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Star search: Canadian scientist to travel way back in time using world's largest space telescope – CBC.ca

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A team of astrophysicists may soon be getting a key to unlocking the mystery on the origins of life. 

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched into space from French Guiana in South America on Dec. 25.

With a price tag of $10 billion US, Webb is the largest and most powerful space telescope ever constructed by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Canadian astrophysicist Tyrone Woods hopes to use it and find the first stars ever created by travelling through time — in a sense. 

“We’re going to be able to look back into this earliest epoch of the universe,” Woods said.

Originally from Edmonton, Woods is currently a Plaskett Fellow at the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, B.C.

On Dec. 11, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was secured on top of the Ariane 5 rocket that would launch it to space from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. (ESA-M.Pedoussaut)

NASA touts Webb as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. The new telescope is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The project has been decades in the making.

Since Webb has a much larger mirror than the Hubble, it can collect more light and peer farther back into time. 

“Light has a fixed speed. It doesn’t travel infinitely fast. It takes time,” Woods said on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active. 

While light travels at 300,000 kilometres per second, many stars are millions — if not billions — of light years away from Earth. It’s possible that some of the stars we see in the night sky no longer exist. 

Astrophysicist Tyrone Woods, originally from Edmonton, Alta., hopes to discover the first stars in the universe using the James Webb Space Telescope. (Submitted by Tyrone Woods)

Stars are born in areas of dust and gas known as stellar nurseries. To help find the first stars, Woods’s team has built a cosmic roadmap by using computer simulations.

“So conventionally, we had always thought of the first stars as being so very compact and very blue,” he said. 

“We’ve seen that in some of them [nurseries of the very first stars], they would be the perfect conditions for making really massive, really bloated, really red stars.”

Currently, the oldest known star is HD 140283, also known as the Methuselah Star. It is estimated to be 14 billion years old, similar in age to the universe.

Webb is primarily an infrared telescope, which means it sees light that our eyes cannot. It’s possible that by focusing on infrared light, the telescope could find a planet similar to Earth, because infrared is a wavelength our own planet emits. 

“We’re going to be looking in the environment around some very big clusters of galaxies in order to find a magnified light from behind them and get a really, really deep exposure of the early universe,” said Woods. 

Other than the origin of the stars, Woods hopes the new telescope will also help scientists find the first black hole, how gases assemble in the universe, and more about how our own solar system was formed.

6:48How were the first stars formed?

We talk with an astrophysicist about his research on the origins of the universe. 6:48

Webb will spend the next several months getting ready to look into the farthest reaches of the universe by unfolding its mirrors and massive sunshield and cooling down after travelling 1.5 million kilometres from Earth to its intended orbit around the sun.

“Over the subsequent year, we’re going to start to see the first really exciting results,” said Woods.

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Curtiss-Wright Congratulates Nasa and Boeing on Successful Boeing Oft-2 Mission to the International Space Station – Space Ref

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Press Release
From: Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2022

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, a leading supplier of rugged flight test instrumentation solutions engineered to succeed, today congratulated NASA and Boeing on the successful Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Curtiss-Wright is proud to support this historic flight as a supplier of rugged data acquisition equipment used on board Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Curtiss-Wright supplies Boeing with the CST-100’s RAIU (Remote Analog Interface Unit) based on the Company’s Acra KAM-500 data handling avionics equipment. The RAIU is used to gather data on the status and health of critical spacecraft systems during all phases of the mission. 

The flight, NASA’s second uncrewed flight for Starliner, was launched to the ISS on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The OFT-2 mission demonstrates the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket from launch to docking to a return to Earth in the desert of the western United States.

“As a proud supplier to NASA’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station, we congratulate NASA and Boeing on the successful Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft mission,” said Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Defense Solutions division. “We are pleased that our proven and trusted space data acquisition technology are utilized to help capture the critical data required to support the development of this historic space vehicle. It’s an honor to be part of the team helping to usher in the next generation of American space travel and preparing to launch NASA astronauts on missions to deep space. With Curtiss-Wright’s long legacy as an aviation and aerospace innovator, starting with the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss, we are especially excited to participate in this important and exciting program that will return Americans to the moon and later on to Mars.”

