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Space X Crew Capsule Successfully Docks at International Space Station

NASA has awarded millions of dollars to Space X and Boeing to design and operate a capsule to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil some time this year.

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Space
In this image taken from NASA Television, SpaceX's new crew capsule approaches just before docking at the International Space Station, March 3, 2019. VOA

The first American commercially built-and-operated crew spacecraft in eight years docked successfully Sunday at the International Space Station.

There was, however, no crew aboard the spacecraft, just a test dummy named Ripley, in a nod to the lead character in the Alien movies.

The docking was carried out autonomously by the Crew Dragon capsule, as the three astronauts on board the International Space Station watched.

The Space X Crew Dragon capsule lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

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Currently, America relies on Russia to launch astronauts to the space station. Pixabay

The Dragon brought supplies and test equipment to the space station where it will spend five days as astronauts conduct tests and inspect the Dragon’s cabin.

NASA has awarded millions of dollars to Space X and Boeing to design and operate a capsule to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil some time this year.

It is not immediately clear whether that goal will be reached.

Space X is entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company. Musk is also the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla.

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Currently, America relies on Russia to launch astronauts to the space station.

Russia charges about $80 million per ticket. (VOA)

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NASA’s Spacecraft Observes Water Molecules Movement on Moon

The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up

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Asteroids
This Dec. 29, 1968, photo made available by NASA shows craters on the moon. For the past 290 million years, giant rocks from space have been crashing into Earth more than twice as often as they did in the previous 700 million years, according to a new study. VOA

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO) spacecraft has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon, a finding that may prove beneficial as the agency plans to put astronauts back on the lunar surface.

Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) — the instrument aboard LRO — measured sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped characterise lunar hydration changes over the course of a day, revealed the paper published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The study is an important step in advancing the water story on the Moon and is a result of years of accumulated data from the LRO mission,” said John Keller, LRO deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Until the last decade, scientists thought that the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

More recently, they identified surface water in sparse populations of molecules bound to the lunar soil, or regolith.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

But, the amount and locations were found to vary based on the time of day. The lunar water is more common at higher latitudes and tends to hop around as the surface heats up.

Scientists had hypothesised that hydrogen ions in the solar wind may be the source of most of the Moon’s surface water. As a result, when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is shielded from the solar wind, the “water spigot” should essentially turn off.

However, the water observed by LAMP does not decrease when the Moon is shielded by the Earth and the region influenced by its magnetic field, suggesting water builds up over time, rather than “raining” down directly from the solar wind.

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“These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon,” said lead author Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management; if these materials do not need to be launched from Earth, that makes these future missions more affordable,” Hendrix added. (IANS)