Cosmic rays could leave travelers to Mars confused, forgetful and slow to react
“These sorts of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem.”
In a NASA-funded study of radiation-exposed mice published Friday in Science Advances, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Nevada warned that prolonged bombardment by charged particles in deep space could affect the brain cells involved in decision-making and memory, with implications for possible manned forays into deep space.
“I don’t think our findings preclude future space missions. But they suggest we need to come up with some engineering solutions.”
— UC Irvine radiation oncologist Charles Limoli
“These sorts of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem,” said Cary Zeitlin at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who wasn’t involved in the study. In 2013, Dr. Zeitlin reported radiation levels between Earth and Mars detected by the Mars Science Laboratory craft during its cruise to the red planet, and found that the exposure was the equivalent of getting “a whole-body CT scan once every 5 or 6 days.”
“Apollo crews, who ventured furthest from Earth’s protective shield on their journeys to the Moon, reported seeing flashes of light when they closed their eyes, caused by galactic cosmic rays speeding through their retinas.”
Deep-space radiation is a unique mix of gamma rays, high-energy protons and cosmic rays from newborn black holes, and radiation from exploding stars. Earth’s bulk, atmosphere and magnetic field blocks or deflects most deep-space cosmic rays. Shielding on spacecraft also helps. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Jeff Foust writes: The failure of a Russian Progress spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station is unlikely to have a significant near-term effect on station operations, but will place a greater burden on upcoming resupply missions and could alter the cargo those missions carry.
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying the Progress M-27M spacecraft lifted off on schedule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:09 a.m. Eastern time April 28. The launch appeared to take place normally, putting the spacecraft on track to dock with the ISS about six hours later.
However, shortly after the Progress reached orbit, controllers reported that two antennas used as part of the spacecraft’s docking system failed to deploy properly. NASA initially announced that the docking would be delayed until early April 30 to give engineers time to resolve the antenna problem.
“Roscosmos announced that the Progress will not be docking and will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere here some days in the future.”
— NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, April 29, 2015
Within hours, though, it was clear the problem with the Soyuz was more serious than a faulty antenna. The spacecraft entered a roll, and Russian controllers reported problems maintaining communications with the spacecraft. NASA announced later April 28 that it had called off an attempted April 30 docking.
The U.S. Air Force’s Joint Space Operations Center, tracking the Progress, said in an April 28 statement that the spacecraft was rotating “at a rate of 360 degrees every five seconds,” or 12 RPM. The Air Force also reported tracking 44 pieces of debris in the vicinity of the Progress and its Soyuz upper stage, but could not determine from which object the debris originated.
NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos ruled out any attempt to dock the Progress with the ISS on April 29. “Roscosmos announced that the Progress will not be docking and will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere here some days in the future,” NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, currently on the station, said in an interview on NASA Television April 29.
The cause of the Progress failure, including whether it is a flaw with the spacecraft or its launch vehicle, is unclear. Roscosmos, in an April 29 statement, said telemetry from the Progress was interrupted 1.5 seconds before the Progress was scheduled to separate from the Soyuz upper stage. When contact was restored after separation, the spacecraft was in a spin.
With no ability to control the spacecraft, the Progress’s orbit will decay and the spacecraft will reenter some time in early May. Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, said April 30 that he estimated the Progress would reenter on May 9, with a margin of error of two days.
Most of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere. “However, we cannot exclude the chance that some portion of its structure, for example the heavy docking mechanism or tanks and thrusters, could survive reentry to reach the surface,” Krog said. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Robotic Spacecraft MESSENGER Is Out of Fuel, Doomed to Crash Into Mercury This Afternoon at More Than 8,750 MPHPosted: April 30, 2015
The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER has run out of fuel. With no way to make major adjustments to its orbit around the planet Mercury, the probe will smash into the surface at more than 8,750 miles per hour (3.91 kilometers per second). The impact will add a new crater to the planet’s scarred face that engineers estimate will be as wide as 52 feet (16 meters).
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) April 28, 2015
It has been 50 years since two Avro Lancaster bombers flew side by side. The Canadian Warplane.
Coming Summer 2015 – Worldwide TV release followed by DVD/Blu-ray (all formats).
Happy 25 years to the Hubble Space Telescope! The largest orbital telescope ever launched was deployed on April 25, 1990, during the mission of STS-31 Discovery. Launch occurred the day prior, on 24 April.
Although the telescope’s optics were flawed upon arrival into orbit, Servicing Mission 1 installed corrective lenses that allowed the telescope to return some of the most spectacular imagery ever returned from space.
The telescope is expected to be operational until at least the mid 2020′s.
Good night from #space.
When their spaceship was severely damaged 200,000 miles from Earth – 45 years ago this week, it was like a bad dream from which the Apollo 13 crew could not wake.
Moments after they finished a TV broadcast late on April 13, 1970, a spark ignited one of the oxygen tanks on the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The resulting explosion plunged an entire nation into an anxious three-and-a-half day drama.
The blast obliterated one of three fuel cells and an oxygen tank. Oxygen jetted into space from the command module’s remaining tank.
“Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” astronaut Jack Swigert told mission control in Houston at what was then NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center).
“We’ve had a main B bus undervolt,” Mission Commander James Lovell said. One of the command module’s two main electrical circuits had experienced a drop in power.
The Manned Space Flight Network at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, made Swigert and Lovell’s reports possible. The network’s tracking stations linked the spacecraft to Earth, where its signals were transmitted through Goddard. Nearly three million circuit miles of communication channels in the NASA Communication Network conveyed the messages received at Goddard to the Mission Control Center in Houston.
Less than two hours after Swigert’s message was transmitted to Houston, mission control pronounced the command module mortally wounded. With only 15 minutes of power left, astronauts Swigert, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise escaped to the “life boat” of the lunar module.
President Richard Nixon learned of the crisis shortly after the explosion, and he met with Goddard Center Director John F. Clark the following day for an update. William C. Schneider, director of NASA’s Skylab program, briefed the president on the status of the rescue mission in Goddard’s Manned Space Flight Network control room, through which communications to and from Apollo 13 passed.
The nation watched for the latest updates from their television sets, transfixed, as the rescue mission unfolded.
The crew spent three-and-a-half grueling days in the lunar module. They rationed food and water, which mission designers had only intended to last two men a day and a half, not three men three days. Carbon dioxide reached dangerous levels in the lunar module before the team managed to convert square filters from the command module to fit in the round openings on the lunar module. When the crew shut the instruments off to conserve power, the inside temperature reached an icy 38 F.
But reorienting the lunar module to a return-to-Earth trajectory from a lunar landing course proved to be one of the most difficult and important obstacles to hurdle. Read the rest of this entry »
After six successful missions to the International Space Station, including five official resupply missions for NASA, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are set to liftoff from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for their sixth official Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)
Mary-Ann Russon reports: A publicity stunt that involved using a consumer quadcopter drone to deliver vegetables to a restaurant in the Netherlands has literally crashed and burned.
“This is very, very sad because it was an amateur pilot, the owner of the drone, who organised this especially for me and brings his own toys. So this wasn’t supposed to happen of course.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t funny. You think you have a cool idea – with a drone – how original can you be? Picking up asparagus with a drone.”
— Peijenburg to Netherlands regional broadcaster Omroep Brabant after the drone crashed
In previous years, owner Ronald Peijenburg has used everything from a Formula 1 racing car to a hot air balloon and a helicopter to deliver the very first asparagus of the season, and this year he wanted to try flying a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Initially the journey from the asparagus farm started well, with the drone taking off carrying a metal can consisting of several asparagus stalks. In the interest of safety, the pilot followed in the back of a small pick-up truck, so the drone was always in line-of-sight, with the stunt being filmed by a local TV channel.
The drone landed safely during the journey to get its battery changed before taking off again, however, on the second take off, the drone crashed onto a thankfully quiet country road, and both the drone and the asparagus it was carrying went up in flames. Read the rest of this entry »
Sweet Dreams, Interrupted: Alaska Airlines Flight Returns To Seattle After Napping Worker Gets Trapped In Plane’s Cargo HoldPosted: April 13, 2015
SEATTLE (AP) — A Los Angeles-bound Alaska Airlines flight had to return to Seattle on Monday after a worker reportedly fell asleep and found himself trapped in the plane’s cargo hold.
“Upon exiting, he told authorities he had fallen asleep.”
Flight 448 had just taken off Monday afternoon when the pilot heard banging from down below, the airline said in a news release. The captain immediately returned to Seattle-Tacoma International and declared an emergency for priority landing.
“Nobody knew why we were turning around. They just said we were fine and we weren’t in any danger.”
After the plane landed a ramp agent came out from the front cargo hold, which Alaska says is pressurized and temperature-controlled.
“They just said there was someone in the cargo hold and he’s been escorted off and taken away,”
— Passenger Marty Collins
“Upon exiting, he told authorities he had fallen asleep,” the airline said.
A new documentary about astronaut Gene Cernan is far more than the story of one person’s life
Jeffrey Kluger writes: Real astronauts never say goodbye. At least, not the way you’d think they would before they take off on a mission that could very well kill them. They’re good at the quick wave, the hat tip, the catch-you-on-the-flip-side wink. But the real goodbye—the if I don’t come home here are all the things I always wanted to say to you sort of thing? Not a chance.
“You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon. But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do.”
But Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, tried to split the difference—as a scene in the new documentary The Last Man on the Moon, sweetly captures. Before Cernan headed off for his first trip to the moon, the Apollo 10 orbital mission, which was the final dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 landing a few months later, he mailed his young daughter Tracy a letter. It was written on the fragile onion skin that was air mail stationery, back in the era when the very idea of air mail carried a whiff of exotic distance.
“Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.”
Cernan was a young man when he wrote the letter in 1969, and is a much older man, at 81, when he returns to it in the film. “You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon,” he reads aloud, “But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do. Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.” If the Navy pilot who once landed jets on carrier decks and twice went to the moon mists up as he reads, if his voice quavers a bit, well what of it?
