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Space station crew will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, says NASA

The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

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The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons
The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons

As the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) orbit Earth once every 90 minutes, they will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, NASA pointed out. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 402.3 km above Earth, the US space agency said in a blog post on Thursday. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

The current six crew members on the orbital laboratory comprise three US astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut. Ahead of the New Year, the astronauts are conducting life science studies to help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike on Thursday for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis, the blog post said.

Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes. The two other NASA astronauts living and working aboard the space station are Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are the other two other crew members.

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NASA Planning Asteroid Impact Exercise Next Week

NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise

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longest spacecraft, women
Part of NASA's study of the effects of long spaceflights on the human body, Koch will spend 328 days in space. Pixabay

Aimed at effective disaster management, NASA and its international partners are planning to participate in an exercise that will play out a realistic — but fictional — scenario of an asteroid on an impact trajectory with Earth.

The scenario begins with the fictional premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” a NEO they consider potentially hazardous to Earth.

After a “few months” of tracking, observers predict that this near-Earth object (NEO) – dubbed 2019 PDC – poses a 1 in 100 chance of impact with Earth in 2027 (in real life, the international community has decided that a 1 in 100 chance of impact is the threshold for action).

Participants in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects, NASA said.

Scientists believe that these exercises can help people in the planetary defence community to understand what those on the disaster management side need to know.

Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defence Officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Better communication of the hazards posed by NEOs such as asteroids or comets has been a top priority for international groups, such as NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN).

Developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid impact exercise next week is scheduled to take place at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference to be held in the US from April 29 to May 3.

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NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise, the US space agency said.

Next week’s exercise events will occur over the five days of the conference, with exercise leaders briefing participants on the status of the scenario at the end of each day and soliciting response ideas and feedback, based on the latest fictional data, NASA said. (IANS)