused the ripples was two massive black holes spiraling in towards each other and then finally merging.

It is estimated that these two black holes, which measured as 35 and 30 times the mass of the Sun, respectively, merged around 1.4 billion light years away from us (in another galaxy).

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Since that first detection, LIGO and Virgo have picked up 10 more gravitational wave events (including the amazing Kilonova event in 2017), and there is a longer list of candidates that astronomers are working to confirm!” data-reactid=”265″>Since that first detection, LIGO and Virgo have picked up 10 more gravitational wave events (including the amazing Kilonova event in 2017), and there is a longer list of candidates that astronomers are working to confirm!

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="THE BEST SOLAR ECLIPSE” data-reactid=”266″>THE BEST SOLAR ECLIPSE

On August 21, 2017, we witnessed the best solar eclipse of the decade, as the Moon’s shadow passed directly over North America.

GreatAmericanSolarEclipse2017-NASAGreatAmericanSolarEclipse2017-NASA

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A map of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse path of totality, across the United States. The various crescents represent how much of the eclipse was seen from different locations away from the path of totality. Credit: NASA GSVS” data-reactid=”288″>A map of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse path of totality, across the United States. The various crescents represent how much of the eclipse was seen from different locations away from the path of totality. Credit: NASA GSVS

The views from the eclipse’s ‘path of totality’ were absolutely breathtaking.

Another solar eclipse this good, at least for those of us in Canada and the United States, won’t happen until April 8, 2024, with an annular eclipse passing over the US Southwest in October of 2023.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="FIRST VISITOR FROM INTERSTELLAR SPACE” data-reactid=”291″>FIRST VISITOR FROM INTERSTELLAR SPACE

Scientists have speculated for years that objects from beyond our solar system could be flying right past us, all the time, and we just didn’t have the technology to see them.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="That changed on October 26, 2017, when telescopes spotted object 2017 U1, which appeared to be an asteroid travelling so fast through our solar system that there's no way that it could be from around here. It was the very first detected interstellar object – an asteroid or comet that originated in an alien solar system and was somehow ejected out into the galaxy, millions of years ago.” data-reactid=”293″>That changed on October 26, 2017, when telescopes spotted object 2017 U1, which appeared to be an asteroid travelling so fast through our solar system that there’s no way that it could be from around here. It was the very first detected interstellar object – an asteroid or comet that originated in an alien solar system and was somehow ejected out into the galaxy, millions of years ago.

Renamed 1I/2017 U1, to designate it as the first interstellar object, it was also given a nickname – ʻOumuamua, which roughly translates to “first distant messenger” from the Hawaiian language.

Interstellar-asteroid-Oumuamua-eso1737aInterstellar-asteroid-Oumuamua-eso1737a

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Interstellar asteroid(?) ‘Oumuamua is pictured here in this artist’s impression. It was found to be long, thin and probably flat, with a similar shape to a skipping stone. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser” data-reactid=”315″>Interstellar asteroid(?) ‘Oumuamua is pictured here in this artist’s impression. It was found to be long, thin and probably flat, with a similar shape to a skipping stone. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Searching for its point of origin, astronomers showed that, most likely, ‘Oumuamua had traversed a good portion of the galaxy to reach us, and possibly even circled the galaxy a few times in the process.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="'Oumuamua was weird, too! Based on the reflected sunlight astronomers picked up from it, the best fit for ‘Oumuamua’s shape seemed to be that of a flat disk, kind of like a rough-edged skipping stone. Who knows what interactions it went through, during its formation or on its long journey to meet us, to produce that shape? It also was observed to change speed and direction, ever so slightly, as it was heading away from the Sun! Comets are known to do this, due to gases ejected from the nucleus, but no such activity was observed from ‘Oumuamua. This fact had one astronomer speculating that it may not have been a natural object, but instead it could have been an alien solar sail!” data-reactid=”317″>’Oumuamua was weird, too! Based on the reflected sunlight astronomers picked up from it, the best fit for ‘Oumuamua’s shape seemed to be that of a flat disk, kind of like a rough-edged skipping stone. Who knows what interactions it went through, during its formation or on its long journey to meet us, to produce that shape? It also was observed to change speed and direction, ever so slightly, as it was heading away from the Sun! Comets are known to do this, due to gases ejected from the nucleus, but no such activity was observed from ‘Oumuamua. This fact had one astronomer speculating that it may not have been a natural object, but instead it could have been an alien solar sail!