The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station. During the mission, the spacecraft delivered more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the space station and returned to Earth with more than 550 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

About Curtiss-Wright’s Space Solutions

Curtiss-Wright is the leading provider of data acquisition products for Space Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) and radiation tolerant COTS applications. By combining COTS savings with innovative radiation tolerant strategies, Curtiss-Wright enables trusted systems to be built that meet the needs of the mission at a significantly lower cost. The use of Curtiss-Wright’s radiation tolerant Smart Backplane™ design enables system developers to meet their mission assurance requirements without the high NRE and costs associated with radiation hardened designs. Additionally, custom data acquisition modules can help reduce weight by removing the need for separate avionics boxes, while the ability to turn modules on and off enables power budgets to be managed more efficiently. Curtiss-Wright’s Space COTS approach is proven on multiple Space applications including EASA Vega-C, NASA Orion SLS & CRV, Boeing CST-100, Blue Horizon’s New Shepard, SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon, ESA IXV, ULA Delta V and Rocketlab Electron.

For information about Curtiss-Wright data acquisition technologies, please click here.

About Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE:CW) is a global integrated business that provides highly engineered products, solutions and services mainly to Aerospace & Defense markets, as well as critical technologies in demanding Commercial Power, Process and Industrial markets. Headquartered in Davidson, N.C., we leverage a workforce of 7,800 highly skilled employees who develop, design and build what we believe are the best engineered solutions to the markets we serve. Building on the heritage of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright has a long tradition of providing innovative solutions through trusted customer relationships. For more information, visit www.curtisswright.com.

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Meteor shower to potentially light up the night sky Monday – CTV News

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TORONTO –

Space enthusiasts could be in for a treat Monday as the Tau Herculid meteor shower is expected to light up the sky – depending on the speed and distance of the meteoroids.

According to NASA, Earth will pass through debris trails left from a broken comet that was shattered in 1995.

If these fragments from comet 73P/Schwassmann-Washmann (SW3) were ejected at speeds twice as normal, onlookers can expect a radiant show.

“It would be a really spectacular meteor storm, people are even quoting up to 1,000, meteors that would be visible per hour,” astrophysicist and coordinator for the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, Nathalie Ouellette told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview Friday.

In comparison, a typical shower averages one meteor every minute, roughly 60 an hour, said Outtlete. However, the speed and direction of the fragments will ultimately decide how much of a spectacle onlookers will get.

“The issue is that because it’s the first time that we’re passing through this debris field, it might be that we’re actually going to pass just in front of it and we’re going to miss most of the really good big chunks,” she said.

NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office lead Bill Cooke described the shower as an “all-or-nothing” event.

“If the debris from SW3 was traveling more than 220 miles per hour (354 kilometres per hour) when it separated from the comet, we might see a nice meteor shower. If the debris had slower ejection speeds, then nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,” Cooke said in NASA’s blog post.

While the actual speed of the Tau Herculid shower will be slow, reaching speeds of just 16 kilometres per second (10 miles per second), the potential for a spectacle is still there as the actual size of the mass distribution of the meteroid is unknown, according to the International Meteor Organization.

Additionally, the current new moon will allow for better optics during the shower.

“Typically if you have a full moon during a meteor shower it’s not so good because the moon is drowning out any shooting stars,” Ouellette explained.

“Because we have a new moon we’re actually going to have a pretty dark sky so that’s one piece of good news.”

SW3 was discovered in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann. The comet was faint for most of its years until 1995 when it became 600 times brighter after being shattered and it dragged debris on its trail.

According to NASA, North American onlookers can look out for the shower at 1 a.m. for those on the East Coast and 10 p.m. for those on the West Coast.

Ouellette’s advice to observers is to set up in a dark area and arrive early to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

“It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to get used to a dark sky so be patient and whatever you do, do not look at your phone because you’ll ruin your eyes for the next 20 minutes if you do,” she said.  

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May's possible meteor storm offers chance to listen to 'shooting stars' on the radio – Space.com

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“Shooting stars” from the tau Herculids meteor shower may be visible late this month, but you might want to listen for them instead.

Excitement among meteor enthusiasts is building as we get closer to the much-anticipated meteor outburst that might be produced by a concentrated trail of dusty debris from the nucleus of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW 3) late Monday night into early Tuesday morning (May 30 to 31). 

Even if you can’t get a good view of the show because of clouds or light pollution, you can “observe” the meteor shower a different way: by listening to it on the radio!

Related: Meteor shower guide 2022: Dates and viewing advice

Under certain conditions, meteors can reflect radio waves in the same way the ionosphere propagates transmissions between widely separated ham-radio operators. The ionosphere usually reflects frequencies below 30 megahertz (MHz), but it’s transparent to higher frequencies, such as the FM broadcast band (88 to 108 MHz).  

