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Japanese space probe's gifts: Asteroid chips like charcoal – Japan Today

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They resemble small fragments of charcoal, but the soil samples collected from an asteroid and returned to Earth by a Japanese space probe were hardly disappointing.

The samples Japanese space officials described Thursday are as big as one centimeter and rock hard, not breaking when picked up or poured into another container. Smaller black, sandy granules the spacecraft collected and returned separately were described last week.

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft got the two sets of samples last year from two locations on the asteroid Ryugu, more than 300 million kilometers (190 million miles) from Earth. It dropped them from space onto a target in the Australian Outback, and the samples were brought to Japan in early December.

The sandy granules the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency described last week were from the spacecraft’s first touchdown in April 2019.

The larger fragments were from the compartment allocated for the second touchdown on Ryugu, said Tomohiro Usui, space materials scientist.

To get the second set of samples in July last year, Hayabusa2 dropped an impactor to blast below the asteroid’s surface, collecting material from the crafter so it would be unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.

Usui said the size differences suggest different hardness of the bedrock on the asteroid. “One possibility is that the place of the second touchdown was a hard bedrock and larger particles broke and entered the compartment.”

JAXA is continuing the initial examination of the asteroid samples ahead of fuller studies next year. Scientists hope the samples will provide insight into the origins of the solar system and life on Earth. Following studies in Japan, some of the samples will be shared with NASA and other international space agencies for additional research.

Hayabusa2, meanwhile, is on an 11-year expedition to another small and distant asteroid, 1998KY26, to try to study possible defenses against meteorites that could fly toward Earth.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Temperature problems given as reason behind COVID-19 vaccine problems in central Newfoundland – The Journal Pioneer

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A cold chain break is the reason Central Health is giving as the reason behind a rapid vaccination delivery in Grand Falls-Windsor earlier this month.

On Jan. 7, the shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine meant for the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre dropped to a temperature below what is permitted for longer storage.

The temperature requirement for that vaccine is between –60 C and –80 C.

The shipment’s temperature monitor had fallen outside the recommended temperature. That meant 160 doses of Central Health’s supply had to be administered within six hours.

Due to this, those doses were slotted for the following day’s COVID-19 clinic.

“As a result of the cold chain break, we quickly organized an impromptu clinic with priority health-care workers, along with any employees, who were available to attend at such a short notice,” Central Health said in a statement.

Of those 160 doses administered, none went to waste and another shipment of the vaccine arrived the next day, the health authority said.

In the days immediately following that first issue, there were no further issues with transportation, and vaccines were successfully given to priority health-care workers, along with the residents and staff of long-term care homes in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor, Central Health said.

“This was an excellent example of the robust planning in the region to allow staff to adapt quickly to any situation,” read the statement.

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100-million-year old beetle fossil sheds light on family of ancient bugs – CNET

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A close-up view of the well-preserved Cretophengodes azari, a fossil light-producing beetle encased in amber.


Chenyang Cai

A beetle trapped in amber for over 100 million years is offering scientists clues to why the bioluminescent insects may have glowed way back during the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 66 million years ago. 

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists reveal that a Cretophengodes beetle found “preserved with life-like fidelity in amber” has a direct connection to its firefly cousins. 

It’s been a bit of a mystery to scientists why ancient beetles could glow. But based on their distant relatives like fireflies, scientists believe the function could likely have been used as a defense against predators, as well as a way to attract mates — much like the modern-day beetle larvae in the same family have used light.

“The discovery of a new extinct Elateroid beetle family is significant,” study co-author Erik Tihelka from the School of Earth Sciences said in a statement, “because it helps shed light on the evolution of these fascinating beetles.” 

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Here’s an artistic reconstruction of a Cretophengodes azari male and female in the undergrowth of a Cretaceous rainforest.


Dinghua Yang

Because this particular beetle fossil was well-preserved in amber, scientists were able to see the light organ on the abdomen of the male beetle. That provides proof adult Cretophengodes were able to produce light, some 100 million years ago.

The majority of light-producing beetles belong to the Elateroidea family, which has over 24,000 known species. The discovery of this beetle provides the missing fossil link between living families, and in doing so helps scientists understand how these beetles evolved and how they should be classified.

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With the recent launch of Starlink, SpaceX set a record for rapid reuse – Sunday Vision

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Zoom in / Falcon 9, Booster 1051, broke the sound barrier on December 13, 2020. It was back again for its eighth launch a little over a month later.

SpaceX continues to make strides as it pushes the boundaries of reusing the Falcon 9 first stage rocket.

On Wednesday morning, the company plans to launch the next batch of 60 Starlink satellites, and reuse the booster number 1051. This will in fact be the eighth flight of this Falcon 9 rocket – setting a new record for the number of uses for any single rocket core. SpaceX expects to reach 10 uses of at least one stage of the Falcon 9 later this year.

The next launch attempt is also noteworthy as it would mark a rapid turnaround for this first phase. The missile last flew on December 13, launching the Sirius XM-7 mission in geostationary transport orbit. This 38-day period will significantly eclipse the previous Falcon 9 Phase 1 transformation margin, which is 51 days. This indicates that the company’s engineers and technicians are continuing to learn best practices for recovering and refurbishing the missiles.

The Starlink mission is scheduled to launch at 8:02 AM EST (13:02 UTC) on Wednesday from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Its launch was originally delayed by 24 hours from Monday due to unfavorable weather conditions in the offshore recovery area, where Just read the instructions Will wait for the return of the first stage. Then the important company delayed an additional day, say More time was needed for “pre-launch inspections”. It is not clear if this refers to the missile or the payload.

This will be the sixteenth launch of “operational” Starlink satellites, in addition to an earlier launch of experimental satellites. This mission is already the largest satellite operator in the world, and will bring the total number of Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX to over 1,000. Some of these satellites are no longer operational, are in the process of exiting orbit, or have already done so.

In starting to build this constellation, SpaceX owns it Introducing a public beta To define the regions of North America and is expected to offer broader coverage later this year. First impressions It was generally positive.

At the same time, SpaceX is also working to address the concerns of scientists who are concerned that large constellations of satellites transmitting the Internet from space will distort the night sky and damage astronomical observations. Last year, the company started adding “masks” to reduce the reflection of its satellites. However, Recent analysis From these “DarkSats” they indicate that more effort may be required.

Weather conditions for launch on Wednesday appear favorable for the mission, both at the launch site and in the recovery area. SpaceX should start live 15 minutes before take off.

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Starlink launched.

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