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Spacewalk Successful as Shenzhou-12 Crew Settles Into Life Aboard China's Space Station – Caixin Global



“Wow, it’s so beautiful out here!” Chinese astronaut Liu Boming gasped as he slipped out of the Tianhe core module of China’s space station to begin a spacewalk at 8:11 a.m. on Sunday.

Liu was conducting the mission’s first extravehicular activity to install equipment such as foot restraints and workbench on a robotic arm. He is one of three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, which was launched on June 17 to visit the Tiangong space station. They will remain in orbit for three months to carry out repairs and other tasks.

About three hours later, fellow astronaut Tang Hongbo pulled himself out of Tianhe to assist Liu in finishing the equipment installation. They also worked together to lift a panoramic camera outside the core module before completing their spacewalk at 2:57 p.m.

Tang Hongbo eats an apple in the Tianhe core module. Photo: VCG

The successful spacewalk was the second in Chinese history after Zhai Zhigang performed a nearly 20-minute spacewalk in 2008 during the Shenzhou-7 mission. The Tianhe core module was launched into space in April, marking the start of the Tiangong space station deployment slated to be completed within two years.

According to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), the latest spacewalk lays a foundation for smooth implementation of future extravehicular activities on the space station. The country plans to carry out 11 missions to help with the construction of Tiangong, including four manned launches, Caixin has previously reported.

On June 17, China successfully sent the three astronauts into space to board the Tianhe core module. Yang Liwei, director of the CMSEO and the first Chinese astronaut sent into space, told the state-run broadcaster CCTV that he was “so envious of them” as their new home is so much more capacious than the 2.8 meter-wide Shenzhou-5 he crammed into in 2003.

Tianhe provides astronauts a working and living space of about 50 cubic meters, Bai Linhou, the space station’s deputy chief designer, told CCTV.

The total space available in the core module, including the manned and cargo spaceships, is now nearly 150 cubic meters, 10 times larger than the past, Bai said, calling the current accommodations a “villa” by comparison.

Each astronaut has their own bedroom, though the team shares a single bathroom, amenities which are designed to help maintain their physical and mental well-being while in conditions of extended weightlessness and confined space, said Huang Weifen, chief designer of astronaut systems for the space program.

The three-month stay is likely to test the endurance of the astronauts as they seek to avoid illness and respond to potential emergency incidents. To keep tabs on the well-being of the crew, Tianhe has been equipped with an acoustic and optical alarm system to act as an early warning system on the ground for monitoring, Huang said.

By doing this, its not necessary for the astronauts to stay awake and be on guard at all ties, she said. In addition, the core module has special heating equipment, dedicated areas with suitable lighting for ensuring they sleep well, and a pantry stocked with more than 120 types of space food.


A bag of apple floats in the Tianhe core module. Photo: VCG

To keep their muscles from atrophying, astronauts must undertake at least two hours of exercises, three to four times a week, on treadmills and stationary bicycles designed to address issues of long-term weightlessness.

“Astronauts (can) adjust their mood and have fun, while watching movies, listening to their favorite music as well as reading books,” Huang said. “We’ve also developed a virtual reality-based system via which astronauts can see their families, familiar life scenes and beautiful landscapes.”

Yang said the mission was doing everything possible to allow the space crew to enjoy a comfortable life in orbit.

Among the new technologies is a regenerative life-support system in which Chinese astronauts’ urine and body moisture can be recycled into distilled water they can safely drink and use during sanitary work, said Pang Zhihao, a researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology. The system also produces oxygen by water electrolysis, he said.

As astronauts need to stay in space for longer periods, there is a tradeoff involved with the resources they need to sustain themselves. By recycling as much as possible, this reduces the need for more powerful launch vehicles as well as saving money, Pang said.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong ( and editor Lu Zhenhua (

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Facial Recognition—Now for Seals – Hakai Magazine



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Have you ever looked at a seal and thought, Is that the same seal I saw yesterday? Well, there could soon be an app for that based on new seal facial recognition technology. Known as SealNet, this seal face-finding system was developed by a team of undergraduate students from Colgate University in New York.

Taking inspiration from other technology adapted for recognizing primates and bears, Krista Ingram, a biologist at Colgate University, led the students in developing software that uses deep learning and a convolutional neural network to tell one seal face from another. SealNet is tailored to identify the harbor seal, a species with a penchant for posing on coasts in haulouts.

The team had to train their software to identify seal faces. “I give it a photograph, it finds the face, [and] clips it to a standard size,” says Ingram. But then she and her students would manually identify the nose, the mouth, and the center of the eyes.

For the project, team members snapped more than 2,000 pictures of seals around Casco Bay, Maine, during a two-year period. They tested the software using 406 different seals and found that SealNet could correctly identify the seals’ faces 85 percent of the time. The team has since expanded its database to include around 1,500 seal faces. As the number of seals logged in the database goes up, so too should the accuracy of the identification, Ingram says.

The developers of SealNet trained a neural network to tell harbor seals apart using photos of 406 different seals. Photo courtesy of Birenbaum et al.