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Unfortunately, we'll never know exactly what 'Oumuamua was, or exactly where it originated. Since its discovery, though, astronomers have also spotted a second interstellar object, and this one is obviously a comet!” data-reactid=”318″>Unfortunately, we’ll never know exactly what ‘Oumuamua was, or exactly where it originated. Since its discovery, though, astronomers have also spotted a second interstellar object, and this one is obviously a comet!

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="FIRST IMAGE OF A BLACK HOLE” data-reactid=”319″>FIRST IMAGE OF A BLACK HOLE

When the most massive stars in the universe reach the end of their ‘lifespan’, they die rather spectacularly. Their outer layers are blown off in an explosion known as a ‘supernova’, leaving behind a dense core of matter that crushes down from the width of our Sun to a single point in space, all within the blink of an eye. The gravity near this stellar remnant is so strong that once you get close enough – the object’s ‘event horizon’ – there is no escape. Not even light can travel fast enough to break away (and that’s the fastest speed in the universe).

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser/N. Bartmann” data-reactid=”341″>This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser/N. Bartmann

So, with light unable to escape, it’s understandably difficult to actually see a black hole. Up until 2019, astronomers could only ‘see’ them indirectly. They could detect radiation emitted by matter spiralling around the black hole, or they could see how the black hole’s gravity affected objects around it (such as other stars).

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On April 10, 2019, though, astronomers working with the Event Horizon Telescope project gave us what amounts to the closest we'll ever get to actually seeing a black hole.” data-reactid=”343″>On April 10, 2019, though, astronomers working with the Event Horizon Telescope project gave us what amounts to the closest we’ll ever get to actually seeing a black hole.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This first-ever image of a black hole, captured using the Event Horizon Telescope, shows the supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of the galaxy M87. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration” data-reactid=”364″>This first-ever image of a black hole, captured using the Event Horizon Telescope, shows the supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of the galaxy M87. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

What we’re seeing in the above image is the glowing disk of plasma that is spiralling around the supermassive black hole that lies at the heart of galaxy M87, located around 53 million light years away in the constellation Virgo. The dark region in the middle is the shadow cast on that plasma by the black hole’s event horizon. The event horizon, itself, is roughly 2.5 times smaller, located in the core of that shadow.

One of the most amazing things about this discovery? Astronomers had to essentially use a radio telescope as big as the Earth, to accomplish it!

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: JUST HOW BIG IS A BLACK HOLE?” data-reactid=”367″>RELATED: JUST HOW BIG IS A BLACK HOLE?

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Seaspan plan to expand North Van dry dock ruffles its waterfront neighbours – Vancouver Sun

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Seaspan’s plans to consolidate its ship repair business at Vancouver Drydock is running into opposition from its residential neighbours.

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Seaspan Shipbuilding is outgrowing its operations on the North Shore, but the company’s plans to expand its companion Vancouver Drydock is colliding with concerns of the residential neighbourhood that has grown up around the century-old industrial waterfront.

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Building new ships for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy was absorbing Seaspan’s capacity to repair ships at its main shipyard at the end of Pemberton Avenue, said company spokeswoman Kris Neely.

Neely said the company has been thinking about expanding for awhile, as part of a vision to create a “multi generational business.”

“As part of that, we’re consolidating our repair and maintenance services out of Vancouver Drydock and then being able to focus on shipbuilding efforts at our Vancouver Shipyard.”

