CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has postponed the launch of its next batch of Starlink satellites due to bad weather at the mission’s launch site today (Jan. 27). The next attempt will be on Tuesday (Jan. 28), the company said.
The California-based spaceflight company was scheduled to launch 60 of its internet-beaming satellites at 9:49 a.m. EST (1449 GMT) today from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. However, high winds at the launch site prompted the delay.
You’ll be able to watch SpaceX’s Starlink launch here on Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning about 15 minutes before liftoff, courtesy of a SpaceX webcast. You can also watch that webcast directly from SpaceX here.
Poor weather conditions have plagued both the launch site and the recovery zone for several days. SpaceX completed its prelaunch testing for this mission last week, but had to work around the weather in determining a launch day.
SpaceX had a 50% chance of good launch weather today. Those odds improve tomorrow, which has an 80% chance of good weather, according to the 45th Weather Squadron of the U.S. Air Force.
Standing down today due to strong upper level winds. Next launch opportunity is tomorrow at 9:28 a.m. EST, or 14:28 UTC.January 27, 2020
This will be the third launch of the year for SpaceX. The star of this mission is a veteran flyer with two successful missions under its belt. The rocket, dubbed B1051.3 (an internal SpaceX identifier), previously hoisted a Crew Dragon capsule as part of the company’s uncrewed mission to the space station (Demo-1) in March 2019 as well as a trio of Earth-observing satellites for Canada in June 2019.
Tucked in the rocket’s nose cone is SpaceX’s fourth round of Starlink satellites, which are designed to provide global internet access.
The company launched its first group of 60 in May 2019, followed by an additional 60 in November and another 60 earlier this month. SpaceX plans for its burgeoning constellation to eventually number more than 40,000 satellites. And if all goes as planned on Tuesday, the launch will bring the current number of satellites to more than 200.
Musk has said that SpaceX will need at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit for “minor” broadband coverage and 800 for “moderate” coverage. The company claims it could begin offering broadband service in the United States sometime in 2020 with roughly half a dozen more launches.
For tomorrow’s mission, SpaceX will also attempt its 49th recovery of a Falcon 9’s first-stage booster, as the private spaceflight company plans to land the equipment on its drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
The company will also attempt to catch both halves of the rocket’s payload fairing using a pair of recovery vessels — Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief — outfitted with giant nets and stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit Space.com Tuesday for complete coverage of SpaceX’s Starlink launch.
New Species of Carnivorous Dinosaur Unveiled: Allosaurus jimmadseni | Paleontology – Sci-News.com
A new species of carnivorous theropod dinosaur has been identified from the fossilized remains discovered in the 1990s in northeastern Utah and Wyoming, the United States.
The newly-discovered dinosaur belongs to Allosauridae, a group of small to large-bodied, two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Dubbed Allosaurus jimmadseni, the species inhabited the flood plains of western North America during the Jurassic period.
The ancient creature was 8 to 9 m (26-29 feet) long and had a mass of around 1.8 metric tons. It had relatively long legs and tail, and long arms with three sharp claws.
At 155 million years old, Allosaurus jimmadseni is the geologically-oldest species of Allosaurus predating the more well-known Allosaurus fragilis.
The new species is distinguished by a number of unique features, including low crests running from above the eyes to the snout and a relatively narrow back of the skull with a flat surface to the bottom of the upper skull under the eyes.
Its skull was weaker with less of an overlapping field of vision than the younger Allosaurus fragilis.
“Previously, paleontologists thought there was only one species of Allosaurus in Jurassic North America, but this study shows there were two species — the newly-described Allosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least 5 million years earlier than its younger cousin, Allosaurus fragilis,” said Dr. Mark Loewen, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Utah and the University of Utah.
“The skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni is more lightly built than its later relative Allosaurus fragilis, suggesting a different feeding behavior between the two.”
Dr. Loewen and his colleague, Dr. Daniel Chure, a retired paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument, described the new species from two well-preserved skeletons and skulls.
