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The oldest material on Earth has been found in a meteorite – CNN

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Our sun is around 4.6 billion years old, meaning this stardust existed long before our sun or solar system were even a reality. The stardust found on the meteorite are called presolar grains because they formed before our sun.
Stars are born when gas, dust and heat combine in just the right way. They can exist for millions or even billions of years before dying and expelling their key ingredients into space. This in turn helps new stars to be born, creating a space daisy chain.
Meteorites, if they don’t knock into too many things, can act like time capsules of the materials trapped within them, like stardust. That’s why the discovery of the presolar grains is such a rarity — only 5% of meteorites found on Earth contain them. Their impossibly tiny size is difficult to fathom.
Evidence of ancient meteorites found in Florida fossil clams
One hundred of the largest found presolar grains could fit on a period, according to a release by the Field Museum in Chicago.
A new study of presolar grains from the Murchison meteorite recovered in Australia published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
“This is one of the most exciting studies I’ve worked on,” said Philipp Heck, lead study author and a curator at the Field Museum. “These are the oldest solid materials ever found, and they tell us about how stars formed in our galaxy. They’re solid samples of stars.”
A magnified view of a preosolar grain, or stardust. The grain is  about 8 micrometers.A magnified view of a preosolar grain, or stardust. The grain is  about 8 micrometers.
The meteorite was recovered in 1969 and presolar grains were isolated from it.
“It starts with crushing fragments of the meteorite down into a powder,” said Jennika Greer, study co-author and a graduate student at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago. “Once all the pieces are segregated, it’s a kind of paste, and it has a pungent characteristic. It smells like rotten peanut butter.”
Dissolving the paste in acid reveals the presolar grains, allowing the researchers to determine their age and the type of star they once belonged to.
The researchers were able to measure the exposure of the grains to cosmic rays, highly energized particles zipping through our galaxy.
Ice fossils found in 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite reveal building blocks of our solar systemIce fossils found in 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite reveal building blocks of our solar system
“Some of these cosmic rays interact with the matter and form new elements,” Heck said. “And the longer they get exposed, the more those elements form. I compare this with putting out a bucket in a rainstorm. Assuming the rainfall is constant, the amount of water that accumulates in the bucket tells you how long it was exposed.”
Many of the grains recovered were between 4.6 and 4.9 billion years old, while others were older than 5.5 billion years.
They also learned that seven billion years ago, more stars began forming.
“We have more young grains than we expected,” Heck said. “Our hypothesis is that the majority of those grains, which are 4.9 to 4.6 billion years old, formed in an episode of enhanced star formation. There was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal.”
NASA has found sugar in meteorites that crashed to EarthNASA has found sugar in meteorites that crashed to Earth
Astronomers have argued about the rate of star formation. Some believe it’s steady and unchanging, while others believe there are peaks and dips.
“Some people think that the star formation rate of the galaxy is constant,” Heck said. “But thanks to these grains, we now have direct evidence for a period of enhanced star formation in our galaxy seven billion years ago with samples from meteorites. This is one of the key findings of our study.”
They also determined that the presolar grains have a habit of clumping together in granola-like clusters, which they didn’t think possible, Heck said.
Understanding the grains has shed light not only on stars and how long their stardust can last but also more on galaxies and their timelines.
“With this study, we have directly determined the lifetimes of stardust. We hope this will be picked up and studied so that people can use this as input for models of the whole galactic life cycle,” Heck said. “It’s so exciting to look at the history of our galaxy. Stardust is the oldest material to reach Earth, and from it, we can learn about our parent stars, the origin of the carbon in our bodies [and] the origin of the oxygen we breathe. With stardust, we can trace that material back to the time before the sun.”

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Rogozin says Crew Dragon safe for Russian cosmonauts – SpaceNews

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DUBAI, U.A.E. — The head of Roscosmos says he is now satisfied that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is safe enough to carry Russian cosmonauts, clearing a major obstacle for an agreement to exchange seats between Soyuz and commercial crew vehicles.