As with all tech, however, SealNet is not infallible. The software saw seal faces in other body parts, vegetation, and even rocks. In one case, Ingram and her students did a double take at the uncanny resemblance between a rock and a seal face. “[The rock] did look like a seal face,” Ingram says. “The darker parts were about the same distance as the eyes … so you can understand why the software found a face.” Consequently, she says it’s always best to manually check that seal faces identified by the software belong to a real seal.

Like a weary seal hauling itself onto a beach for an involuntary photo shoot, the question of why this is all necessary raises itself. Ingram believes SealNet could be a useful, noninvasive tool for researchers.

Of the world’s pinnipeds—a group that includes seals, walruses, and sea lions—harbor seals are considered the most widely dispersed. Yet knowledge gaps do exist. Other techniques to track seals, such as tagging and aerial monitoring, have their limitations and can be highly invasive or expensive.

Ingram points to site fidelity as an aspect of seal behavior that SealNet could shed more light on. The team’s trials indicated that some harbor seals return to the same haulout sites year after year. Other seals, however, such as two animals the team nicknamed Clove and Petal, appeared at two different sites together. Increasing scientists’ understanding of how seals move around could strengthen arguments for protecting specific areas, says Anders Galatius, an ecologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who was not involved in the project.

Galatius, who is responsible for monitoring Denmark’s seal populations, says the software “shows a lot of promise.” If the identification rates are improved, it could be paired with another photo identification method that identifies seals by distinctive markings on their pelage, he says.

In the future, after further testing, Ingram hopes to develop an app based on SealNet. The app, she says, could possibly allow citizen scientists to contribute to logging seal faces. The program could also be adapted for other pinnipeds and possibly even for cetaceans.

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NASA launches nanosatellite in preparation for lunar 'Gateway' station – Yahoo News Canada



The rocket carrying the Capstone satellite lifts off. (NASA)

Nasa has launched a tiny CubeSat this week to test and orbit which will soon be used by Gateway, a lunar space station.

It’s all part of the space agency’s plan to put a woman on the moon by 2025.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (Capstone) mission launched from New Zealand on Tuesday.

Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, said: “Capstone is an example of how working with commercial partners is key for Nasa’s ambitious plans to explore the moon and beyond.

“We’re thrilled with a successful start to the mission and looking forward to what Capstone will do once it arrives at the Moon.”

Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

The satellite is currently in low-Earth orbit, and it will take the spacecraft about four months to reach its targeted lunar orbit.

Capstone is attached to Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third stage that will send it on its way to deep space.

Over the next six days, Photon’s engine will periodically ignite to accelerate it beyond low-Earth orbit, where Photon will release the CubeSat on a trajectory to the moon.

Capstone will then use its own propulsion and the sun’s gravity to navigate the rest of the way to the Moon.

The gravity-driven track will dramatically reduce the amount of fuel the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon.

Read more: There might once have been life on the moon

Bradley Cheetham, principal investigator for CAPSTONE and chief executive officer of Advanced Space, “Our team is now preparing for separation and initial acquisition for the spacecraft in six days.

“We have already learned a tremendous amount getting to this point, and we are passionate about the importance of returning humans to the Moon, this time to stay!”

At the moon, Capstone will enter an elongated orbit called a near rectilinear halo orbit, or NRHO.

Once in the NRHO, Capstone will fly within 1,000 miles of the moon’s north pole on its near pass and 43,500 miles from the south pole at its farthest.

It will repeat the cycle every six-and-a-half days and maintain this orbit for at least six months to study dynamics.

“Capstone is a pathfinder in many ways, and it will demonstrate several technology capabilities during its mission timeframe while navigating a never-before-flown orbit around the Moon,” said Elwood Agasid, project manager for Capstone at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

“Capstone is laying a foundation for Artemis, Gateway, and commercial support for future lunar operations.”

Nasa estimates the cost of the whole Artemis mission at $28bn.

It would be the first time people have walked on the moon since the last Apollo moon mission in 1972.

Just 12 people have walked on the moon – all men.

Nasa flew six manned missions to the surface of the moon, beginning with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969, up to Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt in December 1972.

The mission will use Nasa’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Orion spacecraft.

Watch: NASA launch paves way for moon orbit station

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The year’s biggest and brightest supermoon will appear in July & here’s when you’ll … – Curiocity



Summer is here and with it? Sunshine – and some serious moonshine (of the visible variety, of course). This upcoming month, look up in anticipation of the biggest and brightest event of the year, the July Buck supermoon – which will hover over North America on July 13th.

Appearing 7% larger and lower in the sky, this particular event will be one well worth keeping an eye on when it rises above the horizon.

This will be the closest we’ll get to our celestial neighbour in 2022 (357,418 km) and while North America won’t get to see it when it reaches peak illumination at 2:38 pm ETC., it’ll still look pretty dang impressive after the sunsets.

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Not sure when the moon rises in your area? Here’s the earliest that you’ll be able to see the moon in various cities across the continent according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

  • Seattle, Washington  – 9:50 pm PDT
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – 10:02 pm PDT
  • Calgary, Alberta – 10:35 pm MST
  • Edmonton, Alberta – 10:49 pm MST
  • Toronto, Ontario – 9:34 pm MST
  • Montreal, Quebec – 9:18 pm MST

Until then, cross your fingers for a clear sky, friends! It’s going to be incredible.

Happy viewing.


When: Wednesday, July 13th

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