Their plan is to push Seaspan’s existing dry dock facilities on the Lower Lonsdale waterfront 40 metres further into Burrard Inlet, then ask the Port of Vancouver to extend its water lot lease 40 metres to the west in order to add three smaller dry docks.

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Seaspan submitted an application for a review of the plan to the port in April. That federal authority deemed the application complete on June 21, opening up a public comment period. That included virtual public meetings July 13 and 15, and ends July 30.

Many of the comments from residents of condo towers that face the proposed expansion have expressed opposition to allowing Seaspan’s migration west when it has space to the east of its existing docks that is already within its lease.

It isn’t just a matter of views being blocked by new facilities jutting out in front of condos, said resident Al Parsons. Residents are concerned about the impact of additional noise and pollution, including tug boats operating in the waters in front of Shipyard Commons, the bustling commercial district and public space with its waterfront trail and a playground.

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“We knew Seaspan was our neighbour when we moved in,” Parsons said. “What we didn’t know was that they were going to continue to move westward and, I think, impose themselves on the (waterfront) Spirit Trail.

“It has walkers, joggers, cyclists, there’s a playground that was built for kids, which is going to be right beside this expansion.”

Parsons said residents aren’t opposed to the idea of expansion and support an initiative that Seaspan says would create 100 jobs, but don’t like there wasn’t any consultation before the company submitted its application.

And they are pushing back against a possible westward expansion, unless Seaspan proves it cannot expand east within their existing lease.

The City of North Vancouver is working on a response to Seaspan’s proposal, but would like to see the public comment period extended and all resident and business concerns taken into consideration.

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“I understand the concerns and share many of them,” Mayor Linda Buchanan said in a statement. “This project will bring more family-supporting jobs to the community, but the quality of life of residents needs to be a priority as well.”

Neely said Seaspan did look at other options for this expansion, but siting the new dry docks on the east side of its operations would block water access to a fabrication shop on the site that builds components for new vessels at Vancouver Shipyards.

However, Parsons argued that the east side is perhaps more inconvenient for Seaspan, which would be free to use the east side of its property for other purposes if it were granted a westward expansion.

“I know the water lot is deemed industrial but, frankly, Seaspan is pushing too hard on this neighbourhood that a lot of people contribute tax dollars to support annually.”

depenner@postmedia.com

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NASA selects SpaceX for mission to Jupiter moon Europa – Jakarta Post

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NASA on Friday said it had selected SpaceX to launch a planned voyage to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, a huge win for Elon Musk’s company as it sets its sights deeper into the solar system.

The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the total contract worth $178 million.

The mission was previously supposed to take off on NASA’s own Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, with critics calling it a “jobs program” for the state of Alabama where much of the development work is taking place.

While SLS isn’t yet operational, Falcon Heavy has deployed on both commercial and government missions since its maiden flight in 2018 when it carried Musk’s own Tesla Roadster into space.

It generates more than five million pounds of thrust (22 million Newtons) at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft.

The Europa clipper orbiter will make about 40 to 50 close passes over Europa to determine whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

Its payload will include cameras and spectrometers to produce high-resolution images and compositional maps of the surface and atmosphere, as well as radar to penetrate the ice layer to search for liquid water below.

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Memorial event in Prince Rupert harbour to draw attention to tugboat safety – Vancouver Sun

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Since 2016, there have been 350 accidents involving tugboats or barges in B.C., including 24 sinkings and two fatalities, according to data collected by the TSB.

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More than 20 boats, including ferries, fishing vessels and tugboats, are expected to take part in a memorial event in the Prince Rupert harbour this month in honour of a tugboat captain who died at sea.

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Troy Pearson lost his life on Feb. 11 when the tugboat he was captaining sank in the Gardner Canal en route from Kitimat to Kemano. Also killed was 25-year-old Charley Cragg, a Tsawwassen man who had recently moved to Terrace and was working his first shift on the boat. A third man, 19-year-old Zac Dolan, was rescued after he made it to shore.

The event is being planned for July 31 by Pearson’s widow, Judy Carlick-Pearson, who originally intended to scatter Pearson’s ashes in the harbour a few weeks after his birthday.

