Sept 07, 2016: Two Russian and American astronaut returned to our planet at Kazakhstan in the wee hours of Wednesday. After completing work for 6 months on the International Space Station.
After spending 534 days in the space across four space stations American astronaut Jeff Williams became the U.S. record-holder for most time spent in orbit. Previously NASA astronaut Scott Kelly holds the record with 520 days in space. The world record is been set by Russian Gennady Padalka who spent 879 days in space.
Nasa quoted “Williams, along with Russian astronauts Alexy Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka landed their Russian-made Soyuz capsule in central Kazakhstan just after 7 a.m. local time Wednesday.” About three and a half hours prior to their landing the three men disembarked from the space station.
In a statement, NASA called Williams “instrumental in preparing the station for future arrival of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft.” Nasa quoted that “Williams had performed five space walks during his time at the space station, one of which included the installation of a docking station for the commercial flights.”
Russian Anatoly Ivanishin took command after Williams left the space station.Ivanishin remained in the space station with American Kate Rubins and Japan’s Takuya Onishi.
“Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family.” Along with a picture of the Earth’s outer atmosphere, Williams posted on Twitter that “I would certainly miss this view!” (VOA)
Washington, Oct 20: NASA has approved a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015, the US space agency said on Thursday.
The spacecraft, which has already completed 10 years of spaceflight, will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its fuel runs out.
Dawn completed its prime mission in June 2016, and its first extension was also approved that year.
The Dawn flight team is studying ways to manoeuvre Dawn into a new elliptical orbit, which may take the spacecraft to less than 200 kilometres from the surface of Ceres at closest approach. Previously, Dawn’s lowest altitude was 385 kilometers.
A priority of the second Ceres mission extension is collecting data with Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, which measures the number and energy of gamma rays and neutrons, NASA said.
This information is important for understanding the composition of Ceres’ uppermost layer and how much ice it contains.
The spacecraft also will take visible-light images of Ceres’ surface geology with its camera, as well as measurements of Ceres’ mineralogy with its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.
The extended mission at Ceres additionally allows Dawn to be in orbit while the dwarf planet goes through perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, which will occur in April 2018.
Because of its commitment to protect Ceres from Earthly contamination, Dawn will not land or crash into Ceres.
Instead, it will carry out as much science as it can in its final planned orbit, where it will stay even after it can no longer communicate with Earth.
Mission planners estimate the spacecraft can continue operating until the second half of 2018.
Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.(IANS)
China, October 16, 2017: An out of control Chinese space station, weighing 8.5 tonnes, is falling towards the Earth and will crash land on the surface within a few months, experts say.
The Chinese space laboratory, Tiangong-1, or the ‘Heavenly Palace’ was launched in 2011, symbolic of the hopes of the Chinese ambitions in space. It was also believed to be a stepping stone to establish China as a global ‘space’ superpower.
Tiangong-1 was used for multiple space missions, some of which even included astronauts – the space station was also visited by the first female astronaut from China, Liu Yang, in 2012.
Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell has now revealed that the space station is descending quickly to the earth and will crash on the planet’s surface ‘soon’.
The ‘Out of Control’ Tiangong-1
Scientists had long speculated the strange behavior of Tiangong-1. Finally, in 2016, officials at China’s CNSA space agency had confirmed that they had lost complete manned control of Tiangong-1 and that the space station would now be descending towards the Earth.
According to The Guardian, McDowell was quoted as saying “(we) expect it will come down a few months from now – late 2017 or early 2018.”
Where Will Tiangong-1 Crash?
At the moment, is practically impossible for scientists and engineers to confirm about the precise landing site as the capsule is completely beyond human control.
Researchers believe the descent is now going to be guided and influenced by the wind.
The industry enthusiast Jonathan McDowell had previously told The Guardian that even a slight change in the atmospheric conditions could push the landing site “from one continent to the next.”
Does The Crash-Landing of Tiangong-1 Pose A Threat To Life?
Tiangong-1 is expected to hit the Earth’s surface is late 2017 or early 2018.
Scientists are also examining the possibility of the debris from the craft causing casualties upon landing. While most of the craft is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, parts weighing as much as 100kg can be expected to crash on the Earth’s surface.
The possibility of the debris from Tiangong-1 falling in populated regions cannot be precisely calculated, however authorities believe that is likely to not happen.
In May this year, China had additionally informed the United Nations “Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” that the descent of the space craft will be closely monitored and the United Nations will be duly informed when it takes it final plunge.
Tiangong-1 will not be the first to descend from the space with parts of the debris falling on the Earth. Previously,
1979: NASA’s gigantic Skylab space station, weighing 77-tonne uncontrollably shot down to the Earth with large chunks of the craft landing near Perth in Western Australia.
1991: Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station, weighing 20-tonne had crashed to the Earth while it was still docked to another spacecraft called Cosmos 1686 and had broken up over Argentina, throwing debris all over the town Capitán Bermúdez.
Tiangong-1 had been launched on 29 September, 2011, as a long-term mission, with an aim to establish a Chinese outpost in space. However, the out of control Chinese space station is now expected to crash land on the Earth ‘soon’.
The science communities since a long time have been debating upon the existence of Planet Nine.
Space highlights different shreds of evidence based on which scientists are stating the claim.
What Is Planet Nine?
Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet present in the far outer Solar System, whose mass is estimated to be 10 times more than the mass of Earth. The planet is said to be 20 times farther than the sun than Neptune is.
What Do Researchers Have To Say?
Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, said that there were five different lines of observational evidence which pointed to the existence of Planet Nine. He stated that if this theory does not sound believable, then people would have to come up with the answers of the five pieces of evidence which could lead to further confusion.
Batygin in 2016 published a study examining the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt, a circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets that extends from the orbit of Neptune towards interstellar space.
The study examines all the objects have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction and are tilted the same way. These serve as evidence to the planet’s existence.
It is being said that the objects are tilted 30 degrees downward compared to the plane where the eight official planets circle the sun. Researchers also made use of computer simulations of the solar system including the Planet Nine and to demonstrate that there should be more objects tilted a whopping 90 degrees to solar plane. It was revealed that five such objects, which fit these parameters were already known.
The study led to the birth of two more ideas. Researchers said that this planet could have tilted the planets of the solar system during the last 4.5 billion years.
Planet Nine’s existence could also tell the reason as to why Kuiper Belt objects orbit in the opposite direction as compared to other things in the solar system.