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NASA news: Meet the 11 new astronauts being readied for Mars mission – revealed – Express.co.uk

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In December, 2019, NASA revealed 11 successful graduates from its training program who would go on to become astronauts. The 11 people with all different skills and backgrounds are being touted to become the first people to set foot on the Red Planet, and NASA has now revealed that training is underway to get them to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon and ultimately Mars. A select few of the space travellers will also be tasked with helping to establish a lunar colony, which NASA has said it hopes to start work on in 2024.

On a much sooner timescale, NASA said it will start launching the astronauts to the ISS this year from American soil – rather than relying on SpaceX or Russia.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “These individuals represent the best of America, and what an incredible time for them to join our astronaut corps.

“2020 will mark the return of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and will be an important year of progress for our Artemis program and missions to the Moon and beyond.”

Senator John Cornyn said: “For generations, the United States has been the world leader in space exploration, and Johnson Space Center will always be both the heart and home of human spaceflight activity.

“I have no doubt the newly minted astronauts will add to that history and accomplish incredible things.”

NASA revealed that following the establishment of the lunar colony in 2024, which will act as a check point for astronauts on their mission to the Red Planet, “lunar missions are planned once a year thereafter and human exploration of Mars is targeted for the mid-2030s.”

NASA explained the intense training which the astronauts had to undergo: “Astronaut candidate training for the new graduates included instruction, practice, and testing in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language.

“As astronauts, they will help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honour of going into space.

“NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which, in November, will celebrate 20 consecutive years of human occupation.”

Who are the 11 astronauts?

Kayla Barron – a US Navy lieutenant

Zena Cardman – biologist

Raja Chari – a US Air Force colonel

Matthew Dominick – a US Navy lieutenant commande

Bob Hines – a US Air Force lieutenant colonel

Warren Hoburg – assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

Dr Jonny Kim – a US Navy lieutenant

Jasmin Moghbeli – a US Marine Corps major

Loral O’Hara – master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics

Dr Francisco “Frank” Rubio – a US Army lieutenant colonel

Jessica Watkins – Collaborated on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

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How can we be alone? – Skywatching – Castanet.net

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The latest estimate is that there are around six billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone.

However, when we really dig into the issue regarding what makes a planet suitable for life as we know it, this large number could be a considerable understatement.

First, we know about places where liquid water and warmth are available for living things, but otherwise they are very un-Earth-like — such as Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, where tidal forces warm an ocean hidden under a roof of ice.

For the moment, let’s just stick to the Earth-like planets. The starting point in identifying an Earth-like planet is that it is the right size, it has an atmosphere, and its surface temperature is high enough to support a water ocean.

There also needs to be a water cycle, where water evaporates from the ocean and returns to it as rain. If there are landmasses, they will be irrigated and material will be eroded from the land and taken into the sea as nutrients for living creatures. However, there is a range of conditions under which this may happen.

First, the planet should be in the Goldilocks Zone, where the planet receives enough warmth and light from its star to ensure a high enough surface temperature and to drive a water cycle.

This is where the situation becomes more complicated. Planets, including ours, exist in a thermal equilibrium. Heat from our star warms our world. As the temperature rises, the Earth radiates increasing amounts of infrared, sending heat off into space.

Eventually, the input and output are equal and the planet’s temperature stabilizes. Intriguingly though, if we do this calculation for the Earth, we find our planet should be frozen solid, with a mean temperature more or less equal to the Moon’s, around minus 50C.

This obviously isn’t the case, and the explanation is the greenhouse effect. Gases such as water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases, which means they impeded the ability of a planet to re-radiate heat into space.

The result is that in order to meet a balance of input and output, the planet has to be hotter. Planets with lots of greenhouse gases can be further from their stars and still have comfortable temperatures.

Planets with atmospheres low in greenhouse gases must be closer. The atmospheres of young planets are rich in greenhouse gases.

During the 4.5 billion years since the Earth formed, the Sun has brightened steadily, but on Earth living things removed them and replaced them with oxygen, which is not a greenhouse gas, keeping our environment stable and our planet inhabitable.

In the 1970s, James Lovelock proposed the Gaia Hypothesis (Gaia is the Earth goddess), in which he proposed that once life is established, it has a certain power to keep its environment comfortable.

There are two other factors.

First, there are clouds.

Water evaporated from the oceans by solar heat forms clouds, which can reflect solar energy back into space, providing a stabilizing influence. Of course, more energy in the atmosphere can drive more severe weather.

Second, there is dust.

Every day, warm air heated by contact with warm ground rises, carrying dust with it.  This can act as an insulator, keeping in heat, or as a reflector, sending it back out, depending on the grain size and the amount.

In addition to being the right distance from their stars, we need our planets to have an atmosphere and a signature of water vapour.

If we see oxygen, which needs living things to produce and maintain it, we can be pretty sure there are living things.

Maybe fortunately, the distances between stars ensure it will be a long time before we can interfere with our alien brethren or they with us.

  • Jupiter and Saturn rise in the southeast around midnight
  • Mars follows in the early hours.
  • Venus lies low in the sunrise glow.
  • The Moon will reach Last Quarter on the 12th.

