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Mission Successful: XOS Optics Land on Mars with NASA's 2020 Perseverance Rover – Stockhouse

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ALBANY, N.Y. , March 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — There was a sense of cheer in the air the afternoon of February 18 th , 2021, as a successful mission to Mars has just been accomplished by NASA’s Perseverance Rover. With millions watching the event via live stream, Perseverance touched down in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater at 3:56 pm Eastern Time .

XOS, a technology company based out of East Greenbush, New York , proudly plays a role in the mission, supplying the rover’s custom polycapillary X-ray focusing optics. A micro-XRF (micro-X-ray fluorescence) instrument on the Perseverance, called PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), is mounted at the end of the rover’s robotic arm and houses the XOS optic. This instrument will be used in conjunction with a camera system to measure compositions of various chemical elements in rocks, soils, and more on Mars, and along with six other scientific instruments on the rover, it will work to search for – and hopefully discover – evidence of past life on Mars.

In addition to the application of elemental mapping, as in the case of seeking evidence of past life on Mars, Micro-XRF is also used in applications such as plating thickness, forensics, and cultural heritage. Its non-destructive nature and minimal sample preparation make it ideal for sensitive elemental analysis applications. The use of polycapillary X-ray optics has dramatically changed the analytical speed of micro-XRF analysis, supplying accurate and reliable measurement results in hours, as compared to the days-long wait of more conventional approaches.

Visit xos.com/mars2020 for more information on micro-XRF, polycapillary optics, and XOS’ part in Perseverance’s mission.

About XOS

XOS is a global leading provider of advanced optics and OEM sub-systems that greatly improve the measurement speed, precision, and sensitivity of X-ray analytical instrumentation. XOS’ polycapillary optics can be used in many applications, including plating thickness, forensics, cultural heritage, and elemental mapping. fleX-Beam™, our latest compact X-ray generator solution, combines a low-powered X-ray source and precisely aligned polycapillary optic to deliver a bright X-ray beam for advanced material analysis. The innovative optic mounting and alignment design enables an easy X-ray tube and/or optic replacement, making it a user-friendly tool for both OEMs and end users.

www.xos.com

View original content: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mission-successful-xos-optics-land-on-mars-with-nasas-2020-perseverance-rover-301237525.html

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One of the brightest meteor showers of the year is set to dazzle Vancouver skies – Vancouver Is Awesome

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If you live for awe-inspiring celestial spectacles, you won’t want to miss this month’s meteor shower extraordinaire. 

The Perseid meteor shower never fails to offer numerous, bright shooting stars for a breathtaking summer display. Best of all, the Perseid shower is one of the easiest to view from the Northern Hemisphere.  

Each year, the Perseids are viewable as Earth passes through “the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17 to Aug. 24,” explains Space.com

The shower will peak on Aug.12 and Aug. 13. When the sky is darkest — in the darkest hours after midnight — up to “50 to 80 meteors per hour can streak across the sky,” according to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). And in the nights leading up to the peak, an increasing number of shooting stars will become visible, too. 

Where the shower got its name 

The Perseid meteors “appear to fall” from the constellation Perseus, notes the CSA. Additionally, the constellation is at its highest point in the sky right before dawn when the most shooting stars are visible. 

Greek mythological hero Perseus defeated Medusa by using a reflective shield to “turn her powers against her.”

Photo via Canadian Space Agency

Meteor hunting tips in Metro Vancouver 

To fully enjoy the spectacle, here are a few tips for meteor hunting:

  • If possible, head away from city lights, which make it hard to see fainter meteors. To increase your chances of seeing shooting stars, set out in search of dark skies in the countryside.
  • If you need to use a flashlight, place a red filter over the bulb (a red balloon will do in a bind). White light is very blinding and may affect your night vision.
  • Dress warmly. Even though the Perseids occur in the summertime, it is still a good idea to bring warm (even winter) clothes. August nights can be very chilly.
  • Sit back and relax on a reclining chair or lie down on a blanket. Not only is it much more comfortable to observe the stars lying down, but you’ll also see more that way.
  • Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee—it will come in handy if you start to drift off or get a little chilly!
  • Be patient. It might take a while before you see your first shooting star. Don’t be quick to give up… It’s worth the wait!

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A Grand Meteor Shower – Wawa-news.com – Wawa-news.com

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photo courtesy – Pierre Martin

Over the past few weeks, you have probably noticed a few meteors or “shoot stars” at night. You are witnessing one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway from July 14 to August 14. The best time to see the most meteors will be on the night of August 12 and into the morning hours of the 13. This year the crescent moon sets around 10:30 p.m. local time leaving us with a dark sky. By contrast, next year’s Perseids takes place under a full moon, drastically reducing the hourly rate.

