Sweden Joins India’s Venus Mission With Instrument to Explore Planet

Sweden is getting on board India’s Venus orbiter mission ”Shukrayaan” with a scientific instrument to explore the planet. Ambassador of Sweden to India, Klas Molin said Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is engaged in the venture, its second collaborative project with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“IRF’s satellite instrument Venusian Neutrals Analyzer (VNA) will study how the charged particles from the Sun interact with the atmosphere and exosphere of the planet”, he told PTI.

“The new Venus mission means that the collaboration between IRF and ISRO continues”.

The VNA would be the ninth generation of IRFs series of miniatured ion and ENA (Energetic Neutral Atoms) instruments, according to Swedish officials.

The first generation was named SARA (Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyzer) and was launched on board the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 that explored the Moon in 2008-2009. SARA consisted of two sensors. One was a detector for energetic neutral atoms and the other was an instrument to measure the flow of ions in the solar wind.

The instrument studied how the plasma around the Moon interacts with the moon where the surface is not protected by an atmosphere or a magnetic field, they said.

“For the first time ever, SARA

Continue Reading

China Launches Chang’e-5 Moon Probe to Bring Back Lunar Rocks

China on Tuesday launched an unmanned spacecraft to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the Moon in four decades.

A Long March 5 rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, blasted off from the Wenchang Space Center on the southern island province of Hainan at 4:30am (2am Tuesday), the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon.

The mission’s goal is to shovel up lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.

State TV footage of the launch showed the rocket blasting off into a dark night, with huge clouds of smoke billowing out underneath.

Crowds watched the launch from the beach on the tropical Chinese island, holding mobile phones aloft to film as the rocket blasted into the sky.

The original mission, planned for 2017, was delayed due to an engine failure in the Long March 5 rocket.

If successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved

Continue Reading

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Data Hints at Ancient Megaflood on Mars: Study

Giant flash floods once washed through Gale Crater on Mars’ equator around four billion years ago, according to a study which hints at the possibility that life may have existed on the Red Planet.

The research, published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, assessed data collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover, launched in November 2011, and found that “gigantic flash floods,” likely touched off by the heat of a meteoritic impact, unleashed the ice stored on the Martian surface.

Based on the analysis, scientists including those from Cornell University in the US, said these floods of “unimaginable magnitude” set up gigantic ripples that are tell-tale geologic structures familiar to scientists on the Earth.

“We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity,” said study co-author Alberto G. Fairen from Cornell University.

According to the scientists, geological features including the work of water and wind have been frozen in time on Mars for about four billion years.

They said these features convey processes that shaped the surface of both the Earth and the Mars in the past.

This case includes the occurrence of giant wave-shaped features in sedimentary layers of Gale crater, often called “megaripples”

Continue Reading

SpaceX Crew Dragon Departs ISS for Earth With Two US Astronauts

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft shoved off from the International Space Station on Saturday with two US astronauts on board, beginning their journey back to Earth despite a storm threatening Florida. NASA footage showed the capsule drifting slowly away from the ISS in the darkness of space, ending a two month stay for the first US astronauts to reach the orbiting lab on an American spacecraft in nearly a decade.

“And they are off!” the US space agency tweeted, with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken set to splash down Sunday.

“(They) will spend one more night in space prior to returning to their homeland, Earth,” NASA tweeted.

Their proposed splash-down sites are off the coast of western Florida’s panhandle, while tropical storm Isaias is headed toward the state’s east coast.

NASA opted to go ahead with bringing the pair home despite the threat of Isaias, which was downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane on Saturday.

The agency later added the capsule was confirmed to be “on a safe trajectory.”

“Now is the entry, descent and splashdown phase after we undock, hopefully a little bit later today,” Hurley said in a farewell ceremony aboard the ISS that was broadcast

Continue Reading

SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule With NASA Astronauts Returns Safely to Earth

US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who flew to the International Space Station in SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon, splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday after a two-month voyage that was NASA’s first crewed mission from home soil in nine years.

Behnken and Hurley, tallying 64 days in space, undocked from the station on Saturday and returned home to land their capsule in calm waters off Florida’s Pensacola coast on schedule at 2:48 pm ET (12:18 am Monday, IST) following a 21-hour overnight journey aboard Crew Dragon “Endeavor.”

“This has been quite an odyssey,” Hurley told senior NASA and SpaceX officials at a homecoming ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. “To be where we are now, the first crewed flight of Dragon, is just unbelievable.”

 

 

The successful splash-down, the first of its kind by NASA in 45 years, was a final test of whether SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk’s spacecraft can transport astronauts to and from orbit — a feat no private company has accomplished before.

“This day heralds a new age of space exploration,” Musk said. “I’m not very religious, but I prayed for this one.”

 

 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the

Continue Reading

Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico to Be Decommissioned After 57 Years of Service

The renowned Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico will be dismantled after 57 years of service due to the rupture of cables that have led to the threat of collapse, the US National Science Foundation announced Thursday.

Two cables supporting the 900-ton instruments for the telescope above a radio dish 1,000 feet (305 metres) in diameter broke on August 10 and November 6.

Engineers are concerned other cables could also break at any time, making any attempt at repair excessively dangerous.

The telescope is one of the largest in the world and has been a tool for many astronomical discoveries.

The foundation “prioritises the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory’s staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

“For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like.”

Using the hashtag “WhatAreciboMeansToMe”, messages of sadness at the news spread on Twitter from both professional and amateur astronomers who have used the telescope for their work in observing the cosmos for decades.

“More than a telescope, Arecibo is the reason I am even in astronomy,” local astronomer Kevin Ortiz Ceballos wrote

Continue Reading

Load More