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How to watch SpaceX launch 60 more Starlink satellites Tuesday – CNET

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A Falcon 9 blasts off on Aug. 30.


SpaceX

The Falcon 9 rocket booster that sent NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in May is set to get recycled again Tuesday following Monday’s scrubbed launch. SpaceX hopes to send 60 more Starlink satellites to orbit atop its column of fire.  

The launch, originally scheduled for September, has been postponed multiple times due to weather, including twice last week due to heavy clouds in one case and an aberrant ground sensor reading in another. Monday’s scrub was yet again blamed on weather. SpaceX tweeted that it’s planning for 7:29 a.m. ET (4:29 a.m. PT) Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a 70 percent chance of “favorable” weather. You can follow the launch on the livestream below. 

Elon Musk’s trademark reusable rocket will be making its third flight when it lifts off from Kennedy Space Center. This specific unit sent astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to orbit in May and then launched a South Korean satellite in July. So far, SpaceX has managed to launch and land the same rocket up to six times

Musk has expressed his clear frustration with the series of scrubs, after a separate SpaceX mission to launch a GPS satellite for the US Space Force was also delayed.

“We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!” Musk tweeted Friday.

When the Starlink launch finally gets off the ground, it should be fairly routine. It will be the 13th Starlink mission so far, and SpaceX is planning on dozens more as it grows its broadband mega-constellation.  

One half of the nose cone, or fairing, atop the rocket has also seen two previous flights, both of them earlier Starlink missions. 


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Following the launch and separation of the rocket’s second stage and payload, the first-stage booster will again return to Earth to land on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.  

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Arctic sea ice at record low October levels: Danish researchers – Al Jazeera English

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For the month of October, measurements show an 8.2 percent downward trend in ice over the last 10 years.

Sea ice in the Arctic was at record lows for October as unusually warm waters slowed the recovery of the ice, Danish researchers said on Wednesday.

Diminishing sea ice comes as a reminder about how the Arctic is hit particularly hard by global warming.

Since the 1990s, warming has been twice as fast in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world, as a phenomenon dubbed “Arctic amplification” causes air, ice and water to interact in a reinforcing manner.

“The October Arctic sea ice extent is going to be the lowest on record and the sea ice growth rate is slower than normal,” said Rasmus Tonboe, a scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), noting the record was unequalled for at least 40 years.

According to preliminary satellite data used by the institute, sea ice surface area was at 6.5 million square kilometres (2.5 million square miles) on October 27.

Every year, some of the ice formed in the Arctic waters melts in the summer.

It usually reaches a low point of about five million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles), but then reforms to cover about 15 million square kilometres (5.7 million square miles) in winter.

Warmer temperatures are now reducing both the summer and winter extent of the ice.

Satellite data has been collected to monitor the ice precisely since 1979 and the trend towards a reduction is clear.

For the month of October, measurements show an 8.2 percent downward trend in ice over the last 10 years.

Warmer than normal

Already in September, researchers noted the second-lowest extent of sea ice recorded in the Arctic, though not quite hitting the low levels recorded in 2012.

But warmer-than-normal seawater slowed the formation of new ice in October.

Water temperatures in the eastern part of the Arctic, north of Siberia, was 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 4C (39.2F) warmer than normal, and in Baffin Bay, it was 1-2C warmer, DMI said in a statement.

The institute said this was following a trend observed in recent years, which was described as a “vicious spiral”.

“It’s a trend we’ve been seeing the past years with a longer open-water season making the sun warm the sea for a longer time, resulting in shorter winters so the ice doesn’t grow as thick as it used to,” Tonboe said.

Since the melting ice is already in the ocean it does not directly contribute to the rise in sea levels.

But as the ice disappears sunlight “gets absorbed in the ocean, helping to further warm the Earth”, said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist at NASA.

Direct heating

Thus, with less ice reflecting sunlight, oceans are heated directly.

Over the last 40 years, the Arctic has also become more of a strategic interest to world powers.

Less ice in certain areas has opened up new maritime routes, which are destined to play a larger role in international trade, meaning a larger financial stake for Arctic state actors.

The region is also estimated to house 13 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered natural gas deposits.

Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said on Tuesday under current levels of atmospheric CO2 – about 400 parts per million – the melting of Arctic sea ice would raise global temperatures by 0.2C (32.3F).