The first specimen was found by Dr. George Engelmann from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, on July 15, 1990 during a contracted paleontological inventory of the Morrison Formation of Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah.
The second specimen was found by the commercial fossil collecting company Siber+Siber, Ltd. at the Howe Quarry, the Morrison Formation, Wyoming, in 1991.
“Recognizing a new species of dinosaur in rocks that have been intensely investigated for over 150 years is an outstanding experience of discovery,” Dr. Chure said.
“Allosaurus jimmadseni is a great example of just how much more we have to learn about the world of dinosaurs.”
“Many more exciting fossils await discovery in the Jurassic rocks of the American West.”
The team’s paper was published in the journal PeerJ.
D.J. Chure & M.A. Loewen. 2020. Cranial anatomy of Allosaurus jimmadseni, a new species from the lower part of the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Western North America. PeerJ 8: e7803; doi: 10.7717/peerj.7803
Stalking Starlink's 'DarkSat' – Universe Today
By now, you’ve no doubt heard of (or seen) Starlink. SpaceX’s mega-satellite constellation has become a permanent fixture in our skies as of late, with several routine passes on any given week. But have you seen the supposed ‘black sheep’ of the flock, DarkSat?
Starlink is looking to provide global internet access with latency (lag time) of 25/35 milliseconds, with connectivity speeds comparable to existing cable and fiber optic with services starting in late 2020. SpaceX recently announced that Starlink users will connect with the service via a ‘UFO on a Stick‘ antenna. (no kidding!)
Thus far, SpaceX has launched 182 Starlink satellites in three batches (that’s three times sixty, plus two early test satellites), and by the end of 2020, SpaceX will add nearly 1600 more satellites. SpaceX filed for 12,000 satellites to fill out the initial constellation, and there may ultimately be 42,000 Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit.
Each Starlink satellite is about the size of a table, and are flat-packed IKEA-style in the Falcon-9 nose fairing. Each satellite also sports a large solar panel that’s unfurled once they reach orbit.
Those numbers are also set to increase today, with the launch of Starlink 3 (batch number four) from Cape Canaveral Air Force station at 14:49 Universal Time (UT)/9:49 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST). SpaceX is now already the largest operator of satellites in low Earth orbit, and plans to reach a cadence of two Starlink launches a month, or one every two weeks.
The reality of ‘mega-satellite constellations’ such as Starlink in 2020 has also alarmed the astronomical community and generated controversy. Will artificial stars soon out number real ones in the night sky? This also comes as projects such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) are set to come online in the coming years.
The Rise of DarkSat
SpaceX made an
effort to address the issue during the November launch, and stated
that they painted one of the new Starlink satellites black in an
effort to reduce reflectivity. To date, SpaceX has not released
images of just what ‘DarkSat’ looks like up close. Several US
classified satellites such as Lacrosse 5 typically pull a ‘vanishing
act’ and are suspected of using some sort of stealth technology,
though of course, the U.S. Department of Defense isn’t sharing this
ability with SpaceX.
It took a while for
the identity of the rumored DarkSat to become general knowledge.
Typically, objects are cataloged by U.S. Combined Space Operations
Center (CSpOC) Space-Track shortly after launch, but the flood of new
objects generated by a typical Starlink launch poses a unique
challenge. The third batch launch (dubbed Starlink 2) that included
DarkSat put 60 objects in orbit.
T.S. Kelso over at Celestrak later identified DarkSat as NORAD ID 2020-001U (COSPAR ID 44932).
A discussion panel at the recent 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society addressed the Starlink issue. “The LSST survey is the most impacted by bright satellite trails because of its wide-fast-deep coverage of the sky,” Says Patrick Seitzer (University of Michigan) during the AAS panel on Starlink. “Original Starlinks will saturate detectors.” LSST is set to see first light in 2022.
satellites are also much more visible during original deployment than
when they reach operational orbits higher up. For comparison, the
original Iridium satellites were placed in an operational orbit 781
kilometers (485 miles) up, and where only visible to the naked eye
when they flared. The Starlink mega-constellation will deploy in
three orbital shells with operational altitudes of 340 kilometers
(210 miles), 550 kilometers (340 miles) and 1,150 kilometers (710
miles) respectively. As of writing this, DarkSat 2020-001U’s orbit
is still on the low end, at 366 by 368 kilometers. DarkSat should
reach operation altitude and orientation by the end of February 2020.
