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Mars Rover mission delayed until 2022 due to technology issues – Digital Journal

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The joint European-Russian Mars Rover launch has been delayed by up to one year, with the July 2021 plan pushed back to 2022. This is unrelated to coronavirus and instead due to technological difficulties.

The ExoMars rover, which is named “Rosalind Franklin”, was set to launched in July or August 201. However, the journey of the sophisticated vehicle has been pushed back to an unspecified date in 2022 as technologists struggle with some operational issues in order get the vehicle ready in time.

Commenting on the delay, Dmitry Rogozin, director general of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos says: “We have made a difficult but well-weighed decision to postpone the launch to 2022. It is driven primarily by the need to maximize the robustness of all ExoMars systems as well as force majeure circumstances related to exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Europe, which left our experts practically no possibility to proceed with travels to partner industries.”

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life. This picture is an artist’s concept portraying what the advanced rover would look like in Martian terrain, from a side aft angle. The arm extending from the front of the rover is designed both to position some of the rover’s instruments onto selected rocks or soil targets and also to collect samples for analysis.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

A further reason for the delay is that once the technological issues are resolved, since the Earth-Mars journey can only be attempted when the planets are favorably aligned, the next possible date can only occur in 2022.

Naming the rover

The Mars Rover is named after scientist Rosalind Franklin. Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA (the famous photograph 51), which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. However, despite this key contribution, only James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in 1962. Naming the rover is seen as one way to redress this omission.

The Rosalind Franklin rover is an autonomous six-wheeled terrain vehicle with mass approximately 300...

The Rosalind Franklin rover is an autonomous six-wheeled terrain vehicle with mass approximately 300 kg.

Mission details

As well as the rover, the Mars mission will also include the Russian surface platform, Kazachok. This is a planned robotic Mars lander. Notably the platform will use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) to power the science instruments; plus a radioisotope heater unit.

With the rover, the ExoMars objective of the rover is to travel across the Martian surface in order to search for signs of life. The vehicle will collect samples with a drill and analyse them with next-generation instruments. This accounts for the degree of interest around the mission, as part of the search for life on Mars.

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ISS is viewable in the Toronto night sky this week – The Loop

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For those in the Greater Toronto Area desperate for something to do this week, it might be time to dust off the telescope.

According to NASA’s SkyWatch website, the International Space Station will be viewable in the night sky this week as it flies between the area and the moon.

NASA’s data shows the ISS is scheduled to fly directly over downtown Toronto every night this week, with two passes on Thursday and Saturday. The space station will also be viewable in Toronto on Monday and Wednesday next week.

The areas surrounding Toronto, such as Pickering, Brampton and Burlington will also be able to view the station, although not as frequently and at slightly different times of night.  

NASA said the station will look like an airplane moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights and will be moving considerably faster than an aircraft.

Stargazers will have to be ready, however, as the space station is only expected to be viewable for a couple of minutes each night.

For a list of exactly when the ISS will be visible, click here.

More on this story from CTVNews.ca

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Watch NASA's James Webb Space Telescope unfold its golden mirror for the 1st time (video) – Space.com

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NASA’s next great observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, has fully deployed its primary mirror for the first time, marking another milestone on its journey to space.

Before all work on the next-generation instrument, which is scheduled to launch in 2021, was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, technicians and engineers at the agency were going through a series of tests with the telescope before it’s sent to French Guiana for liftoff aboard an Ariane 5 rocket

Recently, in one of these tests, the space telescope successfully extended and unfolded its entire 21 foot 4-inch (6.5 meters) primary mirror (the largest mirror of its kind that NASA has ever built). The mirror opened up into the same configuration that it will once the telescope is in space.

Related: Building the James Webb Space Telescope (gallery)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has successfully deployed its giant primary mirror for the first time. It will launch in 2021.  (Image credit: Chris Gunn/NASA)

During the test, Webb’s mirror was hooked up to specialized gravity-offsetting equipment that simulated the zero-gravity environment in space. So, not only did the mirror deploy as designed, it did so in a space-like environment, demonstrating its readiness. Engineers and technicians will deploy Webb’s primary mirror only one more time before it’s shipped off to its launch site. 

Passing this test “is another significant milestone showing Webb will deploy properly in space. This is a great achievement and an inspiring image for the entire team,” Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement

Webb’s primary mirror is a critical piece of the instrument. A telescope’s sensitivity is directly related to the size of its mirror, which determines how much light the telescope can collect from the objects it observes. So, Webb’s mirror has to be really big in order for the instrument to be as powerful as possible. Webb’s mirror is so big that it cannot fit inside of a rocket while fully extended, so it needs to fold up in order to be transported to space. So it’s ability to fold up and then unfurl, ready to get to work, is crucial.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much underway, the regular workflow at NASA has been interrupted. Recently, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that all NASA employees who are not considered essential mission personnel would be working remotely for the time being. 

For now, the Webb team from Northrop Grumman is still continuing integration and testing work in California, though they have shifted to reducing the number of people working at a given time, according to the statement. After the deployable tower assembly is set up in April, integration and testing will be fully stopped as a significant amount of NASA personnel are required for those operations. 

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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ISS is viewable in the Toronto night sky this week – CTV News

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TORONTO —
For those in the Greater Toronto Area desperate for something to do this week, it might be time to dust off the telescope.

According to NASA’s SkyWatch website, the International Space Station will be viewable in the night sky this week as it flies between the area and the moon.

NASA’s data shows the ISS is scheduled to fly directly over downtown Toronto every night this week, with two passes on Thursday and Saturday. The space station will also be viewable in Toronto on Monday and Wednesday next week.

The areas surrounding Toronto, such as Pickering, Brampton and Burlington will also be able to view the station, although not as frequently and at slightly different times of night.  

Stargazers will have to be ready, however, as the space station is only expected to be viewable for a couple of minutes each night.

For a list of exactly when the ISS will be visible, click here.

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