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NASA delays James Webb Space Telescope launch to December 22nd – Yahoo Movies Canada

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NASA’s oft-delayed James Webb Space Telescope has suffered yet another setback. While it was most recently scheduled to lift off on December 18th, it now won’t launch until December 22nd at the earliest. The delay is due to an incident that occurred while technicians were preparing to attach the telescope to the Ariane 5 rocket that will ferry it into space.

“A sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band — which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter — caused a vibration throughout the observatory,” according to NASA. It’s now conducting additional testing to ensure the telescope wasn’t damaged during the incident. NASA says it will provide an update on the situation by the end of the week.

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope has been plagued by delays. When development started in 1996, NASA expected to deploy the JWST in 2007. However, by 2005, it went back to the drawing board. The telescope was then deemed complete in 2016 but then delayed again due to its complex construction. It was only fully assembled in 2019 and then the pandemic caused yet another round of setbacks. Given the history of the JWST, you can understand why NASA wants to play it safe.

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'Unsettling': New Study Reveals Arctic Ocean Warming for Over a Century – Common Dreams

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New research published Wednesday revealed the Arctic Ocean has been warming for decades longer than scientists previously understood, raising fresh concerns as the polar region faces the growing threat of a total loss of the seasonal ice that is crucial to the survival of the imperiled marine ecosystem.

“We’re talking about the early 1900s, and by then we’ve already been supercharging the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.”

A study published in Science Advances found that “the recent expansion of Atlantic waters into the Arctic Ocean”—a phenomenon knows as “Atlantification”—offers “undisputable evidence of the rapid changes occurring in this region.”

“We reconstruct the history of Atlantification along the eastern Fram Strait during the past 800 years using precisely dated paleoceanographic records,” the study’s authors wrote, referring the the maritime passage between Greenland and Svalbard. “Our results show rapid changes in water mass properties that commenced in the early 20th century—several decades before the documented Atlantification by instrumental records.”

Study co-author Tessi Tommaso of the Institute of Polar Sciences at the National Research Council in Bologna, Italy, said in a statement that “when we looked at the whole 800-year timescale, our temperature and salinity records look pretty constant. But all of a sudden at the start of the 20th century, you get this marked change in temperature and salinity—it really sticks out.”

Francesco Muschitiello—one of the study’s authors and a Cambridge University geographer—told CNN that “the Arctic Ocean has been warming up for much longer than we previously thought. And this is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these type of changes.”

“We’re talking about the early 1900s, and by then we’ve already been supercharging the atmosphere with carbon dioxide,” he continued. “It is possible that the Arctic Ocean is more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought. This will require more research, of course, because we don’t have a solid grip on the actual mechanisms behind this early Atlantification.”

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In September, Common Dreams reported that Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-smallest extent since record-keeping began more than four decades ago.

The new study also follows research published September in the journal Earth’s Future showing that the Last Ice Area—which is north of Canada and Greenland and is where the remaining summer sea ice will persist the longest as the climate emergency progresses—could disappear completely by 2100.

“Unfortunately, this is a massive experiment we’re doing,” study co-author Robert Newton, a climate researcher at Columbia University and co-author of the Last Ice Area study, said in a statement. “If the year-round ice goes away, entire ice-dependent ecosystems will collapse, and something new will begin.”

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'Ultimate treasure hunt': Great Barrier Reef gives birth for the first time in 18 months – Timmins Times

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According to ABC Australia, the reef has experienced five major bleaching events since 1998, with the most recent taking place in 2020

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The Great Barrier Reef has given birth for the first time in 18 months, in what hopeful scientists have deemed an encouraging sign for the future of one of the world’s most beloved ecosystems.

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Marine biologist Gareth Philips told ABC Australia he and his team captured the event, which they dubbed “sex on the reef,” overnight Tuesday off the coast of Cairns, Queensland.

“Nothing makes people happier than new life — and coral spawning is the world’s biggest proof of that,” he said in a statement via Queensland Tourism and Events.

When coral spawn, they simultaneously release a mass of eggs and sperm, which then drift until they land on the sea floor. According to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, coral bundles need to find another bundle from the same species to reproduce and so releasing bundles at the same time increases that likelihood.

Conditions supporting the coral spawning need to be just right — at night, several days after a full moon with a calm ocean and water temperatures higher than 26 degrees for a full month, Philips told ABC Australia. Spawning usually takes place between October and November but the timing can vary, depending on other factors.

Over the next few days, Philips and his team of researchers, divers, students and photographers will dive to the reef sites to capture footage of the coral spawning, in an effort to monitor the coral crop and keep tabs on the reef’s health.

“I’ve seen the corals all go off at once, but this time there seemed to be different species spawning in waves, one after the other. The conditions were magical, with the water like glass and beautiful light coming from the moon,” he said.

“Once we found a ripe coral, we watched as it took about 30 seconds for each colony to complete its spawning. It was the ultimate treasure hunt … it was so exciting that we even grabbed the skipper and got him in the water.”

The spawning was a welcome relief to scientists worried about the reef’s fate following a major bleaching event last year, in which hot temperatures forced the coral tissue to expel the algae living inside it, losing its vibrant colour.

According to ABC Australia, the reef has experienced five major bleaching events since 1998, with the most recent taking place in 2020. A study from James Cook University in Australia found that only two per cent of the reef remained unaffected by bleaching.

Seeing the reef give birth is a “strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months,” Philips said.

“The reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond — and that gives us hope. I think we must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic.”

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NASA's asteroid mission could prevent future catastrophes: Chris Hadfield – CBC.ca

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A NASA spacecraft is on its way to smash directly into an asteroid.

The test is meant to determine whether it’s possible to redirect an asteroid headed toward Earth.

It’s a plot straight out of a Hollywood movie. Former International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics the mission is worth undertaking.

“If we can just deflect an asteroid the tiniest bit, when it’s millions of kilometres away, then it’s going to miss the Earth,” he said. 

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, launched on Tuesday. The spacecraft is expected to slam straight to the Dimorphos asteroid by September of next year. 

If the mission succeeds, Hadfield said, the world will have a method to stop a potentially catastrophic asteroid crash.

“We’ll be able to see, over time, how much did we move it compared to where it would have been, versus where it’s going right now,” he said. 

“Once we’ve seen that, then we have basically identified a way for us as residents of planet Earth to protect our planet for any threatening asteroid in the future.”

With files from The Associated Press

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