Such high-frequency (short-wavelength) radio signals generally pass unimpeded through the atmosphere in straight lines; they cannot follow the curvature of the Earth to reach a listener beyond the horizon. Yet when certain layers of the upper atmosphere become ionized, they can reflect the signals back to the ground far away. The lowest such layer, 60 to 70 miles (96 to 112 kilometers) up, is called the E layer of the ionosphere, and that’s the altitude where most meteors are seen.   

So, as a meteoroid vaporizes as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere, it briefly ionizes air molecules along its path. Forming an expanding column or cylinder several miles or more in length, these ions can scatter and reflect radio waves, in much the same way a high-altitude jet reflects sunlight and leaves a glowing contrail against the darkening sky after sunset. But because the ion trails disperse rapidly, the reflected radio waves generally last only a few seconds.  

Tiny particles tend to vaporize at the bottom of the E layer. Large particles, in contrast, begin to flame higher up. And predictions for the particles shed from comet SW 3 suggest that a majority of these will be large. Such meteors produce longer-lasting ionization, and because they start to “flame on” higher up, they can reflect signals from more distant transmitters. 

On the ground, the meteor’s presence is signaled by the momentary enhancement of FM reception from a distant station.

How to listen for meteors on the radio 

For this radio method to work, find a frequency where no nearby FM station is broadcasting.  You will have a better chance of success by scanning the low-frequency end of the FM band, below 91.1 MHz. Why there? Because that’s where the lower-power stations, chiefly run by colleges, are found, and they’re usually free from local interference from the high-power commercial stations. In fact, unless you live in a very unpopulated region of the country, your chances of finding an open frequency free of interference above 91.1 MHz is rather small, so you’ll need to tune to a distant station on a clear frequency below 91.1 MHz.  

FM Atlas, published from 1970 to 2010, provided listings of all FM stations in North America, with the unique feature of frequency-by-frequency maps. Bruce Elving, publisher of the FM Atlas, was a longtime proponent and expert in all things FM. He died in 2011, but as a tribute to his love and dedication to FM radio, the 21st and final edition of FM Atlas (2010) is available for free, courtesy of AmericanRadioHistory.com. You can also see a complete listing of AM and FM stations in the 2010-2011 edition of the M Street Directory. 

What do meteors sound like?  

Normally, when you’re tuned in to an “empty” radio frequency, you just hear a hissing noise. But as meteors zip through the atmosphere, a distant or silent station will abruptly “boom in” for anywhere from a fraction of a second to several seconds. You might also hear what initially sounds like a “pop” or a whistle, and then as the ionization trail dissipates, the station will quickly fade away. Because of their height, meteors best reflect signals from stations 800 to 1,300 miles (1,300 to 2,100 km) from you. 

When should you listen for meteors? 

The best time to listen is when the radiant is 45 degrees above the horizon as seen from a point midway between you and the transmitter. At the predicted peak time for Tuesday morning’s potential meteor outburst, parts of Maine and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will have the radiant close to that preferred altitude, while eastern New York, New England and southern Quebec will not be far behind, at about 50 to 55 degrees. 

Also, it is best to tune to a station located in a direction perpendicular to the radiant. Because the SW 3 radiant will be near the brilliant orange star Arcturus in the constellation Boötes, which will be toward the western part of the sky, the better listening directions will be to the north and south of you. 

Most meteors are heard but not seen 

If you are watching for meteors while monitoring your radio, most of the time, you will hear a “ping” of reception, but you won’t see a corresponding meteor streak in the sky. Recall that most of the meteors you hear are roughly halfway between you and the radio station — about 400 to 650 miles (650 to 1,050 km) away. So they are occurring either near the horizon or just below it. Back in the 1970s, members of the Nippon Meteor Society in Japan who made extensive records of radio meteors noted that only 20% to 40% of meteors heard on the radio were simultaneously observed visually. 

What if you can’t find a clear frequency? 

Related stories:

Particularly in large metropolitan areas, finding a clear or empty FM frequency may be all but impossible, even below 91.1 MHz. In many ways, finding a clear frequency seems to go hand in hand with trying to find a dark sky free of light pollution. You’ll probably have a much better chance in rural or country locations. 

But if you can’t find a clear FM frequency, don’t despair. You can still listen for meteors on livemeteors.com. A Yagi antenna in the Washington, D.C., metro area constantly detects 55- or 61-MHz analog TV signals in Ontario reflected off of meteor trails. When a meteor passes over — ping!there is an echo. It’s the next best thing to having free access to a giant government radar! 

Good luck, and good listening!

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium (opens in new tab). He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine (opens in new tab), the Farmers’ Almanac (opens in new tab) and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab)

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