Wednesday February 20, 2019
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SpaceX Lights Up The Sky And Social Media

SpaceX also has successfully landed Falcon 9 first stages on so-called drone ships off the coasts of Florida and California.

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SpaceX, Astronomers
The night sky is lit up above Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, during the launch of a SpaceX rocket carrying an Argentine Earth-observation satellite. VOA

When SpaceX launched a rocket carrying an Argentine Earth-observation satellite from California’s Central Coast, both the night sky and social media lit up.

People as far away as San Francisco, Sacramento, Phoenix and Reno, Nevada, posted photos of the Falcon 9 rocket’s launch and return on Sunday night. It was the first time SpaceX landed a first-stage booster back at its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

The Air Force warned residents on the Central Coast that they might see multiple engine burns by the first stage and hear one or more sonic booms as it returned.

But many far beyond the region were taken by surprise when the launch illuminated the sky, wondering what the otherworldly looking sight was. Some speculated it was a comet or an alien aircraft.

spaceX
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, left, announces Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (R) as the first private passenger on a trip around the moon, VOA

“Something exploded in the sky west of Phoenix,” Laura Gadbery wrote on Twitter. “Anyone catch it or know what it was?”

Lloyd Lawrence, another user in Phoenix — about 490 miles (790 kilometers) away from the launch site — said he was driving on Interstate 10 when he saw the launch and “couldn’t believe my eyes.”

“I wondered who was holding the gigantic flashlight in the sky,” he wrote.

Others in Reno, Nevada — about 340 miles away (550 kilometers) — also saw the galactic wonder.

Jill Bergantz Carley wrote : “OK Twitter, what the heck is this #UFO #brightlight #plume-a-licious thing we just saw in the sky above #Reno — it radiated beams of light!”

SpaceX
A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Wikimedia Commons

Debi Hammond wrote : “Strangest thing I’ve ever seen in the sky. Anyone know what this is?”

Californians from Los Angeles to Sacramento — about 270 miles (435 kilometers) from the launch site — also posted their confusion.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among those trying to clear up the speculation, tweeting a photo of the launch and writing: “Nope, definitely not aliens.”

Those who knew they were watching a satellite launch posted videos they captured of the stunning spectacle, including one taken over the downtown Los Angeles skyline and a timelapse from Kern County.

The primary purpose of the SpaceX mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also wanted to expand its recovery of first stages to its launch site at Vandenberg.

Moon, spaceX, maezawa
A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket (VOA)

SpaceX had previously flown first-stage rockets back to land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.

SpaceX also has successfully landed Falcon 9 first stages on so-called drone ships off the coasts of Florida and California, all as part of its effort to decrease the cost of space launches by reusing rockets rather than allowing them to fall into the ocean.

The satellite is the first of two for Argentina’s space agency, the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and will work in conjunction with a constellation of Italian space agency satellites. Its acronym is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.

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SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperture radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring. The second satellite will be SAOCOM 1B. (VOA)

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Anticipated Problems That May Effect NASA’s Mars Mission

According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time.

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NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft.  Pixabay

Researchers are developing a predictive model to help NASA anticipate conflicts and communication breakdowns among crew members and tick off problems that may make or break the Mission to Mars.

NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft.

To understand the psychological demands of this Mars journey, Northwestern University has charted a multi-phase study conducted in two analog environments — HERA in the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the SIRIUS Mission in the NEK analog located in the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) in Russia.

The varsity will study the behaviour of analog astronaut crews on mock missions, complete with isolation, sleep deprivation, specially designed tasks and mission control, which mimics real space travel with delayed communication.

Mars
NASA has formalised plans to send a manned mission to Mars, a journey that could involve 250 million miles of travel on a small spacecraft. 
Pixabay

“Astronauts are super humans. They are people who are incredibly physically fit and extremely smart,” said Leslie DeChurch, Professor at Northwestern.

“We’re taking an already state-of-the-art crew selection system and making it even better by finding the values, traits and other characteristics that will allow NASA to compose crews that will get along,” DeChurch added.

HERA’s capsule simulator houses astronauts for up to 45 days — a mock mission control outside the capsule — that augments the realism with sound effects, vibrations and communication delays.

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According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time. Pixabay

Those on the inside undergo sleep deprivation and try to perform tasks. The researchers collect moment-to-moment metrics about individual performance, moods, psychosocial adaptation and more.

According to results from the first eight analog space crews, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the astronauts are able to successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 per cent of the time.

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The next phase of the research, which began on February 15, involves using the model to predict breakdowns and problems a new HERA crew will experience and making changes to “who works with whom, on what, and when”.

The experiment on the SIRIUS analog in Moscow, will begin on March 15, where four Russians and two Americans, will undertake a 120-day fictional mission around the moon, including a moon landing operation. (IANS)