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SpaceX delays launch of next 60 Starlink internet satellites to Thursday – Space.com

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SpaceX has pushed the launch of its next big batch of Starlink internet satellites back two days, to Thursday (Sept. 3).

A Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to loft the 60 Starlink satellites on Tuesday morning (Sept. 1) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But those plans have changed, SpaceX representatives announced today (Aug. 31).

“Now targeting Thursday, September 3 at 8:46 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink from Launch Complex 39A, pending Range acceptance — team is using additional time for data review,” SpaceX said via Twitter this afternoon. (“Range” refers to the Eastern Range, the U.S. Space Force entity that oversees launches from the East Coast.)

SpaceX will attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a ship at sea during Thursday’s Starlink mission. You can watch all of Thursday’s action live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company.

SpaceX has already launched 600 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. But the constellation will get far bigger than that, if things go according to plan: SpaceX has approval to loft 12,000 Starlink spacecraft and has applied for permission to launch about 30,000 more on top of that.

The upcoming Starlink launch was originally targeted for Sunday (Aug. 30), but bad weather scuttled that attempt.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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NASA says bus-sized asteroid safely buzzed Earth | TheHill – The Hill

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NASA reported that an asteroid roughly the size of a school bus passed by Earth early Thursday morning, traveling from about 13,000 miles away. 

According to the government space agency, the rock made its closest approach to Earth around 7 a.m. EDT on Thursday, passing over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. 

NASA first reported on the asteroid on Tuesday, saying that scientists estimated the space rock was about 15 to 30 feet wide. Scientists predict that the asteroid will now travel around the sun and not make its way back into the Earth’s vicinity until 2041. 

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Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said Tuesday that space rocks such as these are relatively common and are not considered a threat to life on Earth. 

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” Chodas said. “In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”

He added that “the detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid surveys are continually improving, and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a couple days before they come near our planet.” 

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NASA said that while Thursday’s asteroid was not on a trajectory to hit Earth, it would have likely broken up in the atmosphere and become a bright meteor, known as a fireball, before causing any damage. 

This comes a month after NASA reported that an asteroid is on a path toward Earth one day before the U.S. presidential election, although the agency said that the chances of it actually hitting the Earth’s surface are less than 1 percent. NASA confirmed in a statement to The Hill last month that the rock would not pose a threat. 

“If it were to enter our planet’s atmosphere, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size,” a spokesperson said in the statement. “NASA has been directed by Congress to discover 90% of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters (459 feet) in size and reports on asteroids of any size.”

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UM physicists part of international team for historic first – UM Today

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September 24, 2020 — 

UM researchers on an international team of physicists have made the first precise measurement of the weak force between particles in the universe, verifying a theory of the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Using a device called the the Spallation Neutron Source at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the scientists were able to measure the weak force exerted between protons and neutrons by detecting the miniscule electrical signal produced when a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combined and then decayed moving through a target. 

The result was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

As described in the online news site Mirage News

The Standard Model describes the basic building blocks of matter in the universe and fundamental forces acting between them. Calculating and measuring the weak force between protons and neutrons is an extremely difficult task.

Their finding yielded the smallest uncertainty of any comparable weak force measurement in the nucleus of an atom to date, which establishes an important benchmark.

UM physicist Dr. Michael Gericke said:

When a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combine, the reaction produces an excited, unstable helium-4 isotope, decaying to one proton and one triton (consisting of two neutrons and one proton), both of which produce a tiny but detectable electrical signal as they move through the helium gas in the target cell.”

Gericke led the group that built the combined helium-3 target and detector system designed to pick up the very small signals and led the subsequent analysis.

Read the Mirage News story here.

An analysis and explanation of the discovery is here.

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Teenage British activist stages climate protest on Arctic ice floe – CBC.ca

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Like many of her generation, Mya-Rose Craig feels strongly that adults have failed to take the urgent action needed to tackle global warming and so she has headed to the Arctic Ocean to protest.

Armed with a placard reading “Youth Strike for Climate,” the 18-year-old British activist is staging the most northerly protest in a series of youth strikes worldwide.

The strikes, made famous by Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, are resuming after a lull caused by the global coronavirus pandemic to draw public attention back to the threat posed by climate change.

“I’m here to … try and make a statement about how temporary this amazing landscape is and how our leaders have to make a decision now in order to save it,” she told Reuters Television as she stood with her placard on the edge of the Arctic sea ice.

“I absolutely think that my generation has always had to think about climate change … which is why as we’ve got older there’s been this massive wave of just this need for change, this demand for change when we realized the grown-ups aren’t going to solve this, so we have to do it ourselves.”

Environmental activist and campaigner Mya-Rose Craig, 18, holds a cardboard sign reading “youth strike for climate” standing on the ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle, September 20, 2020. (Natalie Thomas/Reuters)

Craig, from southwest England, is known as “Birdgirl” online, where her blog chronicling her bird-watching experiences has attracted thousands of followers.

She has traveled hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle aboard a Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.

Climate data shows the Arctic is one of the fastest changing ecosystems on the planet, with serious consequences for wildlife from polar bears and seals to plankton and algae, while the melting sea ice contributes to rising sea levels worldwide.

Warming Arctic

Warming in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists said on Monday.

For Craig, getting to the ice floe involved a two-week quarantine in Germany, followed by a three-week voyage to the edge of the sea ice.

Craig said those who dismiss the youth protests as just a rebellious phase by her generation are wrong, and she wants those in power to stop treating climate change as a low-priority issue, raised only to appease “the lefties in the corner.”

“It’s everything now and it has to be treated like that,” she said.

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