Dmitry Rogozin, director general of the Russian space agency, said in a press conference during the 72nd International Astronautical Congress here Oct. 25 that he no longer had reservations about flying cosmonauts on Crew Dragon as that spacecraft nears the end of its second long-duration mission at the International Space Station.

“In our view, SpaceX has already acquired enough experience for us to be able to put our cosmonauts on Crew Dragon,” he said through a translator.

He said the topic would come up during a meeting with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy scheduled for Oct. 26 during the conference. “I believe we will be in a position to discuss candidates who may be flying to the space station on board the Crew Dragon—Russian cosmonauts, and American astronauts who will be flying to the space station on Russian spacecraft.”

Rogozin and others at Roscosmos had previously said they needed more evidence that Crew Dragon was safe enough for Russian cosmonauts, even after the spacecraft successfully carried NASA astronauts on the Demo-2 mission in mid-2020 and the subsequent Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions. Crew Dragon has also flown a commercial mission, Inspiration4, with four people on board.

Rogozin’s comments were welcome news to Melroy, who was also participating in the press conference. “I think they’ve been very clear from the beginning that they feel strongly, and we understand completely, that because they don’t have as much insight as we do,” she said in an interview after the press conference, “they have an expectation that there should be several flights before they feel confident in the performance of the vehicle. At this point, we’re having that conversation.”

That confidence, though, doesn’t mean an agreement between NASA and Roscosmos to barter seats is a done deal. “The important thing is that an agreement has to work for both of us,” she said. “There are considerations that we have and they have as well.”

NASA has sought to barter seats to create “mixed crews” of at least one NASA astronaut and one Roscosmos cosmonaut on each mission. That would ensure both countries would have a presence on the station, and ability to maintain their separate systems, if either Soyuz or commercial crew vehicles are grounded for an extended period.

The earliest a Russian cosmonaut could fly on a Crew Dragon would be the Crew-5 mission in the second half of 2022. Similarly, the next time a NASA astronaut could fly on a Soyuz would be in the fall of 2022, since NASA has decided not to acquire a seat on the Soyuz MS-21 launching in March 2022.

Crew-3 ready for launch

Hours after Rogozin offered his endorsement of Crew Dragon, NASA and SpaceX managers approved plans for the next launch of the spacecraft. NASA said late Oct. 25 that the Crew-3 mission had passed its flight readiness review ahead of its launch Oct. 31 from the Kennedy Space Center.

At a briefing, NASA and SpaceX officials said they were still wrapping up some open items on the spacecraft linked to a minor issue with the waste management system on Crew Dragon during the Inspiration4 mission. A tube came disconnected in a storage tank for urine, allowing liquid to leak into a fan system, said Bill Gerstenmaier, SpaceX vice president for build and flight reliability.

He said that didn’t cause a problem during the flight itself, but during inspections after landing technicians found contamination underneath the floor of the capsule, caused by a chemical in the waste storage tank called Oxone. Inspections of the Crew-2 Crew Dragon spacecraft, currently docked to the station, also showed evidence of corrosion, but that corrosion does not grow over time based on lab tests in similar environmental conditions. Final checks to confirm there are no safety issues will be completed before the final launch readiness review Oct. 29.

While this is not a major issue, Gerstenmaier said it’s evidence of the need to avoid complacency that could result in more significant safety lapses. He said that, after finding the root cause of an improperly glued tube in a waste management system, workers not only corrected that problem but also looked at interfaces that could have similar problems.

“It’s one way of challenging people to stay hungry, stay paranoid,” he said, “and don’t ever assume you know what’s going to happen with the vehicle.”

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Space tourism company ditches Elon Musk’s SpaceX, opts for Russian Soyuz instead – National Post

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According to Space Adventures President Tom Shelley, a seat on the Russia spacecraft is in the range of $50 million to $60 million

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In February 2020, the Virginia-based space tourism company Space Adventures announced a contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX for a joint project, mission Crew Dragon, that would send four space tourists on a mission to a ‘relatively high Earth orbit’.

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With experience in flying private individuals to the International Space Station (ISS), the company announced that its planned mission, scheduled for late 2021 to early 2022, would set a new “world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight” by flying at least twice as high as the station.