If you have the chance to observe from dark skies absent of any stray lights, enjoy the band of our Milky Way Galaxy as this collective glow of billions of distant stars stretches from Sagittarius in the south to Cassiopeia in the northeast. Also, brilliant planets Jupiter and Saturn to Jupiter’s right will be out all night long to keep you company. There are unmistakable and located to the left of Sagittarius.

The peak of the Perseids produces about 90 meteors per hour but occurs late afternoon in daylight on the 12th. Towards the end of the night when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky around 3 a.m. we should still see from 50 to 60 meteors striking the atmosphere at 59 km/sec or 36 mi/sec. A higher number of bright fireballs may be seen on nights before the peak rather than nights after. The friction of comet debris causes the “flash” or “streak” which safely vaporize about 80 km high in the atmosphere with no chance of meteorites hitting the ground.

The parent comet is named Swift-Tuttle, a 26 km or 16 mi wide mountain of ice, dust and gravel that last appeared in 1992 in its 133-year orbit around the sun. It will return in the year 2125, replenishing a fresh path of comet debris ejected from the comet’s surface as it gets close to the sun. Here is where the solar radiation interacts with the comet, causing volatile material to vaporize and create the comet’s coma or cometary fog measuring close to 100,000 kilometres wide around the smaller nucleus. A dust tail forms as debris is blown off the comet’s surface much like confetti blowing off the back of a truck on the highway. As Swift-Tuttle retreated from the sun’s warming effects and back to the outer solar system, it faded away becoming a dark mountain once again only to be awakened by the sun upon its return.

The new comet dust lingers in space until Earth plows through the debris field in its yearly orbit around the sun, much like crossing the finish line of a race. This is why the Perseids and other known meteor showers occur at the same time each year. So gather a few friends and/or family members, set up chairs, bring snacks and take advantage of warm moonless conditions to view this epic display. Look up at the stars, listen to the crickets and frogs and let nature bring a sense of calm over you.

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been interviewed on more than 50 Canadian radio stations and local Ottawa TV. In recognition of his public outreach in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union has honoured him with the naming of Asteroid (22406) Garyboyle. Follow him on Twitter: @astroeducator or his website: www.wondersofastronomy.com

Latest posts by Gary Boyle (see all)

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NASA, Boeing launch Starliner to the ISS: How to watch test flight live – CNET

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Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a ULA Atlas V rocket in July 2021.


Boeing/John Grant

Boeing is set to relaunch its Starliner crew capsule for a second attempt at docking with the International Space Station this Tuesday, Aug. 3 (there won’t be any humans aboard). Boeing’s first try in late 2019 failed to reach the ISS but landed safely back on Earth. 

The mission was originally scheduled to take off Friday, but it’s now aiming for Tuesday after an unexpected issue last Thursday with an ISS module firing its thrusters shortly after docking with the station. 

“The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival,” said NASA in a statement.

Software defects and a communications link problem led to a premature end to the original Boeing test flight in 2019, though the CST-100 Starliner capsule landed safely back on Earth. The upcoming Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is a chance for Boeing to thoroughly vet its hardware and software before a crew of three American astronauts flies on Starliner.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is all about sending astronauts to the ISS from American soil. SpaceX has now delivered 10 astronauts to the ISS, and Boeing would like to catch up. First, it’ll need to show that its Starliner can safely reach the ISS and return to Earth.

NASA will livestream the launch, which is scheduled to occur at 10:20 a.m. PT (1:20 p.m. ET) on Tuesday Aug. 3. Coverage is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. PT. 

Starliner will lift off on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The capsule will be packed with around 400 pounds of crew supplies and cargo. If all goes well, it’ll dock with the space station about 24 hours later, on Wednesday Aug. 4. Docking will also be covered live by NASA’s NASA TV.

ULA shared some scenic photos from the launch site on Monday as it prepares for liftoff. 

Starliner will spend between five and 10 days at the ISS before bringing research samples back to Earth. Boeing will aim to bring the spacecraft back for a gentle parachute landing in the desert of New Mexico.

“OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station,” NASA said in a statement July 22 after successfully concluding a flight readiness review.

The mission is a key step for NASA’s plans to run regular crewed launches from the US, ending its reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. If all goes well, the first crewed mission, Boe-CFT, could launch in the next six months.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.    

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