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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.

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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!

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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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NASA Astronaut Will Vote From Space – KCCU

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On Election Day, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be more than 200 miles above her nearest polling place. But she’s still planning to vote — from space.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins told the Associated Press. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

Rubins, who has a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Stanford and was the first person to sequence DNA in space, is currently training for her upcoming six-month mission on the International Space Station.

Voting from the space station is similar to voting absentee from anyplace on the planet — except instead of relying on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the ballot, Rubins will get hers forwarded electronically from Mission Control in Houston.

“Using a set of unique credentials sent to each of them by e-mail, astronauts can access their ballots, cast their votes, and downlink them back down to Earth,” the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum explained in 2018.

The ballot is then sent to the county clerk for tabulation.

American astronauts have been able to cast ballots from above for over two decades now, ever since a Texas lawmaker learned that astronaut John Blaha couldn’t vote in the 1996 presidential race between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. At the time, Blaha was serving on Russia’s Mir Space Station, a predecessor to the ISS.

“He expressed a little bit disappointment in not being able to do that,” Republican State Senator Mike Jackson told NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce in 2008.

Voting from space had never really been an issue before then, because NASA astronauts typically spent no more than about two weeks on shuttle missions. But with the advent of the space station, Americans were sometimes on missions for months at a time.

So a new law was born. “I can attest to how important one person’s vote is because my first election I won by seven votes out of over 26,000,” Jackson said.

Texas lawmakers approved the measure in 1997, and then-Gov. George W. Bush signed it into law. That same year, astronaut David Wolf became the first American to “vote while you float,” as NASA cheekily put it.

“I voted alone up in space, very alone, the only English speaker up there, and it was nice to have an English ballot, something from America,” Wolf told The Atlantic in 2016. “It made me feel closer to the Earth and like the people of Earth actually cared about me up there.”

Most NASA astronauts live in Houston, so since that Texas law was passed, several astronauts have been able to cast ballots from above. This isn’t even the first time Rubins has exercised her orbital privilege; she also voted in the 2016 presidential election from the space station — listing her address as “low-Earth orbit.”

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Estee Lauder Pays NASA $128000 for Photo Shoot in Space – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Estee Lauder Cos. is sending its newest skincare formula into space, and it’ll cost only about as much as paying a big influencer for a few Instagram posts.

The U.S. cosmetics giant is spending $128,000 for NASA to fly 10 bottles of its skin serum to the International Space Station. Once there, astronauts will take pictures of Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair in the cupola control tower, which has panoramic views of the cosmos. The images will be used on social media, with the company planning to auction one bottle off for charity when the items return to Earth this spring.

The global recession, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, has pushed brands to get more creative with their advertising because consumers are cutting back. Within beauty, several companies are spending less on traditional ads, while looking for new ways to break through the glut of content out there. In a press release, Estee Lauder highlighted it being the “first beauty brand to go into space” as a means to tout its “skincare innovation.”

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket that will transport the skin serum as part of a supply run is scheduled to launch on Tuesday night from Wallops Island, Virginia. The Cygnus cargo craft will then dock on the space station early Saturday.

Estee Lauder’s push into micro-gravity is part of NASA’s effort to commercialize low-earth orbit and make it a domain where private enterprise eventually does business as routinely as the government conducts spacewalks. Companies from Goodyear Tire & Rubber to Merck & Co have used space for research, and NASA is hoping to expand its use, including private citizens visiting the space station.

“We need to expand people’s perspective on what we can accomplish in space,” said Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of commercial spaceflight development.

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A dazzling full 'harvest moon' is set to illuminate Vancouver skies next week – North Shore News

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While the weekend forecast calls for rain, Vancouver skies are expected to clear next week, which is just in time for the glorious full Harvest moon. 

Earlier this month, locals were treated to a full corn moon. Last year, September’s full moon was a full ‘harvest moon,’ which takes place in two years out of three. However, since October’s full moon falls closest to the fall equinox this year, it will carry the harvest title. 

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According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “this full Moon name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked the time when corn was supposed to be harvested.”

The Harvest Moon gets was given its name because farmers needed its silvery light to harvest crops. It has since inspired a rather dreamy, beautiful song by Canadian icon Neil Young, too.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also notes that Native peoples would give distinctive names to each reoccurring full moon to mark the change of seasons. As such, many of these names arose when Native Americans first interacted with colonialists. 

The October moon will be at its fullest in Vancouver on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 2:05 p.m. 

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

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