That is on top of the 1.5C (34.7F) of warming our current emissions levels have rendered all but inevitable, and the safer cap on global warming aimed for in the Paris climate accord.

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Lunar base: How NASA's moon water discovery could support human habitats – Inverse

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This week, NASA announced a discovery that could make a permanent lunar base reality.

On Monday, agency researchers announced they had detected abundant water on the Moon’s surface, trapped in small icy pockets throughout the lunar soil. The signals were detected by NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, also known as SOFIA. Taken together, the water is equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle per cubic meter of lunar soil, they estimate.

They also found the first evidence that water exists on the sunlit areas of the Moon, not just at the poles.

Essentially, the discovery suggests water may be far more accessible to humans than previously thought, dramatically expanding the areas of the Moon where humans might be able to establish a presence — and whether they can go even further into space.

Private companies like SpaceX and government agencies like NASA, as well as others in China and Europe, have all made clear they plan to establish lunar bases. But if they are to work, they need to make the most of what the local environment has to offer.

Basically, the more resources you can find and use once you are in space, the less you have to send up at launch.

“Water is a precious resource in space,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, said during the agency’s press conference. “We want to know everything we can about water on the Moon.”

Location, location, location — One of the key impacts of this discovery on these plans is the fact that it broadens where on the Moon humans can set up shop for three key reasons.

First, astronauts would be able to drink the water, albeit after treating it.

Second, water is not just for drinking. Water can be converted into oxygen for astronauts, Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, explained Monday.

Third, it can also be used to create fuel.

Fuel is one of the major challenges for a Moon base, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claimed in October 2019. The company’s Starship is designed to use liquid oxygen and methane, chemicals that astronauts can generate from carbon dioxide and water. SpaceX wants to build a fueling station on Mars that would utilize that planet’s stores. Musk noted at the time that the Moon’s lack of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen is a “big challenge” for refueling the Starship on the Moon. This news suggests it could make a perfect pit stop, too.

Back to the Moon, 2024 — NASA chose SpaceX’s Starship in April, along with two other pitches, as a potential solution for landing humans on the Moon in 2024. SpaceX has also detailed plans on using Starship rockets to serve as the basis for a “Moon Base Alpha.”

NASA’s crewed Moon mission forms part of the Artemis program. It involves establishing a Lunar Gateway — essentially a spaceport which would orbit around the Moon to support crewed missions. It also involves establishing an Artemis Base Camp near the South Pole, which would initially host one or two astronauts for around four months.

Work on the Moon.

Work on the Moon.NASA

“With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence by the end of the decade,” Hertz said. “At the Moon, we will prepare for human exploration of Mars.”

SpaceX and NASA are not the only two interested. The Chinese and European space agencies have also expressed interest in permanent settlements. Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos also said in a 2018 speech that “we must go back to the Moon, and this time to stay.”

But before astronauts start packing their drinking straws, more research needs to be done.

“We know there’s water at the moon, but we don’t know exactly how accessible lunar water is for our future explorers,” Bleacher said. “Knowing where we can find water is a good first step. But we need to know more about the water to understand if and how we can use it for both science and exploration.”

Water, water everywhere – but we might have to wait a bit to drink.

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Ah Crap: The Arctic Is Releasing a Ton of New Greenhouse Gas – Futurism

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Gas Leak

Figuring out when, and to what extent, the Arctic will melt and release greenhouse gases into the air has been a major challenge for environmental scientists. Now it seems like the process is already underway.

A team of Russian and Swedish scientists exploring the Arctic Ocean found that the continental slope near Siberia has already started to give off huge amounts of methane, which is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, The Guardian reports. The methane, which is leaking into the ocean and the air, is a worrying new data point about the state of the climate.

Early Days

The scientists, who haven’t yet finished analyzing their data or sent it for review by an academic journal, stressed to The Guardian that they’re still at a very preliminary stage of their research. But their discovery is still ominous. If the Arctic is releasing carbon in mass quantities, it could trigger a feedback loop that worsens climate change and continues to give off even more greenhouse gases.

“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered,” Örjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University told The Guardian. “This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing.”

Unknown Impacts

It will be hard to tell what impact these Arctic greenhouse gases will have on the global environment — but the consensus among experts is that it could be disastrous.

“This is a new page,” Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences told The Guardian. “Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that.”

READ MORE: ‘Sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find [The Guardian]

More on the Arctic: This is the Devastating Potential of the Arctic Permafrost Melting

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