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NASA's newest X-ray telescope rockets into orbit – WellandTribune.ca

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s newest X-ray observatory rocketed into orbit Thursday to shed light on exploded stars, black holes and other violent high-energy events unfolding in the universe.

SpaceX launched the spacecraft on its $188 million mission from Kennedy Space Center. It’s called IXPE, short for Imaging X-ray Polarization Explorer.

Scientists said the observatory — actually three telescopes in one — will unveil the most dramatic and extreme parts of the universe as never before.

“IXPE is going to open a new window on the X-ray sky,” Brian Ramsey, NASA’s deputy principal scientist, said this week.

Operations should begin next month. NASA is partnering with the Italian Space Agency on the project.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Western scientists study meteorite made famous after crashing into B.C. woman's bedroom – CBC.ca

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A meteorite that ripped through a roof and landed inches from a B.C. woman’s head is believed to be around 470 million years old, Western researchers say. 

Ruth Hamilton of Golden, B.C. was woken abruptly on the night of Oct. 3, when the small charcoal grey rock the size of a melon broke through her ceiling and landed between her floral pillowcases. 

After coming to terms with the surreal experience, she lent the rock to Western University’s physics and astronomy department in London, Ont., where researchers are working to map its orbital journey around the sun before it arrived in Hamilton’s bedroom. 

“It was very exciting getting it because any time you see a new meteorite, it’s kind of like Christmas Day,” said adjunct professor Phil McCausland, who leads the investigation.  

A hole in the ceiling is seen above a meteorite resting on a bed inside a residential building in Golden, B.C., in an undated handout photo. Ruth Hamilton says she was sound asleep when she was awakened by her dog barking, the sound of a crash through her ceiling and the feeling of debris on her face. (Submitted by Ruth Hamilton)

Upon inspection, McCausland found that the meteorite is an L chondrite, one of the most commonly found types of meteorites to fall on Earth.

What’s not so common about Hamilton’s meteorite is where it originates in the sky.

“This rock has a very interesting and unusual orbit,” said McCausland. 

The meteorite is embedded with shards of plywood and metal from the roof. (Submitted by Phil McCausland)

“Chondrite meteors are thought with good evidence to have come from the early solar system, but they went through a major asteroid breakup event. So there is a big body in the asteroid belt that broke up about 470 million years ago,” he said. 

“From then, a bunch of material has been delivered around the inner solar system, some of it arriving on Earth. And this, prospectively, is one of those pieces.”  

McCausland said so far, the orbits of only a handful of L chondrite meteors are known. 

“What happens out in space is that the cosmic rays interact with the rock and end up irradiating it, so that it has somewhat activated isotopes that decay over time,” he said. “We can detect what the decay products are that are coming out of this, the gamma rays and so on. And that gives us a handle on the orbital history of the rock.” 

Afternoon Drive9:04Meteorite analysis at Western University

Phil McCausland, an adjunct professor at Western University, and lead investigator, speaks with CBC Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre about a meteorite discovered in Golden, B.C. 9:04

He added that researchers are looking to dash cam and surveillance footage, as well as local photographers who captured the fireball event, to reconstruct the rock’s flight path. 

Under Canadian law, the meteor is owned by its finder – in this case, Ruth Hamilton. It’s hers to sell, donate, or keep. 

Meanwhile, McCausland will ensure a sample is registered with the Meteoritical Society, where it will be available for future scientific research.
 

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How to Take Care of Air Plants – Lifehacker

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Photo: Al Cole (Shutterstock)

Despite the classic excuse of not having a “green thumb,” keeping a houseplant alive has more to do with the ability to make and remember to stick to a schedule than being born without a pretend gene that makes you good at gardening. (And if you have a literal green thumb, you may want to have a medical profession look at it.)

But some houseplants are definitely easier to care for than others, and people who travel a lot, or find it difficult to remember to water their plants may want to opt for varieties that are more self-sufficient. And when it comes to being low maintenance, it’s hard to beat air plants. Still, they’re not completely hands-off and do require some occasional care. Here’s what to know.

What is an air plant?

Officially called Tillandsias, there are more than 600 types of air plants. And while they’re native to the southern parts to the United States and through Central and South America, it’s possible to grow air plants indoors in any climate. And yes, they got their name because they don’t need soil to grow.

Air plants are epiphytes, “which means they use their roots to cling onto supports such as tree branches and rocks, similar to the way orchids grow,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac. “Instead of soaking up water and nutrients through their roots, they use trichomes, special scale-like structures on their leaves, to do the job.”

How to take care of an air plant

First of all, never plant an air plant in soil, or put one in a terrarium. Instead, pop them into a cup or bowl or vase, and place them somewhere that gets between four and six hours of filtered natural light each day. Also, make sure the temperature is between the 50s and 90s (which shouldn’t be difficult indoors).

Air plants need to be soaked—not watered in the traditional sense—once every two weeks. To do this, take the plant out of its usual home and submerge it in a bowl of either rainwater or bottled drinking water (softened and/or tap water contains minerals that can harm the air plants) for about an hour.

After its bath, shake the plant out to remove as much of the water as possible (so it doesn’t rot when it goes back into its usual pot or vase). If an air plant’s leaves start turning brown, it means that it needs to be watered more frequently. And if any of the leaves die completely, cut them off with a pair of sharp scissors.

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Roberta Bondar flew into space 30 years ago and never saw Earth the same after that – CBC.ca

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It’s been 30 years since Roberta Bondar was strapped into a five-point harness on the space shuttle Discovery and blasted into fame as Canada’s first female astronaut.

