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NASA-ESA launch Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite to monitor the oceans – Firstpost

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A US-European satellite designed to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights was launched into Earth orbit from California on Saturday.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 10:47 pm IST (9:17 am PST) and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean. The Falcon’s first stage flew back to the launch site and landed for reuse.

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was released from the second stage about an hour later. It then deployed its solar panels and made the first contact with controllers  at a ground station in Alaska

ESA and NASA launched the launch of #Sentinel6 Michael Freilich on Sunday. Image credit: ESA/Twitter

Sea-monitoring satellites

Sentinel-6a will be the first of two identical satellites — the second to be launched in five years — that will provide measurements of unprecedented precision until at least 2030.

The twin satellites will measure sea-level rise, tracking changes threatening to disrupt tens of millions of lives within a generation.

Each Sentinel-6 probe carries a radar altimeter, which measures the time it takes for radar pulses to travel to Earth’s surface and back again.

The satellites will circle the planet in the same orbit as earlier missions that supplied sea-surface height data over the last three decades, mapping 95 percent of Earth’s ice-free ocean every ten days.

Named for a former NASA official who had a key role in developing space-based oceanography, the satellite’s main instrument is an extremely accurate radar altimeter that will bounce energy off the sea surface as it sweeps over Earth’s oceans. Sentinel-6B will ensure continuity of the record.

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission is a collaboration of the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), EUMETSAT, NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Sentinel satellites are each about the size and shape of a large minivan topped with slanted solar panels and weigh nearly 1,200 kilos, including rocket fuel.

They are designed to last for five-and-a-half years but could provide data for far longer. Europe and the United States are sharing the $1.1 billion (900 million euro) cost of the mission, which includes the twin satellite.

According to a statement by the ESA, over the last three decades, the French-US Topex-Poseidon and Jason mission series have been providing Space-based sea level measurements along with ESA’s earlier ERS and Envisat satellites and CryoSat and Copernicus Sentinel-3. These twin satellites will continue to provide data as accelerating sea-level rise is arguably the climate change impact that will affect the largest number of people over the next three decades.

Nearly 800 million people live within five metres of sea level, and even an increase in sea level of a few centimetres can translate into vastly more damage from high tides and storm surges.

Sea-surface heights are affected by heating and cooling of water, allowing scientist to use the altimeter data to detect such weather-influencing conditions as the warm El Nino and the cool La Nina.

The measurements are also important for understanding overall sea-level rise due to global warming that scientists warn is a risk to the world’s coastlines and billions of people.

“Our Earth is a system of intricately connected dynamics between land, ocean, ice, atmosphere and also, of course, our human communities, and that system is changing,” Karen St. Germain, NASA’s Earth Science Division director, said in a pre-launch briefing Friday.

“Because 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is the ocean, the oceans play an enormous role in how the whole system changes,” she said.

With inputs from wires

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Watch NASA's historic Moon mission rocket test at 5PM ET – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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Eat This, Not That!

Here’s How to Get Your COVID Vaccine in Your State

The coronavirus vaccine is now available, the “light at the end of the tunnel” of this deadly pandemic. But confusion about who is eligible, how to get yours, and where to go seems to be changing every day. “The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure so far,” President-elect Joe Biden said Friday. “The honest truth is this, things will get worse before they get better. And the policy changes we are going to be making, they’re going to take time to show up in the COVID statistics.” In the following story, you’ll find links to every state’s vaccination rollouts, so you can find the latest information. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus. 1 Alabama If you live in Alabama, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 2 Alaska If you currently live in Alaska, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 3 Arizona If you reside in Arizona, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 4 Arkansas If you live in Arkansas, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 5 California If you reside in California, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 6 Colorado If you currently live in Colorado, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 7 Connecticut If you live in Connecticut, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 8 Delaware If you live in Delaware, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 9 Florida If you currently reside in Florida, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 10 Georgia If you’re located in Georgia, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 11 Hawaii If you live in Hawaii, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 12 Idaho If you’re located in Idaho, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 13 Illinois If you reside in Illinois, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 14 Indiana If you live in Indiana, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 15 Iowa If you take up residence Iowa, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 16 Kansas If you live in Kansas, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 17 Kentucky If you live in Kentucky, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 18 Louisiana If you take up residence in Louisiana, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 19 Maine If you live in Maine, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 20 Maryland If you’re located in Maryland, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 21 Massachusetts If you live in Massachusetts, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 22 Michigan If you’re located in Michigan, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 23 Minnesota If you reside in Minnesota, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 24 Mississippi If you live in Mississippi, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 25 Missouri If you take up residence in Missouri, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 26 Montana If you live in Montana, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 27 Nebraska If you reside in Nebraska, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 28 Nevada If you live in Nevada, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 29 New Hampshire If you live in New Hampshire, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 30 New Jersey If you live in New Jersey, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors 31 New Mexico If you reside in New Mexico, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 32 New York If you live in New York, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 33 North Carolina If you live in North Carolina, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 34 North Dakota If you live in North Dakota, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 35 Ohio If you live in Ohio, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 36 Oklahoma If you live in Oklahoma, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 37 Oregon If you’re located in Oregon, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 38 Pennsylvania If you live in Pennsylvania, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 39 Rhode Island If you’re located in Rhode Island, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 40 South Carolina If you live in South Carolina, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We’d Be Back to “Normal” 41 South Dakota If you take up residence in South Dakota, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 42 Tennessee If you live in Tennessee, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 43 Texas If you live in Texas, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 44 Utah If you live in Utah, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 45 Vermont If you take up residence in Vermont, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 46 Virginia If you reside in Virginia, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 47 Washington If you live in Washington, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 48 West Virginia If you live in West Virginia, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 49 Wisconsin If you live in Wisconsin, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 50 Wyoming If you live in Wyoming, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 51 Washington DC If you currently live in Washington DC, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 52 How to Survive This Pandemic As for yourself, follow the public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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NASA is about to finally test fire its future Moon rocket – The Verge

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Four huge rocket engines will roar to life on Saturday, in a crucial test for NASA’s powerful next-generation rocket. This long-awaited trial run won’t leave the ground, but it will be so powerful that officials have warned that it may be heard up to 60 miles away.