“Next thing you know, we had people from the coast guard saying they wanted to be here, as well as guys from the ferries, fishing boats, commercial tugs and the marine union,” she said.

Carlick-Pearson is hoping the event, which will involve the boats forming a wide circle in the harbour while eight bells sound to signal the end of the watch, will bring attention to the continuing investigation into the sinking of the tugboat Ingenika.

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Troy Pearson and wife Judy Carlick-Pearson.
Troy Pearson and wife Judy Carlick-Pearson. Photo by Submitted photo /PNG
Charley Cragg.
Charley Cragg. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

On Feb. 10 — a day on which 11 cold temperature records were broken as B.C. was hit by an Arctic outflow — Pearson, Cragg and Dolan boarded the tugboat despite a forecast of 50-knot winds. The boat, which belonged to Wainwright Marine Services, was towing a barge carrying construction supplies for a multi-year Rio Tinto tunnel project at Kemano designed to guarantee a stable supply of hydroelectric power to the company’s Kitimat aluminum smelter.

RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said that just after midnight on Feb. 11, an emergency beacon was received from a tugboat in the Gardner Canal. The RCMP vessel Inkster was dispatched from Hartley Bay and found a man dead in the water. The coast guard found a second dead man. A third person was rescued after reaching shore.

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Reached Friday, Saunderson said the RCMP’s investigation into the tugboat sinking comtinues. The Transportation Safety Board said its investigation is still underway as well, with nothing new to say at this time. Postmedia received a similar reply from both WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Coroners Service.

Many in B.C.’s marine community are hoping the four investigations could lead to improved safety regulations in the tow industry. Since 2016, there have been 350 accidents involving tugboats or barges in B.C., including 24 sinkings and two fatalities, according to data collected by the TSB.

The board has been calling on Transport Canada to make safety management systems (SMS) mandatory on all vessels, including small tugboats like the Ingenika, for almost a decade.

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SMS is an internationally recognized framework that allows companies to identify and address safety risks. It can incorporate elements such as safe operating standards, a planned maintenance program, a crew training regime and how to respond to specific emergency situations. Transport Canada already requires SMS for larger vessels.

Other stakeholders, including some B.C. tugboat companies, want to see the tug-to-tow weight ratio regulated.

There are currently no regulations governing the tug-to-tow ratio, which allows small tugs to pull large barges that may be beyond their capabilities, said Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 400.

“You can tow a barge full of logging equipment on a bungee cord if you want to,” he has said.

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Transport Canada has indicated it is working on a number of “new regulatory projects” that will apply to all Canadian vessels, including making SMS mandatory, with a first draft expected in the fall.

Meanwhile, Carlick-Pearson, as well as some coastal First Nations communities, are calling on authorities to raise the Ingenika from the bottom of the Gardner Canal both to prevent environmental damage and determine why the tug sank.

“Without the boat, we won’t really know what happened that night,” she said. “It could be a smoking gun.”

Carlick-Pearson has also started raising funds to start a marine training school in Prince Rupert in honour of her husband. She hopes to teach kids and families about safety on the water, as well as offer the courses needed for a career in the marine industry. Pearson had to travel to Ladner to do his training, she said.

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“It would be better to have something here, closer to home, particularly for Indigenous people who might not want to leave their community for training.”

For more information about the Pearson Marine School of Safety or the memorial event, contact judycarlick@gmail.com.

  1. A family photo of Charley Cragg. The 25-year-old man died when the tugboat he was working on sank near Kitimat in February.

    ‘He’s gone forever:’ Mother of B.C. man killed in tugboat sinking wants answers

  2. Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 400. The union is calling for better federal regulations to make B.C.'s tugboat industry safer.

    Tugboat tragedy raises questions about safety on B.C. coast

  3. Safety concerns have prompted many connected to B.C.'s tugboat industry to call for regulatory changes.

    Federal regulations governing tugboats not ‘up to the task’

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