Earlier this month during a visit to Moscow, however, Space Adventures President Tom Shelley told AFP “ultimately our reservation with SpaceX expired and that’s not a mission that we are going to be executing in the immediate future.”

In an interview with Space News confirming the statement, company spokesperson Stacey Tearne said “the mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing and experience wasn’t right at that particular time.”

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  1. This handout photo taken and released on October 5, 2021 by Russian Space Agency Roscosmos shows crew member actress Yulia Peresild reacting as her spacesuits is tested prior to the launch onboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome.

    Russian actor, director flying high after reaching ISS to attempt a world first: a movie in space

  2. William Shatner (CL) gets a hug from Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on October 13, 2021, after landing in the West Texas region, 25 miles (40kms) north of Van Horn.

    ‘There is Mother Earth’: William Shatner now the world’s oldest space traveler

Meanwhile, Space Adventures was working on another project with Russian space agency Roscosmos. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, known for buying a SpaceX Starship flight around the moon in 2023, will be the first to travel to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, set to launch on December 8 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

According to Shelley, a seat on the Russia spacecraft is said to cost in the range of $50 million to $60 million.

The race to space is not a thing of the past. This now privatized business has created a competitive industry between multi-billion dollar companies and countries. Although Moscow and Washington’s relationship has been severed over a number of political issues, Shelley says that space was an exception.

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“Cooperation in space in particular seems to somewhat transcend the political difficulties that exist between the United States and Russia,” he said.

Conflicting sentiments are abound concerning space tourism and exploration.

Days after Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, claimed to the BBC that “great brains and minds should be trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs Simonetta Di Pippo suggests differently.

While visiting Dubai’s Expo 2020, Di Pippo told The National that “space tourism has a lot of positives and can help inspire humanity to protect their planet. It’s really the attempt of bringing space closer to humanity and humanity closer to space.”

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Lambton County installing glass barriers in council chambers – Chatham This Week

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Glass barriers will be installed between the desks of Lambton County councillors in the council chambers in Wyoming ahead of January when the council is expected to begin meeting again in person.

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Glass barriers will be installed between the desks of Lambton County councillors in the council chambers in Wyoming ahead of January, when in-person meetings are expected to resume.

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The barriers are expected to cost $12,000 but will free county councillors from having to wear face masks during the meetings.

“It maybe is a little bit of overkill” but “we want to make sure all of council is comfortable and feeling secure,” said Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts, chairperson of the county council committee reviewing a staff report that recently outlined steps being taken for the resumption of in-person meetings.

The report noted the barriers are required under regulations, given the layout of the council chambers where members sit close together.

Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper and Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts are shown during a meeting of Lambton County council held before the start of the pandemic.
Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper and Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts are shown during a meeting of Lambton County council held before the start of the pandemic. Photo by Paul Morden /Paul Morden/The Observer

“If people are going to be in close proximity to each other without a mask, current regulations would require that impermeable partition,” said Stephane Thiffeault, the county’s general manager of corporate services.

County council and its committees have been meeting online since the pandemic began but decided in September to plan for a return to in-person meetings in January, subject to changes in public-health guidelines.

Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber noted everyone attending in-person meetings will be vaccinated.

When “you can fill a stadium with people cheering on a team, it seems silly that 17 of us need to have partitions between us,” he said.

County council voted recently to require that councillors show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or a recent test, to attend in-person meetings when they resume. Councillors can also continuing attending meetings “virtually.”

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County councillors will also be required to “self-screen” for COVID-19 symptoms before attending meetings and use hand sanitizer on the way into council chambers. They will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distances when not seated at their desk.

A limited number of county staff will attend the meetings while others will participate virtually, the report said.

Limited space will be available in the gallery for the public, who will be required to sign in. A total of 38 members of the public can be accommodated in the gallery, allowing for social distancing, the report said.

Members of the public will also be able to watch from a committee room overlooking the chambers, and the meetings will continue to broadcast online for the public.

pmorden@postmedia.com

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