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NASA Postpones launch Of James Webb Space Telescope To 2021

The telescope's new total lifecycle cost, to support the revised launch date, is estimated at $9.66 billion

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Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

 NASA has postponed the launch of its flagship James Webb Space Telescope to early 2021 owing to a range of factors influencing its schedule and performance, including the technical challenges and tasks remaining before launch.

The telescope’s new total lifecycle cost, to support the revised launch date, is estimated at $9.66 billion; its new development cost estimate is $8.8 billion, the US space agency said in a statement.

An Independent Review Board (IRB) established by NASA to assess progress on the world’s premier science observatory unanimously recommended that its development should continue.

“Webb should continue based on its extraordinary scientific potential and critical role in maintaining US leadership in astronomy and astrophysics,” said Tom Young, the chair of the review board.

“Ensuring every element of Webb functions properly before it gets to space is critical to its success,” Young added.

The report showed that technical issues, including human errors, have greatly impacted the development schedule.

NASA has agreed to the review board’s expert guidance on decisive steps necessary to safeguard and complete the telescope’s development.

In a message to the NASA workforce, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “Webb is vital to the next generation of research beyond NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Representational image. Pixabay

“Despite major challenges, the board and NASA unanimously agree that Webb will achieve mission success with the implementation of the board’s recommendations, many of which are already underway,” Bridenstine noted.

NASA previously had estimated an earlier launch date but the new launch date estimates to accommodate changes in the schedule due to environmental testing and work performance challenges by Northrop Grumman on the spacecraft’s sunshield and propulsion system.

The first telescope of its kind, and an unprecedented feat of engineering, Webb is at the very leading edge of technological innovation and development.

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From detecting the light of the first stars and galaxies in the distant universe to probing the atmospheres of exoplanets for possible signs of habitability, Webb’s world-class science not only will shed light on the many mysteries of the universe, it also will complement and further enhance the discoveries of other astrophysics projects. (IANS)

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Moon Mission: NASA Seeking Healthy US Citizens For 8-Month Isolation

NASA is looking for candidates between the ages of 30 and 55

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NASA is looking for healthy individuals for their study on isolation for 8 months. Pixabay

NASA is seeking US citizens for an eight-month study on social isolation in preparation for missions to Mars and the moon.

The international space agency is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.

Participants will be staying in a lab located in Moscow, and they will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars that will have crew members from different nations.

NASA is looking for highly motivated and healthy individuals between the ages of 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian. They must also have an MS., PhD, MD. or have completed military officer training.

The space agency will consider other participants with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications such as military or professional experience.

They will study the psychological and physiological effects astronauts are likely to face as a result of isolation on long missions.

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NASA is also looking for people who are fluent in both English and Russian. Pixabay

According to NASA, participants will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars.

A small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months conducting scientific research, using virtual reality and performing robotic operations among a number of other tasks during the lunar mission.

The research is being done to study the effects of isolation and confinement as participants work to complete simulated space missions.

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Results from ground-based missions like this help NASA prepare for the real-life challenges of space exploration and provide important scientific data to solve some of these problems and to develop countermeasures.

Participants will be compensated, and there are varying levels of pay depending on whether you’re associated with NASA.

This study builds on a four-month study conducted in 2019. The SIRIUS-19 analog mission had six participants — two US citizens and four Russians — isolated in a metal habitat that acted as their spacecraft, lunar lander and home. (IANS)

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Sony Sells 110 Million PlayStation 4 Units Since Launch

110 million Sony PlayStation 4 units have been sold to date

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The PlayStation 4 is now the fourth best-selling console ever. Pixabay

Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony has sold over 110 million units of PlayStation 4 since the launch of the fourth-generation gaming console. This includes all available models, including the PS4 Pro.

The company also revealed that sales of PlayStation 4 from January to March 31 this year stood at 1.5 million units.

The PlayStation 4 is now the fourth best-selling console ever, behind the Game Boy/Game Boy Color, which sold 118.69 million units.

It remains to be seen if the PlayStation 4 will overtake Nintendo’s handheld gaming device — Nintendo DS (154.02 million) and PlayStation 2 (155 million).

With the PlayStation 5 around the corner, it is now unlikely that the current 4 will break any records.

ps4
The sales of PlayStation 4 from January to March 31 this year stood at 1.5 million units. Pixabay

Sony is expected to launch its PlayStation 5 soon and unveiled the new wireless game controller for the same, calling it ‘DualSense’ to reflect its new capabilities.

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The controller features all new colour theme and has some added functionalities, both inside and outside.

There is also an integrated microphone, a first for Sony’s controllers, along with a USB-C port and an overhauled design.

Sony says the new button will operate in the same way but will have more functions that it will reveal in the future. (IANS)

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Scientists to Probe Jupiter’s Violent Storms, Lightning Strikes

Scientists from various organisations probe Jupiter's violent Storms and lightning strikes

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Jupiter
Scientists to probe Jupiter's violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms on the giant planet Jupiter.

The images, part of a multi-year joint programme, revealed that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid.

The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud colour variations.

Three years of imaging observations using the international Gemini Observatory have probed deep into Jupiter’s cloud tops. The ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images complement optical and ultraviolet observations by Hubble and radio observations by the Juno spacecraft to reveal new secrets about the giant planet.

“The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Michael Wong of University of California, Berkeley.

Jupiter
Scientists to probe Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes. Pixabay

“We used a very powerful technique called lucky imaging,” added Wong.

With lucky imaging, a large number of very short exposure images are obtained and only the sharpest images, when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable, are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.

According to Wong, “These images rival the view from space.”

Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) allows astronomers to peer deep into Jupiter’s mighty storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze but is obscured by thicker clouds high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

This creates a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.

Jupiter
Jupiter’s violent storms and lightning strikes to be probed by scientist. Pixabbay

The detailed, multiwavelength imaging of Jupiter by Geminiand Hubble has, over the past three years, proven crucial to contextualizing the observations by the Juno orbiter, and to understanding Jupiter’s wind patterns, atmospheric waves, and cyclones.

The two telescopes, together with Juno, can observe Jupiter’s atmosphere as a system of winds, gases, heat, and weather phenomena, providing coverage and insight not unlike the network of weather satellites meteorologists use to observe Earth.

Because the Hubble and Gemini observations are so important for interpreting Juno data, Wong and his colleagues are making all of the processed data easily accessible to other researchers through the Mikulski Archives for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

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The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. (IANS)