Like the Iridium
satellites, Starlink will also have an impact on the radio astronomy
end of the spectrum as well, something that’ll need to be
What Observers are Seeing
Want to track Starlink and DarkSat for yourself? – All of the Starlink payloads are up on Heavens-Above on both the App and the website… this great utility is probably the easiest way to catch a Starlink pass. If you have the site configured for your location, simply look for a string of dawn or dusk passes, and watch the region of the sky noted during the given time. Note that the brightness of the Starlink satellite train seems to be heavily dependent on the viewing geometry: for example, we’ve seen lots of bright flaring flashes well into the negative magnitudes as the train passes the same spot in the sky when a pass is around 45 degrees in elevation opposite to the Sun, while the train seems to have the same steady brightness when passing directly overhead near the zenith. When the satellites are lower towards the horizon in the sunward direction, however, they are considerably fainter, and only visible with binoculars.
“For the moment, nothing looks different between Darksat and the others,” veteran astrophotographer Thierry Legault told Universe Today. “When I filmed them, the units of the last launch were brighter than magnitude +2, that’s very bright!!!”
launches on schedule Monday, we can expect a deployment of the next
60 satellites in a ‘string of pearls’ configuration about an hour
later. Using orbital TLEs provided by Dr. Marco Langbroek, we see
good dusk passes Monday night centered on:
Paris: 16:45 UT
Norfolk: 22:45 UT
St. Louis: 00:20 UT
(on January 28th).
Los Angeles: 1:54 UT (on January 28th).
We managed to catch
a recent Starlink pass at dawn of the second batch launched in
November 2019 from here in Norfolk, Virginia as a set of two dozen
satellites equally spaced about five degrees apart caught the Sun’s
first rays passing out of the Earth’s shadow. They were also easily
visible to the naked eye, about as bright as the stars in the Big
Dipper asterism at magnitude +2.
Expect fielding an uptick in spurious UFO sightings versus Starlink as well. This is already happening, along with anomalous ‘mystery drone’ sightings out in the western U.S. OneWeb also plans to join the mega-satellite constellation game in 2020, with the launch of their first operational batch of 34 satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in early February 2020. Based on the first test batch of six OneWeb satellites launched in February 2019 these satellites are much fainter at +8th magnitude, though these will still show up on deep sky images.
It’s strange that this is our new reality. Controversy notwithstanding, Starlink seems set to be a modern reality for the night sky, and backyard satellite trackers are playing a crucial role in documenting exactly what they are seeing as the modern mega-constellations unfurl overhead.
Follow us (@Astroguyz) on Twitter for latest updates on how to see the latest Starlink-4 satellite train in orbit.
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover 'forgot' its location and now won't move – TweakTown
NASA has encountered a slight problem with their Mars rover called Curiosity. The problem isn’t a very good one either because Curiosity is refusing to move.
NASA has released a new report that reveals that Curiosity has temporarily stopped moving. So why did this happen? Curiosity is equipped with a series of safety regulations that have been implemented into the rover to ensure its safety when traversing the dangerous landscape of Mars. Curiosity measures the surroundings relative to its body before making a move, and some of these measurements are the current altitude, surrounding rock formation, slope steepness, etc.
Before any movement is made by Curiosity, all of these measurements have to be evaluated and deemed ‘safe’. If one of these safety checks are calculated to be ‘not safe’ then Curiosity won’t turn on its motor and remain still, which is exactly what the rover has just done. In the report, NASA says that “Curiosity lost its orientation” because “Some knowledge of its attitude was not quite right, so it couldn’t make the essential safety evaluation“. Curiosity relayed this information back to NASA, and NASA began forming a plan to inform Curiosity of its surroundings correctly.
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover
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