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3 International Space Station (ISS) crew members gear up for homecoming on Monday, ending their 173-day mission in space

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Aerial View of NASA. Wikimedia

Washington, April 8, 2017: Three crew members aboard the International Space Station are packing up their gear for a homecoming on Monday, ending their 173-day mission in space, NASA said.

Expedition 50 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will take a ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.

The are scheduled to land Monday at 7:21 a.m. EDT (4.51 p.m. India time) in Kazakhstan.

“Commander Shane Kimbrough, who is returning to Earth early Monday, took it easy Friday aboard the International Space Station. He and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet mainly performed light duty tasks and continued their daily exercise to stay healthy in space,” NASA scientists wrote in a blog post on Friday.

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“Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who are returning home Monday with Kimbrough, continued packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft that will parachute the trio to a landing in Kazakhstan after a 173 days in space,” the blog post said.

Ryzhikov, who is on his first mission, will command the Soyuz during its undocking and reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Borisenko and Kimbrough are both wrapping up their second visit to space.

Whitson will become station commander for the second time in her career Sunday less than 24 hours before her crewmates undock from the Poisk module.

She stays behind with fellow Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy. (IANS)

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Astronomers Discover the ‘Biggest Stellar Puzzle’, Bizarre Star that Refuses to Die

The study calculated that the star that exploded was at least 50 times more massive than the Sun and probably much larger.

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This star shines brighter every time it explodes. Read to know more! (representative image) Wikimedia

New York, November 9, 2017 : An international team of astronomers has made a bizarre discovery – a star that refuses to stop shining despite exploding more than once over a period of 50 years.

The explosions of stars, known as supernovae, have been observed in the thousands and in all cases they marked the death of a star.

But a new study, published in the journal Nature, challenges known theories about the death of stars. Their observations included data from Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaii.

“The spectra we obtained at Keck Observatory showed that this supernova looked like nothing we had ever seen before. This, after discovering nearly 5,000 supernovae in the last two decades,” said study co-author Peter Nugent from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US.

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“While the spectra bear a resemblance to normal hydrogen-rich core-collapse supernova explosions, they grew brighter and dimmer at least five times more slowly, stretching an event which normally lasts 100 days to over two years,” Nugent said.

The supernova, named iPTF14hls, was discovered in September 2014 by the Palomar Transient Factory. At the time, it looked like an ordinary supernova.

Several months later, astronomers at Las Cumbres Observatory in the US noticed the supernova was growing brighter again after it had faded.

When astronomers went back and looked at archival data, they were astonished to find evidence of an explosion in 1954 at the same location.

This star somehow survived that explosion and exploded again in 2014.

“This supernova breaks everything we thought we knew about how they work. It’s the biggest puzzle I’ve encountered in almost a decade of studying stellar explosions,” said lead author Iair Arcavi, a NASA Einstein postdoctoral fellow at LCO and the University of California Santa Barbara.

The study calculated that the star that exploded was at least 50 times more massive than the Sun and probably much larger.

Supernova iPTF14hls may have been the most massive stellar explosion ever seen. The size of this explosion could be the reason that conventional understanding of the death of stars failed to explain this event.

Astronomers continue to monitor the supernova, which remains bright three years after it was discovered. (IANS)

 

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Researchers Claim The Existence Of Planet Nine

Researchers from an American University have laid evidences to prove the presence of Planet Nine

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Kuiper Belt indicates the presence of Planet Nine
  • 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.

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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.

-Prepared by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

(the story was originally published in PTI)

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Elon Musk Unveils Plans to put Humans on Mars by 2024

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Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX. voa

Adelaide, Sep 29: Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX on Friday unveiled its plans to put humans on Mars as early as 2024.

Speaking on the final day of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the announcement of the plans, reports Xinhua news agency.

Musk, who also serves as the CEO of automotive company Tesla, said SpaceX was aiming for cargo missions to the Red Planet in 2022 and crew with cargo by 2024.

He said that missions to Mars would be launched every two years from 2022 onwards with colonisation and terraforming to begin as soon as the first humans arrive in order to make it “a really nice place to be”.

“It’s about believing in the future, and thinking that the future will be better than the past,” Musk said.

SpaceX also announced its new BFR rocket on Friday.

“I can’t emphasise enough how profound this is, and how important this is,” Musk told the Congress as the keynote speaker on the final day.

The new BFR has the highest capacity payload of any rocket ever built, meaning it has the lowest launch cost, due to its status as a fully reusable rocket while also being the most powerful.

“It’s really crazy that we build these sophisticated rockets and then crash them every time we fire,” Musk said.

He said that the new BFR could carry a 40-carriage spaceship to Mars with two or three people occupying each carriage.

The rocket is capable of flying from Earth to the Moon and back without refuelling, making creating a base on the Moon, dubbed Moon Base Alpha, achievable in near future.

SpaceX intends for the new, scaled-down BFR to replace its other flagship rockets, the Dragon, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

Musk said the BFR could even be used for international flights on Earth, promising to cut most long-distance Earth flights to just half an hour.

He said the rocket could travel from New York City to Shanghai in 37 minutes at a maximum speed of 18,000 miles (28,968 km) per hour.

Funding for BFR development will come from SpaceX’s satellite and International Space Station (ISS) revenue.

SpaceX’s announcement came hours after Lockheed Martin revealed new technology that would see it land on Mars in partnership with NASA by 2030.

SpaceX estimated this year that a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars was 50 to 100 years away.(IANS)