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Private Space Firm SpaceX Will Soon Send First Private Passenger To Moon

The new heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing for deep-space missions -- known as the Space Launch System -- could serve as a core component of a moon trip.

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. Wikimedia Commons

In a step that commercialises space travel, US private space firm SpaceX on Friday announced that it will send the first private passenger to Moon and will reveal his identity on Monday.

The tourist will fly in the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) being designed to carry people into deep space, the Elon Musk led company said in a tweet.

“SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle — an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space.

“Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17,” the tweet said.

The BFR will be used to explore Mars — a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022.

Moon, spaceX
A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket (VOA)

“SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over five years. Then the BFR takes over and Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to Moon, Mars and eventually outer planets,” Musk had said in May.

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon so far, and no one has visited since the 1972 Apollo mission.

However, it was not clear whether the BFR tourism mission has any link to an announcement SpaceX made in February 2017, the CNN reported.

At that time, SpaceX said two people signed a deal with SpaceX to make a trip around the moon aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. SpaceX was tight-lipped about the financial terms of the deal and the identity of the individuals.

Moon
The Moon. Pixabay

In February, SpaceX debuted the long-awaited Falcon Heavy, which became the world’s most powerful operational launch vehicle, the report said.

But during a Falcon Heavy press conference earlier this year, Musk told reporters that, for the time being, SpaceX had no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.

Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump also issued a directive to “lead an innovative space exploration programme to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars”.

The new heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing for deep-space missions — known as the Space Launch System — could serve as a core component of a moon trip. (IANS)

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Scientists Create Map of Wind Circulation in the Upper Atmosphere of Mars

Scientists map winds in Mars' upper atmosphere for first time

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Mars
The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate. (Representational image). Pixabay

Using data from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, researchers have created the first-ever map of wind circulation in the upper atmosphere of Mars.

The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate, giving them a more accurate picture of its ancient past and its ongoing evolution.

“The observed global circulation provides critical inputs needed to constrain global atmospheric models,” said Mehdi Benna of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“These are the same models that are used to extrapolate the state of the Martian climate into the distant past,” added Benna in the first paper published in the journal Science.

MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission) celebrated the five-year anniversary of its entrance into orbit around Mars on September 21.

Mission Mars
The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations. (Representational image). Pixabay

The primary scientific goal of the mission is to study what is left of Mars’ atmosphere to determine how, in the distant past, an ocean-covered and potentially habitable Mars became the dry and desolate place it is today.

“The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations, but other times can be quite different,” said Kali Roeten of University of Michigan.

“These winds can also be highly variable on the timescale of hours, yet in other cases, are consistent throughout the observation period, said Roeten in the second paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.

Upper atmospheric winds on Earth have already been mapped in detail.

Winds drive a series of processes in the atmosphere that can affect the propagation of radio waves, which are crucial for communications purposes for those on the surface, and the prediction of paths satellites will take in their orbit around Earth.

Mapping Martian winds, therefore, is a crucial step towards understanding characteristics of extraterrestrial atmospheres beyond what we know about processes on Earth.

Also Read- Google Assistant Rolls out Interpreter Mode for Smartphones

The upper atmospheric winds on both Earth and Mars are in the planets’ respective thermospheres, which are areas where temperature increases with height.

This discovery was the first detection of topography-induced gravity wave ripples in the thermosphere of any planet, even Earth. (IANS)