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SpaceX's astronaut-riding Dragon approaches space station – CTV News



SpaceX delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Sunday, following up a historic liftoff with an equally smooth docking in yet another first for Elon Musk’s company.

With test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken poised to take over manual control if necessary, the SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the station and docked automatically, no assistance needed.

It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the orbiting lab in its nearly 20 years. NASA considers this the opening volley in a business revolution encircling Earth and eventually stretching to the moon and Mars.

The docking occurred just 19 hours after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Saturday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, the nation’s first astronaut launch to orbit from home soil in nearly a decade.

Thousands jammed surrounding beaches, bridges and towns to watch as SpaceX became the world’s first private company to send astronauts into orbit, and ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA.

A few hours before docking, the Dragon riders reported that the capsule was performing beautifully. Just in case, they slipped back into their pressurized launch suits and helmets for the rendezvous.

The three space station residents kept cameras trained on the incoming capsule for the benefit of flight controllers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Gleaming white in the sunlight, the Dragon was easily visible from a few miles out, its nose cone open and exposing its docking hook as well as a blinking light. The capsule loomed ever larger on live NASA TV as it closed the gap.

Hurley and Behnken took over the controls and did a little piloting less than a couple hundred yards (meters) out as part of the test flight, before putting it back into automatic for the final approach. Hurley said the capsule handled “really well, very crisp.”

SpaceX and NASA officials had held off on any celebrations until after Sunday morning’s docking — and possibly not until the two astronauts are back on Earth sometime this summer.

NASA has yet to decide how long Hurley and Behnken will spend at the space station, somewhere between one and four months. While they’re there, the Dragon test pilots will join the one U.S. and two Russian station residents in performing experiments and possibly spacewalks to install fresh station batteries.

In a show-and-tell earlier Sunday, the astronauts gave a quick tour of the Dragon’s sparkling clean insides, quite spacious for a capsule. They said the liftoff was pretty bumpy and dynamic, nothing the simulators could have mimicked.

The blue sequined dinosaur accompanying them — their young sons’ toy, named Tremor — was also in good shape, Behnken assured viewers. Tremor was going to join Earthy, a plush globe delivered to the space station on last year’s test flight of a crew-less crew Dragon. Behnken said both toys would return to Earth with them at mission’s end.

An old-style capsule splashdown is planned.

After liftoff, Musk told reporters that the capsule’s return will be more dangerous in some ways than its launch. Even so, getting the two astronauts safely to orbit and then the space station had everyone breathing huge sighs of relief.

As always, Musk was looking ahead.

“This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars,” he said Saturday evening.

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Rare comet passing over Manitoba sky | CTV News – CTV News Winnipeg



Stargazers in Manitoba can get a glimpse of the brightest comet in years as it hurtles past Earth over the next several days.

Comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3, named after the satellite that first discovered it, has been travelling towards Earth in recent days, before it returns to the outer edges of the solar system.

Photos submitted from Manitobans show the comet as it appeared in the morning sky on Thursday.

(Comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3 is pictured over Winnipeg in a pair of photos take July 9, 2020. Source: Roy Jemison)

comet neowise

(Comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3 is visible over Steinbach on July 9, 2020. SOURCE: Christopher Bleasdale)

Scott Young, who is the manager of the Planetarium and Science Gallery at the Manitoba Museum, said this comet wasn’t expected to be as bright as it is.

“This wasn’t predicted to be all that impressive but as it swung around the soon it suddenly burst into brightness,” said Young.

It’s one of the few “naked-eye comets” of the 21st century, meaning it can be seen without a telescope. The comet was first discovered on March 27, 2020, and NASA was unsure if it would make it to Earth as the comet travelled towards the sun.

Young said over the next several days this will be the only time to see the comet.

“We won’t see it again for at least 6,000 years. So it’s kind of your only chance.”


(SOURCE: Scott Young/Manitoba Museum)

Young added the reason why this comet is so unique is because of how bright it is.

“I can count on the fingers of one hand how many comets we’ve had that have been this impressive. I mean, I have seen a lot of comets, but there’s only a couple that have outshone this in my entire lifetime.”

NASA said the comet will likely be visible in the early morning sky until July 11. It will be visible in the early evening sky after July 11.

Young says if people want to see it, it’s best to be away from the city and all the lights.


(SOURCE: Scott Young/Manitoba Museum)

– With files from CTV’s Jackie Dunham.


This is a corrected story. The original story said the comet was discovered in 2009, when it was discovered this year.

