Wednesday April 24, 2019

NASA’s Webb Telescope to Search for Signs of Alien Life

The James Webb space telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

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NASA
NASA recently announced the discovery of the first known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets around a single star. VOA
  • Webb will be looking at some incredible things in our universe
  • NASA recently announced the discovery of the first known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets around a single star
  • Launching in 2018, the James Webb space telescope is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

Washington, June 18, 2017: Finding signs of life on the earth-sized planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system and on Saturn’s moon Enceladus are among the science targets that NASA’s James Webb space telescope has following its launch and commissioning, mission officials have announced.

These specific observations are part of a programme of Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO), which provides dedicated time to the scientists that helped design and build the telescope’s four instruments.

“From the very first galaxies after the Big Bang, to searching for chemical fingerprints of life on Enceladus, Europa, and exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1e, Webb will be looking at some incredible things in our universe,” said Eric Smith, James Webb Space Telescope Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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“With over 2,100 initial observations planned, there is no limit to what we might discover with this incredible telescope,” Smith said.

NASA recently announced the discovery of the first known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets around a single star. All of these seven planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star could have liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions.

Launching in 2018, the James Webb space telescope is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

The broad spectrum of initial GTO observations will address all of the science areas Webb is designed to explore, from first light and the assembly of galaxies to the birth of stars and planets. Targets will range from the solar system’s outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and icy Kuiper Belt to exoplanets to distant galaxies in the young universe.

“These observations by the teams of people who designed and built the Webb instruments will yield not only amazing science, but will be crucial in putting the observatory through its paces and understanding its many capabilities,” Ken Sembach, Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which will lead science and mission operations for Webb, said.

Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). (IANS)

 

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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spaceX
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

Also Read: Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)