As the title of the movie makes clear, Cernan was the last of the dozen men who set foot on the moon, and the 24 overall who journeyed there. No human being has traveled further into space than low-Earth orbit since Cernan climbed up the ladder of his lunar module in December of 1972, closed the hatch and headed for home. That makes it a very good time for a movie that can serve as equal parts biography, reminiscence and, yes, cultural reprimand for a nation that did a great thing once and has spent a whole lot of time since trying to summon the resolve, the discipline and the political maturity to do something similar again.
“That story, as Cernan and Craig came to agree, would be about the lunar program as a whole and the up-from-the-farm narrative of so many of the men who flew in it, as well as the random currents of fortune that saw some those men make it from terrestrial soil to lunar soil, while others perished in the violent machines that were necessary for them to make those journeys.”
The Last Man on the Moon, which premiered at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March and was later shown at the Toronto Film Festival, had a long provenance, beginning eight years ago when director Mark Craig, who had read Cernan’s book, requested an interview. Cernan agreed and six months later Craig got back in touch and said he wanted to make a movie based on his memoir.
“My first answer was, ‘Who would be interested in a movie about me?’” Cernan tells TIME. The answer he got impressed him: “This movie is not going to be about you.” It was, instead, going to be about the larger story. Read the rest of this entry »
PopMech Editors: Say hello to the shortest lunar eclipse of the century. These stunning photos capture the blood moon as captured over Colorado, China, and New Zealand. For more, check out our original post on the early morning event.
Mid-Air Scare When Lightning Strikes 2 Planes Over Seattle
SEATTLE — Scott Sistek reports: Some of the people on their way into Seattle Wednesday evening got quite the hello from Mother Nature as lightning struck two different jets as they approached Sea-Tac Airport.
“We were flying in and out of clouds, sunshine then darkness, sunshine then darkness. I was looking out the window when I saw this bright flash and this streak of lightning hit the top-middle of the right wing near the engine.”
University of Washington student Owen Craft was out in the University District trying to film lightning strikes as a thunderstorm moved through and caught the two massive bolts as they passed through the planes’ fuselage.
“Airplanes themselves are prepared for this kind of stuff and have the mechanics to manage lightning strikes. We did not receive any reports of precautionary landing alerts from any pilots Wednesday night either.”
— Sea-Tac Airport public relations manager Perry Cooper, to ABC News
“I was stunned for a second because I couldn’t believe what I just saw,” Craft said. “After the second (plane) got hit, I knew I was on to something spectacular!”
One of those planes was an Alaska Air Flight 515 inbound from Orange County while another was Alaska Air Flight 731 that was coming into Seattle from Houston. Kim Dodge was sitting in Row 9 on the right side of that plane when the bolt hit.
“I think it hit the wing because there was an immediate loud crack and the cabin was bright for that brief second. There was this loud gasp in the cabin after it happened. The people behind me were starting to worry if it was going to affect the landing. It didn’t.”
— Passenger Kim Dodge, who was sitting in Row 9
“We were flying in and out of clouds, sunshine then darkness, sunshine then darkness,” she said. “I was looking out the window when I saw this bright flash and this streak of lightning hit the top-middle of the right wing near the engine.”
She said it looked like the bolt exited right below the wing.
“Instantly a sound, a plane move and a flash of light; probably the worst turbulence you’ll ever feel for 2 solid seconds,” said Anthony Porter. “It got people pretty shook up.”
— Anthony Porter, on the Orange County flight that was also hit by lightning
“I think it hit the wing because there was an immediate loud crack and the cabin was bright for that brief second,” she said. “There was this loud gasp in the cabin after it happened. The people behind me were starting to worry if it was going to affect the landing. It didn’t.”
“We landed safely,” Dodge said. “It was startling.”
Anthony Porter was on the Orange County flight that was also hit by lightning:
“Instantly a sound, a plane move and a flash of light; probably the worst turbulence you’ll ever feel for 2 solid seconds,” said Anthony Porter. “It got people pretty shook up.”
But Porter said aside from the moments surrounding the strike, the flight was totally normal.
“It was alarming, but it was so quick, people knew something happened, but no one knew what happened,” he said. “It was a direct hit and 5 seconds before and 5 seconds after — smooth sailing, there was no turbulence.” He said the plane landed without further incident.
While being struck by lightning would sound frightening to those on board, airplane lightning strikes are not that uncommon and the jets are built to withstand the jolt. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Meet キロボ Kirobo: The First Companion Robot to Go to Space Returns to Earth After 18-Month JourneyPosted: April 2, 2015
After a 18-month mission aboard the International Space Station, the tiny Japanese robot Kirobo returned to Earth on February 2015. During a press conference, organizers celebrated the successful project.
It’s easy to forget that there is an endless, unexplored space beyond our tiny planet Earth.
This new video from All Time 10s is packed with tons of fun facts about outer space, touching on some the of strangest objects humans have discovered there — like zombie stars and metal worlds.
Who knows what’s still out there?