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Scientists Discover Unexplained Glowing Circles of Energy in Space – VICE



​The Tycho supernova. Image: NASA/CXC/RIKEN & GSFC/T. Sato et al; Optical: DSS

The Tycho supernova. Image: NASA/CXC/RIKEN & GSFC/T. Sato et al; Optical: DSS 

Astronomers have discovered a bunch of weird unidentified circles in space, visible only in radio light, thanks to images captured by one of the most sensitive observatories on the planet.

The mysterious rings “do not seem to correspond to any known type of object” and so have been simply dubbed Odd Radio Circles, or ORCs, according to a new study, led by Western Sydney University astrophysicist Ray Norris.

“We have discovered, to the best of our knowledge, a new class of radio-astronomical object, consisting of a circular disc, which in some cases is limb-brightened, and sometimes contains a galaxy at its centre,” Norris and his colleagues said in the study, which was recently posted on the preprint server arXiv and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

“None of the known types of radio object seems able to explain it,” the team said.

The team describes four of these inscrutable ORCs, three of which were detected by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, a network of radio antennae that covers four square kilometers of the Australian Mid West. ASKAP has been scanning the sky in the radio spectrum to create an Evolutionary Map of the Universe that could help scientists better understand the development of stars and galaxies.

Norris and his colleagues noticed three odd blobs in ASKAP’s 2019 observations. Each of the circles measures about one arcminute across, which is roughly equivalent to 3 percent the diameter of the Moon. However, it’s difficult to tell how far away the ORCs are based on these images, and that in turn makes it challenging to estimate the actual size of the objects, at least until more detailed observations are made.

The glowing circles are so bizarre that Norris and his colleagues wondered if they might be an instrumental glitch, especially since radio imagery often contains errors that look like rounded apparitions, according to the study.

But when the team went hunting through archival datasets, they were surprised to discover that a fourth ORC was imaged all the way back in 2013 by India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, though nobody had made note of it at the time.

By combing through past radio surveys, as well as obtaining new images with the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the researchers were able to collect at least two independent observations of each ORC. The fact that the circles show up across multiple telescope datasets makes instrumental error “a very improbable explanation,” the team said in the study.

So if the ORCs are real celestial objects, what could they be? Norris and his colleagues outline several possible identities for the objects, though none of them are an obvious fit.

The circles might be the fallout of exploded stars, or bubbles blown out by winds in galactic star factories, or “Einstein rings,” which are signatures of warped spacetime created by the gravity of massive objects. They could be the ghosts of highly energetic events that occurred millions of years ago, such as gamma ray bursts, fast radio bursts, or plasma jets emitted by active galactic cores.

“We also acknowledge the possibility that the ORCs may represent more than one phenomenon,” the team noted, adding that they may have been “discovered simultaneously because they match the spatial frequency characteristics of the ASKAP observations, which occupy a part of the observational parameter space which has hitherto been poorly studied.”

Norris and his colleagues plan to continue examining the ORCS to see if they can tease out some of these tantalizing mysteries. One thing’s clear, however: discoveries like this are likely to become more common as radio astronomy matures in the coming years.

Within the next decade or so, ASKAP will join the Square Kilometre Array, a massive intercontinental observatory currently in construction, which will be by far the most sensitive radio instrument on Earth once it’s operational. The discovery of the ORCs is fascinating by itself, but it also foreshadows a new era of astronomy that is already sharpening our view of space.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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CINDY DAY: Don’t miss this once in a lifetime event to see Comet NEOWISE – SaltWire Network



If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you are most likely familiar with the word “NEOWISE.” If not, let me introduce you:

NEOWISE is the name of a comet that was discovered in March 2020. This comet is visiting from the most distant parts of our solar system and for the next couple of weeks, could put on quite a show. The comet made its once-in-a-lifetime close approach to the Sun on July 3 and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.

On July 22, the comet will reach its closest point to Earth — a distance of 103 million kilometres — but because comets can be unpredictable, a little like the weather, experts are not sure that it will still be visible to the naked eye.

For the last few days, NEOWISE has been visible an hour before sunrise, very low in the northeastern sky. As of Sunday, the comet will be visible in the evening as well. About an hour after sunset, it will appear near the northwestern horizon. As the month goes on, it will rise higher in the sky, moving toward the Big Dipper. Right now, the comet is visible to the naked eye, but a good pair of binoculars would offer a better view. In very dark skies, you should be able to spot a nucleus and get a pretty good look at the fuzzy comet and its long, streaky tail.

Its name, in fact, is an acronym. The comet was discovered by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer or NEOWISE.

From its infrared signature, experts have discovered that the icy visitor is about five kilometres in diameter. It has a nucleus that is covered with sooty, dark particles left over from its formation near the birth of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.

After this encounter, astronomers expect Comet NEOWISE to bid farewell for quite some time. Its long, looping orbit around our star will bring it back to Earth’s vicinity more than 6,000 years from now.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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