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NASA to Announce Crews for Boeing, SpaceX Missions

The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflights, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars

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InSight catching rays on Mars: NASA. Pixabay
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NASA is set to announce the names of the astronauts assigned to the new commercial crew capsules from Boeing and SpaceX, early next month.

NASA will announce on August 3, the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon, and begin a new era in American spaceflights, the space agency said in a statement on Thursday.

The agency will also announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX, in a press conference to be presided over by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

In 2014, NASA had partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.

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The agency will also announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX. Flickr

The Starliner and Crew Dragon will launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Programme in 2011.

Also Read: NASA: No Contact Made With Storm-Hit Mars Rover, Till Now

The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflights, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars.

But, according to a recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, neither is expected to be ready until 2019. (IANS)

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Wintertime Ice Growth in Arctic Sea Slows Long-Term Decline: NASA

The switch will happen once the sea ice is less than 1.6 feet thick at the beginning of winter, or its concentration

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Wintertime ice growth in Arctic sea slows long-term decline: NASA. Flcikr

While sea ice in the Arctic continues to be on the decline, a new research from the US Space agency NASA suggests that it is regrowing at faster rates during the winter than it was a few decades ago.

The findings showed that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70 per cent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

But at the same time, that sea ice is vanishing quicker than it has ever been observed in the satellite record, it is also thickening at a faster rate during winter.

This increase in growth rate might last for decades, explained the researchers, in the paper to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

However, this does not mean that the ice cover is recovering, though. Just delaying its demise.

“This increase in the amount of sea ice growing in winter doesn’t overcome the large increase in melting we’ve observed in recent decades,” said lead author Alek Petty, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

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However, this does not mean that the ice cover is recovering, though. Just delaying its demise. Flickr

“Overall, thickness is decreasing. Arctic sea ice is still very much in decline across all seasons and is projected to continue its decline over the coming decades,” she added.

To explore sea ice growth variability across the Arctic, the team used climate models and observations of sea ice thickness from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite.

They found that in the 1980s, when Arctic sea ice was on average 6.6 feet thick in October, about 3.3 extra feet of ice would form over the winter.

This rate of growth may continue to increase, and in the coming decades, we could also have an ice pack that would on average be only around 3.3 feet thick in October, but could experience up to five feet of ice growth over the winter.

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However, by the middle of the century, the strong increases in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures will outweigh the mechanism that allows ice to regrow faster, and the Arctic sea ice cover will decline further, Petty said.

The switch will happen once the sea ice is less than 1.6 feet thick at the beginning of winter, or its concentration — the percentage of an area that is covered in sea ice — is less than 50 per cent, she noted. (IANS)