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Full buck moon with penumbral lunar eclipse visible in Saskatchewan this weekend – Humboldt Journal

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Saskatchewan residents will have the opportunity to view a magnificent full Buck Moon this July in addition to a lunar eclipse. 

Named after the time of year when young bucks begin to grow new antlers from their foreheads, the July full moon marks a time of renewal. With this in mind, the July moon, like the other months of the year, has many names.

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For example, the full moon is also known as the “Thunder Moon.” According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the moon was given that name, “because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month.” They note that Native peoples would give distinctive names to each reoccurring full moon to mark the change of seasons. As such, many of these names arose when Native Americans first interacted with colonialists.

The moon also has number of Native American names which, translated directly into English, mean the “Ripe Corn Moon” by the Cherokee, “Middle of Summer Moon” by the Ponca, and “Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken by Fruit” by the Zuni.

The full Buck Moon will be at its fullest on July 4.

As the full moon increases in fullness, Humboldt residents will also be able to view a ‘penumbral lunar eclipse’. Timeanddate.com explains how it is set to begin July 4 at 9:07 p.m. but that it won’t be directly visible from Humboldt at that time.

At 9:24 p.m., “it will be rising but the the combination of a very low moon and the total eclipse phase will make the moon so dim that it will be extremely difficult to view until moon gets higher in the sky or the total phase ends.” 

The moon will be closest to the centre of shadow at 10:29 p.m. (-0.65 Magnitude). It will end at 11:52 p.m.

During this penumbral lunar eclipse, the Earth’s main shadow does not cover the Moon.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

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White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, BC study unveils – Terrace Standard

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White-throated sparrows are changing their tune — an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note.

Ken Otter, a biology professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, whose paper on the phenomenon was published on Thursday, said most bird species are slow to change their songs, preferring to stick with tried-and-true tunes to defend territories and attract females.

But the shift to this new tune went viral across Canada, travelling over 3,000 kilometres between 2000 and 2019 and wiping out a historic song ending in the process, he said.

“The song is always described as being ‘Oh My Sweet Canada Canada Canada Canada — so that Canada is three syllables. It’s a da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da sound. That’s the traditional description of the song going back into early 1900s,” Otter said in an interview Wednesday.

But now, the song has changed.

“The doublet sounds like Oh My Sweet Cana-Cana-Cana-da. They are stuttering and repeating the first two syllables and they are doing it very rapidly. It sounds very different.”

From British Columbia to central Ontario, these native birds have ditched their traditional three-note-ending song for a two-note-ending variant, he said, adding researchers still don’t know what has made the new tune so compelling.

Otter drew a comparison to people picking up the accent, phrases and pneumonics of a new area they move into.

“This is actually the opposite,” he said.

Male sparrows are showing up singing atypical songs but then others are starting to adopt that, and over time the dialect is actually changing within that site to the new type and replacing the old tune, he said.

“So it’s like somebody from Australia arriving in Toronto and people saying, ‘hey, that sounds really cool,’ mimicking an Australian accent and then after 10 years everybody in Toronto has an Australian accent,” he said.

“That’s why, at least within the scientific community, it’s getting so much interest. It is completely atypical to what you would predict around all the theories that you have about dialects.”

Otter and a team of citizen scientists have found that the new tune is not just more popular west of the Rocky Mountains, but was also spreading rapidly across Canada.

“Originally, we measured the dialect boundaries in 2004 and it stopped about halfway through Alberta,” he said in a news release.

“By 2014, every bird we recorded in Alberta was singing this western dialect, and we started to see it appearing in populations as far away as Ontario, which is 3,000 kilometres from us.”

The scientists predicted that the sparrows’ overwintering grounds were playing a role in the rapid spread of the two-note ending, he said.

Scientists believed that juvenile males may be able to pick up new song types if they overwinter with birds from other dialect areas, and take them to new locations when they return to breeding grounds, which could explain the spread, he said.

So they fitted the birds with geolocators — what Otter called “tiny backpacks” — to see if western sparrows that knew the new song might share overwintering grounds with eastern populations that would later adopt it.

“They found that they did,” he said in the release.

Otter said he does not know what has caused the change, and his team found that the new song didn’t give male birds a territorial advantage over others.

“In many previous studies, the females tend to prefer whatever the local song type is,” he said.

“But in white-throated sparrows, we might find a situation in which the females actually like songs that aren’t typical in their environment. If that’s the case, there’s a big advantage to any male who can sing a new song type.”

The new song can be chalked up to evolution, he said in the interview.

Otter said he prefers the two-note song because it sounds smoother.

“But I’m not a sparrow so it doesn’t really matter which one I prefer,” he said with a laugh.

But the tune may be continuing to change, he said adding scientists were supposed to study it this year but COVID-19 has put a damper on the field season.

“The two note is not the be all and end all because in the last five years we noticed a male that was singing something slightly different than the standard two note doublet song,” Otter said.

“And when we recorded it we noticed he was modifying the amplitude of the first note. And more of them are doing it now. We could be seeing waves of these things that we just never noticed before.”

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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