Saturday’s test is the last step in series of tests that NASA calls a Green Run for the Space Launch System (SLS), a powerful rocket designed to launch missions to the Moon and deep space. It will test the 212 foot tall core of the SLS, which consists of four engines, liquid fuel tanks, and the computer and technical systems that NASA calls the “brains” of the rocket.

The rocket was originally intended to debut in 2017, but it has consistently been over budget and behind schedule. Now, NASA will finally have a chance to see how the rocket’s systems work while the four engines are firing ahead of the SLS’ first launch later this year. Engineers and technicians have already tested the core’s backup systems, run through dress rehearsals to double check-timing, and loaded and unloaded hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel ahead of the big event. Now they just need to put it all together for the first time to really mimic a launch.

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“To be able to run a test like this, it takes not only a village, but small city,” said Ryan McKibben, the Green Run test conductor at Stennis Space Center, in a press conference. It will take six barges to haul more than 700,000 gallons of super cold propellent needed for this test — roughly 200,000 gallons of liquid oxygen, and 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen.

The four engines themselves were originally built for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, which ended in 2011. They’ve been updated with upgrades including new engine controllers to get them ready to become part of the SLS. When the engines are fired, they will produce 1.6 million pounds of thrust — more than enough to send the core soaring. “When we ignite the engines, the stage actually will think it is flying. That’s what it’s built to do,” McKibbin said.

While the core of the SLS is built to fly, the massive test stand is designed to keep it firmly grounded. The huge structure is anchored into the ground with over 144 feet of concrete and steel that will absorb and redirect the thrust from the engines, McKibbin said. The engines will burn for about eight minutes — approximately the same amount of time that it will take to launch the rocket to the Moon on future missions.

This is the last big rehearsal for the rocket before it heads to space, which means it’s also one of the last chances for NASA to get data on how the rocket might perform. The team plans to run the engines through the same thrust changes that they will eventually endure when they fly through the Earth’s atmosphere. The core stage is packed with over 1,400 sensors to help document all aspects of the test and gather data that NASA will analyze intensely over the next several days after the test.

“The reason we test is to uncover issues on the ground and not in space,” said Julie Bassler, SLS stages manager, at a NASA press conference this week. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that we get the most out of this hot fire test and we are ready to launch.”

If the test is successful, the core stage will be inspected and shipped to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, where it will be joined to other parts of the rocket and the Orion crew capsule. Sometime after that, the SLS will make its launch debut on the uncrewed mission called Artemis 1. That mission doesn’t have a firm date yet, but NASA is aiming for that launch to happen in November 2021.

Even as the SLS heads for space, it’s worth noting that it is not the only deep space rocket on the horizon. SpaceX is rapidly prototyping its Starship system in Texas, and the Starship design is being considered as a candidate lunar lander for future NASA missions.

The window for the SLS hot fire test opens at 5:00PM ET, and coverage on NASA TV will start at 4:20PM ET. NASA’s livestream coverage can be found on YouTube and on the agency’s website.

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Scientists just found the oldest supermassive black hole yet – lintelligencer

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Scientists just found the oldest supermassive black hole yet

Scientists have discovered about 750,000 quasars, which are among the brightest and most energetic objects in the universe. Despite its uninspiring designation, J0313-1806 is distinct from other quasars. This recently spotted object is the oldest known quasar in the universe, with a supermassive black hole more than 13 billion years old. In fact, it’s so old and huge that scientists don’t know exactly how it could have formed.

The first quasars were discovered in the mid-20th century, but it wasn’t until several decades later that we began to understand what these objects were. A quasar is an active galactic nucleus in which the supermassive black hole that anchors the galaxy pulls in matter to form a gaseous accretion disk. All this matter colliding as it spirals into the black hole releases a torrent of electromagnetic energy that serves as the hallmark of these objects. J0313-1806, for example, shines 1,000 times brighter than our entire galaxy.

J0313-1806 is far away — 13.03 billion light-years to be exact. That means we’re seeing this object as it was just 670 million years after the Big Bang, and it’s still huge. Astronomers estimate J0313-1806 to have about 1.6 billion solar masses as its observed age. That’s not out-of-line for a supermassive black hole elsewhere in the universe, but they’ve had longer to vacuum up matter and grow larger. J0313-1806 shouldn’t have had time in the early universe to grow so large.

The team used ground-based instruments like the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) to spot J0313-1806 last year. It unseated the previous record-holder for oldest quasar, which is about 20 million years younger. Current models of black hold formation assume a star collapses to form a singularity, but the “seed mass” for J0313-1806 would have had to be at least 10,000 solar masses to reach 1.6 billion so quickly.

The study puts forward a hypothesis to explain the existence of this bizarre quasar, known as the direct collapse scenario. In this model, it wasn’t a star collapsing that formed the supermassive black hole. Instead, an enormous cloud of cold hydrogen gas collapsed inward to form a much larger black hole than any stellar source could produce. This could explain why astronomers see so many gigantic black holes in the early universe.

Unfortunately, J0313-1806 is so distant that we can’t gather much more detail with current technology. The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope could, however, be sufficiently precise to image objects like J0313-1806. After many years of delays, NASA plans to launch the Webb telescope in late 2021.

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