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Japanese spacecraft's gifts: Asteroid chips like charcoal – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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

The samples Japanese space officials described Thursday are as big as 1 centimetre (0.4 inch) 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 kilometres (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 defences against meteorites that could fly toward Earth.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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Spacewalking astronauts improve station's European lab | TheSpec.com – TheSpec.com

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Spacewalking astronauts installed a high-speed data link outside the International Space Station’s European lab on Wednesday and tackled other improvements.

NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover floated out early and headed straight to Columbus, one of the three high-tech labs at the orbiting outpost.

“That’s a beautiful view,” Hopkins observed as the station soared 260 miles (420 kilometres) above Kazakhstan.

The astronauts hauled with them a fancy new antenna for Columbus that will provide faster communication with European researchers via satellites and ground stations. Although they had trouble driving in some of the bolts to attach the boxy antenna, the size of a small refrigerator, it appeared to be secure and Mission Control declared success.

Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen guided the spacewalkers from Mission Control in Houston, where controllers wore masks and were seated apart because of the pandemic.

The spacewalkers also needed to hook up power and data cables for an experiment platform for science research outside the European lab that’s been awaiting activation for almost a year.

SpaceX delivered the platform named Bartolomeo to the space station last spring. The shelf was installed with the station’s robot arm, but had to wait until Wednesday’s spacewalk to get hooked up and activated.

Airbus, which built and runs Bartolomeo, is selling space on the platform for private research projects. It’s Europe’s first commercial venture outside the station.

Hopkins and Glover will perform a second spacewalk on Monday to complete battery upgrades to the station’s solar power grid. The latest spacewalk was the third for Hopkins and first for Glover.

They are part of SpaceX’s second astronaut flight that launched in November. Their docked Dragon capsule was visible on NASA TV during the spacewalk.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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nasa mars helicopter – Intelligent Aerospace

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WASHINGTON – NASA’s Perseverance explorer will land on the red planet on Feb. 18, but the rover won’t be the only newly arrived robotic explorer. The wheeled robot carries the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity on its belly, and NASA has posted a handy list of things to know about this mission. Although, several of the six facts seem to drive home that NASA doesn’t really know if Ingenuity is going to work. In fact, it could still be seen as a success at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory even if it crashes on its first flight, Ryan Whitwam reports for Extreme TechContinue reading original article.

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

January 27, 2021 –The Mars helicopter weighs in at four pounds on Earth (and 1.5 pounds on Mars) and has rotors that come in at four feet tip-to-tip. It is powered by a solar panel that charges Lithium-ion batteries, which allows for one 90-second flight per Martian day. In that time, it can fly up to 980 feet at an altitude up to 15 feet. It will fly autonomously.

Related: Six things to know about NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Related: Smiths Interconnect’s contact technology launched on NASA Mars Perseverance Rover

Related: Northrop Grumman contributes navigation system for NASA’s mars rover mission

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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Spacewalking astronauts venture out to improve European lab – Toronto Star

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A pair of astronauts went spacewalking Wednesday to install a high-speed data link outside the International Space Station’s European lab.

NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover floated out early and headed straight to Columbus, one of the three high-tech labs at the orbiting outpost.

“That’s a beautiful view,” Hopkins observed as the station soared 260 miles (420 kilometres) above Kazakhstan.

They hauled with them a fancy new antenna for Columbus that will provide faster communication with European researchers via satellites and ground stations. The boxy antenna is the size of a small refrigerator.

Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen guided the spacewalkers from Mission Control in Houston, where controllers wore masks and were seated apart because of the pandemic.

The spacewalkers also needed to hook up power and data cables for an experiment platform for science research outside the European lab that’s been awaiting activation for almost a year.

SpaceX delivered the platform named Bartolomeo to the space station last spring. The shelf was installed with the station’s robot arm, but had to wait until Wednesday’s spacewalk to get hooked up and activated.

Airbus, which built and runs Bartolomeo, is selling space on the platform for private research projects. It’s Europe’s first commercial venture outside the station.

Hopkins and Glover will perform a second spacewalk on Monday to complete battery upgrades to the station’s solar power grid. The latest spacewalk was the third for Hopkins and first for Glover.

They are part of SpaceX’s second astronaut flight that launched in November. Their docked Dragon capsule was visible on NASA TV during the spacewalk.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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