But first, she left a tearful farewell recording for her mom, in case of disaster. It was the first time a Canadian had been part of a shuttle launch since the devastating Challenger explosion that killed seven crew members six years earlier.

“For me, being the first was not about breaking records. It was the idea that there was somebody who represented strength and valour and bravery,” Bondar, 76, told Piya Chattopadhyay of CBC Radio’s The Sunday Magazine.

Bondar joked that people saw her as either “brave or out of her mind.”

There are a few things people may not know about Bondar. Her name is pronounced BOND-ur, not bond-ARE.

In space, she played renditions of O Canada as she drifted above planet Earth. And what she saw as she was tossed like a slow-motion dice changed her.

Bondar was first neurologist in space and helped conduct experiments in the International Microgravity Laboratory. (The Roberta Bondar Foundation)

“In space tumbling around and being at all angles … develop[s] a different perspective,” said Bondar, who now lives in Toronto.

“I like reflecting back to it in the moments when I have some peaceful time, especially out in the natural world. I think about being away from the planet and how much the planet meant to me.”

Blazing trails in space 

Bondar dreamed of space travel since grade school. She defied her high school guidance counsellor — who dissuaded her from pursuing science saying it wasn’t a subject for girls — and a lot of odds to eventually earn a spot on the U.S. space shuttle Discovery’s flight that blasted off on Jan. 22, 1992.

“No one had done any of this. I was really on the tip of the prow of a ship plowing through heavy seas. There were no role models for me in Canada,” said Bondar.

Now, decades later, there are schools in Bondar’s name and a Canadian postage stamp with her face.

“Being the first Canadian woman was a big thing because it supposedly was going to show the diversity of the space program, which is — I don’t want to choke over it — but I’m not sure that we have that, still,” said Bondar.

Bondar inspired would-be female astronaut candidates like Alberta’s Shawna Pandya. She said she’s been fascinated by the night sky and space travel since childhood. Pandya followed in Bondar’s footsteps, getting a degree in neuroscience and studying medicine before attending the International Space University in France.

“I remember being obsessed with reading about Dr. Bondar’s trajectory. She inspired me in so many ways. She was hugely influential with the trails that she blazed,” said Pandya.

Despite Bondar’s inroads, astronaut recruitment programs don’t reflect Canada’s diversity, still leaning toward military-trained males, according to Bondar.

Bondar works in the International Microgravity Laboratory with U.S. astronaut Steve Oswald on Jan. 22, 1992. (NASA)

NASA confirmed that 73 women have been to space — about 12 per cent of all people sent there so far.

“We can continue to expect it to increase as astronaut classes are increasingly diverse. Canada’s last astronaut selection was 50/50,” said Stephanie Schierholz, lead spokesperson for NASA public affairs.

The first woman in space was cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on the Soviet Union’s Vostok 6 in 1963. America’s first woman in space was Sally Ride, a California physicist aboard the Challenger’s STS-7 mission that blasted off on June 18, 1983.

Currently, NASA’s Artemis program aims to land the first woman on the moon by 2024.

Fierce competition

Competition to be selected as an astronaut is fierce and often foreign nationals like Bondar are seen as “taking up space,” she said. On board the shuttle, Bondar performed like any male crew member.

Commander Ronald Grabe voluntarily gave her his bunk or sleeping cabinet spot so she would not have to share with a male crew member.

“He didn’t have to do that. That’s the only special treatment I got as a female,” said Bondar.

And she risked losing her coveted spot on the shuttle when she “kicked up a fuss” over the treatment of her family.

The space shuttle Discovery soars from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 30, 1984, beginning its maiden voyage and a storied spaceflight career that spanned more than 26 years. (NASA)

Bondar’s father had died in 1985. In 1992, only her mother and sister came to see the launch at the Cape Canaveral Complex 39-A in Florida. While other astronaut families watched from a room in the assembly tower, Bondar’s family members remained in the public gallery.

They were also denied the privilege of greeting Bondar when she landed at the Edwards Air Force Base in California after eight days in orbit.

“The rules said that unless you had a spouse or a dog, you couldn’t have someone greet you. So I wasn’t married. I didn’t have a dog. I had a mother and a sister.”

Bondar urges people to ask ‘why’

In the end, after a fight, Bondar’s mother did greet her, but her sister waved from behind barbed wire.

That moment still stings.

Bondar is adamant that it was her supportive family, not rocket fuel, that really launched her.

It was a childhood of asking: Why?

“If we don’t ask those deep questions about what’s out there … then we are never going to evolve,” Bondar said.

Payload specialist Bondar holds oat seedlings up to the video camera aboard Discovery on Jan. 25, 1992. (NASA/The Associated Press)

Now the first neurologist in space has evolved into an avid wildlife photographer. She now studies endangered migratory birds and runs the Toronto-based Roberta Bondar Foundation. She says her new mission is fusing art and science in an effort to protect the planet.

“When you look at Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, you see the work that was done. It captures both art and science. So at some point along our path, art and science split.

“I’m not sure that was the best thing to do because scientists have to be creative or they couldn’t possibly develop ways of looking at things with different perspectives. And artists really have to understand some science.”

She said in space it was the absence of Earth’s sounds and smells that she noticed most. No bird song. No scent of forest rain. That’s when she says that she realized just how much Earth really meant to her.

Bondar and the rest of the Discovery mission crew returned to Earth at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Jan. 30, 1992. (CBC)


Written by Yvette Brend. Produced by Annie Bender.

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