Tuesday March 26, 2019
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Spitzer Telescope of NASA Marks 15 years in Space

In 2016, Spitzer entered an extended mission dubbed "Spitzer Beyond". The spacecraft is currently scheduled to continue operations into November 2019, more than 10 years after entering its warm phase

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the youngest member of the “Great Observatory” programme, has completed 15 years in space.

The Great Observatories are four big-ticket space telescopes — Spitzer, Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — designed to view the universe in different and complementary wavelengths of light.

Launched into solar orbit on August 25, 2003, Spitzer was initially scheduled for a minimum 2.5-year primary mission. But the space telescope has lasted far beyond its expected lifetime, the US space agency said in a statement.

“In its 15 years of operations, Spitzer has opened our eyes to new ways of viewing the universe,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe. And by working in collaboration with NASA’s other Great Observatories, Spitzer has helped scientists gain a more complete picture of many cosmic phenomena,” he added.

NASA's Spitzer
Spitzer has logged over 106,000 hours of observation time in the past 15 years. Flickr

Celebrating Spitzer’s incredible discoveries and amazing images, NASA has also released two new multimedia products: The NASA Selfies app for iOS and Android, and the Exoplanet Excursions VR Experience for Oculus and Vive, as well as a 360-video version for smartphones, the statement said.

It has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.

The space telescope also assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

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Spitzer orbits the Sun in an Earth-trailing orbit (meaning it literally trails behind Earth as the planet orbits the Sun) and has continued to fall farther and farther behind Earth during its lifetime.

In 2016, Spitzer entered an extended mission dubbed “Spitzer Beyond”. The spacecraft is currently scheduled to continue operations into November 2019, more than 10 years after entering its warm phase, the statement noted. (IANS)

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NASA Astronauts Spacewalk to Change ISS Batteries

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station

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NASA researchers have created the atmosphere of a super-hot planet outside our solar system, here on Earth. Pixabay

Two NASA astronauts – Nick Hague and Anne McClain – have successfully completed an over six hour spacewalk and replaced the ageing batteries on the International Space Station (ISS).

During the six hour, 39 minute spacewalk, Hague and McClain replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

They also installed adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station’s starboard truss.

These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the station when the station is not in the sunlight, as it orbits the Earth during orbital night.

In addition, the astronaut duo also removed debris from outside of the station, securing a tieback for restraints on the Solar Array Blanket Box, NASA said.

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NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency. Pixabay

McClain will again take a spacewalk on March 29 along with flight engineer Christina Koch to work on a second set of battery replacements on a different power channel in the same area of the ISS.

This would be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers, NASA said.

A third spacewalk on April 8 by Hague and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the S0 truss, at the midpoint of the ISS’s backbone.

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This work will establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2. They will also install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Space station crew members have until now conducted 214 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station. (IANS)