MOSCOW – An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.
The Progress MS-16 cargo ship blasted off as scheduled at 9:45 a.m. (0445 GMT) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and reached a designated orbit en route to the station.
It is carrying water, propellant and other supplies and is set to dock at the space outpost on Wednesday.
The space outpost is now operated by NASA’s Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi; and Russian Space Agency Roscosmos’ Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
Hot Super-Earth Discovered 26 Light-Years Away | Astronomy – Sci-News.com
Astronomers from the CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs) consortium have detected a short-period rocky planet orbiting the red dwarf Gliese 486.
Also known as GJ 486, Wolf 437, LHS 341, and HIC 62452, the star is much fainter and cooler than the Sun.
The newfound planet orbits the star once every 1.5 days at a distance of 2.5 million km.
Designated Gliese 486b, it belongs to a class of exoplanets called super-Earths.
It has a radius of 1.31 Earth radii, a mass 2.8 times that of our home planet, but has a similar density.
Its composition is not its only distinguishing feature — its relative closeness to Earth makes it an ideal candidate for observations with the next generation of astronomical technology.
“The proximity of this exoplanet is exciting because it will be possible to study it in more detail with powerful telescopes such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and the various Extremely Large Telescopes such as the GMT and TMT,” said Dr. Trifon Trifonov, an astronomer at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie.
“Within the next few years, we hope to use transit spectroscopy to search for signs of an atmosphere and possibly determine this planet’s surface composition.”
With an equilibrium surface temperature of 700 K (427 degrees Celsius, 801 degrees Fahrenheit), Gliese 486b is too hot to support life as we know it.
“You wouldn’t be able to go outside without some kind of spacesuit,” said Dr. Ben Montet, an astronomer in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales.
“The gravity is also 70% stronger than on Earth, making it harder to walk and jump. Someone who weighed 50 kg on Earth would feel like they weighed 85 kg on Gliese 486b.”
“If it had been around a hundred degrees hotter all its surface would be lava, and its atmosphere would be vaporized rock,” said Dr. José Antonio Caballero, an astronomer at the Astrobiology Centre (CAB, CSIC-INTA).
“On the other hand, if Gliese 486b had been around a hundred degrees cooler, it would not have been suitable for the follow-up observations.”
The astronomers detected Gliese 486b using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and ground-based telescopes in Spain, the United States, Chile and Hawaii.
“This is the kind of planet we’ve been dreaming about for decades,” Dr. Montet said.
“We’ve known for a long time that rocky super-Earths must exist around the nearby stars, but we haven’t had the technology to search for them until recently.”
The discovery is reported in a paper published this week in the journal Science.
T. Trifonov et al. 2021. A nearby transiting rocky exoplanet that is suitable for atmospheric investigation. Science 371 (6533): 1038-1041; doi: 10.1126/science.abd7645
Local COVID count up 24, active cases climb to 122 – BlackburnNews.com
Local COVID count up 24, active cases climb to 122
March 5, 2021 9:59am
Another two dozen new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Sarnia-Lambton.
Lambton Public Health said Friday that the total case count since March 25, 2020 has increased by 24 to 2,187.
The number of resolved cases increased by eight, pushing active cases up by 16 to 122.
The death toll stands at 46, unchanged since February 17.
The health unit was continuing to work with Kettle and Stony Point officials to manage a serious outbreak at the First Nation. Chief Jason Henry said Friday that there are now 34 active cases in the community, up from 22.
There are still six institutional and workplace outbreaks, and Bluewater Health has three positive patients in hospital.
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board reported that one staff member at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Sarnia has tested positive.
Lambton County is staying at the “Red-Control” level in the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework. On Friday the government announced that its stay-at-home order is being lifted as of Monday for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay/Parry Sound. Toronto and Peel move into the strictest “Grey-Lockdown” category while North Bay will be placed in red. Seven other regions are moving to different restriction levels. Peterborough, Sudbury and Simcoe-Muskoka will go into red, Haldimand-Norfolk and Temiskaming will be orange; and Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge, and Renfrew County, will go into yellow.
Mars Rover Addresses Parachute Damage Problem That Delayed Launch To 2022 – Forbes
A “new parachute strategy” is in place to let the Rosalind Franklin rover finally leave for Mars in 2022, according to a mission update.
The European Space Agency and partner Roscosmos made the tough call almost exactly a year ago to delay the mission, the latest in the ExoMars series, from a launch in 2020. Missing the launch window meant they lose the chance to arrive at Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover in February, but it was a necessary decision.
What troubled mission managers last March was a series of parachute problems, compounded with the emergence of the novel coronavirus pandemic that made testing even more difficult than usual.
But everyone has been hard at work (with safety precautions) in the months since. Recently, ESA finished two balancing tests in Cannes, France, including a composite spacecraft spin test generating an acceleration equivalent to twice Earth’s gravity. They conducted simulated rover operations in Turin, Italy. And on the parachute side, there’s been a lot of progress, the agency said in the update.
ESA asked a second manufacturer to provide canopies for a new high-altitude drop test in May or June this year in Sweden, to make sure everything is working correctly. The new manufacturer is Airborne Systems, the same company that helped get Perseverance to Mars on Feb. 18, and they will assist parachute maker Arescosmo.
Parachute damage problems keep cropping up during testing, happening again in November 2020 — but ESA said the problem is less severe than the tests in 2019, indicating progress. Now there’s a plan to deploy even “stronger and more robust” parachute canopies next time, along with redesigned bags and a new packing procedure that should minimize any tangles during deployment.
Since there’s only one chance to land safely on Mars, ESA plans yet another high-altitude test in Oregon sometime between September and November. A final, optional testing opportunity is scheduled for February or March in Oregon, if needed. In between these drop tests, ESA will use a ground facility to verify any changes to the parachute design.
The agency is being extra-careful as it hasn’t made it to Mars’ surface safely yet; the Schiaparelli test vehicle may have exploded upon impact in 2016, and the Beagle 2 mission failed to phone home after its 2003 attempt.
“High altitude drop tests require complex logistics and strict weather conditions, making them difficult to schedule,” ESA explained. “The ground tests can be repeated on a quick turnaround, buying significantly more time in the test campaign and reducing risk by allowing more tests to be conducted on a short time frame.”
Rosalind Franklin will be a crucial addition to Mars efforts, helping with ongoing searches for signs of life on the Red Planet. NASA and the European Space Agency are also planning a sample return mission as soon as this decade, to get interesting rocks from Mars into high-end laboratories on Earth. But that sample return mission will depend on funding, technical know-how and political will; Rosalind Franklin is likely a crucial piece in proving the next mission can go ahead.
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