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Massive 'Christmas asteroid' plus two others expected to make close fly by of Earth – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A massive asteroid that may be bigger than the length of two football fields is set to fly past Earth on Christmas Day, according to NASA.

The space agency says asteroid 501647 (designated 2014 SD224) will make its closest approach around 8:20 p.m. UTC (3:20 p.m. ET) on December 25, coming within 0.02019 astronomical units or approximately 3 million kilometres of the Earth’s surface.

NASA says the asteroid, which is travelling at a speed of 10 kilometres per second, has a diameter between 92 and 210 metres. This means it could range from the size of the Statue of Liberty to the length of two NFL-size football fields.

According to NASA, the asteroid was first discovered in 2014 and is classified as an Aten asteroid. The agency says space rocks in this category have orbits that intersect with Earth’s, making close approaches more likely.

Considering its size and potential distance, NASA says Asteroid 501647 is considered a “potentially hazardous” Near-Earth Object (NEO) and is being tracked by the space agency. However, NASA says the asteroid poses no threat to humans.

NEOs are defined as space objects, such as asteroids or comets, that come within 1.3 astronomical units (195 million kilometres) of the sun. If the object is larger than 140 metres across, it is considered a potentially hazardous object (PHO).

NASA reports that its researchers have spotted nearly 25,000 NEOs.

In addition to 2014 SD224, NASA says two other asteroids known as 2020 XY and 2020 YM1 are expected to fly past Earth on Christmas. Both of these asteroids are also considered NEOs, but are much smaller than asteroid 501647 and pose no threat to Earth, according to the agency.

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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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